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turmeric teeth whitening

Can Turmeric Really Whiten Your Teeth?

Teeth whitening is one of the top dental priorities for many patients. Luckily, there are many options available to achieve those goals. From in-office treatments to whitening toothpaste to at-home remedies, there is no shortage of methods. One natural whitening method that is gaining popularity is the use of turmeric. Like activated charcoal, turmeric, at first glance, seems to be a counter-intuitive choice for whitening. Can turmeric whiten your teeth?

What is turmeric?

Turmeric is a plant native to southern Asia. The roots of this plant are boiled and dried into a beautiful golden colored powder: this is the turmeric present in most kitchen spice cabinets. Turmeric has been used in a variety of ways from thousands of years, most notably as a fabric dye and as a component of eastern medicine.

How does it work?

Because of its long history of being used to dye cloth yellow, it may seem wrong to use turmeric to whiten teeth, yet there is no shortage of anecdotal evidence that it does work to whiten teeth. Turmeric, which also contains astringent properties, acts as a gentle abrasive. Gentle abrasion helps to remove surface stains on teeth.

Pros of using turmeric to whiten teeth

Unlike many conventional whitening products that may irritate sensitive gums, turmeric can help relieve dental inflammation. Additionally, thanks to the essential oil of curcumin that is present in turmeric, turmeric pastes also help fight gingivitis. Researchers in the latter study noted that turmeric was just as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash in fighting plaque.

Cons of using turmeric

  • Taste: The first and most obvious difference in using a turmeric-based whitening paste is the taste. Unlike the minty fresh taste that we usually associate with dental products, the turmeric tastes earthy, warm, and spicy.
  • Bathroom stains: Because turmeric does stain, it may make a bit of a mess in your bathroom. However, keeping a microfiber cloth nearby will help you wipe up any spilled powder. Note: clean up any spilled turmeric to avoid set-in stains later.

How to whiten your teeth with turmeric

Whitening your teeth with turmeric is as simple as a trip to your pantry. Simply sprinkle about 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric onto your brush and apply to your teeth. Let the powder sit for about 3 minutes before rinsing off. Brush as usual to remove any residual turmeric. Your teeth will look yellow unless you remove all of the powder.

Additionally, mixing the turmeric with a few other ingredients will not only make it easier to apply but will also pump up the whitening power. Mix the following ingredients in a ramekin:

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

What to do:

  1. Using your toothbrush, apply the turmeric paste and brush it on your teeth.
  2. Let the mixture sit on your teeth for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Rinse.
  4. Then, brush with your regular toothpaste.
  5. Try this routine once a day for one week. It’s best not to use any abrasive paste on a long term basis.

While you won’t end up with a blindingly white smile, over time, you will notice a brighter smile as the surface stains are scrubbed away.

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setting an oral hygiene example for your kids

Leading the Way: 5 Steps to Setting A Great Oral Hygiene Example For Your Kids

Kids are eager to learn, but sometimes all the demonstrations and reminders in the world won’t drive home the importance of good oral hygiene. But children aren’t just paying attention when you want them too; they’re also watching and listening when you’re just going about your daily routine. Modeling the behavior you want them to learn, such as brushing twice a day, is essential because even toddlers find the flaw in the “Do as I say, not as I do” routine. Make sure you’re setting the right example with these five steps.

Brush and Floss Daily

Most families teach that brushing is a private practice to do behind doors, but being a little more open with your oral hygiene is a boon to a learning child. Get the entire family together in the mornings and evenings so that everyone can brush together at the right times. Even if some of your children are too young for brushing still, include them with a teething toy or by teaching them to rinse with water so they can join in on the family routine. The same should be done with flossing as children grow old enough to handle it on their own.

Discuss Your Mistakes

It’s natural to want to present an infallible and perfect image of yourself as a parent, but kids like hearing about the mistakes you made when you were young. Explaining a story about a painful cavity or even a root canal you experienced as a result of falling behind on your oral hygiene is a great learning moment that has personal meaning to the child. Stories about imaginary characters just don’t have quite the impact as a story about your mom or dad when they were little.

