Posts for: December, 2014
What and how you eat and drink has a significant impact on the health of your teeth and gums. Therefore, an effective oral hygiene regime must take your diet into account.
Acid is your teeth's enemy; it can erode their protective enamel coating (a process called demineralization). Certain foods and beverages (such as citrus drinks and coffee) contain it, and it's produced by bacteria in your mouth that feed on dietary sugar and release acid as a byproduct (a process called fermentation). Your allies are foods and beverages that neutralize acids, provide minerals and vitamins to repair tooth enamel, and stimulate saliva.
Sugar & Decay
Sugars, the leading promoter of dental decay, exist in many forms in our diet. Some occur naturally, while others — referred to as “free sugars” — are added by the manufacturer, cook or consumer. The latter are most often linked with decay. Soft drinks are the primary source of dietary free-sugars in the U.S.
Sugars in fruit, vegetables, milk and unprocessed, starch-rich foods such as rice, potatoes and whole grains, do not appear to be harmful to teeth. Note, however, that dried fruits contain a highly concentrated sugar level and can stick to tooth surfaces. The sugar substitutes xylitol and sorbitol appear not to promote decay. In fact, there's evidence that chewing xylitol-sweetened gum three to five times daily for at least five minutes (after meals) stimulates saliva flow, which helps protect against decay.
Acids & Erosion
In addition to eroding tooth enamel, acidic foods and beverages create an environment where it's easier for decay-promoting bacteria to flourish. Saliva can reduce acidity but it must have time to work, at least 30–60 minutes. That's why behaviors that maintain acid levels, such as sipping coffee throughout the day, can be harmful.
Saliva is a front-line defense against erosion and decay. It helps remove food particles and contains minerals that help neutralize acid and promote remineralization of the tooth surface. Foods that stimulate saliva and/or contribute essential minerals include:
- Cheese — stimulates saliva and is rich in calcium, contributing to the re-calcification of teeth and protecting against the loss of calcium,
- Cow's milk — contains decay-counteracting calcium, phosphorous and casein,
- Plant foods — are fibrous and require chewing, which mechanically stimulates saliva,
- Water — keeps you hydrated, which is important for saliva production and preventing dry mouth (a condition that promotes acid-producing bacteria), and helps wash away food particles; fluorinated water bestows the protective properties of fluoride (a compound that makes tooth enamel more resistant to acid erosion and promotes re-calcification).
As you can see, brushing and flossing effectively is just part of the oral hygiene equation.
If you would like more information about nutrition and oral hygiene, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Nutrition & Oral Health.”
He’s the world’s highest-paid soccer player: a forward on the Spanish club Real Madrid, and captain of the Portuguese national team. His super-toned body is featured in a series of advertisements, and he’s regularly seen with a supermodel on his arm. So would it surprise you to know that it took a bit of dental work to help Cristiano Ronaldo get a world-class smile?
You might never guess it to look at him now — but when he was 18 years old, and just starting his professional career with Manchester United in England, Ronaldo wore ceramic braces to correct a set of teeth that were quite a bit… off-sides. (As pictures from that time show, his teeth were out of alignment and had irregular spacing.) Yet in a relatively short time, his smile was completely transformed.
Ceramic braces are the treatment of choice for many sports stars and celebrities — and plenty of “regular” folks too. They work just like traditional all-metal braces, exerting a gentle force that slowly moves the teeth into better positions. But they have one major difference: They’re a good deal harder to notice.
That’s because instead of having brackets made of metal, this style of braces uses a high-tech ceramic material to attach the archwire to the teeth. The brackets blend right in with the natural shade of the tooth, so all you can see from a distance is the thin metal wire. That makes them a great orthodontic option for image-conscious celebs (like Tom Cruise and Faith Hill, who both wore them) — as well as anyone who may be concerned that traditional metal braces don’t fit in with their “look”.
In addition to ceramic braces, there are other, less-visible orthodontic treatments that can work just as well in many situations. One is lingual braces, which are similar to traditional braces — except they are applied on the tongue-side of the teeth, making them truly invisible. Another is clear aligners, a series of transparent plastic trays that are worn 22 hours a day and gradually move the teeth into more pleasing positions. What’s the best way to know which system is right for you? Come in and talk to us about your options!
Besides braces, did Cristiano Ronaldo have other cosmetic dental work (like teeth whitening) done? It’s possible, but he’s not saying exactly. Yet, as he told a Portuguese magazine, “I feel good about myself and that’s the most important thing.”
If you would like more information about ceramic braces or other orthodontic treatments, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor articles “The Magic of Orthodontics” and “Orthodontics For The Older Adult.”
Did you know? For hundreds of years people sealed their teeth by blackening them! The process was known as “ohaguro,” and it was performed mostly in Japan during the Kofun period, all the way through the Meiji period (about 250 to 1912).
People made the dye by dissolving iron in vinegar, then combining the solution in tea powder. This turned the dye black and non-water soluble, so that drinking water could not wash away the stain. And, as unconventional as people today might find this practice, the dye actually did prevent tooth and enamel decay.
The practice of dyeing one’s teeth served several functions in Japanese society during the Edo era. Westerners who travelled to Japan around this time thought that the dye served to promote chastity among married women. Theoretically, dyed gums and teeth made women less attractive. Other social scientists believe that ohaguro was a ritual that Japanese women consented to in order to note their maturity and responsibility as a married woman and mother, and that it was regarded as mark of beauty by most of the population.
Ohaguro vs. Modern Dentistry
Obviously, modern dentistry has come a long way in the last few decades. As effective as ohaguro may have been for its time, modern dentistry has made incredible strides since the Meiji period in preventing tooth decay!
Today, you have friendly dentists like the ones at Babcock & Morgan Family Dental to help you keep your teeth safe from disease and decay. To learn more about dentistry in the Prior Lake, MN area, call (952) 447-4611 today!
Bacteria are bad… right? They can cause diseases like pneumonia, strep throat, and tooth decay. They are the reason we wash our hands with soap (or antibacterial gels) and cook (or refrigerate) our food. Yet it turns out that bacteria are also necessary to keep our bodies healthy — and new research is showing just how important these tiny microorganisms are to our well-being. Here are five facts you should know about bacteria.
The bacteria in our bodies outnumber our cells by a factor of 10 to 1. An estimated 100 trillion bacteria live inside the average human — but because they’re so small, they make up only 1-3 percent of our body mass.
The collection of bacteria we harbor is called our “microbiome.” Like the groundbreaking study of human DNA called the Human Genome Project, recent research is leading to a “map” of our bacterial makeup. This revolutionary study is called — you guessed it — the Human Microbiome Project.
No two people have exactly the same microbiome. But in general, the bacteria that live in a particular spot on the body (the mouth, for example) play the same roles in different individuals. Research has also shown that a healthy microbiome looks very different from a diseased microbiome.
In terms of bacteria, the mouth is one of the best-understood areas of the body. It has long been known that tooth decay can result when “bad” oral bacteria begin to outnumber their “good” counterparts. Now we are gaining a better understanding of how certain lifestyle factors — like cigarette smoking — may influence the bacterial balance in the mouth.
Understanding the microbiome may lead to new treatments for disease. Researchers hope that one day, certain serious diseases could be controlled by bacterial “transplants” that re-balance an individual’s microbiome. Maintaining a healthy microbiome could also help prevent many diseases.
So by all means, don’t stop brushing your teeth or washing your hands — this helps control bacteria that could harm you — but do remember that not all bacteria are harmful. One day, an infusion of bacteria might just cure your illness.