Great Smile-Great Life

A Great Healthy Smile

Great healthy smileWhat really is a great smile? A great smile is one that supports you emotionally and physically. It is a healthy smile.  It is one that you don’t have to think twice about when meeting someone for the first time. Today that usually means white natural looking teeth that are well positioned and well proportioned. We often see teeth that are too white and unnatural looking, that have a tendency to take on a  life of their own. To me a smile is great when it complements the face without being overly prominent. It doesn’t call attention to itself while supporting the rest of the facial characteristics. It just fits that persons face.

Social Implications of a Smile

We live in a very esthetic world. It has been researched that people with great smiles are perceived as being happier, friendlier, healthier and more trustworthy. People are more likely to date someone with a great smile. People with a great smile are more likely to get a job and have a higher salary. So the message here is if you are looking for a mate, or looking to keep your mate, having a great healthy smile will only help the situation.

A Healthy Smile

The reality is that a great healthy smile will do more then get you a better social life and a higher income. A healthy smile can help you to age better and stay healthier. Research has shown that by maintaining a healthy mouth you can add years onto your life and stay healthier in the process. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and many more illness. The link is inflammation, as inflammatory proteins triggered by unhealthy gums circulate throughout the body. It is amazing how people don’t think twice about bleeding gums while bleeding from any other part of their body would be alarming.

Aging and Your Smile

As we age our teeth often wear down. This especially can happen to the front teeth giving the edges of your front teeth a very flat, worn appearance. This combined with years of stain accumulation creates that old worn out smile. When you look at yourself and you see that old smile looking back just how young can you actually feel. I believe that keeping  the thoughts in your head young can keep your body young. How many people do you know with worn broken down smiles that age gracefully?

There have also been a number of studies that relate poor dental health to mortality in the elderly population. Missing teeth and gum disease have a direct correlation to increased death rates and I might add quality of life in the elderly population. Getting proper nutrition can be difficult, it is harder to chew and food choices are limited when you are missing your teeth. Just look at the number of residents of nursing homes who are missing their teeth. It would be nice to think that that standard of living will not be a part of our future.

It’s Easier then You Think

Having a great smile that is supportive of your life is probably a lot easier than you think. Advanced dental techniques can stop the disease process and give you that healthy great looking smile that can last forever. For some patients the process can happen in a matter of days. The main thing is that for each step along the way you are comfortable and happy with your progress. Don’t let a poor unhealthy smile rob you of the quality and years of your life that you deserve. The choice is yours to make.

If you are interested in finding out what Dr. Shapiro can do for you please call us for a complementary consultation. What do you have to lose?

Are Cavities Easy to Find?

Dentist looking for cavitiesCavities (decay) can be a very elusive animal. There are some cavities that are very easy to spot. They are so large that they have done visual damage to a tooth and your dentist can find it without any type of machinery, just their eyes. However, some cavities are minimal at best, and are hiding deep in your tooth. That can make finding a cavity even with an x-ray nearly impossible.

Just because you have a cavity now, doesn’t mean that it recently appeared. Some cavities have slowly grown to where they can be found over a pretty significant period of time.

Options Dentists Have for Finding Cavities

The first thing your dentist is going to use to spot a cavity is their eyes. They typically use their eyes in conjunction with a few tools that are used to poke around your mouth looking for soft spots in your teeth, and discoloration that are typical with tooth decay. They often use a mirror an a dental tool called an explorer as well, to inspect the hard to see areas.

Next, they have x-rays. These show some areas of decay, but they need to be either relatively large, or they need to be in between the teeth to be easily seen. There are areas that are going to show up on an x-ray as a shadow, but they may not be a cavity, so this is not always conclusive, either. The experience of the dentist will determine just how expert he/she is in detecting decay on an x-ray. Today we have digital x-rays that allow the dentist to find decay more readily.

Finally, some dentists are using laser waves to detect changes in the density of the tooth. This device is call the Diagnodent. We have been using this at The Center for Cosmetic Dentistry for quite some time to evaluate potentially decayed areas.  We are having very good luck finding cavities sooner with this new technology.

