Your Source for Six Month Braces and Porcelain Veneers

Friday, December 29, 2017

Tooth Enamel

Tooth enamel is very hard but...
That doesn't mean you can't break it.

Our office recommends to avoid eating "hard foods" such as popcorn husks. Don't crack nut shells with your teeth or chew on ice. Opening packages with your teeth can also damage the enamel.  Dr. Barr says, "Use the proper tool to open packages.  Your teeth are not tools."

It's not just the sugar - it's also the acid
Sugar and acids are your teeth's worst enemies. What are we talking about? Soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit juices, and candy.

Because of the acid content, Mountain Dew seems to be the worst of the worst. There is even a name for the damage it does and it is called "Dew Mouth."  Sports and energy drinks are also very acidic.

These erode the tooth enamel, making it highly susceptible to decay.  Parents, watch your kid's consumption of these because young children's enamel is more susceptible.  This makes these drinks even more damaging for kids.

Dr. Barr points out that acid drinks and foods do the most damage by the FREQUENCY of exposure to the teeth.  It's not really the quantity of acid as it is the frequency of exposure.  You will do far more damage sipping on a single can of soda throughout your workday than you would chugging down a "big gulp" in 5 minutes.  If the acidic beverage is consumed quickly, in one sitting, your saliva has the opportunity to "water down" the acid and bring the "pH" of your mouth back to neutral.  If you sip on acid, frequently... all day... the "pH" of your mouth is always in the "acid zone."  And, that's when enamel breaks down.

As well as eliminating the above (or at least reducing their consumption), it is recommended to always brush and floss after every meal.  If you can't, use a sugar-free xylitol chewing gum after a meal.  Also rinse your mouth with a high quality dental mouthwash.

Palm Beach Smiles 
Michael Barr, DDS
650 W. Boynton Beach Blvd, Suite 1- Boynton Beach, FL 332426
(561) 736-2377

Your Smile is Important

Learn what the American Dental Association has to say about why your smile is important.

The above video is found on the American Dental Association YouTube Channel.

Palm Beach Smiles 
Michael Barr, DDS
650 W. Boynton Beach Blvd, Suite 1- Boynton Beach, FL 332426
(561) 736-2377

Monday, December 25, 2017

Clear Orthodontic Braces

Invisible Braces

6 Month Braces are virtually invisible. Karyn is one of our patients wearing the Six Month Smiles clear braces. Can you see the braces?
  • What new career opportunities await you and your new smile?
  • How would your social life change with your new smile?
  • How will you feel about yourself?
Six Month Smiles™ "Fast" Adult Braces offers an easy, affordable, and effective alternative to traditional orthodontics and porcelain veneers in many cases. These remarkable results are possible in about 6 months.

Palm Beach Smiles 
Michael Barr, DDS
650 W. Boynton Beach Blvd, Suite 1- Boynton Beach, FL 332426
(561) 736-2377

Friday, December 22, 2017

Understanding Your Dental Plan

Learn more about what the American Dental Association has to say about understanding your dental plan.

The above video is found on the American Dental Association YouTube Channel.

Palm Beach Smiles 
Michael Barr, DDS
650 W. Boynton Beach Blvd, Suite 1- Boynton Beach, FL 332426
(561) 736-2377

Monday, December 18, 2017

Custom Dental Sports Mouth Guards

Sports Mouth Guards in Boynton Beach

I originally wrote this as a letter to the parents of my son's hockey teammates. However, it applies equally to all ages and all sports.

It's a bit long, but, I think you'll find it very informative. If you have a child in youth sports, this is really important.

Custom Athletic Mouth Guards vs. Over-the-counter
By Michael Barr, DDS

A few years ago, I became a "hockey dad." Previously, I knew very little about hockey other than it was a notoriously rough contact sport. Dental injuries traditionally top the list of hockey-related incidents. In fact, hockey is famous for producing toothless grins.

