7 Reasons Sugar Is Bad for You | Alhambra Dentist

Refined sugar or added sugar is said to be the most harmful ingredient in the Standard American Diet (SAD). Its harmful effects on metabolism may be traceable to many other diseases. Below are 7 of the reasons for you go sugar-free for 2018:

Sugar. Sugar, as we all know, is bad for your teeth. What you may not know is that it is also bad for your gums. Bacteria, which cause gum disease and loose teeth, can metabolize sugar in its pure form in the mouth, leading to an increase in the growth of these germs. Therefore, sugar can cause cavities and loose teeth.

Sugar and liver disease. Overloading your diet with sugar can cause the liver to overwork to convert sugar into glycogen. When the saturation is reached, liver is forced to covert glycogen into fat, which in turn, has deleterious effects on the body. In more extreme cases of heavy sugar intake, the liver itself can be damaged, leading to Fatty-Liver-Disease.

Sugar and diabetes. Excessive intake of sugar can cause insulin resistance. Insulin is necessary for glucose to enter the cells and be used for energy. Excessive glucose can cause the cells to become “insulin resistant”. Becoming insulin-resistant can be the cause of diabetes II, metabolic syndrome, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, etc.

Sugar and cancer. Cancer is characterized by uncontrolled growth and multiplication of cells. Insulin plays a key role in regulating cell growth. Elevated insulin levels because of an abnormally high intake of sugar can contribute to cancer, according to leading experts. Additionally, high blood glucose is associated with high levels of inflammation, which also contributes to higher risk of cancer.

Sugar and addiction. Sugar stimulate the production of dopamine from the “feel-good” center of the brain. Those who have susceptibility to addiction may become addicted to sugar and junk foods.

Sugar and obesity. Strong links have been found between sugar and obesity – that is no surprise.  But obesity in children has been found to be associated with sugar-sweetened beverages. There is a 60% chance of obesity in children who consume high amounts of these beverages.

Sugar and heart disease. Strong links have been shown between sugar and heart disease. High intake of sugar can lead to rise in triglycerides, LDL, high blood glucose and abdominal obesity, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.

So, cutting down or cutting out refined/added sugar in your diet can not only save your teeth, but can save your life. See your dentist regularly. Make your goal for 2018 to cut down or cut out added sugar altogether. Do it now! You won’t regret it.

If you would like more information about sugar effects, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

10 Fun Facts About Toothbrushes | Alhambra Dentist

1. When selecting your toothbrush, look for the ADA seal.

The ADA Seal of Acceptance is the gold standard for toothbrush quality. It’s how you’ll know an independent body of scientific experts, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, has evaluated your toothbrush to make sure bristles won’t fall out with normal use, the handle will stay strong and the toothbrush will help reduce your risk for cavities and gum disease.

2. The toothbrush is 5,000 years old.

In various forms, that is. Ancient civilizations used a “chew stick,” a thin twig with a frayed end, to remove food from their teeth. Over time, toothbrushes evolved and were made from bone, wood or ivory handles and stiff bristles of hogs, boar or other animals. The modern nylon-bristled toothbrush we use today was invented in 1938.

3. The first mass-produced toothbrush was invented in prison.

In 1770, an Englishman named William Addis was jailed for inciting a riot. He saw fellow prisoners using a rag covered in soot or salt to clean their teeth. Addis saved an animal bone from dinner and received bristles from a guard. Accounts state he bored tiny holes into the bone, inserted the bristles and sealed them with glue. After his release, he modified his prototype, started a company and manufactured his toothbrush. That company, Wisdom Toothbrushes, still exists in the United Kingdom today.

4. Manual or powered? Your teeth don’t care, if you do it right.

In the manual and powered toothbrush debate, it’s a wash. You just need to brush twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste. Both types of toothbrushes can effectively and thoroughly clean your teeth. It all depends on which one you prefer. People who find it difficult to use a manual toothbrush may find a powered toothbrush more comfortable. Talk to your dentist about which kind is best for you. If you do decide to use a powered toothbrush, you must hold it with your fingers, like how you would hold a flute. Don’t hold it in the palm of your hand. Palming your power toothbrush is likely to cause excessive pressure on your teeth and gums.

5. There is no “correct” order for brushing and flossing.

Brushing before flossing, flossing before brushing – it doesn’t matter to your teeth, as long as you do both. However, be very careful not to cut your gums when you floss. Over-zealous flossing can cause spaces (dark triangles) to form between your teeth as well as gum recession.

