What is Xylitol? Ask a General Dentist in Apex NC

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We all know about the negative health effects of sugar, especially when it comes to teeth. Fortunately, artificial sweeteners don’t have the same effect on teeth as sugar, and can help you have a much healthier smile. One artificial sweetener, xylitol, even has positive effects on teeth. Here’s everything you need to know about Xylitol from a dentist in Apex, NC.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is categorized as a sugar alcohol. That means that it combines traits of sugar molecules and alcohol molecules to create a structure very similar to that of sugar. However, Xylitol has much fewer calories, doesn’t raise blood sugar levels, and actually kills the harms the bacteria that live on your teeth and cause tooth decay.

Is Xylitol Natural?

Despite the pharmaceutical-sounding name, Xylitol is found in many fruits and vegetables, and is even produced in small amounts by the human metabolism. It can also be processed from trees like birch, or from a plant fiber called xylan. For these reasons, most health professionals consider it to be a safe, natural substance.

How Xylitol Helps Your Teeth

Xylitol functions a lot like a “mousetrap” for the bacteria that live on your teeth. Normally, these bacteria ingest sugar and carbohydrates and convert them into acid, which destroys the tooth enamel. After the bacteria ingest xylitol, however, they are no longer able to absorb glucose. With their energy-producing pathway clogged up, they end up starving to death. That’s why many dentists recommend using xylitol-sweetened chewing gum: it’s one of very few things that can actually kill harmful tooth bacteria.

Why Xylitol is Toxic to Dogs

If you buy gum or candy that contains Xylitol, it is very important to keep it away from any dogs in your house. When a dog eats xylitol, its body mistakes it for glucose and starts producing large amounts of insulin. Then, the dog’s cells start absorbing glucose from the bloodstream, which can lead to hypoglycemia, low blood sugar, and even death. Xylitol may also have detrimental effects on liver function in dogs, with high doses causing liver failure.

It only takes 0.1 grams per kg of body weight for a dog to be affected. To put that in perspective, a 6 pound Chihuahua could get sick or die from eating a single piece of xylitol chewing gum.

Need a General Dentist in Apex NC? Call Hansen Dentistry

If you are in need of a dental cleaning, oral surgery or other dental service, be sure to contact our general dentist in Apex NC. At Hansen Dentistry, we will do our best to make you feel relaxed and at home while receiving expert dental care. To schedule an appointment, click here.

Apex Dentist Recommends NOT Using Activated Charcoal Toothpaste

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The last time you were browsing Pinterest or Instagram, you might have seen an ad for one of the hippest new health trends: Activated charcoal toothpaste. Made from coal, wood, and other substances, activated charcoal has started popping up as a miracle cure in everything from soap to lotion. But this stuff should never come into contact with your teeth—and here’s why from Dr. Hansen, our Apex NC dentist.

What is activated charcoal?

Activated charcoal is made primarily from coal and wood, but can also contain other burned things, like coconut shells and bones. It becomes “activated” when high temperatures combine with a gas or activating agent to expand its surface area. Traditionally, charcoal has been used to treat poisoning and drug overdoses, as far back as ancient times. When a person ingests activated charcoal, drugs and toxins bind to it, keeping them from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Many people believe that it absorbs other “toxins”, too. 

Why shouldn’t charcoal be used on teeth?

There has been very little evidence of charcoal toothpaste’s safety and effectiveness. In September 2017, the American Dental Association (ADA) published a peer-reviewed scientific literature review stating that researchers found little evidence that charcoal reduces bacteria, prevents cavities, or even reduces tooth stains. Researchers even pointed out some possible carcinogenic ingredients in charcoal and in clay that are found in some of these toothpastes that could be damaging to human health.

What we do know about charcoal toothpaste

While more research might contradict previous studies’ findings, there is something we do know about activated charcoal: it’s extremely abrasive on teeth. That means it can easily damage your enamel, exposing the sensitive dentin beneath. Since dentin is naturally yellow, this means that charcoal toothpaste won’t make your teeth appear white; on the contrary, it will make them look more stained. And once your enamel isn’t protecting your teeth anymore, your cosmetic appearance will be the least of your problems—anything hot, cold, hard, or acidic will be extremely painful! 

