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!

Hormone-Induced Gingivitis

Hormone-Induced Gingivitis

What is hormone-induced gingivitis?

Hormone-induced gingivitis is a type of gingivitis that occurs specifically during changes in hormonal levels .  It is a very common condition that we see frequently in our office.  Hormone-induced gingivitis causes a patient to have gums that are swollen, red, tender, and bleed easily.   The tenderness and bleeding often make oral hygiene routines uncomfortable, and patients sometimes avoid proper brushing and flossing techniques because it hurts.  Healthy, natural gum tissues are light pink, relatively flat and tightly adhered to the teeth.  The appearance of bright red, puffy gums is unsightly, giving a diseased look to the mouth, and may cause embarrassment. 

What causes hormone-induced gingivitis?  

The name says it all: it is induced by hormones.  Rapid swings in hormone levels (most notably estrogen, progesterone, and chorionic gonadotropin) can have a profound effect on gum tissues.  Research has shown that these hormone levels cause two important changes to occur:

  1. Hormone changes affect the tiny blood vessels in the gum tissue, increasing the blood flow in this area (which can cause swelling) and changing the permeability of the blood vessels (which makes the tissue bleed more easily).

  2. Hormone changes also affect the types of bacteria present in gum tissues. Research shows that gum tissues in patients with hormone changes such as pregnancy or taking birth control pills have more dangerous bacteria than patients without hormone changes. By “more dangerous”, we mean stronger and more likely to cause gum disease.


Who is at risk for hormone-induced gingivitis?  

Hormone-induced gingivitis is common in children going through puberty, both girls and boys.  It is also prevalent in women at various stages of hormone changes, including menstrual cycles, the use of birth control pills, pregnancy, and menopause.  This higher risk for gum disease makes oral hygiene even more important than it already is.  People with poor oral hygiene are more likely to experience hormone-induced gingivitis than those with good plaque control and consistent oral hygiene habits.  People who have infrequent and inconsistent dental cleanings are also at an increased risk.

 

What can you do about hormone-induced gingivitis?

 

  • Practice perfect oral hygiene. Do not miss a single day of flossing! Use an electric toothbrush; they are shown to effectively remove more plaque than a manual toothbrush.

  • Add a mouthwash to your oral hygiene routine, and use it twice daily. In addition to an over-the-counter alcohol-free mouthwash, you can swish with warm salt water throughout the day. Some patients require a prescription mouthwash to get the inflammation under control.

  • Stay on schedule with professional dental cleanings. Your dental hygienist is able to remove bacterial buildup from areas you might be missing, even with good oral hygiene.

  • Consider increasing the frequency of professional dental cleanings. Many of our patients with severe gingivitis during puberty or pregnancy have their teeth cleaned every 3 months, instead of every 6 months. This reduces the severity of gingivitis by reducing the amount of bacterial buildup accumulated between cleanings.

  • Talk to Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex or Dr. Serena about other recommendations they may have to improve your gingivitis. There are many additional oral hygiene products available to help reduce gum inflammation. They will determine which one will be most beneficial for your unique situation.

 

Think you or your child may have hormone-induced gingivitis?

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!

Aphthous Ulcers (Canker Sores)

Aphthous Ulcers (Canker Sores)

If you have never had a mouth ulcer, thank your lucky stars!  They are terribly painful and interfere with eating, speaking, and brushing your teeth.  The most prevalent type of mouth ulcer is an aphthous ulcer, and it is commonly referred to as a canker sore.  Aphthous ulcers are unusual in that, even now in 2017, we still do not know exactly what causes them.  There are many studies showing correlation between certain diets, vitamin deficiencies, hormone changes, and stress levels with the occurrence of aphthous ulcers.  But correlation is not the same as causation. 

What are aphthous ulcers?

There are three main types of aphthous ulcers: 1) minor, 2) major, and 3) herpetiform.  They all the share similar appearance of a round or oval-shaped ulcer with an inflamed red border around a yellowish-white film that covers the deeper ulceration.

  1. Minor aphthous ulcers are the most common and least painful. They typically are less than 1 cm in diameter and last for 7-14 days.

  2. Major aphthous ulcers are much larger, up to 3 cm, and can last over a month. Due to their increased size and duration, they are much more painful.

  3. Herpetiform aphthous ulcers take their name from herpes lesions (also called cold sores) caused by a Herpes Simplex Virus, which occur in clusters. Herpetiform aphthous ulcers also occur in clusters and can easily be misdiagnosed as viral sores. Herpes viral sores and aphthous ulcers differ in cause and location. There is no virus associated with aphthous ulcers, and they only occur on freely movable mucosa. This includes the inner lining of the lips, cheeks, tongue, floor of mouth and the soft palate. Herpes lesions, or cold sores, occur on the outside of the lips or any attached gum tissue like the hard palate or gums covering the teeth. When herpetiform aphthous ulcers form in a cluster, the ulcers often coalesce or blend together to form one very large, very painful ulcer.

 

What causes aphthous ulcers?

There is currently no scientific data identifying one specific cause of these ulcers.  The research studies have shown a correlation in the occurrence of aphthous ulcers with certain predisposing factors, listed here.

