By: Ashleigh & Dr. Jones
The Internet is great. We can find a new restaurant, review vacuums, buy pretty much anything, review your favorite dentist *coughAlisonJonesDDScough*, and best of all, diagnose and treat our own medical problems. Well, maybe the last one is not the best.
I frequent the very popular website Pinterest on a fairly regular basis. At one time, I jumped on the Health & Beauty section and was amazed at all the homeopathic remedies for tooth aches, cavities, and teeth whitening. Actually, as I am writing this, I brought up that board and only had to scroll a couple pins down to see the "Dr. Oz home remedy for teeth whitening." It suggests mixing lemon juice and baking soda, applying to your teeth, and letting stand for one minute. May I remind everyone at this time that lemon is an acid. Baking soda is an abrasive. It hurts my teeth just thinking about it. Luckily, the last statement on the directions that his linked to said to not leave it on longer because it will start to erode your teeth. Yes, acid will erode enamel...enamel does NOT grow back!
I asked Dr. Jones her opinion for the "Dr. Oz Whitening" plan and she said this:
"Dr. Oz is a cardiologist, right? I wouldn't dream of providing my patients with advice to handle their cardiac issues. I would refer them directly to their physician and cardiologist. From a dentist's perspective, the combination of a strong acid and an abrasive to whiten teeth is not a good idea. There are much better, safer, more effective ways to whiten teeth. A home remedy such as this one is likely to cause much more damage than good. And what you think you might 'save' in the expense of whitening will most likely end up costing you more because of the potential damage you could cause."
When I saw the whitening home remedies, I then wondered about the other tooth related home remedies people are suggesting. And I just had to research. Honestly, I wish I hadn't. My reaction when I read these things was, "For real? People are doing this?" I took a step back in case working for a dental practice the last five years has jaded me. Hey, I am known as the "new-age hippy" around the office, so you think that I would be more receptive. But, there are claims of cavities "disappearing" after consuming raw butter, cod liver oil, butter oil, and a slew of other things just seems so unbelievable.
Let's start with what a cavity is and how it forms. A cavity is a hole in the tooth caused by tooth decay. When plaque (a sticky barrier of bacteria) occurs constantly on teeth, the bacteria creates acids that wear away the enamel (the protective tooth covering), causing a hole. The ADA sister-site, MouthHealthy.org, has a great video and explanation.
Dr. Jones' opinion:
"I'm sure that many people are looking for an 'easy fix' but there really is no science behind most of these claims of home remedies and natural fixes to support them. Tooth decay must by physically removed from a tooth by a dentist and repaired with the proper type of filling material or other restorative technique. Just as there is no better way to good health than proper nutrition and regular physical activity, there is no better way to take care of your mouth than to brush and floss and visit your dentist at least twice per year. It may be boring, but it's true.
I also think that the fear of the dentist causes people to look for alternatives that will 'fix' their problem without seeing a dentist. Visits to our office are not painful or scary and we are very sympathetic to patient's concerns, so we hope they come see us for sound, professional advice on how to whiten teeth or treat pain or other orally related problems. It also may be intriguing to discover a secret on the internet that could solve a problem and save you time and money...but usually these claims are not what they are cracked up to be.
So, the bottom line is...check with your dentist before trying any of these quick fix/home remedy ideas that pop up on social media or blogs. Anyone can write anything they want on the internet, so beware of the source from which you get your information. While there may be a sliver of truth to some of the claims, it is best to check with a professional. And just because something claims to be 'natural,' doesn't mean it's safe, effective and helpful. We know that poison ivy, snakes and spiders live in nature - but I don't want to mess with any of them! If we don't know the answer or are unfamiliar with a home remedy that you read about or becomes trendy, we love to learn new things and we will research it for you - like Ashleigh's oil pulling experiment. But I really can't say it enough - please just check with your dentist or doctor before trying any home remedies."
The Internet is a wonderful tool, but it is not a doctor. If you have a problem, please see your doctor, dentist, or other professional medical professional.
Oil Pulling Experiment Update:
Day 6. I have swished with coconut oil every morning between 5 - 15 minutes. I would probably do the full 20 minutes, but I usually have a little boy running into the bathroom wanting something, or trying to dive into the bathtub. So far, I haven't experienced any mind-blowing changes. But who knows...maybe tomorrow I wake up and have a Julie Roberts smile!
An experiment: Oil Pulling
In the last couple weeks we have heard a buzz over social media about "oil pulling" and its claims of whitening teeth; preventing bad breath; strengthening gums, jaws and teeth, prevents cavities; and other non-dental fixes. I volunteered myself to devote a daily routine and tracking the results. I am going to give it a go for two weeks (maybe longer if it does those things) and update you of my findings.
Oil Pulling: it is said to be an ancient Ayurvedic natural remedy. I will let Wiki explain Ayurvedic for me. Its use of pure oil to pull our harmful bacteria, toxins, and fungus from your teeth, mouth and throat making a more healthy you.