If you want to make sure your mouth is free of cavities, go in and see your dentist every six months. That way, they can keep a close eye out for the early signs of cavities. The earlier we find the decay the easier the fix and the more predictable the restoration.

Please contact our office today if you have any questions about cavities.

Are You Brushing for Too Long Each Day?

Were you aware that you could brush your teeth for too long each day? It’s true. You can over-brush your teeth, and it can cause a lot of damage. You could end up hurting not only your teeth, but you could even end up hurting your gum tissues, too. Time how long you brush one of these times, and see if you are falling in between the two and three minute window that most dentists recommend for each session. If you are, you may need to cut back just a little bit.

Brushing Too Long Can Hurt You

You shouldn’t brush for less than two minutes each time you brush, as it isn’t really getting very much debris off of your teeth. However, you also shouldn’t brush for longer than three minutes each time you brush, either. You want to find a spot right in between the two for the vast majority of brushings. The occasional over or under is fine, so long as it isn’t a regular habit.

If you brush too long, you could cause damage to your gums and other oral tissues, and you could end up damaging your teeth. If you also brush too hard, you can leave your teeth sensitive or in pain. Gentle brushing that lasts 2-3 minutes is exactly what most mouths need.

For anyone that isn’t sure if they are brushing the right way, the best person to ask is your dentist. Have them take a look around your mouth and see what condition everything is in. From there, they can tell you how to brush to where your mouth gets the clean it needs, without the side effects that no one, including your dentist, want you to go through. Contact our office today!

Are Glass Fillings In Your Future?

While composite fillings are made partly with glass, they are not the only type of filling with glass. There are also glass ionomer fillings that can be used in your teeth. There are only specific uses for glass fillings, but they can be a great option for the right part of your teeth where composite fillings may not be ideal.

If you are in need of a filling on a part of your tooth that does not have pressure applied to it directly, you may find your dentist telling you that they would recommend a glass filling.

When to Turn to a Glass Filling

Glass fillings can be brittle. Too, brittle, in fact, to be used on a chewing or pressurized surface of your tooth. However, when you need a filling on the outside or the neck of your tooth, it can be the ideal solution.

Glass ionomer fillings are able to bond directly to the dentin and the remaining surface of the tooth and set up, giving you a full filling that can then be polished and set up to look like the rest of your tooth. Glass isn’t known for being able to be polished up as nicely as a composite filling, but it can be an easier option for in your mouth, and it can also be cheaper.

The biggest thing that a glass filling has going for it is its ability to seal up the entire inside of the filling. It is put into the tooth in a liquefied form, which allows it to take up all available space within your tooth. This helps to protect the inside of your tooth from decay on a deeper level than is usually found in any other type of filling. If you want to find out more about glass fillings, contact our office today!

Any Flossing is Better Than No Flossing, Right?

If you aren’t flossing at all, your mouth is going to succumb to problems at some point in time. It may not happen today, but it is going to happen. If you aren’t flossing right, you may need to speak with your dentist about how to floss properly. They can teach you what you may be doing wrong, and show you how to fix it.

There Are Flossing Options

Even if you aren’t able to floss once each day, you should still floss as often as you can. For those that do not know how to floss properly, trying to floss is still something you should be doing. However, you need to do it gently.

Flossing to where you are hurting your gums should be avoided at all costs. If you aren’t sure how to floss, then make sure you ask your dentist to show you at your next appointment. It isn’t the easiest of skills to accomplish for everyone, so taking the time to learn to do it right is important.

However, if you and traditional floss just do not seem to get along very well, there is another option. You can use a power flosser that sprays water to floss. This can be a much easier option for people who struggle to use traditional floss. It is much less likely to harm your gums, and it is much easier to use. Plus, it gives you the same results as using traditional floss if you use it each day.

