Dental Care Q&A

Is Alcohol Bad for Teeth?

Alcohol is common in society and many celebratory occasions will involve at least a toast with an alcoholic beverage. That said, it’s important to know that alcohol can cause conditions in your mouth that are less than ideal for your teeth and oral health.

Alcohol Contains Sugars

Our whole lives we’ve been told to avoid sweets because sugar can cause cavities. This is accurate. The bacteria in your mouth actually thrives on sugars and the end result is plaque and tartar, which can cause cavities and gum disease.

Choose alcoholic beverages that are lower in sugar. Avoid drinks with sweet mixers such as soda or juice and choose drier, less sweet wines and champagnes because they contain less sugar and thus, are less damaging to your teeth.

Alcohol is Dehydrating

Saliva flow in the mouth helps wash away sugars in the mouth, giving them less of an opportunity to begin forming plaque on your tooth surfaces. Alcohol, however, increases dehydration and reduces saliva flow in the mouth. The end result of dehydration is less bacteria is washed out of your mouth and this provides a much friendlier environment for bacteria to multiply and cause tooth decay.

Consider having a glass of water between alcoholic beverages to help rinse away sugars. Another helpful trick is to chew sugarless gum, which increases saliva production. Either way, increasing saliva and rinsing away sugars is a good policy if you’re going to be partaking in alcoholic beverages.

Alcoholic Drinks Can Be Acidic

When alcohol is mixed with acidic drinks such as fruit juices, soda, or energy drinks, the acids can erode your tooth enamel. If you drink these beverages regularly, your tooth enamel will gradually erode, resulting in compromised and sensitive teeth. Using a straw can help direct beverages away from your teeth but it’s recommended you also alternate your drinks with some water to wash away acids and consider using a re-mineralizing toothpaste if you drink acidic or sugary alcoholic beverages.

Some Alcoholic Beverages Contribute to Tooth Stains

Strongly colored alcoholic beverages such as red wines and drinks with deeply colored juice mixers can discolor your teeth and contribute to long-lasting tooth stains.

You can counter these stains by regularly brushing with a whitening toothpaste that contains hydrogen peroxide or, if you prefer more dramatic results, by visiting A Caring Dentist for a professional dental whitening procedure.

Dr Patel can evaluate your oral health or tooth staining concerns at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel dental office locations. Make an appointment today!

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Does Whitening Toothpaste Work?

Do Whitening Toothpastes Really Work?

The short answer is yes and no…

While there are many brands of whitening toothpaste available, the fact is regular toothpaste is effective at cleaning surface stains, also called “extrinsic” stains, when you brush regularly. For more stubborn stains, however, a whitening toothpaste may help, depending on how deeply the stain has penetrated your enamel.

Whitening toothpastes can lighten those extrinsic surface stains but, unfortunately, it can’t change the natural color of your teeth or lighten a stain that goes deeper than a tooth’s surface.

What Results Can I Expect from Whitening Toothpaste?

Whitening toothpastes can lighten the tooth’s color by about one shade. In contrast, professional whitening conducted in your dentist’s office can make your teeth three to eight shades lighter.

How Do Whitening Toothpaste Work?

To remove surface stains, whitening toothpaste typically include silica abrasives that gently polish the teeth or peroxide or other chemicals that help break down or dissolve stains. Some whitening toothpastes may also contain the chemical blue covarine, which adheres to the surface of the teeth and creates an optical illusion that can make teeth appear less yellow. The blue color neutralizes the appearance of any yellow in your teeth as blue and yellow are opposite colors.

How Long Until I See Results?

When used 2x a day, whitening toothpaste can take from two to six weeks to make your teeth appear whiter. Keep in mind, however, that if you continue staining your teeth with coffee, smoking and certain foods such as blueberries or beets, your progress will be continuously thwarted. We recommend brushing after eating and especially after enjoying coffee and wine.

Whitening toothpaste is an inexpensive and easy way to remove minor surface stains. It will take time, and you may need to make some lifestyle changes but you can get reasonable, albeit not dramatic, results. If you want to make your smile even brighter, talk to Dr. Patel about professional whitening with Zoom2 at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel locations.

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Tips for Avoiding Bad Breath

Bad breath, also called halitosis, is something everyone experiences from time to time but if you suspect you may have a problem, we have some tips to help keep your breath fresher and your mouth feeling cleaner.

Brush and Floss Regularly

Plaque build-up on teeth is a major contributor to bad breath. Bacteria clings to plaque and multiplies and that ever-growing bacteria creates an offensive smell. Food particles are also contributors to bad breath. Both of these factors can be controlled with regular brushing and flossing. We recommend brushing twice a day and flossing once per day.

Rinse Your Mouth

Swishing and spitting with plain water after you eat is definitely helpful for removing odor-causing food particles after you eat. If you wanted to take it a step further, consider using some mouthwash after you rinse with water. Make sure you choose a brand that kills germs since bacteria is often a cause of unpleasant breath.

