Away at school, vacation or moving? Here are some tips on finding the right dentist!


It’s not often you’re looking for a new dentist but when you are, be sure to find an office that makes you feel like you are family. We believe that your dental health is a vital part of your overall health and having a dentist that is looking out for you and your families’ best interest is important. Here at Parker River Dental we make all our patients feel like they are at home and comfortable, some of our patients even stop in for a friendly visit just to say hello!

So where do you start? First, think about your life-style and what’s convenient for you. Location of practice, hours of practice, and do they accept your dental insurance. You can look on social media for online advertisements as well as local advertisement and, best of all, word- of- mouth. I would encourage you to pick the top three recommendations and then visit their websites, or even give them a call to get a feel for the office and staff to see if it fits your needs. I have even had families come into our practice for a tour and to have their questions answered. It’s important to feel comfortable and have a connection with your dental team.

A few additional suggestions on places to start looking for a dentist are:

  1. Ask family, friend, co-worker or neighbor
  2. If your moving or at college; ask your current dentist for a recommendation
  3. Use the ADA’s (Find A Dentist Tool) – search by dentist name, location & specialty

A few things to look for in your searches are:

  1. Where was the dentist educated?
  2. What are the dentist’s credentials?
  3. What is the dentist’s approach to preventative dentistry?
  4. How often does the dentist attend conferences and continuing education classes?
  5. Is the office clean, neat & orderly?
  6. Is the staff willing to answer questions?
  7. Does the staff wear proper protective gear during patient procedures?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate


Sodium laureth sulfate structure.png

Have you ever wondered why some toothpastes have a foamy reaction in your mouth and some do not? The ingredient that causes this foamy reaction is called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), it’s also known as Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl ether sulfate.  Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a salt derived from lauryl sulfate. It is synthetically produced in laboratories through a process of denaturing dodecanol, a fatty alcohol that’s extracted from coconut and palm kernel oil (1).

Most toothpaste on the market currently has SLS but there is an ever growing market of toothpaste that does not. The majority of people who use toothpaste that contains SLS do not experience any reactions and enjoy the clean feeling that follows after brushing their teeth.  However, many people do have reactions to the SLS in their toothpaste, causing mouth sores; such as canker sores and mouth ulcers in addition to an upset stomach or experience diarrhea when swallowed. Although, there is no conclusive clinical evidence that SLS is the cause of the mouth sores, I have seen firsthand in a few of my patients the benefit of swapping from toothpaste that contains SLS to toothpaste that does not.  Some of the top SLS Free toothpastes are: Sensodyne ProNamel, CloSYS, Tom’s of Maine, and Uncle Harry’s Natural Toothpaste.  The top two I recommend on a weekly basis are:

Sensodyne ProNamel Toothpaste– This is the #1 SLS Free toothpaste I recommend. It has been around for decades and is also great to help with generalized tooth sensitivity. It is formulated to create a neutral PH in your mouth, which means it reduces acidity when brushing. It also has a low abrasion formula and promotes healthy gums.

CloSYS without SLS- This toothpaste has a combination of ingredients that help kill bacteria which cause plaque. It decreases bad breath as it removes bad bacteria but leaves good bacteria, and leaves  your mouth feeling fresh. It also has a mild polishing agent which helps remove daily surface stains and it’s ideal if you have sensitive teeth. It’s also best used in combination with a CloSYS mouthrinse.

The Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Free toothpaste I would recommend for children is Tom’s of Maine. They have a variety of Flavors which is important, because if your child does not like the flavor it may discourage good brushing habits.  Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Free toothpaste may also be a good option for younger children as they tend to swallow toothpaste more often.  If you go to the Tom’s of Maine website, they provide a breakdown of each ingredient in each toothpaste or rinse they offer.

If you prefer to use toothpaste that is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Free, I would encourage you to review the ingredients list on the toothpaste or mouthrinse label to ensure that it is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Free.  Many companies make a variety of products containing different ingredients to make sure they meet all consumers’ needs and wants.





When Should Mouthguards Be Worn?

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~ Photo: Actual guards made in our office- Custom Sports Guard and “B-Splint”~

When most people hear the word “mouthguard” they think of playing childhood sports. Mouthguards are protective devices that cover the teeth and gums to reduce the risk of injury to your teeth, gums and lips from trauma. Mouthguards typically cover your upper teeth as they usually get the brunt of the trauma because they stick out further than lower teeth.

Mouthguards should be used by children and adults who play contact sports as well as noncontact sports (such as gymnastics, weight lifting, skateboarding, skating and mountain biking).  It’s also highly recommended for people who have braces or permanent dental restorations (such as implants & bridges) to wear guards during any type of contact or noncontact sports.  If you have removable appliances such as ortho retainers or partial dentures, it is recommended that you do not wear them while wearing a mouthguard or during any contact or noncontact sport.  In addition to the need of a mouthguard during organized sports and other recreational activities, another common need is for those who grind their teeth.

