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.

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.

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.


Dry Mouth

Why Dry Mouth is More Than Just An Annoyance

Chronic dry mouth, also known as xerostomic, is the result of inadequate saliva flow in your mouth, and saliva is very important to your mouth health. If you suffer from regular instances of dry mouth, you may find the condition annoying, but there’s also larger health issues at play that you need to be aware of. Below, we take a look at why dry mouth can lead to a number of different mouth issues, and what you should do if you have dry mouth.

Causes and Issues Associated With Dry Mouth

As we mentioned in the intro, dry mouth is caused by inadequate saliva production, but what causes saliva production to slow? It can be caused by a few things, but the most common causes are:

  • A side effect of taking certain medications
  • Diabetes or diabetes treatment
  • A side effect of a stroke
  • Nerve damage
  • A side effect of cancer therapy
  • Poor nutrition
  • Natural aging
  • Tobacco and alcohol use

Dry mouth doesn’t just lead to an annoying sensation in your mouth. For starters, saliva helps to regulate the amount of bacteria in your mouth, so if you have inadequate saliva production, you may have an overabundance of unhealthy bacteria in your mouth. This can lead to excess plaque and tooth decay, mouth sores, bad breath, difficulty swallowing and an increased risk of infection. Don’t just ignore the symptoms of dry mouth, seek active treatment with the help of a dentist like Dr. Brooks.

Treating Chronic Dry Mouth

Treatment of dry mouth begins by pinpointing the root cause of the condition. For example, if poor nutrition is to blame, setting the patient up with a nutritionist or getting them educational materials on how to help change their diet can help address the root cause. For others, treatment involves switching medications to find one that doesn’t produce such side effects. Pinpointing the root cause of dry mouth is done by taking a look at your medical and dental history, asking about your condition and by conducting a physical exam of the mouth.

Other treatment options that may be pursued include:

  • Oral rinses
  • Medications to increase saliva production
  • Mouthgear to keep your teeth protected when you sleep
  • Increasing water intake throughout the day
  • Chewing sugar-free gum to help spur saliva production
  • Using a humidifier and sleeping with your mouth closed at night
  • Avoiding tobacco, alcohol or some caffeinated products

So if you find that you’re regularly dealing with dry mouth conditions, bring it up to your dentist, because it can lead to costly and problematic health issues down the road if not actively treated. To talk to a dentist about your dry mouth issue, contact Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Morning hygiene

5 Signs Your Teeth Aren’t As Healthy As You Think

If your teeth aren’t hurting, you probably think they are pretty healthy. Hopefully, that is the case, but often there are some subtle signs your teeth aren’t as healthy as you think they are. Below, we share five signs and symptoms that suggest you should head to a dentist for your semi-annual checkup.

You Have Bad Breath

Bad breath isn’t all that uncommon once in a while, especially after eating certain foods, but if you have chronic bad breath, there may be an underlying mouth issue. Bad breath can be a symptom of gum disease or even sinus issues, so have a dentist take a closer look if you’re experiencing regular bouts of bad breath.

Food Is Always Getting Stuck

If food is always getting stuck in between the same teeth, it could just be the result of the way your teeth formed, but it could also be a tooth issue. Sometimes cavities can form between teeth, and these holes can catch food and cause it to get stuck. If food keeps getting stuck in the same spot after every meal, bring it up to your dentist on your next visit.

One Tooth Is Darker

Sometimes it’s easier to see dental problems rather than feel them. When a tooth starts to look darker than the surrounding teeth, you may be dealing with an underlying nerve problem. This often occurs to your front teeth as the result of trauma. If you fell and hit your mouth or took a rogue elbow during sports and have noticed one tooth appears darker than its neighbor, head to the dentist.

Overly Sensitive Teeth

Healthy teeth usually aren’t too sensitive to hot or cold foods, so if they hurt or ache when sipping coffee or indulging with a bowl of ice cream, you may have an undiagnosed issue. Sensitivity issues can be a sign of a cavity brewing beneath the surface. Head to the dentist instead of just trying to avoid hot or cold foods.

