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The next time you go to spit on the ground – think twice – you are wasting a         valuable asset!   The average person produces about 1.5 litres of saliva (spit) each day. That is approximately 45 litres per month, so luckily there is still enough saliva to spit some out once in a while. Saliva is produced by 3 glands in your mouth.  These glands are found in your cheeks (between your ear and nose), on the floor of your mouth near your lower molar teeth, and under your tongue.
 
Although your saliva is 99.5% water, it has many important functions.
 
1.  Saliva neutralizes acids that can erode teeth.  Saliva not only helps to dilute acids in the mouth, but it will actually neutralize it due to its alkalinity (alkaline is the opposite of acid – one will cancel out the other). This neutralization of the acid will help to minimize the harmful effect of acid on teeth.  Acids found in our mouths can be from several sources:
 
■   Plaque bacteria on your teeth produce acids.
■   Acids are found in many of the beverages and foods that we consume.
■   Acid can get into our mouth through acid-reflux from the stomach, or from vomiting.
 
2.  Saliva helps maintain tooth integrity.  Demineralization occurs when acids attack the tooth enamel (outer layer of tooth).  When the acids try to dissolve the enamel the buffering capacity of saliva inhibits the demineralization and helps to prevent a cavity from forming.  Saliva also contains minerals that help to keep teeth strong. When an acid attach takes place, saliva will first neutralize the acid. If demineralization has taken place on the tooth, the saliva will then start to remineralize the tooth by strengthening the weakened area with the calcium and phosphate minerals is contains.
 
3.  Saliva plays an important role in preventing tooth decay.  Saliva contains antimicrobial enzymes (such as lysozyme) which kill some bacteria. Saliva has been shown to slow the growth of a cavity-causing strain of bacteria known as streptococcus mutans.
 
4.  Saliva strengthens newly-erupted teeth.  When teeth first erupt, the enamel on them isn’t fully developed.  The calcium, phosphate and fluoride present in saliva help to fill in the weak parts of the new enamel and make the teeth strong.
 
5.  Saliva aids in eating, swallowing and digestion. Unless food is moistened by saliva, it cannot be properly tasted or chewed.  Dry food is very difficult to swallow if not moistened by saliva. It can tear the lining of the throat if it is too dry on the way down.  Liquid is needed to be able to swallow properly.  Saliva rinses away any extra food that may be stuck on your teeth.  Saliva contains the enzyme amylase and lipase, which aid in digestion as well.  Food that is not moistened by saliva is also difficult for the stomach to process or digest.

6.  Saliva aids in speech.   Normal speech is actually impossible without saliva.  Speaking dries out the mouth, so that is why you often see people giving speeches taking sips of water.
 

   DOUBLE  TROUBLE FOR YOUR TEETH


For years most of us have heard about the how much sugar is in soft drinks and how bad they are for our teeth. Does that mean if we just drink “diet” sodas, that it is healthy choice for our teeth? Definitely not!  What these drinks lack in sugar, they make up for with acid. The acid in many of the drinks we consume today eat away the enamel on our teeth.  When you put the two together – the sugar and the acid – it spells double trouble for your teeth!

In terms of your teeth, a pH of 5.5 and above will cause little or no harm. Any pH below 5.5 is bad. At 5.5 and below, a liquid will work to strip the protective enamel from your teeth.
 
When you take a sip of soda, juice, and many other drinks, the acid attacks your teeth. Each acid attack lasts around twenty minutes. This happens again with every sip. These continuous acid attacks weaken the tooth enamel. Once the enamel is weakened the bacteria in your mouth can cause a cavity.


It is not just the soft drinks that are so unhealthy for your teeth.  As you will see in the chart below, it is also fruit juices and sports drinks.  All these drinks have become a popular choice for a growing number of people, especially kids, teens and young adults. Too often these drinks are replacing healthy choices such as milk and water in our daily diet.
 
Larger serving sizes make the problem worse. From 6.5 ounces in the 1950s, the typical soft drink can has grown to 12 ounces, (and 20 ounces for a bottle).  Presently, teens drink three times more soda than twenty years ago.
 
It may surprise you to see the chart below – examine it carefully – taking into consideration the acid level and amount of sugar in each drink.



