Do I Need a Root Canal if There’s No Pain?


The dentist told you you need root canal treatment But, you don’t feel any pain. Do you even need a root canal after all? You’ll be surprised to find that you may need a root canal even if there is no pain. Luckily, it’s not as scary as rumors and myths make it out to be.

Find out what a root canal treatment is and why you may need it. We also answer your most pressing questions about your upcoming root canal procedure to put your mind at ease.

What Is a Root Canal Treatment?

The purpose of a root canal treatment is to clean out tooth decay while preserving the healthy parts of your tooth. It’s a tiny drill that the dentist uses to get rid of the decayed tooth pulp, root, and nerve in your infected tooth.

After the dentist removed the decay, they disinfect the area, fill the empty roots, and seal the tooth to prevent new decay. The tooth is weak after a root canal treatment, so they usually seal it with a crown.

A root canal specialist is called an endodontist, but a general dentist is also capable of completing this procedure as well. Generally, you don’t need to be put under when you have a root canal treatment. The dentist will apply local anesthetics to numb the area and prevent pain.

Do I Need a Root Canal If There Is No Pain?

A root canal sounds like a serious procedure. So, if there’s no pain, then why do you need to go through it?

The most important thing to remember is that root canals prevent further decay and save as much of your tooth as possible. Even if you don’t feel pain now, you definitely will when the decay reaches the nerves of your tooth. 

And losing your tooth is the smallest concern at that point...

Untreated tooth decay can spread to your lymph nodes and even to your eye. But, it can get even more serious. Eventually, it can develop into heart disease, causing you heart attacks and strokes

At that point, tooth decay is definitely a life-threatening condition. So, if a root canal can prevent that and save your teeth at the same time, that’s a good deal.

Symptoms That Mean You Need a Root Canal

Keeping track of your dental health is crucial for your overall health. So, if you notice any of these symptoms, it’s worth visiting the dentist because you may need a root canal.

  1. Pain: Yes, a decaying tooth can be painful, especially if the decay spread to your nerves in your tooth. In fact, pain is usually the most commonly noticed sign of tooth decay. You may feel a persistent pain, or just pain when you eat or touch your tooth.
  2. Tooth discoloration: When your tooth pulp dies, it can discolor your teeth. If you see grey or black spots on your teeth, it may be time for a root canal.
  3. Sensitivity to temperature: If you feel pain or discomfort when you eat hot or cold foods for an extended period of time, it may be a sign that the blood vessels and nerves in your tooth are damaged.
  4. Swollen gums: Swelling around your tooth may be a sign of an infection. If it’s painful to the touch, you should definitely visit a dentist.
  5. Tooth mobility: Unless you’re a child about to lose your baby teeth, your teeth moving aren’t a good sign. It may be because your roots or the gums surrounding your tooth are infected. And you may need a tooth canal treatment to fix that.

Answering Your Top Questions About Root Canal Treatments

Root canals are like the boogeyman. It’s the go-to scary procedure that fuels dental anxiety. But, it’s really not as scary of a procedure as rumors make it out to be. Let’s bust some myths about root canals by answering your most pressing questions. 

Hopefully, knowing more about a root canal will put your mind at ease.

Does a Root Canal Hurt?

Of course, the most common question and misconception about root canal treatments. The pain. Drilling inside the tooth toward the roots sounds like a very painful ordeal. But, you may be surprised to learn that it’s very rare for a root canal to be painful.

Dentists use sophisticated anesthetics to numb the area and you practically don’t even feel a thing. It’s the same as having a cavity filled.

It’s important to realize that tooth canals actually relieve and prevent pain. Decaying nerves in your tooth hurt a lot. So, even if you don’t feel any pain now, and your dentist recommends a root canal treatment, it’s best to take their advice.

Are Root Canals Expensive?

This is a difficult question to answer because every dentist has their own rates. Generally, root canal treatments won’t break the bank. But that doesn’t mean they’re “cheap” either.

Usually, a root canal will be more expensive than a dental filling, because it requires more time and expertise. But, it’s much cheaper than tooth extraction and replacement would be.

Does the Pain Disappear Immediately After a Root Canal?

If you do feel pain in your tooth, we have good news. Root canals are very successful at alleviating dental pain. However, no treatment comes without a little swelling and sensitivity immediately after the fact. 

This pain should be mild and very short-lived. For most patients, minor aches and sensitivities are gone within a few weeks after treatment.

After this point, you should have no pain whatsoever. The ache in the infected tooth will be gone because the bacteria have been removed.

Can I Eat or Drink Before a Root Canal?

Yes, make sure you eat before you have a root canal treatment. Since you’re not under general anesthesia, there’s no danger in eating beforehand. And you probably won’t feel like eating for a couple of hours after the root canal because your mouth is sore.

It’s important to avoid eating until all the effects of the local anesthesia are gone. You risk biting your tongue and causing injury otherwise.

However, we would advise you not to drink alcohol before a root canal treatment. You’ll want to be in the best shape possible. Being drunk or hungover won’t just be uncomfortable for you, it’s also dangerous for the dentist working in your mouth.

How Long Does a Root Canal Surgery Take?

Usually, root canals can take anywhere between an hour and three hours. The time varies based on the severity of your infection. 

A mild infection requires a simple root canal procedure. Your dentist can finish it with one visit. However, if the infection is bad, you may need two visits to fully alleviate any risk of decay.

Will I Need a Dental Crown After My Root Canal Treatment?

After the root canal, your tooth is weak. It’s also more prone to breaking or infection. A great way to protect and strengthen it is with a crown. Alternatively, a filling can also strengthen your tooth.

In some cases, you may even get a crown fitted immediately after the root canal. But, since it is quite a lengthy treatment on its own, most schedule it separately.

What’s the Average Age Range of People Needing Root Canal Treatment?

There’s no set age for when you get a root canal. Children who don’t brush their teeth are just are likely to need it as seniors whose gums receded past the roots. Still, one thing’s for certain: bad dental hygiene is the primary cause for needing root canal treatment.

That said, there’s definitely a higher percentage of people needing root canals between the ages of 20-40.

Save Money on Your Root Canal Treatment

Even if you don’t feel any pain, you may need a root canal treatment to get rid of an infection. If saving your tooth isn’t enough, it can also save your life. The only thing it can’t do is save your wallet. However, the Carefree Dental Card can.

With Carefree Dental, you can unlock huge savings on root canal treatments as well as other dental procedures at participating dentists. You can save between 15%-50%* per visit on your root canal bill in most instances.

Learn more when you sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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Dental Insurance vs. Dental Discount Plans: Which One’s Best?

Taking care of your teeth is crucial for your health and confidence. Part of that is going to the dentist regularly. However, dental appointments tend to be expensive. Those looking to curb their dental bill have two options: buy dental insurance and a dental discount plan. 

But which one is better and cheaper? Learn about the difference between dental insurance vs. dental discount plans and make the best decision for you.

What Is Dental Insurance?

Dental insurance is a policy that protects you from paying for expensive dental procedures. With dental insurance, you’ll often pay to share the cost of dental care with an insurance provider. And in the end, it can save you a lot of money. Most people get dental insurance through an employer, others pay for private dental insurance. 

However, it’s important to understand that dental insurance doesn’t necessarily cover every aspect of your dental treatments. For one, your dental treatments need to reach a certain cost before insurance covers expenses, this is called a deductible. There’s also an insurance cap, which means that your dental insurance doesn’t cover anything over a certain amount. 

So, if you have a procedure that would cost several thousand dollars, your dental insurance may only cover a portion of that. The rest you’ll pay out-of-pocket. Caps and deductibles vary depending on your provider and your dental insurance plan.

What Are Dental Discount Plans?

Dental discount plans are recurring subscriptions that make you eligible for a discount at participating dental practices. When you have a dental discount plan and you visit a participating dentist, you can get a significant portion of your bill reduced.

Let’s say you need a filling and the dentist typically charges $200 for the procedure. If you have a dental discount plan and this is a participating dentist, you could potentially only pay $100 for the same procedure.

The types of procedures that are eligible for discounts and the amount of your discount both depend on the type of dental discount plan you have. 

Dental Insurance vs. Dental Discount Plans: Feature Comparison

Preventive Care

In the long run, preventive dental care can save you a lot of money. By having a dentist regularly check the status of your oral health means that they can catch serious issues early on. 

Dental insurance is a good option for preventive care. Most insurance providers cover 100% of oral exams and cleanings. That’s because they know that the sooner you treat an issue, the cheaper it tends to be to fix. 

