The Truth About Dental X-Rays

Dental x-rays are routine parts of regular dental cleanings and exams, yet many patients resist them for fear of “unnecessary” radiation exposure. Brighton family dentists Dr. Thomas Villani and Dr. Richard Kondrat use dental x-rays to take a “beneath-the-surface” look at what’s going on inside your mouth and on your teeth and gums, and they agree that dental x-rays are extremely valuable tools to help them treat their patients in the most comprehensive and advanced way possible.

That’s why it concerns them when patients resist these radiographic images. Read on to find out more about dental x-rays and why you’re limiting the care Dr. Villani and Dr. Kondrat can provide for you every time you resist a dental x-ray.

How much radiation is in a dental x-ray?

Measured in a unit called a rem (more commonly used as a millirem, or mrem), radiation is just a part of daily life. The National Council on Radiation Protection reports that the average U.S. citizen absorbs upwards of 360 mrem each year from sources including radioactive materials in the earth and food we eat, smoke detectors, living in a brick house, cooking with natural gas, reading a book for more than three hours a day, flying in an airplane, and sleeping next to another person.

Can you guess how many mrems of radiation you’re exposed during a typical dental x-ray? (more…)

The Perfect Gift for Everyone on Your List

Although it’s commonly called the most wonderful time of the year, the holidays can be stressful. Finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list can be time consuming, so Dr. Thomas Villani, Dr. Richard Kondrat, and the team at Brighton Family Dental Group want to help you out. This year, give a high-tech gift that is sure to make the recipient smile: an electric toothbrush.

The Benefits of an Electric Toothbrush

In addition to their sleek style and high-tech nature, electric toothbrushes are 25 percent more effective at removing plaque than conventional toothbrushes, according to the British Dental Health Foundation.  While a traditional toothbrush will meet your dental hygiene needs if you brush thoroughly for the proper length of time and follow up with other at-home dental hygiene measures, you can’t deny the power of a toothbrush that does all of the work for you.

In fact, research shows that a person is more likely to brush his or her teeth for a longer amount of time with an electric toothbrush than a traditional brush for several reasons. First, most high-end electric toothbrushes come equipped with a timer to let you know when you’ve brushed for the full two minutes that most dentists recommend. This takes the guesswork out of brushing your teeth and you can focus on getting those pearly whites clean and sparkling. Additionally, several models of electric toothbrushes include a built-in pressure system to let you know when you’re brushing your teeth too hard or not hard enough. This is valuable because you risk wearing away your tooth enamel when you brush your teeth too rigorously, but you risk leaving plaque and bacteria on your teeth when you brush too lightly. An electric toothbrush does all of the work for you! All you have to do is make sure the brush moves evenly and thoroughly throughout your mouth and over all of your teeth. (more…)

National Flossing Day

First and foremost, the team at Brighton Family Dental Group want to wish you and your family a happy Thanksgiving.

As your dental care family, we are thankful for you and the opportunity to make you and your family smile all year round. To reserve post-holiday cleanings for you and your family, give us a call at (617) 562-5210. We look forward to seeing you and starting 2012 with a smile!

Post-Holiday Dental Hygiene

Once the table is clear, leftovers divided and put away, and the infamous “food coma” has set in, you have one more thing to think about. Every year, National Flossing Day falls the day after Thanksgiving, so Dr. Tom Villani and Dr. Richard Kondrat want to remind you that flossing is a crucial part of maintaining a healthy smile.

To floss properly, follow these five simple steps:

  1. Starting with about 18 inches of floss, wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving an inch of two of floss to work with.
  2. Holding the floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers, slide the floss gently up and down between your teeth.
  3. Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gumline. Never snap or force the floss, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue.
  4. Use clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth.
  5. To remove the floss, use the same back and forth motion to bring the floss up and away from the teeth.

Brushing alone is not enough to keep your teeth healthy and clean between regular dental cleanings and exams. Ideally, Dr. Villani and Dr. Kondrat want you to floss at least twice a day, but if you can only do it once daily, floss before bed. Doing so will rid your mouth of bacteria so that your teeth are free from plaque build-up while you sleep.

To reserve an end-of-the-year dental cleaning at Brighton Family Dental Group, call our Brighton, Massachusetts dental office at (617) 562-5210.

Dental Care for Expectant Mothers

The month of November is Prematurity Awareness Month sponsored by the March of Dimes.

What is Prematurity Awareness Month?

This campaign is dedicated to raising awareness about the serious problem of premature birth. In the past 25 years, the United States’ premature birth rate has risen by 36 percent, and more than half a million babies are born too soon every year. The rate is much higher in other countries around the world.

Why is premature birth such a problem?

In short, prematurity is the leading cause of death among American newborns. Being born too soon is a serious problem because, often, premature babies are not able to survive independently as a result of underdevelopment. If the baby does survive, his or her chance of developing lifelong health problems such as cerebral palsy, mental challenges, chronic lung disease, blindness, and hearing loss is much greater.

What is the length of a healthy pregnancy?

A full-term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, but a baby can usually be born healthy at 36 weeks. The March of Dimes strives to educate women on the importance of waiting until at least 39 weeks to give birth whenever possible. After all, a healthy baby is worth the wait. (more…)

Sealants: Preventative Measure For Kids

Tooth Sealants for Kids

Tooth decay, or cavities, is the leading childhood disease across our planet. Even in the US, with access to dental care and education about oral home care, kids get cavities. Brushing teeth daily, flossing, and avoiding sugary foods and beverages help prevent cavities.

Because they’re hard for kids to clean, molars (teeth found in the back of the mouth) have the highest risk of decay.  When permanent teeth replace primary teeth, clear plastic sealants placed on molars can protect against tooth decay. The sealants fill in dents and grooves, or fissures, on the top of the big, back teeth, to protect areas that brushing and flossing miss. (more…)

Have a Happy and Healthy Halloween

Happy Halloween from the Brighton Family Dental team!

