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.

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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Protect Your Teeth

Protect Your Teeth
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Sports build camaraderie. They’re fun, adding some excitement to an otherwise mundane week, and they’re always a great source for exercise. But of course, all good things have to have some kind of drawback, right? If you thought this, you’d be correct. And with sports, you have to balance your fun with the risk of injury—and that includes mouth injuries.

As the NBA Finals start up, you don’t have to think too far back for a dramatic example. During the playoffs, Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas was going for the ball when an opposing player hit him in the mouth with his elbow. He was not wearing a mouthguard, so needless to say, Isaiah lost his front tooth and needed hours of oral surgery to repair the damage.

We can’t say for certain what would have happened if Isaiah were wearing a mouthguard, in many cases, basic safety precautions can prevent, or lessen the impact, of incidents like this one. The American Dental Association reports that athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer mouth injury when not wearing a mouthguard. That’s a lot of trips to the dentist saved by wearing a mouthguard!

So if you want to enjoy sports and make sure you don’t end up with a missing or chipped tooth, here’s some advice. If you play in a contact sport, or if there is any chance for a body part or object to hit your mouth, wear a mouthguard.

There are three types of mouthguards: Stock, boil and bite, and custom fitted.

Stock Mouthguard

The cheapest of the mouthguards, these offer some protection, but not as much as the others. Since they’re “one size fits all,” these mouthguards can often be uncomfortable.

Boil and Bite Mouthguard

Similar to stock mouthguards, you can buy these at sporting goods stores or places like Walmart. To get a better fit, you boil these mouthguards to soften the plastic. When the temperature of the mouthguard is safe, you place it in your mouth and bite down, allowing the mouthguard to shape to your mouth. A better-formed mouthguard provides more protection and makes for a comfortable fit as well.

Custom Mouthguard

Your dentist can create a mold of your teeth to create a mouthguard made specifically for your mouth. These mouthguards provide the best protection, and are the most comfortable; many people will forget they are even wearing them.

The bottom line is this: if you don’t wear your mouthguard, then it’s not protecting your teeth.

There are multiple reasons why people don’t wear their mouthguards. A lot of store-bought mouthguards make it hard to breathe, talk, and drink, or just aren’t comfortable. In many cases, coaches (and parents) don’t enforce the wearing of mouthguards.

If you’re going to play sports, and you want to protect your teeth, you need to wear a mouthguard. While a custom mouthguard may cost more money, their wearability means people are more likely to use them. And compared to the pain, time, and cost of surgery for fixing a mouth injury, even the most expensive custom mouthguard is inexpensive.

If you have more questions about mouthguards and how they can prevent mouth injuries, call your Lancaster, CA dentist at 661.952.7865 for an appointment today!

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Best Dental Product Series: Floss

Best Dental Product Series: Floss
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Imagine you’re standing in the dental products aisle at your local Target or Walmart. You’re about to run out of floss at home, and you just want to pick some up. If you’re like most people, your first thought is probably something like this:

Why in the world are there so many types of dental floss?

Unfortunately, this can make it hard to know which product is the best. Being a dental practice, we have to tell you the truth: it doesn’t really matter a whole lot what type of floss you prefer, as long as you are actually flossing. However, that doesn’t really help you when you’re standing in the store, trying to decide between dozens of different types of dental floss.

In this series of blog posts, we’ll inform you about different types of dental products, so you can choose which dental product is right for you, starting with floss. With floss, it’s important to know that there a few different types of floss on the market. Choosing the one that’s right for you can make flossing pain-free and more effective.

Woven

There are two types of woven floss you may hear about. The first type of woven floss is generally made of cotton. With these flosses, you can clearly see the wrapped threads, especially since they are often different colors. Cotton woven floss can be very effective in cleaning plaque, and because of the material it’s made of, can also be gentler on your gums. The second type of woven floss consists of nylon filaments threaded together to form a single, larger thread.

In general, woven flosses are effective, but depending on the space between your teeth, the threads can come apart.

Monofilament

Monofilament floss is usually made of Teflon, and is a single thread. This means it is very durable and unable to fray like multifilament woven floss. Since Teflon has a slippery consistency, it is often much easier and more comfortable to fit between your teeth.

Waxed or unwaxed?

Wax helps the floss fit between your teeth more easily. Unwaxed floss squeaks, which is a benefit, because it tells you that it’s clean between your teeth. If you haven’t got a preference, try using both waxed and unwaxed floss to see which one works better and feels more comfortable for you.

Dental Tape

Dental tape is wider than the flosses described above. This is helpful if you have a wider gap in your teeth or dental fixtures like crowns, bridges, etc. If you have a hard time getting the dental tape in between your gums, consider changing to filament floss.

Floss Threaders

If you have braces, bridges, or permanent retainers, floss threaders are a must. Floss threaders have a rigid piece of string followed by a loop. You put your floss of choice in the loop, and guide the floss past your braces, bridges, or retainer. Then you can floss with the attached dental floss. This can take more time, but when braces or other fixtures are involved, flossing is even more vital in keeping your mouth healthy.

