Our Blog

Team Dark Chocolate

February 13th, 2020

Valentine’s Day is the holiday to celebrate all the treasured relationships in your life. It’s a time to honor love in all shapes and forms with cards, social gatherings, and sometimes even binge eating of sweets.

It's hard to look the other way when grocery stores and pharmacies are invaded with goodies connected to the Valentine’s Day theme, and especially if you’re on the receiving end of some of these sweets. We get it. In fact, we’re all for it!

However, we also support a cavity-free smile. So in the interest of your dental and general health, and because we think it’s genuinely tasty, Dr. Michelle Slezewski and Dr. Paul Engibous recommends an alternative to the Valentine treats you may be accustomed to: dark chocolate. 

Yes, Healthy Chocolate Exists

Studies have shown that dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, an ingredient found in the cocoa beans used to make chocolate. Flavonoids can help protect the body against toxins, reduce blood pressure, and improve blood flow to the heart and brain.

By opting for dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate, you get to reap these benefits! Pretty sweet, right? Just make sure to stick to high-quality dark chocolates that have undergone minimal processing.

Dark Chocolate, AKA Protector of Teeth

Not only does dark chocolate provide some nice benefits for your overall health, it also helps protect your teeth against cavities! According to the Texas A&M Health Science Center, dark chocolate contains high amounts of tannins, another ingredient present in cocoa beans.

Tannins can actually help prevent cavities by interfering with the bacteria that causes them. Think of them as scarecrows for bacteria. They don’t always prevail, but isn’t it nice to have them there?

Smooth Never Sticky

Unlike many popular candies, dark chocolate is less likely to stick in the crevices of your teeth. Chewy, gooey sweets are more likely to hang around in your mouth for longer periods of time, which means they raise the odds of your harboring cavity-creating bacteria.

While some dark chocolates have additives like caramel or marshmallow, it’s best to opt for the plain varieties, which are just as delicious. If you’re feeling festive, though, a dark chocolate with caramel is still better than a milk chocolate with caramel, so that’s the way to go!

While dark chocolate has some pretty sweet benefits, the most important thing to remember (whether you go the dark chocolate route or not), is that moderation is key. That being said, we hope you have fun satisfying your sweet tooth and shopping for treats for your friends and loved ones. Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Pediatric Dental Associates!

Charcoal Toothpaste

February 6th, 2020

Despite the extraordinary claims made for charcoal toothpaste, most dentists think that the accuracy of these claims is a very gray area. So, what is the theory behind using activated charcoal in your toothpaste?

Charcoal is in its natural form is a very porous substance. When mixed with oxidizing gases or chemicals at very high heat, the inner structure of charcoal becomes even more porous. This enables the “activated” charcoal to absorb chemicals. And activated charcoal, in fact, IS used as a treatment for certain poisons. Fans of charcoal toothpaste maintain that this same porosity enables the toothpaste to collect toxins, bacteria, and debris from the surface of your teeth, leading to a healthier mouth, fresher breath, and a whiter smile.

Sounds great! Should I buy some?

Maybe not quite yet.

  • Claims that charcoal toothpastes whiten teeth more than other over the counter whiteners are difficult to prove. But even using the best charcoal product, you are getting a superficial cleaning. Because charcoal toothpaste removes stains only from the surface of the enamel, it is no match for a professional whitening.
  • It’s abrasive. Harsh pastes and brushing could potentially cause thinner enamel. Thinning enamel reveals more of the darker dentin underneath, which can actually make your smile appear yellow. Abrasive pastes can be irritating for those with sensitive or compromised gum tissue. Any toothpaste you choose should never be so abrasive as to cause damage to teeth or gums.
  • If you use only charcoal toothpaste, you might not get the amount of fluoride needed to protect your teeth. And no toothpaste can take the place of regular brushing, flossing, and checkups at our Anchorage, AK office.
  • If you’ve seen the photos posted of charcoal enthusiasts with sooty smiles and teeth, you know brushing with charcoal toothpaste can be a messy process. You might need to take extra care to clean your mouth, teeth, and tongue after using. And your sink.

If you are still intrigued by the idea of charcoal toothpaste, Dr. Michelle Slezewski and Dr. Paul Engibous and our team are happy to discuss it with you. And if teeth whitening is your concern, we have some proven methods to achieve your best results—even if they don’t provide an opportunity for dramatic charcoal selfies!

