Posts for: August, 2012
Parenthood comes with no manual — if it did it would surely include many essential tips to make your job easier while improving your children's lives. One important fact that surprises many people, is the age you should take your children to the dentist for their first dental appointment, age one. The reason that the age one dental visit is so important is that it establishes the foundation of oral healthcare for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, some parents wrongly assume that because primary teeth “fall out anyway,” they do not need to worry about them. Nothing could be further from the truth!
One problem children may face is Early Childhood Caries (ECC) tooth decay. This is a type of tooth decay that occurs from sucking on a bottle filled with sugary liquids such as formula, juices and fruity drinks for extended periods of time and from a sleep-time bottle. ECC can affect all the primary (baby) teeth in infants soon after they come into the mouth.
Bringing your children into our office for their age one dental visit enables us to establish a friendly, trusting relationship with the whole family while we assess your children's oral health. During this consultation we will identify if the teeth and jaws are developing correctly, whether habits such as sucking on baby bottles are causing tooth decay or if there are other underlying issues that may indicate future problems. And this ounce of prevention often enables us to stop an anticipated problem before it even starts.
If you like soft drinks and carbonated colas, beware. Acids in these drinks may be dissolving the minerals in your teeth — a process called chemical erosion. And don't think that natural fruit juices or sports and high energy drinks are any better than sodas. They also contain acids that dissolve the surface enamel of your teeth. Once your enamel is lost, it is gone forever. It cannot naturally recover.
Sadly, teeth in children and teenagers — an age group most likely to drink large quantities of soda and juices — may be more easily eroded by acids. These youngsters have not had long-term exposure to fluorides which harden tooth enamel and protects them from acid erosion.
The Difference between Erosion and Decay
Chemical erosion is not the same as tooth decay (cavities). In chemical erosion, acids in your mouth react directly with minerals in the outer enamel of your teeth. In the case of tooth decay, bacteria in dental plaque (a bacterial film that forms on your teeth) utilize the sugars in the drinks and produce acids that attack your teeth.
After Acidic Exposure, Wait 30 Minutes to an Hour before Brushing
You may think that the solution to chemical erosion is to brush the acidic solution from your teeth as soon after drinking them as possible. But tooth brushing immediately after can actually accelerate chemical erosion and make it worse. After they are bathed in an acidic solution, minerals in the tooth surface become partially dissolved. Brushing at this time may brush away the affected layer. If you wait a half hour to an hour, your saliva will have time to neutralize the acids and harden the tooth surface by adding minerals back into it.
Drinks Less Likely to Cause Dental Erosion
Instead of drinking colas and sports drinks, stick to water and/or milk, which have the added benefit of supplying calcium to help add minerals back to the tooth surface.
If you must sip on juices or soft drinks, try to do so only at mealtimes. This is preferable to drinking them all day long, which leaves your teeth constantly bathed in an acid solution. Avoid swishing the drinks in your mouth, and sip them with a straw to reduce contact between acidic drinks and your teeth.
The role of fatherhood comes without a handbook for the answers to all of life's challenges. Instead, we're left to figure everything out on our own. For most dads, this means being the primary or head of a household that ensures everyone has at a minimum the very basics — a roof over their head and food on the table everyday. However, recent research has revealed that while fathers may be providing most of that, they fall short healthwise when compared to moms in the areas of both oral and general health.
Here are some basic facts (or areas of concern) men need to understand:
- Men are more likely to have a heart attack than women.
- There is growing research that links periodontal (gum) disease and heart disease.
- Men tend to put off seeing a dentist for routine exams and cleanings but rather wait until they have a problem before making an appointment.
- Many heart and blood medications can cause dry mouth, which can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
- If you use tobacco and are an older male, you are twice as likely as women to develop oral cancer.
- And with exercise, men tend to select activities such as basketball, dirt biking, soccer and football — all of which have a greater risk for trauma to the mouth and teeth.
The Good News...
One of the first steps you can take to get your health back on track is to contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule a consultation. Other steps you can take include:
- Asking us to teach you the proper brushing and flossing techniques so that you are equipped to prevent or combat periodontal problems.
- Making an appointment for a dental cleaning.
- Asking us about ways you can protect your teeth and mouth if you actively participate in high contact activities.
- Speaking to us about a proper diet for both your oral and general health.
- Starting a workout regimen that includes a slow start and working out for 20 minutes at least 3 or 4 times a week if you are not currently exercising regularly.
Can chewing gum prevent cavities? Yes! It can if the gum is sweetened with xylitol.
What is xylitol?
Xylitol is a type of “sugar alcohol,” similar to sorbitol and mannitol, sugar replacements that are used in many low calorie foods. Xylitol occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables and is obtained from the bark of birch trees, coconut shells and cottonseed hulls. It looks and tastes like sugar and is a diabetic-safe, low-calorie carbohydrate.
How does xylitol stop cavity formation?
Decay starts when certain bacteria break down sucrose (regular table sugar) and produce acids that dissolve the minerals in the enamel, the outer protective layer of your teeth. When the decay-causing bacteria try to consume xylitol, they are unable to break it down, and instead they begin to starve.
A normal mouth contains a large population of bacteria, and it is better for your teeth to have more “good” bacteria of the kind that do not cause cavities. Xylitol also stops your saliva from becoming acidic, so your mouth becomes a better environment for the “good” bacteria.
Chewing xylitol gum also increases your flow of saliva. Saliva contains calcium and fluoride and helps give these minerals back to your teeth (re-mineralization), undoing some of the effects of the cavity-causing bacteria. This makes chewing xylitol gum a particularly good solution for people who suffer from dry mouth.
How much xylitol do you need to prevent cavities?
We recommend that you chew or suck on two pieces of xylitol gum or two pieces of xylitol candy for five minutes following meals or snacks, four times daily — if you are at moderate to extreme risk for cavities. The target dose of xylitol is 6 to 10 grams (one or two teaspoons) spread throughout the day. Prolonged gum chewing is not advised, so most xylitol-sweetened products contain flavor that only lasts a short time to discourage excessive chewing. The only side effect of too much xylitol ingestion is that it may have a mild laxative effect.
I don't like chewing gum. Is there another way to get xylitol?
People who don't like to chew gum have the option of using xylitol in mints, candies, mouthwash, toothpaste, or mouth sprays. For these individuals, a minimum dose is 5 to 6 grams (one teaspoon) three times per day.
So now you can add xylitol to the list of ways to fight cavities: daily brushing and flossing, and regular professional cleanings — and chewing xylitol gum.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about xylitol and other methods of preventing tooth decay. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Xylitol in Chewing Gum.”