How To Avoid Coffee Stains on Your Teeth

Let me guess, you need a few cups of coffee to get through your day but you’re worried about unattractive brown spots left on your teeth. You aren’t alone. Stained teeth are a real concern for coffee drinker everywhere. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can use to avoid the dreaded coffee stains.

Adding Creamer Doesn’t Help

Many people believe that adding creamer or milk to coffee will reduce the coloring of the stains. Their thinking is that by lightening the color of the coffee, it will also lighten the color of the stain, making them less visible. This prevalent thought is a myth. Coffee stains occur when the tannins (a type of acid) in the coffee bind to the enamel on your tooth and discolor it. Adding any dairy product will do nothing to reduce that effect.

In fact, adding a creamer to your drink is even worse for your teeth. The sugar in the cream can cause plaque to form on your teeth, creating another oral hygiene problem.

Drink Water Along With Coffee

Pouring a glass of water to drink along side your coffee is an easy way to protect your teeth. The water will wash the coffee off of your enamel, so stains do not have time to form. It will also flush out any coffee remnants left in your mouth. If you enjoy a sugary creamer in your morning beverage, the water will boost your saliva’s capability to break down the sugar, avoiding the plaque build up that could occur otherwise.

Drink Through a Straw

Using a straw with your coffee reduces the amount of contact the drink has with your teeth. Since the stains occur when the coffee builds up on a tooth’s enamel, sipping through a straw will avoid this problem. The method is not perfect, as your molars will still be stained, but your front teeth should be spared any brown marks.

Using a straw is already pretty common while drinking iced coffee, but this tip can also apply to drinking hot coffee as well. If you are worried about drinking a hot beverage through plastic, there are dozens of metal straws made specifically for coffee on the market. Just be sure that your drink is not too hot, as it is easier to burn your tongue using this method.

Drink a Bit Quicker

To be clear, you should never chug a hot beverage of any kind. But, you also should not sip on coffee throughout the whole day. The small but constant contact of coffee on your teeth will cause more damage than drinking it all at once. Always be conscious of how long it takes you to finish that cup of joe, and try to slowly shorten that time frame.

 

Are you one of the 250 million Americans struggling with high dental costs?  Give Smylen a try.  A first-of-its-kind platform, Smylen allows you – the patient – to Name Your Fee® for various dental procedures, and matches you with a local dentist who accepts that fee.  Save thousands of dollars in just a few clicks at Smylen.

5 Surprisingly Bad Foods for Your Teeth

We all know certain foods (especially sugary ones) lead to cavities, but some dental culprits can go overlooked. Here are five shockingly bad foods for your teeth:

sliced bread on white surface

1. Bread

It may seem innocent to your mouth at first, but bread can wreak havoc on your teeth. When you chew bread, it’s broken down from starch into sugar. The bread then sticks to the crevices in between your teeth, causing cavities and enamel damage. If you do have a craving for bread, try reaching for whole wheat instead, which has less added sugars.

close up photo of clear drinking glass filled with ice

2. Ice

How can ice be bad? It’s just water, right? Not exactly. Ice is a particularly hard substance, and chewing on something that requires a lot of pressure can harm your teeth. Crunching on ice can lead to enamel damage or more serious dental conditions like chipped or cracked teeth. There is nothing wrong with using ice to chill down your drinks, so keep the ice in your cups where it belongs.

dried fruits

3. Dried Fruit

Many people use dried fruit as a healthier alternative to candies and artificial sweets. While they may be better to digest, they do not do your mouth any favors. As they are usually pretty sticky treats, dried fruits get stuck and cling to the teeth and the space between them. Fruits’ naturally high sugar content can cause plaque or tartar to build around the teeth, so make sure to wash away the remnants with water after you enjoy them.

assorted color nips

4. Sour Candies

As obviously bad as candy can be to your mouth, sour candies are even worse! The sour components in the sweets are actually added acids that are rough on your gums and teeth. On top of the acid and sugar, add the usual stickiness of candy, and you have a recipe for a dental nightmare. Instead of sour candies, you should try eating some chocolate instead. Chocolate is lower in sugar and easier for your saliva to break down. Dark chocolate in particular has a relatively low sugar level.

chips crisp crispy crunchy

5. Potato Chips

Chips are not known to be the healthiest snack, but many people overlook the hurt they can cause to your mouth. Potatoes are packed with starches, and those starches will eventually break down into sugar. Potato chips have a tendency to get stuck in your gums, causing prolonged contact with your teeth. Make sure to floss after you indulge in potato chips to make sure every crumb is removed.

