Do Teeth-Whitening Lip Glosses Really Work?

Whitening is one of the most popular options for cosmetic dentistry. Recently, makeup companies started offering lip glosses that supposedly make your teeth look whiter in photos.

Do they really work?! We gave it a shot.

The Experiment

Future of Dentistry tried two products. We had our “model” try out Estee Edit by Estee Lauder and News Anchor Blue Vitality Lip Flush Butter Gloss by Ulta.whiteninglipglosses_final_resized

Both glosses go on clear, but contain blue components designed to make your teeth look whiter. Blues and yellows are opposites on the color wheel, so the blue tones in the gloss will supposedly counteract any dental yellowness.

Makeup experts will tell you to avoid orange-y colors if you’re worried about your teeth looking yellow in photos. There are even stories about makeup artists mixing a tiny bit of blue eyeshadow into lip gloss to achieve a whiter look.

The Results

Both glosses made teeth slightly whiter in photos. Neither one made a difference in in-person whiteness, at least none that was noticeable.The Estee product was a little more effective than the Ulta one.

Pros:

  • It did make teeth look a little whiter in the photos.
  • No bad aftertaste (especially the Estee one)
  • The gloss itself was good in terms of shine, lip softness, etc.

Cons:

  • The “whitening effect” was only noticeable in the photo.
  • It’s a gloss, so a matte lipstick look isn’t possible once you apply it.
  • The prices aren’t outrageous (about $20). But if you usually buy lip gloss at CVS or Riteaid, these are probably more expensive than you’re used to.

What’s Next

If you’re trying whitening gloss, we suggest the Estee Edit by Estee Lauder. We’re curious to see if the whitening effect is better or worse in different conditions – outdoors vs. indoors, high and low lights, etc.

There’s no substitute for a professional whitening procedure, but the lip gloss options are fun way to improve your look in photos.

Looking for more dramatic whitening results? Ask about Future of Dentistry’s special offer on laser whitening.

When you call before the end of March 2017, you can save $100 on this highly effective procedure. It’s painless and long-lasting. Call 781-245-2299 to learn more.

Smile, It’s Story Time!

Stories and smiles went hand-in-hand this week when Future of Dentistry visited “P.J. Story Time” at the Beebe Library in Wakefield.

future of dentistry beebe library wakefield
Racquel reads a classic, ‘The Berenstain Bears Visit The Dentist,’ to the families at Beebe Library.

P.J. Story Time gives local families a chance to enjoy stories, songs and games together in the evening. The group gave us a warm welcome, and we were so pleased to be there!

With events like this, Future of Dentistry’s goal is helping kids establish good dental health habits and a positive outlook on visiting the dentist. This is especially true during February, which is celebrated nationally as Children’s Dental Health Month.

There are many great children’s books that emphasize pediatric dental care while making it fun for them. Your kids might enjoy hearing about the Berenstain Bears’ and Curious George’s dentist visits, and about “Bear’s Loose Tooth.” Racquel, from the Future of Dentistry team, read several great books at the library and joined in the singing and rhymes. In addition to working at our front desk, Racquel has a clinical background as a Certified Dental Assistant.

future of dentistry beebe library wakefield
Racquel and a Story Time participant sing together about brushing teeth.

Since Story Time is for age 7 and under, the topic of loose teeth was very popular! Many of the children wanted to share their experiences with loose teeth and visits from the Tooth Fairy. It was a great chance to explain how “big kid teeth” need to be cared for, so they will last your whole life. Racquel discussed the importance of brushing twice a day for two minutes. The children also enjoyed a dental-themed craft.

Racquel brought Future of Dentistry’s interactive “tooth game,” which shows kids how some foods are a problem for teeth. The game board is a magnetic tooth, so kids can see which foods stick to the “tooth.” For example, the candy piece was magnetized, so it clung to the tooth, much like sugar does in reality. The carrot piece wasn’t magnetized, so it slid off the tooth board, just as vegetables don’t stick to teeth in real life.

future of dentistry beebe library wakefield
Kids love Future of Dentistry’s tooth game, but it’s also educational. It illustrates the effects of healthy and unhealthy foods on teeth.

We always like to bring goodie bags when we give a presentation, so the kids take home a reminder to care for their oral health. Each Story Time participant received a Future of Dentistry tote bag with fun and educational items, as well as dental hygiene products like toothpaste and flossers in kid-friendly flavors.

