Ask Dr. Greg Grillo a question!

Dr. Greg Grillo, D.D.S., is here to answer your questions, respond to concerns, and help you find the best solution for a whiter, brighter smile.

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Previously answered questions By Dr. Greg Grillo

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SF
I’m looking for the easiest boost for my smile; what do you recommend?

Sent in by Samantha, Manchester 

57 weeks ago

Sent in by Samantha, Manchester 

57 weeks ago

Everybody deserves a fantastic smile, and simple solutions are the best (and they’re usually the least expensive.) Whitening adds a glamorous boost that you can enjoy every day. Pulling the dark color out of your teeth makes you feel better, boosts your confidence, and helps you make your best first impression. Choose a whitening product with proven ingredients from a quality source for predictable results.

SF
Perfect! Thanks Dr. G!
AL
My front teeth are chipped and uneven; what should I do?

Sent in by Austin, Las Vegas

57 weeks ago

Sent in by Austin, Las Vegas

57 weeks ago

Teeth are tough; in fact, enamel is the hardest substance in the body. But the thin edges of front teeth work hard to help us chew food. Sometimes we chew pens, fingernails, and other foreign objects, too. Small chips can make our teeth look rough, and uneven edges stand out. Your dentist can sometimes smooth and polish ragged edges to give a more refined look, so check with them to see. Add a little whitening and enjoy a smile upgrade.

AL
Thank you so much for your help!
MP
I’m getting a new crown on a front tooth; should I whiten first?

Sent in by Mary, Washington

57 weeks ago

Sent in by Mary, Washington

57 weeks ago

Consider whitening before your appointment if you’re getting a new or replacement crown or cap on a front tooth. Don’t start the day before, though. Give yourself plenty of time to brighten the neighboring teeth and set your smile up with an improved look. When your dentist replaces your cap, they’ll choose a porcelain color that matches your new appearance. This is a great time to turn a one-tooth procedure into a mini smile makeover.

MP
I am so grateful for your assistance, thank you.
TS
What’s the best way to replace a missing tooth?

Sent in by Peter, Texas

58 weeks ago

Sent in by Peter, Texas

58 weeks ago

Missing a tooth can dramatically affect your chewing and self-esteem. Fortunately, you have options to make your smile complete again. Your dentist can discuss ideas, including dental implants, dentures, partial dentures, and bridges. But make sure you consider the color of your teeth when putting a new tooth back in your smile. A simple whitening regimen gives our smile a fresh look that sets the stage for the new addition.

TS
I really appreciate your help and advice, thank you!
AD
Why do my gums bleed when brushing or flossing?

Sent in by Amy, Miami

58 weeks ago

Sent in by Amy, Miami

58 weeks ago

Contrary to popular opinion, healthy gums don’t bleed. While it’s possible to traumatize your gums with rough flossing or aggressive brushing, bleeding usually indicates inflammation. Harmful bacteria produce toxins that cause your immune system to react and irritated gums bleed. Be sure to get bleeding gums evaluated because gum disease is the main reason people lose their teeth. Healthy gums and white teeth are a much better option!

AD
Your help was perfect, thank you!
HC
Is an improved smile healthier, too?

Sent in by Hayley, Atlanta

58 weeks ago

Sent in by Hayley, Atlanta

58 weeks ago

People who love their smiles are extra motivated to make it a priority. Patients who do something special for their front teeth often ask what else they can do to enhance their health, and better wellness can start that quickly. I’ve watched people invest in their smiles, lose weight, choose a new hairstyle, and quit smoking. Never underestimate the power of a smile.

HC
I can't thank you enough for your advice, it really made a difference.
JT
My teeth look like they’re wearing down; what’s happening?

Sent in by John, London

58 weeks ago

Sent in by John, London

58 weeks ago

Teeth don’t wear much from normal chewing. In fact, they only touch briefly for about five minutes every day, which doesn’t wear them down much. You might be grinding your teeth in your sleep if you see obvious wear. If you don’t stop the grind, your smile may take more than whitening or polishing to repair. Talk to your dentist about strategies to protect your teeth for the long haul.

JT
Thanks a million for your help!
LT
Does whitening damage my teeth?

Sent in by Lucy, New York

58 weeks ago

Sent in by Lucy, New York

58 weeks ago

Choose quality products from a brand that’s serious about their formula, follow the directions, and you’ll end up with one of the simplest and safest smile solutions. Peroxide-based whitening systems are designed to draw color compounds out of your teeth and leave precious enamel alone. You’ll generally see excellent results shining through within a short period, but your teeth won’t miss a beat, and they’ll stay as strong as ever.