Eat Better

You tell your children that candy will rot their teeth, but you’re still nibbling away at sweet treats after every meal. Set a good dietary example as well by trimming extra sugar and acids from your diet, especially in the forms of drinks like coffee and soda. Even if you don’t want to eat broccoli rather than a chocolate bar for your mid-afternoon snack, think of the lasting impact on your children you create by directly modeling the behavior you want them to learn.

Take Them to Your Checkups

You’ll need a dentist who is family friendly, but bringing your kids along during your dental checkups can help children learn to feel comfortable at the dentist rather than nervous. It also demonstrates the importance of those six-month cleanings, especially if the dentist is willing to bring the children in for part or all of the process so they can watch it being performed by someone else before it’s their turn in the chair.

Expand the Focus

Finally, look around your local community for other groups and organizations focused on teaching good oral hygiene skills. For example, both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts offer dental education merit badges and other programs designed to encourage brushing and flossing. Getting the family involved in a larger group only further reinforces the example you’re setting at home.

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foods bad for teeth

Foods that are Surprisingly Bad for Your Teeth

There are foods and drinks that you already know can cause harm to your teeth and affect your oral health. However, you should be aware that there are many types of foods, some of which are healthy in other ways, that may not be easily recognized as also being bad for your teeth. While nothing replaces having a good oral hygiene routine, protect the health of your teeth even more by eliminating or limiting these foods from your diet.


While ice is just water, it is the state of the water that can damage your teeth. To chew ice, you have to exert substantial pressure on your teeth. This can not only cause damage to your teeth enamel if you bite down in the wrong way, but you can also risk cracking a tooth. If you enjoy ice as a snack, refrain from chewing the ice. Instead, suck on the ice cubes.


The sugar and acid content in the bubbly, Italian white wine can be just as damaging to your smile as coffee and soda. Your tooth enamel can be worn away by the drink if you do not drink it in moderation and take excellent care of your teeth.


The danger bread can present to your teeth is sugars can be formed from the starches in the bread. The longer the sugars remain on your teeth, the more time they have to wear away at the enamel. Just make sure to carefully brush your teeth and floss thoroughly after eating any starchy foods to keep your teeth in good condition.

Bottled Water

The companies that sell bottled water routinely add certain minerals to improve the taste of the water. This results in water that is slightly more acidic than the water you would drink from the tap. Drinking enough of the bottled water daily means that your teeth are being constantly exposed to water that can damage the enamel and cause other health complications.

Dried Fruits

Dried fruits are some of the foods that present a wide range of health-related benefits, but are still bad for your teeth. Dried apples, prunes, raisin, dried mangos, dried pineapples, dried apricots, dried bananas and other delicious and popular dried fruits can easily adhere to the surface of your teeth and in between your teeth. Once the food particles are there and are not properly brushed or flossed away, they become food havens for the bacteria that can cause tooth decay and gum disease.

Foods Containing Citrus

Not only do you have to be concerned with the citrus, or citric acid, that occurs naturally in foods like lemons, oranges, tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables, but you have to be careful of the citrus that is used as an additive in numerous processed foods in order to give them a longer shelf life. Citrus can be hazardous to your oral health because it can erode the enamel from your teeth, making them more vulnerable to decay. To reduce your citrus intake, opt for fruits with low citrus content and examine the ingredient list of processed foods before you buy.

For some foods that are good for your oral health, click HERE.

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overcoming dental anxiety

Enjoy Better Oral Health by Overcoming Your Dental Anxiety

Experiencing significant anxiety and nervousness concerning going to the dentist office prevents many people in the United States from seeking the preventative oral care that they need. This dental anxiety can result in more than just losing teeth or experiencing dental pain. If a person’s oral health reaches a certain state of decline, they can develop gum disease, a condition that infects not only the mouth but also other parts of the body.

A recent study conducted at King’s College London shows that dental anxiety has a substantial effect on a person’s social, emotional psychological and physiological states. Individuals with the condition tend to have missing teeth and active cavities. They will be hesitant to smile and display their teeth and will feel embarrassed about the condition of their mouth. They can also experience fatigue, sadness, and discouragement.

