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The community health awareness group, Oral Health America has reported that 82 percent of adults are unaware of the role that infectious bacteria can play in tooth decay or cavities, and almost three out of five children aged 12 to 19 have tooth decay. Since June is National Smile Month, Dr. Dave Ries and his staff at Robinson and Ries Orthodontics thought we’d remind our patients about the importance of good oral hygiene visits between office visits.
To keep your family’s smiles healthy and beautiful for years to come, be sure to:
- Brush at least twice a day
- Use your prescribed fluoride tooth paste as directed
- Floss every day to clean between your teeth
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Reduce your intake of sugary foods and drinks
- Visit Drs. Robinson and Ries for scheduled appointments
- See your general dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings
If you want to know more about healthy home care habits, feel free to ask our team at your next appointment, or ask us on Facebook!
Genetics may indeed increase your chances of getting cavities—and having a sweet tooth can also be inherited
Even adults who brush and floss diligently have heard those dreaded words from their dentists: You have a cavity. Lots of factors come into play in causing cavities, but do some people have a cavity gene that exacerbates the problem? One expert, Michael Glick, a professor at the School of Dental Medicine at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, explains how DNA may be your dental enemy and why sealants could be your teeth’s best friend.
BLAME YOUR PARENTS
Genetics may increase your chances of having primary-tooth cavities by up to 64% according to some studies, says Dr. Glick, who is editor in chief of the Journal of the American Dental Association. But it isn’t clear which part of the cavity-forming process is affected. “The way enamel is formed on the tooth is probably the best candidate for genetics to have an impact,” he says.
Information about the genetic roots to tooth decay comes mainly from research on identical twins. But those studies also have shown that having a sweet tooth can be inherited, Dr. Glick says. “It’s hard to separate a high-sugar diet that will predispose one to develop cavities from a genetic predisposition,” he says.
No groups of people have yet been shown to be more genetically predisposed to cavities than others, Dr. Glick says. While certain communities tend to have more cavities, this is most likely related to dietary choices.
SUGAR IS THE ENEMY
Even if you’re convinced you have the cavity gene, “there is solid evidence that without sugar you cannot get cavities,” Dr. Glick says. He tells everyone to reduce how much sugar they consume, and how frequently they ingest it, especially the kind that clings to teeth such as sticky candy and sugary drinks. “If we look at places in America where sugary sodas are the drink of choice, people there have pretty bad teeth.”
TAKING EXTRA CARE
If you believe you have a predisposition to tooth decay, Dr. Glick says it is especially important to follow hygiene recommendations—brush twice a day, floss regularly, rinse daily with an antibacterial mouth wash and see a dentist at least twice a year. “Fluoride is put into the water in many American communities and it is one of the best public-health interventions we’ve had since the 1950s. It works,” he says.
Plastic sealants, which are applied in a dentist’s chair, are also very effective at preventing cavities. “This material covers the natural cracks in the teeth, which means food and sugar don’t get stuck in there,” he says. Sealants also help re-mineralize teeth, “so if you have the early stages of a cavity, your tooth can strengthen the enamel a little and heal itself.”
CAVITIES, CAVITIES EVERYWHERE
Tooth decay is fairly common, and people shouldn’t be overly concerned with whether they are genetically predisposed to it or not, Dr. Glick says. One-fifth of people in the U.S. have untreated cavities, which can lead to root canals and lots of pain. And many people neglect their oral hygiene—about 25% of Americans over age 60 have lost all their teeth, he says.
Don’t sweat the genetics, he says. “See your dentist often, brush regularly and get your cavities filled quickly,” whether your parents had lots of cavities or not.
Many people who are careful about brushing and flossing their teeth wonder how they still end up with cavities or tooth decay. Several factors affect wear and tear on tooth enamel. Diet is a major factor, with certain foods increasing the likelihood that your enamel will become discolored or decayed. Pay close attention to the foods you eat to keep your pearly whites looking healthy and clean.
What causes enamel damage?
