The Story on Soda: Your Soft Drink Questions Answered

🥤 Sorry to burst your bubble, but the reality is that no matter how refreshing that sweet, fizzy soda (or “pop”) tastes, there’s a chance it could be doing some damage to your teeth. But with so many products on the market, are they all really that bad for you? The Oral Surgery DC Team

Answers to some of your most pressing soft drink questions are about to be answered. Get to the bottom of various soda claims, and find out if there’s a workaround that lets you keep your favorite carbonated beverages on tap without traumatizing your teeth.

Q. Is it better to choose clear-colored sodas over darker-colored ones?

Neither option is a healthy choice for your teeth, but upon regular consumption, caramel-hued soft drinks have been known to stain teeth more quickly. Cosmetic differences aside, the extremely high sugar content of any soda, regardless of color, causes lasting damage to tooth enamel, resulting in decay, cavities and/or tooth loss in extreme situations.

Q. Do diet sodas get a pass since they’re sugar-free?

The appeal of diet sodas is understandable, especially when the packaging comes with alluring labels of “sugar-free” or “calorie-free”. But the fact of the matter is, even with sugar substitutes, diet soda is still extremely acidic. This means diet soda will still have the same corrosive effect on the enamel and should be avoided to prevent tooth damage.

Q. Is corn syrup a more harmful soft drink sweetener than cane sugar?

Similar to the misconception about diet sodas, the threat of tooth decay, cavities, and other oral health problems aren’t based on the type of sweetener used. No matter the source of sugar, enamel erosion will happen with regular consumption of any sweetened soft drink.

Q. If I drink soda through a straw, will this protect my teeth?

Using a straw can limit contact of sugar and acid with the surface of your teeth, but only when positioned correctly. Ideally, the opening of the straw should be directed towards the back of the mouth, but the likelihood of accidental contact is still high if you become distracted or inadvertently swish the liquid in your mouth. Ultimately, the best way to prevent tooth decay due to soft drinks is to avoid drinking them altogether.

Q. What are teeth-friendly alternatives to soda?

If you find carbonated beverages especially refreshing, switch to a seltzer. You’ll get the same fizz without the threat of tooth decay. For a flavorful spin, dress up seltzer or plain water with cut-up fruit (instead of turning to juice, which can erode tooth enamel due to its fructose content). Milk is also another good choice due to the enamel-fortifying calcium it contains; however, it does contain natural sugar, lactose — so never have a glass before bed without brushing your teeth.

Q. What can I do to combat enamel erosion if I can’t quit drinking soda?

For those unable to put aside their love of soft drinks, take these steps to minimize tooth decay and other soda-related oral problems:

  • Rinse your mouth and brush your teeth afterward to clear away sugar and acid
  • Use fluoride-rich toothpaste and mouthwash to help strengthen tooth enamel
  • See your dentist regularly to get professional help in preventing tooth damage

Speak To Your Dentist

New drinks are always hitting the shelves, but many may not live up to their health claims. Before making something your beverage of choice, get your dentist’s perspective to understand how it can impact the health of your teeth.

Sources:

Soda or Pop? It’s Teeth Trouble by Any Name. (n.d.). Retrieved May 24, 3015 from http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Oral-Hygiene/Oral-Hygiene-Basics/article/Soda-or-Pop-Its-Teeth-Trouble-by-Any-Name.cvsp

Melnick, M & Klein, S. (2013, March 13). Soda Myths: The Truth About Sugary Drinks, From Sodas To Sports Drinks. Retrieved May 25, 2015 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/soda-myths-facts-sugary-drinks_n_2863045.html

Sealants: Stop Cavities Before They Begin

Aside from proper brushing and flossing to remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, do you know that there are other effective ways that can prevent tooth decay?

👉 With sealants, you can prevent cavities for up to a decade before they ever have a chance to start. Find out more! The Woodview Oral Surgery Team

Imagine you could protect your smile and preserve good oral health. Would you do it? In all likelihood the answer is yes and, with sealants, you can.

Few oral issues can be fully pre-empted or prevented. After all, genetics and other factors can play a role in whether or not you develop cavities or more serious dental complications. But with sealants, you can prevent cavities for up to a decade before they ever have a chance to start.

What Are Sealants?

Sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth, particularly premolars and molars, to prevent tooth decay. By bonding to the depressions and grooves of teeth where most cavities begin, they can prevent tooth decay in a way that regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing can’t.

