Dr. Tim M. Verwest, DMD named 2016 top dentist

Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers, Dr. Tim M. Verwest, DMD has been selected by the Consumer Research Council of America for inclusion in the 2016 Guide to America’s Top Dentists. Selection is based on a points system which includes, experience, training, board certification, and professional associations.

He was selected 2015’s best dentist in Ft. Myers for dentistry treatment and services as reviewed by patients verified by Opencare and was voted best pediatric dentist of Southwest Florida by the Ft. Myers News-Press readers in 2015. He is known for his commitment to the community through dental education presentations and gave away over 35,000 toothbrushes in the last two years.

Dr. Verwest professional affiliations include The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American and Florida Dental Associations and West Coast Dental Association, the Florida Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the Lee County Dental Association.  He is often a guest lecturer for various organizations and has taught classes at Florida Southwestern State College.

He is a board certified Diplomat of the National Board of Pediatric Dentistry with professional interests in the areas of pediatric pharmacology, biomaterials, and pediatric anesthesia.  He believes in lifelong learning and continues his education by taking courses in pediatric sedation, pediatric oncology, sealants, prosthetics, pediatric cosmetic dentistry, pediatric materials, childhood growth and development, and more.

Pediatric Dentistry of Ft Myers, Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD, continues to provide pediatric dental care to children for the last 26 years. Areas of service include comprehensive dental exams, cleanings, composite fillings, dental hygiene education, extractions, fluoride treatments, sealants, sedation dentistry, space maintainers, x-rays and tooth nerve treatment. For more information, visit www.DrVerwest.com or (239) 482-2722.

Teens and teeth whitening

Teeth whitening is a $600 million industry and growing up to 20 percent each year. A large part of the market comes from image-conscious teens who are logging online or flocking to malls for do-it-yourself teeth whitening kits.

But teens who want a whiter smile should seek dentist supervision, says the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).

The AGD advises teens to wait to use whitening procedures until at least the age of 14. By this time, the tooth’s pulp is fully formed, which means a teen will experience less sensitivity from teeth whitening.

At that point, teens should visit their dentist for advice on teeth whitening products. Effective whitening depends upon the use of a custom-made bleaching tray, which only a dentist can fit properly. Also, without supervision and expertise, these materials can aggravate sensitive teeth and gums, or damage existing dental work, such as fillings and crowns.

You can take several approaches to whiten your smile:

  • Bleaching (at-home or in-office).* Bleaching is a common and popular chemical process used to brighten discolored or stained teeth. Consult your dentist before using over-the-counter bleaching solutions, which alter the intrinsic color of your teeth.
  • Whitening toothpastes. All toothpastes help remove surface stains through the action of mild abrasives. “Whitening” toothpastes have special chemical or polishing agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. Unlike bleaches, these products do not alter the intrinsic color of teeth.

Take these preventive actions to keep teeth white and sparkling:

  • Avoid nicotine, soda, tea and coffee, which stain teeth.
  • If you do drink soda or coffee, use a straw to prevent discoloration of the upper front teeth or brush after consuming these beverages.
  • Clean teeth carefully, especially if you wear braces. Food particles can become trapped between the braces and teeth, causing discoloration as well as cavities.

Teens: Watch your mouth!

Dental decay is the most common chronic disease in young people between the ages of 5 and 17, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And while younger children typically attend dental appointments with their parents, teens have more control over their free time and may not choose to visit the dentist for regular checkups.

As a result, many teenagers dont get the dental care they need or the proper education to make smart decisions about their oral hygiene habits. The Academy of General Dentistry offers the following teeth tips for teens and their parents:

