Posts for: April, 2013

By James P. Watts, DMD
April 20, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   toothpaste  
FiveFactsAboutToothpaste

Since the time of the ancient Egyptians, people have used mixtures of various substances in pursuit of a single goal: cleaning their teeth effectively. Today, even with a glut of toothpaste tubes on the supermarket shelf, most people seem to have a particular favorite. But have you ever thought about what's in your toothpaste, and how it works? Here are five facts you might not know.

1) Most toothpastes have a very similar set of active ingredients.

Once upon a time, a toothpaste might have contained crushed bones and oyster shells, pumice, or bark. Now, thankfully, they're a little different: today's toothpaste ingredients generally include abrasives, detergents and fluoride compounds, as well as inert substances like preservatives and binders. Toothpastes formulated to address special needs, like sensitive teeth or tartar prevention, have additional active ingredients.

2) Abrasives make the mechanical action of brushing more effective

These substances help remove stains and surface deposits from teeth. But don't even think about breaking out the sandpaper! Modern toothpastes use far gentler cleaning and polishing agents, like hydrated silica or alumina, calcium carbonate or dicalcium phosphate. These compounds are specially formulated to be effective without damaging tooth enamel.

3) Detergents help break up and wash away stains

The most common detergent in toothpaste (which is also found in many shampoos) is sodium lauryl sulfate, a substance that can be derived from coconut or palm kernel oil. Like the abrasives used in toothpaste, these detergents are far milder than the ones you use in the washing machine. Yet they're effective at loosening the stains clinging to your teeth, which would otherwise be hard to dissolve.

4) Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay

This has been conclusively demonstrated since it was first introduced into toothpaste formulations in 1914. Fluoride — whether it's in the form of sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride or sodium monofluorophosphate (MFP) — helps strengthen tooth enamel and make it more resistant to acid attack, which precipitates tooth decay. In fact, it's arguably the most important ingredient, and no toothpaste can receive the American Dental Association's Seal of Approval without it.

5) Look for toothpaste with the ADA seal

This means that the particular brand of toothpaste has proven effective as a cleaning agent and a preventative against tooth decay. Plus, if the package says it has other benefits, then research has verified that it does what it says. Oh, and one other thing — toothpaste doesn't work if you don't use it — so don't forget to brush regularly!

If you have questions about toothpastes or oral hygiene, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Toothpaste — What's In It?


JaneFondaChoosesNewTeethOveraNewCar

Not long ago, Jane Fonda gave a British interviewer a clue as to how she manages to look so young at her advanced age. During the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, the septuagenarian actress and fitness guru said to a journalist from the London-based Daily Mail, “See these teeth? They cost $55,000. It was teeth or a new car — and I opted for the teeth.”

We think she made the right choice — though she might have overpaid just a tad. Most people don't have that kind of cash to spend on either a car or new teeth. But luckily, you can get either for a lot less — particularly the teeth!

The truth is, at a reasonable cost, cosmetic dentistry really can make you look a lot younger while giving your self-esteem a tremendous boost. It's an investment in both your emotional and oral health as we will never implement a smile makeover without first making sure we've addressed any underlying dental disease. Best of all, it doesn't have to cost anywhere near what you'd pay for the latest-model Jaguar, the price tag of Fonda's smile notwithstanding. Here is a list of the more common cosmetic dental techniques used to enhance a person's smile:

  • Whitening — a peroxide-based bleach is applied directly to the teeth to remove minor staining and discoloration.
  • Bonding — an acrylic material is applied to a tooth, colored and shaped to match the person's other teeth. Primarily used for chipped, broken or decayed teeth.
  • Enamel Shaping — the removal of very tiny amounts of enamel, the tooth's outer layer, for a more pleasing tooth shape.
  • Veneers — a thin shell of custom-designed tooth-colored material, usually porcelain, affixed to the front surface of the teeth.
  • Crowns and Bridgework — a technique that covers heavily damaged teeth or replaces missing teeth by capping them, or using capped teeth to support one or more false teeth.
  • Dental Implants — a small titanium post is surgically implanted in the jawbone to replace the root-part of a missing tooth. A lifelike crown is attached to the implant above the gum line and is the only part of the whole tooth restoration that is visible in the mouth.
  • Gum Contouring — a minor surgical procedure altering the position of the gum tissue to improve the look and regularity of the gum line around the teeth.

If you'd like more information on cosmetic dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment. To learn more, please read the Dear Doctor magazine articles, “Beautiful Smiles by Design” and “The impact of a Smile Makeover.”