Is It Time for an Upgrade? Choosing Between Invisalign, Dental Implants, and Dentures

2022-02-14T15:42:40+00:00February 10th, 2022|Dental Implants, Dental Trends, Dentures, Invisalign|

Invisalign, Dentures, and Implants Monroe NC

If you feel this is the year to upgrade your smile, you have options. Adam Brown DDS offers several dental treatments that can give you the smile you’ve always wanted!

Three of the most popular treatments include Invisalign, dental implants, and dentures.

The solution that works best for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences, and our office can help you make the right decision. But for now, let’s break down these three types of dental treatments and discuss how they can take your smile design to the next level!

 

What Is Invisalign?       

Invisalign is an alternative to traditional metal braces. These clear aligners are used for teeth straightening, and they gradually shift teeth into their optimal positions. 

When using Invisalign, you don’t have to worry about metal brackets, wires, and other inconveniences of traditional braces. Most teenagers and adults who wear their aligners for the recommended 22 hours a day can correct their orthodontic problems. 

 

The Benefits of Invisalign     

When wearing metal braces, there are many foods that you must avoid, including corn-on-the-cob, popcorn, caramel, chewing gum, and chewy candies. Carrots, hard fruits and vegetables, nuts, and steak are also off-limits.

Because you can remove your aligner trays before meals and snacks, you can eat (and drink) whatever you wish, as long as you brush or rinse your teeth with water before re-applying the aligners.

The most obvious benefit of using clear aligners is that they are virtually invisible. Everyone knows you are undergoing orthodontic treatment when wearing traditional braces, but the average onlooker would not be able to tell when you are wearing Invisalign; the thin clear plastic is almost invisible.

Furthermore, it is easier to maintain oral hygiene when taking Invisalign treatment. It is common to notice stains on your teeth after wearing metal braces, if not gingivitis or cavities. Essentially, it is pretty challenging to brush and floss around metal wires and brackets, and even if you dedicate the extra time and effort, you may not be able to get into all the places you need to. 

All you have to do with Invisalign is remove the aligners, then brush and floss as you usually would. You can even clean your trays by soaking them in a cleaning solution or brushing them with a soft-bristle toothbrush.

Invisalign proves as effective as traditional braces for many patients, and they are much more comfortable. The smooth plastic fits snuggly to teeth, and you don’t have to worry about any brackets or wires poking your gums or cheeks. 

Even if you pay more for Invisalign, understand that emergency dental visits are less likely to occur because clear aligners are remarkably strong. There are no brackets or wires to break off. Moreover, more dental insurance plans are covering Invisalign.

 

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are primarily used to replace missing teeth. Missing teeth can impact chewing and speaking, lead to severe teeth misalignment, and cause gradual bone loss. While there are several ways to replace one or more missing teeth (e.g., dental bridges, partial dentures, complete dentures, etc.), dental implants have become one of the most popular choices because they offer many benefits. 

The patient undergoes a minor procedure to replace the missing tooth’s root with a post; then, the dentist puts a permanent dental crown onto the implant. 

 

Benefits of Dental Implants   

Getting dental implants is not the cheapest treatment, but it is often the most effective way to replace missing teeth. It can help you maintain clear speech, make chewing food more manageable, and provide superior comfort. Implants also look entirely natural, are easy to maintain, and are durable enough to last for many years.

 

What Are Dentures?

Dentures are another way to treat lost or removed teeth. A dentist (or laboratory) fabricates these sets of artificial teeth and gums to fit each patient’s mouth. You can get full or partial dentures. In other words, you can either replace a few missing teeth or all teeth on the top or bottom gum line. No matter what type of dentures you receive, you will have them custom-designed to match surrounding teeth and fit your mouth visually.

 

Benefits of Dentures   

Dentures are typically a less expensive solution for improving a smile and avoiding various oral health issues. They can support the structures around the lips and cheeks, plus they allow you to eat foods as you usually would and speak clearly. Your dentist will recommend whether dental implants or dentures are the best treatment for your situation.

 

Dental Implants vs. Dentures   

As we’ve discussed, both dental implants and dentures are viable solutions for replacing one or more missing teeth. The best treatment for you will depend on preference, price, jawbone health, and other factors. Let’s talk about these two treatments in more detail:

 

Dental Implants Procedure

When getting dental implants, the dentist will replace the missing tooth’s root with an implant that they will cap with a crown. This involves extracting the damaged root and inserting a metal prosthetic root (called a “post”) deep into the bone. Once the bone has grown around the post to secure it, the dentist will place an abutment onto it before applying the crown.

Sometimes, the abutment can be placed during the same procedure as the implant, while other times, it can take a couple of months for the bone to bond to the post.  

 

Dentures Procedure

Dentures are prosthetic, removable teeth for replacing one or many missing teeth. The dentist takes an impression of your mouth (upper gums, lower gums, or both), depending on which teeth need to be replaced. The dentist will also observe your jaw alignment and bite to ensure the dentures can improve your speech and ability to chew. 

Then, a lab will fabricate preliminary dentures for the dentist to fit in your mouth and make any necessary adjustments to the set’s alignment and length. The dentist will then order your final set of dentures so that your teeth and gums look as natural as possible.

 

Costs of Dental Implants and Dentures

Dental implants cost more than dentures. Each dentist’s office varies on price, but the American Dental Association (ADA) estimates that an implant runs from $1,600 to $2,200 per tooth. In comparison, the ADA reports that a patient can receive a complete set of upper or lower dentures for about $1,600. 

 

Maintenance of Dental Implants and Dentures

Caring for dental implants is as simple as caring for natural teeth. All you have to do is brush twice a day, floss once a day, and go to your regular checkups at Adam Brown DDS.

Dentures require more maintenance to remain effective. For instance, you must soak them overnight in water or a cleaning solution. You must also remove your dentures and brush them after each meal or snack, and you will need to ensure that you brush any adhesive revenue from your gums.

Another thing to consider is that you will need to have your dentures refitted now and then as your bite changes. Conversely, dental implants are permanent, though you might need to replace a cracked or broken crown. 

 

Choosing Between Dental Implants and Dentures

Your dentist can help you make the right decision concerning dental implants or dentures. But here are a few factors to consider when thinking about your dental future:

Age

Dental implants can last for decades, meaning that people in their sixties or younger might get the most out of these permanent prosthetic teeth. Many older adults prefer to get dentures because they don’t require a time-consuming or invasive procedure.

Jawbone Density

Before you get dental implants, your dentist must ensure there is enough jawbone material to support the posts. If there isn’t, implants might not be a viable solution. 

Age, gum disease, tooth loss, and injury are the most common culprits of jawbone loss. With that said, some dental practices perform bone grafting to support jawbone density, which could be a good option if you can afford the additional time and costs. 

Comfort and Effectiveness

In most cases, dental implants feel more comfortable than dentures, and they also make chewing and speaking feel more natural. There are implant-supported overdentures; however, they can provide better comfort and chewing efficacy than conventional dentures. 

Oral Hygiene

You also need to consider daily hygiene when choosing between dental implants and dentures. Dentures require more time and effort to keep viable, while implants are lower maintenance. Keep an honest assessment of how willing and able you are to care for your dentures each day. 

