Activated Charcoal: TRENDY or TRUSTFUL?

Information about TEETH WHITENING is easily one of the most common topics that my patients ask about daily. With recent social media posts and advertisements about ACTIVATED CHARCOAL toothpaste and their claims to whiten your pearly gates, I thought I would share some of what I’ve learned about these products.

Activated charcoal is not to be confused with charcoal used to BBQ with. This non-toxic dark powder is made when a variety of natural products are combined and oxidized under extreme heat. It was first used to absorb accidentally ingested poisons and is still used in medical emergencies to counteract drug overdoses.

Although beneficial for the above reasons, activated charcoal is NOT approved by the American Dental Association (ADA) or The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for dental use. Studies suggest that activated charcoal is too abrasive for the tooth’s outer layer, otherwise known as the enamel. When the tooth’s enamel is roughened, worn down or destroyed, the integrity of the tooth is compromised resulting in sensitivity, decay and broken or fractured teeth. The abrasive powder is also known to scratch the material used in fillings, crowns and veneers.

When brushing with activated charcoal, most people observe the characteristic darkening of the teeth and surrounding tissues. Aggressive brushing and longer brushing times are necessary to remove the activated charoal from your teeth, resulting in a “whiter” color. Some people also experence a laxative effect, and/or an allergic reaction caused from the sorbitol that is added to the product.

If you are still not convinced or just feel like you need to try it for youself, I highly recommend following up with a fluoridated toothpaste. The fluoride will help to repair and strengthen the tooth’s enamel and reduce any sensitivity you may experience.

Other natural and safe at-home teeth whitening alternatives that are backed by scientific evidence include brushing with baking soda mixed with water to make a paste or hydrogen persxoide diluted with water for a rinse. You can also look for over the counter whitening products that have the ADA seal of acceptance or talk to me about in-office options that provide a more rapid result!

“I Just Want a Regular Cleaning!”


The human body is a unique system that responds differently per individual, whether it may be a dental response or in some other part of the body. Just because one person goes years without dental care does not mean that the next person can do the same. This is why your preventive care appointments are so important. The preventive care appointments are designed for just that… prevention (this is the cleaning that most insurances cover). Even this prevention appointment can vary from patient to patient. In order for some patients to prevent oral disease their body requires more frequent cleanings, such as coming in every 3 months vs. the standard 6 months. The preventive cleanings remove soft plaque debris and light localized amounts of calculus (aka tartar) that is supragingival (above the gums). Some of these patients may have slight to severe gingivitis. If the gingivitis is more on the severe side, a slightly longer procedure may be required to catch the patient up to a healthier oral state. Gingivitis is reversible.

Now, what about the patient that has not been in for preventive care? For every year that is missed, multiply that by 2. If a patient hasn’t been in for preventive care in 5 years then that means they have missed roughly 10 cleanings. Imagine if you normally clean your car or bathroom once a week then you don’t do it for 10 weeks. There is going to be more to clean and possibly more to fix, right? In the oral cavity there can be over 600 different species of bacteria. Everyone will build up calculus at some point and at different rates. When calculus builds and bacteria accumulates the human body develops an immune response. Think of a splinter in your finger. If you leave it there the body will start an immune response to remove the foreign object. The area will begin to hurt, turn red and become inflamed until eventually the body pushes the splinter out, causing the area to heal. Visualize the calculus and bacteria on your tooth as the splinter. What happens? The gums will begin to hurt when touched, turn red, become inflamed and bleed easily. The only way your body can naturally heal itself is by removing the “splinter” that is attached to your teeth. The body will start to destroy its own bone and over time the teeth will fall out, with calculus and bacteria attached to them. You and your dental hygienist can work together to stop this from happening. A deep cleaning may be needed to remove the calculus and granulation tissue that has built up under the gums. These appointments can last anywhere from 1-2 hours per side and can be generalized or localized. The calculus has to be completely removed from the bottom of the periodontal pocketing to the top of the tooth. If only the calculus above the gumline is removed, as in a preventive cleaning, periodontal abscesses can develop and will cause continued bone loss and/or bad breath. In order to remove the calculus and granulation tissue some patients may require a numbing topical or injection to be more comfortable during the procedure. Once a patient develops periodontal disease, they will always have it. Periodontal disease is NOT reversible, once the bone loss has occurred, it cannot naturally grow back. In certain situations bone grafting can aid in “growing” bone back and stabilizing loose/compromised teeth. Periodontal maintenance appointments are required after deep cleanings to maintain the disease process and keep it stable. Periodontal disease can become active again if the maintenance appointments are not kept up. Deep cleanings are the first line of defense in treating periodontal disease. Some pateints may or may not require additional periodontal surgeries.

If you need a more extensive cleaning, whether it may be a severe gingivits treatment or deep cleaning don’t wait. We are here to help you. We want our patients to live long, happy and healthy lives. In order to do so health begins in the mouth. We are what we eat and we need our teeth to enjoy those healthy foods. If we don’t give our bodies what it needs and we eat soft, high carb foods then slowly over time we increase our risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health problems. We love food here at Sterling Ridge Cosmetic and Family Dentistry and want to help our patients enjoy it too!

Here is a great link for all of my visual patients:

What are the Stages of Gum Disease?

Healthy Human Saliva

Whether you call it spit, drool, or saliva do you ever think about it? What is its purpose? How your daily lifestyle affects the quality of your saliva?

Saliva is made up of 99.5% water plus electrolytes, mucus, white blood cells, epithelial cells, enzymes, antimicrobial agents and lysozymes.  It has multiple purposes: lubrication, digestion, antimicrobial action, buffering, hormone regulation and taste sensation. The pH of healthy saliva should be neutral or slightly alkaline, 7.4 just like blood.  Anything you ingest, eat, or drink can change the quality, quantity and pH of the saliva.

