Posts for: April, 2015
Even after decades emphasizing oral hygiene and supplemental fluoride to fight dental disease, we’re now seeing an increase in tooth decay, especially among children. What’s causing this alarming trend?
Many in both the dental and medical professions link this and other health problems to a rise in the amount and consumption of sugar added to food products. A number of years ago our annual average consumption of added sugar was about 4 pounds per person; today, it’s closer to 90 pounds.
The increase in sugar consumption can be traced to the 1970s when the food industry began adding more sugar to make processed foods stripped of oils and fats taste better. Today, 77% of the approximately 600,000 food items sold in the United States contain some form of sugar (under a variety of names).
This additional sugar, however, has produced an unintended consequence: sugar triggers the release of a brain chemical called dopamine that regulates our sense of reward when we engage in a desirable behavior. The excess dopamine creates a weak addiction to sugar, which then leads to overconsumption, contributing to our current obesity epidemic and the rise in health problems like heart disease or Type 2 diabetes. This is especially alarming among children: thirty years ago Type 2 diabetes was unheard of among children — today there are over 55,000 diagnosed pediatric cases.
For both you and your family’s general and dental health, you should consider ways to reduce your sugar intake: purchase and eat most of your food from the “outer edges” of your supermarket — meats, dairy, and fresh vegetables and fruits (which do contain the sugar fructose, but are mostly fiber that slows the liver’s processing of the sugar); limit processed foods with added sugar, and learn to recognize its inclusion in products by reading ingredients labels. You should also be wary of sweetened beverages such as sodas, sports drinks, teas or juices, and try to drink more water.
The recommended daily sugar consumption is less than six teaspoons a day (about two-thirds the amount in one can of soda). By restricting this consumption, you’ll improve your general health and reduce your risk for dental disease.
Here’s a quick quiz: What recent activity did domestic guru Martha Stewart share via social media for the first time? Need a hint? Was she following the lead of other celebrities like rapper 50 Cent (AKA Curtis James Jackson III), actress Demi Moore and country music star LeAnn Rimes?
Give up? The answer is… she live-tweeted her visit to the dentist! Not only that, she also posted pictures of her mouth as she was undergoing an in-office whitening procedure.
Now, we understand that some might feel they don’t need to see close-ups of Stewart’s teeth under treatment. But we have to admire her for not trying to hide the fact that she’s had the same procedure that has benefited so many people, whether famous or not. Plus, her pictures actually provide a good illustration of how the treatment works.
In-office whitening treatments are the fastest way to brighten up your smile. In a single one-hour visit, your teeth can be lightened by three to eight shades — and that's a big difference! How can we achieve such dramatic results? When you’re under our direct supervision in an office setting, we can use the most concentrated bleach solutions safely and effectively. You can get similar results with custom-made trays and take-home lightening solutions we can prepare for you, but then the process will take longer.
If you look closely at her photos, you’ll see that Stewart’s lips, gums, and face are covered up to prevent any contact with the bleaching solution. She’s also wearing protective eyewear, which not only keeps chemicals away, but also guards her eyes against strong lights, which are sometimes used in conjunction with bleach. When we perform in-office whitening procedures, we use safeguards like these for all of our patients — not just celebrities!
We also perform a complete oral examination before starting any whitening procedure, to be sure you don’t have any underlying conditions that need to be treated before teeth whitening begins. That’s something you just can’t get from an over-the counter whitening product.
Teeth whitening is an effective and affordable way to give your smile a quick boost. But whether you decide to live-tweet your procedure — or keep your fans guessing about why your smile looks so good all of a sudden — that’s up to you.
If you would like more information about the teeth whitening, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Teeth Whitening” and “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered.”