Get the best solution for teeth whitening with our Apex cosmetic dentist

If you want to have whiter teeth, the most effective, safe and long-lasting whitening method is using custom whitening trays made by a dentist, or some other professional whitening method. If you use charcoal toothpaste, you might as well brush your teeth with sand—so be sure to book an appointment with our Apex dentist today.

Signs You Are Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard – Ask a Dentist in Apex

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Many people believe that plaque is hard to remove, and brush their teeth as hard as they can. However, this can erode your enamel and damage your gum line over time. Here are some signs that you are being too rough on your teeth when you brush.

A Frayed Toothbrush

If your toothbrush looks flat and damaged, with bristles that are split or frayed out, you are probably brushing too vigorously. You can minimize the damage by purchasing an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor that lights up or stops if you brush too hard. Some electric toothbrushes also come with a 2-minute timer so that you do not brush for too long.

Receding or Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums are usually a sign of gingivitis, caused by a lack of brushing, but bleeding and receding gums can indicate you are damaging your gum tissue from over-brushing. Gum recession exposes your teeth to infection and decay, so it’s not just a cosmetic issue, but something that needs to be fixed to preserve your overall health. If you suspect your gums are receding, run a finger over your teeth. If you can feel notches or gaps where your gumline used to be, schedule an appointment with a dentist.

Sensitive Teeth

When you over-brush, you wear down the hard enamel protecting your teeth, exposing the sensitive dentin beneath. The more enamel you lose, the more sensitive your teeth will be to hot, cold, and carbonated items, as well as brushing. To preserve the health of your enamel, brush gently, remineralize with fluoride, and avoid toothpastes containing abrasive substances like activated charcoal.

Dull or Yellow Teeth

Yellow teeth can be a result of staining from coffee, wine, and other acidic beverages, but it can also be caused when the white enamel erodes, exposing the naturally yellow dentin beneath. If  your teeth are sensitive and seem to have a yellow sheen, you may be brushing too hard or too often.

Protect Your Teeth – Schedule an Appointment with a Dentist in Apex

If you think you are experiencing one or more of the symptoms listed above, make sure to schedule an appointment with a dentist in Apex. At Hansen Dentistry, we will do our best to make you feel relaxed and at home while receiving expert dental care. To schedule an appointment, click here.

The Dangers of Cheap Veneers – Ask an Apex Cosmetic Dentist

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Dental veneers have soared in popularity in recent years as a fast, easy way to correct worn-out or discolored teeth. But with professional veneer treatments costing in the hundreds or thousands, many people opt for a cheap veneer alternative—and end up sincerely regretting their decision. Here’s why you should only get veneers from an experienced, licensed dentist.

Cheap Veneer Alternatives

There are two basic ways to get cheap veneers, both of which are very risky. The first is traveling to a foreign country and having dental work done there. Another common way is purchasing them from an online retailer and applying them at home. In both cases, good results aren’t guaranteed. It takes artistry and skill to make veneers that are the right thickness, length, and color, and what is promised may not always be delivered. Consider what Benjamin Franklin said: “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten!”

Risk 1: Too Much Enamel is Removed   

To apply veneers, the underlying tooth enamel must be filed down, much in the same way fingernails need to be buffed before artificial nails can be applied. Inexperienced or poorly skilled dentists might grind away too much enamel, preventing the veneers from fully adhering and eventually causing them to fall off. In addition, having over-filed enamel will make biting and chewing very uncomfortable, if not downright painful.

Risk 2: Not Enough Enamel is Removed

Problems can also arise when the dentist doesn’t grind away enough enamel. Since veneers are about as thick as a plastic credit card, they easily can make the teeth look and feel too bulky. Too much thickness can also impede your speech, making it difficult to pronounce words with “m” or “th” sounds. If the veneers extended too far past the natural tooth, they will crack very easily.

