Which Cause More Cavities – Mother’s Milk or Cow Milk? | Alhambra Dentist

A recent study comparing cola, sucrose drinks, honey, human milk, and cow milk indicates that cola, sucrose and honey cause more cavities than human or cow milk. But human milk caused significantly more cavities than cow milk, according to a study conducted at the University of Rochester Medical Center, published in the October issue of Pediatrics.

The authors do not advocate substituting cow milk for human milk. This study does warn parents to stop allowing babies to drink sugary liquids from bottles, to sweeten water with honey, or to let babies fall asleep on the nipple. Furthermore, nursing mothers are alerted to the need to observe good hygiene practices after feeding, especially once infant’s first teeth have erupted.

The interaction of bacteria with sugar produces acid that chemically dissolves enamel, the hard, mineralized outer layer of the tooth. The longer sugar is allowed to remain in the mouth, the more severe the chemical damage. Limiting the time of exposure of infant’s teeth to sugary products or milk by cleaning and rinsing the infant’s mouth after feeding helps to minimize progression of dental decay.

A common question often asked is, “Why save baby teeth?” First of all, untreated cavities cause food trapping and discomfort in eating. When cavities get deep, infection and necrosis (tissue death) of the dental nerve results. This kind of infection is similar to gangrene. Often the infant or the child does not complain until pain and other symptoms rise to an intolerable level. When active infection is present in and around the tooth, the infant may have to undergo the trauma of a surgical extraction with a local anesthetic (novacaine). IV sedation or general anesthesia may be necessary with infants or young children.

Prematurely lost posterior baby teeth may need to be replaced with a spacer, so that the remaining teeth do not collapse into the space left by the extracted tooth. If collapsing of the space is allowed to take place, orthodontic treatment may be necessary when the child gets older. Therefore, it is essential that parents practice good dental hygiene in feeding infants and teach them good hygiene habits as they grow up.

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.

Why Doesn’t My Insurance Cover This? | Alhambra Dentist

One of the most commonly asked questions is, “Why doesn’t my insurance cover this?” There is no such thing as “Dental Insurance.” The term “insurance” means “protection against loss.”

Dental plans do not insure the patient against loss of any kind. That is why dental plans never include the word “insurance” after their name. Dental plans do not fully insure you for the expenses needed to keep you in good dental health for life.

Dental plans are merely a collection of benefits determined through negotiation between the dental plan representatives and employers. These benefits are based on what the employer can afford to pay. Therefore, the higher the premium paid by the employer, the better your benefits will be. These benefits will help defray the cost of treatment covered by the plan.

If a dental procedure is not covered, it means that the premium paid by your employer does not allow for this procedure to be covered. Again, your dental plan does not insure you against loss of dental health. If you allow your dental coverage to determine your dental treatment, you can place your teeth at risk of inadequate treatment, lack of treatment altogether or recurrence of a disease. Your dental plan cannot be held responsible for the loss of your teeth as a result of lack of treatment or under-treatment.

The good news is that most standard procedures needed are likely to be covered at least to a certain extent. The actual amount covered for a particular procedure depends on what your dental plan decides is the “usual, customary and reasonable” (UCR) fee for that procedure. The bad news is that UCR’s vary greatly among dental plan carriers. Sometimes the same carrier has different UCR’s for different policies. Some plans cover very little, while others cover more. Your dentist, however, can generally estimate the amount that would be covered based upon previous experience and can help you negotiate the complicities of dental plans.

Sometimes the amount of benefits covered is lower than what the patient expects; this is due to the fact that the annual maximum of most dental plans is $1000 to $1500. This annual maximum was adopted in the 1960’s and has been the standard for approximately 50 years. Inflation over 50 years has eroded the value of the annual maximum. Nevertheless, this amount of benefits is still substantial and should be properly and intelligently utilized. For example, your dentist may offer you the option of postponing some non-urgent treatment until the next calendar or contract year so that you can take advantage of the next year maximum. No matter what kind of plan you have, your dentist is likely to recommend that you not leave that yearly benefit unused when treatment is necessary.

If you believe a procedure should be covered better than estimated, inform your employer of the problem. Your employer can most effectively correct the problem for you because the employer is paying the monthly premiums and has the option of not renewing the contract at the end of the contract period (generally November). Engaging the help of your employer or your personnel department would probably be the most effective way to address the issue. In the meantime, if you want to proceed with a procedure that is not covered but find it hard to afford it, discuss the problem with the dental office staff. Most offices offer extended payment plans, sponsored by financial institutions that offer no interest or relatively competitive interest rates.

