Thursday, May 22, 2014

Should I Try Oil Pulling to Whiten My Teeth?

            Oil pulling, which is an old folk remedy that originated in India, has been all the rage lately due to news coverage and social media sites. It involves swishing with an edible oil (coconut, sesame, or olive) for up to 20 minutes in your mouth before spitting it out. The goal is swish until the oil turns white, which allegedly shows that bacteria have been drawn out of your mouth. While it may eventually prove effective in some ways, dental professionals are still very hesitant to get behind the practice of oil pulling until more legitimate research can be completed.

            In theory, the removal of bacteria in your mouth sounds appealing. However, there are many different kinds of bacteria that live in the oral cavity that everyone needs to maintain good oral health. If the oil does actually remove all of the bacteria from the mouth, it could actually do more harm that good if the normal flora of bacteria is disrupted. This could lead increased risk to infections or cavities by changing the way our mouth usually defends itself.  Until more long term clinical studies have been performed, dental professionals will continue to remain skeptical.

            To effectively use the oil pulling technique, it requires 20 minutes of swishing, which is a long time to keep something in your mouth and actively swish. To achieve whiter teeth and better oral health, I would advise just spending a little extra time with the traditional toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouth rinse.  I believe that using those home care tools will yield the best long term results. And if whitening is your concern, most dental professionals agree than professional teeth bleaching will be the safest, most predictable and effective way to brighten your smile.

            Whether or not you decide to try oil pulling is ultimately your own decision. However, even if you are diligent in using this home remedy, I would strongly advise that you don’t use it to replace the more traditional homecare methods of brushing, flossing and using mouth rinse.

Please visit us at with any other questions.

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Why do I Need to See the Dentist at Least Twice Each Year?

            If you have a history of developing cavities or stains on your teeth, it is obvious why you need to visit the dentist on a regular basis. However, for those who seldom have cavities or don’t accumulate much stain on the teeth, you may wonder why we insist on seeing you every six months. While there are plenty of studies and vast amounts of data to support six months check-ups, the bottom line is we base our recommendations on early detection and preventative care.

            The earlier we find a cavity, the easier it is to treat. This means you are less likely to experience sensitivity following the filling because it is less invasive on your tooth. And with a smaller filling, your appointment time is shorter. This means you have to spend less time in a dental chair and more time keeping up with your busy schedule.

            Most cavities and other dental issues do not exhibit any painful signs or symptoms until significant damage is done. Our goal is to catch any problems early and treat them before it causes you discomfort. A clinical exam every six months and bitewing x-rays every year are critical in diagnosing developing problems that may not otherwise be noticeable. Absence of pain does not mean absence of dental problems.

            Tarter (calculus), the hard buildup on your teeth, is a collection of bacteria that has formed on your teeth. Once it has formed on and around your teeth, simple brushing and flossing will not be enough to remove these deposits. Our hygienists use specialized instruments to remove the calculus and allow your teeth and gums to remain healthy. We do not recommend that our patients use their own ‘tools’ at home to remove the deposits in an effort to avoid cleaning appointments. You will not be able to remove all of the calculus and will likely leave some underneath the gums. Left unchecked, this can lead to more serious infections.
            Frequent and consistent visits to the dentists are essential in maintaining your health and for diagnosing and treating problems early. Doing so will end up saving you time and money in the long run and will hopefully keep your teeth and gums pain free.

 Please visit us at for more information.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.