Posts for: October, 2014
“Cut down on sweets, especially between meals” is perhaps one of the least popular words of advice we dentists regularly give. We’re not trying to be killjoys, but the facts are undeniable: both the amount and frequency of sugar consumption contributes to tooth decay. Our concern isn’t the naturally occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables, grains or dairy products, but rather refined or “free” sugars added to foods to sweeten them.
The World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration both advise consuming no more than 50 grams (about ten teaspoons) of sugar a day. Unfortunately, our nation’s average per person is much higher: we annually consume around 140 pounds per capita of refined sugars like table sugar or high fructose corn syrup, more than three times the recommended amount. Soft drinks are the single largest source of these in our diets — Americans drink an average of 52 gallons every year.
The connection between sugar and tooth decay begins with bacteria that ferments sugar present in the mouth after eating. This creates high levels of acid, which causes the mineral content of tooth enamel to soften and erode (a process called demineralization) and makes the teeth more susceptible to decay. Saliva naturally neutralizes acid, but it takes about thirty minutes to bring the mouth’s pH to a normal level. Saliva can’t keep up if sugars are continually present from constant snacking or sipping on soft drinks for long periods.
You can reduce the sugar-decay connection with a few dietary changes: limit your intake of sugar-added foods and beverages to no more than recommended levels; consume sweets and soft drinks only at meal times; replace sugar-added foods with fresh fruits and vegetables and foods that inhibit the fermentation process (like cheese or black and green teas); and consider using mint or chewing gum products sweetened with xylitol, a natural alcohol-based sugar that inhibits bacterial growth.
Last but not least, practice good oral hygiene with daily brushing and flossing, along with regular office cleanings and checkups. These practices, along with limits on refined sugar in your diet, will go a long way toward keeping your teeth and mouth healthy and cavity-free.
If you would like more information on the relationship of sugar and dental disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Nutrition & Oral Health.”
You may have seen Kathy Ireland on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but did you know that she is now a business mogul?
Through it all, Ireland has kept her model good looks, and that includes a bright, glowing smile. In a recent interview with Dear Doctor magazine she said that keeping her smile has required ongoing maintenance and more.
It seems that Ireland is a bit of a daredevil. She described a moment of fun with her children when she tried to stand in their wagon and “wagon surf” across her driveway. It ended badly when she crashed into her parked car and suffered a broken nose, split forehead and several broken teeth. “I learned that my love of adventure exceeds my coordination,” she commented.
Ireland was born in Glendale, California in 1963. She demonstrated her drive to succeed early in life, starting at age 4 when she and her sister sold painted rocks from their wagon. Later she had a paper route. She began modeling at 17, with the goal of earning enough to pay for college or to start a business. In her successful modeling career she graced the covers of Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar and Sports Illustrated. Her first cover for Sports Illustrated, the publication's 25th Anniversary Swimsuit Edition, was the magazine's best-selling swimsuit issue to date.
In 1993 she founded her marketing and design firm, kathy ireland Worldwide. Now a billion-dollar industry, the firm sells fashions such as wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses, as well as a wide range of items for home and family.
She has also written a number of books teaching others how to be successful — based on her own experience — as well as three children's books.
Discussing her oral health, Ireland says that she required serious professional assistance on more than one occasion. When she was a child she knocked out a tooth and later knocked it loose again. As an adolescent she wore braces for about three years. After the driveway incident she needed numerous veneers and dental implants to replace a lost tooth and restore her smile.
Her maintenance routine includes regular flossing and brushing, and she has her teeth cleaned every six months. She keeps up on her reading about the latest in research on dental health, and encourages her three children to floss and brush their teeth, to limit eating sweets and to do what they can to avoid injuries to their mouths and teeth.