For many people, yellow teeth are problematic and cause unwanted attention. As we age, our teeth darken naturally. However, surface stains from the foods we eat and tobacco use can cause the teeth to darken even further resulting in varying shades of grey and yellow. There are many ways to whiten the teeth. You may have seen whitening strips available at the pharmacy. Most over-the-counter whitening products are deemed safe by Health Canada — but that doesn’t mean they won’t harm your mouth or work at all.

What are whitening strips made of?

The over-the-counter whitening strips you get at the drugstore are made of synthetic plastic known as polyethylene. This is the same material used in plastic bags, food containers and packaging. The plastic is cut into small flexible strips that are coated with a gel rich in hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. The peroxides are the whitening agents in the strips. The strips also contain water, glycerin, carbomer, an adhesive polymer known as PVP, a thickening agent called acrylates copolymer, sodium saccharin for taste, pyrophosphate for stain shielding, and sodium hydroxide to keep the pH in the strips neutral. The chemicals used in over-the-counter whitening strips are safe in small doses but they don’t always come together and work when they are in limited amounts.

How do whitening strips work?

Each strip is coated in the mixture of chemicals noted above. You place one strip over your top teeth and the other over the bottom teeth. The mixture on the strips seeps into the teeth to lighten them. You generally leave the strips on for a set period of time. Each brand has a different time so consult the instructions that come with the whiteners. Most over-the-counter whitening kits contain enough strips for you to use them twice daily for approximately two weeks. Be wary of products that claim they can whiten the teeth immediately or within a few hours. These products usually do not work and do more damage to your teeth than good.

The Impact of Whitening Strips on Your Teeth?

If you use whitening strips correctly and sparingly, your teeth will be fine. However, If you misuse over-the-counter whiteners, your teeth and gums could become impacted.

Teeth: Your teeth can become sensitive to cold or heat after using whitening strips. However, if you have cavities while using whitening strips, they could become aggravated and get worse.

Gums: The chemicals used in the whitening strips are safe – but if you overdo it and use the strips more than directed, your gums can be impacted. The strips aren’t designed to fit your mouth alone, they are designed to fit every mouth. These one-size-fits-all strips can be too big for your mouth and sit over the gums causing them to become inflamed.

Spots: Over-the-counter strips feature a one dimensional design, yet our teeth are three dimensional. This means the strips aren’t able to penetrate the curves and spaces that are found at the edges of our teeth. Instead of a uniform whiteness across teeth, you get a white spot in the middle of the each tooth while the edges of the teeth remain yellow. The spots at the centre of each tooth will greatly contrast with the yellow edges, making them (the edges) stand out.

What is the ideal way to whiten teeth?

The ideal way to whiten your teeth is to visit your dentist for a comprehensive whitening procedure. If you must use whitening strips, check with your dentist beforehand. They can recommend a brand that they trust. You should also be prepared to see limited results with over-the-counter whitening strips. They can work but they don’t always.

For more information about our teeth whitening procedures, please contact Dawson Dental. Pearly whites are in your future!

Accidents happen. Your child could be playing on the monkeybars one minute and chip a tooth the next. No matter how much you look after your child, they are going to get hurt. Bumps and scrapes are a normal part of growing up and unfortunately, so are chipped teeth. What do you do if your toddler chips a tooth?

Stay calm

As a parent, it’s important that you set a good example for your child. They will probably be scared because they don’t understand what it means to chip a tooth. Remain calm and gently explain to your child that they are going to be okay. A chipped tooth is only dangerous if left untreated and your child needs to know that it can be fixed.

Call your dentist

Once your child has calmed down, place a call to their pediatric dentist. This is considered a dental emergency and the dentist should be able to see you and your child that day or the next. If your child is too young to have visited a pediatric dentist before, you can call your own dentist who will be able to refer you to someone who treats kids. Your dentist may also be able to treat your child if they have pediatric dentistry training.

Find the fragments

If you can find the tooth fragments that broke off from the chip, collect them so you can bring them to the dentist. A clean chip may result in a single fragment that is easy to find. However, with severe chips you may not be able to find the fragments. Or, if your toddler has chipped his/her tooth in a public place finding the fragment may be impossible. If you cannot find the fragments, don’t panic. If you can find them, keep the fragments in a safe place like a ziploc bag or pill bottle so that you can easily bring it to the dentist.

