How Does Snacking Affect Your Smile?

smile-snacking-shrewsbury-dentistIn the fight against tooth decay, you must be mindful not only in what you do to your mouth, but also what foods you put into your mouth. It’s tempting to assume that because food moves quickly past your teeth and gums, its role in your oral health is somehow less important. Not so, says Dr. Todd Pizzi at Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury. Dr. Pizzi, who offers fillings and dental crowns in Shrewsbury, MA, explains how your diet affects your mouth.

Food Takes Action Immediately

Enzymes in your saliva begin breaking down carbohydrates into sugar, which explains why starchy foods like breads and potatoes can be just as harmful to your teeth as sugary substances like candy and cookies. When you take a sip or bite, bacteria living in your mouth waste no time in consuming sugar and producing acid in the process. These acids weaken the protective enamel covering your teeth, promoting tooth decay and preventing your teeth from absorbing much-needed minerals.

…Then It Lingers in Your Mouth

Unless leftover bits of food are removed by brushing, rinsing, or flossing, bacteria will continue to produce acid. Some foods, such as gummy candy, dried fruit, and chewy sweets cling stubbornly to your teeth, insinuating their way between teeth and in various crevices within your mouth. Your molars, which have a ridged chewing surface, are notorious for trapping food and sugary substances. Acids produced by bacteria remain in contact with your teeth long after you’ve eaten the last bite. This is a common problem among people who tend to snack throughout the day, or those who eat several small meals daily.

You Can Minimize Damage to Teeth

Fortunately, not all foods have such harmful effects on your teeth. For example, eating or drinking dairy products stimulates your salivary glands and neutralizes acid lingering in your mouth. After consuming an acidic meal, try drinking a glass of milk or nibbling a small piece of cheese. Dr. Pizzi also recommends chewing sugar-free gum. Look for gum that contains the sweetener Xylitol, which has been proven to ward off acid and bacteria. Sugar-free lozenges work well, too. A few tips to consider:

  • Nuts, meats, and chicken neutralize acid while fortifying teeth with phosphorus and calcium.
  • Opt for firm fruits and vegetables, such as pears, apples, and carrots. Unlike juicier fruits, these have a higher water content that has the effect of diluting sugar.
  • Restrict consumption of sodas, sports drinks, and energy drinks. All contain loads of sugar and are extremely acidic.If you do drink these beverages, use a straw.

Has your diet damaged your teeth? To learn more about restorative dental treatments, or to schedule an appointment with your Shrewsbury, MA dentist, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in and around Boylston, Hopkinton, Millbury, and North and South Grafton.

“No Pictures, Please!” Paparazzi-Ready Smiles

shrewsbury-celebrity-smilesIf you watch movies, read entertainment blogs, or peruse fashion magazines, you could be forgiven for thinking that some people–most people, even–are just born with beautiful smiles. It’s an illusion, of course, as even the brightest stars sometimes need help from their dentist. Dr. Todd Pizzi and the talented team at Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury go behind the scenes to reveal which stars have doctored their smiles.

A-List Cosmetic Treatment: Porcelain Veneers

The treatment: Each veneer consists of several ultra-thin layers of translucent dental ceramic applied to the surface of your tooth.

Why stars love it: The popularity of veneers stems from the ability to treat multiple minor cosmetic flaws in otherwise healthy teeth, including whitening-resistant stains and discoloration, chips, cracks, slight overlapping or crookedness, gaps, and the appearance of too-small teeth.

Where you’ve seen them: Actor Nicolas Cage, actress Eva Longoria, soccer star David Beckham, singer Victoria Beckham, model Alessandra Ambrosio

A-List Orthodontics: ClearCorrect, Invisalign, and Six Month Smiles

The treatment: ClearCorrect and Invisalign straightening systems use clear, durable aligners to coax errant teeth into place over several months. The aligners, which look similar to a clear athletic mouthguard, eliminate the need for the wires, brackets, and bands that come with traditional metal braces.