While my article may seem to be "hockey-centric," it bears mentioning that nearly ALL team sports can become "contact sports." That includes: baseball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, football, rugby, volleyball, martial arts (karate, judo, taekwondo, ju-jitsu, mixed martial arts, etc.), and others I'm probably forgetting at the moment.

And protecting teeth isn't just for kids in sports. It's just as important for adults!

Naturally, as a dad, I'm concerned about my son's safety and well-being. As a dentist, I have an even more acute awareness about protecting his precious teeth. Teeth don't grow back if they're broken or knocked out.

As a trained and experienced restorative dentist, I'll tell you it's better to preserve what nature gave you. Furthermore, a single tooth traumatically lost may have a lifetime cost of over $15,000 in maintenance and replacements. One tooth!

Figure 1: Look familiar? The mouth guard isn't being worn properly. Almost every player with a store-bought guard is doing this...because he or she has no choice. He can't breathe or talk during play with it properly on his teeth. This is NOT acceptable, and it's dangerous. It does nothing to protect the player.

Athletic mouth guards are rightfully required by many sports league rules. But from my observations at practices and games, VERY few are actually WORN by the players. By "worn," I mean actually in the mouth, on the teeth, where they're supposed to be. Most of the players simply bite and chew on one side while the rest of the mouth guard hangs outside the mouth like a cigar.

They might as well not have them at all. I compare it to the motorcycle helmets you see strapped to the side of seat, as the rider goes down the road with nothing on his head. Pointless!

Look at your player's store-bought mouth guard. Is it all chewed up and flattened? See Figure 2.

Figure 2: Does your player's guard look like this? All chewed up? The yellow arrows indicate where the guard has split all the way through. This is a stock store-bought mouth guard I bought as a temporary for my son right after he got braces. He chewed through it in a WEEK. I've since made him another custom mouth guard. I believe these stock mouth guards are worthless.

Athletic mouth guards can prevent tooth fracture or loss, jaw fractures, and lacerations. While many of you have heard that a custom athletic mouth guards may prevent concussion injuries, there is no current scientific evidence supporting this notion. It is still a controversial issue not yet proven with repeatable scientific data. The primary purpose of athletic guards remains the protection of teeth, jaws, and related soft tissues.

Athletes don't wear store-bought guards properly, because they can't!

I submit it's not a matter of the players simply not wanting to wear them. The fact of the matter is that they CAN'T wear them properly AND function as a sports team member simultaneously.

Here's the real issue: The majority (if not all) the mouth guards that aren't being worn properly are over-the-counter, boil-and-bite mouth variety. That type of mouth guard is nearly, if not completely, worthless... Because they don't fit (and stay put). The fit is so poor, the player can only keep it on his/her upper teeth by forcibly biting down on it. And if they do that, it restricts breathing significantly and prevents communications with other players.

Because they are so bulky, the players can't:
  • Talk to each other on the ice, court, or field.
  • Drink water.
  • BREATHE effectively when these bulky, loose mouth guards get in the way. It's been reported that a custom guard can increase oxygen intake by 30%.
And that's exactly the problem: The boil-and-bite guards are IN THE WAY. And, when they're in the way of breathing, it's a big problem to the athlete. So, he or she spits it out...or holds it sideways like a cigar out the side of the mouth to appease the refs who want them to "wear" the guards. The refs are too busy to strictly enforce this rule.

You should try to do a few hot-laps around the rink, court, or field and BREATHE while holding a store-bought guard in place. You won't like it! And, you'll want to spit the guard out just like your young players do.

You may have also noticed the store-bought guards don't seem to last very long. Many parents have told me they're buying a new guard every few weeks or every month. This is especially true if your player is chewing on it (see figures 1 and 2 above).

The answer is...

A professionally fitted CUSTOM mouth guard. A custom mouth guard fits over the teeth and gums very intimately and comfortably. When it goes in, it STAYS in. It will not fall off. It won't get in the way. See Figure 3.

