Category Archives: Preventative Dentistry

Preventative Dentistry Idaho Falls

Practicing Preventative Dentistry At Home

By: Karli Willden

If you would like to have a great smile and avoid oral health issues down the road, it is important you know and apply proper preventative care techniques. Preventative care starts at home with good oral hygiene, but it also means seeing a dentist for professional care and checkups on your oral health. Below are some tips to keep your mouth and teeth healthy and strong with preventative care.

Preventative Care At Home

  • Brush daily with fluoride (2X a day for 2 minutes)
  • Spit & wait to rinse
  • Floss daily
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Limit your consumption of acidic and sugar foods

Taking good care of your teeth at home is important to avoid plaque buildup and prevent tooth decay. On a day to day basis, you eat foods and drinks which contain particles that stick to your teeth, if not manually removed with regular brushing and flossing. If these sticky substances are not removed, it can turn into plaque over time, which will gradually eat away at your teeth.

Dentists recommend brushing at least twice a day for two minutes, and flossing at least once a day. (Parents with small children should consult with their dentist about appropriate dental care for their little ones.)

If you are not using a toothpaste which contains fluoride, talk to your dentist about which brands he or she recommends. Fluoride in toothpaste helps to prevent cavities, and keeps your teeth healthy and strong. Remember when you are brushing to give it some time before rinsing immediately with water. Spit out the remaining toothpaste, but wait at least thirty minutes or so before drinking or rinsing with water to have the best results.

Preventative Care Through Proper Diet

Also, keep in mind your diet does impact the health of your teeth and gums. If you eat lots of sugary or acidic foods, drinks, or candies, it will take a toll on your mouth. If you don’t want to limit your intake of sugary foods or drinks, which is foremost recommended, there are a few things you can do to minimize its effects on your teeth.

When drinking a sugary soda, drink it all in the same sitting and don’t take sips throughout the day. Each time you take a sip of soda, the sugars in the soda react with the bacteria in your mouth to create acid, which is harmful and attacks your teeth. This process happens every 20 or so minutes after taking a drink, so you can see why you would want to drink the soda all at once. This prevents this process from duplicating multiple times a day.

It is also recommended to drink lots of water throughout the day. Not only is it important to stay hydrated, but it also plays an important role in rinsing the pallet, especially after eating sugary or acidic foods. Chewing sugarless gum also has a similar effect. Chewing sugarless gum activates saliva in your mouth to rinse away any acidic or sugary particles. Doing so minimizes the effect of these sugary foods and drinks in your mouth.

Preventative Care At the Dentist

  • Preventive Checkups
  • Dental Cleanings
  • Dental Sealants
  • Fluoride Treatments

In the paragraphs preceding, you learned about the importance of preventative care at home. You also learned some basic preventative measures you can do to prevent plaque and buildup from turning into cavities. Now, for part two, we will be going over the importance of seeing a dentist semiannually.

Scheduling an appointment to see the dentist twice a year is important for a few reasons. First, you can receive a professional dental exam, which checks not only for cavities, but also any signs of disease or oral cancer. Secondly, a routine teeth cleaning twice a year helps to remove plaque which cannot be removed with a soft-bristled brush. This helps to prevent cavities and other dental work needed down the road.

Dental sealants may also be recommended by your dentist to prevent tooth decay. Since teeth with deep grooves or uneven surfaces are difficult to clean, dental sealants will make these problem areas easier to clean by giving it a flat surface. Talk to your Idaho Falls dentist today to learn more about how you can better take care of your teeth at home and through preventative dentistry. Schedule your next appointment today at (208) ­524-1700!

Mon: 10am – 5pm
Tues: 11am – 6pm
Wed – Thurs: 7am – 6pm
Fri: 7am – 2pm

3375 Merlin Dr.
Idaho Falls ID 83404

Idaho Falls Dentist

Healthy Diets Make Healthy Teeth

By: Michelle Tunquist

We all know that we need to brush our teeth twice a day, floss twice a day and visit the dentist every six months. These are “must dos” for good dental hygiene.  What you may not realize is that a healthy diet can have a huge impact on the health of your teeth.  Eat well and enjoy strong teeth and gums.

