Back to School Smiles

It’s that time of year again! Parents everywhere have picked up school supplies, packed lunches and sent their little darlings off for another year of school. Did you remember to include a new toothbrush in that list of school supplies?

Continuing good oral health habits, like brushing and flossing twice a day does more than send your little one to school with minty fresh breath. Studies have shown that kids with healthy pain-free teeth have more success in school because they leave the classroom less and are able to concentrate on their studies and not their bothersome teeth.  Scary as it seems, tooth decay is now the No. 1 chronic infectious disease in children. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is five times more common in kids than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.
Parents should realize that a child’s mouth is a gateway for their entire body and overall health. If a child’s tooth decay goes untreated, the child is subject to many harmful infections.

The care of primary teeth is just as important as the care of permanent teeth, so parents should make sure their child’s first teeth are kept healthy. There are many ways that parents can ensure the best dental health of their kids:

  • Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush; hard bristles can break down the teeth and gums and cause infection. Don’t forget the floss! Many companies make fun, kid friendly flossers now, making the whole process so much easier.
  • Make sure your child is drinking enough water; it contains small levels of fluoride, which protects teeth.
  • Don’t use bottles or sippy cups as a way to keep your child busy as these containers allow sugary drinks to attack the teeth from behind.
  • Choose healthy snacks for your kids. Fruits, vegetables, hard cheeses and nuts are best. Avoid sugary foods and even carbohydrates like crackers which can stick to the teeth giving plaque fuel for causing cavities.
Advertisements

The Bitter Truth About Our Sweet Tooth

As your dental health providers you have heard us talk to you about the effects of sugar on your teeth, but did you know that the negative effects of sugar go far beyond your mouth? We just read an interesting article in the August 2013 issue of  National Geographic Magazine written by Rich Cohen. Cohen tells us that as far back as 10,000 years ago, New Guinea Islanders domesticated sugar, chewing on the stem until the sweet elixir was released, using it as a tonic of sorts to cure all manner of ailments. Sugar slowly spread across the islands until around the year 500 AD when India began processing sugar as a powder. When sugar first spread to the west in the 1400’s it was so rare it was considered a spice and only consumed by nobility. The allure of the sweet plant was enough to entice Europeans to find new ways to produce their own supply and they went in search of tropical territories where sugar cane would thrive, thus changing Jamaica, Brazil, and Cuba into boom colonies with over 100,000 slaves churning out tons of sugar. By the mid 17th century, sugar had changed from a rare spice to a staple, consumed by every class of people. At that point in time people were consuming 4 pounds of sugar per year, but of course our appetite for sugar could not be satiated. Today the average american consumes over 77 pounds of sugar per person, per year! That is 22 teaspoons of sugar per day! Sugar is one of the major components in many, if not most, food and beverage products from obvious junk foods to so-called health foods, and even foods that aren’t considered a sweet.

We know that too much sugar is bad for us, so here are the top 5 reasons we believe it would be beneficial to cut back on sugar consumption.

1.  Sugar is bad for your heart

Research shows that a diet high in sugar is associated with a reduction in HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Further, according to the American Heart Association’s scientific statement on sugar, a high intake of added sugar increases the risk of high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, other risk factors for heart disease and stroke, as well as inflammation, which is also associated with heart disease.

2. Sugar contributes to weight gain

Many foods that are high in added sugar are also high in calories. Consuming too many calories is the primary cause of weight gain and obesity. In addition, added sugars provide calories but no nutrients. Sugar-laden foods, particularly those that lack fiber, can cause carb or sugar cravings that keep you eating nutrient-poor, high-calorie foods and perpetuating a cycle of overeating and weight gain. The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests drinking water instead of sugary beverages and limiting foods with added sugars as a means to promote health and healthy weight maintenance.

3. Sugar can lead to type 2 diabetes

Since consuming too much sugar can lead to weight gain, it can also increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends limiting sugar intake and opting for artificial sweeteners as a way to satisfy your sweet tooth, curb cravings and control your blood sugar. Limiting your sugar intake and monitoring your calories can help prevent, as well as manage, type II diabetes.

