All You Need To Know About Toothpaste

The very first thing you should know about toothpaste, and it comes as a surprise to most people, is that you don’t really need it to keep up with good oral hygiene. After this “paradigm shifting” assurance, we’re able to really impress upon folks that regular brushing is exponentially more important for the removal of bacteria and plaque than any mint-flavored paste. 

 

No matter how much money you spend on the best toothpaste, you need the mechanical action of brushing to get the job done. That said, the toothpaste options are vast, and some do have measurable benefits outside of basic tartar removal. 

 

Toothpaste is a universal health item. It helps you remove food leftovers from your mouth and protect your teeth from plaque, and it freshens your breath. Toothpaste’s common active ingredients are tried and true, secret agents on a mission to prevent the decay of your teeth.  

 Learning about toothpaste

Types of toothpaste 
There are two general categories of toothpaste. The one most of us use falls into the standard, commercial category. Regular, commercial toothpastes are those that can be found anywhere—over the counter in the supermarket, local shops…you can even find them at gas stations. 

 

There are millions of standard toothpaste products varying in content, flavor and quality, though the vast majority of them share key similarities. Commercial toothpastes are comprised of 20-40% water and around 50% of abrasive substances. The residual matter is usually filled with fluoride, antibacterial ingredients, and flavorants. 

 

The second type of toothpaste is medical, or therapeutic, toothpaste. Products from this category are not typically for continuous use; rather, they are suggested to you by your dentist when you’re struggling with specific dental issues.  

 

A brief overview of therapeutic toothpastes 

 

  1. Toothpastes for remineralization of damaged enamel and maintenance of oral health are especially common among certain risk groups (for example, pregnant women). These products usually contain an organically mixed flour known as aminfluorid, so be sure to discuss options and ingredients with your dentist if you’re concerned about allergies.
  2. Toothpastes for gums are helpful when you’re struggling with hypersensitive or bleeding gums. Some patients say these toothpastes have an unpleasant taste, as they do not come with flavor agents—but they definitely won’t irritate your gums.
  3. Toothpaste for sensitive, but otherwise healthy teeth are beneficial for some patients with special sensitivity.
  4. Toothpastes for teeth polishing do not have abrasive agents, and so you will likely be recommended to use them only once a week. After all, it’s the abrasive quality of toothpaste that helps get more brushing done. 

Are toothpastes without fluoride as efficient as those with it? 
If you want to try out alternative oral products that do not contain fluoride, this is a personal choice—just ask your dentist so you can make the choice with as much information as possible. 

 

Many companies manufacture herbal toothpastes without artificial ingredients such as fluoride or sodium lauryl sulfate. Instead, they often contain ingredients like aloe, baking soda, eucalyptus and essential oils, various plant extracts, etc. 

 

In the right amounts, fluoride is good for supporting the strength and remineralization of your teeth, which means it helps protect you from plaque and decay. That said, we return to our higher wisdom here to remember that the mechanical brushing is what really cleans your teeth, not the paste. And so, if you’re attracted to a toothpaste with more natural ingredients, the important thing is that you just keep brushing. 

 

For any questions, reach out to us! Or, ask about toothpaste the next time you’re in our office! 

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Fun Twist on the Tooth Fairy

Losing teeth is an exciting milestone that is celebrated by parents and children alike. The Tooth Fairy is a relatively modern tradition that combines the practices of multiple cultures, but with an American twist. Most of the world celebrates children losing teeth in some fashion, but only here do we use a fairy to deliver a small amount of money—normally a coin—under the pillow to mark the occasion. 

 

Unlike Santa or the Easter Bunny, who each have a standard image, the Tooth Fairy has been portrayed as both young and old as well as big and small across all sorts of media in the U.S. However, there are many people who choose to celebrate without the Tooth Fairy. There are numerous other traditions to mark the occasion and to celebrate this milestone in your child’s life. 