On the other hand, dental discount plans provide a discount on your preventive care visits. So, your dental bill will be lower, but it won’t be completely free. 

Minor Dental Procedures

Usually, dental insurance will cover the full amount of fillings and extractions. It may also cover most crowns or root canal treatments. However, cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening aren’t usually covered by dental insurance.

Dental discount plans can significantly reduce your dental expenses for minor procedures ranging from dental extractions to teeth whitenings.  

Surgeries and Major Procedures

When it comes to major dental procedures, dental discount plans are clearly better than insurance. If you need implants, dentures, or braces, dental insurance often doesn’t cover these procedures.

And even if they do, they probably only cover a small part of them. Seeing as these major dental procedures often cost a lot of money, dental insurance would still require a big chunk of out-of-pocket payment from you.

Dental discount plans however can lower your out-of-pocket costs with these types of treatments. For example with Carefree Dental, you’ll save 15-50%* per visit in most instances on these types of treatments at participating dentists. That means even bigger savings, so you can keep more money in your pocket.

It’s important to note that dental discount plans can also help with your out-of-pocket costs on expenses that insurance doesn’t cover. So, you can use both dental insurance and dental discount plans to get the dental treatment you need. (Just note, you can’t use both of them together for a single dental treatment.)

Dental Providers

Both dental insurance and discount plans have their own list of practices that can accept them. Usually, for insurance, it’s a set number of dentists within your area. However, dental discount plans can work at any participating dental practice across the country. So, if you need some emergency dental treatment while on vacation, you’ll still get to save money.

Waiting Period

This is probably the biggest difference between dental insurance vs. dental discount plans. Most dental insurance providers have a waiting period. You need to wait a set number of months from the time you sign up until you can enjoy the benefits. They do this to avoid clients who need dental work done immediately.

Dental discount plans generally don’t have a waiting period. Once you sign up and become a member, you can immediately use your discount at participating dentists. If you need dental work quickly, but don’t want to pay everything out of pocket, a dental discount plan is the best option.

Annual Maximum Cap

As we mentioned before, dental insurance often has a cap. They’ll limit the amount they’re willing to cover for your dental treatments. For most dental insurance, this would be about $1000-$2000. 

On the other hand, dental discount plans don’t have a cap or an annual maximum. You can access discounts at any level of dental procedure. So, if you need a dental procedure that costs several thousand dollars, it’s definitely worth it.

The Cost of Dental Insurance vs. Dental Discount Plans

Every dental insurance and discount plan provider has their own prices, offers, and benefits. But if you’re interested in the general cost, this comparison can help you.

The annual cost of dental insurance in the United States is around $360 on average for individuals. It can go as high as $600 for families. But, it usually only covers you until the $1000-2000 annual cap.

Dental discount plans usually cost around $200-250 annually. The Carefree Dental discount plan costs only $15.95/month for individuals and $19.95/month for families. That’s $191 or $239 each year. But the savings are huge because there’s no annual maximum cap on dental discounts.

Choose the Best Deal in Dental

If you’re deciding between dental insurance and dental discount plans, you have to look at what your benefits are. And if you’re looking for the best deal in dental, look no further.

The Carefree Dental Card can unlock huge savings for you at participating dentists. Members can save 15% - 50%* per visit in most instances. And signing up is as easy as 1-2-3.

Save on your dental procedures instantly when you sign up for a Carefree Dental Card!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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5 Natural Ways to Cope with Dental Anxiety

If you’re afraid of the dentist, don’t worry. You’re one of three people in the US who has dental anxiety. It’s an uncomfortable phobia to have because it prevents some people from getting the dental care they need. So, don’t let dental anxiety and phobia win. Read these useful tips to help you conquer your fear of the dentist and sit in that chair comfortably.

What Is Dental Anxiety and Phobia?

Dental phobia is more severe than dental anxiety. Dental phobia is an irrational fear of the dentist, of dental treatments, or anything to do with teeth. A lot of people with dental phobia won’t go to the dentist.

If you have trouble sleeping at night before a dental appointment, if you’re crying or physically ill at the thought of the dentist, or you feel unbearable nervousness in the waiting room, you may have a dental phobia.

Dental anxiety is much milder, but still a serious condition. If you have dental anxiety, you’re probably afraid of dental procedures, nervous in the waiting room, and hesitant to make dental appointments. It’s a common fear, but you need to overcome it to access the necessary oral health care you need.

What Causes Dental Anxiety?

Understanding what causes your dental anxiety can help you overcome it. Identify why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling about dentists to accurately diagnose your problem with dental visits. And you can talk about these fears and describe them better if you understand them.

Most Common Causes for Dental Anxiety and Fear:

  • Pain: Everybody’s afraid of pain. But, one painful experience at the dentist can trigger dental anxiety. Dental “horror stories” don’t help you calm down either. Fortunately, thanks to advancements in technology, most dental procedures are painless or largely pain-free.
  • Helplessness: Feeling lost or helpless during a dental procedure is a common cause of dental anxiety. The inability to see what’s going on or intervene is definitely frustrating.
  • Anesthetics: Some people don’t even like the thought of being put under for a major procedure. Others hate the numb feeling of the local anesthetics. If you’re afraid of pain, you may even be afraid that the anesthetics don’t work.
  • Injections: Fear of needles is a usual phobia. Needles going in your mouth can be an alarming thought.
  • Loss of personal space: It’s true, the dentist needs to get up close and personal to examine your teeth. Some people feel embarrassed by their physical closeness. And some are very conscious about their appearance, the look of their teeth, or their mouth odor.

5 Natural Ways to Cope with Dental Anxiety and Fear

You don’t need to pop a Xanax to alleviate dental anxiety. You can use natural coping mechanisms to get over your fear of the dentist. These 5 tips can help you overcome your fears and access the oral healthcare you need.

1. Speak to a Dentist

As ironic as it is, speaking to a dentist about your fear of the dentist helps a lot. Every dentist should care about their patient’s mental wellbeing, as well as their oral one. Speaking to them about your fears can show you that they’re caring professionals who only want the best for you.

However, it also helps to get your concerns off your chest. 

If the dentist and the dental staff know of your fears, they’ll do everything they can to accommodate you. 

How to Discuss Your Dental Anxiety:

  • Tell the dentist or receptionist about your dental anxiety when you book your appointment. Inform them again when you get to the dental practice.
  • Specific information about your fears helps the dentist understand. Tell them about previous bad experiences and possible causes for your dental anxiety.
  • Feel free to ask questions. Ask about coping strategies and details about the procedure. Knowing what happens may put you at ease and give you a sense of control.
  • Agree on a signal to let your dentist know that you need a break. 
  • Don’t be afraid to tell the dentist about any pain you feel. A lot of patients avoid saying that they need more anesthetics and suffer through a painful procedure because they don’t want to disturb the dentist.

2. Keep Up Your Dental Hygiene Routine

While this tip doesn’t help you cope with dental anxiety directly, it definitely helps you avoid the dentist. If you commit to a regular dental hygiene routine, the chances of you needing a major procedure are lower.

You’ll still need regular dental exams and cleanings as part of your preventive care. But, these are painless and quick procedures. That means you can be out of the dentist’s chair quickly.

Brush your teeth, floss, scrape your tongue, and use mouthwash twice every day for healthy teeth and a happy mouth. But, don’t brush too hard. And be sure to give up bad habits that destroy your teeth.

3. Exercise

It’s important to realize that dental anxiety is a chemical reaction in your brain. When your body goes into fight or flight mode, your body releases a hormone called cortisol to deal with the stress. However, you also have the power to release positive hormones that lower your stress levels.

Exercising regularly can help you cope with stress and anxiety. Going for a run before your dental appointment will release endorphins in your brain. These are happy hormones that will calm you down before a dental appointment.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness techniques can help if you have dental anxiety. You can clear your mind and prepare yourself mentally and emotionally with meditation. And breath exercises can help you relax your tense muscles.

5. Listen to Music

If all of the above fails and you still have considerable dental anxiety, consider distracting yourself. Put in your earphones and listen to music you like to calm you down. Alternatively, a funny audiobook can also take your mind off your fear of the dentist.

Don’t Let Your Dental Bills Cause You Anxiety

Dental anxiety is real, and you shouldn’t suffer from it. Most importantly, your oral health shouldn’t suffer from it either. Going to the dentist regularly is crucial, and anything you do that helps with that is good. But, there’s one final cause of dental anxiety we haven’t talked about:

The fear of the dental bill.

