Tupelo Smiles

Dentist Certifications


You may have noticed that your dentist has a few letters after his or her name when listed professionally. What do all those letters mean? The most common, that all dentists possess, is their dental school degree. This will be either D-M-D or D-D-S. Both degrees follow the same curriculum, and it’s usually a preference of the university as to which degree they award. Another acronym you may see is F-A-G-D. This signifies that this dentist is a Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry. This certification is gained through hours of continuing education and training. The A-A-A-C-D signifies that a dentist is an accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. This certification requires extended training in cosmetic dentistry. In short, the letters behind a dentist’s name explain their qualifications and certifications.

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A “denture” is a device that is inserted into the mouth to replace natural teeth, and provide support and structure to the cheeks and lips. There are a variety of different types and forms of dentures that a dentist may recommend to a patient. A removable denture is what most people imagine when they think of dentures. These dentures rest on an acrylic, or plastic base, and fit securely but comfortably on the gums. These dentures can be removed easily by the wearer. Partial dentures are a good option for patients who still have some of their natural teeth. Partials do not cover all of the gum line of the patient. Sometimes dentists will recommend partial dentures to be anchored to the mouth and gums through dental implants. This provides unparalleled stability and durability for the wearer. Remember — regular dental visits are still important to patients with dentures to check for oral tissue disease or changes.

Reading a Tube of Toothpaste


Do you know how to decode the label on your toothpaste? There are some helpful hints to be found on your tube of toothpaste, to ensure you are using the best toothpaste for you and your family. First, you should look for the American Dental Association seal of approval. All A-D-A approved tooth pastes contain fluoride, an element that helps to prevent tooth decay. Many other common ingredients in toothpaste are whitening agents like hydrogen peroxide, anti-hypersensitivity agents, anti-microbial agents, and additives that help with tartar control. Look for toothpaste that targets any dental concerns you may have. And if you have any questions about your toothpaste, ask your dentist for recommendations.

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Electronic Cigarettes


Smoking cigarettes is harmful to your dental health. New electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, may seem to be less harmful, but recent research says otherwise. Researchers at the University of Rochester have found that e-cigs, also commonly called vapes, are just as damaging to both teeth and gums as regular cigarettes. Previously, dentist and scientists believed the chemicals found in cigarette smoke were to blame for oral health issues. Even though e-cigs use less added chemicals, the smoke still causes damage to cells in the mouth, which could lead to a variety of oral diseases. The best way to reduce your risk of oral disease is to quit smoking, both traditional and electronic cigarettes.

Dental Insurance vs. Dental Savings Plan


Do you know the difference is between dental insurance, and a dental discount plan? Dental insurance works like health insurance and is often available through your employer. Most plans have a monthly premium, and when you have a dental expense, the insurance plan pays all or part of that expense, up to a stated maximum. Like health insurance, these plans come with deductibles, co-pays, waiting periods and policy maximums. Dental discount plans, however, do not pay any dental expenses for you. Instead, you pay an annual fee for the plan, and then receive a discount on dental procedures as you have them performed. There are generally no deductibles, no waiting periods, or annual maximums. Before buying a dental discount plan, make sure that your dentist participates in that plan. Contact your dentist’s office if you have any questions about which best fits your needs.

Gaps (Diastema)


A diastema is an area of extra space between two or more teeth, often called a gap. The most common place for a diastema is between the front two upper teeth. Many children have diastema, especially as they lose their baby teeth and adult teeth grow in. Often, this gap will close on its own as the child gains more permanent teeth. However, some adults have diastema. If the gap causes alignment problems, or is cosmetically unappealing to a patient, there are options for closing the gap. The two most common treatments are orthodontics to move the teeth together, or veneers bonded to the outside of the tooth. Many patients keep their gap, as they feel it gives them a unique smile.

Preventing Decay

It is very important to try to prevent decay of your child’s primary teeth. As soon as teeth appear in the mouth, decay can occur. One of the risk factors for this “baby bottle tooth decay” is frequent and prolonged exposure of a baby’s teeth to liquids containing sugar. These liquids could include milk, breast milk, formula, and fruit juice. Tooth decay can also occur when parents or caregivers put a baby to bed with a bottle – or use milk, formula, or juice as a pacifier for a fussy baby. If you use a pacifier, use a clean one. Never dip a pacifier in sugar or honey before giving it to a baby. Prolonged use of pacifiers can harm the teeth just like prolonged thumb sucking, but it is often easier to wean a child from a pacifier than a thumb. Encourage children to drink from a cup by their first birthday, and discourage frequent use of a training or Sippy cup. Never allow a baby to take a bottle to bed at night or naptime.

The Truth About Charcoal Whitening


Recently, you may have heard about charcoal whitening products. These products, often sold in health food stores, claim to use activated charcoal to remove surface stains on the teeth. The charcoal is applied in powder form to a toothbrush and then rubbed on the teeth, often turning the mouth black, temporarily. Charcoal whitening advocates claim that after a quick rinse, teeth will be noticeably whiter. However, the American Dental Association states that there is no evidence that these treatments are effective in creating a whiter smile. In fact, the abrasive nature of the charcoal may damage enamel. The ADA recommends speaking with your dentist about whitening treatments that are clinically proven to be safe and effective.



According to the American Dental Association, over one third of cancer patients report complications affecting their mouths. The adverse effects are usually due to chemotherapy and radiation treatments used to treat cancer. The most common side effects patients report are dry mouth, sensitive gums, mouth sores, and jaw pain. Chemotherapy can weaken the immune system, making oral infections more common in patients who are undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Radiation treatments to the mouth or neck can damage salivary glands, which can lead to dry mouth. Not only is extreme dry mouth uncomfortable, but it can lead to tooth decay and infection. If you are undergoing cancer treatment, make sure to speak with your dentist about any complications.