Wednesday, May 27, 2015

There's HOW MUCH sugar in my drink??

Dentists and dental hygienists have been telling people forever not to drink sodas or eat candy and sweets because of the harm it will do to their teeth.  It's no mystery or new revelation that sugary sodas can cause cavities, tooth pain, and even tooth loss.  What may be surprising to learn is that it's not just the usual suspects of Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, etc that are dangerous for teeth; in fact there are many "healthy" or "sugar-free" drinks that may be even worse!

Most fruit drinks, juices, fruit-flavor waters, energy drinks like Gatorade, and DIET sodas also contain a huge amount of sugar and/or ACID which is very harmful to your teeth.  Many of these drinks are a Double Whammy for teeth in that they cause acid erosion AND provide sugar for bacteria that live on teeth to feed on.  Those bacteria release even MORE acid which can quickly destroy the protective enamel of teeth.

But perhaps some of the WORST drinks for your teeth might be some of the newcomers to the market-the high octane energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster, Full Throttle, etc.  My personal favorite is KickStart from Mountain Dew (Orange Juice and Mountain Dew mixed together, for BREAKFAST?  Seriously?)  The sugar and acid content of these drinks may be up to 4 OR 5 TIMES that of a traditional soda.

What's more, many people who consume these drinks tend to drink MULTIPLE drinks throughout the day, and tend to sip on them over a long period of time while playing video games or watching TV.  This gets to the heart of one of the biggest issues with sugary drinks; its not necessarily just the AMOUNT of sugar IN the drink; but the frequency and length of time that one takes takes to drink one of these beverages.

This brings up another drink which we don't often think of as being bad for teeth (except for staining)-Coffee.  Most notably, the large flavored coffees from Starbucks, etc that have highly concentrated syrups in them.  We tend to sip on these very slowly which bathes our teeth with sugar and provides a high frequency sucrose attack.  The same goes for Sweet Tea (NOOOOOO! -say all us southerners!).

What IS the best and safest beverage to drink?  Well, good old H2O is just about the only thing that is good for teeth.  And to be more specific-tap water! Why? Because in most areas tap water contains Fluoride which is great for preventing tooth decay (we'll cover that topic in a future blog).  Unfortunately, as bottled water has become more popular, we have seen the incidence of cavities go up.  So if you tend to drink mostly bottled water or live in an area without Fluoride, be sure you ask your dentist about a Fluoride supplement. 

So just a few final things about sugar in relation to your teeth:
-It's not just WHAT you drink or eat, but HOW OFTEN and HOW MUCH you consume.  We dentists are not totally against sodas, I have one myself all the time.  We just recommend you have a soda or candy and be done with it, don't slowly drink or eat it over a long period of time
-Be aware that many fruit drinks and energy drinks have a VERY high level of sugar.  A good website for reference on sugar content is  
-Avoid sugary syrups and/or sweeteners in coffee and tea
  Pretty Much Everything Else=Bad (Even milk has lactose-a form of sugar)
-Talk to your dental professional for more specific information, or for information specific for your situation.  

Gregory A. Clepper, DMD

Monday, May 11, 2015

At what age should I should I take my child to the dentist for their first visit?

This is one of the questions we get asked the most, and it's a great question because opinions may vary among dentists.  The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry ( strongly recommends that your child sees a dentist when the first tooth appears in the mouth or by their first birthday, whichever comes first.  This visit is mostly educational in nature.  The dentist will spend time discussing oral hygiene needs for your child as they grow and discuss different methods to care for their teeth, as well as dietary guidelines that will help they have cavity-free appointments throughout life. 

Often for children under 3 we will recommend they sit in your lap during examination, especially if they are anxious or fidgety.  The dentist will look in their mouth and check on tooth development and look for any problems with their teeth or gums.  If the child allows, a gentle cleaning will be performed.  Finally, we will review brushing and flossing procedures for both the child and parent and give recommendations for products to assist with home care. 

As your child gets a bit older we will recommend taking X-rays when appropriate to check for cavities and make sure the adult teeth are developing properly.  We may also recommend Fluoride treatments and/or Sealants to prevent decay.  Some children are referred to an Orthodontist at an early age(5-6) if they have some early crowding or spacing problems.

Here at our office we love to see kids of all ages.  However, we usually recommend your child see a local Pediatric Dental Specialist if they are age 3 and under.  This is because pediatric dental offices do a great job of allowing extra time to counsel parents for each child's specific needs and situation and can treat children at a very young age with special sedation if needed.  Most of the time we begin seeing your children at the age of 4.  If your child shows a high level of anxiety or has a need for more advanced dental care, then we may recommend a referral to a Pediatric Dentist as well.

Here are some of the wonderful local Pediatric Dentists we work with:

Dr. Lee Baker
Dr. Amber Perry
Dr. Phil Miller
Drs. David Brantley, John Spratling, and Gary Katcoff
Dr. Andy Chandler
Dr. Barbara Utermark

Gregory A. Clepper, DMD