Our Apex Dentist Explains the Cons of Online Tooth Alignment Services

, by

In today’s day and age, you can order almost anything online, from makeup samples and razors to eyeglasses and dog treats. And while retailers haven’t yet discovered a way to ship a dental cleaning right to your door, it is possible to straighten your teeth remotely with brands like SmileDirectClub. But is the convenience and low cost of online aligners worth the risks? Our Apex dentist weighs in below.

What is SmileDirectClub?

SmileDirectClub was introduced in 2014 as an alternative to traditional orthodontic treatment options. Essentially, it is a mail-order system that ships clear aligners directly to patients each month, allowing them to straighten their teeth without in-person visits with a dentist or orthodontist. The brand’s dentists conduct progress checks remotely, by examining “selfie” photos. These “shortcuts” make the entire process cost much less, merely a fraction of traditional straightening methods like braces or Invisalign.

Disadvantages of Online Tooth Aligners

Despite the benefits, many dental and orthodontic professionals are warning against mail-order orthodontic systems as more and more patients come in with poor results from spending months in the aligners. Below are some things to know before you fill out the application for one of these services.

  • Communication is infrequent and impersonal.Remote tele-dentistry assigns you a dentist or orthodontist who checks on your progress every 90 days through your customer account. You are placing your trust entirely in the company to vet your dentist for their skill and experience.
  • Lack of hands-on approach means details can be overlooked. The reason these services can be priced so cheaply is because the dentist is doing less work. But that is really not a good thing when it comes to your teeth. Details like your teeth’s surface texture, your bite pressure, and even your breath can indicate to your dentist that something is wrong—it is much more complex than simply looking at a photo.
  • Errors can occur in the initial impression.If you can’t come to a “Smile Direct Shop” and get a 3D scan in person, you will have to take an impression of your teeth on your own. At a dentist’s office, only a licensed, experienced professional performs this task, resulting in more accurate impressions. If you make a mistake with your impressions, your aligners will not accurately straighten your teeth.
  • They don’t have your records.Smile Direct doesn’t know your dental history, while your dentist knows your medical history and takes that into account while planning your treatment.

Bottom Line: For the Best Results, Visit Our Apex Dentist Today!

Most dentists agree that online alignment services such as SmileDirectClub are simply not worth the risk. Although getting Invisalign or braces at a local dentist office may cost more and take longer, they are that way because you are receiving accurate, thorough, personalized care. Your dentist can take your entire dental history into account; take accurate impressions; track your progress, and alter the course of your treatment if deemed necessary. There are a lot of smart ways to save money in this day and age, but in our opinion, mail-order dental work is not one of them! To schedule an appointment with our Apex dentist office, please click here.

Tips for Relieving Dry Mouth, from Our Apex Family Dentist

, by

Occasionally, a patient will visit our office expecting to have no dental cavities, and is very surprised to learn that they have one. Often, this patient is middle-aged or older, brushes and flosses every day, and has no prior history of tooth decay. When this happens, dentists immediately begin to suspect dry mouth caused by new medications or an undiagnosed condition. Dry mouth causes a decrease in saliva production, which is crucial for regulating oral bacteria and keeping the teeth healthy. Below is more information about the causes of dry mouth, and some treatments that can help.

Common Causes of Dry Mouth

Many medications can cause dry mouth as a side effect. Common dry-mouth inducing medications include muscle relaxants; pain medications; antidepressants; blood pressure and heart rhythm medications; Parkinson’s and Alzheimers disease medications; antihistamines; and decongestants. Recreational drug use, chemotherapy, nerve damage due to injury or surgery, and poor nutrition can also cause dry mouth. Note that this list is far from comprehensive; to learn whether a medication, behavior or condition may be causing your dry mouth, consult with your doctor or pharmacist.

Treatments for Dry Mouth

Regardless of the cause of your dry mouth, it’s important to do something about it, as lack of saliva can lead to cavities, gingivitis (gum disease), and halitosis (bad breath). Below are some tips on managing dry mouth from our Apex dentist.