Why stars love it: Invisalign and ClearCorrect are all but invisible when worn, making them ideal for anyone who spends their time in the spotlight. It also explains why invisible braces are so popular among professionals, public figures, and even high-ranking executives.

Where you’ve seen them (or not–they are invisible!) Actress Katherine Heigl, singer Justin Bieber, tennis star Serena Williams, supermodel Gisele Bundchen

The treatment: Exerting low force, Six Month Smiles uses tooth-colored wires and clear brackets to straighten teeth.

Why stars love it: Although Six Month Smiles are not quite invisible when worn, they are significantly less conspicuous than metal braces. During the typical six-month treatment time, Six Month Smiles delivers straightening results comparable to invisible and traditional braces, which may take a year or longer to achieve the desired effect.

Where you’ve seen them: Actor Tom Cruise

A-List Enhancement: Teeth Whitening

The treatment: Several teeth whitening methods are available in the United States. Our Shrewsbury cosmetic dentist office offers the Kor Whitening Deep Bleaching System to brighten teeth by several shades over a two-week treatment period.

Why stars love it: Over-the-counter whitening methods are excellent for superficial surface stains, but professional intervention is needed to deliver whitening of teeth that have been discolored by tobacco use, poor hygiene, drinking coffee, or taking certain prescription medications. When performed by a dentist, teeth whitening is less likely to cause sensitivity, and results are more consistent.

Where you’ve seen it: Talk show host/mogul Oprah Winfrey, television personality Simon Cowell, actress Julia Roberts

Smile like a star. To learn more about reconstructive and cosmetic dentistry, or to schedule an appointment with our Shrewsbury, MA dentists, contact Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Worcester, North and South Grafton, Boylston, Millbury, and the neighboring communities. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury’s (Free!) Community Event Picks for July 2014

Shrewsbury community events July 2014

Alpaca yarn, fresh fruits and vegetables, and honey at the first Shrewsbury Farmers’ Market

At Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury, we know that each of our patients is more than just a mouth. You have your own stories, interests, and dreams, just as we do. In today’s post, we’ve rounded up an eclectic selection of free, fun, and fascinating community events in and around Shrewsbury for July 2014.

Shrewsbury Farmers’ Market

Fresh fruits and vegetables benefit your body, your mind, and your teeth and gums. Beginning Wednesday, July 9th and continuing every Wednesday from 3-6:30 p.m., head to the Ward Hill Ski Area to sample and shop for healthy, edible offerings from such vendors as Clearview Farm, Stone’s Throw Farm, Houlden’s Farm, and Hopper Farm. You’ll also find fleece and fibers from Angel Hair Alpacas, goat’s milk soap from Elzire’s Acre, and natural honey body products from Happy Hounds Honey. More info at Shrewsbury Farmers’ Market here.

The Highland Foundation’s Free Fun Fridays

On Friday, July 11th at 9 a.m., and every Friday this summer, the Highland Foundation offers free admission to any of its 67 cultural venues and museums throughout Massachusetts. All ages are welcome. Different venues offer free admission on different days, so we recommend printing the full schedule here. A (small) sampling for the month of July includes:

July 11th: Cape Cod Children’s Museum, Fruit Lands Museum, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Peabody Essex Museum

July 18th: Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts Audobon’s Boston Nature Center, the Eric Carle Museum

July 25th: Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Children’s Museum in Easton, Battleship Cove

And several more locations through the end of August.

The Gallery at Shrewsbury Crossings Opening Reception

Visit Shrewsbury Crossings on Wednesday, July 16th at 4:30 p.m. for live music and drinks prepared by Chef Eddy. The show will feature original artwork by members of the Silk Road Artist Guild. Find a map and details here. Free admission, of course.

What are your favorite community events and activities in Shrewsbury? Leave a comment, or head to our Facebook page to share your photos and favorites. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Todd Pizzi or one of our dentists, contact Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in and around Hopkinton, Millbury, North and South Grafton, Worcester, and the neighboring communities.