Must Dos!

These are the absolute minimum requirements for healthy teeth.  They are essential “must do” behaviors that will help keep your teeth from decaying.

  • Brush Your Teeth Twice a Day. Morning and night.
  • Floss Your Teeth Twice a Day. Morning and night.
  • Visit the Dentist every Six Months.
  • Regular check ups can catch issues before they turn into big problems.  A good cleaning can help maintain strong teeth.

Healthy Diet Tips for Teeth

Eating healthy isn’t just important for our body, it is also important for our teeth.  The foods we eat has an impact in how strong our teeth are and can make the difference in their overall health.  Follow these healthy eating tips to get strong teeth and gums:

  • Eat Calcium. Our teeth and gums are made up of calcium, which means we need to eat calcium to maintain healthy teeth and gums.  Calcium can be found in dairy products.  Make sure to eat enough cheese, milk, and yogurt to get the right amount of calcium.
  • Get Your Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb the calcium we eat.  Unless we get enough vitamin D, then eating calcium isn’t enough to keep our teeth strong.  We get most of our vitamin D from the sun, so get outside and soak up some rays.
  • Don’t Forget Vitamin C. Vitamin C deficiency can lead to dental problems like loose teeth and bleeding gums.  Make sure to keep gums and teeth strong by getting the proper amount of vitamin C.  Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits.  Drink some orange juice or eat a bit of grapefruit.
  • Avoid Sugar. Sugar can easily lead to tooth decay, so it is best to avoid sugar whenever possible.  A diet high in sugary foods is a bad choice for teeth.  Skip the candy and grab some fruit instead.
  • Drink Water. Drinking water increases saliva production which in turn can help battle bacteria.  Water also dilutes sugar and cleans out your mouth.
  • Rinse Your Mouth.  Quickly rinsing your mouth between meals will remove sugar from your teeth and prevent tooth decay.  If you can use mouthwash to kill germs between meals that is great.  If not, rinse with water, which still cleans out your mouth and can prevent cavities.

Eating Right for Strong Teeth

We only get one set of adult teeth that need to last the rest of our lives. Making good choices to protect our dental health will make it so that we can enjoy our teeth for a long time to come. Protecting our teeth isn’t just about brushing them twice a day. We can also maintain dental health by eating foods that will keep our teeth strong. Remember to eat healthy for a healthy smile.

Idaho Falls Dentistry for Healthy Teeth

Proper teeth brushing, flossing and healthy eating habits are vital for maintaining dental health. Regular checkups at our Idaho Falls dentistry are also important. Even with best efforts, we all get cavities.  We can take care of any problems that arise, so that you can smile without worry. Call today at (208) ­524-1700 to set up an appointment.

Idaho Falls Pediatric Dentistry

Tips to Get Your Kids to Brush Their Teeth

By: Michelle Tunquist

Getting kids to brush their teeth can be a chore that few parents look forward to.  If your children are like mine, they’ve been known to run and hide as soon as the words “brush your teeth” are muttered.  Little kids are rarely concerned about the future of their teeth, and many think losing a couple teeth is actually something that they wouldn’t mind.  Changing teeth brushing from a chore to a positive experience can make a big difference in getting your kids to brush.  Here are a few tips for how to make teeth brushing go more smoothly.

