Lasers: A “Groovy” Tool for Dentists

Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker & Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD, tells patients about the use of lasers in dentistry, and how we can perform many procedures more comfortably and conservatively.At Walker and Barr DMD, we take pride in staying ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest and greatest in dental treatments and technologies. That’s why we think dental “lasers” are truly smashing. And if you’re worried about paying one million dollars, rest assured laser treatments are more accessible and affordable than ever. Austin Powers jokes aside, we’re here to tell you how lasers work in dentistry and how they can benefit your smile—and make for a more comfortable dental experience!

How do dental lasers work?

Advanced laser technology has been one of the most important improvements in modern medicine and dentistry, allowing us to hang up our other tools while providing treatments that are less invasive, more comfortable, and with healthier results than ever before.

All lasers work by creating energy in the form of light, but the precise function in dentistry depends on the type of procedure. With surgical and other types of restorative dental treatments, the laser functions as a cutting device, replacing sharp dental tools, or as a vaporizer of diseased or decayed tissue—leaving healthy tissue intact. For teeth whitening, the laser functions as a heat source to speed up and enhance the effects of bleaching agents.

No Fear Here

One of the greatest things about dental lasers is they are great for patients with any level of dental anxiety. They eliminate the sharp tools, so you don’t have to hear or feel the scraping on your teeth, or the sounds and vibrations of the dental drill. Lasers create a calmer, more relaxed dental experience that can eliminate dental anxiety for many patients. 

Laser Cleanings

Don’t you just love good teeth cleaning? No? While some folks do enjoy that fresh-from-the-dentist clean feeling, most don’t enjoy the cleaning itself. Lasers can help with that! Rather than using sharp tools to scrape plaque and tartar off your teeth and around the gum line, low-level lasers target and disintegrate plaque and tartar buildup without the invasive techniques. Where traditional cleanings can irritate the gum tissue, causing bleeding, swelling, and pain, laser cleanings leave healthy tissue alone, so you can have a more comfortable cleaning.

Laser Gum Disease Treatment

Similarly, we can also use lasers to provide periodontal therapy or gum disease treatment. Where a laser cleaning focuses mostly on the visible crown portion of the tooth and buildup along the gum line, periodontal therapy goes deeper—under the gum line, removing plaque and tartar while targeting and killing the infection and leaving healthy tissue intact. 

Traditional gum disease treatments involve sharp tools and invasive techniques like scaling and root planing, gum grafting, and gum surgery—and these techniques only treat the physical symptoms of the disease. Laser periodontal therapy, however, gets to the root cause of the problem—treating the infection at the bacterial level and creating a healthier environment for the gums to reattach to. Laser gum disease treatments are more comfortable, more conservative, and garner healthier results so you don’t have to treat and retreat.

Tooth Decay & Root Canals

If you have a cavity or an infected tooth, lasers can help with that, too! Lasers can be used to remove areas of decay from within a tooth and prepare the surrounding enamel for a tooth-colored filling to be placed. If your tooth is infected and you’re in need of a root canal, lasers can help us carefully and conservatively remove the infection and save the tooth.

Biopsies & Lesions

Lesions and tissue abnormalities in the mouth are serious business, so it’s a good thing we’ve got laser technology on our side! Lasers can be used for biopsies, which involve taking a small sample of tissue from the mouth so that it can be screened for oral cancer. Laser biopsies are less invasive and more comfortable than traditional biopsies. Lasers can also be used to remove lesions in the mouth and treat canker sores. What a relief!

Teeth Whitening

By far the most popular cosmetic dental treatment, teeth whitening can be assisted by our trusty dental lasers to speed up the in-office bleaching process. First, we apply a special peroxide bleaching solution, which is then activated further by the laser light which heats up and speeds up the whitening power to full throttle, so you can leave with a dazzling smile after a single visit.

Mr. Powers could have benefited from dental lasers, himself, don’t you think? If you’d like to learn more about laser dentistry and how it can make for a healthier mouth and a more comfortable dental experience, we would love to speak with you. Contact your Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker & Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD today to schedule a visit. We would love to help make your smile… groovy baby! Yeah!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Finding Your Oasis: Food & Drinks for Dry Mouth

Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr of Walker and Barr DMD discusses some foods and beverages to alleviate the symptoms of xerostomia (dry mouth).Xerostomia is the technical term for dry mouth, the condition that results from absent or reduced saliva flow. It is not a disease on its own, but it may be a side effect of medication or radiation treatments.  Xerostomia affects about 20% of the elderly population—not because of their age, but due to the increased likelihood of using medication or having radiation therapy that causes dry mouth. Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr is here to discuss some foods and beverages to alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth.

