What if you could simply take a daily pill to reduce your risk of cavities? There’s no such Silver Bullet today, but it is a very real possibility for the future.
That prediction is based on the findings of a 2016 study by University of Florida Health. Published by the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, the study identified a new strain of bacteria – a form of Streptococcus, called A12. Researchers from the University of Florida College of Dentistry were originally trying to determine the causes of high pH in the mouth. But in the process, they discovered that A12 had an unexpected benefit. It combats “bad” bacteria in the mouth, specifically bacteria which cause excess acid in saliva.
The Importance of Acid
As we discussed in our last post, too-high pH levels can erode enamel and damage teeth. The discovery of A12’s acid-neutralizing powers could lead to probiotic supplements to boost its concentration in the mouth. That simple pill could balance oral pH and help keep your teeth strong and healthy.
While this new development might someday help protect against cavities, it wouldn’t replace healthy brushing habits or regular visits to Meyer & Johns Dental. If you are overdue for your six-month check-up, schedule it today!
Heart disease, joint problems, lack of energy – We hear a lot about the consequences from being overweight and inactive. Diabetes gets most of the attention, since the number of diabetic Americans has ballooned to 30 million in recent years. That’s nearly 10 percent of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s National Diabetes Statistics Report for 2017. That number represents a 400 percent increase in the disease prevalence in just the last 20 years.
Diabetes and your mouth
And now new research is showing that diabetes can also contribute to periodontal (gum) disease. As reported in the journal Science Daily this month, a new University of Pennsylvania study found that diabetes causes changes in the oral microbiome, or the microscopic environment of the mouth and upper throat. The elevated glucose (blood sugar) levels common in diabetics also lead to glycemic imbalance inside the mouth. That disruption creates favorable conditions for gum inflammation, leading to infection (periodontitis), and enhanced risk of bone loss from the disease.
The study clinically affirmed a previously ignored link between diabetes and periodontal disease. However, the researchers noted that the risk to diabetic individuals is greatly reduced with effective glycemic control, either through diet and exercise, or supplemental insulin treatments. Also, the team specifically called out good oral hygiene as a tool to further reduce individual risk.
Effective Gum Care
As mentioned in our blog post from last year, gum health is a critical component of good overall oral health. Gingivitis – inflammation of the gums – is caused by a buildup of bacteria found in plaque, and can lead to periodontitis. The good news is that gum disease is preventable with regular check-ups, professional cleanings and good oral hygiene at home. This includes brushing and flossing daily, and telling your Meyer & Johns dental professional if you have any pain or bleeding in your gums.
If you experience these symptoms, let us know when you make your next appointment. We’ll make sure you’re armed with everything you need to make healthy choices for both your body and your mouth.
Today, June 20, marks the Summer Solstice, signaling the peak season for outdoor activities, including picnics and cookouts. All those smells and tastes may bring back fond summertime memories. But did you know that juicy tomatoes and fresh-squeezed lemonade contain acid that can be hard on your teeth?
Acid content is measured its pH value, with 7.0 indicating neutral acidity. These pH levels are ranked on a descending scale, so a pH level of 0 indicates the highest acid level. The higher numbers (from 7.0 -14.0) are lowest pH, also classified as “alkaline”, or non-acidic.
The FDA ranks the average acidity of foods, and it turns out that many summer staples made the wrong end of the list. Several of our Meyer & Johns staff’s favorite fresh seasonal fruits are in the Top Ten most-acidic foods, according to Colgate:
Lemon Juice – #1
Limes – #2
Grapes – #5
Blueberries – #8
Click here for the full rankings of acid content for common fresh fruits and vegetables, as published by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The good news is that there are easy remedies for reducing the residual acid on teeth.
Drink – The simplest solution is the most important – for both physical AND oral health. Drinking plenty of water ensures that any remaining food particles, plaque-causing sugars or residual acids are flushed away. Drinking enough water is also critical for proper hydration during the sweaty summer months.
Dairy – Besides naturally reducing acid in your mouth, milk, cheeses and other dairy products contain calcium and casein (milk protein). Both of these help strengthen teeth and protect your enamel.
Brush – As always, we recommend brushing after meals or sugary snacks. This may not be easy at picnics, cookouts or the lake, but it’s still the most effective way to keep a healthy smile.
If you have questions about how different foods affect your overall oral health, contact us or ask during your next regular visit.
Did you know? The earliest recorded use of toothbrushes occurred in China in the 7th Century, A.D. They utilized bamboo for handles, and bristles made from hog’s hair specially sourced from Siberia for its coarser, stiffer texture. Eww…
Toothbrushes have come a long way since then. Some of today’s modern innovations include prototype models that use mild electrical charges to dislodge plaque from teeth. With numerous traditional and electric toothbrush products available, as well as brush stiffness options, consumers face a lot of choices. We’ll help you break them down:
The most obvious benefit of traditional models is simplicity – pick it up, apply toothpaste and go. Additionally, manual toothbrushes are relatively inexpensive (or even free with checkups at Meyer & Johns Dental!) The main drawback of manuals is human error, with the most common mistakes being inconsistent cleaning of all tooth surfaces, and using too much/too little pressure.
There are many benefits to electric toothbrushes. Both oscillating (rotating head) and sonic (vibrating head) models offer superior cleaning, removing an average of 21 percent more plaque than traditional brushes, according to Consumer Reports. Electrics were also recommended for arthritis sufferers or others with dexterity issues that prevent effective manual brushing. Additionally, use of an electric model was shown to reduce gingivitis by 11 percent, likely due to the more consistent brush-on-tooth pressure that they allow.
Cost is the primary drawback to electrics. In addition to the base unit, users must purchase more-expensive replacement brush heads, which must be changed roughly as often as traditional brushes. Additionally, they must remain charged, and the corded bases are less compact, which may be cumbersome for frequent travelers.
Children’s electrics offer the best of both worlds. Besides delivering enhanced plaque removal, nearly all models include an automatic timer. This supports development of good brushing habits by notifying the child when they’ve finished the recommended two-minute brushing time.
Consumer Reports dental adviser Jay W. Friedman, D.D.S. noted that – regardless of toothbrush model – the important thing is to keep brushing. But he also warned against over-brushing, which can degrade enamel and cause gums to recede.
Whatever your choice, Meyer & Johns Dental wants you to BRUSH! Ask us the next time you schedule your regular check-up, and we’ll help you choose the brushes that are best for your family’s unique needs.