Energy Drinks

Energy Drinks

Are Energy Drinks Bad For Your Teeth?

Red Bull gives you wings, but it may also give you cavities.  Energy drinks are defined as “any of various types of beverage that are considered a source of energy, especially a soft drink containing a high percentage of sugar and/or caffeine or other stimulant”.  The most common brands of energy drinks sold in the U.S. are Red Bull, Monster, and RockStar.  In 2015, Red Bull had $4.55 billion in sales.  While the soda industry is noticing a slow, steady decline in sales, the energy drink industry is steadily climbing.  

What is in an Energy Drink?

 

  • Caffeine – Energy drinks contain a varying amount of caffeine, some as high as 160mg, which is equivalent to a Starbucks coffee. If you would not let your child drinks a strong coffee at Starbucks, you should not let them drink energy drinks.

  • Taurine – Taurine is an amino acid, present in most energy drinks, that shows no actual evidence of providing any energy at all.

  • Guarana – A plant native to the Amazon region, guarana berries contain a very high concentration of caffeine. Guarana is an ingredient in both Monster and Rockstar energy drinks. If you see both caffeine and guarana listed as ingredients in your energy drink, it’s a double whammy, and you should proceed with caution.

  • Lots and lots of sugar - An 8-oz serving of Monster energy drink contains 27g of sugar, which is the exact amount of sugar in an 8-oz serving of CocaCola. The important thing to remember is that most people buy both energy drinks and sodas in 16-oz bottles or cans. If you drink a 16-oz energy drink, the amount of sugar is doubled to 54g, which is far higher than anyone’s recommended daily allowance.

 

How Do Energy Drinks Cause Cavities?

Energy drinks cause cavities in the same way sodas cause cavities: high sugar content, and very acidic pH.  It is important for both parents and children to understand that energy drinks offer no health advantages over sodas; in fact, they are more harmful due to the high levels of caffeine they provide.

  1. Sugar – The bacteria which is naturally present in mouths ingests (eats) sugar, and the by-product is an acid. When this acid stays in contact with the enamel surface, it begins to etch or weaken the outer layer of enamel. This process is the beginning of a cavity. The more sugar you drink, the more you are feeding the bacteria in your mouth, enabling them to cause damage to your enamel.

  2. pH – All energy drinks, even the sugar-free versions, have a very low pH. Rockstar Sugar Free has a pH of 3.15, Red Bull Sugar Free is 3.39, and Monster Low Carb is 3.60. These pH measurements are well below (more acidic than) the threshold of 5.5, at which enamel begins to soften and become susceptible to decay. Consistently drinking very acidic drinks predisposes you to a high risk for cavities.

 

 

What if I Can’t Give Up My Energy Drink?

As with sodas and sparkling waters, you can minimize the damage to your teeth by high sugar, acidic drinks if youlimit them to mealtime only.  Drink them quickly and while you are eating.  The saliva stimulated by your chewing and tasting food will counteract the acid in the energy drink. 

If you have a dry mouth, you are at a much higher risk for developing cavities from energy drinks.  Please ask Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena how you can address your dry mouth issues and still enjoy an energy drink from time to time.

After having your energy drink, chew sugar-free, xylitol gum for 20 minutes.  Chewing gum stimulates saliva production and can bring the pH in your mouth back up to neutral more quickly than it can without chewing gum.

Know your cavity risk.  Unfortunately, some people are much more prone to cavities than others.  You should know your risk and take the necessary steps to lower that risk as much as possible.  If you do not know your level of cavity risk, call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

New Year, New Smile

New Year, New Smile

 

It is that time of year when people around the world are resolving to make changes for the better.  A common theme in many New Year’s resolutions is improved health.  One of the great perks of improving your health is that it usually involves improving your appearance, too!  If you are exercising to enhance your health, you may also be losing weight or toning muscles.  If you resolve to get more sleep, you will lose those dark circles under your eyes.

The same applies to taking care of your teeth.  The steps you take to make your mouth healthier will make your smile prettier.  Here are a few ways you can improve the health and appearance of your smile.

Brush Up on Your Oral Hygiene Regimen

 

Keeping your teeth free from plaque reduces your risk of unsightly cavities and gum disease.  Here is the most effective way to keep your pearly whites pearly and white.

Brush twice a day, preferably after breakfast and before bed.  Make sure you are using a soft-bristled toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to the edge of the gums.  Make sure you touch every surface of every tooth.  This should include the cheek side, tongue side, and biting surface.  The most commonly missed area is the inside (tongue side) of the lower teeth.  Do not go to bed without brushing!

Floss nightly!  Brushing alone is not enough to ensure proper plaque removal.  The toothbrush bristles cannot reach in between the teeth; therefore, they leave harmful plaque, bacteria, and food debris on the teeth.  Flossing is absolutely mandatory to keep your teeth and gums healthy and beautiful.

Use a mouthwash.  Swishing mouthwash is a great way to flush out unhealthy bacteria from the various nooks and crannies of the oral cavity.  If you are cavity prone, use a mouthwash containing fluoride to strengthen your enamel and fight cavities.  If you have a dry mouth, stay away from mouthrinses containing alcohol.  For someone with red, swollen gums, a whitening mouthwash containing hydrogen peroxide is a great tool for reducing gum inflammation.

Treat Yourself to Teeth Whitening

There are many ways to improving your smile.  Whitening your teeth is one of the quickest ways to give your smile a boost.  At the dental centers in Freeman, Viborg and Parkston, we are proud to offer KöR professional teeth whitening.  With both in-office and at-home whitening products, we can help you find the type of whitening that most easily and quickly meets your needs. 

Another way you can achieve a brighter smile is by using an electric toothbrush and whitening toothpaste.  This works to polish off surface stains accumulated by years of drinking coffee or tea and using tobacco products.  Ask our dental hygienists about the other benefits of an electric toothbrush.  Most patients find that once they begin using an electric toothbrush, they cannot return to a manual toothbrush.  Electric toothbrushes truly give a cleaner, smoother, shinier appearance to the teeth.

Straight Teeth are Healthy Teeth

Many people consider crooked teeth to be a cosmetic issue.  In addition to an improved appearance, straightening your teeth actually creates a healthier oral environment.  A research experiment was conducted in which plaque was collected from both patients with straight teeth and those with crowded teeth.  This study concluded that not only do crooked and crowded teeth harbor a greater quantity of plaque; they actually harbor more dangerous bacteria than straight teeth.

