What’s Behind Natural Teeth Whitening Fads?

Saratoga Springs, NY Dentist

It seems like there is a new headline nearly every week featuring someone who swears their teeth are whiter and brighter due to their natural home remedy for stain removal. These articles and blog posts claim that whitening can be cheap, easy, natural and, in some cases, unpleasant. 

Dentist Near Me

It can be tempting to consider trying for brighter, whiter teeth without advice from a dentist; however, before you pin your hopes on one of these “natural whitening” methods, look at the truth behind some of the most recent teeth whitening fads.

Fad 1: Activated charcoal

Activated charcoal in toothpaste may help remove surface stains on your teeth, but it is more abrasive than regular toothpaste and offers no tooth decay protection. A British Dental Journal study shows long-term use can abrade the enamel on your teeth and cause creator sensitivity.  

Fad 2: Fruits

Some celebrities have jumped on the fruit-paste bandwagon, prompting people to rub strawberries on their teeth to make them whiter. Others use pineapple, citrus peels and even swish with apple cider vinegar. 

However, science does not back up these claims. One recent study found that brushing with a mixture of baking soda (a known whitener) and strawberries did not whiten teeth. Even worse, the citric acids found in all these fruits and vinegars can actually be harmful to the enamel on your teeth.

Fad 2: Hydrogen Peroxide

Many types of in-office and home teeth whitening contain hydrogen peroxide, it is a special formulation made just for teeth whitening. Simply swishing from a bottle of hydrogen peroxide will not whiten your teeth, but it may irritate your gums and mouth. It can also be dangerous if it is accidentally swallowed.

 Fad 3: Oil Pulling

Oil pulling rose to fame during the coconut oil craze in the mid-2000s, but it is an ancient folk remedy. It involves swishing a tablespoon of edible oil, such as coconut, sunflower, or olive, in the mouth and drawing it between teeth for up to 20 minutes a day. The thought is that oil molecules will stick to the oil in membranes of mouth bacteria.  Evidence that this works is purely anecdotal. There is no scientific proof that oil pulling whitens teeth, but experts do not see harm in the practice. 

If you want safe, sure methods of achieving whiter, brighter teeth, our doctor can offer you recommendations best suited for your needs. For more information about teeth whitening, contact our dental office in 12866 office.

How Do You Know When You Have Gum Disease?

Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 Dentist

You may have periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, and not know it until it has progressed to its advanced stage. Prompt treatment is essential because the condition can only be reversed in its early stages. Still, because it shows few, if any, symptoms until it has progressed, many people wait too long to seek treatment. 

Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 Dentist

Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. It develops when the bacteria found in plaque buildup between the teeth and gums. As the bacteria grow, the gums can become inflamed and pull away from the teeth. When periodontal disease is not treated promptly, it gets worse, leading to increased gum recession, infection, and bone loss. 

The Stages of Periodontal Disease

Gum disease is broken down into four stages: gingivitis, slight periodontal disease, moderate periodontal disease, and advanced periodontal disease. The longer it progresses, the more difficult it is to treat. 

Gum disease also impacts overall health. Research has found links between periodontal disease and diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other serious inflammatory conditions. Researchers are not sure whether gum disease contributes to other health problems or vice versa, but many studies have shown conclusive evidence that oral and bodily inflammation are related. 

How to Prevent Gum Disease

 To help prevent periodontal infection, it is essential to practice excellent oral hygiene. This includes brushing twice a day for two minutes each, flossing, swishing with mouthwash, and scheduling regular dental examinations. 

 While periodontal disease is common, it is tied to certain risk factors: age, genetics, stress, tobacco use, medications, obesity, teeth grinding (bruxism), and certain inflammatory diseases.

While symptoms may not appear until later stages of the disease, it is important to watch for the warning signs of gum disease. Some of these include:

 ●    Red, swollen, or tender gums

●    Bleeding gums from brushing, flossing, or eating hard foods

●    Loose or separating teeth

●    Pus between gums or teeth

●    Mouth pain or sores

●    Chronic bad breath

●    Gums receding or pulling away from teeth

●    Changes in your bite or the fit of dentures

Periodontal disease may start silently, but it can lead to great damage if it is left untreated. Once it has progressed, it can be treated but not fully cured. The best way to guard against it and protect your health is to visit your dentist for a periodontal screening. For more information about gum disease and to schedule your screening, contact our  12866 dental office today.

