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Tooth decay is an age old problem that has affected generations of children and adults. Tooth decay is preventable, we just need to understand what causes it so that we may then prevent it from occurring.

Tooth decay is caused by a bacterial intrusion into the tooth. The bacteria feed on the buildup of food debris on teeth. The bacteria then secrete acids which breakdown tooth enamel. Once the acid forms a hole in the enamel, the bacteria can then enter the tooth and progressively breakdown the tooth, causing a cavity.  Understanding this process is critical to maintaining oral health and preventing tooth decay.

Best Tips To Prevent Tooth Decay

-Maintain Proper Dental Hygiene. This is the first step to preventing tooth decay. Proper dental hygiene should include, brushing, flossing, and using an antibacterial mouthwash. Toothbrushing should be done at least twice a day for 2 minutes each time. Brushing more often during the day will enhance your dental hygiene. Flossing should be done at least once a day (preferably before bedtime) but it can also be done more often.  The goal in dental hygiene is to not only keep down the amount of debris in the mouth but also to keep the environment from becoming acidic which will allow bacteria to more agressively break down teeth causing tooth decay.

Use of an antibacterial/fluoride mouthwash (such as purple listerine)is often overlooked but is also important. These oral rinses are designed to decrease cavity causing bacteria in the mouth while utilizing fluoride to strengthen enamel against breakdown. If brushing and flossing is done properly, use of an oral rinse should complete the protection against tooth decay.

-Sugarless Gum. Sugarless gum is important because it stimulates salivary flow. The increased saliva in the mouth will help to keep our teeth clean. Saliva is the mouth’s natural defense against oral bacteria. Choose a sugarless gum with xylitol. Bacteria can not feed on xylitol, because it cannot be metabolized. This helps keep the acid levels lower. Xylitol has also been shown to help remineralize our teeth’s enamel.

-Maintaining Proper Nutrition. Choosing foods and drinks wisely is important to your overall health as well as your dental health. By eating properly, you are able to keep your body as healthy as possible allowing your body to fight off any attack. The best snacks for your dental health include raw vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Avoiding sugar is not always an option so it is important to minimize the damage. Apples are actually the perfect snack for dental health as they act as a tooth cleaner and whitener. They are able to clean your teeth by the abrasive action of the skin and hard inner surface of the apple, malic acid in the apple helps to remove surface stain and keep teeth whiter. You can actually squueze juice from an apple and mix it with baking soda to brush on and whiten your teeth. So next time you are looking for a midday snack pick up a shiny apple.

-Drink Fluoridated Water. While fluoride is a controversial topic for many. It has been proven time and again to protect our teeth from tooth decay. Fluoridated water is important for children to drink. The fluoride becomes a permanent part of the tooth when it is consumed during tooth development.  Drinking at least 16oz of fluoridated water each day will help prevent tooth decay. Another option is to use a supplemental fluoride prescribed by your dentist.

-Dental Sealants. Many believe dental sealants are just for children but that is not so. If an adult has no tooth decay on the tooth in question nor any previous dental restorations a sealant can be placed and be effective. A dental sealant is designed to cover the chewing surfaces of premolars and molars. This keeps the grooves of our teeth from developing tooth decay. In many of us, these grooves are quite deep and are an inherent weakness in the fight against tooth decay.

Tooth Decay Conclusion

Tooth decay is preventable with diligent dental hygiene and maintaining regularly scheduled dental visits. Maybe in the future, we can eventually wipe out tooth decay . Until then, we need to follow the steps above to maintain good oral health.

Diet plays a big role in the maintenance of our teeth and gums. Many people are unaware of what foods are bad for our dental health. Did you know that carbohydrates are really just sugars in disguise? Luckily, our oral bacteria is unable to properly break down complex carbohydrates. However, simple sugars (monosaccharides) and links of simple sugars (disaccharides) can be broken down. Tooth decay occurs when bacteria break down these sugars producing acid as a byproduct. The acid sits on and between our teeth dissolving our teeth causing tooth decay.

Sugars That Cause Tooth Decay

-Sucrose. Also known as common table sugar (also sometimes called saccharose). Sucrose is found in most candy, is the sweetest of all the sugars, and is broken down by Streptococcus Mutans.  S.Mutans is able to uniquely break down sucrose into dextran. Dextran acts as the glue for the bacteria to stick to teeth as well as act as a reserve food source for the bacteria. This glue makes dental plaque stickier and harder to remove. Sucrose is found in sugar cane, maple trees, and sugar beets.

-Fructose. This sugar is found in nature in many fruits (berries, melons) and root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes). Fructose is not as sweet as Sucrose. Where Fructose becomes a problem for our teeth is when it is concentrated as high fructose corn syrup. At that point it becomes far sweeter than sucrose, sticky, and easily broken down by bacteria to cause decay. High fructose syrup is widely used due to its cheapness and its liquid form. Low cost makes it far easier to use in many commercial products.

-Glucose. This is the main energy source of our body. All of the other sugars ingested are broken down into glucose by the body. Glucose is broken down by bacteria as well and will cause  our teeth to decay.

-Lactose. Also known as milk sugar. It is found in many dairy products (milk, yogurt, and cheeses). This is one of the rare sugars that is not sweet to the taste but it can still be broken down by our oral bacteria to produce acid in our mouths and lead to decay. In infants, milk left pooled in the mouth by sleeping with a bottle, can cause decay and thrush.

-Maltose. Commonly found in bread, rice, cereals, and beer. Beer is especially dangerous as it contains sugar and is acidic. A detrimental combination for our teeth. Maltose, like lactose, does not taste very sweet.

Avoid Sugars?

