Habitual Whitening Can Ruin Your Teeth. Are Americans going too far?

2023-11-28T20:15:11+00:00November 28th, 2023|Adam Brown, Adam Brown DDS, Dental Trends, Oral Health, Teeth Cleaning, Teeth Whitening|

The Dangers of Habitual Teeth Whitening

When it comes to teeth whitening these days, we have plenty of options to choose from. Do these methods truly whiten teeth? Yes, absolutely they do. Some provide immediate results, others take a month or so of use for noticeable whiteness, but they do work. However, one question that is rarely discussed concerning teeth whitening is whether or not it has negative side effects. Which, unfortunately, it does–some of which can end up costing a lot of money in repairs, or worse, doing serious damage to one’s oral health.

Dangers of too much teeth whitening

Though advanced methods of teeth whitening pop up every few years, the act of whitening itself has been around for a long time. Archeologists have discovered evidence of ancient Egyptians grinding stone to a powder and mixing it with white vinegar to produce a whitening paste. This 4,000 year-old practice has changed a bit over time, but the desired result has always been the same: pearly white teeth. But what about the long-term effects, are they worth the risk? Let’s find out.

A Quick Note

There are many whitening products available for consumer purchase, however, there are two types of treatment–those done at home and those done in a dental office. Obviously, in-office procedures are performed by a dental professional, which usually brings about quicker results. Then there are at-home treatments which include whitening strips, trays, etc. and these can take longer to show results. The point to be made here is that despite which type of treatment you use, they all come with possible health risks, like gum irritation, heightened tooth sensitivity, and even enamel damage.

Before getting into the details of the potential health risks due to whitening, it is of the utmost importance to understand that any use of whitening agents on one’s teeth should commence with a quick dental consultation, so your dentist can relay professional advice on whether you should or should not use them and which treatment(s) might work best for your teeth. 

Teeth Whitening and How It Works

Teeth whitening involves particular techniques to remove stains and discoloration from the teeth. These techniques are not necessarily meant to improve one’s oral health, but rather to improve the appearance of the teeth, which is important to understand. If a whitening agenda proports effectiveness, know that this means it is effective in making teeth appear whiter, but this doesn’t mean it is effective in making the teeth healthier.

Coffee, tea, wine, and tobacco are usually blamed most often for staining teeth, and when whitening treatments are used, they work by coating the teeth in peroxide-based agents that bleach and break down stains and discolored areas. If the teeth have high levels of dark stains, it might take a more serious procedure, such as an in-office treatment that will cost a bit more than the over-the-counter methods.

The problem is that these whitening treatments use harsh chemicals to whiten the teeth, and often these treatments are done more than once–sometimes a lot more than once. Over time, the peroxide eats away at the enamel, which initiates tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. This is why it is of the utmost importance to see your dentist first before trying any sort of whitening treatment, so you can get an idea of what your specific side effects to the whitening treatments might be.

Dangerous Side Effects

There are so many whitening products out there, it can be difficult to know which ones have the most dangerous and/or severe side effects. It’s a scary thought that you could potentially be purchasing a whitening kit that will damage your teeth, so to help provide some clarity, here are a few tips to consider when looking to whiten:

  • Stay away from trays and gels. This whitening system has been around the longest, and though it does whiten your teeth, it also—you guessed it—eats away at the tooth enamel. The process involves heating a tray, filling it with whitening gel, and inserting it to the mouth to form a bond. The problem with this method is that it can take weeks for results to show, so users tend to use it a lot in order to get the desired results. And consequently, most people who use the trays and gels report having teeth sensitivity afterwards, even receding gums.
  • Use caution with whitening strips—actually, don’t use them at all. The famous whitening strips have been around for ten years or so, and have had a lot of success in whitening teeth. Results can show in about a week, and the process is easy: fold the strip over your top and bottom rows of teeth and keep them in your mouth for a short period of time. However, just as the trays and gels, this method is bad for your teeth and gums in the long run because it eats away your enamel and gum tissue due to the direct contact of the chemicals used.
  • Another one to say away from: paint-on whitening. The paint-on method solves the problem of the whitening agent interacting with interior soft tissues, such as the gums and inner cheek, as you simply brush the whitening gel on each tooth and let it sit for a short period of time, but this “paint” is full of chemicals that like to diminish the enamel. This method is an easy process, which is why it has become popular, but it isn’t healthy. After months, even years, of using paint-on whiteners users have noticed receding gums and increased tooth sensitivity.

A Healthy Option

Recently, two natural methods of whitening teeth have been gaining in popularity. Both maintain your tooth’s enamel, and if used correctly, they don’t cause your gums to recede and reveal that sensitive area between the teeth and gumline. Check these out:

  1. Turmeric Tooth-Whitening Paste. As turmeric is naturally an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent, it does more than clean the teeth. It’s good for your overall oral health as well. Here are the ingredients for this healthy whitening method:

-4 tablespoons turmeric powder

-2.5 tablespoons coconut oil

-2 tablespoons baking soda

Mix the ingredients until a paste is formed and store in an airtight container. Use the paste on your teeth two or three times a week, using regular—non-whitening—toothpaste the rest of the week. All it takes is a pea-sized drop of the turmeric paste and a light touch when brushing (it can be a bit abrasive, so brush lightly as to not end up damaging your teeth and gums).

