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Diet Soda vs. Regular Soda: Which is better for teeth?

January 4th, 2017

When most patients ask Dr. Steiman this question, they're thinking strictly about sugar content — cut out the bacteria-feeding sugar that's present in regular soda by opting for a diet soda and it will be better for your teeth. That seems logical, right? Well, there's a bit more to it than that. Let's take a closer look at how any kind of soda can affect your dental health.

Diet Soda – Why it can also lead to tooth decay

The main culprit in these drinks that leads to decay is the acid content. Diet sodas and other sugar-free drinks are usually highly acidic, which weakens the enamel on your teeth and makes them more susceptible to cavities and dental erosion. The level of phosphoric acid, citric acid, and/or tartaric acid is usually high in sugar-free drinks so it's best to avoid them.

Some patients also enjoy drinking orange juice or other citrus juices. These drinks are high in citric acid and have the same effect on the enamel of your teeth.

So what about regular soda?

We know the acidity of diet sodas and sugar-free drinks contributes to tooth decay, so what about regular soda? Like we alluded to earlier, regular soda is high in sugar — a 12 ounce can contains roughly ten teaspoons of sugar — and sugar feeds the decay-causing bacteria in the mouth. This also includes sports drinks and energy drinks, which are highly acidic and loaded with sugar too. So these drinks are a double-whammy of sugar and acidity your teeth and body simply don't need.

The problems caused by both diet and regular soda is exacerbated when you sip on them throughout the day. If you drink it all in one sitting, you won't be washing sugar and/or acids over your teeth all day long and your saliva will have a chance to neutralize the pH in your mouth.

The best beverages to drink and how to drink them

Drinking beverages that are lower in acid is a good step to take to keep your enamel strong. According to a study conducted by Matthew M. Rodgers and J. Anthony von Fraunhofer at the University of Michigan, your best bets are plain water, black tea or coffee, and if you opt for a soda, root beer. These drinks dissolved the least amount of enamel when measured 14 days after consumption of the beverage.

If you still choose to drink soda, diet soda, sugar-free drinks, or juices here are some other tips to lessen tooth decay:

  • Drink your soda or acidic beverages through a straw to minimize contact with teeth
  • Rinse with water immediately after consumption of the beverage
  • Avoid brushing your teeth between 30 minutes to an hour after drinking the beverage as this has been shown to spread the acids before your saliva can bring your mouth back to a neutral pH
  • Avoid drinks that have acids listed on the ingredients label

Still have questions about soda, sugar, and acid? Give our Ajax, ON office a call and we’d be happy to help!

Post-Braces Care: Wear your retainer!

December 28th, 2016

Many patients underestimate the importance of wearing their retainers after their braces come off, but it is one of the most critical post care practices to keep your teeth in alignment. Why spend all that time, energy, and money to straighten your teeth when you don't plan to keep them straightened after treatment?

What is a retainer?

As the name implies, a retainer keeps teeth from moving back to the positions in which they started before treatment was administered; they "retain" your smile and bite. There are many different types of retainers—some are removable and some are permanent. Some retainers are made of plastic and metal (known as Hawley retainers) and others are all plastic or all metal. Some retainers can even be bonded to the back of your teeth!

How long do I need to wear it?

If you've been given a removable retainer by Dr. Steiman, you may be wondering how long you need to wear it. It takes time for the tissues and bones around your teeth to reorganize and set into place after braces treatment.

The amount of time you’ll need to wear your retainer depends on your unique situation, but typically, retainers should be worn at least as long as the time you spent in braces. You might need to wear them full-time for a while, and then transition to wearing them only at night. Dr. Steiman will have a treatment plan especially for you, and if you stick to it, you'll always have a straight smile.

Nothing is forever (at least without retainers!)

Research has shown that there is no “permanent” position for your teeth to remain in. In fact, some studies say upward of 70% of patients will see a change to their bite and tooth alignment as they get older. This applies to people who have had orthodontic treatment and those who have not. Of course, some people's teeth never seem to shift—you can consider them the lucky ones, as most people's teeth do.

