fort myers dentist

Are You Brushing Too Much?

All you smile lovers out there strive to keep your teeth healthy and bacteria-free, am I right? But how much cleaning is too much cleaning? We have the answers on when to clean, how much to clean, and if you need to lessen your teeth cleaning schedules.

First, lets establish some downfalls of brushing too much:

  1. Over-brushing can cause tooth enamel to wear down, which can cause higher risks of tooth decay
  2. It can cause damage to your gums, exposing the root area
  3. Teeth become more sensitive and prone to cavities when being brushed more than they should


So now to avoid these problems, how often should you brush every day? The answer: Two times a day for two minutes each time. Preferably one time in the morning and one time before heading to bed. That’s it! Simple as that. Be sure to use gentle strokes and not vigorously brush off the enamel that acts as a shield for tooth decay. So no worries, you and your smile will have brighter and brighter days yet to come!

Caring for teeth with braces

Braces are often placed in patients between 10 and 14 years of age to correct crooked or overcrowded teeth. “The benefits of braces are many,” says Ken Sutherland, DDS, Delta Dental senior dental consultant. “Straight teeth, an attractive smile, improved dental function and, often, improved overall health are all results of wearing braces.”

Below are some answers to questions about staying comfortable and healthy while wearing braces.

Why is good oral hygiene with braces so important? Food and plaque can get trapped in the tiny spaces between braces and wires, causing decay and enamel stains. Food can also react with the bacteria in your mouth and the metal in the braces to produce a bleaching effect, which can cause small, permanent light spots on the teeth.

How should teeth and braces be cleaned? It is best to brush after every meal and use a floss threader or special orthodontic floss (available at drug stores) at least once a day to clean between braces and under wires. Check your teeth in a mirror to make sure all food particles are gone. If you don’t have your toothbrush with you, rinse your mouth vigorously with water.

How do braces feel? The wires that are used to move teeth into position are usually tightened at each visit to the dentist or orthodontist. This causes pressure on the teeth and some discomfort. Eating soft foods and taking a pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®, for instance), can help. Also, braces can rub against the inside of the lips. If this is a problem, a special wax can be placed on the wires to keep them from chafing (available from your dentist or orthodontist and at drug stores).

How long do braces have to be worn? It depends on how complicated the spacing or occlusion (bite) problem is. Most braces are worn for 18 to 30 months. After the braces are removed, the patient wears a retainer, which is used to maintain the position of the teeth while setting and aligning the tissues that surround the newly-straightened teeth.

Should any foods be avoided? Yes. Sweets, soda and other sugary and starchy foods can promote tooth decay and gum disease. Sticky and chewy foods (caramel, taffy, chewing gum, dried fruits) can stick to braces and be difficult to remove. Biting and chewing hard foods, such as some candies and nuts, ice, beef jerky and popcorn, can break wires and loosen brackets. Avoid damaging wires on the front teeth by cutting carrots, apples and other crunchy, healthy foods into bite-sized chunks before eating them.

Baby pacifiers: Pros and cons

Should parents let their infant use a pacifier? According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), there are benefits as well as a downside to baby pacifiers.

On the positive side, pacifiers provide a source of comfort to infants. Pacifiers can also assist in reducing the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, according to the AGD. Because babies with pacifiers sleep less deeply than those who sleep without pacifiers, they can be aroused from a deep sleep that could result in the stopping of breathing.

The downside of pacifiers is the effect they can have on the growth and development of the teeth and mouth. Prolonged pacifier use can cause changes in the shape of the roof of the mouth, prevent proper growth of the mouth and create problems with tooth alignment. Parents who give their baby a pacifier should consider these points:

  • Restrict pacifier use to when the infant needs to fall asleep.
  • Look for a pacifier with ventilation holes in the shield, as they permit air passage. This is important if the pacifier accidentally becomes lodged in the child’s throat.
  • Always clean the pacifier before giving it to a child.

