What’s the Best Way to Whiten Teeth?

A bright, white smile can be a game-changer. Not only do white teeth help your smile shine, they can also give you the confidence to smile freely. At Mint Dental Care, our patients often ask us about the best way to whiten teeth. The answer depends on your schedule and your goals for your smile. We offer three different whitening options: one-size whitening trays, custom trays, and one-visit whitening.

woman inserting teeth whitening trays

One-Size Tray Whitening

For folks who want an affordable, low-fuss option, one-size whitening trays are a great fit. Our team will provide you with premade trays and bleaching gel to use at home on your own schedule.

Custom Tray Whitening

This individualized treatment involves creating a custom tray to fit your teeth. First, we take an impression of your mouth and then custom-create your tray. A snug fit is important, as it keeps the bleaching gel from leaking while being more comfortable to wear. Again, you’ll have the convenience of whitening your teeth at home on your own schedule.

One-Visit Whitening

If you can’t wait another day for whiter teeth, one-visit whitening is the treatment for you. Our team will complete your professional whitening treatment in just one visit. Another benefit of one-visit whitening is that Dr. McCord and our team are able to closely monitor your teeth as you receive the treatment.

Any one of our professional whitening services can give you the smile you’ve always wanted. Because our whitening products are professional-grade, they are much safer and more effective than products you can buy at the drugstore or homemade remedies. In fact, certain homemade remedies said to whiten teeth, like lemon juice or activated charcoal, can actually damage your enamel.

No matter your goals for your smile, we want to help. To ask our team any questions about our whitening services or to schedule a consultation, contact our office today!

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How Long Does It Take for a Cavity to Form?

Sometimes patients wonder why it’s necessary to see us for a checkup every 6 months. This is because the health of your teeth can change drastically in a span of just a few months, and we want to make sure we’re aware of any changes to your dental health. Take cavities for example. A cavity can take months or even years to form in an adult. It takes even less time for a child because the enamel of baby teeth is more susceptible to breakdown than adult teeth. You or your child might not feel a cavity forming, but we can see it. This is why it’s so important to get seen routinely.

What Is a Cavity?

A cavity is a hole in a tooth that forms when it begins to decay. Tooth decay is caused by a wearing down of enamel, or the outer layer of teeth. Bacteria in the mouth feed off of sugar to cause plaque, which can break down the enamel of the teeth and cause cavities. Cavities can cause a toothache or sensitivity upon eating certain foods.

cartoon man brushing his teeth and cartoon tooth giving a thumbs up

How Can You Prevent Cavities?

The best way to prevent tooth decay is to diligently practice your daily dental hygiene. Brushing twice daily for two minutes each time and flossing once daily will greatly reduce your chances of getting a cavity. Also, reducing your sugar intake will help to keep teeth clean and free of plaque. Visiting our office for your scheduled cleanings is also an important step to keeping teeth strong.

What to Do if You Suspect You Have a Cavity

Give us a call! Don’t be shy. Fixing a cavity is easy and will help keep the tooth from being damaged further. We’ll repair your tooth with a filling and get you back to feeling like yourself in no time!

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5 Tooth-Friendly Sugar Substitutes

sugar cubes on a black background
Sugar makes some food taste good, but that’s the only good thing about it.
Sugar is suspected to be a major factor contributing to many significant health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, and cancer.

And of course everyone knows it also wreaks havoc on our teeth. Actually, sugar alone is not the cause of cavities. Rather, cavities are caused by the acid released by the combination of sugar and bacteria. The acid destroys tooth enamel, which creates decay.

Fortunately, there are numerous sugar substitutes which do not react with bacteria to cause acid, and therefore do not lead to cavities. In this article, we offer a list of 5 such substitutes that you might want to try, if you haven’t already. All of them are available under various brand names, and are also marketed by numerous manufacturers under their generic names.

1. Sucralose

Sucralose, which is best-known by the brand name “Splenda,” is one of six sugar substitutes that are approved by the FDA. The others are saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, neotame, and advantame. Of all the FDA-approved sweeteners, sucralose is one of the most extensively researched, having been the subject of more than 100 safety studies.

Sucralose is a general purpose sweetener that can be found in a variety of foods including baked goods, beverages, chewing gum, gelatins, and frozen dairy desserts. Unlike some other non-sugar sweeteners, it is heat stable, making it suitable for use in cooking.