I checked a few different sites and all have the same directions: use a pure oil like sesame, or coconut, swish in mouth from 5-20 minutes, and spit out into garbage (so it doesn't clog drains). You then go about your regular dental hygiene routine. Oh, and this is best done first thing in the morning when the bacteria amount is at its highest.
I will be using coconut oil (I already have it in my house). Dr. Jones' Assistant, Jennifer, took a color shade on me and at the end of two weeks we will see if there was any "whitening" of my teeth. I recently had my teeth cleaned and examined, so Dr. Jones will examine again, to see if she finds any changes, good and bad, to report.
Whitening Shade: A1 (thankfully, this in not the color of the yummy steak sauce!) As you see in the picture below (pic provided by the Moonberry blog post), B1 is actually "whiter" than A1. I am glad that there is room for improvement so we can see results.
Perio: I have three separate areas with deeper pocketing. A normal range is below 3 mm and anything more than 4 mm is considered periodontal disease.
Area 1: between # 8/9 = 4mm
Area 2: between #18/19 = 4 mm
Area 3: between # 31/32 = 5 mm (yikes)
Although we have our doubters in the office, I am going to go in with an open mind. Hey if it works, great. If it doesn't...there is always our Spring Whitening Promotion!
Have you tried oil pulling yourself? We'd love to hear about your personal experience. Please leave your comments below.
**It's important to note that we are NOT recommending oil pulling, but rather trying to find our more information about this "hot topic" that has gained a lot of recent attention in social media and mainstream media. There is a strong caution to be aware of that it can be dangerous if any of the oil is "aspirated" or inhaled into the lungs because a small amount of oil can settle in the lungs. It is recommended to rinse thoroughly with warm water mixed with sea salt afterwards to remove "toxins" that may be drawn out from tissues.
It seems these days we are inundated with bright, gleaming white, perfect smiles on advertisements, television, movies and in all media outlets. So, why do these ads put models with giant white smiles in them? I think it's because they are trying to convey a FEELING to you. You see that model smiling and laughing and you think...if I buy that product or service, I might feel that happy. But what about you? Have you ever thought about whitening your teeth, getting braces as an adult, or finding out if veneers could change your smile? Have you ever wondered if you could do anything about your smile to make it look....like a smile FEELS?
Let be honest...a beautiful smile DOES give you confidence and reflects how you feel on the inside. And a giant smile and laugh can even change how you feel - making you feel even happier. We all feel better when we are laughing! So what is a "beautiful smile?" As the old saying goes, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." You know what makes you feel good about yourself when you walk out the door. You know that sometimes you feel like you can take on the world when you look and feel good. We aren't talking about vanity here...we are talking about letting your outside self be a good representation of who you are on the inside. Many people would love to be able to smile more, smile bigger and have a huge, uninhibited laugh. But, I see a lot of people who don't let their full smile show, or gracefully and subteley cover their mouth with their hand as they talk and laugh. I see a lot of people casually look down or look away when they laugh. It's probably because that person doesn't feel 100% confident and they are worried that their mouth isn't healthy and it's affecting their breath and their appearance. They don't want others to see their dark, stained, crooked teeth, missing teeth, loose dentures, metal wires and clasps, old dark fillings, red swollen gums and the like. So, to me, a beautiful smile is a way to reflect how we are feeling. You shouldn't have to think twice about smiling and laughing! Let it shine! And if you have to worry that you can't confidently laugh and smile, you are decreasing your chance at being even happier. Check out this article about how smiling can actually make you FEEL happier!
So, can we give you your confidence and your happiness back by improving your smile? Many times people assume that nothing can be done to make their smile look better. They say things like "oh I'm too old to do anything about my teeth now" or "I just assumed that I'm not a candidate for any procedures to fix my teeth" or "it would be too expensive to fix my teeth." In most cases, this just simply is not true and you should ask us what your options are. There are many cosmetic options available to enhance and correct your smile. And what you might not realize, is that there are many functional benefits to improving your smile...making your teeth stronger and last longer when they are worn and weakened. Some changes are not as expensive as you might think and I always remind patients not to overlook the VALUE of improving oral health and the look of their smile. Think about buying a car or planning a vacation...things we invest quite a bit of money in because we find value and worth and they help us enjoy our life. But, a healthy, confident, beautiful smile can do the same thing for you...perhaps even more than a car or a vacation! No matter what your issue is with your smile, please ask me what options are available for you. I want you to be able to smile with confidence and radiate the happiness that is trying to come out!
And by the way, we have our annual Spring Teeth Whitening Special going - 25% off all teeth whitening and you will be entered to win 4 tickets and a parking pass to the Celebrity Classic Royals game on June 20th. Now that's a great reason to smile!!
Ali Jones, D.D.S. - Dentist