Dental treatments are expensive. And a lot of people avoid going to the dentist because of the cost. Even if they aren’t afraid of the procedures, they want to protect their wallet. 

With a Carefree Dental Card, you won’t have to choose between your wallet and your dental health. Members can save 15% - 50%* per visit in most instances at participating dentists.

Conquer your fear of the dental bill and sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

Read More »

What Do Artificial Sweeteners Do to Your Teeth?

Everybody knows that sugar is bad for your teeth. It’s the main culprit behind cavities. So, we use artificial sweeteners as a “healthy” alternative to sugar. But, you may be surprised to learn that they’re not as healthy as you think. Artificial sweeteners like sucralose are just as bad for your teeth as sugar.

If you have a sweet tooth, but you need to hold back on the sugar, artificial sweeteners sound like a great option. With diet sodas, sugar-free gum, and other artificially sweetened foods readily available, you’d think you’re doing your teeth a favor by opting for them over their sugar-filled counterparts.

But a low-calorie, sugarless substitute with no health consequences is just too good to be true.

In some cases, it can even be detrimental to your smile.

Sucralose and other artificial sweeteners can cause cavities and tooth decay. Find out how they affect your dental health, and what you can do to avoid damage.

Sugar vs. Artificial Sweeteners on Your Teeth

The Effects of Sugar on Your Teeth

The logic behind choosing artificial sweeteners over sugar to protect your teeth makes sense. Oral bacteria that cause cavities feed on sugar

The more sugar you eat, the more well-fed and effective these bacteria are at destroying your teeth. But, how exactly?

The bacterial microorganisms break down sugar and release acids that weaken the enamel of your teeth (the hard, outer coating). The bacteria, acids, food debris, and saliva combine to form a plaque that sticks to the surface of your teeth. 

The acids in the plaque dissolve the enamel, creating shallow holes called cavities. These can grow deeper over time as the decay spreads down to the pulp of the tooth.

Obviously, consuming excessive amounts of sugary food and beverages isn’t good for your teeth. So, why not trade sugar for artificial sweeteners to keep your teeth healthy without giving up your favorite dessert?

The Effects of Artificial Sweeteners on Your Teeth

While artificial sweeteners don’t feed the bacteria on your teeth, they’re still bad for you. Artificial sweeteners like sucralose can cause cavities as well.

“There was no significant difference between the erosive potential of sugared and non-sugared soft drinks,” says a recent Australian study on the connection between your teeth and artificial sweeteners. They found that diet soda and sports drinks that use artificial sweeteners often do as much damage to teeth as those that have real sugar. 

Sugar-free drinks can actually soften dental enamel by 30-50%. After testing 23 different types of sports and soft drinks, they found that beverages that have low pH levels and contain acidic additives cause significant damage.

“Many people are not aware that while reducing your sugar intake does reduce your risk of dental decay, the chemical mix of acids in some foods and drinks can cause the equally damaging condition of dental erosion,” says Professor Eric Reynolds.

“Dental erosion occurs when acid dissolves the hard tissues of the tooth. In its early stages erosion strips away the surface layers of tooth enamel. If it progresses to an advanced stage it can expose the soft pulp inside the tooth.” continues Professor Reynolds. Teeth are more susceptible to tooth decay when tooth enamel is eroded because it’s more prone to bacterial growth.

The issue is that artificial sweeteners don’t protect your teeth from the damage caused by acid. 

Although artificial sweeteners aren’t fueling the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids the way sugar does, sugar substitutes are often found in beverages and candies that contain potentially harmful acidic ingredients.

The greatest culprits behind tooth damage are citric acid and phosphoric acid. You can find them in sugar-free candies and colas for added tanginess. While they taste good, they also harm your teeth.

Is Sugar-Free Gum Bad for You?

Now for some good news: you can still have sugar-free gum, as long as you stick to minty flavors. The same study at Melbourne found that gum can stimulate saliva flow that rinses away acids and help re-harden tooth enamel.

So, while artificial sweeteners are bad for your teeth, the positive qualities of sugar-free gum can undo the damage.

List of Artificial Sweeteners That Are Bad For Your Teeth

In case you didn’t know, there are a TON of artificial sweeteners out there. Below you’ll find a list of common artificial sweeteners and their names that are bad for your teeth:

  • Aspartame: APM, Aspartyl-phenylalanine-1-methyl ester, Equal Classic, NatraTaste Blue, NutraSweet
  • Erythritol: Sugar alcohol, Zerose, ZSweet
  • Glycerol: Glycerin, Glycerine
  • Glycyrrhizin: Licorice
  • Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate (HSH): Sugar alcohol
  • Isomalt: Sugar alcohol, ClearCut Isomalt, Decomalt, DiabetiSweet {also contains Acesulfame-K}, Hydrogenated Isomaltulose, Isomaltitol
  • Lactitol: Sugar alcohol
  • Maltitol: Sugar alcohol, Maltitol Syrup, Maltitol Powder, Hydrogenated High Maltose Content Glucose Syrup, Hydrogenated Maltose, MaltiSweet, SweetPearl
  • Mannitol: Sugar alcohol
  • Polydextrose (Derived from glucose and sorbitol): Sugar alcohol
  • Saccharin: Acid saccharin, Equal Saccharin, Necta Sweet, Sodium Saccharin, Sweet N Low, Sweet Twin
  • Sorbitol: Sugar alcohol, D-glucitol, D-glucitol syrup
  • Sucralose: 1',4,6'-Trichlorogalactosucrose, Trichlorosucrose, Equal Sucralose, NatraTaste Gold, Splenda
  • Tagatose: Natrulose
  • Xylitol: Sugar alcohol, Smart Sweet, Xylipure, Xylosweet

Is Stevia Bad For Your Teeth?

If you read through the list of common artificial sweeteners that are bad for your teeth, you may have noticed that stevia wasn’t on the list. Does this mean that stevia is good for your teeth?

Surprisingly, yes. Stevia is a good alternative to sugar in terms of cavities. That’s because stevia doesn’t contain fermentable carbohydrates.  

Tips to Avoid Tooth Erosion and Decay Due to Sweeteners

If you have a sweet tooth, sweeteners are really hard to avoid. Follow these tips to lessen your artificial sweetener consumption. Every step in the right direction can lower your risk of cavities.

  • Drink healthier alternatives: Drink water or milk instead of soft drinks. Water can help make the surface of enamel harder. Milk is not erosive at all.
  • Avoid sports drinks: Sports drinks are bad for your teeth. With or without sugar, the acidity is bad for dental enamel. Water’s great for rehydrating.
  • Be wary of sugar-free candy: They usually contain citric acid that can have a serious impact on oral health. Always check the ingredients, and keep consumption to a minimum.
  • When you brush matters: Avoid brushing right after drinking or eating acidic foods and beverages. This can actually wear away the enamel with the combination of erosion and abrasion, especially when you brush too hard. Wait around 30 minutes before brushing and drink and rinse with tap water beforehand.
  • Always check the ingredients: Some acidic ingredients are coded on labels. Be sure to check for ingredient numbers 330 (citric acid) and 338 (phosphoric acid).
  • Keep up with regular dental checkups: This will help keep your teeth protected and help your dentist diagnose cavities as early as possible before serious damage is done.

artificial sweeteners and your teeth

When Is It Okay to Have Artificial Sweeteners?

Even if artificial sweeteners are bad for your teeth, there are some benefits to them. They’re definitely better than sugar if you have health conditions and goals. Here are a few examples of when it’s ok to eat artificial sweeteners.

Weight Control

If you need to avoid sugar to lose weight or control weight, then artificial sweeteners may be helpful. They are non-nutritive, meaning they have virtually no calories. Still, some research suggests that artificial sweeteners aren’t as effective as weight loss aids as you think. Be wary of them nonetheless.


Unlike sugar, artificial sweeteners are not carbohydrates. So, they don’t raise your blood sugar levels. That’s why they’re often a good option for those who have diabetes. Still, it’s important to first check with your dietitian or doctor before using artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes.

Treat Tooth Damage Caused By Artificial Sweeteners For Less

It’s undeniable that artificial sweeteners are bad for your teeth. But, they’re increasingly hard to avoid, especially if you have a sweet tooth. If you do develop cavities due to artificial sweeteners, you’ll have to get treatment for them. Otherwise, you risk losing your teeth.

Still, a lot of people avoid going to the dentist due to the cost. But, that doesn’t have to be you.

