Lansing's Dental Discussion

Posts for: January, 2017

By Holly Scott-Hetchler DDS
January 30, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral hygiene  

Charcoal toothpaste is being touted as the latest tooth whitening alternative, but does it really make a difference? Dr. Holly Scott-oral healthHetchler, your Lansing, MI, dentist, answers a few questions about the effectiveness and safety of the toothpaste.

What is activated charcoal?

Activated charcoal may look like the stuff you use for backyard barbecues, but it's not quite the same. It's created when wood, peat, coal or petroleum charcoal is heated at high temperatures to prevent toxins from being absorbed by your body. Activated charcoal toothpaste is available in health food stores and online. Some people prefer to skip the paste and just sprinkle a little activated charcoal powder on their toothbrushes.

Why are people using charcoal toothpaste to brush their teeth?

Activated charcoal offers a natural way to whiten teeth. Stains are removed when the charcoal binds with surface stains on your teeth caused by plaque, coffee, tea and other foods and beverages. If discolorations aren't caused by surface stains, the powder or toothpaste will have no effect.

Is activated charcoal safe and effective?

Charcoal toothpaste can improve the appearance of your teeth somewhat because of its ability to remove surface stains, but the improvement in your smile may come at a price. The charcoal may irritate your teeth and gums, plus there are also concerns that it might erode your enamel. Once the enamel is worn down, your teeth will actually look yellower because the underlying dentin layer has been exposed. Reduce your risk of enamel erosion by using the toothpaste no more than once per week.

Because activated charcoal hasn't undergone testing by the American Dental Association yet, we don't have any information about possible long-term effects. If you want a whiter smile but don't want to risk damaging your teeth, professional teeth whitening is a better option. Your Lansing dentist uses strong, yet safe, whitening agents that produce impressive results without harming your enamel. In fact, most people experience a three to eight shade difference after whitening. Professional whitening can be done at your dentist's office, or you can use custom-made whitening trays at home if you prefer.

Your dentist can help you decide if charcoal toothpaste or other whitening options are the better choice for you. Call Dr. Scott-Hetchler, your Lansing, MI, dentist, at (517) 487-6333 to schedule your appointment.


By Holly Scott-Hetchler DDS
January 30, 2017
Category: Oral Health
AnyTimeAnyPlaceCamNewtonsGuidetoFlossing

When is the best time to floss your teeth: Morning? Bedtime? How about: whenever and wherever the moment feels right?

For Cam Newton, award-winning NFL quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, the answer is clearly the latter. During the third quarter of the 2016 season-opener between his team and the Denver Broncos, TV cameras focused on Newton as he sat on the bench. The 2015 MVP was clearly seen stretching a string of dental floss between his index fingers and taking care of some dental hygiene business… and thereby creating a minor storm on the internet.

Inappropriate? We don't think so. As dentists, we're always happy when someone comes along to remind people how important it is to floss. And when that person has a million-dollar smile like Cam Newton's — so much the better.

Of course, there has been a lot of discussion lately about flossing. News outlets have gleefully reported that there's a lack of hard evidence at present to show that flossing is effective. But we would like to point out that, as the saying goes, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” There are a number of reasons why health care organizations like the American Dental Association (ADA) still firmly recommend daily flossing. Here are a few:

  • It's well established that when plaque is allowed to build up on teeth, tooth decay and gum disease are bound to follow.
  • A tooth brush does a good job of cleaning most tooth surfaces, but it can't reach into spaces between teeth.
  • Cleaning between teeth (interdental cleaning) has been shown to remove plaque and food debris from these hard-to-reach spaces.
  • Dental floss isn't the only method for interdental cleaning… but it is recognized by dentists as the best way, and is an excellent method for doing this at home — or anywhere else!

Whether you use dental floss or another type of interdental cleaner is up to you. But the ADA stands by its recommendations for maintaining good oral health: Brush twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste; visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups; and clean between teeth once a day with an interdental cleaner like floss. It doesn't matter if you do it in your own home, or on the sidelines of an NFL game… as long as you do it!