  • Show them the Plaque.  Plaque-disclosing tablets color the plaque on your child’s teeth and allow them to really see where they need to brush.  Many kids love to use these tablets and it helps them understand how to brush more effectively.  There are also some mouthwashes that will tint plaque and allow kids to see where they should brush.  You can find plaque-disclosing tablets at the dentist, the pharmacist’s counter and online.
  • Make it Fun. Kids are more likely to brush if it is a positive experience.  Rather than make it  another boring chore, liven it up and make it fun.  Try:
  • Making Bubbles. Have a competition with your kids to see who can make the most bubbles.  This will make brushing fun and encourage them to brush more.  After all, the more they brush, the more bubbles they will make.
  • Brushing with a Stuffed Animal. Let them bring a friend to brushing time.  Simply bringing a stuffed animal will make the process more fun.  Maybe their friend needs his/her teeth brushed too.
  • Singing a Song. Choose a favorite song and play it while they brush, or encourage them to sing a favorite song in their head.
  • Using an Egg Timer. Kids love to use timers.  Set up the timer and have them brush till the sand runs out.
  • Praise Your Kids. Everyone loves to get praised.  When your kids do a good job, let them know you appreciate their efforts.  It takes very little effort to say a positive word, but it can make the difference in how your kids feel about teeth brushing time.
  • Let them Pick the Toothpaste/Toothbrush. There are all types of fun toothbrushes and toothpaste.  Letting your kids pick their favorite character can motivate them to brush their teeth.  Sometimes all it takes to look forward to teeth brushing time is their favorite cartoon character.

Tips for Parents

As parents, we are ultimately responsible for the health of our children’s teeth.  Here are a few tips to help keep their teeth healthy and bright.

  • Schedule your kid’s first appointment when they are one years old.  The earlier they come in, the better.  This allows them to build a positive experience at the dentist and make sure that healthy habits start when they are little.
  • Brush your kid’s teeth twice a day.  Once they begin brushing on their own, make sure to continue to check that they are doing a good job and removing all food residue.
  • Floss your kid’s teeth as soon as they start touching.  Once teeth are close together, food can easily get caught between the teeth and cause teeth to decay.  If regular flossing is difficult, use child friendly flossers.
  • Talk to your dentist about sealants.  Sealants protect teeth and prevent cavities.

Idaho Falls Dentist Keeps Kids Smiling

At our Idaho Falls family dentistry, we care about our littlest patients and want them to enjoy their experience at the dentist.  We strive to make their visit as comfortable as possible.  Call today to make an appointment for your little ones.

Idaho Dental Hygiene

Brush Your Teeth for a Bright Smile

By: Michelle Tunquist

It’s no surprise that brushing your teeth is important for keeping your teeth clean and healthy.  No doubt you’ve heard it from every dentist you’ve ever visited and also from your parents as a kid.  Brush your teeth at least twice a day to keep your smile bright.

Importance of Brushing Your Teeth

There are tons of reasons for why brushing your teeth is important.  Though kids (and some adults) argue that it is so hard and time consuming, it really is a fast, easy way to keep your teeth and gums healthy.  Two minutes of brushing in the morning, and two minutes at night before bed and you get all these great benefits:

  • Save Money. Brushing teeth is a great way to save money.  Dental work is expensive, and in many cases, easily avoided.  Don’t pay hundreds of dollars to fill a cavity when you can easily prevent cavities by brushing your teeth.  Forgetting to brush and avoiding the dentist can lead to more expensive procedures down the road, like root canals and crowns.  Save your money by brushing your teeth every day.
  • Reduce Chance of Infection. Brushing your teeth is a simple way to reduce your chance of having an infection.  When your teeth get infected, you can get a painful abscess in your gums.  Avoid the pain just by brushing your teeth.
  • Reduces Bacteria. Bacteria in your mouth can lead to tooth decay.  Brushing your teeth gets rid of these nasty bacteria that can cause decay or infection.
  • Removes Sugar. Bacteria love the sugar in your mouth.  When the bacteria feed on the sugar they create an acid that decays your teeth.  Brushing your teeth will remove this sugar from your mouth before the bacteria can feast.
  • Prevent Tooth Decay. Bacteria eat the sugar in your mouth, creating an acid that wears down your teeth causing decay known as cavities.  Simply brush your teeth and reduce your chance of having tooth decay.
  • Reduces Gum Disease. Your gums also need to be cleaned.  Gum disease is painful and can be avoided, simply by–yes, brushing your teeth!
  • Keeps Breath Fresh. Those pesky bacteria also make your breath smell.  Guess what, brushing not only removes those stinky bacteria, but the fresh scent of your toothpaste helps to keep your breath minty fresh.
  • Remove Stains. Soda, coffee, cigarettes and some foods stain your teeth.  Brushing can remove those stains over time.

