Chemicals in your Toothpaste

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned several key chemicals in hand soap, one of them being triclosan, an antibacterial and anti fungal agent found in many consumer products including toothpaste. The decision by the F.D.A. to ban triclosan in soaps came after experts pushed the agency to regulate antimicrobial chemicals, warning that they risk altering hormones in children and promote drug-resistant infections.

The New York Times reported that Colgate Total toothpaste still contains this ingredient. Colgate defends their use of the product stating that the FDA allows the use of triclosan in toothpaste because studies have demonstrated it to be effective at reducing plaque and gingivitis. However, according to a study put out by Cochrane Oral Health Group after 7 months of use of a triclosan toothpaste there was a roughly 22% reduction in inflammation caused by gingivitis (an early form of gum disease) More importantly, after 36 months there was no evidence of reduction in the development of periodontitis (a more severe form of gum disease resulting in bone and tooth loss). For the truly dedicated, two to three years of using triclosan toothpaste showed only a 5 percent drop in cavities compared with brushing with fluoride paste alone. Colgate Total is the only toothpaste in the United States that contains triclosan.

The American Dental Association and the FDA consider triclosan-based toothpaste safe because the product contains small amounts of the chemical. Most people will likely have no adverse effects, but the question is, would you want it in your mouth if you’re concerned about it being in your soap? The answer is probably not.

Dr. Glass’ recommendation is to choose a toothpaste with stannous fluoride instead. There has been a stir in recent media regarding fluoride as well, but the addition of fluoride in water, is there to help children build stronger teeth for the rest of their lives. The fluoride in toothpaste — as well as the topical fluoride varnish that a dentist applies to your pearly whites during a routine visit — is present to prevent tooth decay. There is no evidence that the small amount of fluoride in toothpaste has any adverse health effects. Unfortunately, most of our food is very acidic, many of the beverages we’re consuming are about as acidic as stomach acid. Fluoride becomes a really necessary component and the benefits far outweigh any negatives.

To see the full Cochrane report follow this link:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD010514.pub2/abstract;jsessionid=217E52E32B%2087ADA7C2AD66C3244DF

Sending your kids back to school the healthy way

Here we are again, wondering what happened to summer and ushering our kids into another school year. We have a few tips for keeping your family healthy amidst all the chaos!

1. Help your child form good sleep habits. During the summer, schedules often go right out the window and kids are staying up later and sleeping in longer. Once school starts the abrupt change can be a difficult adjustment. Pediatricians recommend children get 8-10 hours of sleep every night, so keep that in mind when considering your kids’ new bedtime. Remember that screens (TV, phone, computer, tablet) emit a light that can disrupt the sleep rhythm of the brain making you feel less sleepy then you actually are. Make it a habit to turn electronics off a good hour before bedtime (phones should be charged outside the bedroom). Get your child — and your family — into habits that will make for healthy sleep all year round.

2. Get in a hand washing habit. We all know that with the start of a new school year comes the spread of illness. Each new school year parents are battling any number of viruses that come home with their kids. Teach your kids again about the importance of washing their hands, particularly before eating. Remember to have them refrain from touching their face with their hands and also make sure they aren’t putting school supplies in their mouths. Biting on a pencil can not only spread germs, but can potentially harm their teeth by chipping or cracking them.

3. Plan healthy lunches and snacks. Use the end of summer to talk with your child about healthy food they can bring to school. Try to avoid cavity causing snacks like crackers, cookies and candy or sugary drinks. Fruits, vegetables, cheese and nuts are good snack choices along with water to wash it all down. Choosing high protein low carb/sugar snacks can not only give them brain power and make them feel great, but will protect their dental health as well!

4. Make an appealing homework place, and decide on a routine. They should have a quiet, well-lit, pleasant place to do their homework. For younger children, it should be where you can easily supervise, but not necessarily in the middle of family chaos. For all ages, the homework place should involve a desk or table, and should not be near a television. Decide together when in the day your child will do homework (right after school, before dinner, after dinner, etc.) You can always change it up later if it doesn’t work out, but having both the space and the time in place on the first day of school gets things started on the right foot.

5. Plan activities — and downtime. It’s important that your child be active, so signing up for a team sport or other physical activity can be a good idea. At the very least it is crucial that kids have some sort of physical activity even if it’s a brief walk or bike ride. Kids need to form healthy habits of fitness, but also need a way to vent any pent up energy from the day. Schools are offering less recess time than ever before so it is important to keep our kids moving! As important as physical activity is, be sure that there is downtime every day too, as this is crucial for your child’s mental health. Your child needs time to relax and play no matter what their age. Every day there should be time that is unscheduled that your child can use in whatever way they want.

