J. Mark Oliver DDS PA

Healthy Snacks for Healthy Smiles

healthy snackAs a parent, juggling life can be a little hectic sometimes. With work, kids, back to school nights, sleepovers, and much more, finding time to pack healthy snacks is difficult. It can be tempting to throw a packaged snack in your little one’s lunch box to save some time in the morning, but more often than not, those pre-packaged snacks contain high amounts of sugar. Here are a few healthy snack suggestions that your child will love and that also promote a healthy smile.

Nuts

Nuts are nutritional powerhouses, which help to build a strong body. Chewing nuts promotes the production of saliva, which naturally washes away leftover debris on and in between your teeth, as well as acid buildup, which can lead to cavities. Nuts can be a great alternative to salty snacks, such as potato chips, that your kids crave!

Cheese

As we know, cheese is rich in calcium, which promotes strong teeth. What you might not know, is that cheese is also rich in a protein called casein, which strengthens tooth enamel and ultimately prevents cavities. Try adding a string cheese to your child’s lunch, which will provide them with calcium and casein, and are also simply fun to eat!

Apples

Apples are one of the best snacks to give your children. They are a very high fiber food, which also naturally clean your teeth as you chew them! The skin of the apple especially helps to scrub your teeth, gums, and tongue as you eat them. This helps to fight plaque buildup, and also helps remove surface stains. Since apples help scrub away plaque and residue from the back of the tongue, they also help to eliminate bad breath. If your children are craving something sweet in their lunches, try apple slices. We suggest leaving the skin on so that they may reap all of the benefits.

For more information on tooth-healthy foods for kids, please call us at Winston-Salem Office Phone Number 336-724-5054.

Manual, Electric, and Sonic Toothbrushes

manual and electric toothbrushWith the many options of toothbrushes available today, we understand that choosing the right one for you can be overwhelming. If you are considering changing your brush style, read more information below about manual, electric and sonic toothbrushes.

Manual Toothbrushes

Manual toothbrushes are the most common type of toothbrushes, available at your local convenience store. Many people choose to opt for the manual toothbrush because it is a much cheaper option compared to the electric and sonic toothbrushes. Studies have shown that there is not a huge difference in using a manual toothbrush vs. an electric/sonic toothbrush, as manually brushing still cleans the surface of your teeth of food debris and plaque. However, manual toothbrushes clean your teeth at a rate of around 300 brush strokes per minute, while electric and sonic toothbrushes operate much faster (see below).

Electric Toothbrushes

Electric brushes operate at a much higher brush stroke rate than manual toothbrushes, with around 3,000 – 6,000 brush strokes per minute. A brush stroke from an electric toothbrush differs from that of a manual toothbrush because it moves much faster in a smaller surface area, using either oscillating or vibrating motions.

Sonic Toothbrushes

Sonic brushes differ from electric brushes slightly in that they vibrate at a much higher frequency, about 30,000 to 40,000 strokes per minute. Sonic toothbrushes have been found to have a slighter higher cleaning rate because they clean harder to reach areas, such as under the gums and in between the teeth. However, while this may be true – nothing compares to flossing in between the teeth. The ADA recommends for adults with arthritis or who have a hard time manually brushing to change to electric or sonic toothbrushes, which increases stability for your hand while brushing.

Whatever option you chose, as long as you are brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing once, you will be able to effectively keep your teeth clean and healthy! If you have any further questions about the toothbrush for you, give us a call at Winston-Salem Office Phone Number 336-724-5054!

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New Trends In Dental Implants

dental implant structureA trending topic right now seems to be the decision to opt for “mini-dental implants” instead of more traditional ones. Below we are going to take a look inside the trend, and lay out some of the benefits and drawbacks so that you can get a better understanding of this exciting trend in dentistry.

Benefits

  • Mini dental implants are usually less expensive than traditional ones, sometimes costing only 1/3 that of regular implants. They take less time to place and are smaller and less invasive, and can be used in small spaces or for those with inadequate bone mass.
  • With mini dentures, smaller dentures can be used, leading to a better tasting experience for the palate than a traditional denture would provide.
  • Mini implants can be placed with minimal recovery time, and usually require very little to no bone grafting.