  • Genetics – Some studies suggest a genetic component because children are much more likely (90%) to experience aphthous ulcers if both of their parents have had them.

  • Certain GI problems – There is a high correlation between patients who experience aphthous ulcers and those with gastrointestinal issues like ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and Celiac Disease.

  • Vitamin deficiencies – Some studies show a correlation between patients with aphthous ulcers and low levels of iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid.

  • Hormone levels – Many women experience aphthous ulcers at regular intervals correlating to their menstrual cycle.

  • Stress – Because stress cannot be quantitatively measured, this one is difficult to prove scientifically. But it’s no surprise to people who suffer with these ulcers that stress can make them more likely to appear.

  • Trauma – This is likely the most common cause of aphthous ulcers. Trauma can range from anything as simple as accidentally biting the inside of your lip or hitting your gums with the toothbrush to routine dental treatment or a complicated oral surgery procedure.

 

How are aphthous ulcers treated?

There are many ways to treat the painful symptoms of aphthous ulcers, but there is no cure to prevent them from recurring.  There are many options available, and it is best to discuss them with Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena to figure out which one is best for your specific ulcers.  Some of the possible treatment options are listed here.

  • A topical gel or paste – Usually a prescription product, this is applied to the ulcer with a Q-tip or clean fingertip multiple times a day. It typically contains a steroid, which reduces the severity and duration of the ulcer, but does not change the frequency of occurrence.

  • A prescription mouthwash – Also used to alleviate symptoms only, this can contain an antibiotic, antifungal, steroid anti-inflammatory, antihistamine (like Benadryl), and antacid (which creates a thick coating over the oral lining). When used 4-6 times per day, it can reduce the symptoms of the painful ulcers.

  • Laser treatments – A laser can be used to treat the ulcer, which reduces inflammation and speeds up the healing process by making changes to the surface of the ulcer.

  • Dietary changes – Patients who are afflicted with frequent or multiple aphthous ulcers and have celiac disease or a

  • gluten intolerance show a marked reduction in ulcer occurrence when gluten is eliminated from their diet. A very recent study has also shown an improvement in occurrence of ulcers when a dairy-free diet is observed. This is based on a new study showing a higher level of antibodies to cow’s milk proteins in patients who have aphthous ulcers.

  • Vitamin therapy – In patients who do show deficiencies in iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid and experienced frequent aphthous ulcers, the ulcer occurrence rate decreased after vitamin therapy to treat those deficiencies.

 

What can I do about aphthous ulcers?

The most important step you can take is contacting your dentist as soon as you notice the lesion.  All of the above treatment modalities are most effective when started early in the life of the ulcer.

Ulcers are aggravated by acidic foods, spicy foods, and hot temperatures, so avoid them in order to reduce your painful symptoms.  Use caution when eating and talking so that you do not reinjure the area and cause the ulcer to last longer.  Cold can temporarily alleviate symptoms, so we do recommend drinking ice water and holding a piece of ice against the ulcer until you see the dentist for other treatment options.

Do you think you have an aphthous ulcer?

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 help you get started on the best treatment to reduce the pain and length of your ulcer.  

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!

Invisalign

What is Invisalign®? 

Invisalign® is a method of straightening teeth that does not require metal brackets or wires.  It consists of a series of removable clear plastic aligners (or trays) that are custom made for each individual’s teeth.  When a patient decides to straighten their teeth with Invisalign®, Dr. Aanenson makes a personalized treatment plan for his or her orthodontic needs.  This unique plan is communicated to the AlignTech® laboratory, where each aligner is fabricated via CAD/CAM technology.  The aligners are virtually invisible, and it is one of the most esthetic ways to straighten your teeth.

What are the advantages of using Invisalign® to straighten teeth?

Aside from the obvious cosmetic advantages, Invisalign® provides the patient with the ability to clean the teeth much more easily than in traditional braces.  Because the aligners are removable, they are simply removed for a normal, good oral hygiene routine that includes mouthwash, brushing and flossing.  With traditional braces, adjunctive products such as special flossers, interdental brushes or picks or Waterpik tools are often needed to keep the teeth free of food debris and bacterial plaque.  The Invisalign® aligners make perfect custom whitening trays, so you can whiten your teeth while you straighten them.  The aligners can also be removed for special occasions like weddings, photo sessions, speeches, etc…

What are the disadvantages of using Invisalign® to straighten teeth?

Like the advantages, the disadvantages also stem from the fact that the aligners are removable.  Unlike braces and wires, which cannot be removed by the patient, Invisalign® aligners can be taken out at any time.  This means that the success of treatment depends on patient compliance.  If the aligners are not worn for at least 22 hours per day, the teeth will not move as prescribed by your dentist.  There are times when the orthodontic movement of teeth can cause discomfort or tooth pain.  This makes it very tempting to remove the aligners for relief from the pressure being put on the teeth.  There are many people who do not achieve a successful result with their Invisalign® treatment because they do not wear the aligners as prescribed.

How does it work? 

