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Diet & Dentistry

Cranberries Have Unique Benefit For Women

A recent study at Rutgers University, and published in Phytochemistry, confirmed a long-held theory that ingestion of cranberries is helpful in protecting against harmful bacterial in the urinary tract. This is due to one of its natural compounds called proanthocyanidin [PAC's], and its anti-adhesion effect.

The anti-adhesion property of cranberries prevents bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract, which is one of the most common regions for a woman to develop a bacterial infection. Half off all women will experience at least one urinary tract infection in their lifetime. E. coli, bacteria that cause urinary tract infections, are becoming increasingly resistant to common antibiotics. The study concluded that 80% of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria were prevented from sticking by the anti-adhesion property of cranberries. There is some conjecture that PAC's found in cranberry may minimize stomach ulcers and gum disease by the same mechanism.

This study compared the action of PAC's in cranberries to those in other foods such as grape and apple juice, dark chocolate and green tea. Apparently, not all PAC-rich foods have the same success or offer the same protection. By means of comparison, one eight-ounce glass of cranberry juice has the equivalent PAC's as a cup of frozen or fresh cranberries, 1/3 cup of sweetened dried cranberries or 1/3 cup of cranberry sauce. Both this study and earlier research show that the benefits of one glass of cranberry juice kicks in about two hours after consumption and lasts for about 10 hours. So, it is recommended that you drink one glass of cranberry juice in the morning and one in the evening for the maximum protection. Remember, cranberry is a food and not a treatment. Keep in mind that anyone who suspects an infection should consult the appropriate health care practitioner.



Energy Drinks Healthy Or Not?

Sleep and exercise are proven stress relievers and help promote health. But, over 90 million Americans don't get a good night's sleep, and many find difficulty developing daily exercise routines. People are constantly seeking new products and looking for more ways to become energized. Many athletes, weekend warriors, business people and homemakers have turned to various energy boosters, including very popular and highly promoted sport and energy drinks like Amp and Red Bull. J. Anthony von Frauhofer, PhD, the chief researcher of a study done at the University of Maryland Dental School, suggests some precaution when using these drinks.

The researchers immersed pieces of human enamel [outside covering of the tooth and the hardest substance in the body] in 13 popular beverages. The study found that non-cola soft drinks, energy/sports drinks, and commercial lemonade "showed the most aggressive dissolution effect on dental enamel," and in fact, were up to 11 times more erosive than cola. High levels of some additives, such as citric acid, caused the disintegration of the teeth. Frauhofer advised that people do not sit and sip theses drinks of a long time and that you should follow-up the energy drink with some water to help rinse away the potentially damaging acids.


Xylitol: The Tooth Friendly Sweetener

Xylitol is a white crystalline substance that looks and taste like sugar. It is found naturally and can be extracted from birch, raspberries, plums, corn and mushrooms. Technically it is not a sugar but a sugar alcohol that is sometimes called wood sugar or birch sugar. Our bodies produce up to 15mg everyday as part of normal metabolism.

The great benefit of Xylitol in preventing tooth decay was "discovered" in Finland in the early 1970's. Streptococcus Mutans, bacteria found in the mouth, produces toxins and acids that can dissolve teeth when foods with refined sugar [sucrose] are eaten.

Xylitol is not fermented by oral bacterial, so it cannot cause cavities [caries]. It works its magic on many levels.

• It inhibits the growth of cavity-producing bacteria S. Mutans and lactobacilli. The number of these acid-producing bacteria may fall as much as 90%

• It prevents the transmission of S. Mutans from mother to child

• It reduces the adhesion of plaque to your teeth

• It stimulates salivary flow creating a greater buffer capacity against acids and aiding remineralization of your teeth

 Therapeutically, Xylitol is added to chewing gum or candy. The dosage is critical. To receive tooth decay prevention benefits, you must receive 6-10 grams of Xylitol per day. When reading the label of a Xylitol containing product, Xylitol should be the first sugar listed and, ideally, the only sugar component. To be effective, the Xylitol gum must be utilized several times a day over long periods - 6 months, 1 year and 2 years.

Xylitol is also to added to some oral hygiene products such as toothpastes, mouthwashes, floss, fluoride supplements.

Chewing Xylitol gum after meals is a great alternative when brushing or flossing is not an option. Anybody who is at high risk for dental decay such as people with dry mouths or those with exposed tooth root surfaces should consider this decay prevention therapy.

On a precautionary note - excessive chewing could lead to headaches and/or pain in the TMJ joint near your ear. Don't over do it!

Call our office for product recommendations.


Eating Right For Your Dental Health

What we eat is significant to our overall health. General guidelines should include balance and moderation and should involve choices from the five major food groups

• Dairy [milk, yogurt, cheese]

• Meat [poultry, fish]

• Fruits

• Vegetables

• Whole grain [breads, cereals]

What do we do to prevent this potential problem? Avoid having sugar in your mouth for long periods of time. Stay away from sucking candies and chewing gum [unless sugarless] and refrain from drinking soda pop regularly [unless diet]. Try to cut down on the number of snacks per day. If you must snack, substitute foods that most like but don’t promote tooth decay. Examples are popcorn, pretzels, fruits, nuts, cheese, pizza and vegetables.

