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Three Reasons We're Fans of Fluoride

March 13th, 2024

Why all the fuss about fluoride? Your dentist recommends it, your toothpaste is formulated with it, most of our drinking water contains it. Just what is it about this mineral that makes dental professionals sing its praises? Read on for three good reasons why fluoride is a healthy choice for healthier teeth.

  1. Fluoride Works!

Fluoride is an attractive option for protecting your teeth—and we mean that literally. Fluoride protects the surface of your teeth by working on a molecular level to attract minerals which strengthen enamel and help prevent cavities.

Our tooth enamel is mostly made from calcium and phosphate ions. These elements combine to form hydroxyapatite, strong crystals which make up about 95% of our enamel. Hydroxyapatite is so strong, in fact, that tooth enamel is the hardest part of our bodies. What can go wrong?

Acids. Acids created by the bacteria in plaque and the acids in our diet strip away the calcium and phosphate ions in enamel, weakening the surface of the tooth. This process is called demineralization. Over time, weak spots become bigger as acids eat through enamel to the inner tooth, causing decay and cavities.

So, what can fluoride do?

First, fluoride helps remineralize tooth enamel. Fluoride is attracted to the tooth’s surface and bonds with its minerals. It also attracts the calcium and phosphate ions which are found in our saliva to restore any minerals which have been lost. This process helps repair any weak spots that might have begun to form.

But fluoride does more than restore and repair tooth strength—it improves it! Fluoride ions join with calcium and phosphate to form fluorapatite crystals, which are larger and stronger than hydroxyapatite crystals.

Want more? Fluoride may interfere with bacterial plaque’s ability to produce acids. Since plaque and its acids are a major cause of gum disease, brushing with a fluoride toothpaste is a great way to help prevent plaque buildup around and below the gum line—buildup that leads to irritated, inflamed, and infected gum tissue.

  1. Fluoride Is Doubly Effective

Fluoride works both externally and internally. We just looked at how fluoride helps keep teeth strong when applied to the outside of the teeth. This is called a topical application. Systemic benefits come the fluoride we consume in our diets.

Fluoride isn’t found in many foods, but it is found naturally in lakes, rivers, and other water sources. When the local water’s fluoride level is low, many communities add fluoride for its proven ability to prevent cavities. Water fluoridation is safe, has been studied for decades, and has been shown to reduce the risk of cavities by 25% or more for both children and adults.

Systemic fluoride is especially important for your child’s dental health. This is because fluoride incorporates with minerals in the adult teeth while they are growing and developing, creating stronger, more cavity-resistant teeth even before they erupt. Most adult teeth have finished forming around age eight, so, if your community doesn’t have fluoridated water, it’s a good idea to discuss other options with your child’s dentist.

And we grown-ups benefit, too! When you drink fluoridated water, you’re increasing the amount of fluoride in your saliva. Just like fluoride toothpaste, saliva bathes your teeth with fluoride ions, strengthening the tooth surface, and helping to neutralize the acids which damage teeth and gums.

  1. It’s Easy to Get Fluoride Protection

Most toothpastes are formulated with fluoride, so you’re getting the enamel-strengthening benefits of this mineral whenever you brush—at least twice each day. Since children can’t really grasp the “rinsing” and “spitting” steps of the brushing routine just yet, talk to Dr. Craig S. Donn about how to introduce tiny amounts of fluoride toothpaste to your child’s dental routine. Baby steps!

Because so much of our drinking water is fluoridated, most of us really don’t have to think about how to get the recommended amount of fluoride each day. If your community’s water is low in fluoride, we can help you here as well. Prescription fluoride rinses, gels, supplements, and other treatments are available to make sure that your teeth are well-protected, wherever you may live. We will let you know which products are best for you and how often to use them during your next visit to our Cherry Hill, NJ dental office.

Fluoride isn’t, of course, the only way to look out for your dental health. Proper brushing and flossing are still essential for removing plaque. Check into sealants for both kids and adults for long-lasting protection for chewing surfaces. But when it comes to a proven cavity-fighter and plaque-reducer that is simple to use, effective, and easily available—is it any wonder we’re big fans of fluoride?

