Warning: Put the glass of juice down!

 

 

Many of our patients, when educated about the amount of sugar and acid in the soda they’re consuming, have returned at their 6 month re-care appointment to proudly proclaim they have made the healthy switch from soda to fruit juice drinks.

We then have the unfortunate task of informing them that fruit juice is equally (and sometimes more so) packed with sugar and acid which damages teeth, causes cavities and can lead to weight gain.

Our patients often search for an alternative to water that won’t create decay, and in a short time realize that virtually any bottled drink, besides water, is damaging to teeth.  One patient recently told us she had switched to a sugar-free lemon drink, thinking that would be better for her teeth, but as we looked at the label together, realized there were four acids added to the mixture which will dissolve enamel, filling and crown edges, and create white spots on the teeth.

So together with the sugar, there’s the acid which is measured on the ph scale, that can damage teeth and dental work.  Reference this handy chart provided by the Minnesota Dental Association to see how your favorite drink stacks up on the ph scale (remember those little yellow papers in science class and watching the color turn after dipping it in a liquid?  That’s how we test ph).

Enjoy these two videos produced by the Wisconsin Dental Association trying to address the fact that juice is as “bad” as soda.  Water anyone?

 

 

World Oral Health Day March 20th

Sunday is WOHD and it’s time to celebrate?  What is WOHD you may ask?  

Well, according to the World Dental Federation (not another branch of Star Wars politics) but the international main representative body of over one million dentists, it’s as follows:

“It is an international day to celebrate the benefits of a healthy mouth and to promote worldwide awareness of the issues around oral health and the importance of oral hygiene to looking after everyone old and young.

It is a day for people to have fun – that should be a day full of activities that make us laugh, sing and smile!

Why is WOHD important?

Because 90% of the world’s population will suffer from oral diseases in their lifetime and many of them can be avoided with increased governmental, health association and society support and funding for prevention, detection and treatment programmes.”

So, in honor of WOHD, please enjoy this funny video on how NOT to brush!

 

Reasons we want our 16 year-old patients to have their wisdom teeth out

photo of a Neandertal and a modern human skull shown next to each other for comparison

 

If you look at the 2 skulls pictured above, and focus on the mandible (or the jaw bone), the skull on the left is of our early ancestor, Homo Erectus, and  the skull on the right is of us, Homo Sapiens.

Take a look at the bone available behind the teeth on the left versus the right, see any difference?  Homo Erectus never had trouble with enough room for his wisdom teeth (or 3rd molars).  In fact, Homo Erectus probably didn’t have much trouble with his/her teeth to begin with because they ate a plant/meat based diet which did not include soda, candy and other refined sugars.

If you rule out the occasional breakage of a tooth on a stone or fruit pit, they survived quite well without us dentists.  No need for fillings, extractions or orthodontics.

Fast-forward a couple hundred thousand years and we have quite a different story to tell.  We now cart out cases of soda from the grocery store, along with our Girl Scout cookies, donuts, Gatorade, cookies, cakes and candy.  These items stick and wash over our teeth destroying the enamel which then weakens it for chewing causing cracks and holes in our teeth.

Since we also have smaller jaw bones (mandibles) we do not have enough room for the 3rd molar to erupt at about the age of 16.  In fact, nature is trying to keep up with us by leaving out the 3rd molar tooth bud in a lot of adults.  We frequently see patients who have never developed most or all of their wisdom teeth, but for the vast majority of us, we need to get them out.

They come in only partially, leaving a “tunnel” into the jaw bone for bacteria with can cause abscesses (pericornitis).   They come in sideways, leaning on your good tooth in front of it and cause it to decay thereby having to have 2 molars extracted.  They don’t come in at all which can sometimes lead to cyst formation with the pressure moving the tooth into a different part of the jaw (no, you don’t feel this).

All-in-all, 3rd molars are trouble makers and I recommend they are extracted in almost all our teenage population.  We refer them to our excellent group of oral surgeons in town who often put the patient “to sleep” or take them out with laughing gas.

I have seen far too many older adult patients where their wisdom tooth causes problems, and unfortunately, at that age, we don’t heal like we did when we were 16.

