Monthly Archives: October 2011

Tips Instead of Tricks for the Kickoff of Sugar Season

Halloween CandyThe real danger this season is not the spooks and goblins, but the sugary treats they bring. Halloween ushers in the season of high sugar consumption as the winter holidays follow close on its heels. The season always ranks high in dentistry news because of the assault all the sugar brings to the teeth of children, making them at risk for the development of cavities.

So, what is the real danger of sugar anyway? Our mouths always have bacteria present in them, and when that bacteria comes in contact with sugar, they produce acids that can break down tooth enamel. After sugar is consumed, it can take up to 60 minutes for the saliva in the mouth to neutralize the acid. This means that teeth are under attack for almost an hour each time sugar is consumed. Break down of tooth enamel eventually causes the tooth decay that results in cavities.

You have probably heard of the campaign this holiday by dentists across the country offering to buy candy back from kids and donate it to soldier’s oversees. This is a good start, and makes great dentistry news, but cavity prevention begins at home, and NY dental professionals offer some tips to help protect your child’s teeth.

Trick or Treat Since each exposure to sugar puts teeth at risk for up to an hour, do not let your child munch on candy throughout the day. When sugar is consumed continually, the mouth has no time to recover from the attack. If this takes place after the child has already started getting his permanent teeth, this can cause long term damage which could lead to serious dental issues later in life, including dental implants. NYC dentists recommend allowing your child to consume several pieces of candy in one setting versus spread throughout the day.

Another idea is to limit candy intake to around meal time. More saliva is flowing during a meal, allowing the mouth to neutralize acids more quickly. Make candy or dessert eating a special thing, reserved for a certain time of day following a meal. This will allow the mouth to recover quickly. It may also give mom a break from sugar-hyped kids all the time!Of course one of the biggest tooth decay fighters is proper brushing and flossing of teeth. Make sure that the busyness of the holidays does not cause a break in your child’s usual teeth brushing routine. This is a big factor in fighting tooth decay.

Finally, consider bringing your child in to see your dentist after the holidays. A quick check up will catch any tooth decay early, preventing major work later on. Follow these tips and keep the sugar goblins at bay this holiday season!

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Drink For Your Health

Dry MouthDehydration is a serious problem in America. Depending on the source, somewhere between %60 and %75 of the nation suffers from some form of chronic dehydration. Although plastic water bottles have become a staple in the life of many Americans, consumption is still shockingly low. There are a myriad of health concerns associated with dehydration, aside from sudden problems such as: heatstroke, fainting, etc. there are many problems that can diminish your quality of life, and become serious over time. joint problems, dry skin, poor nails, stomach sensitivity, dizziness, low energy, abdominal bloat, poor heat tolerance, kidney stones, are all common effects of long term chronic dehydration. Proper hydration is also extremely important for dental health. Both the external act of drinking water and the internal body processes that it promotes are imperative in the fight against tooth decay. Before we continue, I feel it is necessary to state that water means water, not soda, not juice, not Crystal Light, I mean pure H2O.

Severely Eroded Teeth

Severely Eroded Teeth

The mouth is the first stage of the gastrointestinal system; therefore it is subject to the influence of diet. The mouth is a complex and changing environment which is subject to many external and internal changes. When certain external compounds are ingested, they can have a positive or negative effect on teeth. Acidic foods and beverages erode teeth. The acid breaks down tooth enamel, leaving the softer parts of the tooth more vulnerable. Acidic foods and beverages include: whole fruit, fruit juice, soda, carbonated water, coffee, wine, and many more. Drinking water with or immediately after acidic foods or beverages will restore a natural PH to your mouth. It is also important to minimize the amount of time teeth are exposed to acid, for example, it is best to drink a cup of coffee in one sitting, than to sip slowly throughout the day.

Man Drinking

Saliva production has been linked to hydration since the early 1900s. Proper hydration is an integral part of saliva production. Saliva comes from three paired major salivary glands (parotid, submandibular and sublingual) along with numerous smaller glands. Their secretions interfere in pathogenesis, (the beginning of tooth decay) in several ways. Quite simply, saliva is known to wash away harmful dietary acid, sugar, and bacterial acid that diminish tooth enamel. Saliva is also filled with ions that neutralize dietary and bacterial acids. These ions also work to remineralize the tooth, bonding with the enamel to support it.  Salivary proteins and glycoproteins form a small layer over teeth to help shield them from acid and bacteria.

