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Help! I Need to Choose a Toothpaste!

Fluoride and flavors and flip-caps oh my! If you’re staring down the selection of toothpastes and wishing there was a Yellow Brick Road leading to the perfect one, you’re not alone. Luckily, your friends at Falmouth Dental Arts are here to help!

First and foremost, as you’re examining the tube of toothpaste, keep your eye out for two key details: the ADA seal of approval and fluoride content. The American Dental Association tests the safety and effectiveness of toothpastes on the market, and gives its seal to those pastes which pass the test with flying colors. Varieties without the ADA seal either have not been tested, or have not passed the ADA tests. Either way, choosing a product without the seal is a gamble for your teeth. Take the safe bet, and look for the ADA seal. 

Most toothpastes contain fluoride, a chemical compound with a variety of uses. In the dental realm, fluoride protects your teeth from decay by reinforcing your enamel. Fluoride has been used as an active ingredient in toothpaste for over a century, and has been introduced into a majority of city water supplies to improve oral health in the community. In recent years, fluoride has become a bit of a hot topic because it is toxic when ingested in large doses. Additionally, high levels of fluoride can lead to fluorosis: a discoloring of the teeth. However, because over-the-counter pastes contain such trace amounts of fluoride that fluorosis and toxicity are not of concern, Falmouth Dental Arts recommends fluoridated toothpastes. 

Dr. Karagiorgos states that “adding fluoride to our water supply has been statistically significant to help to improve oral health in at-risk communities. However, at Falmouth Dental Arts, we believe in a patient’s freedom to choose what goes into their bodies, and whether fluoride is right for them as an individual.”

“Proper oral health maintenance including brushing with any sort of paste, is the best method of reducing the risk of dental decay. Fluoride is not a nutrient, and our bodies have no need for it metabolically. It is very good at doing is killing the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Using it appropriately, in small topical doses such as those found in ADA approved toothpastes and mouthwashes can help to prevent decay, and also to reverse small amounts of acid damage. Acid damage can occur from cavity causing bacteria, acid erosion from reflux or consuming acidic foods.”

Beyond the ADA seal and fluoride content, your selection of toothpaste is entirely up to you! As you narrow down your choice, here are a few additional factors to consider: 

1.  Sensitivity: most toothpaste brands have a line specifically designed to address tooth and gum sensitivity. Some brands are entirely devoted to helping soothe sensitive teeth. Either way, most over-the-counter sensitivity pastes deliver on their promises to pacify any pain. If your sensitive teeth aren’t responding to an OTC sensitive-specific paste, talk to Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos about prescription strength options. 

2. Whitening: Who doesn’t want a brighter, whiter smile? Many toothpastes claiming to possess whitening powers typically do address basic surface stains. However, the different ingredients in whitening toothpastes can cause dental sensitivity over time. Additionally, any sort of abrasive ingredient advertised to whiten your teeth (such as activated charcoal, natural exfoliants, or microbeads) can erode your tooth enamel. Avoid abrasive materials in your toothpaste, and always keep smart brushing techniques in mind. If you’re looking for more intensive whitening, talk to Dr. Brunacini about in-office and at-home options at your next appointment!

3. Options for Kids: For brand new brushers, look for a training toothpaste which does not contain fluoride. When your child understands that toothpaste should be spit out and not swallowed, you can make the switch to a fluoride paste. Fun toothpaste flavors can be helpful if you’re trying  to make brushing fun–which goes for children and adults alike!

At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do for your teeth is to brush them properly twice a day! What you use to brush helps or hurts your effectiveness as a brusher, so you do want to choose your tools and pastes with care. Look for a toothpaste stamped with the American Dental Association’s seal of approval. Feel free to choose a toothpaste with a fun flavor and ingredients to address sensitivity or whitening concerns–just avoid any ingredients that might erode your tooth enamel. 

