Dental Tips Blog


Summer Diets that May be Bad for Your Smile

Posted in Fillings

When we hit the pool in the summertime, we all want to look our best. For a lot of us it also means that we’re going on a diet in an effort to lose a few pounds before we put on that swimsuit. It’s important to know that some of the things we think are good to lose weight may actually be worse on our smiles. Here are a few tips to try when you’re on that summertime diet.

Steer clear of diet sodas and sports drinks.

Even though there might not be “sugar” in diet sodas, they still contain artificial sweeteners and are very acidic on your teeth. This can cause a person to develop a lot of cavities when they think they’re drinking something that isn’t as bad for them. If you’re hitting the gym and drinking lots of sports drinks, the same thing can happen. Instead,you can avoid dental fillings and other restorations if you  stick to drinking lots of water. You’ll lose weight and your teeth will be cleaner.

Frequent snacking is worse for your teeth.

Some diets call for small portions of food throughout the day. What this does is increase the amount of exposure time that food has on your teeth. Bacteria, plaque, and acids are on your teeth longer, causing more enamel demineralization and cavities.

Your dentist and dental hygienist are trained in nutritional counseling as it relates to your oral health and a balanced diet. If you ever have questions about “fad” diets, or certain types of snacks, your dental team can answer them and inform you as to how it will affect your smile.

Posted on behalf of Patrick O’Brien DMD, Carolina Comfort Dental



Why You Shouldn’t Wait for That Filling

Posted in Fillings

It may not make sense to have a filling done when your tooth doesn’t bother you whatsoever, and a lot of people are hesitant to have a tooth “fixed” when they feel like there is nothing wrong with it, or there is no pain. Unfortunately, putting that dental filling off will only make things worse in almost every circumstance.

Waiting to have a filling performed means that existing tooth decay continues to erode the tooth, burrowing further into the enamel day by day.  It can even spread to adjacent teeth in the mouth, since live bacteria cause tooth decay. Before you know it, you have a toothache. When your dentist checks the tooth, it turns out you don’t need a filling anymore; now you need a root canal. This treatment can take longer to complete, and will make a difference in the budget you had planned to get the tooth repaired.

Treating cavities while they are small, or changing out old dental fillings as soon as they begin to show signs of failure means that precious tooth enamel can be preserved. Less tooth alteration is needed, and more healthy enamel is kept in place. What this means is that teeth are more structurally sound over time, treatment is less invasive, and the cost of care is kept lower over the course of your lifetime.

Don’t wait until your tooth hurts before you have it fixed. Decay isn’t something that just goes away, it has to be removed to prevent it from spreading. Ask your dentist about minimally invasive tooth colored fillings as a way to preserve your teeth as well as improve your smile.

Posted on behalf of Patrick O’Brien DMD, Carolina Comfort Dental



Foods that Strengthen Your Teeth

Posted in Fillings

You are what you eat, and the same goes for your teeth. Although most people are familiar with foods or drinks that might be bad for their teeth, not everyone knows what types of food are actually good for your teeth. Here are some snack suggestions that help improve the strength of your tooth enamel, improve the health of gum tissue, and help you avoid the need for dental fillings, crowns, and other dental restorations:


Of course, cheese is full of calcium to strengthen bones (and also to promote healthy tooth formation), but there are new findings that show cheese, milk, and yogurt can help strengthen already formed enamel as well. The pH levels in the mouth after eating cheese help reduce cavity formation and acids that weaken enamel. 2-3 servings of dairy each day are recommended.

Crispy produce

Biting into and chewing fresh fruits and vegetables helps to naturally cleanse the teeth, massage the gums, and provide essential vitamins that boost your immune system. When possible, opt for fresh vegetables over cooked once.


Popcorn is a great afternoon snack that cleans teeth as it’s being eaten. Air-popped popcorn without added oils or butters is a great source of fiber and low in calories.  Although, sometimes the occasional popcorn kernel may be troublesome, at least it will remind you to floss!


Nuts are a great source of proteins, nutrients, and healthy oils. They also aren’t very sticky, which means they won’t stick to your teeth and cause large amounts of acid erosion the way some types of foods do. Almonds, cashews, and peanuts can pack in things like calcium, vitamin D, and limit plaque formation.

Posted on behalf of Patrick O’Brien DMD, Carolina Comfort Dental



3 “Healthy” Drinks that Can Destroy Your Teeth

Posted in Fillings

Water is essential to life, but sometimes we get bored with it or simply want something else to drink throughout the day. Some drinks, even though they’re considered to be “healthy” can actually contribute to an increased level of tooth decay in patients that otherwise have a balanced diet and good oral hygiene. Athletes that are healthy, physically fit, and brush their teeth really well are sometimes susceptible to rampant tooth decay for this very reason.  More tooth decay means more fillings, crowns, and other dental restorations.

3 of these “healthy” drinks are probably found in your kitchen as well. What are they? Milk, Juice, and Sports Drinks are the culprit! While these aren’t necessarily bad for you to drink, the problem is that most people sip on them more frequently, for longer periods throughout the day, because they’re considered to be healthy drinks. Therein lies the problem: long-term exposure times to the teeth.