4. Sugar drains your energy

That energy drink or specialty coffee may sound like the best solution to boost your energy, and you will get a surge of energy, but the high sugar content in these drinks is also going to lead to a drastic energy crash, creating an even lower energy low, once the sugar (and caffeine) is out of your system. You’ll end up more lethargic and even hungrier for something high in sugar or empty carbohydrates. Instead, choose whole foods with natural sugars, such as fruit, plain yogurt or even a raw trail mix for sustained energy.

And of course, nearest and dearest to our hearts….

5. Sugar is bad for your teeth

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), foods and beverages high in sugar can promote cavities and tooth decay. Sugar feeds the bacteria that produce acids that erode your tooth enamel. Frequent snacking or drinking of high-sugar items increases your risk of cavities and eventually dental disease because it repeatedly exposes your tooth enamel to these acids. The ADA suggests limiting foods with added sugars, brushing and flossing regularly and chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals to help prevent tooth decay.

Anxiety Free Dentistry

If we told you there was a way for you to have your dental treatment accomplished in minimal visits with no pain and little memory of the experience what would you say?  Research shows that almost 30% of the population avoids going to the dentist due to fear. Some studies show this number to be closer to 50%, but whatever the actual number is, no one should avoid protecting their dental health because of fear or anxiety. It is our goal to serve all of our patients with compassion and to meet their needs for emotional well being as well as to keep their mouths healthy. We understand that fear comes in all shapes and sizes, it knows no age limits, nor is it something that is foolish or silly. It is real, and we offer a very real solution. Dr. Glass can provide Conscious Oral Sedation for all of your dental treatment, making your visit a pleasant and stress free experience.

Conscious Oral Sedation creates the most relaxed and comfortable appointment possible while you, the patient, remain awake and conscious. It is referred to as a moderate level of sedation. You will be given an oral medication, your vital signs will be closely monitored and you will be brought to a level of sedation that allows you to maintain your own airway and reflexes, and respond to verbal and physical requests. Although you remain awake for the entire procedure, the amnesia effects of the medication leave many patients feeling like they slept through the entire appointment.  So, who are the best candidates for Conscious Oral Sedation? Well, anyone with a severe gag response, anxious or fearful patients, anyone who is resistant to local anesthesia,  patients who have extensive treatment planned but do not want to come in for multiple visits, and anyone who is sensitive to post operative pain would all be considered good candidates. Even better, we offer this service at a very minimal cost to you. Most insurance companies do not cover sedation, but at a fraction of the cost of intravenious sedation (less than $40.00) it is a fee that our patients are happy to pay for a relaxed dental experience.
            It is our sincere hope that by offering this service to our patients, everyone can have a healthy and pain free mouth without fear or anxiety attached. If this sounds right for you, talk to Dr. Glass at your next appointment, and get started on the road to great oral health!

Dental X-Rays – Are They Safe?

Many people cringe at the mere mention of radiation exposure. The word radiation conjures up images of all manner of bad things, including bombs and cancer. But do you know that there are many beneficial uses of radiation? One of which is the x-ray commonly used by medical and dental professionals to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions.

You may be one who worries about how much radiation is in a dental x-ray and if it could be harmful. To get to the bottom of this, you must first understand just exactly what an x-ray is. X-rays are energy in the form of waves, identical to visible light. In fact, the only difference between light and x-rays is that light doesn’t have enough energy to go through your body and x-rays do. Both can make an image on photographic film, so both types of energy are used to make pictures; light makes photographs of the “outside” of objects, x-rays make pictures of the “inside” of objects, including your body. The effects of radiation on tissues is often measured in units called millirem (mrem).