Food & Beverages that Help Dry Mouth

8-12 glasses of water per day are ideal to keep saliva production on track, so making a habit of carrying a water bottle with you is a great idea. Sugar-free juices, reduced-sugar sports drinks, club soda, and herbal tea with lemon are good beverage choices when you just can’t stand the idea of drinking any more water.

A soft, high-protein diet is recommended for people with dry mouth. Substitute moist fish, eggs, and cheese for red meat. Serving food lukewarm or at room temperature reduces the chances of burning the mouth with hot food. To make bread or rolls easier to eat with dry mouth, soak them in milk or your favorite sauce to soften them. Eat moist casseroles and other foods that incorporate gravy, sauce, or broth in their recipes. Make smoothies, slushies, or shakes in the blender that incorporate milk alternatives like soy, almond, or rice milk (consumption of cow’s milk often produces thicker saliva and can worsen dry mouth).  

More examples of soft natural foods that are helpful for people with dry mouth include tender meats like chicken and fish, smooth peanut butter, soups, canned fruits, soft-cooked/blended vegetables like carrots or celery, mashed potatoes, soft-cooked pasta, oatmeal, ice cream, pudding, and popsicles. Herbal flavor enhancers, condiments, and fruit extracts can be used to make food more flavorful, as the diet for dry mouth may seem bland to many.

There are also artificial saliva substitutes and stimulants that can help curb dry mouth, as can sugarless candies and chewing gums. Sucking on fruit pits from cherries or olives, and lemon rinds can help stimulate saliva flow, as do lemon drops and other hard candies, although be wary of excessive sugar intake. 

Food & Beverages to Avoid for Dry Mouth

Increased water and fluid intake are recommended, but caffeinated fluids such as tea, coffee, and cola act as diuretics and are not ideal for xerostomia sufferers. If you’re craving soda, let it go flat prior to indulging. Alcohol consumption should also be limited or avoided. 

Foods should not be excessively hot or cold, sugary, salty, spicy, or acidic, including citric fruits like tomato, grapefruit, orange, and pineapple and astringent foods like apple, pomegranate, pear, quinoa, legumes, tofu, sprouts, beans, and lentils. You should also avoid dry, crumbly foods like crackers, cereal, pastries, toast, and dry meat.  

If you have any questions or concerns about dry mouth, contact your Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD today and we’ll be happy to talk about solutions with you!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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“Buy-Up” Dental Insurance: A Little Extra Protection

Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr of Walker and Barr DMD discusses buy-up dental insurance and how it can prove to be a valuable investment for patients.When it comes to dental insurance, it seems like there can be as many (or more) questions as there are answers. Even when you are fortunate enough to have dental insurance, navigating its use can still be very confusing. Many people don’t give their dental insurance a second thought – until the day comes when they need to use it.  Today, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD would like to talk to you about an option not everyone knows about – “buy-up” dental insurance.

What is “Buy-Up” Dental Insurance?

“Buy-up” dental insurance allows enrollees with group insurance to “buy-up” to more generous benefits by paying higher monthly premiums and receiving more comprehensive dental coverage in return. The differences between “regular” and “buy-up” dental coverages are easy to pinpoint when benefit summaries of the plans are viewed side by side: “buy-up” dental calendar year maximums are higher, annual deductibles are lower, and a percentage of more extensive restorations like bridges, crowns, dental implants, and sometimes even orthodontics are covered, while regular group dental insurance plans often provide little to coverage for these procedures. As with any other insurance plan, whether dental providers are in-network also factors into the level of coverage when considering “buy-up” dental.

Is “Buy-Up” Dental Insurance Worth the Added Cost?

When the only factor under consideration is economics, one recent study would likely call it a draw. The sample showed the average insured household spent $978 in out-of-pocket dental costs – including premiums – while the average uninsured household spent $1,007 – a mere $29 difference. If “buy-up” dental insurance becomes an option for you, the specific pros and cons of your individual and family situation will need to be weighed when you choose your insurance plan.  

If you are a weekend hockey player, have kids that need orthodontia, or just tend to be unlucky when it comes to your teeth, it’s hard to put a price tag on your peace of mind. Dental insurance can be a saving grace for those with unusually high dental expenses from serious financial hardship, and better-than-average coverage would only ease the burden. 

