Sugar Eats Away Your Teeth and Your Brain | Alhambra Dentist

According to the American Dental Association, Americans consume sugar, particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), at an alarming rate. SSBs are a leading cause of dental cavities, obesity, and type II diabetes. SSBs are sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, flavored milk, and other beverages that contain added caloric sweeteners.

Sadly, new evidence indicates SSBs are also associated brain shrinkage. So, it can be said that SSBs can eat away your teeth as well as your brain.

In the United States, SSB consumption has reached epidemic proportions. The average American is now consuming a whopping 50 gallons per person per year! This is the second highest consumption rate in the world (after Mexico). This consumption is equivalent to approximately 1.5 cans of soda per person per day. SSBs are the leading source of added sugar in the American diet and is strongly associated with the high rate of dental caries in the U.S.

Obesity is associated with diabetes. The United States is amid an obesity epidemic fueled in great part by SSBs. Americans are among the most overweight and obese population in the world. Today, over two-thirds (69%) of all Americans older than 20 years are overweight, and just over one-third (35%) are obese. It is no wonder that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that in 2017 more than 100 million adults in the United States have diabetes or pre-diabetes. This is estimated to be over 30% of the entire U.S. population.

What is not well known is, according to the Framingham Heart Study, one or more sugary drinks per day resulted in lower total brain volume, lower hippocampus volume. Hippocampus is an important part of the brain for memory and is also where the process of Alzheimer’s disease starts. In other words, normal shrinking of the brain due to aging is accelerated by consuming sugary drinks.

This study reported that those people who consumed one or two sugary drinks per day experienced the equivalent of 1.6 years of accelerated brain aging per year. Those subjects in the Framingham study taking in more than two sugary drinks per day showed an astounding 11.0 years of brain aging.

The Framingham Heart Study is a long-term, ongoing cardiovascular cohort study on residents of the city of Framingham, Massachusetts. The study began in 1948 with 5,209 adult subjects from Framingham and is now on its third generation of participants.

So, the next time you are tempted to drink a soda or other sugary drink, remember it’s not just your teeth but your brain that is also at stake. Don’t let these beverages eat away your brain!

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

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Sunshine Can Save Your Smile | Alhambra Dentist

Cod liver oil, which contains Vitamin D, was the first product to be endorsed by the Council of Dental Therapeutics of the American Dental Association (ADA) in 1931. The ADA judged by scientific evidence at that time that cod liver oil, with vitamin D as the main ingredient, was beneficial to teeth and gums.

In addition to its dental benefits, vitamin D, also called the “sunshine vitamin”, is essential to general health. Without it, cells could not perform their functions and the brain would not fully develop, according to an article published in the Blaylock Wellness Report. The article further states that despite benefits of the sunshine vitamin, the rising number of malignant melanomas in the United States caused alarms to be raised over overexposure to sun. But, by making people vitamin D deficient, we inadvertently, increased people’s risk of developing all forms of skin cancer, including the malignant melanoma. The major source of vitamin D is from the sun. But, getting enough sunshine to produce our own vitamin D has been strongly discouraged, and, as a result, the average person’s level of vitamin D has plummeted, according to the Blaylock Report.

A recent publication by the Mayo Clinic states that vitamin D plays a role in reducing major medical problems including heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis. The best way to obtain vitamin D is from sunshine. The body synthesizes vitamin D after exposure to sunshine. Casual exposure to sunlight of ten to fifteen minutes twice per week can generate up to 50,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D. For those who live in an area with limited access to sunshine, eating foods fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, eggs, sardines and tuna fish may also provide sufficient amount of this vitamin. Be sure to consult with your physician about whether you should be taking vitamin D, calcium or any other supplement.

Numerous studies indicate that vitamin D and calcium deficiencies result in bone loss and increased inflammation. Inflammation is a major symptom of periodontal (gum) disease and is recognized by many dental scientists that vitamin D and calcium may be a risk factor for this common disease.

The increase of a protein called “proinflammatory cytokine” is associated with a number of infectious diseases, including periodontal disease. It has been demonstrated through studies that vitamin D can suppress cytokine production, and possibly lower the risks associated with this protein.

