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Sensitive Teeth? What Foods to Avoid

Sensitive Teeth? What Foods to Avoid


Do you have sensitive teeth? Even if they’re sensitive from wearing braces, Invisalign or using teeth whitening products, there are certain foods you can avoid so your teeth won’t bother you as much. Here are some to consider:

Acidic foods

Acid in foods is known to cause sensitivity because it can take some of the enamel off your teeth. There’s a surprising number of foods containing acid. That might include citrus fruits like grapefruit, oranges and lemons. Tomatoes are also highly acidic, and found in a number of dishes, like pasta sauce. Other fruits like kiwi and plums have acid, as do pickles, which are brined in vinegar.

Ketchup and mustard

When you think about it, ketchup is a no-brainer, because it contains tomatoes and vinegar, two acidic items that don’t go well together with sensitive teeth. Unfortunately, mustard is also made with vinegar, and can therefore cause sensitivity.


Have you seen the experiments where soda eats away at something, whether it’s a nail, a penny or yes, a baby tooth? Soda isn’t good for your teeth. Though it’s sweet, it also has phosphoric acid in it, which is the chemical that causes the metal to oxidize


Whole fruits like the citrus mentioned earlier can cause tooth sensitivity. Juice can be even worse because it’s a liquid, which means it has an easier time washing around the tooth.

Hot liquids

You may want to avoid hot coffee or tea if your teeth are sensitive. The same goes for soup. If you really want the drink coffee or tea, or consume soup, let it cool a bit, or sip it through a straw. It may look and feel silly, but your teeth will thank you.

Cold things

Whether it’s ice cream, frozen yogurt or ice water, cold things have an equally uncomfortable feeling in your mouth if your teeth are sensitive.

Chewable vitamins

While vitamins can help keep you strong, chewing them isn’t so good for your teeth. The acid in them can bother your enamel. If you want to keep taking vitamins, take the kind you can easily swallow whole, or immediately swallow some water after chewing the vitamins.

Using good oral hygiene is a way to decrease the sensitivity of your teeth. Fluoride toothpaste is a must for keeping your teeth free of plaque and giving the enamel extra protection. If your teeth continue to be sensitive even after avoiding some of these foods, it’s time to schedule a dental visit.  

What causes tooth sensitivity?

Why You Should Care About Tooth Sensitivity

If you’ve swallowed some hot coffee or cringed over cold ice cream, you probably have tooth sensitivity. It feels bad, but is it also bad for your teeth? It depends.

What causes tooth sensitivity?

There’s no single reason for tooth sensitivity, which can have many causes:

Gum disease: Also called periodontal disease, some people experience tooth sensitivity when their gums and the bone underneath are infected. The infection can damage the gum tissue, exposing the tooth’s root surfaces, making it sensitive. The good news is that by using proper oral hygiene and seeing a dentist, periodontal disease can be treated.

Braces: If you have braces or use Invisalign to straighten your teeth, you might get occasional tooth sensitivity. Why? When teeth move, the body releases certain chemicals, which can cause short-term sensitivity. Since this is likely only for a couple of days, taking ibuprofen and changing your diet to foods that don’t cause activate the pain will do the trick.

Brushing: It’s possible you’re brushing too hard or with a toothbrush whose bristles are too stiff. Using a toothbrush too vigorously on your teeth can wear down the enamel. What’s left underneath is the dentin layer, with small tubes that allow access to your tooth’s nerve endings. An easy solution is to switch to a softer brush and taking it easy with the brush strokes.

It’s important to use toothpaste with fluoride, as this helps to protect the teeth from decay, which also can lead to increased sensitivity. Fluoride strengthens the tooth enamel, which keeps the tooth exterior healthier and stronger.

Grinding your teeth: Whether you know it or not, tooth grinding can occur when you’re sleeping and when you’re awake. Again, by wearing down your enamel and exposing the dentin, your teeth become more sensitive. If you can’t stop the grinding, sleep with a mouth guard.

Broken tooth: If you have a damaged tooth, like it’s cracked or chipped, you’ll probably notice sensitivity. A trip to the dentist will tell you how that can be remedied. It might be as easy as placing a cap on the tooth, or it might be more complicated, like a root canal or extraction. Either way, don’t delay in getting care. 

