What is Xylitol? Ask a General Dentist in Apex NC

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

What is Xylitol?

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

Is Xylitol Natural?

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

How Xylitol Helps Your Teeth

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

Why Xylitol is Toxic to Dogs

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

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

Need a General Dentist in Apex NC? Call Hansen Dentistry

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

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

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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

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

What is activated charcoal?

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

Why shouldn’t charcoal be used on teeth?

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

What we do know about charcoal toothpaste

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

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

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

The Dangers of Cheap Veneers – Ask an Apex Cosmetic Dentist

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

Cheap Veneer Alternatives

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

Risk 1: Too Much Enamel is Removed   

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

Risk 2: Not Enough Enamel is Removed

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

Risk 3: The Color Isn’t Right

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

Veneers are Not Reversible

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

Get Quality Veneers from an Apex Cosmetic Dentist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get a Dental Cleaning from a Qualified Apex Dentist

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

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

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

From Carnivores to Omnivores

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

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

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

Bacteria and Tooth Decay

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

How to Take Care of Your Teeth, Here and Now

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

Need a dentist office in Apex NC? Call Hansen Dentistry

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

How Cosmetic Dentistry Gives You More Confidence – Apex Dentist

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

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

What They’re Really Thinking

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

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

What is an “attractive smile?”

The traditional attractive smile in the United States has:

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

How can cosmetic dentistry help?

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

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

Schedule a Smile Consultation Today

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

A Dentist for Every Member of the Family – Apex Family Dentistry

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family dentist

At Hansen Dentistry, we know that raising and caring for a healthy family is one of the most important things in life. That’s why we’ve made our practice a place that helps every member of your family have the best oral health possible. From the youngest to the oldest, you’ll find that we are your one-stop family dental care headquarters. As a family dentist, Dr. Rylan Hansen is trained in caring for teeth and gums at every stage of life. Visit our Apex, NC dental office to learn more about our services.

Children’s Dentistry

The key to keeping children’s teeth healthy is prevention. Children should come in for routine oral care starting at their first birthday, with regular six-month visits. At preventive visits we give children a check-up, provide a gentle cleaning to remove tartar, and apply preventive treatments to strengthen and protect the teeth. If we find problems, we help parents try to identify what may be the cause of their child’s issues, to keep teeth healthy in the future. If there are cavities, we provide gentle and age-appropriate restorative treatments to keep your child’s teeth healthy and strong.

We love kids and we love giving them happy experiences at the dentist. Dental anxiety is a serious concern for both adults and children, and we believe the best way to prevent anxiety is by taking the time to make sure your children are comfortable with their treatment. We never coerce or force children into situations they are not comfortable with. We also give them plenty of time to get used to what happens during a dental appointment, and make sure they feel empowered to ask questions and communicate their preferences.

Adult Dental Care

As with children, prevention is the key to good oral health. Six-month visits give us the opportunity to remove tartar from the teeth, to prevent the formation of new cavities. They also give us the chance to spot potential problems before they turn into toothaches and major restorations. Even with routine appointments, its easy to develop oral health concerns, such as tooth decay, gingivitis and gum disease. It’s estimated that 99 percent of all adults have experienced some degree of tooth decay; routine visits allow us to treat problems in their earliest stages, before they turn into emergencies.

We also provide a full range of cosmetic dentistry treatments to help our adult patients look their best. As teeth endure years of hard usage, even the most beautiful of smiles may begin to look stained, chipped or misaligned. Cosmetic dentistry can restore the beauty of your smile, for greater confidence and a positive self-image. Whether you seek small improvements or dramatic smile makeovers, we can help you make your smile look new and bright again.

Oral Surgery

If you need a wisdom teeth extraction, dental implant placement or bone grafting, you’ll be glad to know that we provide these treatments in-house. Dr. Hansen performs oral surgery, which means you won’t need to find a separate oral surgeon to get the care you need.

Emergency Treatment

If you’ve ever had a dental emergency, you know that it’s inappropriate to ask a patient to wait several days for an appointment! That’s why we make room for emergencies in our schedule and offer extended hours and Saturday appointments. Whether you are a returning patient or a new patient, we are always welcoming of emergencies. Put our number in your phone right now, as “emergency dentist” and you’ll be glad you did—should you have to deal with an emergency dental problem in the future.

Periodontal Care

Gum disease is a frightening condition that can rob you of your healthy gums (and teeth). Unfortunately, gum disease is also extremely common. There’s a fair chance someone in your family may one day need periodontal treatments. These cleanings can often be traumatic for sensitive gums, so we have invested in laser dentistry tools to provide gentler periodontal cleanings.

 

At Hansen Dentistry of Apex, NC, we want to be your family dentist. Call us at (919) 363-8444 to make an appointment for any children or adults in your family who are due for a check-up.

Tooth Colored Fillings vs Silver Fillings? – Learn More from 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.

Why We Changed our Name to Hansen Dentistry

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Hansen Dentistry recently changed its name to Hansen Dentistry and we wanted to share with you the reasons why!
 
#1-We wanted to streamline and give you just one name to remember! Rather than having to remember your Dentist’s name and the practice name…now they are one in the same!
 
#2-Let’s face it, while the meaning of the word “Renaissance” is strong and positive, no one knows how to spell it!! Ok, maybe not “no one” but for those of us who did not win our grade school spelling bee, it can be a little tricky and we wanted to well, streamline (see reason #1). There are also a few other “Renaissance” dental offices in the area and we didn’t want patients to be confused if we had any association with these other practices (we don’t).
 
#3-Dr. Hansen really values the opportunity to practice what he considers the “Art of Dentistry” as a sole practitioner. He is meticulous and kind of a perfectionist and as a sole practitioner he has the freedom to do be able to practice dentistry this way. We want patients to know that at our practice they can count on seeing the same friendly faces of our team and always, always the same Doctor. This results in not only quality care but continuity of care and we want patients to know that at Hansen Dentistry, they can expect both!
 
So here is looking to the future with a new name, but the same dedication to our patients! As always, we are very grateful for your continued relationship with us as your dental health care providers.
 
-The Hansen Dentistry Team