The Ultimate Toothpaste Guide

You need some more toothpaste, and you’re in the store, standing in front of a host of options. There is “whitening” toothpaste, other kinds that mention fluoride, others that mention tartar control, and still more that say they’re made for “sensitive teeth.”

But all of these characteristics are good right? So what do you choose? Often, because we don’t really know what to look for, we end up choosing the cheapest thing we can find. It’s not the end of the world, but it can help to be more informed.

What to look for

Check out the ingredients label on a toothpaste. Look for fluoride. Flouride is awesome because it strengthens the enamel of your teeth every time it’s applied. It also helps remove plaque, and reduces the risk of gum disease.

  • Zinc citrate, pyrphosphates, triclosan: All help reduce the accumulation of plaque or tartar.
  • Potassium nitrate: helps calm the nerve of the tooth, so this is a good ingredient for people with sensitive teeth.

When a toothpaste says that it whitens, that usually means there is some kind of abrasive substance added to the paste, to remove surface stain in the act of brushing. Overuse of this kind of toothpaste may actually lead to the wearing down of the enamel layer, however. And the whitening effect won’t be very dramatic, so be wary.

Can I buy the cheap stuff?

There have been studies that suggest the brushing action is actually more important than the toothpaste itself, meaning you’d still see benefit from brushing with just water.

But you don’t want to give up the benefits of fluoride, so use toothpaste. Look at the ingredients to determine if the toothpaste is a high quality. You’ll notice that some toothpastes have a higher or lower level of fluoride. This can often be a clue.

Some recommend looking for the seal of approval from the American Dental Association. This can be a good place to start if you’re in a hurry. But generic brands may be just fine, and not carry that seal.

Does brand matter?

Brand certainly doesn’t matter as mush as the TV commercials say it does. In most cases, the brand doesn’t matter at all. More expensive brands may have a higher percentage of helpful ingredients however, so read those labels!

Ask Dr. Larsen if the toothpaste you’re using is good enough. He may recommend a specific variety for your teeth.

A Brighter Smile With A Regular Dental Cleaning

Just cleaning your teeth whitens them by two shades

There will come a day (maybe it was yesterday), where you will look in a mirror and smile, and you won’t be happy with the color of your teeth. Don’t worry! It’s not the end of the world, and getting your smile to a brighter shade isn’t a big deal.

So now we’re going to talk about different teeth whitening options, right? Well, teeth whitening can have some great results, if you’re using the right technique and materials. But the first step in getting your teeth whiter is actually just to get a cleaning done. That’s right, just a regular, 6-month check up and cleaning will do wonders for the color of your teeth.

When we walk out of the office after a dental cleaning, our smile feels cleaner and brighter, right? Well, it doesn’t just feel that way. You’ve gotten rid of yellow plague and tartar, and your teeth actually are whiter, up to two shades whiter.

Why?

When you clean something, it gets brighter. It’s true for the kitchen sink, and it’s true for your teeth. So why doesn’t my smile get whiter after I brush my teeth at night?

Well, getting rid of plaque probably does keep your teeth whiter, actually. But over time, the plaque is going to build up and the shade is going to darken. A dental cleaning will more thoroughly clean off plaque and tartar, meaning the true color of your teeth is more visible. Furthermore, we’ll do a polishing, which further buffs off imperfections.

Light stains on your teeth are often removed by a regular dental cleaning.

So why do teeth whitening?

While a good cleaning will whiten teeth by a couple of shades, a teeth whitening procedure will whiten them even more. Those looking for a brighter result should consider whitening.

Some Great Quotes On Gratitude

Use It Or Lose It

Are you wasting the dental benefits you’ve already paid for in 2016?

Paying for healthcare can seem confusing and wasteful. Premiums, deductibles and exceptions can make the head spin. But the end of the year is coming, which means it’s time to make sure that you’ve used the benefits you’ve already paid for. Do you have a good grasp on what is already covered in your dental healthcare plan for 2016?

Each year insurance companies make millions of dollars off patients who forego necessary and preventive dental care.  Many individuals who are paying for dental insurance do not realize that their plans provide up to a certain dollar amount annually.  That means certain services will be no cost to you.

Because of misunderstanding, some patients are not scheduling the dental treatment they need, deserve, and have insurance to cover.  Thus, the insurance revenues allocated to pay dental claims on many patients are never used, and unfortunately those dollars cannot be carried over year-to-year.  The bottom line:  What the patient does not use they lose.

Suffocating medical and insurance bills are bad enough; make sure you’re not wasting a cent. And speaking of money, remember that regular cleanings prevent future problems, which can cost a lot. A covered cleaning today can prevent an expensive procedure later.

Also consider your flexible spending account or your health savings account (HSA), if you have them. Flexible spending accounts generally have a designated time frame to use the money. Many companies provide funds to HSAs, but many employees aren’t sure if they can use those funds for dental work. You can! Don’t wait on needed dental work if the funds are available now.