If you want to know which type of flossing would be best for your mouth, then simply ask. Your dentist has a lot of knowledge and experience helping people get their mouths into the best state of oral health possible. Find out what they recommend and go from there.

Please contact our office if you have any questions about flossing your teeth.

Aside from Stained Teeth, How Does Smoking Hurt Your Mouth?

If you are a smoker, you probably already know that the habit can stain your teeth. You may also think that this is the only effect that smoking has on your mouth. But the truth is, smoking several effects on your mouth, and can cause a lot of harm.

Gum Recession

Smoking restricts your blood flow. As a result, the amount of oxygen that is in your blood is reduced. Your gums, like all other tissues in your body, need enough oxygen to function properly. Without enough oxygen, your gum tissues begin to die out, which then leads to gum recession.

Decreased Saliva Flow

Not only does the restricted blood flow affect the amount of oxygen to your gums, it also leads to decreased saliva flow. Saliva plays an important role in oral health. It helps to wash away leftover food particles and kill bacteria. Without sufficient saliva, your mouth dries out, and a dry mouth is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

Tooth Decay and Gum Disease

Smoking has also been shown to increase the amount of plaque on your teeth. Plaque combined with an overpopulation of bacteria can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Gum disease can be extremely harmful if not treated. Bacteria can travel under your gums, infecting your teeth and jawbone, causing loose teeth that can fall out. Infection can even get into your blood stream and spread throughout your body, leading to other health issues like heart disease and stroke.

Effects on Dental Appliances

If you have crowns, bridges or veneers, smoking can affect those as well. Not only can they irreversibly stain these appliances, they can cause you to lose them. As your gums recede, and your likelihood of gum disease increases, they can become loose, as the teeth that support them become unstable.

Oral Cancer

One of the biggest risks of smoking, or using any other tobacco products, is oral cancer. Oral cancer can affect just about anywhere in your mouth – tongue, cheeks, gums, entrance to your throat. If not caught early and treated, oral cancer can be fatal.

Smoking does more than just stain your teeth; it can have a significant impact on your oral health. Proper oral hygiene can help combat some of the effects, but for the best results, you may want to consider quitting. Not only would it be good for your oral health, it can also be good for your overall health too.

Please contact our office if you have any questions about smokings effects on your oral health.

Are Your Teeth Sore When You Wake Up?

Do you regularly wake up and your teeth feel sore? Does your jaw feel tight, or even overworked when you wake up sometimes, especially on days where you are very stressed out?

Chances are you are clenching your teeth when you sleep, possibly grinding them, too. This is called bruxism, and it is a fairly common occurrence. Your teeth get clenched together, typically due to stress, and they don’t get a chance to rest when you sleep.

Your Dentist Can Help With Bruxism

Teeth worn by bruxism

Teeth worn by bruxism

Clenching and grinding your teeth in your sleep is not good. It puts a very large amount of pressure on your teeth for a very extended period of time. This can lead to cracks and fractures of your teeth. Plus, if you are grinding them while you are clenching them, you could wear down the enamel and chewing surfaces of your teeth. This can not only make chewing more difficult, but it can also leave you in pain as the enamel wears down and the dentin is exposed.

Dr. Shapiro believes that bruxism is caused by a number of factors including a bad unbalanced bite, breathing problems during sleep and daily stress. The cure for reducing your stress is on you but for the other two contributing factors your dentist can help

Bad Bites

An unbalanced bite is often the problem when it comes to worn teeth. Your teeth should meet evenly when you close your mouth and needs to be in harmony with your TMJ (tempro-mandibular joint). When you close your mouth your jaw should not hit any single tooth hard and then slide so the rest of your teeth touch. The body is often aware of this disharmony and tries to reduce this premature contact by grinding. Unfortunately this high spot is often not the spot worn down while the rest of your teeth are. To treat this Dr. Shapiro finds all the high spots and balances out the bite. To restore the worn teeth Dr. Shapiro often uses composite bonding material to replace the missing tooth structure. A good example of this is illustrated in the following photos; the first photo is of a 24 year old who had worn down his front teeth. The second photo shows the same teeth two years later. Dr. Shapiro was able to succeed because the patient no longer grinds as his bite is now well balanced.