Stay Hydrated

Hydration is important for many aspects of your health in general, but for those suffering from dry mouth, it is even more important. Strive to drink at least 8-12 eight ounce glasses of water a day, unless your doctor advises against it. Taking small sips throughout the day will benefit you more than consuming a large amount in one sitting, as it helps to “wash” your teeth all day long.

Chew Sugarless Gum

Chewing sugarless gum can help to stimulate saliva production, providing your salivary glands are still operational, and not permanently damaged by injury or chemotherapy. The best sugar substitute, from a dentist’s perspective, is xylitol, a plant-derived sweetener that actively kills harmful tooth bacteria. Sucking on sugar-free lollipops can also help boost saliva production.

Avoid Drugs, Alcohol & Citrus 

Alcohol, caffeine, and citric acid can all dry out the mouth and inhibit saliva production. If you use an alcoholic mouthwash, you might want to try switching to a saltwater rinse instead. On the subject of indulgences, tobacco and marijuana can also worsen dry mouth, so if you use these, try to decrease or eliminate your use. Note that the nicotine in electronic cigarettes also contributes to dry mouth.

Add Moisture to Your Environment

Moistening dry foods with broth, sauces, milk or melted butter can make it easier to chew and swallow; you could also simply try adding more non-citric fruit and vegetables to your diet. You can also use a humidifier to add moisture to the ambient air around you, especially while you sleep.

Suffering from Dry Mouth? Talk to an Apex Dentist Today  

As oral healthcare specialists, dentists are able to assess potential causes of dry mouth, and prescribe or recommend products that can treat it. Many moisturizing gels, lozenges, and mouthwashes designed specifically to treat dry mouth are available over the counter; if these prove to be ineffective, your dentist can prescribe medications that stimulate the saliva glands. To reach a dentist in Apex NC, please click here.

Our Apex Dentist Shares Tips on Preparing for Oral Surgery

, by

At some point, most people will need to undergo standard oral surgery, like wisdom teeth removal. The more you know and prepare for the oral surgery, the less anxiety you will experience, and the better you will be able to recover. Below are some tips to follow when preparing for oral surgery in Apex NC.

Talk to Your Dentist

Your dentist will usually be happy to answer any questions you might have about the upcoming procedure. Common questions you might want to ask include:

  • How many teeth will you remove?
  • Will you use general or local anesthesia?
  • How long will the oral surgery take?
  • How long will my recovery take?

It also never hurts to research the procedure in advance. Researching will help you identify more questions you’d like to ask.

Make Arrangements for the Day of Surgery

Most oral surgeries occur when the patient is under general anesthesia. This means that you will not be able to work or drive during the day of the surgery. Make sure you have scheduled the day off (if applicable), arranged for childcare (if applicable), and have arranged for someone to drive you to and from the appointment. Note that you will likely be too uncomfortable to perform normal activities on the day after surgery, too.

Stock Up on Supplies

After your procedure, you will do well to have the house stocked with soft foods, NSAID pain medications, and cold packs. Your dentist will most likely give you gauze and cold packs to take home with you, but it always helps to have backups (and may help calm your nerves before surgery, too.) If your dentist plans to prescribe a pain reliever, ask him or her to let you fill the prescription a day early so you can avoid a trip to the pharmacy when you are still groggy. We also recommend having favorite movies and a comfortable recovery area set up and ready to go!

Avoid Eating Before Surgery  

General anesthesia can make patients experience nausea and vomiting, so your dentist may recommend that you stop eating at midnight on the night before the procedure, and skip breakfast and/or lunch the next morning. Ask your dentist or oral surgeon if you need to avoid eating or drinking before the surgery.

Need Oral Surgery or Wisdom Teeth Removal in Apex?

If you need wisdom teeth removal, dental implants, or another restorative dentistry service in Apex, we can help. Our skilled dentists and dental hygienists will make sure your experience is as relaxing and comfortable as possible. If you would like to schedule an appointment with our Apex dentist office, please contact us here!

Our Apex Dentist Explains How Hollywood Invented Veneers

, by

Dental veneers are thin porcelain “shields” placed over the teeth to correct discoloration, chips, and other surface imperfections that don’t require a full restoration. Although today’s veneers help people from all walks of life achieve a straighter, more attractive smile, they were originally designed for Hollywood starlets, in an era where beautiful smiles were hard to come by. Learn more about veneers’ unusual history in today’s Apex cosmetic dentist blog.