Figure 3: Custom laminated athletic mouth guard.

My son puts his custom mouth guard in when he gets dressed for practice or the game. And it stays in his mouth, on his teeth, until he returns to the locker room. He can talk with it and call for a pass. He can drink water and stay hydrated with it in place. He can BREATHE on a breakaway without having to spit it out.

Figure 4: A custom guard is very comfortable. It can also be made in a number of colors.

How are custom mouth guards different than store-bought?

A store-bought athletic guard is a pre-fabricated plastic guard. Some of them are "boil-and-bite," which means you place them in hot water, softening the guard, and then molding it in the player's mouth. And even those do not fit all.

A custom guard can be made in one of two ways, and it's important to note the differences between them.

Vacuum-Formed Guard
The first type is a single layer of material that is adapted to a model of your player's teeth by heat and vacuum/suction. Many dentists have the equipment to make vacuum-formed guards right in their offices. So, some default to this as their "custom athletic mouth guard." It is better than an over-the-counter, boil-and-bite guard. But it's not the best.

Pressure-Formed Guard
The second type of custom guard is the BEST protection you can get for your player's teeth. It's a laminated, multi-layer guard that is adapted to the model by heat and PRESSURE. The reason I emphasized "pressure" is because it's a far superior method of adapting "thermo-formed" materials to a dental model.

This method uses special (and more expensive) equipment. Pressure-forming creates a much more accurate (and snug) fit. It also allows us to make a multi-layer, laminated guard, which protects teeth more effectively. When we add layers, we can add increased thickness to areas that need extra protection. This method takes more time and more materials. Of course, it costs more, too.

Figure 5: Pressure-formed mouth guards fit the teeth and gums like a tight glove. It will stay put until the player intentionally removes it.

Many dentists do not have the special pressure-forming equipment. If they don't, they'll have to send the case to a commercial lab that does. Some dentists may not be aware of the significant advantages to laminated, multi-layer, pressure-formed guards if they are not up to date on the latest sports-dentistry information.

Be sure to ask your dentist which type of guard he offers (vacuum vs. pressure or single vs. multiple laminated layers). The differences are significant enough to be worth asking.

How do I get a custom mouth guard?

Making a professional custom mouth guard requires an accurate impression (mold) of the player's teeth. This means you'll have to bring him or her to a dentist's office for the impression. If you've had braces, a dental crown, denture, or retainer made, you are probably familiar with the impression process.

Figure 6: Dental impression.

A model is made and then sent to the lab for the mouth guard to be made. Or they may be made right in the dental office if they have the proper lab equipment. The player will then need to return to the office to finish the fitting process. It's a two-appointment procedure.

If your player is growing or losing baby teeth, the guard will probably need to be remade as necessary to accommodate those changes.

What if the player has braces?

If your player is currently in braces, custom guards can be unfortunately difficult to fit, depending on what kind of hardware is on the teeth. And, because the braces hardware can change during the course of orthodontic treatment, a custom guard may only fit for a short time. A boil-and-bite designed for braces may be your best bet in some cases until the braces come off. But, you can count on having to buy many of them per season as your child will probably chew through them in a short time.

Shouldn't the guard have a strap (to attach to the helmet)?

While straps can be added to a custom guard, they are simply not necessary. Straps are popular with store-bought guards because they are often spit out by necessity (for reasons already mentioned). On the other hand, a custom guard stays put. It's not removed for talking, breathing, or even drinking water. Accordingly, a strap is not needed.

Straps can even be dangerous with a custom mouth guard. In football, a "face-mask" violation becomes even more worrisome if the strap is grabbed along with the face-mask. In hockey, I've seen helmets come off in collisions. A strap could cause trauma to the teeth. I recommend not using a strap.

Do mouth guards reduce concussions?