 

Are you one of the 250 million Americans struggling with high dental costs?  Give Smylen a try.  A first-of-its-kind platform, Smylen allows you – the patient – to Name Your Fee® for various dental procedures, and matches you with a local dentist who accepts that fee.  Save thousands of dollars in just a few clicks at Smylen.

TEETH WHITENING PART 2: THE SAGA CONTINUES

A bit more on teeth whitening…

A bit more on teeth whitening…

WHY ARE TEETH SENSITIVE AFTER TOOTH WHITENING?

Well basically, the acidic gel has seeped into your enamel and exposed the nerves in your dentin.  What am I talking about? Read my lesson on the different parts of a tooth.  

What do we mean by sensitivity?  You typically will feel something like an electric “ping” in your teeth. This usually occurs in 24-48 hours after whitening.  This can be prompted by hot or cold drinks. This can also be unprompted. (Funny story: I was about to go in for the first kiss with my now wife when I felt one of these shocks and I screamed in her face.)

Some people are more sensitive than others.  The lead singer of the Counting Crows is super sensitive.  Stone Cold Steve Austin is not very sensitive. If you are experiencing a lot of sensitivity, here’s a few things you can do:

  • cut down the amount of time you are bleaching your teeth:

if you are wearing bleaching trays, wear them less often.  Also, wear them for a shorter period of time. You can achieve excellent whitening results only wearing trays for 1 hour.

  • decrease the strength of the gel you are using

Like we said, gels come in different strengths: 10%, 15%, 20%, 35%.   Are you sleeping overnight with 35% gel 6 nights a week and wondering why your teeth are sensitive?  I think it’s time to chill out.

  • use a desensitizer

If you got an in-office whitening, sometimes they will give you a “desensitizing” gel after the procedure to apply post-operatively.  this will certainly help as well.

Didn’t get the luxurious desensitizer?  Sensodyne toothpaste can help. according to Sensodyne: “Sensodyne® toothpastes with potassium nitrate works to soothe the nerves inside the tooth.”  My sister swears by the stuff. Just make sure you using it twice a day and not bouncing around to Crest or Colgate after sleeping over at your boyfriend’s apartment.  Consistency is key in order to get the benefits of Sensodyne.

WILL TOOTH WHITENING WORK FOR YOU?

Results may vary!  This is not a perfect world!  A good rule of thumb is: this helps most if your teeth are yellow.  If your teeth are gray, (as Liam Neeson’s adversary said in Taken) “good luck”.  

Everyone wants whiter teeth and luckily in this day and age, there are many different ways to accomplish this.  Decide what makes the most sense based on your teeth and your budget.

In the meantime, Keep Smiling 🙂

Derek
Are you one of the 250 million Americans struggling with high dental costs?  Give Smylen a try.  A first-of-its-kind platform, Smylen allows you – the patient – to Name Your Fee for various dental procedures, and matches you with a local dentist who accepts that fee.  Save thousands of dollars in just a few clicks at Smylen.

TEETH WHITENING PART 1: HOW DO YOU GET WHITER TEETH?

There are a number of ways to get whiter teeth.  Let’s go through them.

There are a number of ways to get whiter teeth.  Let’s go through them.

CLEANING

First off, are your teeth clean?  Is last week’s (month’s) mac n’ cheese sitting between your teeth?  Take a long, hard, honest look at yourself in the mirror. Do you need a cleaning?  If you have plaque/tartar/bacteria sitting all over your teeth, no act of G-d is going to get it whiter.  You need a cleaning dude. If you haven’t one in 6 months, or, if Obama was president, or, you can’t remember your last cleaning, the time is now!

