Dental Blog of Douglas B. Weber, D.D.S.

Because A Better Smile, Is Always in Style in Lancaster, CA. Get dental news, trends, tips and office news by following Dr. Weber's dental blog.

A Brief History of Grills

Photo of dental grillz

A Brief History of Grills

“I got my mouth looking something like a disco ball
I got the diamonds and the ice all hand set
I might cause a cold front if I take a deep breath
My teeth gleaming like I’m chewing on aluminum foil”

– Grillz, Nelly (featuring Pall Wall & Ali & Gipp)

Grills (or grillz) are, if not popular, at least fairly recognizable these days. Made of precious metals (gold and platinum being the most common) and often studded with diamonds, most grills are removable and worn over the front teeth. But where do they come from?

Although many people would point to Nelly and his 2005 song, “Grillz,” as the starting point for the trend, they’re actually much older than that. (And no, we’re not just talking about rappers like Slick Rick, Flavor Flav, and Big Daddy Kane from the 80s and 90s, either). We’re talking ancient history.

In ancient Italy, between 800 and 200 BC, wealthy Etruscan women wore teeth woven together with gold wire the thickness of a rubber band. The wire held together teeth that had been removed and were placed back into the mouth, so they made eating difficult. The practice wasn’t necessarily common, but archaeologists found documentation of around 20 sets of teeth woven together in this way. Etruscan civilization vanished as the Romans took over Italy, and this fashion trend died with it.

In Latin America, Mayans actually cut small holes into their teeth and filled them with precious stones, typically jade. Again, this was a trend that only royalty and the wealthy could afford. Although the Mayan civilization has disappeared, many people in southeastern Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala still wear gold tooth jewelry today.

In ancient Filipino myths, the creator of the world, a deity named Melu, had gold teeth—and during what was the Middle Ages in Europe, Filipinos were filing down their teeth and decorating them with gold. Some of these decorations included gold bands that covered the entire front row of teeth; the oldest date to around 1300 AD.

As the Renaissance began in Europe, dentistry was becoming more scientific and less superstitious—and Giovanni de Arcoli, a 15th century Italian professor of medicine, became the first author known to recommend filling cavities with gold to preserve them.

Grills started appearing in rap and hip hop videos in the 80s, and became even more popular as Southern rap began to take off in the 90s and early 2000s. And now, they’ve jumped into mainstream culture, as celebrities like Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and even Ryan Lochte have sported them in recent years.

You might expect a dentist to come out against grillz as a health hazard, but no studies have proven that they’re bad for your teeth. As long as they’re removed and the teeth are brushed and flossed as appropriate, they shouldn’t cause health problems. Some metals can cause irritation; if it causes a rash, or bleeding, or other problems, just stop. Similarly, don’t clean them with anything toxic to ingest (like most jewelry cleaners), and don’t try to attach them permanently to your teeth with glue. But if you want to wear a grill, and you use some common sense and take care of your teeth, you’ll be part of a long tradition of dental jewelry.

We can’t recommend a jeweler to create your grill, but if you have any questions about dental instruments—either ornamental or for health reasons—please give us a call at (661) 952-7865 and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.

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Four Foods That Can Damage Your Teeth

Four Foods That Can Damage Your Teeth
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Last month, we looked at foods and drinks that can stain your teeth, but whiteness isn’t the only measure of healthy teeth. There are lots of foods that can chip your teeth or damage dental work in your mouth when you eat them. What are some of these problem foods? Your Lancaster, CA dentist can warn you about some of the biggest culprits when it comes to chipped teeth, loose fillings, and broken crowns.

Ice

On a hot summer day, it’s great to fill a tall glass with ice and pour in some soda, lemonade, or tea to help cool down. You’re right if you assume that sugary drinks are bad for your teeth (they are!), but they’re bad in an over-the-long-term kind of way. In fact, lemonade and soda are also quite acidic, which isn’t good for your tooth enamel, either. However, it’s the ice that can actually chip your teeth if you chew it. Other hard foods can damage your teeth, too, so be careful when you’re eating things like baguettes, hard pretzels, and biscotti.

Popcorn

Lots of people enjoy buttered popcorn while sitting in a cool, air-conditioned movie theater, but unpopped kernels can definitely ruin the fun. They’re hard enough to chip a tooth if you crunch down on one of them by accident or on purpose. However, popcorn actually poses a double threat. The thin shell that covers the kernel can actually get stuck between your teeth or between your tooth and gum, giving bacteria a source of food and promoting tooth decay.

Fruits with pits

What do olives, cherries, dates, and peaches all have in common? They all have pits, of course, and those pits can damage teeth. If you accidentally bite into a pit, you can definitely crack or loosen a crown—or damage regular tooth enamel.