Closing gaps between the teeth helps prevent food impaction, which leads to cavities and periodontal disease.  Aligning crooked teeth makes brushing flossing easier to accomplish.  Ask us how Invisalign® can make your mouth healthier!

Full Smile Makeover

Perhaps you have always wanted a full smile makeover, and 2018 is your year.  Missing teeth can be replaced with dental implants.  Broken teeth can be restored crowns.  Cavities can be repaired with cosmetic tooth-colored fillings.  

You can even get a beautiful, straight, white smile with veneers.  A veneer is a covering of at least one full surface of the tooth.  Veneers are made from porcelain or composite (an in-office dental restoration).  They can be contact lens thin for minor corrections and refinements.  Or they can be several millimeters thick to correct misalignments and dark discolorations.

The possibilities are almost endless!  To get started on your full smile makeover, schedule a consultation with Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena.  They will evaluate your current situation and discuss the treatment options available to meet your cosmetic goals.

Happy New Year!

Whether 2018 is the year for minor improvements or major life changes for you, there are two things that will always be a great idea: 1) Make healthy choices.  2) Smile! 

If you’d like help improving that smile, we are here for you. Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

Is Your Mouth Making You Sick?

Is your mouth making you sick?

How Oral Health Impacts Systemic Health

At our Dental Centers in Freeman, Parkston and Viborg, we take healthcare seriously.  While we are specifically concerned with our patients’ oral health, we acknowledge its role in a person’s overall health.  Unfortunately, the mouth has always been treated by a realm of healthcare (dentistry), which has historically been kept separate from general medicine.  For this reason, some people are under the impression that the mouth is therefore independent and unrelated to the rest of the body. 

This is a dangerous myth!

What systemic issues are connected with the mouth?

In 2000, the surgeon general released a report called “Oral Health in America”.  The purpose of this report was to inform and educate the nation about oral health, its prevalence in our nation, and how it affects a person’s overall health.  This report was based on a review of published scientific literature and is still considered the authority on the link between oral health and systemic health.

There are many links between the mouth and the rest of the body.  In this article, we will limit the discussion to the most harmful health conditions that are affected by the health of your mouth.

  • Osteoporosis – Osteoporosis is a condition of decreased bone density and often brings to mind a picture of a frail old lady whose bones break easily.  Osteoporosis can affect any bone in the body, even the jawbones.  This is especially important in patients who have lost teeth and wear dentures.  The jawbones in a patient with osteoporosis will diminish much more rapidly than in a patient with healthy bones, causing the denture to become loose and uncomfortable.  
  • In a patient with all of their teeth, osteoporosis causes an increased risk for periodontal bone loss.  It has even been suggested that bone loss around the teeth could be a warning sign of osteoporosis.
  • Immunosuppression – There are many different diseases, disorders, and conditions that suppress the immune system, including HIV, autoimmune diseases, organ transplants and cancer treatments.  A suppressed immune system makes any type of infection worse because your body cannot fight it naturally.  This puts a person at higher risk for periodontal disease and dental abscesses.  Because these infections also affect other areas of the body, the impact on the overall health is much greater in an immunocompromised patient.  
  • Anyone who has a problem with their immune system should keep to a strict oral hygiene routine and continuing care schedule with their  dentist.
  • Some people with a weakened immune system will suffer from persistent mouth sores and ulcers that do not heal.  Often a dentist is the first  person to catch these signs of a suppressed immune system.
  • Pulmonary Disease – Because the bacteria in the mouth have a quick pathway to the lungs, there is a link between oral disease and pulmonary disease.  COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is associated with poor oral health, and patients with periodontal disease are at a higher risk of developing bacterial pneumonia.
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  • Diabetes – The link between periodontal disease and diabetes is considered a two-way connection: meaning diabetes makes periodontal disease worse, and periodontal disease makes diabetes worse.  Diabetes worsens periodontal disease through its affect on blood flow, inflammation and healing ability.  Periodontal disease worsens diabetes by contributing to hyperglycemia and complicated metabolic controls.  This association is thought to be true of diabetes with any chronic infection in the body
  • Heart Disease – The bacteria present in the mouth of a patient with periodontal disease can contribute to heart disease through a few different mechanisms of action: 1) small localized infections of blood vessel walls, which leads to plaque formation, atherosclerosis, and in severe cases, a heart attack,  2) an influence on platelets causing them to aggregate and form clots in the bloodstream, which could block a coronary artery, leading to heart attack.  People with periodontal disease have a 25% higher risk of heart disease than people with healthy gums.

 

  • Stroke – The increased risk of a stroke in patients with periodontal disease is based on the same mechanism of action noted above: increased risk for clot formation, which can travel to the brain and occlude a cerebral artery, blocking blood flow to brain tissues.
  • Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes – There is a correlation between periodontal disease and low birth weight infants.  The mechanism is in need of more scientific research.  At this time, it is thought to arise from two possible consequences of periodontal disease:  1) The bacteria present in periodontal disease produce toxins that could enter the blood stream, cross the placenta, and cause damage to the fetus.  2) The maternal inflammatory response to these toxins could interfere with fetal growth.

 

How do I reduce my risk of health problems?

All people should be aware of the health risks associated with dental diseases.  Because most oral health problems are preventable, you can be instrumental in lowering your risk for systemic health problems.

 

  1. See your dentist and dental hygienist at their recommended intervals for cleanings and oral evaluations.
  2. Practice good oral home care with regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing with the proper mouthwash.
  3. Treat dental problems as they arise.  Do not wait until something hurts!  Periodontal disease is often called a “silent” disease because it rarely causes pain.
  4. See your medical doctor to be as preventive as possible with conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

 

I am concerned that my mouth is affecting my overall health.  What now?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!They will discuss your medical history with you and outline how it can affect your oral health and vice versa.  

Silver Diamine Fluoride

Silver Diamine Fluoride

What is SDF?

Last June, the New York Times published an article on a new dental material called Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) that excited all of its readers and everyone who saw it shared on Facebook!  (New York Times article) Correction: it is not new.  SDF has been used in Japan for decades (approved by their ministry of health in the 1960's), but it is new to the United States. 

This material, which is a clear liquid that looks like water, can stop tooth decay in its tracks.  That is an exciting material!

The Food & Drug Administration has classified SDF as a fluoride treatment and has only cleared it for use as a desensitizing agent.  This means that when dentists use it to stop cavities, it is being used "off-label".  The evidence is compelling enough that Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena have begun offering this "caries arrest" treatment to its applicable patients. 