If you have questions about proper brushing techniques, or want to have Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos put their stamp of approval on your toothpaste–just ask them at your next dental exam and cleaning! If you have any questions, or to schedule your appointment, please call our office at 207.781.5900

Five Tips for a Healthy Halloween

Ah, Halloween! Little ghouls and goblins are grinning at the prospect of a bag full of candy…while those poor souls responsible for their young fangs find nothing more frightening than impending pounds of sugar. Don’t let ghosts of cavities haunt you this year! The staff at Falmouth Dental Arts is here to help with Five Tips for a Tooth-Happy Halloween. 

 

1.  Who you gonna call? CandyBusters!  Candy = Sugar = Cavities. We’re all familiar with this equation! This year, consider removing the first variable and revamping your Halloween treat bowl to include a healthier selection. Sugar-free gum, individually-wrapped snack packages of fruits and veggies, cheese sticks, or individual on-the-go yogurt tubes are all fun, unexpected, and tooth-friendly pumpkin-fillers!

2. Stickier is Scarier. Even if you are handing out healthy Halloween snacks, it’s almost inevitable that you and your children will encounter candy this time of year. When choosing which sweets to indulge in, consider texture. Candies such as gummies or taffies adhere to the surface of your teeth with scary sticking power! This residue is a feast for the bad bacteria that cause cavities. Cut down on bacteria by choosing granular goodies like chocolate, which dissolve quickly from the tooth’s surface. 

 

3. Let’s Do the Time Warp! It’s enjoyable to savor your sweets, but the odds of developing a cavity increase the longer that a sugary substance is in your mouth. Hard candies like lollipops or suckers are prolonged sugar bombs for your teeth, causing massive dental destruction! Trading hard candies out for sweets such as chocolate limits sugar exposure and is a safer bet for your bite. 

4. Dessert Thriller By strategically timing your candy consumption to align with mealtimes, you’re not only getting a delicious dessert–you’re doing right by your teeth! As we learned in September’s blog post, saliva production increases when you eat, which allows for food residue and bacteria to be naturally washed away with every swallow. Your saliva production is in overdrive during mealtimes, which makes it primetime to pop in a few tasty treats for dessert. Don’t forget to sip water throughout your meal to assist your saliva in cleaning out your mouth. You’ll get the sweet ending your meal deserves, and your teeth will thank you! 

 

5. Brush Away the Boogey Man No matter how or when you consume your Halloween treats, don’t forget to brush twice a day (or more, should you sneak some candy in-between meal times)! Looking to make your daily dental regiment a little spookier this time of year? Turn up this kid-friendly Halloween playlist while you brush!

 

Does your little vampire have an appointment for their fangs with us on Thursday, October 31st? Kids are welcome to come to Halloween appointments in costume. If you have any questions, or to schedule your appointment, please call our office at 207.781.5900

Five Books to Get Kids Brushing!

If you’re wondering how to introduce the concept of the dentist and oral hygiene to your kids, a smile-centric storytime may be the perfect answer! The staff at Falmouth Dental Arts has you covered with this list of their five favorite books to help inspire children to healthy dental habits. 

1.  The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss is a storytime standby and with good reason! His jaunty rhymes and imaginative illustrations make every book an engaging adventure for audiences. The Tooth Book is no exception, as we tour the world, searching high and low, observing that EVERYONE has teeth! Readers learn how fun, different, and useful everyone’s teeth are–from walruses to acrobats. We also see different dental issues that we may encounter when we neglect our teeth. Dr. Seuss encourages his readers to take special care of their smile!

 

 

 

2. Sesame Street: Ready, Set, Brush! 

Pull tabs and pop ups make this cardboard classic an extra-interactive read for kiddos. Simple rhymes and colorful illustrations of the familiar cast of Sesame Street characters will keep young audiences engaged as Elmo, Cookie Monster, and the Count show just how much fun brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist can be. 

