3/7/2017 8:00:00 AM |
Often, a family trip to the dentist will feature the use of an x-ray camera. The dental hygienists will cover you or your children with a heavy apron and make you chomp on some bitewings, while the camera moves and clicks around you. Of course, the images produced by the x-rays have a purpose: cavities, jawbone degradation, and other oral health issues are made easily visible, allowing the dentist to address these issues directly. However, x-rays are a form of radiation, and some people are concerned with that exposing someone to dental x-rays will cause cancer. These concerns are especially strong for parents taking their children to the dentist.
X-rays are a type of ionizing radiation, and ionizing radiation has been shown to cause cancer. Ionizing radiation, upon passing through the body, strip electrons from the atoms this energy passes. The resulting protons, known as free radicals, then can damage the cells of the body. While these cells return to normal most of the time, on rare occasions the cells will heal with some abnormalities. These abnormal cells, consequently, can grow into cancer. From this alone, people believe that dental x-rays will cause cancer.
However, you’re always exposed to ionizing radiation. On average, your body is exposed to 3.1 millisieverts (mSv) of natural radiation alone per year. At .005 mSv, the radiation you receive from the aforementioned dental x-ray is less than 1.6% of your daily background radiation exposure. You are exposed to the same level of radiation just from sunlight each day. Additionally, each x-ray is an individual dose rather than constant exposure, which is another factor in the cancer risks of radiation exposure. X-rays only increase the odds of dying of cancer by 1 in 2,000; compare this to the natural 1 in 5 chance you have of dying of cancer.
Moreover, there are precautions in place for younger patients to help minimize their exposure. Technically, children do have a higher risk of developing cancer from radiation than adults, so dentists make up for it with stricter safety measures. Lead aprons are almost ubiquitous, but many doctors will also reduce the amount of radiation emitted by the camera when taking x-ray images of pediatric patients. The same precautions can be given to pregnant women, as fetuses are assumed to be just as vulnerable as children. Your children could be receiving special considerations regarding radiation exposure risks already.
Ultimately, the benefits of detecting an oral health issue as early as possible far outweighs the negligible cancer risk. Not only are healthy teeth and gums alone something worth keeping, but many recent studies have shown connections between oral health and overall bodily health as well. Being able to detect and address these issues is paramount to your health and your children’s health. So, the next time your dentist readies the bitewings and camera, don’t be afraid. The benefits are high, the risk is low, and the dentist is likely being extra careful with your children anyways.
1/18/2017 1:52:00 PM |
We've all heard the expression "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." But perhaps that should be changed to dentist. In addition to being good for your health, apples are also quite good for your teeth. In fact, if you find yourself without a toothbrush, an apple can fill in nicely.
Apples actually act like toothbrushes because of their fiber-rich flesh. This works like a scrub on not only your teeth, but your tongue and gums as well. An apple can also help remove food particles that are hiding out between your teeth and sticking to your gums.
As well as cleaning your teeth, because they are mildly acidic and slightly astringent, apples can also help get rid of plaque and stains. On top of that, apples can freshen breath. Is there nothing this super fruit can't do? The next time you have an after lunch meeting and forgot your toothbrush, head down to the cafeteria and grab an apple instead.
10/21/2016 9:44:00 AM |
Halloween is just around the corner carrying with it a common tradition to eat your weight in sugary sweets. While trick-or-treating in your neighborhood with your children dressed as your favorite ghoul or ghost can be one exciting night out of the year to indulge in fun, eating too much candy can cause a lifetime of dental problems. One day out of the year shouldn’t ruin all the hard work of maintaining good dental hygiene, so here are five tips to be aware of this Holiday season.
How does sugar cause cavities?
Before getting into these tips, we need to understand what causes dental caries, more commonly known as cavities. Contrary to popular belief, sugar doesn’t directly cause cavities. However, the bacteria living in the mouth sharing your leftover sweets produces an acid byproduct that causes plaque, in turn developing tooth decay as the acid eats away at the enamel creating the cavity.
Top 5 Tips to Prevent Cavities
#1: Remember to Brush and Floss
A good hygiene routines is essential to prevent the development of cavities, so it’s necessary to teach children at an early age how to care for their teeth. Brushing and flossing removes bacteria that potentially will harm teeth if left to form plaque. Practicing good dental hygiene this Halloween is your best bet for preventing a lifetime of dental ailments. It’s especially important to brush before bed as plaque can easily develop while you sleep.
