A recent study published in the May/June 2012 issue of General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, found that an alarming increase in the consumption of sports and energy drinks, especially among adolescents, is causing irreversible damage to teeth - specifically, the high acidity levels in the drinks erode tooth enamel, the glossy outer layer of the tooth.
"Young adults consume these drinks assuming that they will improve their sports performance and energy levels and that they are 'better' for them than soda," says Poonam Jain, BDS, MS, MPH, lead author of the study. "Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid."
Researchers examined the acidity levels in 13 sports drinks and nine energy drinks. They found that the acidity levels can vary between brands of beverages and flavors of the same brand. To test the effect of the acidity levels, the researchers immersed samples of human tooth enamel in each beverage for 15 minutes, followed by immersion in artificial saliva for two hours. This cycle was repeated four times a day for five days, and the samples were stored in fresh artificial saliva at all other times.
"This type of testing simulates the same exposure that a large proportion of American teens and young adults are subjecting their teeth to on a regular basis when they drink one of these beverages every few hours," says Dr. Jain.
The researchers found that damage to enamel was evident after only five days of exposure to sports or energy drinks, although energy drinks showed a significantly greater potential to damage teeth than sports drinks. In fact, the authors found that energy drinks caused twice as much damage to teeth as sports drinks.
With a reported 30 to 50 percent of U.S. teens consuming energy drinks, and as many as 62 percent consuming at least one sports drink per day, it is important to educate parents and young adults about the downside of these drinks. Damage caused to tooth enamel is irreversible, and without the protection of enamel, teeth become overly sensitive, prone to cavities, and more likely to decay.
"Teens regularly come into my office with these types of symptoms, but they don't know why," says AGD spokesperson Jennifer Bone, DDS, MAGD. "We review their diet and snacking habits and then we discuss their consumption of these beverages. They don't realize that something as seemingly harmless as a sports or energy drink can do a lot of damage to their teeth."
Dr. Bone recommends that her patients minimize their intake of sports and energy drinks. She also advises them to chew sugar-free gum or rinse the mouth with water following consumption of the drinks. "Both tactics increase saliva flow, which naturally helps to return the acidity levels in the mouth to normal," she says.
Also, patients should wait at least an hour to brush their teeth after consuming sports and energy drinks. Otherwise, says Dr. Bone, they will be spreading acid onto the tooth surfaces, increasing the erosive action.
Academy of General Dentistry. (2012, May3). "Irreversable Damage to Teeth Caused by Sports and Energy Drinks." Medical News Today. Retrieved from www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/244872.php
Finding a Dentist
When searching for a dentist, the American Dental Association (ADA) offers these suggestions:
Ask family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers for their recommendations.
Ask your family doctor or local pharmacist.
If you're moving, ask your current dentist to make a recommendation.
Contact your local or state dental society. The ADA provides a list of local and state dental societies on their web site, www.ada.org. Your local and state dental societies also may be listed in the telephone directory under "dentists" or "associations."
The ADA suggests calling or visiting more than one dentist before selecting one you feel you can build a good long-term relationship with.
What Should I Look for When Choosing a Dentist?
You and your dentist will be long-term oral health care partners; therefore, you should find someone you can be comfortable with. To find a suitable dentist to meet your needs, consider asking the following questions as a starting point:
What are the office hours? Are they convenient for your schedule?
Is the office easy to get to from work or home?
Where was the dentist educated and trained?
What's the dentist's approach to preventive dentistry?
How often does the dentist attend conferences and continuing education workshops?
What type of anesthesia is the dentist certified to administer to help you relax and feel more comfortable during any necessary dental treatment?
What arrangements are made for handling emergencies outside of office hours? (Most dentists make arrangements with a colleague or emergency referral service if they are unable to tend to emergencies.)
Is information provided about all fees and payment plans before treatment is scheduled? If you are comparison shopping, ask for estimates on some common procedures such as full-mouth X-rays, an oral exam and cleaning, and filling a cavity.
Does the dentist participate in your dental health plan?
What is the dentist's office policy on missed appointments?