Teeth whitening: While teeth whitening toothpastes, mouthwashes and treatments can make your teeth gleam, they can also cause sensitivity. Some people are sensitive to the chemicals used in these products. If that’s the case for you, try switching products.

No matter what’s causing your sensitivity, there’s no reason not to practice good oral hygiene. This is a fancy way of telling you to brush and floss your teeth properly, and stick to a regular schedule of cleanings and checkups. 

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Teeth Whitening

Teeth Whitening 


Professional Teeth Whitening vs. Store Bought Kits: What’s the Best Option?


Discolored teeth are a common issue for many Americans. A straight, pearly white smile has become the coveted norm. But while Americans spend thousands of dollars on braces, professional teeth whitening often goes overlooked as a luxury expense. While some cost-effective solutions are attractive, there are downsides to the non-professional route that should be considered.


 Here is a comparison of professional teeth whitening vs. store bought kits:


 1.      Options


There are several options for store bought whitening solutions. At-home whitening kits can include anything from whitening toothpaste, strips and trays to paint on whiteners. Typically these items have a whitening gel with the active ingredient peroxide. The level of peroxide varies between products; peroxide levels in store-bought kits are much lower, around 7 percent, while dentist-grade levels can top 45%.


 Whitening in the dentist’s office is executed with a combination of highly concentrated whitening agents that must be applied with professional supervision. Usually a special heating lamp is used to activate the agents to produce a more successful result.


 Note: If you do choose a store-bought kit, be sure to choose one approved by the American Dental Association. Above all, read the directions carefully.


 2.      Time


Commercially available kits can take several days to a month to start showing results. Consistency is key when using these kits, and it’s important to follow the directions. For example, Crest 3D Whitening Strips should be applied for 30 minutes each over a period of 20 days to achieve full results.


Professional whitening can guarantee results in a fraction of the time, typically in just 45-60 minutes. This time can also be broken up into sessions. At Signature Smiles, this 45-minute procedure is divided into separate 15-minute visits.  After the first visit, results are noticeable.


3.      Cost


At-home whitening kits range from $30-100. They are less likely to be effective as the ingredients in kits are not fully regulated and the chemical agent levels are much lower. This can lead to overuse of the product to achieve results.


Professional teeth whitening procedures can cost hundreds of dollars. According according to OkCopay data, which measured 16 metro areas across the nation, the average treatment price is $399.  However, the cost of a whitening procedure performed by a trained dentist and staff is much more likely to achieve safe and long-lasting results.


 4.      Effectiveness


Overuse of white strips often goes unchecked as individuals try to achieve quick results. Since these kits are not tailor made for each individual, results can vary drastically and many people give up before the appropriate treatment time.


For example, if a person’s teeth are particularly unaligned, it may be much more difficult for a store-bought white strip to produce even results. However, a professional procedure can address any type of smile. Likewise, individuals with bonded or capped teeth will find that the artificial parts of their teeth may be a different color from natural, whitened teeth. A dentist can help provide direction on how to address such a color differential.


5.      Side Effects


As with any peroxide-based whitening, the two most common side effects are tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. Overuse or harsh ingredients can do damage to a tooth’s enamel, and ironically cause more discoloration in the long run.


Because white strips aren’t cut to the shape of your teeth – just a straight line on the top and bottom – the strip is usually applied on the teeth as well as the gum, which can lead to gum irritation. However, a dentist’s office can help provide a custom-made whitening process that can minimize this type of discomfort.   


It’s best to check with your dentist before starting any regimen – home or professional. "Here is a comparison of professional teeth whitening vs store bought kits."

Is Invisalign right for you?

Is Invisalign right for you? 


If you’re a teenager or adult who needs to straighten his teeth, Invisalign is an option to consider, depending on your mouth and budget.


Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998, more than 2 million patients have had their teeth aligned with this technology, which is nearly invisible because the braces are applied to the insides of teeth.