 

 

 

3. Clarabella’s Teeth by An Vrombaut

Beautiful, bold pastel illustrations introduce readers to Clarabella the Crocodile and her cast of alliterative animal friends. While the other animals race through their morning routine, Clarabella’s unique smile keeps her brushing her teeth forever! Although she misses out on the day’s activities, her friends surprise her with a custom toothbrush so that she can join in tomorrow’s fun.

 

 

 

4. ABC Dentist by Harriet Ziefert

The informative alphabet theme and fun, detailed pictures take readers through the ins and outs of the dental cleaning experience. Dental terms, techniques, and the anatomic structure of the mouth are explained from A-Z and parents may very well find themselves learning right alongside their kids! 

 

 

 

 

5. Brush Your Teeth Please by Leslie McGuire

The well-mannered title isn’t the only thing to like about this straightforward story, perfect for very young children. Pop ups and pull tabs provide interactive instruction on different brushing techniques and the importance of flossing. Friendly animal smiles greet the reader on every page, while free-moving toothbrushes encourage kids to engage with the characters.

 

 

 

Your friends at Falmouth Dental Arts invite you to take one of these books for a spin, and add some extra smiles to storytime. You can post pictures of your kids reading these or their own favorite tooth-themed books by tagging our Facebook page @FalmouthDentalArts. 

If you have any questions, or need to schedule your next appointment, please call our office 207.781.5900

Chewing Gum: Yes or No for Healthy Teeth?

Can we really clean a dirty mouth with chewing gum?

In between your regularly-scheduled cleanings and check-ups with Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos, what are some steps you can take to maintain and improve your oral health? We all know that brushing and flossing twice daily are essential. But even if you have a fun toothbrush and fancy-flavored toothpaste and floss, the old brush-and-floss routine can sometimes feel more like a chore than a treat. 

Chewing gum—with its kaleidoscope of colors, yummy flavors, fun wrappers, and snappy names (and snappier bubbles), always feels like a treat. But does chewing gum help support other dental hygiene…or hurt it? 

What does it mean to chew?

Let’s look at what happens when you pop a piece of gum into your mouth. What is the physiological response to the act of continual chewing? First and foremost, chewing stimulates salivary flow. In fact, chewing increases the average flow of saliva in your mouth by 10 times that of your non-chewing rate. All of this extra saliva needs to be swallowed, which means that as average saliva production increases, the average rate of swallowing increases as well.  

Saliva acts as a natural barrier between different kinds of acid and your tooth enamel. Saliva that is stimulated by chewing contains higher concentrations of protein, calcium, and bicarbonate, which makes it a better barrier than unstimulated saliva. This “Super Saliva” is super helpful when you’re eating, because food and beverage all contain acids that start to break down our enamel over time. However, chewing gum stimulates the same saliva type and flow as chewing your favorite meal—meaning that you can activate the power of “Super Saliva” any time of day! 

Repeated swallowing clears acid deposits from the esophagus, which some studies have shown to help reduce different kinds of acid reflux. This means that chewing clears acid from the top (getting it out of your mouth) and bottom (keeping it in your stomach)! Who knew?

Sugar vs. Sugar-free

Since our very first Halloween adventure, we’ve all memorized the scary equation that “SUGAR + TEETH = CAVITIES”. Sweet teeth need brushing, flossing…and sugar free gum! Here’s why. 

Sugar, or sucrose, is food for the oral bacteria naturally residing in our mouths (for more information, read our August blog post!). When the bacteria metabolize the sucrose, they produce dental biofilms and acids which erode enamel and cause cavities. Even though chewing gum with sugar still increases Super Saliva flow, that benefit is undone by the production of biofilms and acids. 

Sugarless gum is still sweetened, but by artificial sweeteners such as xylitol. These types of sweeteners are either metabolized very slowly, or not at all, by our oral bacteria, meaning no biofilms or additional acids. In fact, xylitol is a common ingredient in mouthwashes, toothpastes, and popular mints such as LifeSavers. 

 To Chew or Not to Chew?