If visiting a dentist's office:
Does the office appear to be clean, neat, and orderly? Do all surfaces and equipment in the treatment room appear clean?
Is the dental staff helpful and willing to answer your questions?
Do you observe the dentist and staff wearing gloves and other protective gear during actual patient treatment?
Where Do People With Special Needs Obtain Dental Care?
The ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations suggests the following tips for finding dental care if you have special needs:
Inform the dentist about your special health or financial conditions.
Ask if the dentist has training and/or experience in treating patients with your specific condition.
Ask if the dentist has an interest in treating patients with your specific condition.
Find out if the dentist participates in your dental benefit plan (dental insurance program).
Ask if the dental facility is accessible to the disabled.
In addition, the Council suggests that patients with special needs:
Contact the dental director at your state department of public health. The ADA's web site provides information on locating this person.
Contact the nearest dental school clinic or hospital dental department, especially if it is affiliated with a major university.
Contact the Special Care Dentistry, formerly Federation of Special Care Organizations in Dentistry
Where Can I Learn About Charitable or Low-Cost Dental Care?
Because dental assistance programs vary from state to state, contact your state dental society to find out if there are programs in your area. Dental school clinics are another source of lower-cost dental care. A list of dental school clinics is provided by the ADA. Generally, dental costs in school clinics are reduced and may include only partial payment for professional services covering the cost of materials and equipment. Your state dental society can tell you if there is a dental school clinic in your area.
Dr. Giovanni Boiano hosted the first of a series of Facial Aesthetics seminars covering why his practice is uniquely positioned as a leader in the full mouth rehabilitation space. As Dr. Boiano states, the night is a learning experience and an opportunity to discuss how he can not only enhance your smile, but prevent the typical signs of aging.
The night started with informational videos from the leading dermal filler manufactures then progressed to basic and in depth aesthetic care. The lecture ended with an open question and answer session and then a demonstration.
So if you are looking to enhance your smile or prevent frown lines when you smile, this is a perfect forum. It is not only informational, but it is a very open and casual atmosphere where you can ask questions openly or privately with Dr. Boiano.
"We would like to thank all the folks who came out to our first event", said Dr. Boiano. There were great questions and everyone seemed to be happy with the discussion.
If you would like to find out more about future events, please call the office at (914) 268-0020.
Dental Anxiety: Tips to Overcome Your Fear of the Dentist
By Preeti Sunil
For many people, visiting a dentist is a dreadful prospect. The phobia itself is debilitating and is the leading cause of skipped dental checkups. Well, if you're waiting for one good reason why you should proactively banish this fear, then here's a good one. Poor dental health can lead to heart disease!Of course, heart disease is a worst-case scenario. However, it is in the interest of your physical well-being to practice good oral hygiene, which includes regular visits to the dentist. It is quite possible that the scary looking procedures may not even be necessary for your particular condition. In addition, inculcating a habit of visiting the dentist regularly helps build a relationship with the dentist, which will help allay your fears. Often, becoming used to the pain increases your ability to tolerate pain. With subsequent visits to the dentist, you will realize that what seemed at first to be an unbearable procedure is no longer a big deal.
Causes of Dental Anxiety
If you don't suffer from dental phobia but want to help someone who does, you might want to check out the causes for this fear.
- Prior Experience: If someone has had a painful dental visit or has seen someone else have a painful experience while accompanying them, chances are they will develop a phobia during subsequent visits. Sometimes, the procedure itself may not have been painful but humiliation by the dentist or insensitivity to the patient's anxiety aggravates the phobia.
- Anxiety Disorder or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Some individuals suffer from general anxiety disorders and PTSD and dental phobia is only one of their many fears.
- Abusive History: Victims of sexual and emotional abuse often associate similar fears when under the care of a person of authority. A dentist may appear abusive to such a victim even though there has been no real incident. Add to that an unusually stern dentist, dental phobia is the only escape for these patients.
Tips to Overcome Dental Phobia
Now that you are aware of some of the causes of dental anxiety, let us take a look at some tips to overcome your fear of the dentist.
