Are you ready to sink your teeth into Thanksgiving turkey? What about the Christmas ham? The meats you enjoy probably won’t make the dentistry news headlines, but all of those delectable sweets just might! You know the old saying, “You are what you eat?” This is true when it comes to the health of your teeth. Drinking and snacking on sweet or starchy things is not just a treat for yourself, but for the plaque building up on your teeth as well. And while we don’t want to become the Grinch that stole your holiday treats, we would like to offer a few suggestions to combat those goodies and promote a healthy holiday smile.
High Fiber Fruits and Vegetables
Fiber is exceptionally good for your teeth, acting somewhat like a detergent in your mouth, helping to scrub off that unwanted plaque. There are a number of fruits and vegetables that have good fiber content, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to include a few more veggies into your holiday menu. At the top of the list are:
● Raw carrots
Not only do fibrous foods act as scrubbers, they also promote saliva flow, which aids in neutralizing acids and enzymes which attack your tooth enamel.
Incorporating dairy products into holiday meals is a cinch. Many recipes call for cheese, milk, yogurt, and other dairy products. What makes them so good for your teeth? The calcium in milk helps to build stronger enamel, providing better protection from those less healthful holiday choices.
Green and Black Tea
Do you have a soft spot for a steaming chai latte? A Chai latte actually has a couple of good things going for your teeth – milk and tea. Both green and black teas contain polyphenols that work to counteract plaque causing bacteria. Although tea is acid, the acidity is so weak that it does not affect your teeth. Rather, both black and green teas have been making dental news lately because they contain the properties that break down plaque bacteria, making them a good component of your healthy teeth arsenal. Just cut back on some of the sugar in that latte!
Eating for the health of your teeth need not be a bothersome chore; there are plenty of tooth-healthy foods that are delightful to the palate as well. Incorporating a few of these ideas into your traditional holiday fare is an easy step toward promoting a healthy smile.
Leave a comment | tags: acid, bacteria, calcium, dairy, dentist, enamel, fiber, plaque, polyphenols, saliva, tea, teeth, thanksgiving, turkey | posted in Uncategorized
Dehydration 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
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.
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.
The 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.
Leave a comment | tags: acid, bacteria, caries, cavities, chronic dehydration, dentin, dietary, enamel, erosion, nassau, new york city, suffolk, sugar, tap water, tooth decay | posted in Cavities & Tooth Decay, Food
Natural 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.
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.
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.
Regardless 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.
Leave a comment | tags: acid, chamomile, chitosan, dentist, echinacea, enamel, erosion, insect cuticles, myrhh, natural, sage, shellfish, tooth decay, toothpaste, triclosan | posted in How to keep your teeth clean
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.
Attrition – 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 a 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.
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.
Leave a comment | tags: 45 degrees, abrasion, acid, alkaline, attrition, bruxism, erosion, gum disease, Mouth Guard, tooth brush, tooth wear away, vomiting | posted in Caps & Crowns, Cavities & Tooth Decay, Cosmetic dentistry, Dental Implants, Oral Surgery
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.
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?
Bacteria 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.
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!
Leave a comment | tags: acid, acidic, bacteria, cavities, cavity, dental caries, dental information, dentistry news, fluoride, plaque, remineralize, sealants, streptococcus mutans, tooth decay, xylitol | posted in Cavities & Tooth Decay