You can save money on your cavity treatment with the best deal in dental!

With a Carefree Dental Discount Card, you can save on oral exams, x-rays, and fillings. Keep your teeth cavity-free by booking an appointment with a participating dentist today. And keep more money in your wallet. With Carefree Dental, you can save 15% - 50%* on dental procedures per visit in most instances. 

Become a Carefree Dental member today to experience the best deal in dental!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

Read More »

Coconut Oil Toothpaste: Benefits and DIY Guide

Ever since Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop revealed the benefits of oil pulling, using coconut oil toothpaste has been a popular trend. But, is coconut oil toothpaste really good for your teeth? Discover the benefits of coconut oil on your teeth, and learn how to make your own toothpaste easily.

What Is Coconut Oil Toothpaste?

Coconut oil is a natural oil found in coconut palm fruit. It’s edible, and it has a lot of benefits on your skin, in your cooking, and even on your teeth. Some studies claim that coconut oil helps with weight loss, others even tried to connect it to Alzheimer’s disease.

One thing’s for sure: coconut oil is now a household staple superfood. And if we’re being honest, it’s one of the tastiest ways to protect your teeth.

Why Use Coconut Oil Toothpaste? 6 Benefits of Oil Pulling

Coconut oil is great for your diet and your hair. But, is it really good for your teeth? Discover 6 benefits of coconut oil toothpaste and coconut oil pulling for your dental health. 

1. No Controversial Chemicals

A lot of people are worried about the ingredients in regular toothpaste. While fluoride is certainly a great ingredient that strengthens teeth, other chemicals aren’t as kind to your oral health.

A lot of toothpastes contain foaming agents. Ingredients like lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, and sodium lauryl ether sulfate (quite the mouthful) can influence your taste buds. This is why you may taste food as bitter after you brush your teeth.

2. Fights Bacteria and Cavities

Coconut oil naturally fights bacteria, and destroys bacteria that causes cavities. Whether you use coconut oil toothpaste, or coconut oil pulling, the ingredient itself does the work.

The enzymes in coconut oil attach themselves to the bacteria on your teeth, and pull them off. As you’re swishing the oil in your mouth, you can effectively remove a lot of harmful bacteria.

3. It’s Cheap

Coconut oil toothpaste is a trend, so it must be expensive, right? Well, you don’t have to buy the expensive brand coconut oil toothpaste with the fancy labels and eco-promises. It’s much cheaper to make it yourself.

4. Coconut Oil Is Safe For Pets

If your dog’s breath has ever made you regret you have a nose, you’re not alone. Their teeth also need dental care, which sadly many owners neglect. As a result, their teeth and gums rot away, causing that nasty smell.

If you want to keep your dog’s teeth clean, coconut oil toothpaste is a great option. It’s completely natural. And its benefits will bring the same positive results to your furry friends as to you. Just make sure you don’t use the same toothbrush.

5. Does Coconut Toothpaste or Oil Pulling Whiten Your Teeth?

Gwyneth Paltrow said it, so it must be true. Claims of coconut oil pulling whitening teeth have been around for a while. While it seems far fetched, the results speak for themselves. Especially if you include baking soda in your homemade toothpaste recipe.

The same enzymes that grab the harmful bacteria can also grab tannins. Tannins are the reason your teeth discolor. You can find them in coffee, white, and blueberries. 

If you consume a lot of these, your teeth will likely turn yellowish in color. However, if you use coconut oil toothpaste, you could prevent teeth discoloration.

6. Coconut Oil Is Easy to Make

Making your own toothpaste sounds like a difficult task. Surely, there are chemicals needed that no regular person can handle. But, that’s not true at all. In fact, these natural toothpaste recipes are easier to make than cupcakes.

How to Make Coconut Oil Toothpaste: DIY Guide

We’re not just going to give you a simple coconut oil toothpaste recipe. We’re going to give you 4. Discover how you can make regular coconut oil toothpaste, vegan coconut oil toothpaste, teeth whitening coconut oil toothpaste, and one surprise recipe.

Recipe 1: Super Simple ‘One Application’ Coconut Oil Toothpaste

This is the easiest homemade toothpaste recipe.


  • One teaspoon of baking soda
  • Half a teaspoon of finely ground sea salt
  • One drop of peppermint essential oil
  • Five drops of coconut oil
  • Three drops of water


Mix together all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Keep mixing until you get a fairly rigid and thick paste. Once you have this, dip your toothbrush into the bowl and scoop up the mixture. Brush your teeth as you would with normal toothpaste.

Recipe 2: Remineralizing and Whitening Coconut Oil Toothpaste

This tooth friendly formula will help your teeth regenerate quickly and stay strong.


  • Five teaspoons of magnesium powder
  • Three teaspoons of baking soda
  • Half a teaspoon of unprocessed sea salt
  • Five droplets of coconut oil
  • Half a teaspoon of stevia sweetener


Mix together the magnesium powder and the baking soda. Add the coconut oil, in small amounts, until it is also mixed together. Next, add the remaining ingredients and flavour with essential oils (as strong or as subtle as you prefer). Finally, carefully transfer into a clean container and store away from sunlight.

Recipe 3: Completely Vegan Coconut Oil Toothpaste

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, or you just do not want to ingest animal fats, pick a toothpaste recipe that either does not contain glycerine or uses only vegetable glycerine. There are no animal based products used in this coconut oil recipe.


  • Two teaspoons of vegetable glycerine
  • Four tablespoons of baking soda
  • Half a teaspoon of guar gum
  • Eight tablespoons of water
  • Five drops of coconut oil
  • Five drops of peppermint essential oil


Mix all the ingredients together in a small saucepan. Cook on a very low heat and make sure to keep stirring all the time. After about five minutes of gentle cooking, the ingredients should start to stiffen into a tough paste. 

Take this off the heat and leave to cool. You can taste the recipe at this point to determine how much flavouring you need. Finally, transfer the mixture into a clean container and store at room temperature.

Recipe 4: Coconut Surprise Homemade Toothpaste

This formula contains hydrogen peroxide, so if you are keen to avoid it for any reason, use another homemade recipe. It is very similar to the vegan formula, but it switches out glycerine for pure coconut oil. 

Again, this is useful for anybody hoping to avoid glycerine. The use of stevia is recommended here if the finished taste is too strong.


  • Six teaspoons of baking soda
  • A quarter teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide
  • Two tablespoons of coconut oil
  • Ten drops of peppermint essential oil


Put the baking soda into a mixing bowl. Add the other ingredients, one by one. Combine until you get a rigid paste. If the paste does not thicken enough, a little more baking soda can be added. If it gets too thick and starts to flake and turn to powder, add a little more coconut oil.

Feel free to add as much sweetener or essential oils for taste as you like. Finally, store this recipe in an opaque container to stop the hydrogen peroxide from reacting with the light.

Disadvantages of Coconut Oil Toothpaste

We can’t just talk about coconut oil toothpaste as a miracle cure. No matter how amazing it is, there are some disadvantages of coconut oil toothpaste you need to know.

Homemade coconut oil toothpaste doesn’t contain fluoride. Which means that your teeth won’t be strengthened against the harmful bacteria of plaque. And cavities will form much more easily.

It’s best to use coconut oil toothpaste alongside regular toothpaste. Don’t just rely on the magic powers of coconut oil. Using scientifically proven products along with natural ingredients can help balance your dental care.

Coconut Oil Won’t Help Pay Your Dental Bills

Coconut oil is truly a great natural ingredient. Use it to remove bacteria, whiten your teeth, and fight cavities. But, there’s one thing coconut oil can’t do: it can’t help you pay for dental treatments. Luckily, a Carefree Dental Card can.

With Carefree Dental, you can unlock huge savings on dental procedures at participating dentists. You can save between 15%-50%* per visit on your dental bill in most instances.

Ready to save on getting healthy teeth? Learn more when you sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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Receding Gums: Cause, Treatment, Prevention

 My Gums are Receding, What Do I do Now?

A receding gum line can be alarming. When you notice that your gums get thinner and you can see more and more of your teeth, it’s fair to be concerned. Receding gums can affect your confidence, comfort, and overall health. Pluc, you could also be at risk of losing your teeth.

But if you know the cause of receding gums, you can also find out what treatments and preventive measures you can take to improve your health.

What Do Receding Gums Look Like?

Gum recession isn’t a sudden change in your gum line. It’s the gradual disappearance of your gum tissue that covers and protects your teeth. But, just because it’s gradual, doesn’t mean it’s nothing to be concerned about. An untreated receding gum line can cause a host of health issues.