2. Stevia

This sweetener is derived from a plant native to parts of South America, where it has been used for hundreds of years. It is categorized as “GRAS” by the FDA, which means it is “Generally Regarded As Safe,” and therefore does not require premarket FDA approval like other food additives. However, the raw stevia leaf itself is not considered GRAS and is therefore not permitted for use as a sweetener.

3. Monk Fruit

Technically known as Luo Han Guo, Monk Fruit is a type of gourd that’s native to Southern China. Like Stevia, the sweetener derived from Monk Fruit is categorized as GRAS by the FDA. It has the additional benefit of being rich in antioxidants with their associated anti-inflammatory effects.

4. Xylitol

This is one of several sugar alcohols that are classified GRAS by the FDA. Commercially produced from sugars and starch, sugar alcohols are used primarily to sweeten sugar-free candies, cookies, and chewing gums. Among the sugar alcohol sweeteners, Xylitol is unique in that it actually prevents decay by inhibiting the growth of cavity-causing bacteria. It also may aid in teeth remineralization. As a result, Xylitol is increasingly popular as a sugar-free sweetener for chewing gum. It is sold under several brand names, including Ideal, Polysweet, and Xylosweet.

5. Erythritol

Erythritol, another sugar alcohol, occurs naturally in fruits such as melons, pears, and grapes. Zerose and ZSweet are probably the best-known Erythritol brands.

When it comes to avoiding cavities, sugar substitutes are a reasonable substitute for the real thing. However, there’s no substitute for good oral hygiene and professional dental care! So if you’re overdue for a checkup, contact us at Mint Dental Care and set up an appointment with Dr. McCord or Dr. Knox today.

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What Happens If I Leave a Cavity Untreated?

Brunette young woman outside hides her mouth with the collar of her brown knitted sweater

It’s always a little unnerving to hear that you have a cavity, especially if you generally take good care of your teeth. Since cavities develop below the surface, it’s hard to notice if you ever even had one at all prior to visiting your dentist. While a filling is the best way to take care of the problem, what happens if you just don’t do anything about it at all?

Why Cavities Develop

A cavity is a source of tooth decay. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth twice a day, you’re allowing bacteria on the surface of your teeth to multiply. When these bacteria consume sugars and starches left behind on your teeth, they release acid that destroys the enamel on your teeth. A cavity forms when acid eats away at the enamel inside, rather than on the very surface of, your teeth.

Cavity Treatment

The best way to treat a cavity is with a filling. Your dentist will clear the decay from your tooth and fill the area with a material to prevent further decay. In the past, dentists used metals like gold, silver, mercury, and zinc to fill teeth, which can be easily detected if you smile. Today, there are more natural-looking fillings made of resin or porcelain so that they are virtually unnoticeable!

What Happens If I Leave a Cavity Untreated?

If you decide to leave a cavity untreated, here is what you can expect:

  • Tooth Sensitivity — Your tooth will feel sensitive to heat and cold exposure, making it difficult to eat and drink your favorite foods.
  • Tooth Pain — Not only will your tooth become more sensitive, but the act of chewing or even talking will become increasingly painful. You will likely feel radiating pain whenever you talk or eat.
  • Tooth Decay — As the bacteria and decay grows down to the root, you may need a root canal or even a tooth extraction in the future. If you do require an extraction, you will have to consider ways to replace your tooth.

Cavity Prevention

Prevention is always better than cure, and that applies to cavities! Brush and floss diligently twice a day, limit your sugar and carb intake, and visit your dentist twice a year for thorough examinations. If you do need a filling, don’t worry. They are quick and can be completed in just one visit, so there’s no need to let a cavity go untreated. Doing so will mean that you will have go through more pain and money to find relief in the future!

From cavity prevention to cosmetic and restorative services, we at Mint Dental are here to help you have the smile of your dreams. Contact us to schedule an appointment today!

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Dental Benefits of Tea

box with different tea bags

Tea has been a popular drink for thousands of years, and it turns out that this beverage isn’t just delicious but may actually be good for your teeth as well! Here are just a few ways that drinking tea can be beneficial for your dental health.

1. It Freshens Breath

Drinking a strong mint tea can freshen up your breath naturally. Mint tea can also help settle upset stomachs and aids digestion for an added bonus. Enjoy it hot or iced!

