Overbites/Underbites: Apex Dentist Explains How It’s More Than a Cosmetic Issue

, by

More than a cosmetic issue: How malocclusions harm your teeth

If you have been to the dentist lately, you may have learned that you have a malocclusion—in layman’s terms, an overbite, underbite, crossbite, or other type of situation that prevents the upper and lower teeth from aligning correctly. While many people believe that their underbite or overbite is simply a cosmetic issue, malocclusions affect far more than your appearance. Below are some ways dental malocclusions harm your teeth.

Tooth decay

There are three categories of malocclusion. In Class I, the teeth may be rotated, crowded, or too spaced-out for the upper and lower jaw to meet properly. It’s that second issue, overcrowding, that can lead to tooth decay. Because crowded teeth are much more difficult to clean properly, patients may struggle with oral hygiene despite their best efforts. Flossing can be challenging if teeth are grouped too tightly, and brushing might not reach all the hiding places where bacteria live. Therefore, fixing crowded teeth isn’t just a matter of having a pretty smile; it’s actually a matter of preserving your long-term oral health.

Worn tooth enamel 

If your teeth are not properly aligned, or if some teeth jut out higher than the others, they will get worn down over time from normal talking and chewing. This is problematic because your enamel protects the sensitive dentin beneath it, and once it’s gone, your teeth will be more susceptible to cavities and bacteria (not to mention, a lot of pain and discomfort.) Re-aligning your teeth into their correct positions helps ensure long-term protection (and no painful, expensive procedures in the future!)

Jaw pain (TMJ)

The human jaw has evolved to operate based on one type of tooth arrangement. Uneven teeth can impact the muscles of the jaw, causing long-term problems usually referred to as TMJ, or Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome. This condition is characterized a pain in the jaw joint; head and neck pain; facial pain; ear pain; frequent headaches; a jaw that is locked in position or difficult to open; problems with biting; and jaw clicking or popping sounds when the patient bites. While you might not develop severe TMJ from a misaligned jaw, you are certainly at risk for it, and it is probable you will develop at least one of the symptoms, such as jaw clicking or headaches.

Speech impediments 

The shape of our mouths is critical when it comes to forming words and communicating. Malocclusion can lead to speech problems, especially for young children just getting a grasp on language. Speech problems can have a significant impact on an individuals self-esteem, social interactions, and job or school performance—so it’s not a minor thing! If your teeth are interfering with the way you communicate, it’s important to have them corrected.

Avoid these issues with our Apex Dentist today! 

As much as Dr. Hansen and the rest of the team at Hansen Dentistry want you to have a beautiful smile that looks great in pictures, we are much more concerned about preserving your long-term oral health! Correcting crooked, misaligned, or gapping teeth is primarily about keeping your teeth strong and cavity-free over the course of your lifetime. One of the easiest ways to do this is by using Invisalign trays to move the teeth into alignment. To learn more about how Invisalign can help you, call us now for a consultation!

What is Bottle Rot? Our Apex NC Dentist Explains How to Prevent Infant Tooth Decay

, by

Also known as baby bottle tooth decay, bottle rot occurs when a baby’s teeth are exposed to sugar for so long that they begin to develop cavities. Below is more information about bottle rot, and what you can do to prevent it.

Consequences of Cavities in Baby Teeth

Some people believe that it doesn’t matter if a baby or small child has cavities, because the baby teeth will eventually fall out, to be replaced by permanent adult teeth. However, cavities cause harm to children for several reasons. Firstly, the bacteria in the teeth can spread to the rest of the body, causing other health problems. And secondly, healthy baby teeth are necessary to ensure that the permanent teeth grow in correctly. That is why it’s important to keep up with your infant’s oral care.

How to Prevent Bottle Rot

Bottle rot mainly occurs when parents fill a baby bottle with a sweet beverage to keep their child calm and happy. Another mistake is putting the baby to bed with a bottle, which exposes the child’s delicate teeth to sugar for an extended period of time. When teeth are exposed to sugar for too long, bacteria that live in the mouth consume it and convert it into acid, which destroys the enamel. Therefore, it’s important to limit your child’s exposure to sugary drinks as much as possible.

Should I Brush My Baby’s Teeth?

Yes! You can “brush” a baby’s teeth by simply wiping the gums with a washcloth after each meal and before bed. Once the baby has grown teeth, you can use a baby toothbrush and a rice-sized amount of toothpaste to keep them clean. This not only removes bacteria and debris, but establishes a healthy habit early! You can also limit oral bacteria by regularly sterilizing your baby’s bottle with soap and hot water.

Limiting Sugar Intake

As we said above, you should never put your child to bed with a bottle of juice. It’s also a good idea to limit the juice during the day, as most juice brands tend to be high-sugar. Formula, breast milk, and water should be fine. If your toddler really likes juice and is old enough to be vocal about it, try diluting it with water. Most kids won’t be able to tell the difference. Finally, avoid dipping a pacifier into honey or sugar.

Yes, Your Baby Can See the Dentist!

Generally, you can start taking your baby to the dentist as soon as you notice the first tooth erupting. Dental checkups for infants are mainly a time to talk about the health of your baby’s teeth, as well as steps that you can take to avoid problems like bottle rot. Plus, you can discuss options like sealant coatings that are used as a preventative measure against tooth decay.