Sore Jaw In The Morning

Finally, if you wake up with a sore or tense jaw, it’s a sign you may be having teeth problems in your sleep. A sore jaw can be an indication you grind your teeth at night, which can put abnormal wear and tear on your teeth and even lead to cracked or broken teeth. Regular morning jaw soreness should be discussed with your dentist at your next dental visit.

To schedule your next visit, reach out to the team at Smiles For Life Dental in Bloomington.

Diet Dental Health

How Your Diet Affects Your Teeth

When we think of dental hygiene, a lot of people just think about how they protect their teeth with things like brushing, flossing and going to the dentist. However, a total dental hygiene plan is much more than that. There are a number of other ways to protect your teeth other than with dental products, and watching what you eat is a good start. Your diet has an enormous role in how healthy your teeth are, so you need to be cognizant of what you’re eating and drinking.

To give you a better idea of how your diet impacts your oral health, we decided to take a closer look at the ways in which your diet affects the health of your teeth.Y

Food Choices

Food choices are the main way in which you can help or hurt your teeth. Our teeth and jaw bones draw a lot of essential vitamins and minerals from our diet, so if we’re lacking in important nutrients, our teeth may not be as strong as they could be. On the flip side, if you eat too many sugars or carbohydrates, you’ll be creating a great environment in your mouth for cavity causing bacteria to thrive. It’s fine to indulge here or there, but don’t make sugar and carbs your primary food group.

Drink Choices

Along a similar vein, drink choices also can severely impact our oral health. Let’s start with the good. Tap water has been treated with flouride, which is a compound that actively helps to strengthen tooth enamel, which can help prevent against cavities. Aside from flouride, water also helps to remove acids, sugars and other substances off of a tooth’s surface, which helps limit bacteria growth and tooth decay.

If you’re not careful about what you’re drinking, your mouth can be much worse off. Sodas and juices are often packed with sugars that can lead to tooth decay, coffee is a very acidic option that can stain teeth and wear down tooth enamel, and excessive alcohol intake can damage your gums and put you at an elevated risk for some oral cancers. Again, indulging here or there should be fine, but make sure that water is your primary drink of choice each and every day.


The final way in which your diet can impact your oral health is when you eat and when you snack. Snacking throughout the day can provide more sources for bacteria to build on and contribute to tooth decay, so try to limit sweet snacking options throughout the day. Another good idea is to keep a bottle of water handy, because aside from helping limit your cravings, it can help to wash sugars off the surface of your teeth, which is helpful for your oral health. Finally, try to avoid late night snacking, especially after you’ve brushed your teeth. If these substances stay on your teeth through the night, they are going to have hours to break down tooth surfaces and other oral tissues. Snack smart, and your teeth will thank you for it.

So at the end of the day, be cognizant of the foods and liquids you are putting in your system, because they can have a profound effect on your health, and brushing and flossing won’t be able to cancel out bad dietary choices. Eating right and making other smart choices are all part of a total dental hygiene plan. For more tips, or to talk to Dr. Brooks about a tooth issue you’re having, reach out to his clinic today.

Energy Drinks Teeth

Are Energy Drinks Bad For Your Teeth?

You’re probably aware that sodas and juices aren’t the best choice for your teeth, but you may be surprised at the number of people who think that subbing in energy drinks or sports drinks are a much better option. The truth is that energy drinks and sports drinks can also do plenty of damage to your teeth if you consume them regularly. Today, we take a closer look at why these drinks can lead to tooth decay, and how to protect your teeth through your drink choices.

Energy Drinks and Your Teeth

It should come as no surprise that both energy drinks and sports drinks are loaded with sugar or sugar substitutes, but that’s not the only reason why you want to limit your intake of these drinks. Sugar provides a perfect breeding ground for bacteria that contributes to tooth decay, so you want to limit your intake of sugar, but the other problem is the acidity.

A recent study out of Southern Illinois University found that when comparing 22 different energy and sports drinks, the energy drinks were often much more acidic.