If you’ve read this far, you should know that there isn’t a “best” floss out there, only what works with each person’s needs and preferences. If you are unsure of what floss to use, ask your dental hygienist or dentist for advice on what may work best for you.

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What Do I Do About My Wisdom Teeth?

What Do I Do About My Wisdom Teeth?
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“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.”
– Quotation attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt’s wisdom teeth

If your wisdom teeth can offer insight like that, why would you ever have them removed? Most likely, you or someone you know has had them removed. It turns out there’s a solid reason.

In fact, wisdom teeth, which earned their name because they emerge at the onset of adulthood, aren’t all that wise. (Most people believe Eleanor Roosevelt came up with that statement on her own, but it’s no coincidence that it occurred after her wisdom teeth came in!)

Scientists believe that wisdom teeth helped our ancestors with a diet that was much harder on their teeth than our diet is to ours. However, they only begin to come in when people are around the age of 17 to 21 years of age. Since they emerge so late, after your other teeth are well-established, wisdom teeth often create unnecessary problems in your mouth.

If you keep your wisdom teeth, you might be able to eat beef jerky 10% faster, but the complications that can arise make them not worth the risk. (And if you eat enough beef jerky to think you might want to keep your wisdom teeth after all, you probably should speak to a nutritionist.)

What Can Go Wrong?

The main issue is that wisdom teeth become impacted. This means that your wisdom teeth cannot fully emerge, because your gums, back molars, or a combination of both are blocking them. Impacted wisdom teeth can create swelling and pain in your mouth. Additionally, they can be a difficult to keep clean, making you more likely to get cavities and gum disease.

Why Not Wait Until You Know There Is an Issue?

There are three good reasons to remove wisdom teeth before they cause problems, aside from the fact that they’re not necessary to help us process tough foods anymore.
1. When your wisdom teeth first emerge, the roots aren’t as established, making them easier to remove.
2. Wisdom teeth roots can grow near nerves, creating complications should you need to remove them later.
3. Recovery time is typically longer if you wait to get your wisdom teeth removed, with possible additional symptoms including excessive bleeding, numbness, and reduced jaw movement.

What Should I Do?

There is some debate if one should get their wisdom teeth taken out as soon as they come in. People with impacted wisdom teeth or other related complications should follow the advice of their dentist and take the proper action.

However, for many people, wisdom teeth can emerge with few or no complications. If this is the case for you, dental hygiene will become even more important to avoid cavities and gum disease. You will also want to stay consistent with your x-rays and professional cleaning visits to ensure your wisdom teeth stay healthy and clean.

Even if your wisdom teeth initially come in healthy, there’s no guarantee they won’t cause complications in the future. They could cause problems later in your life, which is a reason to just go ahead and have them removed.

Whatever you choose, your dentist will be able to track your wisdom teeth as and after they emerge. If you have questions about your wisdom teeth, please call or make an appointment with us today!

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Leave No Tooth Behind

Leave No Tooth Behind
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Have you ever watched shows like Lost or movies like Cast Away and wonder how the teeth of these people must feel like after an extended stay on a remote island? Fortunately, there are a few things they (or you, if you go camping or get stranded) can do to help maintain a healthy smile when you don’t have access to a dentist or minty toothpaste.

When you don’t have a toothbrush and floss, the concept of oral hygiene remains the same. Keep food debris from sticking around inside your mouth, and agitate the bacteria so plaque and tartar don’t develop.

In a bind, you can use a clean cloth or part of your t-shirt. Put the cloth on your finger and rub your teeth and gums as you would with a toothbrush. This method is good for minor stays in the wilderness, but won’t provide optimal care in the long run.

Use What’s Around You
In the unfortunate situation you are without proper care for an indeterminate amount of time, you can find or adapt natural tools from your surroundings to clean your teeth.
Chewing stick. Find a tree that has fibrous branches. Break off a toothbrush sized twig. Chew on one end to fray that part of the twig, which can now be used in lieu of an actual toothbrush. As strange as this may sound, a lot of cultures around the world still use chewing sticks for their dental hygiene. Due to the chemical composition of some trees (apple, fig, bamboo, and many more), they can help protect your teeth when chewed on.
Small bones. If you are hunting for food, save some of the smaller bones. They can be used as toothpicks, removing food debris from between your teeth.
Hair. This may seem gross, but if you didn’t bat an eye at small bones, you may as well try this trick too. If you have hair is long enough, you can use it as a substitute for floss.
Water. Rinse with water (sterilized, if possible) to keep your mouth clean after brushing.
Avoid problem foods. Without access to proper dental care, it’s best to avoid foods that can damage your teeth. Try not to eat fruits with a high acidity level, or foods that easily get stuck in your teeth.

Now you know how Tom Hanks kept his smile going stuck on an island for three years. (And you thought it was Hollywood make up artists?) While these options may sound less than appealing, they could be the difference between having healthy or damaged teeth while out in the wilderness. That and no one likes the feeling of fuzzy teeth.

If you’ve just returned from the wild, or if you’d just like to stay up to date on your dental visits, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!

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