Do it Right

Since we all know that we should brush our teeth everyday, it is surprising that not everyone is doing it the right way.  Here are some tips for how to get the most out of brushing your teeth.

  • Choose the Right Toothbrush. There are a lot of different choices out there for toothbrushes.  Always choose a toothbrush with soft bristles.  Soft bristles can bend and get under the gums.  Hard bristles can wear away at teeth and gums.  The important thing is to remove plaque, and soft bristles can do this just fine.
  • Be Careful with Pressure. Many people think that it is necessary to really scrub teeth to get them clean and they apply too much pressure.  Since plaque is soft, teeth don’t actually need to be scrubbed with a lot of pressure.  Just like with hard bristles, too much pressure can harm teeth and gums.  Gently massage teeth and gums to remove plaque.
  • Take Your Time. It is easy to get tempted to do a rush job instead of a thorough brushing.  When you wake up late and are in a hurry to get to work, or if you’ve had a long day and just want to get in bed, it is tempting to do a quick brushing.  It is important to brush for at least 2 min in the morning and again before bed.  Don’t rush through the brushing.  Take your time and do it right. Make sure to get every tooth on both sides.
  • Change Your Brush. Unfortunately it is common for people to keep their toothbrush for too long.  Change your brush every 3 to 4 months.  Never share your toothbrush with anyone else, and store it in open air so that it can dry thoroughly to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.
  • Circular Motion. Another common habit is for people to brush back and forth, from left to right.  However, it is much better to start from the gum and move up and down in a circular motion.
  • Remember Your Gums. A spot where many people miss is right by the gum line.  It is important to have a bristles that bend and can get between the gum and tooth.  This will remove the plaque that has a tendency to build up in that spot.
  • Wait. Don’t rush to brush immediately after eating.  If you have acid on your teeth, the brushing can cause additional damage.  Wait 15 to 20 minutes before brushing or at least rinse with water first.  This will remove some of the acid so that your teeth are not harmed.
  • Use Floss & Mouthwash. At least once a day (twice is better), floss and use mouthwash too.  Food can get stuck between teeth and your toothbrush can’t reach every sport.  Floss can remove food and buildup between teeth and mouthwash can reach throughout your mouth.  A good thorough cleaning is important to keep your smile bright.

Idaho Falls Dentist

Brushing is important for daily care of your teeth.  It is also important to visit the dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup. Though good brushing will make tooth decay less likely, some problems can still happen.  Frequent visits keep small problems from turning into large problems.  If you live in the Idaho Falls area, visit our family dentistry to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Dentist in Idaho Falls to protect your teeth

Soda Can Cause Problems for Your Teeth

By: Michelle Tunquist

Soda is delicious and refreshing. In fact, it is a very popular drink. According to a Gallup poll done in 2012, nearly half of Americans drink soda every day, and according to the Associated Press in 2013 the average American drinks 44 gallons of soda in one year.  That’s a lot of soda! Despite its great taste, it is bad for your teeth.

Why is Soda Bad for your Teeth?

There are three things that make soda a bad choice for your teeth.  They are:

  • Sugar. Sugar is not a great choice for healthy teeth.  Bacteria eat sugar in your mouth and release an acid that causes tooth decay, also known as cavities.  Lots of sugar consumption can lead to lots of cavities.  While brushing can help, it is best not to consume a lot of sugar.  Your teeth and the rest of your body will thank you.
  • Phosphoric Acid. Worse than the sugar, is that soda includes phosphoric acid.  This breaks down the enamel of your teeth and can cause quite a bit of problems.  Your teeth enamel plays an important part in keeping your teeth healthy.  While one soda won’t do a lot of damage, frequent consumption can wreak havoc on your teeth.
  • Staining Power. Over time soda consumption can stain your teeth and contribute to plaque build up, which is yellow in appearance.

What Does Soda do to Your Teeth?