LT
Your advice was spot-on, thank you!
MO
Why are my teeth sensitive to extreme temperatures?

Sent in by Megan, South Carolina

59 weeks ago

Sent in by Megan, South Carolina

59 weeks ago

Teeth seem like solid pieces, but they’re full of blood vessels and nerves. Sensitivity is part of the tooth’s warning system that something’s not quite right. Sensitivity can be temporary; some people experience it when whitening their teeth, but it usually goes away quickly. But if it’s lingering or causes a toothache that lasts for several minutes, see a dentist for evaluation. That warning signal could be giving you clues worth paying attention to.

MO
Thank you for sharing your expertise with me, it was invaluable.
HS
Are veneers worth it?

Sent in by Helen, New Jersey

59 weeks ago

Sent in by Helen, New Jersey

59 weeks ago

Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain bonded to your teeth that can transform your smile. It’s an excellent option for the right situations, but it may be more than you need. Many people find that whitening their smile is a simple starting point that boosts their appearance. If you’re still unhappy with what you see in the mirror, consider visiting your dentist to explore other options, including veneers or straightening with invisible aligners.

HS
Your assistance was greatly appreciated, thank you.
JG
I like sparkling water, but my friend said they’re bad for my teeth. Is that true?

Sent in by Jake, Los Angeles

64 weeks ago

Sent in by Jake, Los Angeles

64 weeks ago

The best pH for the mouth is neutral or slightly higher than neutral pH. Cavity-causing bacteria don’t like this pH, which is less erosive to your tooth enamel. There may be other factors to consider in bottled waters, but pH is the name of the game for your teeth. If you’re considering brands, the best pH-balanced waters are San Pellegrino (pH 7.7), Fiji (pH 7.5), Evian (pH 7.2), and Volvic (pH 7.0). These levels are significantly better than what’s found in Perrier (pH 5.5). You can always use simple pH strips and test your favorite beverages, too.

JG
Thank you for your valuable input, it was extremely helpful.
JN
I heard chocolate might not be as bad for my teeth as I once thought. Is that true?

Sent in by Justin, San Francisco

60 weeks ago

Sent in by Justin, San Francisco

60 weeks ago

You’re definitely onto something, but be careful with this advice. Recent studies show that a compound in chocolate is anti-bacterial, and it may even rival fluoride for cavity prevention. If you aren’t going to chew on cacao nibs, don’t reach for sugar-loaded milk chocolate. Moderate amounts of dark chocolate (ideally 70% or more) have much less sugar, but you’ll still want to keep your regular brushing and flossing routine.

JN
our guidance was a game-changer, thank you!
TD
My teeth are getting translucent; could whitening make it worse?

Sent in by Toya, Chicago

60 weeks ago

Sent in by Toya, Chicago

60 weeks ago

If you notice that your teeth are becoming more translucent over time, they may be getting thinner. The edges of the lower front teeth wear against the back of the upper front teeth, and this problem can get worse if you’re grinding them in your sleep. Whitening may temporarily create more contrast between the thinner and thicker parts of your teeth, but I’d be more concerned about the wear pattern. See your dentist for an evaluation, and find out if you should be wearing a nightguard in your sleep.

TD
I am so thankful for your help and advice, it made a huge difference.
RG
Should I go for the strongest whitening gel I can find?

Sent in by Rachael, Portland

61 weeks ago

Sent in by Rachael, Portland

61 weeks ago

Whitening gels contain different levels of peroxide, the primary compound that removes color compounds from your teeth. A higher concentration of peroxide in your whitening gel may fast-track your results, but the whitening effect may only last for a short time. A more potent gel is also more likely to cause gum irritation or sensitivity to hot and cold than a lower concentration. Choose a quality product with lower concentrations for more comfortable, sustainable results.

RG
Thank you for taking the time to help me, I really appreciate it.
CS
I saw on TikTok that lemons can be used to whiten teeth. Is that ok?

Sent in by Chloe, Birmingham

61 weeks ago

Sent in by Chloe, Birmingham

61 weeks ago

In most cases, I don’t recommend getting your oral health advice from Tik-Tok. Case in point here. Lemon juice will whiten teeth because it’s acidic and erodes enamel. While it’s taking away color, it’s also taking away your teeth. Anything that’s highly acidic will strip away the mineral in your teeth, and this permanent damage can leave you with long-term problems. Stick with safe whitening techniques with proven products.

CS
our advice was exactly what I needed, thank you!
OH
How often should I change my toothbrush?

