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Makeover your smile

Every six months you routinely go to your dental appointment to maintain a healthy smile. But, did you realize your dentist can also help to make you look younger? Discoloration on your teeth is a telltale sign of your age. Yellow stains on your teeth can occur from smoking, drinking coffee, drinking tea, and drinking red wine. The yellowing of your teeth begins to occur in your twenties and progressively increases each decade of life. Sometimes with advancing age teeth can also naturally start turning a shade of gray. This grayish discoloration is often due to receding nerves in the teeth that deprive the teeth of nourishment and cause them to turn brittle and gray.

You can look years younger in just one hour at the dentist. In Scottsdale Arizona, Dr. Jason McCargar uses Zoom! Whitening. This whitening method coats the teeth in a hydrogen preoxide solution, and then a heatless light is shone onto the teeth activating the bleaching action. The dentist will replace the hydrogen peroxide solution on the teeth every 15 minutes until the desired degree of white is achieved. Some offices will offer discounts to new patients or if you refer them a new patient, so be sure to ask your dentist about this service. If you just need your teeth whitened a few shades Crest White Strips are an effective and safe over-the-counter alternative for you to use at home. The clear strip is placed onto the teeth and worn for about 15 to 30 minutes. After wearing the strips daily for about two weeks your teeth will be noticeable whiter.

The dental aisle breakdown

The dental aisle can at times be intimidating. With so many choices, how do you know that you are choosing the right toothpaste?

First of all, the toothpaste must contain fluoride. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, brushing with a toothpaste containing fluoride decreases your risk of tooth decay by as much as 40 percent. There are other generic brands and organic brands that may claim to clean or whiten teeth just as good as the brand names, but if they do not contain fluoride, then they are not worth the money. Look for the ADA (American Dental Association) seal of approval. Only the products that have the seal of the ADA have undergone scientific research to determine they are safe and effective for use on your teeth. The ADA has approved over 50 different kinds of toothpaste, so it should be easy to find one that is within your budget and that your taste buds will approve of.

Many people are also overwhelmed by the additional ingredients in the toothpaste. To make the toothpaste foam the manufacturers put a product into it called sodium lauryl sulfate. If you are prone to canker sores sodium lauryl sulfate may be the culprit. Try choosing a toothpaste that has less of it like Colgate original or try Tom’s Natural toothpaste which does not contain this ingredient at all. Other manufacturers add thickening agents such as seaweed colloids, mineral colloids, and natural gums. All of these products are safe and effective and help to give the toothpaste the consistency that you are used to. If you are looking for whiter teeth, then Crest and Colgate both make really good whitening toothpastes. These toothpastes contain mild abrasives that help to remove surface stains on your teeth (like baking soda). With repeated daily use you will see a whiter smile; however, it will not get your teeth as white as your dentist can get them using bleaching agents. The commercials that you have seen claiming that foaming toothpastes work better than normal pastes or gels are not exactly accurate either. Some people do prefer the foaming toothpastes, but it is more of a personal preference, which only you can decide through trial and error. There are also toothpastes for people with sensitive teeth. Sensodyne is a great toothpaste to help decrease the sensitivity of teeth to hot or cold.

Next, how much toothpaste you put on your toothbrush is also important. A brush that is overflowing with toothpaste is not going to clean your teeth any better. It is recommended that you apply only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to the toothbrush. Also, no matter what brand of toothpaste you use, if you are brushing incorrectly, then debris will never properly be removed from your teeth. Dr. Jason McCargar, a Scottsdale dentist, says “to brush properly, it is important to move the brush in small circles and to hold the brush at a 45 degree angle. Doing this ensures that the bristles get in between the teeth and that the bristles also effectively clean out plaque at the gumline. It is recommended that you brush for about two minutes.”

So, next time you are in the dental aisle wondering which toothpaste to choose, use our flow chart to help pick. (click to enlarge)

Do these genes make my teeth look unhealthy?

