What can people with lactose intolerance eat or drink for healthy teeth?


Calcium is vital for strong bones and teeth. In fact, 99% of your body’s calcium is stored in your bones and teeth to support their function and structure. When calcium intake is low, bones and teeth weaken and lose density. Deficiency of this nutrient promotes tooth decay.

Milk and dairy products made from milk provide a good source of calcium. But many people—both adults and children are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance affects an estimates 30 to 50 million American adults. What can you do to ensure you get enough calcium to keep your teeth healthy?


  • Check with your medical doctor to confirm that it’s okay for you to take calcium supplements. Let your doctor know about any herbal supplements or prescription medication you take. Note that some experts suggest that children who are lactose intolerant receive their intake from calcium-rich foods. Consult with your child’s pediatrician before giving him or her calcium supplements.
  • Eat foods that are rich in calcium, including green leafy vegetables (e.g., Chinese cabbage, kale, and broccoli), orange juice, soya products, tofu, legumes, nuts, fish, and other calcium-fortified foods.

If you need to improve your calcium intake, supplement it through diet, and speak with your medical doctor for suggestions. If you think insufficient calcium intake is affecting your teeth, speak with your dentist. He or she will have suggestions on how to protect your teeth.

This post is sponsored by Lowell dentist Dr. Michael Szarek.

Will oil pulling get my teeth white?


I heard about oil pulling a year or two ago. I am wondering if this practice really can get my teeth white. Thanks. Dynah

Dynah – Oil pulling has been practiced in southern Asia and India for centuries. It involves placing a tablespoon or so of edible oil in your mouth, swishing the oral around in your mouth and between your teeth.

The concept is that unwanted bacteria in your mouth will cling to the oil, and when you spit out the oil, the bacteria will go with it.

Some studies show that oil pulling may remove bacteria from your mouth, but it’s not a substitute for flossing your teeth daily and brushing them twice a day. And there is no evidence that shows it will whiten your teeth. Even whitening toothpaste won’t remove stains that are embedded in your teeth. If done with incorrect technique, oil pulling can cause stiff jaw muscles, dry mouth, and loss of taste.

If you want to remove stains from your teeth, it’s best to see a dentist to determine the cause of the stains and how the stains can be safely removed without making them more noticeable.

This post is sponsored by Lowell dentist Dr. Michael Szarek.

My daughter is getting her tongue pierced. What are the risks?


Our 19 yr old daughter is getting her tongue pierced in 2 weeks. She doesn’t live at home, but we see her several times a week. We are still very close. When she was visiting over the weekend, she let us know that she is getting her tongue pierced. I asked her if she knew about the risks. Her reply was that 3 or 4 of her friends have done it with no problems. She agreed to talk with me about it again before she does it. I am not going to try to stop her, but I want to know some facts that I can share with her so that she can at least take some precautions. I would like to know for myself too so that I can be aware if things don’t go well. What are the risks? Thanks. Dana

Dana – We understand your concern. We will share some of the risks with you. As with any type of puncture or wound, a tongue piercing can cause swelling, pain, and infection.

Saliva flow will increase. The tongue ornament can cause damage to the gums, teeth, or dental restorations. Sensitivity to metal can also occur. If vessels in the tongue are pierced during the procedure, prolonged bleeding can occur.

If the jewelry is mistakenly swallowed, damage to respiratory or digestive organs can occur. Bacteria can collect on the jewelry and cause secondary infection.

You can also suggest that your daughter speak with her dentist regarding what she should consider before piercing her tongue, as well as what she can expect afterward.

This post is sponsored by Lowell cosmetic dentist Dr. Michael Szarek.

How can I relax for a dental appointment?


I have a dentist’s appt on Thursday and I need to get myself relaxed. I haven’t told them about how scared I am so I am embarrassed to call to ask what I should do. The nervousness is keeping me from sleeping well at night. I keep waking up and thinking about the appointment and what would happen if I gag or if it hurts so bad that I can’t get my teeth cleaned. I know this is outright phobia that is unreasonable but I am having problems controlling it. Do you have any exercises or breathing techniques that will completely relax me? – Thanks. TW

TW – We understand your concern. Many people are just as nervous as you are about dental appointments. And some are even more nervous. Some patients have found that breathing exercises help them to relax. But not everyone is helped by relaxation techniques. Others find that the more comfortable they are with the dentist, staff, and office, the more relaxed they are during dental procedures.

We have some patients that are very anxious, as you are. The choose sedation dentistry to help them to relax in advance of the dental appointment. With this treatment, you are still conscious, but relaxed enough to have a productive dental visit. You can read the details on Dr. Szarek’s sedation dentistry web page and decide if it’s something that you want to consider for future dental appointments.

This post is sponsored by Lowell dentist Dr. Michael Szarek.

Will my insurance cover porcelain veneers?


I have several teeth that are cracked. They are beyond fixing with dental bonding. Because of that fact I am wondering if my insurance will cover porcelain veneers. – Olivia D.

Olivia – Most dental insurance companies provide benefits for the treatment that is the least expensive to restore your teeth.

For example, the least expensive option for repairing a cracked tooth is dental bonding. If dental bonding can’t be used, the next option is a porcelain crown. Porcelain veneers are the most expensive option. In addition to the treatment options, your dental insurance has an annual maximum for benefits paid by the plan. You may find that the annual maximum is equal to or less than the cost of a single veneer.

Contact your dental insurance company to find out if any benefits are provided for porcelain veneers, and to find out the annual maximum of benefits paid by the plan. Also contact your dentist’s office to find out what forms of payment are accepted for and whether or not financing or payment plans are available for porcelain veneers.

This post is sponsored by Lowell dentist Dr. Michael Szarek.