Most of these issues stem from the fact that people with dental anxiety will actively avoid receiving regularly scheduled dental services. If they do manage to visit the dentist, their dental anxiety may compel them to opt for short-term dental solutions instead of long-term dental care that may be more effective in addressing their particular oral health problems.

Why Do People Have Dental Anxiety?

Understanding why you have dental anxiety is the first step in overcoming the debilitating condition. Experiencing dental anxiety can be the result of:

  • Having a previous unpleasant experience as a dental patient
  • Suffering from a condition that can be easily aggravated by a dentist visit, such as substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorders or other anxiety or mood disorders
  • Extreme discomfort of not being in full control during a dental visit

How to Overcome Dental Anxiety

There are some actions you can take to become more comfortable with receiving the dental care you need:

  • Bring someone with you when you go to the dentist. It should be someone you trust, such as a close relative or friend, who will be willing to sit with you while you receive treatment.
  • Occupy yourself with a distraction while you are in the dentist’s chair. You can listen to your favorite music with your headphones or focus on a distraction in the room, such as a television.
  • Consider sedation dentistry. If you are a qualified candidate, your dentist may administer the appropriate type of sedative that will keep you relaxed during your treatment. This can include nitrous oxide, oral sedatives, intravenous sedations or a local anesthetic.
  • Learn some effective relaxation techniques that will lower your heart rate and make your muscles relax. Meditation may be an effective tool. You may also want to try to engage in controlled breathing by taking a very deep breath, holding it for a short count and the letting it out very slowly. Another way to relax is by participating in progressive muscle relaxation, which entails tensing and then relaxing different groups of muscles.

Don’t let your dental anxiety be the reason that you do not receive the dental services you need to have optimal oral health. Speak with a dentist about what he or she can do to make your visit more comfortable.

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deep gum cleaning

Deep Gum Cleaning: When Do You Need It?

Regular brushing and flossing are essential to having good oral health, as are regular visits to the dentist. The professional cleanings you undergo during these visits can help stave off plaque, cavities, and many other dental issues. However, if you have not visited the dentist as often as you should, you may be due to have a deep gum cleaning.

What is Deep Gum Cleaning?

Deep gum cleaning is not the same as a regular cleaning. It is a dental procedure that is used to treat gum and periodontal diseases, and a dental hygienist typically conducts that. It is used to remove the bacteria that can settle below the gums and can cause the bone loss that contributes to the loosening of teeth and worsening existing medical conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes.

The bacteria that are caught under the gumline cannot be removed with flossing, brushing or a regular cleaning. If it is left untreated, it can cause an immune response in the body, which can result in inflammation. The inflammation can progress deeper under the gumline and result in the loss bone, which can compromise your oral health.

The Deep Gum Cleaning Process

Deep gum cleaning, also referred to as scaling and root planning, involves using specialized dental tools to clean your mouth. During the scaling portion of the process, the bacteria, tartar, and plaque are removed from the surface of the teeth and from inside the pocket areas between the gums and teeth. Root planing involves removing any part of the tooth structure that is infected and smoothing the root surfaces.

The process typically requires at least two visits to the dentist to complete as well as a follow-up appointment to ensure that the state of your teeth and gums has improved and to determine whether the gum pockets around your teeth have deepened. Once you have undergone a deep gum cleaning and the bacteria that were hidden and multiplied in the pockets areas around the teeth have been removed, you should begin to see a noticeable improvement in the health of your gums within the next few weeks. This is as long as you adhere to a daily oral health routine that includes proper brushing and flossing.

When Do You Need Deep Gum Cleaning

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, adults should undergo a periodontal assessment every year to see if they require a deep gum cleaning. Individuals who haven’t had a professional cleaning at regular dental visits, usually every six months, will typically have to undergo this procedure. The dental hygienist will use a dental probe to measure the areas around your teeth to identify any pocketing. Normal pockets are no more than three millimeters deep. If the depth of the gum tissues between the gums and teeth is at least five millimeters, your dentist will likely recommend the procedure.

If you are overdue for a dental visit, you may be a good candidate for a deep gum cleaning. Don’t hesitate to speak with your dentist about having a comprehensive evaluation to determine the state of your oral health.