Also, some staining is best removed via a cleaning.  Drink a lot of coffee? Tea? Red wine? Smoke a pack a day?  Do you dip? Chew betel nut?  There is a good chance you have brown stains on the front of your teeth and I can almost guarantee you on the back of your teeth.  The cavitron cleaning takes removes this type of staining best.  You will want to have a cleaning prior to moving on to any of the other options.

BLEACHING TRAYS

You can buy stock trays online or have custom ones made at the dental office.   Of course, the stock trays are cheaper and less comfortable. The custom trays are more expensive and fit very comfortably.  You apply some bleaching gel into the trays, and put the trays in your mouth. Wear for 30 minutes – a few hours (depending on the strength of the gel), and your teeth will gradually be whitened.  

The gels (typically carbamide peroxide) come in different strengths: 10%, 15%, 20%, 35%.  Depending on the strength you will vary the amount of time you wear the trays. Higher strength should be worn for less time and visa versa.

Upsides?

You are in control.

You can use it as often as you want.

Downsides?

Need to use a few times to see clear results.

Need to purchase bleaching gel.

CREST WHITE STRIPS

The active ingredient in these is equivalent to the whitening gel mentioned above.  You stick em on your teeth and let the gel soak in. Yes, I’ve heard they really work.

Upsides?

You are in control.

You can use it as often as you want.

Downsides?

The alternatives (bleaching trays and chairside whitening) will work a lot faster.  

IN OFFICE / ZOOM / “LASER” / CHAIRSIDE WHITENING

This is the easiest way to get results, fast.  Here’s what happens. You sit in the chair. Someone (probably a dental hygienist) loads your mouth up with cotton and this protective ‘dam’ to prevent your gums from getting burned.  Bleaching gel (usually carbamide peroxide) is applied to your teeth. A fancy light is set on your gel’d up teeth. Bleaching occurs. Usually for 1 hour.

Upsides?  

1 hour.  

Usually the most obvious results.

Downsides?  

Can make teeth sensitive.  Some people are more prone to sensitivity than others.  

Results may vary.

Results typically fade over time.  

 

(DETOUR PSA – Post Op Instructions For Zoom Whitening:

Avoid “staining” foods: red wine, marinara sauce, coca cola, gatorade… catch my drift?

The ideal post-whitening meal would be turkey and white American cheese on white bread with mayo and a glass of milk.)

 

That’s all for this week folks.  There is more to unpack next week in… TEETH WHITENING PART DEUX: THE SAGA CONTINUES!

In the meantime, Keep Smiling 🙂

Derek
Are you one of the 250 million Americans struggling with high dental costs?  Give Smylen a try.  A first-of-its-kind platform, Smylen allows you – the patient – to Name Your Fee for various dental procedures, and matches you with a local dentist who accepts that fee.  Save thousands of dollars in just a few clicks at Smylen.

DENTAL IMPLANTS 101: THE BEST WAY TO REPLACE A TOOTH

Dental implants are the best way to replace your teeth in 2018.  Simple.

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are the best way to replace your teeth in 2018.  Simple. That’s all, see you next week.

Just kidding.

Dental implants mimic an actual tooth.

There is a screw for the root, the cone underneath the gum and bone.

And a crown for the part of the tooth you see when you smile.

There is also a connector between the screw and crown called an abutment.

What are the benefits of implants?

Implants have significant benefits over other forms of tooth replacement.  We discussed some of the downsides to a bridge.  And we will discuss the downsides to a partial denture in future posts.  The implant doesn’t have these issues as it most closely mimics an actual tooth.  More specifically:

#1 it does NOT require the shaving down/harm of any neighboring teeth

#2 it maintains the most aesthetically pleasing result since the teeth are not connected together

#3 you can also floss for the same reason!  No special oral hygiene required, just floss as you would a normal tooth

#4 an implant engages your bone, therefore preventing bone loss

So why are implants so expensive?

The cost of equipment and materials are higher than that of the alternatives.  Surgical equipment, implant parts, lab fees. Also, you must consider doctor training and expertise.  Not every dentist is trained to place implants so there is a premium that goes along with that.

So what if you are missing more than 1 tooth?