Tongue Scraping

You may have noticed a coating on your tongue. This is normal but that coating also harbors things that can cause bad breath, such as bacteria, food debris, and dead cells. You can brush your tongue gently after brushing your teeth or you can use a tongue scraper, which is actually a bit more effective than brushing your tongue. Studies have shown that brushing the tongue or using a tongue scraper can reduce halitosis by as much as 70 percent.

Stop Smoking

In addition to being terrible for your overall health, smoking is bad for gum health, stains your teeth and causes bad breath. Quitting smoking will improve your dental health as well as your breath!

Instead of Eating Mints, Chew Gum

Mints will only cover up bad breath temporarily but more importantly, they’re usually made of sugar and plaque thrives on sugar. Chewing some sugarless gum will stimulate saliva production and saliva helps neutralize the plaque acids that cause both tooth decay and bad breath.

Keep Your Mouth Moist

A dry mouth is a mouth where plaque and bacteria will thrive. Be sure to drink water throughout the day and swish with water after eating.

Ask Your Dentist to Check for Tonsil Stones

The main symptom of tonsil stones is bad breath. Tonsil stones are mineralizations of debris within the crevices of the tonsils. The debris comes primarily from old food particles.

Avoid Bad-Breath Foods

Onions and garlic are two well-known offenders when it comes to foods that cause bad breath. Unfortunately, brushing after you eat them doesn’t completely remedy the problem because as you digest these foods, they emit gases that enter your bloodstream, are carried to your lungs and ultimately affect your breath. There is anecdotal evidence that drinking milk or eating parsley or mint leaves afterward can neutralize these odors.

Practice Good Gum Hygiene

Gum disease produces a particularly offensive smell. See your dentist regularly to maintain your gum health, along with daily flossing to remove the plaque/tartar that will eventually contribute to tooth decay and gum disease.

If you’re concerned that a dental condition may be causing your bad breath, Dr. Patel can evaluate your oral health at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel locations. Make an appointment today!

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A New Year of Dental Health

Going to the dentist is not something most people love to do and we understand that. This is at least one reason making routine dental appointments often gets put on the back burner for many of us. If everything looks and feels fine, it just doesn’t seem like a top priority, right? Unfortunately, it’s that reasoning that leads to so many preventable dental issues.

Your routine dental cleaning and check ups are the very best way to prevent bigger, more painful and more expensive dental issues down the road. Why? Because when you come for your bi-annual cleaning, Dr. Patel and our dental hygiene team do many things you might not even be aware of, such as checking for signs of gum disease, oral cancer, compromised fillings and crowns and of course, tooth decay. Catching these things early can help preserve your teeth and smile and in some cases, your overall health, as dental issues have been linked to heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, dementia, and problems during pregnancy.

The Secret to a Year of Dental Health

The secret is simple—make both your cleaning appointments for the year at the same time—one for the near future and another one for six months later. Once you have the appointments made, you’re much more likely to see your dentist twice a year and if there are any problems, they can be addressed and resolved before they become bigger issues.

Don’t Forget Your New Years Dental Resolutions

A study was published by the journal of Community Dentistry & Oral Epidemiology that determined that people with 20 teeth or more at 70 years old had a much higher chance of living longer than those with less than 20 teeth. The key is keeping as many of your own teeth as you can and for as long as possible with good dental care.

Dental experts have also determined that flossing daily can add upwards to 6 years to your life! With these statistics in mind, here are some of our suggested resolutions for a new year of better dental health and a happy smile:

  • Make both of your annual dental cleaning appointments at the same time and preferably at the beginning of the year
  • Brush at least twice a day. This is one we have heard our whole lives and yet it bears repeating.
  • Commit to flossing every day. It takes less than two minutes and the health benefits are immense.
  • Try to quit smoking. Of course this is good for your overall health but smoking is also linked to a dental problems and tooth loss.
  • Use an anti-cavity mouthwash.
  • Follow your dentist or hygienist’s recommendations.

Dr. Patel, 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!

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What Should I Do if I Lose a Filling?

What is a Filling?

Fillings are a common dental treatment that involve removing a decayed area of a tooth and restoring that area with a metal or composite material. Fillings can last for many years but it’s not uncommon for them to eventually loosen or fall out.

You Don’t Need to Save It

In the event that you lose a filling, you may feel it loose in your mouth. It is not reusable so it’s fine to go ahead and dispose of it. Next, contact Dr. Patel and get an appointment as soon as you can.

You May Have Discomfort

A lost filling is typically not an emergency but you will likely have some discomfort or sensitivity when eating or drinking. Additionally, your compromised tooth is far more susceptible to breaking so you need to get an appointment sooner rather than later.