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what is a dental emergency

When a Problem Becomes a Dental Emergency

Even with regular dental cleanings, it’s normal to experience occasional problems with your teeth or gums. Problems such as increased sensitivity or soreness due to grinding are not emergencies; these issues can be addressed and treated during regular business hours. However, some problems may appear harmless at first and then escalate into real dental emergencies. If you experience any of the following problems, take caution as they can grow into dental emergencies.

Your tooth is loose

While it’s perfectly acceptable and even celebrated for a young child to discover a loose tooth, an adult tooth should never wiggle. Even if you do not experience any pain, a loose adult tooth can be a serious indication of an infection or injury. If the loose tooth is present with bleeding gums, advanced gum disease may be the culprit. In either the case of the infection or gum disease, it is important to see your dentist immediately as untreated gum disease can negatively affect heart health.

Your jaw is swollen

Swelling of the body can happen for many reasons. From eating too much salt or sitting for prolonged periods of time, swelling is normal and not necessarily an emergency. During cold and flu season, your lymph nodes may swell a bit as your body fights off the germs. However, if you ever experience a swollen jaw and intense pain, you’re no longer just dealing with a problem; it’s now a dental emergency. This may be the sign of a growing infection that needs medical attention.

Your toothache is suddenly numb

Between commuting, working, and traveling, it’s not always convenient to get to the dentist’s office. Many people try to “wait out” small problems or treat them at home with alternative methods. However, if your seemingly harmless toothache has suddenly turned numb, you need to head to the dentist ASAP. If an abscess grows too close to a nerve, it is possible that the area loses all sensation. While you may feel better because the pain is gone, the problem has grown bigger.

Your wound isn’t healing

Who hasn’t poked the roof of their mouth with a fork or a pointy tortilla chip? While it may hurt, the mouth does heal rather quickly. However, if your oral wound doesn’t heal, it can quickly escalate from a mere annoyance to an emergency if an infection sets in. If you develop a fever or the wound becomes discolored, seek dental treatment immediately.

You have an abscess

If you see a small dot on your gums, note that it may be the start of an abscess, an infection around the root or on the gum. As the abscess grows, you’re likely to experience more pain and swelling. See your dentist immediately as abscesses are serious infections that can quickly spread to other parts of the body. While waiting to see the dentist, rinse with a salt water rinse to minimize any pain.

If you suspect that a dental problem is quickly turning into an emergency, call our office at 202-296-7714.

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closeup on perfect teeth

How to Reverse Gingivitis, Fast

Gingivitis is the first form of gum disease, and it’s true that it’s not quite as serious as periodontitis. However, gum disease is a progressive condition, so you absolutely should treat gingivitis as seriously as any other dental health problem. When you first notice early signs like a little blood when you brush your teeth and redness around the teeth, act immediately to reverse the problem while it’s still gingivitis.

Act Without Delay

Talk to your dentist as soon as you notice the first signs of gingivitis. By ignoring it, you’re allowing bacteria to become colonized in the space between your gums and your teeth. These bacteria are very destructive and will make large pockets around your teeth, down to the roots, as they spread and multiply. Loosening the gum tissue away from the tooth damages the root and eventually kills the tooth. Acting quickly stops this cycle before any damage is done to the gums or teeth.

Commit to a Daily Routine

No matter what your dentist wants to do in the office to clean under the gums and kill the bacteria, it’s all for nothing if you don’t keep up your end of the daily oral hygiene routine. Gingivitis comes from tartar forming at the edges of the teeth and hardening into plaque, which acts as a bridge to the space below the gum line. Brushing twice a daily and flossing once a day is essential for both preventing and reversing gingivitis. No amount of treatment from your dentist can compare to the power of improving your daily routine. Aside from what you’re doing daily, make a promise to yourself to visit for dental cleanings every six months no matter how much you’d rather skip the chore. Cleanings remove any tartar that is turning to plaque and gives the dentist a chance to catch early warning signs of hundreds of serious health problems, dental and otherwise.