Worn teeth

A 24 year old with worn teeth


bonded teeth


Breathing Problems During Sleep

Sleep apnea or sleep disordered breathing can be another reason for bruxism. It seems that when there are breathing issues during sleep the body attempts to open the airway by clenching and grinding. This can lead to extreme wear of the teeth, especially the front ones. Your dentist can help by making an oral appliance which repositions the jaw forward during sleep. this open the airway and allows normal breathing. A CPAP is another option for treating sleep apnea though the oral appliance is often better tolerated. The oral appliance has the added benefit of not allowing the teeth to contact which prevents further wear.

Night guards to Prevent Damage

Plastic guards are often used to protect teeth during sleep. Store bought guards, the boil and bite guards, are often not the best option to protect teeth as these can alter the position of your teeth in a negative way. Dentist fabricated guards are effective at protecting your teeth but do not necessarily stop grinding. One specialty type of appliance is the NTI appliance which allows contact of only the front teeth. This stops clenching and muscle spasms and can even lead to a reduction of migraine headaches.

Help is a phone call away

Bruxism or night grinding can do significant damage to your teeth. Worn teeth will lead to a prematurely aging smile, cracked teeth and even root canals and tooth loss. Caught early it can often be easily cured. Find out more by contacting us today!

Keep Smiling LI…

Regular Vs. Diet Soda – Which is Better for Your Mouth?

Both regular and diet sodas can damage your mouth, but is one safer than the other? They both can have the potential to be a bit better than the other, but neither of them are good for your mouth.

Both provide an acidic environment that could cause damage to your teeth, so they should be avoided at all costs. Here is the breakdown of what makes both regular and diet soda good for you, if you can call it that.

Regular vs. Diet Soda, You Pick the Winner

While diet soda does not have sugar to bloom the bacteria in your mouth like regular soda does, the fake sweetener does leave your mouth trying to recover from higher acid levels. Diet sodas do not add calories to your daily diet, but they may also leave you feeling less satisfied after drinking one, which may lead you to eat other sugary treats, which then would cause more issues with your mouth.

Both diet and regular sodas, especially colas, are going to have the potential of staining your teeth, and therefore should be drank with a straw when consumed to keep the damage minimized. Due to the change in acidity within your mouth, you should chase each soda you consume with a glass of water whenever possible. That way, you can help restore some of the normal pH within your mouth.

If soda is your vice and you struggle to go a day without it, contact our office about the effects that it could be having on your teeth. The more open you are with your dentist, the more that your dentist can do to help keep your teeth healthy. Speak with your dentist sooner, rather than later, so that you can keep your teeth healthy despite whatever type of soda you consume.

Silver Fillings, Mercury and Your Health

Silver Fillings Before Removal

Failing silver fillings

Do you have silver fillings in your mouth? A majority of Americans do, as silver fillings have been go-to filling material in dentistry for many years. Today we have tooth colored restorations, which don’t contain the toxic mercury which the amalgam fillings contain. When I started in dentistry over thirty years ago I worked in an office that had a machine that mixed those silver fillings prior to placement. I used what was then termed a squeeze cloth to squeeze out the excess merecury. The mercury would roll around the table after being squeezed out. If that happened today we would have to call the hazmat team to isolate the area so a complete decontamination could be accomplished. It is amazing how things have changed and have not changed in the last thirty years. Currently we have capsules which contain the exact amounts of mercury that are required so squeeze cloths are no longer required. Excess mercury is

New Composite Fillings

After replacement of silver fillings

no longer squeezed out of  silver fillings which are placed in the mouth. But amazingly enough old silver fillings which are removed from the mouth now have to be treated as hazardous waste which we have to collect to protect the environment from its ill effects. We can still use these material in spite of their makeup. It seems that there are more stringent standards for the external environment than there are for our physical environment.