We hope that you and your family have big trick-or-treating plans for tonight, but, as your dental caregiver, we have to warn you against the dangers of Halloween candy. There is a reason, of course, why Halloween has earned a spot on dentists’ list of least favorite holidays!

A Few Tips to Help You Indulge in a Treat Without Any Tricks on Your Teeth

Candy corn is the oldest popular Halloween candy. People have been enjoying it for over 100 years! Unfortunately, candy corn isn’t one of the better Halloween treats for you. 5 of the 14 ingredients found in candy corn are some type of sugar, and most of the rest are artificial coloring and flavoring. If you choose to indulge in candy corn, keep the portion size to a handful and remember to brush to remove the sugar from your teeth.

3 Musketeers are better for your diet and your smile compared to other popular kinds of candy. This is because a fun-sized bar contains less fat, sugar, and calories than many other candy bars of the same size. 3 Musketeers, on the other hand, do contain trans fat hydrogenated palm kernel oil, which isn’t good for your teeth or body, so keep portion size in mind.

Dots, Laffy Taffy, and other sticky and gummy candies are a dentist’s worst nightmare. Not only are they sugar-loaded (which means they contribute to plaque build-up and tooth decay), they’re extremely sticky so you risk damaging your teeth, braces, and dental work, such as fillings and crowns. To steer clear of a dental disaster, avoid these candies (plus others, like caramels, salt water taffy, etc.) at all costs.

The smartest candy you can eat is- you guessed it- Smarties! Compared to other candies, Smarties are much lower in calories and sugar. Also, they’re a good choice for children with allergies because they’re free of common allergens, like nuts and gluten.

If you want to schedule post-candy craze dental appointments for you and your family, call our Brighton, MA dental office at (617) 562-5210 to reserve an appointment with Dr. Villani or Dr. Kondrat.

Adult Braces: Not Always Bad

Many people are embarrassed by their crooked teeth, but adults may be more embarrassed by braces. There are many options to straighten your teeth to get your beautiful smile without drawing attention to your treatment.

What can braces do? Braces can fix many dental problems at any age. They can adjust teeth to fix crowding, crookedness, spacing, overbite, underbite, and jaw positioning.

Why are straight teeth important? Straighter teeth are easier to clean. If your teeth are crooked, crowded, or gapped, decay can form in between crevices and be difficult to remove. This can increase your risk of decay, cavities, and gum disease. In addition, some tooth alignment issues can cause chewing and speech problems.

What kinds of braces are available? Some options let you avoid having a mouth full of metal.

Healthy Snacks for Healthy Teeth

Your child may rush home from school and run to the cookies, candy, or another sugar-filled snack. Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease. When children snack on sugar throughout the day, the bacteria in their mouth produce an acid that can harm their teeth and cause cavities. Try preparing these alternatives to make snack time healthy and fun.

Cups: Applesauce, milk, pudding, cereal, and yogurt can be put into a small cup or bowl. This will help limit the amount of the food your child is eating.

Stackers: You can combine healthy ingredients to make a full snack. Crackers and fruits serve as good baselines to top with cheese, cream cheese, or peanut butter. You can create a fun face on the base food, and children may enjoy stacking the foods themselves.

Fruits and Vegetables: Slice up fresh fruits and vegetables to make easy-to-grab finger foods. You can also arrange the slices into a fun, colorful display.

Snack bags: Use snack-sized Ziploc bags to create a healthy snack pack. Fill the bag with nuts, fruit, and crackers. It’s easy to grab on the go, and it helps limit the amount of food they are snacking on. You can decorate the bag with stickers to make it more appealing and fun. Instead of bags, you can also use reusable plastic containers.

Making snack time healthy and fun will teach your child the importance of healthy eating habits. To further protect your child’s teeth from decay and other dangers, visit Dr. Villani every six months, starting at the age of two. Contact Brighton Family Dental in Brighton, MA at (617) 562-5210 to schedule an appointment.

Dental Health Hazards in Your Kitchen

The foods you eat can harm your teeth. Safe cooking and preparation techniques can help protect your teeth. Consider these dental health warnings in your kitchen.


You probably try to make your meals more delicious by adding seasonings and marinades, but the ingredients you add can damage your teeth. Some seasonings, like turmeric (used in Curry), chili powder, balsamic vinegar, and red wine can all contribute to tooth staining. Citrus juice or marinade can add a little extra kick to your meal, but too much acid can cause your enamel to erode. Adding too much sugar to sweeten the dish can cause tooth decay. In addition, vinegar and garlic flavors can cause bad breath.


Problems of Sugarfree Gum

Chewing gum can help relieve ear popping on flights, quickly freshen your breath, and increase saliva production to help control oral bacteria. Many people chew sugarless gum because gum with sugar increases the risk of cavities. If you excessively chew gum, even if it’s sugarless, it may be more harmful than you may think.

Many types of sugarless candy contain sorbitol, a sweetener that has laxative properties and is difficult for the small intestine to absorb. Each stick of gum has around 1.25g of the ingredient. Consuming five to 20 grams of the sweetener can cause minor stomach problems like cramps and bloating. People who consume more than 20g of sorbitol each day are likely to have bowel trouble and diarrhea. Because of the bowel trouble, excessive sorbitol consumption can lead to severe weight loss. Studies show that some people who chew gum excessively have lost up to 20 percent of their normal body weight.

As an alternative gum with xylitol has been approved by the ADA. Xylitol is a sweetener that reduces the potential for tooth decay. However, there’s another problem to consider. Excessively chewing gum may also cause joint and muscle problems in the jaw. (more…)