Acid Reflux | Alhambra Dentist

Teeth are so hard you would think they would be indestructible and that they would not be adversely affected by anything. Due to the strength of enamel and bone, they should remain the same from the day the teeth come into the mouth to the day they are no longer needed. Unfortunately, this is far from true. While we would like to think of teeth as being strong and unchanging, most people know that teeth can be damaged by tooth decay-causing bacteria. We know, too, that teeth can be damaged by mechanical means – attrition caused by tooth grinding and clenching and abrasion caused by improper tooth brushing. However, few people know that there is a third factor that can destroy teeth – chemical erosion.

Chemical erosion is caused by excess acid coming in contact with a tooth for extended periods of time. The acid attack can be self-inflicted (bulimia) or more commonly from a problem with acid reflux. In acid (gastric) reflux, the acidic and partly digested contents of the stomach are returned back into the throat and oral cavity. Normally, the lower esophageal sphincter muscle (LES), connecting the esophagus with the stomach, closes once food passes into the stomach. This closure prevents the stomach contents from flowing back up into the esophagus. Acid reflux occurs when this sphincter does not work properly and allows acidic fluid to return to the esophagus and higher – the mouth.

This condition sometimes can actually be noted by a dentist long before it is acknowledged by a patient or physician. The dentist will see a characteristic smooth and circular erosion of the cusp tips of the lower first molars. The cusp tips (bumps on a tooth) lose their peak, flatten, and become concave. Soon the enamel cover is broached and the underlying dentin is exposed. Because dentin is “softer” than enamel, the erosion can progress more quickly. This acid erosion has a very different appearance from tooth loss due to a mechanical etiology. Attrition and abrasion have a very sharp, edged, and well-delineated look. Chemical erosion has a softer and more rounded presentation and is localized first to lower first molars (lower first molars are the first permanent molars to erupt into the mouth) so that the permanent teeth have the longest potential exposure. When the acid refluxes (returns) to the mouth, it pools mostly around the lower first molars. This is the site of the most erosive features.

A significant portion of the population experiences acid reflux at least once a month. About 25% of those who are affected are unaware of their problem. Infants and young children can be affected, and there may be a genetic component to this disease. Early diagnosis from erosion of the permanent lower first molars can be made as early as 7 or 8 years of age. A hiatal hernia may weaken the LES and cause reflux. Diet and lifestyle contribute to acid reflux. Chocolate, peppermint, citrus, tomatoes, fried or fatty foods, coffee (especially acidic coffee), alcoholic beverages, garlic, and onions are foods to avoid. Weight gain (also weight gain associated with pregnancy) and smoking (by relaxing the LES) may be contributing factors.

As is true with most medical and dental problems, the earlier the diagnosis is made, the easier it is to treat. Variable factors include the nature and severity of the problem, as well as frequency and type of fluid that refluxes from the stomach. Under supervision of your physician, change in diet, eating habits, and/or medication (over-the-counter or prescription) can be effective. It is recommended that you first consult your physician or a specialist (gastroenterologist) if you suspect you have gastric reflux or other gastro-intestinal ailments.

Dentally, once the enamel is broached and the dentin becomes visible, it is recommended that the affected areas be protected by covering them with an enamel replacement – a tooth-colored bonding material. This material not only protects the dentin and enamel, it may be more resistant to the acid than is naturally occurring dentin. Many times, drilling preparation is not needed. See your dentist regularly so that problems like these can be detected and treated in time.

If you would like more information about acid reflux, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Saliva Can Predict Diabetes

Certain proteins (biomarkers) in the saliva of children have been identified to be possible predictors of Type II diabetes in a study published online in Public Library of Science, June 2014. Based on this study, it is anticipated that salivary testing can in the future displace other more invasive methods, such as blood tests. It is speculated that in the future, saliva collected during a dental visit can be used to help diagnose medical conditions in conjunction with your physician.

The present study was conducted by researchers from the Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, MA. They evaluated metabolic differences in 774 11-year-old children who were underweight, of normal healthy weight, overweight or obese.

In this study four salivary biomarkers, including insulin and C-reactive protein, changed with increasing obesity. Other biomarkers can be identified in future studies that can be used to diagnose or prognosticate (predict) risk of disease, regardless of body weight.

The advantage of salivary testing is that it is non-invasive and can be easily used to screen large numbers of people, especially children. This sort of non-invasive testing is important in developing disease prevention programs focused on children.

Called Salivary Diagnostics, this kind of testing “could provide a more acceptable alternative, which could create a new paradigm for research in preventive health,” said Dr. Max Goodson, author and senior member of the staff at Department of Applied Oral Sciences at The Forsyth Institute. More and more, your dentist will be corroborating with your physician, working together to bring you better dental health, as well as system health.

Seeing your dentist regularly has become even more important than ever.

If you would like more information about diabetes, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Vitamins and Minerals for Dental Health | Alhambra Dentist

Certain vitamins and minerals are especially beneficial to your dental health. These nutritional building blocks may be essential for keeping your teeth and gums healthy while benefiting your entire body.

Calcium. Throughout the body, this mineral helps build bones and provide structural support. In your mouth, calcium helps harden your enamel and strengthen your jawbone. Milk, cheese, yogurt, broccoli and salmon are some known sources of calcium.

Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium while boosting bone mineral density, so it’s crucial to get an adequate amount of vitamin D to get the most out of your calcium intake. Your body naturally makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight, but the vitamin can also be found in fatty fish, canned tuna and portobello mushrooms. You can also look for foods and drinks that have been fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, orange juice and cereal.

