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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Stand Firm Against Teeth Sensitivity

Do you suffer from sensitive teeth? If so, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Something as simple as taking a sip of water or biting into an apple can become extremely painful!

Sensitive teeth are a common condition that can arise due to a number of different health conditions or medications. Many people will suffer from this condition at some point in their lives. In fact, a study released in 2013 claims that 1 in 8 people experience sensitive teeth.[1]

The most common reason people suffer from sensitive teeth is when enamel is worn away, and dentin is exposed. Dentin is the tissue inside the tooth which contains nerve fibers. Dentin may become exposed due to trauma, decay, or recessed gums. And when your dentin is exposed, every change in temperature and every movement in your mouth can affect the nerve endings and send shooting pain through your mouth!
73232521 Visiting your dentist for regular dental checkups is vital to keeping tooth decay, periodontal disease and other oral problems at bay, and so that may be detected and treated in the early stages.

Below are some tips to help you deal with your sensitive teeth and ease your discomfort. Of course, if symptoms persist or worsen, make sure to pay a visit to the dentist.

  1. Blush and Floss: Cleaning teeth properly and regularly is the first defense against sensitive teeth – preventing the growth of plaque that wears down the enamel in the first place is an important step.

  2. Try desensitizing toothpaste: Some over-the-counter solutions contain compounds that help block sensation from travelling to the tooth surface, which may help soothe teeth.

  3. Use a fluoride rinse or gel: Fluoride rinses—found with or without a prescription—can help decrease sensitivity, especially in people with a greater amount of decay. If the pain persists, your dentist may suggest an in-office treatment such as fluoride gel, which may be applied to the sensitive areas of the teeth to reduce the pain.

  4. Update your toothbrush & brush gently: Dentists also recommend using soft-bristled toothbrushes to limit abrasion and keep your teeth feeling healthy. Be sure to avoid vigorous or harsh scrubbing as well as excessive brushing/flossing, as this will increase the symptoms.

  5. Quit the dip and limit the drinks: There is no safe tobacco. Chewing it or using it as “dip” or “snuff” is known to cause mouth cancer and increase teeth sensitivity. Also, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits, wine and yogurt all can wear away at tooth enamel. Try cutting back on these substances to help decrease your sensitive teeth.

  6. Cover exposed root surfaces: If receding gums are the cause of your sensitive teeth, your dentist might apply a sealant to cover the exposed tooth roots. But if the sensitivity continues or worsens, your dentist may recommend you have a root canal.

Remember, you are not alone when it comes to sensitive teeth! Don’t let sensitive teeth wear you down – your dentist will be able to work with you to ease your pain.

[1] Storrs, Carina. "1 in 8 Adults May Have Sensitive Teeth." Consumer HealthDay. HealthDay, 1 Mar. 2013. Web. 29 Jan. 2014. <>.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Are you Afraid of the Dentist? Options for Dental Chickens

Have you heard of the phrase “dental chickens?” Turns out that many more people are afraid of the dentist than you may think and “chicken” away from seeking proper dental care due to their anxiety. Dental anxiety is very common and can be caused by a wide range of factors, such as fear of pain, embarrassment of the appearance of one’s teeth, fear of costs, or a bad childhood experience. Some patients postpone necessary treatment indefinitely due to their crippling fear of the dentist, putting themselves at risk for much more serious dental complications in the future.

If you face dental anxiety, know that you are not alone. Dentists see patients every day who feel some form of nervousness, and they are there to work with you and make you feel at ease during your treatment. Be sure to tell your dentist and their staff about your dental anxiety before your visit so that they know to take extra gentle care of you. You may even want to arrange a meeting with the dentist before your procedure so that you can become comfortable with them before you are even in the chair.

Many dentists’ offices now feature various activities and distractions to help you relax during your visit. In recent years, practices have begun to recognize the need to address and ease their patients’ fears. For example, they may offer soothing music or the option to watch television while you are being examined. Some patients even report being encouraged to play on their cell phones while in the dentist’s chair to distract themselves from a procedure. Who knew that texting or games could help ease your fears?
77894260 The most important thing to remember is that going to the dentist on a regular basis is the only way to ensure good oral health for years to come. Regular cleanings will help prevent serious dental problems that require more lengthy and painful procedures. There are so many options for patients who face dental anxiety today, from simple distractions to sedation dentistry, that you will be able to face your fears in stride.

Call Brighter today to find the right dentist for you to help calm your dental fears.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year, New You, New Toothbrush!