It may seem like a gamble to dig into your pockets and invest more money in a higher-priced dental plan when the extra coverage may never be needed. However, to reiterate – many people don’t give their dental insurance a second thought until the time comes when they NEED it – and when you need your dental insurance, you really need it. Some of the most expensive dental procedures are also the most unexpected and in many cases, they are true medical emergencies that require treatment. 

One way to think about “buy-up” dental insurance is to compare it to enhanced towing coverage for your vehicle, such as the type offered by AAA. You can pay one nominal annual fee that covers unlimited towing costs, so no matter where your vehicle breaks down within a certain geographical radius, there will be no additional cost to you for your car to be towed. If you carry this coverage, your vehicle may not break down during that coverage year and your benefits may never be used, but if your vehicle does break down and you do require towing, the annual premium price is about the same or less than one tow, and the coverage has paid for itself with just one use.

Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr and our team are always happy to discuss your insurance coverage, as well as your other financing options if you need additional help working dental care into your budget. Contact us anytime – we’d love to help!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Biofilm: The Most Important Film of the Year

Brandon dentists, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr of Walker and Barr DMD, explain what biofilm is and the role it plays in your oral health and overall wellness.Biofilm is quite literally a “film” or layer of biological matter that forms on teeth, in sink pipes, on river rocks, and more. Biofilm is made of many different things. Think of it as concrete, which contains cement as well as a slew of other materials. It’s likely you’ve been aware of biofilm on your teeth when they feel slimy or fuzzy instead of smooth and clean. Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr, Brandon dentists explain more below about biofilm and the role it plays in your oral wellness.

My Teeth Aren’t Cold, Why Do They Need Sweaters?

It’s true; the texture of biofilm can feel like fuzzy little sweaters on your teeth. Biofilm occurs when bacteria stick to a wet environment, creating a slimy layer of microorganisms and random debris. Biofilm is a diverse and highly organized group of biological matter all webbed together. Some of the microorganisms are neutral but some are pathogenic and cause a lot of problems for your oral and overall health.

This slimy layer includes multiple kinds of bacteria, fungi, and anything else that gets stuck in the stickiness such as plaque or leftover food particles. Usually, bacteria start off floating around on their own, but if they stick to a wet surface they can cause a microcolony and produce a lot of gunk. This can happen on your teeth as easily as down a water pipe.

The Effects of Biofilm

It’s proven that not all microorganisms in biofilm cause harm to your oral health. But the ones that do can cause inflammation and deterioration in the bones and tissues of your mouth and have a direct pathway through the gums and into the bloodstream.

Biofilm in your mouth can cause:

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Cavities
  • Tooth loss

Dental plaque is a dangerous kind of biofilm. Without properly cleaning your teeth (brushing and flossing every day), the material can corrode your teeth and the bacteria can make you sick.

Gingivitis is a common and mild irritation of the gums. But even 30-40% of the population will have severe gum disease called periodontitis. A dentist can help you look for signs of gum disease or diagnose it.

Biofilm allowed to travel through the bloodstream to other parts of your body cause:

  • Ear infections
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Cystic fibrosis (lung infection)
  • Legionnaire’s Disease

Treating Biofilm & Tooth Decay

The formation of biofilm actually protects the bacteria in it by keeping it attached to teeth and other debris. This makes the bacteria hard to clear and kill. Regular brushing and flossing are essential for your oral health to prevent bacteria and other microorganisms from building up on your teeth.

However, some buildup of plaque and tartar is common and can only be treated by a dental professional. This is why getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist twice a year is so important. Biofilm can also grow on oral appliances. So, if you use dentures, a mouthguard, or a removable bridge, ask your dentist how to best keep the appliance clean.

If biofilm causes excessive tartar buildup, your dentist may recommend special treatment to remove it and kill the bacteria such as prescription mouthwash or more advanced periodontal treatments. Unfortunately, oral infections are chronic because the bacteria can’t be completely killed by antibiotics. Oral infections must be inspected and treated on an ongoing basis. As always—prevention is the best medicine.