Advances in x-ray equipment, especially digital technology, allows your dentist to get a good x-ray image using much less radiation than was previously required. A typical dental x-ray image exposes you to only about 2 or 3 mrem. The National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP) says that the average resident of the U.S. receives about 360 mrem every year from all sources, including naturally occurring radiation. In fact, the average person receives 10 mrem per year just from watching television. Some other common sources of radiation that occur in our everyday environment include smoke detectors (less than 1 mrem per year), living in a brick house instead of a wood one (about 10 mrem per year due to radioactive materials in the masonry), cooking with natural gas (about 10 mrem per year from radon gas in the natural gas supply), reading a book for 3 hours per day (about 1 mrem per year due to small amounts of radioactive materials in the wood used to make the paper), and even from flying in an airplane (about 25 mrem for one 5 hour flight) You even receive about 2 mrem per year from sleeping next to someone! This is because all of us have very small amounts of naturally occurring radioactive materials in our bodies. Radiation is the same whether it is naturally occurring, (such as the 80 mrem you receive from an entire day in the sun) or if it is human made. There is no difference in the effects of man-made radiation vs. naturally occurring radiation.

Radiation from dental x-rays is a minimal portion of a person’s annual exposure and poses negligible risk to you, therefore it is not in your best interest to avoid dental x-rays. The information your dentist receives from this set of data is valuable in providing you the best dental care possible. Dr. Glass only takes x-rays that are deemed necessary and has updated all of his x-ray equipment to the newest digital technology. The x-ray equipment is inspected on a regular basis by the Colorado Department of Public Health and all of the staff have received training on proper use of the equipment and implement proper practices and precautions for minimizing exposure.

SMOKERS: SO YOU THINK YOU’VE HEARD IT ALL BEFORE?

         We all know that cigarette smoking has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, poorly controlled diabetes, respiratory disease and premature babies.  If that information isn’t enough to make you quit, consider this…”Smokers who smoked less than half a pack per day were almost three times more likely than non-smokers to have periodontitis. Those who smoked more than a pack and a half per day had almost six times the risk,” explains Scott Tomar, D.M.D., Dr.P.H. of the Division of Oral Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  And don’t think these statistics are specific only to cigarette smokers.  Cigar and pipe smokers also have a much higher prevalence of moderate to severe periodontitis, compared to former smokers and non-smokers. Not only that, smokers are also at a higher risk of alveolar bone loss than non-smokers.  Carcinogens in smoke interfere with healing, making smokers more likely to lose teeth and not respond to treatment.
     That may not look all that bad to you at first glance, but lets elaborate on that for a minute. The toxins from use of tobacco products are actually melting the jawbone away, elongating the tooth surface, restricting blood flow and creating an unstable environment. The teeth will become loose and will eventually be lost, even if there is no decay and the tooth itself is not diseased. Even if you live with a smoker, you are at risk from secondhand smoke endangering your oral health. A study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that subjects with periodontitis who were exposed to secondhand smoke were more likely to develop bone loss, the number one cause of tooth loss.
     Most smokers are well aware of increased cancer risk being directly correlated to smoking, but studies show that 90% of people with cancer of the mouth and throat use tobacco. That number should be cause for alarm. 
     Smoking Marijuana (also known as Cannabis) can be just as detrimental. Cannabis smoke acts as a carcinogen and is associated with tooth decay, periodontal disease and pre-malignant lesions. Users are also prone to oral infections, possibly due to the drug’s immunosuppressive effects. 
      Just in case you are wondering if smokeless tobacco is a better option, the simple answer is no. Like cigars and cigarettes, smokeless tobacco products (for example, snuff and chewing tobacco) contain at least 28 chemicals that have been shown to increase the risk of oral cancer and cancer of the throat and esophagus. In fact, chewing tobacco contains higher levels of nicotine than cigarettes, making it harder to quit. One can of snuff delivers more nicotine than over 60 cigarettes. 

Smokeless tobacco can irritate your gum tissue, causing it to recede or pull away from your teeth. Once the gum tissue recedes, your teeth roots become exposed, creating an increased risk of tooth decay. Exposed roots are also more sensitive to hot and cold or other irritants, making eating and drinking uncomfortable.