 

Can I Choose More Than One Dental Treatment?

Yes, it’s possible to get more than one dental treatment at a time. Let’s discuss your options:

Can I Wear Invisalign with Dental Implants?

Some patients receive a dental implant and wish to correct their crooked teeth somewhere down the road. Implants are permanent fixtures, meaning they will not move from their original position. But your dentist can use clear aligners to reposition all the surrounding teeth. Typically, you can still get Invisalign in this situation.

With that said, if you only have a few remaining natural teeth, Invisalign may not be the ideal option. Adam Brown DDS can thoroughly evaluate your situation and help you find the best solution. 

Which Treatment Should I Get First?

If you have not received dental implants or Invisalign treatment, you may be wondering which you should get first. Understand that Invisalign holds your natural teeth in their sockets and gradually moves them into proper alignment. 

On the other hand, dental implants attach directly to the jawbone, which bonds directly to the implant over time. Thus, implants are permanently fixed, and it is typically best to straighten your teeth with aligners before having implants inserted.

When your teeth are aligned before implant placement, it ensures that all your teeth are in their optimal positions. Then, you can replace missing teeth with implants and crowns that look natural and aesthetically pleasing with surrounding teeth. Furthermore, your dentist can ensure that the gap remains healthy during the Invisalign treatment.

Are Dental Bridges a Viable Alternative?

Dental bridges are another type of treatment for missing teeth. Dentists can use a dental bridge, sometimes called a fixed partial denture, to fill the gap left by one or more missing teeth. Essentially, the bridge attaches to the surrounding teeth to support the mouth’s structure. 

Dental bridges are less expensive than implants, and most patients who receive them are satisfied with the result. However, some people are confused about the appropriate care and maintenance responsibilities, leading to bridges becoming ineffective or unsanitary. 

If you choose to get a bridge, ask your dentist for comprehensive care instructions to ensure your device works well and allows you to maintain oral hygiene. 

 

Conclusion

It’s 2022, and it could be the ideal time to upgrade your smile! While there are many available dental treatments, Invisalign, dental implants, and dentures are some of the most popular options among patients. 

Along with considering the information and advice above, contact Adam Brown DDS to schedule a consultation. We would love to speak with you, go over your options, and help you make the best decision for your future smile and dental health!

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Small Family Dental Practices: Where We Know Your Name!

2021-11-12T17:28:26+00:00November 12th, 2021|Adam Brown DDS, Dental Trends|

Family Dentistry Monroe NC

As with so many other industries, dentistry is changing. Yes, technology and treatments continue to improve each year, but those are not the changes we are talking about.

At Adam Brown, DDS, we have been keeping a close eye on the dental practice landscape around the country, and we are noticing that fewer and fewer small, private practices are continuing to operate independently. And since these types of practices play such an essential role in their respective communities, this is a concern for dentists and families alike.

We are pleased to provide the best care possible for the families that we see regularly, and we are still doing it independently! Below, we will discuss how dental service organizations (DSOs) are impacting dentistry and explain why choosing a family dentist could be the best option for you and your kids!

 

The Emergence of DSOs

Small independent dental practices are facing some vulnerabilities right now, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. Yes, the pandemic brought many challenges to private practices across the country, but most offices survived and are now back to seeing patients as they were before February 2020. No, the problem has nothing to do with attracting or retaining patients. The issue is that there are fewer dentists looking to step in when older dentists retire.

Not too long ago, it was common for dentists straight out of college to find a smaller town or suburb with a retiring dentist looking for a replacement. Now, many younger folks are choosing to live in large metropolitan areas, if not city centers. Moreover, dental school is expensive and more graduates are entering their careers in more debt than ever, so starting or purchasing a practice is simply too costly and complex.

Then there are dental service organizations (DSOs). In short, these organizations are not owned by dentists, and they go around the country buying out dental practices to handle the operations of the business. This business model allows younger dentists to focus their time and energy on the clinical aspects of their job, bring in a consistent salary, and remain free of the stresses and responsibilities of owning a practice. As such, DSOs are gaining more traction each year.

 

Few Options for Retiring Dentists

While there are clear benefits to newer dentists looking to kickstart their career, the rise of DSOs put dentists who are retiring from a solo or small-group practice in a predicament. There are basically three paths they can take:

1. Work longer than they anticipated to (until they are forced into retirement by their health).
2. Shut down their practice without providing any options for their patients.
3. Sell their practice to a DSO.

More retiring dentists are finding that selling to a DSO is the only option that serves themselves and their patients. But this path puts independent dentistry as a whole in jeopardy. In other words, as DSOs become more and more prevalent, they will transform the way dental practices around the country operate. And it could leave very few dentists who have the ability to run their own practices.

 

Small Practice, Big Opportunities

Here’s the thing that a lot of young dentists who are graduating from dental school do not realize: Small, private practices can provide better opportunities for them both in the short term and long term. Smaller practices come with less competition and lower overhead costs, which means that dentists can better support themselves and their families. Sometimes, they can do it by only working part-time.

As long as a dentist is motivated and has the drive to maintain control of their career, putting down roots at an independent practice can provide exceptional opportunities and flexibility, both of which can especially benefit those wanting to raise families.

Then there is the community to consider. Small towns and suburbs need dentists, just as they need other medical professionals nearby. A lot of people simply are not going to drive 30 minutes to an hour for regular dental visits. And when a community has no dentist, or the few dentists in the community are booked to capacity, many individuals will opt out of preventative care.

Moreover, small practices are often active in supporting the community through sponsoring recreational teams, inviting school groups for office tours, providing low-cost or free care for those who need it, and more. Unless more is done to maintain the sustainability of private dental practice, the trend of DSOs and their effect on communities could continue on its trend.

 

The Benefits of Family Dentistry

There are many similarities between family dentistry and general dentistry. For example, both use top-notch equipment and provide quality dental care for patients, as well as expert insight into each individual’s oral health. There is one distinction between these two, however, that sets a family dentistry like Adam Brown, DDS apart from general dental practices: We serve patients of all ages and can treat different family members all under one office.

Among other perks, choosing a family dentist can provide your household with familiarity, convenience, reduced anxiety, and better oral health—for parents, children, and grandparents alike! Let’s take a deeper look into the advantages of going to a family dental practice.

Familiarity
When you go to a family dental practice, the chances that your children will develop positive relationships with their dentist are much higher. At Adam Brown, DDS, we know the faces and names of all of our patients, and this increases the likelihood that our patients (especially children) will maintain their dental health. For children, this means that they’re more likely to have healthy teeth and gums as they enter adulthood.

Scheduling
Keeping up with dental appointments as an individual is hard enough. But if you are responsible for the appointments of everyone in your family, it can be downright overwhelming! Not only do you have to take off work for each appointment, but you also have to take your kids out of school and coordinate other responsibilities to make it all fit. Instead of scheduling different appointments for each member of your household, choose a family dental practice that will make scheduling easy for you.

For example, we will go out of our way to set one appointment for your whole family. Think about how much easier and convenient that will make your life! Rather than taking the time to schedule several appointments in any given week, all you have to do is make a family trip to the dentist to ensure everyone’s teeth and gums are taken care of.