Caries arrest, simply put, means stopping a cavity.  Caries is the scientific word for tooth decay or cavities.

Who is a candidate for SDF? 

The most common application of SDF is in young children because it prevents them from having a dental appointment involving local anesthetic, drilling and filling.  It takes about 5 minutes to isolate the affected tooth and apply the colorless liquid SDF to the site.  It is also a great option for treating cavities on elderly patients with a very high risk for decay, patients with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, and patients with special needs.  It can be used to stop the progression of decay for a patient who has need of extensive dental treatment and is unable to proceed for financial or medical reasons. 

Basically, SDF can be used to buy some time when it comes to "fixing" your teeth.

What are the pros?

  • No local anesthetic = no injections

  • No drilling

  • No filling

  • Much shorter treatment (about 5 minutes compared to 30+ minutes)

  • Decreased cost (about 10% of the cost of a filling)

 

 What are the cons?

  • The biggest con is that the silver particles in SDF stain the tooth black in areas of decay. The amount of staining depends on the amount of decay in the affected tooth. There will be some temporary staining of the gums near the treatment area, which will resolve over a few days. The gum staining is similar to a henna tattoo, reddish brown in color and lasting for several days.

  • It tastes awful. We do our best to keep it away from your tongue, but we cannot guarantee you won't taste it.

  • SDF is not 100% effective. There are some cavities SDF will not stop. So it requires follow-up x-rays to confirm that the SDF did its job and that the cavities have not grown since being treated with SDF.

  • It must be reapplied at your next cleaning appointment for maximum efficacy.

  • It does not fill in any holes created by the cavity, so you still get food impaction in the treated area, which can lead to gum disease or decay on other teeth. This means it is not a good option for normal permanent teeth on a healthy adult.

 

Is SDF Right for You or Your Loved One?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!  They can discuss the treatment options for each tooth, including which ones could benefit from SDF. 

Don't Get Tricked by Halloween Treats

Don’t Get Tricked by Halloween Treats

Halloween: Making Good Decisions for Your Teeth

Halloween is almost synonymous with candy, and most people know that candy can cause cavities.  What many people do not know is that some candy is worse and more likely to cause cavities than other types of candy.  As dentists, it is easy to be a killjoy on Halloween.  Since we know kids are going to load up on candy at Halloween, we are not going to tell you not to eat it.  We’re going to give you information that will help you make better decisions about Halloween candy.

All Candy is Not Created Equal

The cavity risk associated with candy is based on two factors: 1) the amount of sugar in the candy, and 2) the amount of time the sugar from the candy is exposed to the teeth.  This blog will give you tips to help address both of these factors so that your risk of a Halloween cavity is minimal.

Moderation and Timing is Key

In order the address the amount of sugar in Halloween candy, it is important to exercise moderation.  Try not to binge on Halloween candy, and don’t let your kids do it, either.  Eating large amounts of candy fuels the cavity-causing bacteria in our mouths with unlimited sugar.  Limiting your candy intake to “dessert” (with a meal) also reduces cavity risk by counteracting the high amount of sugar with a high volume of healthy, cavity-fighting saliva.

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Make Good Choices

 

  • 1.  Sort through all your Halloween candy.  Make three piles: 1) Sticky, gooey candy like caramels, Starburst, any kind of taffy, anything “gummy”.  2)  Hard candies or anything that is held in the mouth for a long period of time like a jawbreaker or any kind of sucker (lollipop).  Even mints fall into this category.  3) Chocolates or candy bars containing fat, anything that would be eaten quickly.
  • 2.  Now throw away piles 1 and 2.  These sticky and hard candies have a high risk for causing cavities because they expose the teeth to sugar for a long period of time.  The sugar in sticky candies will adhere to the tooth, especially in deep grooves, and provide fuel for bacteria for as long as the candy is stuck to the tooth.  You also fuel those bacteria by sucking on a piece of candy for an extended length of time.
  • 3.  Eat your chocolates and candy bars in moderation as explained above.

 

 

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Feel Bad Throwing Candy Away?

We want to make Halloween as fun as possible while still encouraging good habits.  Consider offering your child a trade-in for his or her Halloween candy.  You can “buy” the candy back at $1 per pound, and then allow then to purchase a non-candy treat with the money, like a Hot Wheels car or sheet of stickers.  You can also use the Halloween candy as an opportunity to teach your child about sharing and giving to others.  Many local shelters and food pantries accept donations of any kind, and they would be happy to receive sweet treats at this time of year.  

 

 

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

Crowns

Crowns

Most people have heard of the terms “crown” and “cap” in regard to dentistry (they are interchangeable, and dentists prefer the term crown), but few actually understand what a crown is.  This blog will explain this, along with why they are necessary, what types of crowns are available in modern dentistry, and what to expect if you are in need of one.

What is a crown?

There are actually two meanings of the word “crown” in dentistry, which can sometimes make things confusing.  We will define both here, and the rest of the blog will pertain only to the second definition.

  1. Crown – the portion of a tooth exposed to the mouth, which excludes the roots (even any root structure that is visible through gum recession). This definition describes an anatomical portion of a tooth. The crown is covered in enamel. Under this definition, every tooth has a crown.

  2. Crown – a dental restoration of a tooth in which all of the enamel has been removed and replaced with a new material. Crowns can be made out of metals, ceramics, or temporary materials. A crown should completely cover the entire exposed portion of the tooth, and the edge (margin) of the crown typically rests near the gum line of the tooth.

 

Why do certain teeth need crowns?

  • Very large cavities – In some cases, the integrity of the tooth is undermined by a very large cavity. Once all of the decay has been removed from the tooth, there must be an adequate amount of solid, healthy tooth structure to support a filling. If there is not enough tooth structure remaining to hold a filling, then the entire tooth must be covered by a crown in order to restore it to its proper shape for chewing. In this situation, if a filling were placed instead of a crown, it could only be considered a short-term solution at best.

  • Fracture – The enamel covering a tooth is one solid, continuous layer. A visible fracture or crack means that the enamel is no longer able to do its job of protecting the tooth from bacteria, food, and chewing forces. Interestingly, cracked teeth do not always cause pain. A crown’s role in “fixing” a cracked tooth is the total replacement of the enamel layer with a new solid, continuous material, which splints the underlying tooth structure together.

  • Lack of adequate coronal tooth structure – Just as a very large cavity can deprive a tooth of the necessary amount of tooth structure, a large filling or even missing tooth structure can do the same. The crown restores the tooth to its original shape, size and strength to provide proper function.