Fun twists on the Tooth Fairy

 

The French way 

 

If a fairy isn’t your thing, follow the French tradition where a mouse or a rabbit delivers a small gift or token to a child commemorating the event. A mouse or rodent is used since your children’s teeth continue to grow their whole life; these animals are thought to bring good luck, and hopefully a lifetime of health hallmarked by healthy teeth. 

 

Memories for the future 

 

If you want to memorialize the passage of time, think about creating a time capsule with teeth that are lost. Include in the capsule a note from your child that highlights their favorite things, or something fun they’ve done recently. Other fun items to add include a newspaper from the day, a coin with the current year, or a small toy or trinket that is important to the child (though not the one they’ll miss most if you hide it away). Keep all the items in a sealed box and choose a date to “dig” it back up. You could choose to do it on the day your child loses their last tooth, for example, or on their 18th birthday. 

 

Growing up 

 

If keeping your teeth in a jar grosses you out, consider taking the tooth and burying it in your garden. Like all natural things, teeth will eventually decompose. Burying teeth is a great way to symbolize “out with the old and in with the new.” When the flowers come in the next spring, and when the leaves are green on the tree, your child can think back to the time you buried a lost tooth in the dirt.  

 

Alternatives to standard coins 

 

Even if you don’t have the Tooth Fairy bring money, it doesn’t mean the tooth can’t be exchanged for something else. You can even make coinage a little “less about the money” by using a silver dollar or a two-dollar bill. If you want to make it more educational, consider giving foreign money or coins, and teach your child something about a far-away place. 

 

An open-ended tooth exchange is a way the child can choose (within reason) what they would like in exchange for their tooth. Set up a location, such as a small mailbox or envelop that your child can place their tooth in. Then, together as a family decide what to exchange it for. Options could include an experience like a trip to the movies, or a small treat like a book or a game. The exchange is a great way to encourage decision making with the younger ones. 

 

Choosing to not invoke the Tooth Fairy doesn’t mean you can’t acknowledge or celebrate losing teeth. There are numerous opportunities to commemorate the event; it just takes a little creativity and outside-the-box thinking to make it your kind of special. 

Top Hurdles To Oral Hygiene While Traveling (And How To Overcome Them)

Whether for work or pleasure, travel is like an unraveling ball of yarn with changing colors. There are good times and stressful times, and the preparation is a feat unto itself. What chances there are to suffer stress from travel typically come from the little things that make a big difference: bringing enough underwear, remembering your deodorant, forgetting to pack your toothbrush. 

 

Traveling represents a substantial step out of your daily grind, which doesn’t always come as a break in routine but by positively smashing them. Forgetting your toothbrush or toothpaste can be as disruptive as the changes in your diet, and what those changes mean for your breath and teeth can be horrendous. 

 

Oral hygiene habits are (perhaps unsurprisingly) the first to suffer when you hit the road. That’s why we’ve provided a quick overview of some of the dental hygiene hurdles you might encounter while traveling. We’ll also teach you how to overcome them! 

 Pitfalls of oral care while traveling

The importance of pre-departure dental checkups 

 

It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination: you arrive to your destination, enjoy the first few nights of revelry, and wake up mid-week with a toothache. You think it’s the food or the drink, but it gets worse, and within two days you’re hardly eating anything. Where do you go to fix it? Does your dental insurance even cover the area you’ve ventured to?  

 

Scheduling regular dental check-ups is always important, but before departing for far-off destinations it’s that much more important to get your teeth checked out. Your dentist can detect problems before you find yourself far from home. Better yet, take your dentist’s number with you so that you can call in case of emergency. 
Keep your dental kit handy 

 

Toothbrush, favorite toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, nightguard: whatever dental equipment you use at home, it’s a huge mistake not to pack it. And when you remember to bring it, be sure to use it without skipping a beat. If you remember to pack it but deviate from your regular care, you can find yourself in just as bad of shape as if you’d forgotten to pack your kit altogether. 