Through the use of its patented design, Invisalign® aligners move your teeth through the appropriate placement of controlled force.  To put it simply, Invisalign® moves teeth by pushing them into the desired position.  Invisalign® not only controls the amount and direction of force, but also the timing of the force application.  This means that your dentist can prescribe exact movements for each individual tooth, including which teeth not to move, like implants or teeth that are part of a cemented bridge.  Certain teeth can be held in place while others are being moved.

Why do some people get Invisalign® and others get braces? 

There are some limitations to the type of tooth movements Invisalign® can accomplish, and not every patient is a candidate for straightening their teeth with Invisalign®.  An orthodontic evaluation of your teeth is necessary to determine if your goals will be met by using Invisalign®.   

What is the cost?

For Invisalign® treatment, the cost varies depending on the length of treatment and is similar to the cost of traditional orthodontics.  Once Dr. Aanenson has done a thorough orthodontic evaluation, he will estimate the length of treatment and number of aligners required to meet your goals. 

Does my dental insurance cover Invisalign®? 

Many dental insurance companies do provide coverage for Invisalign®.  It is claimed as a benefit for Adult Orthodontics and typically ranges from $1500-2500.  To find out if you are covered, you can call your dental insurance company and ask if you have adult orthodontic coverage.  Teenagers are often covered under their insurance plan’s orthodontic benefits, up to a certain age limit, which varies depending on your specific insurance plan.

How long will it take to straighten my teeth?

Treatment time varies based on how much movement is required to achieve your goals and how compliant you are with wearing the aligners for at least 22 hours per day.  New studies suggest that each aligner may be worn from 7-14 days.  This range means that some patients may achieve quicker results than others.  Average treatment time for an adult is about 12-18 months. 

How often do I have to see the dentist during treatment?

After treatment has begun, your dentist will typically see you every 6 weeks, which means you will wear three sets of aligners between each visit.  Sometimes more frequent appointments are required to monitor the progress of the teeth.

What are the eating and drinking restrictions during Invisalign® treatment?

Because aligners can be removed for eating and drinking, there are no restrictions to what you can eat or drink when the aligners are not in your mouth.  You can eat with the aligners in, and the chewing force actually contributes to tooth movement.  It is important that you do not drink anything besides water with the aligners in.  Because the aligners keep your saliva from properly bathing the teeth, any acid or sugar from a beverage could be trapped under the aligners and increase the likelihood of cavities. 

Why now?

 There is no better time to straighten your teeth than now!  Over time, teeth continue to shift and move, and most problems are aggravated as we age.  Spacing between teeth continues to increase so gaps get noticeably larger.  Crowding on upper and lower front teeth typically gets worse so teeth appear more and more crooked.  Straightening teeth earlier, rather than later, allows for shorter treatment time and more time to enjoy your new, beautiful smile. 

Interested in learning more about Invisalign®?

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

TMJ Disorder and Dysfunction

TMJ Disorder and Dysfunction

What is TMD?

TMD stands for TemporoMandibular Disorder or Dysfunction. People commonly refer to this as "TMJ". TMJ actually means TemporoMandibular Joint, and we all have two TMJ’s. TMD is what dentists refer to when the joint has a problem. There are many different types of problems and different levels of severity of these problems.

What is TMJ?

TMJ is the TemporoMandibular Joint, which connects your lower jaw to your upper jaw. It is a ball and socket joint, and it is the most complex joint in the body because it is the only joint in which the ball comes out of the socket during normal function. Anytime you open to speak, yawn, chew or laugh the joint must move within the socket and many times out of the socket. The joint involves two bones (the ball and the socket, anatomically named the condyle and the fossa) separated by a cartilage disc. The disc is held in place by ligaments and muscles.

 How does TMD happen?

There are many reasons for TMD to happen. One of the most common reasons is damage to the muscles and ligaments that hold the disc in position. The muscles and ligaments work to maintain the disc’s position within the joint space during function. If the muscles or ligaments are put under pressure or torqueing forces, damage to the joint can occur. These pressures can develop from many causes; some of these include trauma to the head and/or neck, functional habits like clenching or grinding of the teeth, or posturing the jaw into abnormal positions.

What does it mean to be high risk?

If you are high risk, you show signs that the muscles, ligaments, or disc may be in a vulnerable state or have suffered damage in the past. When there is vulnerability and/or damage, it is necessary to diagnose and stabilize or treat the joint and supporting structures, including the teeth. Some of the risk signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Flat spots on the teeth (wear facets)

  • Enlarged jaw muscle size

  • Presence of a line on the inside of the cheek (linea alba)

  • Joint sounds, including popping or crunching/gravel-like noise with or without pain

  • Asymmetry of the face structures or asymmetry during opening or closing

  • Scalloping of the tongue

  • Tenderness of the jaw muscles

  • Headaches in the temples

  • Tenderness in the ear, ringing of the ear

  • Gum recession or tooth notching at the gum line

  • Anterior open bite; the front upper six teeth do not overlap the lower front six teeth

What can I do about it?

Diagnosis for TMD is similar to diagnosis for any other joint problem. It is essential to acquire radiographic images of the bones and MRI images of the soft tissue and disc in order to determine the condition of the joint. These images need to be interpreted by a radiologist trained in TMD. In addition to 3D imaging, we use models and photographs of the teeth to aid in the diagnosis of the joint condition and how it has affected your bite. This allows us to correlate the 3D images with the evidence in your mouth.