We had a wonderful evening at Story Time! Dr. Gerry Casazza, the founder of Future of Dentistry, would like to thank the families for attending and making dental care a focus for their children. Special thanks to Youth Services Librarian Dorrie Karlin, whose energy and creativity makes P.J. Story Time a fantastic program.

Future of Dentistry’s community presentations are provided as a volunteer service to raise awareness about dental care and overall health. If you’d like to have Future of Dentistry visit your school or organization, call 781-245-2299 or send us a message here.

Healthy Teeth For Life: 5 Tips For Kids

Early dental care is essential for ensuring a bright and healthy future. It’s also important for “beating the statistics,” including:

  • American children miss 51 million school hours because of dental problems
  • Over 40% of children have cavities by kindergarten
  • 17.5% of children aged 5-19 have untreated cavities
  • Preventable dental visits to the ER cost millions annually, in Massachusetts alone

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, a great time to focus on kids’ oral health. Here are 5 tips to help protect your child’s smile for years to come.

roman casazza future of dentistry wakefield ma
How do you make a great smile, like Roman’s, last a lifetime? These 5 tips will help.

1) Don’t Overlook Baby Teeth: It’s easy to underestimate the importance of primary teeth. Yes, baby teeth will fall out, but you still have to take care of them. Decay can spread to permanent teeth that are forming underneath or even to the gums. And the bacteria that harms teeth doesn’t go away when primary teeth fall out. Home care should begin as soon as the first tooth emerges, and a preliminary dental visit should take place around age 2. Click here to learn more.

2) Get The Tooth Fairy On Your Side: When baby teeth first become loose and “wiggly,” it’s a great time to remind kids how important oral hygiene is. A simple comment at bedtime can go a long way: “You know, the Tooth Fairy can tell if you brush your teeth.” In other words, let the Tooth Fairy do for dental care what Santa and the Elf on the Shelf do for good behavior in general.

An effective follow-up: “When your new tooth comes in, you’ll never grow another one in that spot. You have to be really good about taking care of your big kid teeth, because you’ll have them when you’re a grownup.”

Primary teeth typically begin to fall out around age 6 or 7, often starting with the lower center teeth. (Fun side note: The Tooth Fairy is paying more than ever, according to a nationwide poll. Click here to learn more.)

3) Make It Fun: There’s a reason why our office provides kid-friendly toothpaste flavors. It’s the same reason we demonstrate brushing on cute, toothy stuffed animals and why kids can pick a toy from our toy chest after every visit.

Put simply, children like it! These little touches, and others like them, create a positive feeling about dental health. Let’s face it, kids pay attention to things that are fun. They’re more likely to absorb what you tell them – and actually stick to their oral hygiene routine – if they don’t feel like it’s a chore.

Try setting your child’s two-minute brushing session to music, such as these song options. Let them choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste flavor at the store. Consider using an electric brush – in addition to tracking the two-minute brushing time, kids get a kick out of them.

4) Prevent Growing Pains: How do you help older kids take responsibility for their own dental care? This can be a challenge, even in families that established great habits during early childhood. Try to encourage independence as children get older. For example, save appointments to their smartphone calendar as well as yours.

Many older teens can handle going to an after-school hygiene visit without a parent. Ask our hygienist to provide your teen with a “Continuing Care Report Card,” which provides a checklist of what occurred during the visit and recommendations for future care. That way, a teen learns to handle dental visits solo, while the parent stays in the loop.

As they reach college age, encourage young adults to book their own appointments. Our office can set up appointment reminders to go to your child by text and to you by email, if you feel like they need an extra reminder. If your child lives on-campus at college, have them contact Future of Dentistry in advance to book their hygiene visits during winter and summer breaks.

5) Don’t Overlook Diet: Diet is one of the most underrated ways of promoting a healthy smile. Food and drinks that are heavy on sugar/carbs or acid can profoundly affect your child’s teeth, now and in the future.

What’s healthy for your body is usually healthy for your teeth, with rare exceptions. Minimize sugar intake, and encourage kids to brush after eating sweet snacks. If they can’t brush, drinking and rinsing with water will at least help.

For beverages, juice is a common culprit. Though it’s nutritious, it’s high in sugar and in some cases in acidity. Try limiting juice to the morning and evening, when your child will be brushing soon afterward. Energy drinks and sports waters are some of the worst offenders when it comes to damaging enamel. Click here to learn more about the acidity of popular energy and sports beverages.

