Posts for tag: enamel
It’s a common conversation in a pediatric dentist’s office. “I don’t know what to do. My whole family has bad teeth.” Or, “I just don’t understand, we brush twice a day, everyday and she doesn’t drink soda. How can she have cavities?”
So, if the children that are receiving proper dental care are getting cavities, as well as the ones that aren’t brushing and flossing, we have to ask: Is there a such thing as bad teeth? Soft enamel?
Can your child’s, and your very own, dental problems be blamed on genetics, rather than poor dental hygiene? And if so, is this the ultimate excuse or are there ways to avoid these so-called, “bad teeth?”
In recent years, medical progress is being made on so many levels. Genetics are being studied on all levels to see just what role our genes play in our overall health and what we can do to overcome any genetic shortcomings. Because our dental health is so closely tied to our overall health and well-being (remember how dental disease and inflammation is linked to heart disease?), it makes complete sense that scientists are also studying the link between genetics and dental health.
So, is dental health genetic? The answer is yes. . . and no. Sometimes? It’s complicated. While scientists are finding genetic factors that affect some aspects of oral health, they are also confirming many environmental factors that play key roles in dental health- factors we can control.
Tooth decay, Bacteria and Sugar
Sugar in the food we eat feeds communities of hundreds of different types of bacteria that live on our teeth. The acid produced by these bacteria erodes the hard, outer layer of our teeth (the enamel) to cause cavities (tooth decay).
These bacteria in our mouth, the ones that cause tooth decay, aren’t present at birth. We normally acquire them shortly after birth, probably from other family members- think kisses on the mouth, pacifiers, teething items. Recent studies have been able to pinpoint which groups of bacteria are responsible for damaging our teeth. And it turns out that it’s not the genetic (inheritable) bacteria that are causing the tooth decay.
Want to take a stab at what types of bacteria can form cavities? You guessed it! The ones influenced by environmental factors like sugary foods! In fact, sugary drinks may be the very worst for your teeth! They are particularly adept at spreading sugar to every corner of your mouth, feeding the bacteria that cause decay. The good news is that the same types of bacteria in sugary foods that can form cavities, can also be brushed off your teeth!
But the story isn’t that simple.
While tooth decay is largely preventable, some people are more at risk of it than others. And genetics do play a role. Genes can affect how teeth develop and if teeth do not form properly, their enamel can actually be less resistant to bacteria. Genes can also affect whether your teeth will come in crooked or straight. Teeth that are crooked and overcrowded provide more areas for bacteria to hide and grow in, as they are more difficult to completely clean. Brushing and flossing become even more important in these situations, as a constant presence of these bacteria can cause cavities to form.
The color of your teeth is another area that is determined by both genetic and environmental factors. The way in which the white enamel (and the underlying yellow dentine) forms during development is mainly due to our genes. Those whose teeth develop naturally with thinner enamel will have teeth that appear more yellow. Environmental factors that affect the teeth can be broken up into intrinsic factors (those that affect the teeth as they are developing) and extrinsic (those affecting the tooth after it develops). Intrinsic factors could include exposure to antibiotic tetracycline in the womb or excess fluoride as a child. Extrinsic factors affecting tooth color would be drinking coffee or tea and smoking.
So, tooth color, like tooth health, can be affected by both genetics and environmental. And while we can’t control the genetic factors, we can make changes to the environmental factors.
The message is still the same. Your teeth may be inherited, but bad oral health habits do not have to be. Everyone needs to take care of their teeth. Some people may have to work a little harder than others. But we can all take simple steps to ensure proper oral health. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, brush your teeth and have regular check-ups.
Anderson Pediatric Dentistry can help you take care of your child’s smile. Give us a call today at 864-760-1440 and let us give you Something to Smile About!
The internet and social media are buzzing with ads and promotions about the latest miracle ingredient- activated charcoal. This black substance can be used on everything from your hair to your skin to your teeth. With so much hype, we figured it’s time to take a look and give an honest opinion on whether using activated charcoal to whiten your teeth is actually a good idea.
When my wife first asked me if she should try it on her teeth, my gut reaction was that it was way too abrasive. Luckily she listened to me. At the time, I hadn’t researched it much and there hadn’t been too many studies on its effectiveness. Looking at the data now, it seems that activated charcoal may very well be the trendy way to whiten teeth, but it’s certainly not the safest for your teeth.