Relationships
Parents tend to love going to a family practice because it provides the opportunity for both them and their children to develop lasting relationships with their dentists. In some cases, the same dentist will work with three or four generations in the same family! A child can have the same dentist as a toddler, adolescent, college student, and adult. The trust that is built throughout that kind of timeframe can not be replicated elsewhere.

Forming a healthy relationship with a dentist can help your child feel more comfortable talking about oral health symptoms that could cause severe problems down the road. If the dentist doesn’t know what you or your child is feeling, they may not be able to detect an issue until it’s too late, meaning that more expensive and painful procedures could be necessary to fix it.

When you go to a family dental practice, everyone in your household can rest assured that the dentist is prioritizing your health and best interests. And they will also know how to better monitor allergies, sensitivities, and family history with everyone involved. A family dentist will take into account dental diseases anyone in your family has had in the past. For instance, if one individual in your family has a genetic condition, your dentist will know precautions and strategies to take for everyone else in your family.

Less Dental Anxiety
We all know that going to the dentist is not a favorite activity among some children. Dental anxiety is a real thing for children, and it impacts adults too! Family dentists can help households to ease their dental anxiety. By going to a practice like Adam Brown, DDS, you will know that you can rely on friendly faces that will become familiar!

Matching your child with the right dentist will help them become more comfortable with their checkup appointments, at-home dental hygiene routine, and any procedures that might become necessary as they grow up. This is especially true if your family goes to appointments together.

Since younger children often like to imitate the actions of the role models in their lives, your child might become less fearful of the dentist if they see you and their siblings getting dental care without any issues. And it won’t take long for your child to grow more comfortable and confident to go through checkup appointments on their own. In other words, going to a family dental practice can help your child outgrow dental anxiety so that it doesn’t stick around into adulthood.

On the other side of the coin, if your child never becomes comfortable with their dentist and fails to grow out of their anxiety, they could neglect to go to regular checkup appointments as adults. This would mean their dentist would not be able to detect oral health problems early, potentially leading to intensive treatments and procedures. At Adam Brown, DDS, we make sure to support and help children overcome their dental anxiety and foster their dental wellness!

Tracking Dental History
When your family goes to a family dental practice, all of your dental records will be kept in the same place instead of being spread across several different offices. This means that your dentist will be able to easily monitor your family’s medical history and address any pressing medical issues that they identify over time. Genetics are critical to dental health, and a family dentist will be able to help everyone in your household maintain their dental health and provide insight when it is needed.

Oral Health
If you want to keep your family’s teeth and gums healthy, it is essential that each of you keeps up with your regular visits to the dentist. By going twice a year for a checkup, you can stay ahead of cavities, tooth decay, gingivitis, and other common dental issues. This will help you to prevent pain, tooth loss, and swollen or bleeding gums. Once issues like these set in, it can lead to periodontitis and, ultimately, tooth loss.

Brighter Smiles
Going to your dentist for regular cleanings can go a long way in keeping your family’s smiles in pristine shape for pictures or big events. If you are relying solely on your at-home routines, you may develop yellow or discolored teeth over time. By scheduling cleanings or even teeth whitening appointments, you can keep everyone’s smiles bright. Your family dentist can also advise you on your daily oral health routine, such as providing practical tips, recommendations for toothpaste and fluoride treatments, and so on.

Access to Treatments
Finally, family dental practices provide a wide range of treatments and procedures all under the same roof. This means that your family will not have to seek treatment from other offices for cleaning, restorative procedures, Invisalign, and other treatments for each person. At Adam Brown, DDS, we even provide world-class cosmetic procedures! In other words, family dental practices are highly versatile.

 

Conclusion

The rise of dental service organizations is transforming the landscape of dental practices across the country. While there are perks of DSOs for young dentists, they pose some serious risks for smaller private practices and their communities. By choosing a family dentistry like Adam Brown, DDS, you not only can support independent dental practice, but you will also have access to all the benefits associated with choosing a family dentistry listed above. Don’t wait—book your family’s appointment with our office today!

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8 Ways to Sustain Your Family’s Dental Hygiene This Summer

2021-05-25T20:00:30+00:00May 25th, 2021|Dental Trends, Oral Health|

Tips to Help Your Families Dental Health

Summer is around the corner, which means it’s time for all the fun things that come with Summer. Maybe your family is planning to go on a big vacation. Maybe you’re getting geared up for long days at the pool. Perhaps you’re looking forward to some sweet, cold treats to tame the rising temperatures.

But amid the summertime excitement, it’s important not to leave your dental health in the dust. The shifts in routine and the seasonal activities don’t remove your family’s need to maintain good oral hygiene habits. Adam Brown DDS is here with some practical tips and information for how your family can keep your teeth and gums healthy through the sun-kissed days of Summer:

 

  1. Stick to Your Dental Routine 

We’ll start with the basics: keeping up with your normal dental care routine. Even if your kids are out of school and staying up later than usual, don’t let them go to bed without brushing their teeth. And to the adults in the room—don’t allow yourselves to get lax either!

For many families, summer is packed with special events and relaxed bedtimes, but everyone should be brushing twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste. Also, make sure you are flossing once a day; any two teeth that touch should be cleaned regularly. Many children lack the motor skills to floss until they are more than 10-years-old. If necessary, help your child floss, or invest in a water flosser. 

 

  1. Pack Wisely 

The quickest way for your family to fall behind on dental hygiene is to forget the essentials when you travel. As you plan your vacation, be sure to pack travel-sized items like these:

 

Toothbrush

Like the other items on this list, you can find a selection of travel-sized toothbrushes at most major retailers, grocery stores, and pharmacies. These brushes will fold and easily fit into a carry-on bag. Your travel brush may not be quite as comfortable or effective as your full-sized brush, but it will get the job done. 

 

Toothpaste

Fluoride toothpaste is another essential item that you can’t go without on your trip. If you only took two dental care products when you travel, you would want them to be a toothbrush and toothpaste. 

 

Floss

You can get travel-sized packs of floss, but flossers are even better. Particularly if you have kids, flossers are easier to use on the go, and they’re effective at removing excess food particles and plaque between teeth. If possible, bring a pack of floss in addition to your flosser. 

 

Mouthwash  

While it shouldn’t be used to replace your brushing habit too often, mouthwash can do wonders for killing bacteria and germs in your mouth. You won’t have any trouble fitting travel-sized mouthwashes in your carry-on, and you can use them to freshen your breath when you don’t have a chance to brush. 

 

Toothpicks

Toothpicks are the perfect little gadgets for removing food particles after a meal. Get a travel-sized pack of toothpicks for your trip to use when you don’t have the opportunity to floss. 

 

Wisps

Manufactured by Colgate, Wisp brushes are relatively new. And they’re one of the handiest oral hygiene products you can buy. These pocket-sized, disposable brushes are surprisingly effective at removing food particles and plaque, and each brush comes with a built-in freshening bead that releases toothpaste as you brush. The best part is that you don’t even have to rinse!

