Category Archives: General Dentistry

I quit smoking and my teeth are still dark. Where can I find free teeth whitening?

I quit smoking about 2 years ago. I smoked from age 13 to 39. I was hoping that with time my teeth would get whiter by now. Now that it’s been 2 years I am not so confident that it’s going to happen. I started using whitening toothpaste about 3 weeks after I quit. I really don’t see any improvement. Also for over a month last year I used whitening strengths. I got the most costly box I could find at Walmart because I really wanted it to work. I am not about to pay a dentist $500 to get my teeth white so I am going to keep working at it myself. How long will it take for my teeth to lighten, or is it really too late? Is there anywhere I can get free teeth whitening? – Henry

Henry – When you quit smoking, you prevent additional staining of your teeth from the nicotine, but quitting doesn’t reverse the stains and discoloration that smoking has already caused on your teeth.

Whitening toothpaste removes surface stains from your teeth. Stains from cigarette smoking are beneath the surface, and it takes strong bleaching gel to penetrate your teeth and break down the stains in them. Over-the-counter whitening strips just aren’t strong enough.

Many people search online for free teeth-whitening kits. Often shipping rates for the products are very expensive. Other consumers find that the bleaching gel had no effect on their teeth at all. In some cases, teeth or gums have been damaged by chemicals in the bleaching gel, which perhaps was not bleaching gel at all.

A cosmetic dentist can help. He or she will examine your teeth to determine which whitening treatment will work best on them. Either in-office or take-home treatment will get your teeth amazingly white. If necessary, most dentists will be able to work with your budget to make teeth whitening affordable for you. You may be able to find a dentist who offers free teeth-whitening treatment to patients who keep their regularly scheduled dental cleaning and exam appointments.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

Missing Teeth and Your Heart

Research published in a December 2015 article of the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology shows that the risk of death in patients with coronary heart disease (plaque buildup inside the coronary arteries) who are missing all of their teeth. The 3.7-year study included more than 15,000 patients from 39 countries. About 16 percent of patients in the study had no teeth at all, and another 40 percent were missing half their teeth.

Compared with patients who had all of their teeth, those in the study who were completely endentulous (all teeth are missing) had a series of increased risks that included: 27 percent for a major cardiovascular event, 85 percent for cardiovascular death, 81 percent of all-cause death, and 67 percent for stroke.

During the study, 746 patients had heart attacks. During follow up, 1,543 of the patients surveyed had major cardiovascular events; 705 experienced cardiovascular death; 1,120 died from other causes; and 301 patients had a stroke. In the follow-up events, an increase in tooth loss was associated with an increase in the risk a cardiovascular event, death by other causes, and stroke. Results were not as conclusive with patients who had heart attacks during the study.

Who were the most at-risk patients?

  • Women, who were also:
  • smokers;
  • less active;
  • and more likely to have diabetes;
  • higher blood pressure;
  • higher body-mass index;
  • and lower education

Why Are Coronary Heart Disease and Missing Teeth Related?

The most common cause of missing teeth is gum disease. Inflammation from gum disease affects the heart, and it increases the risk of heart trauma in people who have heart disease, or who are at risk for it. Poor dental hygiene contributes to gum disease.

The study emphasizes the importance of daily brushing your teeth and flossing between them. Brushing alone isn’t enough. Flossing removes bacteria-producing debris that causes inflammation and gum disease. Regularl dental exams and cleanings remove plaque and tartar from your teeth, and greatly reduce the risk of gum disease. Examinations from your dental hygienist and dentist provide early detection of gum disease.

The conclusion? Good oral hygiene habits keep your teeth clean and can contribute to a healthier heart.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

What can I use to fill my own cavities if I can’t afford a dentist?

At my last visit to the dentist I found out that I have 2 cavities that need to be filled. I put off the appointment for the fillings because I don’t have dental insurance anymore. Also since then we’ve had some emergency home repairs and I have to put off the dental appt again. The place I go to is a pretty big practice and they are always trying to upsell me on something so I am not about to ask for any favors on paying for my tooth fillings. What can I use to fill my own cavities? Thanks. Titus

Titus – The techniques, materials, and tools that are needed to successfully remove decay from your tooth, clean the tooth, prepare it for filling, and place the filling are unique to skilled dentists.

Even if you had access to the necessary items to fill a cavity, you would not be able to complete the procedure on yourself. Please don’t attempt it. You can cause damage to your teeth, or inadequately complete the procedure and cause more problems than the cavities present.

Cavities that are left untreated, or that are improperly treated, can result in further decay or infection that becomes more difficult and more costly to treat. If your current dentist is unable to provide you with ways to make the treatment you need affordable, find a dentist who will.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.


If I pull my own tooth what are some warning signs that something is going wrong?

