If you have a dental emergency please call (204) 500-0119
Thank you for your trust and patience as we continue to work our way through this unusual and challenging time.
Aqua Dental Wellness
By: Dr. Tom Swanlund
It is well known that one of the main factors that encourages tooth decay is sugar. Many people try to limit their intake of sugar, but did you know many carbohydrates that we snack on can also raise your risk of developing a cavity?
Certain types of carbohydrates can also increase the chance of tooth decay because as they are chewed they stick onto and in between the teeth where bacteria waits to digest them. Some carbohydrates are better than others. Those carbohydrates that are unrefined like fruits, vegetables and whole wheat/grain products are not as likely to cause decay as refined carbohydrates. Unrefined carbohydrates are more likely to be complex molecules which are harder for the oral bacteria to breakdown.
Unlike unrefined carbohydrates, refined carbohydrates are those that are broken down easily in the mouth by bacteria which in turn causes increased acid production. Refined carbs may include; white bread, rice cakes, white rice, pancakes, waffles, pasta, crackers, granola bars, potato chips and cereals.
Tooth decay needs a few factors in order for it to commence, sugar/refined carbohydrates + cavity-causing bacteria= drop in pH which can initiate the breakdown of the tooth. This equation is the total sum of the tooth decay process.
There are a few superfoods and beverages that can help prevent tooth decay. It is recommended to include these when snacking between meals as they may actually help prevent tooth decay.
Cheese- The fat content of many cheeses provides an invisible fat barrier on the teeth and prevents penetration of cavity-causing acid. As well, the calcium content helps to buffer the mouth and chewing hard cheese may stimulate salivary flow. Hard cheeses are best such as cheddar, Monterey Jack and Mozzarella.
Fruits and Vegetables- The majority of fruits are complex unrefined carbohydrates. The crunch of most produce can help stimulate saliva which buffers the mouth and neutralizes pH. Good choices are apples, carrots, and celery. Avoid dried fruits for snacks as they can stick to the teeth and may raise pH.
Tea- Contains catechins and polyphenols, which can inhibit cavity-causing bacterial growth. As well, drinking tea may help wash sticky food out of the teeth and neutralize the oral pH.
Water- Naturally washes food from the mouth and buffers the pH of the mouth. If water contains fluoride, it is even more beneficial as fluoride can help strengthen teeth and remineralize the tooth structure. In many areas water is non-fluoridated so you will not reap the benefits of fluoride. If you drink bottled water, Nestle is one of the few that have fluoride in it.
Dark Chocolate- High quality dark chocolate may actually help prevent decay. Theobromine, a content of dark chocolate is antibacterial and can actually destroy certain cavity-causing bacteria.
As you can see these types of superfoods can help prevent decay. Eating these foods on a regular basis may help minimize your chance of developing cavities.
By: Dr. Tom Swanlund
For those that live with acid reflux disease, they are all too familiar with the painful burning sensation that occurs when stomach contents come back up into the esophagus. Acid reflux disease otherwise known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may also have others symptoms such as; persistent heartburn, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, bad breath, regurgitation, sour taste in the mouth and nausea. The high acidity level of the stomach contents has the potential to cause irritation and damage to the lining of the esophagus when reflux occurs. As well, the increased acidity can also affect the oral cavity.
Tooth enamel can start to dissolve at a pH of 5.5. When the acid level increases in the mouth and the pH lowers, the enamel on the teeth can start to deteriorate. If enamel is exposed to a lower pH repeatedly, complete enamel breakdown may occur. Changes in the acidity level in the mouth can occur due to food consumption, decreased salivary flow, eating disorders, medications, and acid reflux. Acid reflux is also common in those who have untreated sleep apnea.
The acid in the stomach has a pH of around 2. When acid comes up the esophagus into the mouth it drops the oral pH and enamel degradation can occur. When this occurs repeatedly the teeth can become eroded, exposing the non-protective inner portion of the teeth.
The first step is obtaining a diagnosis and treatment from your physician. It is important to find a treatment modality that prevents recurrent acid reflux into the mouth prior to repairing tooth erosion because the repair may not last if reflux continues. Depending on the severity of tooth erosion dental repair may include; fillings, bonding, veneers and/or dental crowns (caps).
Teeth can be sensitive due to a variety of reasons but most of the time it is usually due to an irritation to the nerve of the tooth. A tooth or teeth that are sensitive can alert you to a problem that is going on and it is important to have it checked at your dentist.
When teeth are or become sensitive it means that the pulp-the inner portion of the tooth where the nerve is-has been stimulated/excited by something.
In the case of dental decay, the nerve may become irritated or inflamed due to bacteria. When a cavity initially forms it usually starts in either the enamel, when it travels through the enamel it meets the dentin and ultimately the pulp. When the pulp has become irritated due to bacteria a person may be sensitive to cold, hot, sweet or biting force.
Teeth can also be sensitive due recession which exposes the root of the tooth. The root of the tooth is made of soft cementum and is not made to be exposed to the oral cavity. The root is much more susceptible to cavities; as well it contains small tubules which run perpendicular to the pulp of the tooth. Each time someone consumes something cold, occasionally hot or sweet this causes the tubule to constrict and it puts pressure on the pulp. This constriction makes the tooth sensitive.
In the case of dental decay, sometimes a sedative otherwise known as a temporary filling may work to calm the nerve and allow the dentist to apply a filling at a later date. If the nerve of the tooth becomes irreversibly irritated then a root canal to remove the pulp and nerve may be necessary.
If the root of the tooth is exposed due to recession, two options exist for coverage to protect the soft root surface. At times a white filling may be an option to cover an exposed root to prevent sensitivity though it is not an optimal one as long term stability on the tooth can be poor. The gold standard to cover an exposed root is gum grafting. Gum grafting can either be done with the patient’s own tissue which is taken from the palate or with a dermal matrix such as alloderm.