Potassium. Like vitamin D, potassium improves bone mineral density. It also works with magnesium to prevent blood from becoming too acidic, which can leach calcium from your bones and teeth. Bananas are well known sources of potassium, but they’re not alone. Other fruits and vegetables with high levels of the mineral include lima beans, tomatoes, Swiss chard, potatoes, sweet potatoes, avocados and prunes.

Phosphorus. Phosphorus supports calcium in building strong bones and teeth. Phosphorus is found in a wide range of foods. Rich sources of the mineral include seafood, such as scallops, sardines, cod, shrimp, tuna and salmon. If you’re looking to get your phosphorus from plant-based foods, consider soybeans, lentils and pumpkin seeds. You can also find phosphorus in beef, pork and cheese.

Vitamin K. Think of this vitamin as a shield – it helps block substances that break down bone. It also helps your body produce osteocalcin, a protein that supports bone strength. A vitamin K deficiency can slow down your body’s healing process and make you more likely to bleed. Leafy greens, such as kale, collards and spinach, can help increase vitamin K in your diet. Other great sources include parsley, broccoli and Brussel sprouts.

Vitamin C. Vitamin C strengthens your gums and the soft tissue in your mouth. It can protect against gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, and can prevent your teeth from loosening. You probably already know that citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, but you can also find it in potatoes and leafy greens.

Vitamin A. This vitamin helps keep the gums healthy. It prevents dry mouth and helps your mouth heal quickly. Vitamin A is found in fish, egg yolks and liver as well as leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and collard greens, or in orange-colored fruits and oranges, apricots, cantaloupe, pumpkin, carrots and sweet potatoes. These fruits and veggies contain high levels of beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A.

Please check with your physician and dentist as to whether any foods or supplements containing these vitamins and minerals are appropriate for you. Also ask for advice as to quantity, duration, frequency and dosage.

(Portions of the above information were excerpted from a Delta Dental publication.)

If you would like more information about vitamins and minerals, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

2019-08-16T23:24:44+00:00April 17th, 2019|Dental Information, General Dentistry|

Sunshine Can Save Your Smile | Alhambra Dentist

Cod liver oil, which contains Vitamin D, was the first product to be endorsed by the Council of Dental Therapeutics of the American Dental Association (ADA) in 1931. The ADA judged by scientific evidence at that time that cod liver oil, with vitamin D as the main ingredient, was beneficial to teeth and gums.

In addition to its dental benefits, vitamin D, also called the “sunshine vitamin”, is essential to general health. Without it, cells could not perform their functions and the brain would not fully develop, according to an article published in the Blaylock Wellness Report. The article further states that despite benefits of the sunshine vitamin, the rising number of malignant melanomas in the United States caused alarms to be raised over overexposure to sun. But, by making people vitamin D deficient, we inadvertently, increased people’s risk of developing all forms of skin cancer, including the malignant melanoma. The major source of vitamin D is from the sun. But, getting enough sunshine to produce our own vitamin D has been strongly discouraged, and, as a result, the average person’s level of vitamin D has plummeted, according to the Blaylock Report.

A recent publication by the Mayo Clinic states that vitamin D plays a role in reducing major medical problems including heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis. The best way to obtain vitamin D is from sunshine. The body synthesizes vitamin D after exposure to sunshine. Casual exposure to sunlight of ten to fifteen minutes twice per week can generate up to 50,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D. For those who live in an area with limited access to sunshine, eating foods fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, eggs, sardines and tuna fish may also provide sufficient amount of this vitamin. Be sure to consult with your physician about whether you should be taking vitamin D, calcium or any other supplement.

Numerous studies indicate that vitamin D and calcium deficiencies result in bone loss and increased inflammation. Inflammation is a major symptom of periodontal (gum) disease and is recognized by many dental scientists that vitamin D and calcium may be a risk factor for this common disease.

The increase of a protein called “proinflammatory cytokine” is associated with a number of infectious diseases, including periodontal disease. It has been demonstrated through studies that vitamin D can suppress cytokine production, and possibly lower the risks associated with this protein.

According to the ADA, vitamin D synthesis is important in promoting healthy gums, but not the entire answer to treating this disease. Periodontal disease occurs in the presence of specific types of bacteria (periodontal pathogens), in the form of plaque, that triggers in the susceptible host (the patient who is genetically vulnerable) an inflammatory process, including the production of cytokines. This inflammatory cellular reaction incites certain white blood cells (e.g., polymorphocytes) to destroy the bone supporting the teeth. As bone is destroyed, deep spaces are formed between the gum and the root. These are called gum pockets. Over time, these pockets deepened and spread, resulting in the eventual loss of teeth.

Treatment consists of the careful removal of plaque, which is made up of millions of colonies of harmful bacteria lodged under the gum. This procedure is called root planing. If the pockets are normalized after root planing, the patient should return for regular recall visits for disinfection of the pockets. Bacteria that cause gum disease are analogous to termites that destroy the foundation of your house. The disease cannot be cured but can only be controlled through regular maintenance care. Surgery, or special non-surgical methods, may be necessary if root planing and good oral hygiene does not return the patient to normal.

To keep your teeth and gums healthy, brush and floss your teeth two or three times daily, see your dentist regularly. You might even try a spoonful or tablet of cod liver oil, along with a little bit of sunshine this summer.

If you would like more information about vitamin D benefits, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

2019-08-16T23:31:57+00:00March 27th, 2019|Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Information|