Posts for category: Oral Health
Although a variety of foods provide energy-producing carbohydrates, sugar is among the most popular. It’s believed we universally crave sugar because of the quick energy boost after eating it, or that it also causes a release in our brains of serotonin endorphins, chemicals which relax us and make us feel good.
But there is a downside to refined sugars like table sugar or high-fructose corn syrup: too much in our diets contributes to conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and dental disease. On the latter, sugar is a primary food source for oral bacteria; the more sugar available in the mouth the higher the levels of bacteria that lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Moderating your intake of refined sugars and other carbohydrates can be hard to do, given that many processed foods contain various forms of refined sugar. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables helps control sugar intake as well as contribute to overall health. Many people also turn to a variety of sugar substitutes: one study found roughly 85% of Americans use some form of it in place of sugar. They’re also being added to many processed foods: unless you’re checking ingredients labels, you may be consuming them unknowingly.
Sugar substitutes are generally either artificial, manufactured products like saccharin or aspartame or extractions from natural substances like stevia or sorbitol. The good news concerning your teeth and gums is that all the major sugar substitutes don’t encourage bacterial growth. Still, while they’re generally safe for consumption, each has varying properties and may have side-effects for certain people. For example, people with phenylketonuria, a rare genetic condition, can’t process aspartame properly and should avoid it.
One alcohol-based sweetener in particular is of interest in oral care. A number of studies indicate xylitol may actually inhibit bacterial growth and thus reduce the risk of tooth decay. You can find xylitol in a variety of gum and mint products.
When considering what sugar substitutes to use, be sure you’re up to date on their potential health effects for certain individuals, as well as check the ingredients labels of processed foods for added sweeteners. As your dentist, we’ll also be glad to advise you on strategies to reduce sugar in your diet and promote better dental health.
If you would like more information on your best options for sweeteners, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Artificial Sweeteners.”
Witnessing or being involved in a sports-related dental injury can be a scary event not only for the player, but also for onlookers even if the injuries turn out to be minor. However, knowing what to do — and more importantly — how quickly to react can make a radical difference to the outcome. This is just one reason why we want to share the following easy-to-remember guidelines for what, how and when you need to respond to various types of dental injuries.
- Immediate — within 5 minutes of the injury: If a permanent tooth is totally knocked out (avulsed), it requires immediate treatment by cleaning and re-implanting the tooth back into its original position to have any hope of saving the tooth long-term. Knocked out baby (primary) teeth are not reimplanted for fear of damage to underlying permanent teeth.
- Urgent — within 6 hours of the injury: If a permanent or primary tooth is still in the mouth but has been moved from its original position, it is considered an acute injury and should be treated within 6 hours.
- Less urgent — within 12 hours of the injury: If a permanent or primary tooth is broken or chipped but has not shifted from its original position, the injury is classified as less urgent. You still need to see a dentist for an exam; however, you generally can wait up to 12 hours before possible irreversible damage occurs.
Want To Learn More?
There are several ways you can learn more about sports-related dental injuries.
Athletic activity can boost your health, but many sports also carry some risk — especially to the teeth. This is something NFL wide receiver Jerry Rice well knows.
“Football can be brutal — injuries, including those to the face and mouth, are a common risk for any player,” Rice noted in an interview with Dear Doctor magazine. In fact, Rice himself chipped a couple of teeth, which were repaired with crowns. “There wasn't a lot of focus on protecting your teeth in high school,” Rice recalled.
You don't have to be a legend of the NFL to benefit from the type of high-quality mouthguard a dentist can make for you or your child. Consider that:
- An athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a mouthguard.
- Mouthguards prevent an estimated 200,000 or more injuries each year.
- Sports-related dental injuries account for more than 600,000 emergency room visits annually.
- Each knocked-out tooth that is not properly preserved or replanted can cause lifetime dental costs of $10,000 to $20,000.
You and/or your child should wear a mouthguard if you participate in sports involving a ball, stick, puck, or physical contact with another player. Mouthguards should be used for practice as well as actual games.
It's also important to be aware that all mouthguards are not created equal. To get the highest level of protection and comfort, you'll want to have one custom-fitted and professionally made. This will involve a visit to our office so that we can make a precise model of your teeth that is used to create a custom guard. A properly fitted mouthguard is protective, comfortable, resilient, tear-resistant, odorless, tasteless and not bulky. It has excellent retention, fit, and sufficient thickness in critical areas.
