Professional Teeth Whitening

Answering Common Questions About Stained Teeth

Everyone wants to have a pearly white smile, but that’s easier said than done. Foods, drinks and poor oral hygiene can all contribute to stained or discolored teeth. To help set the record straight and provide some advice for people looking to keep their teeth white, we thought we’d answer some common questions on the subject. Below, check out some answers to common questions about stained teeth and how to whiten them.

Common Questions About Stained Teeth

Here are some of the questions we hear most when it comes to stained teeth and teeth whitening.

Which foods and drinks stain your teeth the most?

Some of the foods and drinks that are the worst for your teeth when it comes to stains are dark liquids and berries. Frequent consumption of these options can have a more noticeable effect. Drinks like coffee, tea and red wine can all stain your teeth, as can raspberries and blueberries. Try to consume these options in moderation.

How can I mitigate stains when eating or drinking these types of foods and liquids?

Obviously good oral hygiene will help prevent stains, but when you’re consuming these food and beverage options, it’s in your best interest to do so alongside water. Water can help remove these dark liquids and foods from your teeth’s surfaces, and it also helps to remove sugars and acids that may be left behind. Water is a great way to help limit stains.

What else can stain my teeth?

Aside from food and liquids, the most common way people stain their teeth is through the use of tobacco products. Avoid smoking cigarettes or using smokeless tobacco if you want to keep your teeth as white as possible.

How else can I prevent staining?

Aside from consuming water, you can help prevent staining by regularly brushing your teeth, flossing and using mouthwash. All of these can help prevent stains or remove plaque that can help hold stains. It’s also a good idea to continue to get regular semi-annual cleanings and checkups by a dental professional.

Should I use charcoal to whiten my teeth?

You may have read about using charcoal to help whiten your teeth, but there’s no real evidence to show that it works. In fact, you can easily do more harm than good, so avoid using charcoal products to self-whiten your teeth.

Should I use at-home whitening products to whiten my teeth?

If you want a whiter smile, you may consider looking into over-the-counter whitening products. While we don’t believe this is the best solution, if you find a product with the American Dental Association’s seal of approval and carefully follow the directions, you will probably experience good results. We’d be happy to answer any questions or provide recommendations if you’re considering this route.

What’s the best way to whiten my teeth?

Our preferred way to get your teeth whiter is to allow a dental professional to perform a whitening operation. This way we know that we’re using the safest solutions and it is being professionally administered. It is a little more expensive than products you can buy in store, but it’s much safer and effective. Contact us to learn more about your whitening options.


Diet Dental Health

Which Health Trends Are Hurting Your Teeth?

Health trends come and go, and while some of them may help you take an inch or two off your waistline, sometimes these fads can prove harmful to your teeth. But which health trends are safe for your teeth, and which ones should come with an extra word of warning? We separate fact from fiction when it comes to health trends and your teeth in today’s blog.

Health Trends and Your Teeth

Here’s a look at some of the trendy health fads and how they may impact your teeth:

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar – There have been claims that apple cider vinegar can help boost weight loss, but it’s not something you should be downing by itself. Vinegar is highly acidic, and this acid can erode your teeth. Considering there is no real medically sourced data on the weight loss effects of apple cider vinegar, avoid this fad so your teeth stay healthy.
  2. Kombucha – As we detailed in this blog about kombucha, it’s not all that bad for your teeth. That being said, due to its acidity, it’s not something you should drink frequently or as a stand alone option. If you’re going to drink kombucha, drink it alongside some water to help remove acids from your teeth.
  3. Juice Cleanses – Another trend we’ve heard about recently is the juice cleanse. Some people swear by them, but there’s little scientifically-backed evidence that they are effective. However, there is some hard evidence about how they can affect your teeth. Juice cleanses are often packed with sugar, which can lead to cavity formation. If you’re going to do a juice cleanse, drink through a straw to help keep sugars off your teeth, or drink alongside water to wash it off of your teeth’s surfaces.
  4. Non-Dairy Milk – Some people choose almond milk or coconut milk due to lactose intolerance or for other reasons, but it’s not the same as cow’s milk. For starters, many of these milks are sweetened, so make sure you are choosing an unsweetened variety, otherwise the sugar can harm your teeth. Also, these milks don’t often have as much calcium as cow’s milk, so look for enriched options or those with higher calcium content to help keep your bones and teeth strong.