  • Baking Soda Lemon Tooth-Whitening Paste. Though it seems as though the acidity of a lemon and abrasiveness of baking soda would be harsh on the teeth, if used lightly, and in moderation, it can be quite effective and safe.

 The lemon juice acts as a bleach to help whiten teeth, while the pH of the baking soda balances out the acidity of your mouth to create a nice whitening agent. Here’s the recipe:

-10 teaspoons of baking soda

-Enough lemon juice to form a paste

The same with the turmeric paste, brush lightly. Use a pea-sized amount and let the product sit on your teeth for a minute or two before rinsing. Do this two or three times a week and results should begin to show within a month.

Before You Whiten

Though it is tempting to buy the most popular take-home whitening products on the market, the natural method is so much safer and better for your overall oral health. Just because your friend has found a product that works without causing sensitivity and enamel loss, it doesn’t mean its safe. It could take years, but eventually that loss of enamel and raised gumline will cause some problems.

Your first step is to come in and meet with Dr. Brown and his team. They can effectively assess the health level of your teeth and gums to forecast which method(s) might be best for you–if any.

 

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Why Do Americans Spend So Much Money On Their Smiles?

2023-08-30T12:56:09+00:00August 30th, 2023|Adam Brown, Adam Brown DDS, Adam Brown DDS, Dentist Office Monroe NC, Teeth Cleaning, Teeth Whitening, Veneers|

All There Is to a Smile: Why Do Americans Spend So Much Money and Energy on Their Smiles?

 The average American spends nearly $1,000 every year on dental care without insurance, signaling a scale of investment nationally to ensure good smiles.

According to Dental Health Statistics, “National dental expenditures in the United States are around $130 billion a year and growing.” This is a crystal-clear outlook on the growth of the dental industry, but what is behind a smile that makes so many spend thousands of dollars to improve their looks?

It’s common knowledge that smiling is good for you and often comes with many benefits. But having a smile you’re proud of is an important way to ensure you’re smiling as frequently as you’d like to. After all, nearly 33 percent of Americans are unhappy with their smiles, keeping them from having a confident smile.

If you’re among the many people unhappy with your smile, consider scheduling an appointment with a dentist to discuss your options and boost your confidence. Adam Brown, DDS has robust experience serving Monroe and the surrounding areas; our office sets a new standard for family, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry! Read on to see how crucial a smile is and why cosmetic and restorative dentistry is growing at such a staggering rate.

The History of the Smile

Smiling has been around as long as humans, but how we smile has changed drastically. Some researchers indicate that the “modern smile” is actually relatively new.

The open-mouth “white-tooth” smile is argued to have emerged in 18th-century Paris alongside the creation of modern dentistry. Paris may have marked the emergence of dentistry, but the United States quickly became a world leader in effective dentistry, bringing the white-tooth smile across the Atlantic.

“An open mouth used to mean the person was insane or their reason was totally out of control.” – Colin Jones, author of The Smile Revolution In Eighteenth-Century Paris

 Think back to the many statues, portraits, and depictions you’ve seen of humans from long ago. You’d be hard-pressed to imagine one depicting a toothy smile! Many of these pieces feature a soft, closed-lip smirk if any distinction at all.

Though few and far between, the depictions of any open-mouthed smiles often depicted negative qualities rather than those associated with a brilliant smile today. Still, the modern smile became more popular as dentistry improved, as did the connection of cultures in need with a stand-out way to make impressions. 

Time has marched forward, and the open smile has been embraced and spread rapidly. Only during COVID-19 (Feel free to read Adam Brown DDS’s COVID-19 Policy here!), with the prevalence of masks, did we see the importance of a genuine, comprehensive, and bright smile taking a back seat. But as we return to normalcy, its importance is more pronounced than ever.

The Health Benefits of Smiling

A better-looking smile means you’ll smile more, but what health benefits can you expect from increased smiling? While it seems like a smile is only relegated to your face, it’s intimately tied to the rest of your body and overall health.

It reduces stress.

One of the best-known benefits of smiling is its remarkable ability to reduce stress levels. When you smile, your brain releases neuropeptides that begin to fight off stress. You can benefit from this even when your smile isn’t genuine. Next time you’re feeling stressed, try smiling — you might be surprised how much it helps!

It strengthens your immune system.

Smiling’s ability to release several chemicals throughout your brain, like the neuropeptides we touched on, also impacts your immune system. The more dopamine and the less stress a person feels, the higher the likelihood they’ll be happy. That happiness will increase your number of antibodies and natural white-blood cells, providing a significant boost to your immune system.

It reduces your blood pressure.

Smiling requires 43 different muscles in your face to work together. When functioning correctly, these muscles can increase blood flow to your brain to enhance cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure. If someone told you that you could exercise 43 different muscles while sitting at your desk, you’d likely employ that exercise into your routine; smiling is just that!

It’s tied to a longer lifespan.

