The Charc(whole) Truth

Recently we’ve been hearing more questions about activated charcoal and its potential to whiten teeth. It’s an intriguing phenomenon in the whitening category and we wanted to share our findings and our verdict on whether it actually helps or harms oral health.

To begin, activated charcoal capsules & toothpaste are part of a larger movement toward natural healthcare. We support natural healthcare, and even recommend certain applications when in patients’ best interests, but our blanket philosophy that we’d like to share is to look at all trends – all-natural or not! – with a discerning eye.

Of course, our eye is drawn to the dental side of things! Here are a few things to keep in mind before jumping on the charcoal bandwagon.

  • It can be messy – Using an activated charcoal capsule instead of the toothpaste could be off-putting to sticklers for cleanliness because the method is messier, requiring you to break a capsule full of the powder open and put it on your toothbrush or straight into your mouth. If you choose charcoal toothpaste, you will find the process more like what you experience now.
  • It’s different from normal toothpaste – Charcoal toothpaste is probably not what you’re used to: in most cases it is black or grey in appearance and may have a gritty texture.
  • It could be abrasive – The ADA is concerned that activated charcoal is abrasive to tooth enamel, which is not good because when enamel is gone it is gone. In addition to that, once your enamel wears down dentin may appear below, and dentin has more of a yellow-white color, which would really put a dampener on whitening!
  • Less fluoride – Generally charcoal toothpastes tend to be formulated with less fluoride content than other toothpastes on the market, and a complete switch to charcoal toothpaste could impact your oral health situation.

With these things in mind, the most important point is that there is no scientific evidence that charcoal toothpaste whitens teeth. Could it? Perhaps, but findings have not been conclusive. Then the question is whether the payoff is worth it. FDA Hygienist Kelly summarizes our thoughts on charcoal well: “We recommend use of charcoal toothpaste for adults only and it is not recommended for daily use due to its abrasiveness.” While charcoal does have a naturally purifying quality, that alone doesn’t mean that we should use it daily, especially when it could roughen tooth surfaces and potentially offer more opportunity for bacteria to grow and cavities to form.

If you catch yourself weighing the options, remember there are many whitening methods on the market that are proven to work! We recommend our professional whitening service because the results are immediate and it’s done professionally, so you can be assured of the best result possible. Just give us a call at 207.781.5900 and we’ll be happy to arrange an appointment.

Dancing with the Dentists Season 3

You’ve heard the rumors, you’ve even heard some of the tales… well it’s back again in 2018! That’s right everyone, Dancing with the Dentists Season 3 is May 11th!

Now in its third year, Dancing with the Dentists brings dentists from the Maine community together with a night of dancing, excitement, and fun! Falmouth Dental Arts has a strong tie to this event as it was conceptualized and developed by Falmouth Dental Arts’ own founding dentist, Dr. Glen Knock.

But that’s not the only reason to attend: the evening was developed first and foremost for a good cause and will benefit two local nonprofit organizations: The Root Cellar and Dental Lifeline. Both organizations assist those unable to afford dental treatment by providing donated dental services. All profits from the event will go directly to those two organizations – Dancing with the Dentists Season 2 raised over $40,000, making a huge positive impact on their operations.

The Italian Heritage Center in Portland will serve as the competitive stomping grounds for the event, with the competition kicking off at 5:30 pm on Friday, May 11, 2018. The dental dancers and their professional counterparts will show their best moves to the crowd and a panel of local celebrity judges. Shannon Moss of Code Gratitude and former news reporter/anchor will host the evening.

Our own doctors Dr. Knock and Dr. Brunacini both danced in previous seasons, in fact… Dr. Brunacini won Season 1 of Dancing with the Dentists! “It was such a great experience,” Dr. Brunacini commented. “I actually enjoyed the dancing and performing aspect of it, and couldn’t believe that I won!  The opportunity to raise money and awareness for the organizations while learning a new skill was a lot of fun.”

While we can’t guarantee it just yet, Dr. Karagiorgos has hinted at his own participation in the near future. “I am sad that the timing didn’t work out this time but I really look forward to strutting my stuff at the next Dancing with the Dentists event,” he said. “What a great way to be involved and serve our community! With Glen’s rich history of dance and Brian winning the inaugural competition, the stakes are high and the pressure is on. When it’s my turn to compete in the future I look forward to representing FDA and performing in a way that would make our staff and our patients proud.” We can’t wait!