If you’re looking for a dental professional to keep your mouth and overall health in tiptop shape, Walker and Barr DMD is accepting new patients. Contact us to make an appointment today!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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What Are Those Bumps? Oral Tori

Brandon dentists, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD explain oral tori—what they are, why they happen, and whether they are a cause for concern.Unusual shapes and growths can be alarming anywhere in the body. If you’ve noticed hard bumps growing in your mouth, you might have oral tori

What are Oral Tori?
Tori (or a single torus) are bumps in the mouth made of bone tissue covered by gum tissue. They grow slowly and some people have them without ever noticing them! There are three kinds of tori, each named differently based on their location:

  • Buccal exostoses: tori on the back, upper gums, on the cheek side
  • Maxillary/palatal tori: on the roof of the mouth
  • Mandibular lingual tori: on the lower jaw, under the tongue

Tori are more common among males than females. (Although palatal tori are twice as likely to occur in women than men.) They appear to be genetic. Tori can appear in groups of various shapes and sizes, or you can have just one torus. If you have a torus on one side of your mouth, it’s likely that you’ll also have another one on the other side.

Tori have been referenced and studied for at least 100 years, but truth be told, we don’t totally understand what causes them. Some dentists believe that people who grind their teeth and clench their jaw are more likely to develop tori. Others believe that tori result from facial or jaw injuries or trauma. 

Are Tori Dangerous?

Tori are considered normal and harmless. Phew! Tori may, however, get in the way of dentures or orthodontics in some cases. Or they may grow to a point and touch in the middle of the mouth. In these cases, your dentist may recommend treatment and removal to ensure optimum comfort and function. So long as they don’t interfere with your daily life and ability to eat, speak, or care for your oral health, tori are not a problem.

Tori should not hurt but they can get injured if you accidentally scrape them while eating. If this happens, keep the wound clean with mouthwash or a saline rinse to prevent infection.

Although they are extra growths, tori are not cancerous. Signs of oral cancer include sores, thickening oral tissues, unexplained bleeding or numbness, trouble swallowing, and a change in how your dentures fit. If you have any concerns about oral cancer, you should see us today for an oral cancer screening.

Treating Tori

Your Brandon dentist will monitor the tori shape and size and how they affect your general health. In the rare case that you do need the tori to be removed, your dentist or oral surgeon will perform an oral surgery procedure. The oral surgeon will expose the bone tissue, remove it, and level the mouth surface. As with any surgery, you’ll be sore for a while afterward, and you’ll see the dentist about a week later for a post-op checkup.

If you need help living with tori, or you have any other oral health need, make an appointment to come in and see us today!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Top 5 Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker and Barr DMD lists the top 5 causes of tooth sensitivity. Give us a call today if you need relief from sensitive teeth!If you’re one of the 40 million Americans with sensitive teeth, you must be familiar with the painful zing that follows a hot drink, a bite of ice cream, or just a deep breath of cold air. These and other elements can cause a sudden discomfort if you have sensitive teeth, also called dentin hypersensitivity. 

Each of your teeth has an important protected layer called enamel. If your enamel gets worn down, your teeth can become more sensitive over time. Your enamel is the visible, white part of the tooth and it protects the softer, inner layers of each tooth. Receding gums can also reveal sensitive parts of the tooth that aren’t protected by enamel.

If you’re living with sensitive teeth, it’s good to know what causes the pain and how to avoid it. You should also talk with your Brandon dentist about how to treat sensitive teeth and prevent further damage to your enamel or gums.

Causes of Sensitivity

Underneath your enamel is a part of the tooth called the dentin. Dentin is soft tissue full of nerves, which can be sensitive and painful. Certain habits and behaviors are more likely to wear down your enamel or cause gum recession that increases tooth sensitivity. The top five causes of tooth sensitivity are:

  1. Brushing your teeth too aggressively and wearing down enamel and/or gums
  2. Long-term exposure to acidic food and drinks such as citrus, coffee, and soda
  3. Tooth decay or broken teeth that expose the dentin
  4. Broken or leaking fillings
  5. Grinding your teeth

If you’re serious about avoiding or treating tooth sensitivity, talk with your dentist about which of these behaviors might be causing your problem. It’s very important that you keep track of when your teeth hurt and where you feel the pain. Sometimes tooth sensitivity means there’s another problem such as infection or cavity that needs a different treatment than just thinning enamel.

Treating Sensitive Teeth

Depending on the exact cause of your tooth sensitivity, Walker and Barr DMD may recommend:

  • brush more gently and/or buy a soft-bristle brush
  • start wearing a nightguard, or
  • another procedure to fix the problem.