  • Root Canal Treatment – When a tooth has had a root canal, the nerves and blood vessels have been removed from the inner, hollow chamber of the tooth. They are replaced with a filling material called gutta percha. Because the tooth no longer has a blood supply, it no longer has a source of hydration and becomes dried out and brittle. This brittleness makes the tooth high risk for cracking. A crown is placed over a tooth that has had a root canal in order to prevent such cracking so that you can keep the tooth for a long time. A root canal is a significant investment in the life of a tooth. If the tooth is not properly covered and protected with a crown, that investment could be wasted.

What are the different types of crowns?

There are many different materials available for crowns today. Each material has pros and cons, listed below. What is most important is that your dentist select the proper material for each individual tooth. At our Dental Centers in Freeman, Parkston, and Viborg, we prioritize each patient as an individual with distinct and specific needs. You will never get a “one size fits all” recommendation. Our doctors take all of the pros and cons of each material into consideration when selecting the right crown for your particular needs.

Material

Pros

  • Gold

-Requires minimal removal of tooth structure

-Least damage to the opposing tooth

-Studies show best longevity and lowest chance of developing new cavities underneath

  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal

    -Better cosmetic appearance

    -Very durable and strong to withstand chewing forces

  • Zirconia

-Good cosmetic appearance with no dark metal

-Strongest material available, almost impossible to break

-Can withstand heavy clenching or grinding forces

  • All Porcelain

    -Best cosmetic appearance, most like a natural tooth with translucence and shading

    -Can achieve micromechanical bond with tooth structure

Cons

  • Gold

-Metallic appearance, not cosmetic

-Can wear down over time and can develop holes in its surface when worn too thin

-Can cause a reaction in patients with metal sensitivities or allergies

  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal

-Not cosmetic enough for front teeth due to opaque appearance and possible gray line at the gums

-Porcelain can fracture away from the metal

-Porcelain biting surface can damage the opposing tooth

  • Zirconia

-Can sometimes appear opaque

-Require more removal of tooth structure

-Very abrasive and damaging to opposing teeth

-Higher incidence of long-term post-operative discomfort

  • All Porcelain

-Requires most removal of tooth structure

-Most likely to crack or chip

-Porcelain biting surface can damage the opposing tooth

What can I expect at my dental appointment for a crown?

At our Dental Centers in Freeman, Parkston, and Viborg, crowns are made in a dental lab by a professional, certified dental lab technician. In order for a crown to be properly fabricated for your specific needs, you will experience a two-appointment process. At the first appointment, the tooth is prepared for the crown under local anesthetic. You should be numb and experience no discomfort during the preparation process. Once the doctor has achieved the proper preparation for your tooth based on the crown selected, either an impression or a 3D scan is taken. Both of these serve to communicate the exact shape of the prepared tooth from the doctor to the lab. The lab uses this to fabricate the prescribed crown. The process typically takes 2-3 weeks. During that time, you will wear a provisional or temporary crown to replace the enamel and cover the tooth. The temporary crown and your bite should feel comfortable after the initial post-operative sensitivity has worn off (on average, a few days). You will return for your second appointment after we have received your crown from the dental lab. At this visit, the temporary crown is removed, the underlying tooth structure cleaned, and the new crown fitted to your tooth. An x-ray is taken to confirm that the crown fits properly and allows no leaking of saliva or bacteria under the crown. The bite is adjusted, if necessary, and then the crown is cemented onto the tooth. You need to have a little caution when eating and cleaning the new crown for the first 24 hours. Afterward, you return to business as usual, eating and cleaning it like you would a natural tooth.

Want more information about crowns?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

Do I Really Need to Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Do I Really Need to Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Does everyone need to have their wisdom teeth removed?  Not necessarily.  There are many criteria that dentists evaluate to determine whether or not a patient’s wisdom teeth need to be removed.  There are also different criteria that we use to determine when they should be removed.  As with any type of medical procedure, there are risks and benefits, and we always weigh the risks vs. benefits to determine if the procedure is right for each specific person.

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the third set of permanent molars in an adult mouth.  The first molars come in, or erupt, at about age 6-7 years, so they are also referred to as 6 year molars.  The second molars erupt at about 12 years of age and are also called 12 year molars.  If third molars erupt at all (many do not; instead they stay hidden under the gums), it’s typically between ages 18-25, so they’ve earned the nickname “wisdom teeth”.

Who can keep their wisdom teeth?

Unfortunately, not many people fall into the category of those who can keep their wisdom teeth with minimal risk of future problems.  In order to keep wisdom teeth with the least risk of cavities and gum disease, people need to have:  1) very large jaws with enough room for the wisdom teeth to fully erupt (come through the gums into the mouth), 2) wisdom teeth that are erupting in the correct alignment with the rest of the teeth, and most importantly, 3) great oral hygiene.  The average adult jaw does not have enough space behind their second molars for another molar to naturally reach the correct position for chewing and proper cleaning.

What are the risks of keeping wisdom teeth?

Assuming wisdom teeth have enough space and do come into their correct position behind the second molars, they are located in an area that is very difficult to keep clean.  Even the best brushers and flossers have trouble reaching the back of a wisdom tooth.  This leads to an accumulation of plaque and bacteria and food debris, which in turn, leads to tooth decay and gum disease.    This accumulation of bacteria also predisposes the adjacent second molar to both cavities and gum disease. 

When wisdom teeth do not have enough space to fully erupt into the appropriate location, several problems can occur.  If the location of the tooth causes it to be partially covered by gum tissue, there is a very high risk of pericoronitis, an inflammation of the gum tissue that surrounds and often lays over the top of the tooth.  Because this partial covering creates a pocket where plaque and food can collect, painful inflammation easily develops, and can even lead to an infection.

When wisdom teeth are positioned at an angle, they are unable to erupt into the mouth (this is referred to as “impacted”) and can damage the adjacent jaw structures, as well as any adjacent teeth.  When this occurs, often both the second and third molars have to be extracted. 

Why take wisdom teeth out preventively?

If your dentist determines that you are at risk for any of the problems noted above, she will recommend preventive extraction of the wisdom teeth and refer you to an oral surgeon.  This prevents potential pain and suffering from problems with the wisdom teeth themselves, and also protects the second molars from the higher risk for cavities and gum disease associated with the presence of wisdom teeth.

Why so young?