6. Toothbrushes like to be left out in the open.

Cleaning your toothbrush is easy: rinse it with tap water to remove any remaining toothpaste and debris. Store it upright and allow it to air dry. If you store your toothbrush with other toothbrushes, make sure they are separated to prevent cross contamination. And do not routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers. A moist environment such as a closed container is more conducive to the growth of unwanted bacteria than the open air.

7. Lifespan = 3-4 Months

Make sure to replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do as good of a job cleaning your teeth.

8. When it comes to choosing a brush, go soft.

Whether you use a manual or powered toothbrush, choose a soft-bristled brush. Firm or even medium-strength bristles may cause damage to your gums and enamel. When brushing your teeth, don’t scrub vigorously – only brush hard enough to clean the film off your teeth.

9. Remember: 2 minutes, 2 times a day.

Four minutes a day goes a long way for your dental health. Put the time in each day to keep your smile healthy and keep up this twice-a-day habit.

10. Sharing is caring, but not for toothbrushes.

Sharing a toothbrush can mean you’re also sharing germs and bacteria. This could be a particular concern if you have a cold or flu to spread, or you have a condition that leaves your immune system compromised.

If you would like more information about toothbrushes, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Gum Treatment Reduces Pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis | Alhambra Dentist

“After gum treatment my arthritis pain is at least 65% better.” Mary, age 36, has been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for five years. Her suffering has been particularly from pain and swelling in the joints of the wrists, hands and toes. Because of the severity of the symptoms, her rheumatologist insisted that she see the dentist for treatment of noticeable oral infections. Her rheumatologist told her that removing sources of infection from the oral cavity may very well lessen the severity of her condition. Having been a reader of my columns for many years, she chose to come to this office for treatment. After uneventful non-surgical gum treatment, she was thrilled that pain had subsided by so much. Mary also said that she felt more energetic and definitely more enthusiastic about life. Even her complexion cleared up. Although we cannot predict the exact effect of gum treatment in every case involving rheumatoid arthritis, Mary’s experience is not uncommon in my practice. We have seen many cases just like Mary’s. In fact, this association between rheumatoid arthritis and gum treatment has been reported in various medical and dental journals for at least the past ten years. But what is the science behind this improvement?

A recent study published by the American Rheumatism Association compared the dental health of 44 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with 44 healthy patients. With 95% confidence level, the study concluded that RA patients are more at risk for gum disease (periodontitis), thus being more susceptible to gum disease. It came as no surprise, since a previous study also showed that patients with rheumatoid arthritis may have a higher risk for gum disease (periodontitis). In an article published in January 2008 in the Journal of Rheumatoid Arthritis, called Association of Periodontal Disease and Tooth Loss with Rheumatoid Arthritis in the US Population it was concluded that “RA (rheumatoid arthritis) may be associated with tooth loss and periodontitis”. This study involved 4,461 patients.

What is interesting is that a third study published June 2009 in an issue of the Journal of Periodontology titled Periodontal Therapy Reduces the Severity of Active Rheumatoid Arthritis in Patients Treated with or without Tumor Necrosis Factor Inhibitors showed that non-surgical treatment of gum disease “had a beneficial effect on signs and symptoms of RA”. The latter study was a collaborative project between the Division of Rheumatology, University Hospital Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio and the Department of Periodontology, School of Dentistry of Case Western Reserve University. This study involved forty rheumatoid arthritis patients who also had been diagnosed for moderate or severe gum disease. Twenty received non-surgical gum treatment and the other twenty received no gum treatment. Six weeks of objective observation by rheumatologists and blood tests were done.

The story that these three studies tell is that RA patients tend to get periodontitis which if treated, may likely reduce symptoms of RA.

How are these two disorders related?  According to the summary of the literature, as reported in this article, rheumatoid arthritis and periodontitis (gum disease) share some common characteristics. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease wherein the autoimmune system attacks the hard and soft tissue of the joints. Periodontitis is a bacterially-incited inflammatory disease wherein the autoimmune system attacks and hard (bony) and soft (gum) tissue around the teeth. Bacteria that cause gum disease have been found in the joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis have been shown to have more antibodies against bacteria that cause gum disease than those patients without rheumatoid arthritis. Artificially-induced rheumatoid arthritis has been associated with development of gum disease in some laboratory experiments.