Because the pH scale is logarithmic, a one unit change in pH is associated with a 10 fold change in the acidity. For example, lemon juice has a pH of 2.0, while grapefruit juice has a pH of 3.0. Lemon juice would therefore be 10x as acidic as grapefruit juice. Even more enlightening, Coke Classic is roughly 100 times as acidic as Barq’s root beer.
Recommendations to reduce the affects of sugar and acid on your teeth:

  • Pop, juice and sports drinks should be consumed at meals to limit your teeth’s exposure to sugar and acid.  Do not sip on them all day long.
  • Limit these drinks to 1 can per day
  • Drink through a straw to reduce the direct contact to the teeth
  • Rinse your mouth with water after consuming pop.  It is important to do this prior to brushing your teeth as it will help to neutralize the acids before you brush them into your teeth.
  • Chew xylitol gum or mints after each time you consume these drinks during the day to help to restore the pH to a less acidic level.
  • Never give a young child soda at bedtime. The liquid can pool in the mouth coating the teeth with sugar and acid all night.
  • Always use fluoride toothpaste to protect your enamel.
(Chart information from Missouri Dental Association’s Stop The Pop Site)
 


Bruxism is a condition in which you grind, clench or gnash your teeth. Bruxism and clenching are the most common oral habits, and may occur to some degree in over 80% of the population. Most people subconsciously grind their teeth at night or when they are deep in thought. The normal forces of chewing usually range from 5 to 44 pounds per square inch (psi) for natural teeth. For example, a force of 21 psi is needed to chew meat, and 28 psi to chew a raw carrot. The forces of bruxism can produce loads on the teeth that exceed 500 psi.


There are many causes of bruxism such as stress, tooth alignment/bite, and medication.


While the damage from bruxism is not immediate, over the months and years, the damage from clenching and grinding can be significant. Think of what would happen if you took the oil out of your car and drove it around the block once a night. The damage would not be immediate, but over time it would begin to effect how the car functions.


Bruxism can:

  • flatten teeth, fracture teeth, fracture fillings,
  • cause chipping of the enamel on teeth near the gum line
  • cause tooth sensitivity,
  • cause headaches, earaches, pain in the jaw, neck and shoulders,
  • cause bone loss around the teeth resulting in loose teeth,
  • cause the jaw to lock.


You can’t just stop grinding by telling yourself to do so, but you can protect your teeth and jaw joint from the harmful effects of grinding and clenching by wearing a custom fit night guard. A night guard is made of material that is softer than teeth, so when grinding, the night guard is worn down, and the teeth are protected.
 

A night guard can be made from different materials and is made to fit on the upper or lower teeth. Your dentist will decide what type of material and what type of night guard is best for you. Store bought generic night guards are not recommended as they are not custom fit to your bite and could actually cause more damage to your jaw joint.


To make a custom fit night guard, dental impressions and a bite registration are taken and sent to a lab which then fabricates a night guard to fit perfectly over the teeth. About a week later, a second appointment is required to deliver the appliance. While night guards do take a little bit of time for some people to become accustomed to, most people find they sleep much better with them, than without them.

Oil pulling proponents claim that the swishing activates the enzymes and draws the toxins out of the blood. They suggest that bacteria hiding under crevices in the gums and in pores and tubules within the teeth are sucked out of their hiding places with oil pulling and held firmly in the solution, until it is spit out.
 

However despite the fact that there are a few websites that suggest there is scientific evidence to “prove” this technique works, the studies that do exist, are unreliable for a number of reasons, including cultural bias, the lack of demographic information, the misinterpretation of results due to small sample size, the absence of negative controls, and the lack of blinding.   While it doesn’t appear to harm the teeth, what little scientific evidence exists shows that it is probably not as effective as standard mouth wash, and what benefit it has is likely entirely due to the mechanical act of swishing to remove particles and bacteria from teeth and gums.  Oil pulling for general health or any other indication is pure pseudoscience.


One big risk identified in the research that is associated with oil pulling is Lipoid pneumonia. Lipoid pneumonia is a chemical lung disease caused by inhaling small amounts of oil. Since oil pulling calls for long periods of time with swishing oil, the risk of lipoid pneumonia is a serious complication.


More research is needed in this practice that is becoming popular, but to date oil pulling therapy has insufficient peer-reviewed scientific studies to support its use as a supplementary oral hygiene practice.