If you would like more information about flossing and oral hygiene, contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.


By Holly Scott-Hetchler DDS
January 22, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: crowns  
ThreeThingstoKnowAboutCrownsBeforeYourRestoration

Today’s crowns, the visible part of a tooth replacement system, can effectively mimic the shape and color of natural teeth. But not all crowns are equal — so it’s best to be well-informed before you undergo a restoration on your natural teeth such as a single crown or bridgework — or if you need a crown on a dental implant that replaces a missing tooth.

To give you a starting point, here are 3 things to keep in mind about crowns as you consider a dental restoration.

Material composition. Most crowns in years past were made of a precious metal, most notably gold. What it lacked in appearance, it made up for in performance and durability. In recent years, dental porcelain has become the popular choice because of its ability to mimic the appearance and translucent color of natural teeth. Today’s porcelains are much stronger and are used more frequently for back teeth than in years past. A common recommendation for back teeth is a hybrid crown using metal and porcelain. Metal is incorporated beneath the porcelain in this type of crown to create a strong foundation and is also used along biting surfaces for strength. Porcelain is used in the more visible areas for esthetics.

The dental technician’s level of artistry. Most dentists sub-contract crown fabrication to dental laboratory technicians who may have varying levels of experience and artistic ability. A highly skilled technician can produce a crown that blends seamlessly with the patient’s remaining natural teeth.

Take a “test drive” of your future smile. Although we as dentists adhere to certain aesthetic principles, beauty is ultimately subjective — “in the eye of the beholder.” The final product must meet your expectations and level of comfort. If available, then, consider wearing temporary “trial smile” crowns as a preview of your new smile while your permanent set is under construction. This allows you to “try out” your future smile ahead of time, so you can make recommendations and sign off on the final set before it’s finished.

Undertaking any dental restoration is an important life step, both for your health and appearance. Being well-informed — especially about the crowns that you and others will see — will help you make wise choices that lead to a satisfying outcome.

If you would like more information on crowns, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.


By Holly Scott-Hetchler DDS
January 07, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: celebrity smiles   veneers  
VivicasVeneerstheMakingofaHollywoodSmile

What's an actor's most important feature? According to Vivica A. Fox, whose most recent big-screen role was in Independence Day: Resurgence, it's what you see right up front.

"On screen, your smile and your eyes are the most inviting things that bring the audience in" she said. "Especially if you play the hot chick."

But like lots of people, Vivica reached a point where she felt her smile needed a little help in order to look its best. That's when she turned to a popular cosmetic dental treatment.

"I got veneers years ago," Ms. Fox told Dear Doctor magazine in a recent interview, "just because I had some gapping that probably only I noticed."

What exactly are dental veneers? Essentially, they are thin shells of lustrous porcelain that are permanently attached to the front surfaces of the teeth. Tough, lifelike and stain-resistant, they can cover up a number of defects in your smile — including stains, chips, cracks, and even minor spacing irregularities like the ones Vivica had.

Veneers have become the treatment of choice for Hollywood celebs — and lots of regular folks too — for many reasons. Unlike some treatments that can take many months, it takes just a few appointments to have veneers placed on your teeth. Because they are custom made just for you, they allow you to decide how bright you want your smile to be: anywhere from a natural pearly hue to a brilliant "Hollywood white." Best of all, they are easy to maintain, and can last for many years with only routine care.

To place traditional veneers, it's necessary to prepare the tooth by removing a small amount (a millimeter or two) of its enamel surface. This keeps it from feeling too big — but it also means the treatment can't be reversed, so once you get veneers, you'll always have them. In certain situations, "no-prep" or minimal-prep veneers, which require little or no removal of tooth enamel, may be an option for some people.

Veneers aren't the only way to create a better smile: Teeth whitening, crowns or orthodontic work may also be an alternative. But for many, veneers are the preferred option. What does Vivica think of hers?

"I love my veneers!" she declared, noting that they have held up well for over a decade.

For more information about veneers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.




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