Dental Care

We all know to wash our face and brush our teeth before we go to bed — it’s practically been drilled into our minds since childhood. But how effective is your tooth care regimen? Cosmetic dentist Dr. Bill Dorfman joins The Doctors to ensure your pearly whites stay that way!

Toothy Tips

  • Use toothpaste with fluoride*
  • Change your toothbrush every three to four months
  • Disinfect your toothbrush once a week with a 50/50 hydrogen peroxide and water solution
  • If you’ve been sick, throw your toothbrush away
  • Don’t store your toothbrush anywhere near the toilet. When you flush, there’s a spray of bacteria and … guess where it lands?
  • Toothpaste won’t whiten your teeth, despite what the packaging says

*Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears cautions that children under the age of 2 should not have fluoride, as they end up swallowing most of it.

Brushing Tips

  • Use an electric toothbrush (SonicCare is the number one electric toothbrush recommended by dentists)
  • Rotating electric brushes are best, as they clean gums better than a manual toothbrush
  • Only use soft bristles
  • Brush for at least two minutes
  • Use light pressure
  • If you insist on using a manual toothbrush, make sure to place the brush at a 45 degree angle to the gum line and brush gently
  • Use 150 grams of pressure


Should you toss your toothbrush after you’ve had a cold? Dr. Bill says no. A virus cannot live on your toothbrush for long, and your body creates antibodies to fight them. Dr. Sears says the one exception is when you have strep throat. Start with a new toothbrush while you’re on antibiotics for this illness. In general, replace your toothbrush every two to three months or when bristles start to fray. Never share your toothbrush, particularly when you’re sick.

Dr. Bill reveals some of his favorite secrets for a cleaner mouth!

Brushing your teeth is essential to good hygiene and health, and the best way to maintain a healthy mouth is to start young. Actress Jennie Garth volunteers with Smiles Across America, an organization that helps underserved children get the oral hygiene care they need, to teach kids how to take care of their teeth.

See Jennie's favorite brushing tip that she uses with her own children, and Dr. Sears explains how to care for children's teeth.

Something to Smile About

Dr. Bill says an annual dental exam is comprised of three essential components:   

1. Periodontal probing: A test that measures the bone around the teeth.

2. Oral cancer screening: A device called a VELscope shines a green fluorescent light within the mouth to detect unhealthy or abnormal tissue.

3. Digital X-rays: The advantages to using digital x-rays instead of traditional ones are:

*90 percent less radiation

*No harmful chemicals that pollute the environment

*The ability to magnify the images up to 300 times their original size.

Teeth Cleanings

How often should you get your teeth cleaned? Dr. Bill says it depends on your plaque buildup and what your dentist recommends. Some people get more plaque buildup than others, so they should go more often. A photo comparison shows three scenarios and how often they should get a cleaning.

• Find out how to brighten your teeth naturally.

Quick Fix for Crowns
For many people, a trip to the dentist is one to put off, avoid or skip altogether. Painful drills, needles, poking and prodding make most dental procedures unpleasant. Two new developments may reverse that experience.

Kevin, 39, cracked his molar while eating popcorn and needs a crown placed over his tooth. Dr. Bill uses the Cerec technology, which takes a digital impression of the afflicted tooth, then mills, or builds, a crown instantly.

"The great thing is Kevin doesn't have to leave with a temporary [crown]. He doesn't have to come back for a second appointment. He doesn't have to have anesthesia twice," Dr. Bill says. "It will all be done now, today, here."

See how the Cerec technology mills a crown!

Once the crown is in place, Dr. Bill injects Kevin's mouth with OraVerse, a solution that reverses the effects of anesthesia in approximately half the time it normally takes. No more numb lip!

Pain-Free Cavity Prevention
Dr. Bill says that people can avoid cavities on the top of their teeth if they have clear resin sealants bonded to their molars at age 6 and then again at age 12. Dr. Bill performs the procedure on his daughter Georgie and explains how it can prevent tooth decay.