According to the ADA, vitamin D synthesis is important in promoting healthy gums, but not the entire answer to treating this disease. Periodontal disease occurs in the presence of specific types of bacteria (periodontal pathogens), in the form of plaque, that triggers in the susceptible host (the patient who is genetically vulnerable) an inflammatory process, including the production of cytokines. This inflammatory cellular reaction incites certain white blood cells (e.g., polymorphocytes) to destroy the bone supporting the teeth. As bone is destroyed, deep spaces are formed between the gum and the root. These are called gum pockets. Over time, these pockets deepened and spread, resulting in the eventual loss of teeth.

Treatment consists of the careful removal of plaque, which is made up of millions of colonies of harmful bacteria lodged under the gum. This procedure is called root planing. If the pockets are normalized after root planing, the patient should return for regular recall visits for disinfection of the pockets. Bacteria that cause gum disease are analogous to termites that destroy the foundation of your house. The disease cannot be cured but can only be controlled through regular maintenance care. Surgery, or special non-surgical methods, may be necessary if root planing and good oral hygiene does not return the patient to normal.

To keep your teeth and gums healthy, brush and floss your teeth two or three times daily, see your dentist regularly. You might even try a spoonful or tablet of cod liver oil, along with a little bit of sunshine this summer.

If you would like more information about vitamin D benefits, 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 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 a 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.

A 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 induce a chronic inflammatory process which, over time, results in loss of bone around the roots of the teeth. This loss of bone is 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 about 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 your tongue, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Snoring Treatable by Dental Device | Alhambra Dentist

A physician, Dr. Smith (not his real name), mentioned at his dental visit that he snores heavily and that recently his condition has been diagnosed as obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Smith said that he had read that a certain kind of dental device can treat this condition and wanted to know whether he is a suitable candidate.

Sleep apnea occurs where there are episodes of cessation of breathing lasting 10 seconds or longer during sleep. The failure to breath triggers the brain to awaken briefly in order to reinitiate the breathing process. These arousals are so brief that they generally go unremembered. But the results of these frequent interruptions are daytime sleepiness, which may lead to disruption of work and social life. Difficulties with concentration, memory are some of the other symptoms. Severe sleep apnea may lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, heart attack and stroke.

Sleep apnea is estimated to affect about of 10% men between the ages of 30 to 50, but also has been found in both sexes of all ages. The most frequent form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, in which the cessation of breathing is most often caused by excessive relaxation of the muscles at the back of the throat.

Dr. Smith was aware that medical remedies include the use of continuous positive airway pressure (C- PAP) which involves the use of wearing a mask over the nose and mouth. Air from a compressor forces air through the mask to keep the airway open. Surgical procedures involve the excising of excess tissue at the back of the throat, such as enlarged tonsils and adenoids. However, Dr. Smith cannot sleep with the C- PAP mask and does not want surgery. He was interested in the mandibular advancement appliance that has been used to treat obstructive sleep apnea.

This dental device consists of two retainer-like plastic covers. One fits over the upper teeth and the other over the lower teeth. These two retainers are joined together by “connectors” which maintain the lower jaw slightly more forward than normal. By advancing the lower jaw (mandible) forward, the diameter of the throat is increased. More importantly, even if the muscles at the back of throat relax, the throat is prevented from collapsing. This forward placement of the mandible can prevent the blocking of breathing found in obstructive sleep apnea.

A mandibular advancement device was made for Dr. Smith. A subsequent polysomnograph (sleep study) confirmed that while Dr. Smith was wearing the oral device, he had no apnea episodes. His “oxygen saturation rate” was back to normal and he felt great. The snoring has greatly diminished to where it is almost unnoticeable to his wife. He has continued to wear this kind of appliances for the past four years.

If you or your spouse suffers from the snoring of the other, there is hope. Visit your dentist. If you also notice that he/she has apnea episodes where breathing stops for 10 seconds or more, please see your physician to rule out sleep apnea. If you have sleep apnea, be sure you follow your doctors’ instructions as to how to deal with this condition. Ask your physician if a mandibular advancement device could be a consideration.

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

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Why General Health Is Important to Dental Treatment | Alhambra Dentist

Nellie, age 42, went for a dental checkup for the first time in ten years. Routine blood pressure monitoring disclosed that her blood pressure reading was abnormally high (180/115). No dental treatment was rendered. She was immediately referred to a physician and was diagnosed and treated for hypertension, high blood pressure. Her physician told her that if left undetected her condition could have led to a heart attack or stroke. She returned for dental treatment after her condition stabilized.

