Sugar Not So Sweet

One of the most common diseases on a world-wide scale is tooth decay. Surprised? As an American, you may want to pay particular attention to the following research findings.

Researchers from the University College London and the London School of Hygiene studied public health records from around the world. Something that stood out in their research was that the United States is too full of sugar.

They found that nearly 90% of school age children in the U.S. have experienced tooth decay and 92% of American adults have had cavities. To understand the sugar problem that America has is to look at a country with a diet very low in sugar, such as Nigeria, with a mere 2% of the population experiencing tooth decay.

What causes sugar to be a particular problem when it comes to your teeth is how it reacts in the mouth. When sugar-laden foods are eaten, the sugar combines with saliva and oral bacteria. Even though every food or beverage (other than water) triggers an acid attack in the mouth, sugar super-charges oral bacteria, allowing tooth decay to begin easily.

Oral bacteria eat, reproduce and live in colonies as they eat away at oral gum tissue and attack tooth enamel. This overload of bacteria causes the gums become inflamed and is the beginning stage of periodontal (gum) disease – the nation’s leading cause of tooth loss.

It’s no wonder that Americans are overloaded with sugar, and carbohydrates, in general. It’s nearly impossible these days to stand in a check-out line without something sweet staring at you. And it starts early. Our schools are stocked full of vending machines filled with sugary sodas and snacks. With all this sugar at arm’s reach at a low price, the temptation is hard to resist. Yet, it may be more than temptation that’s keeping our cravings, and hence consumption, of sugar at a seemingly uncontrollable level.

The World Health Organization recommends no more than 5% of daily caloric intake from sugar. However, with the easy access of cheap, convenient sugar, the good intentions we have in keeping many new year’s resolutions seem unusually difficult. Why?

Simply put, sugar is addictive. As a matter of fact, MRI scans have shown that sugar activates the same brain regions as are activated from cocaine use. To make matters worse, research has found that the more sugar you consume, the more you need since you develop a tolerance. Like drug addiction, these reactions are symptoms of substance dependence.

Reducing sugar intake to the 5% recommended level can be achieved. However, success is more likely when you wean yourself off of sugar rather than try a ‘cold turkey’ approach. Substituting honey (which is processed in the body like a food) can help you get over the hump, which may take several months. However, once your system is cleansed, you’ll be doing your smile – and overall health – an enormous favor.

When sugar is a minimal part of one’s diet, the damage potential by oral bacteria is reduced. Your risk for cavities and gum disease decreases and your breath will be easier to keep fresh. A healthy, low sugar diet coupled with a thorough at-home routine of daily flossing, twice a day brushing and drinking plenty of water will protect teeth and gums. Be sure to keep your 6-month dental cleanings and check-ups so we can remove any build-up that has occurred between visits. These appointments are designed to reduce your risks, as well.

Your Role In Dental Implant Success

Studies show that dental implants are one of the most successful implant-in-bone procedures, over 90%. At our office, we are highly committed to this through advanced training and skills in all aspects of dental implant treatment – diagnosing the number of implants needed, the best type of implant and selecting placement locations as well as the actual placement process.

Although a successful outcome begins with the part of treatment we provide in our office, there are ways that patients can boost the potential of success. Once a patient leaves our office, success or failure potential of their implants is in their control to a great extent.

A dental implant that fails and requires removal is most often the result of an infection caused by oral bacteria. Infections may be the result of poor oral hygiene, smoking, diabetes, teeth grinding during sleep and diabetes.

When bacteria accumulate in gum tissues surrounding the implant, inflammation sets in. As it continues, the Infection travels down the implanted post. This allows oral bacteria to attack bone structure supporting the implant. Early treatment may be able to resolve the infection before it becomes too widespread. When treatment can only be successful without the implant in place, it must be removed so healing can begin.

Smoking has always been a risk factor when it comes to implant success. However, a problem that many do not associate with creating risk to an implant is bruxing (clenching and grinding teeth) during the healing phase. Grinding one’s teeth can lead to implant failure to a greater extent than many realize. One study on dental implant success showed that 29% of patients with bruxing problems experienced implant failure. That’s a significant number.

Studies also show that implant failure rates are higher when the placement doctor has less than 5 years of experience. Because your choice of who places your implants can have an impact on their success, choose carefully. Having a successful outcome will save you time, money and allow you to enjoy your dental implant without undue treatment complications.

While all doctors strive to help their patients have a positive outcome when it comes to any procedure, not all aspects of treatment are within the control of the doctor. We believe that being thoroughly communicative with patients can optimize the success of their implants, which can be as important as the exceptional care you’ll receive.

To begin, ask for a free consultation. During this time, I’ll answer your questions and make recommendations. Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to schedule.

Taking Pills To Sleep On A Regular Basis?

