Posts for: September, 2013
If you're watching your weight or living with diabetes, you probably know the advantages of satisfying your sweet tooth with sugar substitutes rather than the real deal. Did you know that sugar substitutes can also help reduce your risk for tooth decay? One particular sugar stand-in, xylitol, might actually promote oral health!
Sugar substitutes are food additives that mimic the taste of sugar but supply little to no food energy (nutrition) and therefore zero or few calories. This is because they generally cannot be digested and absorbed by the body. They pass through largely unused and have little to no effect on blood sugar levels. Oral bacteria aren't able to process sugar substitutes either. They get significant nutrition from “real” sugars that pass through the mouth — generating tooth-eroding, cavity-promoting acids in the digestive process. A diet of artificial sweeteners eliminates or significantly curtails the acidity problem and essentially starves the “bad” bacteria so more tooth-friendly bacteria can crowd them out.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved 6 artificial sweeteners (synthetically produced zero-calorie sugar substitutes) for use in the U.S.:
- Acesulfame K — Sunett®, Sweet One®
- Aspartame — Equal, NutraSweet
- Neotame — a modified form of aspartame
- Saccharin — Sweet'N Low, Sugar Twin
- Sucralose — Splenda
- Rebaudioside A — Truvia, Sun Crystals, Stevia in the Raw
There also are naturally occurring low-calorie sugar alcohols (polyols), used alone or in combination with an artificial sweetener. They are incompletely digested and absorbed slowly so the amount of calories they generate is minimal. Commonly used polyols include erythritol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. Research suggests that xylitol may help prevent tooth decay and promote oral health by reducing levels of the major acid-producing bacteria in the mouth, Streptococcus mutans.
Despite their virtues, there is debate regarding the safety of sugar substitutes — synthetic ones in particular. Currently the focus is on how they may affect taste perception, metabolism, and eating habits. From a dental perspective, however, the overall benefits for using xylitol are pretty clear!
If you would like more information about nutrition and oral health, 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.”
Statistically speaking, Americans can expect to enjoy a longer life today than at any time in the past. A recent U.S. government interagency study indicated that our oldest citizens are also generally getting healthier and doing better economically. Yet, along with an increased lifespan comes the possibility that at some future time, you or a loved one may undergo treatment for cancer.
There's good news here too: According to the National Cancer Institute, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, both the rate of cancer incidence and the death rate from the disease have been steadily declining. It's true that cancer treatments may cause a variety of oral health problems. But did you know that there are some measures you can take to minimize the discomfort and possible complications from these lifesaving therapies?
Chemotherapy and radiation, two common treatments, work by attacking cancerous cells. However, they can affect normal cells too — including the cells lining the mouth, and the salivary glands. This sometimes results in mouth sores, a dry mouth, and an increased risk of developing dental diseases like tooth decay.
What should you do if you or someone you love needs cancer treatments? The best outcomes can be obtained by a dose of prevention when possible, and by taking a team approach to the treatment.
Oral side effects may be worse if the mouth isn't healthy prior to cancer treatment. So, if there's time, have necessary dental procedures done before treatment begins. During and after cancer therapy, dental surgery should be limited if possible. The first step is to get a complete dental examination, and to develop a treatment plan. It's vitally important to coordinate any dental treatments with an oncologist (cancer specialist).
There are also things a patient can do to help control unpleasant oral side effects. Removing the bacteria that cause tooth decay is more essential now than ever. In addition to thorough brushing, an antibacterial rinse or fluoride gel may be prescribed. To combat the symptoms of dry mouth, it's important to drink plenty of fluids. Chewing gum with Xylitol, or using a mouth rinse or a prescription medication may also be recommended.
It's essential for those having cancer treatment to understand and follow the recommendations of their dentist and doctor. These include taking steps to reduce the chance of complications, and recognizing the warning signs that may indicate a problem.
If you would like more information about cancer treatment and oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment to discuss your treatment options. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Health During Cancer Treatment.”
Have you ever wondered why your smile is not as white as it used to be? Well, there may be a few different reasons that your teeth have become discolored over the years. The change in color may simply be due to wear and tear from aging. It may also be a result of dietary factors, because foods containing tannins, such as red wine, coffee and tea are known to discolor teeth. Tobacco use, whether smoking or chewing, is another common cause of stains on your teeth.
So, what should you do if you decide you would like a whiter smile? You should first make an appointment with our office, so that we can assess the root cause of the discoloration. We may recommend a quick and easy solution with in-office whitening, sometimes known as power bleaching.
An in-office whitening treatment can lighten your teeth three to eight shades in just one office visit! During your whitening treatment, we will first protect your lips, gums and cheeks, leaving only your teeth exposed. Then, we will apply a professional strength bleaching gel to your teeth. We may use a special light to make the bleach work faster. The great advantage of this treatment is that your smile will become noticeably whiter in just an hour!
If you would prefer to whiten in the comfort of your home, we can give you a take-home whitening kit. First, we will make molds of your mouth, from which we will create thin plastic mouth trays that fit your teeth exactly. You'll apply the whitening gel to the trays and wear them on your teeth 30 minutes a day, twice a week, for about six weeks. While your teeth may not whiten as fast as in our office, if you wear them as directed, you'll still see great results.
Though you may always be able to find a whitening solution in the aisle of your grocery store, remember that the best way to ensure the results you want is to get a professional treatment.
If you would like more information about teeth whitening, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Whitening.”
As a Pro Football Hall of Famer and first runner up on the hit television show Dancing with the Stars, Jerry Rice has a face and smile that truly has star quality. However, that was not always the case. During an interview with Dear Doctor magazine, the retired NFL pro discussed his good fortune to have had just a few minor dental injuries throughout his football career. He went on to say that his cosmetic dentist repaired several of his chipped teeth with full crowns. Rice now maintains his beautiful smile with routine cleanings and occasional tooth bleaching.
If you have chipped, broken or missing teeth, or are considering a smile makeover, we want to know exactly what you want to change about your smile, as the old adage is true: Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. This is one reason why we feel that listening is one of the most important skills we can use during your private, smile-makeover consultation. We want to use this time to ensure we see what you see as attractive and vice versa so that together we can design a realistic, achievable blueprint for your dream smile.
For this reason, we have put together some questions you should ask yourself prior to your appointment:
- What do you like and dislike about the color, size, shape and spacing of your teeth?
- Do you like how much of your teeth show when you smile and when your lips are relaxed?
- Are you happy with the amount of gum tissue that shows when you smile?
- Do you prefer a “Hollywood smile” with perfectly aligned, bright white teeth, or do you prefer a more natural looking smile with slight color, shape and shade variations?
To learn more about obtaining the smile you want, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Great Expectations — Perceptions In Smile Design.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination and discuss your cosmetic and restorative dentistry treatment goals. And if you want to read the entire feature article on Jerry Rice, continue reading “Jerry Rice — An Unbelievable Rise To NFL Stardom.”