What treatment will I need?

Treatment for TMD varies greatly. Like damage to the knee, some injuries require surgery. More moderate injuries and concerns can sometimes be treated with oral appliances, orthodontics, physical therapy and/or medication. In order to determine what treatment best suits you, a proper diagnosis with radiographs, MRI, models and photographs is the key.  Without the correct diagnosis, it is impossible to determine what treatment is right for your joint condition.

How do I get started?

If you would like to get a complete diagnosis of your TMJ condition, you will need to complete three steps:

  1. Photos, dental models and MRI bite registrations completed.

  2. CBCT radiographic image taken in our office and interpreted by our doctors.

  3. MRI imaging with bite registration. Referral to an imaging center and interpreted by a medical radiologist.

What if I don’t do anything?

Without treatment, a very high percentage of high-risk joints progress to a degenerative state over time. This can include loss of the disc (similar to a slipped disc in the back), arthritis, and changes in the occlusion of the teeth (bite). Many people without treatment develop chronic neck and jaw pain.  Other patients will adapt to the dysfunctional joint.  It is impossible to predict how TMJ dysfunction will affect a person over the course of his or her life. 

Need more information?

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

 

High Risk for Teeth Grinding

High Risk for Teeth Grinding 

What is bruxism? 

Bruxism is the medical term for the grinding of teeth or the clenching of jaws. Bruxism often occurs during deep sleep or while under stress.  Clenching and/or grinding the teeth can be a subconscious act, meaning you are unaware that you are doing it.  Many people clench or grind their teeth when they are concentrating, driving or working out in addition to while they are sleeping.

What are the causes of bruxism?

Bruxism can have several different causes.  Some people have irregularities in the way the teeth come together (occlusion) that cause increased muscle activity.  Other people clench or grind their teeth when they are under stress.  Often, bruxism is a sign of a sleep-disordered breathing problem, like sleep apnea.  It can also be a side effect of certain medications, including some antidepressants and ADHD medications.

What does it mean that I am high risk? 

There are multiple factors that can show your dentist that you are at high risk for clenching or grinding your teeth.

  • Wear facets – damage to the biting surfaces of teeth that looks like flattened areas

  • Tightness or soreness in the muscles of the jaws

  • Excessive muscle force – evidenced by large facial muscles

  • Recession – loss of gum attachment, teeth appear longer

  • Abfractions – notching of enamel at the gumline

  • Potholes on the biting surfaces of back teeth – the enamel is completely worn away, and the underlying tooth structure becomes deep and concave, just like a pothole in the road

  • Linea alba – white callous line on inner cheeks

  • Scalloped tongue – the outer edges of the tongue become shaped like the inner edges of the teeth

What can I do about it? 

You can prevent some of the damage to your teeth and gums by having a dental nightguard custom made for your mouth.  When you sleep in a protective nightguard, you decrease the stressful forces applied to the teeth as you sleep and protect them from further breakdown.  If you find yourself clenching during the daytime, talk with Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex or Dr. Serena about techniques to help break that habit.

What if I don’t do anything?

Bruxism can lead to multiple complications of your oral health.  Inside the mouth, bruxism can cause cracked teeth, loss of tooth structure, shortened teeth, gum recession, abfraction or notching of the teeth at the gumline.  These complications can result in many different types of damage to the teeth and an increased cost of dental care over your lifetime.  Outside the oral cavity, bruxism can cause problems in the chewing muscles or in the jaw joint itself.  Muscle tension can lead to facial pain or headaches.  Problems in the joint can lead to arthritis and slipped disks within the jaw joint.  This all can lead to pain, limited function, and decreased overall quality of life.

How do I find out if I am grinding my 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!

Athletic Mouthguards

Athletic Mouthguards

People say that having children involved in sports is expensive.  In dentistry, we commonly see one of  the most expensive aspects of sports: injuries.  The bad news is that the injuries themselves are sometimes unavoidable.  The good news is that the damage to the teeth, gums, lips, cheeks and jaws associated with sports injuries is largely preventable by wearing an athletic mouthguard.

Sports injuries to the face are very common and very expensive.  A research study on the use of athletic mouthguards cited some interesting statistics.

“The U.S. surgeon general’s report on oral health identified sporting activities as one of the “principal causes of craniofacial injuries.” Studies have linked sporting activities to nearly one-third of all dental injuries, and approximately one in six sports-related injuries is to the craniofacial area.”

Who needs an athletic mouthguard?

Most people associate sports injuries to the teeth with contact sports like football and hockey.  Interestingly, even non-contact sports such as baseball, gymnastics and cycling have a high incidence of injuries to the mouth.  If there is any chance you could be hit in the mouth by another person, a ball, or the ground, then you need an athletic mouthguard.

How do athletic mouthguards work?

Mouthguards work to prevent or lessen the severity of many types of damage to the mouth that can occur during a sports injury to the face and jaws.  They function by covering the teeth, separating the lips and cheeks from the teeth, and separating the upper and lower teeth from each other.  These three mechanisms of action are listed below with which types of injuries they can prevent or lessen the severity.

