Category: General Dentistry

Cavity Prevention Pills?!

cavity prevention
             Someday reducing cavities could be this easy.

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.

New Research

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!

Can extra body weight lead to gum disease?

High blood sugar from diabetes harms teeth
Elevated blood sugar is NOT OK for your teeth!

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.

Manual vs. Electric: Toothbrushes Go Head-to-Head

manual vs. electric toothbrushes
Manual vs. Electric: Which is right for you?

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:

Manual

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.

Electric

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.

For Kids

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.

Spring Sports Protection

Mouthguards protect young athletes' teeth
Spring means warm weather and outdoor sports. Protect your athlete’s teeth!

On a sunny summer afternoon on a dusty baseball diamond, the crack of a line drive rings out. As the infielder stoops to make the play, a ripple in the dirt causes a bad hop and the ball ricochets up, hitting them in the mouth. This player is lucky – the result is just a bloody lip, but other times the damage can be more serious.

As the weather turns warm and kids migrate back outside for play, activities or sports, parents may need to consider a mouthguard to protect young athletes. As with most parenting decisions, the choice is highly individualized and subjective, and should be based on;

  •   risk potential (contact vs. non-contact sports)
  •   the competitive environment, and
  •   the intensity at which your athlete performs.

 

The Best Defense is…

Though there are variable factors, the risks are very real. A 2014 report on the National Institutes of Health website notes that sports injuries account for 13% of all childhood dental trauma, and boys are twice as likely as girls to be injured. The long standing-recommendation has been the use of a protective mouthguard to prevent external and tooth-on-tooth damage from impacts during competitive play. Of course, special precautions must be taken for players with braces or other orthodontic devices.

However, most guards represent a delicate balancing act between comfort and safety. Some offer excellent protection, but it’s due to their thick material or bulky design. Those factors may make them uncomfortable, and can cause athletes to avoid or “forget” to wear them. And the 1st rule of any protective equipment is: it’s only effective if it’s used. So make sure your athlete is involved and comfortable with the choice.

There are three main types of mouthguard, each with benefits and drawbacks.

Custom Dental

Custom mouthguards protect the best, but can be pricey. 

Customized guards are the most precise-fitting devices, created with molds made from plaster casts of the patient’s own teeth. These are also the most expensive option, but provide superior protection, quality, and comfort. Their custom nature accommodates unique mouth dimensions and tooth irregularities, while maintaining optimal thickness across all surfaces. The fitting of a custom mouthguard must also be overseen by a dental professional.

Boil-and-Bite

boil-and-bite mouthguard
Self-fitting mouthguards offer economical protection.

Recent advances in over-the-counter consumer products allow at-home fitting with self-molding kits. These packages cost a fraction of the custom price, and are available in most sporting goods stores and online retailers. The process consists of dipping the device in boiling water to soften the composite plastic, cooling it briefly to avoid burns, then biting into the gel to mold the guard to the patient’s teeth. While not as comfortable as custom guards, this option can be viable for patients with braces, and provides superior protection to traditional rubber guards.

 

Traditional 

Basic guards are fine for most low-impact sports

Designed mainly to protect chipping caused by tooth-on-tooth contact, these one-size-fits-all guards do little to protect teeth against exterior impacts to the mouth, chin or jaw areas. The upside is that they are very inexpensive, making them an affordable option for low mouth-risk sports or forgetful athletes who are prone to losing things.

Broader Benefits

Regardless of the sport or possible dental injury, active kids are healthy kids. Get them up, move them outdoors, and keep them playing – the benefits of exercise far outweigh any potential risks for most kids and teens. And if you have concerns about choosing a mouthguard for your young athlete, contact us with questions and we’ll be happy to discuss the available options.