 

Sugar-Free Gum

Chewing gum is great for keeping bad breath at bay, but it also increases saliva production when you chew it. Since saliva is essential for dissolving acids and helping you fight dry mouth, this is a good thing. Stay fresh and avoid cavities by packing sugar-free gum for your vacation. 

 

  1. Consider Sustainable Products 

While travel-sized dental care products are great for taking trips, using eco-conscious products for your everyday routine is a great way to benefit both your oral health and the environment. Here are some of the most popular types of eco-conscious dental care products available today:

 

Toothbrushes

Plastic toothbrushes typically are not compostable, nor are the packages they come in. That’s why bamboo toothbrushes are gaining in popularity. Not only are the bristles and handles easily compostable, but bamboo brushes can be just as effective for cleaning your teeth and gums as conventional brushes. 

 

Toothpaste  

Natural toothpaste has been around for a long time. But it has come a long way over the years in terms of helping you effectively remove plaque and prevent cavities. Unless you have a high decay risk, your family could benefit your oral health and the environment by using natural toothpaste that comes in a compostable tube. 

 

Floss

The packaging of conventional floss can take years to biodegrade. There are many sustainable, low-waste floss products on the market that come in biodegradable packaging and are just as effective at removing food particles and plaque. 

 

Mouthwash

Alcohol-based mouthwashes may leave you with a feeling of freshness in your mouth, but they can also dehydrate your oral cavity, hinder saliva production, and cause irritation. If you want to add a mouth rinse to your dental care routine, opt for one that contains coconut oil and xylitol, which are known for their antibacterial properties and less harsh on the gums than alcohol. 

 

Whitening

Brushing with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda once a week can noticeably brighten your smile, and it has no impact on the environment! Just make sure it’s not part of your daily routine. When used too frequently, hydrogen peroxide can cause chemical burns on your gums while baking soda can damage your enamel. 

 

  1. Don’t Chew Ice 

Few things are more satisfying than an ice-cold drink on a hot summer day. But if you’re an ice-chewer, know the risks that come with it. Chewing ice, especially large cubes, can cause a variety of oral health issues and even lead to a hefty bill from the dentist or orthodontist. Some common consequences of chewing ice include damaged tooth enamel, damaged dental fillings, cracked or chipped teeth, and broken oral appliances. 

While adults should also take precautions, kids are particularly prone to chew ice subconsciously. Make sure your children know the risks involved and try to prevent the habit if possible. If anyone in your family experiences one of the injuries above to your teeth or oral appliances, contact Adam Brown DDS immediately to arrange an emergency dental visit.  

 

  1. Limit Sugary Foods and Drinks 

We get it—Summer is meant to be enjoyed. And sometimes that includes chomping on yummy foods that are not so good for your teeth. Try to moderate your consumption of sugary foods and beverages, as they can significantly hinder your oral health routine. For example, sodas, juices, and ice cream can erode your enamel and cause cavities. Even acidic fruits like blueberries and pineapples can harm your enamel. After eating foods like these, be sure to rinse your mouth, brush, and floss as soon as possible.   

 

  1. Embrace Healthy Summer Foods 

Now that you have an idea of what foods to limit in your summer diet, let’s talk about some foods that can specifically benefit your oral health:

 

Salmon 

Salmon is not only a versatile fish for recipes, but it’s also one of the best foods you can eat for vitamin D. And without vitamin D, your body won’t be able to absorb nutrients like calcium. Salmon is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are critical in the prevention of periodontal disease and fostering overall health. 

 

Cheese 

For most people, this one doesn’t take a lot of convincing. Obviously, cheese is best eaten in moderation because it’s high in fat content, but it’s a wonderful source of calcium. And calcium is perhaps the single most beneficial nutrient for teeth, as it helps to keep your enamel strong and your jawbones durable. Moreover, cheese contains casein—a protein that provides a protective layer on your teeth and helps prevent tooth decay. 

 

Bananas

Bananas are one of the most beneficial fruits you can eat for your dental health. They have a low acidic content, and they’re high in potassium, which helps to maintain jawbone density and tooth strength. Yes, bananas have sugar in them, but they won’t stick to your teeth like candy and other sugary foods. 

 

Oranges

Vitamin C plays a critical role in helping your gums fight off gingivitis and other oral infections, and oranges offer a beaucoup of vitamin C. Boost your gum health, and you’ll significantly lower your risk of loose teeth. 

 

Apples

If nature had a toothbrush, it would be an apple. Along with containing vital nutrients (e.g., potassium, vitamin C, fiber, etc.), apples massage the gums, increase saliva, and remove plaque. Making apples a part of your daily diet will help you maintain a clean mouth, fresh breath, healthy gums, and strong teeth. 

 

Carrots

Carrots are also a wonder for cleaning your teeth and gums. They contain lots of keratin, which combat plaque and tartar, and they massage your gums. They also have beta carotene, a nutrient that converts to vitamin A, which increases saliva production and enables oral wounds to heal more quickly. 

 

Kale 

This superfood is known for its incredible array of nutrients, and it’s one of the best foods you can eat for your oral and overall health. Kale has high levels of vitamin K, which helps to protect your bones and enamel, boost your immune system, and foster healing. It also helps the body absorb osteocalcin—another nutrient that benefits bones and teeth. 

 

  1. Drink Plenty of Water 

Water is essential for keeping you hydrated in the heat. But it also comes with specific dental benefits. For instance, it helps to keep your mouth clean by washing away leftover food and residue that would otherwise attract bacteria, in turn reducing the risk of cavities. Furthermore, water dilutes the acids produced by oral bacteria. Start your morning off with a glass of water, and always keep a refillable water bottle with you so that you can sip throughout the day. 

 

  1. Prepare for Accidents 

Finally, accidents happen. While you want to take every precaution, such as having your child wear a mouthguard while playing sports, you may not always be able to avoid injury. That’s why it’s essential to prepare a kit of supplies for your child to keep nearby in the event of a dental emergency. Whether they’re playing a contact sport, engaging in an individual physical activity, or hanging out at the pool, make sure they have easy access to a kit with these items:

  • Gauze
  • Saline solution
  • OTC pain medication
  • A small container (for a knocked-out tooth)
  • The number to their dentist 

 

Conclusion

Summertime may be when the living’s easy (especially for kids), but your family’s dental health still matters. Along with maintaining your regular oral hygiene routine, look for new products that can benefit your smile and the planet. Avoid chewing ice, consume sugary foods and beverages in moderation, and incorporate dental-friendly foods in your diet. Lastly, be sure to drink a lot of water, stay prepared for dental emergencies, and book your back-to-school appointments now at Adam Brown DDS!

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Oral Piercings and Dental Health

2021-03-22T16:34:40+00:00March 22nd, 2021|Dental Trends, Oral Health|

Oral Piercings and Dental Health Monroe, NC

There is no denying the fact oral piercings have become more prominent over the years. Today, you can find people of just about any age or gender who have a tongue or other oral area pierced. But even though this way of self-expression may be trendy, oral piercings can cause dental complications if they are not properly cared for. Is your piercing negatively affecting your oral health? 

All piercings need to be cleaned regularly, but for oral piercings, this cleaning needs to be extra thorough, because they can attract unwanted reactions and infections that can then cause trauma to your overall oral health. This means it is so important that you maintain a regular hygiene regimen throughout the process of having the piercing.