Tap WaterThe best part is, drinking water is the absolute least expensive way to improve your oral (and overall) health. If you live in an area with poor tap water, it is best to buy a filter. However, New York City and Long Island are home to some of the cleanest tap water in the world. Long Island gets its water from underground aquifers that have stored glacial water for thousands of years. New York City uses a series of upstate reservoirs that are heavily protected through state regulations. So next time you’re in a restaurant, bar, or even at home, ask for a glass of water. They’re practically giving it away.

 


The Low Down On Natural Toothpaste

Flower Child SmileNatural products have been become a bit of a sensation over the last few years. Walmart, for example, has introduced organic vegetables and dairy alongside many other natural products in response to consumer demand. Natural toothpastes have been available for years, but have recently gained prominence as their conventional counterparts have come under new scrutiny. Previously, we have discussed conventional toothpaste, but the landscape has changed since then. Triclosan, for example, a powerful antibacterial agent found in conventional soap and toothpaste, has since been found to alter hormone regulation in laboratory animals and promote antibiotic resistance.

Chitosan comes from shellfish and insect cuticles. The mouth contains bacteria that organize in colonies called oral biofilm. Antibacterial ingredients in toothpaste are important for removing and destroying oral biofilm. It is important to have an antimicrobial agent in toothpaste. One such natural agent is chitosan, which recent studies have proved to be nontoxic and quite effective. Brushing with chitosan may sound off putting when you discover it is harvested from the shells of crustaceans like shrimp and the cuticles of insects. One of the only toothpastes that contains chitosan is a German brand called Chitodent, which is difficult to obtain in the US.

Herbal ingredients make up these toothpastes

A toothpaste with plant based, herbal ingredients called Parodontax, uses natural mineral salts as a detergent agent. It also contains healing herbs such as: Echinacea, chamomile, sage and myrhh. Many conventional toothpastes use sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) as the detergent. However, SLS causes mouth ulcers and tissue sloughing. Parodontax is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and is available on the internet.

Editor Jenna Bergen of Prevention magazine recently spoke about all natural toothpaste. “It’s a really big marketing term right now because companies are realizing consumers are becoming savvier in trying to limit their exposure to unnecessary chemicals.” Said Bergen. “So if that matters to you, you can feel confident that when you pick up a natural toothpaste it won’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, and fragrances,” she explains.

There is emerging evidence to suggest that some natural ingredients such as cranberry extract and xylitol can fight cavities. However, natural toothpaste with fluoride is highly recommended. Any well-designed fluoride toothpaste will make enamel more acid resistant. The enamel-strengthening claims on the label are “a marketing gimmick,” says Dr. Featherstone, was a consultant for several toothpaste makers. It is important to choose toothpaste with a taste you like, as you will use it more.

Drink water after eating or drinking acidic foods or drinksRegardless of the toothpaste you use, it is important not to brush your teeth immediately after drinking acids as that is when enamel is most vulnerable to wear from brushing. It’s a good idea to take a few sips of water after drinking or eating acids, scientists add, and sugar-free gum can help by stimulating saliva production.


What Exactly Are Teeth Anyway?

A look at pulp, enamel, cementum, and dentinWith a few exceptions, teeth don’t heal by themselves. Every cartoon with an elderly character will show them taking out their false teeth. For many Americans, teeth simply don’t stand the test of time. They contain one of the few tissues in the body that is finite. Most people have heard of enamel from toothpaste ads, but that tissue is only 1 of the 4 that comprise a tooth. Enamel, dentin, cementum, and pulp are the four major tissues that round out a mouth full of pearly whites. Most of the previous blog entries talk about a specific dental disorder or problem and offer remedies to it. This one will be a bit of primer, a basic introduction to what teeth are, and what can go wrong for each part.

Dental pulp is soft tissue in the center of the tooth; it contains the nerve, blood and lymphatic vessels, and connective tissue. The pulp forms the main bulk, or core, of each tooth and extends almost the entire length of the tooth. It is covered by enamel on the crown portion and by cementum on the roots. The pulp consists of cells, tiny blood vessels, and a nerve and occupies a cavity located in the center of the tooth. If the pulp becomes infected, it is removed by root canal.

Cementum in the tooth

Cementum is the thin surface layer of bone like material covering the tooth’s root. It is yellowish and softer than either dentin orenamel. The fibers of the periodontal membrane, which holds the tooth in lace, are embedded in cementum. Deposition of cementum continues throughout life, especially in response to stresses. When the tooth’s crown is gradually worn down, new cementum is deposited on the roots so that the tooth can slowly rise to maintain a good bite.

Elephant Ivory is almost entirely made of Dentin.