This health benefit may be the most surprising of all: several studies have linked smiling to a longer life span. A team of researchers at Wayne State University looked at photos of 230 Baseball players before 1950 and measured the intensity of the players’ smiles. Those smiles were compared to information the researchers had on the lifespan of the indivudals studied, unveiling a remarkable piece of data:

“For those players who had died, the researchers found longevity ranged from an average of 72.9 years for players with no smiles (63 players) to 75 years for players with partial smiles (64 players) to 79.9 years for players with big smiles (23 players).” – Los Angeles Times

Considering that seven-year difference might tempt you to wear your smile more often!

The Social Benefits Of Smiling

The health benefits are one of many reasons to smile as often as possible. A strong, attractive, and frequently employed smile has been linked to several social benefits. But you have to feel better about your smile to reap those rewards. Adam Brown, DDS has helped countless people achieve that comfort with their smiles, as this review demonstrates:

People Spend $1,000 on Dentistry a Year

 

 

 

Smiling is a universal language.

Everyone understands a smile, and it’s often one of the key ways we communicate culturally. Here in America, where so many cultures come together, it’s even more important to have a solid smile to communicate with. After all, Americans smile more than any other country, a topic Adam Brown DDS has touched on before!

A genuine smile is a sure way to stand out.

When you smile authentically, with both your eyes and mouth, you signal many things to those around you. Confidence, competence, friendliness, and approachability are some traits individuals typically associate with a smile.

A strong smile also increases the likelihood that someone will trust you, an invaluable relationship-building quality. Additional studies have even linked the chances of being hired in an interview to the frequency with which the candidate smiles! Whatever the case, benefits like this will help you in both the workplace and your social circles.

A beautiful smile makes you more attractive.

While this piece may seem like common sense, it goes beyond having straight teeth. The symmetry, color, and shape of your smile can all impact how others perceive you.

According to a Harris Interactive study, 82% of adults surveyed noticed a person’s smile first. With pressure like that, you want the best smile possible when making that first impression! Folks with a fantastic smile report increased rates of confidence, more security in their relationships, and overall higher rates of happiness.

How a Better Smile Helps Maximize These Benefits

If you’re thinking, “I would smile more if I liked the way my smile looked,” then you’re reading the right article. Countless Americans find themselves passing on the perks of smiling because of a lack of confidence in their smile. A quarter of those who say they don’t like smiling dislike it because of the appearance of their teeth.

Conversely, those with smiles they’ve invested in report feeling a sense of pride and confidence when showing their pearly whites, meaning they can take advantage of these benefits often.

Adam Brown, DDS believes everyone deserves to have a smile they’re proud of — one they can show off and enjoy some of the many benefits of smiling authentically. The very practice of cosmetic dentistry has that very mission. Also, Adam Brown DDS helps you achieve the smile you want while being as kind and professional as possible. This is a theme echoed in countless reviews, like the one below.

People Spend $1,000 on Dentistry a Year

 

 

Our dental practice offers a wide range of practices and treatments to bring your smile and teeth to the next level, including:

  • Whitening
  • Crowns
  • Veneers
  • Implants
  • Fixed Bridges
  • Dentures
  • Restorative Dentistry
  • Dental Bonding
  • Invisalign

With more options than ever at a single location, backed by qualified practitioners who can bring your smile to its full potential, why wait? Call and schedule a consultation with Adam Brown, DDS today, and start the next chapter of your life with a smile you can be proud of!

 

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Coffee: Good for Your Social Life, Bad for Your Teeth

2023-05-22T21:33:30+00:00May 22nd, 2023|Adam Brown DDS, Dentist Office Monroe NC, Teeth Cleaning, Teeth Whitening|

For many, a life without coffee is a life difficult to imagine. Heck, a single morning without coffee is enough to induce stress, irritability, and a nasty little headache; but have you thought about what such a heavy, potent drink is doing to your teeth?

 

Here’s a hurtful hint: it ain’t good. The famous pick-me-up we’ve relied on for so many years is doing a number on our oral health, leading modern coffee drinkers worldwide to wonder, “Is there a way to maintain shiny, clean teeth AND still be able to sip on my morning/afternoon cup of joe?”

Remedies for Coffee Stain Teeth

It’s honestly not a shock that coffee is bad for the teeth, but the fact remains that it’s one of the most trendy drinks available. According to News Direct, a popular news and content distribution service, coffee is the second most popular drink for Americans — first place is bottled water. A survey of over 7,500 adults was taken and here are the results:

 

  • The number-one drink of choice, as mentioned, is bottled water with 63% of the vote. Number two is coffee.
  • Coming in next is soft drinks at 56%, juices at 50%, and tea at 48%.
  • Looking at alcohol, 25% of people surveyed prefer beer while 24% opt for wine.

 

But let’s get back to the coffee drinkers: News Direct reveals that 79% of Americans drink at least two cups of coffee every single day, while 44% of these drinkers are stopping for quick to-go coffees a few times a week.

 

The survey included questions about how Americans like their coffee made as well. Surprisingly, despite the plethora of ways to make and mix up a perfect coffee concoction, most Americans prefer a plain old cup of joe. Here’s the exact breakdown from the survey:

 

  • 36% said they prefer drip coffee
  • 11% are for cappuccino
  • 10% prefer iced coffee
  • 9% said they would rather have instant coffee (who in the world are these people?)

