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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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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Gifts to Make Them Smile | Holiday Gift Guide

2020-07-16T16:58:42+00:00December 15th, 2018|Carolina's Dental Choice, Dental Insurance, Dental Trends, Teeth Whitening|

stocking stuffer santa dentistPerhaps when you were younger, Santa stuffed your Christmas stocking full of chocolate coins and peppermint twists — and a new toothbrush to remind you not to let all that candy rot your teeth. Santa’s always been a smart guy.

Whether Dasher, and Dancer, and Donner and friends will deliver dental care to your door this holiday season, Carolina’s Dental Choice wants to help you give the gift of dental health this year. We’ve put together a list that includes something for everyone.

PRESENTS WITH A PURPOSE

Do you have a co-worker that likes to travel or travels a lot for work? Consider travel-sized toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss and other small packables (like shampoos) and put them together in an attractive travel bag. Tuck in a small first-aid kit, sewing kit, shower cap, earplugs and other travel must-haves or comfort items. Travel items are also great for anyone planning a get-away. Combine the above items with a travel journal, pen, or guide book.

Got a college kid? Put together a semester’s worth of dental supplies including a toothbrush in their favorite or school colors, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, sugar-free gum, breath mints, single use travel brushes for those late nights in the library in a reusable tote.

And if you’ve got a sports fan, use the same idea but customize it for the team. You can find a Carolina Panthers toothbrush and partner it with a black, blue and silver toothbrush holder or rinse cup. Or consider a Charlotte Hornets toothbrush with a purple or teal hand towel.

Kids can benefit from the same kind of package featuring their favorite characters like Spider-ManHello KittyStar Wars, and The Secret Life of Pets.

Dental insurance for a year would make a wonderful gift for someone who might need an extra hand with expenses in the short-term, a student, or someone waiting for benefits with a new employer. Many options can be found online with different levels of coverage, so check carefully before signing up. In North Carolina, options include: Blue Cross Blue Shield NCAflacHumana, and United Health Care. Low-income children in North Carolina who do not qualify for Medicaid may be able to obtain health and dental insurance through the North Carolina Health Choice Health Insurance Program for Children.

MAKE IT HOMEMADE

Do you have a small child on your list who has not yet lost their first tooth? Sew up a customized Tooth Fairy Pillow with a little pocket in it for the tooth (and later the money)!

teeth cookie cutters dentistNot crafty? No worries! The artists of Etsy have you covered. There is a wide selection of dental-themed gifts available, sure to initiate grins from lots on your list like personalized tooth ornaments, tooth-shaped earrings and charms, tooth-shaped soap, wall art, and even a Tooth Fairy wand (should she need a hand during busy season). Meanwhile, Shutterfly can help you put together a customized mug or calendar or mousepad featuring photos of all your family members’ smiles.

If you’re a baker, there are tooth-shaped cookie cutters perfect for whipping up a batch of cookies for your dental office or dental student.

BE PRESENT

So many times we focus on giving things, but things may not be what a person actually needs. Instead hands-on help would be most appreciated! Whether that person is elderly, has mobility issues, or is a new parent, consider being present as a present.

Make a “gift card” for a homemade dinner once a month throughout the year. Whether you invite the recipient over — which also provides social support — or take a casserole over to their house, you’re giving more than just food.

Offer to drive. Making it to appointments can be a hassle without transportation. Talk about coordinating so that you can give your lunch hour to help someone get to the doctor, dentist, or even just run errands.

Lend a hand. Little things like taking out the trash each week, raking leaves, mopping the floor, or walking the dog are great ways to help someone mark a chore off the list. Maybe you have a skill that could be useful like repairing a porch railing, painting the bathroom, or organizing, but always make the effort to learn what kind of help a person needs.

EXPLORE DENTAL HISTORY

Books are a great gift and there are many available with a take on teeth. For the beginning reader, “I Lost My Tooth” by Mo Willems features an ensemble cast of squirrels and “The Tooth Fairy” with Peppa Pig both help explain the process of losing and regrowing teeth. Adult readers with an interest in non-fiction will find the “The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth: And Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine” by Thomas Morris a fascinating jaunt through the things we’ve done to the human body in what’s described as a “wryly humorous collection of stories about bizarre medical treatments and cases offers a unique portrait of a bygone era in all its jaw-dropping weirdness.” And keeping with the science theme, “Evolution’s Bite: A Story of Teeth, Diet, and Human Origins” by paleoanthropologist Peter Ungar studies human evolution and climate change through the records stored in fossilized teeth.