Candy

Pretty much every type of candy can damage your teeth. Hard candies can chip teeth if you bite on them or chew them up; if you suck on them and let them dissolve slowly, you’re basically giving your teeth (and the bacteria in your mouth) a sugar bath. Chewy candies, like caramels or taffy, can stick to your teeth, increasing the risk of cavities, or stick to fillings and crowns, loosening them.
But sour candies are probably the most damaging of all because they combine three dangers to your teeth all in one. They’re loaded with sugar and they stick to your teeth, but the sour flavor actually comes from acids, which eat away at tooth enamel.

You’re probably noticing a theme by now. Hard foods can damage your teeth. We’re not trying to you away from enjoying the sorts of treats you love. However, if you’re eating something that could chip your teeth, pay attention while you’re eating it. If you’re eating something that could damage your teeth in another way, remember to drink some water to rinse out sugars and acids. And always brush your teeth and floss after you’ve eaten any of the foods on this list.

If you’ve damaged a tooth or lost a filling because of something you ate, give your Lancaster, CA dentist a call at 661.952.7865 to make an emergency appointment. Come on in, and we can get your damaged tooth fixed right away!

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Foods and Drinks That Stain Your Teeth

Foods and Drinks That Stain Your Teeth
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By this point, it’s pretty clear that people want white teeth. As a country, we spend $1.4 billion on consumer teeth whitening products, and the teeth whitening industry generates over $11 billion a year in revenue. We’re not complaining that people are willing to pay to have white teeth, but it does beg the question—what’s staining our teeth in the first place?

Foods and drinks cause staining in a couple ways. Foods that are high in acid tend to strip away enamel, which exposes the more vulnerable dentin to staining. Many foods—typically ones with natural bright or rich colors—contain chromogens, substances that adhere to tooth enamel and stain it.

  • Coffee and Tea: Whether you drink coffee or tea to give yourself a quick pick-up, you’re staining your teeth. The acids in these drinks can strip enamel off your teeth—and leave dark stains behind as well.
  • Wine: Most people think of red wine as a culprit for staining, and it is. It’s acidic and contains stain-causing chromogens. However, most people don’t realize that white wine stains teeth—it’s much more acidic, so it strips tooth enamel and leaves them vulnerable to staining from anything else you’re eating at the time.
  • Rich Sauces: Sauces that have a rich color—think tomato sauces and curries—combine both acidity and stain-causing pigments that can darken tooth dentin.
  • Food Coloring: It’s not difficult to imagine why foods high in food coloring stain teeth. After all, they have added chemicals whose sole purpose is to turn the food a bright color! Popsicles and hard candies are big culprits here.
  • Sugary Drinks: Sports drinks, energy drinks, and soda all contain acids and high amounts of sugar that are damaging to your teeth. They can leave your teeth vulnerable to stains from any food coloring in the drink—and cause cavities as well.
  • Balsamic Vinegar: All vinegars are acidic, but balsamic vinegar combines the acidity with darker coloring that can stain dentin.
  • Berries: Cranberries, blueberries, and cherries all contain lots of chromogens and can stain your teeth. In general, if a food (or drink) will leave a stain that is tough to remove from fabric, chances are it will stain your teeth as well.
We’re not recommending that you cut all these foods and drinks out of your diet. It’s just not practical. However, if you want to keep your teeth whiter for longer stretches of time, there are some tips you can use:
  • Avoid sugary drinks and highly processed sugary treats. They tend to cause tooth decay as well as stains.
  • Drink through a straw. If you’re going to have a sugary or acidic drink, using a straw can largely bring the drink past your teeth, reducing the risk of stains.
  • Brush your teeth, rinse your mouth, or even chew sugar-free gum after eating or drinking these trouble foods. It helps remove the stain-causing compounds from your mouth.

 
You can always use consumer whitening products to reduce stains on your teeth, and in fact, we’ve blogged about them recently! However, if you really want to whiten your teeth as much as possible, we’d love to talk to you and explain the results you can achieve with professional whitening.

To learn more about how to reduce the risk of stains or to schedule an appointment, call your Lancaster, CA dentist at 661.952.7865 today!

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Toothpastes

Toothpastes
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Do you ever stand in the oral care section at a store—maybe your local supermarket, maybe a general retailer or a pharmacy—and wonder why there are so many different types of toothpaste? Think about how many brands there are—and then how many different types of toothpaste there are for each brand! Crest 3DWhite, Pro-Health, Pro-Health Advanced, with Scope, Sensi, regular old Crest, Kids’ Crest… the list goes on and on.

A helpful way to think about your toothpaste choice is to think about your goals, beyond basic hygiene, when you brush. Do you want fresh breath or whiter teeth? Do your teeth hurt when you brush? Do you want to avoid a long cleaning next time you’re at the dentist? When you answer those questions, you’ll start to narrow down that overwhelming selection of toothpastes to a more manageable few.