Most often, sealants are used on children between the ages of 6 and 14 because this is when they are most vulnerable to cavities. Sealants can also be used on adults who don’t have current decay or fillings in their molars and on babies with deep depressions and grooves in teeth to preserve them as placeholders for adult teeth. Of course, sealants must be made age-appropriate and tailored to each patient’s unique needs.

Applying Sealants is Quick and Painless for Most

The best part about sealants is that the application process is quick and painless. In fact, there are just four simple steps involved in the entire process:

  • Cleaning – Prior to applying sealants, your dentist will clean each tooth that is being sealed to ensure the bond is as strong as possible.
  • Preparation – Once your teeth are clean, they will be dried and surrounded by cotton or another absorbent material to prevent saliva from getting the tooth wet again. An acid solution will also be applied to enhance the bond between the sealants and your teeth.
  • Rising and Drying – After the acid solution has been applied, just one more rinse and dry is required before the actual application.
  • Application of the Sealants – After all the preparation is complete, the sealants will be applied. In some cases, your dentist will use a special curing light to help sealants to harden more quickly.

Sealants Can Stand the Test of Time for Most

Few dental solutions are permanent and sealants are no different. However, they can provide up to 10 years of protection, which is great for babies, young children, and adults.

Regular dental visits are the best way to prolong the effectiveness of your treatment. Your dentist can check your sealants for chipping or wearing and replace them if necessary. By replacing them soon after they begin to wear down, you can enjoy continued protection from cavities.

With Sealants, You Can Keep Your Smile Both Beautiful and Functional

Sealants are a simple solution to prevent cavities and protect some of the most functional teeth in your mouth. They can be a worthwhile investment for you and/or your children to keep smiles looking great for years to come.

Sources:

Dental Health: Sealants. (2013, April 14). Retrieved June 2, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-sealants

In Defense of Root Canals: The Unsung Hero of Dental Care

🦷 Think you might need a root canal? It’s not the end of the world, nor is it as torturous as you might think! Even though a root canal is usually the last resort for decayed teeth, when compared with other alternatives, it’s quite practical and cost-effective.

Put your fears to rest by discovering the truth about this much-maligned treatment, and find out why it’s considered by many dentists to be the unsung hero of dental care. The Woodview Oral Surgery Team

When and Why Root Canals Are Necessary

Left untreated, tooth decay can eventually result in bacteria infiltrating the very core of the tooth, infecting its sensitive nerve tissue (otherwise referred to as “root” or “pulp”). Once the pulp has been infected, a pocket of pus known as an abscess can form and wreak havoc beyond the problem tooth itself. From swelling of the mouth, jaw, and face, to bone loss and even the spread of infection into the skin, the cost of delaying treatment can compound rather quickly.

If the problem is caught in time, a root canal may be possible, allowing the dentist to clear the infected pulp without having to sacrifice the whole tooth. Keeping your natural tooth not only helps maintain proper chewing and speech but also it requires less time and money compared to tooth removal and implant.

Signs You Need a Root Canal

If you experience any of these symptoms, you might need a root canal:

  • Acute, shooting pain when pressure is applied to a tooth
  • Noticeable darkening or discoloration of the tooth compared to neighboring teeth
  • Lingering tooth sensitivity, particularly to extremely hot or cold foods
  • A pimple on the gums that never seems to go away
  • Swelling of the gums near the problem tooth
  • Continuous pain or throbbing even when not chewing or using the tooth

See your dentist to know for sure, and let him or her know about your situation when scheduling an appointment to ensure you are seen as soon as possible. Like most dental problems, it’s best to be proactive. The sooner the dentist is able to diagnose and treat the infected area the better — and it could decrease the amount of post-procedure discomfort.

What to Expect During a Root Canal

The length of time for treatment can vary widely depending on the complexity of each patient’s situation, but it’s safe to say that multiple visits are required to complete a root canal. Anesthesia may be applied, but it is not always necessary since the nerve is already dead. The first phase of a root canal involves thoroughly ridding the tooth of any infection and decayed matter — usually by drilling an access hole, flushing out the pulp, and applying medication to the tooth and surrounding gums. The dentist will then seal off the area completely, or in extreme cases, wait several days for the infection to clear before sealing off the tooth.

The second phase of treatment focuses on filling the tooth. To do this, a dentist normally uses a sealer paste or a rubber-like compound to fill the empty nerve canal and interior of the tooth. After the tooth has been filled, a metal post is inserted into the tooth to further strengthen it.

