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xylitol

Dental Questions: Is chewing gum good for your teeth?

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Dental Questions: Is chewing gum good for your teeth?

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Chewing gum is often touted as a great way to freshen your breath and remove strong tastes. You may have even heard that it can protect teeth or the dental enamel. While there is some truth to this statement, you have to be careful of what type of gum you use. Additionally, no matter what any advertising agency says, chewing gum is no replacement for daily brushing or flossing. However, it is an easy way to add a protective factor to your daily routine. Take a look!

First and foremost, for a gum to be "good" for your teeth, it absolutely has to be sugar free. Any products flavored with fructose, sucrose or HFCS are capable of fueling bacteria and starting the tooth decay process. Sugary gum is particularly harmful, since it is kept in the mouth and not swallowed. Gums flavored with sucralose, stevia, aspartame or xylitol are much safer options. Notably, xylitol provides the secondary benefits of stimulating salivation and inhibiting bacterial growth. You can find specific xylitol flavored gums at health food stores like Sprouts and Whole Foods. 

The physical act of chewing gum also has some benefits to the teeth. Chewing activates the salivary glands, keeping your teeth moist and mineralized. Additionally, gum can dislodge food stuck in the biting surfaces. However, gum overuse is a real problem that can lead to sore jaw muscles and headaches. Like anything, use gum with moderation and listen to your body. 

Chewing sugar free gum is an easy way to add extra protection against cavities and tooth decay. If you would like to know more about preventing cavities, brushing or flossing, please give our office a call!

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Dental Questions: Is chewing gum good for your teeth?

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Dental Questions: Is chewing gum good for your teeth?

Many popular gum brands market their sugar-free products as dentist recommended or protective against cavities. The general idea behind this is that chewing gum is a natural saliva stimulant. Your saliva is one of the most important protective factors in fending off tooth decay. It naturally buffers acidic foods and inhibits the ability of bacteria to damage dental enamel. This is why patients with chronic dry mouth are extremely prone to getting new cavities. Chewing gum triggers your saliva glands to create more fluids and thus better protect your mouth between meals. 

An important point in this recommendation is that the gum has to be sugar free. If the product contains fructose, sucrose or any other dietary sugar, any benefit from saliva stimulation is lost. In this circumstance, the constant contact to sugar weakens enamel and fuels the decay-causing bacteria. Look for gums sweetened with a sugar substitute like sorbitol or (ideally) xylitol. When consumed at a high enough concentration, xylitol can actually interfere with bacterial enzymes and stop their ability to produce acid. However, you would need to specifically seek out a xylitol gum (such as Xyloburst, typically available at health food stores) and consume about six sticks a day. While six pieces of gum a day may seem excessive, it is an inexpensive and easy preventative measure for those with the highest risk of developing new cavities. 

We know that picking good products for your oral hygiene can be difficult. If you have any further questions on chewing gums, mints or other supplements, please give our office a call. We are always happy to help you find the best tools for your oral health needs!

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Get your teeth back in shape!

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Get your teeth back in shape!

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New year new you, right? If you're hitting the gym and shaping up as part of your new year's resolution, why not include your teeth in that plan? Here's a list of some of our favorite products and techniques for getting your oral health in peak performance.

Cut out the "slow" sugar- Are you a frequent snacker? Are you always sipping on a mocha or soda? These habits that involve consuming sugars and carbs over long periods of time are detrimental to your dental enamel health. Try to cut down on duration of consumption or switch to low/no sugar options like carrots, water or cheese (no crackers). Remember to rinse with water after every meal!

Get a mouth rinse that fits your needs- Most patients gravitate towards alcohol based mouth rinses like Listerine for the satisfying burn and promises of a healthier mouth. These types of rinses are great for patients with periodontal problems. However, many are at higher risk of developing cavities than periodontal disease and would not see much benefit from these products. For them, we would recommend a fluoride rinse like Act Fluoride or Carifree Ctx3 (available at our office). 

Go Electric- If you haven't tried an electric toothbrush yet, now is the time! They make brushing easier, more convenient and generally more enjoyable. Make sure to look for a product with a built in timer and pressure sensor. 

Brighten your smile- Not satisfied with the shade of your teeth? There are a number of awesome tooth whitening services and products available today. At our office, Dr. Kari Ann Hong offers both take-home bleach trays and in-office single visit whitening. If you are interested in trying an over-the-counter method, we recommend Crest Whitestrips and the like. 