Hence it appears that studies reported in both medical and dental journals acknowledge the association between rheumatoid arthritis and periodontitis. Although there is no scientific basis to definitively conclude that there is a “causal” relationship as yet, there is no downside risk in having one’s gum disease treated, no matter whether you have rheumatoid arthritis or not. Furthermore, there is no dispute that removing infection from the gums and the mouth will not only save teeth, but also certainly improve one’s general health. In conclusion, for the rheumatoid arthritis patient who has gum disease or without, only good can come out of seeing the dentist. See your dentist regularly. You can’t lose.

If you would like more information about gum treatment, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Oral Bacteria Linked to Alzheimer Disease | Alhambra Dentist

The sixth leading cause of death in the US is Alzheimer Disease (AD) and it is more prevalent as people age. According to an article published in the Journal of Oral Microbiology, one of the causes of AD may be traceable to oral infection.

AD is characterized by inflammation of the brain. This article reported on 200 studies examining the link between infections in the mouth and inflammation of the brain. These studies point to “germs” in the mouth as a possible cause of AD. Various groups of bacteria, including fungus and viruses from the oral cavity, can find their way into the bloodstream and penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Their action in the brain can instigate brain inflammation. Microbes from gum disease are particularly suspected of being likely causes of brain inflammation.

These articles pointed out that oral infections, especially fungal infections, among the elderly have dramatically increased in the last thirty years. Fungi can be found in gum pockets, root canals and under dentures. Protein DNA and protein have been found in the brain tissue of AD patients. Although oral infection is one of many factors in the development of AD, this article raises the possibility that oral infection increases systemic inflammation, which in turn may predict the onset of dementia.

Thus it is important for people of all ages to maintain good oral health. Oral bacteria may play a role in the onset of AD, even decades before the symptoms of AD develop. It is recommended that everyone develop good dental hygiene habits and receive dental care, especially gum care, on a regular basis.

If you would like more information about Alzheimer Disease, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Advil) in Combination Better than One or the Other | Alhambra Dentist

For mild to moderate pain after surgery, patients are asked to take over-the-counter (OTC) pills. There are basically two kinds of OTC pills – one is represented by pain pills such as Tylenol and is called acetaminophen, the other is represented by Advil and is called ibuprofen.

For quite some time now many doctors have advised their patients to take both acetaminophen and ibuprofen together, in the belief that taken together brings about more relief from pain than just taking one kind. However, it has not been strongly established that this is true. An article reviewing various studies involving a total of 1909 patients published in the September issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association has concluded that taking acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) in combination with ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) would be better for dental post-operative pain than taking only one or the other. In other words, if you take a Tylenol at the same time you taken an Advil, you would have better relief from pain from dental surgery than if you took just Tylenol or just Advil.

According to the author, Ferne Kraglund, D.D.S., these two kinds of over-the-counter pain pills “are widely available and inexpensive, with a well-established reputation for safety and efficacy” (effectiveness). This review of a number of very strident scientific studies, called randomized clinical trials, involving these 1909 patients showed that the combination of these two drugs effectively lowers pain intensity and decreases the need for higher dosage or the addition of other supplementary drugs.

Of course, you should only use these over-the-counter drugs at the direction of your dentist to make sure that it is safe and effective. Just as importantly, you need to be instructed by your dentist as to how much and under what circumstances you should take or not take these drugs.

The FDA recommends certain limits as to strength and daily dosage of these drugs. For example, each tablet of acetaminophen should contain no more than 325 milligrams, and the maximum dosage should not exceed 4000 mg per day. It is critical you follow your dentist’s instruction and contact them with any unusual reactions.

 

Too Much Sugar: Diabetes and Gum Disease | Alhambra Dentist

We know too much sugar can cause cavities. So, it is not surprising that too much glucose, also called sugar in your blood from diabetes, can cause pain, infection, and other problems in your mouth, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Glucose is present in your saliva—the fluid in your mouth that makes it wet. When diabetes is not controlled, high glucose levels in your saliva help harmful bacteria grow. These bacteria combine with food to form a soft, sticky film called plaque. Plaque also comes from eating foods that contain sugars or starches. Some types of plaque cause tooth decay or cavities. Other types of plaque cause gum disease and bad breath.  Therefore, diabetics who are not careful in controlling sugar intake are more prone to cavities, as well as gum disease.

Emerging research also suggests that the relationship between serious gum disease and diabetes is two-way, according to the American Diabetic Association.  Not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to serious gum disease, especially when blood glucose is high, but serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes. Research suggests that people with diabetes are at higher risk for oral health problems, such as gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease) and periodontitis (serious gum disease). People with diabetes are at an increased risk for serious gum disease because they are generally more susceptible to bacterial infection and have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums.