“We found the acidity was two times higher in energy drinks than it was for sports drinks,” said Poonam Jain, BDS, MS, MPH, vice dean for clinical education, operation, and community partnerships at the A.T. Still University Missouri School of Dentistry and Oral Health and lead researcher on the study. “The lower the pH, the greater potential for losing enamel from your teeth.”

Enamel is the hard outer coating of your teeth, and it’s even harder than bone. However, even the hardest substance in your body can wear down if repeatedly exposed to highly acidic drinks, like energy drinks.

Preventing Enamel Loss

The American Beverage Association, which certainly would like to quiet the message that some of their products can contribute to tooth decay, released a statement saying that “No single food or beverage is a factor for enamel loss and tooth decay,” and that “individual susceptibility to dental cavities and tooth erosion varies depending on a person’s dental hygiene, lifestyle and total diet and genetic makeup.”

They are somewhat correct, but it’s also misleading. One energy drink isn’t going to erode your teeth like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, but if a person regularly makes energy drinks a part of their diet, they are certainly going to be at risk for tooth problems. Problems with energy drinks can also be exacerbated if we don’t have good dental hygiene or we make other poor dietary decisions, so we need to be cognizant of how we’re caring for our mouths.

At the end of the day, one energy drink won’t ruin your teeth, but energy drinks, sodas, coffee or sports drinks should not be your primary daily drink. Instead, you should be reaching for water, as the added fluoride actually works to strengthen enamel and protect your teeth. If you’re going to indulge in a sugary or acidic drink, try to do so alongside water or food, as this can help keep these sugars and acids from sticking to your teeth. And finally, be sure that you are practicing good dental hygiene, regardless of your beverage choices. Everybody should be brushing and flossing daily and being cognizant of their dietary choices if they want to keep their keep protected throughout their life.

For more beverage information, or to schedule your semi-annual checkup, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Missing Tooth

The Problems Associated With Missing Teeth

According to the American Dental Association, the average adult has three or more missing teeth or teeth that have decayed to the point that they should be removed from the mouth. Missing or pulled teeth are more common than you might think, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy issue to live with. There are a number of inconveniences and issues that are caused by missing teeth, which we’ll explore in greater detail in today’s blog.

The Issue With Missing Teeth

Here are some of the issues associated with teeth that are lost due to trauma, tooth decay or poor dental hygiene:

  • Inhibited Chewing – Your teeth make chewing possible, so when you’re missing teeth, it’s not as easy to grind up your favorite foods. This can limit your dietary options, and missing tooth locations that are not properly cared for by a dentist can lead to the onset of pain, which can make eating problematic.
  • Teeth Shifting – Your teeth help to keep neighboring teeth in the right location, so when you’re missing teeth, the teeth nearest the open space can shift over time. This can eventually lead to painful bite misalignment and an increased risk of tooth decay if shifting teeth makes it harder to hit all surfaces of your pearly whites.
  • Speech Problems – Missing teeth can impact the way you speak, which can make you harder to understand and affect your confidence.
  • Bone Loss in the Jaw – Believe it or not, missing teeth have been associated with bone loss in the jaw due to joint and muscle atrophy. This can lead to a change in your facial structure, oftentimes making you appear older than you really are.
  • Mental Health Suffers – A 2014 study revealed a link between missing teeth and depression and anxiety.
  • Loss of Confidence – A study by the American Dental Association found that roughly 1 in 4 people with a missing tooth said they avoided smiling due in part to their missing tooth.

Preventing These Issues

Luckily, even if you lose a tooth due to trauma or tooth decay, there are plenty of options available to you to both restore your confidence and protect against other issues. Common solutions to missing teeth include dental implants, bridges or even dentures.

Your dentist can talk to you about all of the hardware options available to you, but as we always say, prevention is preferred to treatment, so be proactive about protecting your teeth against tooth decay. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time, floss regularly, and be sure you’re getting semi-annual checkups and cleanings with your dentist. If it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist, or you want to talk to Dr. Brooks about a tooth issue you’re experiencing, reach out to our clinic today!