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Tips and Advice

The Origins of Toothpaste

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How Did Toothpaste Come to Be?

toothpaste going onto brush

These days, we have so many choices for toothpaste, it’s almost annoying. It’s hard to imagine a time when toothpaste as we know it didn’t even exist. 

But there was such a time! Before we hit the mark with the perfect blend of humectants, detergents, flavorings, and gentle abrasives, people had some interesting takes on the best concoction for cleaning their mouths. 

We figured we’d kick off back to school season with a history lesson about how toothpaste began. 

The Ancient Egyptian Formula

The oldest toothpaste historians have found was from 5,000 B.C. Historians believe the ancient Egyptians used an interesting mix to scrub their smiles. 

The earliest toothpaste formula contained:

  • Crushed rock salt
  • Pepper
  • Mint
  • Iris flowers

Experts have called this the most effective ancient dental regimen. In fact, it wouldn’t be topped until the early 18th century. But before you run to your garage and start crushing up rock salt, this kind of paste is far from good for you. Over time, using this formula will result in damage to your enamel and gum bleeding.

The Evolution of Toothpaste

The Egyptians had their very abrasive solution, but around the same time, people in other parts of the world had their own idea for cleaning their teeth.

The Greeks and Romans used a special blend of crushed oyster shells and bones, and in China, they used a similar solution to the Egyptians, but added ginseng and skipped the iris and pepper. Other cultures brushed up with brick dust, pumice, ox hooves, burnt eggshells, ashes, chalk, and pulverized charcoal. Yum!

The rest of toothpaste evolution looked something like this:

  • 1780: Burnt breadcrumbs were used as toothpaste.
  • 1842: Dentist Dr. Peabody mixed soap in with the breadcrumbs. This later was replaced with sodium lauryl sulfate, which is still an ingredient in today’s toothpaste! This ingredient helps spread the paste around evenly. 
  • 1850’s: Chalk is added to the mix. It will stay as an ingredient for the next few decades.
  • 1873: Colgate comes out with the first ever toothpaste that is of a familiar consistency and scent. At this time, it’s sold in glass jars. 
  • 1892: Dr. Washington Sheffield invents the collapsable toothpaste tube.
  • 1914: The benefits of fluoride are discovered, and it’s added to toothpastes.
  • 1987: Edible toothpaste makes its debut. It’s invented by NASA for astronauts to brush in space, but it comes with an added benefit: so that children can safely learn to brush. 
  • 1989: Rembrandt releases the first whitening toothpaste.

At Alrez Family Dentistry, we’re glad to be born in these modern times when toothpaste is safe and effective!


I Have Cavities in Between My Teeth!

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Help: I Have Cavities Between My Teeth!

cavity in between teethCavities in between teeth, or interproximal cavities, are very common. They form when there is a breakdown of the outer, calcified enamel of the tooth by bacteria in your mouth.

However common they may be, cavities are easily preventable. And the more we know about interproximal cavities, the better chance we have at keeping them away!

Did You Know?

  • 35% of your teeth’s surfaces are in between your teeth. So if you skip flossing, you’re only cleaning two-thirds of your teeth!
  • Dental cavities are one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in people of all ages. The good news is, you can prevent them easily!

How Can I Prevent Cavities?

Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day. And check your technique. Make sure you’re using circular motions on the fronts and chewing surfaces of your teeth and short, up-and-down motions on the backs. Don’t forget those back molars!

Floss every day. This is another technique you’re going to want to hone for best results. Check out our guide on becoming the floss boss to learn the proper flossing method.

Your X-Rays are Important

dental X Ray
When you get your yearly x-rays from Dr. Alrez, she’s looking for early signs of decay. She can tell you’re about to develop a cavity if she notices dark areas developing around the outermost layer of your tooth (enamel).

If it turns out that you have a high risk of decay, Dr. Alrez may prescribe a mouth rinse or dental paste with extra fluoride.

It’s Too Late! I Already Have a Cavity

Don’t beat yourself up about it! After all, the past is in the past. However, if you start taking better charge of your oral hygiene, you can prevent future cavities. And luckily, cavities can be easily treated with dental fillings.


What’s the Difference Between Plaque & Tartar?

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Toothbrush and toothpaste on blurred background Maybe, you’re confused about the difference between plaque and tartar, or think they’re both the same thing. Or maybe, Dr. Alrez told you you need a deep cleaning to get rid of tartar (find out what that means here). 

No matter what, telling plaque and tartar apart can help you better manage your oral health, so keep reading for advice on keeping the difference straight!

What is Plaque?

Plaque is a colorless, sticky film of bacteria that coats your teeth and tongue between brushing. The food you eat helps to feed that bacteria, which helps it grow and cover more of your teeth. These bacteria create an acid, which over time, eats away at your enamel and causes cavities and gum disease. 