Coffee Drinkers by Age Group

Interestingly enough, Americans actually drink less coffee, as a whole, than we did in the 1960s when it was most culturally popular and significant. But overall, coffee is still one of America’s favorite drinks, which leads to the question of what age groups are drinking it the most?

 

According to The Food Institute, more younger people are drinking coffee than ever before: 65% percent of Millennials (ages 25 to 39) drink coffee daily. Coincidentally, 46% of Gen Zers (ages 18-24) said the same thing.

 

What has caused this spike in coffee drinking amongst youngsters? Well, multiple things. For one, gourmet coffee has had quite the boom lately, much like craft beer. Breweries and independent coffee shops are popping up all over the country!

 

Other contributing factors are innovative product placements in places frequented by younger crowds (social media sites, commercials on popular television stations, etc.). And we can’t forget about Covid (how could we?!) when people were kept indoors and consuming more in general — including coffee. There are also so many ways to make coffee. Iced, blended, straight-up; single-shot, double-shot, pourover, French press, Aeropress, siphon…and newer methods seem to be coming along more and more.

 

As mentioned above, social media has played a major role in coffee’s popularity with younger drinkers. Coffee shops — both independent and chain brands — have more of a welcoming atmosphere than the pop-in shops of old. Now coffee drinkers can sit outside, sit at the bar, or create their own little workspace and sit for hours. These shops are meant for people to hang out and relax or work, and people all over the country are taking advantage of this.

Coffee and Your Teeth: The Facts

Drinks like tea, wine, and coffee tend to stain the teeth because they have tannins. Tannins are rather difficult to deal with, as this sticky, brown substance can do serious damage to the teeth. Our teeth have a hard covering of enamel over them to protect against bacteria and other harmful substances, but because tannins are so small, they’re able to seep into the enamel and make way to the tooth. Hence the yellowish, brown color of the teeth after drinking coffee.

If you’re a regular coffee drinker, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. It only takes one cup of coffee a day to stain your teeth.
  2. Over time, your teeth can become severely discolored from the dark pigment.
  3. The acid tannins in coffee can impact and erode your tooth enamel.
  4. Consuming excess amounts will dry out your mouth and lower saliva production, which can negatively impact your oral health.

Remedies for Coffee-Stained Teeth

No matter the problems tannins cause to the teeth, coffee drinkers are most likely not going to give up the drink. Coffee wakes us up, it keeps us going; coffee is life!

Thankfully, there are ways to keep your teeth white — though not all of these methods work equally well, and some can damage your teeth. Here are some of the most common ways people keep their teeth from staining:

Swishing Water/Mouthwash

One of the safest and most preemptive ways of keeping your teeth from gaining stains is to immediately gargle with water or mouthwash after imbibing your favorite coffee mixture. This works because the tannins have not yet had a chance to fully adhere to the teeth yet, so the liquid being forced against and between your teeth does well to remove it. Now, this won’t necessarily whiten your teeth, but it will help reduce the addition of stains.

Whitening Trays and Gels

This whitening system has been around for a long time and the process involves heating a tray, filling it with whitening gel, and inserting it into the mouth to form a bond. The problem with this method is that it can take weeks for results to show. Additionally, most people who use the tray and gels report having teeth sensitivity afterward, which is a possible set of new problems for you to deal with.  

Whitening Strips

Use caution with this method as well. The famous whitening strips have been around for twelve or so years, and they have had a lot of success. Results can show in about a week, and the process is simple: fold the strips over your top and bottom rows of teeth and keep them in your mouth for a short period of time.

 

It’s important to be cautious, however, not to overlap the strips onto your gums, as this can cause irritation. Also, if you use the strips too often, your teeth can become sensitive due to the erosion of enamel from the chemicals in the strips.

Paint-On Whitening

When you have the time to wait, use this method. The paint-on method solves the problem of the whitening agent interacting with and causing damage to interior soft tissues, such as the gums and inner cheek because there is no overlap or spillage of chemicals.

 

Simply brush the whitening gel on each tooth and let it sit for a short period of time. The only down side to this method is it can take months before results are noticeable, and you have to be diligent in getting the gel precisely on each tooth every day.

Whitening Devices

Though they may be a little more expensive than the others mentioned, whitening devices produce the best results. These devices use high-intensity lights to break down hydrogen peroxides to create more whitening oxygens on the teeth. The best part of using this method is your teeth will be much whiter in only a matter of two days!

 

Like almost anything else out there we enjoy, if you’re not careful it can do some damage to your health. So the next time you decide to enjoy a cup of coffee — iced, latte, with cream, or otherwise — make sure you have a pl

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Why Do I Have Naturally Stained Yellow Teeth?

2022-06-14T16:49:52+00:00June 14th, 2022|Dental Trends, Teeth Whitening|

Tips to Avoid Yellow Teeth

Despite the guarantee of many whitening products—the strips, the trays, the paint-on whitening liquid—not all teeth, or stains on the teeth, respond to these products.

So now for the million-dollar question: if these whitening products aren’t working, am I destined to have yellow, stained teeth for the rest of my life?