What sort of reactions can your mouth have to an oral piercing? There are a number of things to watch for—here are the most common:

  • Oral Infections. Since our mouths are filled with bacteria (mostly the good kind), any sort of oral piercing is subject to infection since it is in continual contact with the saliva and bacteria in your mouth. If the bacteria in your mouth manages its way into your bloodstream, through the hole your piercing is in, a condition called Endocarditis can occur. This is an oral infection of the inner lining of the heart chambers and, as you can imagine, this can cause serious health problems—beyond oral.
  • Chipped and Broken Teeth. Piercings located close to the gum tissue can rub and wear at the roots of your teeth. This may not be a noticeable problem at first, but over time this constant friction will cause your gums to recede, exposing the sensitive nerves to your teeth. From this point, as the piercing continues to rub at the base of the gum, the teeth can become brittle and begin to crack. Once there is a crack or break in the tooth it may need major dental work such as a repair filling and a root canal.

*TIP: It’s a good idea to use plastic or other softer materials for oral piercings if possible. Hard metal piercings that rub at your gums and teeth have a high possibility of causing damage.

  • Scratches and Rashes. Lip piercings and other piercings close to the jaw and gum line can cause gum tissue scratches, which do heal but the scratch itself can get infected. Rashes can also break out and other wounds, which open up the possibility for a host of oral infections.
  • Negative Reaction. Speaking of rashes and wounds, since most mouth piercings contain nickel, an allergic reaction can come about if you aren’t sure how your body reacts to the metal. This is why it is so important to make sure you are not allergic to nickel prior to getting a piercing.
  • Ingesting a Piercing. Since oral piercings are inside the mouth there is always the chance of swallowing a piercing or a piece of it. Piercing studios will tell you that swallowing a piercing is harmless, as it will safely pass through your stool, there is no guarantee this is true.
  • Complications with Swelling. Tongue piercings especially like to swell since the piercing itself is damaging nerves and tissue. Some people swell more than others, and for those who do swell a lot, this can be dangerous because the tongue can balloon up enough to make breathing difficult, or even block your airway completely. If you are thinking of getting your tongue pierced, make sure you have quick access to medical attention if needed!

 

What is Your Body Telling You?

Our bodies are amazing machines that like to communicate with us when they are healthy and when there might be something wrong. If we pay attention, our bodies are giving little tells all the time indicating our current levels of health. This information is likely nothing new, but at Adam Brown, DDS we think it’s important for you to recognize a not-so-common sign that your oral health may be in danger, whether that danger is due to a piercing or anything else.

Paying close attention to your gums is incredibly important for analyzing your own oral health. If we have piercings, we know the importance of keeping them clean, we all know the necessity of flossing and brushing and making sure those gums are not receding, but what about when areas of the gums begin to turn white? What is your body trying to tell you when this happens? White spots on the gums are more common than not, but most people do not understand the possible dangers that could arise because of them. 

Unfortunately, noticing a white coloration on your gums could mean a number of different things, and they all have varying levels of seriousness. They can be caused by irritations due to piercings, but they can also come from a lack of proper oral care. That being said, as long as you catch it in time and know the possible reasons, you can get your oral health right back where it needs to be.

Here are some possible reasons for white gums:

  • Leukoplakia: This is an oral disease where white or gray coloration appears on or around the gums. These light spots are created due to mucous membranes that are sensitive and quite painful. Think canker sores, only on your gums! Leukoplakia is often caused by long-term tobacco use, excessive alcohol use, poorly fitting dental appliances, mouth injury, or bodily maladies such as cancer and HIV. If you find painful, white sores on your gums, the best thing to do is see a dentist immediately. Whether it is leukoplakia or not, your gums should never be white.
  • Anemia: This is a tough one because it can produce in many different forms, making it difficult to identify. The best way to diagnose anemia is to notice if the white coloration on your gums is paired with any of the following happenings:

-cold hands and feet

-constant fatigue

-chronic headaches

-spells of dizziness

-shortness of breath

-bodily weakness

-spells of irregular heartbeat

Another tell to anemia is the sudden whiteness of skin beyond just the gums. Some common causes of anemia include vitamin B12 and iron deficiencies, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease. This is definitely one you want to take care of right away. If you feel any of these symptoms could be true for you, make a dental appointment as soon as possible.

  • Mouth Ulcers: noticing white spots on your gums could indicate oncoming ulcers. This is much less serious than the previous causes of white gums, but these sores are no fun at all. If you feel the white spots on your gums could be connected to ulcers, it’s a good idea to begin washing your mouth out with saltwater. This is a great way to keep them away and the inside of your mouth healthy. Some causes of mouth ulcers are sugary foods and drinks, as well as, tobacco use. There is no need to completely cut these out of your diet, but regulation is a must.
  • Gingivitis: this is a mild form of gum disease that is fairly common among American adults. If you notice your gums beginning to recede and turn white, gingivitis is most likely the culprit. A few other signs include swollen and bleeding gums, even painful irritation, and loose teeth. The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral care, so if you have fallen off the wagon a bit, it’s best to get right back into the routine of brushing and flossing regularly to keep from this uncomfortable situation.
  • Lichen Planus: this chronic autoimmune condition can inflame the gums and begin to turn them white in lacy patches. Symptoms of lichen planus are similar to gingivitis, but regular dental check-ups can keep this condition from inflammation.
  • Candidiasis: simply put, this is a yeast infection that causes creamy white sores on the gums. This type of infection is usually seen in babies and older adults and is often brought on by diabetes. If you happen to fit any of these categories, it is best to maintain a strict teeth-and-gum cleaning schedule and keep up with your dental appointments. Two appointments a year is recommended, but in this case, you might benefit more from three or four check-ups a year.
  • Oral Cancer: if you ever notice white bumps or growths on your gums, or if you suddenly find it difficult to chew or swallow, see a dentist right away. Most importantly, though, don’t panic. White growths or raised sections on the gums do not always equate to cancer, and even if they do, the faster you get them looked at the better your chances of having them safely removed.

Oral piercings or not, it is of the utmost importance to keep up on proper oral health. Whenever in doubt to what your body is telling you, contact us at Adam Brown, DDS. We are always here to help!

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Laser Procedures: A Beneficial Trend in Modern Dentistry

2020-06-11T13:33:01+00:00November 21st, 2019|Carolina's Dental Choice, Dental Trends|

Lasers (Light Amplified by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) are used for all sorts of things these days: welding, cutting, printing, surveying—and dentistry.  A laser is a device that uses radiation to stimulate light so that it can penetrate a foreign material, which makes it a perfect device for taking care of things like cavities or excess gums overlapping the teeth.

 

Some patients may have a bit of reluctance towards having a radiated light used inside their mouths, but realizing what a laser can do to cavities and gums, and understanding how safe it actually is, should quickly relieve any apprehension.

