Oil Pulling Risky Substitute For Tried-&-True Oral Care Steps

I’m all for ‘new & improved’ ways to do things. For example, when GPS devices hit the market, I was thrilled to know I could avoid wasting time and gas trying to find unfamiliar destinations.

As a dentist, of course I keep up with the latest ways to achieve and maintain a healthy, confident smile. A recent one I’m following is called ‘oil pulling.’  Although this is certainly new, I don’t feel the same about the ‘improved’ part.

Oil pulling involves holding coconut, sesame, olive or palm oil in the mouth for 3-5 minutes while it is swished around. The practice supposedly pulls impurities from the mouth to eliminate bacteria and toxins from the body.

While oil pulling has recently gained more attention from internet exposure, it is actually an ancient folk remedy. This holistic medicine practice is said to balance the body’s doshas, which claim to balance susceptibility to disease. When performed for oral benefits, oil pulling is said to improve gum problems, eliminate plaque and even whiten teeth.

In reading the claims on the internet, according to some users (both those who are well-versed in holistic medicine and those who try to adhere to it), I’ve also looked into the position of the American Dental Association (ADA) on the subject.

The ADA has been following oil pulling’s claims by carefully scrutinizing recent research. What it has found is that, in spite of the ‘wonder drug’ accolades from some users, oil pulling is no more effective than mouthwash. When it comes to reducing bad breath and oral bacteria, findings show that oil pulling is no more effective than mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine, a common ingredient in most.

Personally, I don’t find where oil pulling could be detrimental to your oral health. Research does show that there are advantages to oil pulling, such as helping with dry mouth. So, for people who are more inclined to practice oil pulling than using mouthwash, that’s a positive since it’s deemed “as effective.” At this time, however, the ADA cites a “lack of science” and does not recommend oil pulling as a supplement to oral hygiene nor as a substitute to traditional oral health care methods.

The ADA is closely monitoring research related to oil pulling since they feel past studies have been inadequate to support claims. The ADA states, “scientific studies have not provided the necessary clinical evidence to demonstrate that oil pulling reduces the incidence of dental caries, whitens teeth or improves oral health and well-being.” They list concerns such as sampling that has been too small, the lack of demographic information and having no blind testing. 

In the dental field, overall, there is  a concern that people may perceive  that oil pulling can replace the tried-&-true methods of oral hygiene. While brushing and flossing may seem ‘old hat’ ways to enjoy a healthy smile, this twice-daily routine has proven to be a safe, effective way to have good dental health. For those who feel oil pulling can replace these steps, they run the risk of developing cavities and gum disease.

While I certainly would never support unsubstantiated claims for new methods to achieve a healthy smile, I do like one thing, in particular, about oil pulling. Things that don’t harm or disrupt oral wellness routines but do draw attention to its importance are okay with me. I’d much rather see someone who rarely brushes begin to use oil pulling on a regular basis than do nothing at all. Perhaps forming a habit of swishing with oil twice daily will remind the individual that oral wellness is part of maintaining overall health. From there, they will hopefully become more aware of the benefits of a healthy mouth, opening the door for even more progress to having a clean mouth and appealing smile.

Fads come and go. Even if oil pulling stays around, I see little reason to worry as long as it doesn’t cause people to assume it’s a replacement for time tested oral hygiene steps.

Do You Need A Denture Reline?

If you wear dentures, your denture probably fit rather securely after it was first made. Over time, however, you may have noticed occasional movement. What causes this?

A denture consists of replacement teeth attached to a pink base that is designed to look like your gum tissue. The inside of the pink portion is made to fit the unique contours of your gum ridge.

A gum ridge is the heightened arch where your teeth were once held. Underneath the gum tissue of this ridge is your upper or lower jaw bone. Your jaw bone provided the foundation for natural teeth by holding tooth roots. Just as your teeth depended on this foundation for secure biting and chewing, your jaw bone depended on their roots.

The jaw bone is a living structure that requires stimulation in order to maintain its mass. Tooth roots are a major part of that stimulation. When tooth roots are no longer held by the bone, a process known as resorption begins.

Resorption is a ‘melting away’ of bone height and width. As the bone declines, so does the height of your gum ridge. Because your denture was made to conform to the size and shape of your gum ridge when originally designed, your denture no longer fits as snugly.

When resorption is first noticed and denture movement begins, denture adhesives and pastes may help. Eventually, the bone loss will be too much of a challenge for these products to comfortably and confidently secure a denture while eating. As bone loss continues, you may even feel movement while talking and laughing.

As an example of bone loss, consider a person who has worn the same size of pants for years, each purchased to  comfortably fit their size and shape. If they begin to lose weight, the pants gradually loosen. Tightening one’s belt may help for a while, but as weight loss continues, a new pair of pants is eventually going to be necessary.

As bone resorption continues, the gum ridge flattens to the extent that relines don’t help very much or for very long. In these cases, a ‘hard reline’ may be needed. This is when the inside of the pink portion of the denture is remade to fit the new contours of the gum ridge.

Because of the more complicated process of a hard reline, your denture may  need to be sent to a dental lab for the process. This will require you to be without your denture until the dental lab can complete the work. However, having a more comfortable fit once it’s been remade may be worth the inconvenience.