Tooth enamel refers to the hard, semi-translucent, whitish part of the tooth that shows above your gums. The enamel is primarily composed of minerals that are strong but susceptible to highly acidic foods. When acid reacts with the minerals in enamel, it results in tooth decay. Strongly pigmented foods can also damage enamel by discoloring the surface of the tooth.
Foods that harm enamel
Acidic foods are the greatest source of enamel damage. To determine whether a food is acidic, look up its pH. Scientists use pH, on a one-to-seven scale, to define the relative acidity or alkalinity of a substance. Foods with low pH levels, between a one and three, are high in acidity and may damage your enamel. Foods with high pH levels, such as a six or seven, are far less likely to cause enamel harm.
So which foods should you avoid? Many fruits are high in acidity, including lemons, grapefruit, strawberries, grapes, and apples. The high sugar and acid content in soda makes it another huge contributor to enamel decay. Moderately acidic foods include pineapple, oranges, tomatoes, cottage cheese, maple syrup, yogurt, raisins, pickles, and honey. The foods that are least likely to cause enamel damage include milk, most cheeses, eggs, and water.
Beverages such as red wine and coffee also damage the enamel by discoloring it. Although stains do not necessarily undermine the integrity of your teeth, they can be unsightly.
What can I do to prevent enamel damage?
Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to prevent your enamel from discoloring or decaying. The easiest way to avoid decay is to steer clear of high-acidity foods. This may not always be possible, but eliminating sugary fruit juices and soda from your diet is a good start. Brushing your teeth after each meal and flossing frequently also preserves your enamel. Another good idea is to rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after eating to wash away high-acidity particles.
Although enamel damage is common, it does not have to be an inevitable occurrence. Knowing the foods that harm your teeth gives you the tools to prevent discoloration and decay. With some easy preventive measures, your teeth will stay strong and white for years to come! Give us a call at Robinson and Ries Orthodontics to learn more!
Keeping your teeth clean is more important than ever when you have braces! Food bits have more spots than usual to hide in your mouth, so you must be diligent in order to avoid bad breath, swollen gums, discolored teeth and cavities. If you remove plaque regularly during treatment, you’ll experience better results and shorter treatment time. Keep plaque at bay with these top ten tips:
1. One tooth at a time. When you brush, take time with each individual tooth – at least 10 seconds each – and pay careful attention to the spots where your teeth touch your braces.
2. It’s all about the angles. Brush the tops of your teeth and braces with your brush angled down toward where they meet. Brush the bottoms of your teeth and braces with your brush angled up.
3. The tooth, the whole tooth, nothing but the tooth. While the front surface of your teeth may seem like the most logical to clean, it’s equally important to clean the inner surface of your teeth (tongue side) as well as the chewing surface. And be sure to clean along your gum line – a key spot for plaque buildup. In fact, you really need to massage those gums while you brush. Don’t scrub your gums, massage!
4. Step 1: eat, step 2: clean. While you’re in treatment, it’s important to brush after every meal. Bits of food can easily get caught between braces and teeth, and these food bits interact with bacteria in your mouth to cause decay. The longer food is in contact with your teeth, the greater opportunity for plaque to form. If you are eating somewhere that you can’t brush, thoroughly rinse your mouth with water.
5. Like a Boy Scout, always be prepared. The easiest way to be sure you can brush after every meal is to get in the habit of taking a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss with you wherever you go. Designate a special container just for your teeth-cleaning tools and keep it in your purse, backpack, or laptop case.
6. Remove the moving parts. If you have elastic bands, remove them before you brush or floss.
7. Fluoride is your friend. Fluoride helps prevent cavities. We may have given you a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste to use every night. Be sure you follow the instructions.
8. Pointy brushes reach tiny places. Interproximal brushes (sometimes called proxa brushes or interdental brushes) are cone-shaped and come in very handy for reaching spots around your braces that standard brushes can’t.
9. Find the floss for you. Regular floss works for some patients, but others find it easier to work with a floss threader, which helps you get the floss into tight places. Other patients like an all-in-one product called Superfloss, which comes with a stiff end for easy threading, a spongy section for cleaning wide spaces, and regular floss for narrow spaces. If you can’t get the hang of flossing, the Waterpik Waterflosser is an excellent tool!
