What is Xylitol?

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Andra Mahoney, BS RDH

What is Xylitol?

What if I told you there was a sugar that actually prevents cavities?  Would you believe me?  Well, you should!  And it called Xylitol (pronounced zai-li-tall).

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener found in plants, fruits, and vegetables.  It looks and tastes just like sugar (sucrose).  Xylitol has about a third the calories as table sugar, and is a healthy alternative for diabetics. Not only does it make an excellent sugar substitute, but it aids in the prevention of dental caries, and reduces plaque formation.

How does it help prevent cavities?

Everyone has bacteria in their mouth all the time.  Bacteria is highly attracted to the sugars found in the foods and beverages that we eat and drink.  Most people think this means sweets, candies, etc.  While that is true, it also can mean carbohydrates (which are complex sugars) or fruit (which has fructose, a sugar) or any number of things.  The bacteria in our mouths eat all those sugars and excrete acid.  That acid is what causes cavities.

Now bacteria is way more attracted to xylitol than regular sugar.  The Bacteria head right for xylitol!  But bacteria cannot break down xylitol.  Meaning if they can’t “eat” it, they can’t excrete it.  The bacteria dies not able to make acid to cause cavities.  That is how xylitol can help prevent cavities!

How does it help dry mouth?

Many things, including prescription medications, can cause dry mouth.  But why is dry mouth such a big deal?  Dry mouth can effect you quality of life!  It decreases your ability to taste.  It can cause bad breathe.  It can make eating difficult.  It can make talking difficult.  It can even significantly increase your susceptibility to getting cavities!

Xylitol has a cooling effect, quenching the burning of dry mouth.  Xylitol also stimulates saliva flow, which fixes all of the problems previously mentioned.  Xylitol is also an humectant, which means it attracts moisture.  And Xylitol neutralized saliva’s pH.  An acid pH leads to dry mouth, a basic pH can lead to an overgrowth of plaque bacteria.  Nice neutral pH is where your mouth is the happiest!

Who can have Xylitol?

Xylitol is safe for all ages!  Great for the whole family!

Even diabetics can use xylitol.  “The body does not require insulin to metabolize xylitol. For this reason polyols like xylitol produce a lower glycemic response than sucrose or glucose. This has made xylitol a widely used sweetener for the diabetic diet in some countries. If you do have diabetes, however, it’s important to consult your doctor or diet professional before incorporating xylitol into your daily diet. (1)”

And, like chocolate, onions, raisins, or avocados, xylitol is not safe for our 4-legged furry family members.  Please do not share it with them.

Where can you find Xylitol?

Xylitol can be found in a wide array of products.  Most commonly, chewing gum, candies, and mints.  It is also found in tooth pastes, mouth sprays, and even as granulated crystals to replace table sugar.

Hope this has been informative and you have found a new way to incorporate the many benefits of Xylitol in your life!

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://www.xylitol.org

http://www.xlear.com

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Non-surgical Periodontal Therapy

KatieM

Katie Moynihan, BS RDH

Non-surgical Periodontal Therapy

If your hands bled when you washed them, you would be concerned. However, many people think it is normal if their gums bleed when they brush or floss. False! Inflammation and bleeding are early signs that your gums are infected with bacteria. If not treated quickly and properly, those early signs of gingivitis may lead to a more serious infection called periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease affects the supporting tissues around the teeth including the gums, the periodontal ligament, and the bone. As the plaque in your mouth spreads and accumulates below the gum line, the toxins within that plaque infect and break down the “foundation” that hold your teeth in place. If not treated with periodontal therapy, the disease will only get worse and tooth loss may occur.

In the presence of periodontal disease, a “regular” prophylaxis cleaning can NOT be completed. The definition of prophylaxis is the prevention of disease. Once periodontal disease is diagnosed, your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend non-surgical periodontal therapy. Non-surgical periodontal therapy is also referred to as scaling and root planing, or a deep cleaning. Scaling and root planing involves thoroughly removing the plaque and calculus (tartar) that resides above and below the compromised gums. Smoothing the tooth roots allows a clean surface for tissue re-attachment and pocket reduction. Local anesthetic is recommended to make this procedure comfortable and painless for the patient. The goal for non-surgical periodontal therapy is to treat and eliminate the active infection, reduce periodontal pocketing around teeth, prevent further bone loss. The shallower the pockets are around your teeth, the easier they are to keep clean and healthy! When periodontal health is achieved, your oral health care provider will recommended more frequent periodontal maintenance cleanings every 3-4 months to keep tissues healthy and stabilized. In few circumstances where periodontal health cannot be achieved, a referral to a Periodontist may be recommended for further treatment.

