Dangers of “Do-It-Yourself” Teeth Whitening

As we enter the holiday season, we know everyone is trying to put their best self forward preparing to gather around with loved ones. A good-looking smile with even teeth can be a major confidence booster and helps to make a lasting impression on others whether on a date, at a reunion, or even in an interview.

Each year millions and even billions of dollars are spent on products to help people achieve that beautiful smile. There are hundreds of products and methods spreading across the internet claiming to get your teeth to “pearlfection” and some people have even resulted in making their own concoctions to save on money. However, when it comes to dental care, doing it on your own can have dangerous and disastrous results.

Recently videos and posts of how to perform “do-it-yourself” or DIY dental procedures have increased and resulted in a rise of patients suffering from DIY procedures gone wrong. These are at a minimum, problematic trends that can have serious consequences. We’d like to take time to talk to you about some dangerous but unfortunately common trends in hopes that you will come to see through their false promises and come to us with your dental desires saving yourself the trouble and toothache.

“Do-It-Yourself” Teeth Whitening

The widespread desire for whiter teeth in today’s society combined with internet culture has given rise to several DIY whitening methods. You can easily do a quick search on the internet and find tons of ‘promising’ Hollywood like smiles from supposed DIY tooth whitening methods. While some of these tricks might seem like great life hacks, often these ‘recipes’ are more for disaster rather than success.

  • Oil Pulling – Oil pulling is a folk remedy and while in some cases it has been effective in slight degrees, there is no scientific evidence or consistent track record to back up its claim for health benefits, especially when it comes to whitening teeth.
  • Lemon Juice – Lemon juice is probably one of the worst ideas we have seen in terms of teeth whitening as you are essentially brushing your teeth with strong citric acid. Any acid is harmful to your teeth, but a strong acid such as lemon juice applied directly to your teeth will strip your teeth of its protective layers and enamel. Tooth enamel is highly vulnerable to acids and enamel loss is permanent. We strongly urge you against this method as it can cause permanent damage to your teeth.
  • Activated Charcoal – Activated charcoal has been exceptionally popular recently and though it may absorb stains and toxins from your teeth, there are strong debates on its brightening qualities. Charcoal is an abrasive substance that might scrape away enamel as it removes stains from your teeth leaving them in a dangerous position. Hold off on buying any products that are not ADA approved and do not try to make your own mix.
  • Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide – These two household products can often be found in pantries or medicine cabinets in most homes. This DIY method came from the idea that because hydrogen peroxide is used in professional whitening methods and baking soda is a common ingredient in many ADA approved toothpaste, that combining the two would be a safe option in terms of removing stains/whitening teeth. While both are used in ADA products and procedures, that does not mean they are safe chemicals to apply directly to your teeth unsupervised.

There is a delicate balance to avoid damaging teeth and soft tissues of your mouth when it comes to teeth whitening procedures. Only dental professionals have the knowledge, experience, training, and materials to properly whiten your teeth with safe, long-lasting results.

Your teeth will thank you for putting your trust in dental professionals at North Pointe Dental when it comes to achieving your perfect smile. Bring your questions and desires with you to your next appointment and we will be sure to help you. Together, we will make a safe plan on how to achieve your best smile. In the meantime, keep up with good practices such as brushing and flossing daily and avoid foods, drinks, and other products that might stain or harm your teeth.

Candy and Your Teeth

Halloween is upon us! With the arrival of Halloween comes the nightmare of every dentist, tons of tormented teeth due to your candy-filled nights during this holiday. Just kidding!

Halloween is not a dentist’s nightmare, in fact, in a recent study done by the ADA, or American Dentist Association, 75% of dentist’s offices hand out candy during October. So you don’t have to curb your candy cravings just yet or avoid the dentist for a few months while you do some heavy brushing, we aren’t going to tell you not to eat candy. Halloween is ingrained into us as a common childhood experience in American culture. Dentists won’t win the battle against Halloween, so instead, we recommend balance and here is why.

Why is candy bad for your teeth?

