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Monthly Archives: November 2014

How to Strengthen Teeth

Close up of a man biting into an appleEven though tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body, it can demineralize over time. Demineralization weakens the enamel and can lead to cavities, chips in the teeth, and tooth sensitivity. To strengthen your teeth, simply follow these seven steps:

1. Mind your diet

The bacteria that cause cavities feed off of the sugar and starch we eat and produce enamel-eroding acid. The acid present in soda (both diet and regular), citrus fruits, pickles, and tomatoes also weakens the enamel.

Try to limit your sugar intake to no more than 13 grams per day. According to an article published in BMC Public Health, limiting your sugar intake to this amount will significantly reduce your risk of oral health concerns. Remember that refined carbohydrates like bread, pasta, chips, and crackers convert to sugar in your mouth, so it is best to limit or avoid them.

2. Snack less often

When your teeth are exposed to sugar and acid consistently, bacteria have a better opportunity to fester. If you cannot significantly limit your sugar and refined carbohydrate intake (which is certainly difficult to do), limit how often you snack.

3. Use a straw for acidic drinks

Soda, lemonade, orange juice, and coffee are all highly acidic. Drink these beverages through a straw to limit your enamel’s exposure to the acid. You should also avoid sipping an acidic drink slowly throughout the day. Instead, drink your beverage with your meal and rinse your mouth with water once you are finished.

4. End your meals with cheese

According to research, the casein and whey protein in many cheeses help to reduce enamel demineralization. Chewing on cheese will also stimulate saliva flow, which helps to wash away acid and bacteria. If you’ve packed some string cheese in your lunch today, be sure to eat that last.

5. Use the right toothbrush and toothpaste

A rough toothbrush can damage your enamel. Be sure to get a soft-bristled toothbrush and be mindful about how much pressure you are applying while brushing. Check your toothpaste for the ingredient Glycerin, which can interfere with strengthening your teeth. It can cause a film over the teeth that blocks the minerals in your saliva from strengthening your enamel.

6. Use remineralizing treatments

Calcium phosphate and fluoride, the ingredients in remineralizing gels, have been scientifically proven to strengthen tooth enamel. Remineralizing gels often come in a pen or in teeth-whitening trays that you can apply to your teeth at home.

7. Chew sugar-free gum

Chewing sugar-free gum can help to stimulate saliva, which washes away bacteria and the acid it creates. However, gum that contains sugar will completely cancel out this effect. Look for sugar-free gum with xylitol, a natural sweetener, listed as the first ingredient.

If you have any concerns about your oral health or are interested in a cosmetic dental procedure, please schedule a consultation with celebrity cosmetic dentist Dr. Kevin B. Sands. Please call (310) 273-0111 or fill out our online contact form today.

How to Floss Correctly

Illustration of a man flossing his teeth“Have you been flossing?”

This is a question you’ve probably been asked many times at your regular dental visits, and for good reasons. Flossing is very important to maintaining oral health because it removes plaque and bacteria that a toothbrush cannot reach. This is common knowledge, yet so few people floss on a regular basis. Common excuses for not flossing are, “It hurts when I floss,” “My teeth are too close together,” and “I never get food stuck in my teeth.” The reality is, if you are flossing correctly and using the right kind of floss, these excuses will no longer apply!

Why Floss?

If your excuse for not flossing is, “I never get food stuck in my teeth,” you might not understand the main objective of flossing. While flossing does remove noticeably annoying food particles that get caught between your teeth, the main purpose of flossing is to scrape away the thin film of bacteria that collects on the teeth during the day. Between the teeth and the gums is a small pocket that easily traps bacteria and is difficult to reach with a toothbrush. As you scrape the floss down the side of each tooth and gently down into the gum pocket, you remove a film of bacteria that would otherwise linger and eventually cause plaque buildup.

How to Floss

If it hurts to floss, you may have gingivitis, or you may simply not be flossing correctly. Here is how to floss the right way:

  1. Insert the floss between two teeth.
  2. Slowly place the floss beneath the gum line at the base of one tooth.
  3. Curve the floss around the tooth, and scrape it along the edge of the tooth.
  4. Repeat step 3 in the same space between those teeth, but scrape the floss against the neighboring tooth, making sure to go all the way to the base of the tooth beneath the gum line.
  5. Repeat steps 1 through 4 between each two teeth using a clean section of floss each time. This prevents transferring bacteria to neighboring teeth.

The Right Floss

If your teeth are very close together or if you have braces, flossing might be a little more challenging. Try waxed floss, glide floss, or use a threader that is made to get around the brackets of braces. If your floss shreds, you might have a problem with your dental work, or you could have a cavity. A visit to your dentist can help to identify the problem.

If you are interested in general or cosmetic dental services offered by Dr. Kevin B. Sands, please schedule your appointment today. Call 310-273-0111 or fill out our online contact form for more information.

How Low-Carb Diets Affect Oral Health

man eating steakThe term “low carb” means different things to different dieting communities. Some choose the Paleo way to low carb, focusing on a diet rich in meat and void of any grains, dairy, or sugar. Atkins followers who are in the “induction” phase choose to limit their carbs to just 20 grams per day – also without sugar – that triggers ketosis in the body. Still others choose to limit their carb intake moderately by simply eliminating grains, flour, and bread. All of these low carb approaches to weight loss have been proven successful in that department, but what kind of effect do they have on our oral health?

Good for your teeth and gums

We all know that sugar promotes disease-causing bacteria in the mouth. Carbohydrates provide the bacteria with the fuel they need to produce acid in the mouth, which causes demineralization and leads to decay and caries. By limiting consumption of both sugar and carbohydrates, the essential factors for creating acid erosion on the teeth are limited. This means that most low carb diets will lead to a much healthier mouth overall by preventing tartar build-up, cavities, and frequent visits to the dentist.

Bad for your breath

The Atkins diet promotes a two-week induction phase in which followers limit their carbs to only 20 grams per day. This begins the process of ketosis, which tells your body to burn fat for fuel instead of what it naturally chooses to burn first — carbohydrates. Some people can achieve a state of ketosis with more than 20 grams of carbs per day. While ketosis provides the benefit of rapid weight loss, it also leads to halitosis (chronic bad breath). The reason for this is because one of the ketones produced during this state cannot be used by the body, so it is excreted in the urine and exhaled by the lungs as waste. While the resulting chronic bad breath causes no harm to your oral health, it can be especially annoying when you’re in close quarters with others. Drinking plenty of water will help to dilute the concentration of ketones to help weaken the stench. You can also help disguise it by chewing sugarless gum or sucking on mints that contain xylitol. Increasing your carbohydrate intake and exiting the state of ketosis may be the best option for you if your halitosis is too difficult to manage.

If you have any concerns about your oral health or are interested cosmetic dentistry with Dr. Kevin B. Sands, please schedule an appointment by calling (310) 273-0111 or by filling out our online contact form today.

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