The other night, I saw a TV commercial for a prescription sleep aid. The woman in the ad woke up with a smile, stretching to show what a restful night of sleep she’d just gotten.  For some people who have occasional (note the word ‘occasional’ here) insomnia, these pills are helpful. At times, stress or travel can impact our ability to get a good night’s sleep and feel rested and alert the next day.

What these pills are NOT designed to do is overcome the rigors your body endures throughout the night as a result of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder. A disorder means that something is not functioning as intended.

Sleep apnea causes pauses in breathing that can last up to a minute. These can occur hundreds of times per night. These interruptions in air intake deprive the brain with sufficient oxygen while you sleep. This interferes with your brain’s ability to go through the nightly repair and rebooting cycles they are designed to perform.

The brain is anything but ‘shut down’ while you sleep. Even though a third of our lives are spent sleeping, certain parts of the brain remain active. This period enables your brain to do some housekeeping by removing unhealthy accumulations while regulating certain hormones that keep the body functioning properly.

For example, sleep helps to balance appetite levels by regulating certain hormones that effect feelings of hunger and fullness. Sleep deprivation disrupts hormonal balances that make you  feel the need to eat more. Of course, this can lead to weight gain, which is a common side effect of sleep apnea.

While weight gain is an unhealthy side effect, others are deadly. Sleep apnea has been linked to heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, depression, impotency…  should I go on? You get the picture.

The industry standard for treating sleep apnea in the past has been a bulky, noisy and often uncomfortable C-PAP device. While effective in pushing oxygen into air passages, consistent usage by those prescribed with C-PAP therapy is low. Fortunately, an alternative does exist.

Certain FDA-approved oral appliances can help overcome mild to moderate sleep apnea. These are about the size of a mouth guard, custom-fitted to the contours of your mouth and do not interfere with sleep. They are designed to help adjust the jaw so your throat is more open during sleep. Rather than force air into your throat, oral appliances make air intake, on your own, easy.

You may wish to begin with a no-obligation consultation. There is no cost for this time and you’ll be able to ask questions and have your options explained fully. If you struggle with daytime fatigue, lack of alertness or focus, weight gain, nodding off easily, or feeling unmotivated, it’s time to look into options that can restore your health (and maybe even save your life). Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles.


Having The Smile You Want Begins When Fear Is Addressed

Smiling makes you feel good! Even when you don’t feel like smiling, research has shown that smiling anyway has a positive effect on your state of mind.

One of the reasons I love being a dentist is helping people to feel good about their smiles. But the best moments are those shared with a patient who has been transformed by smile enhancements.

It’s not unusual to hear new patients describe how self-conscious they are about the appearance of their smile. Many tell me about shielding their smile with their hand when with others. Or, some have taught themselves how to smile without their teeth showing. They’ve conditioned themselves to literally tuck their lips under the edges of front teeth to hold their lips in place.

What is truly sad about many of these situations is the root cause of smile deterioration or avoiding improvements – dental fear. Fear associated with dental visits is the number one reason that keeps adults from much needed or desired dentistry.

It is a rare situation where dental fear exists that doesn’t stem from a traumatic dental visit in the past. Some adults even remember a terrible experience as a child like it happened yesterday. Just telling us about it can make them tear up or break out into a sweat.

While these memories can hover for a lifetime, they don’t have to dominate your smile’s health and appearance. Although we can reassure you that you can trust us, we know that this only occurs through paced care that’s appropriate for your comfort level. We begin with a private consultation in a ‘living room-style setting’ where we sit in comfortable armchairs and just chat. For some people, they prefer to begin with a telephone consultation, which we are happy to arrange. Both are offered at no cost to you.

From there, it is up to you as to how you’d like to begin. We can have one of our friendly team members give you a tour of the office. Or, you may wish to speak with some of our patients who once had similar fears and learn how they overcame their fear. Regardless of which direction we go, you’ll always be aware of the next step and what is involved. This way, you can determine how much or how little you wish to accomplish during each step.

It’s hard to describe the elation we see and hear from patients when a smile has been brought to a healthy, attractive state. Their faces light up and their smile seems to come from the inside out! Their entire personalities take on a happier glow and they have more confidence and self-esteem.

Many fearful patients begin dental care under oral or I.V. sedation. Both are totally relaxing and typically erase all memory of treatment afterwards. I.V. sedation (‘twilight sleep’) is a deeper level of relaxation but does require a longer recovery.

We tend to ‘measure’ our success of helping patients overcome fear when they tell us they no longer need sedation of any kind. We see them walk in the door smiling and leave with a smile as well. This gives us enormous pride, but more importantly, creates a smile that reflects beautifully on each individual… a smile that makes each person feel good from the inside out!

2015 is winding down. Don’t let the year end without taking a positive step to the smile you desire. Dental fear should be the last thing that holds you back from life with a terrific smile. Begin by calling toll free 1-866-9-Smiles. I’m sure you’ll feel comfortable from the very beginning.