Tips For A Sweet Valentine’ Day

Love conquers many things, but not toothaches, to paraphrase the actress Mae West. Make sure your Valentine’s Day is a sweet one with these simple suggestions.

Valentines Day tips
Looks delicious! But everything on this table can cause a less-than-fresh Valentine’s Day.

The no-no list: Some foods seem like they’d be harmless for your breath, but they alter conditions in your mouth. Sugar is probably the best-known of these foods — it promotes bacteria that leads to offensive breath. Dairy is also an offender, including cheese. Dairy products contain dense proteins that are hard for the mouth to break down.

Wine not?: For many of us, a glass of wine is an essential part of a celebratory dinner. You may be tempted to brush afterward, especially if you’re drinking red wine. We’d never discourage brushing, but be sure to wait an hour! Wine is extremely acidic, and brushing immediately after spreads the acid around. Wait about 90 minutes if possible, to give your mouth a chance to return to its natural pH level.

White overnight: If you’re looking for a last-minute gift idea, ask our office about our special offer on laser whitening! When you call now, you and your sweetheart can save $100 each on whitening. Laser whitening is popular because of its fast, dramatic results. It’s sometimes called bleaching or in-office whitening.

Sweet tooth: Anything with sugar takes a toll on your teeth, of course. But the worst culprits to avoid are sticky, chewy treats like gummy candies and caramels. Most chocolate is, comparatively, not as bad, but you definitely want to brush and floss soon after eating any candy.

Quick tips: There are two simple ways to improve your breath and your dental health. First, avoid “grazing” on snacks. Leave your mouth time to recover and break down the tiny food particles in your mouth — your sweetheart will thank you for it. And if you chew gum to freshen your breath, look for a brand that contains Xylitol, which helps your mouth maintain a healthy pH balance.

Drink up: Want fresh breath for the big night? Stay hydrated. It helps with saliva production, and saliva is your best friend when it comes to fighting bacteria that causes bad breath.

Workplace woes: The entire Valentine’s week is usually chock-full of sweets, since people bring in treats to celebrate as well as leftover snacks after the holiday. Those cupcakes and candies take a toll! We often neglect to brush and floss at work, which only makes it worse. Try to save your snacking for lunchtime so you can clean after you eat.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all our patients and readers!

Protect Your Teeth By Preserving Tooth Enamel

Cavities are not the only way you can damage your tooth enamel. Non-carious lesions can lead to a number of problems including grooves or notches in the sides and at the base of your teeth.

smile enamel
Loss of enamel can lead to damaged teeth and affect the cosmetic appearance of your smile.

These notches can be caused by excessive wear and pressure due to clenching and grinding as often the force of the stress is leveled at its most narrow point which is the base of your tooth.

Another very common cause of damage is erosion. Since dental erosion is painless, we dentists are often the first to notice that damage has been done.

Here are some common causes of enamel erosion…

  • acidic foods and beverages including lemons and other citrus fruits, juices, pickles, and wine coolers
  • foods and beverages containing carbohydrates and added sugars as well as carbonated beverages, pre-sweetened cereals, candies, and other sweet treats
  • beverages that may contain powerful phosphoric acids including sports drinks, vitamin waters, energy drinks and protein drinks

As with any oral health issue, prevention is always preferable, and it seems obvious looking at this list that limiting your acidic- and carbohydrate-laden foods and beverages is an essential strategy. With erosion, proper brushing habits are important for two reasons.

First, you don’t want to brush too hard and cause more damage to enamel that has been
softened by acids. Toothbrush abrasion is definitely the biggest culprit – it can expose the roots of your teeth and your teeth enamel to cavity-causing bacteria, thin your teeth enamel so that the yellow dentin inside shows through, and make your teeth sensitive to hot and cold.

Second, it is crucial to remove plaque, the biofilm that you can feel on your teeth, especially at the gumline. Once formed into plaque, the oral bacteria that feeds on sugars left in your mouth after eating produces demineralizing acids. Fluoride toothpaste can help to protect your teeth and re-mineralize, and if clenching and grinding is a problem, an occlusal guard is an excellent preventive option.

If you’ve already lost teeth enamel, or think you may have, let’s talk during your next visit about your options for the restoration and preservation of your smile. Most of the time you can be treated with a simple tooth-colored filling that is bonded to your tooth, although if the tooth has a large existing filling or extensive decay, a crown may be needed.