DNA contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms. These genetic instructions are the genes that have been passed down to you by your parents. Your genes determine your height, your hair color, your eye color, and your body shape. But, did you know that genes may also play a role in gingivitis?

Researchers from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and Procter & Gamble Oral Care have identified more than 9,000 genes (approximately 30% of the human genome) that are expressed differently during the onset and healing process of gingivitis. Gingivitis, which literally means inflammation of the gum tissue, is part of an immune response to bacteria. Bacterium is found in plaque-buildup on and around your teeth. Even though the area of plaque may be small the bacteria release large amounts of endotoxins. The endotoxins cause the gum tissue to become swollen, red, and inflamed. Due to the swelling the cells inside the gum tissue do not receive enough oxygen; to compensate for this lack of oxygen the cells trigger the body to produce additional capillaries near to the surface of the gums. More capillaries forming on the surface of the gums means easier bleeding when you brush or floss. This whole inflammatory process is activated by your immune system to fight the bacteria. The research team found that the specific gene expression pathways associated with stopping the plaque overgrowth and bacteria are the same as those involved in wound healing and skin repair.

The study’s main author, Steven Offenbacher, DDS, PhD, is quoted as saying, “The study’s findings demonstrate that clinical symptoms of gingivitis reflect complicated changes in cellular and molecular processes within the body. Understanding the thousands of individual genes and multiple systems involved in gingivitis will help explain exactly what is occurring in a person’s body at the onset of the disease and how it relates to their overall health.” By studying the genes and the pathways that result in gingivitis it may be possible in the future to develop new medicines that may help to prevent gingivitis. Traditionally, gingivitis has been attributed to poor oral health habits; however, with this new clinical research it may be possible to prevent and fight gingivitis using a person’s specific genes.

Dr. Jason McCargar, DMD a Scottsdale Dentist says, “While these results are promising for the future of dentistry, the most important way to treat gingivitis is to prevent it.” Currently, gingivitis can be very difficult to treat. The focus of the treatment is to remove the causative agent, the bacteria. Periodontal scaling, antibiotics, antiseptic mouthwashes, and gum surgery are just a few examples of treatment options. Gingivitis can easily progress beyond just inflammation of the gums and can infect bone tissue of the jaw. Complications of gingivitis include recurring infection, bone loss, tooth loss, and periodontitis. Dr. McCargar stresses that regular oral hygiene appointments every 6 months, and brushing and flossing twice daily helps to remove bacteria-causing plaque, keeps your teeth and your gums healthy, and helps to prevent gingivitis.

Will your teeth flunk out of school this semester?

College students have a higher incidence of tooth decay than some other age groups according to research. The tooth decay in this age group is likely caused by nutritional choices and acid erosion. College is difficult and stressful. Students cram late into the night studying for tests, then wake up early each day for class. This schedule causes students to choose sodas, coffee, chips, starchy foods like pizza or pasta, and sports drinks. This on-the-run nutrition contains acids and sugars that can deplete the tooth of needed minerals to stay healthy. Without the protective minerals your teeth can become weak and vulnerable to decay.

So, don’t let your teeth flunk out of college. There are many ways to improve the health of your teeth and your nutritional habits. Every once in awhile, substitute water for your soda or coffee. Eat carrots or other crunchy vegetables instead of chips for a snack. (Studies show the rigidity of the vegetables can actually help to scrape off some plaque as you chew). It is fine to have sweets in moderation, but try to chew a gum containing xylitol (Trident) immediately after to help prevent decay-causing bacteria. It takes less than 5 minutes to brush and floss, so make sure you are doing this morning and night. Even if you are far from home, you should still see a dentist twice yearly for a cleaning and an exam. Often your campus health office will have a licensed dental hygienist or a dental hygiene student who can clean your teeth for a lesser cost if you do not have insurance. Dr. McCargar, a dentist in Scottsdale, Arizona says, “Remember, you are studying hard to better your mind and your life. Don’t sabotage your health and your teeth by neglecting them. You will want to make a good first impression at your first job interview after graduation!”