Dr. Gehrig’s Column Is Back!
A few years back, like many others, Dr. Gehrig and Family Oral Health Associates ventured out and onto the Internet. Like many other professions, Dentistry is constantly improving and changing. We wanted to start his dental advice news column anew, and found this piece.
Unlike many articles on dentistry, this one still rings true so we thought it only fitting to bring it back for your review. Dr. Gehrig continues to be right on point with this one. We hope you enjoy learning how to avoid the erosion of enamel from your teeth.
Just When You Thought Your Teeth Were Safe
by Dr. Robert D. Gehrig, DMD
September 2nd, 2008
You brush and floss just like your Dentist and Hygienist have instructed you to do and you had no problems for a number of years. The only work you have had done is some
tooth whitening. Going to the dentist for your regular preventative maintenance has been uneventful. But, your next appointment is coming up and you have noticed some increased sensitivity along the gum line and your teeth seem to be getting yellower even though you are using“whitening” toothpaste. You are worried that you have decay or possibly gum disease. What is happening?
Modern oral hygiene techniques have practically eliminated many of the problems past generations have had with their teeth. Decay and gum disease have been greatly reduced with the use of fluoride dentifrices and improved oral home care. But, modern life styles and diet have produced new threats to our oral health. So what can we learn to prevent these new problems?
Let us talk about diet first. We all know about processed foods and sugary sticky type foods as a threat, but what about carbonated beverages and sports drinks? Carbonated beverages such as sparkling water and sodas have a very acidic nature. The “bubbles” are produced by dissolved carbon dioxide gas. This produces a very potent acid environment that can dissolve your enamel. Try this experiment. Swish some cola or other soft drink in your mouth for a few seconds, swallow, and then rub your front teeth together. Instead of feeling smooth, they will be a little “gritty”. That is because a microscopic amount of enamel has been dissolved. Dental professionals are seeing much more of this occurring especially in teens. It is called erosion and can produce cupped out areas on the surface of the back teeth and thinner enamel on the front teeth.
Another form of erosion comes from brushing with abrasive toothpaste. This type of erosion occurs along the gum-line and produces notches in the teeth especially in the canine and premolar areas. Patients who are aggressive brushers and use high abrasive toothpastes are also thinning the enamel on the front of their teeth and their teeth are getting darker due to the dentin showing through. In just the last couple of years this has been recognized as a major threat to our teeth.
In order to protect your teeth from erosion, limit the amount of carbonated beverages and sports drinks you consume each day. Don’t swish the drink before swallowing and drink with a straw so the liquid stays away from your teeth as much as possible. Try switching to low calorie, non-carbonated water based drinks such as green teas, flavored waters, and just plain water. Watch out for juices and drinks with citric acid as they can be just as damaging. Remember moderation is the key.
Brush your teeth with low abrasion fluoride toothpaste. If you do not build up a lot of tarter or calculus, don’t use tarter control toothpastes. Most people don’t need them and they contain ingredients that can interfere with your saliva’s natural repair process. Most toothpaste manufacturers do not list their abrasiveness on the label, so how do you know which one to use? You cannot go by brand as varieties within the same brand can vary in abrasiveness greatly. Go to http://www.epinions.com/content_3128664196. You can use this list as a guide. Try to choose a dentifrice under “75”. Most, but not all, of the Arm & Hammer toothpastes are low in abrasion. A new toothpaste is on the market that is also good and it is Sensodyne Pro Enamel.
Finally, pay attention to your heartburn. You may have Gastric Reflux Disease (GRD). The fluid in your stomach can be very acidic also. Untreated GRD can lead to damage to your stomach, esophagus and teeth. Seek the advice of your physician and dentist. A good article can be found at World Dental.org, an online Dental Health Magazine .
Filed under: Preventative Dentistry
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