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The Wonders of Xylitol Gum—Is it All True?

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Xylitol Gum

Can tasty chewing gum also be good for our teeth and actually prevent tooth decay? We explore Xylitol chewing gum, and where you can get it.

 

What is Xylitol?

Some of us may have baked with it, and others may have noticed it is an ingredient that’s been added into some children’s toothpaste…Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is found in small amounts in vegetable and fruit fibers.  

Because it is a sugar alcohol, it isn’t a sugar, or alcohol. You can think of it as a carbohydrate that acts similar to sugar. After all, most of us have heard of, or want to know about Xylitol, because of how it sweetens.

As a sugar substitute, Xylitol has received attention because of how it lacks some of the harmful effects that table sugar has on our health. It’s actually as sweet as table sugar, but it is metabolized as fewer calories. It also has a lower glycemic index than table sugar, which is appealing to people with certain diets, such as people with diabetes. 

Where does Xylitol come from?

As mentioned, it can be found naturally in plants. It also can be manufactured. Because it’s not classified as an artificial sweetener, food or beverages that contain Xylitol can use the words “all natural” on their label.

How does Xylitol benefit our health in comparison to other sweeteners?

Back in the 1970s, researchers looked at typical chewing gum versus Xylitol-sweetened chewing gum. What they found is that the bacteria in our mouth prefer sugar or disaccharides. Xylitol, on the other hand, is non-fermentable and has a 5-carbon structure (most carbohydrates are six-carbon monosaccharides). Researchers saw how Xylitol acted in a way where it actually worked to stop, and actually prevent bacteria reproduction.

In simple terms, that’s partially because of the unique structure it has: the Xylitol does not “link” with the other sugars in our mouth. Combine this factor with how Xylitol acts as a natural way to bring saliva into our mouths, and we have a healthy combination that helps prevent tooth decay.

What else should we know about Xylitol as a substitute for regular chewing gum?

Hagen dental

Xylitol is approved by the FDA as well as the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. If you’re looking for some of the preventive benefits of Xylitol gum, or maybe looking for a substitute for your Halloween candy this year, here are a few places that carry it:

  • Whole Foods Market
  • Trader Joes
  • Select Kroger stores in the specialty aisle
  • Online, such as Amazon or other health outlets

Be sure to confirm on the nutrition label it is Xylitol-containing gum. When consuming Xylitol, keep in mind some people can have side effects such as an upset stomach, bloating, or diarrhea because of how Xylitol is digested. (Also keep in mind it could take large quantities of consumption in order to have any negative side effects, but speak to us, or your primary care physician if you have any questions.)

Read this PDF on Xylitol for more information.

 

How Bad is Halloween Candy for Your Teeth?

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Just how bad is one night of trick-or-treating?

Some might be thinking about the impact eating a handful of Airheads, Gummy Worms, or Snickers and Milky Way candy bars may have when it comes to their waistlines…and that’s certainly true.

We’ve talked about before how nutrient dense foods often are foods that are also good for our oral health—imagine that!

Actually, most candy we consume on Halloween falls short when it comes to nutrient density, and they have nearly no fiber as well. (For more on the idea of nutrient density and our health, visit here.) When we’re eating a lot of candy in one sitting, it means we’re increasing our caloric intake, without any nutritional benefits, and so we’re also less likely to get in the kind of complete nutrition we should be consuming.

halloween and your teeth hagen dental cincinnati ddsTake for example Candy Corn, which is almost pure sugar. 19 pieces of the Halloween favorite offers 36 grams of carbs and 32 grams of sugar, with 140 calories. (Perhaps the name of this candy is fitting!)

Not all Candy is Created Equal

We’ve covered how candy is not a source of nutrition to fuel our bodies, but we understand that Halloween is about having a treat.

Let’s say we come home from a night of trick or treating with a bag full of Laffy Taffy, Sprees, and Warheads, among other tasty treats…

Consider how our bodies breaks down and metabolize that sugar that makes up those candies…your teeth will be exposed to what can best be described as a very acidic environment. Some of those candies are so acidic they end up burning our gums and cheeks while we chew.

