Charcoal. And It Is Not For Your BBQ!

Charcoal. And It Is Not For Your BBQ!

Activated charcoal powder is one of the most popular teeth whitening techniques. Although the concept supposedly dates back thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine, brightening teeth with charcoal is a rather modern method.

Charcoal powder is made up of very absorbent small particles. Small pores on each speck of charcoal dust allow it to soak up toxins. This absorbent property makes charcoal a lifesaver when treating cases of poisoning.

Many people are now confident that activated charcoal’s ability to absorb toxins means it can soak the stain right out of discolored teeth.

Countless bloggers, celebrities, and social media stars tout the benefits of charcoal for whitening teeth. Could it work for you, as well?

A Tacoma cosmetic dentist explains the pros and cons of using charcoal to whiten teeth.

Benefits of Whitening with Charcoal

Using charcoal to get a whiter smile has a few pros:

  • All-natural

  • Inexpensive

  • Zero bleaching chemicals

  • Non-toxic if swallowed

  • There are usually dramatic results on the first try

But before you run out and a buy a supply of activated charcoal, make sure you’re prepared for the negatives.

Downsides of Activated Charcoal for Bleaching

You might not like whitening your teeth with charcoal for the following reasons:

  • Charcoal will stain everything in your bathroom if you aren’t careful

  • Charcoal powder can be abrasive on tooth enamel

  • Activated charcoal has its limits; it won’t whiten teeth with deep discoloration

  • Frequent use can lead to a black stain on your tongue

Does Activated Charcoal Really Whiten Teeth?

Tooth discoloration is usually caused by pigments from food that get embedded deep within the enamel. Science has yet to prove whether the absorbent charcoal particles can absorb such stains from teeth as it absorbs toxins from the body.

More commonly, brushing with charcoal gets dramatic initial results because the grittiness wicks away the day’s layer of tooth-dulling plaque.

Like the ingredients found in whitening toothpastes, charcoal is abrasive. This lets it scrub away surface stains. It can’t touch any discoloration that happens deep within teeth, however. You’ll need a professional teeth bleaching treatment to lighten teeth that have yellowed with age.

Whiten with Caution if Using Charcoal

It’s better to stay away from activated charcoal if you suffer from gum recession, active decay, worn enamel, or chipped or sensitive teeth. The grittiness could cause you needless discomfort and even worsen your situation.

If you decide to whiten using charcoal powder, stick to doing so no more than once a week, even if your teeth feel fine. Stop use right away and see a dentist in Tacoma if the charcoal makes your teeth feel sensitive or makes your gums bleed.

To safely whiten your teeth with activated charcoal, don’t just pull a charcoal briquette out of your barbeque grill! Make sure to choose a dentist-approved product or one found in a health food store.

Activated charcoal should never be used in place of regular toothpaste as it’s too abrasive. You can most safely whiten your teeth by letting the charcoal soak on your teeth rather than brushing it in. Mix a capsule of the powder with some water and put that paste on your teeth for a few minutes then rinse without scrubbing.

In summary, activated charcoal can help lighten tooth color to a limited extent, but you shouldn’t use it too often.

Get more tips for a healthy and gorgeous smile by planning your visit to Duke Bui, DDS, PS – Family Dentistry.

The Truth About Tongue-Splitting and Oral Jewelry

The Truth About Tongue-Splitting and Oral Jewelry

Are you thinking about getting an oral piercing or having your tongue split?

Before you get carried away by visions of how cool your smile will look with a modification, make sure you understand the facts. Procedures such as tongue-splitting and oral jewelry can have a dangerous impact on your oral health.

Why Do People Split Their Tongues or Get a Piercing?

It usually boils down to the right to self-determination and self-expression.

Getting an oral piercing is often a method of rebelling against societal norms while still playing it safe. Oral alterations aren’t as visible as, say, hair dyeing or tattoos on your hands. You could show off your new ‘body art’ only to those who would genuinely appreciate it.

It’s understandable that you may be very tempted to express your individuality through oral alterations. But after considering the truth about such procedures, you’ll probably agree that there are safer ways to let your style make a statement.

The Risks of Oral Piercings

An oral piercing puts you at risk for the following problems:

  • Allergic reaction

  • Swallowing or inhaling a loose piece of jewelry

  • Infection

  • Inflammation and swelling at the piercing site that can interfere with breathing or swallowing

  • Drooling

  • Damage including gum recession and chipped teeth

  • Greater risk of injury to soft tissues in your mouth

Oral piercings are common and many people have no issues with their piercing. You do have the right to get your tongue or lip pierced, but doctors and dentists urge caution. If you choose to get oral jewelry, you must be prepared to assume the responsibility for keeping it clean and safe.

An oral piercing needs to be cleaned daily. Rinse your mouth after every meal to keep food from packing in around the pierced spot. Examine the site every single day for signs of abnormal swelling or scarring. Maintaining excellent oral hygiene in the rest of your mouth will reduce bacterial buildup around your piercing.