Simply put, soda can erode your teeth and contribute to tooth decay.  While sugar can lead to tooth decay, the real villain of soda is the acid.  Acid can cause erosion of the enamel of your teeth.  Over time erosion of the enamel can lead to:

  • Sensitivity. Eroded enamel can cause sensitivity of the teeth. Cold and hot food and drinks can cause sensitivity and pain. It is difficult to enjoy some of your favorite foods if you can’t bear to eat anything hot or cold.
  • Discoloration. Erosion and tooth decay can also lead to discolored teeth.  No one wants to have yellow or discolored teeth. Too much soda can turn your white smile yellow.
  • Cracking. Eventually erosion can lead to cracking because your enamel is weak.  Not only does this affect the appearance of your smile, but it can also be painful and make eating difficult.

What Can You to Protect Your Teeth?

The best thing you can do for your teeth is to stop drinking soda.  If that isn’t an option, then try the following:

      • Use a Straw. A straw is a simple way to protect your teeth by preventing your teeth from coming into too much contact with the soda.
      • Rinse with Water. After you drink a soda, rinse with water to remove acid from your teeth.
      • Cut Back. At least drink less soda.  You can still enjoy a soda sometimes, but not everyday.
      • Drink Water. When you would normally grab a soda, drink water instead.  Water is refreshing and is good for your teeth.  If you like the bubbly aspect of soda, try a carbonated water.
      • Diet Soda has Acid Too! Diet soda cuts down on sugar, but it still has acid. While it may help cut down on calories, it is still bad for your teeth. Instead of replacing soda with a diet soda, drink more water.
    • Wait to Brush. Immediately brushing your teeth after consuming something with acid is abrasive on your teeth.  Wait 15 to 20 minutes before brushing and rinse with water first.

    Idaho Falls Dentist

    Reducing soda intake is a great way to keep your smile bright.  For more tips on how to protect your teeth, make an appointment with our Idaho Falls family dentistry.  Visit with our friendly dentists to learn the best way to keep your smile bright.

Idaho Falls Restorative Dentistry

How to Stop and Reverse Tooth Decay

By: Karli Willden

Tooth decay is what happens to your teeth when they are attacked by germs and bacteria. Initially, the first stages of tooth decay is when a sticky substance called plaque begins to form on your teeth. This plaque thrives on sugar from the foods and drinks you consume, and it contains bacteria and germs which produce acids in your mouth. These acids will attack your teeth and begin to eat away at its surface, eventually forming a hole in the tooth.

Tooth decay can cause many different dental health issues, including cavities and gum disease. These issues can be painful and costly to resolve, so the best way to avoid these issues is prevention. Listed below are a few tips on how to stop and reverse tooth decay in your daily life.

Visit the Dentist

A routine trip to the dentist every six months is important to make sure tooth decay is under control. By visiting the dentist every six months, the dentist can perform an oral exam to check for areas of possible tooth decay. Any plaque or tartar spotted inside the mouth will be removed and cleaned to stop or prevent any further tooth decay. If cavities are spotted, the dentist will provide restoration services to fill the hole and prevent dental health issues in the future. It is important to make sure your mouth is checked every six months, so you can prevent major tooth decay from occurring.

Regular Brushing & Flossing

Brushing and flossing on a regular basis is important to stop and reverse tooth decay. Brushing in the morning after you wake up is especially important, since during the night bacteria grows more rapidly. The first thing you want to do when you wake up is make sure to brush away the acids inside your mouth which are on your teeth. In addition to brushing in the morning, it is recommended to brush at least twice a day, or after every time you eat. By keeping up with regular brushing and flossing, you can stop plaque from building up and causing tooth decay.