So tomorrow night I am pulling my own tooth. I don’t want anybody to touch it but me. I have sterile tools that have never been used, peroxide and gauze. I have looked it up online on how to do this myself and I watched the videos several times. What I don’t see is how to know what is normal pain or bleeding vs. how to tell is something is really going wrong and I need to get some help. What should I pay attention to after I pull the tooth to be sure everything is going as it should? Thanks Kenny

Kenny – We will not provide any advice for extracting your own tooth. Although the tooth may be causing you a lot of pain, during the extraction, you can damage tooth nerves or nearby teeth and create even more problems.

Most people don’t realize that if a toothache is horrible, the tooth itself is infected. Even though you may extract the tooth, the infection may have spread into the gums or other teeth. You may need additional treatment.

It is unlikely that a dentist would need to extract an infected tooth. A gentle dentist will numb the area around your tooth, painlessly inject pain reliever, examine your tooth, and do a root canal treatment—which will also be pain free.

Please see a dentist right away. Avoid unnecessary pain and stress on your teeth and gums.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

Rheumatoid arthritis and your teeth

A German study published in the Journal of Periodontology shows that there is a link between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and your oral health. People with RA are eight times more likely to develop periodontal (gum) disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is the result of an overactive immune system. Oral inflammation and infection can travel through the body and promote inflammation in the joints, making RA worse. Good oral hygiene can lessen the severity of RA.

A separate study published in the Journal of Periodontology shows that severe RA symptoms improve when people get oral and gum infections treated, and consistently maintain good oral hygiene at home. This starts with regular, deep cleanings at your dentist’s office.

Good oral hygiene at home must include daily flossing to keep gums free from the plaque buildup, which promotes gum disease. If you have difficulty using regular floss, experiment with different flossing methods including floss holders, floss threaders, or floss picks.

As it advances, gum disease loosens your teeth. If it is left untreated, teeth can fall out. Other studies also link gum disease to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

If you need assistance with maintaining good oral hygiene, your dental hygienist and dentist will offer suggestions and show you how to brush and floss for maximum benefits.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

TMJ self help

I think I have TMJ and I want to try to treat it myself before going to a dentist. I don’t want to have to purchase a mouth guard or splint if I don’t need one. What can I do at home to treat it? – Tabitha

Tabitha – There are some things you can do at home that may alleviate your TMJ symptoms:

  • Avoid hard, chewy, or stick foods that put more pressure on the jaw muscles.
  • Alternately apply heat and ice packs on the outside of your face.
  • Avoid chewing gum.
  • Locate your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) and gently massage it. Put your finger on the triangular structure in front of your ear, just below your temple. Slide your finger forward and press while you open and close your mouth. As you press, you will likely feel soreness in the TMJ area.
  • Find and do exercises for your jaw muscles. You can find suggestions on official TMJ association websites. Gently work through the exercises, and don’t overdo it.
  • Find ways to relax. TMJ often results from teeth grinding, which is often stress related.

After several weeks, if your pain, jaw popping, headaches, or earaches, do not decrease,  or if the symptoms increase, contact your dentist. You will likely need an oral appliance to relax your jaw muscles and prevent teeth grinding.

If you have dental insurance, contact your insurance provider to find out if any benefits are provided for a night guard. Otherwise, ask your dentist how a night guard can be made affordable for you.

This post is sponsored by Plano dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.


Is it normal to have tooth pain and sensitivity after a filling?

I got 3 cavities filled yesterday. Whenever I drink cold water or anything cold my teeth are really sensitive. It kind of hurts. The cavities were causing sensitivity but I wasn’t expecting to feel this. Will the fillings need to be redone? Kourtnee

Kourtnee – It’s normal to experience sensitivity after you have cavities filled. For the first 24 to 40 hours after getting the filling, you should avoid stick or hard foods that can irritate the teeth that were filled or that can cause the fillings to come out.

Nerves in your teeth are sensitive—particularly after having decay removed and replaced with filling. Deep decay close to a nerve can cause you to feel more sensitivity than normal. The sensitivity should gradually go away. It can take up to four weeks for you to feel no sensitivity at all. Amalgam (silver) fillings contain metal and more readily transfer heat and cold to your teeth than composite fillings.

If you feel pain when chewing food, it’s possible that there is a problem with the filling. It may be too high and interfering with your bite (the way your teeth fit together). In the next two or three days, if it feels as if your teeth aren’t closing together correctly in the areas of the fillings, contact your dentist.

Tooth Sensitivity Without a Recent Filling

People who haven’t recently received fillings can also experience sensitivity in their teeth. This can be due to:

  • decay
  • damaged tooth pulp, which contains tooth nerves
  • a tooth infection
  • receding gums due to age, hormonal changes, or periodontal disease
  • aggressive tooth brushing
  • trauma to a tooth
  • teeth bleaching gel

If you are experiencing sensitivity and haven’t had a cavity filled recently, contact your dentist. The cause of the sensitivity will be identified, and the appropriate treatment will be recommended.