Industrialization and Tooth Decay  

In the silent movie era, all a star really needed to make it big was facial beauty–vocal quality and line delivery were unnecessary. Unfortunately, in the 1910s and 1920s, the Western world was at a bit of a low point in terms of oral health. This is primarily because during these decades, refined sugar leapt from being an expensive delicacy to being an affordable household staple. And instead of living off on an agricultural diet of vegetables, meats, and dairy products, the new industrial workforce gravitated to starchy items that could be quickly shoved in a pocket or eaten in-between shifts (i.e. cookies, biscuits, and sandwiches).

Our oral health habits, unfortunately, were slow to catch up to this new carb-laden, sugary diet. The concept of regular, twice-daily tooth brushing and flossing would not really take hold until the World War II era. It’s estimated that two to three times as many people lost their teeth during this era as do today–possibly why no costume of a 1920s hobo is complete without a few blacked-out teeth.

Without the need for on-screen talking, most actors could get away with having less-than-glamorous-smiles. But things changed with the advent of the “Talkies” in 1928. Many silent movie stars that had formally shone bright could no longer pass the muster, and a new solution was needed.

The Invention of Movie Cosmetics – and Veneers

Enter Maksymilian Faktorowicz, a Polish businessman, beautician, and entrepreneur. You may recognize the shortened version of his name, Max Factor, which is now a major international cosmetic brand. But in 1909, Mr. Factor had just moved to Los Angeles to provide wigs and makeup to film industry stars. Greasepaint, which had been used in the theatre for centuries, was too thick and harshly-colored for the new film medium, so Factor began experimenting with various compounds in an effort to develop a suitable substitute. By 1914, he had perfected the first cosmetic cream specifically created for motion-pictures. Unlike theatrical cosmetics, it would not crack or cake as actors moved about the set. Factor’s “flexible greasepaint” made him an overnight sensation, and a much-sought-after authority on movie cosmetics. He personally applied his products to the likes of Jean Harlow, Bette Davis, Judy Garland, Clara Bow, and Mae West.

Factor had become the industry’s go-to hair and makeup expert, so naturally, producers needing to fix the teeth problem came to him, too. Factor then asked dentist Charles L. Pincus to correct what his makeup couldn’t. Pincus created thin, prosthetic dental “fronts” that could be temporarily adhered to the teeth using denture powder. These first porcelain veneers were very fragile, and were lucky to last for a single movie shoot (by contrast, modern porcelain used in dental restorations can lasts for 10 or even 25 years, depending on care and maintenance).

A Long Journey to Success

After that, it took many cosmetic dentists many years to move those early, brittle veneers to the ones we use today. Pincus himself moved from using porcelain to acrylic, and a porcelain-acrylic composite, in 1938, but the veneers were still temporary. In the 1950s, Dr. Michael Bunocore pioneered a way to permanently bond veneers to the teeth, called “etching,” in which the dentist applied a type of acid to the teeth to open up the pores of the enamel, creating a greater surface area for dental cement to cling to.

Then, in 1982, R.J. Simonsen and J.R. Calamia developed a process that allowed veneers to become a practical cosmetic solution for patients. After nearly 40 years of continual refinement, veneers now offer a safe and reliable cosmetic solution for damaged, worn, or discolored teeth.

Need A Cosmetic Dentist in Apex?

At Hansen Dentistry, we use medical-grade porcelain to achieve incredible, natural-looking results. With proper care and maintenance, the modern dental veneers we make can last for several decades. If you would like to learn more about whether or not you qualify for this procedure, please click here to schedule an appointment!

What Forensic Investigators Can Learn From Teeth! | Apex Dentist

, by

If you watch a lot of crime shows like CSI: Miami, you may already know that teeth are often the only body parts that can survive severe types of destruction, like burning. Because of this, forensic scientists often have only teeth to work with when it comes to identifying a victim of a crime or natural/manmade disaster. In today’s post, our Apex dentist explains some of the things forensics investigators (and anthropologists!) can determine by examining dental fragments.