Also, remember that it’s just as common to forget to pack care items when you’re returning home. Be sure to keep these items top-of-mind. 
Let’s say you forgot or lost your toothbrush, floss and mouthwash, and you out camping in the middle of nowhere. The next best thing is to rinse and swish vigorously with water, and eat crunchy, naturally-brushing vegetable like carrots or celery. Of course, it will depend what you have on hand. 

 

New foods, new bacteria 

 

Traveling makes maintaining your preferred diet a little tricky, particularly when you’re on vacation and want to enjoy yourself. Foods you’re tempted by away from home are typically not just unhealthy in terms of fats, sodium and cholesterol, but bad for the natural pH and balance of bacteria in your mouth. 

 

Wherever you are and whatever you’re tempted by, try to steer clear of some of worst offenders. Carbonated sodas and sticky sweets will not be easily forgiven by your teeth. And, if you won’t be able to brush right away, that might be a reason to be a little more diligent with your restaurant selections—save the sticky sweets for when you know you can brush afterword. 

 

That said, vacation is about enjoying yourself. Whatever foods out of the ordinary you do eat, be sure to brush and floss and otherwise stay on your best behavior when it comes to your teeth. Carry your dentist’s phone number, and make the most of your time away without any inconvenience from these common oral hygiene hurdles while traveling. 

How Do Tooth Whitening Treatments Work?

We associate a beautiful smile with good oral health—and pearly, bright whites are one of the first measures we look for. Whatever differences we have in body types, fashions and so forth, the desire for a bright smile is universal, which is why tooth whitening is so popular around the world. And its popularity continues to grow.  

 

There are innumerable products and methods, from home-based boxes to treatments that need to be performed in a professional setting. You have the luxury of choosing the one that best suits your budget and preference. 

 

But, did you ever wonder how some of these whitening treatments work? Read on to find out! 

The science behind tooth whitening
What parts of the tooth are affected during tooth whitening procedures? 

 

Most tooth whitening procedures use materials that contain hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide as active ingredients. The mechanism of each is basically the same—more commonly, we call it bleaching. 
The part of the tooth you see and feel is your enamel, which represents only the outermost layer of your teeth above your gums. It’s the hardest substance in your body, but isn’t without weaknesses or the possibility of corrosion. Enamel appears white, yet in reality is translucent.  

 

The layers of tooth right below enamel is comprised of dentin, and its natural color is a soft yellow. As you age, dentin tends to become darker, and your enamel begins to appear blurry. No matter how diligent you are in your tooth brushing and oral hygiene, your teeth will naturally change color over time.  

 

That said, stellar oral hygiene is the best way to combat this natural effect. But if push comes to shove, there are these whitening options to consider.  

 

Here’s where teeth whitening steps in: 

 

About 20 years ago, it was discovered that applying products with 10% active ingredient carbamide peroxide permeates through the enamel and decomposes the discoloration of the dentin beneath, while also clearing the enamel back to its earlier translucent shine. When carbamide peroxide is kept in contact with the tooth long enough, voila! You can whiten it from beneath the enamel itself. The longer the contact, the whiter the tooth becomes, sometimes until there is nothing left to bleach.  

 

Note that redundant bleaching can carry negative side-effects, like initiating the very decomposition of enamel, so start with a consultation with your dentist to establish what whitening regimen makes sense for you. 

 

Due to high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide in these “bleaching” products, your gums are protected during treatments with cofferdam, or a gel called opaldam. Whitening gel is then applied to your teeth and can be activated by light, heat or chemicals. 
Limitations of tooth whitening 
Be sure to note that no tooth whitening treatment is everlasting, and in some cases teeth can only be whitened so many shades. For a full consultation of the product that’s right for you, and its possible longevity, talk to your dentist.  

 

Another interesting tooth whitening fact is that black or brown discolorations from cavities cannot be removed—these need to be drilled and filled. And, for that matter, bleaching doesn’t work on fillings, so the degree to which you whiten might also have to do with how white the fillings are that you’re working around! Of course, you can always take out old fillings and replace them with whiter ones, too. 