     Regardless of how long you have used tobacco products, quitting now can greatly reduce serious risks to your health. Studies show that eleven years after quitting, former smokers’ likelihood of having periodontal (gum) disease was not significantly different from people who never smoked. If you need help kicking the habit, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or dentist for tips and resources. 

Fluoride Therapy, It’s Not Just For Kids.

We all readily accept the industry standard of two fluoride treatments per year for children regardless of insurance coverage, but why aren’t adults getting regular fluoride treatments? Recent studies have shown that the benefits of fluoride are not limited to children. In fact, fluoride therapy in adults may be even more beneficial than previously thought.  We use a specially formulated fluoride varnish here in the office that has 4x more fluoride than our prescription toothpaste (Clinpro) and the effects can last 3-6 months in most patients. Keep reading to learn how fluoride can benefit you.

  • Flouride can reduce or eliminate sensitivity caused by erosion of enamel
  • It reduces dental decay from a variety of causes, including dry mouth and receding gums
  • Maintains the integrity of older dental work by preventing “recurrent decay”
  • Strengthens enamel demineralized by acidic soft drinks , sport beverages, etc.
  • Extends the lifespan of crowns and bridges by strengthening the junction between the restoration and the natural tooth.
  • Works with prescription toothpaste for an added fluoride boost

While it is true that most dental insurance doesn’t cover fluoride treatments for adults, the cost is far less than a co-pay on restorative dental treatment. Dr. Glass is running a special on Adult Fluoride Therapy, right now the cost is $25.00 ($5.00 off our regular price). Be sure to ask Cindie for it at your next cleaning appointment!

Food for Thought

We’ve noticed this come up several times in the news recently, and while this week’s blog is not directly related to dentistry, we felt it was important information concerning our food supply.

 

According to a group of 150 scientists, that includes a former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture is putting human health at risk and driving up medical costs. This group, along with a group of 50 farmers and ranchers who have opted out of antibiotic use, released statements back in Sept. 2012 calling on the FDA and Congress to work together to regulate the use of antibiotics in livestock. Both groups concluded that the overuse of antibiotics is contributing to a health crisis. Louise Slaughter, a New York Representative  joined in calling for regulation of animal agriculture’s use of non-therapeutic antibiotics. She said, “Every year, more than 100,000 Americans die from bacterial infections acquired in hospitals, and seventy percent of these infections are resistant to drugs commonly used to treat them. This abuse and overuse must stop.”

 

Donald Kennedy, former FDA commissioner  said: “There’s no question that routinely administering non-therapeutic doses of antibiotics to food animals contributes to antibiotic resistance.”  He stated that the FDA’s current  approach asking the drug industry to voluntarily stop selling antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed, was not enough. Kennedy, who also served as editor-in-chief of Science magazine for eight years, said: “Unless it reaches the industry as a regulatory requirement it will not be taken seriously.” Three decades after the FDA determined that growth-promoting uses of antibiotics in agriculture were potentially harmful to human health, its own data shows that 80% of all antimicrobial drugs sold nationally are used in animal agriculture.

The scientists said that while the medical community has done a good job educating doctors and reducing prescriptions, the agriculture industry was lagging behind. While data linking antibiotic resistance to non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics is widely accepted, they are still added in massive quantities to animal feed to promote faster growth and to compensate for diseases caused by poor diet and overcrowded living conditions of the animals. While the doses the animals receive in their feed is considered to be a “low dose” , this can be more harmful in producing drug-resistant bacteria. Alexander Fleming warned after accepting his Nobel Prize in 1945 for his discovery of penicillin , “there is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing the microbes to nonlethal quantities of the drug make them resistant.

We found this story about Russ Kremer, a Missouri hog farmer who caught a blood disease after being gored in the knee by one of his pigs. He was told by his doctor that he had the same antibiotic resistance as his pigs. His infection was resistant to six out of seven antibiotics used to treat it, Kremer said.

Kremer said he changed his practice when he found out the feed was responsible.  “I exterminated my herd, brought in wholesome feedstuff without antibiotics. In the last 23 years my pigs have been drug free, they have less than 1% mortality and I’ve saved $16,000.”