If you feel you clench or grind your teeth I recommend that you discuss your concern with your dentist and have an occlusal analysis done. This comprehensive exam will allow your dentist to see if you’re only grinding at night or if it’s part of your everyday function.  A night guard is a customized acrylic splint that helps allow your muscles to relax and protect your teeth from further wear, chipping, and cracking.

There are three common types of guards available; Custom-made, Boil and Bite, and Stock. The best type of guard is one that is customized to your mouth and made by a dentist.  The Boil and Bite guards are made out of a thermoplastic material and usually can be found at most sporting good stores. This type of guard is placed in hot water to soften, then placed in your mouth and shaped around the teeth, using finger and tongue pressure to mold it, be sure to follow manufactures instructions. The Boil and Bite guards offer a much better fit than stock guards. Stock guards are also available at sporting goods and department stores but are not recommended by dentists. They are generally bulky as the fit cannot be adjusted, which makes breathing more difficult, and they provide little to no protection.

Once you have your guard it’s important to maintain it, here are a few tips to help you:

  • Rinse your guard with cold water before and after each use, you can even rinse with mouthrinse and brush with a toothbrush (without toothpaste)
  • Keep guard in a firm container that permits air circulation which helps prevent damage
  • Keep away from hot water, hot surfaces and direct sunlight – these can distort the shape & fit
  • Monitor guard for wear – if the fit becomes loose or you have holes or tears then it needs to be replaced. * Children’s & Teen’s guards may need to be replaced more often because their mouths are still growing & changing.
  • Bring guard to each regularly scheduled dental visit to have it cleaned and evaluated
  • Keep out of reach of pets as they tend to chew or eat them

The most important thing to remember is your guard needs to be effective. You need a proper fit, easy to clean, durable, and not restrict your breathing. Ask your dentist for more information on which guard would best meet your needs.  You don’t want to get caught without a mouthguard and risk fracturing your teeth or the loss of one of your front teeth causing trouble with smiling, talking, and eating!



2018 Resolutions

2018 new year

Wow, I can’t believe its 2018 already!  Who made their annual New Year’s Resolutions?  Resolutions can be life changing if you create a plan on how you want to reach them.  There are lots of books and articles on ways to help make sure you identify the right resolutions to improve your life and not set yourself up for failure.  You should start by making SMART goals. This is something I learned about in leadership training I did a few years back and then came across in a few articles before writing this post. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. After you identify your goals you will want to create a plan. It would be great if we could just write them down and then the next day it’s a new lifelong habit, but it’s not that simple.

As I discussed in a past blog post “The Power of Habit” a habit requires three parts; a cue, a routine and a reward. Here is an example from an article in the New York times; Habit: I Smoke, Routine: Smoke a cigarette, Reward: I’m stimulated. A way to change the behavior: Instead of smoking a cigarette, replace stimulus with something else, like coffee (1).  Your resolution should be personal, you need to figure out what the cue for your habit is. For example, if you want to start exercising more put on your workout clothes and shoes and start walking around the block or going straight to the gym before or after work. Reward could be to enjoy a small piece of chocolate, eventually your reward can become a personal feeling of being more energized daily. I have always been active but needed to start working out routinely. I started back in 2009 going to the gym three nights a week, straight from work. Then in 2012 I started going in the morning, that was not an easy task but It felt great to get my workout done in the morning. My reward was not having to think about it for the rest of the day, being home for dinner with my family and having energy all day. Now in 2018 I still make working out daily and eating a balanced diet one of my resolutions as a reminder of a goal that is important to me. Remember, no matter how good your plan is, change is hard and you’re going against yourself.  It’s important to create a step-by step process on how to manage your plan. Focus on the small steps and what you have accomplished not what you have left. Finally, remember to be flexible, you’re not going to accomplish your goal 1st try, you will probably slip a few times. If you slip that is ok, use it as a learning opportunity and start again the next day. If you keep slipping don’t blame yourself, stop and think about what keeps triggering the slip and try to change that cue and habit.

So, make your SMART Goals and be part of the 50% that succeed! You won’t fail if you try and try again until you accomplish your goal. Charles Duhigg the author of “The Power of Habit” said that “Belief is a metaphorical muscle that with practice gets strong and easier to use” (1).  If you have not read or listened to Duhigg’s book, I would strongly recommend it. Good Luck with your 2018 resolutions!