Dental Amalgam and Mercury Levels

A recent study at the University of Georgia which analyzed data from almost 15000 participants indicated that there is a correlation between mercury levels in the body and the amount of dental amalgam in the mouth. People with eight or more surfaces of silver fillings were found to have  have 150% more mercury in their systems. The mercury in silver fillings continuously leaches out into our bodies. It is important to note that these increased levels have not been shown to be associated with any diseases although these levels can potentially have a negative effect on our bodies.

Mercury-How Much is Too Much?

The real question is how much mercury do you want to allow yourself to be exposed to. How much is too much?  We are exposed to mercury through our diet in the food we eat. All fish in our diet contain some levels of mercury. Even freshwater fish from lakes and rivers. The EPA did a study of  freshwater fish and found 100% of the fish contaminated with Mercury and 49% at significant levels. Saltwater fish are no better. The bigger the fish the more mercury present. There is a great website which can help you determine your mercury exposure from fish. This is especially important for pregnant women and children. This issue hit home with me when my wife was diagnosed with mercury  toxicity several years ago. She exhibited muscle twitching, vertigo and  hair loss. As a registered dietitian she had a healthy diet but the fish in her diet was poisoning her. Her physician at the time was clueless as to  the cause or treatment.  Removal of all fish from her diet was needed.

Silver Filling Removal

At this time I don’t recommend the wholesale removal of amalgams from my patients mouths though I do endorse their removal at my patients request. Today I rarely place amalgam fillings, as I believe that tooth colored bonded restorations are a significantly better material as they can make teeth stronger, are more esthetic and don’t contain mercury. Tooth colored restorations can be a true restoration of a tooth.  They can restore a tooth to its original condition and you might not even know it’s been fixed. That’s something silver fillings never accomplish. A silver amalgam filling does just as it says, it fills a hole in a tooth and  looks silver,  but it unfortunately also weakens a tooth.

I recommend replacing amalgam restorations as soon as they start to fail.  I never believe in “watching that one” as that is waiting for trouble. As amalgams age they have a tendency to expand. Leaving them in for too long results in  a fractured teeth which often results in the need for a root canal,  a crown or even an extraction.  This can be prevented by the timely replacement of these old silver fillings. Getting rid of the mercury is an added benefit to the procedure.

Better Choices Mean a Better  Life

I believe that when we are informed we make better choices and have a better life. Toxic substances are all around us. When we have the opportunity to limit our exposure to these substances we can improve our health. It is impossible to avoid these toxins but decreasing our exposure can have the ability to reduce the detrimental effects on our health. If you have further questions you can reach me at The Center for Cosmetic Dentistry. I look forward to keeping you healthy and putting a smile on your face.

Keep Smiling LI…




Foods That Keep Your Gums Healthy

Healthier food means healthier gumsIf your gums are not quite as healthy as they should be, make sure to consider what foods you are eating as part of your treatment plan. There are some foods that are known for being really good at helping the gums to heal. If you need that extra boost in your mouth, then start adding in more of these items and watch as your gums bounce back.

Foods You Want to Consume for Healthier Gums

First of all, you need to focus on foods that offer antibacterial or antimicrobial properties. This includes foods like ginger root and raw onions. These are naturally able to help provide healing to the different soft tissues within your mouth and give your gums a healthier appearance. Just make sure you have a good mouthwash around to fight the onion breath.

Next, you need to eat foods that are actually stimulating your gums. Foods that push down a bit on your gums when you chew them up help to keep your gums elastic and resilient. Foods like leafy green vegetables and celery offer this type of exercise to your gums, and allows you to get healthier each time you chew.

Finally, you want foods that are going to protect your gums from further damage. The casein from dairy foods is really good at helping to do just that. It can lower acid levels and protect your teeth from the damage of sugary foods, so load up on harder cheeses and glasses of milk.

If you are looking for healthier gums be sure to call our office. We can do an exam and let you know what condition your gums are really in, then they can help you come up with a treatment plan that is going to help your mouth start feeling better in no time.