Sent in by Olivia, Denver

61 weeks ago

Sent in by Olivia, Denver

61 weeks ago

Time flies, and it’s easy to keep the same brush until it’s worn out. But you should change the head on your electric brush or replace your manual brush every three months. A new subscription brush from quip delivers a brush head and battery on this schedule, so you don’t have to worry about it. If you see frazzled bristles before then, you’re probably brushing too hard, and that can damage your teeth and gums over time.

OH
I can't thank you enough for your help, you saved the day!
MI
My mouth gets really dry. What can I do to avoid feeling so parched?

Sent in by Mia, Boston

62 weeks ago

Sent in by Mia, Boston

62 weeks ago

Saliva is 90% water, so hydrate throughout the day. But prescription medications are the leading cause of reduced saliva, called xerostomia. Antidepressants, high blood pressure, and allergy medications are some of the drugs that dry you out. Talk to your doctor about options, but don’t stop taking prescriptions on your own. Try sucking on sugar-free lozenges, especially those made for dry mouth. Xylimelts is an example of a slow-dissolving tablet that helps moisten your mouth.

MI
Thank you for your expert advice, it was so helpful.
EF
Can I whiten the old cap on my front tooth that looks dark?

Sent in by Emma, Nashville

61 weeks ago

Sent in by Emma, Nashville

61 weeks ago

Porcelain doesn’t respond to any form of whitening, so it will stay the same color over the years. But if you’d like to brighten your smile, don’t expect the crown to change color. It may be challenging to get an ideal match during the process, but this can be the first step toward a smile transformation. Whiten your teeth, and then consider replacing old caps or fillings that detract from your smile.

EF
Your help and advice were invaluable, thank you so much.
AK
Can I just rinse with hydrogen peroxide to whiten my teeth?

Sent in by Ava, New Orleans

62 weeks ago

Sent in by Ava, New Orleans

62 weeks ago

Hydrogen peroxide whitens your teeth, but you also need to use it correctly. When it’s dosed in a gel or a strip, it can be a very effective, safe, and predictable way to boost your beauty. But it can also cause gum inflammation and even tissue necrosis if it contacts the gums and mouth lining. If you’re whitening your teeth, use this compound properly, and you’ll enjoy the benefits without causing unnecessary damage.

AK
I am so grateful for your support and guidance, thank you.
IS
I heard that a mix of baking soda and water whitens teeth; can I use that?

Sent in by Isabella, San Antonio

62 weeks ago

Sent in by Isabella, San Antonio

62 weeks ago

Baking soda creates an alkaline solution that releases free radicals that can remove some color compounds from teeth. However, baking soda is most effective as a mild abrasive that “scrubs” stains away. Using this slurry in addition to regular toothpaste, you could wear away more enamel than you should. Baking soda can also eliminate good bacteria in your mouth and disrupt a healthy environment. It’s best to use proven methods to remove stains and brighten your smile.

IS
Thank you for being there for me and providing me with such valuable advice.
RH
I like chewing gum, but will it damage my teeth?

Sent in by Raya, El Paso

62 weeks ago

Sent in by Raya, El Paso

62 weeks ago

Find a gum you like with xylitol sweetener, and you’ll be just fine. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that’s proven to fight cavities, so it’s better than other options for most people. In fact, people at risk for cavities can use xylitol gum 3-5 times daily to reduce cavity-causing bacteria. But if you suffer from jaw pain or headaches, chewing gum could aggravate the joints in front of your ears and the muscles on the side of the face. But avoid sugared gum at all costs; you and your teeth don’t need the extra sugar.

RH
Your help and advice were a blessing, thank you so much.
ZK
Every time I go to the dentist, I have cavities. What causes this never-ending cycle?

Sent in by Zayla, Detroit

63 weeks ago

Sent in by Zayla, Detroit

63 weeks ago

Cavities form when certain bacteria use sugar for energy and produce acid as a waste product. The acid dissolves your teeth and creates holes, or cavities. Some people’s immune system produces an antibody that destroys these bacteria, and some people never are infected with the harmful bacteria. But if you get two or more cavities every three years, you’re at high risk for cavities and need proactive steps to keep this problem from destroying your teeth.

ZK
Thank you for your thoughtful advice, it really helped me out.
LO
Is there a “cavity hack,” a way to help stop my cavity problem?

Sent in by Luna, Baltimore

63 weeks ago

Sent in by Luna, Baltimore

63 weeks ago

You probably know you need to control the bacterial plaque that builds up on your teeth. First, limit your sugar intake. Second, brush twice daily for two minutes, and floss. But here’s a simple hack that might help: Chew sugar-free gum that contains at least 1 gram of xylitol per piece 3-5x day for at least three weeks. Repeat this cycle every few months. Xylitol reduces cavity-causing bacteria and is used by some dentists to reduce tooth decay.