There are a few basic types of toothpastes out there today. However, it’s important to realize that many toothpastes fit into one or more of the categories. (This is why there are more than 40 different types of Crest alone, after all.)

Fluoride Toothpaste

Fluoride toothpastes contain fluoride compounds to help prevent tooth decay. Fluoride works by strengthening, and even helping repair, tooth enamel. These toothpastes vary in the amount and type of fluoride compounds they contain and can come in a variety of flavors that appeal to both adults and children.

Whitening Toothpaste

If you’d like your teeth to look a little whiter, whitening toothpastes can help. They’re not as effective as dedicated whitening products (like whitening strips), but they can help you maintain whitened teeth. However, keep in mind that many whitening toothpastes can be more abrasive than regular toothpastes. If you use them, give your teeth an occasional break by using less abrasive toothpastes as well!

Desensitizing Toothpaste

Some people experience pain when their teeth are exposed to cold, heat, or touch—even the gentle pressure applied when brushing their teeth. If you experience this condition, called dentin hypersensitivity, you can use desensitizing toothpaste to make brushing a more pleasant (or at least not painful) activity.

Anti-plaque Toothpaste

Anti-plaque toothpastes help prevent plaque from accumulating around your teeth, reducing the risk of both tooth decay and gum disease. There are a variety of anti-plaque compounds out there, including Triclosan (an anti-bacterial compound) and zinc citrate (which supports your immune system).

Kids’ Toothpaste

Toothpastes for kids may or may not have fluoride in them—and that’s actually not a problem. First of all, the physical action of brushing (and flossing) loosens plaque and helps protect your teeth. Typically, toothpastes made for children have fruity flavors and lower levels of fluoride in case of swallowing.

To be honest, the most important choice you make is to brush and floss regularly. The best toothpaste for you to use is one that supports your goals for oral health, and that you will use twice a day, every day.

Of course, if you’d like to find out more about toothpaste, or want specific recommendations, we’re happy to help. Call your Lancaster, CA dentist at 661.952.7865 today!

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Dental Product Series: Teeth Whitening

Dental Product Series: Teeth Whitening
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We all have our vices. Things like a couple of glasses of red wine with dinner, that cup of joe (or three) to start your day, and smoking all take a toll on the color of your teeth. Whether you are getting ready for your wedding day, aren’t ready to give up on the things you enjoy partaking in, or would just like boost in your smile, there are many reasons to have your teeth whitened. With so many options available today, how do you know which is best for you? The types of product you need will depend on your budget and how much whitening you are looking to do. Read on to see how you can get your pearly whites back to being pearly… and white.

Basic Teeth Whitening Products

There are many dental products out there that claim to be able to whiten teeth. These include gum, toothpaste, and mouthwash. While these products promote themselves as whitening teeth, they’re typically not very effective.

The American Dental Association states that there two kinds of stains whitening products target. For surface, or extrinsic, stains, these products may be able to help. For deeper, or intrinsic, stains, these products don’t have enough whitening agent, and your teeth aren’t exposed to the agents long enough, to remove deeper stains. These products may not be able to whiten your teeth to where you want them, but they can be useful in maintaining a bright smile after using something a little stronger.

Whitening Strips
Whitening strips are an over-the-counter product that works better at whitening your teeth. They typically come with two strips in a container, one each for your top and bottom teeth. With these strips, you’ll normally leave them on for 20-30 minutes per session, allowing the whitening agent more time to do its work. Whitening strips can be used multiple days in a row, but also can cause tooth sensitivity. While this sensitivity isn’t a long-term problem, you should take a few days off of using the strips if your teeth become too sensitive.

Take Home Kits
Take-home whitening kits are a treatment you need to see your dentist for. Your dentist will make an impression of your teeth to create a tray to put the bleaching agent into. Once you have the trays (usually within one to two weeks of having impressions taken), your dentist will give you instructions on how to use your kit.

In-Office Treatment
This treatment is by far the most effective way to get your teeth whiter. Compared to the other teeth whitening products, chairside bleaching has the most potent bleaching agent, usually requiring a one-time dental visit for one to two hours. Your dentist will make sure you are a candidate for in-office bleaching and will take the proper precautions to ensure that the bleaching agent will avoid your gums, as it can irritate the tissue.

Typically, the more effective a whitening product is, the more expensive its price. Depending on your situation, one treatment may be ideal for you, even if it’s not ideal for another patient. Often, in-office whitening treatment may be initially expensive, but in the long run, you get the color you were aiming for, and potentially save money by not trying several cheaper products that don’t deliver results.

If you are unsure what option is best for you, give us a call at (661) 952-7865 for more insight.

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