Are you considering trying a new fad diet or cleanse? Do some research to see how the diet could affect your oral health. Or better yet, give us a call. We’d be happy to give you a professional opinion on the trend you’re considering, and we can provide some tips on how to help keep your teeth protected while you try it out.

We want to help keep your teeth as healthy as possible, but some health trends aren’t the best for your teeth. Keep them in mind when pursuing different health trends, and we’re confident you’ll have a healthy and happy smile for years to come. For more information, contact us at Smiles For Life Dental in Bloomington today.


Answering Common Questions About Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies can happen at a moment’s notice, and when they do, you’ll want to know how to react accordingly. Hopefully you’re reading this post before a dental emergency occurs, but it may not be a bad idea to bookmark this page so that you’ll have answers to your questions in the event you or a family member has a tooth emergency down the road. Below, we answer some common questions about dental trauma and emergencies.

Common Question About Dental Emergencies

When it comes to dental emergencies, these are the top-of-mind topics among patients.

What should I do if a tooth is knocked loose or knocked out?

If the tooth isn’t fully dislodged, leave it in your mouth but be careful not to swallow it. If it’s dislodged, keep it moist as best you can. You can keep it in your gums, stored in a glass of milk or in a tooth preservation liquid that you can find at the pharmacy. Once you’ve found a way to keep it moist, get to a dentist’s office.

What should I do if my child loses a tooth?

If your child loses one of their permanent teeth, follow the steps listed above. If a traumatic action causes them to lose a baby tooth, examine the area and find the tooth if you can. You want to ensure the whole tooth has been dislodged and not just partially chipped off. If the full baby tooth has been lost, you’ll just want to monitor for signs of swelling or bleeding over the next few days. If you can’t tell if the full tooth has been dislodged, or your child is complaining of tooth pain, head to the dentist and bring the tooth with you if possible.

What should I do for a cracked tooth?

If you bite into a gumball and notice that your tooth has cracked, you’re going to be in a little bit of pain. The best thing you can do is to wash your mouth with warm water and then use an ice pack or cold compress on your cheek or jaw to reduce swelling. Contact your dentist and see if they can see you that same day.

How to treat a tongue bite?

Biting your tongue can be painful, but it doesn’t always require a trip to the dentist or emergency room. If you bit your tongue during athletic activity and pain doesn’t go away, or you can’t get it to stop bleeding, you’ll want to head into a dentist or emergency room office.

How to treat a broken jaw?

If you suffered trauma to your jaw and believe it may be broken, apply an ice pack to help with the swelling. If symptoms seem to fade within 15-30 minutes, it might just be a bruise. If pain remains intense or you have difficulty chewing, eating or talking, contact your dentist or head into the emergency room.

I can’t get something unstuck from between my teeth?

If something is lodged in your teeth, use dental floss or a dental stick to try and remove it. Avoid using toothpicks or other sharp objects that could hurt your gums. If you still can’t get it removed, your dentist will be able to, so give them a call and set up an appointment.

How can I prepare for a dental emergency?

There are a couple of ways to prepare for a dental emergency. For starters, if you have a first aid kit in your vehicle, make sure you have floss and tooth preservation fluid in the kit as well. It’s also a good idea to bookmark this link and save the number of your dental professional in your phone or on a piece of paper in the first aid kit. To talk to Dr. Brooks’ office at Smiles for Life Dental in Bloomington, call us at (952) 888-2300.