Age at the Time of Death

Teeth can help indicate how old an unknown victim was when he or she died. This is especially easy to do when the victim is a child or adolescent, since baby teeth erupt on a generally universal schedule. The first baby teeth start to emerge during the first two years of life; the first two permanent incisors and the first permanent molar emerge between 6 and 8 years of age; and the majority of the remaining permanent teeth erupt between the ages of 10 and 12 years of age. Wisdom teeth tend to erupt around 18 years of age.

Using dentition to age adult victims is a bit more challenging. Once the wisdom teeth have erupted, age can only be estimated by only morphological changes within the teeth. These changes include tooth root translucency, which increases with age; dental wear on the teeth; and the ratio of amino acids in the teeth (D-aspartic acids convert to L-aspartic acids with age).

Racial Determination

There are very slight differences in the skull structure of different races, which can help assist forensic investigators in identifying victims. People of Asian or Native American descent often have incisors which are shovel-shaped, with ridges on the rear surface of the tooth. People of Caucasian descent tend to have pointier incisors, and smaller teeth overall, often with significant crowding and impacted third molars. Those of African descent rarely have crowding, and the upper teeth often project outwards due to the angled shape of the maxilla. However, these differences are becoming less prevalent, and therefore less useful in identification, as our species becomes less geographically isolated.

Lifestyle & Diet

Teeth hold many clues about an individual’s health issues, even issues that did not originate in the mouth. Tooth loss and erosion of the tooth enamel can be a sign of an eating disorder, or a chronic condition like osteoporosis. Heart disease, skin conditions, blood conditions, and kidney disease can all be identified by examining the teeth. The wear on teeth can also show evidence of what the individual ate and chewed, a detail that is more useful to historic and prehistoric anthropologists.

Individual Dental Characteristics

Forensic dentists can often match victims with specific dental characteristics, like cavity fillings, crown or implant restorations, and orthodontic treatments. If the teeth are damaged by fire, the enamel is often burned off, but post-mortem root canals can still provide clues.

Providing Understanding and Closure

In mass casualty disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, or plane crashes, forensic dentists are enlisted to view the most badly damaged or decomposed remains. Dentists are often be the only ones able to identify the dead, giving them back their names and allowing their families much-needed closure. That’s why, even though it’s unfortunate that these types of situations occur, we should be very grateful for this incredible specialization of dentistry.

Hansen Dentistry is a dentist office in Apex, NC, serving residents of Apex, Cary, and Morrisville. To schedule an appointment with our office, please click here.

5 Health Trends That Are Damaging Your Teeth

, by

Over the past few years, many members of the public have come to distrust commercial products—and are instead turning to homemade concoctions promoted by celebrities and trendy health blogs. In many cases, though, the advice of internet influencers and self-proclaimed health “gurus” may do much more harm than good. In today’s post, our Apex cosmetic dentist explains why, if you want better teeth, you’re better consulting a professional with a dental degree than a model with 1 million followers. 

Lemon “Detox” Recipes 

The concept of “detoxing”—or consuming various foods and drinks to remove “toxins” from the body–has become very popular in recent years. Instagram is chock-full of celebrities and influencers boosting various “detox” juices, water infusions and smoothies. But beware of any recipe that advises you to suck on a lime, or drink a glass of what is essentially mostly lemon juice: lemon is extremely acidic, and is one of many foods that can damage the enamel. As for the detoxification benefits, the only things that can remove ingested bi-products from drugs, medicines or alcohol are the kidneys and liver. Now, is a glass of lemon water as bad for your teeth as a glass of Coke? Of course not. Just be aware of the risks of prolonged contact, and be sure to brush when you’re done. 

Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is the practice of swishing oil, usually coconut oil, around the mouth for up to 20 minutes a day. Advocates believe that bad tooth bacteria, food, and plaque will “stick” to the oil and are eliminated when the oil is spat out. Some also believe that the oil pulls (hence the name) toxins out of the body. However, as we mentioned above, only the kidneys and livers can remove toxins. As to the other claims, plaque really needs pressure to be removed, from a toothbrush, floss, or dental tool. While oil pulling itself probably isn’t doing any harm, any benefits could be duplicated just as easily with regular mouthwash. 