The History of Dentistry and What’s Ahead

Detail of an old Dentist’s Chair

What did ancient civilizations think about oral health? How did they treat dental problems? Read on and see how very far dentistry has come in terms of knowledge, safety and comfort. You will be glad you live in the present day. 

Dentistry in Ancient Times

Dentistry in its crudest form predates written language. Archaeologists have seen evidence of teeth being cleaned, scraped and even drilled and filled as far as 9,000 years ago. Tooth decay was somewhat rare before agricultural societies introduced sugar and grains (carbohydrates) into the diet. 

The ancient Sumerians, who lived 5,000 B.C.E. in what is now southern Iraq, blamed tooth decay on “tooth worms.” They thought some type of worm bore holes in teeth. The Chinese used acupuncture to treat pain associated with tooth decay as early as 2700 B.C.E., while Egyptians had actual doctors for teeth and practiced a type of orthodontics using animal intestine tension wires. 

In 500 B.C.E., Greek philosophers Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote of treating teeth and oral diseases by using sterilization procedures and red-hot wires. They also spoke of using these red-hot wires to stabilize jaw fractures and bind loose teeth. 

Treating Teeth in the 1600s-1700s

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, the 1600s and 1700s were a time of great dental innovation. In 1695, Charles Allen published the first English language dental textbook entitled The Operator of Teeth. In the book, he advises using a homemade toothpaste from powdered coal, rose-water, and “dragon’s blood” to keep teeth clean and white. Allen also suggests using dog teeth for transplants. He also references wisdom teeth.

In the 1700s, Frenchman Pierre Fauchard became a subject matter expert with his book, The Surgeon Dentist. For the first time, it described dentistry as a separate, modern profession. Some notable highlights in the book include sugar being a cause of tooth decay, orthodontics used to straighten teeth, and the concept of a dentist’s chair light. 

1800s – the Progressive Age of Dentistry

The 19th century saw many inventions and discovered that advanced dental science closer to the modern era. In 1816, Auguste Taveau of France developed the first amalgam dental fillings made from silver coins and mercury. In 1840s America, Horace Wells showed how nitrous oxide could sedate patients while William T.G. Morton developed the use of ether as an anesthesia.

Horace Hayden and Chapin Harris boosted modern dentistry by opening the first dental school, inventing the modern doctor of dental surgery degree and starting the first dental society. By the end of the 1800’s, porcelain inlays, the first mechanized dental drill, and the toothpaste tube had all been invented. 

Dental Advancements of the 20th Century

The scientific development of the 1900s gave rise to some amazing advancements in the dental industry. The invention of electricity led to electric drills. In 1907, precision case fillings made by a “lost wax” casting machine was invented to fill caries, and the anesthetic Novocaine was introduced into US dental offices.

In 1955, Michael Buonocore described a method of tooth bonding to repair cracked tooth enamel. Years later, the first fully reclining dental chair was introduced to put patients and dentists at ease. In 1997, “invisible” braces were introduced, along with the first at-home tooth bleaching system. 

What Will the Future of Dentistry Hold?

Gene therapy, including a technology called CRISPR, may one day make it possible to switch off the function of bacteria that are responsible for tooth decay. Researchers at Harvard are studying stem cell-laden fillings that could regrow tooth dentin. Only time will tell what the future of dentistry will bring, but our office is dedicated to seeking the most effective modern technologies as they arise. 

Schedule your visit to our Saratoga Springs, NY dentist office and experience what modern dentistry can do for you.

5 Things People Don’t Understand About Dental Health

5 Things People Don't Understand About Dental Health

Do you have misconceptions about oral health? Many people do. Knowing the facts can help improve your dental hygiene for life, leading to a healthier and more beautiful smile. Here are five things people don’t understand about dental health. See if your eyes are opened. 

Misconception #1 – Whiter teeth are healthier teeth

Healthy teeth come in a wide range of natural shades. Whiter teeth cannot show if there is an infection or decay between the teeth.  Although pure white teeth do not equate to healthier teeth, they should still be naturally on the whiter side. Proper brushing, more regular cleanings, and cosmetic dentistry (such as tooth whitening and veneers) are possible solutions you can explore with our dentist. 

Misconception #2 – Children are more prone to tooth decay

Tooth decay (cavities, or caries, in dental parlance) can develop at any age. People assume children are more prone to decay because of poor brushing and flossing habits. While that may be true, caries form in all people the same way: when bacteria cause a loss or weakening in tooth enamel and eventually decay forms a hole in the tooth. 