Creative Tooth Fairy Ideas

Losing one’s baby teeth is a big deal. Use this opportunity to celebrate growing up by making the first tooth a special event. Here are some ways (simple and inexpensive) that you can add a little magic to the experience.
 


1. Use a special coin.
Quarters and dollars may be a lot of money to your child, but they’re pretty mundane. Everyone has them. Spruce up the event by giving out a denomination that isn’t quite as common, like a half dollar or silver dollar coin.  You can also use clear glitter nail polish and paint the coin you use – to make extra special tooth fairy money.
 


2. Catch the tooth fairy in the act.
Create a photo of the tooth fairy visiting your child by taking a picture of them sleeping the night the fairy visits. Upload it to iCaughtTheToothFairy.com and receive a digital image that shows the tooth fairy herself in the middle of her transaction. ($10 charge).




For free you can upload the photo to a site like PicMonkey and add some star bursts. Download an image of the tooth fairy and insert it into your picture. (Once you have uploaded your picture – go to the “butterfly icon” on the left – and it will open up “overlays” – go to “elements” and then “sparkle stars”


 

3. Sprinkle some “fairy dust.”
Pick up some glitter at the dollar store and spread it on the child’s window sill, floor, or pillow. You can also have the child leave his or her tooth in a glass of water. At night remove the tooth – put some colour and glitter in the glass.




4. Write a letter from the tooth fairy.
Instead of just leaving money, write a letter to your child from the tooth fairy that praises him/her for good behavior and encourages more. You can do something as simple as writing a note with a pencil and piece of paper, or you can be as creative as you like with stickers or drawings. Make sure to sign the tooth fairy’s name. There are also several places on the web that will help you customize notes or letters. Use these adorable free printable tooth fairy notes from Handmade Charlotte.    They include a small envelope to place the tooth in and a notecard from the tooth fairy
http://www.handmadecharlotte.com/free-printable-tooth-fairy-notes/

 


5.  Keepsakes   Buy or make a special Tooth Fairy pillow or box. Etsy.com has cute pillows, or bowls etc., if you are not the creative type.  Or you can go to the craft store or dollar store, buy some paints and create a container. 






6.  A Tooth Fairy Door Set up a miniature door for the Tooth Fairy to come through.  You can buy one on a site like Etsy.com, or decorate a dollhouse door yourself, and hang it on the wall so that the Tooth Fairy can get into the kids’ rooms.


 


Your Child’s First Visit — Make it Fun!

Visiting the dentist for the first time should be a positive, fun experience for your child.  There are some things you can do to help prepare your child for their first visit.

      

Get some books about visiting the dentist and use story time to discuss visiting the dentist. Some children’s books that talk about going to the dentist are:  “Just Going to the Dentist” by Mercer Mayer,  “What to Expect When You Go to the Dentist” By Heidi Murkoff, and “Going to the Dentist” (Usborne First Experiences Book), and “The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist” by Stan & Jan Berenstain.
 

Practice having your child open wide (like a lion), and count their teeth.  Use a little mirror if you have one.  Let them look at and count your teeth.
 

Play “Dentist” using props like a toothbrush, a flashlight, and cups for rinsing.  Have your child lie down and open their mouth like they would in a dental chair.  Shine the light in their mouth, count their teeth again.  Even use a toothbrush to “polish” their teeth.  Once you have played dentist with them, and they have practiced on you, have them pretend to take their favourite stuffed animal to the dentist for a check up!  Do this several times over the course of a few weeks prior to their first appointment.
 

Explain what other things the dentist may do during the appointment.  Use simple, non-technical language. Don’t try to explain X-rays, instead simply say, “The dentist might take some pictures of your teeth with a special camera”.
 

Prior to booking their first appointment, have them accompany you or an older sibling to a routine dental “check up” appointment.  Let them watch how you do it, and then let them have a ride in the chair, and a treat from the treasure box.  We are happy to accommodate children in this way, as are most offices.  This is a great way to get them familiar with the dental office and the staff.


Let your child bring his or her favourite stuffed toy along to their visit.


What should I NOT do when preparing my child for their first dental visit?

  • Do not wait for an emergency to take your child to the dentist for the first visit.
  • If you are nervous about going to the dentist, do not express any of your own fears or anxieties.
  • Do not use phrases like “It won’t hurt” or “Don’t be scared”. Comments like these are not soothing and usually only create anxiety.   


