Teeth Whitening: At Home vs In-Office Treatments

Over the last decade, at-home tooth whitening systems have become more abundant, more varied, and more affordable. A quick walk through your local drug store is all you need to do to know that there is an endless supply of teeth bleaching treatments that you can do at home to achieve a whiter smile.

Teeth Whitening At Home vs In OfficeYou may be wondering, “If it’s so easy to access these products in a store, why would I want to spend the time and money to have my teeth whitened in my dentist’s office?”

Here are the top five reasons that we recommend that you come see us first if you are interested in whitening your smile:

  1. Whiter whitening: Over the counter bleaching products can only contain 10% peroxide, while our in-office treatments can contain 25-40% peroxide, offering a whiter white!
  2. Quicker: The higher concentration of peroxide combined with other safety and acceleration tools like lasers allow us to whiten your teeth much more quickly than can be done at home.
  3. Fewer Side Effects: At home, some people experience damage to the tooth or surrounding gum area when whitening their teeth, causing pain or sensitivity. By contrast, in the office, we have access to preventative tools that can protect your gums and teeth from damage from bleaching.
  4. Always Examine First! It is always wise to have an oral exam prior to your whitening procedure, as we can detect potential problems, areas that are prone to sensitivity, and even help you choose your best path to a whiter smile.
  5. Best of Both Worlds: If you still want to try at-home treatments, give us a call. We can send you home with approved whitening treatments to give you the protection, convenience and the whiter smile that you desire.

Porcelain Veneers for a Flawless Smile

Some patients come to us loving their smile but wanting just a little bit more in terms of aesthetics. To perfect an already great smile, we may suggest porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers are often our go-to tool to correct minor imperfections on the surface of teeth or spacing issues.

Porcelain VeneersHere are some frequently asked questions and answers about veneers:

Q: Are veneers heavy or thick? Will I feel them in my mouth?

A: No, in fact veneers are thinner than a fingernail, once they are in place you won’t even know they are there!

Q: How long do they last?

A: Properly installed, veneers can last from 10-20 years. A great investment for an enhanced smile!

Q: How are they attached? Can they fall off?

A: Veneers are attached to your tooth with a very strong bonding compound. They do not fall off and provide years of durable use.

Q: Do veneers look like natural teeth?

A: Porcelain is the perfect material to copy tooth enamel, as it is incorporates luster, shine and translucence to look just like your natural teeth.

Q: What if the surrounding teeth are a different color?

A: Generally what we recommend is that we use a whiter shade of porcelain for the veneer and perform tooth whitening in conjunction with the veneer process to give you a perfect match throughout your mouth.

Q: Do veneers stain?

A: No, porcelain veneers do not stain, even over time.

If you want to take your smile from “okay” to “stunning”, ask us if veneers are a good option for you!

Dental Implants: A Three-Step Procedure

One of the most common questions we hear from patients when it comes to dental implants is “Why does it take three separate procedures?”

Dental Implants - 3 StepIt helps to understand that within the entire dental implant process, there are not just three stages, there are also three important parts to the final product that replaces your tooth. First, there is the implant itself, which is the metal rod that we surgically implant into the bone. Next, there is the abutment, which connects the implant to the artificial tooth. And lastly, the crown (or prosthetic tooth) itself.

The fact that the process has three physical components alone doesn’t tell the whole story though. Here, we explain why the most commonly employed dental implant method is split up into three separate procedures.

Step One: Placing the Implant

The first stage of the dental implant process is to bury the implant in the jaw bone via a surgical procedure. The dental implant replaces the tooth root, and requires healing time. During this healing time, osseointegration (the integration of the bone with the implant itself) occurs. The bone cells actually attach to the implant rod, filling in the spaces to secure the implant in place for permanent residency.   The healing time usually takes from 3-6 months.

Step Two: Placing the Abutment

The abutment is a post that connects the implant to the prosthetic tooth. Essentially, the abutment is a bridge that spans through the gum line so that the implant itself remains buried. As with the implant, the abutment has a healing period of its own. The gum around the abutment must heal and form a cuff or collar around it before the crown can be placed.

Step Three: The Prosthetic Tooth

Once the implant site and abutment have successfully integrated, the prosthetic tooth is fabricated and installed.

If you have any questions about the dental implant process, give us a call!