Risk 3: The Color Isn’t Right

Quality veneers should not be an opaque white, but translucent, so they reflect light like real teeth. Making veneers the right color and opacity requires some artistry on the part of the laboratory that mixes the porcelain. Overly white veneers can look extremely fake and garish, and can’t be replaced once they have adhered.

Veneers are Not Reversible

Veneers can be redone, and in fact will need to be redone every 10 or 20 years as they weaken or crack. However, since they adhere to your ground-down tooth enamel, they can’t simply be removed if done improperly. That’s why it’s crucial to visit a professional dentist to have veneers. Yes, it is more expensive, but there is nothing more expensive than a job done poorly—especially when it comes to your teeth.

Get Quality Veneers from an Apex Cosmetic Dentist

If you have cracked, chipped, or stained teeth, be sure to visit our Apex cosmetic dentist office for a consultation. It may be that you are qualified for veneers; or it may be the case that another dental solution will work better for you. To schedule an appointment with us, click here.

Busting 4 of the Most Common Tooth Brushing Myths – Apex Dentist

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Most of us learned how to brush our teeth in Kindergarten—so it’s no wonder we tend to get some things wrong. After all, we haven’t had a proper tooth brushing lesson since we were little kids! Coupled with the fact that tooth brushing best practices have changed over the years, and popular myths that exist about dental hygiene, it’s not surprising that so many people visit our office with cavities and caries, even though they brush every day. Here are some ways you may be brushing your teeth wrong.

Myth 1: After brushing your teeth, you should rinse out your mouth with water.

This is by far the most common tooth brushing mistake most people make. When we were kids, an emphasis was placed on spitting out the toothpaste in order to keep us from swallowing it. However, as an adult, you should keep the toothpaste residue on your teeth as long as possible. Toothpaste works by applying fluoride to your tooth’s surface, in order to raise the Ph of your mouth and remineralize the enamel. Rinsing it off with water minimizes its benefits.

Myth 2: After brushing your teeth, you should rinse your mouth with mouthwash.

Mouthwash should be used before you brush, not after. Unless it’s a fluoride mouthwash, you’ll be negating all the hard work you did by brushing, just as with water. Secondly, you’re also creating a more acidic environment in your mouth that wears your enamel down more quickly.

Myth 3: You should brush your teeth soon after eating.

Brushing your teeth after a meal does a lot of damage to your teeth. All the acid in your food is stuck in-between your teeth, and brushing rubs it around like sandpaper. Instead of brushing directly after eating, wait a few hours after eating so that the saliva in your mouth lowers the Ph. If you’re worried about having bad breath, chew a minty gum containing xylitol. The best time to brush your teeth is first thing in the morning, before you’ve eaten.

Myth 4: Since plaque is tough to get off, I need to brush forcefully.  

Brushing too hard can actually cause your gums to recede, and erode your enamel as well. Instead, brush your gums with light, gentle motions. Plaque is not stuck on hard to your teeth, and brushing lightly will remove it. If your toothbrush bristles have a smashed-down appearance, that’s a sign that you are brushing too hard.

Get a Dental Cleaning from a Qualified Apex Dentist

If it’s been a while since your last dental cleaning, be sure to stop in to Hansen Dentistry. Our Apex dentist office is a welcoming, family-friendly, judgement-free zone where we only care about one thing: helping you have the healthiest smile possible. To schedule an appointment, fill out our appointment form here.

Prehistoric Humans Had Better Teeth Than We Do – Here’s Why from an Apex Dentistry

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Our teeth are whiter, shinier, and straighter—but in terms of cavities and tooth decay, they’re not as healthy as the teeth of our ancestors, according to research published in scientific journal Nature Genetics. Learn more about this surprising discovery below.

From Carnivores to Omnivores

In order to learn more about prehistoric humans’ health and diet, an international team of researchers, led by a group at the Australian Center for Ancient DNA, extracted dental plaque from 34 prehistoric European skeletons. (Dental plaque is unique in that it is the only easily accessible source of preserved human bacteria.)