Stick to the basics- Beyond any viral videos and secret techniques, brushing for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing daily is the hands down best way to keep on top of your oral hygiene. No other product, service or trick can match the efficacy of this regimen. Don't overcomplicate it!

Check in for your check ups- Regular dental exams and cleanings are crucial to your oral health. There is simply no substitute for the expertise of a dental hygienist and dentist in keeping your teeth in tip top shape. You'll save money too- catching small problems early on avoids the need for large fillings, crowns, extractions and other invasive procedures. 

We hope you found our list informative! If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please feel free to contact our office.

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The Benefits of Xylitol

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The Benefits of Xylitol

If you've ever had Ice Breakers gum, Spry mints or a hard candy from our office, you have enjoyed the benefits of Xylitol sweeteners. Xylitol is a natural sugar that is harvested from plants. While it tastes sweet like glucose, a slight difference in chemical structure prevents it from being digested by our oral bacteria. As such, foods with sufficient xylitol content can help prevent tooth decay!

When our mouth bacteria encounter typical sugars (glucose, fructose, cooked starches, etc.), their enzymes process it to make acid that causes tooth decay. However, xylitol interferes with these enzymes and stops the bacteria in their tracks. You will typically find xylitol in products like gum, mints and toothpaste, but it can be used to sweeten anything. Dr. John's candies are a great example of tasty, low calorie xylitol treats (try them at our office!). 

As with anything, enjoy xylitol in moderation! Too much in one setting can cause stomach aches and GI distress. Additionally, xylitol is poisonous to dogs, so make sure you keep it out of Fido's reach. If you have any other questions about xylitol or its benefits, don't hesitate to call our office!

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 Dr. John's Candy

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Dr. John's Candy

Just in time for Halloween!

Just in time for Halloween!

 

Have you ever noticed the candy bowl sitting at our front desk? Its full of Dr. John’s Candies. They’re delicious low calorie lollipops, mints and suckers that come in a variety of shapes and flavors. The best part? They’re all sweetened with xylitol, a natural sugar alternative! Xylitol can be found in a variety of sources- from trees to fruits and vegetables. When used as a sweetener, it limits the ability of oral bacteria to cause cavities by stopping their acid production. A win-win for oral health!

 

This Halloween, we suggest stocking up on some xylitol goodies for your trick-or-treaters. Dr. John’s candies are an excellent option, as they taste great and can be ordered in bulk directly from the company or on Amazon.com. Our only disclaimer: too much xylitol can cause an upset stomach, so enjoy them in moderation! If you have any further questions about a tooth-friendly Halloween, give us a call!

 

Website: WWW.DrJohns.com

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How to Brush Your Teeth- Ten Steps to Better Home Hygeine

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How to Brush Your Teeth- Ten Steps to Better Home Hygeine


Since Childhood, you’ve heard the same old story about tooth care: brush twice a day for two minutes, floss nightly, and no food between brushing and bed. However, this isn’t the end of the story.  In today’s fast paced world, we are all looking to optimize our efforts spent on healthcare and grooming. By following these ten easy steps, you can maximize your home oral hygiene while saving time, money and headaches!


1. Brush 30 minutes before your first meal and 30 minutes after your last meal. Brushing twice a day is an important and well-known standard of home hygiene. However, the timing of brushing can also be influential on the outcome of your efforts. Brushing before breakfast helps remove the bacteria and biofilms that build up during sleep, while brushing after dinner removes any food particles that could potentially sit in your mouth all night as you rest. But why wait 30 minutes before and after? This has to do with the acidity of food and the abrasiveness of toothpaste and toothbrush bristles. Brushing directly after a meal can have the same effect as removing old paint with acetone and a wire brush. The combination of low pH and rough scrubbing can be corrosive enough to remove enamel and actually weaken tooth structure. The 30-minute period lets your saliva naturally readjust your mouth’s acidity and remineralize teeth before rigorous cleaning.


2. Instead of brushing for two minutes, brush for 30 seconds in each quadrant of the mouth. This small change in thinking makes sure that you tackle each area of the mouth with equal attention. Focusing on areas that catch food is good, but the true benefit of brushing is reached when no area of the mouth is neglected or forgotten.