Consuming sugary foods with a meal or for dessert has a less detrimental effect, because increased salivary flow during meals helps to wash the food away. Also, it is usually nearer the time that most people will brush their teeth. Keeping this in mind, it is better for children to eat sweets at a time and place that allows them to brush soon afterwards.

A balanced diet is also important to keep your bones and gums healthy. Foods rich in vitamin C [citrus fruits and juices, leafy vegetable, potatoes], B12 [dairy, meat] and Folic Acid [spinach, broccoli] will help strengthen your gums and supporting soft tissue. Of course calcium [dairy, dark leafy vegetables] is necessary for the development and maintenance of strong teeth and bones. If you are lactose intolerant, calcium supplements are readily available.


A Toast To Good Health With Green Tea

Civilizations around the world have used natural herbs and plants to treat sickness and pain. All tea comes from a plant, Camellia sinensis. Unlike black tea, green tea is not fermented, so its active ingredients remain unaltered. Green tea's protection comes from a powerful antioxidant, a polyphenol called EGCG.  Green tea consumption, and polyphenol chemistry.

There is evidence to show that green tea can be effective in the prevention and treatment of certain types of cancer, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and impaired immune function.

Because our mouths are an oxygen-rich environment closely connected to our blood vessels, they provide an ideal habitat for the growth and rapid proliferation of cancer cells. Scientists have confirmed that green tea not only halts the growth of new oral cancer cells but it actually breaks down and kills existing oral cancer cells. A double-blind study of people with leukoplakia (a precancerous oral condition), showed that those in the green tea group compared to those in the placebo group had significant decreases in the pre-cancerous condition. The chemopreventive effects of tea on human oral precancerous mucosa lesions.

This is why we examine your mouth closely on each visit to determine any changes in texture or color that might indicate the presence of oral cancers. This early screening is just one more reason to make sure you don't miss your regular checkup.

Ingredients in green tea may reduce the risk of getting dental cavities. One study compared two groups. The one that rinsed each night with an alcohol extract of oolong tea leaves had significantly less plaque formation than the group who did not. Anticaries effects of polyphenolic compounds from Japanese green tea.

Another benefit of green tea is that it stunts the growth of odor causing bacteria, thus helping you maintain a fresh breath.

And just how much green tea should we be drinking? To fully obtain the benefits, we should have at least four to six cups a day. And if you don't want to drink it down, simply use it as a mouthwash. Decaffeinated tea is recommended to reduce the side effects associated with caffeine, including anxiety and insomnia. Supplements, in the form of tablets are also available.


It's Not What it's Cracked Up To Be

While the enamel [outside covering of the crown of a tooth] is the hardest substance in the human body, undue stress on your teeth may cause them to crack. Causes include chewing hard foods [such as a popcorn kernel], biting on ice cubes, biting on a hard object such as a pen or pipe and/or clenching or grinding your teeth [bruxism].

Cracked Tooth Syndrome is very common in teeth with large fillings in them and most often is seen in your back teeth. If the crack goes untreated, it may deepen or expand like a crack in a glass window, causing part of the tooth to break off. If this occurs, the tooth may have to be extracted or might need root canal treatment in an attempt to save the tooth.

Some of the symptoms of this occurrence are: pain on chewing, unsolicited pain, pain from cold air, no x-ray evidence of the problem and no dental decay present. Often it is difficult for the patient to determine which tooth is causing the pain. However, the absence of pain does not rule out the presence of a crack.

To determine if a tooth has developed a crack that is not visible to the naked eye, the dentist will take a through dental history including history of trauma to your teeth and history of any bite adjustments that were performed. The teeth in the problem area will be examined with a dental explorer. Hot and cold sensitivity of the teeth will be tested. If a severe pain is elicited with temperature, and the pain rapidly subsides with removal of the stimulus, it is usually indicative of a fracture. Sometimes, transillumination [light source] with magnification is used to help visualize the suspected crack. The diagnosis can be further confirmed when the dentist uses a plastic or wooden instrument or cotton roll that rests on one part of a tooth while you are asked to bite down. Pain in a specific areas helps isolate the position of the crack. In certain instances, removal of a restoration [filling] may be necessary to visualize the crack and assess its potential to harm the pulp [nerve].

Can cracks be treated so that the tooth can be saved? Yes. Unfortunately, cracked teeth don't heal themselves like your bones. Early diagnosis leads to a better chance of success. The best solution is to have a full crown [cap] placed over the tooth to strengthen and hold the tooth together. In about 10% of cracked teeth, the nerve dies and root canal [endodontic treatment] will be required, along with the cementation of a post into the nerve canal before the crown and be completed and the tooth restored.

Call our office for questions or to set up an appointment if you are experiencing any of the cracked tooth symptoms.