Why the Class of 2015 Is Bidding Adieu to Heavy Metal

shrewsbury-cosmetic-dentistry-orthoWith less than a month until Shrewsbury ISD schools and universities re-open for the new school year, students and their parents are rushing to take care of last-minute details. It’s an exciting time for everyone, but high school seniors and college freshman in particular have much to look forward to. Appearances aren’t everything, but the boost of confidence and self-esteem that comes with an attractive, healthy smile certainly makes things easier. Dr. Todd Pizzi explains why so many teens and young adults are considering invisible braces in Shrewsbury, MA.

The Universal Appeal of Straighter Teeth

The majority of people who wear braces are in their teens, but the number of adults wearing braces has increased dramatically over the previous few years, a fact Dr. Pizzi attributes to more modern orthodontic treatment. Traditional metal braces are effective, but their lack of subtlety has made them less popular in the wake of Invisalign and ClearCorrect invisible braces, as well as accelerated treatment via Six Month Smiles.

Benefits of Teeth Straightening for Teens

Senior year is a major milestone filled with countless photo opportunities and memorable rites of passage: homecoming, prom, graduation pictures, to name a few. Students must have the confidence to perform well at school and socialize with others, things that are difficult to do with poor self-esteem. Wearing traditional metal braces only adds to the nearly overwhelming senior experience; the same is true of freshman year. Our patients love Invisalign and ClearCorrect because the plastic aligners work their magic in the most inconspicuous way possible. Most people can’t even tell when someone is wearing their braces, which certainly isn’t true of metal braces.

Benefits of Teeth Straightening for Young Adults

A competitive job market means candidates will need every possible advantage, especially if they don’t have significant work experience. A winning smile speaks volumes about a person, and those who are fortunate enough to have such a smile are widely perceived by others to be more confident, approachable, professional, and successful. In contrast, a survey of hiring managers reveals that keeping your smile under wraps is a major turn-off. When you’re worried about the appearance of your teeth, it’s hard to focus on nailing your interview or internship.

Good luck to the class of 2015! To learn more about cosmetic dentistry in Shrewsbury, MA, or to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists, contact us at (508). We welcome students (and parents) living in and around Shrewsbury, Boylston, North and South Grafton, and the neighboring communities.

Psst…There’s a Trash Bag in Your Toothpaste

shrewsbury-petWhat is it about microbeads that have made them such a popular ingredient in health and beauty products these days? Driven by the desire to scrub away dirt, oils, and stains, it seems that we’ll do just about anything to finally be “clean,” including using exfoliators. What not everyone understands, however, is that these tiny beads are anything but gentle on your skin. Well, guess what, asks Dr. Todd Pizzi. Those microbeads that wreak havoc on skin? They’re also popping up in toothpaste.

Polyethylene: Trash Bags and Toothpaste

One problem with microbeads is that they ultimately end up in places where they shouldn’t. Once you’ve spit them out after brushing your teeth, they travel down the drain, into the sewer, down rivers and canals until they’ve reached the sea. You might think that a sewage treatment facility would be equipped to filter such small bits, but you’d be wrong.

Microbeads are made of polyethylene, which means they aren’t biodegradable, nor are they soluble in water. They’re plastic. Is it really such a good thing to brush your teeth with plastic, even with its diminutive size? When you visit our office for a routine teeth cleaning in Shrewsbury, MA, one of the first steps we take is inspecting your gum line and just beneath it. Dentists across the country have increasingly noticed these microbeads trapped within these areas. Essentially, you’re looking at plastic embedded beneath your gums. Sounds like a dental emergency, doesn’t it? By the way, PET plastic is also used to make trash bags, bottles, and other types of packaging.

It’s not just that microbeads are insinuating themselves into your gum tissue; think about how many you swallow with each brushing session. It’s bad enough that we have to worry about rumors that women consume x pounds of lipstick over their lifetime, but now we’re also swallowing plastic? The good news is that not all toothpaste contains these pint-sized plastic bits. We encourage you to read the ingredients before committing to a new toothpaste. Unless, of course, you find the idea of plastic particles refreshing.