 

The options are many, which makes it all the more important to start with a consultation with your dentist. 

How Do Baby Teeth Grow?

Baby teeth—also known as milk, deciduous, or primary teeth—start sprouting between months four and seven after your baby is born, and they keep on erupting until about age three. For as few teeth as there are in your child’s mouth (as compared with an adult jaw), these little teeth seemingly just keep coming in. 

 

There are outlying cases where a first tooth might come in as early as month three, or as late as month 18. Early and late development are nothing to be worried about, just ask your dentist if you’re unsure about your child’s specific case. By the time children reach age three, the great majority of them have all 20 of their baby teeth. 

 Baby teeth and how they grow

Baby teeth pre-birth development  

 

Baby teeth start to form between weeks six to eight of fetal development, sometimes before a mother even knows she’s expecting. More interestingly yet, baby teeth actually develop over the sites where adult teeth begin to form directly beneath them—also during fetal development. Your baby begins developing those little quick-sprout baby teeth around two months into development—and then, before he or she is even born, the development of their adult teeth begins deep in the jaw around week 20. 

 

The order baby teeth grow in 

 

The first teeth you’ll see in your baby’s tiny mouth are the two central lower incisors. A few months later, your baby will probably grow upper incisors, with the standard pace of one tooth per month. Most children have around six teeth by the time they’re one year old. Over the course of the next couple of years, there are about another dozen teeth to go: starting with two remaining lower incisors, and four molars. Interestingly, you might notice that your child’s molars do not grow adjacent to the incisors—they save enough space for the later sprouting of canines. 

 

The second-to-last burst of teeth are your child’s canines. After that (typically once your child is about three and a half years old), four new molars emerge behind the first set, finishing the set of 20 deciduous teeth. Of course, this is how it usually goes. Every baby’s mouth is different, so if you see something out of the ordinary, feel free to ask your dentist about it. 

 

The tender pains of teething 

 

During the process of baby teeth eruption, the gums above the sprouting baby teeth become swollen and a painful, which is the classic source of a teething baby’s irritability. Your baby will also have the insatiable desire to chew on toys to help put pressure on painful gums. Baby teeth growth is followed by increased saliva secretion, too, so you might notice a rash around your baby’s mouth and neck as a consequence. This is common, and nothing to worry about. 

 

The funny thing about baby teeth  

 

The funny thing about baby teeth is, after all that development and work, they start falling out between ages five and seven. This is one of the magical experiences of childhood that will also start to reveal what the oral health reality might be for your child as he or she reaches adolescence. Are teeth coming in straight? Could braces be in their future? Whatever the case, give your children their best shot at good oral hygiene by modeling good habits of your own! 

Oral Hygiene: The Ultimate Snapshot Guide

We talk about it all the time, and sometimes you find yourself hearing the same lines over and over again. “Brush your teeth; oral hygiene is easy; flossing is really important, too!” But somehow, setting the routine and making the habit for good oral hygiene continues to be hard for most of us.  

 

Oral hygiene doesn’t have to be complicated, even if the reasons behind our “inability” to make the habit leaves us puzzled. Brushing your teeth twice a day is what you’ve always heard, but it’s not enough—especially with most diets today. 

 The best oral hygiene

Take a look at this snapshot oral hygiene guide for a few reminders about what’s important, and why. 

 

  1. Treat yourself to a high-quality toothbrush


    Toothbrush bristles come in all shapes and sizes, not to mention “hard,” “medium,” and “soft.” You can choose between classic manual toothbrushes and electric options, too. And once we start talking about gum massagers and tongue scrapers built into the toothbrush, things really start to get fancy.

    The important thing is that you use your toothbrush, no matter the shape it comes in. Invest in the toothbrush you like, even if it’s just the funny rubber gum massagers that you like the feel of when you brush.

