Smiling young woman receiving dental checkup

Thinking about Whitening Your Teeth? This FAQ is For You.

We get a lot of questions from people who are interested in whitening their teeth. After all, your smile is often the first thing someone notices about you. But many things, including coffee, tea, red wine and tobacco, can stain them and cause them to darken. Here are answers to some of the questions we hear most often from people who want a brighter, whiter smile.

How does tooth whitening work?

Whitening products contain a peroxide-based bleach that breaks up both deep and surface stains in tooth enamel. The degree of whiteness that can be achieved will vary based on the condition of your teeth, how much staining you have, and the type of bleaching system you use.

Does whitening work on all teeth?

No. It’s important to talk with your dentist before deciding to whiten your teeth because whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration. Yellow teeth usually bleach well, brown teeth may not respond as well, and teeth with gray tones may not bleach at all. In addition, whitening will not work on caps, veneers, crowns or fillings. And it won’t be effective on tooth discoloration caused by medications or injury to the tooth. (American Dental Association)

What types of professional whitening systems are available?

  • Tray-based, at-home whitening. With this method, the dentist creates a mouthguard-type tray from an impression of your upper and lower teeth. A tray made by a dentist is customized to fit your teeth exactly. It allows for maximum contact between the whitening gel and the teeth, and also minimizes the gel’s contact with gum tissue. When it’s time to use the tray, you fill it with a prescription whitening gel and wear it for a specified period of time. That may range from a couple of hours a day to overnight for up to four weeks or longer, depending on how much discoloration you have and your desired level of whitening.
  • In-office whitening. This is the fastest way to whiten teeth. With this type of bleaching, the whitening product is applied directly to the teeth. It may be used in combination with heat, a special light, or a laser. Results can be seen in just one 30- to 60-minute treatment. For the most dramatic results, more than one appointment may be needed.

Can a person with very sensitive teeth have their teeth whitened?

In almost all cases, yes. A number of steps can be taken to address the issue of sensitivity:

  • The strength of the bleaching solution as well as the length of time teeth are exposed to it can be adjusted.
  • The length of time between treatments can be extended.
  • A high fluoride, remineralization gel or over-the-counter product such as Crest® Sensi-Stop™ Strips can be used to help stop sensitivity after treatment.

Be sure to discuss your sensitivity problem with your dentist.

There are also things you can do to lessen sensitivity. Take ibuprofen before your treatment and while teeth are sensitive. Avoid foods that are very hot or very cold. Use a prescribed gel or toothpaste made for sensitive teeth along with a soft-bristle toothbrush. And try to avoid foods citrus fruits and foods that are highly acidic.

How long does whitening last?

Teeth whitening isn’t permanent. If you expose your teeth to foods and beverages that cause staining, whitening may start to fade in a little as a month. However, if you avoid those things that stain, you may be able to wait as long as a year before another treatment or touch-up is necessary. (WebMD)

If you have any other questions as you consider whitening your teeth, be sure to call a Summit Dental Health office near you.

Snapshot of the Article from Siouxland Woman magazine

Tips For Preparing Your Child For A Dental Visit

This month in Siouxland Woman Magazine, our very own Dr. Lindsey Anzalone and Kathleen Lohr are featured in an article called “Tips For Preparing Your Child For A Dental Visit” by Tanya Manus. In the article, Dr. Anzalone and Kathleen give advice parents can use to help little ones relax before their dental checkups. Here’s an excerpt:

Eat healthy snacks, drink water, and minimize pop and juice. “A lot of times juice is portrayed as good and healthy, but most juices have as much sugar as soda,” Dr. Anzalone said. “That can be detrimental to a child’s teeth without parents really knowing it.”

Read the full thing here: Tips For Preparing Your Child For A Dental Visit

African American girl having tootache.

What to Do if Your Child Has a Toothache

Toothaches are common for young children. But as parents, we worry anytime our child is in pain. A child’s toothache can have many causes—tooth decay, plaque buildup, incoming teeth, cavities, broken teeth or food trapped between teeth—and sometimes what feels like a toothache might be just pain caused by something else entirely!

So what do you do when your child has a toothache? Follow our 6 easy steps to identify the problem, help ease your child’s pain and get them the treatment they need.

Ask Questions

The first thing you want to do is try to find the cause of your child’s toothache. If they are old enough, ask them to point at or describe the pain. If they are younger, look for swelling, redness of gums and cheek, tooth discoloration or broken teeth. If you find a tooth that is loose, discolored or broken, you’ve likely found the cause.

Help Your Child Floss

Next you want to help your child remove any food particles that may be trapped between their teeth. Remember to be gentle and careful while flossing, because your child’s gums might be sensitive. If your child struggles with flossing or has braces, consider purchasing a Waterpik Water Flosser for Kids to make it easier.

Rinse with Warm Salt Water

Mix about a teaspoon of table salt into a small cup of warm water. Have your child rinse with the solution for about 30 seconds and spit. This will kill bacteria in or around the affected area and encourage faster healing.