  • Limit soda drinking. Teens are drinking more soft drinks than ever, both in school and at home. Soda consumption among this age group has steadily increased in recent years. Sugar in sweetened sodas can cause cavities, and acidic flavor additives (found in both unsweetened and sweetened sodas) can also erode and damage tooth enamel.Besides decreasing soda consumption, teens can limit the harmful effects of soda in two simple ways: sipping soda through a straw cuts down on the contact the beverage has with teeth, and rinsing the mouth with water after drinking soda can reduce the risk of cavities.
  • Play it safe. Contact sports can cause oral injuries, but teens can prevent injuries by wearing a mouth guard while playing sports. More than 200,000 injuries to the mouth and jaw occur each year, and dentists regularly recommend the use of mouth guards in a variety of sports activities. Whether a mouth guard is custom-fitted by a dentist or bought at a store, teens should keep it clean by rinsing it often and storing it in a ventilated container.
  • Avoid oral piercings. Tongue piercing remains a trend despite the dangers to oral health. People with tongue piercings chip their teeth on the jewelry while eating, sleeping, talking and chewing. The fracture can be confined to tooth enamel and require a filling, or it may go deeper, which can lead to a root canal or tooth extraction.Infections are also common with oral piercings. The tongue can swell after being punctured, and in some cases can become infected and swell to such a degree that it interferes with breathing. Unclean piercing equipment can cause other infections, such as blood-borne hepatitis.
  • Make time for healthy habits. Teens eat quick meals in the form of “nutrition” bars and fast food to stay alert and on schedule between school, extracurricular activities and part-time jobs. However, these habits can permanently damage oral and overall health. Teens should have access to healthy snacks such as apples and carrot sticks and low-fat cheese. Keeping a travel-size toothbrush in a locker or backpack can help teens keep up good teeth-cleaning habits by brushing after meals and snacks.Chewing sugarless gum with xylitol (a natural sweetener) after meals or snacks can also help cleanse the mouth. Drinking water throughout the day can help cleanse the teeth of excess bacteria and food debris.

Just like adults, teens should visit their dentist at least twice a year. Regular dental visits and cleanings not only help keep teeth bright and shiny (a boost to any teens self-esteem), they can also help catch minor problems before they become worse.

Sealants can stop cavities before they begin

Children are prone to cavities because of the natural shape of their growing teeth. When first molars come in around age 6, deep crevices called pits and fissures form on the chewing surfaces of these back teeth. Pits and fissures are so narrow that the bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach into them, making them difficult to clean; however, these crevices provide plenty of room for bacteria to grow.

Children’s eating habits also lead to cavities because their diets generally include frequent snacking. Children are usually brushing their own teeth by age 6, and they may not be doing an adequate job. They rarely brush as often as necessary and their technique may need an occasional check by an adult.

What can you do? Sealants may be the answer

Dental sealants can protect your children from cavities. Sealants are applied to the chewing surfaces of molars to act as a barrier between the tooth and harmful bacteria. They are most effective when applied to decay-susceptible biting surfaces as soon as the teeth come in. Here’s how sealants work: The sealing material is applied to the tooth surface using an “etching” fluid. The sealant partially penetrates the tooth enamel, ensuring that it is firmly attached to the tooth. Once applied, the sealant fills in the tooth’s grooves, hardens and creates a thin plastic barrier that keeps cavity-causing bacteria out of the pits and fissures.

Application is fast and painless

Your child will be happy to know that with sealants, there is no drilling and no discomfort. Sealants can be applied by either your dentist or a registered dental hygienist, and application takes less time than having a tooth filled.

After many years in use, sealants have proven to be safe, durable and effective. Check your Delta Dental Evidence of Coverage booklet to see if your plan includes coverage for sealants. Usually, sealants are covered when applied to first molars through age 8 and second molars through age 15. However, coverage for some groups may be different. Ask your dentist about how your child can benefit from the application of sealants.

Other cavity prevention techniques

Regular at-home preventive care — brushing and flossing after every meal — can also help keep your child’s dental problems to a minimum. From age 2, children should begin to brush their own teeth with a parent’s help. Use a small, soft brush with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.

Children need a balanced diet to help their bodies — including teeth — develop. Calcium is extremely important for strong teeth and to the structure of the face and jaws. Make sure your child gets an adequate supply of calcium by eating calcium rich foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese, which have been shown to inhibit the effects of harmful acids. Discourage snacks that are high in sugar or starch, and sticky foods that may remain in contact with teeth longer.