  2. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business – Charles Duhigg 

Work-Life Balance

Work- life balance is something many of us strive for on a daily basis. This is something I personally strive for; I love my job and my work family, but I also want to enjoy time with family and have a special bond with my son as he grows. Everyone is always saying “enjoy it now because they grow up fast” and I believe it. Everyday my son is growing, learning and puts a smile on my face.  Did you know, the phrase “work-life balance” was 1st used in the United Kingdom in the late 1970’s, and then in the United states in 1986. This phrase was used to describe the balance between prioritizing work; career and ambition, and lifestyle; health, pleasure, leisure and family.  This is not gender- specific, both men and women have started to share household and childcare duties as women want to be part of the work force and not just stay home and do housework, and men want to enjoy fatherhood.  People are looking to have full satisfaction in life, sometimes working less means less money, and higher stress, but more time with family to create and cherish memories.

Technology has made work-life balance a little trickier as employee’s become accessible around the clock leading to increased stressed levels because of the never-ending work day.  Some people feel that this constant ability to access work has blurred the lines and increased the daily struggle of work-life balance.  The positive side of technology is that it has allowed a lot of people the ability to work from home which has increased the ability to have a better work-life balance.

A work-life balance is different for everyone, but it’s important to find the proper balance that works for you and your family.  Start by making a list of things that are important to you and prioritize them.  A few additional tips are as follows; unplug from technology more often and truly focus on the present and enjoy the moment, exercise daily, and even meditate. Creating this balance is not always easy, but anyone can achieve something when they put their mind to it. Ask yourself what’s important to you and prioritize it. I make it a priority to get up every morning to do my daily workout because it gives me energy, I feel awake and alert all day long without a coffee.  That’s just one simple thing in my life that I made a personal commitment to do and sometimes it’s a challenge, but it makes all the difference in my day.

Hope everyone is enjoying this Christmas week and allowing for some work-life balance.  I’m writing this blog while enjoying time with my family and friends this winter holiday which would not have been possible without technology. I look forward to this holiday week each year as our office is closed to allow us to cherish and spend time with our families and re-charge our mental and physical well being.




Activated Charcoal

black is the new white

At home DIY whitening has become very popular over the last year.  There are many different Do-It-Yourself products that have been suggested, but I’m going to focus on the one that’s gone viral; Charcoal Whitening.  Activated Charcoal is being advertised to remove the stain, toxins and bacteria from your teeth leaving them whiter as a result.  Why do people whiten their teeth? Teeth become discolored over time do to natural discoloration from coffee, tea, smoking, red wine, aging, poor diet, some supplements, breathing through your mouth, and continuous dry mouth.  Stain is intrinsic, extrinsic, or both and it’s important to remember that restorative work such a crowns and veneers will not change with whitening.

What is Activated Charcoal? Charcoal is made from wood, coal, or other substances and it becomes activated once high temperatures are combined with a gas or activating agent to expand its surface area (1).  It then turns into a porous material that removes impurities from the surfaces around it and leaves the area clean. So, how does it whiten your teeth? The crushed charcoal powder that you apply to your wet toothbrush is gently brushed onto your teeth, and then you let it set for about 3 minutes.  The charcoal sticks to the rough surfaces on your teeth, such as surface stains and plaque, which get removed when you rinse the charcoal off.  Make sure you thoroughly rinse before brushing your teeth again. Activated Charcoal only removes surface stains, it will not change teeth that are deeply stained or naturally yellowing, more advanced professional whitening needs to be done for that.

The big question is, is it safe? We know it is safe for ingesting, as it has been used since the early 1990’s as a treatment for poisoning and overdoses.  In relation to Activated Charcoal being used as a dental product, there have been very limited studies that show the long term effects of what it will do to your teeth or overall health over a long period of time. If you choose to use this product, please use it cautiously, and be sure to lightly graze teeth when applying, do not scrub. An alternate option to pure Activated Charcoal which appears to be safe is, Black is White toothpaste by Curaprox Inc. This toothpaste uses activated carbon to remove stain and whiten teeth; it contains 950-ppm fluoride and nanohydroxyapatite (nHA) (1). This is important because the Flouride and nHA particles get deposited onto demineralized  enamel surfaces when brushing. These particles remineralize the enamel keeping teeth stronger, decrease risk of thinning enamel, sensitivity, and decay.

According to YouTube and many responses to online articles, many people have appeared to get great results from Activated Charcoal Whitening, while others had very little results or suffered from extreme sensitivity. This DIY product is still new and The American Dental Association stated “There is no evidence that shows dental products with charcoal are safe or effective for your teeth, according to the September 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.” (2) If you choose to try Activated Charcoal as a DIY whitening remedy, I would encourage you to only use for a short period of time as needed and not as everyday toothpaste.

It’s important to remember that although we all want whiter teeth, whitening products are abrasive and do break down the enamel on our teeth which does not repair itself like other parts of our body, once enamel is gone, it’s gone. If enamel gets too thin, teeth are more susceptible to breaking, decay or have a more grey appearance. If you decide to whiten your teeth, I would encourage you to discuss with your dentist before you start, and stop if you experience any discomfort or sensitivity.