Get Help from the Dentist

Follow the recommendations of the dentist even if they’re unpleasant. For example, a deep cleaning under the gum line causes a little residual soreness, but it also removes bacteria colonies and plaque in a way no amount of brushing and using medicated mouthwashes can accomplish. There are a handful of well-tested and proven techniques for managing gum disease, so it doesn’t progress and threaten the teeth, so take all treatments seriously and don’t skip them due to anxiety. Talk to your dentist about sedation options instead.

Change Your Diet

Finally, avoiding candy, sticky foods, and other sources of dental tartar can make a big difference in how fast you recover from gum disease. Reducing the amount of sugar in your mouth helps starve out the bacteria trying to colonize your gums. If you must enjoy your sweetened coffee or have a slice of cake after dinner, either brush or rinse your mouth out immediately to remove both lingering food particles and sugars. Don’t brush more than three times a day to avoid damage to the teeth and irritation of the gums which slows down your gingivitis recovery.

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signs of a bad tooth

6 Telltale Signs That You Have a Bad Tooth

A bad tooth may be from an abscess, a cavity, a fracture, chip, or several different reasons. One thing is the same, however. A bad tooth can cause a lot of problems relating to your oral health and your health in general. If you suspect that you have a bad tooth, you should consult with a dentist as soon as possible. Otherwise, you’re not only putting your teeth in jeopardy. You’re putting your entire health at risk. So how do you know if you should see a dentist about a tooth problem? Here are five telltale signs that you have a bad tooth.

1. You Have Chronic Halitosis

A rotting tooth commonly causes the smell of rotten breath. It’s possible to have a severe cavity in one of your teeth without being able to see or feel it. But if you seem to have chronic bad breath even though you brush and floss regularly, it’s likely that you have a bad tooth somewhere. A dentist should be able to locate and treat it for you.

2. You Have Severe Pain

A tooth that gives you pain is likely in very bad shape. Your teeth should never hurt. If you are experiencing severe tooth pain, then the nerve endings on that tooth are either exposed or being inflamed by some oral health condition. You can usually get temporary relief with an over-the-counter medication. But for long term treatment, consult a dental professional.

3. The Tooth is Loose

If you have a permanent tooth that is loose, that’s not normal. Your permanent teeth should all be firmly rooted in place. If one or more of your permanent teeth is loose, it’s a strong indicator that the tooth is bad and needs to be checked out by a professional.

4. The Tooth is Discolored

It’s common for teeth to get a little discolored from foods you eat or beverages you drink. But stained teeth and discolored bad teeth look different. First, bad teeth discoloration won’t respond to teeth whitening products or heavy brushing. If your tooth is starting to look gray, brown or black, it’s a bad tooth that needs to be treated immediately.

5. The Tooth Has a Pit or Hole in It

If you can visibly see a pit or a hole in a tooth, or even feel it with your tongue, you probably have a bad tooth that needs to be looked at by a dental professional. Pits or holes are called cavities. Left untreated, they can lead to severe periodontal conditions that only get worse the longer you put it off.

6. You Have Pain When Biting Down

If an area of your teeth gives you pain when you bite down, there’s a bad tooth in there somewhere. The pain may be from an exposed nerve, a chip in the tooth or a jagged edge. Whatever it is, it needs to be remedied as soon as possible.

Whenever you suspect that you have a bad tooth, make sure you consult with your dentist. Otherwise, the condition may spread to adjacent teeth, causing even more problems down the line.

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kids brushing techniques

Teaching Your Children Proper Teeth Brushing Techniques

Learning how to properly take care of one’s oral health at a young age is necessary to having good oral health. Proper brushing habits instilled at an early age can prevent future cavities, gum disease bad breath and more. As a parent of a young child, there are some things you can do to make sure that teeth brushing is an enjoyable activity for your child.

Start Early

You can start developing a routine by cleaning your child’s gums even before his or her teeth begin to emerge. This can be done by gently washing the gumline with a sterile, soft and damp cloth or a gum massager or brusher specifically designed for the task. You can begin brushing as soon as the first tooth appears using a soft bristled toothbrush and the tiniest amount of fluoride toothpaste after each feeding.