Not So Crazy about Vertical Tooth Fractures

Close up Male SmileThe enamel on your teeth can be compared to a porcelain doll. While synthetic enamel is strong enough to take a beating as a child’s play thing, after a while, tiny cracks will begin to appear on the porcelain. Your teeth are covered with enamel, and even if it is the strongest substance in your entire body, teeth tend to get very used, and sometimes abused. When enamel succumbs to the rigors of time and misuse, you are at risk for developing small vertical fractures on your teeth called craze lines. Shrewsbury dentist, Dr. Todd Pizzi explains what you can do if you have craze lines, and how you might be able to prevent them from ever happening in the first place.

The Craze Line Cover Up

Craze lines are very shallow, so you shouldn’t worry that you’re a sitting duck for tooth decay or deeper cracks if you notice them on your teeth. The primary concern for people with craze lines is aesthetic.   When food and drinks like coffee, red and purple berries, and wine get stuck in the cracks of your teeth, craze lines can become visible to the naked eye. Many patients opt for teeth whitening to cover up their craze lines. If your stains don’t respond to whitening, other cosmetic procedures such as tooth-colored fillings and porcelain veneers can help you restore your line-free smile.

How to Avoid Craze Lines

There’s no certain guarantee against vertical tooth fractures.  However, the following things will put your teeth at a high risk for craze lines: (more…)

The Hidden Oral Health Threat in Your Swimming Pool

Swimmer’s ear. Sunburns. Hair tinged green by chlorinated water. It’s no secret that swimming in a pool comes with its share of minor inconveniences. What many don’t realize is that spending hours in the pool can also have consequences for your teeth. Dr. Todd Pizzi, who offers dental exams and teeth cleaning in Shrewsbury, MA, discusses the little-known effects of swimming pools and teeth, noting that these guidelines apply primarily to anyone who spends six or more hours in the swimming pool within a single week.shrewsbury-dental-cleaning

Chlorine and other chemicals are necessary to maintain the pH of pool water, as well as to prevent the spread of infection. Dr. Pizzi points out that any acidic substance–citrus fruits and juices, for poses threats to your oral health. Whether teeth are exposed to these acids by ingesting these substances or by direct contact while swimming does not necessarily matter to your mouth–acid is acid.

Erosion of Tooth Enamel

Within seconds of coming into contact with your teeth, acid begins to gradually eat away at the enamel that covers each teeth. If you have strong, healthy tooth enamel to begin with, you are less likely to experience the unpleasant effects of acid. However, someone who already has thinning or worn-down enamel will find the effect compounded. As a result, you become more prone to temperature sensitivity and tooth decay.

Calculus Buildup on Teeth

The effects of exposure to pool water become even more destructive when the swimmer does not practice excellent oral hygiene. In the pool or out, failure to remove all traces of food, bacteria, and plaque results in the formation of what we call swimmer’s calculus. Swimmer’s calculus is easily identifiable as an almost cement-like deposit of tartar, appearing brown in color. Once it hardens, it’s all but impossible to remove with your own toothbrush. If you notice calculus, which usually affects your front teeth, consider scheduling a professional teeth cleaning and exam at our office.

A Simple, Effective Tip

Obviously, you wouldn’t drink pool water to satiate your thirst. However, we recommend keeping a bottle of water nearby at all times while swimming. After every 30-45 minutes, or more frequently if you feel thirsty, rinse your mouth with the bottled water. We find that swishing the water in your mouth for half a minute works nicely.

Keep smiling, swimmers! To learn more about preventive dental care, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Todd Pizzi, contact Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in and around Worcester, North and South Grafton, Westborough, Southborough, and Northborough.