First, let’s look at what it is and what it does. Activated charcoal is not new. It’s been used for medicinal purposes, such as the emergency treatment of poisoning, for years. Activated charcoal works on your teeth in the same manner it works internally in the body. Activated charcoal’s pores bind with rough parts on teeth, usually surface stains and plaque, making it easier to remove the yellowing substances. The idea is that once it has been given enough time to stick to the rough spots (stains) on your teeth, it can be removed and will take the plaque, food particles and surface stains with it. This is how the activated charcoal succeeds in whitening teeth – by getting rid of surface stains in one brushing.
At first, this sounds great, almost like the miracle product it claims to be. However, because it latches onto grittiness found on the surface of teeth, activated charcoal only works on surface stains and does not change the color of teeth that are deeply stained or naturally yellowing. Furthermore, and most important, the abrasiveness of the charcoal, combined with the brushing against the teeth’s enamel, can cause thinning and erosion of the enamel. Because enamel does not replenish itself, damage is permanent. Once enamel becomes eroded, teeth will actually begin to look more yellow as the darker inner layer, the dentin, begins to show through the tooth. So, the immediate whitening you may achieve could cause your teeth to look more discolored in time. Unfortunately, the discoloration due to eroded enamel cannot be reversed.
The ADA has published multiple articles citing that the effectiveness of activated charcoal has not been substantiated. (See links below) Given the potential long-term damage to your teeth, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry stands by the recommendations of the American Dental Association (ADA) in recommending that our patients steer clear of activated charcoal on their teeth and instead, seek products that have been endorsed with the ADA Seal of Approval, which guarantees that these products have been evaluated by the ADA for safety and effectiveness.
We encourage you to come in and speak with us about your whitening options. We can recommend safe options that suit your goals and needs without compromising the long-term health of your teeth.
As always, we encourage you to make educated choices about your child’s oral health and invite you to read more about activated charcoal and its effects.
Soda. Is it really that bad for your teeth?
The short answer is yes. Sugar in soda, combines with the bacteria in your mouth to form acid, which eats away at your teeth. And diet drinks aren’t necessarily better. They may not contain the sugar, but both regular and diet, or “Sugar-free” sodas contain their own acids which attack the teeth.
Erosion begins when the acids encounter the tooth’s enamel. This is your tooth’s protective covering. Think of it like an eggshell. Once it’s softened or eroded, there’s nothing left to protect the sensitive inside of the tooth, often leading to further damage of the next layer, the dentin, and cavities.
While drinking water is the best option, we aren’t saying that you can’t enjoy an occasional, refreshing soda. But, we are going to give you tips to help lessen the damage.
Don’t Sip All Day –
Each time you drink a sugary beverage, whether it’s soda, lemonade, fruit juice or sports drinks, the acids from the drink and those formed by the sugar and bacteria in your mouth will attack your teeth. With each sip, this attack will begin again and last for about 20 minutes. If you sip sugary drinks all day, your teeth are under constant attack. If you choose to drink a sugary drink, don’t sip it over a long period. Consume it all at once. This means that children should not be drinking sugary drinks, even fruit juice, from a sippy cup or bottle throughout the day.
Limit or Eliminate Sugary Drinks-
Water is your best option, and milk provides the calcium needed to actually strengthen your child’s teeth. While we would love to see all sugary drinks eliminated from your child’s daily diet, we realize that it may not happen immediately. If you can’t eliminate it, at least choose to limit sugary drinks to no more than one soda a day. Aside from empty calories that children don’t need, even one soda a day will do damage.
Use a Straw-
Drinking out of a straw will help to keep the damaging acids and sugars away from your teeth.
Rinse Your Mouth With Water-
Rinsing your mouth with water after drinking soda will help to wash away any excess sugars and acids and stop them from continuing to attack your teeth.
Brush, but NOT Right Away-
While it may seem smart to brush your teeth right after drinking a soda, it can actually do more harm. The teeth that have just been attacked by the acid are vulnerable and the friction from a toothbrush can actually damage the enamel. Rinse with water after drinking a soda and then brush 30-60 minutes later.
Avoid Soft Drinks and Sugary Drinks at Bedtime-
Consuming a soda before bed will allow the sugar and acid to attack your teeth all night long!
Get Regular Dental Cleanings-
Regular check-ups and exams will help to identify and monitor any problems or damage before they worsen or become painful.
Again, water is always best. But, if you are drinking soda, there are some that are “better” than others, or at least, not as bad.
Check out the table below from the Mississippi State Department of Health’s website
Acid and Sugar in Soft Drinks
We hope this information will help you and your family to make informed decisions regarding your child’s diet and oral health. As always, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry is always available to answer your questions and discuss your child’s individual needs. Call us to schedule your appointment today (864-760-1440) and let us give you and your child Something to Smile About!