Sugar–especially refined sugar- is not very good for your body in large amounts, but it can do some damage to your teeth. However, sugar isn’t necessarily the bad guy when it comes to teeth, but rather the conditions sugar creates in your mouth.

Your mouth is filled with bacteria, and while some are beneficial, others are harmful. The bad bacteria is the real culprit when it comes to candy overloads and your teeth. This bad bacteria creates a weak acid when it consumes the sugar in your mouth. This acid is what erodes your enamel or the outside protective layer of your teeth.

Without proper dental hygiene, your teeth don’t stand much of a chance against the harmful bacteria’s acid and will begin to decay. Tooth decay is the process of bacteria producing high levels of acid that breaks down the structure of your teeth. This acid breaks down the enamel and allows for the formation of cavities.

Cavities that are left untreated can reach deep within the tooth, cause infection, and eventually kill your teeth. This will cause the infected tooth to rot, fall out, and often need to be removed to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria or infection.

However, for all of this to occur the food and bacteria would have to stay on your teeth for a while, which is why dentists stress the importance of brushing and flossing your teeth daily.

Does that mean you can’t have candy this Halloween?

Of course not! As we said, candy is okay as long as you balance it with proper dental hygiene.

Dentists recommend chocolate as the best candy to eat, which is great because chocolate tends to be one of the most popular handed out on the big night. Dark chocolate is probably better for your teeth than milk as it contains less sugar. Why chocolate? Chocolate washes off your teeth easier than other types of candy.

That doesn’t mean stock up on all the chocolate, as balance is key. Whatever sweets you end up eating, be sure to drink plenty of water, brush, and floss your teeth before you call it a night!

Contact us at North Pointe Dental to make an appointment for your next cleaning.

6 Signs That You May Have Gum Disease

Gum disease affects a wide number of Americans, but its signs are surprisingly easy to ignore. Because many people focus their attention on issues with their teeth instead and gum disease is frequently painless, it is possible to overlook the symptoms of gum disease until they’re quite serious. Unfortunately, while the signs of gum disease are easy to disregard, its effects are not; indeed, gum disease is one of the leading causes of adult tooth loss. Luckily, paying attention to the early symptoms of gum disease can allow you to treat the issue before it leads to more serious consequences.

Signs And Symptoms Of Gum Disease

Maintaining a regular tooth brushing routine combined with daily flossing is both the easiest way to prevent gum disease and an opportunity to spot the signs of gum disease before they become serious. Here are six signs of gum disease that you shouldn’t ignore.

1. Pain
While the pain typically doesn’t develop until gum disease has increased in severity, any pain in your gums shouldn’t be ignored; for many people, tenderness or discomfort in the gums or teeth is the first symptom of gum disease that they notice.

2. Swelling
While healthy gums that are free from disease look firm and pink in color, gums that are experiencing gum disease can swell and turn red or purple in color.

3. Unpleasant Taste
Do you have a persistent bad taste in your mouth that won’t go away, no matter how much mouthwash you use? It could be a symptom of gum disease.

4. Bad Breath
Like an unpleasant taste in your mouth, bad breath” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>bad breath that doesn’t dissipate with regular tooth brushing or flossing can be a sign of gum disease.

5. Bleeding
Healthy gums don’t typically bleed from regular tooth brushing or flossing; if your teeth do bleed during your normal oral hygiene routine, you may have gum disease.

6. Loose Teeth or Growing Spaces Between Teeth
Changes to your teeth spacing is one of the possible more serious effects of gum disease. As your gums recede due to the effects of gum disease, spaces can develop between your teeth. This can allow pockets to form that let bacteria build up in your mouth. In turn, these pockets can affect the way your teeth line up when you close your mouth or cause your teeth to feel loose.

What Should You Do If You Have Any Of These Symptoms?

If you’re displaying any of the above symptoms of gum disease, make an appointment with North Pointe Dental as soon as possible for a professional assessment.