Nellie’s case is the result of the kind of routine screening dentists generally conduct to look for medical conditions that need medical attention. In addition to hypertension, one of the most common medical conditions that are of particular concern to dentists is “mitral valve prolapse,”a malfunction of a heart valve that leads in backflow (regurgitation). These abnormal heart valves are said to be susceptible to bacterial infection that originate from oral sources. In such cases, prophylactic (preventive) antibiotic, such as amoxicillin, should be taken before dental treatment is begun.

Diabetes is sometimes suspected when the patient presents with a family history or diabetes and severe, uncontrolled periodontitis (gum disease). In this case the patient may be referred for a medical checkup and blood test.

Another common problem is that of “dry mouth” (xerostomia). This condition may be associated with such conditions such as diabetes and menopause. But dry mouth is also a common side effect of over 400 commonly prescribed drugs. Patient suffering from dry mouth are especially susceptible to gum disease and dental caries (cavities). If there is no apparent cause for dry mouth, the patient is referred for medical consultation. If it clear that dry mouth is associated with a diagnosed disease or side effects of medications, treatment planning will probably include home application of topical fluoride with gels, rinses and fluoride toothpastes. To reduce risk of gum disease, more frequent deep cleanings, anti-bacterial rinses, topical administration of antibiotics and home application of anti-bacterial solutions.

These are just a few examples of conditions your dentist will be concerned with at your dental checkups. Feel free to discuss any medical issues, even those you suspect may not relate to your dental treatment. You may be surprised at how medical condition affect dental health, and vice verse.

If you would like more information about the ways your general health can affect 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.

Junk Drink Alert: Diet Beverages Can Be Detrimental to Your Teeth | Alhambra Dentist

Junk drinks can be detrimental to your dental health. Certain segments of the population, primarily women who intake diet sodas and bottled iced tea, are exhibiting a rate of tooth decay that progresses much more quickly than the general population. This decay is seen around the margins of restorations (fillings) and crowns (caps) where the tooth and restorative material meet. The majority of people with this kind of dental breakdown are generally healthy, between the ages of 12-55, and are concerned with their weight.

It is possible that those who indulge in large amounts of mints, chewing gum and other forms of sticky, sweet condiments become susceptible to rampant dental caries. In the absence of this sort of diet, the prime suspect may be diet beverages – soda and artificially sweetened bottled iced tea.

Sugars in foods are converted into acidic by-products by bacteria found primarily in plaque. The acid breaks down the mineral in the tooth enamel. After sufficient exposure the enamel becomes demineralized and eventually cavities form. But it is not necessary that sugar be present for cavities to form. Acidic compounds present in diet beverages can act directly to produce demineralization of enamel in the absence of sugar. What restores balance to this acidification of the oral cavity is saliva, which neutralizes acids and replenishes minerals leached out by acids. Where there is a steady intake of acidic beverages and foods, saliva may not be able to restore tooth enamel quickly enough. Eventually cavities will form in this kind of acidic environment.

Understanding this casual chain of events should not lead you to completely eliminate diet beverages, nor to go back to regular soft drinks. Moderation is the answer. Rinse your mouth with water or drink water after you have ingested diet beverages. Try not to sip the drinks over a prolonged amount of time and allow your teeth to be exposed to acidic chemical reactions longer than necessary. Use fluoridated toothpaste and rinses. In severe cases your dentist may recommend “custom fluoride trays” by which you can apply fluoride to your own teeth on a daily basis. Fluoride acts to inhibit the demineralization of the enamel matrix. And in the earliest stages of decay, reverse cavity formation.

At your next dental visit, feel free to discuss with your dentist how weight loss may be accomplished without exposing your teeth to unnecessary risk of decay.

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

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Time to Celebrate Receding Gums | Alhambra Dentist

While it isn’t the most talked about subject around, receding gums is something that will likely happen to you as you begin to age. Because it is a natural fact of life, it is important that we all have the knowledge we need in order to obtain the proper treatment. If left untreated, gum recession will begin to cause more issues in the future. Thankfully, January is Receding Gums Awareness Month, so let’s celebrate by taking a deeper look at what you need to know…

What is Receding Gums Awareness Month?

Receding Gums Awareness Month promotes public awareness of the causes of receding gums and related health and aesthetic issues. Although many people perceive that receding gums, or gum recession is an “older” person’s issue, the fact is that receding gums affect people of all ages, even in their teens.