Signs & Symptoms of Gum Disease:

  • Swollen, red, tender or bleeding gums
  • Gums that recede or move away from the tooth
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste in mouth
  • Pain/sensitivity when chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Visible pus surrounding the teeth and gums

You can prevent periodontal disease by practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly for professional cleanings. In recent years, gum disease has been linked to overall health problems. You can read more about those on Andra’s recent blog post Oral Health: A Window to your Overall Health! Remember, taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

www.perio.org

www.colgate.com

Dental Fears

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Becky Larson, RDH

 

Dental Fears

I once had an elementary school teacher who would scream if she heard the word “dentist.”  About 75% of the population has some form of dental anxiety while about 5-10% of the population has an actual dental phobia.  There are various degrees of dental anxiety/phobia, some even requiring psychiatric help.  Those who experience this fear of going to the dentist will often avoid dental appointments until they are in extreme pain.  I think we all realize that sometimes going to the dentist is just not fun.  However, some signs that you may suffer from legitimate dental anxiety/phobia include trouble sleeping the night before a dental appointment, nervous feelings that increase in the dental office waiting room, crying or feeling physically sick when thinking about the dentist, and/or panic attacks or difficulty breathing when at or thinking of the dentist.

So what causes dental anxiety or dental phobia?  Some common reasons for experiencing dental anxiety are fear of pain, fear of injections, fear that injections won’t work, fear of anesthetic side effects, fear of not being in control, embarrassment, and loss of personal space.  The key to dealing with any of these fears is to talk to your dentist.  If your dentist is aware of your fear(s) he/she can suggest ways to make you feel more comfortable when in the dental chair.  Some helpful strategies include:

  • Having your dentist explain procedures in detail prior to and during treatment
  • Topical anesthetic and/or closing your eyes during injections
  • Establish a “stop” signal when you want your dentist to stop or give you a break
  • Nitrous oxide prior to treatment
  • Prescription pre-medication (such as Halcion)
  • Sedation/general anesthesia

Here in our Signature Dental offices, we do offer intravenous sedation techniques for dental treatment.  With these techniques, sedation drugs are administered through an IV in the patient’s arm or hand.  While the patient is sedated, they will still be still be conscious and able to respond to dental staff.  They will also be able to breathe on their own.

Recognizing dental fears and finding ways to cope with them is extremely important to your dental health.  Regular check-ups and cleanings can help prevent recurrent decay, which in turn can reduce the amount of time and money you spend at the dentist.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/easing-dental-fear-adults

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dental_phobia

http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Checkups-and-Dental-Procedures/The-Dental-Visit/article/What-is-Dental-Anxiety-and-Phobia.cvsp

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=dnetal+anxiety&FORM=HDRSC2

What is Calculus?

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Lora Cook, RDH

What is calculus and what dangers does it cause to the health of your mouth.

Calculus or tartar, same thing is calcified plaque.  Plaque is the soft sticky film that will start to form twenty minutes after you brush your teeth.  Another name for the soft sticky plaque is biofilm.  This is basically a bacteria that grows in your mouth, a “slime layer”.  Plaque is white or pale yellow soft, sticky, slimy stuff.  This is what makes your teeth feel “fuzzy” when you first wake up and at the end of a long day.  So do all these pleasant descriptions make you want to go brush your teeth yet?

So where does calculus come from?  Calculus is calcified plaque.  When plaque is allowed to stay hiding in your mouth for twenty-four hours or more is has the opportunity to harden and turn into tartar. Calculus/Tartar, same thing, this is calcified plaque. Once this soft sticky substance (biofilm) becomes hard it will attach itself to the tooth surface, then you will not be able to remove it yourself with your tooth brush or your floss. Calculus will form above and below your gum tissue.

The calculus will be a physical irritant to your gum tissue, causing inflammation.  The calculus also becomes a source that harbors bacteria that causes harm to the tissue and bone around the teeth.  This aggressive bacteria may lead to periodontal disease. What is periodontal disease?  In short, it is bone loss around the teeth.  This bone loss may range from slight to moderate, to severe.  Some people will build up tartar more quickly than others, and some people are more prone to the bacteria that causes periodontal disease (bone loss).

So this brings the questions; What can I do to prevent calculus build up?

USE AN ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH: electric tooth brushes have been proven to be more effective at cleaning than manual brushes. Use the rechargeable electric brushes, not the battery spin brushes.

CHANGE YOUR TOOTHBRUSH EVERY THREE MONTHS: Do not go longer than three months with the same tooth brush or tooth brush head.  Once the bristles start to wear out they cannot do a good job for you.

TIME YOUR BRUSHING ROUTINE: Brush for at least two minutes, preferably two to three minutes.  Sometimes just adding more time to your routine can make a big difference, most people will brush for only forty to sixty seconds. So try timing yourself, you will be surprised.  Two minutes feels like forever when you are brushing.

FLOSS DAILY: You don’t have to floss two times daily, once a day is sufficient. Make flossing part of your nightly routine.  Flossing techniques are important, because some techniques are more effective than others. It is important to floss under the gum tissue where everything likes to hide, not just in between the teeth.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/plaque-and-tartar

https://www.quora.com/Does-tartar-cause-gum-disease-purely-through-MECHANICAL-means/