Restoration, in which a crown is created to cap off the tooth, is the final step of treatment. Once the custom crown arrives, the dentist covers the tooth and shapes the crown to function as optimally as possible.

Post Treatment Care

As with any lengthy dental procedure, temporary tooth and gum sensitivity are to be expected but should go away within a day or two. If the permanent crown has been applied, you can return back to your normal routine immediately.

Root canals have a very high success rate, but it’s important to remember that there is always a possibility for the filling to become infected. To avoid complications and additional root canals down the road, make oral hygiene a top priority and schedule regular visits to your dentist.

Sources:

Dental Health and Root Canals. (2015, January 26). Retrieved May 25, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-root-canals

Johnstone, G. (n.d.). The Latest on Root Canals. Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.yourdentistryguide.com/root-canals/

What is Root Canal Treatment and Why Would You Want It? (2010). Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.dentalfearcentral.org/faq/root-canal/

A Visibly Straighter Smile with Invisible Orthodontics

😷 The invisible orthodontics is one of the leading alternatives for both teenagers and adults. While the primary reason many choose this option is that they don’t like the appearance of metal braces, there are several other measurable benefits that make this a superior choice. The Woodview Oral Surgery Team

Traditional orthodontics isn’t for everyone. The thought of years of painful adjustments and inconvenient appointments could keep some from pursuing the dream of a straight smile. But, there’s another option.

What is Invisible Orthodontics?

Invisible orthodontics uses BPA-free, plastic “aligners” to straighten teeth. Aligners can be removed to eat and clean your teeth, which makes it easy to go about your schedule without having to worry about restricting your diet due to wires or cleaning around brackets.

Typically, a set of aligners is worn from two to six weeks and then you visit your dentist for your next set. This process is repeated until your teeth are straight. With invisible orthodontics, it’s important to remember that the success of the treatment is completely dependent on compliance. Once you have completed the treatment, you will be given retainers that will help keep your teeth straight for years to come.

There two main companies for invisible orthodontics – ClearCorrect and Invisalign.

Understanding ClearCorrect

ClearCorrect has been an option for almost a decade, offering serious benefits to users who want an invisible, removable solution to straighten their teeth.

After being evaluated by your dentist, your aligners will be made and you will start wearing them. With this system, you’ll wear your aligners for 22 hours each day and will visit your dentist for new sets of aligners every four to six weeks.

Understanding Invisalign

Invisalign also provides an invisible, comfortable, convenient way to straighten teeth. Your dentist will create a customized treatment plan and will make aligners that you will change yourself every few weeks to slowly move your teeth. For most patients, checkups are only required every six weeks to monitor your progress. Invisalign aligners should be worn for 20 to 22 hours each day for maximum effectiveness.

Once treatment is complete, you may want to opt for Vivera retainers from Invisalign. These retainers help lock in your smile to make sure it looks just as great in 10 years as it does the day you finish treatment.

Minimal Interruptions for Maximum Results

Whether you’re a teenager worried about how braces will affect your social life or an adult who isn’t willing to suffer through years of metal braces for a straight smile, invisible braces are a great alternative.

Regardless of which company you choose, you can expect your smile to transform into the straight, radiant smile you’ve always envisioned with minimal disruption to your life.

Now that’s something to really smile about!

Sources:

http://www.invisalign.com

https://clearcorrect.com

Smoking, Your Mouth, and Your Health

There are no ifs, ands, or “butts” about it: smoking can be detrimental to oral health. Beyond the bad breath and yellow teeth, do you really know what you’re getting yourself into by smoking every day? Probably not.

There are quite a few uncertainties surrounding smoking and oral health, especially as tobacco alternatives become more prevalent in the market. Smoking, your mouth, and your health are deeply interconnected and below, we’ll discuss the common health issues you should be aware of when it comes to smoking.

Top 10 Oral Health Problems Associated With Smoking

Smoking can damage your oral health in both the short and long term. The most common complications include:

  1. Bad breath
  2. Discoloration or yellowing of the teeth
  3. Salivary gland inflammation (particularly on the roof of the mouth)
  4. Increased plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth
  5. Increased bone loss in the jaw
  6. Increased risk of leukoplakia, a condition that manifests as white or gray patches on the tongue, cheek, or roof of the mouth due to chronic irritation of mucous membranes
  7. Increased risk of gum disease, which can cause future tooth loss
  8. Delayed healing after any major procedure such as tooth extraction, periodontal treatments, or oral surgery
  9. Decreased success rates of dental implant procedures
  10. Increased risk of oral cancer

Cigarettes Aren’t the Only Culprit Causing Oral Health Complications

Cigarettes are not the only tobacco product detrimental to your oral health. Pipes and cigars can cause the same health problems as cigarettes, and in some cases, pipe and cigar users also experience an increased risk for pharyngeal or throat cancer.