Apple Cider Vinegar

Many celebrities like Miranda Kerr have advertised the supposed health benefits of drinking a glass of apple cider vinegar water each day. Some “influencers” even promote drinking a straight teaspoon of pure vinegar once a day. However, excessive consumption of vinegar over a prolonged period of time will likely cause the tooth’s enamel to erode. This isn’t just speculation: 2012 case study found that the erosive wear in a young woman’s teeth was a result of consuming a glass of apple cider vinegar water once a day. Your best bet for dental health and weight loss are tried-and-true methods: calorie counting, exercise, and toothpaste. 

Charcoal Toothpaste

Charcoal toothpaste is another trend that has emerged in recent years, this said to whiten the teeth better than whitening toothpastes and treatments. However, to date there have been no studies demonstrating that this is true. What is likely is that, like baking soda and other abrasive substances, charcoal toothpaste scours away the tooth’s enamel. While users will initially see results, eventually, the teeth will become more sensitive and cavity-prone. They may even begin to look yellow as the naturally yellowish dentin beneath the enamel starts to show through. 

Fluoride-Free Toothpastes 

As concerns about the safety and efficacy of vaccination have emerged, so too has suspicion about another common safety measure: fluoride. Though fluoride is a natural mineral, similar to calcium, which has been proven to strengthen tooth enamel, many consumers have begun to believe that it can cause cancer, dementia and diabetes. These claims have been disproven many times, however; American dental health has continued to improve, thanks to both it and other factors. countless studies have shown that patients who use fluoride toothpastes experience less cavities and better overall dental health than those who don’t. Since fluoride was added to our public drinking water over 75 years ago, American oral health has dramatically improved, thanks to it and other factors. 

Need a dentist in Apex, NC? Click here to schedule an appointment at Hansen Dentistry. 

Our Apex Cosmetic Dentist Explains the Top Benefits of Invisalign 

, by

You may have heard of Invisalign, a newer method of straightening the teeth that doesn’t involve the wires, brackets, or rubber bands used by traditional metal braces. If you are curious about this procedure, and are considering getting Invisalign aligners in Apex, here are some of the top advantages they can give our patients.    

Removable 

If you had braces as a child or teenager, you may remember how irritating—not to mention unsanitary—it was to get food particles stuck between your teeth. One of Invisalign’s main benefits is that the trays can be removed while you eat or drink, then placed back on when you’re finished. 

However, note that this same removability makes Invisalign a poor choice for some people, especially children and young teenagers. Teeth straightening, though not painful, will usually cause some discomfort, so you will need strength of will to keep yourself from removing the aligners if you choose this method. 

Discreet 

The main benefit of Invisalign (or other brands of clear tooth aligners) is that they are discreet. Unless someone sees you removing the aligners to eat, they will never know that you are straightening your teeth. Many adults often avoid straightening their teeth because they feel that metal braces will make them look juvenile, so Invisalign is a great option for anyone with that concern. 

Comfortable

While metal braces are tougher and more aggressive in straightening the teeth, they can rub against the lips, mouth, and gums, causing discomfort for the patient. Although the metal brackets can be covered with wax, this can be time-consuming and irritating. Invisalign aligners have no brackets, and are therefore much easier to wear. However, note that this same benefit also means they are less powerful and take longer to create optimal results. 

Easy to Clean

Cleaning in, around, and underneath metal braces is challenging, since they are firmly attached to the teeth. But since the Invisalign aligners can be totally removed, they can be simply soaked in lukewarm water and brushed with a special cleaning agent, or even regular toothpaste. This in turn decreases the chance of developing cavities and keeps your mouth smelling and feeling fresh. 

Want Invisalign in Apex NC? 

While Invisalign is not often the best option for correcting all misalignments, as long as the misalignment is mild, it is a gentle, discreet, clean option that will allow you to gain a beautiful smile with none the wiser. However, if you are experiencing a more complex, unique, or severe dental issue, tougher measures may be required, i.e. metal braces. The only way to know for sure is to head into our Apex NC dentist office for an exam and consultation! To request an appointment, click here

Get a New Crown in One Day at Our Apex Dentist Office!