1.  Covering the teeth - This covering prevents or lessens the severity of various injuries to teeth.  Examples of injuries to the teeth during sports include:

  • Chipping

  • Luxation (forced movement of the tooth out of its natural position)

  • Root fractures

  • Avulsion (a tooth is knocked completely out with the entire root)

  • Intrusion (a tooth being forced into its socket so that it looks shorter than normal)

  • Necrosis (death of the nerves and blood vessels inside a tooth from blunt force)

2.  Separating the lips and cheeks from the teeth – This separation prevents or lessens the severity of various injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth. 

  • Cuts or lacerations to gum tissue, lips, cheeks, and intraoral muscle attachments

3.  Separating the upper and lower teeth from each other - This separation prevents or lessens the severity of various injuries to the teeth and jaw joints by preventing a harsh impact of upper and lower teeth and jaws.

  • Condylar fractures – The condyles are the “balls” of the ball-and-socket jaw joints. A sharp impact between the upper and lower jaws can cause a fracture of the jaw bone just underneath the condyle.

  • Dislocation of TMJ (jaw joint) disc – The jaw joints each contain a small cartilage disc that separates the ball from the socket. When the lower jaw is hit with an impact, it can force the condyle (ball) off its correct position on the disc. This leads to TMJ dysfunction and may require surgical intervention to repair.

  • Broken back teeth – Any time the upper and lower teeth are forced together with high forces, the back teeth can crack and break. Sometimes, they can be repaired through dental restorations; in other cases, the tooth has a hopeless long-term prognosis and must be extracted.

An important thing to note is that these problems can have long-term consequences requiring dental treatment for decades after the injury. 

What types of athletic mouthguards are available?

There are three main types of mouthguards: stock, boil-and-bite, and custom.  The stock and boil-and-bite type mouthguards are available over the counter, and a dentist makes the custom mouthguard.  Because a custom mouthguard is made from a model of a patient’s teeth, it will have a better fit and should be very comfortable.  There is typically a direct correlation between cost and comfort; i.e. a stock mouthguard will be very inexpensive and very uncomfortable.  The more comfortable a mouthguard is, the more likely the athlete will be to wear it regularly. 

How do I take care of my athletic mouthguard?

Do not clench on the mouthguard or chew it while you are wearing it.  This will speed up the normal wear and tear and cause you to need a replacement much sooner than average.

After every use, rinse it.  The best thing to do is to clean it with a soft toothbrush and cold water.  You can use liquid hand soap if necessary. 

When not in use, store it in its vented case in a cool, dry area.

Do not allow it to get hot because it will lose its shape.  This includes leaving it in your car!  

Do you or your child need an athletic mouthguard?

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!

Thumb Sucking and Pacifiers

Thumb sucking and Pacifiers

Parents of our littlest patients frequently ask us about oral habits such as thumb sucking and pacifiers.  These perfectly normal behaviors in an infant can become damaging to an older child’s facial growth and development.  There are many different opinions and treatment options, and this blog will give you a general overview as to the most widely accepted philosophies and treatments for prolonged habits.

Non-Nutritive Sucking Behaviors

Both thumb sucking and pacifier use are classified as “Non-Nutritive Sucking Behaviors” or NNSB.  All infants exhibit sucking behaviors because it is necessary for their nutrition, through either breastfeeding or a bottle.  Non-nutritive sucking behavior is performed with the same sucking motion, but no nutrition is received.  Its purpose is solely comforting or soothing.

What is “normal”?

Any non-nutritive sucking behavior in infancy is considered normal.  There are ultrasounds showing babies sucking thumbs or fingers in the womb.  Over 90% of children exhibit NNSB at some point during the first 2 years of life.  Researchers differ on what age at which NNSB is considered “prolonged”.  Most agree that by age 4 years, any NNSB should have naturally stopped.  On average, most children will discontinue thumb-sucking or pacifier use on their own at some point from ages 2 to 4 years.  Prolonged thumb-sucking or pacifier use is anything past 4 years of age. 

Why is prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use bad?

Short explanation: It causes improper development of the jaws and positioning of the teeth that can only be corrected with orthodontics.

Long explanation: During growth, the jaws are very susceptible to outside influences.  The suction forces can distort the shape of the upper jaw and the position of the teeth causing an incorrect bite (malocclusion).  The pressure of a thumb or pacifier on the roof of the mouth can increase the height or vault and narrow the dental arch, which reverses the proper bite relationship between the upper and lower teeth (a posterior crossbite).  The constant presence of a thumb or pacifier in between the upper and lower teeth pushes them into a position that accommodates the habit and leaves an opening (called an anterior open bite) rather than allowing the upper and lower front teeth to contact in the appropriate way.  This open bite can lead to tongue thrusting and lisping, as well as not being able to bite into foods with the front teeth. 

What should a parent do about prolonged NNSB?

The first step to take in aiding your child to discontinue sucking thumbs or using pacifiers is talking to him or her about the negative effects of the habit.  Your child thinks the habit is a good thing because it makes him feel good, and he may not be able to understand the cause and effect relationship between the habit and the consequences to their teeth, jaws and face.  Children who verbalize that they are ready to stop the habit will have the quickest success.

