Our Apex Dentist Explains the Cons of Online Tooth Alignment Services

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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.

Our Apex Dentist Explains Why Hydration is Good for Your Teeth!

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You probably already know that water is good for your overall health, but did you know that it has significant health benefits for your teeth, too? It’s true! Staying hydrated helps strengthen your teeth and keep your smile bright and strong. Below are some reasons to encourage your entire family to drink plenty of water, as shared by our Apex family dentist.

Fight Tooth-Destroying Bacteria  

We generally think of saliva as something rather purposeless, but saliva is actually your mouth’s first line of defense against tooth decay. Its neutral PH levels are low enough to dilute acid from soda and other foods, and high enough to impede tooth-destroying bacteria. It also contains minerals like calcium and phosphate that keep your teeth strong. The drier your mouth, the easier it is for bacteria to thrive and grow. So if you want to fight tooth decay, stay hydrated!

Flush Away Sugars and Starches

Whenever you eat or drink anything sweet or starchy, sugar residue is left behind on your teeth. Both of these ingredients are favorite foods of tooth-destroying bacteria, which convert them into acid that eats away at enamel. Staying hydrated helps wash away leftover sugar and carbohydrates, helping to starve bad bacteria and prevent tooth decay.

Get Enough Fluoride

The U.S. is one of the many countries that add fluoride to municipal water. Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral, like calcium or salt, that has been consistently shown to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. The more municipal water you consume from your tap, the more fluoride you apply to your teeth and the stronger they become. And, unlike fluoride treatments you have to pay for at the dentist’s office, this fluoride is totally free!

Water: Dentists’ Favorite Drink!

If dentists around the world filled out a survey on the #1 beverage they recommend to patients, water would top the list. It does not cause stains, like coffee, wine and tea; it does not erode the enamel, like citrus juice and soda; and it doesn’t contain high amounts of sugar, like “energy” drinks and sports drinks. With zero calories and plenty of health benefits for the rest of your body, water is the best beverage you can choose every time!

Get a Bright, Healthy Smile at Our Apex Dentist Office

If you are looking for a pediatric dentist in Apex NC, head over to Hansen Dentistry. Our amazing dental team is dedicated to creating a comfortable, relaxing environment from the moment you walk through the door! To request an appointment, please click here.

What Forensic Investigators Can Learn From Teeth! | Apex Dentist

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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.

Dog Owners: Watch Out for These Household Items Containing Xylitol 

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We have written before about xylitol, a sugar alcohol that has excellent benefits for dental health. Although xylitol is highly recommended for fighting tooth decay in humans, however, it poses a significant risk to dogs. When a dog ingests xylitol, its body releases a massive surge of insulin, and this rabid influx can quickly become life-threatening. Therefore, it is important to look out for the following common household products which contain xylitol, and keep them out of your pup’s reach. 

Sugar-Free Gum

Dentists love when our patients chew sugar-free gum containing xylitol. Not only is the ingredient deadly to harmful tooth bacteria, the action of chewing stimulates also saliva production, which further helps cut down on bacteria. However, xylitol-containing gums can cause serious problems for your dog. In fact, the Pet Poison Helpline cites gum as the source of nearly 80% of xylitol poisoning cases. The solution? Keep all of your gum in a closed cabinet or high place. If your dog does get its teeth on some gum, be sure to note the brand and your best guess at the amount ingested. Since different gums contain different amounts of xylitol, this is crucial information for your vet. 

Food Items  

More and more consumers are checking the calories in food items before making their purchases, so in order to keep the calories low, many companies are forgoing natural sugar in favor of xylitol. These items, sometimes marked as “low-sugar” or “sugar-free,” are much more dangerous than other items on this list, because they contain a much higher amount of sweetener. Therefore, pay close attention to the ingredient list on all foodstuffs you buy, and never let a dog snack on human food, no matter how cute their begging face might be. Ketchup, peanut butter, protein bars, and pudding are all common culprits of doggy xylitol poisoning. 

Lotions, Gels, and Deodorants

While xylitol is used in food as an artificial sweetener, it also has great humectant properties, or the ability to help a product retain its moisture. For this reason, many lotions, gels, toothpastes, and liquid or “meltaway” medications contain it. Like everything on this list, your best course of action is to keep such products out of reach of your four-legged friends. Even if you think it’s unlikely your pooch will take a bite out of your deodorant, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Hansen Dentistry is a family dentist located in Apex, NC. We provide dental exams, dental cleanings, cavity fillings, oral surgery, same-day crowns, and more to our Apex and Cary patients. To schedule an appointment, please click here

Causes & Treatments for Bad Breath, From Our Apex Family Dentist

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Almost everyone experiences bad breath once in a while. But for some people, bad breath is a chronic problem. Known in the medical field as “halitosis,” bad breath can be exacerbated by numerous factors, like inadequate oral hygiene, lack of saliva, or smoking. If you’re desperate to get rid of your bad breath for good, here are some factors that might be causing it.