Because of this, many tobacco users turn to smokeless tobacco products like snuff and chewing tobacco. However, these products also increase the risk for cancer of the mouth, throat, and esophagus. In fact, some of these products, particularly chewing tobacco, are actually worse than cigarettes in terms of their negative oral health effects.

It’s Best To “Butt” This Habit out of Your Life Once and for All

According to the American Cancer Society, smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop cancer of the mouth, lips, tongue, and throat. This makes it apparent that using any type of tobacco product compromises your health in a significant way.

By understanding the implications of tobacco use, you can stay informed and aware of the health complications you may face in the future. Better yet, you can use this information as motivation to stop smoking, chewing, or snuffing once and for all to protect your smile and your life.

Sources:

Smoking and Oral Health. (2014, May 22). Retrieved June 2, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/smoking-oral-health?page=2

A Child’s First Visit to the Dentist

It can be shocking to many parents, if not perplexing: many dentists now recommend you schedule your child’s first visit before he or she turns one. Before you brush it off as a bit of overzealous advice, you should know it’s supported by the American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry—and with good reason!

Besides setting your child on a lifelong path of smart dental habits, a lot about your child’s oral health can be revealed and addressed even before he or she has a full set of teeth. Asking a fussy toddler to sit still and open wide may not sound like a walk in the park, but by knowing what to expect and how you can prepare, both you and your child can emerge with a smile.

The Benefits of Starting Early

Introducing your child to the dentist sooner rather than later has numerous advantages, the biggest of which is instilling the importance of regular dental visits into him or her at a very early age. Getting your child accustomed to seeing the dentist can help quell feelings of fear and anxiety that can lead to avoidance of professional dental care later on in life.

A close examination of new and emerging teeth can also help identify and treat tooth decay. Even if your child is subsisting only on milk and baby food—improper brushing, as well as night-time breast/bottle-feeding, can put your toddler’s teeth at risk for cavities. By working closely with a pediatric dentist, the specific causes behind any tooth problems can be determined and corrected via a treatment plan tailored to your child’s dental situation.

Finally, a well-timed visit to the pediatric dentist can translate into cost savings. Staying on top of your child’s oral health and hygiene can keep expensive treatments like fillings, caps, space maintainers or even root canals at bay.

What to Expect

Your child’s first visit will certainly be thorough, but not overly invasive. The dentist will want to review the child’s oral history and understand his or her eating and teething behaviors, as well as daily dental routine.

Afterward, the dentist will examine your child’s teeth with your assistance. For better access and viewing, you may be asked to help position your child’s head to rest on the dentist’s lap while his or her feet are resting on you. Depending on your child’s dental situation, a sealant may be applied to the teeth for protection against cavities, followed by a demonstration of proper brushing techniques.

Once the checkup is complete, your dentist may share a treatment plan based on your child’s dental health and schedule you for a follow-up.

Getting Ready For Your Appointment

A little preparation goes a long way towards making your visit smooth and productive. Here are a few suggestions to make the most of your child’s first checkup:

  • Put your child to bed early the night before to ensure he or she is well-rested
  • Write down questions and observations to discuss with the dentist
  • Pack toys that can occupy and/or soothe your child
  • Bring your child’s dental care products in case your dentist has any questions
  • Gather your insurance information beforehand to avoid last minute rush

Exposing your child to stories or videos that paint dentist visits in a fun, positive light can also make the experience seem less scary.

Long Term Oral Health

As good as it will feel to achieve your child’s first major “smilestone”, the truth is that every subsequent checkup is just as critical to preserving his or her dental health — as is practicing good dental habits at home.

Stay one step ahead of important dental developments by scheduling frequent checkups, and don’t hesitate to call your child’s dentist for help should questions arise between visits.

Sources:

Your Child’s Age 1 Dental Visit. (2012, July 3). Retrieved June 8, 2015, from http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-at-Any-Age/Infants-and-Children/Toddler-Child-Transitional-Care/article/Your-Childs-First-Dental-Visit.cvsp

Your Child’s First Visit to the Dentist. (2014, May 25). Retrieved June 8, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/childs-first-dental-visit