Gum disease in its early stages is known as gingivitis; gingivitis can be treated with a deep cleaning often in combination with a round of antibiotics. More advanced gum disease is referred to as periodontitis. If your gums have begun to pull away from your teeth and create pockets, you likely have this more serious gum disease. Because periodontitis is one of the leading causes of tooth loss, getting treatment as soon as possible is key to preserving a healthy smile.

Don’t Suffer From Dry Mouth: 5 Xerostomia Remedies

Are you suffering from an uncomfortably dry mouth? If so, you’re likely dealing with the irritating effects of xerostomia. Xerostomia occurs when your mouth lacks enough saliva to keep itself thoroughly wet and moisturized.

We’ll look at some of the common causes of xerostomia as well as some of the best ways to combat the issue. Our list of xerostomia remedies can help you do away with the frustrating symptoms!

Proper Hydration

One of the biggest causes of xerostomia is dehydration. Luckily, this is a fairly simple issue to fix- stay hydrated! It’s important that your body receives enough fluids even if you don’t find yourself to be especially active on a day to day basis.

It is recommended that men drink around 3 liters per day and that women drink around 2.2. Dehydration isn’t the only cause of xerostomia but it’s still important that we all try to at least sip water throughout the day as it can help cleanse your mouth of harmful bacteria.

Drink Decaffeinated Beverages

Believe it or not, our favorite caffeinated beverages actually have a negative effect on our mouths when it comes to xerostomia. Caffeine itself can rob our mouths of moisture, so it’s essential to try to avoid drinks like sodas, coffees, and teas unless you’re opting for the decaffeinated version. It’ll save you a lot of trouble in the end.

Try Breathing Through Your Nose

If you find yourself breathing through your mouth more often than not, you may be worsening your case of xerostomia without even realizing it! Xerostomia is exacerbated by mouth breathing and making a thoughtful effort to limit this method of breathing can help your mouth to retain more moisture.

Try Alcohol-Free Mouthwash

While most brands of mouthwash on the market today promote the idea that “if it burns, it’s working.” The burning sensation from mouthwash is caused by alcohol. Unfortunately, the presence of alcohol in our mouthwashes can cause mouth dryness.

This is due to the fact that while a mouthwash containing alcohol works to cut down on harmful bacteria present in our mouths, it is also cutting down on the important levels of moisture that our mouths should produce naturally. If you’re currently experiencing symptoms of xerostomia, try switching to an alcohol-free mouthwash and taking note of the difference.

Keep in the Habit of Flossing Each Day

Flossing each day is recommended for everyone (whether they’re suffering from xerostomia or not) and for a good reason! Keeping in the habit of flossing routinely when suffering from dry mouth can significantly reduce your chances of developing periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is typically caused by poor hygiene practices but can also be caused by lack of moisture in the mouth. By flossing each day, you will be effectively reducing your already present risk of developing periodontal disease because of xerostomia. Flossing can even help to promote your mouth’s production of saliva.

Call North Pointe Dental For All Your Dental Needs

If you think you may be suffering from xerostomia and want to learn more about how you can deal with this common dental issue, give North Pointe Dental a call or book an appointment today! Our team of knowledgeable dental professionals will be happy to help.

What Are the Effects of Sugar on Teeth?

Summer is here, and so is the ice cream! What better way to spend a Tucson summer than hanging out by the pool with some popsicles, a double scoop, or maybe a refreshing, cold soda?

Unfortunately, your teeth don’t feel the same way about the summertime. This is because, for your mouth, summer is a season of war between tooth-eroding acids and your enamel-building saliva. And guess what? Sugar is fuel for the enemy.

Sure, everyone knows that sugar can be bad for your teeth. The problem is it tastes so good. So, how exactly does sugar contribute to tooth decay, and is there anything we can do to fight it so we can still enjoy the occasional waffle cone? First, let’s look at how cavities form and how sugar contributes to the cavity forming process. Next, we’ll have some tips to help you keep your smile looking beautiful all summer long.

How Cavities Form?

