The Dangers Of DIY Teeth Whitening

A GOOD-LOOKING SMILE with white, even teeth is a major confidence booster and really helps make a good first impression, whether you’re going on a date or sitting down for a job interview. The widespread desire for whiter teeth in today’s society, combined with internet culture, has given rise to a number of popular do-it-yourself teeth whitening methods. While these might seem like great life-hacks to try, many of them can actually do serious damage to our teeth.

Common DIY Whitening Trends

Over the last couple of years, you’ve probably heard about some of these trendy teeth whitening approaches, such as activated charcoal, lemon juice, and oil pulling. Oil pulling is an ancient folk remedy, but there is no scientific evidence to back up the claims about its health benefits. Lemon juice is absolutely a bad idea because you’re essentially applying a strong acid directly to your teeth. Tooth enamel is highly vulnerable to acid, and enamel loss is permanent.

Activated charcoal might be able to absorb stains and toxins, but those benefits are debatable when it comes to teeth because charcoal is also abrasive so it could be scraping away enamel even as it removes stains. Hold off on buying that tube of charcoal toothpaste until you see the ADA Seal of Acceptance, and definitely don’t mix up your own.

What About Peroxide And Baking Soda?

Another recent DIY whitening trend is using the baking soda in the pantry and the hydrogen peroxide in the medicine cabinet to bleach teeth. The reasoning behind this idea is that hydrogen peroxide is used in professional whitening and baking soda is present in many ADA approved whitening toothpaste, and both proven to be effective at removing stains.

While it is true that peroxide and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) are used in professional and approved whitening products, that doesn’t mean these are safe chemicals to apply to our teeth however we want. There is a delicate balance between using too little, which won’t produce much of a whitening effect and using too much, which can damage the enamel and the soft tissues of the mouth. Only dental professionals have the knowledge, training, and materials needed to strike that balance.

Come To The Right Place For Whitening

Your teeth will thank you if you put your trust in dental professionals for your whitening needs rather than trying something risky at home, so bring your teeth whitening questions with you to your next appointment. Together, we can make a plan for how best to whiten your smile. In the meantime, the best things you can do to keep your smile healthy and bright are to keep up with your daily brushing and flossing habits, avoid foods and drinks that can stain your teeth, and don’t smoke.

We’re here to help you get the smile of your dreams!

Top image by Flickr user Rupert Taylor-Price used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Top Causes Of Childhood Tooth Decay

42 PERCENT OF CHILDREN will get at least one cavity between ages 2 and 11, and tooth decay is the most common childhood disease. Why is it so common, and what can we as parents do to keep our children’s teeth healthy? Well, before we can fight childhood tooth decay, we have to understand what causes it.

Sippy Cups And Baby Bottle Rot

One of the biggest dangers to a child’s oral health comes from sugary drinks and the way children consume them. Whether the drink is soda, fruit juice, or even milk, the sugars in the drink will feed your child’s oral bacteria and increase the risk of decay. Sugars in drinks become particularly dangerous if a child has access to a bottle or sippy cup that they can keep drinking from over a long period of time because their teeth are constantly exposed to more sugar.

This is such a common problem that it has actually earned its own name: baby bottle tooth decay, or bottle rot. Now, we aren’t suggesting a total ban on all sugary drinks, but the less time your child’s teeth are exposed to them, the better. Sugary drinks are much safer for teeth when consumed quickly at mealtimes. If a sippy cup or bottle is the only thing that helps your child fall asleep at naptime and bedtime, then the healthiest option for their teeth would be to fill it with water.

Sugary Snacks And Candy

Sugar doesn’t have to be in liquid form to cause trouble for the teeth, which brings us to our next oral health danger for children: snacks. Everything from candy to healthier options like cheese and crackers contains sugar. Every time we eat, our saliva needs at least half an hour to wash away all the remnants of the food, but when children have access to snacks all the time, their mouths never have a chance to recover.

So just like with sugary drinks, it’s best to consume sugary foods during mealtimes instead of nibbling on them throughout the day. Cutting back on treats with the most sugar, like candy, is also a good choice for dental health.

What Parents Can Do

Apart from cutting down on juice-filled sippy cups and sugary snacks, there is a lot that parents can do to ensure that their children remain cavity-free. The most important thing is to teach them how to effectively brush their teeth and help them get to a point where it becomes a routine rather than a chore. Giving them a toothbrush and toothpaste they like will make this easier. And don’t forget to teach them about flossing! Also avoid doing things that will spread bacteria, such as sharing spoons or cleaning a dropped pacifier with your own mouth.

Here’s a fun demonstration you can do with your kids to show how soda affects teeth:

The Role Of Your Child’s Dentist

Even if you’re already doing everything in this post with your children, sometimes a cavity will still appear. Don’t get discouraged! Everyone’s teeth are different, which is why the final crucial thing you can do as a parent to help your child keep their teeth healthy is bringing them in to see us for cleanings and dental exams!