More Fashionable Than Functional

Your dentists aren’t the only ones who are concerned about the use of microbeads in health and beauty products; California and New York have recently taken steps to ban the sale of products that contain the bothersome bits. Even manufacturers have been forced to reevaluate their use of plastics, albeit with no real sense of urgency. Witness a statement made by Procter & Gamble, which pledged to discontinue use of polyethylene…at least, as soon as they could find a suitable alternative. That’s all fine and good, until you consider the sole purpose of microbeads in toothpaste: decoration.

A perfect smile is plastic-free. To learn more about dental checkups in Shrewsbury, MA, or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Shrewsbury, North and South Grafton, Hopkinton, Boylston, and the surrounding cities.

14 Beauty Products to Make Teeth Appear Whiter

shrewsbury-cosmetic-lipsWe’ve seen some pretty bizarre makeup trends over the past few years, not least of which are black lipstick, tattooed eyebrows, and bright blue eyeshadow. They come and go with each season, but the appeal of healthy, white teeth endures. Thank goodness for teeth whitening in Shrewsbury, MA! For a whiter smile between appointments at Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury, take advantage of these beauty tips from brilliant makeup artist Pat McGrath.

Choose the Right Lip Color

Lip color can make all the difference in the appearance of your tooth color. Even though peaches, corals, and orange-based shades are popular during the summertime, they can make teeth appear yellow or even tan—not a good look. Therein lies the beauty of professional teeth whitening. When you’re confident in your pearly whites, you are no longer restricted to certain shades, so you can choose colors that flatter your skin tone.

Instead, go for lipstick and lip gloss with cool blue or violet undertones, which will brighten your smile almost instantly. Look for these shades:

Choose pale, shimmery pinks, such as Chanel Glossimer in Mica, Revlon Colorburst lip butter in Cupcake, or Clinique Vitamin C lip smoothie in Pink Me Up.

Sheer pinks with hints of berry make discoloration appear more subtle. Try Bobbi Brown lip gloss in Cosmic Pink.

Create the illusion of whiter teeth—up to two levels of whitening–with opaque shades of true reds, such as MAC Pro Fusion Pink or Lancome Golden Hat L’Absolu Rouge, shade 132.

Deep reds are sultry and perfect for formal looks that call for whiter teeth. McGrath likes Nars Pure Matte lipstick in Mascate and Benefit Full-Finish Lipstick in Flirt Alert.

Complement Smiles With a Healthy Glow

A warm hint of bronze makes teeth appear whiter, and it is summer, after all. Subtle use of bronzer or self-tanner is more skin-friendly than soaking up the sun, and can be chosen to flatter all skin tones.

If you have fair or light skin, McGrath recommends Snow Bunny from Too Faced or Tarte Bronze and Glow Matte Bronzer Tint in Park Avenue Princess.

Those who have medium skin benefit from Jouer Mineral Bronzer in Suntan or Too Faced Sun Bunny.

Dark skin tones look great with Guerlain Terracotra Bronzing Powder or Sheer Finish Bronzing Powder in Afterglow by Iman.

Questions about teeth whitening? To learn more about our cosmetic dentistry treatments, or to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Shrewsbury, Worcester, Boylston, Hopkinton, North and South Grafton, and the surrounding cities.

The 18th Century Toothache Remedy That’s Just. Plain. Wrong.

shrewsbury-toothache2Mark Twain is the father of American literature. James Brown is the godfather of soul. There’s a father for everything, and dentistry is no exception. Pierre Fauchard, (1672-1761), a French physician and author, is widely credited as the father of modern dentistry. Though he was years ahead of his fellow dentists, Fauchard didn’t get it right every time. At the office of Dr. Todd Pizzi, we’re used to treating toothaches in Shrewsbury, MA. We’re pleased to say that there’s one Fauchardian toothache remedy that we’ll never, ever try.

