Our Blog

Can You Repair Your Tooth Enamel?

May 8th, 2024

There are lots of ads out there for toothpastes that claim to repair damaged tooth enamel.

Can you treat cavities and tooth decay at home? Well, mostly, no, you can’t.

Can you strengthen your enamel at home? Very possibly—in some circumstances. Let us explain!

Cavities and tooth decay start forming when the enamel on the tooth’s surface breaks down. To discover what causes this breakdown, we need to see how chemistry works with our biology.

Tooth enamel is mainly made from calcium and phosphate ions. These minerals combine to form hydroxyapatite, crystals which make up around 95% of our enamel. Hydroxyapatite crystals are so strong that tooth enamel is the hardest part of our bodies. What can weaken a substance this strong?

Acids. Acidic foods and drinks, as well as acids created by the bacteria in plaque, strip away calcium and phosphate ions in enamel, weakening the surface of the tooth. This is a process called demineralization, and it’s the first stage of tooth decay. Left alone, weak spots will become bigger and deeper until they form cavities.

And tooth enamel, unlike the rest of your body, isn’t living tissue. It can’t regenerate. Once bacteria and acids have created a deep enough cavity, only Dr. Craig S. Donn can repair it by removing decay and filling the tooth.

Wait, this sounds a lot more like “No, you can’t repair your enamel” and much less like “It’s possible to strengthen your enamel.” But we’re not through!

Demineralization doesn’t equal cavities—yet. Careful attention to your habits and your diet can make a difference in whether your enamel continues to weaken or becomes stronger.

Our body’s first defense against demineralization is saliva. Calcium and phosphate ions in saliva bathe the teeth throughout the day, restoring the minerals which have been lost. This is called remineralization. Saliva also helps neutralize acids from the foods we eat. But with a diet heavy in acids, or a lot of plaque buildup, saliva just can’t keep up with the damage.

That’s where “enamel-repair” toothpastes come in. Toothpastes are available that contain hydroxyapatite to restore calcium and phosphates to weakened enamel. But for many of the most common enamel-repair toothpastes, the not-so-secret secret to their effectiveness is fluoride.

Dentists recommend fluoride toothpastes for several very good reasons. Fluoride is attracted to the minerals in tooth enamel and bonds with them. Once bonded, fluoride attracts the calcium and phosphate ions in saliva, helping restore lost minerals to the enamel. Even better, when fluoride bonds with the calcium and phosphate in our enamel, fluorapatite is created. This is a crystal even stronger and more acid-resistant than hydroxyapatite.

If you’re concerned about the strength of your enamel, and especially if you notice any signs of acidic erosion, talk to our Cherry Hill, NJ dental team right away. Dr. Craig S. Donn can:

  • Recommend over-the-counter toothpastes or professional fluoride applications to help reverse early demineralization
  • Provide dental bonding, a crown, or a veneer to protect a tooth with serious erosion
  • Treat a cavity caused by more advanced tooth decay.

Keeping your enamel healthy at home can take many forms. By careful brushing and flossing to remove plaque, by watching the acids in your diet, by making sure you’re properly hydrated, and by using fluoride toothpaste, you can both reduce the risk of demineralization and help restore weak spots in your tooth enamel.

So, can enamel-repair toothpastes effectively repair your teeth? Yes, they can be effective—if demineralization is in its early stages and if you make them a regular part of your daily dental routine.

Spring Cleaning

May 1st, 2024

Just like that, it’s almost summertime. As the spring season ends, perhaps these lighter, brighter days are inspiring you to do a bit of last-minute spring cleaning. Or perhaps they’re not. No judgment here!

What we can recommend wholeheartedly is finishing the season with a clean, sparkling smile. And we have some bright ideas for you!

Refresh Your Cleaning Technique

Tooth brushing can become so automatic that we don’t think about the basics anymore. And suddenly, we’ve finished brushing in half the time we used to, and, hey, how long has that floss been sitting on the counter, anyway? We suggest some mindful cleaning for a healthier smile.