The researchers were able to trace the changes in oral bacteria from the last hunter-gatherers, through the Neolithic, medieval, Industrial Revolution, and modern eras. They found that, as humans switched from an all-meat diet to a diet high in grains and wheat, they developed more and more tooth decay. Their conclusion? While the advent of agriculture might have revolutionized our quality of living, but it wreaked havoc on our teeth.

Researchers also found that early hunter-gatherer groups had greater diversity of disease-associated bacteria. More bacterial diversity means that our ancestors’ mouths were more resilient to stresses and less likely to develop disease.

Bacteria and Tooth Decay

These finding make sense when you think about what causes tooth decay. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not sugar directly that makes teeth rot. It’s actually the bacteria that live on the teeth, who love to eat sugar and carbohydrates. Once they’ve eaten, the bacteria process the gluten into acid which destroys the teeth enamel. The more sugar and grains, the more acid and the more tooth issues.

How to Take Care of Your Teeth, Here and Now

These results are no doubt good news for advocates of the paleo diet—but really, any diet that is high in protein and vegetables will be good for your teeth, as well as the rest of your body. You can also take care of your teeth by chewing gum that contains xylitol; brushing your teeth regularly and correctly; and having regular dentist check-ups.

Need a dentist office in Apex NC? Call Hansen Dentistry

If you have sensitive, chipped, or stained teeth, be sure to visit our dentist office in Apex NC for a consultation. Our experienced dental team will make sure you have the healthiest smile possible. To schedule an appointment with us, click here.

What are Dental Veneers? Ask an Apex Cosmetic Dentist

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Have you ever wondered if dental veneers could help you achieve the smile you have always dreamed of?  It is important to find an Apex Dentist who can help you understand if you are a good candidate for dental veneers and answer all of your questions.  Here are a few to get you started!

What exactly is a veneer?

Veneers, also known as porcelain veneers or porcelain laminates, are super thin shells of ceramic porcelain which are bonded to the front of teeth.  The procedure is often considered “cosmetic” because there is typically little or no decay present.  The goal is to improve your smile!

Why choose a veneer?

Veneers are an excellent choice of dental treatment in many situations. They can often provide a conservative alternative to dental crowns.  This is because the thin shells only need to cover the tooth enough to change it’s color, size or shape, rather than to remove dental decay.
Veneers are can improve a smile in many different ways, such as
-repair teeth that were chipped and broken from an injury.
-filling gaps between front teeth
-masking a tooth that turned gray after a root-canal procedure.
-masking undesirable defects, such as teeth stained by tetracycline
-masking genetic dental defects, such as peg laterals
-masking discolored fillings in front teeth.
It is important to have an initial consultation with your dentist so that all of your questions can be answered.  It is very important for your Apex Dentist to understand all of your objectives.  Are you trying to close a gap or fix a chipped tooth, or both?  Do you want your veneers to match the current shade of your teeth or do you want to whiten your teeth first and then match your veneers to your new pearly whites?  It is critical that your dentist allows you to be an active participant in planning your new smile.

What happens during the procedure?

First your Apex Dentist will prepare the teeth for veneers by lightly buffing about a half of a millimeter of the outer enamel.  As a result you will likely recieve a local aesthetic. After the teeth are prepared your dentist will take an impression in order for the veneer to be fabricated.  If your dentist has the technology to do a digital impression through the use of CEREC technology, you will be able to receive your new veneers in one appointment. This is because as the veneers can be created in the dental office the same day that the teeth are prepared.  After the veneers are created, the teeth are cleaned with a solution that will allow them to achieve an adequate bond. Then the cement is applied and a light cures (or hardens) the cement, attaching the new veneers!
Maintaining your veneers is easy…just treat them the way you treat the rest of your teeth. Brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups are vital to protecting your investment as well as maintaining your overall oral health.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression.  See if dental veneers can help you put your best smile forward!

The CEREC System: State-of-the-Art Technology from an Apex cosmetic Dentistry

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If you have ever dreaded the idea of visiting the dentist or have postponed scheduling dental work you knew you needed, you are not alone. Dental procedures have changed for the better, and at Hansen Dentistry in Apex, NC, we blend proven techniques with outstanding customer service.

