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.

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.

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. 

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.”

Be Kissable this Valentine’s Day!

It doesn’t matter if you are kissing your five year old, your spouse/significant other or your grandmother, no one wants to kiss or be kissed by someone with poor oral hygiene. Surveys have shown that the first thing most people will notice when meeting someone new is their smile. That is the perfect reason to maintain your healthy smile on Valentine’s Day and all year long. Your healthy mouth starts with you! Brushing and flossing twice a day and avoiding sugary and acidic foods will help you keep your smile bright and healthy. Another important thing to remember is to keep your 6 month appointments for professional cleanings. When bacteria and decay are caught and corrected early you prevent it from spreading to healthy parts of your mouth and causing your pearly whites further damage.
A dry mouth is one of the most common and easily reversible causes of halitosis (bad breath) so remember to drink plenty of water. If you choose to freshen your breath with mints and gum, remember to choose products that contain the natural sweetener xylitol as studies have proven that it actually reduces your risk of getting cavities.
If you are unsatisfied with the appearance of your teeth, there are many things that Dr. Glass can do to help you get the smile you’ve always wanted. From something as simple as a whitening tray to brighten your smile, veneers that change the overall aesthetics of your smile or orthodontia (yes, even for adults) to re-align wayward teeth, Dr. Glass can have you smiling more than ever before and will help you be sure your mouth is kissable all year long!

The Holiday Grind

It’ s that time of year again! As we are bustling about getting ourselves prepared for the upcoming holiday season, listening to songs declaring it’s the most wonderful time of the year, and trying to juggle our normal hectic lives and the new demands that shopping, baking and parties are putting on us, some of us may be feeling less than jolly. Even if you are not quite ready to declare, “Bah-Humbug”, do you realize the effects that added stress could be having on your oral health?

Stress has been linked to ailments such as canker sores, teeth grinding, TMJ (pain in the jaw joint) from clenching, dry mouth, and gum inflammation.  Your body reacts to chronic stress by producing the stress hormone in your body called cortisol.  This cortisol weakens your immune system, and your weak immune system allows plaque’s harmful bacteria to invade your gums, making your food choices and good oral hygiene even more important.  

Everyone reacts to stress differently. Two of the most common stress-coping mechanisms that we see during the holidays are nighttime grinding or clenching as well as stress eating, or indulging on holiday candies, cookies, and sweets.  When we clench or grind our teeth, we exert immense pressure between the teeth, and ultimately tooth enamel wears off and gums recede.  As for our overindulgence on holiday treats, the high sugar content creates a breeding ground for bacteria in your mouth, and this bacteria produces the tooth decaying acid which causes cavities. Even if you avoid the obviously sugary treats like egg nog or hot chocolate, the extra glass of wine, or crackers and cheese can have the same effects. Wine is erosive, and the high carbohydrate content in wine and other party foods can be a perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Beware of foods like peanut brittle, or biting hard candies, as it is easy to crack a tooth while eating them.

It’s important to remember not to neglect yourself or your oral health this holiday season.  Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in the holidays, your commitments, your family, and your friends that you lose sight of what is really important….you and your health. Stick to your normal healthy diet and exercise program as much as possible, and remember to take some time for yourself. Dr. Glass and his staff would like to wish you a very happy and healthy holiday season!

Diabetes and Your Oral Health

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. We are all aware that Diabetes is a growing epidemic in our nation, but do you know exactly what Diabetes looks like? For those that have been afflicted with the disease, they understand that it is more than just an inconvenience, it is a life altering, and in many cases, preventable disease. Diabetes causes more deaths per year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. Here are just a few of the recent statistics on diabetes from the American Diabetes Association:
• Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.
• Another 79 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
• The American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $174 billion.
Type 1 (formerly known as Juvenile Diabetes) is a genetic disease in which the body does not produce its own insulin. Insulin is the hormone that changes the sugars you eat into the energy that your body needs. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease, it is not preventable, but is treatable with insulin injections.
Type 2 diabetes develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas stops producing enough insulin. Exactly why this happens is unknown, although excess weight and inactivity seem to be contributing factors. Over 80% of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, and those that exercise less than 3 times per week are 3 times more likely to develop the disease. Though the types of food you eat do not actually cause diabetes, what you choose to eat is directly related to your health and  your weight. If your diet is high in calories and unhealthy foods (sugar, saturated fat, cholesterol, trans fats), your diet could be contributing to your diabetes risk. It is a common myth that diabetes is not a deadly disease, but that is far from the truth. Many serious complications such as heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease and neuropathy are associated with the disease. For more information on detection and prevention of Diabetes, visit http://www.diabetes.org.

So what does it mean for your dental health if you are diagnosed with diabetes?
According to the American Diabetic Association, if your blood glucose levels are poorly controlled, you are more likely to develop serious gum disease and lose more teeth than non-diabetics. Like all infections, serious gum disease may be a factor in causing blood sugar to rise and may make diabetes harder to control. Other oral problems associated to diabetes include: thrush, an infection caused by fungus that grows in the mouth, and dry mouth which can cause soreness, ulcers, infections and cavities.
People with diabetes have special needs and your dentist and hygienist are equipped to meet those needs – with your help. Keep your dentist and hygienist informed of any changes in your condition and any medication you might be taking. Postpone any non-emergency dental procedures if your blood sugar is not in good control and make sure to visit your dentist at regular 6 month intervals or more frequently if your dentist recommends that for you.