Also check the tightness of your piercing on a regular basis. If it comes loose, you run the risk of swallowing it.

Remember: an oral piercing is not just a decorative piece of art you can afford to set-and-forget. You must be capable of and determined to take care of it. If you can’t handle that responsibility, then an oral piercing is definitely not for you.

The Dangers of Tongue-Splitting

Tongue-splitting is not quite as common as oral piercings, but it is still a popular body modification.

You should know, however, that it can be an even more dangerous alteration than oral piercings.

Some of the main dangers of getting your tongue split include:

  • Swelling that can be deadly if it closes off your airway

  • Speech difficulties (note that while this doesn’t happen to everyone, you probably don’t want to take the risk if your career depends on clear verbal communication)

  • Nerve damage resulting in numbness or a loss of taste

  • Surgical complications such as heavy bleeding, pain, and infection

Your tongue is highly vascularized which means it has a lot of blood vessels in it. It also houses some major nerves and an intricate network of muscles. Slicing your tongue down the middle is a very dicey modification since the resulting wound would be a serious one.

Not only is it risky to operate on your tongue in general, but many places offering this service aren’t necessarily up to the regulated standards maintained in hospitals and dental offices. A facility may look clean and make some claims about their success, but you’re still taking a huge risk by allowing anyone to split your tongue.

Your tongue will never be the same after a tongue-splitting procedure, even if you later choose to reverse it. The reversal process opens you up to the same risks and can leave you with a scarred and inflexible tongue.

Oral Piercings and Dentists in Tacoma

You’re probably not surprised to learn that given the risks to your oral health, dentists do not recommend getting an oral piercing or your tongue split in the first place!

Mouth tissues heal quickly, but that doesn’t make them ideal for piercings and such. The moist oral environment is prime for promoting bacterial growth. This puts surgical sites (like piercings) at high risk for infection. That infection or bacteria, in turn, can enter your bloodstream through the wound and cause potentially deadly inflammation in heart tissues.

Yes, dental health professionals take oral piercings very seriously!

If you already have a piercing, then you need a dental team who can help you keep it healthy. Contact Duke N. Bui, DDS, PS – Family Dentistry to schedule a checkup.

How to Care for Your Teeth When You Are Sick

How to Care for Your Teeth When You Are Sick

When you’re feeling under the weather, you may not feel very motivated to bother with brushing and flossing.

But just like caring for the rest of your body, maintaining your dental health is even more important when you’re sick.

Why Oral Health Still Matters When You’re Sick

Even one day of skipping your oral hygiene leaves your teeth and gums at risk for bacterial infection. It takes less than a day for dental plaque germs to start wearing down tooth enamel and irritating gum tissue.

A bout of sickness may even put your oral health at increased risk for problems such as:

●    Dry mouth
●    Bad breath
●    Acid exposure (such as from vomit)
●    Gum inflammation
●    Excess sugar exposure (in cough syrups and lozenges)

No matter how bad you feel, it’s important to keep up your routine of brushing and flossing.

Besides, keeping your mouth clean-tasting and your breath fresh can help boost your energy and get you back on your feet even sooner.

How to Maintain Good Oral Health During Illness

When you’re sick, your mouth has some unique needs that you should keep in mind.

Drink water. Hydration, for example, is very important. Illness, allergies, and medications can all cause your mouth to dry out. A lack of saliva leads to bacterial overgrowth which causes bad breath and cavities.

Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, even when you don’t feel like it. Water is necessary for soothing fevers and congestion and keeping your mouth comfortable.

You may enjoy sipping on sports drinks, soda, or sweet tea while you’re sick. But try to have water more than any other beverage. It’s better for your teeth and will keep you hydrated.

Rinse out. If you do enjoy some sweet drinks or take a sweet medication, make sure you carefully rinse out afterwards with water.

Are you suffering from a stomach problem that causes frequent vomiting? Rinse out with a mixture of water and baking soda to neutralize the acid. Stomach acid is very strong and can corrode tooth enamel if it’s not washed away.

Choose sugar-free. Whenever possible, opt for a sugar-free medication, food, or beverage while you’re sick. You probably sleep and rest a lot while you’re ill and this can mean that the remains of whatever you eat will stay on your teeth for hours at a time. If you eat as little sugar as possible, you’ll keep your mouth healthy even while you’re sick.

Change out your toothbrush. Unless you have a very weak immune system, you’re not likely to get reinfected by using the toothbrush you had when you were sick. But tossing the old brush will help keep those germs from spreading to other people around you.

Now may be a good time to get rid of your old toothbrush, anyway, if you’ve had your current one for a few months.

See a Tacoma family dentist. Granted, there’s no need to schedule a dental checkup after every sniffle or sneeze. But catching a cold may remind you that it’s time to get your oral health checked out.

A trip to the dentist will alert you to your dental health risks. That way, you can be prepared to take good care of your teeth the next time you’re feeling unwell.

Plan a visit to Duke Bui, DDS, PS – Family Dentistry to learn more about the importance of your smile’s health.