Teeth form from the biting surface down toward the roots.  At age 18, a wisdom tooth is much smaller than it is at age 25.  Earlier extraction of wisdom teeth means the removal of a much smaller tooth.  This results in smaller surgical site, smaller extraction sockets, quicker healing, and lowest risk of future infections.  Later extraction, after the tooth has fully formed roots, leaves the patient with a larger surgical site, a larger socket, and longer healing time.

Still have questions about your wisdom teeth?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

FAQ's for New Moms

FAQ's for New Moms

 When do the teeth break through the gums (erupt)?

Normal eruption of the first tooth is generally around 6-7 months of age +/- 6 months.  This means that it is normal for a baby to be born with teeth (6 months old minus 6 months = birth) or to have no teeth until they are 1 yr old (6 months old plus 6 months = 1 yr old).  You can see that “normal” encompasses a pretty wide range.  If your baby’s first tooth is later than the average, you can expect them to also lose teeth later than most of their peers.  This is still considered normal. 

Teething: What can be done, and when will it end? 

Teething causes intermittent discomfort, irritability and excessive salivation as new teeth are erupting in your baby’s mouth.  It can be managed with over-the-counter analgesics, such as Tylenol Infants’ Drops, or allowing the baby to chew on a soft, chilled teething ring.  Use of teething gels containing topical anesthetics such as benzocaine is NOT recommended due to potential toxicity of these products in infants.  Teething happens intermittently as teeth are erupting, so you may notice that it is off-and-on until the child is around 2 years of age or until all the teeth have erupted.

When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth? 

As soon as a tooth appears!  The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you use a smear of fluoridated toothpaste on a soft, infant-sized toothbrush twice a day.

Wait a minute! I thought I wasn’t supposed to use fluoride until the child is old enough to not swallow it? 

Yes, that used to be the case.  However, the recommendations were changed due to research showing that the benefits of fluoride, preventing devastating dental disease, far outweigh the risks.  Fluoride has been deemed safe and effective by both the American Dental Association and the American Association of Pediatric Dentists.  It should always be stored out of the reach of young children and should be used under adult supervision for children under age 5.

What kind of toothbrush should I use? 

There are many products available to clean your baby’s teeth.  You may have to try out a few different types to see which you like the best.  As the teeth first erupt, a soft wet washcloth is adequate to remove the soft buildup that accumulates on the teeth and gums.  There is a type of “toothbrush” for infants that includes a sleeve that fits over the parent’s finger with small rubbery bristles to clean the teeth.  An infant toothbrush is simply much smaller in size with very soft bristles.  Do not ever use a medium or hard toothbrush on your baby!

What about baby bottles or sippy cups? 

Baby bottles are a great way to nourish your child.  Once your child has moved on to a sippy cup and is no longer receiving all of his or her nutrition via bottle, the sippy cup should contain only water.  Anything else that your child sips throughout the day and/or night can greatly increase his risk for tooth decay.  A common cause of cavities in very young children is having a bottle or sippy cup in bed with milk or juice.

What about pacifiers and thumb-sucking? 

These habits constitute a behavior known as non-nutritive sucking because it stems from the sucking reflex babies have and does not provide any nutrition.  Pacifiers and thumb-sucking are a common method very young children use to self-soothe.  Please read our earlier blog on pacifiers and thumb-sucking below to learn more about these habits.

When should my baby visit a dentist?

The American Association of Pediatric Dentists recommends that every child should see a dentist by his or her first birthday or when the first tooth comes into the mouth.  This will enable the dentist to give you, the parent, valuable information and education regarding how best to care for your child’s teeth.  It will also familiarize your child with the dental office.  You will be shown how to properly clean your child’s teeth and given tips on how to best accomplish this as your child grows and becomes more mobile.

 Do you have other questions about your baby’s teeth?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

Back To School

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Back to School

For many people, this time of year is more than just back to school.  It is back to daily and weekly routines, back to bedtimes and alarm clocks, and back to good habits that may have gone by the wayside in the easygoing days of summer.  Add this to your list of daily activities as you get back into the swing of things: taking great care of your teeth!  There are many things involved in pursuing a healthy mouth.  Here are some tips to getting that oral hygiene routine back on track.

 Brushing

  • In order to properly remove plaque (the soft, sticky substance that causes cavities and gum disease), it is necessary to brush your teeth twice a day with a soft or extra-soft bristled toothbrush.

  • The most commonly missed area in brushing is at the gumline, so make sure the bristles of your toothbrush are gently touching the gums as you brush.

  • Check the bristles of your toothbrush often. The American Dental Association recommends replacing toothbrushes every 3-4 months or sooner if bristles are splayed and worn (like the photo shows). A worn toothbrush cannot do a thorough job of cleaning teeth.

  • Please remember: never share a toothbrush with anyone, especially your child.

  • If you or your child is sick with any type of infection, replace your toothbrush or run it through your dishwasher’s “Sanitize” cycle.

  • Supervise your children’s brushing. They should only be brushing their own teeth if they can tie their shoelaces or write their name in cursive. Otherwise, you should still be brushing their teeth for them.

 Flossing

Brushing alone cannot quite get the job done when it comes to removing all of the plaque from your teeth.  The nooks and crannies between your teeth are havens for clumps of bacteria where even the best brusher is not able to reach.  Flossing removes this plaque and reduces your risk for cavities and gum disease.  When you skip flossing, you miss over 35% of the surface of a tooth.  Studies have shown that flossing every day can prolong your life by six years.  

Because flossing is a more difficult skill to master, you should floss your children’s teeth until they show they can properly do it on their own.  The easiest way to floss your child’s teeth is to sit on a bed or the floor, and have the child lay down with his head in your lap.  Have the child tilt his head up so that you can look straight down into his mouth.  This gives you the simplest access for flossing (also good for brushing).  The earlier you start this process, the easier it is to accomplish. 

 Preventive Dental Care

  • Professional cleanings – So let’s say you’re not a perfect brusher and flosser; no one is. We all have areas that we may miss with our toothbrush or floss. What happens when sticky, soft plaque is not removed from our teeth? In 24 hours, it begins to harden into tartar (also called calculus). Once it has hardened, it cannot be cleaned off with a toothbrush or floss. It has to be removed by your dentist or dental hygienist. Tartar buildup that is not removed on a regular basis leads to painful, chronic conditions that require more extensive and more expensive dental treatment.

  • Dental evaluation and x-rays – A dental evaluation by your dentist can uncover problems that can be treated in the early stages, when damage is minimal and restorations may be small. Dental x-rays show how the teeth are developing and hidden decay that develops between the teeth. X-rays also allow us to monitor the jawbones for any changes, including cancer or abnormal growths. These important steps, taken on a regular basis, can help prevent painful, chronic conditions and save money. Untreated tooth decay is a serious infectious disease for which there is no immunization.