10. Make time for the pros. It’s your job to take care of the everyday cleaning. But make sure to visit your dentist regularly while in treatment, to get the deep, thorough cleaning that only a professional can provide. If you need help finding the right Dentist for you, feel free to contact our office – we’d love to help!
Most kids love candy; actually, most people in general love candy. So when it comes time for you to get braces there can often be a natural conflict between candy consumption and maintaining the integrity of your braces. For that reason, we at Robinson and Ries Orthodontics, know that it’s good to know which types of candy are not good for your braces. To better illustrate, here are some candies that you will want to avoid.
Caramel is a sweet and often exceedingly sticky and chewy type of candy that just does not mix well with braces. Caramel can cause a mess in regular teeth, but teeth with braces are a whole other story. The sticky candy can very easily get lodged and stuck between the teeth, gums, and braces, making for a difficult task of cleaning your mouth. And if your teeth don’t get cleaned properly, cavities can easily form.
Salt Water Taffy
Another sticky and chewy candy to avoid with braces is salt water taffy. For many of the same reasons as caramel, it is best to avoid taffy until you get your braces removed. It may be a long wait, but when it comes to the health of your teeth, and the purpose of your braces, it really is best to avoid taffy.
Popcorn of any kind is best to avoid when you have braces. The kernels can easily do damage to the braces as you chomp on them, and they can get stuck between your teeth and the braces causing discomfort and further complications. In this sense it does not matter which flavor of candy popcorn you eat, all popcorn is bad news until you get your braces off.
Generally speaking, any candy that is chewy, crunchy, or sticky is not a good idea to eat with braces in your mouth. These types of candy will make life wearing braces much more difficult than if you were to just wait until your braces come off.
Trick or Treat
Going Trick or Treat? That’s okay. We want you to have fun! BUT, bring us your hard and sticky stuff on November 1st from 8:00 to 5:00 and we will let you exchange it for a prize. You can spin the wheel of fortune for that loot and win $2 per pound or more, or prizes like Movie tickets. Your candy will be donated to charity.
Not everyone is born with a million-dollar smile, not even some celebrities. The following stars have all had their moments as a “brace face,” either as a child, teenager, or adult. You might be surprised to learn about stars who had braces (including Gwen Stefani, who got braces just because she could!).
Take a look at some famous faces who sported braces!
Emma Watson: Emma admits to going through a rather awkward stage that included “terrible skin,” fluctuating weight, and braces. But look at the swan that emerged!
Tom Cruise: Who would have thought that one of the world’s most famous smiles could use an overhaul? Well, Mr. Cruise pulled it off … and most people didn’t even know. He wore “invisible” braces that had ceramic brackets for a few months just after his 40th birthday. And the results were pretty WOW!
Dakota Fanning: This lovely young actress had some troublesome teeth when she was younger. However, braces and dental work gave her that stunning star-quality smile we see now. Props to her, though, for staying real. She sported her headgear during an appearance on The Tonight Show and didn’t bat an eye.
Gwyneth Paltrow: The stunning Ms. Paltrow, who, in 2013 was named the Most Beautiful Woman by People Magazine, wore braces in high school. And she probably carried it off with the poise and grace for which she is so famous today.
Niall Horan: This member of One Direction, the boy band that’s currently tearing it up (and breaking some hearts along the way) wore his braces for several months. He got them removed in April 2013.
Other notable celebs who have had braces include Faye Dunaway, who got hers at the age of 61! Ryan Seacrest, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and Drew Barrymore also belonged to the metal mouth club at one time or another.
What is comes down to is this: It isn’t whether you wear braces that are fully hidden, ceramic brackets, or have the traditional metal train tracks running across your teeth. Nope, it’s all about how you work it!
Which brings us to the theme of our latest contest…guess the celebrity smile. This is an “in-office” contest. Come on in and guess for a chance to win movie tickets. You don’t even have to be right to win!
Kids can be picky eaters. How many times have you seen your child try to hide the peas under a mound of mashed potatoes?
