Back to Basics

Back to Basics:

As dentists, our job is to properly communicate various dental issues and recommendations with our patients.  To improve our communication, it helps you to know some of the terms we use in describing some of the anatomy of the oral cavity, the problems that candevelop, and the steps you need to take to fix them.

Dr. Aanenson

The Anatomy of a Tooth:

 

  • Enamel – Enamel is the hardest structure in the human body, and it covers the external surface of each tooth.

  • Dentin – Dentin is the structure that lies between the enamel and the pulp. It forms the core substance of the tooth. It is softer than enamel and darker yellow in color. Dentin is responsible for giving teeth their color, and every person’s is different.

  • Pulp – Pulp is the collection of blood vessels and nerves inside the hollow chamber of a tooth.

  • Crown – The crown is the portion of the tooth that protrudes out of the gums. You could also describe the crown by stating that it is the part of the tooth that you can see. Enamel is only found on the crown of a tooth.

  • RootThe root of the tooth is the portion anchored into the jawbone. Each tooth has a different shaped root. Molars have multiple roots, and the shape of the root is important in the tooth’s stability in the bone.

 

Dr. Aanenson

Other Dental Terms Defined:

What is a cavity?  A cavity, or tooth decay, is the destruction of enamel and dentin by bacteria in your mouth.  The bacteria in your mouth eat sugar and produce acid as a by-product.  When the acid is allowed to stay in contact with the tooth surface for an extended period of time, it begins to eat its way through the enamel.  Once it passes through the enamel layer, it begins to spread through the dentin.  If the decay isn’t stopped, it will extend all the way to the pulp.  Once it reaches the pulp, the nerves and blood vessels become infected.

What is a filling?  When a cavity is removed from a tooth, the dentist ensures that he has removed all unhealthy enamel and dentist, leaving only solid, healthy enamel and dentin.  This cavity removal process creates a hole in the tooth.  The dentist repairs this hole by filling it with a dental restorative material to restore the normal shape, size and contour of a tooth.  This allows you to use the tooth for normal function again.

What is a composite?  Composite is a type of dental filling material.  It is a resin polymer that forms a bond to the tooth structure.  Composite requires a blue light to “cure” it (harden it after it has been formed to the proper shape).

What is plaque?  Plaque is a soft material that accumulates on the teeth every single day.  Plaque is made up of food particles, bacteria, and minerals present in your saliva.  Plaque is easily removed with a SOFT toothbrush and floss, and it is attracted to rough surfaces.

What is tartar?  Tartar, also called calculus, is a hard material that forms on the teeth from plaque that is not adequately removed.  When plaque stays on a tooth surface for more than 24 hours, it begins to calcify or harden.  This hardened substance is impossible to remove with a toothbrush or floss.  It can only be removed by being scraped off by a dental hygienist or dentist.  Tartar that is not removed causes periodontal disease.

What is gingivitis?  Gingivitis, also called gum disease, is an inflammation of the gums, and it is almost always caused by plaque and/or tartar buildup at the gumline of the teeth.  Gingivitis is characterized by swollen, red, painful or bleeding gums. 

Dr. Aanenson

  What is periodontal disease?Periodontal disease, if left untreated, will cause you to lose your teeth.  When tartar accumulates on the teeth, it irritates the gum tissue and bone that help hold the tooth in place.  This irritation, over time, causes destruction of the bone, which results in a lack of stability for the tooth.  If periodontal disease is caught in its early stages, it can usually be easily treated in your dentist’s office.  More advanced stages may need to be treated by a specialist called a periodontist.  Periodontal disease can be “silent”, not causing any pain or discomfort, so it is important to see your dentist regularly. 

What is bruxism?  Bruxism is the term dentists use to describe the habit of clenching or grinding your teeth.  It can occur at night or during the daytime, and it leaves noticeable signs inside your mouth.  Your dentist can tell if you have this 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!

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung!  This time of year is a time for new beginnings and fresh starts.  Trees are budding, and flowers are in bloom.  Most people are familiar with the concept of spring-cleaning.  We clean out our closets and our flowerbeds.  We throw out things we do not use anymore. 

Obviously, spring-cleaning carries with it the idea of cleaning up the things to keep.  It also implies cleaning out things that are past their usefulness. 

When you spring-clean, you strive for a clean slate, bringing things back to a state that is more easily maintained so that they stay cleaner for longer.

As your dentists, of course we want you to apply this concept to your mouth!

Spring Cleaning for Your Mouth

Cleaning Up the Things to Keep

We want you to keep your teeth.  Forever.  We want your teeth to outlast you!  In order to keep your teeth for the rest of your life, they must have healthy gums and supporting bone.  They also need to stay cavity free.

The key to keeping teeth free of decay with healthy gums and bones is keeping them as clean as possible.  There are two essential steps you must take to keep your mouth clean.

Professional Teeth Cleanings – To achieve a perfectly healthy mouth, it is absolutely necessary for you to have professional teeth cleanings on a consistent basis.  Our wonderful dental hygienists are masters at removing every trace of bacteria from your teeth and gums.  No matter how diligent you are, you can never clean every bit of plaque and tartar on your own at home.  Professional teeth cleanings are a must for a clean mouth.

  • Interval of Teeth Cleanings – All men are not created equally when it comes to plaque and tartar buildup. We are all unique, with specific risks and needs. For this reason, some people need to have professional teeth cleanings at different intervals than the average of six months. Ask your dentist and dental hygienist which interval will give you the healthiest outcome!