Have we got your interests piqued? If so, make sure to buy your tickets online today. If you have more questions about the event, please ask us anything during your next appointment! We are happy to help support the greater Maine dental community by sharing this event with others and supporting a great cause.

Let’s Get Digital!

As with any industry, technology in the dental field advances quickly. These advancements provide numerous benefits for both doctors and patients. One piece of technology that has changed over the years is the x-ray. Invented in 1895, x-rays are used to see the internal structure of an object, or in our case, the inside of your teeth, gums, and jaw. For years, we used the traditional analog x-ray machines. However, we recently made the switch to digital x-ray machines.

Digital x-rays offer many benefits and fewer concerns. The biggest differences between this new technology and the old include:

  1. Less Radiation: We understand your concerns when it comes to x-rays… They get a bad reputation for their radiation levels and health concerns. While radiation is inevitable due to the technology used in x-rays, digital x-rays have far lower levels compared to the traditional analog x-rays. On average, it’s 70% lower! “The main advantage digital x-rays have over analog x-rays is their reduced radiation exposure to the patient and dentist while still providing amazing detail of the teeth and bone for accurate diagnoses,” Dr. Brunacini shared. “Although we take all the necessary precautions for protection, lower radiation levels are safer for everyone.”
  2. Comfort: Remember those bitewings you had to bite down on to take an x-ray of your back teeth? We know—it was painful! Digital x-rays just require the use of a sensor placed inside your mouth that is moved after each image is taken.
  3. Environmentally Friendly: With the use of the sensor, digital x-rays remove the need for multiple pieces of film that just end up in the trash. Additionally, it alleviates the need for chemicals to develop the images, meaning less impact on the environment.
  4. Ease of Use: Traditional x-rays required lengthy processing time, careful interpretation, and specific storage. Using a digital x-ray, images are stored directly onto a local drive and can be accessed immediately following the capture of the picture.
  5. Quality: The digital x-ray saves time and helps us make a more accurate diagnosis. As Dr. Brunacini states, “Digital x-rays allow us to examine them on a computer screen, which means they can be viewed on a large screen and with varying contrast for easier visibility.” Since the images are digital, we can resize them without losing the important details that used to get lost with an analog x-ray. For patients, these images are much easier to view and understand.

We recommend having x-rays taken once a year at your hygiene appointment. Comparing your teeth from year to year can help us catch any issues before they get too serious. When were your last x-rays taken? Give us a ring at (207) 781-5900 to check in and discuss adding digital x-rays to your next appointment.

Dentist or Detective? Using Intraoral Cameras to Solve Problems

We can tell a lot just by taking a look around your mouth while you are sitting in our chair. But sometimes, we need to take a closer look at your teeth to get to the root of a problem you may be experiencing. X-rays are most commonly used to help us to find issues that can’t be seen with a visual exam. While these images do provide valuable information, they don’t show everything that’s going on in your mouth. Plus, they aren’t always the easiest images to help explain what might be causing an issue. That’s why you might see Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos using an intraoral camera.

What is an Intraoral Camera?

An intraoral cameral is a tiny digital camera that takes pictures of hard-to-reach areas in your mouth. Our intraoral cameras look similar to a pen and are equipped with a tiny lens on the end. During an examination, the camera is moved throughout the inside of the mouth, allowing us to see detailed images of the surfaces of your teeth, gum conditions, and other tiny details about tissues, cavities, etc. The camera also captures clear video and images of corroded or tarnished fillings, hairline fractures, bleeding gums, plaque, and other problems. To our patients’ delight, the camera is painless and can be used while you are sitting comfortably in the dental chair.

How do Intraoral Cameras work?

The first intraoral cameras were introduced back in the late 1980s and required a lot of bulky technology. Images were saved to a floppy disc and videos were saved to film and had to be viewed in a VHS player. Over the years, the design changed drastically allowing for improved function with significantly smaller equipment. Today’s intraoral cameras are connected directly to a computer and the images it can immediately be viewed by both the dentist and the patient in real time. These images can then be examined in-depth for a better diagnosis and stored for future reference.