Why Water Needs To Be Your Drink Of Choice

Pizza may be your favorite food, but that doesn’t mean you should eat it every day. Similarly, Mountain Dew or white wine may be your favorite beverage, but it shouldn’t be the liquid you consume the most each day. That distinction goes to water. Below, we take a look at some of the reasons why, from a dental perspective, water should be your most consumed beverage day in and day out.

Water Is Your Mouth’s Best Friend

Here’s a look at a number of reasons why water should be your drink of choice each and every day.

  1. It Protects Your Teeth – Unlike sodas and coffee whose sugar and acidity serve to break down tooth enamel, water actually makes your teeth stronger. That’s because city water sources are treated with flouride, a compound that helps to strengthen enamel, which in turn helps to reduce your cavity risk. So not only are you avoiding sugars and acids, but you’re also actively strengthening your teeth every time your choose water over soda, juice or coffee.
  2. It Helps Clean Your Mouth – Another reason why water should be your preferred beverage is because it helps to clean your mouth of food particles and left over acids. These food and drink wastes can linger on our teeth’s surfaces and contribute to enamel breakdown or tooth discoloration. Water helps remove these particles, so it’s a good idea to drink water with meals or shortly after drinking things like soda or coffee.
  3. Prevents Dry Mouth – Dry mouth may seem like just a mild annoyance, but it can also contribute to tooth breakdown. Your saliva helps to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your mouth, and if you’re not producing enough saliva, which is common if you’re suffering from dry mouth, then you may have an excess amount of bacteria in your mouth. Drinking water can help you remain hydrated and prevent problematic dry mouth.
  4. Zero Calorie – Finally, water is a healthy option for your whole body because it’s a zero calorie option. Diet sodas may also list zero calories on their label, but they are packed with other artificial sweeteners that can break down your teeth. Water won’t damage your teeth or lead to extra calories and weight gain, so make it your most consumed beverage throughout the day.
  5. Won’t Stain Your Teeth – Water also won’t stain your teeth like coffee can. This clear liquid doesn’t stain teeth and can actually help remove liquids or foods that can lead to stains, so it’s an all-purpose teeth cleaner. Try to drink water alongside your coffee so that the coffee doesn’t sit on your teeth for hours on end.

For more tips on why water should be your drink of choice, or to talk to Dr. Brooks about scheduling your next dental appointment, pick up the phone and give his office a call today.

Summer Teeth

How To Keep Your Child’s Teeth Healthy This Summer

Summer can be a fun time for your child, but it can be a difficult time on their teeth for a number of different reasons. However, if you’re cognizant of the risks and make a dedicated plan to protect your child’s teeth, we’re confident that their teeth will make it through the summer no worse for the wear. Below, we outline some of the ways summer can challenge their teeth and what you can do to prevent problems.

Summer and Your Child’s Teeth

Here’s a look at how you can keep your child’s teeth healthy over the summer months.

  1. Stick to a Routine – With school out for the summer and the longer daylight hours, you may be less likely to stick to a regular schedule that involves a cooling down period before brushing their teeth and going to bed. Even though you’re not in a normal routine during the summer, it’s important that oral hygiene and brushing teeth remain an everyday part of the plan. If you’re camping in the back yard or your child is sleeping over at a friend’s house, make sure you remind them of the importance of brushing their teeth. If they get out of the habit now, it’s going to be tough to get them back in the habit of doing it in the morning and night when school is back in session.
  2. Stop the Sugary Sodas and Sweets – Summer can be a time to indulge in some sweet treats, but don’t make them a daily occurrence. If you’re giving your child juice in the morning, a freezy pop at lunch and then M&M’s as an afternoon snack, you’re overloading your child’s teeth with sugar. Let your children tell you when they are hungry for a snack instead of thrusting snack options upon them between meals, and pack healthier options like fruits or veggies. Also, make sure water is their most consumed beverage this season. A small gatorade or juice pouch is fine here or there, but it shouldn’t happen with each meal, otherwise their teeth will be prone to cavities.
  1. Schedule Your Back To School Dental Appointment Early – Summer is oftentimes the easiest time for parents to get their kids to the dentist’s office, but it’s also our busiest time of the year. We’re going to do everything we can to get you in as soon as possible, but we’re starting to book out pretty far, so call now to set up that back to school appointment in August or September. If you forget, ask about getting on our cancellation list. When people cancel last minute, we try to fill their appointment from our cancellation list, so we may reach out to you to see if you can come in tomorrow or even later that day. It’s easier to just schedule your appointment in advance, but if you have a flexible schedule and want to get in as soon as possible, ask about getting on the cancellation call list.