Damaged tooth pulp will require a root canal treatment. Exposed tooth roots may benefit from toothpaste for sensitive teeth, fluoride treatment, or a gum graft. Sensitivity from bleaching gel may require using a gel that is not as strong.

This post is sponsored by Plano dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

Bruxism – Teeth Grinding

Bruxism is the act of clenching or grinding your teeth. The problem occurs mostly at night, when most people are unaware that they have the habit. An estimated 8% of adults are teeth grinders, and 1/3 of parents report that their children have the habit.

What are the causes?

Exactly why bruxism occurs is not clear. But there are circumstances that make people more susceptible to it.

  • Anxiety and stress – People with nervous tension, anger, pain, or frustration can put forceful tension on their teeth. It is estimated that 70% of bruxism is related to anxiety and stress.
  • Sleep disorders – Snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, sleep talking, or aggression while asleep increase the likelihood that a person also grinds his or her teeth while asleep.
  • Lifestyle – Bruxism is much more common in people who use psychoactive substances (antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, sleep aids, tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol).

What are the symptoms of teeth grinding?

  • Gum recession, abnormal wearing of the teeth, tooth pain
  • Neck pain, jaw pain, earaches, headaches
  • Jaw clicking or popping
  • Sensitivity in the teeth

Why seek treatment?

If teeth grinding is left untreated, the results can be damaging to your oral health and overall health. In addition to toothaches, headaches, and facial pain, your sleep can be affected. If the problem progresses, it can lead to tempormandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. Teeth can wear and break and require restoration.

Bruxism treatment

An occlusal split, or mouthguard, can be custom fit by your dentist for maximum effectiveness. The mouthguard moves your lower jaw forward to limit teeth grinding. It also relaxes the jaw, which in turn relieves jaw pain and soreness.

If it is suspected that teeth grinding is related to sleep apnea, a sleep study may be recommended. A sleep apnea machine (CPAP) or an oral appliance can be used to alleviate sleep apnea.

Behavioral approaches, including relaxation techniques, medication, or reducing stress factors in life may be recommended.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

Chemotherapy and oral health

It is helpful to identify and treat dental problems before chemotherapy treatment begins. Gum disease cavities, loose fillings, broken crowns, and other dental problems can become worse during chemotherapy. When the immune system is weak or when white blood cell count is low, the risk of infection increases, and existing oral health issues can worsen. Chemotherapy can also prevent cells from dividing, which slows the healing process in the mouth.

Oral complications of chemotherapy

  • Dry mouth
  • Easy bleeding in the mouth and ulcers
  • Changes in taste
  • Inflamed mucous membranes
  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease

 What you can do about it

  • Dry mouth – Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Use fluoride toothpaste. Tell your dentist about your health condition. He or she may recommend or prescribe mouth rinse or saliva-producing medication.
  • Easy bleeding and ulcers – Use a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth several times throughout the day, but avoid aggressive brushing. Rinsing your mouth with a mixture of salt water and 3% hydrogen peroxide can assist with healing of any sores in your mouth.
  • Changes in taste – This is often a result of dry mouth or damage to the taste buds. After your chemotherapy treatment is complete, your sense of taste may gradually improve in a few months.
  • Inflamed mucous membranes – Regularly rinse your mouth throughout the day. Keep your teeth clean, and use a soft-bristle toothbrush. Replace your toothbrush often. Your dentist may recommend a water-soluble lubricating jelly to keep your mouth moist.
  • Tooth decay – Gently floss between your teeth and gums daily. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush after every meal to keep your teeth clean. Keep your regularly scheduled dental appointments for examination and cleaning. If you wear dentures, clean them daily and keep them moist.
  • Gum disease – Floss gently, but regularly. Your dentist will recommend an antibacterial rinse. Keep your dental appointments.

Although it may be difficult, try to eat regularly and maintain proper nutrition. Avoid junk food and carbonated beverages, which can create additional acid in your mouth, reduce saliva production, and increase the amount of bacteria in your mouth.

Chemotherapy may affect your oral health in other ways. Maintain open communication with your dentist to ensure the issues are properly addressed.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

How soon can I smoke after my tooth is pulled?

How soon can I smoke after my tooth is pulled? Thanks Matt

Matt – Smoking affects the healing process after tooth extraction. It is best to avoid smoking at least 24 hours before surgery and 72 hours after.

When you smoke, carbon monoxide enters your bloodstream and slows the healing process. If you smoke right after a tooth is extracted, the sucking action of inhaling can disrupt the blood clot or cause it to dislodge. A dry socket may develop if the tooth nerve is exposed, and it will be very painful.

Allow time for the surgical site to begin healing before you smoke. It will help you avoid additional pain and expense.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX dentist Miranda Lacy.