Dental Care Q&A

What Causes Stains on Teeth?

Teeth staining or discoloration typically occurs as a result of foods and beverages that contain darker colors, tannins, or have a high acid content. Discoloration can also be caused by tobacco products and some medications.

1. Dark Colored Juices & Wines

Grape and cranberry juice and red wines are three of the most popular beverages that discolor teeth as they are concentrated sources of dark pigments. They also contain acid, which is known to leave teeth more vulnerable to staining. Drinking lighter-colored juices and wines may help prevent these stains.

2. Coffee

Coffee is dark in color due to naturally occurring tannins and is a common culprit in tooth staining. Your teeth are porous so they absorb the liquids you put into your body. Even if you just drink one or two cups of coffee every day, the dark color of the coffee can stain your teeth.

3. Tea

Many people may convert from coffee to tea in the hopes of preventing their teeth from becoming stained. This strategy may not yield desired results, though, because dark colored teas actually contain more tannins than coffee. One possible solution is to drink green or white teas instead of black. Green tea will still stain your teeth not not to the same degree as black tea.

4. Soy Sauce

Asian food fans may be disappointed to hear that soy sauce may stain teeth. Any dark liquid has the potential to stain teeth but especially soy sauce because it is so concentrated.

5. Blueberries

Although blueberries are known to be a healthy superfood full of anti-oxidants, the stains they leave on your teeth may be a dealbreaker. Luckily, you can rinse your teeth after eating them to help prevent staining.

6. Balsamic Vinegar

Due to its dark pigment, balsamic vinegar can make your teeth yellow if not rinsed away immediately.

7. Pasta Sauce

Pasta sauce can quickly penetrate your tooth enamel and create stains due to its acidity, concentrated red color, and tendency to stick to your teeth. One way your can avoid red sauce staining is to eat a salad or greens such as spinach or broccoli before delving into red sauce. These vegetables form a thin layer on your teeth that can help protect them from the staining effects of tomatoes.

8. Beets

Beets, like blueberries and tomatoes, are rich in essential nutrients, but their staining power is much stronger than the other foods on this list. Make sure your rinse right after eating beets.

9. Turmeric

Turmeric, a staple used in Indian curries and other foods, is a strongly pigmented spice. Because of its dark yellow color, this spice may stain teeth over time so it’s recommended to rinse and brush after eating.

10. Soda

Soda is bad for your health and it’s particularly hard on your teeth. It not only bathes your teeth in sugar and acid (two things that WILL destroy your tooth enamel), but it also contains dark colors that will stain your teeth. To avoid tooth staining from sodas, choose clear or light-colored sodas instead of cola. Keep in mind, however, that you can still sustain damage from the sugar and acids.

11. Tobacco Products

The nicotine and tar found in cigarettes, pipes, cigars and chewing tobacco and vaping can all stain your teeth from yellow to brown.

12. Tetracycline

Teeth discoloration and staining caused by the antibiotic tetracycline are referred to as tetracycline teeth. Gray or brown stains that form streaks or bands over the teeth are the most common forms of discoloration.

13. Other Medications

Several other classes of medications including high blood pressure medications, chemotherapy, antihistamines and some antipsychotic medications can cause teeth stains.

There are a few different ways to address discolored teeth. If you have concerns about staining on your teeth, please come see Dr. Patel to discuss your options!

Are Sodas and Juices Really That Bad for My Teeth?

You’ve probably heard all your life that sweets are bad for your teeth. This is not an exaggeration—it’s true. Additionally, when you eat something with starch, enzymes in your mouth will convert most of it to a sugar within an hour. Keep that in mind when snacking!

How Sugar Damages Your Teeth

The bacteria in your mouth that are associated with cavities (Streptococcus mutans) digest the sugars you eat and produce lactic acid, which eats away tooth enamel. This process is called demineralization. Repeated acid attacks cause mineral loss and over time, weaken and destroy the enamel, forming what is commonly known as a cavity.

While sugars are bad for your tooth enamel, sipping sugary beverages is particularly damaging. When we sip over a long period of time, we are repeatedly exposing our teeth to sugar and giving those acids repeated opportunities damage our enamel.

While sodas are known to be high in sugar, even drinks that are marketed as “healthy” or “all natural” can also be high in sugar. A glass of apple juice, for example, can contain nearly as much sugar as a soda. The best choice is to drink beverages that have no or low sugar.

