Posts for: December, 2016
Barley malt, corn syrup, maltodextrin — these and over fifty other label ingredients are all names for refined sugar. Under its various aliases, this sweet carbohydrate is tucked away in three-quarters of packaged foods in the U.S.
Although in recent years the general health effects from too much sugar have gained the spotlight, its effect on dental health has been known for decades. Accumulated sugar in the mouth is a prime food source for bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease.
For both general and oral health, people have been looking to artificial alternatives to satisfy their sweet tooth. But do they have their own issues that can impact overall health? Here is an overview of some of the more popular brands of artificial sweeteners and their effect on health.
Saccharin — One of the most widely used artificial sweeteners, saccharin is often used under the names Sweet’N Low or Sugar Twin in low-calorie foods because it contains no calories. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) there are no associated health risks with consuming saccharin in recommended servings.
Aspartame — used commonly in beverages as Equal or NutraSweet, aspartame is unsuitable for cooking because its chemical structure breaks down under high heat. Although generally safe for consumption, it can affect people with a rare condition known as phenylketonuria that can’t adequately break down its chemicals.
Sucralose — marketed as Splenda, this sweetener is made by chemically altering refined table sugar so the body can’t process it. This may be one reason it has the most recognized natural flavor profile among consumers and is a market leader. It’s stable at high temperatures, so it’s often used in cooked or baked goods.
Stevia/Erythritol — this combination of an extract from the extremely sweet herb stevia and the sugar alcohol erythritol is marketed as Truvia. Unlike other calorie-free artificial sweeteners, this and other alcohol-based sweeteners have a low calorie level due to sugar alcohol’s characteristic of slow and incomplete absorption during digestion.
Xylitol — although all the previously mentioned sweeteners won’t promote bacterial growth like refined sugar, the sugar alcohol xylitol — often added to chewing gum and mints — has an added benefit: it may actually reduce levels of bacteria most likely to cause decay.
If you would like more information on the effect of sweeteners on dental health, 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 “Artificial Sweeteners.”
Can you have healthy teeth and still have gum disease? Absolutely! And if you don’t believe us, just ask actor David Ramsey. The cast member of TV hits such as Dexter and Arrow said in a recent interview that up to the present day, he has never had a single cavity. Yet at a routine dental visit during his college years, Ramsey’s dentist pointed out how easily his gums bled during the exam. This was an early sign of periodontal (gum) disease, the dentist told him.
“I learned that just because you don’t have cavities, doesn’t mean you don’t have periodontal disease,” Ramsey said.
Apparently, Ramsey had always been very conscientious about brushing his teeth but he never flossed them.
“This isn’t just some strange phenomenon that exists just in my house — a lot of people who brush don’t really floss,” he noted.
Unfortunately, that’s true — and we’d certainly like to change it. So why is flossing so important?
Oral diseases such as tooth decay and periodontal disease often start when dental plaque, a bacteria-laden film that collects on teeth, is allowed to build up. These sticky deposits can harden into a substance called tartar or calculus, which is irritating to the gums and must be removed during a professional teeth cleaning.
Brushing teeth is one way to remove soft plaque, but it is not effective at reaching bacteria or food debris between teeth. That’s where flossing comes in. Floss can fit into spaces that your toothbrush never reaches. In fact, if you don’t floss, you’re leaving about a thirdÂ to half of your tooth surfaces unclean — and, as David Ramsey found out, that’s a path to periodontal disease.
Since then, however, Ramsey has become a meticulous flosser, and he proudly notes that the long-ago dental appointment “was the last we heard of any type of gum disease.”
Let that be the same for you! Just remember to brush and floss, eat a good diet low in sugar, and come in to the dental office for regular professional cleanings.
If you would like more information on flossing or periodontal disease, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Understanding Gum (Periodontal) Disease.”
Root canal therapy is one of the most common treatments at dental offices. The American Association of Endodontists estimates that dentists perform about 41,000 root canals each day. This treatment, which is offered at Karls Family Dentistry in Waunakee, WI, allows countless patients to keep their teeth instead of having them extracted. If you're wondering if a root canal would help you, keep reading to learn more about this very common dental procedure.
Getting a Root Canal
Some patients dread the idea of getting a root canal, but it can be very beneficial to your overall dental health. Instead of giving up on the tooth and removing it, your dentist cleans it out, fills it with a protective material and then seals it with a crown so that it can heal. After a successful root canal, the tooth can last as long as your other teeth as long as you're committed to good dental habits.
Would It Help You?
Your Waunakee dentist will recommend a root canal if your tooth is still strong enough to stay rooted after the decayed tissue is removed. That's why it's important to get an exam and consultation as soon as pain or intense sensitivity starts in the tooth—the earlier the diseased pulp is removed, the better. In many cases, an abscessed tooth (infection at the root) can also be cleaned and heal successfully after a root canal.
After a Root Canal
You want to take every step possible to avoid having to get another root canal in the future. Here are a few important tips to keep in mind:
- See your dentist two or three times per year for thorough cleanings and a visual check for cavities or decay.
- Brush the pits and grooves of your teeth thoroughly with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Avoid eating sticky, sugar-filled treats.
- Consider a dental sealant if you're prone to cavities.
Keep Your Smile Strong
Part of keeping your smile strong is eliminating tooth decay and taking necessary steps to avoid losing your teeth. Call Karls Family Dentistry in Waunakee, WI today at (608) 849-4100 to schedule an examination with a qualified root canal dentist.