Great Home Care – As amazing as our hygienists are, they cannot do all of the work for you.  Their job stops when you walk out of our doors, and the ball is then in your court.  They leave you with a clean slate and all the information you need to keep it clean.  If you have a particularly difficult area to clean on your own, ask your dental hygienist.  They each have customized ways of teaching you how to clean your teeth to the best of your ability.  Follow this regimen for great home care.

  • Brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste after breakfast and before bedtime. If possible, use an electric toothbrush, which is proven to remove more plaque buildup than a manual toothbrush.

  • Floss every night before bed. Brushing alone does not get the job done. Flossing is the only way to remove plaque and food debris from between the teeth.

  • Add a mouthwash to your daily routine. There are so many different types of mouthwash available today, and they have different purposes. Ask your hygienist which type is best for your specific needs.

 

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 Cleaning Out Useless or Obsolete Things

Okay, this may seem like a strange concept when applying it to your oral health.  We have two ways that you should “clean out” things related to your mouth.

  1. Throw Out Your Toothbrush – Toothbrushes are wonderful tools that have greatly improved dental healthcare. But they do not last forever. If yours is frayed or splayed or otherwise “worn out”, toss it. For electric toothbrush users, buy the replacement heads, and throw this one out. Old toothbrushes can harbor bacteria and even grow mold. Once the bristles are worn out, they may not even touch the tooth surface as they should.

  2. Take a Tip from Marie Kondo – The bestselling author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has a unique tactic for cleaning out your closet. Hold up an item and think about how it makes you feel. If it does not bring you joy, get rid of it. If we were to apply that tactic to your mouth, what would you get rid of? Is there an old discolored filling that you hate? Do you have a tooth that you try to hide when you smile? If there is something in your smile that does not bring you joy, please schedule a consultation with Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex or Dr. Serena to discuss how we can change that for you.

 

Maintaining a Clean Mouth

Have you noticed the phenomenon that it is much easier to keep something clean once it is clean?  The fact that the countertops are free of clutter makes you want to keep any clutter from building up. 

The same is true for your teeth.  The feeling of a perfectly clean mouth just after your professional teeth cleaning is so good that you are more motivated to follow a great home care regimen.  Don’t let that momentum fizzle out.  Commit to keeping up that great home care routine so that your “spring clean” lasts all year!

Do You Need a “Spring Cleaning”?

It is time for a fresh start!  Call our offices at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) today to schedule your professional teeth cleaning with our fabulous hygienists or a consultation with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell.

Sparkling water

Sparkling Water: A Surprising Cause of Cavities

 

Most people know that foods and drinks high in sugar can cause cavities.  It is common knowledge that sodas and candy are bad for your teeth. What many people are unaware of is that sparkling water can also damage the teeth.

Due to an increase in its popularity in recent years, we are frequently asked about sparkling water (carbonated water) and whether it can damage your teeth.  Although most sparkling water contains nothing more than carbonated water (perhaps with a few minerals) and natural flavors, most people do not expect it to be as acidic as soda, which typically contains phosphoric acid. Unfortunately, sparkling water is very acidic due to the carbonation process, which forms carbonic acid.

Yes, Sparkling Water Can Harm Your Teeth!

A group of researchers at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom wanted to find out if sparkling water could cause enamel erosion.

First, they measured the pH of various sparkling waters and found a pH of around three (ranging from 2.7-3.4). This pH level is just as low as most sodas!

This research group took some extracted teeth and placed them in glasses filled with different types of flavored carbonated waters. They found that the sparkling water does erode away tooth enamel.  In fact, they found that flavored sparkling water has as much or more of an erosive effect on teeth as orange juice, which is known to be very damaging to teeth.

The following is what this group of researchers concluded:

"Flavored sparkling waters should be considered as potentially erosive, and preventive advice on their consumption should recognize them as potentially acidic drinks rather than water with flavoring."

In other words, sparkling water can erode your tooth enamel and should not be considered “water” at all. Rather, it is more appropriately classified as an “acidic drink”. 

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 What does this mean for your teeth?

Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body.  It is a protective coating over the core nerves and blood vessels in our teeth.  The purpose of our teeth is to chew food; the enamel serves to withstand the mechanical and chemical forces that teeth are subjected to as they do that job.  Anything that softens, erodes, or breaks enamel is bad because it weakens the tooth.  Enamel erosion makes it easier for the bacteria in our mouths to cause cavities and can cause major breakdown of your teeth, which causes the need for more dental work in your future.

A healthy mouth has a pH level slightly above neutral (7.0).  Anything below neutral is an acid.  Enamel begins to soften or demineralize at a pH of 5.5 or below.  Many of the things we eat and drink are lower than 5.5 pH.  In a normal, healthy mouth, saliva can act as a buffer and bring the pH back up to neutral once the acid is gone (i.e. once you have stopped eating or drinking).

What should you do?

 

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  • Be aware of the sparkling water that you consume. Some sparkling waters are flavored with citrus flavorings such as lemon, lime, orange, etc…, which add citric acid on top of the carbonic acid. 
  • Pay attention to the amount of sparkling water that you consume.  You should never be drinking more sparkling water than regular water.
  • Do not slowly sip on acidic drinks throughout the day. This makes it more difficult for your saliva to keep your mouth at a neutral pH.  Drink it quickly.
  • After drinking a sparkling water, rinse your mouth with water to help quickly return it to a neutral pH.
  • Chew sugar-free gum after drinking something acidic.  This helps to stimulate good saliva flow and return the pH to neutral.