Since the mid-90s, lasers have been slowly incorporated into dentistry for use on such things as:

  • Biopsies—since a laser is incredibly precise and reliable it can be used to remove a very small portion of tissue without affecting the surrounding areas. Using a laser also allows for a faster healing process.
  • Tooth Decay—using a laser to remove the decaying portion of a tooth has proven to be a quicker and a more efficient process than using traditional methods.
  • Gum Disease—a laser is a great way to reshape gums and remove built-up bacteria without damaging the teeth.
  • Teeth Whitening—modern dentistry has found a way to whiten the teeth by applying a peroxide bleaching solution to the teeth then having it activated by a laser to speed the whitening process up. And it’s completely painless.

There’s even more that dentists can do with lasers. They can be used for reducing the pain of canker and cold sores, expose hidden wisdom teeth, remove excess muscles in the mouth that restrict proper movement, and help treat infections from root canals. And as we make advancements in laser dentistry, the list just continues to grow.

 

Lasers Treatments

Essentially, there are two types of lasers used in dentistry: one for soft tissue and another for hard tissue.

Soft-Tissue Lasers.

These use an absorbable wavelength, making them less dangerous to use on softer tissue like the gums. The surrounding areas can then absorb and handle the effect of the beam without being damaged. Another benefit to using a soft-tissue laser is that it has the capability to kill bacteria and simultaneously encourage new growth. Postoperative pain is minimal from the use of soft-tissue lasers because, at the same time they are penetrating one area of tissue, they are able to seal the surrounding blood vessels. Soft-tissue lasers are typically used for:

  • Soft-Tissue Folds—devices such as dentures can cause actual folds of tissue in the mouth, which can become painfully uncomfortable and a health hazard. Using a laser is a painless way to reshape the gums and etch away areas of excess, molding the interior of your mouth to the shape it should be.
  • Crown Lengthening—this is a form of gum reshaping so that the foundation of the tooth is strengthened and exposed from overlapping gums. Patients don’t always notice they need crown lengthening, but the procedure does make the tooth healthier in the long run.
  • Muscle Attachment—for those who have limited tongue movement due to muscle restraints, a soft-tissue laser can be used to reshape or remove pieces of tissue to free up the tongue and allow for better movement within the mouth.

Hard-Tissue Lasers.

These types of lasers have a high enough wavelength that they can cut into hard tissues such as bone and teeth. This laser has such incredible accuracy that it only penetrates the desired material and causes little to no impact on the surrounding areas.

A hard-tissue laser is primarily used for prepping dental fillings. In the past, a drill was used to rid a tooth of unwanted bacteria before a filling was attached, and for this to take place the area had to be anesthetized and the prep and process were arduous. With a hard- tissue laser, there is no pain and therefore no need for anesthesia. The process is easier, faster, and much more accurate.

This type of laser is also used to help with overly sensitive teeth. On the root of sensitive teeth there can be found open tubules, which cause the unwanted sensation. By using a hard-tissue laser, a dentist can seal these holes and strengthen the teeth.

 

A Case for Lasers

There is a clear case for laser dentistry. The handful of procedures they are currently used for are just scratching the surface of what can be done with lasers. At Carolina’s Dental Choice, we’re excited about what can be done with laser procedures. Call or visit us today to make an appointment. It’s time to be confident with your smile, and we can help.

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Managing Pain and Anxiety During Dental Visits

2020-06-11T13:38:58+00:00October 9th, 2019|Carolina's Dental Choice, Dental Trends, General|

It’s no secret that regular dental visits are an important tool for maintaining good oral health. Despite this, as much as 36% of the population fears a visit to the dentist and 1 in 25 suffers from dentophobia (extreme fear of dental visits). While there are many reasons people might have anxiety around a trip to the dentist, there are also a number of ways that both you and your dentist can help to alleviate those fears.

 

Pain and Anxiety Management

Fear of pain is the number one reason people are afraid to visit the dentist. And while having your teeth worked on won’t necessarily be something you look forward to, it also doesn’t have to be something you fear. Technology has come a long way when it comes to anxiety and pain management. Here is a list of some of the tools you and your dentist have at your disposal to combat any fears that might arise.

 

Pain-Free Shots –  Let’s just say it. Shots are scary. For all of us. No one likes to be poked with needles, especially in their mouths. However, dentists have multiple options at their disposal to help make the experience of getting a shot much easier and a whole lot less scary. If they aren’t already, ask your dentist to use an anesthetic gel or rinse to help numb your mouth before administering the shot. This will desensitize the area and lessen pain significantly.

Studies have also shown that the speed at which a shot is administered can affect the level of discomfort a person experiences. The general rule of thumb is “the slower the better” when it comes to administering numbing medication. If your doctor gives you novocaine, expect it to take approximately 60-90 minutes to wear off after the procedure depending on the amount given.

 

Providing distraction – Oftentimes dentists will offer various forms of distraction that can help to lessen a person’s anxiety and make it easier to get through a procedure. Some of these distractions include tv’s on the ceiling, movie headsets that immerse you in a world outside of your current situation and soothing aromatherapy scents such as orange and lavender. Some dentists even go so far as to have a spa-like atmosphere that provides perks such as a manicurist and reflexologist to be available during procedures.

 

Oral Pain Relief – If an alternative to a shot is needed, there are various oral solutions that can be considered. The first option is the use of nitrous oxide (N2O). We all know nitrous oxide from our childhood by its informal name of “laughing gas”. N2O works to relax you and provide you with a more pleasurable emotional feeling. Pain is intensified when we are stressed or anxious so allowing yourself to relax can be an effective method of management. In addition, N2O is considered safe and effective because it begins to work quickly and the effect is completely reversible with no long-lasting effects. When used for a dental procedure, you will recover quickly enough afterward to be able to drive yourself home.

Another oral method used to help people alleviate the fear of a trip to the dentist is a pill called Halcion. Halcion is a member of the Valium family and is usually administered an hour or two before work is done. Some dentists will also provide a pill the night before to ensure the patient has a full night’s sleep. When this pill is used, patients can feel sleepy and relaxed but are still able to communicate with the dentist.

 

Electronically Delivered Pain Relief – An alternative to injection, this type of pain relief is commonly known as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or TENS for short. TENS uses low voltage electricity to help alleviate pain. Your dentist will place adhesive pads on your face in the area where they are working and send a low current through in order to achieve numbness. TENS can help to relax your jaw and facial muscles, a commonly tense area when people experience anxiety.

 

Laser Drills – While not yet formally approved by the American Dental Association, the organization says that they are cautiously optimistic about how this technology can influence the future of dentistry. Laser drills provide an alternative to traditional drills by using the energy from light to cut or vaporize infected tissues. This form of treatment is less invasive and less painful than traditional methods currently being used. A few examples of how lasers can be used in dentistry include treating tooth decay, remedying issues associated with gum disease, performing biopsies and whitening teeth.

 

IV Sedation – If more moderate sedation is needed, a dentist will sometimes use IV sedation. One advantage to this form of sedation is that the dentist has direct control over the levels you are given and can quickly adjust to meet your individual needs.

 

Additional Sedation Options – While family dentists don’t perform deep sedation or general anesthesia, sometimes when you are referred to a specialist, you may encounter these options. In order to administer deep sedation, providers need to complete a program through CODA (Commission on Dental Accreditation) focusing on deep sedation and general anesthesia. Typically this accreditation is completed by oral surgeons and dental anesthesiologists.