Pacifying toddlers can harm development of teeth

For fussy babies, a pacifier can calm and soothe. However, dental experts warn that once a child reaches the preschool years, a pacifier can become a habit that impedes the development of healthy teeth.

If a child continues using a pacifier past the age of 3, serious dental malformation can occur, says Tim Verwest, DMD, Pediatric Dentist. The most common malformation is an open space in the front teeth or an overbite in which the upper teeth protrude.

“Unlike sucking the thumb, using a pacifier is a learned response, so it‘s a little easier to unlearn the habit,” says Dr. Verwest.

Researchers say that many prolonged pacifier users become prolonged thumb-suckers after the pacifier is taken away, adding to a child‘s risk of adversely modifying the teeth‘s natural position.

In addition to moving and shifting teeth, the Academy of General Dentistry reports that pacifier users are more likely to suffer from acute middle ear infections.

At the very least, children who use pacifiers past their toddler years may eventually need braces, and that alone should alert parents to the potential for dental problems and expense.

“Some parents don‘t want to upset the child and don‘t want to see him or her cry,” Dr. Verwest says. “If you tell the parent that breaking the pacifier habit could prevent undue orthodontic costs down the road, that‘s also a financial incentive to consider.”

Oral health gives clues about eating disorders

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) estimates that in the United States, nearly 10 million women and 1 million men are affected by anorexia or bulimia. Millions more suffer from binge-eating disorders.

Eating disorders are illnesses characterized by preoccupations with food and weight and caused by physical, emotional and social issues. People who have anorexia severely limit the amount of food they eat and can become dangerously thin. People with bulimia eat compulsively (binge) and then rid themselves of the food (purge) by vomiting, exercising too much or using medicines such as laxatives. People with binge-eating disorders will regularly eat large amounts of food within a couple of hours or less (a binge) but do not purge their system afterwards.

With so many men and women suffering from eating disorders, more dentists are becoming the first line of defense when it comes to recognizing these problems in patients. Although parents may not know that their children have an eating disorder, they often ensure that their children have regular dental appointments. In such cases, a dentist may spot the warning signs of an eating disorder and be able to point parents in the right direction to get help.

Bad breath, sensitive teeth and tooth erosion are just a few of the signs that may suggest to a dentist that a patient suffers from an eating disorder. Many of these symptoms are caused by the stomach acids that are brought up through the mouth during frequent episodes of purging by vomiting. The stomach acid damages the teeth (especially inside the upper front teeth) and erodes the tooth’s enamel, causing sensitivity, thinning and chipping. Other signs of an eating disorder are:

  • Tender mouth, throat and salivary glands
  • Teeth that are worn and appear almost translucent
  • Mouth sores
  • Dry mouth
  • Cracked lips
  • Bleeding gums

Dentists who detect patients with eating disorders may recommend therapists to help treat the disorder and may also teach patients how to minimize the effects of purging. For example, after vomiting, patients should immediately rinse their mouth with club soda or use a sugar-free mouth rinse to neutralize the stomach acid in their mouth. If neither of these is available, patients should swish water around their mouth and brush with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.

Sometimes, eating disorders are not discovered until it is too late and irreversible damage has been done to the body as well as the teeth. According to NEDA, early detection of the disease may ensure a successful recovery period for the body and teeth.

If your child needs anesthesia

If your child needs a difficult or complex dental procedure, your dentist may recommend options for sedation to help control your child’s anxiety. It’s important to be informed about the benefits and risks of any dental treatment for your child.

Before any type of procedure, give the dental office your child’s most up-to-date health history – including allergies and any medications that your child is currently taking. Here are some questions you may want to ask your dentist about sedation procedures:

  • What type of medication(s) will be used and how will they be administered?
  • What are the possible side effects?
  • What is the minimum level of sedation that might be used to get the treatment done safely? Are there other options?
  • What training and experience is required to administer the medications?
  • How will the child be monitored? Will someone remain in the room once the sedation is administered and stay there during and after treatment?
  • What provisions are made for emergency medical services?
  • How long will the sedation last? Are there any post-treatment instructions that should be followed?
  • Will post-treatment pain medication be necessary?