 


Special Considerations:

If you have a high risk for cavities, you should stay away from all acidic drinks.  If you do not know your cavity risk, ask Dr. Aanenson at your next dental visit.

If you have a dry mouth, you do not have the proper amount of saliva to counteract the acid in these drinks, so you should stay away from all acidic drinks.

Would you like more information about how acidic drinks like sparkling water can affect your 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! They will assess your cavity risk and describe how sparkling water could be specifically harming your teeth.

Dental Trauma

Dental Trauma: What to Do When Your Child Suffers an Injury to the Teeth

Spring is almost here, and children’s sports are going to be in full swing!  This means an increased risk for injuries to your child’s teeth.

As children grow and learn new things, the risk of injury is relatively high.  Toddlers fall down when they are learning to walk.  Children have accidents when learning to ride a bicycle.  Adolescents suffer trauma when learning to play sports.

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Accidents and injuries happen.  In children, often these accidents involve injuries to the mouth and teeth.  This blog highlights what you need to know about trauma to the teeth.

Different Types of Trauma to the Teeth

Baby Teeth vs. Permanent Teeth

All of these types of trauma can happen to both baby teeth and permanent teeth.  The consequences of trauma to baby teeth are usually less severe than those for permanent teeth, simply because baby teeth fall out. 

The only serious consequence of trauma to a baby tooth occurs when the trauma affects the underlying permanent tooth as it is developing.  The crown (or visible part) of the permanent tooth forms underneath the roots of the baby tooth.  If an injury occurs which forces the baby tooth or its roots into the developing permanent tooth during this formation stage, the permanent tooth can be deformed.

The majority of injuries to teeth occur on the front of the face and affect front teeth.  It is possible for a back tooth to be injured if a child is hit from the side, for instance with a baseball.  The recommendations below apply to both front teeth and back teeth.

Injuries that Move a Tooth

When force from an injury moves a tooth, it needs to be addressed quickly. 

What You Will See:

The tooth looks whole, but it is in a different position.  It could be pushed up into the gums, hanging down out of the gums, or protruding at an unusual angle.  It is very common to have bleeding in the gums around a tooth that has been moved.

Baby Teeth vs. Permanent Teeth

In general, the treatment for this type of injury is the same for baby teeth and permanent teeth.  In severe cases, the baby tooth may be extracted.

What You Should Do:

Call your dentist immediately and start heading toward the office.  Attempt to move the tooth back to its normal position using light finger pressure only.  Whether you are able to reposition it or not, go to the dentist for an x-ray of the tooth to evaluate the health of the root, and the bone around the tooth.

Follow-Up Care:

Your child will need a soft diet for a period of a few days up to two weeks.  The goal is no additional pressure on the injured tooth as it is healing.  You may need to give your child over-the-counter pain reliever such as Children’s Advil or Children’s Motrin as needed for pain.

Follow-up with your dentist in 3 months.  He will x-ray the tooth to confirm healing and the health of the tooth and its surrounding structures.

Possible Long-Term Consequences:

When a tooth moves, it is possible that the nerve supply to the tooth has been broken where it enters at the tip of the root.  In many cases, the nerve supply can reattach, and the tooth heals.  In other cases, the nerve does not reattach, and the tissue inside the tooth dies.  A dead nerve must be removed, and the tooth needs a root canal.

The injury to the surrounding structures may also damage the connection between the tooth and the jaw bone.  A condition called ankylosis often develops, in which the tooth becomes fused to the bone and is unable to move.  This is a major concern in orthodontic treatment, when you desire to move that tooth.

Injuries that Chip or Break a Tooth

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If an injury to a tooth causes a portion of the tooth to chip or break off, the consequences are usually a little milder than a tooth that is moved or knocked out.  In minor cases, the small chip can be filled in to return the tooth to its natural shape.  In severe cases, the chip extends into the nerve of the tooth, and a root canal is needed.

What You Will See:

The tooth looks broken or jagged on the edge.  Look specifically for any pink or red spots in the center of the tooth.  This is the nerve inside the tooth, and large breaks may extend this far. 

Baby Teeth vs. Permanent Teeth

In general, the treatment for this type of injury is the same for baby teeth and permanent teeth.  Minor cases will be restored with filling material. In severe cases, a permanent tooth will need a root canal, and the baby tooth may be extracted.

What You Should Do:

Call your dentist immediately and start heading toward the office.  Try to locate any fragments of the tooth, and bring them with you.  Whether you are able to find it or not, go to the dentist for an x-ray of the tooth to evaluate the health of the root, and the bone around the tooth.  The dentist will evaluate the depth of the chip and determine whether or not the nerve is affected. 

Follow-Up Care:

If you have the tooth fragment, your dentist can reattach it to the tooth.  If not, he can rebuild the tooth back to its normal shape and size. 

Your child will need a soft diet for a period of a few days.  You may need to give your child over-the-counter pain reliever such as Children’s Advil or Children’s Motrin as needed for pain.

Follow-up with your dentist in 3 months.  He will x-ray the tooth to confirm healing and the health of the tooth and its surrounding structures.

Possible Long-Term Consequences:

The force to the tooth, which chipped it, could also have disrupted the nerve supply, as noted above.  Your dentist will monitor the tooth closely for any signs of a dead nerve.  If a root canal become necessary, your dentist will guide you in the steps involved in treatment.  It is important to know that the nerve inside a tooth could die at any point in the future, even decades later.