And this is precisely where retainers come in. The only way to ensure your teeth stay in alignment long-term is by wearing your retainers. If you have any questions about retainers or your treatment plan, please ask any member of our Ajax, ON staff.

The Hazards of Smokeless Tobacco

December 21st, 2016

Many smokers believe that chewing tobacco is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. This simply isn't the case! In fact, smokeless tobacco can cause serious health concerns.

Smokeless tobacco comes in many forms and goes by many names: dip, snuff, snus, or simply chewing tobacco. Use of these products usually involves sucking or chewing on shredded or loose tobacco leaves, sometimes flavored, for a prolonged period. There are even products that emulate a dissolvable candy-like consistency which are made of compressed tobacco powder.

What are risks and smokeless tobacco?

Whichever form a tobacco product takes, the dangers of using or consuming them is very real. According to a 2007 study by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer, there are upwards of 28 cancer-causing chemicals in smokeless tobacco that are known to cause cancer. And these products are habit-forming just like any other tobacco product that contains nicotine. Using them will increase your risk for many serious diseases including but not limited to: cancer (especially oral and esophageal), gum and heart disease, cavities, and pre-cancerous mouth lesions.

At the end of the day, long-term use of smokeless tobacco can cause serious health issues. These products really take a toll on both your oral and overall health. They put a strain on your immune system and make it less capable of warding off infection and disease.

Dr. Steiman and our team strongly advise you to stop using smokeless tobacco—or any kind of tobacco product—and not to pick up the habit if you aren't. There is no safe level of tobacco use, smokeless or otherwise.

Need to quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco products?

You can and should always talk to your doctor, healthcare practitioner, or Dr. Steiman for help quitting. But there are many other resources available for those who'd like to quit. The Canadian Cancer Society offers information, support (local and online), and tools to help smokers and smokeless tobacco users quit.

You can take a look at their website at cancer.ca or call them toll-free at 1-888-939-3333.

Make the best choice for your health and well-being; avoid the bad habit of tobacco products. If you have any questions about how tobacco related products affect your oral health and hygiene, please don't hesitate to ask one of our Ajax, ON staff members.

Top Five Best Foods for Oral Health

December 14th, 2016

Some foods are just terrible for your teeth — think cookies and candy bars — but there are certain foods that are beneficial to your oral health. Below, Dr. Steiman and our team have covered five of the top foods to keep your teeth and gums healthy!

1. Crispy, low-acid fruits and vegetables: Fruits like apples and vegetables such as carrots and celery act like “natural toothbrushes,” helping to clear plaque from your teeth and freshen your breath. Just remember to break them into small pieces!

2. Kiwis: These little green superstars are packed with vitamin C which is essential for gum health. The collagen in your gums is strengthened when you consume foods that are high in vitamin C, like kiwis, thus helping to prevent periodontal problems.

3. Raw onions: Onions have long been studied for their antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. Proliferation of bacteria is what leads to tooth decay and cavities. By including raw onions in your diet, you'll be doing your part to wipe out those little microbes before they can multiply!

4. Shiitake Mushrooms: A specific compound in shiitake mushrooms, lentinan, has been shown to have antibacterial properties that target the microbes that cause cavities while leaving other beneficial bacteria alone. It may also help prevent gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums.

5. Green Tea: Often lauded for its high antioxidant content and many health benefits, it turns out green tea also benefits your oral health! A Japanese study found men who drank green tea on a regular basis had a lower occurrence of periodontal disease compared to men who drank green tea infrequently. It's believed this is due to the catechins in green tea, a type of flavonoid that may help protect you from free radical damage, but more research needs to be done. Either way, drink up for your overall health, as well as your teeth!

If you have any questions about your oral health, or are looking for even more oral health tips, contact our Ajax, ON office!