Posts for: March, 2015
Refined table sugar (sucrose) has been in the health spotlight for some time now. While its effects on nutrition and general health are just now gaining attention, its effect on dental health, particularly as a food source for bacteria that cause tooth decay, has been known for decades.
In recent years, though, a different kind of natural sugar known as xylitol has come into popularity. Mutans Streptococci, the main bacteria responsible for tooth decay, is unable to break down and consume this alcohol-based sugar as it can with sucrose. What’s more, there’s evidence that xylitol can actually “starve” the offending bacteria and reduce its levels in the mouth. Xylitol also helps to reduce the level of acid in saliva and supports this vital fluid in its role of balancing the mouth’s pH level. By helping maintain a more pH neutral environment, xylitol can help prevent decay from even starting and promote the production of bacteria that doesn’t produce acid.
One of the most prevalent ways to include xylitol in your diet is through chewing gum. Researchers have found xylitol chewing gum can significantly reduce the risk of tooth decay, especially by inhibiting the decay process. Its reaction with saliva also contributes to the process of hardening the mineral content of enamel, a further inhibition to tooth decay.
Depending on your risk factors for dental disease, we might direct you to chew two pieces of xylitol gum for five minutes after meals and snacks, up to four times a day. Our target dose is about one to two teaspoons spread out during the day. If chewing gum is problematic or undesirable, it’s also possible to receive the recommended dosage of xylitol through hard candy, mints and oral products like toothpaste, mouthwash or sprays that contain the sugar.
Depending on your risk factors, a daily dosage of xylitol in chewing gum and other products can change the environment in your mouth for the better. A few minutes of gum chewing after meals and snacks might provide you the winning edge in the battle against tooth decay.
If you would like more information on the benefits and uses of xylitol, 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 “Xylitol in Chewing Gum.”
Many Hollywood luminaries use porcelain veneers to enhance their smiles. Take actress and singer Hilary Duff, who, according to People magazine, had veneers placed on her two front teeth after chipping them on a microphone during what must have been an extremely energetic performance.
Well, you don't have to be a Hollywood star to benefit from a smile enhanced with porcelain veneers. If you have small chips, cracks, slight tooth rotations or minor spacing problems, veneers may be able to give you back your smile — or an even better one.
The word “veneer” refers to a super-thin covering, and in dentistry a veneer is a thin layer of porcelain that replaces your natural tooth enamel. Porcelain is the material of choice because of its strength, translucency, and ability to resist erosion.
In the right hands, dental porcelain can mimic tooth enamel perfectly. To make veneers, a skilled dental technician will mix porcelain powder (in a shade specified by the dentist) with water and then fire the material in an oven like pottery; the porcelain is built up in layers for a truly lifelike effect.
Before a veneer is bonded to a tooth, often we need to remove a tiny bit of the tooth's existing enamel so that the final effect will not be too bulky. The procedure is virtually painless and can be completed in as little as two visits. Because enamel is removed, this particular cosmetic treatment is not reversible. Sometimes veneers can be added directly onto the tooth surface without any tooth reduction and therefore are reversible if used in this way.
Once you have veneers, please keep in mind that while extremely strong, porcelain veneers are not indestructible; you won't want to do things like crunch ice or break nuts open with your teeth. And if you are a teeth-grinder, you should wear a nightguard to protect your beautiful new smile. With proper care, your veneers will last 20 years or more.
If you would like more information about porcelain veneers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Smile Design Enhanced With Porcelain Veneers.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Cosmetic Dentistry: A Time For Change.”