Happy New Year from all of us here at Brighter! ‘Tis the season for making (and hopefully keeping) New Year's resolutions, which often revolve around improving health and appearance. If you haven’t already made your resolutions, consider taking the necessary steps to improving your dental care routine. A healthy mouth will not only improve the look of your teeth, but it will also help improve your overall health as well. Your toothbrush is the first (and easiest) step to keeping your oral health in tip-top shape. So why not start the year on the right foot with a new one? Below is a simple shopping guide to help you choose your new toothbrush with confidence.


  1. Consider the bristle: For most people, soft bristles are the safest and best choice for your teeth? Medium to hard bristles, when used incorrectly, can actually damage your gums and wear away enamel.

  2. Heed the experts’ advice: Look for brushes marked with the ADA (American Dental Association) Seal of Approval. You can be rest-assured that an ADA-approved brush has undergone rigorous testing and is safe and effective for cleaning your teeth.

  3. Consider switching to electric: Have you tried an electric toothbrush? Some people find it easier to brush effectively with a powered brush. While it’s certainly not necessary to purchase an electric brush, if you find it more comfortable to use one, then it may be the right choice for you, as it will encourage you to brush more often and for longer.

Below are some of Brighter’s top-rated toothbrushes.

Power Toothbrushes:

  • The Waterpik WP-900 Water Flosser and Sonic Toothbrush Complete Care is one of the highest rated power toothbrushes. Not only does this kit include multiple brush heads, it also includes a “water flosser” that shoots water between teeth and at the gumline to clean your teeth from all angles. The water flosser is especially useful for people with braces. For those who are serious about dental health, the Waterpik kit is your answer!

  • One of the most popular power toothbrushes is the Philips Sonicare EasyClean Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush. This toothbrush is slightly more affordable than the Waterpik system and is very highly recommended by users and dentists alike. It features two timers to help you brush for the recommended two minutes and cover all four quadrants of your mouth.

  • A more affordable power toothbrush  (coming in around $25) is the Oral-B Vitality ProWhite Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush. This brush recharges easily overnight and gives you the benefits of a powered brush without the higher costs of the brushes mentioned above. Perfect for the first-time user.

Manual Toothbrushes:

  • If you have sensitive teeth or gums and are in the market for a very soft brush, the Nimbus Microfine Toothbrush is well-loved by its users. The Nimbus brush features extremely soft, fine bristles that get between your teeth without irritating them.

  • Another popular toothbrush is the Radius Scuba Toothbrush, which features an oversized head to thoroughly clean and stimulate your gums. They manufacture the brushes in both right-handed and left-handed versions for ergonomic comfort and ease in brushing, and are made with all-natural materials.

  • A more traditional toothbrush option is the Oral-B Pro-Health Clinical Pro-Flex Toothbrush, which features flexible sides to reach every side of your teeth and varied bristle height. Dentists note that varied bristle height is essential in reaching obscure corners of your mouth and underneath the gumline, and this toothbrush is a great, affordable option.

What’s your favorite brush to use?  Remember to schedule your next dental exam at! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Grooves of Dental Sealants

Tooth decay, which causes dental caries (or cavities), is a common yet chronic disease that causes pain and disability in more than 6 billion people worldwide—adults and children alike. Decay occurs when the bacteria (often caused by the build-up of plaque) produce acid that eats away at the tooth. If left untreated, decay can lead to pain, infection, tooth loss, or require tooth extraction.

Luckily, there are effective options that help reduce the occurrence of tooth decay and halt any further growth in teeth that may have already been infected. Dental sealants are the most notable preventive measures, that—when first introduced in the 1960s—helped transform the way we treat dental decay today. Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that keep food and plaque from getting trapped in the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
Sealant Pic Applying sealants is a simple and painless procedure that takes only a few minutes to complete. Sealants are a gel-like, plastic substance painted directly onto the tooth enamel (after being thoroughly cleaned and prepped) where it bonds to the tooth and hardens. They can protect teeth for up to 10 years; however, they need to be checked for chipping or wearing during bi-annual exams.

Many dentists recommend that children get sealants on their permanent molars as soon as their teeth come in—between ages 5-7 for their “6-year molars” and between ages 11-14 for their “12-year molars.” Dentists may suggest sealants for other teeth with deep pits or grooves as well because they are more susceptible to plaque and food build-up. Sealants may also be suggested for teenagers and young adults who are prone to decay.

Adults who are already experiencing the beginning stages of tooth decay or plaque build-up can still receive sealants to halt any further erosion. Studies have shown that decay does not continue to spread once sealants are in place[1]. However, a healthy tooth is the best type of tooth, so protecting it before decay begins is optimal.