The tooth could also become ankylosed

The dental treatment, which restores the broken tooth, may need replacement at any point in the future.  Be careful not to use that tooth for anything besides chewing and speaking (i.e. holding hair pins or cutting fishing line).

Injuries that Knock Out a Tooth

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A tooth that is completely knocked out needs immediate action!  The longer you wait, the less chance the tooth has of surviving.

What You Will See:

The tooth is completely gone from the mouth.  Evaluation of the tooth should show the crown (visible part) of the tooth, as well as the root.

Baby Teeth vs. Permanent Teeth

There is no treatment for knocked out baby teeth.  The child will have a space in that tooth’s site until the permanent tooth comes in.

For a permanent tooth, we make every attempt to save and reattach the natural tooth.

What You Should Do:

Call your dentist immediately and start heading toward the office.  Hold the tooth by the crown ONLY.  Do not touch the root.  If you can, put the tooth back into the socket after very gently rinsing off any dirt or debris.  If you are unable to put the tooth back into the child’s mouth, place it in a cup with milk or saliva.  That’s right: fill up a cup with enough spit to cover the tooth.  Saliva is the best thing to keep the cells and fibers on the knocked-out tooth alive until it can be reimplanted into the mouth.

Whether you are able to reinsert it or not, go immediately to the dentist.  The dentist will clean and reinsert the tooth, using anesthetic if the child is in pain.  The sooner the tooth is reimplanted, the better the chances of its full healing.

Follow-Up Care:

Follow the recommendations for a soft diet and OTC pain relievers noted above.  The dentist will follow-up with you more frequently to confirm healing and reattachment of the tooth.

Possible Long-Term Consequences:

The consequences noted above, a dead nerve and ankylosis, are both highly likely when a tooth is completely knocked out.  Another possible consequence is failure of the tooth to reattach.  In this case, it is necessary to extract the tooth and replace it with a dental implant. 

Adhering to your dentist’s prescribed follow-up schedule will keep you informed of any of these consequences as they occur.

Be Prepared for Injuries to Your Child’s Teeth

As you can see from the instructions listed above, getting in to see your dentist as soon as possible is very important!  Save our number in your phone, and call us at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) as soon as an injury happens.  Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell will treat your child’s emergency and give you all the information you need for the right follow-up care. 

Your Child's First Dental Visit

Your Child’s First Dental Visit

At our Dental Centers in Freeman and Parkston our goal is for every dental visit to be a good one.  We understand that setting the right expectations can help us meet that goal.

When it comes to kids, not knowing what to expect can generate fear, anxiety and/or misbehavior.  Here is what to expect from your child’s first dental visit.

When to Make the Appointment

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children have a dental evaluation by their first birthday or within 6 months of getting their first tooth, whichever comes first.  The purpose of a dental visit this early in life is not to perform dental treatment.  Education is the main purpose. 

If your child is already past this recommended age, do not worry!  Simply make an appointment as soon as possible.  The visit will vary a little based on the child’s age.  The purpose remains the same.

Educating the Child

If your child is an infant or toddler, the education comes in the form of the experience.  The child learns from the senses of sight, sound, taste, smell and touch.  He will see the smiling face of the dentist and his staff and learn what the dental tools look like.  He will hear the normal sounds of a dental office.  He will taste and smell the toothpaste or dental cleaning paste used by the dental hygienist.  And he will feel the gentle touch of the dentist evaluating his mouth.

It is important for parents to know that it is normal and acceptable for a small child to cry.  The dentist or hygienist may use that as an opportunity to look inside the child’s mouth and see as many teeth as possible. 

Educating the Parent

Even more important than the child’s education is the parents’.  The cause of most preventable problems that arise with children’s teeth is a simple lack of information and education.

A Child’s Oral Hygiene

At this dental visit, every parent receives instruction on proper oral hygiene of the child’s teeth and tips on various ways to accomplish this.  Keep in mind that not every technique or trick works on every child.  You may have to try several different approaches before you find the one that works best for you and your child. 

An example of a unique approach to flossing a toddler’s teeth is this:  Sit on the floor cross-legged.  Have your child lay down with his head in your lap and look straight up at you.  When the child opens his mouth, you will be able to easily see and access the teeth for flossing. 

This technique also works well with brushing.  If you use this technique for brushing, use only a pea-sized dot of toothpaste and no water.

Oral hygiene for baby teeth is just as important as it is for permanent teeth.  Do not make it an optional part of the bedtime routine.  This link has some great songs to sing while brushing and flossing your child’s teeth.  We know it can be a chore; do your best to make it a fun one.

A Child’s Nutrition

At the first dental visit, parents are taught how to help prevent cavities with good nutritional choices.  Your dentist will ask questions about current nutritional habits and eating patterns.  The most common error parents make is sending their child to bed with a sippy cup full of juice or milk.  The only thing a child should have access to overnight is water.

A Child’s Habits

Your dentist will assess risk for damage to the teeth and developing jaws by any habits like thumb-sucking or pacifier use.  For more information on these habits, please read our previous blog.

A Child’s Growth and Development

At this visit, the dentist evaluates the teeth and jaws for proper growth and development.  There is a pretty wide range of “normal” when it comes to teeth coming into the mouth.  The dentist’s objective is to detect any abnormalities in a child’s development as early as possible so that you can plan for the future.

For example, your dentist would inform you if there appears to be a deficiency in the growth of the jaws that would require early orthodontic treatment.  We want you to be as prepared as possible for any future dental work.