LO
Your expertise was exactly what I needed, thank you!
SM
Everyone in my family seems to get dentures. Will it be the same for me?

Sent in by Scarlett, San Diego

64 weeks ago

Sent in by Scarlett, San Diego

64 weeks ago

If your parents have dentures, there’s a reasonable chance that gum disease runs in your family. Gum disease is the main way people lose their teeth, and it does tend to have a genetic link. This condition isn’t curable, but it is controllable. If this is part of your family history, be extra diligent with regular preventive dental visits and your home care. With the right approach, you don’t have to end up in dentures, regardless of your family history.

SM
Thank you for your kind assistance, it was greatly appreciated.
ED
Can coconut oil whiten your teeth?

Sent in by Emily, Dallas

64 weeks ago

Sent in by Emily, Dallas

64 weeks ago

Coconut oil is useful for cooking, smoothies, and as a moisturizer, and nearly $240 million is sold yearly. Some proponents suggest swishing coconut oil around your mouth can whiten teeth. “Oil pulling” started hundreds of years ago and may have some health benefits. But there isn’t any scientific evidence showing that coconut oil whitens teeth. It may not harm you, but don’t expect your smile to change.

ED
Your advice was so helpful, thank you!
SB
Is an electric toothbrush better than a manual brush?

Sent in by Sophia, Houston

64 weeks ago

Sent in by Sophia, Houston

64 weeks ago

I’ve always told my patients the best brush is the one they’ll use every day. Electric brushes may remove plaque more consistently, but it all comes down to habits and consistency. You're probably doing well if you’ve mastered brushing with a regular toothbrush. But an electric brush does give most people an advantage. Bristles vibrate between 15,000-30,000 oscillations per minute in most models, and they’re beneficial for people with arthritis or poor coordination. Find your favorite model, and just make it a twice-daily ritual.

SB
Great help! I will change my toothbrush this week :)
EB
Do you have any tips for bad breath?

Sent in by Ellie, Salt Lake City

65 weeks ago

Sent in by Ellie, Salt Lake City

65 weeks ago

Bad breath can put a cloud over social interactions, but it’s usually controllable. Mouth odors are caused by bacteria and the compounds they produce. So, start with the basics; regular brushing and flossing to reduce bacterial plaque, and keep periodic checkups. But don’t forget to brush your tongue, and consider a tongue scraper in the morning. Mouthwash seems helpful, but the alcohol in most formulas can dry your mouth and even increase odors. Consider a special odor-neutralizing rinse made specifically for bad breath.

EB
Thank you for going above and beyond to help me, it means so much.
SA
How do I change the shape of my teeth?

Sent in by Sophia, Fresno

65 weeks ago

Sent in by Sophia, Fresno

65 weeks ago

Teeth follow laws of beauty in nature, including the Golden Proportion. This ratio defines a proportion between width and length that appeals to the eye. If your teeth violate the rule, you may notice it. But always start with color because sometimes a brighter smile changes the overall appearance enough to satisfy the eye. But your dentist could evaluate these ratios further and suggest bonding or veneers to lengthen or widen teeth. A better smile is sometimes more straightforward than you think!

SA
Your help and advice were invaluable, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
CJ
What’s a Hollywood Smile?

Sent in by Christina, Oakland

65 weeks ago

Sent in by Christina, Oakland

65 weeks ago

If you think your favorite celebrity's smile looks terrific, you’re probably looking at the classic Hollywood Smile. Movie stars know their smile ranks as a top personal characteristic, and many superstars invest in it. Veneers, thin hand-crafted porcelain, are bonded to the front of teeth to create complete smile makeovers. Good news, though. Smile makeovers aren’t just for movies. Talk to your dentist about how to bring out your best look.

CJ
Your guidance was a lifeline, thank you!
AJ
Are dental “grills” harmful? What about tooth jewels?

Sent in by Adrien, San Jose

66 weeks ago

Sent in by Adrien, San Jose

66 weeks ago

Grills belong on cars, not your teeth. Metal frameworks placed over the teeth create some of the same challenges that people with braces face. Extra hardware traps plaque and often causes gum inflammation, known as gingivitis. I’ve also seen cavities develop under grills on front teeth, and some of them have led to root canals. Jewels may be less problematic, but I’d be careful bonding anything to your teeth that’s not meant to be there. If you do, limit sugar and brush and floss daily.

AJ
I can't thank you enough for your help, you are amazing!