, by

One of the best things about the world of dentistry is that it’s constantly changing. Safer, better dental technologies are constantly being developed to help improve the patient experience. One of the best innovations to come about in recent years is the CEREC in-office milling machine, which allows dentists to mill crowns, inlays, and other restorations in just one 90-minute appointment. Below is more information about our Apex same-day crown services. 

What is a CEREC Machine?

CEREC stands for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics. Some dentists might refer to it as a “Ceramic Restoration” machine. Whatever you want to call it, this cutting-edge piece of equipment is able to digitally scan a patient’s mouth, design a replacement restoration, and mill the final product on the spot. Since the patient does not need to wait for results to come back from a dental lab, he or she can walk in needing a crown, and walk out wearing the final product, without having to wear a temporary crown for two weeks, as is the traditional procedure. 

What Should I Expect at a Same-Day Crown Appointment? 

When a patient comes into our Apex cosmetic dentist office for a new crown, veneer, or inlay, the first step is scanning the area of the mouth where the restoration is needed. Dr. Hansen or a member of his team will use a highly sensitive precision wand to digitally scan the area and build a virtual model of the mouth and teeth. One of the coolest part of this process is that the patient can watch the model being built on the screen!

Next, Dr. Hansen will inspect the virtual model to make sure it is an accurate representation of the patient’s teeth. If the model needs to be tweaked, he is able to perform alterations until it represents the patient’s mouth exactly. Once the digital model has been approved, the CEREC machine designs the crown, veneer, or inlay, and sends it to an in-office milling machine, which which creates the restoration out of color-matched porcelain. This restoration is final, not temporary, and is of the same quality we would expect to receive from a traditional dental lab.

Finally, the restoration is test-fitted to the area, final adjustments are made, and the restoration is permanently bonded to the tooth. The patient is able to achieve a perfect restoration in just a single visit.

Benefits of CEREC Crowns

Needless to say, CEREC is an amazing improvement over traditional dental methods, which typically require patients to wear a temporary restoration while waiting for the final result to be milled. Temporary crowns often become dislodged, and can then easily be swallowed or lost, leaving the tooth unprotected and at high risk for more damage. Plus, it’s just inconvenient to have to return for another appointment! The CEREC procedure allows patients to get fast dental restorations almost as soon as they are needed.

Get Same-Day Crowns in Apex from Hansen Dentistry! 

If you live in Charlotte and are in need of a dental restoration, stop by Hansen Dentistry today. We can’t wait to meet you and help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile for life! 

Our Apex Dentist Explains the Treatment Process for a Dental Implant

, by

If you are missing a tooth, a dental implant is an excellent way to restore your smile and jaw alignment. No other form of tooth replacement so perfectly mimics the natural tooth structure, root and all, while leaving surrounding healthy teeth untouched. Below is some more information about our Apex dental implant treatments.  

Step One: Post Insertion in the Jaw  

After an initial consultation meeting to discuss your treatment plan and payment details, you will return again to our Apex dental office for the first part of your dental implant surgery: the insertion of a titanium post into your jawbone. This post will eventually be hidden beneath the gum line, and act as the artificial “root” of the tooth. Once the post has been inserted, you will wait for 3-6 months for the jaw and gum tissue to regrow. The gums and bone tissue will grow up around the implant, integrating with it perfectly. 

Step Two: Attaching the Post 

After a few months, your gums and jaw will have healed, and you will be able to return to our office for the second part of your treatment. Our Apex dentist, Dr. Hansen, will attach what is called a “post” to the implant. You might think of this as the scaffolding inside the new tooth’s crown. In order to attach the post, the dentist will need to remove a small amount of gum tissue. That is why you will once again wait several weeks for the tissues to heal. 

Step Three: Attaching the Crown 

Finally, you will return for your last appointment, where your dentist will attach a crown to the post. This crown restoration will look identical in color and texture to the teeth that are surrounding it. After making some adjustments for bite and fit, you will be ready to head out the door with a tooth that is just as sturdy and stable—if not more so—than the old one! 