Dr. Larsen’s In-House Dental Benefits Plan

Dr. Larsen is an experienced dentist who understands the importance of prevention when it comes to oral health. To help patients stay on top of their oral health, he provides a dental benefits plan. Patients who choose the plan play a flat yearly fee, and for it receive two cleanings & exams, one set of x-rays, two fluoride treatments and a significant discount off all dental services and procedures. Call our office today to learn more about how this plan can help you and your family stay healthy and save money.

From Dull to Stunning: The Beauty of Veneers

We’ve all gotten so caught up in the rush of life that certain things are forgotten and neglected. When we finally do have a second to notice, we wonder, “how did things get like this?”

It happens to our houses, cars, yards, waist lines, and our smile.

As adults, we’re pretty good about brushing and flossing regularly, right? It’s just part of our routine. Many of us have even been able to successfully avoid cavities for years, so we assume everything is fine with our teeth, until one day we look in the mirror and realize that our smile is dull and flat.

And this is not necessarily a fault of yours! Over time, teeth get worn, which can be expected, considering how often we eat. Color, or dullness, is one common issue people find as they reach middle age. Other issues are gaps, teeth that are shorter than the ideal, or tooth damage. In fact, about 80 percent of people are not satisfied with their smile, for a variety of reasons.

How veneers can help

Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that are placed with a specialized adhesive on the front of individual teeth. It is a modern, effective solution for improving color, crooked teeth, teeth length, chipped teeth and more.

The process of getting veneers begins with preparing the tooth or teeth. A fine layer of the natural tooth is removed to make room for the veneer, and the tooth surface is prepared. This process makes improves your smile while maintaining the natural contours and bite.

In your consultation with Dr. Larsen, you’ll discuss your goals, and what specifically you dislike about your smile. Using your feedback and the recommendations of Dr. Larsen, veneers are crafted in a lab for your individual needs.

Flawed smiles are no fun. Veneers are among the best options for correcting flaws and giving you a natural, beautiful smile.

Seal Out Problems With Dental Sealants

We’ve come up with lots of great ways to protect ourselves and our kids. We have seatbelts, helmets, pads, and a thousand other things to make sure injury doesn’t occur. It turns of dental science has come up with an awesome way to protect our teeth as well: dental sealants.

This is a relief to many moms who are in a constant battle to protect their kids, who often just aren’t good at protecting themselves. Applied to the chewing surfaces of the teeth, namely the premolars and molars, sealants are a plastic material that provides a line of defense against decay and wear.

In the molars and premolars there are many vulnerable crevices that are hard to reach with brushing and flossing. Sealants do a great job of protecting those areas, so that you and your kids can avoid the dentist and costly dental work.

How Does It Work?

Getting sealants isn’t a complicated process. Dr. Larsen simply cleans and prepares the teeth surface and then paints the sealant material onto the enamel, and the sealant then bonds to the tooth and hardens. Once applied, this protection can last years.

Should My Kids Get Sealants?

Yes! In fact, sealants are best for kids. Adults will sometimes get sealants if there is an increased risk of cavities because of grooves or fissures. But sealants are amazing for kids, because kids sometimes have difficulty consistently cleaning molars, and flossing. In fact, lots of kids have trouble remembering to brush at all! Sealants can be a great tool for parents to protect their kids (and their wallet) from dental issues.

Will Anyone Be Able to Notice the Sealant On Me or My Kids’ Teeth?

Depending on the type of sealant used, the appearance can vary, but is usually very subtle. Dental sealants can be clear, white, or have a slight tint. And since they are usually placed in the back of the mouth, they are very hard to notice.

Get Your Student Ready For a New School Year

With summer’s end on the horizon and school beginning again, it’s time to bring the focus back to getting your child ready for the school year! The one thing you don’t want is for your child to feel uncomfortable with her smile when she walks into her new classroom this year! Here are a few things you can do to ensure that your student can focus on all the right things at school this year!

Create (or Enforce) an Oral Hygiene Routine: If you don’t remind them, they won’t remember! Research shows that it takes about 21 days to form a habit. Brushing and flossing habits are incredibly important, and if your student doesn’t have one in place, now’s the time to start!

Look into Dental Sealants: We often recommend dental sealants for children and teens because it is so common for them to get cavities! Discuss good eating habits, and if all else fails, sealants might be a good idea!

Schedule a Cleaning: One very important part of growing up with a healthy smile is getting routine dental cleanings. A cleaning will boost your student’s confidence, and it will give us a chance to make sure her smile is growing exactly as it should!

Make sure a dental appointment is on the back-to-school-to-do list for your student! They’ll feel more confident smiling, and you’ll rest easy knowing that you can focus on homework and other activities this fall! Contact us today to set up an appointment. We’d love to see you both soon!

A Practical Solution to Sleep Apnea

Leaving behind the status quo CPAP machines for a more comfortable, modern treatment that gets you sleeping again

Do you ever wake up feeling like you haven’t really slept that much? For millions of people, that is exactly the case! For the unfortunate people who suffer from sleep apnea, a collapse of tissue in the airway causes them to stop breathing for about 10 seconds at a time while they sleep, which inhibits healthy sleep as it happens over and over again.