It can be hard to get your child to eat the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables. The task of providing fun, nutritious meals becomes even more challenging if he or she wears braces. It’s an age-old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
- Scrambled eggs are soft and easy to eat if you have braces. If you drown them in ketchup (which many kids love to do), eggs become even mushier. Minimal chewing is required, and that’s the key to a braces-friendly recipe.
- A healthy breakfast provides energy and jump-starts metabolism. A smoothie is not only a good source of fruit, but it’s also gentle on braces. More importantly, smoothies are fun to create. You can toss anything in the blender (bananas, mangoes, strawberries, spinach) and create a drink that’s loaded with vitamins and antioxidants.
- If you wear braces, eating crunchy cereals or granola for breakfast is out of the question: Bite down the wrong way and you might snap the wires or dislodge the brackets. However, you can get your grains and oats by substituting oatmeal for cereal. This mushy breakfast treat has a host of health benefits.
- Pancakes are not the healthiest breakfast choice. Still, this Sunday morning favorite is braces-friendly. The idea is to make it healthier by hiding blueberries in the pancake batter just like your child hides peas in the mashed potatoes.
- Toast with jam is ok, but adding peanut butter adds a boost of protein. Try it for yourself!
You and your braces will become good friends over the coming months or years, so it’s important to get your relationship off to a good start. Consider the following recommendations to prevent rocky times ahead:
- Floss, floss, floss. Yes, it’s a pain to floss around your braces, but it’s the best way to prevent gum disease and other oral health problems. Ask Dr. Ries and our staff for floss threaders to make the chore easier. Just a few minutes per day will ensure that you don’t face significant dental health issues when the braces come off.
- Avoid sticky or hard foods. It’s tough to forgo toffee, caramel, hard candies, and other favorite treats, but your braces will thank you. Sticky or hard foods can break a bracket or wire, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.
- Chew with your back teeth. If you’re used to taking large bites with your front teeth, it might be time to switch your eating habits. Taking a large bite of food with your front teeth can leave your braces vulnerable to damage. Instead, cut large foods into pieces and use your back teeth to chew. This is especially important with corn on the cob, which should always be cut from the cob.
- Wear rubber bands. Rubber bands may seem annoying, but failing to comply with wearing them can increase the length of your treatment by months. Wear them now to avoid problems in the future.
There is no such thing as a healthy tan, according to dermatologists, who look at a tan and see a sign of injury. Tanned skin will forever contain cells whose genetic structures have been permanently damaged by the sun.
The sun gives off invisible rays of ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are short, high-energy wavelengths that are absorbed by the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. When you burn, the skin responds to UVB rays by producing chemicals called inflammatory mediators, some of which seep down into the dermis, the skin’s middle layer. These chemicals irritate the tiny blood vessels in the dermis, which swell and create the surface redness of the burn.
At the same time, the UVB rays affect the genetic material of the epidermis, which causes the damage that may lead to skin cancer. Other UVB rays can affect the immune system and interfere with the skin’s ability to repair itself. Finally, UVB radiation attacks the skin’s melanocytes (pigment cells). The melanocytes react by stepping up production of melanin and sending melanasomes to the skin’s surface to act as a filter against the sun’s rays actually damage the DNA of the pigment cells. This kind of genetic damage causes both freckling and the mottled brown of age spots. More seriously, it contributes to the development of melanoma and other skin cancers.
Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays – longer than UVB rays – can also do lasting damage. They penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays, affecting the DNA of the cells in the dermis, attacking cell membranes, and changing the proteins that make up collagen and elastin, which support the skin’s fibrous structure. By undermining these parts of the skin, UVA rays lead directly to wrinkles and sagging of the skin. They also contribute to the loss of support for the skin’s tiny blood vessels, which become permanently dilated. This shows up as a general ruddiness or visible spider veins on the nose, cheeks and chin. UVA rays also play a role in the development of skin cancer.
Despite these facts, a study by the American Academy of Dermatology revealed these attitudes toward tanning among teens:
- 63% of teens believe they look better when they have a tan
- 59% of teens believe that people in general look healthier with a tan
- 43% of teens say they lie out in the sun
- 28% of female teens and 14% of male tens say they never use sun block
- Only three in ten teens who lie out in the sun say they always use sun block
In the past, the ozone layer in the atmosphere provided a blanket of protection from the sun’s damaging rays. The ozone layer in the atmosphere has been thinning over the past several years due to air pollution. As a result, the sun’s damaging rays can reach earth more easily and there has been an increase in the incidence of skin cancers.
