Your Toothpaste Spit Shouldn’t Be 50 Shades of Red

Your Toothpaste Spit Shouldn’t Be 50 Shades of Red


OK, you’re brushing your teeth as usual but this time, when you spit, you notice a bit of pink in the spittle. While it might not seem like a big deal, it actually is. One of the first signs of early gum disease, called gingivitis, is bleeding in the gums, often noticed during brushing. Other signs include consistent bad breath and receding gums.

Obviously, the first thing you need to do if you notice the above in your own life, is to call our Lower Manhattan dental office and schedule an appointment. We’re pros at controlling and conquering periodontal disease before it leads to tooth loss. After a thorough dental exam, we’ll create a plan of action to get you back to dental health.

Prevention of gum disease is, however, the best route, inasmuch as I assume you’d like to avoid the “pink in the sink” phenomenon. If you follow these suggestions, I promise you a healthier dental profile!

  1. Stay away from tobacco! That includes vaping and other forms of tobacco use.
  2. Call us when you start a new prescription, as some meds contribute to gum disease.
  3. Buy an oral flossing machine and use it every day!
  4. Learn how to brush properly. Ask us or, faster, check out YouTube for videos
  5. Use mouthwash that doesn’t contain alcohol.
  6. Stay away from sweets
  7. Keep your twice-a-year appointments

To your health & beauty,
Jeffrey Shapiro, DDS, PC and Glenn Chiarello, DDS
NYC Cosmetic Dentists

The History of Toothpaste

The History of Toothpaste

I’m willing to posit that over 99% of patients in my New York dental practice use toothpaste. The rest may use other dentifrices, such as baking soda, but most of us are “all in” for the tubes of cleansing agents known as toothpaste. Ever wonder where toothpaste comes from? Who suddenly thought, “Hey, I need something tasty that will clean my teeth”? To answer that question, here’s a short history on the development of toothpaste!

The Ancients Used a Form of Toothpaste
Even prior to the invention of the toothbrush, back in 5000BC, the Egyptians were using a paste to clean their teeth. No, it certainly wasn’t the flavorful paste we use today! More likely it was a combination of burnt eggshells and ox hoof ash, the mixture of which provided both whitening and abrasion. Ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as the wealthy in India and China, are known to have continued the tradition of tooth cleaning via combinations of crushed bone and oyster shells, and/or a mix of bark and powdered charcoal. The Chinese upped the ante to include salt, herbal mints and ginseng, in order to improve the breath.

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-6-11-43-amKnown as the world’s oldest recipe for toothpaste, found in the basement of a Viennese museum, is a 4th century (AD) Egyptian document that recommends crushing together one part each rock salt and dried iris flower with two parts of mint and a pinch of pepper for a “powder for white and perfect teeth.”

Toothpaste in the 1800s
As difficult as it is to imagine a mouthful of soap, the early versions of toothpaste in the 1800s did, in fact, include various types of soap, particularly those with ground charcoal, which was readily available at the time. You may be surprised to learn that soap was part of most toothpaste recipes until 1945, when it was replaced with ingredients that made it easier to create a smooth emulsion, such as sodium lauryl sulphate, a product still used today. In the mid-19th century, chalk was added, along with Betel nut, which is still chewed in much of Asia today. Ironically, Betel nut has been discovered to be quite dangerous to ones health!

Toothpastes weren’t originally in paste form, but marketed as powders.  The first “creme dentifrice” in a jar was marketed around 1850, followed by the first collapsible tube of toothpaste in 1892. Fluoride toothpaste was introduced in 1914 as a method to prevent cavities.

In the 1950s, companies began marketing toothpastes to prevent or treat specific conditions, such as tooth sensitivity. Over time, to avoid the problems created by aggressive brushing, toothpastes were formulated with lower abrasiveness. Most recently, whitening toothpastes have become enormously popular, as have pastes containing Triclosan, known to lower the risk for plaque, bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay. Triclosan, however, has come under fire (see this Triclosan article in the NYT) as a suspected carcinogen.

Today’s Toothpastes
Internationally, there are nearly 50 brands of toothpaste marketed to consumers today to satisfy the public’s quest for fresh breath and clean teeth. Typically containing flavoring, sweetener, coloring and fluoride, as well as chemicals to maintain a smooth paste, foaming quality and moisture, toothpaste in tubes is used throughout the world.

What’s your favorite toothpaste?


To your health & beauty,
Jeffrey Shapiro, DDS, PC and Glenn Chiarello, DDS
NYC Cosmetic Dentists

Five Healthy Foods That Can Damage Your Dentition

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 11.14.53 AMAlthough everyone knows that drinking soda (including diet soda) and eating sweets can damage teeth, many of our New York City cosmetic dental patients are surprised when, after noticing some dental erosion, we ask about their “healthy” habits, such as juicing. Here are five “healthy” foods that may be challenging your beautiful smile, and some tips to maintain your pearly whites!