Many dental insurance programs will cover sealants. However, if your insurance or state Medicaid program does not cover this procedure, book your appointment with a dentist and save up to 50% on yours or your child’s care, whether it be for sealants or otherwise.

Talk to your dentist about whether sealants may be an option for you and/or your child. Brushing and flossing twice a day or between meals is imperative to maintaining a healthy mouth; however, taking further preventive measures, such as with sealants, will keep decay at bay for the long term.

[1] "ADA Report on Importance of Dental Sealant Use." Newswise. American Dental Association, 4 Feb. 1997. Web. 09 Dec. 2013.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Whiter Teeth, Brighter Smile

Want whiter, healthier teeth? You’re in luck – there are many at-home and in-office remedies that you can try to enhance your smile!

One way to naturally whiten your teeth is with a banana peel![1] Rub the inside of the banana peel on your top teeth for one minute and then on your bottom teeth for one minute. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and leave banana paste on your teeth. After 10 minutes, brush banana paste with a dry toothbrush, and then brush with a wet toothbrush. We’ve heard that if you do repeat this routine every day for one week, your teeth will be whiter!

178811585 You can also do-it-yourself and make your own whitening paste at home, but make sure you consult your dentist before you do so in order to do it safely. All you need is baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and a mouthguard. Mix two parts baking soda with one part hydrogen peroxide, fill the guard with the paste, and wear for 10 minutes.[2] Surprisingly, strawberries also make for a good whitening agent. Crush fresh strawberries and mix them with baking soda, and spread the mixture on your teeth for 5 minutes. The malic acid in strawberries is a natural whitener.[3]

There are also several options for whitening at the dentist’s office as well, if you would like a longer-lasting whitening option. You may have heard of the brands that dentists use, such as BriteSmile, Venus, and Zoom whitening systems. During these procedures, a hydrogen peroxide whitening gel is applied to your teeth over the course of an hour. Several of these procedures also include shining a strong light on your teeth to accelerate the whitening process. These whitening procedures usually whiten your teeth by several shades.

Do you have your own methods of keeping your teeth white and your mouth healthy? Tell us in the comments, and make sure to schedule your next dental check-up through! A dentist can help you choose the best methods to keep your smile bright and white.

[1] Missy. "Will a Banana Peel Whiten Your Teeth?" Babble., 11 Nov. 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <>.

[2] "Printable DIY Teeth Whitener." My Honeys Place. My Honeys Place, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <>.

[3] Gardner, Amanda. "Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth." ABC News. ABC News Network, 02 May 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <>.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Score Big with Dental Safety and Sports

The fall sports season is in full swing – are your children’s teeth protected? Kids and teens love soccer, football, hockey, basketball, and baseball, but their teeth are at risk when they play these high impact sports. What are the best ways to keep their winning smiles intact while enjoying these popular hobbies?

The most common way to protect teeth and the mouth during athletics is the use of mouthguards. Mouthguards can help protect any athlete and are extremely important to wear when participating in sports. Over 13% of all oral injuries are attributed to sports, according to the Journal of the American Dental Association, but only four high school sports have mandated mouthguard requirements: football, lacrosse, and ice & field hockey.[1]
165052863 There are three popular types of mouthguards – stock, boil & bite, and custom-made. Custom-made mouthguards are the most effective at protecting your teeth because they fit best into your mouth – they are created just for your teeth. A dentist takes an impression of your mouth and creates a brand new mold for you. Stock and boil & bite guards are purchased over the counter and feature little to no customization. They are less expensive than custom guards, however, and certainly are worth purchasing if you cannot afford a custom mouthguard. Mouthguards also protect against broader facial injuries, as they can lessen an impact to the face or jaw. Lastly, mouthguards are important for athletes with braces who are at an even higher risk for injury due to the metal fixtures in their mouths.

Always check your mouthguard to ensure that it is not broken or torn, and that it fits properly. Broken mouthguards will not protect your teeth as well, and ill-fitting guards may fall out or irritate teeth and gums during play. Mouthguards also require proper cleaning – brush with toothpaste and water after each use to stave off infection.

Another tip for busy athletes is to drink water and avoid sugary sports drinks, which encourage bacterial growth between teeth. If you do consume sports drinks, try to rinse with water directly after in order to remove the sugar from your tooth enamel.

Most importantly, regular dental checkups are important for all athletes, and your dentist can provide the best advice for protecting your smile during sports. Brighter can help you find a dentist who provides mouthguards at our pre-negotiated Brighter savings rate. Check out to find the best dentist for you in your area, and start protecting your teeth today!