In the dental field a common question we get from patients is “Why am I getting cavities?”  Through education and discussion with patients we can bring awareness to cavity causing habits someone may not know they have. An imbalance happens when the pH of saliva drops below 5.5.  Take drinking bottled water into consideration, all water is good right? Wrong, the pH of bottled water can vary from acidic to alkaline.  Common water brands pH range from acidic to alkaline: Dsani=3.04, Aquafina=5.35, Smartwater=6.7 and Fiji=7.6 just to name a few.  Adding lemon to water can drop the pH due to lemon juice having a pH of 3.0. Several brands of water have started placing the pH of the product on the label which does help the consumer.  If there is ever a question regarding the pH of the water you are drinking the internet is a great source and there is the option to do your own at home testing.

Other common drinks that we encounter often are coffee (pH 5), Coke (pH 2.7), Diet Coke (pH 3.14), and Gatorade (pH 2.95). Rampant decay is common for little league kids up to professional athletes due to the sports drinks consumed during practices and games.

How long does it take you to drink that tasty cup of joe in the morning or the ice cold drink for Sonic? If you are a sipper, this is where it get concerning from a dental perspective.  The longer you sip equals the longer the oral cavity is in an acidic environment dissolving the enamel on the teeth.  If you must have that soda, Gatorade or coffee; drink it fast and no more than one per day.

Happy teeth allow you to eat nutritious unprocessed foods. Eating healthy can help you combat mood swings, diabetes, boost your immune response, and prevent other various chronic illnesses.

Signs That Your Child Isn’t Sleeping Well

As parents we tend to work hard at our jobs and raising our kids and once it’s bedtime, lights out!  Many parents don’t stay up to observe their child sleeping, as they need rest too, and may not realize how poorly their child is sleeping. Look for these signs in your child:


Many of us as parents have heard our child snoring and thought nothing of it, or maybe that it’s kind of cute.  However, snoring is a sign of airway resistance.  The body is working harder to bring in good air to oxygenate the rest of our body.  Snoring prevents the same deep restorative sleep that nonsnorers experience.  Therefore, lower production of growth hormone, less memory consolidation, and increased difficulty waking up in the morning.

Dark Circles Under the Eyes

Venous pooling is a sign of a sleepy kid. The lack of sleep causes the blood vessels under the eyes to dilate and look darker.

Hyperactivity or Difficulty Paying Attention in School

When adults don’t get a good night of sleep they are tired, but children have a paradoxical response and tend to be more hyperactive.  They have trouble focusing in school, behaving for teachers and parents, and may be hyperactive. They may be prematurely diagnosed with ADHD and treated with medications, when better sleep is the best treatment.

Nocturnal Enuresis

Bedwetting is related to smooth muscle contractions that are regulated through nasal breathing.  Nitric Oxide is produced through nasal breathing and is responsible for smooth muscle contraction.  Pediatric sleep apnea can also contribute to bedwetting.

Mouth Open at Rest

If your child tends to watch tv or do homework with their mouth hanging open, this is a sign of an airway problem and may also be a sign of poor sleep quality.  The nose is for breathing and the mouth is for eating.  If your child cannot breathe through their nose, a exam by and ENT is strongly encouraged.  If they can breath through their nose but choose their mouth, they may need help from the dentist. We can teach techniques and help with habit changing adjuncts.

Sleep disordered breathing in children can lead to an underdeveloped adolescent/teen that may experience more mood swings, poor academic and athletic performance.  A thorough interview and examination at the dentist can help you to determine if your child is experiencing any of these symptoms and intervention to help your child flourish. Call us if you would like to discuss any of these topics further. 281-298-2503

Gingival Recession

We see gingival recession every day in clinical practice. It is the most common clinical situation observed in patient populations regardless of their age and ethnicity.1 Malocclusion, occlusal trauma, chronic inflammation and poor oral hygiene encompass majority of the causation.

So what is gingival recession? Simply put, it is exposure of our root structure along the gumline. When gum tissue is damaged or broken down, it recedes. Why is the tooth so sensitive in these areas? The area of root exposure lacks the layer of enamel which the rest of the tooth has as a protective barrier. Think of your enamel as an umbrella. Without the umbrella we would get wet and cold in a rain or wind storm.

Most people who have noticed gingival recession mention they may be “brushing too hard” or feel they were genetically inclined because their “mother/father has the same issue.” The truth is that gingival recession is caused by multiple factors.

Malocclusion plays a big role in recession. If teeth are rotated, tipped in or even over crowded this can lead to trauma of periodontium, the tissues and bone that support the teeth, thus, causing recession. Think of it this way, just like tires on a car, teeth wear a lot better if they are properly aligned.

Occlusal trauma from clenching or grinding your teeth may also lead to recession. Teeth can take on over 200 pounds of pressure per square inch. But they are not meant to constantly undergo these forces. With constant clenching or even nocturnal grinding, the same result of bone, tissue and ligament breakdown and ultimately recession may be inevitable.

Chronic inflammation and poor oral hygiene can also play a role in recession. Proper homecare and routine dental cleanings can help alleviate progression of gum disease. Gum disease can lead to bone, tissue and ligament breakdown in the periodontium.

What are solutions?

-Fluoride treatments – OTC (over-the-counter) desensitizing toothpastes, In office Fluoride Varnish treatment,            Prescription strength Fluoride toothpaste


-Occlusal Guard Fabrication

-Proper Oral Hygiene and Routine Dental Cleanings



1. Jati, A.S., Furqium, L.Z., Consolaro, A. (2016) Gingival recession: its causes and types, and the importance of orthodontic treatment. Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics, Vol 21(3), 18-29. Retrieved from