Drawbacks

Because this is still a fairly new procedure, there are a few downsides. For one, there aren’t enough studies out there on the longevity of these implants, so we don’t know how they hold up over time. A study published in the International Journal of Implant Dentistry in 2016 revealed that traditional dental implant placement has a proven survival rate of 95% or greater. The analysis collected data from over 10,000 implants from 3,095 patients, across three separate private practices over the course of 20 years. For mini dental implants, there isn’t yet enough data to conclude a proper survival rate.

Another concern is that because this is such a new trend there is not as much information or regulation out there. Some practices with claims such as “Dentures-in-a-day” might not do a proper consultation, skipping important steps such as a 3D scan to make sure that you are a good candidate for the procedure.

While it may be some time before this method is perfected and adopted, it is also exciting to see the advancements changing people’s lives in the dental industry every day. Check in with J. Mark Oliver DDS PA to find out what tooth replacement options may be right for you!

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5 Reasons Why Your Teeth Are Changing Color

woman brushing her teethBrushing and flossing your teeth every day can keep your smile bright and white. However, you might have noticed that even though you take great care of your teeth, they look a little yellow and have lost their sparkle. This is completely normal. Here are 5 reasons why this could be happening to you.

  1. Food and Drinks:

    Coffee, tea and red wine play a major role in staining your teeth. They all have Chromogens, which are intense color pigments that attach to the white outer part of your tooth known as enamel.
    Tip: Drink with a straw, keeping those stain-causing dyes in the drink away from your teeth

  2. Tobacco Use:

    The two chemicals found in tobacco, tar and nicotine, create a tough stain. Tar is naturally dark. Nicotine is colorless, but when it’s mixed with oxygen, it creates a yellowish color. Both together create the stain.

  3. Age:

    Below the white shell of enamel on our teeth is a softer area called Dentin. Over the years, our outer enamel gets thinner from brushing and the yellowish dentin shows through.

  4. Trauma:

    If you have experienced an injury to the mouth, your tooth may change color. This is because your tooth reacts to the trauma by putting down more dentin, which is darker than the outer enamel on your teeth.

  5. Medications:

    Many different kind of medications come with the side effect of darkening your teeth. Also, children who are exposed to medication when their teeth are forming, either in the womb or as a baby, can experience discoloration of their adult teeth later in life.

Some of these reasons are preventable and some of these happen over the course of life. Try to avoid some of these things and continue to brush and floss your teeth every day. If you would like to discuss your teeth whitening options with us, please call our office at 336-724-5054 to schedule an appointment.

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Where Do Dental Implants Come From?

'children playing in dirt'Dental implants have a surprisingly rich and interesting history. Across centuries and throughout cultures around the world there is evidence of attempts at replacing missing teeth with various objects and materials.

The oldest dental implants can be traced back to 2000 BC in China, where missing teeth were substituted with bamboo pegs.

Fast forward a bit to around 1000 BC and you’ll find an ancient Egyptian King whose tomb was recently discovered along with his mummified remains; a copper peg hammered into place where a tooth once lived. This may have been the first time in history that we know of when metal implants were used.

Across the globe some time around 300 BC, an iron tooth was found in a French grave thought to be Celtic in origin. It is possible this implant may have been a post-mortem placement to honor the dead, as an attempt to perform the surgery using a live patient would have been an excruciatingly painful process.

Just 2000 years ago missing teeth were being substituted for animal teeth, and the poor were even selling their teeth to the wealthy, just to make ends meet! The body often rejected these surrogate teeth, causing infection.

More recently in 1931 in Honduras, Dr. Wilson Monroe and his wife found a jawbone amongst other artifacts, with teeth fashioned from shells and attached to the jawbone of an ancient man.

Today we are lucky enough to have dental implants that not only look and feel like real teeth, and anesthesia for the pain is also a plus. Thanks to studies conducted by Per-Ingvar Brånemark of Sweden in the 1950’s, oral surgeons have been able to perfect the process over the years to create today’s implants, which have a 98% success rate! Through a process known as osseointegration, metals and other implant materials are able to be skillfully placed so that your jaw bone actually attaches itself to the implant creating a seamless support system.

Missing a tooth or two? Give us a call at Winston-Salem Office Phone Number 336-724-5054 to discuss your dental implant options today!

Bad Breath is Bad News

'woman with fresh breath'Don’t let bad breath be a part of your day! In our office, we are asked on an almost daily basis “How can I get rid of my bad breath?”