Well, just like everything in life, it depends.  2 teeth? Get 2 implants. 3 teeth? Get 3. Or get an implant bridge.  4 teeth? 4 implants, a 4 unit bridge, or a partial denture.

All your teeth?  Full denture.  Or – implant supported overdenture.

There’s many ways to do it.  You need to figure out what works for you both in terms of preference, and budget.

In the meantime, Keep Smiling 🙂

Derek

 

Are you one of the 250 million Americans struggling with high dental costs?  Give Smylen a try.  A first-of-its-kind platform, Smylen allows you – the patient – to Name Your Fee for various dental procedures, and matches you with a local dentist who accepts that fee.  Save thousands of dollars in just a few clicks at Smylen.

WHAT IS A DENTAL BRIDGE: THE TRIALS & TRIBULATIONS OF TOOTH REPLACEMENT

A dental bridge is used to replace a missing tooth.  Pretend you are missing a tooth and there are good teeth in front of the space and behind the space.  Those good teeth are ‘shaved down’ or ‘prepared’ to be little stumps. The bridge is cemented to these two stumps and has a dummy tooth in the middle.

A dental bridge is used to replace a missing tooth.  Pretend you are missing a tooth and there are good teeth in front of the space and behind the space.  Those good teeth are ‘shaved down’ or ‘prepared’ to be little stumps. The bridge is cemented to these two stumps and has a dummy tooth in the middle.

So basically, the tooth behind the gap is Manhattan.

The tooth in front of the gap is Brooklyn.

The gap itself is the East River.

And the dummy tooth is the Brooklyn Bridge.

Awesome right?  Well not entirely.  There are many downsides to a bridge:

#1. First and foremost, the teeth are getting shaved down.   It’s one thing if the teeth are ALREADY shaved down (i.e. for a crown), but otherwise, you are basically harming perfectly good teeth in order to fill in the gap.  Down the road, these teeth could need root canals, or even extraction. By shaving them down they are opening the teeth to the risk of developing other problems.

#2.  Bridges do not last forever.   They typically need to be replaced after 5, 10, 15 years.  It all depends on how well you take care of them.

#3.  Speaking of which, bridges are a nightmare to clean.  Since the “teeth” are connected, you cannot floss between them.  In fact, you need to floss UNDERNEATH your bridge. How you ask? There are a number of ways: floss threaders, water picks, special brushes, Superfloss.  No matter how you do it, it requires extra care and attention.

#4.  Bone loss.  When a tooth is removed (which is what results in the gap in the first place), you lose bone in that area.  There is nothing to hold the bone up (which the root previously did). You can lose about 40-60% of the bone mass at the time of the extraction, and about 1% per year thereafter.  A dental implant actually goes INTO the bone, and thus, “holds it up”.  The dummy tooth on the bridge sits ON TOP of the bone, and thus, does NOT “hold it up”.  So imagine you get your front tooth extracted when you are 20 years old and you get a bridge.  Many years later (and likely, many bridges later) when you are 50, it will likely be very difficult to get a good cosmetic result if you have a large amount of bone loss.

Doesn’t sound so sexy now does it?  So why would anyone get a bridge? Some insurance companies cover a bridge and do not cover the cooler, sexier, more thrilling alternative (the implant).  But if all the insurance companies were jumping off a cliff, would you?  (Doesn’t really work there does it?)

Anyway, this is probably a great time to talk about dental implants… BUT my Lean Cuisine just finished heating so you’ll have to wait till next week folks!

In the meantime, Keep Smiling 🙂

Derek

Are you one of the 250 million Americans struggling with high dental costs?  Give Smylen a try.  A first-of-its-kind platform, Smylen allows you – the patient – to Name Your Fee for various dental procedures, and matches you with a local dentist who accepts that fee.  Save thousands of dollars in just a few clicks at Smylen.  

DENTAL CROWNS 101: WHAT IS A CROWN & DO YOU NEED ONE

As William Shakespeare once said:
“A tooth that requires a root canal almost always requires a crown.
A tooth that requires a crown, doesn’t necessarily need a root canal.”

Today, it’s all about crowns.  

 

As William Shakespeare once said:

“A tooth that requires a root canal almost always requires a crown.