Tips to Limit the Damage of Sugary Drinks

  • Instead of sipping your sugared beverage, drink it quickly to reduce repeated exposure and give your saliva time to neutralize the acids.
  • If you can’t brush, swish and rinse afterward with water to remove as much sugar as possible.
  • If you give your child juice, have them drink it with meals only, and put water in a sippy cup that they might carry around during the day.
  • Alternative beverage options that are less damaging to enamel include water, sparkling water, unsweetened tea, milk or diluted juice

The best way to avoid painful and costly problems with your teeth is to get regular dental cleanings and check-ups. Make your appointment today at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel location.

What Should I Do if a Tooth is Knocked Out?

Do you know what to do if your tooth is knocked out?

It’s imperative that you follow a few key rules to be able to potentially save your tooth!

  1. ONLY pick up the tooth by the chewing surface. Do not touch or pick up by the root.
  2. If dirty, gently rinse with warm water.
    • Do not scrub
    • Do not use toothpaste or soap
    • Do not dry
    • Do not wrap in tissue or paper towel
  3. Reposition the tooth in the socket immediately if you can.
  4. Keep the tooth moist at all times.
  5. If you can’t reposition it in the socket, keep it in milk or tuck it in your mouth next to your cheek.



Interesting Dental Facts

Are cavities contagious?

Yes, in a way. The bacteria that causes cavities, Streptococcus mutans, is transmissable from one person to another. This means that the saliva of someone with this bacteria can pass it along to someone else. Here are some of the ways this bacteria can be passed to babies and children:

  • Cleaning a pacifier with your mouth
  • Using your mouth to test the temperature of a baby’s bottle
  • Sharing utensils, straws or cups

Did people get cavities in prehistoric times?

According to experts, most likely not, because sugars and grains weren’t a common part of their diet.

How did ancient cultures clean their teeth?

Many cultures would chew on tree bark or sticks to clean their teeth and ancient Egyptians made a paste from ox hooves and ground eggshells to clean their teeth.

When did brushing teeth become common?

While people have been cleaning their teeth for centuries, daily teeth brushing didn’t become regular practice in America until after WWII. The first toothbrush was developed for mass production and distribution in 1938, but only after the war did America adopt the practice of daily brushing.

Can teeth repair themselves?

No, unlike our bones, muscle and skin, teeth are not able to self-repair which is why getting fillings and other dental work is necessary to protect teeth from further damage and maintain the integrity of your natural tooth.

How much saliva does an average person make?

Humans make between 2 and 4 pints of saliva per day and and around 53 bathtubs full in a lifetime. Saliva contains electrolytes, mucus, antibacterial compounds, and enzymes that help digest food and mutans streptococcus bacteria (for those who have cavities)!

How hard is tooth enamel?

Tooth enamel is harder than steel. It is the hardest substance in your body, even harder than bone. Damage that occurs to the enamel is the result of a process that takes time. Decay slowly eats away at the enamel because it is so hard and can withstand so much. Untreated decay will eventually result in pain and possible tooth loss. The best way to prevent this is with regular dental check ups and cleanings. Make your appointment today at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel dental office!

Should Adults Get Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are a safe and effective way to prevent cavities for kids but they can be beneficial for some adults, as well. If your molars that have a lot of pits and crevasses, these can make your molars more cavity-prone, as can bruxism (teeth grinding), which wears down tooth enamel. Dental sealants are a simple, safe aid to help protect your adult teeth from cavities in these situations.

What Are Dental Sealants?

A sealant is a thin, plastic coating applied to the chewing surface of molars, premolars and any deep grooves (also called pits and fissures or crevasses) of teeth. More than 75% of dental decay begins in these deep grooves. Teeth with these conditions are hard to clean and are very susceptible to decay. A sealant protects the tooth by sealing deep grooves, creating a smooth, easy to clean surface.

What Do Sealants Involve?

The first step is a dental checkup that includes x-rays and cleaning. Dentists want to be sure they are placing sealants on healthy teeth. If a tooth has a cavity, the sealant could trap the plaque, leading to more serious decay.

Having dental sealants applied to your teeth is a painless process. Sealants are easily applied by your dentist or dental hygienist and the process takes only a couple of minutes per tooth.

The teeth to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned and then surrounded with cotton to keep the area dry. A special solution is applied to the enamel surface to help the sealant bond to the teeth. The teeth are then rinsed and dried. Sealant material is carefully painted onto the enamel surface to cover the deep grooves or depressions. Depending on the type of sealant used, the material will either harden automatically or with a special curing light. Proper home care, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new sealants.

Please call to schedule your check-up and cleaning at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel location so that we may evaluate whether you are a good candidate for adult dental sealants!

Why Are My Teeth So Sensitive?