If you’re a clean freak, we have bad news for you. You have a dirty mouth. A dirty mouth filled to the brim with bacteria. Before you break out the soap and start scrubbing, understand that many of these bacteria are actually good for you and you need them to be healthy. On the other hand, there are plenty of harmful bacteria in there as well. These bad bacteria use sugar as fuel to create acids which eat away at the outer layer of your tooth.

Think of how termites can eat through wood over time, creating lots of damage that can eventually make the wood useless. The acid produced by bacteria is doing something similar. As the acids eat through your teeth, they can cause a lot of pain, and worse, permanent damage. The process of acids eroding your enamel is called demineralization.

Like we said at the beginning, though, summertime is a war in your mouth. On the opposing side of the harmful bacteria are the good guys—saliva. Yep, your spit is the hero of this story.

Saliva contains calcium and other minerals that your mouth uses to rebuild your teeth and keep them healthy. The problem is, they can only do so much damage control. The more sugar you have in your mouth, the more fuel bacteria have to produce more acid—and this makes work difficult for your saliva to the point where it can’t keep up.

Tips for Preventing Cavities

The easy solution to this is the standard dentist answer—eat less sugar! Of course, it can be difficult to avoid sweets all the time. That’s why we have the standard dentist answer number two: brush every day. You don’t have to wait until morning or night to do it either. Brushing immediately after eating something sugary can go a long way to keeping excess sugar out of your mouth, so the harmful bacteria have little to feed on. If you can’t brush right away, rinsing your mouth out with water can help as well.

Lastly, if you’re experiencing any tooth pain or suspect you might have a cavity, make an appointment with us. The sooner, the better so we can catch the cavity before it gets too far out of hand.

Don’t let acid and cavities win the war in your mouth this year. Give your teeth a fighting chance so they can live to see another summer as perfect as your smile. Book an appointment with North Pointe Dental online now!

Five Reasons Why You Should Floss Every Day

Our mouths are something we use every day, so taking care of it should always be a top priority. Taking care of your mouth means you should routinely brush, floss, use mouthwash, and even visually check the appearance of your mouth for anything out of the ordinary. Believe it or not, one can tell a lot about the overall health of an individual just by looking into their mouth. When your dentist peers into your mouth they aren’t just looking at your teeth – instead they are looking outside the box as well for anything out of the ordinary that may signal a more serious underlying health condition – including things such as redness, swelling, bumps, bad breath, sores, and more. Just by looking inside the mouth, dentists can tell how well an individual is hydrated, and if they are showing signs of oral cancer, diabetes, anemia, autoimmune diseases, acid reflux disease, or kidney disease.

Amazing, right? Issues within the mouth can indicate a variety of underlying health conditions, and with your routine dental exam, you may be able to catch them early and intervene before the illness spirals out of control. Now that you know this, please don’t keep rescheduling your next routine office visit for cleaning because your oral health is essential. Keep in mind that oral issues can develop quickly and progress just the same, and the scary thing is you may not even notice them until maybe they cause you pain – which then may be too late.

Good oral health not only involves brushing your teeth daily, but optimal oral hygiene also includes using mouthwash, flossing, and even doing a visual check of your mouth and gums on a routine basis to make sure everything looks “normal” for you. The benefits of brushing the teeth are obvious, but why is flossing so important? I mean it is two more minutes of your time that could be spent elsewhere since you’re probably always in a hurry – plus what does flossing do anyways? Listen up, because there are some reasons why you should never skip out on flossing.

One. Flossing does about 40 percent of the work that is required to remove all that sticky, harsh bacteria from your mouth and teeth that can turn into plaque. plaque is that nasty substance that settles quickly onto your teeth causes cavities, irritates the gums and can lead to gum disease. Plaque starts to harden within hours of that last time you ate, and once 48 hours have passed, that nasty substance will be stuck to your teeth quite firmly, leaving a professional cleaning the best way to remove it. Each one of your teeth has a total of 5 surfaces, and if you skip out on flossing at least two whole surfaces do not get cleaned, and over time all that bacteria builds, and builds, and builds and – well you know – causes bad things to happen.