Chipped tooth don’ts

  • Don’t try and glue the fragments back onto the tooth. This is dangerous and can result in infections and upset stomach from your child accidentally ingesting the glue.
  • Don’t use mouthwash to rinse your child’s mouth after they have chipped a tooth. Use only lukewarm water. Water that is too hot or too cold can hurt your toddler’s mouth.
  • Don’t clean the chip or try to sand it down. Leave the chip alone, no matter how jagged it is. The dentist will take care of it.
  • Don’t panic if you can’t get a dental appointment right away. Although, a chipped toddler tooth is a dental emergency, your child will still be fine if you can only get a dentist appointment the day after the chip occurs.
  • Don’t serve your child solid foods until the chipped tooth is repaired. Chewing on hard foods, even if your toddler has graduated to solids, puts more strain on the chip and could make it worse.
  • Don’t get mad at your child for running his/her tongue over the chipped tooth. You can tell your child not to run his/her tongue over the chip so as not to cut their tongue, but it probably won’t do any good. Children are curious by nature and even if they don’t like the weird feeling associated with running their tongue over the chip, they’re going to do it anyway.
  • Don’t use a hot compress to treat swelling. Instead, put a cold compress over your child’s face to reduce swelling. Chipped teeth don’t always lead to mouth swelling so use your discretion if you feel that the cold compress is necessary.

Can chipped teeth be prevented?

Your toddler’s oral health is important. Keeping your child’s mouth healthy is easy if you know what to do. Because your toddler hasn’t had their baby teeth fall out yet, instilling a daily brushing routine is a great way to help prevent chips. Make brushing fun so that your child actually wants to do it. Use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and show your toddler exactly how they should be moving the toothbrush in their mouth. You can also monitor what your child is putting in their mouth. Toddler’s will put whatever’s in front of them in their mouths so make sure their toys aren’t comprised of hard edges that could chip their teeth.

However, you can’t prevent the stumbles your toddler will take as they learn to walk. These stumbles can result in chipped teeth. As long as you stay calm and keep your child calm, everything will be fine.

At Dawson Dental, we offer pediatric dentistry. If your child has chipped a tooth, contact us right away. We’ll repair the damage so you and your toddler can rest easy.

Loose teeth in children are a positive occurrence because it means their mouths are growing properly. In adults, loose teeth are a negative occurrence. As adults, we hope that our teeth never become loose – but if they do, there are things you can do to keep your oral health from deteriorating even further.

What happens to make our teeth loose?

Tooth loss during adulthood can be caused by gum disease, trauma and a number of other issues.

  1. Periodontal disease: This is a gum disease that causes excess bacteria to grow in the mouth around the gum line and tooth socket. This bacteria, in the form of plaque and tartar, leads to infections that weaken the teeth leaving them loose.
  2. Osteoporosis:This disease causes the bones to weaken and lose their density. With a lack of bone support, the teeth can become loose.
  3. Pregnancy: The influx of hormones that take over the body during pregnancy can lead to loose teeth. This usually clears up after childbirth when the hormones return to their normal levels.
  4. Occlusal trauma:There are two types of occlusal trauma: primary and secondary. Primary occlusal trauma occurs when your teeth experience a prolonged excessive force from biting that is beyond what they can tolerate. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching are usually the culprits behind primary occlusal trauma. On the other hand, secondary occlusal trauma is the result of the teeth being unable to handle the stress of biting even though they are within the normal range (re: your teeth are aligned properly) due to gum tissue detachment and degraded bone support.
  5. Injury: Injury to the head or jaw caused by playing contact sports or a fall, can lead to loose teeth. When we are hit in the mouth, head or jaw, our teeth can get knocked out of place. Even the slightest impact can lead to loose teeth.

How are loose teeth treated?

The moment you notice that your teeth have become loose, it’s time to make a dentist appointment. With a comprehensive dental examination, your dentist will be able to notice if there is bone loss, periodontal disease or instances of trauma caused by an injury or teeth grinding.

There are different treatments available for loose teeth. The severity of the tooth (or teeth) will determine which treatment you need.

  1. Splinting: A small flexible splint is placed around the loose tooth to keep it from moving. Your dentist will attach the splint to your teeth with dental cement. The splint remains in place for about two weeks or until the ligaments and tissues have healed and the tooth is immobile.
  2. Mouthguard:A mouthguard is a dental appliance worn at night to curb teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Your dentist will take a mold of your mouth to create the guard so that it fits perfectly. Mouthguards are usually made of breathable thermoplastics and are available at your local drug store. However, the over-the-counter mouthguards are less effective than one that your dentist has created specifically to fit the contours of your mouth. When loose teeth are involved, avoid using an over-the-counter guard.
  3. Deep cleaning: Loose teeth due to gum disease can be treated with deep cleaning. Your dentist will use a technique called scaling and root planing. This involves removing the plaque and bacteria from the exposed surfaces of the tooth’s roots. Once the debris is removed, the surfaces are smoothed. You may require several deep cleaning treatments to stop your teeth from being loose. Usually, antibiotics are coupled with deep cleaning treatments to fight infection. Your dentist can also fill the periodontal pockets (the area around the tooth where the bacteria lives) can also be filled with medication to reduce their size.
  4. Extraction: In severe cases, a loose tooth will need to be extracted. Your dentist will use sophisticated extraction techniques to ensure that the gums and surrounding teeth are not affected. Extracted teeth are replaced with dental implants that look exactly like real teeth.