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 Dental X-rays

Dental x-rays are only taken on children under the age of 5 if there is evidence of a problem.  An x-ray is necessary if a large cavity is present with the risk of spreading infection into the jawbone.  Any injury to the teeth also requires an x-ray.

Around age 5-6 years, we take dental x-rays to evaluate the proper development of permanent teeth underneath the baby tooth roots.

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Fluoride

Professional fluoride treatments are proven to reduce a child’s risk for developing cavities.  We recommend fluoride as a preventive treatment for most children because we strongly believe in prevention.

If you have questions about professional fluoride treatments, please ask Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex, Dr. Serena or your dental hygienist at your next visit.  We are more than happy to discuss the benefits of fluoride and the reasons we strongly recommend it for children.

Is it Time for Your Child’s First Dental Visit?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to set up a happy visit for your child with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell and our fabulous dental hygienists.  They will get you and your child started with a great dental experience.

Sugar and Its Effects on Teeth

Sugar and Its Effects on Teeth

It is commonly known and well supported by scientific research that sugar is bad for teeth.  When dentists say “sugar”, most people think of soft drinks and candy.  There are many other sources of sugar that are damaging to teeth, which often get overlooked.  This blog will address why sugar is bad for teeth, which specific sugars are especially dangerous, and how you can fight sugar’s effects on your child’s teeth.

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Why is Sugar Bad for Teeth?

Our mouths are full of bacteria.  Some bacteria are good, and some are bad.  The bad bacteria are those which feed on sugar to produce dangerous acids. (Some people have higher levels of bad bacteria, which gives them a higher risk for cavities!)

Bad Bacteria + Sugar = Acid --> Enamel Damage --> Cavities

Which Specific Sugars are Bad for Teeth?

If you have taken part in any low-carb or no-carb diets, you probably know the important differences between simple and complex carbohydrates.  Nutrition experts emphasize the way these carbs are digested and how they affect your metabolism.

The distinction between simple and complex carbohydrates is also important for your teeth. 

Simple carbohydrates are short-chain sugars that bad bacteria in the mouth quickly and easily break down.  Complex carbohydrates are long, complex chains of sugar molecules that are more difficult for bacteria to break down.

Simple carbohydrates make it easy for bacteria to cause cavities.  Complex carbs are also a sugar source for bacteria, but they take longer to digest, slowing the cavity process down enough for you to intervene and stop them. 

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Examples of simple carbs include the sugar in soft drinks, candy, cookies and other baked sweets, cereal, fruit juices and milk.  Complex carbohydrates include whole grains, starchy vegetables (like potatoes), green vegetables, and beans/peas.

Complex carbs are better for your teeth than simple carbs, but there is still a risk for cavities.  Often, complex carbs are sticky and become stuck in or between the teeth.  If they are not quickly cleaned from the teeth, the bacteria have more time to break them down into simple sugars and cause cavities.

How You Can Fight Sugar’s Effects on Teeth

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1. Limit intake of simple carbohydrates – Cutting simple sugars from your or your child’s diet is a sure way to lower cavity risk.  Sodas have zero nutritional value, so eliminate them completely.  Instead of sticky candies, switch to chocolate.  Chocolate’s fat content gives it a lower risk of causing cavities.

2. Stimulate saliva – Saliva is our body’s best defense against cavities!  Saliva has a slightly basic pH, which neutralizes the acid produced by bad bacteria.  There are two great ways to stimulate saliva to fight sugar:

  • Limit simple sugars to mealtime only! When you eat a meal, saliva production increases. A soda with lunch is less likely to cause a cavity than a soda sipped throughout the afternoon.

  • Chew sugar-free gum. By chewing gum after eating or drinking sugar, you stimulate saliva. Ice Cubes is our favorite cavity-fighting gum. Give a piece to your child after any sugary snack to lower cavity risk.

 

3. Practice great oral hygiene.  Do not let any sugars stay on the teeth.  You can greatly reduce cavity risk by removing any sugary food debris from your tooth surfaces. 

  • Brush after sticky and/or sugary snacks.

  • Floss, if possible, after snacking. If not, floss every night before bed.

  • Use a fluoride containing mouthrinse after brushing and flossing.

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!

Teaching Your Children to Take Care of Their Teeth

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Teaching Your Children to Take Care of Their Teeth

One of the most important aspects of parenting is teaching your children how to take care of themselves. You teach them to make good choices so that they can be healthy.  In the beginning, you do a task for them until they can do it themselves.  Then you supervise their efforts until you trust that they are competent and consistent in accomplishing the task.  At that point, you can give them the independence to take care of themselves without your intervention.

As with all issues in child development, every child grows and matures at his or her own unique pace.  Rather than looking for your child to perform certain tasks at a certain age, use milestones to tell you when it is time to move from demonstration to supervision and from supervision to delegation of independence.

In dentistry, our most common example of using a milestone is this: your child should not brush his teeth alone until he can easily tie his own shoes.

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Start Early

In order to set the right expectations for your child and oral hygiene, start early. 

How early?  As soon as the first tooth appears in your baby’s mouth!

Begin brushing each tooth with an infant toothbrush or a soft washcloth.  Cleaning your child’s teeth is something he or she should expect as part of your daily routine.  The earlier you start, the easier it is for the child to accept.  The earlier you begin brushing and flossing your child’s teeth, the less likely they are to fight you and resist the process.