Chomp away on your sugar-free gum! It is beneficial to your oral health to chew sugar-free gum after and in-between meals. Chewing gum significantly increases the flow of powerful, acid-clearing saliva. Additionally, artificial sweeteners cannot be metabolized by oral bacteria. This means that enamel-eroding and cavity-causing acids are minimized, and your beautiful smile is maximized! 

If you’re still unsure of which chewing gum is best, just look for the American Dental Association seal of approval. Only dentist-approved sugar-free gums are eligible for the ADA’s seal, so you can choose them with confidence. Just remember that although chewing sugar-free gum is a great way to improve your daily dental hygiene routine, it’s never a substitute for twice-daily brushing and flossing.

Bring a pack of sugar-free, ADA gum to share with Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos at your next dental exam and cleaning! If you have any questions, or need to schedule your next appointment, please call our office at 207.781.5900.

(Post your best and biggest sugar-free chewing gum bubble pictures on our Facebook page!)

*images courtesy of confectionarynews.com

 

Porcelain Restoration–Is it Right For Me? An Interview with Dr. Brunacini

We love helping our patients achieve the smile of their dreams!  Many dental issues can be corrected through cosmetic dentistry and the first step for any cosmetic procedure is a simple consultation with Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos.  They are here to discuss your dental health goals and help you find the right fit for your needs. A question we often get from patients is if they should replace old metal crowns and bridges with porcelain.  There are many advantages to replacing your old crowns, but the reason to replace them isn’t one-size-fits-all. To learn more about porcelain restoration and who could benefit from this procedure, we spoke with Dr. Brunacini.

1. What is porcelain restoration? 

Dr. Brunacini:  Porcelain is the material that is used to give crowns and veneers the esthetic properties–color, luster, and a tactile sense.  Porcelain restoration provides you with the translucency and shine of your natural teeth—you’d never be able to tell there was a need for a crown—and the texture of the polished porcelain is very similar to that of enamel.  It is a restoration that needs to be fabricated in a lab, and requires taking an impression to send to the lab. We are now doing crowns that are metal-free. By doing so, we can create highly esthetic AND very strong restorations with minimal risk of chipping or breaking. It is a great option for patients!

2. Why would I need to replace a metal crown or bridge?

Dr. Brunacini:  There can be numerous reasons for patients to need to replace their metal crowns.  The most obvious one is when a new area of decay develops under an existing crown or bridge.  This is one reason we do regular x-rays; they are very important to discover any changes underneath crowns before they become loose or problematic.  

Also, for some patients, they find it unsightly to have metal show, so replacing a metal crown with a porcelain crown is a good solution for their needs.  For many years, dentists placed crowns with a metal substructure and porcelain overlayed on top of the porcelain. Over time, the porcelain can chip, which may lead to poor esthetics or difficulty cleaning the crown.  The only way to fix this situation is to replace it with a new crown.  

If you have questions or concerns about your metal crowns, schedule a consultation with me or Dr. Karagiorgos.  We are here to help you achieve your dental goals!

3. I’ve heard porcelain crowns can cause more wear and tear on my other teeth.  Is this true?

Dr. Brunacini:  With newer types of porcelain, there is less concern with wearing down opposing teeth.  Of course, it is very important to finely adjust the bite on crowns to be sure they function well with the other teeth. This is why when we fit a porcelain crown, we sculpt and shape the porcelain to fit perfectly with your existing bite.

4. Are there any special care instructions for porcelain crowns and bridges?

Dr. Brunacini:  There really isn’t much “special” care needed. For patients who grind their teeth, a night-guard may be indicated to protect the porcelain from chipping.  However, most patients can simply stay on top of their regular home care, such as brushing twice daily and flossing daily. This should be sufficient enough to maintain porcelain crowns for many years! 

 

Thank you, Dr. Brunacini!

Whether your reason is cosmetic, physical, or a bit of both, our team of caring dental professionals is here to help you find the right path toward a better smile.  If you have more questions about porcelain restoration or would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos, call our office at 207.781.5900 today.