How Old Do Kids Need to be to Chew Gum?

We have all heard that sugar free chewing gum can help prevent cavities and tooth decay; but at what age is it appropriate for your child to start chewing gum? The general rule is that before chewing gum, your child must understand that he or she should not swallow it. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that younger kids have a tendency to swallow gum and that doing so has the potential to cause serious problems.

kid gumTo be on the safe side, the recommended age for allowing a child to chew gum is 4 years old. But even then it is important to remind them to only chew and never swallow. Most children don’t understand the concept of chewing without swallowing until they’re around 4 which is why starting off by offering them only half a stick may be the best plan while they get the hang of chewing. When shopping for gum, remember that sugarless gum with a seal from the American Dental Association is always the best choice because it has been shown to fight cavities by stimulating your mouth to make more saliva, which washes away food particles and neutralizes cavity-causing acids.

Many gums are sweetened with sugar, which increases the level of acid in the mouth, effectively canceling out the positive benefits of chewing gum. Gum that is approved by the American Dental Association has substituted sugar with Xylitol, a naturally occurring sweetener found in fruits and vegetables. Chewing gum with Xylitol is shown to work best when it’s chewed routinely just before a child’s adult teeth come in between 5 and 6 years old.

Chewing gum can be helpful in preventing cavities but it is not a substitute for brushing and flossing. Regardless of how much gum is chewed, it is still important for your child to brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once.

If you have any questions about your child’s oral health, don’t hesitate to give us a call!

Dental Implants: What Should I Believe?

Dental Implants have become commonplace, with over 3 million people worldwide hosting some sort of implant. Unfortunately, their rising popularity has been accompanied by an increasing number of misconceptions about what they can and can’t do.

Dental Implant FLet us help you to understand which of these common messages are true and which are fabricated.

Message #1: Dental implants are more expensive than traditional restorative methods.

Verdict: True and False. While the initial implant installation is more costly than other dental restorative procedures, over time, maintaining dental implants is much easier and cheaper. Other procedures require eventual replacement. For example, dentures require replacement after 5-10 years while dental bridges must be replaced every 7-10 years. So in the long run, dental implants can be less expensive than these alternative procedures.

Message #2: Dental implants are exceedingly painful.

Verdict: False. Like most forms of oral surgery, dental implant installation does involve some discomfort. However, patient accounts reveal that the pain is not worse than any typical tooth extraction as doctors use local anesthesia to address and minimize any discomfort during the procedure.

Message #3: Dental implant placement often fails.

Verdict: False. While dental implants do have the possibility of falling out, it is very rare for this to happen. In fact, reports show that 98% of dental implant surgeries are successful.

Message #4: Only young people should get dental implants.

Verdict: False. There is no reason healthy, elderly patients cannot receive implants. In fact, there are many cases of patients 90 and older undergoing dental implant placement surgery with great success!

Don’t let these common misconceptions get in the way of your decision to get dental implants. Give us a call…we’d be happy to discuss your concerns about dental implants with you to give you a better idea of what this procedure can do for you.

Will Wisdom Teeth Someday Become Obsolete?

Most people are familiar with third molars, more commonly known as “wisdom teeth”. It is usually suggested that a young adult entering the “age of wisdom” have any existing wisdom teeth removed prior to developing any problems. Because most people’s mouth do not have room for these third sets of molars, the remaining wisdom teeth often fail to erupt and can cause pain, infection or inflammation.

Will-Wisdom-Teeth-Someday-Become-ObsoleteHowever, you might not realize that about 35 percent of the population doesn’t experience any third molar development. This percentage is slowly growing, begging the question of whether we are on an evolutionary track of losing them completely.

Scientists still aren’t sure of the role that DNA plays in third molar development. One large difference in third molars is that they are the only teeth to develop entirely after birth, which makes it harder for nature to select against them. There may also be environmental factors at work. Studies show that certain cultures have fewer incidences of third molars, but scientific evidence of influencing factors is still to be determined.

As science progresses, many believe bioengineering could be used to prevent the development of third molars altogether. For wisdom teeth to form, a special tissue that promotes the bone growth has to migrate back into the mouth to interact with jaw tissue. Some scientists have begun work on administering a laser or chemical agent that would prevent this process.