Misconception #3 – My teeth are fine if they don’t hurt

Tooth decay typically doesn’t cause pain until it becomes very severe. Once it gets to a critical stage, the amount of decay could lead to more invasive and costly treatments. Some of the most dangerous mouth disorders, such as oral cancer and gum disease, typically don’t cause pain at all. That is why it is important to keep up with scheduled dental appointments. Our dentist can diagnose problems even at the earliest stages when there is no discomfort.

Misconception #4 – Tooth decay is only caused by sweets

Do you love sugary food and drinks? So do the bacteria that live in your mouth! They consume it and produce acid. This acid works to dissolve tooth enamel, which can result in decay. However, it’s important to know that this is not only true of sugar; it applies to anything containing starch or carbohydrates. Food such as crackers, bread, potato chips, fruit, peanut butter and pasta have the same effect on your teeth. The solution: Brush and floss after meals and snacks, or rinse well with water if you can’t brush.

Misconception #5 – If my gums bleed, I should stop flossing

Bleeding gums are often the first sign of gum disease. This happens when bacterial infections inflame your gums due to inefficient cleaning. With regular brushing and flossing, gums will be much healthier and should rarely bleed. However, gum inflammation can occur despite best oral hygiene habits. In such cases, you should see improvement if you rinse with warm salt water and continue to brush and floss.

Excellent oral health promotes overall good health and is definitely not a misconception.  It is important to practice good oral hygiene habits.  If you have any questions regarding your dental health, please contact our dentist in Saratoga Springs office and make an appointment

How to Prevent Dry Sockets

Dentist in Saratoga Springs

Dry socket is a temporary but painful complication of tooth extraction. It not only causes intense pain; it stalls the healing process. Fortunately, it is rare, temporary, and usually preventable. Here are the causes of dry socket as well as tips to prevent this condition after oral surgery and ensure a quick and comfortable recovery.

What is Dry Socket?

When a tooth is extracted, a blood clot forms in the space left behind. This clot helps to block the underlying bone, gum tissue, and nerves from bacterial infection or food debris. The clot is meant to stay in place while the extraction site heals. In a few cases the clot may not form correctly or it becomes dislodged. This leaves the wound exposed, a condition called alveolar osteitis, or dry socket.

The most common sign of dry socket is a deep, throbbing pain from within the extraction area. Sometimes the trapped food or infection creates an unpleasant odor, causing bad breath and a bad  taste in the mouth. If this happens, call our office right away.

What Causes Dry Socket? 

Developing dry socket is rare, but certain factors can put you at increased risk. Poor oral hygiene, sucking motions, oral contraceptives, and gum infection around the extraction site are all risk factors. One of the top culprits is smoking. Studies show that 12 percent of people who smoke after a tooth extraction will develop this condition, compared with only 4 percent of nonsmokers. 

Why? The inhaling action can break the blood clot loose. It is also believed that the chemicals in tobacco products can delay healing. To prevent dry socket, avoid smoking a few weeks before and after the procedure. Our Saratoga Springs dentist can help advise you on smoking cessation steps. 

Other causes of dry socket include drinking with straws, and brushing or rinsing the extraction area vigorously during the healing process. Follow your post-treatment instructions and contact our office if you have questions.

Treatment of Dry Socket

If you develop a dry socket, we can offer quick, effective treatment. Our Saratoga Springs dental team will flush the extraction site to remove any debris and pack it with gauze or other dressing. We may prescribe medication to help reduce discomfort. It is important to attend follow-up appointments to ensure your timely recovery.

Remember that dry socket is rare, temporary, and treatable. Our experienced dental team will guide you throughout your recovery. For more information on post-extraction care, contact our Saratoga Springs dental office.

Welcoming Dr. Juracka

Dear Current and Future Patients of Smiles for Life Dental Care,

I am so thankful for the opportunity to purchase Smiles for Life Dental Care from Dr. Mark A. Johnson.  I have been practicing dentistry in Pennsylvania since my graduation from Rutgers School of Dental Medicine in 2016.  

My wife Diana and I have two girls, Amelia who is 9 and Carolyn who is 5, and our two-year-old English Lab Vader.  Our family really enjoys the outdoors, hiking, gardening, cooking, and traveling.

I grew up in Saratoga Springs, graduating Saratoga Springs Senior High School in 2001.  Upon graduation I joined the United States Navy serving two deployments as an Air Traffic Controller from 2001 to 2005.