  • Fluoride application – Cavities used to be a fact of life. Over the past few decades, one thing has been responsible for a dramatic reduction in the prevalence of cavities: fluoride. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says that water fluoridation is “one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century”. Fluoride in your water supply is integrated into children’s teeth as they are forming, adding strength and cavity resistance to their enamel. Teeth can also be strengthened and protected with topical fluoride. Topical fluoride includes many products you may already use at home (toothpaste, mouthwash and gel), and it can be professionally applied in your dentist’s office. Your need for professional fluoride treatment should be assessed by your dentist and is based on your cavity risk level.

  • Sealants – Another common area that toothbrush bristles miss is the deep pits and grooves on the biting surfaces of your back teeth. These types of cavities can be prevented by applying dental sealants over the pits and grooves. A dental sealant is a thin coating that goes on in a liquid form, flowing into the pits and grooves and then hardening to form a smooth, flat surface that prevents the accumulation of bacteria and food particles. Sealants are most effective when applied as soon as a back tooth enters the mouth.

 

If you missed getting in to our office this summer for your preventive care, take a look at your school calendar.  School holidays are busy in our office, and appointments go quickly! Pick the next school holiday for your dental visits and call us today to get on the books for the day you want!  

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

Radiation Safety

Radiation Safety

We are often asked by our patients about the safety of dental x-rays.  Many people are concerned about the radiation they are exposed to when diagnostic x-rays are taken.  Since exact measurements are difficult to obtain, this article will use averages and comparisons to help you understand the radiation dose you receive from dental x-rays.

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Understanding Dose from X-rays

A set of four bitewing x-rays, which is typically taken once per year, delivers an average effective dose of 0.005 milliSievert (mSv). Effective dose is not measured. Effective dose is calculated by taking the dose delivered to the specific organs exposed during an x-ray and accounting for the sensitivity of the tissues exposed. Those values are then summed over all of the tissues in the human body to calculate an effective dose, which allows us to compare doses delivered in different ways to one another.

Comparing the dose from a set of four bite-wings to other doses we are exposed to daily is a useful way to understand dental x-ray doses in context. In the graphic below, dental bitewing x-ray dose is shown in comparison to other medical exposures and different sources of naturally occurring background radiation. Naturally occurring background radiation is exposure that each of us gets every day, and some of us more than others depending on the location in the world in which we live. In the chart below, the average US doses are shown. The total US average natural background dose from all sources per year is right around 3 mSv, or 600 times greater than the dose from one set of four dental bitewing x-rays, so you would nearly need to have bitewing x-rays twice a day for a year to equal the dose you receive annually just from living on the planet.

Risk from Dental Exposures

What most people worry about when they hear the word “radiation” is whether or not it can cause cancer.  The likelihood of an adverse effect (cancer) given an exposure to radioactivity is also known as risk. The delivery of radiation dose to the head and neck area during a dental x-ray does come with some associated risk.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO)’s publication, Communicating radiation risks in paediatric imaging: Information to support healthcare discussions about benefit and risk, the increased risk of cancer incidence from various types of diagnostic x-rays can be compared with baseline lifetime cancer risk.  This publication focused on risk to children because: “children are more vulnerable than adults to the development of certain cancer types, and have longer lifespans to develop long-term radiation-induced health effects.” Basically, kids are more susceptible than adults to cancer from radiation because they will live longer from time at exposure than their adult counterparts and their bodies are still growing and developing, so their organs are more vulnerable to exposure.  WHO’s studies showed that the increase in cancer incidence, or risk, for children aged 1-10 years from dental x-rays is <1 in 500,000.  That risk would be even lower in an adult. Levels of risk are generally considered to be “acceptable” among agencies that regulate radiation exposures to the public if they are in the range of 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 1,000,000. The cancer incidence risk from dental x-rays to children reported by WHO falls directly in this range of acceptable risk.

Benefit

The benefit of dental bitewing x-rays is the early detection of multiple types of oral disease, including cavities, gum and bone infections, and oral cancer.  As with any disease, the earlier it is detected, the less invasive treatment can be and the better the long-term prognosis.  The risk of these diseases going undetected is the progression of disease, spread of infection, loss of teeth, loss of bone in the jaws, and in severe cases even death.

Risk vs. Benefit

Due to the prevalence of oral diseases and the risks associated with those diseases, it is the opinion of our practice, as well as that of the American Dental Association, that the benefits of early detection with diagnostic x-ray imaging far outweigh the risks associated with the x-rays.  The risk of adverse consequences from undetected dental and oral diseases is significantly greater than the risk of increased cancer incidence due to dental x-rays.  Because each patient has different risk factors, the number of x-rays and the frequency at which they are taken can vary widely and is always determined on a case-by-case basis with the utmost respect for balancing patient concerns with positive outcomes.  For example, a patient with a higher risk for cavities or periodontal disease would benefit from more frequent dental x-rays than a patient who has a very low risk for either cavities or periodontal disease.  The more aggressive a dental condition is, the more frequently dental x-rays are needed to provide the best preventive and interceptive dental care.

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X-rays and Pregnancy

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women reaffirmed its committee opinion in 2015: “Patients often need reassurance that prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of oral conditions, including dental X-rays (with shielding of the abdomen and thyroid) … [is] safe during pregnancy.”  Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena typically postpone any dental x-rays during a patient’s pregnancy until after the baby is born unless the patient has a very high risk for disease, which could affect the patient’s overall health and that of the pregnancy.

 

Concerned about Radiation from Dental X-rays?

The number and type of dental x-rays taken on every patient is customized for his or her specific needs.  Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

Product Highlight: Xylitol

Product Highlight: Xylitol

What is xylitol?

Xylitol is a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants, and it a healthy substitute for sugar. Xylitol is not an artificial substance, but a normal part of everyday metabolism.  It is widely distributed throughout nature in small amounts. It does not break down like sugar (which turns into acid when the bacteria in the mouth digests it) and can help keep a neutral pH level in the mouth. It also prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth, increases saliva flow, and is shown to stimulate remineralization of teeth. Research studies have shown a reduction in the levels of Streptococcus mutans (the bacteria that causes cavities) in plaque and saliva with a consistent daily dose of xylitol chewing gum. All of these factors promote good oral health.

 

Who could benefit from xylitol products?