[1] Kracher, Connie M., and Wendy Schmeling Smith. "Sports-Related Dental Injuries and Sports Dentistry." DentalCare., 4 Mar. 2011. Web. 21 Oct. 2013. <>.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tips on Ways to Use Your FSA Funds Before you Lose Them

Around this time every year, people who haven’t used all of the money set aside in their yearly Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) are scrambling to figure out how to maximize these funds before the end of the year.

FSAs are popular benefits provided by employers that allow workers to set aside money to cover health-related expenses at pre-tax rates, which can add up to significant savings. The bittersweet realization of many people who elect FSA funds is that they expire at the end of the year, whether or not they have spent the money. So if you don’t use it, you lose it!

According to the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation, 20% of people who didn’t use all of their FSA funds last year forfeited $500 or more. The average person forfeited $43 - $60. While FSAs can save people a lot of money on their medical costs, there is no reason to let unused money go to waste at the end of the year, even if the funds seem miniscule.

Here are some ways you can maximize your extra FSA funds this year:

  1. Go to the dentist: You can use your FSA funds to cover any dental co-pays or charges. This money can also be used towards procedures not typically covered by insurance (i.e. braces). To save even more money, book your appointment through a dental savings website like, and save an average of 50% on your dental care.

  2. Get your eyes checked: many people don’t realize that vision check-ups can be paid for with FSA funds. If you have an old pair of glasses or contacts that need replacing, you can pay for those too! If you’ve been considering a vision-correcting surgery such as Lasik, you can also pay for it with you FSA funds (as long as it has not been paid for through your dental insurance or employer).

  3. Self-improvement: Many activities, programs and medications related to your self-improvement are also covered. For instance, if your doctor has requested that you lose weight, many hypertension, obesity and heart disease medications can be paid for with FSA funds. If you’ve joined a gym or health club, you can pay for activities related to weight-loss at these institutions with your FSA funds as well. Need to quit smoking or attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting? These assistance programs are included as well (although nicotine gum or patches are not included). You can even get acupuncture with these funds!

  4. Preventive Screenings/Tests: Body scans or colonoscopies, for example, can be reimbursed through your FSA account.

  5. Home improvements: If you have made modifications to your home to accommodate a medical condition, those expenses could qualify for reimbursement through your FSA funds (such modifications can include railings, support bars, doors, stairways, ramps, and many more).

  6. Medical Conferences: If you have been interested in attending a conference to learn more about your medical condition, treatment options, or latest research findings, these events could qualify for payment through FSA funds.

  7. Birth control: All types of birth control are covered by your FSA funds, including condoms, pills, and intrauterine devices. You can even put this money towards a vasectomy or in vitro fertilization treatments.

For all procedures and products that you intend to pay for with your FSA funds, be prepared to provide proof of the expense and describe why you needed to spend that money. Take charge of your health today and spend those funds before it’s too late!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Small Businesses and Healthcare Costs: Ways to Save

Do you consider yourself a small business owner? Small businesses often struggle to afford sufficient health and dental benefits for their employees. The Affordable Care Act, which comes into full effect this year, includes an employer mandate, which means that any business with more than 50 employees needs to provide healthcare to their employees by January 1, 2015. If you fall into this business category, read on…

Healthcare costs can be expensive for small businesses. We’ve outlined some of the top tips for small business owners to consider when trying to lower their healthcare costs while providing medical care to their employees and their families. Also, while adult dental care is not a mandatory requirement with the ACA (see our related blog post here), a dental savings program such as Brighter can help curb dental costs!

163087806 Providing a high-deductible plan is one option for employers. High-deductible plans cost less for the employer, and encourage the employee to seek out and compare healthcare costs before they are incurred. There is a new trend towards price transparency in the healthcare market, and since employees will be initially paying more out-of-pocket for their healthcare costs, these high-deductible plans generally drive the patients to look for savings in advance.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are also a consideration for cost-conscious small business owners. FSAs allow employees to set aside money from their own paychecks on a pre-tax basis for healthcare expenses. Small businesses can also band together and purchase group plans as a way to lower costs.

If you have less than 50 employees at your company, you are eligible to take advantage of the new SHOP program that is part of the ACA. SHOP, which stands for Small Business Health Option Program marketplace, is a way for small businesses to compare various healthcare plans up front and select their enrollment on a rolling monthly basis. Unlike individuals, small businesses that use SHOP can enroll throughout the year and select the plan that makes the most sense for their company.[1] In addition, if small businesses purchase insurance through SHOP, they can receive a 50% tax break on their healthcare expenses starting in 2014 (up from 35% previously). The SHOP program will provide competitive options and more transparent information for small businesses purchasing healthcare plans.