What Fauchard Got Right…

Fauchard’s contributions to dentistry are seen and felt everywhere. His fellow dentists found several of his theories and practices outrageous, like his proposal that tooth decay is caused by sugar; they believed tooth worms were the culprit. He was also first to suggest dental fillings for teeth that had been compromised by decay, and he contributed much to the development of dental drills and dentures. Despite initial reluctance from the dental community, his ideas were soon accepted and adopted far and wide.

…And What He Didn’t

Fortunately, not all of his wisdom caught on. When he got it wrong, well, it was really wrong. Enter Fauchard’s particularly disgusting home toothache remedy: urine. This was well before the invention of Listerine in the 19th century, and several hundreds of years before topical oral anesthetics like Kanka and Anbesol. Fauchard’s notes even included a stomach-churning recommendation to achieve optimal toothache pain relief, advising the reader to “retain [the urine] some time in the mouth and continue its use.” Unsurprisingly, and much to our great relief, the practice did not become commonplace.

To Fauchard’s credit, there is some scientific basis to his unusual remedy. Ammonia and ammonia derivatives are found in urine, having also been used as detergent by the Romans. Ammonia is a base, which means it can be used to neutralize acids such as those produced by bacteria and contributing to tooth decay and toothaches. Ugh.

Modern Treatment for Toothaches

Toothaches can be caused by one of several factors, and may affect one tooth or many. For example, a single painful tooth could suggest a cavity or an infection that may require a root canal treatment. If several teeth are sensitive, it’s possible that the enamel has worn thin, exposing the layer of dentin and nerves beneath. Your dentist will carefully examine the outside of your tooth and gums, and will take an x-ray to look for potential problems within the tooth. Treatment varies, but rest assured – we won’t be looking to Fauchard for guidance on this one.

Thank goodness for modern dentistry! To learn more about treating tooth pain in Shrewsbury, MA, or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Shrewsbury, Hopkinton, Boylston, North and South Grafton, and the surrounding cities.

The Dangers of Nibbling Your Nails

Biting nails is bad newsFrom a telltale twitch to sweaty palms, we all have different methods of coping with stress, anxiety, and even boredom. Most of these nervous tics are harmless, albeit annoying. Others, such as smoking cigarettes do more harm than good. Then there are those in-between bad habits that would appear to cause no harm. Biting your nails, also called onchophagia, is a prime example. After all, what could be so bad about a DIY manicure?

More than you might think, says Dr. Todd Pizzi, who restores badly damaged teeth using dental crowns in Shrewsbury, MA. Adults aren’t the only ones affected by nail biting, although the habit is less common in those over the age of 30; still, an estimated 15 percent of adults bite their nails. It’s estimated that about half of children and teens between 10-18 years old adopt nail biting at some point.

It can’t really be that bad, can it?

Actually, it can. Over time, nibbling your fingernails subjects your teeth to unnatural stress; this is because most nail biters use their front teeth to do the deed, despite the fact that front teeth are far less suited to chewing than, say, your molars. As a result, the teeth become weakened and more likely to chip or fracture. The effect is compounded in people who wear braces, prolonging the orthodontic treatment time.

Even scarier still is the fact that nail biting could add as much as $4,000 in restorative dental work over the course of a lifetime. Then there’s the fact that even the cleanest fingernails aren’t especially sanitary; dirt, germs, and bacterial beneath your nails are nearly twice as unsanitary as your fingers. And we shudder to think of the stomach problems that can be caused by swallowing dirty fingernail clippings.

Gross! How can I stop biting my nails?

The most obvious answer is to find a more constructive way to deal with feelings of stress, such as deep breathing techniques, yoga, or even meditation. Many of our patients have successfully stopped chewing their nails. We’ve compiled a few of their tips:

  • Use a topical product designed to impart a bitter taste. These clear liquids work much like nail polish, but their awful taste deters biting.
  • Always keep your fingernails trimmed. No nails = no biting.
  • Loop a hair tie or rubber band around your wrist, and snap it if you feel compelled to bite your nails.