Dentist donates over 15,000 toothbrushes in 2015


Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers, Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD gave away over 15,000 free toothbrushes during dental presentations in 2015. Children in Lee, Collier, and Charlotte County were the primary recipients of the toothbrushes. Over the last two years Dr. Verwest has given away over 35,000 toothbrushes.

“We’re really making a difference”. The way our community outreach has been received by the schools has been fantastic,” said Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD of Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers.

Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers provides free dental health and oral hygiene presentations to preschools, elementary, and private schools throughout Southwest Florida. Children learn the importance of healthy eating habits, dental facts, and the proper instruction on brushing their teeth, free of charge. This educational presentation equips the children with the necessary tools and guidance to confidently understand the importance of dental health.

Pediatric Dentistry of Ft Myers, Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD, continues to provide pediatric dental care to children for the last 26 years. Areas of service include comprehensive dental exams, cleanings, composite fillings, dental hygiene education, extractions, fluoride treatments, sealants, sedation dentistry, space maintainers, x-rays and tooth nerve treatment. For more information on dental presentations, visit www.DrVerwest.com or call (239) 482-2722.

Fast-paced lifestyle eroding teens’ teeth


Adolescence is the time of peak bone growth, a time when more nutrient-packed calories are essential to fuel growing bodies and strengthen teeth and bones; however, with our current lifestyles, adolescence is when soda and sugary, high-carbohydrate foods displace healthy foods such as milk, fruits and vegetables.

As a result, a generation may be left with permanent damage to oral and overall health.

“Premature loss of tooth enamel and weakening of overall tooth structure are two devastating oral effects of teens’ poor diet that cannot be reversed later in life,” explains Jane Soxman, DDS, author of a study that ran in the Academy of General Dentistry’s journal.

The phosphoric, citric, tartaric and/or carbonic acid in soda is now linked to breaking down the tooth enamel around dental sealants and restorations, further compromising teens’ teeth and leading to more extensive dental treatment to prevent total tooth loss.

Phosphoric acid also limits calcium absorption and has a direct influence on bone density. This is especially critical for young girls. By age 16, teenage girls have accumulated 90 to 97 percent of their bone mass, making adequate calcium intake vital. However, national statistics show only 19 percent of girls ages 9 to 19 are getting the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 1,300 milligrams of calcium a day.

New research also confirms a direct link between soft drink consumption and bone fractures in teenage girls.

“These girls are at an extreme risk for developing osteoporosis, already exhibiting symptoms of this disease in their teen years,” says Dr. Soxman. “Early education on the importance of calcium consumption is key to reversing this trend.”

Fluoride = Healthy Teeth

Try this quick and inexpensive at-home treatment: Before bed, rub toothpaste containing fluoride along the gum line and leave it to soak in the gum line while sleeping. This is a great, inexpensive tip to ensure teeth get the fluoride they need.

The do’s and don’ts of teething treatments

When a baby’s first teeth come in, it can be a pain for the whole family. Incisors usually break through around age 6 months, leaving parents and infants in sore need of relief.

Although a number of popular treatments promise to soothe sensitive gums, not all methods are reliable, or even safe. Here’s an overview of the best — and worst — ideas.

Don’t try this at home

Proponents of amber teething necklaces claim that the stones release a pain-relieving substance that is absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. However, closer scrutiny reveals no scientific evidence to back up those assertions – and the beads may even pose a choking hazard.1

Another no-no is lidocaine. The topical anesthetic can be toxic to infants and young children, leading to seizures, brain damage or even death.2

Tried-and-true methods

Rely on these proven strategies3 to give your child risk-free relief:

  • Massage the gums with your finger, after washing your hands
  • Hold a cool spoon to the sensitive area
  • Let your child chew on a cold washcloth under supervision
  • Chill pacifiers in the fridge before use
  • Give your child a teething ring to bite on

And, finally, just wait. Your child’s last teeth should come in by age 2 or 3, bringing teething troubles to a close.