Breaking the pacifier habit

The AGD recommends that children stop using pacifiers by age two. (Up until that age, any alignment problem with the teeth or the developing bone is usually corrected within six months after pacifier use is stopped.)

Breaking the habit is not always easy. Here are a few suggestions for helping a child wean from the pacifier:

  • Dip the pacifier in white vinegar.
  • Pierce the top of the pacifier or cut it shorter to reduce sucking satisfaction.
  • Leave it behind on a trip.

Always throw away a used pacifier; it is not sanitary for another child to use or to save.

Common Dental Health Questions

  1. Are dental x-rays safe?

Exposure to any source of radiation isn’t ideal, but fortunately the dose of radiation you get from taking x-rays is extremely small.  You can thank the wonderful engineers and scientists in the dental industry for that.  New, digital x-ray machines limit the beam of radiation to just the small area being x-rayed, higher speed x-ray films require shorter exposure time, film holders keep the film in your mouth from slipping and avoiding repeat x-rays, and full-body aprons protect the body from stray radiation.  Federal law requires x-ray machines to be checked for accuracy and safety every two years, and some states even increase the frequency of checks.

  1. What can you tell me about dental sealants?

Dental sealants are a thin, plastic coating that covers the chewing surfaces of the teeth to fill in fissures and grooves.  Because these are the hardest areas to reach, bacteria tend to live here and cause cavities and decay.

Sealants are becoming a go-to solution for kids who have even more trouble brushing the hard-to-reach areas, such as their molars.  However, sealants work for adults too.

Typically, they protect teeth for up to 10 years but should be checked regularly for chipping and excessive wear.

  1. How close are we to drill-less dentistry?

Also known as air abrasion and microabrasion, drill-less dentistry can remove tooth decay, remold old composite restorations, prepare a tooth surface for bonding or sealants, and remove superficial stains and discolorations.  Air abrasion works put shooting a fine stream of particles at the tooth surface to clean away decay and stain, much like a mini sandblaster works.  Remaining particles can then be suctioned away.

  1. Are silver-colored fillings, or amalgams, safe?

Amalgams contain mercury, leading many people to think that they are causing a number of diseases, including autism, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis.

The American Dental Association (ADA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as numerous public health agencies, have confirmed multiple times that amalgams are safe and that there is no link between the fillings and these diseases.  Although mercury is toxic on its own, when mixed with other metals such as silver, copper, tin, and zinc, they form a stable alloy that dentists have actually used for over 100 years.

  1. What is the most effective way to whiten my teeth?

ALL toothpastes help to remove surface stains with the help of mild abrasives.  Whitening toothpastes, however, contain gentle polishing or chemical agents that provide additional removal.  Most over-the-counter whitening toothpastes contain peroxide – either carbamide or hydrogen.

The difference between whitening methods is due to the percent of peroxide.  Store-bought solutions, such as strips, trays, and toothpastes, typically contain a maximum of 7% peroxide, while whiteners that a dentist uses contain up to 45% peroxide. Just one hour in the dentist’s chair can result in a dazzling smile, while at-home treatments kick in about 4-6 weeks later.

Both ways work well, but the biggest discrepancy comes with the costs.  Chair-side treatments will costs around $500, while store-bought kits range from $25 to $100.

  1. How can I change the shape of my teeth?

There are several different options to change the shape, close gaps, or repair chipped teeth.

  • Dental bonding applies a tooth-colored resin to the tooth surface and bonds it to the tooth with a special light.
  • Dental crowns are tooth-shaped caps that are placed over teeth to fully cover the entire visible portion of the tooth.
  • Veneers are extremely thin, custom-made shells that cover the front surface of your teeth.
  • Reshaping your teeth (also called odontoplasty, enameloplasty, stripping, or slenderizing) removes small amounts of tooth enamel to change the length, shape, or surface.
  1. I have a terrible fear of the dentist. How can I overcome this?

You’re not alone.  Between 5% and 8% of Americans avoid the dentist completely out of fear, and almost 20% will only schedule an appointment if it’s absolutely necessary.