- Choose Your Dentist: Instead of just heading off to the nearest dental clinic, scout around for a dentist who is likely to accept your anxiety. Speak to your friends and family and check if they know a "compassionate" dentist. Chances are, if you find someone who regularly visits a dentist, they most likely do that because they trust the dentist. Because dental phobia is so common, there are dentists who specialize in treating patients with anxiety. Check if you can find such a specialist close to your area. Don't let your first appointment be the one that requires you to be sitting in the dentist's chair with your mouth wide open. Make a brief appointment first, to get to know the dentist and use the opportunity to let him/her know of your dental phobia. Let him/her know of that horrible experience you had with the other dentist. During the actual appointment, ask the doctor to slow down the pace of treatment instead of hurrying through the process to "get over with it quickly". Sometimes, letting the patient know what's coming and how "little" it will hurt helps to calm them down. If the dentist specializes in handling anxiety related cases, he will know how to handle the case.
- Use of Sedation: In cases where you're unable to sit still without fearing the worst, the dentist may find it difficult to perform procedures such as tooth extraction. In such cases, the dentist may prescribe inhalation, oral or intravenous (IV) sedation before the procedure, for dental anxiety treatment. Sedation relieves anxiety and you'll be conscious during the procedure. However, you may be advised not to drive and you may be asked to bring along someone for support/company for up to a few hours after the sedation is administered.
- General Anesthesia: In rare cases such as young children or people with special needs, general anesthesia may be used for difficult dental procedures. This must be done under extreme caution and as a last resort if no other non-invasive alternative is available.
- Psychological Support: In case of any treatment, a non-invasive approach is undoubtedly the safest bet. It is sort of an overlap with a few things we already discussed above where the dentist attempts what is also called behavior managementtechniques ranging from "taking it slowly" to "telling you what to expect". Alternately, the dentist may refer you to a mental health professional for counseling. Incidentally, behavior management techniques work well with most people and so you must give it a try.
- Hypnosis: Another form of non-invasive therapy to treat dental phobia, hypnosis involves sending the patient into a "trance state" where the hypnotherapist (your dentist may also be one) gives you a set of instructions to follow. Audio hypnosisuses CDs that enable patients to listen to the hypnotherapy instructions and practice relaxation at home. In the "hypnotic state", the hypnotherapist can induce numbness in the area where the procedure is to be performed. Alternatively, continued hypnotherapy also helps to alleviate dental phobia such that you can get rid of your fears even before you visit the dentist. However, this form of treatment is not recommended for everyone especially those with a history of trauma. Your dentist or hypnotherapist can be the best judge whether you qualify for this treatment. But for those patients who did undergo hypnosis, the results have been promising.
- Calm Yourself Down: This is not as difficult as you think. If the sound of dental drills and other equipment is a major cause of your anxiety, bring along a portable music player to deafen yourself to the scary sounds.
Some Good News
Now that we have seen some ways to overcome your fear of the dentist, here are some technological advances in dentistry that might reduce your fears considerably even before you try anxiety treatments. The dental drills have become quieter and some models of the drills permit the patient to switch it off when they wish. This helps people who fear loss of control during such procedures. There are also numbing gels and anesthetic sprays that promise a near painless experience. The "magic wand" has replaced needles (not widely available yet) and is helpful for those with needle phobia. If you're afraid of implant pain, you might want to try keyhole surgery for dental implants (also not widely available yet) that is less invasive and recovery is considerably faster. More recently, it has been reported that a new painless cavity drill is likely to be available in two years. It consists of a "plasma brush" that could treat rotten teeth by hollowing it out in seconds with just a cooling sensation. The filling will also last much longer with this brush.Well, as you can see, there's much hope for those with dental anxiety not just with therapy to relieve phobia but also with modern technological advances in dentistry. We recommend that you do not wait for the modern painless dental tools to hit the market. Make an effort towards overcoming dental anxiety and take your first step now! It is simply not worth it to suffer from obnoxious mouth problems like halitosis and crooked teeth that can be treated easily. You're more likely to become a social recluse if you continue to delay treatment. And don't forget about the heart disease risk factors lurking in some corner of your mouth. Hope you can now look forward to that dentist appointment you have been endlessly postponing!