A tooth that requires a crown, doesn’t necessarily need a root canal.”

 

Why do I say ‘almost always’?  There are a few exceptions:

  1. Some younger patients who need a root canal are not old enough to have a crown placed yet
  2. There can be spacing issues.  Some teeth, usually all the way in the back, or with patients who have a ‘collapsed bite’ do not have room for a crown.

With these exceptions, the dentist will usually just place a permanent filling.

The “standard” crown is called PFM or “porcelain-fused-to-metal”.  Sexy right?

These are metal on the inside, where the crown meets the tooth, and porcelain (tooth colored) on the outside.

There are upgraded/”better” types with higher quality metals on the inside (i.e. Captek) and others with no metal at all (i.e. Emax, Zirconia).  These typically look more natural than the PFM crowns.

 

The process works like this:

  1. The tooth is ‘prepared’ or essentially shaved down in all directions (front, back, left, right, and top) to what is essentially a stump
  2. Dentist takes an impression which is sent to a lab (some offices do this in the office nowadays)
  3. Dentist makes you a “temporary crown” which you wear until your next visit (as the stump needs to be protected)
  4. Impression is used to make the crown which can take a few days or sometimes weeks
  5. You return to the office for the crown to be inserted, final adjustments to be made, and the crown to be cemented

 

Complicated enough, eh?  Not to make you crazy but if you have had a root canal done, BEFORE step 1, SOMETIMES, something called a “post” is placed.  This is essentially a screw placed into the root of the tooth where the root canal was done. There is a large build up or “core” placed around the post to mend all of the broken-down tooth.  Think of this as a beam in a large building.

Phew.  I’m nausesous from typing that I cant even imagine how you feel.

Enough today.  Next week, bridge!  Woohoo!

In the meantime, Keep Smiling 🙂

Derek

Are you one of the 250 million Americans struggling with high dental costs?  Give Smylen a try.  A first-of-its-kind platform, Smylen allows you – the patient – to Name Your Fee for various dental procedures, and matches you with a local dentist who accepts that fee.  Save thousands of dollars in just a few clicks at Smylen.

ROOT CANAL 101: WHAT IS A ROOT CANAL & DO YOU NEED ONE

WTF is a root canal!?  

 

Let’s dive a little deeper into root canals today.  

What is a root canal!?  

A root canal is actually root canal TREATMENT.  Every tooth has a root canal. Every tooth has a root (sometimes 2 or 3 or 4), and down each root runs a canal (or 2).  In this canal is the nerve and some other stuff that makes the tooth alive. When you have a root canal, the dentist opens up these canals, and cleans them out completely.  Then the dentist stuffs them up. Your tooth is now dead. You should no longer have feeling in this tooth.

This is necessary for a number of reasons.  Like we discussed last week, if a cavity reaches the pulp (where the canals begin), the tooth needs a root canal.  If a tooth has an infection at the end of the root, a root canal is done to try to kill the infection (and prevent it from coming back).  Sometimes, teeth have pain and dentists scratch their heads as to the reason why.  To prevent a tooth from having pain, we remove the nerve with a root canal.  

After a root canal, a tooth typically requires a crown.  Root canal teeth are dead and are slightly weaker than healthy, vital teeth.  They are also typically missing quite a bit of tooth structure either due to decay (cavities) or the hole dentists need to make in order to complete the root canal.  A crown is a cap that completely covers and protects the tooth.

We will discuss the various types of crowns next week.

In the meantime, Keep Smiling 🙂

Derek

Are you one of the 250 million Americans struggling with high dental costs?  Give Smylen a try.  A-first-of-its-kind platform, Smylen allows you – the patient – to Name Your Fee for various dental procedures, and matches you with a local dentist who accepts that fee.  Save thousands of dollars in just a few clicks at Smylen.

CAVITIES 101: WHAT IS A FILLING & DO YOU NEED ONE

So, your dentist says you have a cavity.  Now what? It all depends how “deep” the cavity is.  This is usually determined by the “bitewing” x-ray we talked about last week.