Dental Filling Options

March 6th, 2024

You’ve made an appointment at our Cherry Hill, NJ office to treat your cavity, the decayed area has been removed, and the site has been cleaned and prepared for a filling. Now it’s decision time. What kind of filling should you choose? Well, that depends. There are durability, aesthetic, and price considerations involved in any of your choices, so let’s look at some options before you decide.

Gold

This is a classic choice for a reason. Gold is very durable and can last longer than fillings made from other materials. Because they are crafted from precious metal, gold fillings are more expensive than other alternatives. They are also most often indirect fillings—that is, they are not immediately placed in a tooth, but are formed based on a mold of your tooth taken on your first visit and set in position on a second visit. A gold filling is also noticeable, which can be a matter of concern or a style statement!

Metal Amalgam

An amalgam is a mixture, and an amalgam filling is usually composed of several metallic elements, including silver, tin, copper, and mercury. This filling is also very durable and is one of the most cost-effective choices. Its silver color does not blend into the tooth, so visibility is a factor. Amalgam fillings are considered a safe option, but, if you wonder about potential metal allergies or the amount and kind of mercury involved, we will be happy to discuss your concerns. One possible drawback to amalgam fillings is that sometimes more tooth structure needs to be removed to accommodate them, so this is also a subject we can discuss.

Composite Resins

These fillings are often selected because they are both durable and almost invisible when the color is matched to your tooth. Made of acrylic resin and powdered glass, a composite filling is what is called a “direct filling”—one that can be completed and bonded to the tooth in one visit. These are often more expensive than amalgam fillings, but might be preferable for cosmetic reasons, especially when a front tooth is involved. They also need less tooth structure removed to accommodate them and can be better bonded to small excavations than some other options. They can be prone to staining over time.

Ceramic

Ceramic fillings have the virtue of being virtually undetectable. They can be color-matched to your teeth for a seamless look, and are more stain-resistant than composite fillings. They are also a more expensive option, and, like gold fillings, can involve a two-phase process with a filling molded to fit the excavation site placed in your tooth on a second visit.

Dr. Craig S. Donn and our team are happy to discuss all of your options before it is time to treat your cavity, since there are a number of factors which might impact your decision. A molar will require a more durable filling than a front tooth, while being less visible when you smile or speak. Insurance plans might pay for only a portion of a filling’s cost if it is more expensive than an amalgam, or will pay for a composite filling only if it is in a visible location. We can help you decide which filling best fits all your needs, providing you with the healthy and beautiful smile you deserve!

Healthy Teeth and Healthy Gums Make a Great Team

February 29th, 2024

You know a lot about taking care of your teeth. You brush carefully twice each day, you floss, you (mostly!) eat healthy foods, and you see Dr. Craig S. Donn for checkups and cleanings. Good for you! These are some of the very best ways to make sure you don’t get cavities.

But it takes more than taking care of your teeth for good oral health. It also means taking care of your gums, because your teeth and gums are a team.

Clean and healthy gums and teeth work together. Our gums fit snugly around our teeth to help protect them from bacteria and other germs. And clean, plaque-free teeth are important for healthy gums. How? Let’s take a look.

Plaque forms all day long, and sticks to our teeth unless we brush and floss it away. The bacteria in plaque create acids. These acids make our tooth enamel weaker, which can lead to cavities. We don’t want cavities, and so we brush and floss to get rid of plaque.

But that’s not the only reason we clean our teeth well. Plaque is double trouble, because the bacteria in plaque also irritate our gums.

How do our gums react when they’re irritated? They turn darker pink or red, or they get swollen or sore, or they even bleed a bit when you brush. All these signs are symptoms of gingivitis, which is how gum disease begins. (And sometimes people can have gingivitis without any big symptoms at all.)

So, how do you make sure you keep your gums healthy? Just remember to include your gums while you’re doing all the things you already do to take care of your teeth!

  • Brush Well

Lots of people, including kids, get gingivitis, because it doesn’t take long for plaque to build up when we don’t brush often enough or carefully enough. Make sure to brush twice each day, and don’t forget to angle your toothbrush to gently brush along the gum line where your teeth and gums meet.

Gentle brushing is all you need for daily tooth cleaning. Rough brushing and hard bristles can hurt even tough tooth enamel, so you know they’re not good for your gums!