Trade your bad habit for a healthy smile. To learn more about restorative dentistry, or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Shrewsbury, Hopkinton, Boylston, Worcester, and the surrounding communities.

Are Your Braces Causing Those White Spots on Your Teeth?

shrewsbury-white-spotsAt first it seems like a win-win situation. Your teeth are gradually becoming straighter, and now all of a sudden they’re becoming whiter, too? Don’t celebrate just yet, says Dr. Todd Pizzi, who offers several types of braces in Shrewsbury, MA, cautions that white spots aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. We’re not talking about uniform whitening like you would expect from a teeth bleaching kit, but small patches of white that form around brackets and wires.

What are these white spots on my teeth?

These white spots, known as demineralization, are a warning sign that the tooth is at risk of decay. They form when plaque is allowed to build up around the area, during which time bacteria and acids eat away at the tooth enamel. The tooth enamel loses its natural translucence, causing the affected areas to appear gritty or chalky. It’s a common occurrence that affects an estimated 85 percent of braces wearers, but that doesn’t mean it’s not to be taken seriously.

How did they get there?

If you detect the beginnings of these spots, it most likely means that your brushing and flossing efforts aren’t as effective as they should be. Plaque, which is made of bacteria and food remnants, builds up if not removed by brushing or professional teeth cleaning. For example, someone who wears traditional metal braces may find that they must use a Proxabrush to clean the areas between teeth, wires, and brackets. Otherwise, it’s unlikely that a toothbrush alone will remove the debris.

I’m worried I won’t be able to keep my teeth clean while wearing braces.

The good news is that you now have several available alternatives to traditional metal braces. Even though Six Month Smiles uses brackets to align teeth in a matter of months, a shorter treatment time means a reduced risk of tooth decay. If you’re still concerned, consider ClearCorrect or Invisalign invisible braces. Unlike Six Month Smiles and traditional braces, the clear plastic aligners require no bands, wires, or brackets. When it’s time to eat or clean your teeth, you simply remove the aligners.

Straighter, spot-free teeth. To learn more about teeth straightening in Shrewsbury, MA, or to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Shrewsbury, North and South Grafton, Boylston, Hopkinton, and nearby cities.

Why Is Hiding Bad Breath a Bad Idea?

Preventing bad breath in Shrewsbury, MAEven the most hygienic person experiences a bout of bad breath on occasion, but for others the problem is more severe. Chronic bad breath, also called halitosis, is more persistent and can linger long after you’ve brushed your teeth. Others with halitosis report that the unpleasant odor returns within a few hours of their morning hygiene regimen. The problem with masking bad breath with mints and gum is that it doesn’t address the underlying cause — a cause that could have serious implications for your oral health. Dr. Todd Pizzi at Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury offers insight into preventing bad breath in Shrewsbury, MA.

Solution: Watch Your Mouth (Or What You Put in It, Rather)

Some foods, such as onions and garlic, produce an overpowering odor that simply cannot be chased off with brushing or breath mints. According to Dr. Pizzi, this is because chemicals in these foods actually end up in your bloodstream, then spread throughout your lungs. With each exhalation comes an embarrassing smell. What does this mean? For starters, don’t eat either of these foods if you plan to find yourself in close proximity to others. The good news is that other pungent foods have much less staying power than garlic or onions. The easiest way to temporarily mask odors is to chew a stick of sugarless gum, preferably one that contains the sweetener Xylitol. The most effective way, on the other hand, is to politely excuse yourself and brush your teeth. At the very least, use plain water to rinse your mouth.

How does this help? It doesn’t take long for leftover food to produce bad breath. Bacteria living in your mouth use these bits as fuel, and volatile sulfur (that is to say, smelly) compounds form. Brushing and rinsing removes food and residue from on, between, and around your teeth and gums.

Kick Your Bad Habit

If you chew or smoke tobacco products, you might argue that bad breath is the least of your health concerns. True, halitosis is less unpleasant than, say, oral cancer or tooth loss. Even so, what better time to make a positive change than right now? Professional teeth cleaning will improve breath problems caused residue on your teeth, and your dental exam includes screening for gum disease and oral cancer – two other conditions that are more prevalent in tobacco users, and both of which have been linked to foul breath.