You may be surprised to learn that gum recession is very common. Over 50% of US population has a form of gum recession. But, it’s especially prevalent in older age groups. In fact, 88% of people over the age of 65 experience receding gums. 

So, it’s a common issue, but all the more important to address. That’s why it’s crucial that you’re aware of the warning signs of gum recession.

Signs and Symptoms of Gum Recession

Before your diagnosis, you probably noticed some of the common signs and symptoms associated with receding gums: 

  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity or pain
  • Visible lengthening of teeth
  • Exposed roots of teeth
  • Changes in tooth color, due to exposed cementum
  • Wider spaces between teeth
  • Gum inflammation 

Why Are My Gums Receding?

Having receding gums is a common dental sign of aging. But, there are a variety of other factors that can make gum recession arrive earlier and faster. 

Generally, the cause of receding gums is poor oral health and hygiene. If you don’t brush your teeth well, you’re at risk of developing gingivitis. 

Gingivitis is a common type of gum inflammation. In fact, it’s the most common cause for gum recession. Luckily, improving your oral hygiene habits can alleviate it quickly.

But, poor dental hygiene isn’t the only cause for gum recession. Brushing your teeth too aggressively can also wear your gum line away. 

And there are various habits and diseases that can cause or worsen gum recession. People with diabetes and other immunological problems are at a higher risk of gum recession, too. 

Some of the factors that can contribute to receding gums include:

  • Long-term aggressive teeth brushing
  • Long-term neglect of teeth brushing
  • Tartar (hardened plaque) buildup
  • Hormonal changes (in women)
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • AIDS
  • Other autoimmune diseases
  • Long-term use of medications that cause xerostomia (dry mouth)
  • Fragile gum tissue caused by hereditary factors
  • Long-term use of dipping tobacco
  • Vitamin C deficiency
  • Tooth crowding
  • Bruxism

Receding Gums: Degrees of Severity

Did you know that dentists can measure your levels of gum recession? The severity of receding gums even has a measurement name: the Miller classification. Find out the common differences between classes of receding gums to help with your diagnoses.

The 5 stages of gum recession are:

  • Class I: Marginal tissue recession that doesn’t extend past the mucogingival junction, the area where the fragile cheeks and floor of the mouth meet the firmer, keratinized tissue around the teeth and palate.
  • Class II: Marginal tissue recession extends beyond the mucogingival junction. However, there is no loss of attachment to bone or soft tissue.
  • Class III: Includes periodontal (gum) attachment loss or malpositioning of the teeth.
  • Class IV: Severe bone or soft tissue loss in the interdental area with or without severe malpositioning of teeth.

Treatment Options for Receding Gums

If you have receding gums, you probably want to treat them as soon as possible. Restoring the beauty of your smile and alleviating the painful symptoms is very important. But, treating gum recession isn’t an easy process.

The best thing you can do is prevent gum disease and recession from happening in the first place. By taking preventive measures, you can protect your gum line effectively. And the best way to prevent receding gums is to brush your teeth and floss properly regularly.

But, if your dentist has already identified gum disease, don’t worry. The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner the treatment starts. And the damage will be significantly less.

Here are some treatment options for gum disease to prevent receding gums in time:

  • Scaling & root planing: A periodontist or dentist can perform this procedure. Scaling involves scraping tartar from the teeth, both above and below the gumline. And root planing eliminates rough areas on the roots of your teeth, where bacteria are likely to collect.
  • Prescription mouth rinses: Prescription mouthwash for gingivitis contains chlorhexidine, an antimicrobial agent.
  • Antiseptic chips: These chips release chlorhexidine over time, which is an effective disinfectant.
  • Antibiotic gel: The dentist will apply this gel to the gum pockets to prevent further infection.
  • Antibiotic microspheres: These release minocycline, another substance that treats infections.
  • Enzyme suppressants: These oral medications reduce the body’s enzymatic responses that can break down gum tissue.
  • Flap surgery: This surgery can remove tartar and reduce the size of the periodontal pockets that occur when the gums recede.
  • Gum grafts: In severe cases, the only way to rebuild your gum line is to do a gum draft. This procedure involves taking a thin piece of tissue from elsewhere in your mouth, then attaching it where gum tissue has receded. After it heals, the previously exposed tooth root is covered again, reducing sensitivity and preventing tooth decay.

Access Cheaper Gum Recession Treatments

A receding gum line is an important oral health issue. The exposed roots and nerves of your teeth can be incredibly painful. And the only way to treat gum recession is with surgery. But, dental surgery tends to fetch a high price tag too.

But, you don’t have to pay full price for them with a Carefree Dental Card. Our dental discount plan can unlock huge savings at participating dentists. Members can save 15% - 50%* per visit in most instances at participating dentists.

Sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today to get gum recession treatment cheaper!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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Are Cavities Contagious? The Shocking Truth

The flu. Chickenpox. Measles. There are a lot of contagious illnesses out there. But, are cavities contagious? It seems like a crazy idea at first. But, there’s more truth to it than you think. Discover the contagious aspect of cavities, and what you can do to prevent them.

What Are Cavities?

In simple terms, cavities (also called caries or tooth decay) are holes in your teeth. These holes are permanently damaged areas on your enamel, the hard outer layer of your teeth. What’s worse, these holes are constantly expanding. So, a cavity can only get worse.

There are three types of cavities: pit and fissure, smooth surface, and root cavities. These are all classified based on the surfaces of the teeth that they impact.

Cavities are also extremely common. Over 90% of people in the United States have had cavities. Chances are, you know someone that has a cavity or has had one. And that’s why it’s important to understand if they really are contagious. 

How Do Cavities Form?

There are various reasons why cavities can form, including contagion. But, how they form happens the same way each time.

A sticky film of bacteria called plaque builds up on your teeth. This bacteria eats sugar and releases acid. The plaque bacteria’s acid destroys your tooth enamel, and the result is tooth decay. When you eat sugary or acidic foods, this process becomes even faster.

If you don’t remove it, plaque turns into a hard substance called tartar. At that point, only a dentist can remove it.

Are Cavities Contagious?

Shockingly, cavities are contagious. You can’t “catch a cavity” like you can catch a cold. However, you can “catch” cavities when you share bacteria with someone who has cavities or poor dental hygiene. Technically, that makes cavities a contagious disease.

The bacteria called streptococcus mutans is the real culprit behind cavities. As with any other contagious ailment, this bacteria can be spread from one person to another. 

And the most common ways to spread cavities? Sharing eating utensils and kissing.

Why Are Cavities Dangerous?

You may think that a tiny hole in your tooth isn’t something to worry about. But, a cavity can quickly become painful. It can even threaten your life.

Since cavities are permanent and constantly expanding, they pose danger over time. Once the cavity eats through your enamel and dentin, tooth decay can reach your nerves. By this point, cavities are excruciatingly painful. And losing your tooth is the least of your worries now.

If you still don’t get treatment for cavities, it can get worse. Tooth decay can spread to your face and lymph nodes. Ultimately, this decay and infection can cause heart disease and strokes. And these are definitely life-threatening conditions.

Cavities Are Even More Contagious For Children

Researchers found that 30% of three-month-olds, 60% of six-month-olds, and 80% of two-year-olds were infected with cavity-causing bacteria. The reason for this is because the contagious cavities were passed on to them by their parents.

No matter how loving and caring parents are, if they have cavity-causing bacteria, they can easily infect their children. But, of course, adults can pass the contagion to other adults just as easily.

How to Prevent Cavities

Luckily, preventing cavities is easy. Here’s what you should do and avoid to lower your chance of catching contagious cavities and developing them.

Prevent Cavity Contagion

Since cavities are contagious, you need to be mindful of who you share bacteria with. If you live with someone who has cavities, or who has poor dental hygiene, monitor what you share.

Avoid eating with the same utensils, sharing water bottles, and kissing with that person. At least until they get treatment for their cavities.

And if you’re the one with the cavity, be mindful of the people you come in contact with. Warn them about your condition and the contagious nature of cavities. And teach them how to take steps to prevent cavities. Finally, don’t share glasses, toothbrushes or kisses with anyone if you have a cavity.

Most importantly, be sure to get treatment as soon as possible.

Prevent Cavity Development

The most important this you can do to prevent cavities is to practice proper dental hygiene. Brush and floss regularly. Ideally, you should brush your teeth twice a day. Cleaning your tongue regularly is also very effective in eliminating cavity-causing bacteria from your mouth.