If you follow these tips, we’re confident that your child will be able to have strong teeth throughout the summer and into the next school year. If you want to set up that next appointment or if you have questions, give us a call today at (952) 888-2300.

Cavity Free

Young Trauma Can Impact Your Oral Health

When we think about what impacts our teeth the most, we often picture the conscious decisions we make, like how often we brush our teeth, how often we go to the dentist and if we choose to use tobacco products. However, these lifestyle decisions aren’t the only factors at play when it comes to tooth health. According to researchers at the University of Michigan, childhood trauma can also be a predictor for how healthy your teeth may be down the road.

For their study, researchers wanted to take a different look at some of the factors that can influence our tooth health. There are a number of previous studies that look at the effects of health conditions like diabetes or lung disease and how they may impact our teeth, but researchers wanted to look beyond medical conditions. They wanted to look at some family history elements, including traumatic childhood events, to see if they could help predict future tooth health.

Researchers collected data through a survey and looked at developed three different models:

  • A sensitive model, that examined traumatic events during a crucial stage in development.
  • An accumulation model, which examined the effect of an accumulation of events over the course of a person’s life.
  • A social mobility model, that examined the person’s socioeconomic status throughout life.

Childhood Trauma and Tooth Health

After looking at the data and comparing the models, researchers came to some interesting conclusions. For starters, they concluded that there was a significant link between childhood trauma and abuse and eventual total tooth loss (No longer having any natural teeth in their mouth). They also stated that older adults who experienced adverse events throughout their life were more likely to have total tooth loss than individuals without such events in their past.

Although they did not dive into why the link exists, researchers believe that children who experience trauma or abuse may be more likely to turn to risky health behaviors, like tobacco use or binge drinking, which can contribute to tooth loss. They also believe there may be a link between childhood trauma and learning and achievement, which can inhibit these kids from getting a job in the future that provides dental insurance.

“It’s really sad to see that adversity breeds adversity, but it really seems that dental health is rooted in adverse experiences you encounter over the life course, particularly in childhood,” said study author Haena Lee, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. “Future policy may benefit from considering the role of childhood adversity and beyond to reduce further oral health disparity.”

No matter your background, we want to help ensure you have a happy and healthy smile for years to come, so don’t be afraid to reach out to Smiles For Life Dental in Bloomington if it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist. We accept a wide variety of insurance plans and can work out a payment schedule with you if desired. We just want to help ensure your smile is the healthiest it can be. Reach out to our clinic today for more information.

smiling woman drinking red wine at restaurant

5 Ways To Prevent Wine Stains On Your Teeth

We all want to keep our teeth looking pearly white, but some of the foods and liquids we put in our mouth can stain our teeth. Coffee is probably the most common culprit, but so too is another favorite – red wine. If you’re sipping a glass or two and swishing it around your mouth to appreciate the taste, how can you prevent the wine from staining your teeth?