What To Do

In the meantime, you should use salt water rinses to keep the area clear of bacteria and brush your teeth as you normally do. Another option is using a temporary filling Most pharmacies sell dental wax or temporary filling material that you use until you can see Dr. Patel. This will help protect your sensitive tooth nerves for a short time but should not be used for more than a week as it is not a permanent solution for a compromised tooth.

In Case of Severe Pain or Swelling

If you are in severe pain or experience swelling in your face or jaw, this does indicate a possible emergency and you should immediately call Dr. Patel at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel location for an emergency appointment.

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What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is diagnosed by your dentist or dental hygienist during a periodontal examination. This type of exam should always be part of your regular dental check-up.

A periodontal probe (small dental instrument) is gently used to measure the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and the gums. The depth of a healthy sulcus measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed. The periodontal probe helps indicate if pockets are deeper than three millimeters.

As gum disease progresses, the pockets usually get deeper. Your dentist or hygienist will use pocket depths, amount of bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, etc., to make a diagnosis that will fall into a category below:


Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. Plaque and its toxin by-products irritate the gums, making them tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed.


Plaque hardens into calculus (tartar). As calculus and plaque continue to build up, the gums begin to recede from the teeth. Deeper pockets form between the gums and teeth and become filled with bacteria and pus. The gums become very irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily. Slight to moderate bone loss may be present.

Advanced Periodontitis

The teeth lose more support as the gums, bone, and periodontal ligament continue to be destroyed. Unless treated, the affected teeth will become very loose and may be lost. Generalized moderate to severe bone loss may be present.


Periodontal treatments for gum disease depend upon the type and severity of the disease. Your dentist and dental hygienist will evaluate for gum disease and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Gum disease progresses as the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and gums gets filled with bacteria, plaque, and tartar, causing irritation to the surrounding tissues. When these irritants remain in the pocket space, they can cause damage to the gums and eventually, the bone that supports the teeth!

If the disease is caught in the early stages of gingivitis, and no damage has been done, one to two regular cleanings will be recommended. You will also be given instructions on improving your daily oral hygiene habits and having regular dental cleanings.

If the disease has progressed to more advanced stages, a special periodontal cleaning called scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) will be recommended. It is usually done one quadrant of the mouth at a time while the area is numb. In this procedure, tartar, plaque, and toxins are removed from above and below the gum line (scaling) and rough spots on root surfaces are made smooth (planing). This procedure helps gum tissue to heal and pockets to shrink. Medications, special medicated mouth rinses, and an electric tooth brush may be recommended to help control infection and healing.

If the pockets do not heal after scaling and root planing, periodontal surgery may be needed to reduce pocket depths, making teeth easier to clean. Your dentist may also recommend that you see a Periodontist (specialist of the gums and supporting bone).


It only takes twenty four hours for plaque that is not removed from your teeth to turn into calculus (tartar)! Daily home cleaning helps control plaque and tartar formation, but those hard to reach areas will always need special attention.

Once your periodontal treatment has been completed, your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend that you have regular maintenance cleanings (periodontal cleanings), usually four times a year. At these cleaning appointments, the pocket depths will be carefully checked to ensure that they are healthy. Plaque and calculus that is difficult for you to remove on a daily basis will be removed from above and below the gum line.

In addition to your periodontal cleaning and evaluation, your appointment at A Caring Dentist will usually include:

  • Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs) – Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
  • Examination of existing restorations – Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
  • Examination of tooth decay – Check all tooth surfaces for decay.
  • Oral cancer screening – Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, cheek tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
  • Oral hygiene recommendations – Recommend oral hygiene aids as needed. (Electric toothbrushes, special periodontal brushes, fluorides, rinses, etc.)
  • Teeth polishing – Remove stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.

Good oral hygiene practices and regular cleanings are essential in maintaining dental health and keeping periodontal disease under control! Make your appointment for a cleaning and check up today at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel location!

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Should I Floss Before or After Brushing?

It might seem like a silly question but it’s one we get asked from time to time. You may think that it doesn’t really make any difference if you brush or floss first but it actually does, as concluded by a 2018 clinical study. Here’s why…

The material caught between your teeth, also called interdental plaque, can be removed somewhat by brushing. Flossing is the key to really remove everything lurking between your teeth, though.

However, if you brush first and then floss, that means the fluoride in your toothpaste is not getting into those interdental spaces that still contain plaque. The plaque is essentially blocking the fluoride from reaching between your teeth.

On the other hand, flossing first loosens the plaque and food particles hiding between teeth and thus, results in greater fluoride retention between your teeth. Allowing fluoride to reach the spaces between teeth means you are less likely to get a cavity in these tight spots.

We recommend you first swish with water, then floss and then brush using a proper technique and a soft toothbrush.

Taking good care of your teeth at home and making sure you have preventive dental cleanings twice a year are the best insurance against developing painful and expensive dental problems.

Contact us today to make your dental cleaning appointment at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel location.

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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!

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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.

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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.



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