The short answer is: No. Despite advertising claims and "urban legend," there is no scientific evidence that mouth guards reduce the incidence of concussions. The primary reason to wear a mouth guard is to protect the teeth and surrounding tissues.

What is the cost?

A pressure-formed, laminated custom mouth guard costs about the same as or less than what you'd spend on multiple boil-and-bite guards. So, yes...the price is higher than a single guard bought at a sporting goods store. But, regardless of the low price of a store-bought guard, it's worth nothing if it DOES nothing. A stock store-bought guard may last a few weeks to a month (doing nothing, mind you). A custom made guard will easily last a whole season (or more), effectively protecting a player's teeth. And, since a mouth injury can cause life-long and costly issues, I believe custom mouth guards are an excellent investment and value.

There are few guarantees in life.

Of course, we know that hockey and other contact sports have risks. And, no piece of equipment can guarantee an injury-free season. Using the best equipment available certainly helps. But a chewed-up store-bought mouth guard with half of it (or all of it) hanging outside the player's mouth is useless and will not help prevent any injuries.

As a dentist and a hockey dad, I would urge you to consider obtaining a properly fitted, pressure-formed athletic mouth guard for your child athlete or for yourself, if you're an adult playing sports.

Palm Beach Smiles 
Michael Barr, DDS
650 W. Boynton Beach Blvd, Suite 1- Boynton Beach, FL 332426
(561) 736-2377

Friday, December 15, 2017

Quick Nutrition Tips

Nutrition Tips
Following a proper and nutritious diet not only helps keep your body healthy, but your mouth as well. Nutrition plays an important role in the health and cleanliness of your teeth, gums and mouth.

Limit Soda, Coffee and Alcohol
Although these beverages contain a high level of phosphorous, which is a necessary mineral for a healthy mouth, too much phosphorous can deplete the body's level of calcium. This causes dental hygiene problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. Beverages containing additives such as corn syrup and food dye can make pearly white teeth appear dull and discolored. Therefore, it is best to choose beverages like milk, which helps strengthen teeth and build stronger enamel, giving you a healthy, beautiful smile.

Drink Tap Water When Possible
If bottled water is your main source of drinking water, you could be missing the decay-preventive benefits of fluoride.

Monitor Your Low-Carb Lifestyle
Despite their popularity, low-carb diets can cause bad breath. A balanced, dental-healthy diet can help reduce tooth decay.

Increase Your Calcium Intake
After age 20, both men and women lose more bone mass than they form so it is important to restore lost calcium with a daily supplement and by eating fruits and vegetables high in calcium, such as dark leafy greens. These foods will also help to lower the acid buildup in the saliva that can lead to breakdown of tooth enamel.

Take a Daily Dose of Vitamins C and D
These vitamins help support the absorption of healthy mouth minerals such as calcium and phosphorous, which support the bone and gum tissue, keeping it healthy. This is an easy way to maintain dental hygiene and fight gum disease.

Put Out the Cigarette
Smoking cigarettes is one of the greatest contributors to the aging mouth. According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 22 million women in the United States smoke cigarettes. In addition to staining teeth, smoking interrupts calcium absorption in the body and can also cause potentially life-threatening diseases such as oral cancer. So stop smoking and enjoy the health benefits as well as a healthy, beautiful smile.

The above article is from:

Palm Beach Smiles 
Michael Barr, DDS
650 W. Boynton Beach Blvd, Suite 1- Boynton Beach, FL 332426
(561) 736-2377

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Oral Care During the Holidays: Sugar-Free Countdown to Christmas

Below is an excerpt from an article found on that was written by Sher Warkentin

Maintaining good oral care during the holidays can be tough with the bombardment of sugary sweets all season. Counting down to Christmas with an advent calendar is a fun activity for your kids, but if they are filled with chocolate and sweets, it won't be so great for their teeth. Check out these simple sugar-free ideas to fill your countdown instead.