Bacteria & Periodontal Disease

All bad breath is caused by bacteria which live on the teeth and tongue. Therefore, your first step at controlling bad breath is practicing good oral hygiene: Brushing the teeth and tongue, using mouthwash, and flossing. Flossing is one key step that many people skip because it can be a bit tedious. However, flossing is crucial to having a clean mouth and fresh breath. Don’t believe us? The next time you floss, smell the string before you throw it away, and we’ll bet you see (or smell) what we mean.

Tobacco and Alcohol

“Smoker’s breath” is a well-known consequence of smoking. This is because the chemicals in tobacco, such as nicotine, remain in the mouth and lungs long after a cigarette has been extinguished. Tobacco smoke can also dry out the mouth, leading to a proliferation of bad-smelling bacteria. Alcohol, too, can dry out the mouth and allow bacteria to thrive.

Dry Mouth

If you brush and floss daily, and don’t smoke or drink, yet still suffer from halitosis, you may be suffering from dry mouth, a condition wherein the salivary glands cannot produce enough saliva to keep the mouth moist. Since human saliva is slightly acidic, it is able to control the bacteria that cause bad breath. A decrease in saliva, therefore, allows bacteria to thrive. To increase your salivary flow, try chewing sugar-free gum after eating, which encourages increased salivary flow, and drink plenty of water. You can also use over-the-counter moisturizing agents, such as a dry mouth spray, rinses, or dry mouth moisturizing gel.

Other Conditions

If all these other causes have been ruled out, another underlying condition is likely to blame. Tonsillitis, respiratory infections such as sinusitis or bronchitis, certain gastrointestinal diseases, and uncontrolled diabetes can all cause bad breath. If you suspect that something else is at play regarding your halitosis, visit a primary care physician just to be on the safe side. 

Step 1: See Your Apex NC Dentist

With all this said, the vast majority of bad breath cases are caused by poor oral health. If you haven’t been to a dentist for a while, your first step should be scheduling a professional cleaning. Once it has been confirmed that there is no plaque or tartar built up on your teeth, your dentist can help you identify other factors that may be causing your halitosis.

If you are suffering from dry mouth, and over-the-counter solutions aren’t yielding any improvement, you may want to schedule a visit with an oral medicine doctor specializing in mucosal diseases and salivary gland disorders.

Hansen Dentistry is an Apex family dentist office specializing in cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry, preventative dentistry, and more. We provide Apex NC residents with Invisalign, same-day crowns, professional tooth whitening, and a wide range of other services. To schedule an appointment, click here.

Our Apex Dentist Explains how to Help Your Child Enjoy Going to the Dentist

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Going to the dentist can be a scary prospect—for parents! Fortunately, there are many ways you can teach toddlers and small children that the dentist’s office is nothing to be afraid of. Here’s how to help your child enjoy getting a dental check-up so they can maintain good oral health for years to come.

Build Excitement

Before your dentist appointment, talk to your child about the upcoming event and try to build excitement and understanding. Picture books about teeth and dentists can help prepare children in an atmosphere they are already familiar with. You could also share some interesting facts with them about animal teeth or dinosaur teeth, two topics children love.

Keep Your Cool

Remember that most children do not have much experience at the dentist’s office, and any nervousness or anxiety they feel towards the visit will likely be learned from observing you. So, if you’re worried about tantrums, don’t let that worry show. Similarly, never let a child overhear you expressing fear about your own dentist appointment, or worrying about an upcoming procedure. Your best bet is to stay positive, calm, and optimistic whenever the dentist is mentioned.

Have a Game Plan

If possible, schedule your appointment in the morning, when young children are alert and fresh. Be aware that if your small child becomes fearful or upset while in the dentist’s office, the best course of action might be to reschedule. Forcing the appointment to continue will establish that the dentist office is a place where upsetting things happen, and start a cycle wherein the next appointment provokes anxiety, too.

Know How to Take Care of a Child’s Teeth

The best way to make your child’s dentist appointment go smoothly is to take care of his or her teeth year-round. As your child’s teeth emerge, continue to teach him or her the importance of brushing and flossing, and supervise brushing to make sure that no toothpaste is swallowed. Try to limit sticky, sugary foods, such as candy and gummies, and follow our toothbrushing tips for kids.

Schedule an Appointment at Our Dentist Office in Apex

With proper supervision and frequent dental visits, your child will develop good dental habits that will serve them well for a lifetime. If you’re ready to schedule a dentist appointment for your child, contact Hansen Dentistry here. We can’t wait to take care of your family!