High risk for cavities - Because it helps reduce the levels of cavity-causing bacteria, patients who have a high risk for cavities will benefit from xylitol products.  In addition to reducing bacteria, it also increases the flow of saliva, which is the body’s natural defense against acid, which causes cavities.

Plaque control - Because it helps reduce plaque formation, it is very helpful for patients who lack the manual dexterity to properly brush and floss their teeth.  This includes young children, elderly people, people with special needs or those affected with arthritis.

Dry mouth (or xerostomia) - Due to its salivary stimulation, xylitol chewing gum is a great product for anyone suffering from dry mouth.  It will cause the mouth to naturally produce saliva and alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth.

How can I use it to improve my oral health?

You may see xylitol as an ingredient in many over-the-counter products such as gum and mints. It is also available as a sugar substitute, found at most health food stores.  Read the label to find out how much xylitol is present. Research studies vary in their conclusions as to how much xylitol is necessary to prevent cavities. An average recommended xylitol intake for reducing your cavity risk is 6-10g per day.   Studies have also shown that chewing xylitol gum has a greater anti-cavity effect than sucking on xylitol mints because the chewing motion also increases your saliva production, which helps neutralize the pH in your mouth.  Ice Cubes gum by Ice Breakers has over 1.5g of xylitol per piece!  It comes in many flavors and is available at most grocery stores, including Walmart.  The only patients that should not use xylitol chewing gum are those with TMJ problems.  If you suffer from clicking, popping or locking of the jaw joints, chewing gum could aggravate your symptoms and cause joint pain.  Ask your dentist if chewing gum could be problematic for you.

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IMPORTANT!  Xylitol is toxic to dogs!

Make sure you keep any xylitol products out of reach of your pets.  Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs.  It can cause low blood sugar, seizures, liver toxicity and even death.  If you find that your dog has gotten into a container of any xylitol product, call your veterinarian immediately. 

Want to find out if xylitol is right for you?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

Dental Sealants

Dental Sealants

What are dental sealants? 

Dental sealants are a protective barrier, covering the most vulnerable surface of the teeth and shielding them from cavity-causing bacteria. The sealants are most commonly applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where decay occurs most frequently.  They can also be applied to any deep pit or groove that is high risk for decay, including the back of upper front teeth.

How does a sealant help prevent decay?

A sealant is a dental material that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth—premolars and molars. This material has a micromechanical bond to enamel in the deep pits and grooves of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque, bacteria and acids.

Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. But in some cases, toothbrush bristles cannot reach the depth of pits and grooves to extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by filling in the grooves to prevent any accumulation of bacteria, plaque or food, and by creating a shallower, more cleansable surface for the toothbrush.

Is sealant application a complicated procedure?

Sealants are easy for your dentist or dental hygienist to apply, and it takes only a few minutes to seal each tooth. The teeth that will be sealed are cleaned. Then the chewing surfaces are roughened with an etching solution to help the sealant adhere to the tooth. The sealant is then “painted” onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.

The only difficult aspects of sealant application are the bad taste of the materials used and the need to keep the tooth dry.  If a child is very cooperative, the sealant can be applied without his or her ever tasting the materials.  There is no pain associated with the application of a sealant.  

Sealants are just for kids, right? 

The likelihood of developing pit and fissure decay begins early in life, so children and teenagers are obvious candidates. Children typically do not have the manual dexterity necessary to adequately clean their teeth, so they are at a higher risk of developing cavities.  Adults can benefit from sealants as well.  An easy way to determine where a sealant would be most beneficial for an adult is to look for dark stains in the pits and grooves of the teeth.  A deep crevice that is accumulating stain which cannot be removed by brushing is a high-risk area for a cavity to start.  If it is collecting stain, it is also collecting bacteria.  Over a period of time, the bacteria is very likely to start damaging the enamel surface, leading to a cavity. 

“CDC Promotes Dental Sealants in New Report

According to a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Vital Signs report, dental sealants are an extremely effective intervention for preventing most of the cavities children get in their permanent back teeth, but the majority of children still don’t have them. The report also found that children from low-income families, who are at increased risk for cavities, are less likely than children from higher-income families to have dental sealants. Increasing sealant use prevalence could substantially reduce untreated decay, associated problems, and dental treatment costs, the CDC report concludes.

Additional findings of the report include:

  • School-age children (ages 6-11) without sealants have almost three times more first molar cavities than those with sealants.

  • Although the overall number of children with sealants has increased over time, low-income children are 20 percent less likely to have them and two times more likely to have untreated cavities than higher-income children.”

Sounds great! Can I have dental sealants on all of my teeth?

Once a tooth already has decay, it cannot be sealed.  The decay must be removed and restored with a filling.  A one surface filling to fix this type of cavity costs over $200.  Placing sealants can prevent this type of decay, decreasing your costs for dental care in the long run.  A thorough evaluation of all of your teeth should be performed by your dentist to determine which teeth could benefit from sealants. 

Do sealants last forever?

As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and usually last several years before a reapplication is needed. They can be damaged by habits such as teeth grinding and chewing ice.  During your dental evaluations, Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena will confirm the effectiveness of the sealants and reapply them when necessary.

Need more information?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

Root Canal Treatment

Root Canal Treatment

What is a root canal? Teeth are hollow, and the hollow space contains the nerves and blood vessels of the teeth, also called the pulp.  The internal chamber or hollow space containing these nerves and blood vessels inside the tooth is the root canal. 

 

What is root canal treatment?  Root canal treatment is a dental procedure that involves removing the nerve tissue and blood vessels from the root canal inside the tooth and sealing the cleaned space with a root canal filling material. 

 

Why is it necessary?  A root canal is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep cavities, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, faulty crowns, or a crack or chip in the tooth. In addition, trauma to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.   

Why might I be referred to a specialist? 

 Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena will closely evaluate the affected tooth to determine which treatment will give the best long-term prognosis.  In some cases, root canals should be performed by an endodontist (root canal specialist) with the aid of an operating microscope, which allows them to visualize the internal surfaces of the roots.  These are especially important in the diagnosis of root fractures, which can cause root canals to fail in the future.  Left undiagnosed, a root fracture can lead to repeated treatment on a tooth that has a poor or hopeless long-term prognosis.

 Is a crown necessary to cover the tooth after root canal treatment?  

Yes.  A root canal treatment removes the nerves and blood supply from the internal chamber of the tooth.  With no blood supply, teeth become brittle and can easily fracture.  A crown is necessary to protect the tooth.  If the tooth is not adequately covered, it could crack and need extraction despite having the root canal treatment.  Ideally, the crown should be placed within 30 days of the root canal treatment.