Preventing Wine Stained Teeth

  1. Brush Before You Imbibe – You don’t need to brush right before your glass is filled, but consider brushing before you head out to a restaurant or to meet up with your friends. Red wine sticks to plaque and the thin film it produces, so if you can remove this from your teeth before you drink, it will help keep stains off your teeth.
  2. Don’t Switch – You might think you’re doing right by your teeth by starting with white wine and then switching to red, but white wine has higher acidity than red wine. This acidity can wear down your enamel and make red wine stains look worse. If you plan on having red wine, start with it and stick with it.
  3. Mix in Water – It’s also a good idea to drink water or seltzer water alongside your red wine. Water can help keep the wine from settling on your teeth, and the bubbles in seltzer water can help to remove the stain as well.
  4. Floss Daily – Flossing will help to remove plaque that can wear down enamel and make wine stains worse, so make sure you are flossing each day.
  5. Brush When You’re Done – Finally, make sure you brush your teeth again after the meal or before the end of the night. This will help to remove any discoloration and prevent the acid and sugars from lingering on your teeth any longer than they need to. Brushing will also help maintain your long-term dental health and protect your enamel, which is essential for helping keep your teeth white.

Finally, it’s also a good idea to get semi-annual checkups and cleanings from a dental professional. These cleanings will help remove any surface stains and can help strengthen your enamel, so you maintain the integrity of your teeth.

If it’s been a while since your last appointment, or it’s nearing time to get it on the calendar, give us a call to set up your appointment with Dr. Brooks.


Keto Diet

The Keto Diet and Your Teeth

The keto diet is very popular in the diet and wellness world right now. For those of you who aren’t exactly sure what the keto diet involves, it is a low carb, high fat eating system designed to eliminate sugar from your diet. You’d think that anything that involves less sugar in your system would be good for your oral health, but is that the case with the keto diet? Below, we take a closer look at how the keto diet can impact your oral health.

Keto Diet and Oral Health

In short, the keto diet is one that is looked upon favorably by dental professionals, but it may also require some additional attention from the individual. The keto diet is beneficial for your teeth because the diet revolves around the absence of sugar.

With fewer carbs and sugars entering your system, there’s fewer food sources for bacteria to thrive. Studies have shown that the keto diet can lead to less bacteria in your mouth, which can reduce your risk of cavity formation and gum disease.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for your mouth when you dive into the keto diet. One thing many dieters report is the development of what’s known as “keto breath.” Keto breath is oftentimes a byproduct of the beginning, albeit successful, stages of the keto diet. The condition is a temporary side effect that develops because your body is adapting to not needing to use all the ketones that are being produced by the liver. Eventually your body will adapt to this diet change and these ketones will be used as another form of fuel, but for now, their overabundance oftentimes results in a pungent mouth odor.

The bad breath typically lasts between a week and a month, but nobody wants to have bad breath, so you need to be especially conscious about your oral health during this period. Ways to combat keto breath include:

  • Brushing your teeth, gums and tongue regularly
  • Using mouthwash
  • Carrying sugar-free gum or breath mints
  • Increasing your water intake
  • Slowly cut out carbs instead of doing it all at once
  • Reduce stress in other areas of your life, as stress can reduce saliva flow.

If you are cognizant about your oral health while you’re on the keto diet, we’re confident that your teeth and your breath will be better for it. If you have any questions or concerns about your oral health before starting a diet regimen, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office. For more information, or to set up your next dental appointment, give our office a call today at (952) 888-2300.

5 Common Questions About Your Dentist Visit

Even if you head to the dentist every six months as advised, you may still have questions about an upcoming appointment or routine dental care. That’s what we’re here for! We’d be happy to answer any questions you might have the next time you stop into our office, but today, we want to provide some answers for some of the more common questions we hear in our office. Read up on the answers to some common dental visit questions below.

Do I Really Need a Dental Cleaning Every Six Months?

Getting your teeth cleaned isn’t always the most fun experience, but it is important. Getting a professional cleaning is a lot like changing the oil in your vehicle. You may be able to stretch it a little behind the six-month or 3,000-mile recommendation, but for best results, stick to that schedule. Professional cleanings not only help remove plaque and tartar that can contribute to cavities and gum disease, but your dentist can also spot potential problems before they are a major issue. It’s a good idea to schedule your next visit before leaving the office so you stick to the six-month schedule.