  • Spend two minutes brushing, at least twice each day.
  • Make sure you reach all the surfaces of your teeth, inside, outside, and on top of your molars.
  • Use short, gentle brush strokes, covering a tooth or two at a time.
  • Angle your brush to clean along the gum line. Plaque around the gums leads to irritation and inflammation, and is a common cause of gum disease.
  • Use vertical strokes to clean the inside of your front teeth.
  • Floss at least once each day.

Good Cleaning Requires Good Tools

Since we’re tidying up, let’s talk about some helpful cleaning tools. Is your toothbrush looking a bit—long in the tooth?  

After three to four months of brushing, your toothbrush bristles start to break down. Frayed and matted bristles can’t clean as effectively as a toothbrush in top shape. Each change of season is a good time to remind yourself to change brushes.

And, while you’re shopping, remember:

  • Soft bristles are almost always all any brusher needs. Even medium bristles can be abrasive to tooth enamel. And brush gently—scrubbing is also abrasive.
  • If you use an electric toothbrush, those toothbrush heads need to be replaced, too! In fact, because these brushes often have shorter bristles, heads might need to be replaced every two to three months.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste to clean and protect your teeth.
  • Don’t forget the floss!

If you’re not a fan of your current floss, take another look at the dental aisle in your local store. There are lots of new flossing options out there just waiting to be sampled. If manual flossing is difficult, consider a water flosser. Dr. Craig S. Donn can help you find just the right floss for your one-of-a-kind smile.

And speaking of your dental team . . .

Some Cleaning Jobs Require Professional Help

Dentists typically recommend a professional cleaning at our Cherry Hill, NJ office twice a year to make sure you’re free from built up plaque and tartar. How does your dental team go about getting your teeth cleaner than you can get them at home? With special training and special tools.

  • Plaque and tartar need to be removed from tooth enamel above and below the gum line to prevent cavities and gum disease, and tartar can only be removed by a dental professional. Your hygienist might use an ultrasonic scaler, a hand scaler, or both to gently scrape away sticky plaque and hard tartar.
  • Teeth are polished with a gentle abrasive to remove surface stains. This can be done with a special toothpaste applied with a small rotating cup, or with an air polisher, which removes stains with a stream of fine abrasive powder, water, and pressurized air.
  • An expert flossing will remove any remaining plaque from between the teeth.

Bonus: Your hygienist can point out spots you’ve been missing to help make your home brushing and flossing more effective.

Clean and Bright

Increasing daylight can brighten your mood—and so can a whiter smile! Over time, smiles get dimmer without our even noticing, thanks to tooth-staining foods and drinks, medications, smoking, or thinning enamel as we age. If you’re feeling self-conscious because your smile isn’t its sparkling best, consider a whitening treatment.

  • Whitening Toothpastes

Whitening toothpastes use chemicals and mild abrasives to remove surface stains caused by foods, beverages, and smoking. If you’d like to give a whitening toothpaste a try, ask Dr. Craig S. Donn for suggestions.

  • Whitening Strips and Gel Trays

Whitening gels can be applied at home with strips or tray kits. These peroxide-based gels are stronger than the formulas used in toothpaste, but can be irritating. Talk to Dr. Craig S. Donn to learn how to achieve the best and safest outcome with these products.

  • Office Treatment

Whitening treatments at our Cherry Hill, NJ office are generally faster, more effective, and last longer because this process uses a more powerful whitening agent. That’s why it should only be applied by a dental professional, who will examine and prepare your teeth, protect the surrounding gum tissue, and monitor your treatment throughout.

Spring’s coming to an end, but taking care of your dental health is always in season! A clean smile isn’t just a more confident smile, it’s a healthier one. Talk to your dentist for more tips to create your best and brightest smile at any time of year.

Could a Night Guard Be the Answer to Your Dreams?

April 24th, 2024

Have you been having trouble getting a good night’s rest?

Sometimes the reason for a poor night’s sleep is obvious. A midnight horror movie. A bedtime espresso. That anchovy and pineapple pizza you had for dinner. Not much we can do about these problems.