Two simple products that can go a long way in relieving sensitive teeth are:

  • Sensitive toothpaste to use every time you brush your teeth at home. You can find a variety of toothpaste for sensitive teeth at the drugstore. This type of toothpaste decreases the sensitivity of the nerves in your dentin. Although you can never grow new enamel to replace what may be worn down, sensitive toothpaste will offer temporary relief for as long as you use it. Most people need to use sensitive toothpaste for 2-4 weeks before experiencing its complete benefits.
  • Fluoride gel applied to each tooth by the dentist can strengthen what remaining enamel you have and protect sensitivity from increasing.

If you have questions about sensitive teeth or any other oral health matter, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr is currently accepting new patients. Make an appointment today at Walker and Barr DMD. Your oral health makes a big difference in your overall health and quality of life. You are worth the investment!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

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Don’t Have a Stroke – Your Dentist Can Help

Brandon dentists Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr of Walker – Barr DMD explain the connection between oral wellness and stroke, and how you can increase your protection.You might be surprised to hear that the state of your oral health has a lot to do with preventing a stroke. There’s a certain kind of bad oral bacteria that cause gum disease, travel to other parts of your body, and cause harm.

A stroke is a common but dangerous medical condition that causes a lack of blood in the brain. The effects of a stroke can be long-term and life-changing. People of any age can experience a stroke, but it’s most common in adults 40 years and older. 

Oral Wellness
The Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention Center lists favorable oral health among its top five factors that prevent stroke, and a growing number of studies are finding the link between certain kinds of oral bacteria and the harm they cause to your brain. For example, these bacteria can travel into your head through your bloodstream, causing brain bleeding and dementia. This sounds scary—and it certainly can be. But with good, simple oral hygiene, you can take care of your mouth and prevent a lot of other overall health issues. There are also a number of companies that provide testing for these bacteria using saliva samples.

Gum disease is incredibly common and can range anywhere from slightly tender and red gums to a mouth full of discolored, receding gums. Adults over 30 years old have a 50/50 chance of developing gum disease. But that doesn’t mean you have to accept it or live with the consequences. 

You can prevent gum disease (and many other oral and systemic health problems) by:

The Stroke Connection

Not all oral bacteria are bad-in fact, some are necessary for digestion and immunity-but research continues to prove some bacteria are especially harmful. Cardiovascular disease is just one condition that can be deeply affected by your oral health. Others include mental health, diabetes, pregnancy, and arthritis. There are three main links between “bad” oral bacteria and heart health:

  • Cholesterol: gum disease increases your risk of developing bad cholesterol (LDL) and its buildup in blood arteries.
  • Chemicals: oral bacteria can cause your blood artery walls to become thin and more vulnerable to cholesterol.
  • Stickiness: oral bacteria can cause your blood artery walls to become very sticky, which attracts more plaque and cholesterol buildup.

You can see how each of these three circumstances has the potential to put your health at risk, especially in combination; they can lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).  When this kind of buildup happens in your brain, blood flow slows or stops.  The brain becomes starved of blood, causing a stroke.  Brain cells without blood can die within minutes and prove fatal – or cause lifelong health problems to stroke survivors. 

The good news is that science is getting better at finding the dangerous bacteria that cause these problems. If you have signs or a diagnosis of gum disease, ask your doctor about your risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Your Dentist is Your Partner

Dentists are medical professionals who can do a lot to save your health and even your life. If you have any concerns about your oral health, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr in Brandon, Florida can answer your questions and help you start taking better care of your overall wellness. Make an appointment at Walker – Barr DMD today!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Is Your Lipstick Aging You?

Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker – Barr DMD shares how to pick the right lipstick shades for whiter teeth.Walker – Barr DMD believes that natural beauty comes first. Our priority is for you to feel comfortable in your smile, and nothing should hold you back from laughing and grinning each day. Many different dental treatments can bring you this lifelong confidence. 

But we also know that the right makeup can enhance your natural beauty. It’s amazing what different products and colors can do to give you a different look and style. So, what shades of lipstick do we recommend to go with your healthy, beautiful smile? Read more below from Brandon dentists, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr, to learn what lipstick shades will make your teeth appear whiter, and which shades to avoid.

What Colors & Why
Fashion trends will come and go. But how do you pick a lipstick color that will improve your smile and make your teeth instantly appear whiter? 