Here’s to another successful school year!

March is National Nutrition Month

Making good health choices is encouraged year ‘round but March is the month the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has designated for focusing the public’s awareness on what they are eating.
The Academy points out that the foods you eat not only affect your weight and your health, but they have a direct effect on the health of your teeth and specifically on tooth decay. Bacteria rely on carbohydrates to thrive. Paying close attention to not only sweets but highly processed foods like crackers and sugary and acidic drinks can help save your teeth.
Instead, turn to foods that not only taste good but are good for your teeth too. Dairy products, like cheese, for example, provide the body with nutritional items that support tooth enamel. Foods high in protein feature phosphorus, a nutrient critical to oral health.
You can’t really go wrong by adding color to your diet, either. Fruits and vegetables make for a colorful plate and a healthy meal. Some acidic fruits like oranges or even tomatoes should be eaten in moderation because the acid can erode tooth enamel. It is better to include these foods in a meal instead of eating them by themselves.
Remember, good nutrition is something you should worry about all year long, not just when celebrating National Nutrition Month. March just serves as a reminder that eating right is a proactive step in managing your dental health.

Oral Cancer Detection – Another Important Reason to Visit your Dentist Regularly!

April is National Oral Cancer Awareness month. Oral cancer is the largest group of cancers that fall into the head and neck cancer category. These types of cancer can develop in the cheeks, lips, gums, tongue, throat (at the back of the mouth), tonsils and roof of the mouth. According to The Oral Cancer Foundation approximately 45,750 people in the US alone will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2015. This is the 8th year in a row in which there has been an increase in the rate of occurrences. While some people think oral cancers are rare, about 115 new cases will be diagnosed each day in the US, and one person will die each hour of every day from oral cancer.

Many times oral cancers can be prevented with certain lifestyle measures. While no one is exempt, those most at risk include people who smoke, drink excessive alcohol, have HPV (Human Papilloma Virus, also known to cause cervical cancer), overexposure to sunlight, those age 55+, and are male. Poor oral hygiene and gum disease have also been implicated as risk factors. Some studies even suggest that diets low in fruits and vegetables can elevate cancer risk.

When oral cancer is detected in the early stages patients have a survival rate of 80-90%. Unfortunately at this time, the majority of oral cancer cases are found in later stages of development greatly reducing the survival rate to around 43% at 5 years from diagnosis. Late stage diagnosis is not occurring because oral cancers are hard to diagnose, it’s mostly because of lack of public awareness coupled with lack of routine screenings.

Because early detection is key to survival, it is important to see your dentist regularly. Dr. Glass and Cindie perform an oral cancer screening each time you visit our office for your routine dental cleaning and exam. We are able to take the screening process one step further with ViziLite Plus. The ViziLite Plus exam is a painless screening that we can perform in just a few minutes. ViziLite Plus uses a light source to improve the examiners ability to detect abnormalities that will require further evaluation. It often picks up lesions that would have been difficult to detect under normal lighting. We recommend a ViziLite exam for all of our patients who fall under a higher risk category, but with 25% of oral cancers occurring in people who don’t smoke and who have no other risk factors, everyone can benefit from the screening annually. Make sure we are aware of your health history including tobacco or alcohol use and if you have been diagnosed with HPV.

In between dental visits you can perform a self exam, use a mirror to take a close look at your lips, gums, insides of the cheeks, tongue, back of the throat, and floor and roof of the mouth. Call us if you find sores especially those that bleed easily, any color changes particularly those that present as red or white patches, loose teeth or a change in how teeth fit together, mouth pain that doesn’t improve, a persistent sore throat or feeling that something is stuck in your throat, problems chewing, swallowing or moving the tongue or a feeling of a mass in your throat or neck that persists for more than two weeks.

New Year’s Resolutions for a Healthy Smile

 

With the New Year right around the corner, you may have already begun to think about your New Year’s resolutions. You may be considering resolving to save money, get a better job or lose weight. Many people set new goals about having a healthier lifestyle in the New Year. Why not make 2015 the year you include better dental health in your list of resolutions?

Any of the following life style changes will go a long way toward giving you a brighter, healthier smile and may even help you stick to some of your other resolutions as well!

Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables

Eating well is important for your dental health. Poor nutrition can affect the entire immune system, increasing susceptibility to many common oral disorders, including gum (periodontal) disease. Antioxidants and other nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts improve your body’s ability to fight bacteria and inflammation, helping to protect your teeth and gums. In addition, crisp fruits and raw vegetables like apples, carrots and celery help clean plaque from teeth and freshen breath.