Show Them by Example

Giving children a demonstration of proper brushing technique can help them learn how to brush their teeth properly. You can do this using your teeth, or to make it a little more fun, perform the proper brushing technique on your child’s favorite doll to encourage them to do the same for their teeth. You can pretend that the doll is visiting the dentist for the first time, and in your role of a dentist, evaluate its teeth and talk about how to brush teeth properly. You can give your child the opportunity to be the dentist and remind him or her about cleaning both the front and the back of the doll’s teeth.

Finding Plaque with Disclosing Tablets

Not brushing their teeth thoroughly enough is one of the misstep children often make. To show them how brushing properly is what is needed to keep their teeth clean, you may consider buying plaque disclosing tablets. When chewed and mixed with their saliva for 30 seconds, the plaque that is present on the teeth and gumline will be turned red. Making the plaque easily visible will encourage them to work harder at removing it.

Let Your Child Choose a Toothbrush

To continue using bristles that scrub as they should and to avoid the accumulation of bacteria in the brush, it is wise to change your toothbrush as least every three months. To highlight the importance of a new toothbrush and to make the oral routine more fun, you can allow the child to choose his or her toothbrush. Many are geared specifically to children.

Reward Proper Brushing Time

The American Dental Association recommends teeth are to be gently brushed for two full minutes. Being eager to have the task over with, children may brush very quickly and hard for several seconds instead. To make sure that you child is brushing long enough, establish a reward system to give him or her an incentive.

Children who are taught a new skill at an early age are very likely to use it in adulthood. Make sure that your child learns the proper tooth brushing habits that will ensure that he or she always has long-term oral health.

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bottled water vs tap water

Bottled Water, Your Teeth, and Fluoride

Americans drink an average of 30 gallons of bottled water each year. Water is essential for washing away cavity-causing bacteria and diluting harmful acids that wear away enamel. Water also prevents dry mouth which can increase your risk of tooth decay. Most importantly, water is calorie-free, sugar-free, and can be drunk in abundance without harming your teeth. While water is critical for oral health, bottled water isn’t considered up to par with its supplemented counterpart.

Unsatisfactory Bottling Standards

Bottled water is a popular beverage choice for hydration due to its quality, safety, great taste, and convenience. However, while it’s deemed a food product by the Food and Drug Administration, the standards set by the FDA are not as strict as you would think. Bottled water has been found to harbor several hazardous chemicals including Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in the formation of plastic water bottles.

Fluoride in Minuscule Levels

Another major issue with water bottle use is the absence of fluoride. Unlike tap water that contains supplemental fluoride designed to prevent tooth decay by making teeth more resistant to acid attacks, bottled water often lacks suitable levels of this mineral. This lack of fluoride is especially hazardous to children with developing teeth. However, not all bottled water is devoid of fluoride. Fluorinated bottled water is now available to encourage bottle-drinkers to drink enough fluorinated water.

The Presence of Harmful Bacteria

Most people are drawn to bottled water for its “pureness.” However, new studies have shown that bottled water may contain more bacteria than tap water. While bottled water is not expected to be completely free from microorganisms, some brands were found to harbor up to 100 times more bacteria than the permitted limits. Contaminants in water can result in adverse health effects like gastrointestinal illnesses.

Effects on the Environment

Another major concern surrounding bottled water is its negative impact on the environment. As landfills continue to grow to colossal sizes, waste management becomes more of a concern. Americans throwing away billions of plastic water bottles has only exacerbated the problem. The good news is that some brands are doing their part to reduce waste by introducing recyclable or reusable bottles.

Bottled vs. Tap: The Final Verdict

The battle between bottled water and tap water is ongoing. However, when it comes to the health of your teeth, tap water is typically the superior choice. Tap water is cheap, safe, easily accessible, and contains fluoride to prevent tooth decay. It also contains some healthy minerals and may even taste good depending on your location. While the occasional bottle of water is not dangerous, drinking only bottled water could put your dental health at risk.

It’s important to remember that the teeth require fluoride to rinse away food debris, dilute acids, and protect against demineralization which occurs when bacteria in the mouth combines with sugars. It’s also vital to note that fluoridation does not affect the taste, appearance, or smell of drinking water. While bottled water is great when on-the-go, tap water is the ultimate choice for long-term dental health.


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