 What is an alternative to root canal treatment?  If the nerve inside a tooth is irreversibly inflamed, infected, or dead, the only alternative to a root canal treatment is extracting the tooth.  Most teeth can be restored with a dental implant after extraction if the proper planning is done before the tooth is extracted.  Please ask Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex or Dr. Serena for more information if you do not wish to save the tooth with a root canal treatment.

 

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

Sports Drinks

Sports Drinks

Sports drinks make up a multi-billion dollar industry ($6.8 billion in 2014 according to the Wall Street Journal), and the growth of sports drinks is outpacing the growth of soft drinks.  Many analysts think this trend is due to an improved awareness of the health risks associated with the consumption of soft drinks. 

Most people know that a Coke is not good for you.  There is a mindset, encouraged by the sports drink industry in its advertisements, that sports drinks are healthier than soft drinks and even better for you than water.  They spend a lot of money to make people think that if you’re going to be a real athlete, you have to drink Gatorade. 

Unfortunately, sports drinks are not quite the “healthy” option they claim to be.  This blog will address the dental consequences of sports drinks.  Click HERE to read about the general health consequences according to some 2012 studies published in the British Medical Journal

Sports drinks have two characteristics that make them bad for teeth: 1) high sugar content, and 2) very low pH.  You can see from the following table that the sugar content varies pretty widely, but the pH is consistently as low as a soft drink.

Most people know that sugar causes cavities.  What you need to know is that a low, or acidic, pH makes it much easier for cavities to start.  In the same way that acid etches glass, acid also softens and weakens enamel.  Enamel, which is the hardest substance in the human body, is damaged when the pH of its environment drops below 5.5.  All of these drinks fall far below that threshold. 

So if you know you are a cavity-prone individual, or your teenage athlete has a bunch of new suspicious areas on his or her teeth (called incipient lesions by your dentist), it’s time to trade the Gatorade for good old-fashioned water. (Freeman, Parkston, and Viborg all have drinking water that is above neutral on the pH scale, so stick with tap water!)

A few things to remember when considering a sports drink:

1)      Always look at the serving size when assessing the nutritional facts.  If the serving size is different than the size of the bottle, you’re going to have to do some math.  Gatorade labels have nutritional information for a 12 fl. oz. serving.  This means if you drink the whole 32 oz. bottle, you need to multiply those grams of sugar by 2.66 to get the true amount of sugar you just ingested. 

2)      Think about the volume you actually drink.  Most people drink much larger amounts of a sports drink than they ever would of a soda.

3)     Pay attention to the length of time it takes you to drink your sports drink.  Sipping on a sports drink throughout a long sporting event is much worse for your teeth than quickly guzzling 32 ounces at the end of a game or practice.

 

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

What Does it Mean to be High Risk for Cavities?

What does it mean to be high risk for cavities?

What is a cavity? 

A cavity is the destruction of tooth structure caused by a combination of bacteria, sugar and acid.  When bacteria in the mouth digests sugar, acid is produced.  The acid destroys enamel, just like it etches glass, and this process is called demineralization.  Once a cavity has grown through the outer layer of enamel, it cannot be reversed.

 What are the different types of cavities?

Cavities can form on any surface of the tooth, including the pits and fissures on the biting surface, smooth surfaces and any exposed root.  Pit & fissure cavities are the type that can be prevented by placing dental sealants before a cavity has formed.  Smooth surface cavities, most commonly in between the teeth, are discovered with bitewing x-rays, typically taken by your dentist once a year.  Root cavities can be seen on visual examination, or on an x-ray if they are large.

 

 How do cavities happen?

 Four things are required for a cavity to form: 1) acid,  2) sugar, 3) bacteria, and 4) time.  The bacteria present in the mouth thrive on simple carbohydrates, the sugars in most crackers, cookies, candy, soda, sports drinks, and most juices.  The more bacteria you have in your mouth, the more likely you are to get a cavity.  This factor emphasizes the importance of daily home care and regular dental cleanings.  The more sugar your teeth are exposed to, the more likely you are to get a cavity.  This factor emphasizes the importance of your diet.  The longer your teeth are exposed to sugar or acid, the more likely you are to get a cavity.  This factor emphasizes the importance of your habits (i.e. sipping on sugary or acidic beverages for long periods of time).  The more acidic your mouth is, the more likely you are to get a cavity. This factor also emphasizes the importance of diet, specifically acidic beverages like sparkling water, sports drinks, juices, and sodas.

 

What does it mean to be high risk? 

There are multiple factors that can make you high risk.  You may present with one or more of these factors:

·       Poor plaque control
·       High risk diet
·       Multiple existing restorations (like fillings or crowns)
·       Fractured teeth
·       Decreased salivary flow or dry mouth
·       Systemic condition
·       Active decay
·       Unsealed grooves and pits
·       In orthodontic treatment, either braces or Invisalign

 What can I do about it? 

By altering the four factors in the diagram, you can reduce your cavity risk.

  1. Acid – Reduce your intake of acidic foods & drinks (this includes DIET SODAS, coffee and tea), drink plenty of water, use sugar-free gum or mints to stimulate salivary flow, and control any acid reflux problems. Neutralizing the pH in your mouth may involve using recommended mouthrinses or gels.

  2. Sugar – Limit sugar intake, especially in between meals. Cut back on sodas, sweetened coffee or tea, sports drinks, or juices. Don’t chew sugar-containing gum, mints or other hard candy.

  3. Bacteria – Reduce the bacterial levels in your mouth by having your teeth professionally cleaned on a regular basis, and performing good oral hygiene at home. FLOSS!

  4. Time – Limit the length of time that your teeth are exposed to acid or sugar. Sipping on an acidic or sugary beverage is one of the most common causes of cavities. You may only drink one soda per day, but if you sip on it for several hours, you are increasing your cavity risk exponentially.

 

What if I don’t do anything?

Untreated cavities expand toward the nerve inside the tooth.  Large cavities can cause nerve irritation and sensitivity to hot and cold.  If the cavity reaches the nerve, causing it to become infected with the cavity’s bacteria, a severe infection and toothache can ensue. Not all tooth infections hurt, so evaluation of teeth with dental x-rays is important!   Tooth infections can extend through the root and into the surrounding jaw structures, and worst-case scenario, end in death by closing off the airway or spreading into the brain.

 

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!