I always had the dream to be a Dentist and in 2009 I took the leap of faith, leaving behind a solid career in finance.  I will forever be proud of my choice to go back to school.

Saratoga Springs has a very special place in my heart.  As you know, there is nothing like walking down Broadway on a beautiful day, hiking in Saratoga Spa State Park, or seeing a concert at S.P.A.C.

Familiar Faces Farrah and Vera will continue at Smiles for Life Dental Care.  They are fantastic team members who are helping make this transition smooth and comfortable for all of us.  

Thank you for letting me introduce myself to you, trusting me to be your dentist, and I look forward to getting to know you all.

 Appreciatively Yours,
Joseph Juracka, DMD

Farewell from Dr. Johnson

March 4th, 2021

Dear Wonderful Patients of Smiles for Life Dental Care,

I have been blessed to be your dentist over these years. Some of you have been patients since my first year in practice – over 32 years ago!  I cannot thank you enough for entrusting me to care for you and your smiles.  I am grateful for every moment spent with you. In life’s journey, you sometimes must give up something you love to realize your dreams. Later this year, Angie and I will cast off to sail and live about the world on our sailboat Side Two.  This fall, follow us at https://sailsidetwo.wordpress.com. As part of our legacy of caring, we plan to provide free dental services on remote islands of the world using our sailboat as a mobile dental clinic. For us, the voice of the sea speaks to our souls and we are thrilled to return once again while we are young enough to sail the high seas. 

For some time, I have been looking for a kind dentist that shares our same passion for excellence and exceptional patient care. I could not seriously consider making any change until I found someone to whom I could confidently entrust the dental care of my patients to.

I am pleased and fortunate to announce that Dr. Joseph Juracka will be taking over as your dentist at Smiles for Life Dental Care.  After comprehensive training, his wife Diana will be inheriting the office manager position from Angie. They are a terrific couple, and we know you will love them!  

Dr. Juracka is a Saratoga Springs native and is returning home to rejoin his family, friends and to serve the community he dearly loves. After graduating from Saratoga Springs High School in 2001, he joined the U.S. Navy and served his country from 2001 to 2005.  Thereafter, he was a stockbroker at Vanguard from 2005 to 2012.   Deciding to fulfill his dream of being a dentist, Dr. Juracka attended the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine from 2012-2016.  Upon graduation, he joined a large group practice in Pennsylvania. He is skilled and very capable in all phases of dentistry, and truly loves what he does.  Diana is a Pennsylvania native but has fallen in love with Saratoga over the years. They are excited to move to Saratoga Springs with their two daughters, Amelia (9), Carolyn (5), and Vader, their black Lab.

Long-term team members Farrah and Vera will continue at Smiles for Life Dental Care, familiar faces that know you and your preferences.  They are excited about the prospect of working with Dr. Juracka. All your records will remain in the office and I will continue to be available to Dr. Juracka to answer any questions he might have about you. We are grateful for the privilege of caring for you and we know we leave you in good hands with Dr. Joseph Juracka and his wife Diana.

Thanks in advance for your support.  With sincere thanks, 
Marc A. Johnson D.D.S. (Dishwasher, Dentist, Sailor), Angie Johnson (Captain)
Joseph Juracka, D.M.D. and Diana Juracka

How to Prevent Stained Teeth

A bright smile means white teeth, but it is easy to stain the enamel. Prevention is the key. Here are the best ways to avoid stained teeth.

The most common causes of stained teeth are consuming certain foods and drinks as well as tobacco products. Some types are easier to remove than others.

When considering foods that can stain teeth, be sure to look out for those with dark pigments. Some foods or beverages cause stains because they contain an abundance of molecules known as chromogens. These chromogens latch on to porous dental enamel and cause discoloration.

Another thing to look out for is foods or beverages that are very acidic. Acidic foods and beverages can cause staining by eroding the dental enamel. This temporarily softens teeth and makes it easier for chromogens to latch on.

How can you determine whether something will stain your teeth? Here’s a rule of thumb: If it will stain a white tablecloth or light-colored carpet, it is likely to discolor tooth enamel. Common culprits include red wine, tea, coffee, cola, berries, sauces such as soy sauce, curry or tomato sauce, and sweets. Many of these foods and beverages are good for you, so there is no need to avoid them. Instead, be sure to swish with water after consuming, and brush and floss your teeth twice daily. Talk to our dentist about the benefits of an electric toothbrush, which help many people clean more thoroughly.