Use a Cold Compress

Apply a cold compress to your child’s outer cheek near the painful or swollen area. If you do not have a store-bought compress, you can make one by wrapping ice in a small towel or cloth. Try icing for 15 minutes and taking another 15 minutes off.

Use Pain Medication or Clove Oil

If pain continues, your child can take anti-inflammatory medication like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Remember to make sure that any medicine you give your children is safe for them: Read the Drug Facts label every time, look for the active ingredient and give the right amount.

Under no circumstance should you rub aspirin or any painkiller on your child’s gums – it is very acidic and can cause burns. If you need a topical treatment, a home remedy that others have suggested is clove oil – an antimicrobial, anti-fungal essential oil that was used as far back as Ancient Greece. Gently dab clove oil with a cotton swab to the affected area around the tooth for temporary pain relief.

Call Your Child’s Dentist

Flossing, rinsing, icing and medicating are of probably not permanent solutions to the problem. If your child’s toothache is caused by a cavity, they’ll need to see a dentist for a filling, root canal or possibly an extraction. If your child is experiencing extreme pain, fatigue or fever, you’ll want to call your pediatrician immediately.

Children are at a greater risk for dental infections than adults. If your child’s toothache is not going away—especially if the toothache persists for over 24 hours—you should call your dentist to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Even if your child’s pain goes away, there is still a chance they have a cavity which can develop into a painful abscess. If you have any doubts, please call us or schedule an appointment online.

Team Member Sasha with Pearl and Durango

Summit’s Night Out at UNO Hockey

Summit Dental Health is proud to be a community partner and the official dentist of the UNO Mavs.

It was Summit Dental Health night at the sold-out UNO Hockey vs. North Dakota game on Friday, January 6. The first 500 fans received a UNO t-shirt courtesy of Summit Dental Health.  Pearl made her rounds with Durango, posing with fans in their t-shirts.

 

Two boys pose in UNO t-shirts with Pearl, the Summit Dental Health mascot

 

Fans had a chance to spin the wheel for a Summit Dental Health prize and to enter a drawing for a UNO hockey jersey at the Summit Dental Health booth.

Jackie at booth

Paul was the lucky fan chosen to participate in the Summit Dental Health shoot out for the night to win a Summit Dental Health prize pack.

 

Although the game ended in a painful 9-1 loss to No. 7 North Dakota, the sixty Summit team members and their families made the most of a fun night out in Omaha.

 

man smokes an electronic cigarette with stoic expression

Smoking Alternatives: Helpful or Harmful?

In the 20th century, tobacco use killed more people than World War I and World War II combined. Smoking cigarettes not only stains your teeth and makes it harder to breathe, it can also lead to heart disease, lung cancer, pregnancy complications, erectile dysfunction, anxiety, poor vision and oral cancer. But most people already know about the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes and the addictive nature of nicotine, which is why the number of smokers has been decreasing steadily over time.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of 7 out of 10 current smokers in the US who say they’d like to quit altogether. And you’ve likely tried smoking alternatives that are advertised as healthier options. In this article, we will help you make a smart decision by discussing popular smoking alternatives and whether they are harmful or helpful.

E-Cigarettes / Vape Pens

Electronic Cigarettes & Vaporizers

Believe it or not, electronic cigarettes were first invented in the 1930s, but the modern version we know didn’t gain popularity until the 2000s. An e-cigarette (or electronic cigarette) is a battery-powered device that converts liquid nicotine into a mist, or vapor, that the user inhales. There’s no fire, no ash and no smoky smell. E-cigarettes do not contain many of the harmful chemicals in traditional cigarettes, like carbon monoxide or tar. E-cigarettes, vaporizers and vape pens have been advertised as more convenient, less addictive, healthier and more socially acceptable than paper cigarettes – but more and more research is proving these claims to be false. One 2016 report suggests that electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) were equally damaging—in some cases, more damaging—to mouth cells as tobacco smoke. E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular with teenagers and college students, and there are non-nicotine versions of e-liquid (vape juice) available for purchase. But these products are still not regulated by the FDA and have not yet been researched enough to prove they are a safe alternative to smoking. Until we see some better evidence to support advertisers’ claims, our suggestion is to seek another stop-smoking aid.

Verdict: Harmful


Cigarette rolling machine, loose tobacco and rolled cigarettes

Rollies, Clove Cigarettes & Flavored Cigarillos

We’ve grouped these three types of cigarette alternatives together for the same reason – they are often misrepresented as a lighter, safer smoking experience as well as a healthier choice. Roll-your-own cigarettes (“rollies”) are often promoted as a more natural or organic alternative – and for some, a more authentic or cooler experience. Unfortunately “rollies” have seen a slight uptick in usage worldwide, and have actually have a higher risk of cancers of the larynx (voice box), esophagus (swallowing tube), mouth, and pharynx (throat) when compared with smokers of machine-made cigarettes – even if you use a filter.