The answer is to pick lipstick with blue undertones, instead of orange. Blue is the opposite of yellow-orange on the color wheel. Whereas orange-hued lipstick can bring out the yellow in your teeth, blue will balance it out and make your teeth appear whiter. 

You might be thinking, “blue lipstick?”…”orange lipstick?” Not exactly. Every shade of red and pink can be a warmer or cooler shade. So another way to say it is to pick lipstick with cooler undertones. Here are some examples:

  • When looking for classic red lipstick, look for blue undertones instead of orange undertones. 
  • When looking for pink lipstick, whether light or dark, pick berry colors instead of coral.
  • When looking for dark lipstick, pick a purple instead of a brown. The high-contrast of dark lipstick usually makes teeth appear whiter, but brown will only bring out any yellow and staining.
  • When looking for a nude lipstick, pick one with a little gloss instead of something matte.

Some lipsticks are formulated to make teeth look whiter, such as Apa® Blue Lip Shine.

The Impact of White Teeth

A study commissioned by Crest® found remarkable results that whiter teeth improved a person’s career and dating opportunities. It’s pretty obvious that white teeth just look healthier and happier, which translates to the person as a whole, not just their smile. 

You can get professional teeth whitening treatments at home or at Walker – Barr DMD for real, long-lasting results. And you can maintain whiter teeth with everyday whitening toothpaste. 

If you have additional questions about whitening your teeth, make an appointment to see us soon! We’ll help you look your best for every occasion. 

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Hate Flossing? – 5 Flossing Alternatives

Brandon dentist, Dr. Walker and Dr. Barr at Walker and Barr DMD gives patients who hate to floss some simple flossing alternatives that are just as effective.There are two kinds of people in this world: those who floss, and those who don’t. Diligent flossers everywhere inspire those of us who live with them or know them. Flossing may not be a philosophical virtue but it’s certainly high on the list of qualities amongst people who “have it together.” Read more below about why flossing is so important and what alternatives you have if you don’t like traditional floss.

The Point of Flossing
After you eat, tiny pieces of food are left everywhere in your mouth. Even though your saliva does a good job of rinsing a lot of food debris away, some leftovers stay stuck on and between your teeth and gums and must be brushed and flossed to get rid of it. You do have tons of natural bacteria in your mouth that help break down food buildup, but the bacteria leave behind a sticky film on your teeth called plaque that needs to be removed.

Everyone (even young kids) should brush for two minutes, twice a day, and floss once a day to remove food buildup and plaque from the places that are hard to reach with a toothbrush. If you don’t stay on top of it, food buildup and plaque can quickly turn into bigger problems that cause tooth decay, gum disease, and inflammation in your mouth.

Flossing Alternatives

The American Dental Association (ADA) says it doesn’t matter if you floss before or after brushing your teeth, or if you floss in the morning or at night. What’s most important is that you do it every day. But what if traditional flossing is difficult for you, or you’re traveling, or if you have braces? Thankfully, you have some options that the ADA approves.

Here are some of the flossing alternatives and their uses:

  • Interdental Brushes: Like tiny toothbrushes, specially designed to clean between your teeth, these brushes are a great alternative to flossing. Interdental brushes are usually easier to use than a thread of floss, are just as effective as floss, and are probably your best option if you have braces.
  • Water Flossing: Approved by the ADA as a floss alternative, water flossing is just what it sounds like. Instead of a thread, water flossing uses a steady stream of water, aimed between the teeth, to clear away plaque. Water flossing uses a small, hand-held appliance that might be more physically comfortable for you.
  • Dental Pick: Made of plastic or wood, these tiny sticks can help remove plaque from your teeth and gums. If you use a wooden pick, the ADA recommends getting the pick wet first to soften it. Picks aren’t quite as effective as floss, and you risk moving bacteria around in your mouth unless you use a new pick for each tooth.
  • Pre-Threaded Floss: For some people, the hardest part of flossing is actually reaching the floss into the mouth and effectively moving it between the teeth. Thankfully, a pre-threaded flosser is the simple answer to this problem. You can buy these in packets and use one with one hand. Use pre-threaded floss to more easily reach in your mouth and (like regular floss) throw it away after each use.
  • Soft-Picks by GUM®: A favorite of the dental community, Soft-Picks are sort of an interdental brush/dental pick hybrid. Soft-Picks are small, disposable plastic picks with a soft tip and rubbery bristles that fit comfortably between teeth and do minimal damage to the gum tissue. 