Luckily, the answer to this question is NO. There are a number of possible reasons your teeth are not responding to whitening agents and narrowing down the possibilities as to why is the first step in finding the culprit and solution to your naturally stained teeth.

At Adam Brown, DDS we know how frustrating it can be trying to get and maintain white teeth, especially since not all teeth are created the same; some respond well to whitening agents, while others don’t need whitening agents at all in order to show that pearly glow. For those of us with naturally stained or discolored teeth, the prospect of getting them to a whiter shade seems futile, but it’s important not to give up hope. The truth is, regardless of the level of staining, you can have white teeth.

When it comes down to it, there are only three options, and they should be followed in this order:
Make sure you are cleaning your teeth properly. Brushing and flossing daily is not only important for your oral health, but it will also remove stains that are not natural or permanent. There is really no way of knowing if your teeth are naturally stained if this step has not been taken. If you are unsure whether you are properly cleaning your teeth or not, see your dentist right away—he will be able to let you know pretty quickly.
Try whitening agents. Once you are confident those teeth are being kept clean, try some whitening agents. It’s a good idea to consult your dentist on this first, as he can point you in the direction of those products that will work best for you—some can irritate sensitive teeth, and others might not be strong enough for what you need.
Consider veneers. Veneers are a coating that goes over your teeth (permanently) and is the fastest way to brighten that smile. For those teeth with stains that simply won’t respond to regular cleaning and whitening, veneers are your only option.

 

Strategies for Keeping Healthy, White Teeth

When trying to find the culprit for naturally stained teeth, focus on your daily cleaning routine. Beyond brushing and flossing, there are a few other things you can do to keep those teeth healthy—and hopefully stain-free.

1. Drink Through Straws Whenever Possible
Any liquid with additives like sugar or caffeine can negatively affect your teeth, but there is an easy way to keep most of the liquid from having too much contact with your teeth: use a straw. By using a straw, you can keep liquid from contacting and leaving some residue on your teeth. You can use a wide straw for thick juices, narrow or regular-sized for normal densities, or even a bendy straw just because they’re fun. (Do stay away from those trendy metal straws though, as they can chip your teeth.)

2. Always Have a Water Chaser
The more time acidic liquids have to rest in-between and on the teeth, the better the chances of stains and erosion, and you know what that means: more trips to the dentist and quite possibly some intensive dental work to be done. So, even if you use a straw, it is a great idea to have a glass of crisp and clean water to drink from between each gulp of non-water you take. A quick swig of water makes those acidic bits difficult to stick around and manages to rinse any residue left behind that would stain the teeth.

3. Get the Right Toothpaste
A lot of people like to rush right to the whitening toothpaste. It makes sense, if it says “whitening” it must work, right? Well, not on all teeth. Sensitive teeth and gums can clash with the harsh chemicals in whitening toothpaste, and this can cause a lot of discomforts. It’s better to use toothpaste that is made for sensitive teeth. This will clean the teeth well without hurting them, and if your teeth are clean and the stains remain, the toothpaste is not your issue. Use toothpaste for sensitive teeth and brush twice a day. If there are removable stains on your teeth, this should help.

4. Avoid Over-Brushing
Never thought you could brush too much, did you? Well, you can. Too much brushing can actually help acid and bacteria erode the enamel off your teeth, turning them to a dingy yellow color. When you brush, use a soft or medium bristle; brush lightly, and use a mechanical toothbrush if possible. These are made to get to those hard-to-reach places and they put the perfect amount of pressure on your teeth and gums.

5. Use Mouthwash Regularly
Just like flossing and brushing, the twice-a-day rule is all you need with mouthwash. If you feel the need to rinse more than that use water, but once in the morning, then again at night, can do wonders to clean the mouth. Mouthwash also helps keep your teeth white and your breath fresh.

6. Visit Your Dentist Twice a Year
This is one of the most important things to do. One visit to the dentist every six months is the perfect way to gauge the health level of your teeth, as well as, document what is and is not working as far as whitening. Your dentist can tell if your teeth are becoming too sensitive or more stained and advise you on what to do. It’s also good because you get a professional cleaning where someone is meticulously searching your mouth for cavities, bits of food, permanent stains, or anything else.

 

Tips for Whitening

One possible reason those stains aren’t disappearing is that you are using the wrong kind of whiteners on your teeth. Each year there seems to be some new teeth-whitening trend, but not all of these methods effectively work to brighten that smile. There is one newer method catching attention that is showing some spectacular results for users. It’s called LED lighting and dentists and patients are beginning to take a closer look at this advanced method of removing coffee, nicotine, and seemingly permanent stains from the teeth. But is using LED lighting—or, blue lighting, as it is often called—for whitening teeth a safe practice? Though the results of this particular whitening method are positive, patients are still citing some enamel loss and increased sensitivity. Luckily, doctors have just recently discovered an even newer method, still using LED lighting, to whiten teeth but without the negative effects.

Here’s how it works: A gel is applied to the teeth then LED lights are used to trigger photocatalysts in the teeth, which then brighten and whiten. The gel is used to speed up the process and make the LED light more effective.