Quit Smoking or Using Other Tobacco Products

Using tobacco can harm your mouth in a number of ways, increasing your risk for tooth discoloration, cavities, gum recession, gum disease and throat, lung and oral cancer. Smokers are about twice as likely to lose their teeth as non-smokers. It’s not just smoking tobacco that has negative effects on your oral health: use of smokeless tobacco can be just as harmful to your oral health. The good news is that the risk of tooth loss decreases after you quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco.

Limit Your Alcohol Intake

You may already know that excessive alcohol intake can have an effect on your overall health, but did you know that it may also affect your oral health? According to the Academy of General Dentistry, those who smoke, eat poorly and consume excessive alcohol also have increased gum recession (periodontal pocketing). Their studies show that smokers who regularly consume alcohol are less likely to brush their teeth on a regular basis and are less concerned about their basic health than nonsmokers.

 Brush at Least Twice a Day and Floss at Least Once a Day

Brushing and flossing protect your teeth from decay and gum disease, which is caused by your teeth’s most persistent enemy, plaque – a sticky, colorless, invisible film of harmful bacteria that builds up on your teeth every day. Both brushing and flossing are equally important for good oral health: according to the Academy of General Dentistry, only flossing can remove plaque from between teeth and below the gumline, where decay and gum disease often begins.

Without proper brushing and flossing, you may develop bleeding gums, which may worsen to severely swollen, red, bleeding gums (gingivitis) and, eventually, gum disease. Because diseases of the mouth can affect the rest of your body, it is especially important to maintain good oral health.

See Your Dentist for Regular Checkups

By seeing your dentist at least twice a year, you can help prevent any dental health problems before they cause discomfort or require more comprehensive or expensive treatment. Regular visits allow your dentist to monitor your oral health and recommend a dental health regimen to address areas of concern.

For this new year, resolve to treat your mouth right: improve your diet, quit smoking and improve your oral hygiene habits – your teeth,  your body and your pocketbook will thank you for it!

The Buzz About Oil Pulling

I’m, sure by now you’ve all heard the buzz about Oil Pulling. “Heal your cavities naturally” is one of many miracle cures that proponents of this ancient practice claim. But what does the evidence support? Oil pulling is an ancient beauty and health ritual. The ritual involves placing unrefined plant oils — like coconut or sesame — in your mouth and swirling the oil through your teeth for 20 minutes (yes that was MINUTES) at night or in the morning. Just go online and you’ll likely see people touting the technique as a dubious cure-all for a variety of ailments.

Practitioners of oil pulling claim it is capable of improving oral and systemic health, including an improvement in conditions such as headaches, diabetes, arthritis, asthma and acne as well as healing cavities and whitening teeth. Its promoters claim it works by pulling out “toxins” and thereby reducing inflammation.

Research on oil pulling, however, isn’t as supportive of the technique as proponents might wish. The National Center for Health Research states that “it’s still unclear whether or how the practice actually works to get rid of bad bacteria in our mouths. It’s also unknown what the long term effects on oral and overall health may be.” In one small study, sesame oil was found to be effective at reducing plaque and oral bacterial load, but was less effective than chlorhexadine (an antiseptic mouthwash); the health claims of oil pulling have otherwise failed scientific verification or have not been investigated.  There have been studies that oil pulling can actually cause harm to your system, particularly if it is inadvertently inhaled during the swishing process. People who suffer from GERD (acid reflux) are particularly at risk of oil being ingested into the lungs causing a type of pneumonia which is particularly hard to diagnose and treat.

Even the well know urban legend resource website Snopes reports that there are very few clinical studies of the technique, and the ones that do exist only point to minor improvements in markers of oral health. Snopes goes on to point out that there are absolutely no studies to back up the claim that oil pulling cures or prevents diseases,”nor is there any sensible scientific explanation for how simply swishing oil around in one’s mouth could accomplish any of those things. Essentially, this means that you cannot and should not count on oil pulling to help with hormonal imbalances, inflammation, reduction in insomnia or skin health. It certainly can’t cure cavities, either. Once bacteria has penetrated the enamel of teeth, the decay is irreversible.

If you’re hoping that oil pulling will address everything that ails you, you’re probably barking up the wrong tree. Research studies very clearly indicate that the practice won’t “detoxify” your body, since it’s your kidneys and liver that do that work anyway. It won’t do much of anything for the parts of your body that aren’t inside your mouth.

That said, there’s certainly nothing wrong with the practice if you like doing it, just keep in mind that the jury is still out on whether it does more harm than good. Your teeth, gums and tongue are likely to benefit from the swishing of clean liquid around your mouth, and it’s possible that you’ll notice whiter teeth and healthier gums as a result. Just know that the benefits of pulling oil are about the same as pulling water or (better yet) antibacterial mouthwash through your teeth.