  • Gently discourage the habit and use positive reinforcement when he or she is successful.

  • Start small with goals that are easier for him to meet, such as watching a movie without sucking his thumb.

  • Do not punish the child for continuing the habit. Negative reinforcement is not recommended as a technique because the habit is something that comforts or soothes him. Shaming or scaring him will only cause him to feel a greater need to suck his thumb or use his pacifier.

  • Because stress or anxiety can increase the child’s need to self-soothe by thumb sucking or pacifier use, try to identify situations that make him feel anxious and address them as needed.

  • If possible, gently and quietly remove the thumb or pacifier from his mouth after he has fallen asleep.

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Pacifiers have one benefit over thumbs: they can be taken away or made dysfunctional (cutting the tip off a pacifier renders it useless).  If the child claims he is ready to stop, simply remove any pacifiers from his possession and go “cold turkey”. 

Thumb sucking is a bit more difficult because the thumb is always available.  Because of this, thumb sucking typically persists longer than pacifier use.  Some try applying bitter-tasting nail polish or wrapping the thumb in a Band-Aid or covering the entire hand with a sock. 

Ask your dentist and pediatrician for their input on the habit.  There are many different techniques used to help in stopping the habit before it causes long-term damage.

As a last resort, a dentist, pediatric dentist or orthodontist can fabricate a dental appliance that prevents the habit by removing the ability to create a suction and impeding the insertion of the thumb or pacifier.  The appliance does not contain sharp spikes or anything that would harm the child’s tongue or fingers; it simply prevents them from being able to enjoy the sensation of the habit.

Concerned about your child’s thumb-sucking or pacifier habit?

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!

Crest Sensi-Stop Strips

Crest Sensi-Stop Strips

Who needs Crest Sensi-Stop Strips?

Sensitive teeth can be annoying, causing you to avoid certain foods or drinks, changing the way you chew or swallow, and even interrupting a conversation because you are in discomfort.  This blog highlights one of our favorite over-the-counter products that can help alleviate this common problem.

 {Disclaimer: Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures or sweets can sometimes indicate that a tooth has a cavity or a crack.  It is important to see Dr. Aanenson and Dr. Kuiper to confirm that this is NOT the case before proceeding to over-the-counter relief products.  Please scroll down to read our previous blog about Sensitive Teeth.}

 

How are Crest Sensi-Stop Strips different from other products?

There are many over-the-counter products available, mostly toothpastes like Sensodyne, which contain the ingredient potassium nitrate. Potassium nitrate is an effective desensitizer in some cases and must be applied to the teeth regularly to achieve the desired desensitizing effect.  In most cases, you need to use the sensitivity toothpaste twice daily for at least two weeks before you will notice any relief in sensitivity.  Crest Sensi-Stop Strips are unique in their active ingredient, the method of application, and the length of sensitivity relief they provide.

 

How do Crest Sensi-Stop Strips work?

Most tooth sensitivity is caused by gum recession, which exposes the roots of teeth. Tooth roots should be covered by gum tissue and insulated against the hot and cold temperatures of food and drinks that we consume.  When gums recede, the root structure is exposed to those temperatures, and in some cases become very sensitive.  The active ingredient in Sensi-Stop strips is oxalate, a chemical that has been proven to fill in the open tubules (pores) on exposed root surfaces, thus eliminating the transmission of hot or cold temperatures to the nerve inside the tooth.

They also use a unique delivery method: the same type of strip everyone knows as Crest Whitestrips. Instead of a whitening gel, the strips are coated in an oxalate-containing gel.  This allows them to be effectively applied directly to the area of sensitivity.  They cover about three teeth and should be left in place for 10 minutes.  For the best results, they are applied to the sensitive teeth for 10 minutes per day, 3 days in a row.  This technique has been shown in clinical studies to provide at least a month of relief from sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, sometimes even longer!  When you notice the sensitivity returning, simply use the strips again.

 

When should I use Crest Sensi-Stop Strips?

You can use them anytime you feel sensitivity on your teeth.  Make sure to follow the instructions.  You should not use them more than 3 times on the same site in less than 1 month.  If you did not experience any relief of the sensitivity in that area, you should contact Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex or Dr. Serena to discuss the issue.

These can be especially useful for people who dread getting their teeth cleaned because of the sharp pain caused by cold air or water used by your dental hygienist. If you have experienced this, try using a Sensi-Stop strip over the sensitive area 1-3 days prior to your dental cleaning.  Let your dental hygienist know that you have tried them and whether or not you notice a difference.

 

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!

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!

Periodontal Disease: What Does it Mean to be High Risk?

Periodontal disease: What does it mean to be high risk?

What is periodontal disease? 

Periodontal disease is a disease that affects the structures supporting the teeth, including both the gums and the jawbone.  Its primary cause is bacterial buildup on the teeth, and some people have a higher risk due to genetic factors, systemic disorders (such as diabetes), and habits (such as smoking or oral tobacco use). 

What are the stages of periodontal disease?

The earliest stage of periodontal disease is called gingivitis, which means inflammation of the gums.  Inflammation can involve one or more of the following:

  • A bright red color to the gums

  • Swollen or puffy gums

  • Gums that bleed easily when brushing, flossing or having teeth professionally cleaned

 How does periodontal disease happen?