Painless Root Canal?
If you’ve ever had a root canal, you know it can be a dreadful experience. But developers of a new laser claim their beam of light makes the procedure painless and easy. Dr. Bill explains that Biolase Technology recently introduced the Waterlase laser for root canals. “The cool thing about this is usually there’s no pain, no shots, and we’re using a combination of the laser plus water to clean out the root instead of using Clorox and files like we used to use,” he says. Using an animation, Dr. Bill explains that teeth have a hard surface on the outside and a soft area inside which is the nerve. If bacteria eats into a tooth, the tooth can become infected, and the infection can affect the nerve. “When that becomes infected, we need to remove the nerve, otherwise your face just blows up,” he says. “So it’s really important to do a root canal when you start having pain like that.”

Visiting dentist Dr. Darrell Chun uses three new technologies while performing the first televised laser root canal in the procedure room on patient Kenya. He uses a handheld NOMAD Pro X-ray machine, the Waterlase laser to clean out the tooth and remove the nerve, decay and infection, and a HotShot to fill the root canal.

At the end of the show, Kenya declares, “It was absolutely painless, and I’m not afraid to go to the dentist now. It was wonderful.”

Dr. Bill explains Kenya’s condition. “When you have a normal, healthy tooth, the nerve is pink and healthy,” he says. Pointing to a model of teeth he explains, “But what happened with Kenya is she started to get decay in here.

That decay grew and grew and grew, and then the nerve died. Once the nerve dies, we have to take it out. If you don’t take the nerve out, you get this big abscess.” Dr. Chun removed Kenya’s nerve, cleaned the area with a laser and then filled the canal with gutta-percha. “That gutta-percha is like a resin, and that will stay there for the rest of her life.”

a dentist who does this laser root canal.

The Telling Tongne

If your eyes are the windows to your soul, then the tongue may just be the mirror to your health. “The tongue says a lot about you,” Dr. Bill says. “People don’t realize it, but the color of your tongue can be the window of a lot of different bacterial infections, cancer, all kinds of things.”

The tongue should ideally have a healthy, pink look to it. Dr. Bill explains that if your tongue has a different color, it could be a sign that something is wrong with your body.

What the Colors Mean
• White: This could be a sign of a bacterial or yeast infection. “You get yeast on your tongue,” Dr. Bill says. “It isn’t really something to be too scared about; you can get rid of it pretty quickly with the right wash. But the thing is, if your tongue starts to have this white kind of cottage-cheese look on it, go to your doctor right away.”

• Yellow: This is usually a result of fungus or bacteria. It also can occur because of acid-reflux. “What happens with acid-reflux,” Dr. Bill says, “is your body changes the natural flora of the bacteria in your mouth, and you start to get this yellow tongue. So, again, if you have a yellow tongue, call your doctor.”

• Red: A red tongue is most likely a sign of nutritional deficiency. Your body could be low in niacin, vitamins B-3 and B-12, folic acid, or it could be a sign of anemia. However, eating red candy, cinnamon-flavored gum or having allergies could also cause this.

• Pale: A pale tongue is often a sign of anemia, because the red blood cells are not carrying enough blood to the body, causing the tongue to look pale. “Be aware, if you have a pale tongue, you may need to get your blood checked to see,” Dr. Bill says.

• Hairy: A hairy tongue could be a sign of too much bacteria or indicate an infection. “There are papillae (tiny bumps) on your tongue,” Dr. Bill says. “If these elongate, it actually looks like hair. Don’t be worried. What you need to do is just kind of scrape it off. It’s not normal, but it’s not harmful. But you need to get rid of the hair, and you can’t clip it off. Don’t get one of those shavers, and put it on number one! You’ve got to get a tongue scraper and just scrape the hair off, and you’ll be fine.”

If your tongue is not pink, moist and smooth, call your doctor. “If you ever have a sore on your tongue or anywhere in your mouth, and it doesn’t go away in two weeks, you need to get a biopsy, or at least looked at by your doctor,” Dr. Bill says.

Canker Sores
Ouch! Tiny canker sores can be a big pain. A canker sore isn’t a cold sore, but people often confuse the two.