Though the chemicals in the gel used in conjunction with the LED lighting may not be quite as powerful as what’s used in other strips or gels, this process can still be harsh on the teeth—especially sensitive teeth. This has caused a bit of backlash, but this method is still seen as a step in the right direction, as it is not as intense as other take-home whitening products.

 

Before You Whiten

Though it is tempting to buy the most popular take-home whitening products on the market, be careful of what you get. Just because your friend has found a product that works to remove those pesky stains without causing sensitivity and enamel loss, it doesn’t mean the results will be the same for you.

Your first step is to come in and meet with Dr. Brown and his team. They can successfully assess your teeth and gums to forecast which method(s) might be best for you. But, if you absolutely must start the whitening process immediately, follow these tips until you can come to see us:

  1. Keep away from trays and gels. The problem with this method is that it can take weeks for results to show. And, most people who use the tray and gels report having teeth sensitivity afterward.
  2. Use caution with whitening strips as well. Though results can show in about a week, over time, this can cause irritation. Also, if you use the strips too often, your teeth can become sensitive.
  3. When you have the time to wait, use a paint-on. The paint-on method solves the problem of the whitening agent interacting with interior soft tissues, such as the gums and inner cheek. You simply brush the whitening gel on each tooth and let it sit for a short period of time. The only downside to this method is it can take months before results can be seen, and you have to be diligent in getting the gel on each tooth daily.
  4. Whitening devices are your best option. Go ahead and do a little research and find an LED lighting kit to order—you can get them off Amazon.
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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/.

 

Axe, Josh. “6 Ways to Naturally Whiten Your Teeth.” Dr. Axe, 9 Mar. 2018, draxe.com/6-ways-to-naturally-whiten-your-teeth/.

 

“History of Toothpaste – Toothbrush History.” History of Toothpaste – Toothbrush History, www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/brushing-and-flossing/history-of-toothbrushes-and-toothpastes.

 

“Is Teeth Whitening Safe For Children?” Kids Dental Online – Plano & Carrollton, www.kidsdentalonline.com/dental-topics/teeth-whitening-safe-children/.

 

Lee, Sean S., et al. “Tooth Whitening in Children and Adolescents: A Literature Review.” American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Pediatric Dentistry, 17 Aug. 2005, www.aapd.org/globalassets/media/publications/archives/lee-27-5.pdf.

 

Pesce, Nicole Lyn. “The Dark Side of Teeth-Whitening Strips.” MarketWatch, 10 Apr. 2019, www.marketwatch.com/story/the-dark-side-of-teeth-whitening-strips-2019-04-10.

“The Risks of Tooth Whitening Toothpastes | Winston Salem Dentist.” Distinctive Dental, 30 Nov. 2017, www.distinctivelydental.com/can-whitening-toothpastes-damage-teeth/.

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Finding an Experienced Dentist in Monroe, North Carolina

2020-07-16T16:55:10+00:00June 17th, 2019|Adam Brown DDS, Carolina's Dental Choice, Dental Crowns, Dental Insurance, Dental Trends, General, Oral Health, Teeth Whitening|

There are fewer things more stressful than finding a new health provider, much less finding an office and staff to trust you and your family’s smile with. Whether you’re searching for the right dentist to advise your oral health regimen, or are simply in the market for a new dentist, Carolina’s Dental Choice wants to equip you with the right knowledge to find an experienced dentist suited for your treatment needs.

 

Find an Experienced Dentist—Don’t Get Unnecessary Treatments

In need of a second opinion after getting a hefty price estimate for a procedure, you’re not sure you really need? Had a bad experience with a previous dentist and searching for a new practice to rebuild trust with? Waited so long for a dental visit that you’re just ready for a fresh start and motivation? No judgments and no worries! Finding an experienced dentist does not have to be an ordeal.

It is easy to get overwhelmed by your search for the right dentist. From Google searches, Yelp reviews, to scouring websites and seeking out word of mouth recommendations, there are many ways in which we try to find a great dentist. If you’ve moved recently or switched insurance companies, it can also be difficult to move on from a long-time dentist and find another that meets all of your expectations.

Where should you even start? We have laid out the most important considerations in your search for the right experienced dentist.

 

Question 1: What makes a good dental practice?

You have probably asked yourself this before. What makes a good dentist? Is it a staff of gentle hygienists? A dentist who spends time in the room with the patient? The cheapest treatment options around? Let’s discuss it!

 

Expectations should be met with every point of contact, including staff

Whether you are making your first call to inquire about services, scheduling an appointment, or entering the practice, the staff should be welcoming to patients. Practices that leave patients in the waiting room without greeting and without respect for patients’ time are red flags that the dental practice does not respect the time of their clients. A friendly, punctual staff ensures that the visit is great from start to finish.

 

Active listening

Between the hygienists and the dentist, you need a practice that listens to what you say. As the patient, you are the best advocate and knowledge base of your own health, and a good dental practice values that. By listening to your concerns and requests, and acting on what they hear, rather than talking over the patient or not spending and giving the time to the patient to speak their concerns, the patient will collaborate with the dental practice to ensure they are receiving the best treatment options.

 

Attempts to know the patient

In a larger practice, we do not expect our dentists to know the patient’s entire history, but no patient wants to feel like another file on the shelf. A dentist taking the time to know you can affect the level of care that the patient gets. Whether that’s making friendly conversation or taking a few minutes to read your chart, attempting to know the patient can make all the difference in your dental care.