What to do in the meantime

While you wait for your dental appointment, it’s important that you take care of your loose tooth. Eat soft foods so as to not aggravate the tooth with excessive chewing and mouth movements. Stay away from sticky foods and foods that are crunchy that can get stuck between your teeth. You should also keep up with your regular oral hygiene routine and brush and floss as you normally would. But, be careful flossing around the loose tooth and rinse your mouth gently to clear away bacteria and food particles after every meal. Finally, do not try and move the loose tooth with your finger or tongue. This will increase the risk of infection, lead to bleeding and the root or piece of the tooth breaking off into the socket.

If you’ve noticed that one or more of your teeth have come loose, contact Dawson Dental immediately. Loose teeth can lead to dangerous oral health problems.

When you’re younger, loose teeth mean a future visit from the tooth fairy. When you’re an adult, it means future oral health problems.

Should teeth have any mobility?

Teeth should have some minor mobility – otherwise oral appliances like braces or Invisalign wouldn’t be able to do their job. These devices slowly shift the teeth into their proper place, so some mobility from your teeth is required. However, when your teeth have so much mobility that they feel loose as they did when you were a child about to shed your baby teeth, this is a huge issue. Teeth mobility during adulthood is usually a sign of underlying health problems and should be treated right away before tooth loss occurs.

What causes tooth mobility?

Tooth mobility comes in many forms and each can lead to severe consequences for your overall health.

  1. Periodontal disease:

    This is a disease that starts in the gums but will eventually migrate to the teeth. When you have periodontal disease, bacterial plaque forms around the gum line and on the teeth before it hardens into tartar. This tartar allows for more plaque to form on top of it leading to inflamed gum tissue. When our gums are inflamed, they will become sensitive and possibly recede. The bones and connective tissue that keep our teeth in place become damaged – which, in some cases, can cause tooth loss. Periodontal disease is one of the most common causes of loose teeth in adults.

  2. Hormones caused by pregnancy:

    During pregnancy, the hormones estrogen and progesterone are so high in your body that it can cause the ligaments and bones around the teeth to loosen. When the bones and ligaments that surround the teeth become loose, our teeth follow suit. Generally, this corrects itself after you give birth and your hormones level off. But, it’s always best to consult your dentist if you notice that your teeth are extremely mobile during your pregnancy.

  3. Osteoporosis:

    This disease affects the bones by making them less dense. When our bones lose their density, they are more prone to fractures and can lead to loose teeth. Moreover, women with osteoporosis are more likely to experience tooth loss than their male counterparts. Also, certain osteoporosis medications can interfere with regular dental treatments causing a condition called osteonecrosis that can make the teeth move.

  4. Injury:

    A traumatic blow to the jaw or head can turn your teeth loose. When we are hit with extreme force, our teeth can shift from their sockets making them mobile. Many athletes who play contact sports like hockey or football experience teeth mobility due to the head injuries they receive during play. Even though they wear helmets and mouthguards, they are still susceptible to tooth movement.

  5. Teeth grinding:

    If you grind your teeth nightly or clench your jaws, you can experience loose teeth. The ligaments that hold your teeth in their sockets can stretch, leaving your teeth loose. You can wear a mouthguard at night to help with the grinding.

Do loose teeth lead to eventual tooth loss?

Unfortunately, loose teeth will lead to tooth loss if you do not take care of your oral health. At the first sign of tooth mobility you should visit your dentist because losing a tooth as an adult is very different from when you lose one as a kid.

What happens when you lose a tooth as an adult?

When you’re younger and lose a baby tooth, a new adult tooth grows in. Unfortunately, when you lose a tooth during adulthood, your body does not automatically scramble to replace it with a fresh new tooth. Instead, you will need dental implants.

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are artificial replacements for missing teeth. They can replace the root or part of the tooth, or the whole tooth. Implants are made of small metal posts that fuse with bone in a process called osseointegration. This process is completely safe and the metal used is biocompatible which means it causes no harm to the body. After osseointegration has taken place, a replacement tooth is fitted to your mouth. Dental implants look like real teeth and last a lifetime if you take care of them with regular brushing.

What happens if you don’t replace missing teeth?

If you don’t replace missing teeth you will not be able to chew or speak properly. You will also experience the loss of bone and lip support. Plus, the adjacent teeth will drift into the empty spaces leaving you with tooth decay.

Tooth mobility is never a good sign. With regular brushing and flossing, you can keep your teeth in good shape. However, if you notice that your tooth or several teeth feel loose, please contact Dawson Dental. If left untreated, a loose tooth (or teeth) can lead to severe oral health issues.