What other kinds of candies create this acid that “sits” on our teeth, you ask? 

Sour Patch Kids, Licorice, Skittles, and any candy that contains caramel (and many more!) are just a few examples of candies that can cause lasting and permanent damage to our teeth.

These treats actually break down the enamel of our teeth in as little as 20 minutes…and remember, if we damage our enamel, our teeth are prone to decay.

The Chewy, Sticky and Hard Truth

But keep in mind the sticky and chewy candies add another layer of potential harm for our teeth. Chewy and/or sticky candies can include Gummy Bears and related candy, Starbursts, or even Swedish Fish.

These chewy candies get stuck and stay even longer on our teeth. Of course the longer that sugar is exposed to our teeth, the more harm it can do. The same holds true for gel or powder-based candies and hard candies, such as lollipops, Jaw Breakers, or Jolly Ranchers. A general rule is that citric acid translates to tartness in our mouth…so you could say that while all sugar-based candy is harmful for our teeth and gum, the fruity flavors in particular can be even worse on our enamel.

If you ever see a candy or snack label that touts that it is fruit-based or fruit-flavored, don’t mistake that candy for being healthy or non-harmful to your teeth. In fact, those fruity flavored treats typically have very high acid levels.

Just think: some of the acid these candies produce is the equivalent of putting battery acid onto our teeth.

Can’t Avoid the Halloween Treats Altogether? Aim for Moderation

We suggest sharing with your family what eating too much candy can do to their teeth.

We don’t want to spook you, but if you want to be cavity-free, keeping the treats to a minimum is best.

Also, if you can, steer those willing to listen away from the hard and chewy candies that can do more damage in a shorter amount of time. Those sweets also happen to be the candies that are harder for our saliva to naturally break down. Look to rinse our your water and then neutralize acids if highly acidic candy has been eaten.

Sugar-free candy or gum with xylitol are examples of some substitutes that can make it feel like you aren’t missing out this year. Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar which is better for our oral health since it won’t lead to dental erosion. We don’t expect people to completely avoid candy this Halloween. At the very least, however, we’d like our readers to make informed decisions so they know the potential impact they are having on their oral, and total body, health.

Why Should We Consider Using a Powered or Electric Toothbrush?

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Are electric toothbrushes better than “normal” or traditional toothbrushes?

Talk about the great dental debate!

Putting aside some of the research that has been done in this area, when it comes down to electric versus manual, it’s difficult to say whether one way is (always) better than the other. Since we don’t know your unique mouth, or how you brush and floss your teeth with each approach, we prefer not to make a general statement on which is always best.

The approach you take to your overall health, and the consistency and overall effectiveness of how you take care of your teeth and gums, is really what is going to matter most.

With that said, there are many benefits of using electric toothbrushes. One of the benefits we see with many powered toothbrushes is people become more aware of the length of time that they are brushing. In some cases with a traditional toothbrush, people think they are brushing for two minutes, but less than a minute has actually passed.

Why Use a Powered Toothbrush?

Let’s take a closer look at the Sonicare toothbrush, one that we recommend and that you can purchase from us. This is a newer model of electric toothbrush design where the technology allows the toothbrush to better clean beyond the “reach” of each of the bristles. You know that part of the reason why we floss is that the bristles of a toothbrush can’t get in all the hard-to-reach places—for example, the gaps between our teeth. With the Sonicare toothbrush, thanks in part to the oscillating power brush, the bristles are creating a motion that better allows the toothbrush to get into those hard-to-reach places.

You can think of the technology powering the Sonicare toothbrush in two ways. First, you have a scrubbing action we’ve described. This is helping you keep the surface area of your teeth as bacteria free as possible. (This of course, is the same as your manual brush.) But then there’s the second component—how the bristles are vibrating, which results in a more effective cleaning action beyond the normal scrubbing action with a traditional toothbrush. Imagine this: the Sonicare brush head actually vibrates more than 30,000 brush strokes per minute you brush. That’s more than a manual brush delivers in a month of brushing.

hagen dental examines sonicareThe result is that we are better able to disrupt dental plaque between our teeth, and below the gum line.