It is hard to say what the future might hold for wisdom teeth. For now, we continue to recommend removing your wisdom teeth to avoid the pain and periodontal disease that results from impaction of wisdom teeth. Moreover, this surgery should take place during the young adult years prior to the teeth attaching to the jaw and becoming more difficult to extract.

The Evolution of Dental Care: From Finger to Floss

Did you know that the toothbrush is one of the oldest tools that humans still use? In fact, in a survey conducted in 2003, Americans chose the toothbrush as the number one invention over the car, personal computer, cell phone, and microwave. This may come as a shock in a day and age obsessed with technology, but it just goes to show how much value we place on our pearly whites. But it makes you wonder… how have people kept their teeth clean throughout the centuries? How did the toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss come into existence and how have they evolved over time?

The Evolution of Dental CareOne would assume that the first toothbrush was surely the finger, but evidence has shown that as far back at 3500 BC to 3000 BC chewing sticks were used in Babylonia. These chewing sticks were essentially a stick from an astringent tree with a frayed end that acted as bristles to clean teeth. These chewing sticks have also been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. Their predecessors are still commonly used in certain areas of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America and are known as miswak or mswaki sticks.

When excavating Ur in Mesopotamia, ornately decorated toothpicks were found that dated back to 3000 BC. Other archaeological digs have recovered various tree twigs, bird feathers, animal bones, and porcupine quills as the earliest toothbrushes and toothpicks. An ancient Sanskrit text on surgery dating back to the 6th century describes severe periodontal disease and stresses oral hygiene; “the stick for brushing the teeth should be either an astringent or pungent bitter. One of its ends should be chewed in the form of a brush. It should be used twice a day, taking care that the gums not be injured.” Pretty sound advice, even by current standards! Ancient Greek and Roman literature referenced the use of toothpicks to keep their mouths clean, and ancient Roman aristocrats kept special slaves for the sole purpose of cleaning their teeth. Imagine that job!

Ancient Chinese writings from around 1600 BC portray chewing sticks that were derived from aromatic trees and sharpened at one end to act as a toothpick. In the thirteenth century, the Chinese began to attach boar bristles to bamboo, essentially fashioning the first toothbrush. The optimal choice for bristles was taken from the back of the necks of cold climate boars, generally found in Siberia. Traders introduced these toothbrushes to the West and they quickly gained popularity. At that time Europeans were brushing their teeth by dipping a linen cloth or sponge in sulfur oils and salt solutions to rub away tooth grime. This was referred to as “The Greek Way”, as Aristotle had recommended this method to Alexander the Great. As these toothbrushes spread from East to West, in the West they preferred softer horse hairs over the coarse boar bristles, yet horses were deemed too valuable for the sake of toothbrushes, making boar bristles popular well into the early 1900’s.

Fast-forward to 1780 and we meet a man named William Addis of Clerkenwald, England. Addis was sitting in Newgate Prison for allegedly inciting a riot. The method for brushing teeth in jail was to take a rag and dip it in a solution of soot and salt and rub it onto the teeth. Addis believed there had to be a more efficient way, so while he passed his time in jail he began to think up solutions. Spying a broom, inspiration struck him and he took a small animal bone leftover from his meal and drilled holes into it. He then tied some swine fibers into bunches, strung them through the holes, and glued them into place. At this time in Georgian England, refined sugar was being shipped in from the West Indies in mass quantities. This caused a huge increase in the consumption of sugar for Londoners who then suffered from rotting teeth, the only treatment for which was to pull the infected teeth. When Addis was released from jail, he went on to market and sell his toothbrush under the name Wisdom Toothbrushes, which went on to become a very successful business that is still around today.

Toothbrushes continued to be made with animal bone handles and more often than not, boar bristles, although fancy toothbrushes were made with badger hair for those who could afford them. Celluloid handles were introduced in the 1900’s and quickly replaced bone handles. In the 1920’s a new method of attaching bristles to the handle was developed: holes were drilled into the brush head, bunches of bristles were then forced through the holes, and secured with a staple. This method is the same method that is commonly used today.

The next evolution in toothbrushes occurred when Wallace H. Carothers of Du Pont Laboratories invented nylon in 1937. Nylon bristles quickly overtook animal hair bristles for sanitation and cost-effective purposes. Although boar hair bristles often fall out, do not dry well, and are prone to bacterial growth, they strangely still account for 10% of the toothbrushes sold worldwide. The new nylon bristled toothbrushes were sold as “Doctor West’s Miracle-Tuft Toothbrush” due to its more hygienic properties.