Another culprit that contributes to stained teeth is smoking or chewing tobacco. This type of stain is more difficult to remove, as tar and nicotine are not easily rinsed away. Again, regular tooth brushing and flossing will help prevent stained teeth – as will quitting tobacco, of course.

Daily oral hygiene is a good foundation for preventing stained tooth enamel, but there are other ways to achieve a pearly white smile. There are at-home and in-office tooth whitening systems as well as permanent options such as veneers for teeth that are permanently stained. Talk to our Saratoga Springs dentist about the many ways you can achieve a brighter smile. Contact Smiles for Life Dental Care to learn more.

What to Do in Case of Dental Emergency

Accidents always happen. Be sure to know what to do when one arises – it can be the difference of saving a tooth or losing one.

A dental emergency is an injury to your teeth or gums that can be potentially serious. Ignoring one can increase the risk of permanent damage. For all dental emergencies, it is important to contact Smiles for Life Dental Care as soon as the injury occurs.  Provide detailed information about the injury to your mouth. We will be able to give you instructions on how to care for your mouth in the time before coming to our Saratoga Springs dental office. In some instances, we may recommend emergency care.

Here are some common dental injuries and how to care for them.

Knocked-out tooth

Rinse the tooth with water if it’s dirty and try not to remove any attached tissue fragments. Keep the tooth moist at all times by carefully putting the tooth back in place without forcing it back into the socket. If this is not possible, place the tooth in a small container of milk or in a cup of water that contains a pinch of salt. Contact our Saratoga Springs dental office as quickly as possible.

Chipped or cracked tooth

Save any pieces if possible. Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the injured area as well as remove any small tooth fragments. Apply cold compresses to your mouth to keep down the swelling and relieve pain.

Objects caught between teeth

Carefully try to remove the object using floss. If you cannot get the object out, see your Saratoga Springs dentist. It is important to never use a pin or sharp instrument to remove the object since you may cause injury to your gums or the surfaces of your teeth.

Soft-tissue injuries

Injuries to your tongue, cheeks, gums and lips can result in bleeding. To control the bleeding, rinse your mouth with mild salt water. Apply a moistened piece of gauze or tea bag to the bleeding site for about 15 minutes. You may also use a cold compress to relieve pain. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, contact our Saratoga Springs dental office.

You can also take simple precautions to avoid dental emergencies:

  • When participating in sports, always wear a mouth guard
  • Avoid chewing ice, popcorn kernels and hard candy
  • Never use your teeth to cut things – use scissors

If you encounter a dental emergency, always contact our Saratoga Springs dental office as soon as possible. We can provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to care for your mouth or may ask you to come into the office. If you have any additional dental emergency questions, be sure to contact our dentist in Saratoga Springs.

The Optimal Oral Health Routine

If it has been more than 6 months since your last dental visit, it may not be possible to regain optimal oral health care without the assistance of professional care. While creating your oral health plan, make sure to start by scheduling an examination and professional thorough cleaning with our Saratoga Springs dentist. Once you’ve received professional care, it’s imperative to adopt an at-home care plan to maintain your oral health between appointments.

How often should you receive professional care?

Your professional oral health care plan will vary based on your individual needs. For patients with mild to severe periodontal disease, a program involving 4 visits per year may be necessary to keep the disease from progressing. For others with a smile less susceptible to periodontal disease and tooth decay, 2 visits per year may suffice. Regardless of your individual needs, once set, do your best to keep to your regular schedule. This will prevent harmful bacteria from causing damage to your beautiful smile and affecting your overall health.

Home Care

Many don’t realize that regular dental appointments alone do not ensure optimal oral health. In fact, according to the research conducted by the American Dental Association, brushing should occur twice per day for 2 full minutes with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Interdental cleaning should occur daily and can be done with floss or alternative methods, such as with the use of a Waterpik.

Decay can occur in a few months or less of oral hygiene neglect. Decay can also occur due to an acidic oral environment, underlying health conditions or as a result of a poor dietary habit.

Oral Health and Overall Health

Your oral health is directly related to your overall health. The bacteria and infection found in your mouth can travel through your bloodstream to important organs. It’s imperative to care for your smile, just as you would your heart, lungs or brain.

Whether it has been only a few months or several years since you’ve last received professional oral health care, we welcome you at Smiles for Life Dental Care. You’ll receive compassionate care, free of judgement. It’s our goal to help you achieve a smile that you’re happy to display.