One of the reasons we recommend Dental Implants to replace missing teeth has to do with resorption. Because implants are held by the jaw bone, just as natural tooth roots, they recreate stimulation to the bone. This helps to overcome bone loss while restoring a dependable foundation for biting, chewing, laughing and even sneezing!

Our goal is to help you achieve a comfortable, secure way to replace missing teeth. We want to provide you with the best result possible, regardless of your preferences for dentures or Dental Implants. If you are a denture wearer and experience movement at times, let’s discuss your options to restore you to a comfortable, confident smile. Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to arrange a free consultation.

Root Canals Today Performed Comfortably & In Less Time

“As bad as a root canal…”

Poor root canals. They’ve been so often the brunt of jokes and cliches over the years, giving them a rather undeserved reputation.

While no dental treatment that requires drilling into a tooth is considered fun, today’s root canals are rather simple procedures, in most cases. The procedure can be likened to that of having a filling. Let’s look at why root canals are beneficial and what they entail.

First, envision the center of each tooth. Inside, there is a tunnel that holds the tooth’s nerve, blood vessels and other soft tissues. The tunnel contains what’s known as the pulp chamber, which runs down canals in the center of the roots. The pulp extends to the jaw and  is fed by blood vessels.

The pulp holds nerves that carry signals to the brain. For example, the pulp is what tells you when hot or cold has touched the tooth. The pulp helps to nourish and hydrate the tooth, giving it resiliency and strength.

A root canal is performed when the nerve in the pulp becomes infected. Infection can occur from a crack or fracture, cavity or other injury to the tooth. Symptoms of its need typically include pain and swelling in the area.

Without treating the infection, the tooth is likely to require removal. A root canal is designed to save the tooth by removing the dead nerve tissue and infection inside a tooth.

Root canals are performed with the area thoroughly numbed. If desired, oral or I.V. sedation can be added to treatment. The process takes less time today through more advanced techniques and equipment.
Root Canal
In the procedure, we use a small drill to make an opening in the top part of the tooth to expose the pulp. Using special tools, we remove the infected nerve and clean the canal inside the tooth. We then dry and fill the cleaned area with a special material.

Once the tooth is filled, a crown is often the wisest way to prevent further damage to the tooth.

Each tooth has a role and, whenever possible, saving a tooth is the best way to prevent future problems from occurring to other teeth. Plus, those tooth roots are just as important as what’s above the gum line. They help to maintain your jaw bone mass and keep other teeth in position.

If you find you need a root canal, don’t cringe. We promise to make the procedure a surprisingly quick and comfortable appointment!

Cosmetic Dentistry Should Never Look Like Cosmetic Dentistry

After the Academy Awards were televised a couple of years ago, all the rumble was NOT about the winners. Social media lit up with comments on the dreadful face lift of one of the presenters. The once-ravishing movie star hadn’t been in the public eye for quite some time. Her invitation to present was a surprise to many, yet it was her face lift that was the biggest surprise.

Her face lift was more like a face ‘pull.’ It had a ‘wind-blown’ look, where the skin is pulled taut from the center of the face to the ears. The plastic surgeons I know use a technique that pulls facial muscles upward, rather than pulling the skin tight. This upward lift gives a much more natural appearance, bringing youthfulness back to the individual’s face while preserving the skin’s suppleness. The advantage is that it doesn’t look like the individual had plastic surgery.

Like outdated plastic surgery techniques, there are still those who use old techniques and materials for cosmetic dentistry. Although these older methods may whiten teeth, camouflage some flaws and even out crooked, crowded teeth, it’s not too hard to spot someone who has had dentistry gone wrong.

An example of cosmetics gone wrong is in the repair of a gap between the two front teeth. I’ve seen cases where bonding was used to widen the two teeth, leaving the patient with a ‘bunny look.’ While a cheaper alternative than four or six veneers, perhaps, the individual’s gap has merely been replaced with an awkward appearance.

Consider the teeth. When correctly sized, shaded and shaped, porcelain veneers, crowns and crown-&-bridge combinations should complement an individual’s facial features. For example, longer teeth may be recommended to slenderize a wide face.

Additionally, the teeth should reflect light and have a luminosity like that of natural teeth. A solid, uniform white tooth will look like a fake tooth because real teeth simply aren’t solid, white blocks. The gum tissue that arches each tooth should also be at the same level as neighboring teeth for an even smile line with a natural curve.

Cosmetic Dentistry Patient of Dr. Ban Barbat
Cosmetic Dentistry Patient of Dr. Ban Barbat

Just as important is the placement and alignment of the teeth. As a neuro-muscular dentist, I see patients who have endured years of headaches, migraines, dizziness, ear ringing, sore jaw joints and night-time clenching and/or grinding. Many have worn teeth or chipped or fractured teeth. My advanced training and diagnostic equipment enables me to pinpoint teeth that contribute to an imbalance in the jaw joints, head and neck muscles and chewing function. All it takes is one or two improperly placed or designed crowns.

There is always a cheaper way to do something. Like anything, you get what you pay for in cosmetic dentistry. We create new smiles based upon the most natural, flattering look combined with proper function and exceptional longevity. Our goal is to have people compliment your smile because it is beautiful and looks like you were lucky enough to be born with it!

There is no cost for a consultation appointment, and no obligation. Let’s sit down together and discuss your options. Then, I can discuss an anticipated treatment time and cost to achieve a smile you’ll share with pleasure and pride! Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for an appointment.