There is nothing more important than a healthy smile. However, keeping your smile white and beautiful will sometimes require a financial commitment that might be temporarily uncomfortable, but remember that a smile is the universal language and “when you give someone a smile, the world smiles back.”

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

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

2019-08-16T23:23:09+00:00April 25th, 2019|Family Dentistry, General Dentistry|

Sugar Eats Away Your Teeth and Your Brain | Alhambra Dentist

According to the American Dental Association, Americans consume sugar, particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), at an alarming rate. SSBs are a leading cause of dental cavities, obesity, and type II diabetes. SSBs are sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, flavored milk, and other beverages that contain added caloric sweeteners.

Sadly, new evidence indicates SSBs are also associated brain shrinkage. So, it can be said that SSBs can eat away your teeth as well as your brain.

In the United States, SSB consumption has reached epidemic proportions. The average American is now consuming a whopping 50 gallons per person per year! This is the second highest consumption rate in the world (after Mexico). This consumption is equivalent to approximately 1.5 cans of soda per person per day. SSBs are the leading source of added sugar in the American diet and is strongly associated with the high rate of dental caries in the U.S.

Obesity is associated with diabetes. The United States is amid an obesity epidemic fueled in great part by SSBs. Americans are among the most overweight and obese population in the world. Today, over two-thirds (69%) of all Americans older than 20 years are overweight, and just over one-third (35%) are obese. It is no wonder that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that in 2017 more than 100 million adults in the United States have diabetes or pre-diabetes. This is estimated to be over 30% of the entire U.S. population.

What is not well known is, according to the Framingham Heart Study, one or more sugary drinks per day resulted in lower total brain volume, lower hippocampus volume. Hippocampus is an important part of the brain for memory and is also where the process of Alzheimer’s disease starts. In other words, normal shrinking of the brain due to aging is accelerated by consuming sugary drinks.

This study reported that those people who consumed one or two sugary drinks per day experienced the equivalent of 1.6 years of accelerated brain aging per year. Those subjects in the Framingham study taking in more than two sugary drinks per day showed an astounding 11.0 years of brain aging.

The Framingham Heart Study is a long-term, ongoing cardiovascular cohort study on residents of the city of Framingham, Massachusetts. The study began in 1948 with 5,209 adult subjects from Framingham and is now on its third generation of participants.

So, the next time you are tempted to drink a soda or other sugary drink, remember it’s not just your teeth but your brain that is also at stake. Don’t let these beverages eat away your brain!

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

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

2019-08-16T23:25:46+00:00April 12th, 2019|Family Dentistry|

Why General Health Is Important to Dental Treatment | Alhambra Dentist

Nellie, age 42, went for a dental checkup for the first time in ten years. Routine blood pressure monitoring disclosed that her blood pressure reading was abnormally high (180/115). No dental treatment was rendered. She was immediately referred to a physician and was diagnosed and treated for hypertension, high blood pressure. Her physician told her that if left undetected her condition could have led to a heart attack or stroke. She returned for dental treatment after her condition stabilized.

Nellie’s case is the result of the kind of routine screening dentists generally conduct to look for medical conditions that need medical attention. In addition to hypertension, one of the most common medical conditions that are of particular concern to dentists is “mitral valve prolapse,”a malfunction of a heart valve that leads in backflow (regurgitation). These abnormal heart valves are said to be susceptible to bacterial infection that originate from oral sources. In such cases, prophylactic (preventive) antibiotic, such as amoxicillin, should be taken before dental treatment is begun.

Diabetes is sometimes suspected when the patient presents with a family history or diabetes and severe, uncontrolled periodontitis (gum disease). In this case the patient may be referred for a medical checkup and blood test.

Another common problem is that of “dry mouth” (xerostomia). This condition may be associated with such conditions such as diabetes and menopause. But dry mouth is also a common side effect of over 400 commonly prescribed drugs. Patient suffering from dry mouth are especially susceptible to gum disease and dental caries (cavities). If there is no apparent cause for dry mouth, the patient is referred for medical consultation. If it clear that dry mouth is associated with a diagnosed disease or side effects of medications, treatment planning will probably include home application of topical fluoride with gels, rinses and fluoride toothpastes. To reduce risk of gum disease, more frequent deep cleanings, anti-bacterial rinses, topical administration of antibiotics and home application of anti-bacterial solutions.

These are just a few examples of conditions your dentist will be concerned with at your dental checkups. Feel free to discuss any medical issues, even those you suspect may not relate to your dental treatment. You may be surprised at how medical condition affect dental health, and vice verse.

If you would like more information about the ways your general health can affect your dental health, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

2019-08-16T23:40:28+00:00February 15th, 2019|Family Dentistry, General Dentistry|