While the process of plaque developing in your mouth is inevitable, we do have a lot of control over the process! Brushing twice daily, flossing once daily, and drinking plenty of water are three things that will drastically reduce the effect plaque can have on your teeth. 

What is Tartar?

dentist's instruments with shallow depth of field blue tintedIf we don’t remove the plaque in time, it turns into a tough, hard deposit. This will sit on your teeth and cause discoloration, sensitivity, and gum disease. 

Tartar is a big reason why you need to visit the dentist twice a year! Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to remove tartar at home, it has to be removed by a dental hygienist. As long as you make it to your 6-month cleanings, tartar buildup won’t cause too big of a problem.

Come See Us Every Six Months!

We don’t just say it because we love seeing your face (even though we do!). Making it to your dental appointments twice a year will keep tartar in check, which will reduce your chances of developing gum disease and help your teeth stay white. 


Start The New Year With These Resolutions for Your Smile

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New Years Sparkles What are your New Year’s resolutions for this year? If you’re like many people, you might resolve to focus on your health and well-being, exercise more and eat better, or simply ditch bad habits that aren’t working for you. In fact in 2017, NBC reported that the most common New Year’s resolution was to get healthy. We think this is a great idea! However, when making those healthy resolutions, don’t forget to include your oral health!

A Healthy Body Means a Healthy Smile

As we’ve said in the past, the health of our smile goes beyond the surface. If you neglect your smile, this can increase your risk of pneumonia, heart disease, and dementia.

There are also the obvious benefits. A healthy mouth will allow you to chew and swallow your food properly, and a healthy set of chompers can be the boost forward that you need to tackle the year’s challenges with confidence. To avoid overwhelming yourself, start small and be consistent. Your teeth, and overall health, will thank you. Here are some simple dental resolutions to incorporate into your life this year.

Our Top 6 New Year’s Resolutions

  1. glass of waterGet Better at Brushing and Flossing. You already know you should be brushing twice and flossing once a day, but we also know it can be easy to slack off, especially when you’re tired or busy. Make it part of your morning and night routine to carve out a few minutes dedicated specifically to your teeth. This will help you form good habits naturally. Also remember to change out your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months and switch to a soft bristled brush if you haven’t already to prevent any unwanted damage to your teeth.
  2. Break Bad Dental Habits. Most people have at least one bad habit that could be wrecking havoc on their teeth. Whether it’s biting your nails, consuming too many sugary foods and beverages, or smoking, make this year the year you stop. If needed, you can replace these habits with newer, healthy ones like eating more fruits and veggies or chewing sugar free gum.
  3. Drink More Water. When your body is properly hydrated, your oral health will benefit. A crucial component of your oral health is efficient saliva production, since this liquid wonder rinses leftover food particles off of your teeth. Because water is a building block of saliva production, you can see why doubling down will help keep your oral health in top shape.
  4. Visit Your Dentist Every 6 Months. It’s true, we love when you visit us in our office, but that isn’t the only reason we’re always pushing for six-month check-ups! We use x-rays to make sure there isn’t trouble brewing under the surface of your teeth, and those professional cleanings are the only way to remove tartar. By the way, if you make it to your twice-yearly checkups, you have a much lower chance of developing an issue that will require more intense treatment, such as a root canal or filling.
  5. Whiten Your Smile. While whitening your teeth is a cosmetic procedure, it can give you a tremendous boost of self-esteem. When your teeth are a dazzling shade of white, you won’t be able to stop smiling, and what a way to start the year! Learn more about our whitening services.
  6. Smile More! Did you know laughing actually helps burn extra calories? There are many benefits to laughing and smiling more, but the greatest one is how they boost positive feelings in yourself and others. So make it a point to smile more often and spread positivity in your daily life.

Happy New Year from all of us at Alrez Family Dentistry!


Can Pool Water Harm Your Teeth?

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Kids having fun playing underwater in swimming pool on summer vacationSwimming is a wonderful summer activity. It gives the whole family a chance to spend time together in the great outdoors, having fun while getting some exercise, too! Now that summer is winding down, many of us will be giving the swimming pool a final farewell with a long, fun-filled day in the water.

We’re lucky that pools are chlorinated. If they weren’t, swimming pools would be pretty gross! Chlorine helps keep our family safe from the germs that can make us sick. However, chlorine isn’t harmless, particularly to our teeth.

Dental Issues With Chorine Exposure

Chorine works by making the water acidic, which kills germs. However, exposure to acidic substances can also be harmful to your pearly whites. Acids tend to reduce our saliva production, and believe it or not, saliva is essential to your oral health! By rinsing off your teeth and neutralizing acids, saliva protects your enamel and prevents germs from hanging around.