Sensitive teeth can be caused by several different things. To figure out the possible reason for your discomfort, your dentist may ask you a variety of questions to rule things out:

  • Where are you feeling tooth sensitivity?
  • Is your sensitivity in one tooth or widespread?
  • How long have you experienced sensitivity?
  • How often do you brush and floss?
  • Do you chew ice?
  • Have you recently whitened your teeth?
  • When was your last dental visit?
  • Have you experienced impact or trauma to your teeth or jaw?

Your teeth are essentially alive. The enamel on your teeth protects the living dentin underneath. The dentin contains tubules that lead to nerves deeper in the tooth. Cracked or damaged enamel can damage the dentin, which can expose those tubules and lead to irritated nerves that cause sensitivity to hot and cold.

Another common cause of tooth sensitivity is gum inflammation that causes the gum to pull away from teeth ad expose those nerve tubules under the dentin. This is why your dentist looks for “pockets” in your gums at every check up. Addressing gum inflammation before it causes permanent damage is critical and one of many reasons why we recommend regular dental check-ups.

Common Causes of Sensitivity

Tooth Damage

If your tooth sensitivity is associated with just one tooth, there might be damage or decay. This can happen in a number of ways:

  • A cavity
  • A cracked tooth (impact, chewing very hard foods etc)
  • A broken or loose filling that is allowing bacteria into the interior of the tooth
  • A tooth infection
  • A damaged root
  • Advanced decay


Stress can also indirectly contribute to tooth sensitivity. Stress increases cortisol levels and cortisol can cause bruxism (involuntary teeth grinding) which will often result in widespread dental sensitivity. Finding ways to reduce your stress levels can help prevent further damage to your teeth. Another option is wearing a dental guard when you sleep to prevent continued harm to your teeth.

Excess Consumption of Acidic Food & Drink

Though your tooth enamel is strong and comprised mainly of calcium phosphate, acids in your food and drinks can dissolve it over time. Citrus, coffee, wine, soda, tomatoes, very sour candy and anything high in processed sugars and starches can erode tooth enamel. Consuming acidic foods and drinks too often will likely eventually contribute to tooth sensitivity. Drinking water after you have these foods or drinks can help wash away the acids, instead of leaving them on your teeth. Of course, brushing afterward is very helpful, as well.

Gum Recession

The roots of your teeth are not protected by enamel. Your gums provide protection for dentin around your teeth roots but if your gums have pulled away from your tooth, it will expose the dentin and cause tooth sensitivity.

Gums recede for a few different reasons and if gum recession is not addressed, it can cause sensitivity and pain, as well as eventual tooth loss. We strongly recommend regular check ups to insure your gums remain healthy and protect the roots of your teeth.

Teeth Whitening

This is a common cause of tooth sensitivity as bleach must penetrate the enamel and may irritate the dentin and tubules. This type of sensitivity is usually temporary and will subside when you stop using the teeth whitening products. To avoid damage while using whitening products that bleach, avoid eating or drinking sugary beverages immediately afterward. Drink water to rinse the teeth after eating. Using a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth can also be helpful.

Sinus Infections

You have sinuses in your face, located right above your teeth. When you have a sinus infection, pressure building from fluids, bacteria and inflammation in your sinuses can cause sensitivity to the teeth below your sinuses. Your teeth may also be sensitive to sudden movements such as standing up or bending over. If you suspect you have a sinus infection, you need to see your doctor about treatment to clear it up. Tooth sensitivity should then subside if a sinus infection was the cause. If it does not, we recommend you make a dental appointment to help determine the cause of your sensitivity.

Relief for Your Sensitive Teeth

Dr. Patel and the team at A Caring Dentist of Tampa can help you find the cause of your sensitive teeth and bring you relief. Make an appointment at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel location today to start feeling better sooner!

How Often Should I Brush & Floss?

Brushing and flossing help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease. Plaque is a film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva that sticks to the teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque convert certain food particles into acids that cause tooth decay. Also, if plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar). If plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone, causing gum disease. Plaque formation and growth is continuous and can only be controlled by regular brushing, flossing, and the use of other dental aids.


Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed at night) for at least two minutes with an ADA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste.

How to Brush

  • Brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums, gently using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums.
  • You don’t need to scrub. That can cause gum damage.
  • Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
  • Use the tip of the brush head to clean the inside front teeth.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.


Daily flossing at least once a day is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

How to Floss

  • Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
  • Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.
  • Curve the floss into a shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.
  • Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.

It is important to also rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals if you are unable to brush. If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with your Carrollwood dentist or dental hygienist on its appropriateness for you.