Oral Cancer

January 30th, 2020

Dr. Michelle Slezewski and Dr. Paul Engibous and our team want you to have the healthiest possible smile in the healthiest possible body. Oral cancer can affect the mouth, tongue, throat and jaw. Early detection is vital for the best possible outcome when treating this disease. That is why we check for symptoms of oral cancer at every dental examination.

What can you do to reduce the chance of oral cancer?  Reduce your risk factors. You can help prevent oral cancer by adopting these healthy habits:

  • Don’t smoke. Don’t chew tobacco. Don’t use a pipe. If you use any tobacco products, quit. Tobacco use is the single largest risk factor for head and neck cancers. Talk to us—we have suggestions for helping you break the habit.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation. Heavy drinkers have a higher rate of oral cancer. More than one to two drinks per day can be considered heavy drinking, depending on factors such as weight, age, and even gender. Check with your doctor to find your personal definition of moderation.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables are a great addition to any menu.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Help prevent sun-related lip cancers by always wearing a UVA/UVB blocking sun screen or lip balm whenever you are working or playing outside—and reapply frequently.
  • Some forms of the HPV virus have been linked to oral cancer, and those affected are generally younger and less likely to be smokers. Research indicates that the HPV vaccine, known for preventing several types of cancer, might also help prevent HPV-related oral cancers.
  • Schedule regular dental exams. We are trained to recognize oral cancer and precancerous conditions that you might miss.

Of course, cancer can occur even with the healthiest habits. Do come see us if you detect any of these symptoms:

  • A sore or ulcer that doesn’t heal, or persistent tenderness and pain in the mouth
  • Lingering sore throat, hoarseness, or vocal changes
  • Pain in the neck or ear that doesn’t go away
  • A lump, a rough or thickened area, or eroded tissue in the skin lining the mouth
  • Red or white patches in the lining of the mouth or on the tongue
  • Difficulties chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the tongue or jaw
  • Numbness in the tongue or mouth
  • Changes in the way your natural teeth or your dentures fit together.

Not every symptom is caused by cancer, but it is important to rule out the possibility. We are trained to recognize early signs of oral cancer, and can recommend further tests if needed. Call our Anchorage, AK office immediately if you have any concerns. Early detection and treatment lead to the most successful outcomes.  

Scheduling Dental Procedures When You’re Pregnant

January 23rd, 2020

Pregnancy leads to so many changes in your body, so it’s no surprise that your teeth and gums are affected as well! Dental care is very important during these months, so let’s look at some of the concerns you might have about treatments and procedures.

  • Regular Exams and Cleaning

Yes and yes! Let us know you are pregnant when you make your appointment. Preventive care is especially important during pregnancy for keeping your gums healthy.

  • Periodontal Care

Swollen and tender gums are often one of the first signs of pregnancy. Hormonal changes can make your gums more vulnerable to irritation and infection. Early gum disease, called gingivitis, should be treated promptly to avoid a more serious condition called periodontitis. This form of gum disease can actually cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, leading to pockets where infection can develop. Talk to us about scheduling extra cleanings, if needed, to avoid the plaque build-up that leads to gum disease.

  • Regular Dental Work

If you need a cavity filled or a crown placed, talk to us about scheduling. It is important to keep your teeth healthy to avoid infection or more serious dental problems. If you do need restorative work, procedures are usually best treated during the second trimester, where morning sickness is less of a problem and reclining comfortably in the dental chair is easier than it would be in your third trimester.

  • Emergency Work

If there is a dental emergency, call us immediately. You shouldn’t put off emergency work, as the complications of pain and infection can be harmful to you and your baby.

  • Elective Treatments

If you are thinking about whitening your teeth or having other cosmetic dental work done, waiting until after your baby is born is usually recommended.

  • X-rays

Most studies suggest that dental X-rays, because they are so limited in focus, are probably safe during pregnancy. But since there is no definitive answer at this time, it’s recommended to wait until after your baby is born for elective X-rays. In case of a dental emergency, however, an X-ray might be a necessity. If you are worried, talk to us about the shielding we use during X-rays, as well as scientific agreement about the safety of dental X-rays.

Let Dr. Michelle Slezewski and Dr. Paul Engibous know about your pregnancy, and we will work with you to schedule exams or treatments at our Anchorage, AK office so that your dental experience is both comfortable and safe. If you have any concerns, call us immediately. We know your pregnancy brings many significant changes to your life, but our concern for your health and well-being—that’s unchanging!