You should take your child to the dentist when they begin to get their teeth – usually around their first birthday.  Until they are approximately 3 – 4 years old, the visits will be short and are done to ensure that there is no decay or other problems present.  Around the age of 3 – 4, children are usually old enough to sit and have their teeth cleaned, along with a “check-up”.
We love seeing children at Sunningdale Dental, and they love coming to see us.  Give us a call today to book your child’s first dental visit.
 

If you’re thinking about getting an oral piercing — or if you already have one — there are some health risks you should know about.

A mouth piercing can interfere with speech, chewing, or swallowing, however of more concern are the following:

 

  • Infection:   Over 700 different strains of bacteria have been detected in the human mouth.  The site of piercing carries the potential for infection. Food particles can also accumulate around piercings and become a breeding ground for bacteria.

 

  • Nerve damage:  Numbness or loss of sensation at the site of the piercing can occur if nerves are damaged when the tongue is pierced. This numbness can be temporary or permanent. Nerve damage can also possibly change your sense of taste or how you move your mouth. 

 

  • Prolonged bleeding.  The tongue is quite vascular, and if blood vessels are punctured during piercing, prolonged bleeding can occur and can cause serious blood loss.

 

  • Swelling.  Swelling commonly occurs after oral piercing. Following piercing, it can be severe enough to block the airway and make breathing difficult.

 

  • Excessive drooling and difficulty speaking and eating: Oral jewelry can cause excessive saliva production and can affect your ability to pronounce words clearly.


  • Damage to teeth:  Teeth that come into contact with mouth jewelry can chip or crack. One study in a dental journal reported that 47% of people wearing barbell tongue jewelry for 4 or more years had at least one chipped tooth
 
  • Gum disease: People with oral piercings have a greater risk of gum disease than those without oral piercings. The jewelry can come into contact with gum tissue causing injury as well as a recession of the gum tissue, which can lead to loose teeth and tooth loss.

 

 
  • Allergic reaction to metal. An allergic reaction to the metal in the jewelry can occur in susceptible people.
 
  • Jewelry aspiration. Jewelry that becomes loose in the mouth can become a choking hazard and, if swallowed, can result in injury to the lungs or digestive track.
 
  • X-rays: Mouth jewelry can interfere with dental radiographs (x-rays).
 
  • Bloodborne disease transmission: Oral piercing is a potential risk factor for the transmission of herpes simplex virus and hepatitis B and C.
 
  • Heart Problems: Oral piercings carry a potential risk of endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart valves or tissues. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream through the piercing site in the mouth and travel to the heart, where they can cause serious problems.


There are many suggestions out there on home remedies for tooth whitening. They range from mixing a half a teaspoon of baking soda together with a teaspoon of lemon juice and brushing with it, to adding salt to your toothpaste, to rubbing a banana peel on your teeth, to apple cider vinegar, to hydrogen peroxide. The efficacy of these methods is very doubtful, and the risk of permanent damage to your teeth far outweighs the benefit.
 

In this blog post we will comment on a few of these methods.

1. Lemon juice: Lemon juice, fresh or not, will not whiten teeth. Lemon juice is actually citric acid and has a very low pH of 2.3 (which is very acidic). It will erode the outer enamel covering of a tooth. This can cause sensitivity and rapid tooth decay.

 

2. Baking Soda:  The abrasive properties of baking soda can cause excessive wear and damage to the enamel of your teeth. This results in sensitivity and increased risk for developing cavities.
 

3. Brushing with Strawberries:  This is another “home remedy” purported to help whiten teeth, but can be dangerous. Strawberries get their power to brighten teeth from ascorbic acid — and acids are harmful to teeth.  It doesn’t take long for acids to erode dental enamel and cause sensitivity and decay.

 

4. Oil Pulling : The Ayurvedic practice of swishing oil in your mouth—may not be bad for you, but there’s little evidence that it cleans teeth and none that it can cure anything else. The practice itself is pretty safe and not likely to cause harm, but hard evidence of the benefits and risks is hard to come by.

 

5. Brushing teeth with salt:  Brushing with salt will not whiten teeth. It will cut the gums and rub away the outer layer of the tooth because it is so abrasive. Your teeth may look whiter, but they will be damaged and are likely to need repair



 

6. Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide:  You should never rinse with hydrogen peroxide to whiten your teeth! This will not only not whiten your teeth, but you can do significant damage to your gums and lining of your mouth. You can also disrupt the normal flora of bacteria in your mouth. The effectiveness of using over the counter hydrogen peroxide as a mouth rinse to bleach your teeth is very ineffective.