Reduced saliva production will leave you vulnerable to issues like:

  1. Decay and Gum Disease: When your saliva production is reduced, germs have greater opportunity to multiply, since they aren’t being rinsed away efficiently.
  2. Tooth Sensitivity: The acid in the pool water can weaken the nerves in your gums, resulting in sensitivity to hot and cold foods. Since saliva helps to neutralize acids, it’s one of the factors helping prevent this.
  3. Stained Teeth: Since saliva isn’t there to wash stain-causing substances from your teeth, they stick on your teeth for longer periods of time, increasing the likelihood that they will cause staining. (Check out our past blog post on how to avoid tooth staining!)

Does This Mean I Should Stop Swimming?

Absolutely not! There’s no need to give up your favorite summer pastime, as long as you follow these tips and encourage your family to do the same:

  • Bring a toothbrush with you to the pool, and give your pearly whites a nice brush as soon as you finish your swim.
  • Stay hydrated, which you should be doing anyway, especially when exerting yourself in the summer sun. The more water you drink, the better your salivary glands will function.
  • When you’re underwater, keep your mouth shut! Also, make sure your children know not to drink pool water.

We hope you enjoy these last few weeks of summer with your family!


How to Prevent Tooth Stains

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Red wine on a black background If you love to drink coffee, tea, wine, or cola, you may have noticed that there’s a negative to these tasty drinks–they can stain your teeth.

Even though these stains are medically harmless, many people find them unattractive. Choosing between your morning coffee and non-yellow teeth sounds like a huge bummer but don’t worry, it’s not necessary.

All you need to do is employ some simple tricks and you can enjoy your favorite foods and beverages while keeping your pearly whites pearly and white!

Beverages and Foods that Can Cause Tooth Staining

A good rule of thumb is that if a food stains your hands or t-shirt, there’s a good chance it will do the same to your teeth. Some common foods that cause staining are:

  • Tomato sauce
  • Blueberries
  • Beets
  • Soy sauce
  • Dark beverages like tea, coffee, cola, red wine, grape juice, and cranberry juice

After looking over a list of foods that yellow your teeth, it may be comforting to know that there are yummy foods out there that have the opposite effect! Check out this recent post for more information about foods that whiten teeth.

Five Methods for Cutting Down on Staining

You can still enjoy the foods and drinks you love, without resolving yourself to a life of yellow teeth. Putting these tips to use can go a long way toward reducing the staining effects.

  1. Throw in Sips of Water: Each time you take a sip of wine, coffee, tea, cola, or juice, take a sip of water. This helps to rinse your teeth between sips. Plus, this can counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol and coffee.
  2. Keep Your Mouth Clean:  In addition to removing the substance that causes staining, keeping your mouth clean with twice daily brushing and daily flossing removes plaque. This substance creates a sticky surface for the stain-causing foods and drinks to grab on to. Brushing again after eating a stain-causing food is a good idea, however, you should wait 30 minutes. Since most of these foods are acidic, your mouth needs time to return to its normal PH balance. Brushing while the PH in your mouth is acidic can cause damage.
  3. Use a Straw: This can prevent the stain-causing beverage from ever touching your teeth.
  4. Make it to Your Dentist’s Office Twice a Year: As plaque sits on your teeth, it eventually hardens into tartar. This substance makes your teeth yellow and dull, and it can only be removed during a professional cleaning.
  5. Avoid Smoking: In case you needed another reason to quit smoking, using tobacco products seriously yellows your teeth.

What If It’s Too Late?

These tips will help prevent staining, but they won’t remove tooth stains you already have. Fortunately, professional whitening treatments can! Click here to learn more about the whitening services we have available.


April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

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April Flowers

April showers…bring oral cancer screenings

If you follow us on Instagram, you know that we recently got a head start on our spring gardening! In addition to being the start of spring, April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month.

Close to 50,000 people in the United States will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer this year, with 132 new cases coming to light every day.

While smoking and drinking are major risk factors, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation,  Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a growing contributor, especially among young, otherwise healthy patients.

HPV is the same virus that causes the majority of cervical cancers. If you or your child is between the ages of 9-26, it’s a good idea to ask your doctor about getting vaccinated.

While getting your vaccine and avoiding alcohol and tobacco are important, the best way to prevent oral cancer is regular screening. We remind all of our patients to get screened regularly, as early diagnoses is the best way to stop cancer in its tracks before it becomes a problem.

Oral Cancer Awareness Month

We are reminding people in the office to get their oral cancer exam!


Manual vs. Electric Toothbrush: Which is the Best Choice?

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The modern dental patient has more choices than they did 15 years ago. Braces or Invisalign? At-home or in-office whitening treatment? And, finally, electric or manual toothbrush? With so many options to choose from, it can be challenging for the health-conscious individual to know the best choice for their smile.