  2. Flossing really is the big deal we make it out to be

    Flossing seems tedious, and some folks with sensitive gums even find it disagreeable. But your dentist has said it before, and you’ll hear it countless times again—flossing is one of the biggest components of your oral health. Even the most diligent and detail-oriented tooth brushers will miss some spots, and have food or tartar stuck between teeth that a brush won’t get. Flossing before you brush is doubly beneficial, as it frees up bits of food that you can then more easily brush away.

  3. Use mouthwash

    Mouthwash leaves you with a pleasant sensation (not to mention more pleasant breath), but it does more than that for your oral health. Mouthwash with fluoride helps prevent decay, and other ingredients like cetylpyridinium chloride can help with sensitive gums. Using mouthwash also stimulates saliva production, which helps flush bacteria from your mouth, balance pH, and keep bad breath at bay.

  4. Sodas and tobacco—enemy number one of your oral health

    Smoking and soda consumption are not only bad for your teeth, but for your overall oral health (not to mention other systems in your body). Each of these affects the natural pH in your mouth, corrodes your teeth, and leaves your whole mouth more susceptible to unattractive, uncomfortable, and dangerous side effects.

    Quitting either of these is no small task. But even a snapshot oral health guide wouldn’t be complete without reiterating how detrimental tobacco and sodas are for you.

  5. Regular checkups 

 

At least once every six months, schedule a routine check-up at your dentist’s office. Getting your teeth professionally cleaned is reason enough to go, but your dentist can also detect issues before they develop into full-scale decay or disease.  

 

Creating new or improved routines can be tough. But the beauty is that, once established, it’s easy to follow the momentum. Take care of your teeth, and keep these tips top-of-mind. When we see you next, we want you to smile big and feel confident doing it! 

Tooth Color and Genetics

Do you remember a time when your teeth were whiter? Do you look at photos and think about changes to your teeth since you were young? Or, do you find yourself looking at family members or peers whose pearly whites are enviable, and wonder where you went wrong?

 

Do you feel like you haven’t done enough coffee drinking or smoking in your life to have such a yellow smile?

Can genetics cause yellow teeth?

There’s been hot debate for years whether genetics can leave you pre-disposed to tooth decay. The idea is, if genes dictate absolutely every feature of our natural form, maybe some of us have teeth that become discolored faster. Obviously, something that leaves stains needs to hit your teeth—coffee, cigarette smoke and wine are three famous culprits. But do some people have tooth enamel that’s less resistant to those types of stains?

 

Are your teeth yellowing thanks to genetics, or other factors?

 

To start, some people are born with naturally whiter teeth, while others’ are less white. What’s more, each individual tooth in your mouth could sprout as a slightly different shade than its neighbor.

 

Natural tooth color depends on the structure and density of the tissues that make up your tooth. And though you’re born with a specific composition to your teeth, external factors affect it as well. Most dentists agree that tooth yellowing is usually the consequence of lifestyle, but that’s not to say some people’s teeth don’t get yellower faster.

 

Any change in the structure of a tooth can alter its color. Meaning, the better your oral hygiene is, the better the chances that you can keep your smile white.

 

That said, even if all the people in the world avoided smoking and drinking wine and the like, we’d still have differently colored teeth. This proves that there are at least some genetic pre-determinations that come into play.

 

Which parts of the tooth is responsible for tooth color?
The mineral balances in the very dentin that makes up your tooth can determine tooth color; however, the enamel is what puts the real “shade” on it. Enamel is what gets stained—and as you wear enamel down (for example with acidic foods or carbonated beverages), you risk staining the dentin and suffering irreversible tooth discoloration.

 

Natural color, plus natural dispositions

 

Knowing where tooth discoloration occurs, your tooth color is influenced not only by the color teeth come in as, but also by their resistance to external factors. But genetics alone are never to blame for discolored teeth. Lifestyle and trauma to individual teeth continue to be the greatest factors determining tooth color.

 

If you come from a family with lots of yellow or gray teeth, but not for any lifestyle choice like smoking, you might be genetically pre-disposed to teeth that show stains over time. Take the best care of your teeth that you can, and what yellowing or damage does occur is that much more likely to be reversible.