A word about mouthwash: while it’s a great option for freshness and does help kill the bacteria that cause decay and gum disease in the rest of the mouth, mouthwash is not a good replacement for brushing or flossing. Mouthwash is best used in combination with these methods for optimum oral health.

Flossing & Your Health

Your daily brushing and flossing routine is the foundation of good oral hygiene and health. Remember also to see your dentist for a professional cleaning twice per year. Some plaque and buildup (like tartar) can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist. Plus, proactive oral care goes a long way toward your overall health and seeing the dentist is just as important as seeing your doctor! 

If you’re looking for a Brandon dentists, Dr. Walker and Dr. Barr at Walker and Barr DMD are always welcoming new patients. We’d love to see you for any and all of your dental health needs.

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Stop Brushing After You Eat – Do This Instead

Brandon dentist, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker - Barr DMD explains why you should rinse with water instead of brushing after you eat to avoid enamel damage.For a long time, we’ve been told to brush our teeth right after we eat, but conventional wisdom might be changing on that. Thanks to your mouth’s powerful and natural ability to clean itself, rinsing with water might actually be the best way to freshen your breath and prevent cavities after you eat. 

In addition to your everyday hygiene routine, rinsing with water is a free, easy way to maintain oral health throughout the day. To understand this, read below about what happens in your mouth after you eat and why water is so great for your teeth. 

Digestion Begins in Your Mouth
You might think that digestion starts in your stomach, but it actually starts in your mouth! The combination of chewing your food and the special bacteria in your mouth are essential to swallowing and digesting your food. Probiotics are specific bacteria that live in your mouth every day and begin the whole process of digestion by breaking down your food on a microscopic level.

In our world today, we’re trained to think of bacteria as all bad and dangerous, but that’s simply not the case. Oral bacteria are natural and important for your health. Of course, bad bacteria do exist (pathogens), but you’d be lost without the help of probiotics that break down food and help keep your mouth clean. After you eat, these bacteria get their own meal from the tiny leftovers of food on your teeth and gums. The byproduct of this bacterial feast is acid, which can damage your enamel and cause tooth decay.

Cavities

It’s normal for some amount of food to be left behind in your mouth after eating, but frequent snacking and foods high in sugar put you at extra risk for cavities. The constant presence of food on your teeth—especially sugar—makes the bacteria and plaque in your mouth produce too much acid. Acid can break down your enamel, especially when combined with the force of brushing.

Cavities are holes in your tooth enamel that threaten your tooth and oral health. The enamel protects and strengthens your tooth and it can’t be rebuilt once it starts to decay. Kids and adults of any age can develop a cavity. Cavities can cause pain and inflammation and usually need a filling to restore the tooth to health

You can prevent cavities with good oral hygiene. This includes:

  • Brushing your teeth twice per day, for two minutes at a time
  • Flossing once per day
  • Rinsing with mouthwash or water between meals
  • Seeing the dentist twice every year

Rinsing with Water Fights Cavities

A quick rinse with water in your mouth will boost your body’s natural ability to clean itself after a meal. Rinsing with water protects your enamel by removing food and sugar left over, and about 30% of oral bacteria without the forces of brushing that—when combined with acid—can damage your enamel. Just be sure to spit out the water when you’re done, as swallowing will only introduce the bacteria into your body further and cause problems for your systemic health.

Some people may prefer the minty flavors of mouthwash, and some people are prescribed a special mouthwash for infections (gum disease) or sensitivity. But if you’re out and about, or just don’t have any mouthwash on hand, water is a great alternative for keeping your mouth clean between brushing. 

So after you eat anything, it’s a good idea to quickly rinse out your mouth with water. It’s an easy and free way to instantly boost your oral health. Rinsing with water is better for your teeth than brushing them right after you eat if you wish to avoid damage to your enamel.

Drinking Water

Drinking water is also a great way to maintain oral and overall health. Saliva naturally protects your mouth by maintaining a proper pH balance that minimizes bacterial growth, and staying hydrated ensures you have healthy saliva levels. When your mouth is dry, your pH becomes acidic, and disease, decay, and bacteria can thrive. Keep your mouth and body functioning at peak performance by drinking six to eight glasses of water a day.

If you have more questions or any oral health need, Dr. David Walker and Dr. Sarah Barr at Walker – Barr DMD in Brandon is taking new patients. Make an appointment today and let our professional team give you a smile you love!

 

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

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