How does this help? Tar and other forms of harmful residue cling to teeth, gums, and oral tissues, making teeth appear yellow and unhealthy. As the residue is cleared away, most people experience improvements in their ability to taste and smell. This makes it much easier to determine whether you have bad breath.

Boost Your Brushing Efforts (Flossing, too)

The most common cause of a bad taste or odor is poor oral hygiene. The American Dental Association advises brushing your teeth twice each day for a full two minutes each time. Floss a minimum of once a day to remove sneaky, smelly substances from between teeth, and use an alcohol-free mouthwash to eliminate microbes that could be causing bad breath.

Why does it work? Most unpleasant odors emit from a mixture of food and bacteria, which hides throughout your mouth, near the back of your tongue, and near the gum line.

Bad breath is bad news. To learn more about treating bad breath, or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, contact our Shrewsbury, MA dentist office at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Shrewsbury, North and South Grafton, Worcester, Boylston, and the neighboring communities.

Cat Videos, Selfies, and…Bad Medical Advice?

shrewsbury-toothachesAh, the Internet. It’s almost impossible to imagine what life would be like if we were suddenly and unjustly deprived of the ability to surf the Web. At our Shrewsbury, MA dentist office, we can appreciate the speed and ease with which we can find information online. On the other hand, we can’t help but side-eye some of the more questionable aspects of online fact-finding – especially when it involves your oral health.

Acid and Teeth: A Bad Idea

If you’re active on Pinterest, online discussion boards, or health and wellness blogs, you may have read about claims that placing an uncoated aspirin on a painful tooth will treat the pain quickly and effectively. Actually, this so-called home remedy isn’t new; it’s been circulating since long before the first webpage was in existence. So what’s the problem?

For starters, look at the name of aspirin: acetylsalicylic acid, or ASA. It’s more than a mouthful, but the problematic word here is acid. As anyone who’s ever popped antacids or grimaced at the thought of reflux will tell you that acid is bad news for your throat and mouth. That burning, unpleasant sensation that comes from stomach acid? Aspirin has a similar effect if not swallowed immediately. We’ve seen several patients who not only failed to find relief from a toothache, but who also suffered painful chemical burns within the mouth.

Why Won’t the Aspirin Toothache Remedy Work?

Like any medication, pain relievers are most effective when taken using the recommended route. A chewable aspirin should be chewed, a tablet should be swallowed, and so on. When you chew or swallow an aspirin, the medicine is absorbed in your intestinal tract. Allowing the medication to dissolve in your mouth means very little of the active ingredient will enter into your bloodstream. The result? No relief for your toothache. Dr. Pizzi jokes that you might achieve more therapeutic benefits from taping an aspirin to your forehead (or not).

What Other Options Are Available for Toothache Relief?

Topical aspirin isn’t the solution, but this doesn’t mean that swallowing an aspirin won’t offer some relief, albeit only temporarily. Analgesics alone are not sufficient to actually treat the underlying cause of the tooth decay, which could be anything from a damaged nerve or decay to an infection or fracture. After examining your tooth and possibly taking x-rays, your Shrewsbury dentist may recommend restorative dental work. Worst case scenario, you may require an extraction. Even then it’s good to know that you have several options for replacing lost or missing teeth, including dental bridges, dentures, and dental implants. Otherwise, dental crowns or fillings may be sufficient.

Need more information about treating tooth pain in Shrewsbury, MA? To learn more about our services, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Todd Pizzi, DDS, or one of our doctors, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in and around Shrewsbury, North and South Grafton, Millbury, Boylston, and the surrounding communities.