 

CONCULSION:  There are many other home remedies out there and while some home remedies MAY appear to whiten your teeth, there’s a real risk of severe and permanent tooth or gum damage when using any of them.   If you erode the enamel on your teeth, you are not only at risk for increased sensitivity and decay, but the underlying dentin (which is a darker colour) can show through and actually make the tooth look darker, not whiter! The safest option and most effective option is to choose a teeth whitening method that requires dental supervision so the dentist can  evaluate your dental health before proceeding, adding a second level of care and caution to prevent damage or discomfort.


Many factors can contribute to the loss of your teeth, including cavities, poor oral hygiene leading to gum and periodontal disease, bite problems, infection, fractured roots, and accidents. When teeth are lost, the bone that was around those teeth is no longer stimulated, and it eventually disintegrates, resulting in teeth shifting, and changes in esthetics of the face among other things.

Dental Implants are the ideal solutions to replace a single tooth or an entire smile. A dental implant is the closest thing to your real teeth. A dental implant is actually a replacement for the root or roots of a tooth. Like tooth roots, a dental implant is a small prosthetic titanium post that is placed in the jaw bone.
 

Dental implants are not visible once surgically placed. After several months of healing, new bone actually grows around the implant helping to secure it firmly. The dental implant post is then used to secure an artificial tooth (crown), bridgework or dentures by a variety of means.
 





Dentures anchored by dental implants can be life changing – allowing patients to eat a normal diet, and to chew food with confidence.


Dental implants are appropriate for almost anyone who is currently missing teeth or may require tooth replacement in the near future. Dental implants give back a patients’ confidence in their smile, the ability to eat comfortably, and a clean, healthy oral environment. Dental implants look and feel exactly like natural teeth: no one other than you and your dentist will be able to tell the difference.

Dental implants are the longest lasting solution to simply replace a missing tooth or to recreate an entirely new smile, even if you don’t have teeth! Dental implants are very strong and durable and will last for many years. Nevertheless, implants do require maintenance. It is important to practice good daily oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing. It is also important to see your dentist and dental hygienist on a regular basis. Special instruments are necessary to clean dental implants that will not damage their metal surface beneath the gum tissues. Your dentist will need to monitor your implants to make sure the bone around the implants is stable, and that the implant crowns, bridgework or dentures are functioning adequately.

Photos courtesy of: Dear Doctor
 



Teeth can be lost through a variety of reasons. Decay, periodontal disease (bone loss), trauma, infection, and congenital abnormalities may all result in tooth loss.

Society values a nice smile, and misjudges those without teeth, hence people often hesitate to smile or speak in social settings if their front teeth are missing. Therefore, most people tend to replace missing front teeth.




But the same value is not put on missing posterior teeth. Because posterior teeth are not visible, they are often de-valued. But any missing tooth can have a big impact on a person’s appearance and their health.



For starters, when a tooth is missing, the adjacent teeth naturally begin to “drift” toward the gap, moving from their optimal position in order to fill the space. Teeth on the top will often “over-erupt” if the tooth below is missing. While a tooth that drifts is not a painful process, it can affect both the appearance of the mouth, and the bite (how your top and bottom teeth fit together). A misaligned bite can cause problems with chewing and biting and can be the source of significant pain.




Another problem lies with the deterioration of bone that occurs at the site of the missing tooth. Your tooth’s root stimulates the bone. Without this stimulation, your jaw bone can deteriorate and cause facial disfigurement. As the bone wastes away, the distortion of the face and a hollow appearance around the mouth can occur. The result of tooth and bone loss can add decades to a person’s appearance. Losing a tooth can result in a 25% decrease in bone width in just the first year. And this bone loss becomes worse and more apparent as the years go by.
 


Teeth are an important structure to help pronounce sounds. When you lose teeth, your speech can become more difficult, and it can be harder for people to understand what you are saying.


Each tooth in your mouth shares the overall workload of chewing and biting. When this happens, it can lead to premature tooth wear and breakage of the remaining teeth, or even the development of TMJ disorder


There are several options to replace missing teeth. Join us on our next blog to see the options and the pros and cons of each option.