Periodontal disease begins with the accumulation of bacteria and plaque on the teeth.  This can be due to poor oral hygiene, and it can also be due to the presence of very difficult-to-clean areas on your teeth.  When teeth are crooked or rotated, they collect more bacteria.  We all have different types of bacteria in our mouths, and some types are more destructive than others, meaning they are more likely to cause disease.  Research studies show that the types of bacteria that gather on crooked teeth are more likely to cause periodontal disease than the types of bacteria that collect on straight teeth.  Periodontal disease progresses as the bacteria and plaque harden on the teeth into tartar, which can only be removed with a professional cleaning.  If no professional dental care is completed, the tartar accumulation will grow, causing more inflammation and more serious damage to the gum and bone.  In severe periodontal disease, the supporting structures have become so damaged that they can no longer hold the teeth, which become loose and have to be extracted.

What does it mean if I am high risk?

If, during your evaluation, you presented with some signs of gingivitis, you would be classified as high risk for periodontal disease.  As stated earlier, gingivitis is the first step to periodontal disease, and if left untreated, it can lead to a progression of disease.  The good news is that in the early stages, periodontal disease is completely reversible!

Risk factors noted during a clinical evaluation:

  • Pockets measuring ›3mm

  • Poor oral hygiene

  • Crowded teeth

  • Prior periodontal disease

  • Bone loss

  • Mobility (loose teeth)

  • Gum recession

  • Mucogingival defect (gum tissue that is not attached to the bone underneath it)

  • Abnormal frenum attachments

What can I do about it?

  1. Have a professional dental cleaning. This removes the bacterial accumulation from the teeth, essentially giving you a “clean slate”.

  2. Change your oral hygiene routine as directed by your dentist or hygienist. This may involve different toothbrushing techniques, an electric toothbrush, consistent flossing, interdental brushes, etc . . .

  3. If prescribed by your dentist, begin an antibiotic mouthrinse daily. The more bacteria you kill, the less there are to accumulate on your teeth.

  4. Return for a follow-up professional cleaning in 6-8 weeks. This allows us to assess the home care, suggest any positive changes to be made, and again remove bacteria that have accumulated.

What if I don’t do anything?

Without treatment, bacterial levels will increase, causing more accumulation of plaque and tartar.  More plaque and tartar causes more inflammation and response from the gums and bone.  As the bone migrates away from the tartar buildup, which it considers a foreign substance, the support for the teeth is slowly lost.  In a worst case scenario, untreated periodontal disease eventually leads to loss of all teeth and loss of the underlying jawbone, which makes future treatment with either dentures or dental implants less predictable.

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!

Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive Teeth

 Many people experience sensitive teeth, and not everyone has the same symptoms.  You can have one sensitive tooth, or a mouth where every single tooth feels sensitive.  You can have sensitivity to cold and/or hot temperatures and sweet and/or sour flavors.  However you experience it, it is no fun!

 

Teeth are not supposed to be sensitive, and if they are, it is a symptom you should share with your dentist.  She will discuss your specific issues and try to isolate the cause of your sensitivity so that you can remedy the situation. 

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

 There are three main causes of tooth sensitivity.  In order to understand these, let's cover a little dental anatomy first.  Teeth are hollow, and the hollow space inside teeth contains a nerve that sens signals to your brain telling you when something is not quite right.  The part of the tooth you can see is called the crown.  The crown is covered in enamel, which is the hardest substance in the body, even harder than bone.  Enamel is made to be a solid coating over the crown of the tooth, protecting it from the sensations we expose our teeth to when we eat and drink.  The part of the tooth you cannot see because it is hidden in the jawbone and gums is the root.  The root of the tooth is not covered in enamel because it is meant to be encased in bone and gums. 

 1.  The first possible cause of tooth sensitivity is when there is a problem with the enamel coating of the tooth.  This includes cavities and cracks which disrupt the solidarity of the enamel and provide an opening for those sensations to reach the nerve inside the tooth. 

 2.  The second most common cause of tooth sensitivity is exposure of the root caused by gum recession.  When gums and bone recede, it exposes the root to the mouth and all the subsequent sensations associated with eating and drinking.  Because the root does not have enamel, it does not have the same protection as the crown of the tooth.  This means the nerve inside the tooth can feel temperatures and flavors more than it is supposed to.  (Gum recession does not always cause tooth sensitivity.  Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena will evaluate the area where you feel sensitivity to determine if this is the cause.)

3.  The third most common cause of tooth sensitivity that we see in our office is bruxism (clenching or grinding your teeth).  This can cause individual tooth sensitivity or an entire mouth full of sensitive teeth.  The cause of bruxism-related tooth sensitivity is hypersensitivity of the nerve inside the tooth because it is being subjected to abnormally-strong biting forces. 

 These causes can become interrelated because bruxism often leads to tooth cracks and gum recession.  But let's say cavities, cracks and gum recession have all been ruled out, and your teeth are still sensitive.  Now it's time to evaluate your whole mouth for signs of bruxism.  The hypersensitivity of the nerve caused by the heavy forces of bruxism can affect different teeth at different times or all the teeth at once and often is inconsistent.