Easy Oral Hygiene Techniques:

One of the easiest ways to brush and floss a child’s teeth is to sit cross-legged on the floor and have the child lay down with his head in your lap.  You should be able to look straight down into the child’s open mouth.  Using a very small amount of fluoride-containing toothpaste and NO water, gently brush every exposed surface of his teeth. 

An alternative technique is to have your child stand on a small stool so that their head is just above your waist.  With both of you facing the bathroom mirror, stand behind the child and have her look up and rest her head against your stomach.  Again, you should be able to look straight down into the child’s mouth and visualize all of the teeth.

Use either of these positions to floss any of your child’s teeth that touch each other.  Teeth with small gaps do not have to be flossed. 

Make It Fun

While you are brushing or flossing, it helps to count or sing a song to entertain and/or distract the child.  The American Dental Association has several fun tooth brushing songs here.

If you have multiple children, you can make the oral hygiene routine your special one-on-one time with each child. 

With multiple children, games or competitions can make it fun.  Use plaque disclosing tablets to have a contest of who does the best job brushing.

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Set a Good Example

Brush and floss your own teeth in front of your children as often as possible.  Show them that it is a normal part of your bedtime routine.  Kids are much better at following examples than strictly doing as they are told. 

It is important to teach your children to have an overall attitude toward oral hygiene that is positive and healthy.  One of the best and easiest ways to train this attitude is to model it in your actions and attitudes toward your own oral hygiene.

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.  If your children see that you do not value your own oral hygiene, they will not believe that it is important for them either.

Don’t Make It Optional

Make every effort to never miss brushing and flossing your child’s teeth.  It is not optional.  Do not ever give your child the impression that they have a choice on whether or not to brush before bedtime. 

The problems that occur from improper oral hygiene in a child can be serious. They can also be prevented with good oral hygiene and good food and drink choices.

Need Help?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or 605-928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule a consultation with one of our fabulous dental hygienists.  She will show you tips and techniques on brushing and flossing your child's teeth as easily as possible.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

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Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Also known as bottle rot or early childhood caries, baby bottle tooth decay is a condition in which very young children experience moderate to severe cavities in their baby teeth.  As the name implies, this condition is caused by an improper use of baby bottles.

How Does a Baby Get Cavities?

Cavities are caused by bacteria.  Most children acquire cavity-causing bacteria from their parents.  Bacteria are transmitted from the parents’ mouths to the child’s by sharing a spoon and kissing.

The real danger occurs when these bacteria are exposed to sugar.  Baby bottle tooth decay arises when the baby drinks a bottle of any liquid which contains sugar.  The most common culprits are fruit juices and milk.  Even milk contains sugar.

As the teeth are exposed to sugar-containing liquids, the bacteria ingest the sugar and create a by-product that is very acidic.  The acid by-product weakens and softens baby teeth enamel.  The enamel on baby teeth is much thinner than that on permanent teeth.  This allows cavities to spread much more quickly on a baby tooth than on a permanent tooth. 

There are two important factors in the cavity process: 1) the amount of sugar the teeth are exposed to, and2) the amount of time the teeth are exposed to sugar

  1. Amount of Sugar - Fruit juice contains the highest quantity of sugar (besides sodas) and is very damaging to baby teeth.  Soft drinks and sodas should NEVER be given to a child.  Milk contains small amounts of sugar, too.  If left in contact with the teeth long enough, even plain milk will cause tooth decay.
  2. Amount of Time - Even a small amount of sugar can cause a cavity if it stays in contact with the teeth for a prolonged period of time.  Any sugar-containing drink to which the child has continuous access (such as an overnight bottle) creates a higher risk for cavities.  

 

Upper front teeth are at the highest risk for baby bottle tooth decay because they are continually bathed in the liquid as the child drinks.  Other teeth may be affected as well.  The cavities initially appear as dark spots, small holes, or chips in the teeth. 

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How Do I Prevent Cavities for My Baby?

  • Limit bottle time - A bottle’s purpose is to provide nutrition for your baby.  It is not a pacifier or soothing device.  
  • It should never be used to put a baby to sleep.  If a baby falls asleep while drinking from a bottle, remove the bottle and replace it with a pacifier.
  • Limit bottle contents – Baby bottles should contain onlybaby formula, breast milk, or water.  A baby bottle should NEVER be filled with fruit juice, soda, sugar water, or milk.  Not only do they all contain sugar; they do not provide the baby with any proper nutrition.
  • Water only overnight – If a bottle is given to the child overnight, water is the only liquid that will not increase the risk for cavities.  Water is the only thing that contains zero sugar and zero acid.  This rule goes for sippy cups, too.  Toddlers should never go to bed with anything except water!
  • Oral hygiene – Even babies need oral hygiene.  As soon as a tooth is visible, you should clean it with an extra-soft baby toothbrush or a washcloth.  Brush your baby’s teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice.  The brushing routine teaches your child good oral hygiene practices as they learn and grow.  The fluoride strengthens their baby teeth to resist cavities.

 

 

    What if My Baby Already Has Cavities?

    Baby teeth have many important functions.  If they get cavities, they need to be treated so that your child can chew and speak properly.  Cavities in baby teeth, if not treated, will progress to abscesses, which are serious dental infections that can spread.  These infections can put your baby’s life in danger!

    If you see cavities in your baby’s teeth, the first step is to schedule a dental appointment.  Your dentist will evaluate the teeth and prescribe the appropriate treatment.  Most small children with extensive decay are treated by pediatric dentists with the use of sedation. 

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    The most important part of this dental visit is the tips and instructions you, as the parent, will receive to help prevent any future cavities from developing.