 

Post Dental Pain – What to Expect

While pain management during dental treatment is important, understanding pain post-treatment is equally as important. Having the ability to discern between what type of pain is normal versus when it is necessary to contact a professional can be a huge advantage for someone who is anxious about their recovery. Here are a few examples of different types of pain you might experience after a visit to the dentist.

 

Jaw Soreness/Tenderness – This type of pain is one of the more common types experienced after a dental procedure. It occurs because of your mouth being held open for an extended period of time. The muscles in your mouth are no different from the muscles in any other part of your body. Use them more than they’re used to being used and they’ll become sore and tired. One way to remedy the pain is to ask your dentist if he has a bite block available for you to use. A bite block will allow your jaw to rest while still allowing the dentist to perform dental work. If you do experience this type of pain, it will typically clear up after a day or two depending on the procedure. For people who grind their teeth, it may take slightly longer as grinding is also a major cause of jaw soreness.

 

Pulpitis – Pulpitis is caused by an inflammation of the pulp within the tooth. It can feel like the sudden onset of a toothache. Pulpitis can also cause hot and cold temperature sensitivity within a tooth. This type of pain can occur after any dental procedure where a tooth has been worked on from a filling to the repair of a cracked or chipped tooth. There is both reversible and irreversible pulpitis. With reversible pulpitis, you won’t feel pain unless something comes in contact with the tooth to affect its sensitivity. However, irreversible pulpitis is a constant pain that typically requires a root canal to remedy. Irreversible pulpitis is not a common side effect of performed dental work, rather, it is typically a sign that dental work may be necessary.

 

Referred Pain – Referred pain is when you feel pain in other areas of your body than where the pain originated. So, for example, while you might have had a root canal on your molar, your eye sockets or ears may experience pain as a result. Referred pain can be experienced from any traumatic event and can sometimes be a sign of something more serious. If you experience referred pain that doesn’t go away within a week of your procedure, be sure to check in with your dentist and let him know about the symptoms you are experiencing.

 

Methods for Addressing Post Dental Pain

While there may be no sure-fire method to completely escape the discomfort that comes after a dental procedure, there are ways to lessen the pain and make recovery a more pleasant experience. A few suggestions for improved recovery time are listed below.

  • Eat an anti-inflammatory diet before you go to the dentist. Focusing on foods that help combat inflammation will improve your overall recovery time.
  • For those with TMJ/TMD, focus on relaxing your jaw before your procedure. Consciously working to relax and stretch your jaw muscles will help reduce pain post-procedure.
  • Check for a bite block. As stated above, asking if your dentist has a bite block available can lead to a lot less pain and discomfort after the work is over.
  • Relax! While this tactic is obviously easier said than done, it’s a known fact that stress will tense your muscles and cause a longer recovery as a result. Practicing mindfulness and focusing on your breathing can go a long way towards bringing down the levels of stress associated with a dental procedure.

Of course, taking an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen is also a perfectly acceptable way to deal with pain after a procedure. If your dentist prescribes medication, be sure to follow all the directions associated with it and never share a prescription with someone else. If for any reason, your pain doesn’t diminish or feels like it’s getting worse, call your dentist and set up an appointment to check and make sure everything is healing the way it should.

 

Pain isn’t fun for anyone. The good news is that there are several tools at your dentist’s disposal that they can use to help you through a procedure with a minimal level of discomfort. While the dentist’s chair can sometimes seem like a scary place, remember that first and foremost, they are there to help you maintain a strong, healthy smile. They have their teeth worked on the same as you and, like you, they also desire an outcome that doesn’t leave pain in its wake.

 

Our dentists are sensitive to your needs and are always happy to speak with you about the options we provide when it comes to pain control. Please feel free to call anytime during office hours and we’ll be happy to set up a consultation for you to learn more.

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

Boge, Emily. “Dental Phobia, Fear of Dentist & Anxiety: Colgate Oral Care.” Dental Phobia, Fear of Dentist & Anxiety | Colgate Oral Care, https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/dental-visits/how-dental-phobia-develops-and-what-offices-do-to-help-0515.

Collins, Sonya. “Do You Dread the Dentist?” WebMD, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/dentist-anxiety#1.

“Controlling Anxiety and Pain at the Dentist’s Office.” WebMD, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/controlling-dental-pain#1.

DDS, Mark Burhenne. “Pain After a Dental Visit: What’s Normal, and What’s Not.” Ask the Dentist, 30 Aug. 2019, https://askthedentist.com/pain-dental-visit/.

Garret-Bernardin, Annelyse, et al. “Pain Experience and Behavior Management in Pediatric Dentistry: A Comparison between Traditional Local Anesthesia and the Wand Computerized Delivery System.” Pain Research & Management, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28293129.

Kasat, Vikrant, et al. “Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS) in Dentistry- A Review.” Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry, Medicina Oral S.L., 1 Dec. 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4312687/.

“Laser Use in Dentistry.” WebMD, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/laser-use-dentistry.

“Sedation Dentistry: Can You Really Relax in the Dentist’s Chair?” WebMD, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/sedation-dentistry-can-you-really-relax-in-the-dentists-chair#1.

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The ABC’s of Whitening Toothpaste

2020-07-16T16:54:54+00:00July 8th, 2019|Carolina's Dental Choice, Dental Trends, General, Oral Health, Teeth Cleaning, Teeth Whitening|

Teeth whitening is on the rise across the country. In 2018 alone, over 40.5 million people used some form of bleaching product to improve their smiles. Whitening toothpaste, in particular, is marketed as an affordable way to brighten your smile, but is it actually doing more harm than good?


    

A Brief History of Tooth Whitening

Despite its recent rise in popularity, you might be surprised to learn that the process of teeth whitening has been around for over 4,000 years. Egyptians were some of the first known people to follow the practice. They used ground pumice stone soaked in vinegar to improve their overall smiles. As time progressed, so did the methods. During the 1600’s people actually relied on their barbers to whiten their teeth in addition to cutting their hair. The barber would file the teeth down and then soak them in nitric acid as a way to whiten someone’s smile. Fluoride was discovered as a way to protect teeth in the early 19th century and toothpaste as we currently know it began to make its way to the public around 1945. Finally, in 1989, Rembrandt officially launched the first whitening toothpaste into the grocery market effectively empowering the general public to whiten their teeth with an affordable over-the-counter product.

Today there are hundreds of different brands of whitening toothpaste to choose from and not all are created equal. With everything from big names to natural alternatives vying for space on the shelves, it’s hard to know which path to take.

     

Understanding Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Tooth Whitening

In order to understand how whitening toothpaste affects your smile, it’s helpful to first understand how the process of whitening works. When we observe stains on our teeth, we are generally seeing two types, extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic stains are considered surface stains whereas intrinsic stains run deeper inside the tooth and are more difficult to remedy.

 

Causes of extrinsic stains include: Causes of intrinsic stains include:
Coffee or tea Tooth decay
Dark fruits such as blueberries and cherries Overuse of fluoride
Red wines Cracks/Scratches in enamel
Dark vegetables such as carrots and beets Genetics
Smoking or Chewing Tobacco Certain Antibiotics (Tetracycline based)
   

Over the counter products such as whitening toothpaste and strips are only strong enough to handle extrinsic stains. For intrinsic stains, it is recommended that you see a cosmetic dentist to learn more about safe, professional procedures that may be available to you.