 What Can I Do About Tooth Sensitivity?

 The very first thing to do is have a dental evaluation to rule out cavities and cracks.  Either of those conditions will require dental treatment to fix the problem.  Once the cause of the sensitivity is treated, it should subside.  It's not always an immediate cure; it can take a few weeks after treatment for the nerve to settle back to normal.  If you experience sensitivity more than a few weeks after treatment, you should have the tooth evaluated again. 

 If cavities or cracks are ruled out, then the cause of tooth sensitivity is likely a gum recession problem.  There are many ways to treat hypersensitivity from gum recession including (but not limited to) fluoride treatments, over-the-counter sensitivity toothpastes and strips, fillings to cover the exposed root surface, or gum grafting to return the gums to their proper position. 

If bruxism is determined to be the cause of your sensitivity, the simplest way to treat it is by wearing a mouthpiece (night guard) while you sleep that keeps the teeth separated and reduces the biting forces put on the teeth.

Tooth sensitivity can be treated relatively easily.  The most important factor in treating it is accurately diagnosing the cause, which is your dentist's job. 

 Need more information?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to set up an evaluation with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

Do I Really Grind My Teeth?

Do I Really Grind My Teeth?

Some of our patients are surprised when we inform them that we see evidence in their mouths of teeth grinding, or bruxism.  Many people have no idea that they are grinding their teeth.  And what happens very frequently is they come back in six months and say, “You know . . . I think I might be grinding my teeth.  Ever since you told me that six months ago, I’ve been noticing {insert symptom here}.” 

Signs vs. Symptoms

In order to explain this phenomenon of a dentist telling the patient about something they are doing which they are unaware of, it is important to understand signs and symptoms.  Signs are objective, observable facts.  This means they are not swayed by opinions or feelings, and they can be shown by a photograph, an x-ray or other type of image, a lab result, etc…  Signs are noted by the dentist during an evaluation of your mouth.  Signs can exist without any symptoms, so it is possible that a dentist can inform you of the signs of a condition without your being aware of any issues.

Symptoms are subjective evidences of a condition or disease of which the patient is aware.  For instance, pain is a symptom because it cannot be observed, and the patient must describe it to their doctor for it to be properly documented and used to aid in diagnosis.  Other examples of symptoms include anxiety, fatigue, or muscle tension.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Bruxism is a very common condition in which a person closes the upper and lower jaws, creating high pressure on the teeth, gums, supporting jaw bones, facial muscles and jaw joints.  It can include hard squeezing called clenching, or a side-to-side or back-and-forth movement called grinding.  When bruxism occurs, it will manifest in one or more clinical signs and possibly some symptoms. 

Signs of Bruxism

  • Attrition – the flattening of the biting surfaces of teeth and loss of enamel caused by clenching or grinding

  • Potholes – a specific type of attrition where the enamel has been worn through, and the underlying dentin is exposed and worn down into a concavity

  • Gum Recession – movement of the gum attachment away from stressful biting forces on the tooth to a position further toward the root, can cause exposure of the root and tooth sensitivity

 

  • Tooth Abfraction – a loss of tooth structure at the gumline causing a notch or concavity

  • Facial Muscle Enlargement – as with any other muscle in the body, when exercised frequently, they will enlarge

  • Linea Alba – Latin for “white line”, this is a visible line on the inside of your cheeks caused by friction against the grinding teeth, like a callous

  • Scalloped Tongue – the sides of your tongue can be pressed against the inner surfaces of the teeth when clenching or grinding, causing it to conform to the shape of the teeth and have a scalloped appearance

Symptoms of Bruxism

  • Facial pain, including headaches – constant clenching of muscles can create muscle soreness in the cheeks, temples, forehead, and the neck

  • Muscle tightness – a tight or tense feeling in the muscles of the cheeks and temples

  • Joint pain or sounds – the jaw joints, located in front of your ears, can be tender to touch, have sharp shooting pains, or make popping, clicking, or crunching sounds

  • Generalized tooth pain or sensitivity – the pressure of clenching or grinding can cause all of the teeth to be sore or sensitive to temperature

 

Not everyone who clenches or grinds his or her teeth will exhibit all of these signs or symptoms.  It is important for the dentist to get the whole picture and put together each patient’s specific signs and/or symptoms in order to accurately diagnose the condition of bruxism.

What Can I Do About It?

The most common treatment for bruxism is a hard, custom-made nightguard to protect the teeth, gums, bone, muscles and joints at night.  People who clench during the day can follow some habit-breaking techniques to prevent daytime damage.  If extensive damage is present, you will probably need some dental work to repair it before moving on to the preventive phase. 

Will an Over-the-Counter Nightguard Work?

OTC nightguards are typically made of a soft, thermoplastic material that you can heat and shape to fit your teeth.  This material is not great at preventing the damage from bruxism because the soft, squishiness actually increases muscle action and deteriorates very quickly.  The best protection for your teeth, gums, bone, muscles and joints is a hard nightguard that is custom-made for you by your dentist.  These will actually reduce muscle force and provide real protection.

Need More Information?

If you think you may exhibit one or more of the listed signs and symptoms, please don’t hesitate 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!