Holiday Activity Fun
Fill your child's countdown with special moments that they will cherish all year round. For each day of the month come up with a fun holiday activity that you can do together as a family. Some ideas include: watching a holiday movie, going ice skating, building a snowman and looking at Christmas lights. Write down the activity on a slip of paper and tuck one note into each day of your advent calendar.

A Puzzling Treat
Give your child a fun challenge with a customized puzzle. Draw a picture or write a special message on a blank puzzle. Break the pieces apart and place one puzzle piece in each day of your advent calendar. Every day your child can add the pieces together until they have a completed puzzle revealing a special holiday message or fun activity to do together.

To read the entire article visit

The remainder of the article details the following:

  • Sugar-Free Trinkets
  • Story-A-Day

Palm Beach Smiles 
Michael Barr, DDS
650 W. Boynton Beach Blvd, Suite 1- Boynton Beach, FL 332426
(561) 736-2377

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Dental Grills: The Bad Things

Bad Effects Of Dental Grills
Dental grills, also known as “grillz,” have become popular among some teens and adults due to their popularity among celebrities, especially rap musicians. Grills are decorative covers that snap over one or more teeth. They are usually made of gold, silver or other precious metals. But less expensive grills are often made from base metals that can cause irritation or an allergic reaction.

There are no long-term studies of dental grills, so there are no data about long-term safety or about problems resulting from long-term wear.

Grills can promote plaque buildup and tooth decay because food particles and bacteria may build up between the teeth and the grill. A grill may also cause abrasion of the teeth that border it. Excessive wearing of grills may discolor teeth, too, so grill fans may need to whiten teeth when they decide to stop wearing the grill.

Anyone who wears a dental grill should be especially attentive to dental hygiene, and follow a consistent routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing. Also, be sure to remove the grill before eating and rinse it often to remove bacteria and food particles. Talk to your dentist before getting a dental grill and be sure to find out how best to reduce the risk of bacterial buildup and other complications.

The above article is from:

Palm Beach Smiles 
Michael Barr, DDS
650 W. Boynton Beach Blvd, Suite 1- Boynton Beach, FL 332426
(561) 736-2377

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Tobacco Risks on Oral Health

Dr. Barr, unfortunately, has come across several cases of oral cancer.  All of them were smokers.  

Learn what the American Dental Association has to say about tobacco risks on oral health.

The above video is found on the American Dental Association YouTube Channel.

Palm Beach Smiles 
Michael Barr, DDS
650 W. Boynton Beach Blvd, Suite 1- Boynton Beach, FL 332426
(561) 736-2377

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Kids' Healthy Teeth During the Holidays

Below is an excerpt from an article found on that was written by Elizabeth SanFilippo

Chances are good that visions of cookies, desserts and candy canes may be dancing in your children's heads this holiday season. While you will do what you can to limit their intake of these sugary treats, your kids will probably be eating their fair share of sugar at your family holiday parties. Despite their consumption of sugar, there are ways to keep your kids' healthy teeth and gums in shape and to minimize damage to their dental health.

Why Is Sugar Bad for Dental Health?
Whether your kids are eating chocolate cake, sugar cookies or peppermint candy, they are ingesting sugar. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth feed on this sugar, and the byproduct is acid. This acid can eat away at tooth enamel, which can lead to tooth decay and cavities. The more time teeth spend exposed to sugar, the higher the risk that your children will face dental health problems. Hard candies, and sticky candies such as taffy and caramel, can be worse for teeth than other treats such as cake and cookies.

Brush after Eating a Sugary Treat
In general, the ADA recommends that everyone brush their teeth and gums at least twice a day for at least two minutes each time. Flossing should also be done at least once a day. During the holidays, encourage your kids to brush and floss even more than this, particularly right after they finish dessert. If a toothbrush is not handy, the next best thing to do is rinse. Encourage your kids to rinse their mouths with water - not soda or even sparkling grape juice รณ which will help wash away sugar, acids and any other food that may be stuck to their teeth.