Dr. Parasher and the team at A Caring Dentist of Tampa can help you protect your teeth with regular dental check ups. Make an appointment at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel dental offices today. Take care of your teeth and they will take care of you!

What Toothbrush Should I Use?

While there are many brands of toothbrushes on the market, the actual brand matters less than you might think. The most important consideration when choosing your next toothbrush is the head style and bristle type. Bristles come in soft, medium and hard varieties, however, a soft-bristled toothbrush is generally the best option.

A harder bristle may remove more plaque but can also wear away your tooth enamel, cause gum irritation and contribute to gums receding. Using a softer bristle (also labeled as “Sensitive”) for a bit longer, while using a proper brushing technique, will spare your gums and enamel while effectively removing plaque.

The next consideration is the size of the toothbrush head. A smaller head is preferable because it will allow you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums. A smaller head that’s diamond-shaped is actually the ideal shape. This is because the diamond shape tends to be better at reaching the back and sides of your molars.

For more personalized advice, ask your dentist or dental hygienist what they recommend for you, based on your teeth and gums.

Is Chewing Ice Bad for Teeth?

While teeth are strong enough to chew ice, A Caring Dentist of Tampa strongly recommends against it. Chewing ice can be hydrating and for some, a satisfying way to help mitigate stress, however, it can also be very damaging to your teeth and cause stress to your jaw.

Ice cubes are so hard they can chip or crack teeth and it’s not uncommon that teeth can be structurally weakened by fillings. This makes teeth more susceptible to fractures from biting down on hard substances and the tooth can crack.  Even with healthy, unfilled teeth, the brittle texture and cold temperature of ice can cause tiny cracks in the enamel that compromise the health of an entire tooth.

You may not even realize you have cracked your tooth unless it becomes sensitive but once it has cracked, even just on the surface, this leaves the tooth vulnerable. The end result can be a severely compromised and painful tooth that may ultimately require a costly root canal.

You may enjoy eating ice but for the sake of your teeth, we advise that you only suck on the ice and never, ever crunch on it. If you suspect you may have cracked a tooth from chewing ice, please make an appointment for an exam so we can help prevent further damage!

How Can I Improve My Smile?

If you’re feeling somewhat self-conscious about your teeth, or just want to improve your smile, cosmetic dental treatments may be the answer to a more beautiful, confident smile.

Cosmetic dentistry has become very popular in the last several years, not only due to the many advances in cosmetic dental procedures and materials available today, but also because patients are becoming more and more focused on improving their overall health. This includes dental prevention and having a healthier, whiter, more radiant smile.

There are many cosmetic dental procedures available to improve your teeth and enhance your smile. Depending on your particular needs, cosmetic dental treatments can change your smile dramatically, from restoring a single tooth to having a full mouth make-over. Ask your dentist how you can improve the health and beauty of your smile with cosmetic dentistry.

Cosmetic/Restorative Procedures:

Teeth Whitening Whitening lightens teeth that have been stained or discolored by age, food, drink, and smoking. Teeth darkened as a result of injury or taking certain medications can also be bleached, but the effectiveness depends on the degree of staining present.

Composite (tooth-colored) Fillings  Also known as bonding, composite fillings are now widely used instead of amalgam (silver) fillings to repair teeth with cavities, and also to replace old defective fillings. Tooth-colored fillings are also used to repair chipped, broken, or discolored teeth. This type of filling is also very useful to fill in gaps and to protect sensitive, exposed root surfaces caused by gum recession.

Porcelain Veneers Veneers are thin custom-made, tooth-colored shells that are bonded onto the fronts of teeth to create a beautiful individual smile. They can help restore or camouflage damaged, discolored, poorly shaped, or misaligned teeth. Unlike crowns, veneers require minimal tooth structure to be removed from the surface of the tooth.

Porcelain Crowns (caps)  A crown is a tooth-colored, custom-made covering that encases the entire tooth surface restoring it to its original shape and size. Crowns protect and strengthen teeth that cannot be restored with fillings or other types of restorations. They are ideal for teeth that have large, fractured or broken fillings and also for those that are badly decayed.

Dental Implants Dental implants are artificial roots that are surgically placed into the jaw to replace one or more missing teeth. Porcelain crowns, bridges, and dentures can be made specifically to fit and attach to implants, giving a patient a strong, stable, and durable solution to removable dental appliances.

Invisalign Orthodontic Aligners Less visible and more effective, Invisalign clear braces are making straightening teeth with orthodontics much more appealing to adult patients.

Thanks to the advances in modern dentistry, cosmetic treatments can make a difference in making your smile shine! Contact us today to explore your options at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel locations.

Skip to content