Soda Versus Our Teeth

HAVE YOU EVER HEARD of “Mountain Dew Mouth”? It’s what happens to our teeth when we drink too much soda. The term comes from rural Appalachia, where that particular drink has long been the carbonated beverage of choice and tooth decay is alarmingly common. But this doesn’t just happen in Appalachia, and Mountain Dew isn’t the only drink that contributes to tooth decay. The Dangers Of Sugary Drinks When we eat or drink something with sugar in it, the sugar sticks to our teeth afterward. Sugar itself doesn’t do any damage to our oral health, but it is unfortunately the favorite food of the bacteria that lives in our mouths. These bacteria eat the sugar and then excrete acids that erode our tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay. They also cause inflammation that increase the risk of gum disease. Any source of sugar can negatively impact oral health. Sugary drinks (including

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Smoking And Oral Health

THE DISEASE WE USUALLY think of when we hear “health risks of smoking” is lung cancer, but the damage smoking can cause isn’t limited to the lungs. A smoking habit can do a lot of harm to oral health as well, far beyond merely staining the teeth and causing bad breath. Let’s take a look at some of the more common ways this can happen. Smoking Harms The Gums Periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, begins with inflammation of the gums. If untreated, it can lead to extensive damage to gum and supporting bone tissue, and it enables bacteria to spread from the mouth all through the bloodstream. Smoking introduces hundreds of toxins into the mouth, which not only doubles the risk of developing gum disease, it makes it harder to treat. Whitening Of The Oral Mucosa Stomatitis Nicotina, or smoker’s keratosis, is the inflammatory swelling of mucous glands in the mouth. This shows up

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Breastfeeding And Your Baby’s Oral Health

ALL FIRST-TIME PARENTS are faced with a seemingly endless stream of questions, decisions, and unknowns about how to raise and care for their new baby. One of the big ones is whether to breastfeed or bottle-feed. There are passionate proponents of both options, some claiming that breast milk is far superior to formula while others claim that there’s little nutritional difference, so why not take advantage of the convenience of formula? We can’t make this decision for you, but, as dentists, we can weigh in on the effects of breastfeeding on a baby’s oral health and development. Key Breast Milk Nutrients Breast milk provides the nutrients your baby needs to grow healthy and strong, such as: proteins like casein, which helps build strong jaw muscles, fatty acids crucial for brain development, and vitamins that are vital for dental development. All of these nutrients are important factors in helping reduce tooth decay once those baby

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Preparing Your Smile For The Big Day

YOU’VE DREAMED OF THIS day your whole life. You have the ring and the fiancé, the planning is going well, and you’re down to the last few details. Bridals are coming up, and then the wedding itself. You realize there’s something you need to do before you have hundreds of pictures taken of you: perfect your smile! Whitening: Home Versus Professional When it comes to teeth whitening, strips, toothpastes, and rinses are the most cost-effective options. They’re cheap and you can do them yourself, but the results won’t be as good as with professional whitening. It’s critical to start the whitening strips at least one to two weeks in advance, and at least a month in advance if you go with toothpastes and rinses. Another option is take-home custom whitening trays. These trays do cost more, but they result in better whitening as long as you follow the instructions carefully. We recommend starting whitening

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How Diabetes Affects Oral Health

THE AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION estimates that 23.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes (whether it be type 1, type 2, or gestational). At least another 7 million remain undiagnosed, and that doesn’t include the additional millions who are considered pre-diabetic. But what does diabetes have to do with oral health? Unfortunately, quite a lot. Diabetes And Gum Disease Diabetes is a chronic disease that either means the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin (type 1) or that the body doesn’t use it effectively (type 2 and gestational), both of which cause elevated blood glucose. The most serious impact elevated blood glucose has on oral health is that it simultaneously weakens the immune system and provides more food for the bacteria that attack teeth and gums. This two-pronged attack is why 22% of diabetics also have gum disease, whether in the early stages of inflammation (gingivitis) or in the advanced stages (periodontitis) that threaten the teeth, gums, and supporting bone.