2. It Can Prevent Gum Disease

A Japanese study showed that drinking green tea regularly could actually prevent gum disease by promoting healthy, strong, and pain-free gums given its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.

3. It Can Prevent Cavities

Green tea controls the acidity levels in your mouth, which makes it harder for plaque and bacteria to grow on your teeth. This means that it’s also harder to develop tooth decay and tooth loss.

4. It Can Help You Cut Back on Soda and Coffee

Replace sugary sodas and lattes that can actually harm your teeth with a delicious tea. There are plenty of varieties of green, herbal, and black teas out there to appeal to your taste buds, and they can provide the aforementioned health benefits.

5. It May Help Prevent Oral Cancer

Green tea is loaded with healthy flavonoids, which are known for their cancer-fighting properties.

Drinking tea provides incredible benefits to both your dental and overall health. While it cannot replace regular brushing, flossing, and dental examinations, it’s excellent to incorporate into your diet and a surefire way to make your daily dental care routine even easier and more effective. If you are in need of a professional cleaning or exam, or have any other issue to address concerning your dental care, Dr. McCord and the staff at Mint Dental Care would love to hear from you.

Contact us to schedule an appointment today!

3 Common Dental Problems

young man with tooth pain holding jaw

At Mint Dental Care, we’re prepared to look at and treat a host of different dental issues, from the routine to full mouth restorations. Some cases, however, are more common than others. Here are the top three common dental problems that patients are eager to treat.

Gum Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, occurs when plaque and bacteria get trapped under the gums and causes them to become inflamed and infected. Symptoms include red, sore, and bleeding gums. Gum disease can be very painful, and if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. While prevention entails consistent brushing, flossing, and regular dental exams, treatment includes laser gum treatment and root scaling, both of which we offer here at Mint Dental Care.

Cosmetic Issues

Chipped teeth, bite issues, and stained teeth can damage one’s confidence in their smile. There are many cosmetic treatments available to give patients the smiles of their dreams. We offer Invisalign®, dental veneers, and professional teeth whitening so that our patients have plenty of options when it comes to cosmetic treatments.

Missing Teeth

While replacing a missing tooth may seem like a cosmetic issue, there’s more to it than just having a complete smile. Missing teeth can make it harder to talk and chew, and can even make your jaw weaker. Depending on how many teeth you are missing, your dentist may recommend that you get a bridge or dentures. We offer both treatment options at Mint Dental Care for a beautiful and functional smile.

At Mint Dental Care, we want you to have your dream smile, whether that means you simply need a dental cleaning and exam or one of our many specialized services. We also firmly believe in providing affordable care to all of our patients, whether you have insurance or not. If you are dealing with a dental problem, don’t wait to get the care you need!

Have questions about our treatment options or on how to build a dental plan around your budget?

Why Do We Have Canine Teeth?

woman with mouth wide open

It’s almost time for Halloween and that means a lot of people will soon be dressing up as monsters. Many of these will have elongated teeth—think vampires and werewolves for example. These large, pointy teeth are an important part of many monsters’ frightening mystique. Like monsters, humans actually have a few teeth that are longer and pointier than others in our mouth. These are called canine teeth.

What Are Canine Teeth?

Canine teeth are the largest teeth in a mammal’s mouth. They are longer than non-canine teeth and usually pointed at the tip. Most mammals have four canine teeth each, two on the upper jaw and two on the lower jaw. These are called the two mandibular canines and the two maxillary canines.

Why Do We Have Them?

Canine teeth are important for holding and biting food, and specifically for tearing up meat. This was very important in early human development when in order to survive, humans needed to consume as many calories as possible. The easiest way to do this was by eating meat, which needed to be chewed thoroughly.

Most of us are lucky enough not to worry about running around scavenging and hunting our food anymore. And since many people now embrace vegetarianism, we don’t necessarily need our canines to survive. But these specialized teeth certainly make it easier for us when we do eat meat.

The Animal Connection

Animals like dogs or gorillas use canines for fighting and competing for a mate, but we don’t need them for that. In fact, our canine teeth have become smaller over millions of years, as civilization has evolved.

If reading about canine teeth has got you wondering about the state of your own teeth, give our office a call at (479) 202-0025 to speak to our friendly team! We’d be happy to answer any of your questions.

Mint Dental Care is there for all your oral health needs!