Avoiding sugar in today’s modern world is quite impossible for many. As you can see above, sugars come in many forms and in a variety of foods. The key as always should be to take in sugars in moderation, and use thorough oral hygiene techniques. It is important to note that sucrose, has little nutritional benefit. Sucrose (white table sugar) should be ingested in moderation. Lactose, natural fructose, and maltose are found in products important to a good healthy diet so they obviously will not be avoided if we wish to be healthy.

Tips to Minimize Dangers From Sugar

-Moderation. Ingest sugars in moderation.

-Maintain Good Oral Hygiene. If you are eating lots of sugar be sure to brush if you can immediately following to remove and dissolve the majority of the byproduct acids. If you cannot brush, rinse thoroughly with water following eating sugars, and chew sugar free gum.

-Drink Water. This will lessen effects of acidic attack on our teeth.

Conclusion

Let’s face it, most of us are not going to hold to a strict sugar free diet so it is important to maintain good oral hygiene. This is doubly important for children who tend to eat more candies than  adults. As always remember to visit your dentist regularly for dental examinations and professional cleanings.

Here we are in that time of year when coughs, colds, and flu symptoms can make our lives miserable. Most people turn to over the counter medication to either relieve some of their symptoms or lessen their effects. Did you know that these medicines can result in tooth decay?

Ingredients in Medications that Cause Tooth Decay

Many cough drops and liquid medications contain a variety of ingredients that make you and your child more susceptible to tooth decay:

-High Fructose and Corn Syrup. These high sugar ingredients contribute to tooth decay. These are generally sticky sugars which cause your mouth environment to become more acidic and also give the bacteria in your mouth the sugars to break down and attack the enamel of your teeth. When you combine the sticky sugars with dry mouth, high carbs ingested while ill, and decreased oral hygiene you are putting your mouth at high risk for decay.

-Citric Acid. This type of acid can cause tooth enamel to erode and wear down. In addition, the higher acid levels allow bacteria to do their work at a rapid pace.

-Alcohol. The addition of alcohol in some popular cold and cough syrups also has a drying effect on the mouth. Saliva helps to naturally rinse the sugars and acids away from your teeth. With alcohol present it means less saliva will be present, the sugars and acids remain in the mouth even longer, leading to increased risk for tooth decay.

These risks can be magnified if medication is taken just before bedtime. The effect of taking liquid medication before bedtime is not very different from drinking juice or soft drinks right before bedtime. This is because you produce less saliva while you sleep, sugar and acids remain in contact with the teeth longer, increasing your risk for tooth decay.

What to Do?

-Take Medicine at Meal Time. Take liquid medication at meal times instead of bedtime so that more saliva is produced to rinse away the sugars and acids.

-Brush. Try to brush following each incidence of using these medicines. This will remove any excess in your mouth as well as neutralize the acidic environment these medicines can create. Not only will you be doing your teeth some good but you probably will feel better with a cleaner mouth.

-Rinse. This is just as important as brushing in this scenario. Rinsing with water will neutralize the acids as well as “wet” your mouth so it does not dry out as quickly.

-Sugar free gum and lozenges. consider chewing sugar free or xylitol gum following taking your medicine or when your mouth feels dry. Choose sugar free lozenges instead of the sugar loaded ones that sit and stay in your mouth for hours on end.

-Drink Water. When we are not feeling well, we tend to drink sugary beverages such as juice and carbonated beverages. Drinking plenty of water will neutralize acids, wash away sugar, and help you heal more quickly.

-Choose Pill Form. If it is available, choose a pill form of the medication instead of syrup.

Conclusion

Medication is usually unavoidable when we are sick.  While you are sick, try to avoid inflicting further complications.  Use good judgement and try to maintain your dental health even when not feeling your best. Managing the type of medication you take, when you take it, and how you neutralize the effects,will go a long way to keeping you healthy and happy.

It happens all the time, you are late for work and skip breakfast at home, so on your way to work you stop to pick up a donut and some coffee. This very common quick fix for

Cosmetic Dentist Marielaina Perrone DDS

Choose Nutrition Wisely For Your Dental And General health!

breakfast can create havoc on your dental health if not treated properly following the meal.

The sugars in donuts have been identified as a risk factor for periodontal disease and tooth decay. Studies have shown that when comparing the sugars found in plain donuts with sugars found in oatmeal cookies. The studies discovered that the sugars in oatmeal cookies amount to only about 20% of the sugars in plain donuts.

The amount of sugar and cream in your coffee also can have a direct effect on the amount of cavity-causing bacteria. Tannins found in coffee can etch into the pits and grooves of the tooth enamel, producing a rough stained enamel surface.

How to Decrease the Effect of these Sugars on our Dental Health?

-Don’t slowly sip your coffee or pick at that donut throughout the entire morning. When you eat your donut in a timely manner, it limits the exposure time to the sugar bacteria attack.

-Rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste immediately after finishing your “breakfast”.

-Reduce the amount of cream and sugar in your coffee.

-Instead of a sugary breakfast, try picking up fruit, yogurt or a cup of oatmeal for your portable morning meal.

Healthy Options for On the Go breakfast

-Yogurt. Yogurt is quick, easy, and very good for you. Be sure to choose a low calorie yogurt as to not overload yourself with calories.

-Wrap. Use whole wheat wraps to make your own breakfast wrap using turkey, eggs, vegetables, or cheese are great for on the go. Quick and easy and very healthy for you.

-Egg Sandwich. Another good option as the protein from the eggs will be filling to tie you over to lunch time.

-Fruit. Make yourself a fruit salad for the week in advance. Easy snack anytime of the day but great in the morning. Always refreshing and nutritious.

Conclusion

Eating on the go is never easy and making the tough choices gets even harder when you are running late. Maintaining your dental hygiene takes a bit of discipline so next time you are running late think twice about that donut and coffee. It just might save you a trip to the dentist with a toothache down the road.