Category Archives: Cavities & Tooth Decay

Dreaming of Delicious Wines for Christmas?

cosmetic dentist nyc‘Tis the time to be jolly and what brings in the christmas cheer like a little bit of wine? With the New Year just about to happen, loads of celebrations are sure to be in order. Unfortunately, the extra wine consumption during this time of year isn’t good news for the teeth. And while we would hate to be the Grinch who stole Christmas wine (isn’t that what the story was about??), we would like to offer a few tips to help maintain your teeth white, despite the holiday cheer.
A study from the New York College of Dentistry revealed that white wine is just as much to blame for tooth
stains as red wine. The reason is very straightforward: both colors of wine contain a lot of acidity, the factor that offer that tart flavor. Acid erodes the enamel of teeth, causing rough area and grooves on the surface of the teeth that leave them susceptible to stains from other colored foods and drinks. Although white wine is colorless, it leaves your teeth vulnerable to stains from coffee, tea, or other colored things.

Wines are not the only high acid culprits. Citrus drinks just like grapefruit and orange, most sports drinks, energy beverages and sodas are also fairly full of acid, causing vulnerabilities in the teeth.

nyc cosmetic dentistSo what exactly is the answer? Stop drinking most of these wonderful beverages? Ruin your holidays by turning down the drinks? Actually, there are some less drastic measures you can take. Dental Life professionals have the following tips. Do not brush your teeth right after sipping your holiday wines; allow time for the enamel to harden again. Any time you do brush, do so lightly with whitening type toothpaste and a soft bristle brush. Have you ever wondered why wine is so often paired with cheese? Cheese actually helps coat the teeth with calcium to aid protect the teeth, particularly the hard cheeses. Enjoying some crudités such as cauliflower, broccoli, and celery are great options as well. They increase saliva, assisting to wash away the acids, and actually act as a natural brush as well.

So, the dental news for you this holiday is to be careful what you do when you enjoy those holiday wines. Take care of your teeth well, and you’ll keep that wonderful smile. And if you do feel your teeth aren’t looking their brightest, in might be time for an after the holiday trip to a cosmetic dentist. Manhattan area dentists are very well equipped to provide your teeth a profession whitening that will get those pearly whites back to sparkling.


Planning on Losing Weight in the New Year?

Ny Dental ThanksgivingDo you feel about as stuffed as that turkey that was on the table this Thanksgiving? In the height of holiday season the last thing we want to think about is our weight. Usually it isn’t until the new year approaches and we start feeling a little extra tightness in the waistband that we consider making a resolution to exercise, diet, and lose weight. However, weight loss is a good thing to keep in mind right through the holidays, especially as NY Dental professionals ponder new information from a recent study revealing an alarming connection between obesity and gum disease.

In the study, 31 overweight individuals who had gum disease were given the same periodontal care. However, a control group underwent gastric bypass surgery to facilitate weight loss. After a period of time, all participants’ gum conditions had improved some due to the periodontal care. However, those who had enjoyed weight loss due to the surgery showed far greater improvement in overall gum health, reduction of inflammation, and a marked decrease in glucose levels.

Gum Disease Ny DentalInflammation of the gums can lead to harmful effects over time, causing bone erosion and tooth loss. It also allows harmful oral bacteria to enter the blood stream. This bacteria has been linked to diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and other conditions.

One of the theories scientists propose for the connection between obesity and oral health is that excessive fat cells, called adipocytes, create more cytokines which reduce the ability of insulin to properly deal with sugars in the body. The result is elevated sugar in the blood stream which presents a constant assault on the gums and teeth. Other studies show that the blood vessels in the mouth show thickening in obese individuals, which decreases blood flow to the tissues. Reduced blood flow allows bacteria to stagnate without being removed by the immune cells in the body.

In earlier dental news, previous studies confirm the findings of this latest research, and there are many convincing factors that explain the connection. Not only does obesity promote periodontal disease, but it also increases risk of adult onset diabetes, which in turn has its own gum disease risks.

holiday goodies NY DentalSo, as you enjoy your holiday goodies, keep in mind moderation is always a good habit. Start planning today for a weight loss program that includes healthy eating and regular exercise. A healthy wight not only makes you feel better, but your mouth will thank you as well. Making an appointment with your dental care professional wouldn’t be a bad New Year resolution either!


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!


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.

 


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.

Dental Mouth Guard


A Whole Look At Tooth Decay

nyc cosmetic dentists“You need to brush and floss more.” That sums up most of the advice that American patients receive from their dentist. With advice like that, it’s easy to forget that cavities are not the cause of a problem, but rather a symptom of poor oral health. Cavities are caused by bacteria that live in the mouth on teeth and gums. The bacteria feed on remnants of food stuck on and between the teeth and they leave behind waste. However, their waste is highly acidic. That acid dissolves the enamel surface of the tooth and creates holes in the tooth or cavities.

 

While these bacteria aren’t picky eaters, they have a bit of a sweet tooth. Research shows that they get something like a sugar rush.  They can consume sugar and starch more efficiently than foods lower on the glycemic index. Once the bacteria are well fed, they can reproduce more quickly, and the cycle continues, creating a more acidic environment. An acidic mouth is ideal for bacteria, but not for teeth.

Sugar accounts for roughly 20% of the average American’s diet and according to Michael Pollan, a food journalist, “nearly 10 percent of the calories Americans consume now come from corn sweeteners; the figure is 20 percent for many children.”