  • Floss Well

Flossing gets plaque that your toothbrush can miss. After all, it’s hard for bristles to squeeze in between those tight teeth. And flossing is especially important for your gums, because it removes plaque that is hiding near the gum line.

But figuring out the best way to floss teeth can be hard even for adults! Luckily, you have an expert to help you find out just how to use floss and just the right floss to use—your dental hygienist. When you have your teeth cleaned at our Cherry Hill, NJ office, ask about the easiest and best ways to floss for your own special teeth and gums.

  • Eat Well

All of the foods which are good for your teeth—milk, cheese, yogurt, fruits, vegetables—are good for your gums, too! And the foods which aren’t so great for your teeth—sticky, sugary foods—aren’t great for your gums, either. Sugar feeds the bacteria in plaque, and plaque irritates gums.

This doesn’t mean no treats ever. It does mean that it’s important to brush well after enjoying desserts, or chips, or candy, or any food that sticks around your teeth and gums after eating. And if you can’t brush, a drink of water helps wash away bits of food which are still hanging around.

  • See Your Dentist Regularly

Regular visits to our office can catch any gum problems before they become more serious. And, if you’ve been missing any spots when you brush and floss, your dentist or hygienist will let you know.

If you notice any signs of gingivitis—puffiness, redness, bleeding, or pain—tell a grownup right away. One of the fantastic things about the way our gums work is the fact that careful brushing and flossing are often all you need to make them healthy again! If you need more help, your dentist is the person who can treat gum problems to keep your smile feeling and looking great.

Work together with Dr. Craig S. Donn to make sure your teeth and gums are their healthiest. Just like healthy teeth and gums are a great team, you and your dentist make a great team, too!

Shark Teeth

February 21st, 2024

It seems like sharks are everywhere these days—on land, sea, and air(waves). A halftime show meme gone viral. A week of summer TV devoted to our favorite apex predators. And who doesn’t have “Baby Shark” playing in their heads all day once they’ve heard it? But are we jumping the shark to discuss this topic in a dental blog?

Not at all! Because today, we’re going to talk about shark teeth—just not the ones you might be expecting.

One of the expected sights when a shark opens its mouth are those rows and rows of shiny shark teeth. Sharks can grow from two to 15 rows of teeth at any one time (and some sharks have even more). This means sharp new teeth are always ready to replace any shark tooth which is lost, broken, or worn out.

An unexpected sight? When children point to their new adult tooth or teeth coming in—right behind their still-firmly rooted baby teeth! This double set of teeth is called “shark teeth,” and, while it certainly might come as a surprise, it’s not all that uncommon. But why do children develop shark teeth at all?

After all, baby, or primary, teeth have small roots, and are designed to come out easily when the adult teeth start arriving. When a permanent tooth starts to erupt, it pushes against the root of the baby tooth above it. This pressure gradually dissolves the root of the primary tooth, and with nothing to anchor it, it’s now loose, wiggly, and ready to fall out. That’s why baby teeth often look like they have no roots at all when they eventually wiggle free.

Sometimes, though, the roots of a primary tooth don’t break down, which means baby teeth stay right where they are. It also means that the permanent teeth have to erupt somewhere else—usually behind those stubborn little baby teeth.

Shark teeth can first appear around the ages of five to seven when the permanent front teeth start arriving, or several years later, when the adult molars begin to come in. Any extra teeth in one small jaw naturally cause concerns about crowding and misalignment, especially when those extra teeth are molars. Fortunately, treatment is generally uncomplicated.

If the baby tooth is loose, time (and wiggling) might take care of the problem. But if the primary tooth or teeth just won’t budge, even after several weeks, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit with Dr. Craig S. Donn—especially if your child is experiencing pain or discomfort.

An extraction is often suggested when a baby tooth has overstayed its welcome. Because of its smaller root, extracting a primary tooth is usually a straightforward procedure. Dr. Craig S. Donn can let you know all the details, and can discuss sedation options if they’re appropriate for your child.

Whether baby teeth are left to fall out on their own, or given some assistance, most often your child’s permanent tooth will start moving to its proper position as soon as the space is available.

Unlike sharks, we don’t have an endless supply of replacement teeth, so it’s understandable to worry when you see anything unexpected. If you want to know more about shark teeth, or if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to call our Cherry Hill, NJ office for expert advice.

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  • American Dental Association CareCredit