For more information about research on the benefits and detriments of oil pulling, watch the below video.

Do you suffer from Dry Mouth? You are not alone!

Dry mouth, also known as Xerostomia, is associated with salivary gland hypofunction where there is a reduced amount of salivary output. Many people with this condition are un-aware that it means more than just mouth discomfort or bad breath. Saliva is essential to lubricate and protect our teeth, tongue and tissues. It aids in chewing, swallowing and digesting food and also protects our teeth from decay. Saliva is 98% water but the other 2% is made up of essential electrolytes, mucous, antibacterial components and various enzymes. When we aren’t producing an adequate amount of saliva to lubricate the mouth, and neutralize the acids produced by plaque we become more prone to cavities.

Many people are at risk for having dry mouth, but are unaware that it can create an unhealthy environment for your mouth. In many cases, people that suffer from dry mouth are experiencing a side effect from some common prescription medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, anti depressants and high blood pressure medications. It may also be a sign of a disease such as poorly controlled diabetes or other systemic conditions such as anxiety, stress or dehydration. As harmless as dry mouth may seem, it is not a condition to be overlooked. Some common problems with dry mouth include a burning sensation, problems speaking, difficulty swallowing, oral infections, gum disease, bad breath and tooth decay. A dry mouth also irritates the soft tissues in the mouth making them more susceptible to infection. Without the cleansing effect of saliva oral health problems become more common.

If you suffer from Dry Mouth there are ways to manage the ill effects and protect your teeth from suffering decay as a result of lack of saliva production.

• Drink water frequently and sip on water throughout the day.
• Suck on sugar free candy or chew sugar free gum, gum containing xylitol can help stimulate salivary flow while preventing cavities.
• Avoid mouth rinses that contain alcohol and avoid alcoholic beverages because they increase dry mouth. There are mouth rinses on the market that are made specifically for patients that suffer from Dry Mouth.
• Limit intake of salty and spicy foods
• Quit smoking
• Use a soft bristle toothbrush and brush your teeth at least twice a day or after every meal and use a toothpaste containing fluoride.
• Floss your teeth daily
• Most importantly, visit us at least twice a year to ensure your mouth is in good shape. If you are more prone to decay due to your dry mouth, catching and taking care of cavities early can prevent more costly and painful procedures down the road. To ensure maximum protection we may recommend a prescription toothpaste with a higher fluoride content to keep your teeth strong and aid in the prevention of cavities.

The Buzz about Xylitol

Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in fibrous vegetables and fruits, corn cobs and hardwood trees (like birch). It is used worldwide as a low-calorie sweetener, and has been clinically proven to reduce cavities and help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Our bodies make up to 15 grams (four teaspoons) of xylitol daily. It looks, feels and tastes like ordinary sugar (sucrose), but has 40 percent fewer calories and 75 percent fewer carbohydrates than sugar. Additionally, xylitol is not easily converted to fat and has almost no effect on insulin levels, making it a great alternative for diabetics and dieters and also is considered safe for pregnant and nursing women, babies and children.
We all know eating sugar causes tooth decay by creating an acidic condition in the mouth. Acidity strips minerals from tooth enamel, causing it to weaken and be more vulnerable to bacteria, leading to tooth decay or demineralization.
So, how does Xylitol help? Bacteria is unable to metabolize xylitol and therefore won’t produce the acids responsible for demineralization and decay. Secondly, xylitol interferes with bacterial polysaccharide formation, which significantly reduces the adhesive capabilities of the bacteria. The bacteria literally lose their main mechanisms to cause dental havoc! In addition, xylitol stimulates saliva which is beneficial to the neutral alkaline levels in your mouth.
To help prevent cavities, you need approximately six to eight grams of xylitol taken (chewed or ingested) throughout the day. If used only occasionally or just once a day, xylitol may not be effective, regardless of the amount. Use xylitol at least three times each day – five times is preferable – for at least five minutes right after meals and snacks. Between meals, opt for xylitol-sweetened products that encourage chewing/sucking to keep the xylitol in contact with your teeth. The xylitol effect is long lasting and possibly permanent. So go ahead… chew gum, use breath mints, just make sure they contain xylitol!

Your Evolving Toothbrush

If you are following your dentist’s advice, you are using your toothbrush faithfully twice per day, but how often do you actually think about the tool you are using? We thought it would be fun to explore how your toothbrush has evolved over the years.