Liquids other than water, whether or not they are healthy for you, cause a change in the pH levels of the mouth, and will also cause acid production as the natural sugars are broken down for digestion. More exposures to these natural acids will target areas between the teeth and deep grooves in the chewing surface of back teeth. Brushing doesn’t remove these acids, so frequent exposures allow cavities to develop very quickly.

Limiting these drinks to one serving and not sipping on them throughout the day will reduce the time that acid has in contact with the teeth. Rinsing with water afterward and supplementing with a fluoride rinse at the end of every day can help keep teeth cleaner, stronger, and decrease the likelihood of cavities developing between all of your teeth.

Posted on behalf of Patrick O’Brien DMD, Carolina Comfort Dental



Xylitol Supplements As an Effective Oral Hygiene Habit

What if your dentist told you that there was something so simple to do, even easier than brushing that could help your teeth and lower the levels of plaque bacteria in your mouth? That’s exactly what Xylitol does; an ingredient in specific gums at major retailers and found in products at health food stores. Xylitol is a sweetener, but it’s not like other kinds of sugars or artificial sweeteners. Its carbon molecule is different, and it physically interferes with plaque’s ability to cling to the teeth or build up in the mouth.

Xylitol exposures at least 5 times a day, through gum, spray, rinse, or toothpaste can dramatically decrease bacterial plaque levels in the mouth leading which reduces the incidence of tooth decay which means fewer fillings, crowns and other dental restorations. Some people also use variations to treat other types of conditions, like earaches for example. Chewing a piece of Xylitol gum after meals, during an afternoon break, or after your cup of coffee can become a habit that makes a positive impact on the health of your teeth.

Many chewing gums available at the supermarket contain Xylitol, but you just have to check the label to be sure (most companies put it on the front of the package.) Simply being “sugar free” isn’t enough, because plaque bacteria can still form on the teeth; Xylitol actually breaks these bacteria up. It can also be purchased as a sugar substitute for cooking or baking, but consuming too much of the ingredient can cause stomach irritation.

If your oral hygiene isn’t quite what it ought to be, or you’ve always had a problem with plaque build up no matter what you’ve tried, start chewing gum with Xylitol. Your dentist will notice!

Posted on behalf of Patrick O’Brien DMD, Carolina Comfort Dental



Gifting an Electric Toothbrush

Electric toothbrushes make great gifts or even stocking stuffers for your family. The styles, varieties and prices can make the selection process a little overwhelming though! The good news is that electric toothbrushes in general will remove more plaque buildup from your teeth than a manual toothbrush.  Less plaque means fewer cavitities, fewer fillings, and less gum disease so even making a small investment for young children can significant difference in their oral health.

Here are some factors to consider when you’re selecting the types of electric toothbrushes to get your family on Christmas day:

What’s your budget? Are you going to be buying one toothbrush or a dozen? When it comes to an electric toothbrush, you really do get what you pay for. For instance, if you’re suffering from active gum disease, then a high-end electric model will be much better. But, if you’re buying the same thing for several people, it may be more affordable to consider something more economical, especially if they haven’t had an electric toothbrush to begin with. There are now some very affordable models that are as small as a manual toothbrush, but function significantly similar to higher end brushes available on the market.

Select a brush with soft bristles. Hard bristles are too abrasive for normal use on tooth enamel and gum tissue, and can cause gum recession or enamel abrasion. Electric brushes remove more plaque through their mechanical action, so be sure that it’s soft enough.

Do you want to be able to continue using the same brush for a long time? Some models of brushes allow the brush head to be changed out every several months, while others cannot be used as long because they only allow for a single brush head to be used.

Posted on behalf of Patrick O’Brien DMD, Carolina Comfort Dental




Dental Fillings 101

Posted in Fillings

Dental fillings are used to fill in the area on a tooth that has been removed due to a cavity. Dental fillings are also used to repair cracked or broken teeth in cases of injury or from teeth being worn down. Dentists are specialists in the area of treating the teeth and can be trusted to fill your teeth with precision and care.

If you require a dental filling, you will have an appointment at the dentist office. Most often the dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth to be filled. (In some cases where the cavity is at the surface of a tooth, an anesthetic is not needed because the sensitive roots of the tooth will not be touched.) The dentist will then remove the decayed area of the tooth with a tool that is precise at cutting small amounts of enamel.

Once the decayed area is removed, your dentist will test the remaining area of the tooth to ensure that all of the decay has been removed. Once it has been determined that the decay is extracted, the dentist will clean the cavity thoroughly to remove all bacteria. Then the dentist will fill in the cavity with a specialized material that you and your dentist agreed on ahead of time.

It is essential to your oral health to have any cavities in your teeth filled by your dentist as quickly as possible. Because cavities are formed by decay, the teeth surrounding your tooth with the cavity can become infected by the decay. With good oral hygiene practices your filling should last you for years – if not your entire life.

Posted on behalf of Patrick O’Brien DMD, Carolina Comfort Dental


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