Invisalign and ClearCorrect: Clearly Superior Straightening

When patients come to us with questions about teeth straightening, they often do so strictly for aesthetic reasons. What they don’t always realize is that having straighter teeth has other benefits, too, especially where your oral health is concerned. Dr. Todd Pizzi, who offers clear braces in Shrewsbury, MA, discusses available options for straightening errant teeth. clear-braces-shrewsbury

Straight Teeth Are Clean Teeth

Plaque and tartar are notorious for hiding within the various crevices and crannies within your mouth, such as those formed by crooked or overlapping teeth. Because these areas are more difficult to reach with dental floss and your toothbrush, they often go neglected–especially if you don’t visit your dentist for professional cleaning every six months. As bacteria and food accumulate in these areas, they release toxins that infect and irritate your gums. Left untreated, the problem leads to periodontal disease, which so happens to be the leading cause of adult tooth loss. Not a good look!

Invisalign and ClearCorrect vs. Traditional Braces

Gone are the days when straightening your teeth meant wearing flashy metal braces. Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign and ClearCorrect make caring for your teeth easy during treatment. First, consider the accoutrements of metal braces: orthodontic wax, Proxabrushes, special orthodontic tape for flossing. It’s not unusual to hear patients say that wearing metal braces adds an hour or longer to their daily oral hygiene regimen! Traditional braces can also create some embarrassing faux pas for the wearer. Food becomes trapped between the hardware, and bad breath is more likely. With invisible braces, you simply remove your aligners when it’s time to brush, floss, or enjoy a meal.

Clear Braces, Universal Appeal

Although metal braces have proven effective for many years, it’s clear that they aren’t as aesthetically pleasing as their modern alternatives. Our patients note that their clear aligners are all but invisible during wear, so they needn’t worry about others focusing on the tell-tale glint of metal. This makes ClearCorrect and Invisalign ideal for teens and adults alike. Dr. Pizzi notes that we also offer Six Month Smiles, an accelerated straightening treatment that delivers dramatic results in minimal time.

Say goodbye to metal mouth. To learn more about teeth straightening in Shrewsbury, MA, or to schedule an appointment at Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in Worcester, Hopkinton, North and South Grafton, Westborough, and the neighboring communities.

What’s in a Name? “Cosmetic” Dentistry for Men

George Clooney. Brad Pitt. Tom Cruise—familiar names and famous faces that owe their stellar smiles to cosmetic dentistry. At our Shrewsbury, MA dentist office, we love to see that so many men are now embracing cosmetic dentistry to enhance their appearance. shrewsbury-cosmetic-dentist

Professional, Personalized Cosmetic Dentistry

Why entrust your teeth and gums to a professional? It’s a matter of customization and control. No two patients, male or female, are the same. The key to designing your ideal smile is understanding the various components of your face and teeth, including your skin tone, jawline, natural tooth color, facial structure, and symmetry. Your dentist will consider these factors, as well as your personal preferences and expectations, in developing the optimal treatment plan.

Does this mean that it isn’t possible to improve your smile outside of the dentist office? Absolutely not! Take over-the-counter teeth whitening products, for example. Relatively simple to use, most OTC whitening kits are capable of removing superficial stains. Even so, they lack the ability to deliver custom, consistent results, much less the stain-removing power of professional teeth whitening.

Oral Health Concerns for Men

It doesn’t take a copy of “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” to see that men and woman have very different oral health needs, and that many of these needs can be met in part by cosmetic dentistry. Consider:

  • Men are more likely to sustain damage to teeth in accidents or sports injuries. Tooth bonding and porcelain veneers restore a natural appearance to teeth that have been chipped, cracked, or made jagged by breakage.
  • Untreated acid reflux gradually erodes tooth enamel and is more common among males. Damaged tooth enamel is more likely to become stained, often so badly that OTC whitening is no longer an option. Veneers and bonding work well in this case. If stains are the only problem, your dentist may recommend the Kor whitening deep bleaching system.
  • Men who take certain medications, such as those prescribed for prostate health, hypertension, and diabetes, often experience dry mouth as a side effect. Dry mouth significantly increases a man’s risk for tooth decay, often resulting in cavities. Unlike metal fillings, tooth-colored fillings appear similar to your natural teeth, making them less conspicuous.