Watch the Foods You Eat

Diet plays a large role in the health of your mouth. If you eat lots of sugary snacks in between meals throughout the day, you are at a higher risk of developing tooth decay. Bacteria found in plaque thrives on sugars and releases acids when the two come in contact. You will have a hard time keeping up with plaque, if your diet contains a lot of sugary foods and drinks. A few foods to consider limiting in your diet throughout your day include: candies, soft drinks, pastries, or other carbohydrates. If you do choose to consume these, make sure to be quick about it. Eat or drink it all at once, and not a little bite or sip at a time. This is important because each time you eat or drink, acids are activated in your mouth for twenty minutes afterwards. Drinking water or chewing gum throughout the day, however, can help to minimize these effects, along with eating cheese, almonds, celery, carrots, apples, or leafy greens. By eating a balanced diet, visiting your dentist every six months, and brushing and flossing regularly, you can stop and reverse tooth decay. Learn more dental health tips today, by checking out our other blog posts! To schedule an appointment with our Idaho Falls dentists, give us a call at (208) ­524-1700.


dentist in idaho falls

New Year’s Resolutions: Have You Kept Yours?

The new year is here and we are quickly coming to the end of January. New Year’s resolutions have been made, but have you been able to keep yours? A majority of us probably have lost site of those resolutions and figure there is always next year right!? Well, it’s not too late to start again, and why not make a dental New Year’s resolution! Your overall dental health not  only affects your oral health, but can impact your general health as well.  Healthy resolutions will keep your oral health in check. Below are some suggestions for making your smile a little healthier this year.

  • Eat Fruits and Vegetables: Poor nutrition can affect your immune system, increasing the dentist in idaho fallschance of getting some oral diseases such as periodontal (gum) disease. Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants that help improve your body’s ability to fight disease. Many fruits and vegetables that are crisp such as apples or celery help to clean plaque off your teeth and freshen your breath.
  • Limit Alcohol Consumption: According to the Academy of General Dentistry, excessive smoking, poor eating habits, and excessive alcohol use increases the susceptibility of gum recession. This is otherwise known as periodontal pocketing. Not only can excessive alcohol consumption cause oral problems, but it can be damaging to your general health as well.
  • Quit Smoking or Using Tobacco Products: The use of tobacco can harm your mouth in several ways including tooth discoloration, cavities, gum recession, gum and throat disease, dentist idaho fallsand lung and oral cancer. Smokers are more likely to lose their teeth compared to non-smokers. Use of smokeless tobacco is just as harmful to your health. However, the risk of tooth loss decreases when you quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco.
  • Brush Twice a Day and Floss Daily: Brushing and flossing are equally important for your oral health. These habits help protect your teeth from tooth decay and gum disease. Gum disease is caused by the colorless sticky plaque made up of bacteria and builds up on your teeth everyday. Only flossing can remove the plaque that builds up between your teeth which is the area most decay starts. Using a daily mouth rinse that contains fluoride and chewing sugar free gum after a meal are also ways to keep the bacteria inside your mouth at bay. So remember, Brush, Floss, Rinse, Chew!
  • idaho falls dentist officeRoutine Dental Checkups: Seeing your dentist twice a year can help to catch problems early and prevent dental health problems before they cause discomfort or
    become a bigger issue that leads to expensive treatment. Regular visits allow your dentist to monitor your overall dental health and keep watch for areas of concern.

For the new year, resolve to treat your mouth the right way and improve your overall health as well. Your body and your mouth will be saying THANK YOU! Best of lucky from your Idaho Falls dentist!

how to keep your teeth clean on the go, tips from idaho falls dentist

Keeping Your Teeth Clean on the Go

School is back in session, vacations are over.  Between work, school, meetings, dance class, and football practice, you and your kids are constantly on the go.  When you arehow to keep your teeth clean on the go, tips from idaho falls dentist so busy, it can be hard to find time to do everything you should be doing to keep your oral health in check. Brushing your teeth throughout the day between every meal, snack, or drink is not very realistic for many of us.  You should be brushing your teeth at least twice a day, preferably after eating breakfast in the morning, and at night before going to bed when you are done snacking.  Remember to floss at least once a day as well to clean in between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach.  It is especially important to brush your teeth after having sticky, sugary foods such as caramels which tend to stick in the crevices of teeth.  The longer these foods sit on your teeth the greater the chance for bacteria to attach and produce cavities.  Keeping your teeth clean in between meals will make for happier dental visits!