Here are some quick and easy tips to help keep your breath fresh and clean:

1. Brush and Floss Regularly:
It’s basic advice, but foolproof. Brushing at least twice a day and flossing and tongue scraping once is the best way to combat bad breath. When the bacteria in your mouth have bits of food and debris to feed on, they create the odors that cause bad breath. Keeping your mouth clean will keep your breath clean at the same time!

2. Drink Water:
You don’t always have access to a toothbrush. As it turns out though, water can be an effective way to freshen your breath until you can get home and brush. Water helps clean out your mouth and prevents dryness, another major cause of bad breath.

3. Eat Good Foods:
A good way to prevent bad breath is to stay away from foods that make your breath smell bad, and eat foods those that will help your breath smell good! Melons and citrus fruit are high in Vitamin C, and help kill bacteria in your mouth. Fibrous foods like apples and celery can help remove food stuck in your teeth, reducing smells caused by bacteria feeding on them.

4. Choose gum and mints with Xylitol:
Sugary gum and breath mints are often used to tackle bad breath. However, the stinky bacteria in your mouth love sugar, and giving them more tends to produce acid that can make your breath smell worse AND lead to tooth decay. Xylitol is a sugar alternative that bacteria cannot break down, which makes it a perfect method for keeping your breath fresh and clean.

If you are troubled by your bad breath, ask us for more tips on staying fresh and clean!

Teeth Bleaching vs. Teeth Whitening

'woman with bleached and regular teeth'You’ve probably seen someone with pearly white teeth before and wondered, “How have they managed to keep their teeth so bright all these years?” The truth is, many people these days are opting to whiten their teeth with artificial methods to achieve that picture-perfect smile.

Bleaching vs. Whitening

When teeth are whitened beyond their natural color, the process is referred to as “tooth bleaching”. This type of whitening usually involves using some form of “bleaching” agent such as hydrogen-or-carbamide peroxide.

Another method of restoring teeth to their original, whiter state of being is known as “teeth whitening”. This process is different from bleaching in that it involves cleaning the surface of teeth to remove stains, dirt, and other brightness inhibitors to restore the teeth to their original color. Sometimes this process also involves the use of bleaching agents.

Nowadays, these terms are used almost interchangeably – (their distinction is one mostly used by the FDA).

When you get your teeth whitened in our office, we utilize a highly-potent peroxide bleaching gel that can be better activated with a laser. We will also apply a gel to your gums to protect from chemical exposure.

Store-bought whitening kits contain a lower-potency whitening gel, but implement a similar process. These kits can be a significantly cheaper solution, but are usually not as effective and can even be damaging if not applied correctly.

And many people these days are even trying DIY methods to enhance their smile. Whatever method you choose, its always best to contact us first at Winston-Salem Office Phone Number 336-724-5054 so that you can make sure you are choosing the safest teeth whitening option for you.

Yes. You still have to floss.

'woman flossing teeth in miror'The AP recently released an article making the claim that “there’s little proof that flossing works”. Their review cited a series of studies that found flossing does little or nothing to improve oral health.

Here’s the problem: the studies were flawed.

The AP concluded that floss does little for oral health, but it’s important to note that the evidence they cited was very weak at best. In fact, they said so themselves.

As acknowledged by the AP, many of these studies were extremely short. “Some lasted only two weeks, far too brief for a cavity or dental disease to develop” (Associated Press). They also say that “One tested 25 people after only a single use of floss” (Associated Press).

Of course the evidence is unreliable. You don’t simply develop gum disease because you forgot to floss yesterday. Cavities and gum disease do not happen overnight. You can prevent gum disease by maintaining a clean mouth over a long period of time. Wayne Aldredge, President of the American Academy of Periodontology explained: “gum disease is a very slow disease”. In his interview with the AP he recommended long-term studies which he believes would clearly show the difference between people who floss and people who don’t.

Lets put it this way: If a study claims drinking milk does nothing for bone health, but draws conclusions after only three glasses of milk, is it a reliable study? What do you think?

The fact of the matter is floss removes gunk from teeth. You can see it. Gunk feeds bacteria which leads to plaque, cavities, poor gum health, and eventually gum disease. Floss has the ability to reach the food particles that your brush can’t get to.

Aldredge also pointed out that most people floss incorrectly, using a sawing motion instead of moving up and around the teeth to clean the cracks. Positive results come from correct use and it’s critical that people learn to use a tool properly before discarding it as useless.