Whichever strategy suits, you can be sure that your smile will look completely natural – just stronger and better than ever.

Receding Gums: Can They Be Fixed?

If you’ve been told by your hygienist, dentist or periodontist that you need a “graft,” don’t panic. A tissue or gum graft may be necessary to protect your teeth from the damaging effects of periodontal disease and gum recession. Recession can be caused by many things including:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Physical trauma (brushing too hard, too often or with a hard brush)
  • Tooth position
  • Gum tissue that is naturally thin

Recession can also make the tooth sensitive to hot or cold temperatures, more prone to root decay and bone loss. Soft-tissue grafts are used to add more gum tissue. This can mouth gums teethaccomplish several things:

  • Prevent further recession
  • Cover the exposed root
  • Stop the sensitivity
  • Improve the look of the tooth

Some people’s gums are naturally very thin. This increases the likelihood they will recede. In these cases, a soft-tissue graft may be done to prevent problems in the future. There are three different types of soft-tissue grafts:

  1. FREE GINGIVAL GRAFTS Similar to a connective-tissue graft, free gingival grafts involve the use of tissue from the roof of the mouth. But instead of making a flap and removing tissue under the top layer of flesh, a small amount of tissue is removed directly from the roof of the mouth and then attached to the gum area being treated. This method is used most often in people who have thin gums to begin with and need additional tissue to enlarge the gums.
  2. CONNECTIVE-TISSUE GRAFTS This is the most common method used to treat root exposure. During the procedure, a flap of skin is cut at the roof of your mouth and tissue from under the flap, called subepithelial connective tissue, is removed and then stitched to the gum tissue surrounding the exposed root. After the connective tissue — the graft — has been removed from under the flap, the flap is stitched back down.
  3. PEDICLE GRAFTS In this procedure, instead of taking tissue from the palate, it is grafted from gum around or near the tooth needing repair. The flap, called a pedicle, is only partially cut away so that one edge remains attached. The gum is then pulled over or down to cover the exposed root and sewn into place. This procedure can only be done in people who have plenty of gum tissue near the tooth.

Some dentists and patients prefer to use donor tissue instead of tissue from the roof of the mouth. Sometimes tissue-stimulating proteins are used to encourage your body’s natural ability to grow bone and tissue. Your dentist can tell you which method will work best for you.

Ready For Your (Dental) Close-Up?!

Intraoral cameras deliver high-quality images that help patients learn about problem areas and better understand their treatment options. Mounted on the end of a pen-shaped instrument, the tiny intraoral camera can be used to provide detailed imaging of the teeth and gums.

intraoral dental camera
The intraoral camera is an important diagnostic tool at Future of Dentistry.

Digital images are captured instantly and displayed on a monitor, where our patients and clinical staff can view them together. The intraoral camera allows you to be an active partner in your dental treatment. It will enable you to see what we see which can greatly increase your comfort before and during a procedure.

Why Do We Take Them?

Intraoral images are quickly becoming the gold standard in patient care. Intraoral images are important diagnostic aids for our clinical team. With an enlarged intraoral image of your patient’s teeth on your computer monitor, you have the benefit of observing cracks, leaking restorations, calculus, periodontal abnormalities, oral lesions and many other issues.

These images enable our clinical staff to map out a clear plan and assessment of the patient’s needs as well as being able to clearly envision how to correct a problem.

Why Is It Important?

Digital x-rays are essential in determining any dental problems, but they’re not the only diagnostic technology. At Future of Dentistry, we believe in using all tools available to provide our patients with optimal care.

The intraoral camera captures images and displays them in a magnified form, which provides our clinical staff with a better understanding of how to correct a potential issue. It also identifies problems that may not be detected by the traditional method of examination, including cracks in fillings or hairline fractures in teeth.

Patients can now see defects and problems for themselves and make better decisions regarding their own treatment. They can now view the same things their clinical team sees, and understand the implication of not correcting the problem.

Intraoral images are also beneficial when it comes to dealing with dental insurance companies. There are times when our best digital x-rays are not enough to support our clinical recommendations to a dental insurance provider. Sending an intraoral image to the insurance company allows us to show them firsthand exactly what we see. These diagnostic images provide accurate documentation of the tooth’s condition before treatment is performed.

Seeing Clearly

The old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words” is certainly appropriate when it comes to intraoral images. Diagnostic photos inform our treatment recommendations, and elevate the understanding of both the patient and the insurance company.