Keep reading to find out the differences between using an electric or manual brush.

Electric Toothbrush


Pros

Easier to Use: Simply hold the brush at a 45-degree angle against your gums and let it do the work. This makes it an especially beneficial option for those who suffer from arthritis or other dexterity problems.

May Remove More Plaque: During 2014 a study of 56 subjects, electric brushes were found to remove 21% more plaque than manual brushes. After 3 months, they were found to reduce gingivitis by 11% more than manual brushes.

At Alrez Family Dentistry, the Rotadent electric toothbrush is available for purchase. This brush can only be purchased at a professional dentist’s office. In the video below, you can view a demonstration that shows just how effective the Rotadent brush is at removing plaque.

Cons

Expensive: These may range in price from $20-$200. Electric models are a great deal more expensive than their manual counterparts.

Fragile: Don’t drop your brush on the floor! It likely won’t be able to survive a fall. And considering the point above, a broken brush is definitely a bummer.

Clunky: Not only are electric brushes larger and heavier than manual ones, they also have accessories that can take up space. Whether you have to keep batteries on hand or plug it into a wall charger, this gadget takes up more real estate on the bathroom counter when compared with the old-fashioned brush.

Manual Toothbrush


Pros

toothbrushesInexpensive: In your local drugstore or supermarket, you can buy a new toothbrush for as little as 99 cents.

Portable: With little to no accessories required, manual brushes stow away easily in your medicine cabinet, and they’re great for traveling. Simply put your brush in a plastic baggie or case, and you’re good to go.

Get the Same Results With Proper Brushing Technique: With diligence and some patience, you really can have the same result with a manual brush as with an electric one.

Cons

Requires More Effort to Use Properly: Whereas with an electric toothbrush, you simply let the brush do the work, the power comes from within with manual brushes! To get a proper clean, you need to hold your brush at a 45 degree angle and move in circular motions. Then, you need to brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth at a dead-on angle. For the backs of your pearly whites, use back and forth vertical strokes.

No Built-In Timer: Most electric brushes come with a timer that helps you brush sufficiently. With a manual brush, you have to rely on your own internal timer.

Selecting the Best Brush Can be Tricky: Since you generate the power to clean your teeth with a manual brush, it is essential that you select a brush that is easy for your particular wrist, hand, and mouth. When faced with the enormous wall of choices at the drug store, this can be an overwhelming decision.

So Which One’s Best? It’s Up to You to Decide

Electric toothbrushes are great. They’re highly effective at cleaning teeth with very little effort. However, the truth is that with proper technique and a little bit more elbow grease, manual toothbrushes can be equally effective. There are pros and cons to both brushes, and it’s up to individual patients to choose which one best fits into their lifestyle. At Alrez Family Dentistry, our office recommendation is the Rodadent electric bush.


Just Stop Grinding Your Teeth

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Many patients have been coming into the office complaining that they have problems with teeth grinding. it has inspired us to re-visit an article Dr. Alrez wrote a while back for a local magazine.

If you grind your teeth regularly, you could be at risk of jaw disorders, headaches, broken teeth, and more. The problem is that a lot of teeth grinding happens during sleep, when you aren’t in control. We often recommend teeth grinding night guards to our patients, which are comfortable and safe to sleep in. Plus, they will help to stop you from grinding your teeth in your sleep.

Read the full article below for more information & feel free to contact us with any questions you might have about teeth grinding.

Stop Teeth Grinding


Maximize Your Dental Benefits

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dental-benefitsAt Alrez Family Dentistry, we want to make sure you get the most out of your dental benefits so you get the best treatment possible. In order for you take advantage of all unused benefits, we’ve come up with 5 reasons you should maximize your dental benefits.

  1. Yearly Maximum

Your dental insurance company allots you a yearly maximum to pay for all of your dental work within the year.  If you have unused benefits at the end of the year, they will not rollover. Be sure to use all of your benefits while you can.

2. Deductible

The deductible is the amount of money you must pay out of pocket before your insurance company will begin paying for your dental work. When your plan rolls over, your deductible starts again. It may not pay off to push back dental procedures.

3. Premiums

Even if you don’t need dental treatment, you should still schedule regular cleanings to use your benefits. You’re already paying your premium each month and these cleanings can prevent gum disease , cavities, and oral cancer.

4. Dental Health

If you delay dental treatment, your problems could worsen. By putting off your trip to the dentist, you could be risking more expensive and extensive procedures.

5. Flexible Spending

If you don’t use your flexible spending balance by the end of the year, that money is gone. Don’t let it go to waste while you’re in need of dental treatment or cleaning.

 

Request your appointment online today, or contact us with any questions.