It can be said that overconsumption of sugar may be a major cause of two of the most prevalent diseases in the world, i.e., gum disease and diabetes.

National surveys have found that the average American consumes around 85 grams of sugar every day. According to the new USDA guidelines, we should really be eating a fraction of that amount. The recommended sugar intake for adult women is 22 grams of sugar per day, for adult men, 36 grams daily, and for children, 12 grams a day.

Over time, consistently taking in more sugar will lead to insulin disease, otherwise known as diabetes. What’s alarming is that many people do not realize they are on the road to diabetes. This epidemic of “on the way to diabetes” is called prediabetes. Type 2 diabetes doesn’t appear suddenly and the slow, long and invisible road there is “prediabetes,” which is where blood sugar levels are consistently higher than normal over a long time, slowly affecting insulin signaling.

So, overconsumption of sugar leads not only to cavities and gum disease, but also can predispose you to prediabetes and even diabetes. In summary, cut down on the sugar intake. Be consistent in your home dental care, as well as your visits to your dentist.

If you would like more information about diabetes, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Tooth Decay Can Stunt Growth | Alhambra Dentist

A new study suggests that tooth decay may push back growth in children. The study appeared in the online version of Pediatrics Journal and was conducted at University College London and King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital in Saudi Arabia.

The research team wanted to explore the relationship between oral health and growth after previous studies failed to show definitive evidence one way or the other. In this study, the researchers looked at the dental decay and the correlation between height and weight in Saudi Arabian children ages 6 through 8.

The oral health of the children was graded on the DMFT (Decayed, Missing and Filled Teeth) scale, which is a scale that determines the seriousness of decayed, missing and filled teeth.

The research team later analyzed the statistics and concluded that there was, in fact, a relationship between low height/weight and a greater number of cavities. Children with severe decay had a higher chance of being underweight and shorter when compared to their peers.

Even when confounding factors, such as demographics and social values, were taken into account, statistics showed there is a meaningful relationship between dental health and physical growth.

It may be that children may be eating the wrong things besides neglecting oral hygiene. It may be that with compromised teeth, a child does not want to eat or eat the right kind of foods. It may be that infection, even if not acute and painful, can affect the health and growth of the child. Further studies hopefully will throw more light on this vital subject.

It certainly is a warning sign and reminder to parents to pay even more attention to their children’s dental health. We know poor dental health can impact one’s general health. Heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis are some examples of medical conditions associated with dental disease. Perhaps it’s not surprising the growth and development of a child is similarly compromised by dental neglect.

Taking care of our children’s dental health will ensure normal growth and development. Make sure they form the right habits and brush their teeth regularly. Educate our children as to the importance of having healthy, clean, bright teeth. Teach them to watch their sugar intake and stay away from sodas as much as possible. Try Xylitol, a sugar free, decay-inhibiting gum. Take them to the dentist every six months. Above all, take care of your own teeth and gums to set a good example for our children.

If you would like more information about pediatric dental health, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

No More Root Canals! | Alhambra Dentist

What if there was no more need for root canal treatment to be done in order save a “dead” tooth? Researchers at the University of Nottingham and the Wyss Institute at Harvard University have developed new regenerative dental fillings that use stem cells inside our teeth to repair tissue. This can potentially make conventional root canal treatment a choice, but not the only alternative when you have an “abscessed” tooth, or a tooth which has a dead nerve.

This new regenerative filling contains “pluri-potent” cells, which have the biological potential of becoming whatever cells are needed to regenerate the nerves, blood vessels and other tissue in the canals of the tooth. This source of cells can actually be recruited by this innovative filling material.

During a root canal procedure, the pulp of the tooth and the nerve are removed. If the new treatment becomes available, fillings made of synthetic biomaterials would be inserted, stimulating dental stem cells to repair and regenerate dentin, which is the hard, organic substance that accounts for the root and inner structure of the crown of the tooth.

Stem cells can serve many different functions in the body, including repairs, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For example, stem cells are currently used to help treat spinal injuries, arthritis and diabetes.

Stem cells are already being used in dentistry to regenerate bone and gums through a process called Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP). In this application of stem cell regeneration, platelets from the patient’s drawn blood is concentrated through a centrifuging process. This process causes the plasma to be infused with high amounts of growth factors (stem cells). The enriched plasma is then reintroduced into the appropriate site to assist in the regeneration of bone and gum.  

Thus, stem cell research is now in the throes of revolutionizing the field of endodontics, the specialty concerned with saving teeth through root canal treatment. In the new era, endodontists, and perhaps general practitioners, will administer the regenerative filling material using the proper clinical protocol to regenerate the nerves of the tooth in a similar manner that dentists are now regenerating bone and gum with stem cell technology.