Clove cigarettes (kreteks) and bidis are generally seen as more flavorful and contain ingredients not found in traditional cigarettes. People who smoke cloves sometimes think that they are less addictive or less hazardous than cigarettes, but studies show they have just as many negative effects as traditional cigarettes. Bidis are especially dangerous because it takes a deeper and more frequent inhale to keep them burning. Bidis often containing higher levels of tar, carbon monoxide and cigarettes and bidi smokers are at higher risk for heart attack, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and cancer. For all you Black & Mild or Swisher Sweet fans out there, you might be doing more harm than if you smoked cigarettes – putting you at risk for cancer, heart attack and respiratory diseases. Remember that cigars are not designed to be inhaled so when you choose to inhale cigar/cigarillo smoke, you might be doing even more damage to your lungs, brain and heart. If you’re looking to curb your habit, look elsewhere.

Verdict: Harmful

Hand holds smokeless tobacco product while other hand removes product with fingers

Smokeless Tobacco: Chew, Dip, Plug, Snuff & Snus

Smokeless tobacco comes in many different packages but for the most part, it is not a safe alternative to smoking. For example, one can of snuff contains the same amount of nicotine as 4 packs of cigarettes and dipping 8 to 10 times a day introduces as much nicotine into the body as smoking 30-40 cigarettes. And studies have shown that those who switch from cigarette smoking to chewing tobacco were more than 2.5 times as likely to develop cancer of the mouth or throat compared to those who quit smoking all together. If you’re trying to curb your habit or find a healthier alternative, smokeless tobacco is not the answer – because it still contains most of the chemicals in cigarettes that cause lung cancer and has even been tied to an increased risk of prostate cancer.

However, there is one exception and it comes in the form of a Swedish invention called “Snus.”  Snus is still highly addictive, but research shows that using snus to quit smoking has been proven to improve success rates by 50%. Also, in a large-scale study conducted in Australia, lifelong users of snus had a life expectancy comparable to those who quit tobacco all together. But it is important to note that this study was conducted in Sweden using the Swedish product, and American snus products are regulated differently. So it is possible that in the future, snus will become a helpful, recommended stop-smoking aid – for now, we remain skeptical of it being used in this way.

Verdict: Harmful

Smoking hookah with fruit head on dark background

Hookah or Shisha

Hookah (or Shisha, depending on your location) is a type of water pipe that is often smoked in social settings, at bars or parties. The tobacco is generally fruit-flavored, and its smoke is inhaled through long rubber hoses into a mouthpiece. Hookah smoke contains high levels of toxic compounds, including tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals. Hookah smoking delivers about the same amount of nicotine as cigarette smoking, and can even lead to dependence and increased smoking habits. If you’re smoking hookah in a public place, there is also a chance that the equipment has not been properly cleaned – so there is an increased risk of contracting infectious diseases there. Hookah can be a fun, once-in-a-while activity with friends, but it is not a safe alternative to smoking and it will not help you quit smoking cigarettes.

Verdict: Harmful

 

There are many reasons to quit smoking, and it’s never too late. Quitting today can help reduce your risk of lung cancer, oral cancer, gum disease, heart disease, stroke and asthma – and it can even improve brain function. Studies have shown that quitting at around age 30 reduces the chance of dying from smoking-related diseases by more than 90%. If you quit at around age 50, you reduce the risk of dying prematurely by 50% compared with those who continue to smoke. Even those who quit at around age 60 or older live longer than those who continue to smoke.

At Summit Dental Health, we are committed not just to your oral health, but to helping you live a longer, happier and more rewarding life. If you are a smoker, talk to us at your next cleaning about quitting. We’d be happy to discuss safe alternatives, stop-smoking aids we recommend and how quitting smoking today will improve your oral health. We are always happy to provide an oral cancer screening for you, which will alert us to any warning signs that you might be at risk for oral cancer. Good luck on your journey to stop smoking! We’ll be right here cheering for you.

thinking woman with question mark on gray wall background

Have you used your dental benefits this year?

Did you know: Most dental benefits are only available for one year?

Unused benefits — like FSA balances — from the prior year don’t necessarily roll over at the end of the calendar year. Many dental plans provide coverage up to a certain dollar amount annually, which means you could be missing out on free or discounted dental care. In fact, dental insurance companies count on making millions off of patients who never use their insurance benefits.

At Summit Dental Health, we are committed to helping you achieve the smile of your dreams and making dental care attainable, which includes utilizing your dental benefits. If you have been putting off a trip to the dentist or dental treatment, now is a great time to come in! We will review your dental benefits with you and show you how to maximize your benefits so that you can complete any outstanding treatment.

We also offer Payment Options and Care Credit if you need help covering any out-of-pocket expenses.

Give us a call today to see how we can help you use your benefits before you lose them!

(402)-799-1166
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