Benefits of a Healthy, Attractive Smile

Men often balk when they hear the word “cosmetic.” This isn’t about masking your appearance; it’s about enhancing it. It’s impossible to deny that the appeal of a bright, well-cared-for smile is universal. Studies confirm that men and women alike respond more favorably to people who have healthy smiles. Women are more likely to associate an attractive smile with a caring, warm personality. Men, on the other hand, associate healthy smiles with such qualities as success and professionalism.

For questions about our services, or to schedule an appointment at Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury, contact us at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in North and South Grafton, Hopkinton, Worcester, and the neighboring communities. For the latest tips and updates from our Shrewsbury dentist office, follow us on Facebook.

More Research Linking Heart and Gum Disease

Oral-SystemicResearch is consistently underway regarding whether or not bacteria in your mouth (the same ones that cause gum disease and tooth decay) can travel into your body and cause other systemic health issues. One recent study at the University of Florida shows distinct data regarding the fact that the same bacteria which cause gum disease also promote heart disease. The more proof scientists can uncover regarding this matter, the closer we can get to better preventions and treatments for oral-systemic conditions.

Periodontal Disease Epidemic

The scientist reported their findings recently at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. The data was reported by Irina M. Velsko, a graduate student in the University of Florida’s College of Medicine. Velsko says,”We report evidence that introduction of oral bacteria into the bloodstream in mice increased risk factors for atherosclerotic heart disease. Our hope is that the American Heart Association will acknowledge causal links between oral disease and increased heart disease. That will change how physicians diagnose and treat heart disease patients.” Heart disease is known to be the leading cause of adult fatalities in North America. Periodontal (gum) disease affects 46% of the American population.

Study on Gum Disease Germs

Many other studies over the years have made a connection between heart disease and gum disease. In fact, the American Heart Association published a statement saying (more…)

Save Toothpicks for Non-Dental Pursuits

Toothpick GuyAre you the type of person who likes to grab a toothpick after a meal to clean out your teeth? With a name like toothpicks, what else are you supposed to do with them, right? In fact, you really shouldn’t consider poking so close to your gum tissues with anything sharp. Sure, your dental hygienist uses pointy instruments to clean your teeth, but she is highly trained. Cleaning out the crevices of household items, or participating in crafts are better uses for toothpicks if you want to keep your sensitive oral tissues safe.

Toothpicks are Great for Baking

Other uses for toothpicks might include checking for completion when you bake something like a cake or brownies. When you plunge a toothpick into a baked good and it comes out caked in batter, you know that you still have a few minutes to go in the oven. However, poking a pan of brownies is one thing. Poking yourself in your gums is another thing entirely. You may say, “I’ve been using toothpicks for years, and have never had an issue.” All it takes is one unfortunate poke in the wrong spot and you can end up with major regrets. An open lesion in your gum tissue might heal with no further implications, but it can also open up a gateway for germs.
(more…)

How to Safely Remove Popcorn from Your Teeth

smiling girl eating popcornWhether you’re at the movies, at home watching a movie, or simply want a light, non-filling treat, popcorn is often the snack of choice. As pleasing as it is to your palate, though, popcorn is notorious for working its way between your teeth and gums, sometimes remaining for days, weeks, or longer, until your mouth grows uncomfortable from its presence. Left untreated, popcorn remnants can threaten your teeth by causing your gums to swell, and by feeding bacteria that can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and persistently bad breath.

First Thing’s First

The first thing you should do when trying to remove anything that’s stuck between your teeth is to rinse your mouth out thoroughly with warm water, preferably sprinkled lightly with salt. The water will remove all the loose food particles and debris, while the salt helps control discomfort and swelling. (more…)