The mouth can be divided into four quadrants: Upper Left, Upper Right, Lower Left and Lower Right

The mouth can be divided into four quadrants: Upper Left, Upper Right, Lower Left and Lower Right


3. Reposition your toothbrush to reach your gums. Many people hold the toothbrush bristles 90 degrees to both the biting surfaces and sides of teeth. In reality, the bristles should be positioned at 45 degrees to where the teeth and gum meet for the majority of brushing. While brushing the biting surfaces of teeth is still important, the space between your teeth and gums is an often neglected hotspot of bacteria. This space, known as the gingival margin, is both difficult to reach and easy for bacteria to cause inflammation, decay and gum recession.


Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle, unless you are addressing the biting surfaces of the teeth. 

Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle, unless you are addressing the biting surfaces of the teeth. 

 

4. Consider switching to an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes offer a wide variety of advantages over standard manual units. The added motion of mechanical or ultrasonic motors allow bristles to reach difficult areas, while built-in safety features can minimize overly aggressive brushing and abrasion. The most important features to look for in an electric brush is a small brush head (to reach your entire mouth) and built in timer (set to two minutes).

 

5. Bad breath? Look beyond mouthwash. Bad breath is a problem that plagues many patients. Mouthwash is often viewed as the best (and only) solution to this condition, with many patients using it multiple times throughout the day. Unfortunately, mouthwash is only as effective as long as the minty smell lasts, and the low pH of many consumer mouthwashes can lead to further tooth decay. The best way to cut back on bad smelling breath is to start flossing correctly (see below) and brushing the tongue.  Tongue brushing is done by holding your brush 90 degrees to the tongue and brushing away from the face.

 

6. Focus on flossing correctly. The absolute best step to boost your home hygiene routine is to start/keep flossing once a day. Using the floss to break the contact between the teeth is a good start, but the true benefit of flossing arises when you go below the gum line. This can be accomplished via the “scoop the tooth” method. Once the floss is between the teeth, use it to “scoop” around both of the touching teeth. This allows the floss to dislodge bacteria and food that live in the gingival margin between teeth. Those with braces, bridges and dental appliances should use threader floss to make sure they can reach behind wires and other structures.

How to floss: 1. pull off a forearm's length of floss. 2. put tension on the floss. 3. Break the contact between the teeth. 4. floss between the teeth, between the back tooth and gums and between the front tooth and the gums. Flex the floss with the tooth to "scoop the tooth."

How to floss: 1. pull off a forearm's length of floss. 2. put tension on the floss. 3. Break the contact between the teeth. 4. floss between the teeth, between the back tooth and gums and between the front tooth and the gums. Flex the floss with the tooth to "scoop the tooth."


7. Follow up meals with a water rinse and xylitol product. While you might feel the strong urge to brush following a meal or snack, you are better off waiting until your mouth remineralizes before taking a brush to them. The best way to dislodge food particles, avoid staining and prevent decay after meals is to rinse with water and chew gum/mints containing xylitol. Xylitol is a plant based sweetener that interrupts bacteria’s’ ability to make tooth destroying acid. It is completely natural (our bodies make a small amount every day) and is an ingredient used in most sugar free gums.

 

8.  Keep snacking to a minimum. Any time a food product or drink is consumed, our mouth pH turns acidic for about 30 minutes. This happens with almost every type of food, no matter how much (or little) you are eating. Over time, this acidic environment can weaken tooth structure and lead to rampant decay. Hence, snacking, or frequent eating, can be as damaging to a mouth as a sugary, carbohydrate heavy diet. For example, eating a small dessert after both lunch and dinner only leads to two exposures of 30 minutes of acidity. However, eating five baby carrots once an hour for an eight-hour workday would lead to 4 hours of acidity. Yikes!

 

9. Get Fluoride exposure. Fluoride is a safe and highly effective way to effortlessly boost your oral health. Fluoride works by allowing the calcium-phosphate found in our diets to reenter the tooth structure and remineralize enamel. In addition to being found in most commercially available toothpastes, the Southern California water supply has been fluoridated for many years. Drinking tap water or most filtered waters will give you a preventative dose of fluoride.

 

10. Report changes in oral health/eating habits/lifestyle at your cleanings. Dental cleaning and home care are no longer addressed in a “one size fits all” approach. Letting our staff know about changes in your diet, medications or lifestyle can allow them to suggest changes to your routine or new supplements to better aid in home care. Remember, we are always here to help you reach a beautiful and healthy smile! 

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