August 30, 2011

Teeth Whitening Facts

Here are three things to consider when whitening your teeth:

  1. If you have tooth colored fillings in your front teeth on the front surface of your teeth, those fillings will not whiten and you will not be a candidate for teeth whitening without doing veneers.
  2. If your teeth tend to be sensitive you will want to avoid in office, one hour whitening.  Sensitivity can be a factor in 20% of people who whiten their teeth, however, with one hour whitening, sensitivity is more likely because a stronger whitening agent is used to produce an immediate result.
  3. Research has shown that the best whitening happens over time, so unless you have to whiten your teeth with short notice for a big occasion, it makes sense to use professional take home whitening for the best result over time.  If you are in a hurry for a result- like when you want to lose weight and you get more motivation when you lose 5lbs. the first week- then you may love the immediate whitening results that in office, one hour whitening provides.  The whitening effect of one hour whitening doesn’t usually last as long as professional take home whitening, so we recommend to our patients who want an immediate result, to also do some take home whitening to enhance and maintain the results they get with one hour whitening.

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August 23, 2011

Best Teeth Whitening Treatments

All teeth whitening treatments are not the same.  Over the counter whitening kits are not as strong as the professional dental take home kits are.  Professional whitening kits therefore produce better and more predictable teeth whitening.

Professional take home kits have different features.  Some have desensitizing ingredients and others don’t.  This can be very important because approximately 20% of the population will have sensitive teeth as a result of doing teeth whitening.

There are different concentrations of the active whitening agent in take home whitening kits.  Most of the whiteners use carbamide peroxide (a stable version of hydrogen peroxide) as the active whitening agent.  There are various concentrations of the carbamide peroxide available.  The take home kits come in 10%, 16%, and 22% carbamide peroxide.  The higher the concentration of the active agent, the more likely the teeth will be sensitive from the whitening and although you may think you would get a faster whitening or a better whitening, that hasn’t proven to be true, so a lower concentration makes sense.

With research, over time the take home whitening kits we use for our patients have improved.  When they first came out people had to wear the whitening trays overnight, but now, depending on the brand, the daily whitening time can be an hour or even 30 minutes.  Within 2 weeks most people are happy with the whitening results and some people get the results they want in 5-6 days!  It’s easier to whiten yellowish teeth than teeth that are gray or brown in shade.

We’ll talk about 1-hour whitening in another blog post.

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August 16, 2011

Geriatric Dental Needs

As a senior citizen you may face some difficulty with your dental health that you haven’t ever faced or haven’t faced in years.  As we get older, many of us have to take medications to manage our heart health and blood pressure.  Of course, this may not be able to be avoided, however, with the desired effects of certain medications also come some unwanted effects.  Medications can often cause dry mouth.

Dry mouth isn’t just uncomfortable, it also results in a common problem seen in seniors, which is to get tooth decay at the gumline of the teeth.  You see, saliva is actually helpful in keeping tooth decay at bay and when there isn’t enough saliva, dry mouth often results in tooth decay at the gumline and on tooth roots which may now be unprotected because of gum recession. 

If you have dexterity problems or a physical disability, you may find it difficult to hold onto your toothbrush or dental floss.  This can be solved by using a few simple “home remedies” or devices designed to help.  Use a wide elastic band to attach the brush to your hand.  Enlarge the brush handle with a sponge, rubber ball or bicycle handle grip.  Also try winding an elastic bandage or adhesive tape around the handle.

Lengthen the handle with a piece of wood or plastic such as a ruler, popsicle stick or tongue depressor.

Tie floss into a loop for easier handling.

Use an electric toothbrush or commercial floss holder.

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August 9, 2011

How Often Should You Go To The Dentist?

     How often you go to the dentist depends on several factors.  Age is a factor.  Children’s first visit is recommended once the child has all of his baby teeth, around age 2.  Throughout childhood and the teen years it’s important for children to visit the dentist every 6 months.  One reason for this is that when children get decay, that decay can travel very quickly in the decayed tooth and to the neighboring teeth.

     In young adulthood, in general, we see less of a problem with decay and very often we see more of a problem with gum disease. Gum disease cannot be cured, but it can be controlled with regular office visits and proper homecare.

     Research shows that it takes 90 days for the plaque bacteria to mature to the point where it is destructive to the gum and dental bone.  If we can disrupt the infection at the 90 day point before the plaque starts being destructive, we can best keep gum disease under control.

     Depending on the study you read, 75-95% of the population has gum disease, so that means that 75-95% of the population needs to visit a dentist every 3 months to keep gum disease under control and prevent the dangerous health risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, etc. associated with gum disease.

     In future blog posts we’ll discuss geriatric dental needs.

     For information on other dental topics, please visit

August 2, 2011

How Often Do I Need To Brush My Teeth?

     It would be ideal to brush your teeth after eating.  Every time you eat, the bacteria in the plaque are eating, too, and this plaque attack lasts up to 20 minutes after eating.  If you brush after eating, you are removing plaque and the food they are feeding on, as well as the acid the plaque bacteria produce.

     Many people find it difficult to brush after meals throughout the day.  If you are one of those people, you can use a technique called “Swish and Swallow.”  Take water or a non sugar liquid and swish your mouth with it for a while to dislodge as many food particles as possible, and then swallow.

     Brushing your teeth at least twice daily helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease, the major causes of tooth loss.  Toothpaste does provide a benefit if it has fluoride, or baking soda, or some other benefit, like helping with sensitivity.  The bristles without toothpaste actually do the best job in removing plaque at the gumline.  You can brush with a dry brush and then afterwards go over your teeth with the toothpaste of your choice.  Use a soft-bristle brush and replace your brush every two to three months.

     The most important brushing is at night before you go to sleep.  If you can only brush once daily, it’s best to do it before bedtime.

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