Posts for: November, 2013

By James B. Howell, D.M.D.
November 27, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   toothpaste  
FiveFactsAboutToothpaste

Since the time of the ancient Egyptians, people have used mixtures of various substances in pursuit of a single goal: cleaning their teeth effectively. Today, even with a glut of toothpaste tubes on the supermarket shelf, most people seem to have a particular favorite. But have you ever thought about what's in your toothpaste, and how it works? Here are five facts you might not know.

1) Most toothpastes have a very similar set of active ingredients.

Once upon a time, a toothpaste might have contained crushed bones and oyster shells, pumice, or bark. Now, thankfully, they're a little different: today's toothpaste ingredients generally include abrasives, detergents and fluoride compounds, as well as inert substances like preservatives and binders. Toothpastes formulated to address special needs, like sensitive teeth or tartar prevention, have additional active ingredients.

2) Abrasives make the mechanical action of brushing more effective

These substances help remove stains and surface deposits from teeth. But don't even think about breaking out the sandpaper! Modern toothpastes use far gentler cleaning and polishing agents, like hydrated silica or alumina, calcium carbonate or dicalcium phosphate. These compounds are specially formulated to be effective without damaging tooth enamel.

3) Detergents help break up and wash away stains

The most common detergent in toothpaste (which is also found in many shampoos) is sodium lauryl sulfate, a substance that can be derived from coconut or palm kernel oil. Like the abrasives used in toothpaste, these detergents are far milder than the ones you use in the washing machine. Yet they're effective at loosening the stains clinging to your teeth, which would otherwise be hard to dissolve.

4) Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay

This has been conclusively demonstrated since it was first introduced into toothpaste formulations in 1914. Fluoride — whether it's in the form of sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride or sodium monofluorophosphate (MFP) — helps strengthen tooth enamel and make it more resistant to acid attack, which precipitates tooth decay. In fact, it's arguably the most important ingredient, and no toothpaste can receive the American Dental Association's Seal of Approval without it.

5) Look for toothpaste with the ADA seal

This means that the particular brand of toothpaste has proven effective as a cleaning agent and a preventative against tooth decay. Plus, if the package says it has other benefits, then research has verified that it does what it says. Oh, and one other thing — toothpaste doesn't work if you don't use it — so don't forget to brush regularly!

If you have questions about toothpastes or oral hygiene, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Toothpaste — What's In It?


By James B. Howell, D.M.D.
November 12, 2013
Category: Oral Health
TheSecretsBehindVannaWhitesSmile

Describing Vanna White, co-host of the hit television game show Wheel of Fortune as friendly is an understatement. Yes, a good portion of the credit goes to her bubbly personality; however, you can't look at her without noticing her world-famous smile.

During an interview with Dear Doctor magazine, Vanna shared some of the secrets to her trademark smile. Secrets that she is instilling in her children.

“I floss every day and I brush my teeth at least twice a day — morning and night — and sometimes after lunch.” She added, “I think that flossing is the most important thing. I believe that dental floss helps a lot, as it keeps your gums strong and looking younger.” And when asked about how often she has her teeth professionally cleaned she replied, “...every four to five months because I get a lot of plaque buildup.”

A typical dental hygiene visit is one that involves prophylaxis, a dental (and insurance) term for scaling and or polishing procedures to remove plaque and calculus (tartar) from the crown or portion of the tooth that you can see. Scaling is a procedure where we use special hand-held instruments and/or ultrasonic scalers to remove plaque, bacteria and tartar that can coat your teeth causing them to feel rough or fuzzy. To polish your teeth, we use a rubber polishing cup, prophy paste and a motorized instrument that removes bacterial plaque and surface stains. This is usually the last portion of a routine cleaning because it leaves your teeth feeling smooth and shiny.

However, if you have been seeing blood when you brush your teeth or while flossing, you have the telltale signs of periodontal (gum) disease. During your cleaning appointment, we will clean below the gum line to treat and manage your periodontal disease (an infection of the gum and jaw bones). We may also discover that additional, deep-cleaning treatments (such as root planing) may be needed to treat and manage your periodontal disease.

To learn more about this topic, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Polishing.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination and cleaning. And if you want to read the entire feature article on Vanna White, continue reading “Vanna White.”




Louisville, KY Cosmetic Dentistry
James B. Howell, D.M.D.
3936 Dutchmans Lane
Louisville, KY 40207
(502) 899-7766

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