That’s just what floss is: a tool. Just like your toothbrush, it is designed to keep your mouth clean, and therefore keep your body safe from infection. Both your toothbrush and floss are designed to do what the other can’t, and both successfully remove bacteria from your mouth. Just like proper brushing technique, it is important that you know how to use floss properly, so that you can reap the long-term health benefits of good oral hygiene.

It’s a shame that studies on an important tool such as floss have yielded poor results, but it’s a bigger shame that the studies themselves were poorly designed. Oral hygiene is a long term process, and requires long term observations to make worthwhile conclusions. In the mean time, it’s obvious that you should continue to do everything you can to protect your well being, and floss is one of many tools that can help you do that. If you would like a refresher on the best, most efficient techniques for floss use feel free to call our office today at 336-724-5054!

Missing Teeth: More than Just a Gap In Your Smile

'man smiling'While it is true that the most obvious effect of missing teeth is a gap in your smile, missing teeth can cause other problems that you might not be immediately aware of. For example, did you know that for every missing tooth you have you lose 10 percent of your chewing ability? Read on to get a better idea of how a missing tooth can affect your life.

Surrounding Teeth

A missing tooth usually means more stress for the remaining teeth. In addition to that, if you are missing a tooth on the lower jaw, the opposing tooth on the top can grow longer to fill the gap in a process known as superuption or extrusion. This could lead to teeth tilting and move out of place by drifting into the space that was left by your missing tooth – a disaster for your beautiful smile!

Digestive Health

If you are missing teeth, you can’t enjoy all of the foods that you are used to eating – bad for your health and bad for your mood! Say goodbye to caramel apples, saltwater taffy, crunchy carrots and even gum. And because the variety in your diet is reduced when a tooth is missing, digestive problems are unfortunate yet common.

Decay and Hygiene Problems

The shifting of your teeth may cause new hygiene issues as it may be difficult to brush and floss like you normally would. This leaves your mouth more vulnerable to gum disease and tooth decay.

Facial Aesthetics

People with more than one missing tooth may also have issues with a collapsed bite which causes a loss of vertical dimension. This could make your face appear shorter, as the distance between the tip of your nose and your chin would decrease.

The good news is that you don’t have to suffer anymore! Dental implants can help you avoid all of the problems listed above and let you live your life normally again. It’s never too late for a dental implant, give us a call at Winston-Salem Office Phone Number 336-724-5054 to find out about this life-changing procedure.

Taking Care of Your Veneers

'woman smiling after receiving veneers'Congratulations! You’ve just received your brand new veneers. Your smile has never looked this good, and you probably want to make sure it stays that way! Good veneers can last a long, long time, but only if you take good care of them along the way.

Here are some tips to make your veneers last a decade and even more:

Treat Them Like Teeth

You can ensure that your veneers last a long time if you brush them with the same care that you would your original teeth. Brush twice and floss once daily for best results!

Regular Cleanings

It’s important that we continue to schedule appointments with you so that we can make sure your veneers are looking their best, and that they stay that way. The week after the veneers are placed is the most important visit, followed by your regular dental hygiene visits, during which we can keep an eye out for potential problems.

Try Not to Grind

Many people grind their teeth, but it’s important that you let us know if you have a history of doing so. Measures can be taken to avoid damage to your new veneers over time, such as a nighttime mouth guard to protect your new smile.

Avoid Damage

Biting down on hard food is dangerous for any teeth, and even more so for veneers. Avoid using your veneers to bite down on hard materials and foods. The less stress you put on them the better.

Staining

Veneers keep their shade beautifully over the years, but they are not immune from staining. Avoid the same foods and beverages that you do for your natural teeth such as coffee, tea, wine (and smoking)!

What is involved in the procedure?

First we evaluate your teeth using various kinds of imaging and impressions to ensure that veneers are a good choice for you. Next we create a mock-up so that you can see what your teeth will look like after the procedure, before you make your final decision. If you decide to proceed the first step is to remove a thin layer of enamel from the teeth and then make an impression from which we can build the veneers. The veneers are bonded to the teeth with dental cement and hardened using a special light. That’s where the procedure ends and your new smile begins.

If you are ready for a smile upgrade with veneers, give us a call at Winston-Salem Office Phone Number 336-724-5054!