Gummy Vitamins
Prior to the presence of gummy vitamins, children often balked at the chalky texture of chewable vitamin tablets. Seeking a more palatable option for kids, vitamin manufacturers created little chewable vitamins similar to gummy bear candies. Needless to say, these took off like a rocket! Figuring that we might enjoy them as well, manufacturers now offer a plethora of gummy vitamins for adults. Sounds great, right? Not so fast. Unfortunately, the sugars in these gummy vitamins stick to your teeth just like their candy counterparts. Our advice: Rinse immediately after eating a gummy vitamin and brush as soon as possible to remove the sticky, sugary residue or go back to taking vitamins in pill form.

BBQ & Pasta Sauces
Love your ribs, burgers and fries dipped in BBQ sauce? Addicted to good Italian food? Although yummy, BBQ and pasta sauces not only coat your food, it coats your teeth as well, and both are full of sugar and tomatoes. The sugar can join the bacteria on your teeth to create cavities, and the tomato color can stain your teeth. Our advice: Rinse thoroughly immediately after eating anything with red sauce and brush as soon as you can.

Juicing: Homemade or Purchased
Juicing has been a to-go, power-packed option for busy New Yorkers for over a decade. Whether you make it at home or buy it at the store, juices and smoothies contain lots of acid and sugar—sometimes more than a comparably sized soda. Drinking these juices literally bathes your teeth in that acid and sugar, promoting cavities and dental enamel erosion. Our advice: Drink your juice with a straw to avoid tooth surfaces and wait 45-60 minutes to brush. Brushing too soon actually makes your teeth more susceptible to the acids and sugars!

Dried Fruit
As a quick snack that doesn’t require refrigeration (read that: can hang out in your backpack or computer bag for ages), dried fruits contain concentrated amounts of valuable nutrients, such as Vitamin E, iron, potassium, calcium, and beta carotene. Unfortunately, dried fruits also contain non-cellulose fiber, which traps the sugar from the dried fruit on (and between) your teeth just like gummy candies. Our advice: Eliminate the sugar by brushing and flossing as soon as possible after eating dried fruit.

White Wine
OK, you know about red wine’s propensity to stain your teeth, so you’re feeling a bit jittery about the news regarding white wine, right? Truth is, although white wine won’t stain your teeth, it does contain acids that will eat away at your teeth’s enamel, which then enables stains from other foods to leave their mark. Our advice: Have cheese with your wine to buffer the wine’s acid. Not into cheese? Just rinse thoroughly after drinking white wine to neutralize some of the acidity.

Here at iSmile, we’re all about your dental health. If we haven’t seen you in the past 6 months, call us today at 212-267-1884 to schedule an appointment. Your teeth will be glad to see us!

To your health & beauty,
Jeffrey Shapiro, DDS, PC and Glenn Chiarello, DDS
NYC Cosmetic Dentists

Hidden Sugars and Your Teeth

We’ve been told since childhood that sugar causes cavities. Unfortunately, there are nearly 60 compounds used in foods, beverages, and chewing gums that aren’t clearly identified as “sugar.” These compounds have all the drawbacks of sugar but, because of their names, you may consume them in far greater quantities that you think, simply because the name of that sugary ingredient isn’t clearly defined in your mind as a sugar substance.

How Sugar Damages Teeth

We’ve all heard the saying, “sugar rots your teeth.” Truth be told, it’s not the sugar itself that causesScreen Shot 2015-06-02 at 10.41.09 AM cavities. Cavities form when oral bacteria digest the carbohydrate fragments left on teeth after you eat or drink. While these fragments may be from candy, cookies or other sweet treats, they are also left by vegetables, fruits and whole grains, which are healthy foods. Unfortunately, the bacteria don’t know the difference! They interact with these carbohydrate fragments to create an acid. The acid combines with your saliva to create plaque. It’s the plaque that leads to tooth decay. Every time you eat or drink carbohydrates, plaque begins to form. What stops plaque build-up is frequent brushing and flossing. If not removed, the plaque begins to erode the hard outer enamel of the tooth, creating tiny holes. This is the first sign of a cavity.

Over time, those tiny holes will eat through the other layers of your teeth, including the dentin (the soft layer of tooth beneath the enamel), all the way to the pulp, which is the location of your teeth’s nerves and blood vessels. Left untreated, damage can extend into the bone supporting the tooth, causing abscesses, severe discomfort, and sensitivity that leads to tooth loss.

The above details may lead you to wonder if you might as well eat that donut instead of an apple, since both contain carbohydrates, but that would be inaccurate. Fruits and vegetables are more easily washed away with your saliva than are manufactured sweets such as candies or breath mints, for example, which become stuck in the tiny grooves of the teeth

Furthermore, the way you consume carbohydrates also affects the risk for dental damage. Nursing a can of soda for several hours causes more damage to teeth than drinking it immediately, as the teeth are washed over and over with the acidic soda. It takes about 30 minutes after eating or drinking carbohydrates for acid to begin forming. Therefore, every time you take a sip or eat a chip, you’re “resetting the clock” on bacteria formation.

