The recent Halloween night was a rather eventful one, in addition to the costumes and scary movies. October 31, 2020 was the first Halloween with a full moon since 1944. It also marked the night when the “Fall Back” time change occurred (granting us that wonderful extra hour we all need).
Although Halloween may conjure up memories of dressing up as ghosts, witches and zombies, those are meant to be all in fun. As an adult, watching old movies of Dracula and Frankenstein no longer rattles me the way they used to. As a dentist, I now know there are much more frightening things that some smiles endure.
Some I’ve seen over the years include…
• Using ‘super glue’ to repair teeth:
This one is “frightful” for several reasons. Most of these chemical-laden glues are TOXIC. They are not intended to be ingested in any way in the human body. These toxins can seep into oral tissues, causing irritation and allergic reactions.
Additionally, these glues do more harm than good. Because they are not made to repair or affix to teeth or dental appliances (such as dentures), they may offer a temporary aid but can actually make matters worse. An appropriate dental adhesive is the safest and most lasting option. For example, if a crown comes off, a dot of super glue may seem to be a quick fix and way around a dental visit. Toxic risks aside, the DIY fit will be inaccurate and can lead to disharmony with other teeth when chewing or speaking. This can lead to chips, fractures and breaks in neighboring teeth. When people proceed to have the crown re-cemented properly by a dentist, the glue residue must first be removed. In some cases, resurfacing of the remaining natural tooth structure is needed. This leaves the patient with less tooth to support the crown and often in need of a new crown.
Avoid the SCARY route and have dental work performed by a dentist. A dentist uses the proper skills and materials to help you avoid the repercussions of your own handiwork. After all, we know the benefits of calling a plumber or electrician rather than attempt our own repairs!
• Using peroxide and baking soda to whiten teeth:
Natural teeth have a protective coating – enamel. Enamel is a hard, outer shell that prevents penetration of oral bacteria into the tooth, which results in cavities and weakened teeth (making cracks and fractures more likely). As hard as enamel is, it can be worn away, and when it’s gone, it’s gone for good.
Although brushing too soon after eating can wear down enamel, there is nothing worse than the thoughts of a toothbrush laden with a peroxide-&-baking soda mixture scrubbing across precious tooth enamel. This is like sandpaper rubbing against a tooth! For a dentist, this thought is as cringe-worthy as fingernails scraping across a blackboard!
For people who want to whiten their teeth, it’s typically more than surface stains that are discoloring teeth. Thus, sacrificing tooth enamel in an attempt to remove them is going to be of little benefit. For many people with dull, brown or yellow teeth, the aging process and years of coffee, tea and red wine can require a deeper whitening process. This is why a dentist offers whitening systems that are safe to teeth and gums.
Although some people associate uncomfortable gum sensitivity with the whitening process, we use the in-office ZOOM whitening system for optimal comfort, with results in only an hour. The process is long-lasting and much more affordable than people often assume. And, it is definitely more affordable than destroying tooth enamel and requiring crowns or veneers to preserve and protect compromised teeth.
• Thinking that seeing blood in the sink when brushing teeth is normal:
Your gum tissues serve as a sealant layer inside the mouth. The gums are designed to be moist by nature in order to wash away food particles and bacteria in the mouth. Having a moist mouth also helps in speaking and eating. Saliva in the mouth not only keeps the gums tissues moist, it carries in oral acids that help break down food during chewing, which is the initial part of the digestive system.
Gums that are pink and wrap snugly around the base of teeth are indications of healthy gums. Gum tissues that redden and become sore or swollen are gums signaling that something is wrong. And definitely, gums that bleed are a cry for help. Seeing blood in the sink when you spit out toothpaste during brushing is NOT a sign that you are doing a good job. It is a sign that bacteria has attacked and weakened your gum tissues.
As this bacteria progresses, gum tissues become spongy and breath odor is frequently bad. When oral bacteria has accumulated to the point of causing soreness and bleeding, prompt attention can restore the gums to a healthy state. This includes a dental cleaning and at-home oral hygiene regimen. Untreated, the gums will become more and more damaged by oral bacteria and develop into periodontal disease.
Beneath the gumline, gum disease bacteria attack the bone structures that support teeth. And, these infectious bacteria can enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened gums. The oral bacteria of gum disease has been shown to cause inflammatory triggers in the body. Research has linked it to heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, impotency and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Although there are many reasons to be in-the-know when it comes to taking good care of your teeth and gums, having a supportive dental team of compassionate caregivers is a tremendous asset when it comes to confident, healthy smiles. In our Shelby Twp dental office, we treat every patient with respect, never judge or lecture, and make comfort a priority at every visit.