Take Care of Your Child’s Teeth at our Apex Dentist Office

Bottle rot doesn’t have to be a problem that you encounter while raising your baby. With some simple strategies, your child’s teeth will grow in perfectly and remain clean and strong. If you would like to bring your child in for a dental checkup, contact Hansen Dentistry today to schedule an appointment!

Should I Get an Electric Toothbrush? Ask an Apex Cosmetic Dentistry

, by

In a word—yes! An electric toothbrush does the hard work for you, removing much more plaque than a traditional, manual toothbrush. And with so many different types and features available, it’s easy to find an electric toothbrush that suits your specific oral health needs. In today’s blog, our Apex dentist explains some reasons why you should consider buying an electric toothbrush.

Easier to Use

To use an electric toothbrush, you only need only guide it along the surfaces of your teeth. This is much easier than scrubbing back and forth, and many people with arthritis or similar conditions find using a power toothbrush less painful to use. Electric toothbrushes may also help children brush their teeth more effectively.

Better Plaque Removal

Multiple independent studies have shown that electric toothbrushes remove more plaque and reduce gingivitis more effectively than manual brushes, in both the short and long term. Results are especially positive with brushes that have a rotating, oscillating action.

Superior Technology and Features

Some electric toothbrushes are even able to help you improve your brushing habits. Hi-tech toothbrush features may include:

  • Various brushing modes designed for sensitive teeth, whitening, or gum-massaging
  • Pressure sensors which gently signal when you’re brushing too hard
  • Timers which help you keep track of how long you’re brushing each quadrant of your mouth
  • Digital reminders that it’s time to replace your brush head
  • Multiple brush head compatibility, so you can choose which kind of bristle design you prefer

We encourage all our clients to consider switching to an electric toothbrush, because we almost always see a remarkable improvement in the oral hygiene of patients who do. If you would like a recommendation for a particular style or brand, just ask us during your next dental cleaning, and we will be happy to help!

Get the Best Dental Care in Apex at Hansen Dentistry

Hansen Dentistry 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.

What is Xylitol? Ask a General Dentist in Apex NC

, by

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.

Teeth and Sugar: Dispelling the Top 5 Dental Myths with our Dentist in Apex NC

, by

Teeth and Sugar: Dispelling the Top 5 Dental Myths

You’ve heard it since you were a small child: the #1 greatest threat to your teeth is sugar. Turns out, though, there are other things that damage our teeth just as much, and cutting out sugar isn’t always enough to guarantee total tooth health. Here are some of the most common misconceptions people have when it comes to sugar, teeth, and cavities.

Misconception 1: Sipping on one soda throughout the morning isn’t as dangerous as, say, eating 4 frosted donuts in one sitting.  

The truth: It’s actually much worse to expose your teeth to small amounts of sugar throughout the day, than to eat a high-sugar item in one go. It’s the frequency of sugar consumption that damages your teeth, not the amount. If you ate an entire tub of icing in a minute, we’re not saying it would do your body any favors; but your teeth would likely be fine, as the icing would only touch them for 60 seconds or so. Spending four hours working your way through a coke, however, exposes your teeth to an almost constant wash of acid.

Misconception 2: Sugar is bad for my teeth, but carbs aren’t. If I switch to unfrosted mini-wheats for breakfast, my teeth will be fine.

The truth: Simple carbohydrates are actually just as bad for teeth as sugar. That’s because it isn’t really sugar or carbs which are the culprits for cavities; those just happen to be the favorite foods of the bacteria that live in your mouth. Bacteria just love carbs and sugar, and once they’re done chowing down, they convert it into lactic acid, the stuff that erodes your teeth and creates cavities. Therefore, eating a bowl of crackers at your desk hurts your teeth as much as eating a bowl of candy.

Misconception 3: Drinking my coffee black might stain my teeth, but it won’t hurt the enamel.  

The truth: Drinking your coffee black will still damage your teeth, because it is extremely high in acid. Remember that the bacteria in your mouth eat the sugar and then convert it into acid. Black coffee by itself already is an acid, so nixing the sugar isn’t making things much better. (If you can’t kick your coffee habit, drinking it through a straw can help save your teeth from damage and staining.)

Misconception 4: Drinking sugar-free soda, or soda alternatives like LaCroix, will not hurt my teeth.

The truth: Carbonation can badly damage your enamel. Soda water’s pH is around 3 or 4, depending on the brand, making it around 100 to 1000 times more acidic than water. With that said, drinking soda water is better than drinking straight soda, and is often a good middle step to eventually going totally soda-free.

Take care of your teeth with Hansen Dentistry, your local Apex dentist office.

Whether you need preventative dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, oral surgery, or something else, Hansen Dentistry is here to help. 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.

Apex Dentist Recommends NOT Using Activated Charcoal Toothpaste

, by

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.

The Dangers of Cheap Veneers – Ask an Apex Cosmetic Dentist

, by

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

, by

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

, by

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.

How Cosmetic Dentistry Gives You More Confidence – Apex Dentist

, by

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.