  • Regular Visits To The Dentist.
  • Floss.
  • Mouthwash.
  • Toothpaste.
  • New Tooth Brush.
  • A Healthy Diet ?

A great way to fight cavities all day is to consume a diet rich in whole natural foods. The American or western diet is notoriously heavy on sugar and starches, while low in the vitamins and minerals that can strengthen teeth against decay.

Some food can be tricky, so it is best to read the label. The label lists all of a product’s ingredients in order of most to least. Fresh meat and produce don’t have labels because they are considered unadulterated or pure. Even foods that look natural can be hiding high fructose corn syrup and other additives that cavity causing bacteria thrive on. A traditional loaf of bread has about 6 ingredients: yeast, water, honey/sugar, salt, whole wheat flour, and butter/oil, most supermarket breads have closer to 30 including enriched white flour. For decades some NYC cosmetic dentists have theorized that the cause of tooth decay in western society has been a diet heavy in refined grains, including processed corn, wheat, and sugar products.

Make the healthier choice. Switch to a diet of whole, unprocessed foods. Your body and your dentist will thank you.


How Cavities Start

How do cavites start

Sweets are the biggest culprit in causing cavities

Finding a cavity during a routine trip to the dentist is a familiar- if unpleasant – experience for many people; but most don’t realize that tooth decay is actually a disease process caused by bacteria, which can transmitted between people. Properly referred to as dental caries, this common oral disease affects children and adults of all ages… and is mostly preventable if you understand how the disease begins and spreads.

A cavity is actually a hole in the tooth. The hole is the end result of an infection by bacteria that produce acids which dissolve tooth structure. The dentist fills these holes as they are discovered but unfortunately, placing a filling the tooth without reducing the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth doesn’t usually cure the disease, and new cavities are likely to develop. Over 500 varieties of oral bacteria are found in the mouth, including the acid-producing Streptococcus mutans which is largely responsible for cavities. When they are not thoroughly and regularly removed by careful brushing and flossing, bacteria reproduce and thrive in a sticky substance that allows them to adhere to and destroy tooth surfaces. The key to controlling the caries disease process is to eliminate or control the cause – that sticky bacterial colony known as dental plaque.

Citric acid cause cavities

Sugary or starchy foods that are left over in the mouth after eating provide a source of food for Streptococcus mutans, which creates acid as a waste product. Acids in the mouth break down and dissolve the minerals, primarily calcium in the teeth. As you probably are aware, brushing and flossing removes both the leftover food particles and the plaque, and is therefore a first line of defense against tooth decay. However, sometimes even people who have good oral hygiene develop cavities.

What is the explanation?

Flossing helps mouth healthBacteria are too small to be seen and can easily work their way underneath tiny cracks and openings that typically develop over time around old fillings, crowns and bridge work. Furthermore, when the molars are being formed, often deep and narrow grooves develop in the chewing surfaces. These grooves are wide enough to allow acids and microscopic bacteria to enter but too narrow to be cleaned with your tooth brush. That’s why even people who take excellent care of their teeth and have had great checkups for years still need periodic dental x-rays and professional examinations.

Because the risk of getting a cavity is directly related to both bacteria and the acid level in your mouth there are several steps you can take to prevent the caries process from starting:

  • Don’t allow sweet drinks or foods to linger in the mouth over long periods of time. The longer teeth are exposed to these substances the more time bacteria will have to feed on it and produce acids that will bathe and destroy the teeth.
  • Avoid sour candy and limit food and drink like soda, tea, and citrus fruits which increase the acidity of the mouth and harm the enamel.
  • Stay away from anything sweet that sticks to the teeth. Foods like fruit rollups or taffy are obvious problems, but even “healthy” foods like raisins can stick and become be a source of food for decay causing bacteria!
  • Brush twice and floss at least once daily to remove plaque.
  • If you can’t brush after eating or drinking, rinse with water.
  • Maintain regular dental checkups with periodic x-rays to check under fillings and between teeth where the dentist can’t see.
  • Consider placing sealants (a semi-permanent plastic coating) on molars when they first erupt around age 6; this will keep harmful bacteria from invading deep inaccessible grooves.
  • Make sure everyone in the family has had a checkup and is controlling their cavity risk factors when a new baby is on the way. Oral bacteria are transmitted between family members!
  • Fluoride helps to remineralize teeth that have been “softened” with acids. Use fluoride toothpaste and ask your dental professional whether you are at high risk for cavities. Fluoride or another type of mouth rinse may also be recommended in either an over the counter or prescription strength.
  • A one ounce piece of cheese eaten at the end of a meal helps neutralize acids.
  • Xylitol, a sugar alcohol found in many products or sold as a sweeter chemically interacts with bacteria, preventing them from reproducing and reducing the acidity of the mouth. Ask your dental professional how you can incorporate Xylitol products into your diet.
  • Specialized laser instruments are available to detect early cavities that are still too small to see. If detected early, in many cases these can be repaired (remineralized) without drilling and filling simply by adding minerals back into the dissolving tooth structure.

Tooth with cavity Managing dental caries is about more than just filling cavities. Though you may not have been aware of it, your dentist assesses your risk factors for tooth decay, including dietary and oral hygiene habits, family history and sometimes even body chemistry and saliva flow. A variety of techniques can be implemented at home and in the dental office to lower your risk for developing cavities and the dentist can make specific recommendations based on his assessment. Do you have a positive experience with any of the decay prevention techniques discussed in the article? We would like to hear from you!