Keep up the good work raising kids with great oral health!

Top image by Flickr user Upsilon Andromedae used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Side-Effects: Medications And Oral Health

 

MEDICAL PROBLEMS ARE things none of us ask for but many of us have, and with medical problems come medications. Unfortunately, along with medications come side-effects, and these often have a negative impact on oral health.

The Delicate Balance Of Our Mouths

Our oral health does best when our mouths can stay close to a neutral pH — neither acidic nor basic. The food and drink we consume tends to temporarily disrupt this pH balance, and so does medicine. When children eat chewable vitamins or drink syrupy medicine that contains sugar, it feeds their oral bacteria, which excrete acid onto their teeth. This acid wears away at their tooth enamel.

Another common problem with children’s medication comes from asthma inhalers, which can lead to the development of oral thrush (white fungus patches in the mouth). The easiest way to avoid any of these issues is to encourage our children to rinse with water after eating vitamins, using their inhalers, or drinking cough syrup.

Oral Side-Effects Of Medications

Even if the medication doesn’t do any damage while you’re ingesting it, it can still be harmful to your mouth over time, so let’s look at some of the side-effects that might show up after starting a new medication.

  • Dry Mouth. This is the most common oral side-effect of over-the-counter and prescribed medications. Our saliva is our first line of defense against bad oral bacteria, and when it dries up, it leaves us vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Abnormal bleeding. Some medications contain blood thinning components, and this makes it easier for us to bleed. If you start noticing more bleeding from your gums after brushing, it could be because of the medication.
  • Inflamed gums. Gingival overgrowth (or excessive growth of gum tissue) is a side-effect of several medications, and it increases the risk of gum disease.
  • Change in taste. Heart medications, nervous system stimulants, and anti-inflammatory drugs can leave a bitter or metallic taste in your mouth or interfere with your sense of taste in general. While unpleasant, this side-effect isn’t necessarily serious.
  • Bone loss. In rare cases, drugs used to treat osteoporosis can cause a loss of bone tissue in the jaw, putting patients at risk of tooth loss and gum recession.

Your Dentist Can Help!

No matter what medication you take on a regular basis, whether prescription or over-the-counter, it’s critical that your dentist knows about them. Sometimes, the oral health side-effects can be minimized or stopped, but only if the dentist knows! So if you’re taking medications, especially if you’ve noticed any of the above problems, make sure to mention them during your next dental appointment!

Remember to speak up about your medications!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth The Healthy Way

EVERYONE LOVES A good sweet snack once in a while, but unfortunately, that includes the bacteria in our mouths. Those little germs’ favorite food in the world is sugary treats, and the more sugar they get, the more they put our teeth at risk of tooth decay. So how can you satisfy your sweet tooth without giving your harmful oral bacteria a treat? By snacking healthy!

A Few Healthy Treats To Enjoy

Sometimes it seems like the healthy snacks are the ones that take longer to make or cost more, but that isn’t always true! So before you reach for that jelly-filled doughnut or bowl of ice cream, take a look at some of these quick, affordable, tasty options that are better for your teeth:

  • Coconut whipped cream with strawberries. Coconuts are exceptional bacteria killers and they can also reduce the amount of plaque build up, and strawberries are great for scrubbing away plaque too! Coconut whipped cream is a great substitute for dairy whipped cream because it’s low in sugar and high in healthy fats.
  • Frozen dark chocolate bananas. This treat is great because bananas are full of important nutrients that help keep teeth and gums strong, and dark chocolate is good for your teeth too. (You could also switch things up and put the coconut whipped cream on the bananas and the dark chocolate on the strawberries!)
  • Fruit smoothies with yogurt and applesauce. Toss your favorite fruits in a blender, but instead of adding sugar or ice cream, use unsweetened applesauce and frozen yogurt for a refreshing smoothie that is low in sugar!
  • Yogurt and granola. Yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics. Crowd out that harmful bacteria in your mouth with the good bacteria in yogurt. Yogurt is also a great source of calcium for building strong teeth.
  • Fruit Bowls. You can never go wrong by throwing together a bowl of berries and sliced fruit. While fruit does contain natural sugar, eating it whole is much healthier than drinking fruit juice (which isn’t much better for your teeth than soda). The fiber in the whole fruit makes it harder for the sugar to reach your teeth (or your digestive system!), and you get all the great vitamins too!

Check out this video for a brownie recipe that leaves out the refined sugar!

 

Want More Healthy Snack Ideas?

If you like these healthy treats and want more, we can help you find them! From sugar substitutes in baking to easy on-the-go snacks, we have you covered! And don’t forget to keep up your other good oral health habits, such as brushing twice daily for two minutes, flossing, and scheduling those regular dental appointments!

And don’t worry, we have sweet teeth too!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.