It Pays To Be Aware

Sugars come in many forms. If you want to become a more aware consumer, take a look at this list of 56 compounds that are, essentially, sugar. Watch for them when making choices between products at the market and do your best to purchase items without these ingredients.

  • Agave nectar
  • Barbados sugar
  • Barley malt
  • Beet sugar
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Buttered syrup
  • Cane juice crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Caramel
  • Carob syrup
  • Castor sugar
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Date sugar
  • Demerara sugar
  • Dextran
  • Dextrose
  • Diastatic malt
  • Diatase
  • Ethyl maltol
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Florida crystals
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Galactose
  • lucose
  • Glucose solids
  • Golden sugar
  • Golden syrup
  • Grape sugar
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Icing sugar
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado sugar
  • Organic raw sugar
  • Panocha
  • Raw sugar
  • Refiner’s syrup
  • Rice syrup
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Yellow sugar

To your dental health & beauty,
Jeffrey Shapiro, DDS, PC and Glenn Chiarello, DDS
NYC Cosmetic Dentists


The Benefits of Water Picks

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 7.39.00 PMWhile we know that nearly all of our New York dental patients use an electric toothbrush, we’re uncertain how many also use an oral irrigator, often called by the brand name, Water Pik. We don’t recommend an oral irrigator as a replacement for flossing, but as an additional dental care tool.

The Benefits of Oral Irrigators

At our Manhattan dental office, we routinely irrigate our patients’ teeth during cleaning and various treatments. In much the same way, oral irrigators, such as the Water Pik, shoot burst of concentrated water through a small tube that can remove bits of food, bacteria and other debris in the teeth. For those with metal braces, an oral irrigator can be a game-changer compared to just a toothbrush, as flossing with metal braces is, obviously, difficult. For those with periodontal disease, oral irrigators are a great addition to flossing.  A secondary benefit of water picks are their ability to massage the gums, promoting blood flow for healthier gums. And for all our patients, it’s a terrific third tool in the arsenal to fight tooth decay and gum disease.

A Water Pick Doesn’t Replace Floss and Doesn’t Remove Tartar

While a water pick doesn’t replace flossing, for those with gum disease or sensitive gums, a water pick can be a temporary substitute for flossing while gum disease is being treated. Those with crowns, bridges or other dental restoration also find a pick keeps the area cleaner than just brushing. It’s wise to remember, however, that an oral irrigator doesn’t have the strength to remove tartar, which can only be removed by your New York City dentists!

Picking the Right Oral Irrigator for Your Needs

Most Water Piks comes in two versions: home or travel use. Some models have the ability to vary the water pressure, while some do not. If you want to use mouthwash or other dental rinse in your oral irrigator, be sure the model you select has this option. Some recommend using only water.

If you have questions about the benefits of water picks or need help selecting the best model for your needs, feel free to ask us at your next appointment!

To your health & beauty,
Jeffrey Shapiro, DDS, PC and Glenn Chiarello, DDS
NYC Cosmetic Dentists

How Brushing and Flossing Lower The Risk for Dementia

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 10.57.05 AMOne of the missions of our NYC dental practice is to provide relevant information to our patients to help them make wise choices about their dental habits. Recent studies show a link between dental health and the onset of dementia, which can be minimized through the simple practice of frequent brushing and flossing.

What is Dementia?
Almost everyone has a friend or relative who has developed dementia in his or her older years. Primarily occurring in the elderly, dementia is actually a “catch phrase” for several different disorders, of which Alzheimer’s is just one. Studies show that only about 3% of those between the ages of 65-74 have some form of dementia, while 47% of men and women aged 85 and older have dementia to a lesser or greater degree. There is no cure.

What the Nun Study Shows About Dental Health & Dementia
A longitudinal study was conducted at the University of Kentucky to discover if there was a connection between dental health and the development of dementia. Called the Nun Study, each year over a span of 12 years, researchers analyzed the dental records and brain function tests of 144 nuns, who were between 75 and 98 years of age at the beginning of the study. Autopsy studies of the 118 nuns that passed away during the study revealed the presence or absence of dementia in the brain. The results were astonishing. Of the nuns with no signs of dementia at year 1, those with either no teeth or fewer than ten teeth were found to have signs of dementia at autopsy.

How Chewing Affects Brain Health
Several studies have shown that the very act of chewing enhances brain function. Chewing increases blood flow to the brain, providing the brain with oxygen and glucose, both essential for healthy brain function. Obviously, if one lacks an adequate number of teeth, food choices lean towards softer—or even liquid—options. This decreases the amount of chewing at each meal, resulting in decreased blood flow to the brain. For a more detailed explanation of that phenomenon, click this link.

We all understand the role of brushing and flossing to ensure dental health. Now it’s clear that those two activities may very well lower your risk of dementia later in life.

To your health & beauty,
Jeffrey Shapiro, DDS, PC and Glenn Chiarello, DDS
NYC Cosmetic Dentists