So, your dentist says you have a cavity.  Now what? It all depends how “deep” the cavity is.  This is usually determined by the “bitewing” x-ray we talked about last week.  I have found that the best way to explain this is as follows:

“A tooth is like a peanut M&M” – Abraham Lincoln, 1868

  1. Candy shell (enamel)
  2. Chocolate (dentin)
  3. Peanut (pulp chamber – where the nerve lives)

mm1

mm2

mm3

Very simply:

  • If your cavity is in the enamel, you will likely not have severe (or any) symptoms, and a simple filling will do the trick.  If it’s super early/small, the dentist may recommend waiting and watching.
  • If your cavity is in dentin, you may be experiencing tooth sensitivity (to hot and/or cold and/or sweets).  You definitely will require a filling. You may experience sensitivity after the placement of the filling that can sometimes last weeks!  
  • If your cavity is in the pulp chamber (or sometimes even very close to the chamber), I regret to inform you, you need a root canal!   

Ahh, if only the world was just this simple.  There are times when a cavity in the dentin when sensitivity will not subside, can potentially need a root canal!  Also, if a cavity is in the pulp chamber but is so severe that the tooth is broken down to bone level, it might need to be pulled!  Party time.

So now, if you do need a filling, there are essentially 2 kinds: silver and white.  Silver fillings are made of “amalgam”. They have been around for years and are still approved by the American Dental Association as a filling material.  White or “composite” fillings are becoming increasingly more common nowadays.

Fillings need to be checked at your checkups as they can develop cavities underneath them and at their edges.  They often need to be replaced after a certain number of years.

Not to leave you on the edge of your seat but we will wait until next week to discuss root canals (and crowns!).

In the meantime, Keep Smiling 🙂

Derek

Are you one of the 250 million Americans struggling with high dental costs?  Give Smylen a try.  A first-of-its-kind platform, Smylen allows you – the patient – to Name Your Fee for various dental procedures, and matches you with a local dentist who accepts that fee.  Save thousands of dollars in just a few clicks at Smylen.

DENTAL CLEANINGS 101: WHAT THEY ARE & HOW OFTEN YOU NEED ONE

There are various types of cleanings that are appropriate for different patients.  Insurance companies cover certain types of cleanings however, this may not always be what is most appropriate for you and your mouth.  

There are various types of cleanings that are appropriate for different patients.  Insurance companies cover certain types of cleanings however, this may not always be what is most appropriate for you and your mouth.  

POLISHING

This is done with a rubber cup and something that feels like toothpaste; this is appropriate for a pediatric cleaning.

CAVITRON CLEANING

This is the cleaning done with the supersonic pick and that sprays lots of water.  Adults should have a cavitron cleaning done at least twice a year. Some patients that struggle with oral hygiene, are recovering from more advanced periodontal disease, or patients who simply build up tartar quickly should have cleanings done every 3-4 months.   

What is tartar?  Tartar, plaque, calculus… all the same thing.  Bacteria! Bacteria that has hardened on your teeth.  You can often see it on your teeth in the mirror. Usually there is much more than you can see for yourself in the mirror. This sneaky bacteria is commonly found either beneath your gums or in other non-visible places (especially on the back of your bottom front teeth where a salivary gland ejects).  Do not let this build up! Plaque buildup leads to inflamed gums and eventually bone loss. Bone loss leads to tooth loss, sometimes many teeth! Yikes!

“DEEP” CLEANING

For those patients who do have a lot of calculus build up under their gums, a deep cleaning will be recommended.  Patients need to be “numb” for this as the removal of plaque from beneath the gums would otherwise be painful.

Woof, okay that’s enough for 1 day.   A lot to swallow, right? Checkups and cleanings are essential to maintaining a healthy mouth, even dentists need to get them every 6 months!  If you stay on top of this it’s very unlikely that you’ll run into the issues of my upcoming posts, but nevertheless we will see you next week!

Keep smiling 🙂

Derek

Are you one of the 250 million Americans struggling with high dental costs?  Give Smylen a try.  A first-of-its-kind platform, Smylen allows you – the patient – to Name Your Fee for various dental procedures, and matches you with a local dentist who accepts that fee.  Save thousands of dollars in just a few clicks at Smylen.