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.

Maintaining Good Health by Taking Care of Your Toothbrush | Alhambra Dentist

Most dentists agree you should change your toothbrush at least every two to three months. According to a recent report, “20 Things You Should Throw Away For Better Health”, by TIME (1/30, Jones) a toothbrush is one of these things. The American Dental Association (ADA) spokesman, Ruchi Sohota, was quoted to say, “Toothbrush bristles start to fray after two months and should be replaced by three months”.

After daily wear, a toothbrush can get worn and become less effective in cleaning teeth and gums. Bacteria, germs and fungus can flourish in between the bristles. Putting a wet toothbrush in an enclosed case can cause mold to grow on it. Let your toothbrush dry before putting it a case.

It is very important to change your toothbrush after you have had a cold, flu, mouth infections, cold sores, and sore throat.  This will help you from re-infecting yourself and others.  Even if you are not sick, bacteria and fungus can still grow on your toothbrush.

Always rinse, shake any excess moisture, and air dry your toothbrush after you brush your teeth.  Also try to keep your toothbrush away from any flushing commode because of germs that may travel with any aerosols. Taking care of your toothbrush can help you have a healthier 2018!

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

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

New Study Further Confirms How Diabetes Leads to Gum Disease | Alhambra Dentist

A new study led by University of Pennsylvania researchers has found that the oral microbiome affected by diabetes causes a shift in the likelihood of disease.  The microbiome is the microorganisms that coexist with our own cells.  We depend on a vast army of microbes to stay alive.  Microbiome protects us against germs, breaks down food to release energy, and produces vitamins.” Hence, when microbiome is affected by diseases such as diabetes, it has been hypothesized that we are more likely to succumb to diseases. This study proves that microbiome affected by diabetes causes gum disease (periodontitis) and explains how this happens.

The research, published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe this week, not only showed that the oral microbiome of mice with diabetes shifted but also change was associated with increased inflammation and bone loss around the teeth.

“Up until now, there had been no concrete evidence that diabetes affects the oral microbiome,” said Dana Graves, senior author on the new study and vice dean of scholarship and research at Penn’s School of Dental Medicine. “But the studies that had been done were not rigorous.”

Just four years ago, the European Federation of Periodontology and the American Academy of Periodontology issued a report stating there is no compelling evidence that diabetes is directly linked to changes in the oral microbiome. But Graves and colleagues were skeptical and decided to pursue the question, using a mouse model that mimics Type 2 diabetes.

“My argument was that the appropriate studies just hadn’t been done, so I decided, we’ll do the appropriate study,” Graves said.

The researchers began by characterizing the oral microbiome of diabetic mice compared to healthy mice. They found that the diabetic mice had a similar oral microbiome to their healthy counterparts when they were sampled prior to developing high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycemia. But, once the diabetic mice were hyperglycemic, their microbiome became distinct from their normal littermates, with a less diverse community of bacteria.

The findings underscored an association between changes in the oral microbiome and periodontitis but didn’t prove that the microbial changes were responsible for the disease. To drill in on the connection, the researchers transferred microorganisms from the diabetic mice to normal germ-free mice, animals that have been raised without being exposed to any microbes.

These recipient mice also developed bone loss. A micro-CT scan revealed they had 42 percent less bone than mice that had received a microbial transfer from normal mice. Markers of inflammation also went up in the recipients of the diabetic oral microbiome.

“We were able to induce the rapid bone loss characteristic of the diabetic group into a normal group of animals simply by transferring the oral microbiome,” said Graves.

With the microbiome now implicated in causing the periodontitis, Graves and colleagues wanted to know how. Suspecting that inflammatory cytokines, and specifically IL-17, played a role, the researchers repeated the microbiome transfer experiments, this time injecting the diabetic donors with an anti-IL-17 antibody prior to the transfer. Mice that received microbiomes from the treated diabetic mice had much less severe bone loss compared to mice that received a microbiome transfer from untreated mice.

The findings “demonstrate unequivocally” that diabetes-induced changes in the oral microbiome drive inflammatory changes that enhance bone loss in periodontitis, the authors wrote.

Though IL-17 treatment was effective at reducing bone loss in the mice, it is unlikely to be a reasonable therapeutic strategy in humans due to its key role in immune protection. But Graves noted that the study highlights the importance for people with diabetes of controlling blood sugar and practicing good oral hygiene.

“Diabetes is one of the systemic diseases that is most closely linked to periodontal disease, but the risk is substantially ameliorated by good glycemic control,” he said. “And good oral hygiene can take the risk even further down.”

In conclusion, if you have diabetes, not only should you brush, brush, floss and see your dentist regularly, but also strictly control sugar intake.  Even if the sugar you ingest doesn’t cause decay right off, the “good germs” (microbiome) will change so that you get gum disease.  So cut down the sugar, folks! 

If you would like more information about how diabetes affects your 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.

Your Tongue and Bad Breath | Alhambra Dentist

In traditional Chinese medicine, some doctors can diagnose an issue just by looking at the patterns and colors on the tongue.  Medical doctors and dentists can also tell a lot about your health by looking at your mouth and tongue.

What if you notice your tongue has a white spots?  It could be tongue plaque. Your tongue naturally cleans itself and renews the cells on the surface to get rid of bacteria, dead cells, and debris.  But when someone has tongue plaque, that renewal doesn’t happen and your tongue gets covered in a white film.

This can happen with age, dry mouth, tobacco and alcohol use, and also with fever or illness.  You can clean off tongue plaque by scraping your tongue and using mouthwash.

There are a few other conditions that can cause white spots on your tongue.  If you see separate white spots on your tongue, it could be a sign of a superficial fungal infection, an inflammatory condition, or even early signs of tongue cancer.   It would be best if you see your dentist or doctor when you suspect something is wrong.   Another reason for having white coating on your tongue, is if you’ve been on antibiotics for a while.  Prolonged antibiotic therapy could lead to yeast infection in your mouth that turns your tongue white.  For this reason, doctors will also encourage you take probiotics to replenish the “good” bacteria in your intestines when you are undergoing antibiotic therapy.

healthy tongue should be pink and covered with small, uniform papillae bumps.  When you’re brushing your teeth, it’s a good idea to brush your tongue to get rid of any bacteria that might be lingering on the surface. A tongue scraper also does the same thing and is a handy tool to have. Your dentist or dental hygienist can show you how to do this if you’re not sure.

Another side effect of having plaque on your tongue would be bad breath which has other causes.  So if you are plagued by bad breath, it could be periodontal (gum) disease.  In this disease, bacteria induces a chronic inflammatory process which, over time, results in loss of bone around the roots of the teeth.  This loss of bone for the most part symptom-free and painless until the advanced stages, when a white coating on the tongue appears, along with bad breath and loose teeth. 

Untreated, periodontal disease is associated with systemic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis and even Alzheimer’s disease. 

So, if you see white spots, a cream-colored coating or any lesions on your tongue, see your dentist or physician for diagnosis and treatment.

There appears to be more and more medical experiments and studies delving into what in Chinese medicine makes it work, how it works, and why it works.  Maybe Chinese medicine has more to contribute to western medical science than what is known in the public sector.  

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

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

7 Reasons Why 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 and your smile. 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 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 term has deleterious effect 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.”  Be 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 abnormally high take 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 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 a sugar-free diet, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.