Our Apex Dentist Unpacks Common Dental Myths and Misconceptions

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When it comes to oral hygiene, there are a lot of common myths and misconceptions that simply aren’t true. If you want to keep your teeth as healthy as possible, here are some of the most common dental myths to watch out for. If you need a teeth cleaning or other dental service, be sure to stop by our Apex dentist office today.

Myth 1: Diet sodas are better for my teeth than regular sodas.

Since diet sodas are low-calorie and low-sugar, many people assume they are better for your teeth than non-diet alternatives. However, this is based on the assumption that it’s sugar which harms your teeth. The element that actually harms your teeth is acid, which is produced by bacteria that feed on sugar and carbohydrates. Diet sodas are actually usually higher in phosphoric acid than regular sodas, and will wear down your tooth enamel more than the acid produced by the bacteria. To keep your teeth healthy, you’re better off skipping the carbonated drinks altogether.

Myth 2: I don’t feel any pain in my mouth, so there’s probably nothing wrong with my teeth.

Many patients come to us because they are experiencing dental pain, and assume that the problem can be easily fixed. However, when dentists hear that someone is in pain, we already begin wondering if it will require a root canal or extraction. By the time you start to feel pain from a cracked tooth or other issue, it has probably been worsening for a while. Furthermore, having pain go completely away can be a sign of the nerve dying, so it’s still important to go in for a dental check-up even if you don’t feel any discomfort.

Myth 3: Having bad teeth won’t affect the rest of my body.

Bad dental care can be a gateway to stomach diseases, heart diseases, and other serious complications throughout your body. Not only does bad dental hygiene threaten your overall health, it can become a problem if you ever need clearance for a surgery. We often see patients who need dental clearance before a surgery because their teeth are an infection hazard. If you take care of your teeth, your overall body will be in better health as you get older.

Myth 4: Fluoride is a chemical, and herbal or natural toothpaste is better for me.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring element which combines with the calcium and phosphates in your saliva to help remineralize your enamel. Fluoride is the most important component in toothpaste, and any brand labeled as “herbal” or “natural” toothpaste is not very beneficial to your dental health. Activated charcoal toothpaste is also very dangerous for your dental health.

Get a Professional Dental Cleaning with our Apex Dental Office

If you need a tooth cleaning, dental exam, or other dental service in Apex NC, contact Hansen Dentistry today. Our Apex dental office is passionate about what we do, and we want our patients to feel confident that they will receive the best dental care possible. To request an appointment, click here.

Signs You Are Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard from Our 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.

Busting 4 of the Most Common Tooth Brushing Myths with Our 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.

Tooth-Colored Fillings vs. Silver Fillings: Which Should I Choose? Ask an Apex Dentist

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So you have a tooth that has a cavity and needs a filling. Now what?

Most people know that the two most common options are tooth colored fillings (called composite fillings) and silver fillings (called amalgam fillings).  And most people would agree that the composite fillings are much more aesthetically pleasing than the amalgam fillings.  Some patients prefer not to have amalgam fillings because they contain mercery.  However, it is important to note that ongoing scientific studies conducted over the past 100 years continue to show that amalgam fillings are not harmful.  Sometimes the aesthetic outcome is reason enough to choose a tooth colored filling, especially when the tooth is one that is visible when the patient smiles.

But there are other important reasons that most Apex Dentists these days are choosing to use tooth colored composite fillings rather than amalgam.  And these reasons have to do with the major difference in the way they are placed in the mouth.

Composite fillings are resin-based and are chemically bonded to the tooth.  Amalgams are not.  They are held in place due to a physical retention.  This means that after the dentist removes the decay, he also has to remove additional healthy tooth structure in order to create the proper undercuts and retention grooves to hold the amalgam in place.  This process leaves less remaining tooth structure.

The good thing is that amalgams usually lasts for a really long time.  The bad news is that when they do wear out, they tend to cause larger problems because there is less tooth structure remaining to work with. That is why it is common for a very large amalgam to be replaced with a crown.

If a tooth has a composite filling, the dentist is able to be very conservative in how much tooth structure

he/she removes other than the decay.  This could mean that years later when the composite filling eventually wears out, hopefully another larger composite filling can be placed, rather than a crown.

Another common issue is that teeth with old amalgams tend to develop more cracks.  Because the amalgam filling is not bonded to the tooth, the enamel surrounding the filling is unsupported.  Over time, that unsupported tooth structure microscopically flexes when stress is placed on the tooth.  Years of this flexing can cause cracks to form. These cracks can lead to more extensive (and expensive) treatment, such as a crown,  a root canal, or even loss of the tooth depending on the severity of the fracture.

Whether you have composite or amalgam fillings it is important to maintain your regular cleaning and check-up appointments with your Apex dentist. He/she can keep you informed about the condition of your fillings. That way when one does wear out (and they will, because unfortunately no dental work lasts forever), you can be pro-active, which typically leads to a less expensive and more conservative outcome.