 

Question 2: What are the warning signs of a bad dentist?

Fraudulent dentists certainly are not the norm, but more often than you would think, dishonest practices have impacted patients in their long-term trust in dentistry and their own oral health. The wrong dentist is more concerned with his pocketbook rather than the overall health of your mouth, meaning he may recommend and perform unnecessary treatments. Procedures that aren’t necessary can wreak havoc on your mouth and lead to further problems down the road.

 

Signs of Fraudulent Practice

  1. Urgency without explanation:

If your dentist identifies an issue that is not a dental emergency and tells you a procedure needs to be done immediately, you should start by asking why and for full disclosure on the procedure itself. If you are in a new dentist’s chair for a regular cleaning and suddenly you’re bombarded with procedures of a type you’ve never needed before, or that you did not enter the practice asking for help with, then it may be a red flag. When the dentist is vague on the reasoning for procedures, he may be pressuring you into going forward without understanding all of your options.

  1. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is:

Some dentists offer very discounted, or even free cleanings as a way to get patients in the door. Once in the chair, they may either hit you with fees that were never mentioned as part of the deal or as mentioned before, pressure you into procedures with intensity.

  1. Lack of Patient Education:

As we mentioned before, the sign of a great dentist is one who educates patients and ensures that decisions are made collectively between the patient and dentist. It is not good practice when dentists and hygienists are not willing to take time and explain the dental issues and recommended procedures to the patient. Even the act of not showing patients their x-rays can be a red flag. Your dentist should take the time to discuss what is shown in your x-rays, point out any lesions or unhealthy teeth, and talk through the treatment plan with the findings.

 

Question 3: How does dentistry become susceptible to fraud, and how can I determine if I am part of fraudulent dentistry?

We know that for the majority of dentists out there, it took years of hard work and building trust among their patients to make a successful dental practice. But, as in any profession, there are a small number of professionals out there who turn to taking shortcuts for financial gain. For the medical profession in general, medical diagnoses can be subjective. Because of this, we have a number of suggestions to improve patient advocacy.

 

Understand how your insurance works with the dental practice.

Beyond having a sense of your general dental coverage, you may not know how the dental practices interact before and after your dental visit. After scheduling your appointment, the staff at the dental practice will reach out to your dental insurance company to find out everything that is covered under your provider. So before you even enter the office, the experienced dentist will know everything that can be billed to you during your dental visit. Unfortunately, this can leave the patient vulnerable to receiving treatments that are more likely to be reimbursed by the insurance company, rather than what’s truly right for the teeth.

 

For example, a dentist may be choosing between a filling and a root canal for a patient. Taking the path with the root canal and crown is more lucrative for the dental practice. This is because it is common knowledge that root canals are easier to pass through an insurance company than a filling, and by receiving a root canal, you’re automatically approved for a crown. Root canals are easier to pass simply because the dentist can justify the root canal by claiming that the patient was in pain. The problem here is that the dentist may have just been able to perform a filling, which is a cheaper procedure and less invasive for the patient.

 

Now that there are some ways of identifying fraud, let’s talk about active ways to prevent getting in those situations in the first place.

 

  1. Choose your dentist based on referrals

Your insurance company may be telling you which dentists to see, but take time to do your own research. Seek out others with the same insurance and ask for a recommendation. Or, if you have a current dentist in the same area but you have switched insurance policies, ask your dentist for a recommendation, or ask for a recommendation from a local dentist society or health professional. Just because the insurance company covers a dentist does not make it a suitable referral. Plus, seeking out opinions from family, friends, and co-workers can give recommendations backed by real experiences.

  1. Consider going family-owned rather than corporate

Chain-dentistry practices drive patients through the door with heavy advertising and discounts, quick cleanings, free exams, and of course, hundreds or thousands of dollars in unnecessary dental work. Corporate dental chains can run on a quota-based model that can sometimes lead to practices working on the side of pushing unnecessary treatments.

  1. Ask for the appointment time

Generally, a new patient appointment should take around an hour and a half. If the office tells you that appointment should only last about a half hour, they may be trying to rush you through what should be a thorough cleaning and appointment, rather than give you the time you deserve as a patient. If you’re an established patient, appointment time can vary, but a cleaning should take at least 45 minutes. If it lasts only 15 minutes, it’s time to start asking questions.

  1. Always check your bill

In a true dental scam, a dentist might inflate claims or bill insurers for procedures that the patient didn’t receive. The best way to avoid this from happening is to ensure communication with your dentist, ask for an estimated price upfront (prior to sitting in the dental chair), and always checking your bill at checkout. According to the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association, it is estimated that Americans lose about $68 billion dollars each year to healthcare fraud. Don’t be a victim of dental fraud; know the signs and do not be afraid to advocate for yourself as a patient.

  1. Check the market rate for common procedures.

There are common procedures you have had before that you know the price for, but when dental pain strikes, sometimes you are willing to pay anything for it to get fixed. It’s at these times when it is most important to ensure that you are being offered a fair, market-rate price, and not just being offered the most expensive procedure that your insurance may or may not cover.