This “bristle tip velocity” benefit is not the same with a manual method of brushing. In some situations, we also see that for those who manual brush, they brush too hard, which can be harsh on our gums over time…If that sounds like you, a Sonicare toothbrush can also help eliminate that problem.

Ready for a gentle massage of your gums? Remember there is also a Sonicare toothbrush for children. Ask us about a Philips Sonicare toothbrush and we would be happy to answer any of your questions.

Ready for a Pain-Free Smile Makeover? All About Snap-On Smile™ at Hagen Dental

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Implants. Veneers. Zoom! Teeth Whitening. Crowns. CEREC technology We have the latest and greatest when it comes to cosmetic dentistry so that you can improve your smile, have a natural look, and of course so that you can have confidence when you smile, meet new people, or just when you go to eat.

A new approach that’s earned a lot of buzz lately is Snap-On Smile™. Part of the reason it’s getting so much attention is that Snap-On Smile™ is an ideal combination of comfort and function. Not only is it a non-invasive alternative for a brand new smile, but it can easily (and with no pain) give you that smile you’ve been missing!

What is Snap-On Smile?

Simply put, Snap-On Smile™ is a removable, cosmetic dental appliance that has been custom-made for your smile. Snap-On Smile™ is a strong, thin material (hi-tech dental resin) that can still give you a beautiful smile. This approach requires no adhesives or glue of any kind. We are talking no tooth removal, bonding, drilling or shots!

So how does it work? Just like the name suggests, Snap-On Smile™ works easily and with no pain: all you have to do is put your new smile over your current teeth by “snapping” them into place. This approach was built to fit comfortably over your existing teeth, while still looking natural, which is what most people desire in a new solution for their teeth.

This means even if you have discoloration, any stains, gaps or missing teeth, you can take advantage of Snap-On Smile™.

Snap on Smile at Hagen Dental Cincinnati Ohio

Who Else Benefits from Snap-On Smile?

Snap-On Smile™ is extremely easy to use—all you have to do is “snap” it on. We make sure it fits perfectly to your teeth so that you can be comfortable, and can easily remove your fitting when desired. For that reason, many people look to Snap-On Smile for a solution to a better smile.

Some people who choose Snap-On Smile™ currently have:

  • The desire for a new smile, but reluctant for any drilling or procedures
  • Missing teeth (some that show when they smile, others that do not)
  • Gaps or crooked teeth
  • Teeth “heights” that vary
  • Stains or discoloration

Do you already know you are not a candidate for bridges or implants? Ask us about Snap-On Smile™ because this may be the solution for you!

We also see people with older, removable/partial dentures coming to us for a solution that can be functional and more aesthetically pleasing. Come on in and we can see if this is finally the solution that can give you back full confidence in your smile.

You Can Get A Beautiful Smile with Snap-On Smile™

Interested in a pain-free way to close the gap between your teeth? Or maybe you are looking to cover your existing crooked teeth! It’s time for smile enhancement, with no drilling or extractions necessary. Even if you have sensitive teeth, this is a solution that can work for you.

What Else Should I Know About Snap-On Smile™?

When you come in for your visit with us, let us know you are interested in learning more. From there, once we know you are a candidate, we can pick the style and shade of your new smile. We will make a pain-free impression of your teeth, and your next visit with Hagen, you will have your new smile fitting.

At the fitting, we simply make sure that your new smile fits just as it should—then you get to walk out with your brand new smile! Your smile makeover can be just that easy and quick, and your fitting can last as long as 5 years.

One more benefit of Snap-On Smile™ is that you can eat and drink when you have your Snap-On Smile™; this is part of what makes it so popular. Last, maintenance and care of your new set of teeth was designed to be minimal. We will provide you with cleaning solution, and just exactly how your simple, at-home care of your new smile, will work.

Have questions about this affordable alternative? Set up your appointment with us today to learn more.