Would you believe us if we told you that you could receive customized, natural looking crowns or bridges that fit perfectly, in a single office visit? Believe it! Dr. Rylan Hansen and provides custom dental crowns and bridges using the CEREC system: where old school service meets state-of-the-art technology.

What is CEREC?

CEREC stands for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramic. Like the name suggests, each restoration the system produces is made from ceramic (read: no more metal!).

If you opt for a CEREC crown or bridge, you will not need to endure traditional putty impressions that often cause gagging. Instead, Dr. Hansen will use a 3-D imaging system to gather all the data necessary. You also will not wait days or weeks while a lab technician creates your restoration, then return for a second visit to have the restoration placed. Even better, you won’t need to wear a temporary crown that could come loose and cause embarrassment or hassle.

How does CEREC work?

After imaging your teeth, Dr. Hansen will use CEREC software to design your custom restoration, for a secure fit and balanced bite. He will insert a CEREC Block that matches the shade of teeth surrounding the location of the restoration in your mouth. The CEREC Block will be turned, sculpted, and contoured in the system’s milling unit. This process takes about an hour.

After the dentist provides a local anesthetic to numb the affected area, he will seat the custom-made crown or bridge. Once he determines that your bite is properly aligned with the new restoration, Dr. Hansen will permanently cement it in position. Your CEREC restoration will look and feel totally natural, and it will endure for many years to come.

With same-day service, you will save time and leave your first visit with a restored smile. No metal, no waiting, no fuss. This is certainly not your father’s dentist!

Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramic (CEREC) is changing the way we think about restorative dentistry. CEREC is an effective, affordable service that brings together the customer service and care that patients expect and the high-tech performance and outstanding results they want.

Give CEREC a try.

Ready to give our CEREC same-day service a try? Contact us at (919) 363-8444 to schedule your appointment. Let us answer your questions and explain the details about CEREC.

Dr. Rylan Hansen and our team at Hansen Dentistry proudly serve our patients, listening carefully to all concerns, and providing solutions for great oral health. Learn more about the variety of dental services we offer, including family and pediatric dentistry, along with cosmetic, restorative, and surgical procedures. Our office is located at 800 West Williams Street, Suite 240, in Apex, NC.

Same Day Crowns: Long-Lasting Results Without the Wait! – Apex Cosmetic Dentist

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Same Day CrownsDental crowns offer natural-looking restoration results for teeth that have been damaged from trauma or infection. Until recently, receiving a custom-made, permanent crown could take weeks; now, Dr. Hansen offers same day crowns in Apex, NC, thanks to advanced dental technology called CEREC. Learn more about this innovative approach to dental crowns below.

If you’re ready for dental crown treatment without the wait, contact us at (919) 363-8444. Dr. Hansen can provide a consultation to see if same day crowns will help improve the health and vitality of your smile.

What is CEREC?

CEREC stands for “Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics.” It’s a long term, but conveys a simple idea: CEREC allows Dr. Hansen to create and place a custom-made dental crown in one day. Previously, custom dental crown fabrication meant sending impressions off to a dental lab for a dental ceramicist to create the restoration. However, our practice’s state-of-the-art machinery uses 3D images obtained from your mouth to create a replica of your natural tooth. Dr. Hansen can make any small adjustments once the crown is placed to ensure that your bite is comfortable.

What are the benefits?

CEREC has so many benefits; for our busy patients, less time at the dentist’s office is the best advantage. However, CEREC also:

  • Allows for same-day restoration of your smile: A healthy, restored smile now doesn’t have to mean long treatment times. Whether Dr. Hansen is protecting a vulnerable cracked or chipped tooth, or is finishing a root canal procedure, you can have your final, permanent smile completed in just one day.
  • Uses the same, high-quality materials: CEREC crowns are made from the same materials as those of many traditional dental crowns. CEREC just allows Dr. Hansen to bring the technology of dental labs into his Apex, NC practice to save you time.
  • Provides a comfortable design process: Uncomfortable dental impressions are unnecessary for fabricating a CEREC crown. Dr. Hansen utilizes a 3D imaging device to provide accurate measurements.
  • Eliminates the need for temporary crowns: Since there is no waiting period while the permanent crown is fabricated in a dental lab, patients don’t have to spend 2 to 3 weeks wearing a temporary crown. Temporary crowns are usually made from composite resin and are not only less durable than a permanent crown, but are less protective, too. With CEREC, your tooth is better protected through a permanent crown than it would be with a temporary one.