So, if your son or daughter is in the 16-19 year-old age range, have a panoramic x-ray taken of their jaw to see if they have 3rd molars and where they are at.  It’s almost guaranteed they won’t have enough room.

 

 

skull picture courtesy of Dennis O’Neil anthro.palomar.edu

x-ray courtesy of http://www.childressdental.com

 

 

 

Are your babies sipping their teeth away?

 

Image result for sippy cups              Image result for sippy cups

(you can see the valves in the spout)

In continuing with February’s Children’s Dental Health Month theme, many parents are unaware of the harm caused by offering their children sippy cups.

In talking with parents during their child’s one-year-old new patient visit, I find parents pulling out their child’s sippy cup filled with milk or juice.  I would say close to 100% of the parents are unaware of the harm the sippy cup filled with milk/juice can cause.  During their child’s exam, we use a disclosing solution to show the parents where the plaque on their baby’s teeth is.  In almost every case (because brushing a one-year old’s teeth is difficult!) the child has plaque (sticky bacteria film) on the front of their “smile teeth”.   When a child sucks milk through the sippy cup spout, the sugars from the milk combine with the bacteria in the plaque to cause decay.

Believe it or not, as soon as teeth erupt, decay can occur.  One of the most common ways children’s teeth will decay is the frequent and prolonged exposure to milk, juice or formula, all which contain sugar.  So putting baby to bed with a bottle will dramatically increase their chances of “baby bottle mouth”, or decay on the baby teeth.

You should encourage your child to drink from a cup by their first birthday.  If you use a sippy cup, be sure to remove the valve so that it is not a “baby bottle” in disguise.  The valves in the spout merely cause the child to suck the fluid over the teeth the same way a bottle does, and it also defeats the purpose of the child learning to sip.

Don’t let your child walk around with the sippy cup, as toddlers are often unsteady and could injure their mouth during a fall.

A training cup should be used temporarily.  Once your child has learned how to sip, the training cup has achieved its purpose.  It can and should be set aside when no longer needed.

Tips

For sipping success, carefully choose and use a training cup. As the first birthday approaches, encourage your child to drink from a cup. As this changeover from baby bottle to training cup takes place, be very careful:

– what kind of training cup you choose

– what goes into the cup

– how frequently your child sips from it

– that your child does not carry the cup around

February is Children’s Dental Health Month, Have You Made Your 1 year-old’s appointment?

Most people are shocked when I tell them their one year-old should come and see us!  There are SO many reasons why we start dental exams at one:

  1.  Parents need to be taught how to brush their children’s teeth.  This is a lot harder than most people think, and a few of our handy-dandy tips keep the sugar bugs away.
  2.  We check to make sure they have the proper number of teeth and look for other problems such as tongue-tie and yes….cavities.
  3.  We talk about fluoride needs and figure out if their child is getting enough
  4. Teach good snacking and feeding habits.
  5. Assess habits such as pacifiers and finger sucking.

Call to make your child’s dental appointment today!  920-968-5000

Here is a great song to play while you brush your child’s teeth

Tooth Healthy Snacks for Super Bowl Sunday

Hummus with Cucumber

Cucmbers and hummus dip

What’s in it:

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, one drained, one with liquid
  • 4 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 tablespoon parsley

How it’s done:
1. Place all ingredients in a blender in the order listed except for the cucumber.
2. Blend for approximately 1 to 1 and a half minutes, pulsing as necessary.
3. Slice up the cucumber into thick pieces for dipping.
4. Place hummus in serving bowl and drizzle additional olive oil on top with some parsley for garnish.

What makes it tooth friendly:
Protein rich chickpeas don’t contain any saturated fat or cholesterol, making hummus a good choice for your overall health. Chickpeas are also rich in folic acid, which keeps your mouth healthy by promoting cell growth throughout your body. As to the cucumbers, not only are they a healthy alternative to chips, but they are rich in vitamins B and C and have even been shown to help freshen breath and naturally whiten teeth!

Check out other healthy Super Bowl snacks and other great tooth-friendly information at http://www.mouthhealthy.org!  This recipe is courtesy of Dr. Sheryl Hunter Griffith, DDS and Dr. Elizabeth Chen, DDS, MS, pediatric dentists from Texas.