To read the entire article visit

The remainder of the article details the following:

  • Limit Sugar Time
  • Make Dessert a Part of the Meal
  • Make Toothbrushing Fun
  • Schedule a Dentist Visit

Palm Beach Smiles 
Michael Barr, DDS
650 W. Boynton Beach Blvd, Suite 1- Boynton Beach, FL 332426
(561) 736-2377

Saturday, December 2, 2017

White Bonded Fillings

Should I get my silver-mercury fillings replaced?

A message from Boynton Beach dentist Dr. Michael Barr

This is a bit long, but I think you'll find it interesting and informative.

Recently, the subject of silver-mercury fillings (also known as amalgam) has been in the media again. Most visibly, it was the subject of an episode of the "Dr. Oz" show on TV. My own personal opinion of Dr. Oz is... well... I'll just say I don't think very highly of him. In the past, he has given some VERY bad dental advice (such as brushing your teeth with lemon juice to "whiten" them... DON'T DO IT!).

But if you'd like to see his show about amalgam, click on Dr. Oz - Toxic Teeth: Are Mercury Fillings Making You Sick? It's a 3-part video.

I would like to preface this piece by saying that I have not used silver-mercury amalgam in my Boynton Beach practice in nearly 20 years.

Amalgam has been around for over 150 years, and it's been controversial ever since its initial use in dentistry. Amalgam is simply a combination of metal powder (mostly silver with some copper and tin) and liquid mercury. When this combination is mixed, it forms a sort of paste that is easy to mold and shape. In a few minutes, the mixture hardens to a durable filling. The mercury is chemically bound to the material.

However, there has always been concern about the mercury component. Mercury, as an element, is known to be toxic. But, what makes ANY material toxic to humans is the DOSE. How much does it take to be toxic to humans? And studies have shown that a very miniscule amount of mercury can escape from amalgam fillings over time. The question then becomes, is the amount of mercury emanating from amalgam fillings in a high enough dose to be a concern?

While there are many patients who report feeling better after replacing their silver-mercury fillings, the bar of scientific proof is much higher. And, so far, there is not a single credible, "peer-reviewed" study that links silver amalgam fillings to any medical issue. At this point in time, scientists cannot link the presence of silver amalgam to any disease. Nor can scientists prove that removal of amalgam will prevent or cure any illness.

That all said, our government agencies seem to be at odds. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has said that amalgam fillings are safe.

So, which is it? Who do we believe? The FDA says it's safe to put in your mouth. But, the EPA says it's toxic waste and shouldn't end up in landfills or water supplies.

Furthermore, many state dental boards will sanction or punish dentists who tell patients that silver amalgam is bad for them or should be removed for health reasons.

I haven't used silver-mercury amalgam for nearly 20 years.

But my reasons have nothing to do with this mercury debate. I prefer composite resin for fillings, because it is a more conservative and cosmetic choice. Silver amalgam requires more removal of healthy tooth structure to mechanically lock the material into the cavity preparation. Composite resin BONDS to tooth structure. So, I can limit my cavity preparation to only removing decay and preserving as much healthy tooth structure as possible. The bonus: White composite fillings look great!

I have always based my professional judgment on science. If I'm going to make a recommendation, I have to be able to back it up with scientific fact. With that in mind, I cannot recommend categorical removal of silver amalgams with no defects or decay in hopes of curing or preventing any medical issues. However, I do acknowledge that patients have their own reasons, including cosmetic concerns. If my patients make an informed decision to have their amalgams removed, I am willing to help in any way I can.

It's important to mention that any time we perform treatment on a tooth, it puts stress on that tooth. However, the vast majority of the time, replacing fillings does not result in any problems.  We routinely replace silver fillings for patients who want them removed.

Palm Beach Smiles 
Michael Barr, DDS
650 W. Boynton Beach Blvd, Suite 1- Boynton Beach, FL 332426
(561) 736-2377