If you’re consistently feeling tired, falling asleep in the middle of activities, nodding off while driving, or snoring loudly, it may be time to seek help! We know it can be a nightmare to face the day without enough sleep.

Why fix my sleep apnea issues?

If you get a poor night’s rest, it is going to affect pretty much everything you do that day, and maybe the next day. You may be a more irritable parent, a less effective employee, and a dangerous driver. It’s more than an annoyance. Poor sleep is recognized as a national public health problem. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, about a third of people report unintentionally falling asleep in the last month. About five percent report nodding off at the wheel, which may be the most important case for treating sleep apnea.

50-70 million

The estimated number of US adults with a sleep or wakefulness disorder.

Others experience mood swings, depression, and worsened memory and decision-making skills.

But beyond lack of productivity and mood effects, the research is clear that sleep is essential for overall wellness. People with sleep apnea face a serious increase in risk of disease. For example, they are

  • twice as likely to have a heart attack.
  • 4 times more likely to have a stroke.
  • 3 times more likely to have coronary heart disease.
  • More likely to be obese.

There are also sleep-related dental problems, like heartburn/acid reflux and bruxism.

Okay, but do I have to wear a CPAP machine?

In one recent episode of Modern Family, Cam is wearing a CPAP machine to bed, and the show points out all the problems with the device in a humorous way. They are clunky and aggravating, with chin straps a full mask.

CPAP machines are the traditional solution for those suffering from sleep apnea. But this cumbersome device presents some problems. First and foremost, we haven’t really met anyone who likes it! Because it’s not a very comfortable machine, a lot of people simply don’t use it even if they have access or are under doctor’s orders. 90 percent of people report side effects, like discomfort, nasal congestion, claustrophobia, chest discomfort and more.

In our office, we use what is called a TAP appliance. It’s adjustable and fits over upper and lower teeth, bringing the jaw forward and opening up the airway. It allows us to provide a personalized, comfortable solution to our patients who desperately need a good night’s rest. And when the snoring stops, we get a lot of thanks for spouses too!

Here’s what one of our patients had to say:

I love my snore guard from Dr. Larsen! I do not snore anymore! I had no idea that there was a product that would help me with my problem and I was grateful to find out that Dr. Larsen provided this service. Not only do I get a better night’s sleep, but my husband is finally getting some sleep too! Dr. Larsen and his staff have been awesome to help me and continue to follow up with me. THANK YOU!

Learn more:

www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep

tapintosleep.com/patient

teeth whitening alpine

Million Dollar Smile

My experience with Zoom! Teeth Whitening

By Allyson, of Alpine, Utah

When you want the best smile in the state, you head to Dr Garon Larsen, DDS, or so I’d heard. I’d even seen some of Dr Larsen’s work and thought the resulting smiles were beautiful. I wanted to have one of them.

Years ago, I had done in-home whitening and remember how many compliments I received. I remember feeling so pretty with a bright, white smile, and found myself smiling more, to show it off. With bright, white teeth, I felt young, fresh, and “alive!” Over the years, my teeth began to lose that pretty sparkle. My face didn’t seem to light up anymore, with that “wow” factor…I began to feel my age. Call it vanity, call it desperation, but just after my 43rd birthday, I decided to fight it head on. I scheduled my appointment for Zoom!

The day finally arrived. I showed up early for my appointment, and was briefed by the hygienist. She said there may be some sensitivity, and that they wanted to be on top of that, so she gave me a few ibuprofen, and I hopped into the chair.

What seemed only a few minutes later, the teeth were prepped, the mouth was stretched open with a crazy-big retractor, and the cool light-blocking shades were on. We were off and running!

There were three 15-minute sessions with the blue light. It was so peaceful and relaxing, that I had to force myself to stay awake, so my mouth didn’t roll away from the light. I felt one slight “zinging” sensation toward the very end of the third session, but other than that, no pain.

Then for the big moment, the big reveal. When they handed me the mirror, I could not believe it. They told me my teeth had lightened 5 shades. It was pretty incredible. They were so white. Talk about a million dollar smile! I was overjoyed. I feel like it took 10+ years off.

Dr. Larsen recommended taking another 4 ibuprofen that evening, to stay on top of any sensitivity, and to avoid eating anything that would stain a white T-shirt. I followed his instructions, completely. I had only minor sensitivity to cold, with a couple more “zingers” throughout that night. Nothing the ibuprofen didn’t quell.

So, you ask, is it worth it?

Unequivocally, yes! I love it. I am so glad I did it. I just feel better. Once again, I find myself smiling more! Not sure what it is about a white smile, but it really does light up a room, and make you feel better. I feel 30 again. Depending where you are, for a few hundred dollars, and about an hour, you will feel like a new woman. And the cool thing, it lasts about a year. We as women need to stop, take some time for ourselves, and just feel pretty.” I highly encourage Zoom whitening.

-Allyson