Can’t Brush?  Here are some tips for getting a Cleaner Mouth in between Brushing

  • Drink water throughout the day to help cleanse your mouth and wash away plaque and bacteria.  You could even run to the bathroom for a quick rinse and swish with a small bottle of mouth wash that can easily be kept in a purse or at a desk.
  • Chew gum or suck on a mint, preferably sugar free.  These help encourage saliva production which helps neutralize acids in the mouth.  Gum containing Xylitol can help strengthen teeth as well.
  • Eat an apple!  The texture of the apple actually helps to clean your teeth as you eat it!
  • Floss your teeth!  Keep a pack of floss with you in a locker, purse, or at your desk and sneak off to the bathroom to floss your teeth after eating and remove food particles.
Gum Chewing Effects

Stick of Gum a Day, Helps Keep the Dentist Away! Is This True?

Regular dental checkups are recommended every 6 months to clean and examine the health of your gums and teeth.  What if chewing gum could help reduce the number of visits you need to make?  Would you start using those mastication muscles more and more, enjoying some sugar-free gum that leaves your mouth feeling clean and your breath smelling good?  What if that gum contained a natural form of sugar, Xylitol, which will help reduce the occurrence of dental caries, otherwise known as the dreaded CAVITY! Opinion on Gum Chewing by Idaho Falls Dentist

According to an article published in the August 2012 Dentaltown magazine, “Changes to diet and bacterial levels that impact salivary pH are preventive in nature.  Saliva buffering and flow rates are key factors in maintaining neutral or alkaline pH levels.”  In the past, reducing sugar consumption has been key in preventing dental caries.  It is the increase in salivary flow due to chewing sugarless gum that has been attributed to caries prevention in the past.  Now however, studies have shown that xylitol has a more active effect on caries prevention.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a natural sugar found in tree bark, vegetables, and fruits. It doesn’t break down like regular sugar and helps keep the pH of the mouth neutral. The human body even produces 5-10 grams daily through the metabolism of carbohydrates.  Corn cobs and stalks are the most sources of xylitol used today.  It tastes like table sugar and only has 2.4 calories per gram, BONUS!  Initially discovered in 1891, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the benefits of xylitol were recognized for those with diabetes.

In the 1970s and 1990s, several studies were done to recognize the benefits of xylitol in caries prevention.  One such study was done with dental students over a five day period.  The students ate xylitol sweetened food and drinks and refrained from oral hygiene care such as brushing and flossing for those five days.  The study resulted in a 50 percent reduction of plaque accumulation.  Another 40-month study was conducted by the faculty of the University of Michigan in Belize with 1,300 fourth grade students.  Testing of several different chewing gums was conducted, including a 100 percent xylitol-sweetened gum which resulted in a 73 percent reduction of tooth decay.

At the end of the study, no more xylitol was given to the students, and five years later the researchers returned to evaluate the students again.  They found that the students who had chewed the 100 percent xylitol sweetened gum still had a 70 percent reduction of tooth decay compared to other chewing gum groups.  It seemed like the xylitol had altered the oral flora of those students and provided long-term benefits.

What does this Mean for You and Me?

Chewing a stick of gum a day may not exactly kIdaho Falls Dentisteep the dentist away, but it may help reduce the number cavities you get. Xylitol prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth by neutralizing the pH of your mouth.  The acid that would be attacking your teeth for half an hour after eating is stopped with the use of xylitol.  Less bacteria and less acid in the mouth means healthier, cleaner teeth!  Take notice of the gum you buy.  It should be approved by the ADA (American Dental Association) and should contain xylitol.  Icebreakers sugar free gum and Trident sugar free gum are recommended, both contain xylitol and can be found in most stores.  According to the website, it’s more about the frequency of exposures to xylitol than the quantity.

Idaho Falls Dentistry

Remember to Eat then Chew!  Strive for 5 exposures of xylitol a day, brush and floss regularly, and continue to see your Dentist every 6 months for regular checkups so you can be on the road to improving your oral health!