Fluoride is a natural material that strengthens your enamel. While it can’t reverse a cavity, it can strengthen your teeth against the bacteria that causes it. Use fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities easily.

One of your greatest natural defenses against cavities is your saliva. It washes away the bacteria before they form cavities. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and increase your saliva production.

Since the bacteria that causes cavity contagion feeds on sugar, avoiding sugary foods and drinks can help lower the risk of tooth decay. Regular dental cleanings and oral examinations can also help keep your dental hygiene healthy.

What to Do If You Have a Cavity

Firstly, you need to know how to tell if you have a cavity. Tooth sensitivity, pain, and unusual discoloration are clear signs of a cavity. 

If you notice that you have a cavity, turn to a dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you receive treatment for it, the less likely you’ll develop complications. And even better, you won’t be contagious anymore either.

Your dentist will evaluate the type and severity of your cavity, and they’ll recommend the most effective treatment for it. Common cavity treatments are fillings, dental crowns, and root canals

Even if your tooth is beyond saving, a dentist can recommend an alternative that saves the beauty of your smile.

Save On Your Cavity Treatment

The best way to prevent contagious cavities from destroying your teeth and dental health is with regular dentist visits. However, a lot of people don’t go to the dentist because of the cost. 

Even if they have cavities, they fear the price of the treatments. But that doesn’t have to be the case for you.

With a Carefree Dental Card, you won’t have to choose between your wallet and your dental health. Our dental discount plan can unlock huge savings at participating dentists. Members can save 15% - 50%* per visit in most instances at participating dentists.

Save on all your cavity treatments and sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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12 Bad Teeth Habits You Need to Stop Now

Bad habits die hard, right? But, these bad dental habits aren’t just annoying. They’re also bad for your teeth. If you do these actions regularly, you wear away the enamel on your teeth, making them more susceptible to cavities, breaking, and discoloration. Not to mention, a host of other problems. 

To avoid bad teeth and unnecessary trips to the dentist, you need to make these lifestyle changes immediately.

1. Biting Your Nails Is a Bad Habit

Nail-biting isn’t a common bad habit among adults. But, studies have shown that 60% of children and 45% of teenagers bite their fingernails. Which is a crucial time in kids’ lives when their permanent teeth grow, and their bite shapes.

You wouldn't think that nail-biting has much of an impact on the health of your teeth. But, regular nail-biting can cause our teeth to shift out of place. What’s worse, it can also potentially result in chips and cracks in the tooth and splinters in the enamel.

Luckily, nail-biting is a relatively easy bad habit to break. Try regularly trimming your nails and applying bitter-tasting nail polish to them. Since nail biting is a common stress reliever, finding another way to relieve stress such as drawing or writing can help people put a stop to this tooth-damaging habit.

2. Chewing On Toothpicks Is Bad For You

How can toothpicks be bad for your teeth? They’re supposed to clean your teeth, not damage them. Right? Actually, toothpicks are bad for your teeth in two different ways: improper use, and chewing on them.

Proper toothpick use can help remove food particles and debris from your teeth. But, if you're not careful, you could damage your tooth enamel, lacerate gum tissue, and even cause a broken tooth. Plus, bonding and veneers can chip or break with improper toothpick use. 

Additionally, aggressive toothpick use could damage the roots of the teeth, especially where the gums have pulled away from the teeth leaving root surfaces exposed. A broken splinter could also lodge itself in the gum, resulting in an infection if not removed. This is just another reason why you should avoid chewing on a toothpick.

To protect your teeth and gums against damage, choose other ways to remove food from your teeth such as dental floss or brushing. If you must use a toothpick, use it carefully so you don't aggravate the gums or cause abrasions on the teeth. And never chew on a toothpick aimlessly.

3. Chewing Ice Can Cause Bad Teeth

The cold temperature and the hardness of ice cubes can cause serious damage to your teeth. Curbing this bad habit is critical to maintaining strong and healthy teeth.

Interestingly, craving and chewing ice may be a sign of anemia. The reason for this craving is unclear, but it’s a common side effect of iron deficiency. Some people crave chewing on ice, paper, or other substances with no nutritional value as a way to relieve stress. 

However, it’s important to point out that chewing on anything unnecessarily is bad for your teeth.

If you have this bad habit, a visit with a physician may be in order to see if you have an iron deficiency. If it's just stress, find a different way to relieve it. Alternatively, simply adding a regular yoga practice to your routine could help you break this bad teeth habit.

4. Clenching and Grinding Your Teeth Is Bad

Clenching or grinding your teeth can cause a significant amount of pressure to the gums and jaw structure and can also cause fractures and micro-fractures in your teeth. (Micro-fractures are weakened areas in your teeth that put them at risk for further damage._

The main cause for teeth grinding is stress. You need to find a healthy way to relieve stress that isn’t bad for your teeth. Coloring, physical exercise, and meditation are excellent stress relievers.

Alternatively, you could also wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth. While it’s a temporary solution that doesn’t break the bad habit, at least it protects your teeth.

5. The Bad Habit of Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is one of the first bad habits we have in our lives. It’s a common stress reliever for babies and young children. While most of us abandon thumb sucking by age 8, many adults still turn to this bad habit in times of stress.

But, it’s dangerous to suck on your thumbs after your permanent teeth have come in. Even if you were born with perfectly aligned teeth, thumb sucking could cause changes to the alignment of your teeth and jaw. This can result in eating and breathing difficulties. And the only way to correct misaligned teeth is with braces.

The best way to avoid developing bad teeth from thumb sucking is to abandon this bad habit once and for all.

6. Biting Pencils Causes Bad Teeth

As a child gets older, he or she may substitute thumb sucking for other actions like chewing on pencils and other objects. This action could be a nervous tick or simply a way to handle stress. But, it could also be a symptom of anemia.

Holding an object such as a pen or pencil between your teeth can supply a significant amount of pressure on your teeth and gums. This can result in cracked or loose teeth and other dental issues.

Putting a stop to this bad habit before any damage is done can help your teeth stay healthy and strong for a very long time.  

7. Biting Into Lemons Can Be Bad For Your Teeth

Lemons are very healthy. They’re a great source of vitamin C, they have detoxifying benefits, and they improve alertness. But, biting into a lemon is a bad idea.

Lemons contain high levels of citric acid which can quickly wear away the enamel on your teeth. This can then result in greater tooth issues including cavities. Even sipping water with a lemon slice can damage the enamel to some degree.

If you crave that tartness and you must have that lemon fix, at least swish your mouth with water afterward. Don’t let the acidic taste of lemon linger on your teeth, as it does more damage.

8. Brushing Too Hard Is Also Bad For Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth is a crucial part of proper dental care. You need to do it twice a day as part of your dental hygiene routine. But, brushing wrong is also bad for your teeth. 

If you brush too hard, you can also damage your enamel, irritate your gums, and cause cavities. This is why it’s crucial to always brush your teeth in the right manner. Brushing harder doesn’t mean that your teeth will be cleaner.

To help prevent damage caused by brushing your teeth too hard, choose a good toothbrush. One that’s firm enough to remove plaque but soft enough not to cause damage to the enamel. A soft-bristled toothbrush can also help prevent gum damage.

Better teeth brushing habits include brushing for at least two minutes, using a light touch, and holding the brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums.

9. Brushing Right After Eating Isn’t a Good Habit Either

Leftover food particles after eating can damage your teeth. And the best way to clean your teeth is to brush them. So, it’s logical to brush your teeth after eating, right? A lot of people think so, but the reality is quite different.

Turns out that brushing your teeth right after eating is a bad habit as well. Your teeth are still sensitive, and brushing can easily wear away your teeth’ enamel. Especially after breakfast with acidic foods like coffee or orange juice.

Wait 30 minutes to an hour after eating to brush your teeth. Better yet, brush your teeth before breakfast in the morning to take care of your dental hygiene in the safest way possible.

10. You Need to Stop Using Your Teeth as a Tool

People often use their teeth as tools for a variety of tasks. You can tear open a bag of potato chips, uncap a bottle of nail polish, straighten a bent fork tine, or rip a price tag off a piece of clothing. It might seem convenient at the time but it's a bad idea for the long-term health of your teeth. 

Using your teeth as tools can cause them to crack or chip, especially at the edges. Even if you brush and take care of your dental hygiene regularly, you can develop bad teeth from this. After all, you wouldn’t want a dental emergency to happen to you.

Putting a stop to this bad habit will help protect your teeth against preventable damage. A simple way to break this bad habit is to keep real tools handy. You’ll be less likely to resort to using your teeth instead.