With World War II looming in the background, British and American housewives were instructed to waste nothing, which translated to no more bone handles for toothbrushes. Bone handles had long been popular for things like toothbrushes, knives, guns, and handles for many more items. The shift to celluloid was a natural progression as soup bones were needed more than ornate bone handles. World War II gave oral hygiene an unexpected boost. The soldiers in World War II were expected to brush twice daily, a habit they brought home with them, likely due to the fact that Trench Mouth had become so rampant during World War I.

And what about toothpaste? Well, ancient Egyptians were making a “tooth powder” as far back as 5000 B.C.E. It was made from ox hooves, myrrh, eggshell fragments, and pumice. No device was found with the remnants of the tooth powder, which is why it is assumed that the finger was the first actual toothbrush. Other early tooth powders contained mixtures of powdered salt, pepper, mint leaves, and iris flowers. In Roman times, urine was used as a base for toothpaste. And since urine contains ammonia it was likely an effective whitening agent. In later times, homemade tooth powder was made of chalk, pulverized brick and salt. It is said that Napoleon Bonaparte regularly brushed his teeth with an opium-based toothpaste. In 1873, Colgate mass-produced the first toothpaste in a jar called Crème Dentifrice. By 1896, Colgate Dental Cream was packaged in collapsible tubes. Finally, by 1900, a paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda was developed, and by 1914 fluoride was introduced and added to the majority of toothpastes on the market at that time.

And what of floss? Researchers have found floss and toothpick grooves in the teeth of prehistoric humans. But it wasn’t until 1815 when a New Orleans dentist named Levi Spear Parmly promoted flossing with a piece of silk thread that floss really gained notoriety. Levi went on to be credited for inventing the first form of dental floss. By 1882 the Codman and Shurtleft Company of Randolph, Massachusetts began mass-producing unwaxed silk floss for commercial use. In 1898 Johnson & Johnson received the first patent for dental floss. Dr. Charles C. Bass then developed nylon floss, which performed better than silk because of its elasticity. Today floss is still made of nylon.

Who would’ve thought that the history of dental care would be so fascinating? And who would’ve guessed that the toothbrush we use today evolved from a stick and was perfected by a convict? Today, there are over 3,000 patents worldwide for toothbrushes. Regardless of how they got here, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss are a necessity in our daily lives.

Gingivitis 101

We’ve all heard of Gingivitis, most likely on flashy television commercials proclaiming prevention and cures, or by receiving a warning from your dentist, but do you really know what Gingivitis is and how to prevent and treat it?

Gingivitis-101Gingivitis is a form of periodontal (gum) disease. It causes inflammation and infection in the tissues of your teeth and gums, as well as in the periodontal ligaments (which attach your teeth to bone) and the tooth sockets, which means bad news for your gums and teeth.

It’s the long-term effects of plague deposits on your teeth that cause Gingivitis, which is why it’s so important to brush and floss daily. Plague, a mixture of bacteria, mucus, and food debris, cultivates on the surface of your teeth, causing tooth decay. If plague is not removed it turns into tartar (also called calculus) that gets trapped at the base of your teeth, causing swollen, tender, and infected gums. Left untreated, Gingivitis causes your gums to recede, spoiling that pretty smile of yours.

Brushing and flossing daily helps remove plague before it turns into tartar, which, if left to its own devices, is more difficult to remove and can create a shield locking in bacteria. At this point, only your dentist can remove it, which is why it’s so important to maintain bi-yearly dental cleanings.

If left untreated, Gingivitis can turn into Periodontitis, (the progressive loss of the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth) which can lead to loosening teeth and subsequent tooth loss. By simply brushing and flossing daily, and seeing your dentist every six months, you can save yourself thousands of dollars in possible dental implant and denture costs, not to mention ensure the quality of your pearly whites.