Why do we use Intraoral Cameras?

Intraoral cameras offer numerous benefits to the patient. Dr. Karagiorgos explains it like this: “Showing our patients photographs of what we are looking at in their mouths is a great way to communicate ideas about conditions or possible treatments. Photography becomes a great tool in our toolbox to engage patients so that they feel more included in the decision-making process. It lets the patient see with their own eyes and helps make what might sound complicated much easier to understand.”

With the video and images captured by the camera, we are able to give you a better look at a particular diagnosis and to help you understand a treatment plan more completely. Instead of just explaining to you what might be happening in your mouth, we are able to show you exactly what is going on. In many cases, an issue might not present with tangible symptoms. For example, you might not have any pain in a back molar, but the intraoral camera might discover a fractured tooth. The cameras are also useful in the tooth restoration process, allowing you to see the before and after pictures of your treatment.

No matter the issue, the intraoral camera helps you make treatment decisions with confidence. Want to learn more? Let us show you what the camera looks like at your next visit! Call us at (207) 781-5900 to schedule your appointment today.

Oral Hygiene Tips for Those with Braces

From the day your braces are first put on, you have probably imagined what your smile will look like on the day they are taken off. To avoid any unwanted surprises, it is important to maintain proper oral hygiene from the moment your braces are affixed right up until the day when they are removed.

Proper dental care with braces does require more effort, but it will be well worth it in the end! Adding to your usual oral hygiene routine can prevent decay, staining, and prolonged treatment. To help you tweak your habits, we put together a short list of ways to help you keep your smile sparkling.

  1. Watch what you eat.
    Avoid eating too many sugary or starchy foods. These can make plaque build up quickly around brackets, which can cause staining or even cavities. Sticky foods should also be avoided as they are harder to clean off brackets and wires. Hard foods, such as nuts, popcorn, and beef jerky, can break wires and loosen, or even take off, brackets. Switch up your drinks, too. Stick to water as other beverages may contain dyes and sugar which can sneak into cracks and spaces between your teeth and brackets.
  2. Don’t forget to brush.
    For everyone, brushing your teeth twice a day is important. But when you have braces, you might want to consider brushing more. While this might sound crazy, you should brush your teeth after every time you eat. Even those mid-morning or afternoon snacks! Having brackets and wires in your mouth create more places for plaque to hide. The longer the plaque can hide there, the more likely it is to cause problems in your mouth. You also might need to change how you brush. Be sure to brush around the brackets at an angle to make sure you are getting in that space where the bracket meets your tooth.

    “At FDA, we recommend an electric tooth brush to make your brushing more effective.  The moving bristles can get into those small nooks and crannies better than a manual brush can.”

  3. Rinse it off!
    Don’t have time to brush? Forgot your toothbrush at home? Another effortless way to help get rid of that pesky bacteria is to use an antibacterial mouthwash. After eating, vigorously rinse out your mouth with some water to get rid of any larger pieces of food that may be stuck between brackets or wires. Then, swish with mouthwash to kill off any bacteria. If you can brush (which should always be your first choice), go ahead and use the mouthwash after anyway! The extra attack on bacteria is a terrific way to keep your mouth healthy.
  4. Floss, floss, floss.
    We know, flossing is hard when you have extra hardware to work around. However, it is incredibly important to keep up a regular flossing routine when you have braces. To make it easier, we suggest getting a floss threader to get under those wires and between the braces. You can find those at any drugstore or in our office! While you are there, grab some waxed floss, it is easier to slide into those hard-to-reach areas.
  5. Don’t stop going to the dentist.
    We know you visit the orthodontist often with your new gear, but don’t stop coming to see us! Not only do we want to see you and your changing smile, we want to help keep your mouth and teeth clean. We will also make sure each part of your braces are intact and working effectively. We are here to help with any questions you may have regarding brushing, flossing, or getting those hard-to-clean areas.

In fact, many patients increase their dental hygiene visits to ensure optimal oral hygiene while in orthodontic treatment. If you have questions about keeping your mouth clean with braces, give us a call at 207-781-5900 or schedule a visit today.