11. Drinking Soda Is Bad For You and Your Teeth

Over half of the population of the United States drinks at least one can of soda a day. Soda is really bad for your health overall, and it’s also very bad for your teeth. Carbonated beverages tend to be very acidic. 

Drinking soda regularly can cause tooth decay around your gum line and weaken your enamel. There is also a significant amount of sugar in soda. One of the major contributors to cavities is too much sugar consumption. Finally, if losing your teeth isn’t scary enough for you, soda also stains your teeth. So, it’s also bad for your teeth aesthetically.

But, what about sugar-free soda? Drinking sugar-free or diet soda might give us some benefits such as lower calories, but it still contains harmful acids that damage the tooth enamel.

Your best bet when it comes to protecting your teeth and gums is to eliminate carbonated beverages altogether. The initial transition to healthier beverages might be a challenge. However, you’ll stop craving it or enjoying it if you do decide to drink it again eventually. 

Cutting soda from your diet won't just have dental health benefits. It will be good for the rest of your body as well.

12. Smoking Is the Ultimate Bad Habit for Teeth

Smoking is probably the most well-known bad habit. Smoking significantly increases your chance of developing cancer. It also contributes to wrinkles and signs of aging. But, one of the biggest negative effects of smoking happens in your dental health. After all, your teeth are the first to come into contact with the harmful ingredients of smoke.

Smoking also causes more dental plaque and accelerates the severity of gum disease. Other dental health issues include periodontal disease and bone loss. Smoking also causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream. 

This makes people who smoke more susceptible to infections and hinders the body's ability to properly heal infected gums. Not to mention how smoking stains your teeth.

If you think smokeless tobacco is better, think again. Just one can of chewing tobacco delivers more nicotine than over 60 cigarettes. The tobacco irritates the gum tissue, causing gum recession, root exposure, and eventually tooth decay. The exposed roots can cause difficulty in eating or drinking as they are more sensitive to hot and cold.

If that wasn’t bad enough, sometimes they add sugar to smokeless tobacco to improve flavor. Which means an even greater risk of tooth decay. Not to mention that tobacco often contains sand and grit which furthers the damage to the teeth and gums.

There are a million and one reasons why you should stop smoking or chewing tobacco. And if you care for your teeth, you’ll need to quit this bad habit immediately. It’s hard. No doubt. However, nicotine patches and therapy can go a long way in curbing your cravings.

Get Your Bad Teeth Fixed For Cheaper

Quitting these unhealthy habits is crucial to protect your teeth and oral health. If you keep doing them, you may experience a lot of pain, lose teeth, and develop life-threatening conditions. And even if you manage to break these bad habits, your teeth may need some care to go back to their healthy state.

Don’t wait to have your bad teeth fixed because of the cost. With a Carefree Dental Card, you can unlock huge savings on dental procedures at participating dentists. You can save between 15%-50%* per visit on your dental bill in most instances.

Ready to save on getting healthy teeth? Learn more when you sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.


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How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?

Everybody wants a perfectly white smile. But, is the cost of teeth whitening worth it? Find out everything you need to know about the teeth whitening options you have, what it costs on average, and how you can get pearly whites for cheaper.

What Is Teeth Whitening?

The usual color of your teeth isn’t white. They usually have a yellowish tint to them. This is thanks to staining that our everyday activities, eating, and drinking cause.

Teeth whitening is the procedure to restore the original whiteness of your teeth. This is a cosmetic procedure, and it doesn’t improve or affect the usability of your teeth. But, it can be beneficial in a lot of other ways.

Many people see white teeth as a sign of health and status. A pearly white smile can influence your image, self-confidence, and mental health. These are reasons enough to invest in whitening your teeth.

What Causes Teeth Staining?

Your teeth are naturally white. However, there are certain foods or activities that can discolor your teeth. You can avoid some of these to maintain the whiteness of your teeth for longer.

The most common reasons for tooth staining are:

  • Eating habits: Some foods and drinks, such as coffee, wine, and tea include tannins. These chemicals settle on your teeth and attach color compounds to themselves. If you regularly drink coffee, you’re more at risk of yellow teeth.
  • Smoking: Smoking is bad for your health in many ways. And you can add the discoloration of your teeth to that list too. The nicotine in cigarettes leaves brown deposits on your teeth.
  • Drugs or medication: Some chemicals found in certain medication can also discolor your teeth.
  • Grinding: If you grind your teeth, you wear the enamel on your teeth. The enamel is the hard white substance that protects your teeth. The next layer of the tooth is the yellow dentin. If you grind the enamel away, you’re bound to weaken your teeth and reveal the yellow layer underneath.
  • Old age: There’s a direct correlation between aging and staining teeth. That’s why older patients who want their teeth whitened won’t get the same results as a teenager.

Home Remedies vs. Professional Dental Procedures

There are various ways you can whiten your teeth. The cost of home teeth whitening kits and professional procedures differs based on the brand and practice. But, if you’re looking to have your teeth whitened, these are the best options for you:

Home Teeth Whitening Kits

These are the cheapest and most convenient ways to whiten your teeth. But, their effectiveness and safety isn’t guaranteed. 

Usually, over-the-counter teeth whitening kits include a bleaching gel. This bleaching agent isn’t as concentrated as what you’d find at a dentist. It usually comes in the form of strips or as a gel with a one-size-fits-all tray.

Take Home Teeth Whitening Kits

If you want a compromise between effectiveness and cost, a take home teeth whitening kit may be your best choice. The dentist provides you with the necessary materials and guidance to whiten your teeth at home. However, this method takes a lot of time.

The dentist gives you a low-concentration peroxide gel. You’ll have to apply this on your teeth with the help of a custom-made tray.

Professional Teeth Whitening at a Dentist

This is the most effective way to whiten your teeth. But, it’s also the teeth whitening method with the highest cost. You’ll achieve significant color change quickly with the help of a dentist.

During a teeth whitening appointment, the dentist places a high-concentration peroxide bleaching agent on your teeth. Usually, this stays on your teeth for 15-20 minute long intervals.

If your teeth aren’t badly stained, you can walk out of the dentist within an hour with a shiny white smile.

Some dentists also use a laser teeth whitening treatment. While laser teeth whitening comes with a higher cost, it’s less harmful to your enamel.

How Much Does Teeth Whitening Cost?

The cost of the teeth whitening procedure depends on a lot of factors. The method you use is crucial to calculating your budget for whiter teeth. While at-home kits are cheaper, they’re not as effective and don’t give you lasting results. And professional teeth whitening costs more, but it lasts longer too. You may save more money with it in the long run.

Over-the-counter teeth whitening kits usually cost between $20-100. But, it depends on the brand. You can find these in drug stores or pharmacies as they’re very popular.

Every dental practice prices their teeth whitening procedures individually. However, you’ll probably find the average cost of a take home kit in the $100-400 price range. Whereas an appointment with the dentist can be anywhere between $300-1500 on average.

The final cost will depend on how many whitening sessions you have and what kind of equipment the dentist uses to perform them. For example, laser whitening is usually a more expensive option. 

The above figures are estimates, based on current market prices. But you should remember that the cost of products and treatments will vary according to location, brand, and surgery rates.

Is Professional Teeth Whitening Worth the Cost?

Looking at the price tag, professional teeth whitening seems like a lot more expensive than just a simple at-home kit. But is the price difference justified? Is professional teeth whitening worth the cost?

Whitening your teeth isn’t without risk. Trusting a trained professional to do it for you isn’t just faster and more effective. It’s also safer. 

They’ll know how to whiten your teeth without damaging your enamel or gums. And they’ll use medical-grade materials and tools to restore the whiteness of your teeth.

If you’re looking for a quick, effective, and safe way to whiten your teeth, the cost of the procedure is definitely worth it.

The Risks of Teeth Whitening

Just like every medical procedure, teeth whitening comes with a few risks. Especially if you’re resorting to home remedies. If you’re not careful, teeth whitening can cost you more than money. It can also cost you your health.

  • Tooth sensitivity: Bleach is a ruthless material. So, you may feel increased sensitivity after you had your teeth bleached. Hot or cold temperatures, pressure, or touch can cause you pain. Some people even experience spontaneous pains called zingers. Luckily, this sensitivity usually only lasts a few days. And a dentist can recommend products or medication to alleviate the pain.
  • Gum irritation: Peroxide can irritate your gums. That’s why dentists put a guard on your gums when they’re working with highly concentrated peroxide to bleach your teeth. However, over-the-counter kits don’t provide this safety measure.
  • Technicolor teeth: If you have implants, dental crowns, or veneers, the results of teeth whitening may be different than you expect. Bleach doesn’t affect these restorative tools. So, your surrounding teeth may become whiter after bleaching than the fake teeth. This phenomenon is called “technicolor teeth”.