 

How Whitening Toothpaste Works

Contrary to its name, one of the main ways whitening toothpaste works to remove stains is through abrasion. Tiny silica particles are added to the paste and are used to essentially “scratch” the stains off of your teeth. While this method may initially remove some of the discolorations, overuse can actually cause staining to become worse. This is because the abrasive material doesn’t just eliminate the tinge, it also scratches through the protective enamel. Loss of enamel can eventually lead to deeper, more permanent intrinsic staining. As the unprotected dentin becomes increasingly exposed to everyday food and drink, discoloration is able to penetrate past the surface and into the underlying layers of the tooth below.

In addition to abrasive particles, whitening toothpaste can also contain bleaching agents. The two most common bleaching agents used to whiten teeth in toothpaste include hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. While these ingredients are shown to be effective at whitening teeth, they should always be used in moderation as overuse can lead to demineralization of your teeth and if swallowed, can potentially inflame your internal organs or cause internal bleeding.

 

Common Dental Issues that Arise From the Use of Whitening Toothpaste

Some common dental issues that arise when using whitening toothpaste include sensitivity, retracting gum lines, and even increased discoloration as the enamel breaks down and stains are able to penetrate to deeper levels inside the tooth.

Sensitivity – sensitivity can occur for a number of reasons. Some of these include overuse of whitening toothpaste, keeping the paste on your teeth for an extended period of time, and allowing the toothpaste to penetrate through cracks or openings that are exposing the inner dentin. It should be noted that it’s never a good thing to feel sensitivity from the use of whitening toothpaste. If you have this issue, stop using the toothpaste and consult with your dentist for alternative options.

Receding Gums – if whitening products aren’t used properly and in moderation, they can irritate the gums and cause them to recede. Receding gum lines are harmful for a number of reasons. Healthy oral tissue is important not only to help prevent your teeth from getting infected but also to protect the internal area of the tooth from negative exposure to bacteria and germs. When whitening toothpaste isn’t used properly, it can cause permanent damage to gum lines, causing them to recede, and eventually exposing the vulnerable dentin and root below.

Loss of Enamel both abrasive particles and bleaching agents can lead to a loss of enamel over time. It’s important to understand that enamel does not grow back so great care should be taken any time you choose to use a whitening product. Always consult with your dentist before using over-the-counter products so they can instruct on the safest way to achieve the results you want.

 

The Dangers of Children Using Whitening Toothpaste

While whitening toothpaste is problematic for adults, it can be even more detrimental to children. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that all children under the age of 15 refrain from teeth whitening.  This is because a child’s enamel is thinner than an adult’s and the nerve and dentin on the inside of the tooth are still developing. Tooth enamel isn’t fully calcified until approximately two years after the permanent teeth finish emerging. The Pediatric Safety Organization warns of teenage use of whitening products in particular. Teenagers are at a greater risk for misuse and/or overuse because they tend to want to hasten or intensify the process without fully understanding the consequences. This can cause the developing teeth to become over-oxidized, resulting in a permanent breakdown of the teeth’s structure.

In general, improper use of these types of whitening products before a child’s smile is fully developed can result in increased sensitivity, demineralization of the enamel, and variations in tooth color. Children with braces or other mouth hardware are also at risk of uneven coloring to their teeth, as the portion of the tooth that is covered will not be affected by the whitener and will end up showing as a different shade from the exposed portions of the teeth.

 

Natural Alternatives to Traditional Teeth Whitening

Having whiter teeth doesn’t necessarily equate to a healthier smile. However, if you decide you want to brighten your smile using safer, more natural methods, you have a handful of options at your disposal.

Oil Pulling – oil pulling has been shown to have numerous benefits for oral health. In addition to killing the bacteria in your mouth that is responsible for plaque and gum disease, it also helps to reduce inflammation. Currently, there is no definitive evidence showing that oil pulling whitens teeth, however, many people who use the practice claim they notice a visible whitening of their teeth. Add to the fact that it’s a safe and beneficial method overall, and there’s really no reason not to give it a try to see if it works for you.

To try oil pulling, simply choose an oil of your choice (recommended options include coconut, olive, and sesame) and swish it around in your mouth for 5 to 20 minutes. You can also use a soft toothbrush to apply the oil or wipe it over your teeth with a washcloth.

Baking Soda – Sodium Bicarbonate, or baking soda as it is commonly called, is another natural product that can help to whiten your teeth. When used properly, it can reduce plaque, fight bad breath, help maintain a healthy pH inside your mouth, and assist in the overall whitening of your teeth. For the safest use with regards to oral health, it is recommended that you mix a teaspoon of baking soda with enough water to form a paste. Gently apply the mixture using either your finger or a soft toothbrush and let it sit on your teeth for approximately two minutes followed by a thorough rinse. You can apply this tincture multiple times per week for best results. Just be careful to apply gently as baking soda is abrasive and can harm your enamel if applied too strongly and too often.

Apple Cider Vinegar – apple cider vinegar is another effective way to help whiten your teeth. The reason vinegar works as a whitener is because it contains acetic acid which helps to remove the plaque and clean teeth. To use vinegar effectively as a whitener, mix one part vinegar with three parts water and swish in your mouth for about a minute. Be sure to spit it out once you’re finished. A couple of tips to remember when using Apple Cider Vinegar include:

 

  1. Always dilute the vinegar with water before swishing. Straight vinegar has a highly acidic pH and will damage the enamel on your teeth if overused.
  1. Only use organic brands of apple cider vinegar. This is because non-organic brands are typically pasteurized, which removes the majority of the beneficial properties contained in the vinegar.
  1. Be sure to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth after use. Residual vinegar remains on your teeth and can harm your enamel if you brush while it’s still present.

 

Brush and Rinse After Eating and Drinking – being vigilant about your teeth after eating and drinking can really make a difference in the amount of staining you accumulate over time. Make an effort, when possible, to brush your teeth after eating food and drink so that you can alleviate stains before they happen. If you drink coffee or other staining drinks, try to follow it up with a glass of water to help mitigate the effects. Regular coffee drinkers or smokers may also want to consider a visit to the dentist every three months instead of six to help keep their smile bright and healthy.

Naturally, one of the best ways to keep a sparkling, white smile is to take care of your teeth on a daily basis. Brush at least twice a day for two minutes at a time, floss regularly, and visit your dentist every six months. If you are interested in learning more about professional teeth whitening, please feel free to call our office. We’ll be happy to help answer any questions you might have and discuss how we can safely and effectively help you to achieve a brighter, whiter smile.

 

– Julie Mastbrook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

“Apple Cider Vinegar Teeth Whitening: Can You Safely Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Whiten Teeth?” Emergency Dentists USA, www.emergencydentistsusa.com/apple-cider-vinegar-teeth-whitening/.

 

“Apple Cider Vinegar vs. Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, www.livestrong.com/article/107959-apple-cider-vinegar-vs.-organic/.

 

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