Beware of TikTok Dental Fads!

UNLESS THE DENTIST is on TikTok, it’s not a great platform to get dental health advice from. This year we’ve seen a number of alarming do-it-yourself dental procedures trending, and we want to nip those in the bud for our patients.

Filing Teeth

A number of TikTok videos have shown teens and young adults trying to even out their smiles by using nail files to wear down the chewing surfaces. This is a very bad idea. Once tooth enamel is gone, it’s gone forever, and amateur tooth filing can lead to fractures, tooth sensitivity, and infection. Dental health professionals will sometimes file teeth, but we are able to do it safely because we have training and use the proper tools.

“Veneers Check”

A similar (but worse) trend involves TikTokers filing their teeth down to pegs prior to getting crown restorations. This is horrifying and can easily result in complications like nerve damage and the need for root canal therapy. Anyone unhappy with the appearance of their smile (especially when their teeth are healthy) should speak to a dentist about professional cosmetic treatment instead of irreversibly damaging their own teeth.

DIY Hydrogen Peroxide Whitening

Some TikTokers are using 3% hydrogen peroxide to whiten their teeth, which can cause gum irritation and long-term sensitivity. This is not a safe way to achieve professional whitening results cheaply. It’s much better to ask the dentist for recommendations on whitening toothpaste, whitening strips, or professional in-office and take-home treatments.

Homemade Braces

Another dangerous trend we’ve seen on TikTok is teens trying to correct their own orthodontic problems using everyday items like rubber bands. DO NOT DO THIS. At best, it won’t work and will need to be corrected by a professional. At worst, it could turn out the way it did for David Campbell. The rubber bands he used seemed to be disappearing at night, but really they were slipping under his gums, where they strangled the roots of his teeth. The teeth could not be saved.

Leave your dental treatment to the pros!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Don’t Catch COVID Fatigue!

WE KNOW HOW difficult the coronavirus has made the last year, and we know how eager everyone is for things to go back to normal. The temptation to act like they already have is very real, but it’s critical that we stay the course now that we can see the vaccination light at the end of the tunnel. How frustrating would it be to catch the virus now, when we’re so close to being protected from it?

Social Distancing Still Matters

Staying at least six feet apart from people not within our household whenever possible is an important way to minimize risk, both for ourselves and for those we encounter who are in more vulnerable groups. The longer we stay in one place among people not from our household, the greater the risk. Fortunately that means a quick trip to the grocery store is fairly safe.

Masks Work!

When we’re in public — especially when we’re indoors — we should continue to wear masks. The virus travels via respiratory droplets in the air, but if everyone’s wearing a mask, then it stops most of those droplets before they can get out where they might infect someone. Because we might be infected without realizing it, masks are just as important for protecting the people around us as they are for protecting us.

Keep Washing Up and Disinfecting

Simple soap and warm water is extremely effective at destroying germs that get on our hands and skin, which is why we keep hearing so much about washing our hands. Make sure to spend at least 20 seconds scrubbing, and make sure you’re not just getting your palms, but every surface!

Self-Isolating Protects Friends and Family

Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (the most common of which are fever, shortness of breath, a dry cough, and fatigue) or anyone who has come in contact with someone who tested positive should get tested and self-isolate as much as possible to keep the virus from spreading. According to the CDC’s guidelines, we should self-isolate until at least ten days after the symptoms started.

The Vaccines Don’t Mean Instant Immunity!

A growing number of people have been fortunate enough to already get one or both of their vaccine doses, but keep in mind that the protection the vaccines offer isn’t instantaneous. It takes time to generate antibodies, so don’t throw your masks away and start hugging strangers the minute you get the vaccine. Continuing to wear a mask and practice social distancing after vaccination also protects other people, because we don’t yet have confirmation that the vaccines prevent transmission as effectively as they prevent infection.

Bring Questions to Your Health Care Providers

Like the virus itself, there’s a lot of false information floating around, so make sure you’re getting your information from good sources, such as the CDC and your healthcare providers. If you want to know what our practice has been doing to keep our team and patients safe during the pandemic, give us a call.

If we keep pulling together, we’ll make it to the end of COVID sooner!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Have a Dentist-Approved Halloween!

SPOOKY SEASON HAS been lots of fun this year, and Halloween is just around the corner. As much as we love indulging in the fall activities, the spooky decorations, the fun costumes, and the scary movies, we’re not as excited about the sugary-loaded treats. That’s why we’re here with tips on how to fully enjoy Halloween while keeping it much healthier for your teeth!

What Are the Worst Halloween Candies for Our Teeth?

The reason sugar is bad for our teeth is that harmful oral bacteria love to eat it. They then excrete acid as a waste product, and even though tooth enamel is a very hard substance, it is highly vulnerable to acid erosion. This is why sour, sticky, and hard candies are so bad for our teeth.

Hard candy takes time to dissolve, bathing our teeth in sugar. Sticky candy brings all that sugar directly to the bacteria on the surface of our teeth and gums. Sour candy cuts out the middleman because it’s already acidic!