Another choice for small businesses to consider is to implement a corporate wellness program. Wellness programs can come in many forms, including preventative care such as flu shots, discounted gym memberships, and nutritional education programs. These types of programs can encourage employees to take care of their health before a major problem arises and can lower health costs in the long term.

Preventative care can also include dental care and regular teeth cleanings. If you cannot fit dental insurance into your healthcare budget, you can encourage preventative check ups (and significant savings) through our savings programs. Please call us today to learn more about how you can bring Brighter to your workplace. Small business owners have a variety of options to keep health and dental care affordable for their companies, and the changes toward cost transparency will benefit employers and employees in their healthcare planning.

[1] "Launching Small Business Health Option Program Marketplace, HHS Ramps Up Outreach, Education." High Country Press., 27 Sept. 2013. Web. 27 Sept. 2013. <>.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Halloween: Sweet Treats can be Tricky for Teeth

Halloween is one of everyone’s favorite holidays, especially children, but with the fun, treats, and costumes come some perils for your teeth.

Harmful bacteria thrive when exposed to sugar, increasing the speed and prevalence of tooth decay, and dental visits often increase the week following Halloween due to aggravated toothaches and cavities.

153640648 Did you know that the worst candies for your dental health are sour candies, especially sour gummies? Sour candies contain high acid levels that erode enamel at a faster rate than regular sugary treats. Gummy candies and other chewy snacks like caramels stick to the teeth for longer, increasing the exposure period and risk of bacterial growth. Choose sugar-free versions for a safer indulgence. Those who wear braces face even more dangers during Halloween since gum, hard candies, candy apples, and popcorn can stick to or break the delicate hardware in your mouth, so try for softer chocolates if you wear braces or a retainer.

On the plus side, parents can use Halloween as a time to encourage healthy brushing and eating habits. It is essential that children and parents alike brush after meals or after enjoying Halloween candy. If you are busy and on the go, carrying travel-size mouthwash and floss is a great way to clean your mouth of debris after snacking. Eating candy at mealtimes (instead of throughout the day) also helps limit sugar exposure to teeth, as saliva production increases while eating a larger meal and will help wash away any sugar. Parents can also mix Halloween candy with healthier snacks like peanuts or fruit. Frozen grapes are a fun bite-sized alternative to processed, sugary candy!

We’ve even heard it recommended that parents to allow their children to eat the bulk of their Halloween candy at once in order to limit sugar exposure to a few sittings instead of slowly over a longer period of time. We won’t recommend gorging from a nutritional standpoint, but it is an interesting reminder that the shorter the exposure of sugar to the teeth, the better!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Loving Care for a Lifetime of Wear

Senior citizens face unique challenges when it comes to maintaining healthy teeth as they age. Not only do seniors often require advanced (and pricey) procedures, they often do not possess extensive dental insurance to help cover the costs of complete dental care in their retirement. Healthy teeth are linked to increased life expectancy, so it is important for seniors to find affordable dental care in order to promote their overall health and longevity.

Common dental problems for seniors include gingivitis, periodontal disease, recessed gums, and weakened or lost teeth. The use of dentures can increase the risk of dental infection as well.  In addition, dry mouth, a common side effect of many medications, may contribute to dental problems since there is often not enough saliva to clear away harmful bacteria in the gums. Dental problems are linked to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack, so it is imperative that seniors take care of their teeth.[1]

There are many ways for seniors to care for their teeth effectively at home. Brushing and flossing are essential at any age, but can be more challenging for certain people as they age due to mobility issues. Enlisting a family member or caregiver to help with these daily tasks can reduce the risk of dental disease. Using an electric toothbrush may also help ease the brushing process.

55878224 Various dental procedures can enhance the appearance and health of aging teeth and may merit a visit to the dentist. For example, dental bonding, crowns, and bridges can repair broken teeth, creating a uniform smile and reducing pain. Veneers, whitening, and Invisalign systems can brighten your teeth and increase confidence as the years go on! The trend towards price transparency for dental care will aid seniors in making cost-effective choices for their health. Explore dental care options at reduced rates for all ages through today!

[1] "Professional Dental Cleanings May Reduce Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke." AHA/ASA Newsroom. American Heart Association, 11 Nov. 2011. Web. 12 Sept. 2013. <>.