Teeth Whitening Cost in Time

Money isn’t the only thing you spend on a procedure like this. Teeth whitening also costs your time. How long you can see results depends on which method you chose, and what level of shade difference you want to achieve.

On average, the time cost of teeth whitening is 1-2 months with over-the-counter kits. That’s if you diligently apply the gel or strip to your teeth every day.

If you get a take home teeth whitening kit from the dentist, expect to spend a longer time on it. You’ll need to apply the bleaching gel for 2 hours every day. Paired with a teeth whitening toothpaste, you can expect to see results in 2-3 weeks. But, the results last longer than most methods.

The fastest way to whiten your teeth is to go to a dentist. They can brighten your teeth by several shades in less than two hours. However, if you have some severe staining, they’ll ask you to return for a second appointment to complete the procedure. And they also may ask you to continue with take-home whitening to achieve the best results.

How to Whiten Your Teeth for Cheaper

Ultimately, teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure. This means that a lot of insurance plans don’t cover it. But, this doesn’t mean that you should resort to over-the-counter methods with a higher risk to achieve the perfect smile.

If you have a Carefree Dental Card, you can unlock huge savings on dental procedures at participating dentists. This means that you’ll get the same teeth whitening at a lower cost. You can save between 15%-50%* per visit on your dental bill in most instances.

Ready to save on your teeth whitening? Learn more when you sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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Deteriorating Teeth With Old Age


Aging is an inevitable part of life. Decades of eating, drinking, and talking certainly take a toll on your teeth. Deteriorating teeth is a common sign of aging. Taking care of your dental health and preventing tooth decay is crucial to keep the teeth you were born with. Learn about the risks of aging on your dental health and what you can do to keep your teeth in tip-top shape.

You Don’t Have to Lose Your Teeth

Old age used to mean dentures and veneers. People over the age of fifty didn’t usually keep their own teeth. Due to their oral hygiene, the effects of aging, and not visiting the dentist, they lost several or all of their teeth.

But, that doesn’t have to happen to you. If you understand the effects of aging on your teeth, and you actively try to prevent and treat dental issues, you have every chance to keep your own teeth throughout your life. 

The 5 Biggest Dental Problems For People Over 50

Wrinkles aren’t the only sign of aging. Deteriorating teeth are just as telling about a person’s age. And we’re not just talking about missing teeth. Here are the most common signs of aging on your teeth and dental health.

1. Dry Mouth Is a Common Side Effect of Medication

Saliva actually helps clean teeth regularly. When you lack the necessary amount of saliva, you have dry mouth. And this can be harmful to your teeth. One reason dry mouth is more common in older age is because it is a side effect of many medications, and taking medication is more common among older age groups.

A dry mouth doesn't necessarily mean you are thirsty all of the time. A common symptom of this condition is bad breath, and a sticky feeling in your mouth. You may also have difficulty swallowing.  

Luckily, dry mouth is an easy symptom to fix. Make sure you drink more water than usual. Chewing on sugar free gum can also help. If you still have dry mouth, a dentist can recommend a more effective treatment.

2. Gingivitis Can Turn Into a Serious Disease

If your gums are red, swollen, and bleed easily, gingivitis is probably the culprit. Gingivitis left untreated can turn into gum disease, which can lead to even more problems. You could lose your teeth due to more infection. But, you’d be lucky if your deteriorating teeth only stop there.

Untreated gum disease can lead to heart disease and even strokes. Luckily, it’s an easily preventable condition. All you need to do is have regular dental visits and dental care.

3. Tooth Decay Is the Most Common Sign of Deteriorating Teeth

One of the biggest signs of deteriorating teeth is tooth decay. The cause of this condition lies in poor dental hygiene. 

When you don’t brush your teeth and floss regularly, bacteria eats away at your teeth. Cavities can form, which may be painful. These cavities are often near old fillings or hard-to-reach spaces.

The deterioration of your teeth doesn’t stop at cavities though. The decay can continue to your gums, which can lead to early-stage gum disease. And you know that untreated gum disease could result in life-threatening conditions. 

Although your deteriorating teeth can be a great concern as you age, you can easily prevent it. Regular dental visits and possibly a boost in fluoride will help prevent tooth decay.

4. Make Sure Your Dentist Checks For Signs of Oral Cancer

The chance of having oral cancer rises with age. Smokers and heavy drinkers are even more at-risk of this illness. The best way to treat oral cancer is to receive a diagnosis early on. And the best person to diagnose it is your dentist.

Make sure your dentist checks for possible signs of oral cancer at your oral examination. This is just another reason regular dentist visits are crucial as you age.

5. Overcrowding Teeth Are a Common Problem for People Over 50

Your teeth shift with age. You may not even notice that they gradually overcrowd each other over time. The problem with overcrowded teeth isn’t necessarily aesthetic. The issue comes from the bacteria and food particles that get stuck in overcrowded teeth.

As flossing becomes more and more difficult, aging people abandon their oral hygiene. That’s when cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease develop. This means that overcrowded teeth are a big culprit for deteriorating teeth.

Luckily, not all hope is lost if you have overcrowded teeth above the age of 50. An orthodontist can sometimes fix the overcrowding with a retainer. But, you definitely need to commit to more frequent professional dental cleanings. These procedures can effectively clean your teeth and prevent poor dental hygiene from affecting your health.

Why Taking Care of Your Teeth Is Important

You may think that with today’s dental technology, you don’t have to worry about losing your teeth. You can always get implants, dentures, and veneers, right? Well, dental health is a little bit more complex than that. You need to take care of your aging mouth because you eat and talk with it.

If you take care of your deteriorating teeth, you can:

  • Avoid pain: Cavities and gum disease aren’t just dangerous. They’re also very painful. Seeing how easy it is to prevent them, it’s much easier to avoid the pain in the first place. 
  • Keep your costs low: Fillings, root canals, and dentures all cost money. The cheapest way to take care of your teeth is to try to keep as many of the original ones in your mouth as possible.
  • Prevent serious illnesses: Untreated gum disease can lead to heart problems and strokes. These are life-threatening illnesses. Taking care of your oral health means taking care of your general health as well.

How to Care for Your Deteriorating Teeth as You Age

If you’re over the age of 50, you need to pay special attention to your teeth. If you’re determined to keep as many of your teeth as possible, these 4 simple steps can go a long way in treating deteriorating teeth.

Keep Up With Your Oral Hygiene

You need to brush your teeth, floss, and clean your tongue at least twice a day, every day. Your regular oral hygiene routine can even include mouthwash if you’re so inclined.

If you’ve never brushed your teeth regularly, it’s never too late to start. Pick up this healthy habit, and you’ll see a quick improvement in the health of your teeth and gums.

Monitor Your Symptoms

As you age, you need to listen to your body. If you feel pain, or notice that something’s different about your oral health, speak to a dentist as soon as you can.

The discoloration of your teeth, gums, and tongue can be a sign of a serious illness. And a sharp pain or sensitivity in your teeth can be a cavity you didn’t know about. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms, even if they don’t seem related. 

Get Regular Dental Cleanings

Usually, you should get two professional dental cleanings a year. But, as you age, your dentist may recommend you more. Cleaning your overcrowded teeth and the parts of your mouth you can’t reach is crucial to sufficient oral health. 

Visit the Dentist for Oral Exams

Even if you don’t feel any pain, you should still visit a dentist for a regular checkup. A trained professional can notice if something’s wrong before you can. When it comes to deteriorating teeth, safe is definitely better than sorry.

Save Money on the Dentist with Your Deteriorating Teeth

Without a doubt, the best person to examine and treat your deteriorating teeth is the dentist. And as you age, this becomes even more crucial. If you don’t visit a professional, you risk further deterioration, losing your teeth, and even death.

A lot of people avoid going to routine oral exams because of the cost. Luckily, with a Carefree Dental Card, you won’t have to choose between your wallet and your dental health.

Our dental discount plan can unlock huge savings at participating dentists. How much? Members can save 15% - 50%* per visit in most instances at participating dentists. That’s huge!

Ready to save big on your next oral examination for deteriorating teeth? Sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

Read More »