Sometimes, though, the cause of your sleep difficulties is dental in origin, and that is something Dr. Craig S. Donn can help with.

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a very common dental problem. When people with this condition sleep, their jaws clench and their teeth grind against each other throughout the night. When to suspect you might suffer from bruxism?

  • You wake with a sore jaw, or you hear pops or clicks when you move your jaw
  • You suffer from frequent headaches or facial pain
  • Your teeth are chipped, cracked, flattened, worn down, or sensitive
  • You wake up tired, because grinding affects the quality of your sleep
  • Partners, siblings, or roommates complain about nocturnal grinding noises affecting the quality of their

Pain and fatigue are unpleasant enough, but there are additional serious consequences for those who suffer from bruxism. Our jaws are extremely powerful, and clenching and grinding can put hundreds of pounds on pressure on teeth and jaws over hours of sleep. These forces can lead to:

  • Damaged teeth. Cracked, chipped, and worn down teeth can mean veneers, crowns, and root canals. Seriously compromised or broken teeth might need to be extracted.
  • Damaged dental work. Bruxism can lead to fractured veneers and damaged fillings and crowns. If the damage is too serious for repair, replacement might be necessary.
  • Damaged jaw joints. Severe cases of bruxism can lead to injury to the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, the complex hinge that allows our jaws to move up and down, back and forth, and side to side.

While these problems can be treated with restorations, or root canals, or implants, or surgical procedures, prevention is clearly a much better option for a healthy smile. And one of the simplest and most effective treatments for preventing the damage caused by bruxism is a night guard.

Night guards fit over the affected teeth to prevent them from touching directly, saving tooth and enamel from injury and wear. Not only do night guards prevent contact, they spread the biting forces of the jaw over the surface of the guard to greatly reduce their impact. And because they also stop the jaw muscles from clenching tightly, there’s no excess stress placed on the temporomandibular joint.

While over-the-counter products are available, it’s best to see Dr. Craig S. Donn for the most effective night guard. A custom night guard is designed to fit your individual teeth and mouth perfectly. Impressions or 3D scans are taken in our Cherry Hill, NJ office, and a guard is fabricated with the precise shape, strength, and thickness you need to protect your teeth. And, as a bonus, custom night guards offer the most comfortable fit for the most comfortable night’s sleep.

Scary movies, late night caffeinating, creative food combinations—not much we can do about those! But if you’re suffering lost sleep and painful mornings because of tooth grinding, give us a call. A night guard just might be the key to sweet dreams.

Dental Fear in Children: Brought on by parents?

April 17th, 2024

A study conducted in Washington State in 2004 and another conducted in Madrid, Spain in 2012 both reported findings that support a direct relationship between parents’ dental fear and their child’s fear of the dentist.

The Washington study examined dental fear among 421 children ages 0.8 to 12.8 years old. They were patients at 21 different private pediatric dental practices in western Washington state. The Spanish study observed 183 children between the ages of seven and 12 as well as their parents.

The Washington study used responses from both parents and the Dental Sub-scale of the Child Fear Survey Schedule. The survey consisted of 15 questions, which invited answers based on the child’s level of fear. The scale was one to five: one meant the child wasn’t afraid at all, and five indicated he or she was terrified. The maximum possible points (based on the greatest fear) was 75.

Spanish researchers found a direct connection between parental dental fear levels and those among their kids. The most important new discovery from the Madrid study was that the greater the fear a father had of going to the dentist, the higher the level of fear among the other family members.

Parents, but especially fathers, who feared dental procedures appeared to pass those fears along to every member of the family. Parents can still have some control over fear levels in their children. It is best not to express your own concerns in front of kids; instead, explain why going to the dentist is important.

Dr. Craig S. Donn and our team work hard to make your child’s visit at our Cherry Hill, NJ office as comfortable as possible. We understand some patients may be more fearful than others, and will do our best to help ease your child’s anxiety.

Back to Top


  • American Dental Association CareCredit