Two Surprising Truths About Teeth Whitening Options

Teeth bleaching in Shrewsbury, MAWe all have our own ideas about what is and isn’t attractive. Some are partial to dark hair, others to a certain eye color. Beauty standards vary widely, and each culture has its own set of unique characteristics. The one thing we can all seem to agree on? The power of an attractive smile. A smile is one of the few, if not the only, universally recognized facial expressions. It’s often the first thing we notice about others, which explains why teeth whitening is easily the most popular cosmetic dental procedure in the country. Dr. Todd Pizzi, who offers teeth bleaching in Shrewsbury, MA, dispels two of the most commonly held myths about the treatment.

Fiction: All Tooth Discoloration Is Caused By Poor Hygiene

Fact: Several factors contribute to stained or discolored teeth.

Although neglecting your oral hygiene will almost certainly end in disaster, it isn’t the only way to sully your smile. Despite what Hollywood might want you to believe, not everyone is born with the makings of naturally pearly white tooth enamel. In fact, genetics determine in part your natural shade of tooth enamel. Your diet also plays a role in the color of your teeth, with darkly colored foods and beverages having the greatest tendency to cause stains. Eating an acidic diet makes teeth more prone to staining by eating away at your tooth enamel, creating a rough surface. Even certain medications, particularly antibiotics, have been known to cause permanent discoloration.

Fiction: Over-the-counter Whitening Products Don’t Work

Fiction: Whitening products work — if you choose the right ones.

If you have light staining on the surface of your teeth, a basic whitening toothpaste will most likely help achieve the desired result  However, more severe stains, such as those caused by using tobacco products or taking medications, require professional teeth whitening. Our Kor Deep Bleaching System is a two-phased approach to whitening, combining treatment in our office with custom whitening trays for home use. Simply wear your custom-fitted trays while you sleep, usually over a period of 14 days. At the end of your treatment period, you’ll visit your Shrewsbury dentist for the finishing touch, an in-office whitening treatment.

Questions about teeth whitening in Shrewsbury, MA? To learn more about our cosmetic dental treatments, or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Shrewsbury, North and South Grafton, Worcester, Hopkinton, and Millbury.

Oral Cancer: A Threat at Any Age

oral-cancer-shrewsburyWith age comes great wisdom and experiences, not to mention a number of health risks. Although it’s true that some medical problems are more common among older men and women, this does not mean that someone can be excluded by virtue of age alone. Take gum disease and oral cancer, for example. Although these conditions are more prevalent in older adults, all age groups can be affected. For this reason, Dr. Todd Pizzi screens all patients for both diseases during their dental checkups in Shrewsbury, MA.

Symptoms That May Indicate Oral Cancer

Symptoms are subtle or non-existent in the earliest stages of oral cancer. Unfortunately, many patients do not confirm a diagnosis or seek treatment until the disease has spread to other areas of the body, such as the lymph nodes or lungs. Between 20 and 30 percent of patients who have been diagnosed with oral cancer will also have developed cancer of the lymph nodes. The most commonly reported symptoms include:

  • Patches of white, red, or darkened tissue in the mouth
  • Lumps in your mouth, on your tongue, or on your neck
  • Hoarseness or chronic sore throat
  • Problems swallowing or chewing food
  • Any unexplained changes in color or tissue

Above all, it’s important to understand that not all patients will experience all of these symptoms. Others notice them as they occur but write them off as symptoms of a more common, less innocuous condition. These two reasons alone justify the importance of regular oral cancer screening as part of a comprehensive dental exam. Between appointments, your dentist encourages you to perform self-exams every month. 15-40.org has an excellent step-by-step guide to performing self-exams.

Risk Factors Linked to Oral Cancer

No one is totally immune to oral cancer, but some groups face a much higher risk than others. The most obvious is smoking or chewing tobacco in all its forms. Frequent and significant alcohol consumption follows closely, with patients who use both tobacco and alcohol facing an even greater risk. Even tanning, which most people associate with skin cancer, can increase the likelihood of developing oral cancer. If your family history includes someone diagnosed with oral cancer or any other type of cancer, this suggests the need for even greater vigilance.

Have you been screened for oral cancer recently? To learn more about preventive measures, or to schedule an exam with one of our doctors, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Shrewsbury, Boylston, Millbury, Hopkinton, Worcester, and the surrounding areas.