An orthodontist or dentist will make incremental adjustments to the teeth's position over time with several Invisalign trays, according to Signature Smiles, a full-service dental clinic in Houston. These trays must be worn 20 hours per day for about two weeks. The amount of adjustments will determine the number of Invisalign trays and how long it will take to achieve a healthy, dazzling smile.


The cost of treatment varies based on the length of treatment, the complexity and where you live, said Dr. Sylvan Fain, a Miami cosmetic dentist. Although the cost can be as high as $9,000 in New York City, the average fee runs from $3,500 to $6,500. 


 "Some easy cases can be less, and complex cases can be more,” Fain explained. Patients may want to research how much an office charges for retainers, patient records and related costs.


 Retainers are worn after treatment is finished to prevent the teeth from moving back to their original position, Fain said.


At Signature Smiles, the staff works with patients to research their health and dental insurance to learn what is covered and what isn’t. Ask the dentist to set up payment plans to handle what isn’t covered.


Before having Invisalign treatment, teenagers usually will need to get their wisdom teeth removed. Teenagers may be concerned about being teased and embarrassed while wearing braces, and Invisalign is a self-esteem booster. Invisalign teen braces can also be removed so she can eat whatever and whenever she wants.


“It is effective for mild to moderate crowding and alignment cases,” said Dr.  Greg Jorgensen, a board-certified orthodontist in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. “It is especially good for patients who have had previous orthodontic treatment but did not wear their retainers and have experienced some relapse. 


“My patients can take out their aligners to eat and brush. Patients like it because it looks so much better than braces. So in many cases, Invisalign is actually my treatment of choice.”


Not everyone, though, is a candidate for Invisalign. Orthodontists don’t recommend that children have it done, and some of the parts can be lost and need replacement, which can add to treatment time and costs. 


No matter your age, be sure to ask your dentist how serious the crooked teeth are and how healthy your teeth are. If your issues are serious, Invisalign may not be a good option. You may not want to go through all the follow-up visits and associated costs.


Clear ceramic braces and lingual braces are solid options if Invisalign is not. Ask the dentist about all the options if traditional, metal braces bother you.


“The most tried and true, economical alternative is clear braces,” Jorgensen said. “They have been around a long time. Modern manufacturing techniques have overcome practically all of the long-standing weaknesses that have plagued previous generations of clear brackets. Today’s appliances are stronger, smaller, and do not stain like previous models. 


“The only two drawbacks…are that they are still more fragile than metal, and they still cost your orthodontist more to purchase, which he must pass on to you.”


At Signature Smiles, Dr. Kevin Yeh, our board-certified orthodontist, and our staff will assist you with deciding between all the options so that you’ll be satisfied with the long-term results.

Fluoride in Water vs. Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride in  Water vs. Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride in Water vs. Fluoride Treatment - What's the Difference?

There’s plenty of talk about fluoride – it’s probably in your drinking water and your toothpaste, it may be in your mouthwash, and your dentist might mention it during every visit, especially if you have kids. But what’s the difference between the low amount of fluoride you’re consuming every day and the fluoride treatment your dentist offers?

Before you dig any deeper, a little background on fluoride. It’s a naturally occurring mineral and a crucial ingredient of dental health. The hard, outer protective layer of your teeth, the enamel, frequently undergoes changes to its mineral content, and mineral deficiencies can lead to dental caries – also known as tooth decay. Fluoride is one of the materials that help keep this mineral balance positive and protect against the onset of dental maladies.  

Fluoride is also especially important for children, which is a major reason its levels are boosted in many community water systems. For kids between the ages of 6 and 16, maintaining good oral hygiene is particularly important, as this is the developmental period for their permanent teeth. Dental issues that start at this age have the potential to last a lifetime.

While fluoride is present in many natural water sources – oceans, springs, and so on – the amounts present don’t always add up to an effective dose. So, since the 1960s, municipalities have opted to add fluoride to their drinking water. This ensures that developing youngsters, no matter their diet or dental hygiene habits, at least have a shot at staving off tooth decay. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed water fluoridation as one of the greatest public health improvements of the past century (since tooth decay is actually considered an infectious disease, it falls under the purview of the CDC).