    More Questions about Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

    Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell! They can answer all of your questions about cavities in young children and advise you on how to proceed.

    Interdisciplinary Dentistry

    Interdisciplinary Dentistry

    You’ve probably heard the saying, “Jack of all trades”; maybe you didn’t know that the rest of that phrase is “ . . . master of none”.  The theory behind this phrase is that a person can be competent in many tasks, but is usually limited to excellence in just a few.  At our dental centers in Freeman, Parkston, and Viborg, we believe that this phrase applies to dentistry.  Because our goal is for each patient to receive excellent care in every realm, we cooperate with medical and dental specialists to accomplish interdisciplinary dentistry. 

    We understand that, as a patient, it is more convenient to have all of your dental care performed in one location.  However, when it comes to a choice between convenience and excellence, we will always choose excellence.  When Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena create a customized treatment plan for their patients, they considers what type of practitioner will best perform each individual procedure.  These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, much like a primary care physician may treat a case of high blood pressure in his or her office, but refer out a complicated cardiovascular issue to a cardiologist.

    Dental Specialties

    The American Dental Association recognizes nine dental specialties in dentistry.  These specialties are characterized by residency programs, which add several years to their education, and certifying boards, which recognize their limitation of practice to a specific specialty.  The nine recognized dental specialties are:

    1. Dental Public Health – promotion of oral health and disease prevention

    2. Endodontics – root canals and surgeries related to infections originating within the tooth

    3. Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology – diagnosis of abnormal lesions and diseases of the oral cavity

    4. Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology – interpretation of images of the head & neck complex, including x-rays and cone beam computed tomography

    5. Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery – surgical intervention ranging from simple extraction of teeth to complex realignment of the upper and lower jaws

    6. Orthodontics – realignment of teeth and bite relationships

    7. Pediatric Dentistry – dentistry for children

    8. Periodontics – treatment of diseases and conditions of the supporting structures of the teeth: bones, ligaments, and gum tissue

    9. Prosthodontics – restoration of missing tooth and jaw structures

    Many people are surprised to learn that there are currently no recognized specialties for TMJ, cosmetic dentistry, and dental implants.  Advertising claims can be misleading in these areas. 

    Why Do Some Dentists Pull Wisdom Teeth, Place Implants or Do Root Canals?

    Many general dentists have practiced long enough to determine which procedures they are able to perform with excellence, rather than just being competent.  They will spend more time in continuing education learning the procedures that they love, and will consistently improve their skill in specific techniques.  This is why some general dentists are able to provide excellent treatment in areas another general dentist would refer to a specialist.

    On the other hand, you may find that a dentist who used to do root canals in his office no longer does.  It is likely that this dentist has found he is not able to efficiently provide the very best root canal for his patients, and they will receive a more positive long-term success rate by seeing an endodontist for that specific procedure. 

    Medical Specialists

    As we discussed in a previous blog on how oral health affects your overall health, there are many connections between the mouth and the rest of the body.  As we continue to gather more information about your head & neck with the 3D imaging and continued learning in dentistry, we are better able to recognize these connections and advise you to see the appropriate medical specialist.

    The Importance of the General Dentist

    In cases where interdisciplinary dentistry is necessary, the general dentist plays an important role.  In addition to performing certain procedures in the care of the patient, the general dentist is instrumental in organizing and coordinating the flow of communication and treatment among the various specialists.  

    If you have a complicated dental history and think you need interdisciplinary dentistry, 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! Their commitment to excellent care will ensure you see the proper doctor for each individual procedure your treatment requires.

    Energy Drinks

    Energy Drinks

    Are Energy Drinks Bad For Your Teeth?

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

    What is in an Energy Drink?

     

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

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

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

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

     

    How Do Energy Drinks Cause Cavities?

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

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

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

     

     

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

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

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

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

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

    Silver Diamine Fluoride

    Silver Diamine Fluoride

    What is SDF?

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

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

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

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

    Who is a candidate for SDF? 

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

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

    What are the pros?

    • No local anesthetic = no injections

    • No drilling

    • No filling

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

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

     

     What are the cons?

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Is SDF Right for You or Your Loved One?

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

    Is Morning Sickness Ruining Your Teeth?

    Is Morning Sickness Ruining Your Teeth?

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    What is Morning Sickness?

    Morning sickness is a commonly used term to describe the nausea and vomiting that affects many women during pregnancy.  It’s a bit of a misnomer, as most women who experience this phenomenon say it actually happens throughout the entire day and not just in the mornings.  Morning sickness affects between 70-85 percent of pregnant women!  While most women experience morning sickness in the first 16-20 weeks of pregnancy, some of the unlucky ones have symptoms throughout the entire pregnancy. 

    Morning sickness affects a person’s ability to work, perform necessary tasks around the home, and/or care for children or other dependents in the household.  Many women state that morning sickness forced them to reveal their pregnancy earlier than they would have preferred. 

    How Does Morning Sickness Affect My Teeth?

    The reason morning sickness is damaging to teeth is that the nausea and vomiting brings acid from the stomach up into the mouth.  Healthy stomachs are filled with acid, which breaks down food as an important part of the digestion process.  However, that acid is supposed to stay in the stomach.  Stomach acid has a pH of 1.5-3.5. 

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    In contrast, a healthy mouth has a pH that is slightly above neutral, in the range of 7.1-7.5.  Teeth can stay strong at this pH.  The enamel covering our teeth begins to weaken when the pH drops to 5.5 or below.