If you are concerned about dental injuries or interested in learning more about mouthguards, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. If you would like to read Dear Doctor's entire interview with Jerry Rice, please see “Jerry Rice.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Athletic Mouthguards.” and “An Introduction to Sports Injuries & Dentistry.”
As America's toughest trainer on the hit television program The Biggest Loser, Jillian Michaels helped people learn that they hold the power to change. And if anyone knows about the power of changing oneself, it is Jillian Michaels. In her recent interview with Dear Doctor magazine, Jillian discusses her childhood, the trauma of being overweight as a teenager (5' 2" and 175 pounds), and the day her life forever changed when she started martial arts training at a gym. “I started training when I was 17 and always loved it but never thought it would end up being my career,” she said.
Jillian also reveals that when she was a child, she broke her two front teeth and had them repaired with crowns. She added, “Now, I generally wear a mouthguard if I am doing anything where my teeth have any chance of being knocked out.”
When it comes to replacing teeth that are broken or damaged from trauma, or teeth that are damaged because of dental decay, grinding habits, or acid erosion, crowns may be your best option. And because the tooth enamel is damaged, a bit more of it must be removed before we can place a crown. Generally speaking, we must remove about 2 millimeters of tooth structure to place a crown. Once the crown is placed, the tooth will always require a crown, as this is an irreversible procedure. However, the good news is that a crown not only mimics the look and feel of a natural tooth, but it is also the optimal long-term solution. On average, a crown last between 5 and 15 years and requires no special maintenance. In fact, you should treat your crown as you do your natural teeth, with a daily cleaning regimen of brushing and flossing and routine dental examinations and cleanings.
To learn more about crowns or other cosmetic procedures, contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination, discuss any questions you have as well as what treatment options will be best for you. Or to learn more about crowns now, you can continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers.” And to read the entire interview with Jillian Michaels, please see the article “Jillian Michaels.”
It’s a recognized goal of modern dentistry to help you keep your natural teeth clean and disease-free, so you’ll be able to enjoy them for your whole life. But dentists can’t accomplish that goal by ourselves — we need your help! Maintaining good oral hygiene is the best way to ensure that your smile stays as healthy as it should be. Here are a few simple tips that can make a big difference in your dental health.
- Use the right brush, and change it as needed. What’s the right brush? Generally speaking, it’s one with soft bristles that’s small enough to fit your mouth comfortably. However, if you have trouble using a manual brush effectively (because of arthritis, for example), consider getting a good-quality electric brush. Change your brush when its bristles begin to stiffen or wear out. Ask us about proper brushing technique if you have any questions — and, of course, make sure to use a toothpaste with fluoride.
- Floss — every day. Because no matter how hard you try, you simply can’t reach all the areas in between your teeth with a brush alone — and that’s where many cavities get started. Plus, when it comes to preventing periodontal (gum) disease, flossing may be even more important than brushing, since it can actually remove plaque (a bacterial film) from under the gums. So no more excuses — OK?
- Stay away from sugary drinks and between-meal snacks. That includes sodas, cookies, and so-called “energy” drinks, which often pack a damaging one-two punch of sugar and caffeine. If you eat sugary treats at all, do so only after a meal. This will give your mouth plenty of “free time” to neutralize the acids that result when sugar is processed by oral bacteria. It’s these acids that are the primary cause of tooth decay.
- Avoid bad oral-health habits. Some you already know: smoking (or using tobacco products of any kind); excessive consumption of alcohol; chewing on pencils, fingernails, or anything else that doesn’t belong in your mouth. But some you may not know: A clenching or grinding habit at night can cause serious tooth damage without you even realizing it. Getting an oral piercing increases your chance of chipping a tooth, and can lead to other problems. And playing sports without a mouthguard is risky business.
- See your dentist regularly. You can do plenty on your own to keep up your oral health — but it’s also important to see us regularly. When you come in for an office visit, we will check you for early signs of problems, and take care of any that we find… before they get bigger and harder to treat. We’ll also make sure you leave with a sparkling smile that has been thoroughly and professionally cleaned.
If you would like to learn more about maintaining good oral hygiene, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. For more information, see the Dear Doctor magazine articles on “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health” and “Oral Hygiene Behavior.”