Surprise your family with a vacation to Baltimore, Maryland! The world’s first dental school was founded there in 1840 by Horace Hayden and Chapin Harris. The Baltimore College of Dental Surgery (which later merged with the University of Maryland) taught generations of dentists. You can visit the National Museum of Dentistry located on the campus and explore dozens of exhibits featuring some of the objects from their 40,000-piece collection.

Vintage dental tools can make for a wonderful (if not quite unusual) conversation starter. Forceps, pelicans and toothkeys were commonplace in by-gone dental offices and some were made by blacksmiths. Many pelicans, aptly named for their shape, are made of silver and have hallmarks from a variety of countries, including England and France. Old dental chairs and equipment can be found at local antique shops and online as well as old dental advertising for products or services. In the early days, the local barber doubled as the neighborhood dentist!

DESIGNER GIFTS FOR DESIGNER SMILES

Rhythm is Love (Ylang Ylang + Mint) Organic Toothpaste, made in France, is a collaboration between dental and artistic professionals. Uniquely flavored with ylang ylang, yuzu, and mint, the toothpaaste is sure to add a flavor and flair to anyone’s brushing routine.lebon mint toothpaste designer

Twice Early Bird and Twilight Toothpaste is a morning and night duo lights. The Early Bird formula is wintergreen and peppermint, and the Twilight blend combines lavender and mint for a relaxing finish to a long day.

The Burst Sonic Toothbrush is a powerful electric toothbrush with charcoal bristles that sonically vibrate 66,000 times in two minutes to get teeth super clean. It also features a quadpacer that will gently buzz every 30 seconds to ensure that every area of the mouth gets equal attention.

Minimalist, metallic and cool, the electric toothbrushes from Quip were one of the first approved by the American Dental Association. Compact and lightweight, the design looks and works great. Quip brushes suction cup to surfaces like mirrors or counter tops and are shower safe! 

Cocofloss bills itself as freshening, whitening, and soothing this colorful alternative to traditional floss adds a colorful and fun twist to the flossing routine. The 9-piece Floss Fanatic Set is available in a variety of flavors including coco, vanilla, mint, strawberry, and orange.

An electronic UV toothbrush sanitizer from Pursonic protects your toothbrush from germs and bacteria floating around and uses ozone and photo catalyst technology to kill germs and bacteria left behind.

Steripod makes an easy to use toothbrush protector great for home or travel as well as a razor protector and tongue scraper. The protective pods are designed to prevent cross-contamination like beard whiskers in toothbrush bristles.

Dental care can be part of a luxurious self care routine with a whitening treatment followed by a massage, manicure, and facial. Carolinas Dental Choice offers Opalescence whitening products to brighten your smile!

SOMETHING SWEET

Giving something sweet to eat seems like a holiday tradition. If you’re shopping for someone with braces or orthodontic work, avoid these foods in order to protect their teeth: popcorn, nuts, hard candy, caramel, pretzels, and peanut brittle. Foods that are good for teeth are whole grains, fruits, lean meats, and vegetables. Sugar-free gum and candies are great options. And get creative when putting together a basket of goodies. Don’t forget treats for all family members! Pick up some dental chews for Fido or tartar cleaning snacks for Fluffy too.

If you’re looking for another way to recognize a caregiver such as a dental professional or nurse, think about things that will help them care for themselves. Massages, pedicures, manicures, a trip to the salt cave, compression socks, aromatherapy treatments, and meal delivery kits are great ways to support those whose job is to focus on others.

GIFT BY GIVING

For the person who has everything, consider making a donation to a dental organization such as Operation SmileDental Lifeline, the American Dental Association initiative Give Kids a Smile, or America’s Dentists Care Foundation’s Missions of Mercy. Helping others guarantees a smile. You can also ask your dental practice how they are involved with the community and support their individual efforts.

Everyone at Carolinas Dental Choice wishes you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year. Are your regular cleanings scheduled for 2019?

 

reindeer teeth gift guide

 

Did you know?

Reindeer only have front teeth on their bottom jaws! Reindeer have what’s called a dental plate or pad, which is a somewhat like an extra strong gum. Their premolar and molar teeth are made for grinding grass, hay, moss and lichen, and are very similar to those of other grass-eating animals such as cows and horses. Reindeer have 34 teeth total, compared to 32 teeth in people.

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