     

    When someone vomits, the acid in the stomach is pulled up the esophagus and into the mouth.  This stomach acid is far below the pH threshold for enamel damage.  When the mouth is subjected to this strong acid with such a low pH repeatedly, the enamel is weakened and may begin to erode. 

    Enamel erosion is the gradual degradation of the enamel surface of teeth caused by exposure to acids.  This includes any acid, like sodas, lemon juice, and any carbonated drink.  Because stomach acid is more acidic than these things, it can cause more damage in a shorter amount of time.  The photos below show examples of severe enamel erosion.  The enamel becomes thinner and is even missing in some areas.  On front teeth, this can cause the teeth to appear translucent or “see-through”.  On back teeth, the enamel can erode away from a filling, leaving the filling taller than the tooth surface. 

    Because enamel is a tooth’s defense against decay, anything that weakens enamel makes a tooth more likely to get a cavity.  Loss of enamel also causes tooth sensitivity. 

      

    How Do I Protect My Teeth From Morning Sickness?

    There are several steps you can take to protect your teeth if you are suffering from morning sickness.

     

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    1. After vomiting, do not immediately brush your teeth. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water, wait 30 minutes and then brush.

    2. Use an over-the-counter mouthrinse that contains fluoride before bed each night. Fluoride can strengthen the enamel and protect it against acid.

    3. Chew sugar-free gum throughout the day. This stimulates your natural saliva production, which raises the pH in your mouth.

    4. See your dentist. If you are suffering from morning sickness, let Dr. Aanenson and Dr. Kuiper know. They can assess your risk for enamel erosion and make specific recommendations for you.

     

    What Else Can Cause Acid Erosion of Teeth?

    GERD – Severe acid reflux can keep the pH in the mouth much lower than normal.

    Bulimia – As with morning sickness, consistent vomiting causes enamel erosion.

    Lemon juice cleanses – Lemon juice is as acidic as stomach acid and should never touch the teeth.

    Are You Suffering With Morning Sickness?

    Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell! They can help you manage the risks associated with morning sickness and help you protect your teeth.

    Don't Get Tricked by Halloween Treats

    Don’t Get Tricked by Halloween Treats

    Halloween: Making Good Decisions for Your Teeth

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

    All Candy is Not Created Equal

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

    Moderation and Timing is Key

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

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    Make Good Choices

     

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

     

     

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    Feel Bad Throwing Candy Away?

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

     

     

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

    Crowns

    Crowns

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

    What is a crown?

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

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

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

     

    Why do certain teeth need crowns?

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

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

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

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

    What are the different types of crowns?

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

    Material

    Pros

    • Gold

    -Requires minimal removal of tooth structure

    -Least damage to the opposing tooth

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

    • Porcelain-fused-to-metal

      -Better cosmetic appearance

      -Very durable and strong to withstand chewing forces

    • Zirconia

    -Good cosmetic appearance with no dark metal

    -Strongest material available, almost impossible to break

    -Can withstand heavy clenching or grinding forces

    • All Porcelain

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

      -Can achieve micromechanical bond with tooth structure

    Cons

    • Gold

    -Metallic appearance, not cosmetic

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

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

    • Porcelain-fused-to-metal

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

    -Porcelain can fracture away from the metal

    -Porcelain biting surface can damage the opposing tooth

    • Zirconia

    -Can sometimes appear opaque

    -Require more removal of tooth structure

    -Very abrasive and damaging to opposing teeth

    -Higher incidence of long-term post-operative discomfort

    • All Porcelain

    -Requires most removal of tooth structure

    -Most likely to crack or chip

    -Porcelain biting surface can damage the opposing tooth

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

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

    Want more information about crowns?

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

    Do I Really Need to Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

    Do I Really Need to Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

    Tuesday, September 12, 2017

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

    What are wisdom teeth?

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

    Who can keep their wisdom teeth?

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

    What are the risks of keeping wisdom teeth?

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

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

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

    Why take wisdom teeth out preventively?

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

    Why so young?

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

    Still have questions about your wisdom teeth?

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

    FAQ's for New Moms

    FAQ's for New Moms

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

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

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

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

    When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth? 

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

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

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

    What kind of toothbrush should I use? 

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

    What about baby bottles or sippy cups? 

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

    What about pacifiers and thumb-sucking? 

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

    When should my baby visit a dentist?

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

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

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

    Back To School

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    Back to School

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

     Brushing

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

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

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

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

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

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

     Flossing

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

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

     Preventive Dental Care

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

    Radiation Safety

    Radiation Safety

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

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    Understanding Dose from X-rays

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

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

    Risk from Dental Exposures

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

    Benefit

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

    Risk vs. Benefit

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

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    X-rays and Pregnancy

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

     

    Concerned about Radiation from Dental X-rays?

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

    Product Highlight: Xylitol

    Product Highlight: Xylitol

    What is xylitol?

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

     

    Who could benefit from xylitol products?

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

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

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

    How can I use it to improve my oral health?

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

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    IMPORTANT!  Xylitol is toxic to dogs!

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

    Want to find out if xylitol is right for you?

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

    Dental Sealants

    Dental Sealants

    What are dental sealants? 

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

    How does a sealant help prevent decay?

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

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

    Is sealant application a complicated procedure?

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

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

    Sealants are just for kids, right? 

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

    “CDC Promotes Dental Sealants in New Report

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

    Additional findings of the report include:

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

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

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

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

    Do sealants last forever?

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

    Need more information?

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