What Happens During a Routine Dental Exam?

During a routine cleaning, the dental hygienist will check your records to see if you are due for x-rays. If so, they’ll quickly set up the machine and the hygienist will take two or four scans of the upper and lower sides of your right and left side of your mouth. This only takes a few minutes. Following x-rays, they will clean your teeth and remove plaque from between your teeth and near your gums. Special tools are used to clean and polish your teeth, and then the dentist will come in and check for weak spots in the teeth, your jaw alignment and bite pattern.

How do I Find a New Dentist?

If you’ve moved or your insurance plan has changed, you may be looking for a new dentist. But what should you look for? Look for a professional like Dr. Brooks. He has over 20 years of experience, he has some of the newest dental technology in his office to best serve his patients, he strives to be on time but also provide every patient with the care and attention they deserve, and we do our best to accept a wide range of insurance plans. For more information about any of this, please reach out to our office!

Does a Cleaning Hurt?

While there may be a very small amount of discomfort during the cleaning process, it should never hurt. You’re much more likely to suffer from pain from an unaddressed cavity or tooth problem than during an actual cleaning or even during the installation of a filling. We work hard to keep our patients comfortable throughout the cleaning process.

Can I Schedule an Appointment?

Yes! We’d be more than happy to set up your first appointment or your next appointment with Dr. Brooks. We are currently accepting new patients, so all you need to do is call our office at (952) 888-2300. You can also make an appointment using the online portal on our contact us page. Click here to be taken to that page. For more information about any of these questions, give us a call!

Can Chewing Gum Help To Prevent Cavities?

When it comes to cavity prevention and caring for your teeth, we all know some of the most common techniques – brush your teeth, floss, and visit the dentist on a regular basis. However, there are some lesser known things you can do to help protect your teeth against decay. One such activity is chewing gum after a meal. In today’s blog, we explain why chewing sugar-free gum following a meal can help protect your teeth and prevent cavities.

Benefits of Gum After A Meal

A lot of people reach for gum or a mint following a meal, but this is often done in order to help freshen your breath after some pungent foods. Gum has added benefits though, as clinical studies have shown that it can help prevent tooth decay and cavity formation. But why is sugarless gum so helpful for your teeth? It comes down to saliva production.

Saliva helps make it easier to swallow foods, but it does so much more than that. For starters, saliva is comprised of substances that serves to break down food particles, which helps remove food that is stuck between teeth. Food particles and plaque that remain on a tooth’s surface can turn into tartar and break down your tooth’s enamel, the outer layer of the tooth’s surface. Saliva helps to prevent tartar formation.

Saliva also helps to neutralize acids in the mouth that can wear down your teeth. Foods like oranges or coffee that have higher than average acid content can slowly erode your teeth, but saliva helps to protect your teeth from this breakdown. Finally, saliva also contains calcium and phosphate, which helps to strengthen your tooth’s enamel. In all, saliva both helps to protect and strengthen your teeth.

So consider adding sugarless gum to your after meal routine. When you’re at the grocery store or pharmacy, look for gum that has been marked with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Approval. This way you’ll know that the gum is sugar-free and that it is trusted by dental professionals to protect their teeth. Gums with sugar in them will also help to spur saliva production, but the sugar is used by plaque to produce some decay-causing acids, so reach for a sugar-free pack.

Smiles for Life Dental in Bloomington, MN

Chewing on gum after a meal can be a great addition to a comprehensive oral hygiene plan, but it’s important to note that chewing gum is not a safe alternative to brushing and flossing. Make sure you are still practicing good oral health habits even if you begin chewing gum after a meal, and continue getting regular dental checkups. If it’s been a while since you got your last cleaning, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today to set up your next appointment.