It is not expected that this regenerative filling material will be less costly than doing a regular root canal. Therefore, on the basis of cost alone, the public is advised to observe proper dental hygiene, as well as dietary recommendation to avoid developing cavities that can lead to abscessed teeth.  

It is, of course, important to see your dentist regularly for check ups and cleanings in order to avoid expensive, and possibly uncomfortable, root canals.

If you would like more information about root canal treatment options, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Wine Tasting Can Dissolve Your Enamel | Alhambra Dentist

A new study suggests that wine tasting can be bad for your teeth.  The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (3/25, Nancarrow) reports that a study from the University of Adelaide in Australia has shown that “just 10 one-minute wine tastings can bring a softening of the tooth enamel.” Researchers said that the “acidic levels found in wine were similar to those in orange juice,” and that people who taste wine, as opposed to simply drinking it, have an increased risk for tooth break down because of the additional swirling of wine in the mouth associated with tasting wine, increasing exposure of wine to the tooth. The researchers advise frequent wine tasters use fluoride treatments to help protect their tooth structure.

This does not mean that you can’t ever occasionally go wine tasting.  You obviously have to do a lot of wine tasting to get a detrimental aftereffect.

For the same reason that has to do with acidity, it is not advisable to frequently suck on lemons, oranges or anything else that’s acidic. Citric fruits taken in moderation are beneficial to your health in many ways, among which is that it is good source of vitamin C.

If you suspect there has already been chemical erosion of your front teeth, check with your dentist about what you should do to address the erosion and how to prevent future damage.

Another way you can lose enamel is over-brushing your front teeth.  The back and forth motion with the toothbrush can cause not only enamel erosion but also shrinkage of the gums.  Receding gums is associated with the “long tooth syndrome.” This exposure of the roots of the teeth can give you can undesirable smile also.

Check with your dentist as to how you should brush your teeth correctly, without leaving plaque or over-brushing your teeth.

If you would like more information about wine effects on your teeth, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Bleachorexia: Excessive Teeth Whitening | Alhambra Dentist

Excessive, unsupervised teeth whitening, dubbed “Bleachorexia,” may lead to receding gums and oversensivity, according to a news segment on Good Morning America.  This TV program cited Dr. Laurence Rifkin who treated five-time World Boxing Council champion Mia St. John for “bleachorexia.” St. John “constantly” bleached her teeth to the point her dentist warned her that her teeth might turn to “mush.”  A good thing can become a bad thing, if overdone, said Dr. Rifkin. For that reason some dentists have coined a new term, “Bleachorexia,” to describe excessive, or obsessive preoccupation with teeth whitening.

Also interviewed on this show was Dr. Jen Ashton who quoted the position of the American Dental Association (ADA) with regard to teeth whitening. Dr. Ashton stated that teeth whitening should only be done after consultation and examination with your dentist.  Especially if you already have crowns, fillings or veneers on your teeth, you should be treated under the supervision of your dentist. The ADA warned that there is not enough evidence to support long-term, unsupervised and/or repeated use of bleaching products.  

When consulting with your dentist, it would be important to have the front teeth examined to determine whether there are fillings, crowns or veneers and their relative condition.  Should “leaky fillings” be replaced first to prevent bleaching agents from leaking through to the nerve? Would dark fillings be bleached as white as the teeth? Would these darker fillings be even more obvious when the teeth become whiter?  Crowns and fillings do not whiten. Would there be a contrast problem? Are the gums in good shape? If not, can inflamed gums be irritated and can they become painful if exposed to bleaching agents? These are the many questions to ask your dentist before you allow bleaching agents to be applied to your teeth.

The following is the ADA statement on teeth whitening:

“The ADA recommends that if you choose to use a bleaching product, you should only do so after consultation with a dentist. This is especially important for patients with many fillings, crowns, and extremely dark stains. A thorough oral examination, performed by a licensed dentist, is essential to determine if bleaching is an appropriate course of treatment. The dentist and patient together can determine the most appropriate treatment. The dentist may then advise the patient and supervise the use of bleaching agents within the context of a comprehensive, appropriately sequenced treatment plan … Patients should be cautioned that not enough information is available to support unsupervised long-term and/or repeated use of bleaching products.”

Nothing can be gained by bypassing your dentist and hygienist when you consider improving your teeth and your dental health by means not recommended by the ADA.

If you would like more information about teeth whitening, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.