It is believed that toothbrushing tools date back as far as 3000 BC when the Babylonians and the Egyptians made a brush by fraying the end of a twig and scraping their teeth. Tombs of ancient egyptians have been found containing “tooth sticks” alongside their owners.

Around 1600 BC the Chinese developed “chewing sticks” which were made from aromatic tree twigs to freshen breath. It was also the Chinese who, in the 15th century, were thought to have developed the first natural bristle toothbrush resembling what we still use today. They attached the bristles from a pig’s neck to a bone or bamboo handle and used the tool to clean their teeth. When it was brought from China to Europe, this design was adapted and often used softer horsehair. Some early European toothbrushes even used feathers as bristles. The first toothbrush of a more modern design with 3 rows of bristles was introduced in 1844 in England.

Natural bristles made way to the more modern bristles in 1938 when DuPont invented nylon. By the 1950’s the bristles became even softer followed by the first electric toothbrush in 1960.

Over its long history, the toothbrush has evolved to become a scientifically designed tool using modern ergonomic designs and safe and hygienic materials that optimize your oral health. Some more advanced electric toothbrushes are so smart they can tell us if we are brushing too hard, or not enough, they can time us and some can even communicate directly with your dentist! Today’s sonic toothbrushes are so powerful they deliver more brushstrokes in 2 minutes than a manual toothbrush can deliver in one month! They are able to remove far more plaque and bacteria from below the gum line and between the teeth than brushing and flossing alone. We offer a variety of models of electric toothbrushes for purchase in our office at a discount to you.
To find out which toothbrush would most benefit your oral health, talk to Cindie or Dr. Glass at your next visit!

Here They Are! The Answers to Your Most Frequently Asked Dental Questions.

Q: I was told I have a large filling that needs to be replaced with a crown. Why can’t you just replace the filling?
A: When a tooth becomes structurally flawed from decay, a failing filling or a fracture there is often little tooth material left to work with. A crown becomes necessary because filling material can’t be sculpted to replace large amounts of tooth structure resulting in a quick failure. The tooth must be protected by a crown which encapsulates the remaining tooth to fit like a “cap” to protect and preserve the tooth.
 
Q: Can’t you just pull my tooth if its bad? Why should I pay to fix it?
A: It is always best to retain your natural teeth as long as possible. Pulling a tooth may fix the immediate problem, but it sets you up for future problems that can be far more costly. The space of the lost tooth will allow adjacent teeth to tip into the hole. This will affect how all your teeth fit and work together. In addition, missing teeth are not esthetically pleasing. In the event you do have to pull a tooth as a last resort, it is best to replace it in a timely manner. Something like a dental implant will maintain the integrity of the surrounding bone structure and will act much like your natural tooth did.
 
Q: My dentist told me that my tooth ache required a root canal, but it doesn’t hurt anymore. Did it go away?
A: When the innermost part of a tooth is injured or infected debilitating pain can result. The pain is caused by damage to the nerve inside the tooth. Over time the nerve will lose vitality causing the pain to dissipate. During this process, however, toxins are released from inside the tooth and will ultimately result in a painful infection known as an abscess. The only way to resolve the issue is by removal of the nerve during a root canal.
 
Q: I was told I have cavities but I am too busy to come back for another appointment. What will happen if I just leave them?
A: The short answer is: they grow. The longer a cavity is left untreated, the weaker the tooth will become resulting in a larger filling than would have been necessary, or a crown. If the decay grows until it reaches the nerve a root canal will be necessary. It is always best to address dental issues when they are small and manageable. Allowing treatment to remain un-done almost always results in further pain and expense.
 
Q: I was told I need a night guard. Is that really necessary?
A: Tooth wear on biting surfaces is very common, and very damaging. People commonly clench and grind their teeth resulting in significant damage to their teeth, the temporomandibular joint and facial muscles. Clenching and grinding may cause teeth to break, become sensitive or infected. Pain in front of the ear and at the side of the face are common. Clicking and grinding noises in the jaw are also noticeable. Commonly a night guard provides relief of symptoms and prevention of further damage or wear.

Q: I have noticed my insurance won’t pay the full amount for white fillings on my back teeth. Is it worth the extra money to have white fillings?
A: The benefit of filling teeth with white (resin) fillings instead of silver (amalgam) fillings is well worth the few extra dollars it will cost you. An amalgam filling requires far more healthy tooth structure be removed, while a resin filling can be done much more conservatively preserving the structural integrity of your tooth. A resin filling will actually help to strengthen your tooth as opposed to weakening it. There is always the controversy over the mercury contained in amalgam fillings to consider. There is some research that suggests the mercury can leak out and can affect your overall health.