West Maitland Dentistry Blog

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January 6, 2020 General Dentistry

Now that the 2020 has arrived, some of us are thinking about goals for the new year.  One of them might be to improve your smile.  When researching how to fix your smile you might run across a recently popular yet potentially dangerous trend called DIY dentistry.  Although it may seem like a cheaper option at first, the perils of DIY dentistry is huge and can lead to long term problems in your mouth.  So before you think about treating yourself we’d like to share some common complications that can occur with DIY dentistry.


Most of us know the old tale of tying a string around a baby tooth and closing the door to pull it out.  But removing teeth before they are loose or need to come out can wreck havoc in the mouth.  Pulling a tooth early may lead to the tooth breaking and becoming infected or teeth shifting.

There are online videos out there showing you how to use pliers to pull your own tooth.   This can be extremely dangerous since most likely the tooth will break, allowing exposure of the nerve.  Attempting this can also harm the other surrounding teeth, gums and bone.  You can even break your own jaw by causing a fracture.

If it is a top tooth that is near the sinus there is a possibility of exposing your sinus.  Remember that your dentist and oral surgeon have the x-rays and training in anatomy.  We have the tools to determine and prevent complications and to treat these complications if they occur.  Trying to pull your own tooth, especially with unsterile tools, can worsen complications.


DIY whitening can be harmful to your teeth and gums.  Harsh chemicals or abrasive materials in whitening products can strip your teeth of not only the stains but of the protective layer of the tooth called the enamel.  This can lead to increased sensitivity and cavities.  Powerful chemicals in whitening products can lead to sensitivity or burning in the gums.  It is important to consult your dentist when it comes to whitening and to look for ADA approved symbols on products.


There are several over the counter temporary filling materials for sale out there.  These materials are to be used to cover a hole in your tooth until you can see your dentist but some people use it as a permanent option.  Using these fillings permanently is not recommended.  When you cover up the cavity you also cover up the bacteria in the cavity, allowing it to grow.  When a professional places a filling they will remove the bacteria and decayed part of the tooth first.  If the bacteria is not removed it spreads until it hits the nerve.  Eventually this leads to pain, abscesses or spread of the infection to other parts of the body.


In the dental aisle of your store you can find tools that look like the same tools used at your cleaning appointments.  As tempting as it is to save some money and skip your checkup and cleaning appointment and try to clean your teeth yourself this can lead to dental issues.  

First, you cannot see all your teeth or see them as well as someone else who is trained to evaluate your mouth.  This makes it difficult for you to thoroughly clean your teeth.  Leaving behind tarter can lead to periodontal disease which destroys your gum tissue and bone. 

Your hygienist and dentist have been trained to use their hands gently.  Cleaning your teeth too aggressively can damage your gums or teeth.  

Also since most likely you do not have sterilization equipment laying around your house.  When instruments aren’t properly sterilized they can act like a breeding ground for the bacteria collected from your mouth.

Last, without an exam, underlying issues cannot be addressed.  Cavities that aren’t caught can lead to larger problems later down the road, such as infections or abscesses.


A recently popular trend is DIY braces including clear aligners and using orthodontics bands to close gaps in your teeth.  Without a trained dentist or orthodontist to supervise your treatment there is the possibility that you permanently damage your mouth. The most common damage is gum and bone loss.  Not to mention you might not get the results you want.  Moving compromised teeth can lead to premature loss of the tooth.  This case shows the dangers of DIY dentistry when using bands to close gaps in your teeth.

Removing your own braces is also dangerous if DIY.  While removing the bracket you can accidentally remove part of the enamel or tooth.  Also not removing the cement causes staining or food and plaque accumulation, leading to more serious issues like cavities or gum disease.

Although DIY dentistry may seem like a cheap way to take care of your teeth, it is extremely dangerous.  By trying to save a few bucks you can end up potentially spending lots of money to fix the mess up.  The best way to take care of your teeth is through proper oral hygiene and visiting your dentist. 


It’s that time of the year again where our hearts and waistlines seem to grow.  This year I wanted to share some holiday healthy dental tips and recipe ideas that will not only leave your mouths satisfied but will leave them healthy as well!

Tip One: Substitute Out the Sugar

Holiday desserts are notorious for being loaded in sugar.  I recommend substituting out the sugar in your recipe for a naturally sweet substitute such as unsweetened applesauce, honey, agave, stevia or natural maple syrup.  Stevia is one of my favorite sweeteners, it is derived from a naturally sweet plant and comes in a powder form similar to sugar.  When substituting sugar out of a recipe either read the back of the package or look up the ratio.

Tip Two: Find the Fruit

A simple way to skip the sugar but still get your sweet tooth satisfying dessert is by roasting fruit.  Roasting and baking causes the fruit’s sugars to caramelize which brings out its natural sweetness.  Great seasonal fruits to try out are pears, apples and plums.  For an extra seasonal warmth sprinkle on some nutmeg and cinnamon before roasting or top them with crushed pecans or walnuts.

Tip Three: Watch What You Drink

It’s hard to think of a healthy holiday in combination with drinking alcohol, especially when often celebrating we tend to indulge in a cocktail or two.  It’s easy to forget that alcohol is notorious for hidden sugars.  That doesn’t mean you have to completely avoid it but making a few smart choices can help reduce the amount of sugar you take in.


When it comes to wines dry wines will have the least amount of sugars ranging from 0.5 g for a dry red and 1.5 g for a dry white while sweet whites can have 14.75 g per glass.  So try to avoid those sweet, fruity wines and stick to the dry varieties to cut down on your sugar intake over the holidays!


Most hard liquor itself does not contain sugar and are great options.  The problem isn’t the alcohol itself but the sweet and sugary mixers it is usually paired with. Nix the sweet juices and substitute club soda with your favorite cut fresh fruit instead.

Remember though that any alcohol will dry your mouth out and can lead to more risk of cavities so try to limit your intake and be sure to drink plenty of water.

Tip Four: Make Water Your Best Friend

Speaking of water, water is always a safe bet when it comes to a beverage choice.  If you are drinking cocktails or eating sugary treats try to sip water in-between to help rinse off the sugars, keep you hydrated, and to help keep the pH of your mouth at a healthy level.

Tip Five: Not All Treats are Made the Same

Some sugary treats are more damaging to your teeth than others.  Avoid those treats that are chewy or crunchy ones. 


Chewy, sticky treats like caramels tend to stay stuck in the fine grooves of your teeth and are difficult to brush out.  If you must indulge find a healthy alternative like sugar free caramels. 


Crunchy treats are common this time of the year.  Desserts, such as peanut brittle, can break your teeth or dental work and can do permanent damage.  Try to steer clear of these treats to keep your teeth healthy and strong!

Tip Six: Fill Up on the Good Stuff

Pregame with healthy alternatives.  Try to fill up on healthy options from the cheese plate and veggie platter while drinking lots of water.  This will not only curb your appetite but can help you to say no to those sugary temptations.

Tip Seven: Brush and Floss

With holiday travels and parties coming up it’s easy to get out of your regular routine.  Make sure though you take the time to daily brush at least twice and floss at least once. If you need a refresher on good oral hygiene refer to this blog I posted on tips on keeping your mouth healthy. Following a good oral hygiene routine during this busy season will help make sure you have a healthy holiday and will ease your stress when it’s time for you dental check up!

Try out these tips and trust us your mouths and waistlines will be thanking you!


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