Cold sore:

• Contagious
• Located on the outer portion of the mouth
• Part of the herpes simplex virus family
• Usually lasts seven to 10 days
• Can be treated with anti-viral medication

Canker sore:
• An ulceration or lesion in the soft tissues inside your mouth
• Not contagious
• Will go away on its own within one to two weeks

Canker Sore Remedies:

• Anti-microbial mouthwashes
• Over-the-counter topical gels
• Hydrogen peroxide
• Milk of magnesia

Dr. Bill performs a Canker Cure procedure with a Styla Microlaser by Zap Lasers that stops the sting of a canker sore in less than a minute!

Gum Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues and bone that surround and support the teeth. Gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque, a layer of germs that forms on the teeth. The plaque contains bacteria that, over time, irritate and break down the tissue.

Although gum disease is not contagious, bacteria can be spread in saliva. The best way to prevent gum disease is to brush and floss your teeth daily and get regular dental check-ups.

If your gums are bleeding, you may be inclined to tell your dentist, but did your know that you also need to tell your primary care physician? The Doctors explain why bleeding gums could be a sign of a bigger problem.

Bad Breath
Bad breath can be an embarrassing problem. Learn what causes bad breath and get simple solutions to halt your halitosis.

Additional Ways to Eliminate Bad Breath

Home Remedies for Beating Bad Breath
Morning Breath Blues
Eliminate Bad Breath

Oral Cancer
Human papillomavirus, or HPV, can be transmitted orally, vaginally and anally and can cause multiple types of cancer. Recent studies show that HPV can be transmissible in saliva as well.

HPV can cause oral tumors in both men and women, and if an individual has had oral sex with six or more partners, the risk of oral cancer increases by 250 percent. Oral sex is nine times more likely to cause oral cancers than smoking and drinking combined. The American Cancer Society states that 39 percent of current cases of oral cancers are linked to the human papillomavirus.

Experts hope that the latest research will compel the public to be aware of the insidious and ubiquitous nature of HPV. Oral cancer is three times more prevalent than cervical cancer.

Dentist Dr. Jay Grossman says that early detection begins in the dentist chair. “Each year, 34,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer,” he says. “Only half of them will be around five years later.”

If caught early, oral cancer is treatable. Dr. Grossman demonstrates how a VisiLite cancer screening is performed using a vinegar-based mouthwash and a blue light to detect precancerous cells.

“It’s really just another great reason that everyone should go to their dentist on an annual basis, not just for cavities and gum disease, but for oral cancer exams,” Dr. Grossman says.

Symptoms of Oral Cancer
• Pain in the mouth
• Sores that haven’t healed in two weeks
• Persistent swelling
• Unexplained bleeding of gum or mouth tissue
• Patches in the mouth
• Eroded areas in the mouth or gums

Between 30 and 40 million people in the United States avoid a trip to the dentist due to sheer anxiety. Mel, 31, is terrified of the dentist and avoids going at all costs. "It's hard for me to even pick up the phone and make an appointment," she says.

Fear of dentists is known as dentophobia. Avoiding the dentist and having poor oral hygiene can put a person at risk for gum disease, early tooth loss, heart disease and lower life expectancy.

"Most of these people fall into this fear of pain, the fear of loss of control or embarrassment, or maybe they've had a bad experience," Dr. Travis says. "The good news is this; you can get over these fears!"

To help Mel overcome her phobia, The Doctors sends her to Dr. Bill for a cleaning.


Dr. Bill explains that without regular flossing, plaque and bacteria can build up on teeth and cause gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, which leads to the gradual loss of bone and tissues that support the teeth. In addition, the bacteria are systemic, which means that it circulates throughout the bloodstream and can cause more serious health problems such as heart disease. In pregnant women, the bacteria can pass through the placenta and increase the chances of pre-term birth by an astonishing 700 percent.

Dr. Bill demonstrates the correct way to floss and adds, “I floss after every meal.” He likens plaque to an ongoing infection that the body must fight. After years of fighting it, the body is at greater risk for serious diseases like cancer, diabetes and pneumonia.