The first step is talking to your dentist.  Many dentists assume that all patients have the same level of fear and pain tolerance.  Alerting them that yours might be a special case will allow them to take special consideration.

Other solutions include medications, use of lasers instead of drills, and anxiety-reducing techniques such as guided imagery, biofeedback, deep breathing, acupuncture, and other mental health therapies.

  1. How do I know which toothpaste my child should use?

There are a couple rules of thumb here, and the answer is a little tricky.  It really depends on the age of your child.  Fluoride is an important mineral proven to prevent cavities. However, swallowed in large doses, fluoride can be toxic.  Once your child learns to spit and not swallow the toothpaste, you can transition them to using toothpaste containing fluoride.

The American Dental Association also grants their Seal of Acceptance to certain products that meet their criteria for safety and effectiveness.  When in doubt, pick toothpaste with the ADA seal.  They’ll do all of the research and work for you.

  1. I can’t afford regular dental care. Are there some resources available to me?

Yes, there are thousands of dentists across the US that offer their services at a reduced rate or free of charge through dental society sponsored assistance programs. Contact your local dental society for more information about where you can find the nearest assistance programs (such as public health clinics and dental school clinics).

The ADA’s website also links to state dental associations and dental schools.

  1. I recently moved and need to find a new dentist. How can I find one?

Over 80% of people rely on recommendations from friends and family to find a new dentist.  If you’re moving nearby, your current dentist may be able to make a recommendation as well.

Gum Disease in Children

Gum disease doesn’t discriminate by age.  It’ll find any worthy victim who doesn’t have good oral health.  In fact, the primary cause of gum disease in kids is bacteria and plaque buildup that results from not brushing or flossing.

Other causes of gum disease in children include genetics, gums drying out due to breathing through the mouth, malnutrition, autoimmune diseases, and certain medications.  Kids with type I diabetes and Down syndrome are at a higher risk of periodontal disease.

Gum disease starts off as gingivitis but left unchecked, it can progress to periodontitis.  If it becomes severe enough, a periodontist will have to perform significant treatment to prevent further damage to the bone and surrounding tissue.


  • Gums that bleed with regular flossing and brushing of the teeth
  • Bright red gums that are swollen and tender
  • Receding gums
  • Bad breath that persists even after brushing and flossing


Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to prevent gum disease in children.  As with adults, children should brush their teeth twice a day with a kid-friendly toothpaste (the ADA has an approved list) and a soft-bristled toothbrush.

But don’t leave it up to them! Until a child is about 6 or 7 years ago, they don’t have the manual dexterity it takes to do a thorough job, so you’ll need to maintain responsibility until that time.

When their toothy grins still have space between the teeth, you won’t need to worry about flossing.  As soon as two teeth emerge that are touching, your child should floss daily to remove leftover food particles that attract cavity-causing bacteria.

Make sure you’re scheduling biannual visits to the dentist also!  Dentists can detect gingivitis early and assess whether your child is receiving proper dental care at home.

Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers to sponsor Alliance for the Arts Family Movie Nights


2015 Family Movie Nights

FORT MYERS, Fla. (December 3, 2014) – Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers, Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD will sponsor outdoor family movie nights at the Alliance for the Arts for the 2015 season. All funds collected go to support the children programming at the Alliance for the Arts.

Family movie night at the Alliance for the Arts begins Friday, January 9 at 7PM with a screening of The Life of Pi. “It’s a great way for us to show our community involvement and partner with a great local children’s organization,” said Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD of Pediatric Dentistry of Ft. Myers.

The series continues Friday, February 6 at 7PM with Charlotte’s Web, Friday, March 6 at 7:30PM with Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and concludes on Friday April 10 at 8PM with Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest.

The Alliance for the Arts proudly supports artists and art organizations in our area as the state designated Local Arts Agency for Lee County.  For more information on family movie night, visit

Pediatric Dentistry of Ft Myers, Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD, continues to provide pediatric dental care to children for the last 24 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 or (239) 482-2722.