The United States Public Health Service has concluded that the ideal level of fluoride in civil water sources is 0.7 parts per million. Prior to this, the recommended range reached a higher limit (1.2 parts per million), an amount that can be a contributing factor in cases of cosmetic fluorosis. Cosmetic fluorosis is a mild discoloration of the teeth.

The levels above, combined with good dental hygiene and regular cleanings, tend to be a good fluoride baseline for the average adult. However, there are a variety of reasons the over-16 crowd might need to take tooth care to the next level. This can include eating habits, as overdoing it on sugary food can lead to reductions in fluoride. A history of cavities can be an indicator of a fluoride deficiency, and existing dental work, like crowns and bridges, can be a magnet for tough-to-clean spots and tooth decay. Even a dry mouth – whether caused by taking certain medications or otherwise – can lead to tooth decay. In all of these cases, fluoride treatments can make a difference.

 While there are a slew of over-the-counter products that contain moderate amounts of fluoride, sometimes that may not be enough. That’s where the benefits of fluoride applications at the dentist’s office come into play. Fluoride treatments are usually applied topically, and may come as a foam, varnish, or gel. The goal of these procedures is to help bring the fluoride-positive balance back to your mouth, keeping tooth decay at a healthy distance.

If you think you may be in need of fluoride applications to help prevent tooth decay, Signature Smiles can help you discover the best plan of action.

How to choose the right braces for you

How to choose the right braces for you


If your dentist has told your son or daughter he or she needs braces, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that even the metal ones are lighter, smaller and more comfortable than those of the past.


Thanks to technology, people of all ages have more choices than ever when deciding which braces will work the fastest and best at re-aligning your teeth for a better smile and easier chewing.


Orthodontists recommend that parents bring kids in for evaluation when they are 7 years old, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. The earlier your child has his teeth examined, the more time you have to plan ahead for dental insurance, health savings accounts and other methods to cover the costs.


 Braces can run from $3,000 to $10,000, depending on whether you select traditional, metal braces or go with lingual braces, which are hidden on the insides of teeth.


American Association of Orthodontists members say that the average length of orthodontic treatment is 22 months.


Signature Smiles has Dr. Kevin Yeh on staff, who specializes in braces, including Invisalign treatment. A native of Arlington, Texas, he earned his DDS degree at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. He joined the United States Navy and was stationed at the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island, Washington, and on the USS Carl Vinson, which is famous for being the ship that disposed of terrorist Osama Bin Laden’s body in 2011.


 Not only does Yeh have extra orthodontic experience, he has a good sense of humor when working with his patients, especially children.


Children can have fun choosing from 24 colors for the bands, customizing his smile, according to Dr. Renee Roland of Roland Orthodontics in Penfield, New York. The colors include purple, pink, red, yellow, blue and even black.


Although Invisalign has enjoyed popularity with many adults, more than 2 million of whom have used it, the method isn’t recommended for kids because of the temptation to remove the trays and forget to put them back in. Even adults may be tempted to leave them out and thus prolong treatment, which may also increase costs.


Keep in mind, though, that many health or dental insurance plans won’t cover costs for adults, while partially covering children under the age of 18, according to the Oral B brand website. 


For any plan, be sure to ask about the percentage the company covers and the lifetime maximum per child. While coverage varies widely, it averages 50 percent, with a $1,500 lifetime maximum.


Experts also recommend that you keep the same insurance plan during your entire orthodontic treatment. Most orthodontic plans won’t cover braces if they have already been applied before the policy went into effect. In other words, the company considers that a pre-existing condition that would have to be paid by the patient.


If braces are considered medically necessary, the costs may be tax deductible. Be sure to keep all dental and medical bills, even small co-payment invoices, for tax time.


To learn more about itemized tax deductions for medical expenses, visit


If your income is low, check to see if you or your child can qualify for Medicaid coverage. Again, the braces must be deemed medically necessary.


Patients can also set aside pretax dollars to help pay for braces in a flexible spending account, health savings account, health reimbursement account, or a medical savings account.


Some universities have dental or orthodontic schools that offer apprentices who will do the work at reduced cost. But they also may have a three-to-four-month waiting list for services.


With so many options available, it can be daunting trying to choose “the right one. ” The best solution is the one that works best for you and your family. 

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