  1. Seek other opinions.

If you have ever had a major dental procedure, it is likely that you might have sought out another opinion. One dentist may recommend that you need it, while another may not. This is totally normal, and encouraged, especially if you feel that any of the signs above are occurring.

  1. Feel out the culture of the office.

While how you feel as a patient is important, seeing how the experienced dentist treats the staff can also impact the care you receive. The best doctors are attentive to patients and staff. If you have a bad feeling with your interaction from the front desk to the dental chair, how can you trust your oral health to the practice? You should feel safe and welcome at the dentist from the moment you walk in the door. 

 

Find a dental provider who’s right for you and your family

Carolina’s Dental Choice is here to make you feel right at home, whether you’re new to the area or a longtime resident. Give us a call today if you’re in need of a welcoming, friendly face in the dental practice world at 704-289-9519.

 

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The Hidden Dangers of Mouthwash: What You Need to Know

2021-02-05T18:11:46+00:00June 5th, 2019|Carolina's Dental Choice, Dental Trends, Dentist Office Monroe NC, Oral Health, Teeth Cleaning, Teeth Whitening|

Mouthwash is often touted as a safe and effective method for curing bad breath and improving overall oral health. But recent studies show that not all mouthwashes are created equal. Before you add a mouthwash to your daily dental regimen, take a minute to understand some of the potential dangers that might be hiding in that morning and evening routine.

 

The Problems with Conventional Mouthwash

While advertising may state that conventional mouthwash kills 99.9% of all bacteria, that’s not always the full dental story. Many conventional types of mouthwash contain up to a 26% alcohol content in addition to other dangerous ingredients. When you swish mouthwash twice a day in your mouth for an extended period of time, a number of things occur.

  1. Alcohol destroys the friendly bacteria your body needs to maintain normal blood pressure and positive oral health. Think of it like an antibiotic for your mouth. It doesn’t distinguish between good and bad oral bacteria, it simply kills it all.
  2. Conventional mouthwash dries out your mouth and affects saliva production. This can actually result in worsened breath over time in addition to increased cavity production because saliva acts as a natural barrier for both of these dental conditions.
  3. Recent studies have shown that using conventional mouthwash may potentially lead to high blood pressure issues because of disruption with the body’s production of NO (Nitric Oxide), a molecule inside the body that helps to regulate blood pressure.

A sample of ingredients that are the biggest culprits for these dental issues include alcohol (associated with drying your mouth and killing bacteria), Chlorine Dioxide (used as a bleaching agent to whiten teeth), Chlorhexidine (an antiseptic that is also an allergen), and formaldehyde (dangers include cancer risk and respiratory problems).

 

Discovering Natural Mouthwash Alternatives

There are several natural mouthwash alternatives available over the counter that provide a safer option for those that want to maintain their daily swishing regimen. A few choices are listed below.

  1. The Natural Dentist
    This mouthwash can be found at most major retailers and is tailored towards those with sensitive teeth and gums. The ingredients are all natural and contain 20% Aloe Vera which is a natural antiseptic that replaces conventional use of Chlorhexidine without the side effects.
  2. Therabreath
    This mouthwash is also available at most major retailers and helps increase saliva production instead of drying out your mouth. It also uses natural ingredients including aloe vera and tea tree oil which is another natural antiseptic used to aid in overall oral health.
  3. Oral Essentials
    Created by dentists and thoroughly tested, this mouthwash contains sea salt to help maintain the healthy mineral balance in your mouth. In addition, you’ll find such natural ingredients as aloe vera, coconut oil (a natural teeth whitener), and essential oils (aids in freshening breath). This mouthwash can be found on Amazon in addition to other online retailers.

  

Do-It-Yourself Mouthwash? Why not!

A quick search on the internet for do-it-yourself mouthwash will yield plenty of recipes for you to experiment with. When wading through the never-ending list of oral options, keep a few essential ingredients in mind. 

  1. Aloe Vera
    As mentioned above, Aloe Vera is a top-notch replacement for the conventional mouthwash ingredient, Chlorhexidine. Studies have shown that it is equally as effective as an antiseptic but without all the harmful side effects.
  2. Essential Oils
    Essential Oils are a natural way to freshen breath without the drying effect of alcohol. They also contain antibacterial properties and oils such as lemon contain whitening properties to help keep your teeth shiny and bright.
  3. Sea Salt and Baking Soda
    Both these ingredients have strong benefits for oral health. Used as mouthwash ingredients, sea salt will help to restore the mineral balance of your mouth while baking soda will help to ease gingivitis and whiten teeth.

 

Final Thoughts on Mouthwash

Studies show that conventional mouthwashes are not as effective or as safe as typically advertised. They can contribute to dry mouth, mess with the balance of bacteria in your mouth and even cause increased gingivitis and cavity formation. The best way to keep your dental health in tip-top shape is to work on the problem from the inside out. Keep a balanced diet and stay away from processed foods and sugars. If you still want to make mouthwash a regular part of your dental routine, stick with all natural brands or create your own recipe so that you are in control of the ingredients going into your mouth and body.  For more information, please contact Carolina’s Dental Choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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