Elephant tusks (Ivory) are solid dentin. Ivory was the preferred material for billiard balls, as dentin has an elastic quality

Dentin is the yellowish tissue that makes up the bulk of all teeth. It is harder than bone but softer than enamel and consists mainly of apatite crystals of calcium and phosphate. Sensitivity to pain, pressure, and temperature is transmitted via the tubes to and from the nerve in the pulp. Secondary dentine, is a less well-organized form of tubular dentine, is produced throughout life as a patching material where cavities have begun, where the overlying enamel has been worn away, and within the pulp chamber as part of the aging process.

Veneers are often the only solution to severely worn enamel.

Veneers are often the only solution to severely worn enamel.

Enamel is the hardest tissue in the body. It covers part of or the entire crown of the tooth. Enamel is not living and contains no nerves. The thickness and density of enamel vary over the surface of the tooth; it is hardest at the biting edges, or cusps. Normal enamel may vary in color from yellow to gray. The surface enamel is harder and contains more fluoride than the underlying enamel. It is very resistant to tooth decay. Enamel is also finite. Worn enamel is a symptom of most dental problems: erosion, attrition, abrasion, and the first part of the tooth to decay from cavities. A loss of enamel over time can lead to transparent and fragile teeth. Sensitive teeth can be relieved with desensitizing toothpastes, which often contain ingredients such as potassium nitrate, potassium chloride or potassium citrate seem to make the tooth less receptive to pain. In the case of severely worn enamel, veneers are often the only option.

This concludes the reading for dental anatomy 101. I hope that it provides a greater understanding to the past and future blog entries. And if you didn’t much care for the anatomy of your chompers, there is good news. With good dental hygiene, the dentist won’t have to bother you with any of these terms and explanations; you can just take a free toothbrush and be on your way.


Long in the Tooth

Aside from the usual worries like gum disease and cavities, there is a whole other realm of dental problems that most people may be unaware of. Teeth are finite, they will not last forever if they are not carefully preserved and protected. There are three major ways that teeth can wear away: attrition, abrasion, and erosion. With the proper knowledge and dental advice, tooth wear away won’t be a problem until you’re long in the tooth.

 

Tooth Wear AwayAttrition – Wear away of tooth surface by chewing, one of its primary causes is Bruxism.

Abrasion – When brushing too vigorously wears away the tooth surface. (Usually evident where the gum and tooth meet)

Erosion – When acid wears away the tooth’s structure.

Attrition is a disorder usually brought on by stress, it also known as Bruxism. A mouth guard for nighttime use is usually recommended to prevent further deterioration. Severe attrition may only be able to treat with extensive too replacement, through either caps or crowns.

Abrasion is another one. This disorder is usually seen where the tooth meets the gum in a wedge or aAttrition on teeth v shaped mark. A hard bristle tooth brush is one of the biggest contributing factors to abrasion victims, although a hard brushing with a soft bristled brush can be just as harmful. Tooth abrasion can be repaired by bonding a tooth colored filling to the damaged area. The recommended way to brush your teeth is to place the brush at a 45 degree angle toward the junction of the gum and tooth and move the brush in a gentle circular motion. To make sure you’ve brushed properly try discoloring tablets, bright pink tablets that are chewed before brushing. Any place that hasn’t been brushed properly will be slightly tinged pink.

Erosion's effect on teeth.Tooth erosion is caused by acid. Teeth and acid do not mix. Acid is the bacterial by-product that causes cavities. Food and drink that are highly acidic can cause the enamel and the dentine to break down. The acid dissolves the calcium in the tooth. All soft drinks are acidic, including any carbonated: soda, diet soda, sports drinks, diet sports drinks, and sparkling mineral water. Soft drinks are a major cause of tooth erosion and the degree of erosion directly correlates to the amount and frequency of soft drink consumption. Other acidic foods include: citrus fruits, fruit juices, pickles, vinegar, and yogurt. Stomach acid is very powerful, strong enough to dissolve any food along with whatever tooth and bone fragments that might accidentally be ingested. When stomach contents are regurgitated acid comes into contact with the teeth. Any condition that causes repetitive vomiting will result in tooth erosion. The dentist is often the first one to the notice the problem because the back of the tooth is more susceptible to erosion. When a tooth is sufficiently eroded, the enamel will give way and expose the dentine, which can result in pain and increased sensitivity to: sweet, hot, and cold food or drinks. Erosion is a serious problem. If the nerves or blood vessels have been affected, those teeth will require a root canal and a replacement crown. To prevent tooth erosion, it is important to limit your exposure to acidic food and drink. It is also shown that chewing sugar-free gum can dilute acidity by increasing saliva flow.

Ask the dentist about tooth wear away. An early diagnosis and treatment regimen can be the difference between a $10 mouth guard, and a Cadillac’s worth of oral surgery.

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