Certain factors that increase your risk for Gingivitis:

Dental Factors

  • Bad oral health habits
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Ill-fitted dental restorations

Health Factors

  • Poor nutrition
  • Genetics
  • Diabetes
  • Substance abuse
  • Certain viral and fungal infections
  • Older age – more common after age 35
  • Certain medications such as antidepressants, heart medications, and others (talk to your Periodontist about whether or not your medications put you at risk)
  • Smoking – we all know smoking is bad for your health, but did you know that over time it breaks down your gums and your jawbone?
  • Decreased immunity from illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, leukemia, and other conditions
  • Gender – women are more susceptible than men due to hormonal changes caused by monthly menstrual cycle, oral contraceptives, and pregnancy

Risks of Gingivitis

  • Diabetes (both type 1 and 2)
  • Heart disease
  • Women with periodontitis have an increased risk of birthing premature babies, or babies with low birth weight versus women with healthy gums.
  • Increased risk of heart attack, stroke and lung disease


  • Painful, tender, and swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums, especially when flossing and/or brushing
  • Bright red to purple-pink gums (as opposed to healthy pink)
  • Shiny gums
  • Mouth sores
  • Receding gums
  • Puffy, soft gums
  • Bad breath

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible, and follow up with regular cleanings. The moral of the story is: all you need to prevent Gingivitis is good dental hygiene – brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Warm salt water and antibacterial rinses can also be used to help reduce gum swelling.

Don’t Fear the Dentist!

The 2 most common fears known to man are death and public speaking. Believe it or not, visiting the dentist isn’t far behind. But it isn’t the pain that the patients lose sleep over, it’s the lack of control.

Dental CheckupPatients must remember that dentists undergo a minimum of 8 years of schooling before being certified. In other words, a dentist isn’t allowed to operate on one’s mouth without being a true expert of the craft. However, even when patients know and understand a dentist’s expertise, they continue to feel uneasy about making the visit.

Just as with anything in life, there are solutions to the problem.

The dentist and patient must work together. A patient afraid of the dentist must outline his needs and concerns before the dentist does his/her job. Therefore, the patient must not be afraid to tell the dentist when to soften up, even when dental tools are in their mouth. They shouldn’t be embarrassed to make weird noises if the dentist pokes a gum with too much pressure.

Now, for the dentists.

The most important thing a dentist can do is give control and power to the patient. Beforehand, the dentist must explain what the patient may feel during and after the procedure. This way the fear of the unknown is thrown out the window. After every 5-10 minutes, the dentist should ask the patient if he/she may proceed. The dentist should also set up a special cue for the patient if the procedure at all becomes uncomfortable. (Many dentists tell the patient to raise his/her left hand when they feel discomfort).

A dentist who only operates on one’s mouth is a one trick pony. Half of the battle as a dentist is making their patient feel comfortable. People skills are just as important as dental skills. Most fears stem from the fear of the unknown. People are afraid of death because they are unsure of the specifics of afterlife. People are afraid of public speaking because they are speaking in front of a group of people they haven’t developed a strong relationship with. Less people will fear the dentist if they know that they are in control.

Are Root Canals Safe?

Sometimes, while doing research on procedures on the internet, a patient may come across some concerning information. And since the internet is an unregulated source of information, you may have guessed that sometimes that “information” is actually MIS-information. Unfortunately, thanks to old rumors that have resurfaced over the last few years, the root canal has unfairly been condemned on the internet as an unsafe procedure, even though this idea has been scientifically disproven, time and time again.

Are Root Canals SafeIf you have been questioning the safety of any upcoming procedure, please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can do a thorough review with you and hopefully alleviate your fears. In the meantime, however, we will zero in and set the record straight about root canals.

You may be surprised to learn that these rumors about root canal procedures go back almost 100 years (long before the internet). It all started in the 1920s with research by a Dr. Weston Price that suggested that the bacteria that sits in the root of the tooth could be disturbed and leaked during a root canal procedure, then spreading and causing diseases around the body. Needless to say this fear led to many unnecessary tooth extractions as dentists and patients panicked, refusing to have or perform the root canal procedure. Within a few years of Dr. Price’s focal infection theory being born, modern research techniques were able to discredit the findings. Additional studies were performed in the fifties and right on through to 2012, each debunking this old tale. But we know how rumors can persist on the internet.

In fact a root canal procedure is safer and offers a better overall health outcome for patients than tooth extractions as it preserves the original tooth.

If you still have concerns before an upcoming root canal procedure, don’t hesitate to contact our office. We understand these concerns and would like to help you make the right decision for your health and peace of mind.