Why was this day created?

Receding Gums Awareness Month creates an opportunity for the public to learn about receding gums and how gum recession can affect a person’s smile and their overall health. With this information people can consult their dentists for advice on treatment options, including the minimally invasive treatment known as Pinhole Gum Rejuvenation®. A new website, www.AskYourDentistAboutPinhole.com provides information on receding gums and their treatment as well as a “find a dentist” service.

Receding gums may be caused by improper or overzealous brushing, gum disease or the natural aging process. A certain percentage of children and adults who undergo orthodontia may also develop gum recession as a side effect of the repositioning of teeth during the orthodontic process.

This month recognizes the new way to correct receding gums without conventional gum grafting surgery. Pinhole Gum Rejuvenation was invented and patented by dentist, educator and inventor John Chao, DDS who has personally trained over 3,000 doctors in the procedure, which is now available across the US as well as Europe, Asia and South America.

How should this day be celebrated or observed?

Receding Gums Awareness Month provides information to encourage the public to seek professional advice if they suspect that they have receding gums. Information is available at www.AskYourDentistAboutPinhole.com Dentists and periodontists may use Receding Gums Awareness Month to increase public awareness of gum recession in their communities and to encourage patients and the general public to schedule dental examinations and possible treatment.

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

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

ALMOND ALERT! Almond Nuts Causing Epidemic of Broken Teeth | Alhambra Dentist

In the last few months, virtually every day, one or more patients have come in with cracked, broken or sensitive teeth. It’s an epidemic. The culprit is most often…ALMONDS. Recent publicity regarding the nutritional value of almonds has been abundant. These claims have basis in the numerous scientific studies dating as far back as the 1990’s. Most recently the International Society for Horticultural Science published the following statement: “Nuts have been shown to possess substances which significantly reduce risk of coronary heart disease, some types of cancer and several other diseases…” Hazelnuts and almonds, as well as other nuts, have been the subject of studies cited.

The nutritional value of almonds need not come at the expense of broken or cracked teeth. Almonds can be purchased in slivered form, albeit slightly costlier. Considering the cost of fillings and crowns, the cost of buying almonds in a “kinder” form is minimal. Another suggestion is to put almonds into a blender with milk or juices. Nutritional value is thus preserved without the risk of damaging teeth. While we are on the subject of foods damaging to teeth, be careful of the following:

Popcorn. Popcorn is a favorite vehicle for losing weight, if no butter is used. Popcorn is easily substituted for more caloric snacks. However, there is always a chance of a stray kernel that can crack or damage teeth. These little kernels are as hard as rocks.

The first thing that I do when I’m trying to lose weight is substitute something with low calories for my usual snacks. Popcorn is a great substitute for chips and other salty snacks, but a stray kernel (and there is always a stray kernel, isn’t there?) that hits your teeth right can fracture or break your teeth. Another thing to be on the lookout for with popcorn is the stray kernel shard. Sometimes those little pieces can get right under your gums against your tooth and be nearly impossible to get out since it is suctioned to the tooth.

Ice. While ice has more nutritional value than plain water, the pleasure of chewing on ice is again cracked teeth that may require costly dental restorations.

Hard candy. Hard candy may be delightful treats but may also expose teeth to higher risk of decay and breakage. Certain kinds of cough drops are also hard. Do not chew them. Let them melt in your mouth.

Foreign objects in food. Every now and then a patient reports having broken a tooth by biting on a tiny rock, sliver of metal or other kinds of foreign objects in his/her food. This could be food served at a restaurant or purchased from a supermarket. If this happens, you should notify the manager of the restaurant or market immediately. Preserve the foreign object and keep it in your possession. You may request reimbursement from the establishment for the expense of restoring the broken tooth.

If you have mouth odors, bad taste, bleeding/swollen gums or worn teeth, be sure to see your dentist for diagnosis and treatment. You should also contact your physician regarding the advisability of using nuts or any food supplement as a means of improving your health and lowering the risk of disease. But if you do experience a sharp pain in the tooth or jaw when you bite on something hard, go to your dentist right away before the nerve in the tooth gets damaged and needs root canal treatment.

If you would like more information about almonds, 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 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 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 a 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.

A 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 induce a chronic inflammatory process which, over time, results in loss of bone around the roots of the teeth. This loss of bone is mostly 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 your tongue, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.