Two. Your gums really will stop bleeding. Are you hesitant to floss because you see blood each time you do? The truth is if you routinely floss the bleeding will stop because if the bacteria around your gum line is kept to a minimum, the fewer blood cells your body will have to send to the area to fight off the bacteria. Therefore, the more you floss, the less blood you’ll see. Try it for yourself!

Three. The rest of your body will thank you. The more clean and healthy your mouth is, the better off you are at reducing your chances at predisposing yourself to more severe health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and more. Also, if you’ve already been unfortunate enough to have one of these illnesses, improvement of your oral health may help to improve and maintain your overall health, and possibly even slow the progression of the disease.

Four. “Cavity” is that word you hate to hear when you are the one laying in the dentist chair. Well, not only can cavities form on one tooth, but they can also develop in the crevices between your teeth. That is why flossing in between your teeth to clean out all that unwanted bacteria is so important, because a cavity between two teeth can lead to even more damage to your teeth and lead to more pain, dentist visits, and money spent for you.

Five. Pregnant or plan to become pregnant? You’ll be flossing for two; gum disease puts you at risk for prematurity and low birth weight in your vulnerable infant. Being a great mom doesn’t start when your child is born. Instead, it begins even before you conceive. You must take care of your body as well as you can to provide for a healthy environment for your offspring.

So now you can decide, is there anything satisfying or rewarding that comes from flossing your teeth? The final decision to floss your teeth is ultimately up to you, but the benefits of taking that extra couple minutes in front of the mirror could do wonders for your oral health and your overall health. Make flossing a part of your routine and schedule a routine checkup with North Pointe Dental today. Your body, your health, and even those around you will greatly appreciate it!

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

How often do you use your mouth in a day? How often do you eat, drink, or speak? How often do you smile? These sound like silly questions, right? But we often underestimate and undervalue the importance of our mouths and oral care. This is probably why oral cancer is often overlooked until it is, unfortunately, too late.

This April, dentists across the country are spreading awareness to keep our nation’s mouths cancer free.

Oral cavity cancer (oral cancer, for short) is a cancer that starts in the mouth while oropharyngeal cancer begins in the soft part behind the roof of your mouth and includes your tonsils and throat.

According to the American Cancer Society, over 53,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer in 2019—1 in 5 of these cases will be fatal. The death rate has generally been decreasing over the past 30 years, but there is still a long way to go before we have it beat.

The reason these two cancers have such a high mortality rate is that they are often discovered too late in their development. That is why recognizing the causes and detection methods are so important!

Causes of Oral Cancer

While scientists are still researching the exact cause, they have pinpointed several lifestyle actions that significantly increase oral cancer risk.

Both tobacco and alcohol use skyrocket the chances of tumors developing in your mouth. Tobacco directly damages the DNA in your cells, causing them to be malformed when they reproduce. Alcohol, on the other hand, does not directly damage DNA but instead helps damaging chemicals (like those in tobacco) to access cell DNA more easily.

Doctors have also discovered that human papillomavirus (HPV) produces proteins that cause abnormalities in cell growth. For that reason, oral HPV infection is understood to be a third contributor to oral cancer after tobacco and alcohol.

Detection

Like with any illness, early detection of oral and oropharyngeal cancer is critical. The two most common symptoms you may notice is a mouth sore that does not heal for at least two weeks or persistent mouth pain. Some other things you may notice are trouble chewing, swallowing, or moving the jaw and tongue. Lastly, as with most cancers, a lump forming in your mouth or throat is another possible sign.

While these are some of the more common symptoms, a complete list can be found on the American Cancer Society site. If you show any of these symptoms for longer than two weeks, you should get screened.

Our smiles are important. It’s how we make friends, strike impressions, and communicate feelings. Our mouth is what lets us eat, breathe, and live. With proper knowledge and early detection, we can go from 1 in 5 cases of oral cancer being fatal to zero. Contact North Pointe Dental today to schedule your oral cancer screening.

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