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Which Toothbrush Is Best?

BACK IN THE GOOD old days before the 1930s, toothbrush bristles were made of animal hair. We’re pretty happy to live in the era of nylon bristles, but how can we tell which toothbrush will be best for our teeth and gums? How hard should the bristles be? Are electric toothbrushes better than manual ones? Soft Versus Hard Bristles It’s true that hard bristles make it a little bit easier to scrub away the plaque from your teeth than soft bristles. It isn’t worth it in the end, though, because those hard bristles can also scrape away enamel and even agitate your gums to the point of putting you at greater risk for gum recession, which could be permanent. In the case of hard bristles versus soft, the costs of hard bristles clearly outweigh the benefits, which is why dentists always give out and recommend soft-bristle brushes. Powered Versus Manual Brushes In the past, there wasn’t a

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DIY Teeth Whitening Trends: Fact Or Fiction?

TRENDS IMPACT JUST about every aspect of life, from slang and fashion to which toys are collectibles this year and which fad diet everyone’s aunt is doing. Most trends are harmless symptoms of an ever-evolving society and culture, but when they affect the ways we take care of ourselves, they can become serious. In recent years, do-it-yourself teeth whitening has been a “trendy” topic, so let’s take a look at a few of the more popular methods. Charcoal Versus Tooth Enamel As counterintuitive as it seems to rub black powder on your teeth and expect them to become whiter, the rationale behind the idea makes sense. Charcoal is extremely porous and absorbent, and has been used even in hospitals to safely neutralize toxins. In theory, it could do the same for your teeth. However, charcoal isn’t just porous, it’s also abrasive. Even as it absorbs harmful compounds from your mouth and disrupts bacterial

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The Bare Bones Of Gum Recession

NO ONE LOOKS FORWARD to getting “long in the tooth” because of gum recession. However, while tooth length might be an accurate yardstick for judging the age of a horse, age is not the culprit behind receding gums in humans. Gum recession is simply such a gradual process that it can take decades before the effects are noticeable. Not All Gum Recession Is Avoidable There are many contributing factors to gum recession, and some unfortunately include genetics. Some people simply have fragile gums or don’t have enough jaw bone covering the front of the roots of their teeth to support gums up to the crowns. The good news is that many of the other contributing factors can be controlled, and even if you’re predisposed to gum recession, there are ways to minimize it. Bruxism Versus Your Gums Chronic teeth-grinding, or bruxism, causes a whole host of problems for your oral health, and one of

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The Coolest Teeth In The Animal Kingdom

MOST OF US already know that sharks constantly grow new teeth, venomous snakes use their fangs like syringes full of poison, and elephants have enormous tusks. As lovers of teeth of all shapes and sizes, today we’d like to take a moment to spotlight a few lesser known bizarre teeth out there in the wild. Crabeater Seals Contrary to their name, crabeater seals’ diets consist almost entirely of antarctic krill, but you probably wouldn’t guess that by looking at their teeth. Where we have our molars, they have some very bizarre teeth. These teeth are like if a normal sharp canine tooth had many smaller canine teeth coming out of it. All together, they look like they’re packing deadly saws in their jaws. Even though they look deadly, crabeater seals use their teeth in much the same way that we use strainers for pasta: they’ll take a big gulp of ocean water, then

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Dentures Then And Now

AS RECENTLY AS 2012, one fifth of American adults over sixty-five had lost all of their natural teeth. Whether the tooth loss is from age or other causes, it is a problem dentists have been dealing with for thousands of years. Dentures Have Ancient Roots False teeth have been around in some form since at least 700 B.C., when they were made out of human or animal teeth. Tooth decay became a much bigger problem after the Industrial Revolution when refined sugar became cheap and our intake of it shot through the roof. Because more people were losing teeth, more people needed false ones, and denture technology advanced. Easily the most famous man who needed dentures back in the day was George Washington. We’ve all heard about his wooden teeth, but they’re actually a myth. He had several sets of dentures, custom made for him from hippo ivory and human teeth, with gold wires and

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