Are the results really permanent?

Fast results don’t have to mean low-quality. Dr. Hansen and our team know that you have a busy schedule, so we offer time-saving solutions for dental services. However, we never skimp on the quality and safety of the procedures. CEREC crowns are fabricated from the same safe and effective materials used at more traditional dental labs. You can also expect CEREC crowns to last the same length of time as a traditional crown.

How can I receive a CEREC crown?

Scheduling a consultation with Dr. Hansen is the best way to figure out whether a CEREC crown will work for you! Dr. Hansen can go over additional treatment options, and discuss your expectations to make sure you are fully satisfied with the results. Contact our Apex, NC practice at (919) 363-8444.

How Cosmetic Dentistry Gives You More Confidence – Apex Dentist

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brunette woman hiding smile behind handsIt’s nice to imagine a world where looks aren’t important, but we don’t live there, do we? The truth is, the majority of the population will initially judge us based on our appearance. The first attribute most people notice is the eyes, followed closely by the smile. Crooked, discolored, or missing teeth send the message that a person does not take good care of himself. An unattractive smile also conveys poor health and can make you look older than you are.

Fortunately, we live in the age of cosmetic dentistry, when a visit to Dr. Hansen’s Apex, NC dental office could change your smile and the impression you make.

What They’re Really Thinking

These aren’t just assumptions. They’re facts. The American Association of Cosmetic Dentistry has published polls telling us that with an appealing smile, a person is more likely to be thought of as healthy, confident, wealthy, and friendly. A study by Kelton Research went further to state, after teeth whitening, job applicants were more likely to be hired and receive a higher salary.

Strip the emotional sting of being judged by looks out of the equation, and it makes sense to improve your smile’s appearance if you don’t naturally have an appealing smile.

What is an “attractive smile?”

The traditional attractive smile in the United States has:

  • No missing teeth
  • Straight teeth
  • White teeth
  • Teeth with the traditional tooth shape, no imperfections
  • No chipped or cracked teeth
  • No metal dental work
  • Teeth have natural reflectivity (don’t look dull or fake)
  • Teeth that are proportionate to the facial features
  • Symmetrical teeth, right and left
  • Only a small amount of gum tissue showing above top teeth
  • Healthy gums
  • Fresh breath

How can cosmetic dentistry help?

Correcting your smile’s imperfections is possible with cosmetic dentistry. Dr. Hansen will need to talk with you about what you love and hate about your teeth, and he’ll also conduct a thorough oral health examination. All cosmetic restorations should be build upon a healthy foundation, so they’ll endure the test of time. Oral health is also paramount to overall health, and your health is of utmost importance to us.

Dr. Hansen will suggest the appropriate cosmetic dentistry procedures to brighten, straighten, and correct your teeth. He may also recommend a periodontal (gum tissue) procedure, if appropriate. You will have options. For instance, porcelain veneers can correct the size, shape, alignment, and color of your teeth. However, you may opt for dental bonding instead. Bonding does not last as long as veneers, but it also does not cost as much. However, porcelain veneers cover the entire front surface of a tooth and can look new for many years. Dr. Hansen will inform you of the pros and cons of various treatment options, so you and he can devise a practical treatment plan that will deliver the smile you want.

Schedule a Smile Consultation Today

Are you ready to discuss the potential for your smile? Call our Apex, NC dental office today at 919-363-8444 today. With the Hansen Dentistry Membership Savings Plan, you could save 20% on some cosmetic and restorative procedures.