Perhaps resulting from the commonly-held myths about tanning, there has been an increased in the use of indoor tanning beds. This is a very dangerous practice.
According to American Academy of Dermatology, indoor tanning before the age of 35 has been associated with a significant increase in the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Yet, over a million Americans, 70% of whom are girls and women, ages 16 to 29 years old, visit a tanning salon daily.
Preventing your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the best way to diminish your chance of getting all skin cancers, including melanoma. Be sun smart. Don’t use tanning beds. Reduce your risk by protecting your skin.
For more information on sun safety and the dangers of indoor tanning, please visit American Academy of Dermatology at http://www.aad.org/public/index.html
For more information about the major types of skin cancer- basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma – please visit our Skin Resource Center.
|UV Index Number||Exposure Level|
|0 to 2||Minimal|
|3 to 4||Low|
|5 to 6||Moderate|
|7 to 9||High|
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) have developed an Ultraviolet (UV) Index to describe the day’s likely levels of exposure to UV rays. You may be able to find the UV Index on television, in the newspaper, and online. The Index predicts UV level using a 0-10+ scale as follows:
While you should always protect your skin, take special care to adopt safe-guards when the UV Index predicts exposure levels of moderate or higher.
Protecting the Skin
To protect against damage from the sun’s rays, it is important to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest; to wear protective clothing; and to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
The time when UV exposure is likely to be greatest is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. during daylight savings time and during the late spring and early summer in North America. Nonetheless, protection from UV rays is important all year round. UV rays can be as strong on cloudy, hazy days as well as on bright, sunny ones.
The Shadow Rule
Another way to determine when to stay out of the sun is by following the shadow rule: “Short Shadow- Seek Shade.” The intensity of UV rays is directly related to the angle of the sun or altitude above the horizon. The shadow rule indirectly determines the sun’s altitude by observing the length of a person’s shadow during the course of the day. When a person’s shadow is shorter than the person is tall, the intensity of the UV rays from the sun is more likely to cause sunburn.
The best protective clothes are loose fitting garments made from fabric that is tightly woven. Darker colors may offer more protection than light-colored clothing, and dry clothes provide better protection than wet ones. A wide-brimmed hat that offers a lot of shade is the best choice for protecting head, face and neck. If long pants and a long sleeved shirt can’t be worn because of the temperature, it is important to wear a dry T-shirt, stay in the shade as much as possible, and always wear sunscreen.
Sunscreens provide protection by absorbing, reflecting or scattering the sun’s rays. They may also contain chemicals that interact with the skin to protect it from UV rays. Sunscreens are rated according to their effectiveness by the sun protection factor (SPF). A product’s SPF number helps determine how long the product will protect you before you need to re-apply it – how long you can stay in the sun without burning. For example, you may normally burn in 20 minutes. If you apply an SPF 15 sunscreen, you’ll be protected for about 300 minutes, or five hours (SPF 15 x 20 minutes = 300 minutes). A person with lightly pigmented skin who burns in 10 minutes would be protected for only about two-and-a-half-hours with SPF 15 (SPF 15 x 10 minutes = 150 minutes).
Sunscreens with SPF numbers higher than 15 may work well for people who have lightly pigmented skin, live at high altitudes, or work or play outdoors much of the day. To get the most protection from your sunscreen, apply it liberally at least 30 minutes before going outside and remember to re-apply it after swimming or perspiring heavily. If you’re taking medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it will make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Certain antibiotics, birth control pills, diuretics, antihistamines, and anti-depressants can increase one’s sensitivity to the sun’s rays.
Some people may have an allergic reaction to sunscreen. They may need to try a different brand of sunscreen or see a dermatologist.
You should always wear a sunscreen with at least SPF 15, no matter what your skin color. Even people with very dark skin can burn and develop skin cancer.
This article is from the American Skin Association