#2: Rinse with Mouthwash
Some would say mouthwash can be overkill when a person already brushes and flosses, but cavity fighting rinse can help. Mouthwash cleans behind all the hard-to-reach areas a toothbrush or floss couldn’t reach, killing hidden germs that create plaque and tartar. Mouthwash that contains fluoride will also help to strengthen enamel to protect your teeth and gums.
#3: Eat in Moderation
While it can be tempting to eat all the sugary treasure you’ve collected from your neighbors, if there’s any time to start practicing moderation, Halloween is the perfect night. Nibbling on candy throughout the day gives the bacteria a thriving environment. Portion the treats to give your teeth a break and make sure that if you cannot brush right after, that you at least rinse your mouth with water or chew sugarless gum to help remove dangerous bacteria.
You don’t need to eat all that chocolate and candy. As a society addicted to sugar, we need finding ways to get rid of the excess sweets without eating or wasting them. Not only will your friends and family appreciate your consideration, your teeth will be thanking you over and over with a beautiful smile.
#5: Stay Hydrated
Dry mouth causes an increased production of bacteria in the mouth. Additionally, drinking water causes the bacteria and excess sugar residue to wash into the stomach, an area of the body that can easily break down and digest the material that would otherwise damage teeth’s enamel.
While it can be scary to think of all the cavities developed on Halloween, taking the proper precautions will help you prepare for the sugar overload and still allow you to enjoy the holiday. With these five tips to keep your mouth safe from bacteria, you can bravely go into Halloween properly equipped with your trusty toothbrush and anti-cavity dental floss.
8/17/2016 12:05:00 PM |
Brushing everyday is one of the best ways to take care of your teeth. However, it's not just that simple. For optimal dental care, follow these six tips.
1. Pick the right brush - Not all brushes are the same, and you need to choose one that fits your mouth.
2. Brush the right way - You should hold your brush at a 45-F-degree angle to your gums and use an up-and-down motion with short strokes.
3. Take your time - While brushing twice a day is recommended, three times is probably best. Also, whenever you brush, make sure you do it for at least two minutes.
4. Don't overdo it - Conversely, don't brush too much or for too long, as this can wear down enamel and hurt your gums.
5. Keep it clean - Always rinse your brush, as germs can linger on it.
6. Let it go - Make sure to replace your toothbrush every three to four months or if the bristles are becoming frayed or broken.
4/7/2016 4:36:00 PM |
The American Dentistry Association seal of approval is awarded to consumer oral hygiene products that meet ADA-defined standards. The seal is intended to help consumers make informed choices about the products they use.
Products that are ADA-approved have undergone extensive testing for safety and efficacy, to ensure that any claims made about them are factually correct. Companies that submit products for assessment have to submit ingredient lists and data from laboratory studies and clinical trials that support the product claims, and show that the product is being made using good manufacturing practices. Each product is assessed by around 100 consultants, from a variety of scientific disciplines relevant to oral health and hygiene. Once a product has been approved, the packaging is required to display the ADA seal.
So is it okay to use products that are not ADA-approved? If a product hasn't been approved, that doesn't automatically mean it's unsafe or ineffective—but using ADA-approved products takes the guesswork out of choosing and using effective products. For example, if an ADA-approved toothpaste claims to be effective at preventing tooth decay, the presence of the seal means you can be sure it's a valid claim. Many Crest, Aim, Listerine and Tom products are ADA approved, just to name a few.
2/19/2016 10:13:00 AM |
Wine lovers everywhere, rejoice! Already known for its health benefits, research shows red wine protects against cavities, too! A recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry explores the effect a selection of red wines and grape-seed extract has on communities of disease-causing bacteria, called biofilms. Biofilms erode the teeth causing gum disease. Gum disease is a result of the build up of plaque and tartar on the teeth, and in the soft tissue of the gums – pockets of infection cause inflammation and discomfort and pain. But some treatments can be abrasive, and side effects of some mouthwashes include discoloration of the gums, and altering taste.
In order to understand how effective red wine is in preventing the growth of biofilm, researchers developed a biofilm model of plaque that combined five types of bacteria most commonly found in gum disease and tooth decay. The biofilm cultures were then dipped in numerous varieties of wine – with and without alcohol – for a couple of minutes. The results showed that all red wine and red wine containing grape seed extract were more likely to get rid of the bacteria. Of course, the study wasn't designed with excessive drinking in mind; everything in moderation! Rather, as the researchers said, "these findings contribute to existing knowledge about the beneficial effect of red wines (one of the most important products of agriculture and food industries) on human health." We'll drink to that – cheers!