Why Dental Implants Are Beneficial for Jaw Health

One reason why most dentists prefer dental implants to other dental solutions, like bridges and dentures, is that they give adequate support to the jaw. Once your tooth’s roots are gone, your jawbone begins to naturally deteriorate. This can cause changes in your facial shape, contribute to bite problems, and lead to painful jaw issues such as TMJ. The dental implant, by contrast, allows your jaw to stay strong and stable, preserving the health of your other teeth and your oral health as a whole.

Need a Dental Implant in Apex? 

We understand that the idea of a dental implant can be scary (even for grown-ups!) However, we are very fortunate to have this remarkable development in dentistry. Dental implants have a very high success rate and are almost unnoticeable to most patients. In fact, some of our patients who are returning for a dental cleaning do not remember which tooth is the implant tooth until we remind them! If you would like to schedule an appointment to learn more about our dental implant services, click here

Tips on Creating a Plastic-Free Oral Care Routine, from Our Apex NC Dentist

, by

Plastic. It’s everywhere, in almost everything. It’s certainly in your bathroom, used to make oral care items like toothbrushes, dental floss, and toothpaste tubes. All of these items are essential for having a clean, healthy smile, and yet all of them, unfortunately, are non-recyclable. 

The good news is that you don’t have to be part of the problem. More and more people are joining the zero-waste moving, striving to only use items that are biodegradable, compostable, and plastic-free. Below are some simple swaps you can make to ensure you have healthy teeth and a healthy planet. 

Bamboo Toothbrushes 

Each year, over one billion toothbrushes are thrown away in the US alone. That’s 50 million pounds of non-recyclable plastic waste, or enough toothbrushes to wrap around the world four times. 

Luckily, many companies make bamboo toothbrushes, which can be tossed in a compost bin to decompose naturally. Since bamboo is a material which grows very quickly (many people consider it to be a weed), bamboo products are usually very inexpensive. The only drawback is the bristles: most bamboo toothbrushes use plastic bristles, which must be pulled out before you can compost the handle. If you want a fully-organic toothbrush, your best option is one that uses boar’s hair bristles. 

Silk Dental Floss

Most commercial dental floss is made of nylon, Teflon, or some other synthetic petroleum compound. One great, organic material that can take the place of dental floss is silk, which is spun from silkworms. You might rummage through your local secondhand store to find a 100% silk clothing article, and repurpose the threads for floss. You can also purchase silk thread from art supply stores, but these will usually arrive in plastic packaging. The most convenient, waste-free method is to purchase thread from a brand like Dental Lace. This company packages its floss in recyclable glass vials with metal lids. When you’ve used up your floss, you can send the vial back to the company, and they’ll fill it with new product. 

DIY Toothpaste

There are countless recipes for toothpaste on the internet, the vast majority of them involving baking soda and/or bentonite clay. As an abrasive substance that scrubs away plaque, baking soda is an acceptable material. But if you decide to go this route, make sure to include xylitol in your mix. Despite the pharmaceutical-sounding name, xylitol is a natural sweetener extracted from birch wood and certain fruits and vegetables. Xylitol is unique among sweeteners because it acts as a sort of “mousetrap” for the bacteria that live on your teeth, effectively killing them. 

In addition, you can also purchase fluoride powder, which strengthens your tooth enamel. Both of these products will likely arrive in plastic packaging that may or may not be recyclable. However, just one bag of each is enough for a lifetime’s supply of homemade toothpaste—versus countless non-recyclable toothpaste tubes. 

Need a Dental Exam in Apex? Stop by Hansen Dentistry! 

We hope this blog post has helped you learn ways to live a greener, low-waste lifestyle while still taking care of your oral health. Doing so will help keep the actual teeth in your mouth free of artificial substances like composite resin, which, while a good replacement for your natural enamel, isn’t as great as the real thing! Having regular dental cleanings every 6 months is the best way to ensure long-term dental health, which means less waste and less expense on your part! To schedule a dental cleaning with our Apex dentist, click here.