The Good News: Chocolate and Xylitol

If you’re worried that we just eliminated most of the contents of your Halloween bag, you’ll be happy to know that certain types of chocolate can be pretty good for our teeth. Chocolate contains compounds like flavonoids and polyphenols, which slow tooth decay, limit oral bacteria, and fight bad breath.

The catch is that the more sugar chocolate contains, the less those healthy compounds matter, which is why dentists prefer dark chocolate. It’s even better if it contains nuts (unless you have an orthodontic appliance or a nut allergy).

Anything sweetened with xylitol instead of sugar is also much better for your teeth. Not only is this sugar-free sweetener inedible to harmful bacteria, it actually hurts them! The trouble is that there aren’t many xylitol options for the candy bowls besides sugar-free gum, but hopefully that will change before too many more Halloweens.

Protecting Your Teeth From the Effects of Sugar

We aren’t here to tell our patients to quit all sugar immediately, but there are still ways those of us with a strong sweet tooth can fight back against what sugar can do to our teeth:

  • Restrict candy consumption to mealtimes instead of snacking on it between meals. This will give your saliva a chance to neutralize your oral pH and wash away traces of sugar.
  • Drink water after eating candy to rinse off some of the sugar.
  • Keep up with your daily brushing and flossing! These are essential habits for protecting your tooth enamel from lasting harm.

Take a look at Dr. Angela Austin on NBC 4 giving advice on Halloween choices!

The Dentist Is a Fantastic Resource

You aren’t alone in the fight to keep your teeth healthy; the dentist is on your side! That’s why it’s so important to schedule regular dental exams. If you haven’t already, right after Halloween is a great time to start!

We wish all our patients a spooky, healthy Halloween!

Dental Care Tips for Parents of Young Kids

THE LIFE OF A PARENT is a hectic one. Keeping track of everything your growing child needs can be a real juggling act, so maybe we can take one of the balls out of the air by offering a few easy tips for how to stay on top of your kids’ dental health (without neglecting your own)!

1. Choosing the Right Toothbrush

Brushing (whether with a manual or electric toothbrush) is the easiest and most important method of cavity prevention, but it can be tricky to find the right toothbrush for your child with so many different options available.

A good place to start is by looking for a toothbrush with soft, polished (round-ended) bristles. These brushes clean effectively but are still gentle to the gums. Make sure the brush is designed for small hands and mouths, and try to replace it every few months or so. A brush with frayed, smashed bristles won’t be as effective!

Your child probably won’t be able to brush their teeth effectively without help until they’re 7 or 8, so make sure to work with them and supervise their technique. Then they’ll know how to do it properly when they’ve developed enough hand-eye coordination for it!

2. Sealants Are Excellent for Cavity-Prevention

Dental sealants are a layer of clear plastic material that can be painted over the deep grooves and pits in the chewing surfaces of teeth to prevent decay and block out bacteria. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends sealants, especially for children who already have a history of tooth decay. Sealants significantly reduce the risk of childhood caries.

3. Cheese and Fruit: Great Teeth-Friendly Snacks

Research shows that some of the healthiest snacks for a growing child’s teeth are cheese and fruit. Cheese is a great source of calcium (which will help remineralize their tooth enamel) and helps to stimulate the salivary glands. Saliva is important for clearing food remnants away and neutralizing harmful acids. Fruit is also a great mouth-healthy snack, because the fibers of the fruit help scrub teeth clean. We recommend whole or sliced fruit over fruit juice every time!

4. Pediatric Dentists and Teen Patients

The term “pediatric dentistry” might sound like it’s only for small children, but pediatric dentists have specialized expertise in treating growing teenagers’ oral health too. The teenage years are a period of tremendous growth and change for a child’s face and jaws, which certainly merits the attention of a specialist.

5. Parents, Know What to Expect from Whitening Toothpaste

Parents and teens alike love having pearly white teeth, but make sure you understand how whitening toothpaste works so you can manage your expectations. These types of toothpaste contain mild abrasives and polishing agents to remove surface stains, but they can’t do anything about deeper stains, which require more thorough whitening treatments like microabrasion or bleaching.

Extra Tip: The Dentist Is Your Best Dental Health Resource

Whatever questions you have about your child’s dental health or your own are questions we’d love to answer! We look forward to seeing you for your regular cleaning appointments or if you have cause for concern between your regular visits.

No one has better smiles than our patients!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Journey Begins

Thank you for joining us on our adventure of blogging! We are so happy to have a platform that we can share our love for educating the world about pediatric dental health, mental and spiritual wellness, and all things in between! Dr. Angela Austin is a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist in Alexandria, Virginia. She owns two offices, but the backbone of her success in her offices are her amazing dentists: Dr. Melanie Jones and Dr. Breanna Donald, and her AMAZING team. All of us work together to bring smiles, and excitement to the children we are blessed to see every single day. Join us on our adventure of educating the world (through this wonderful digital method!) on tips and more!