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Can Chewing Xylitol Gum be Good for Your Teeth?

 

Most of us chew gum, and we chew it for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s a piece before a first date, or after a particularly strong cup of coffee, many of us use the chewy stuff to keep our mouths smelling clean and fresh as we go about our day.

 

We see gum promoted in advertisements as something you can use not only to keep your breath smelling fresh; but to whiten and clean your teeth, improving your oral health.

 

Exaggerated marketing, or bona-fide fact? The answer lies in the ingredients of the gum you choose to chew.

 

The Potential Benefits

 

It comes as no surprise that if you’re chewing gum with a lot of sugar in it, it’s going to be bad for your teeth. Sugar promotes the growth of plaque bacteria, which in turn promotes the development of cavities, the decay of enamel, and other issues.

 

It’s because of this that many companies, such as Wrigley’s, have begun to use both aspartame and a substance known as Xylitol as a substitute for sugar in their products.

 

A naturally occurring compound that has been shown to prevent tooth decay, the National Centre for Biotechnology Information writes that Xylitol, “reduces the levels of mutans streptococci … in plaque and saliva by disrupting their energy production processes, leading to futile energy cycle and cell death … Consumption of xylitol chewing gum for >3 weeks leads to both long-term and short-term reduction in salivary and plaque S. mutans levels.

 

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Less bacteria on your teeth means less enamel-eating acid created, which means a healthier mouth. Brands like Confadent advertise and discuss their use of Xylitol as a safe alternative to aspartame, and a plaque reducer.

 

According to Delta Dental of California, “With xylitol use over a period of time, the types of bacteria in the mouth change and fewer decay-causing bacteria survive on tooth surfaces.

 

Potential Drawbacks

 

This sounds like a big-time benefit for your pearly whites, but how do the results compare to projection? Some research shows that the evidence regarding the long term benefits of Xylitol as a dental hygiene product is still unclear.

 

According to a review published by the American Dental Association in 2015, while there is some evidence that Xylitol may reduce tooth decay over a period of years, the evidence is low quality.

 

Research published by the Cochrane Library website suggests that there just isn’t enough high quality evidence to confirm that Xylitol prevents tooth decay.

 

Philip Riley, M.P.H., of the School of Dentistry at the University of Manchester in the UK, is quoted as writing, “More well-conducted, randomized placebo-controlled trials that are large enough (in terms of number of randomized participants) to show a difference, if one exists, are needed.

 

The Cochrane Library review stresses in its conclusions, “We found some low quality evidence to suggest that fluoride toothpaste containing xylitol may be more effective than fluoride-only toothpaste … The effect estimate should be interpreted with caution due to high risk of bias and the fact that it results from two studies that were carried out by the same authors in the same population.

 

So, What to Do?

 

In the end, the conclusions are yours to draw based on the evidence given, but it’s safe to say that chewing gum with Xylitol is better for your teeth than its sugary counterparts. While there needs to be some more research done to better reinforce this conclusion, Xylitol has indeed been shown to reduce cavity causing bacteria in the mouth.

 

Still, if you want to keep your teeth healthy, at the end of the day no gum is a substitute for regular brushing and flossing. For more information on Xylitol, its benefits and drawbacks, you can check out this article from Access Dental, or this one from Delta Dental.

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10 Tips for Oral Health Care

 

Tooth Care

 

You know the basics of oral health care: brush twice a day, floss your teeth, avoid sugary snacks, and visit your dentist at least twice a year. Here are 10 tips for oral health care you may not know (and a good refresher if you do!)

 

1) Brush Smarter

 

Which is better: a humble manual toothbrush or a fancy electric one? They can be equally effective, but what really matters is your brushing technique.

 

Don’t just brush up and down or back and forth. Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle and use a gentle, circular motion to clean each surface of the teeth, including the chewing side and the side facing your tongue, for at least two minutes. Brushing harder or faster doesn’t do you any good. In fact, it can actually lead to tooth and gum damage! 

 

2) Don't Forget to Floss

 

People often think flossing is secondary to brushing, but they are both essential to good oral health. If you aren’t flossing, you’re leaving a third of the surface of the teeth unclean.

 

The ideal flossing technique is a forward or backward motion, with the floss forming a curved ‘C’ shape around the tooth. Use a fresh part of the floss for each tooth so you aren’t re-inserting the bacteria you just removed.

 

3) Pay Attention to Sensitive Teeth

 

Sensitivity to heat and cold is a common dental complaint, and it’s often a sign of an underlying issue like tooth decay, gum disease, or tooth grinding. It’s important to find and treat the source of tooth sensitivity, even if the pain is mild. See your dentist at the first signs of sensitive teeth.

 

4) Eat Well and Brush Often

 

You’ve heard it since you were a kid: sugar causes cavities. True, a diet high in sugar can lead to cavities, but the real cause is plaque, produced by bacteria in your mouth that eats the carbohydrates left on teeth after a meal.

 

While sugar is the biggest cavity culprit, even healthy food leads to some plaque formation. This is why you should brush after every meal, not just after dessert, and avoid eating or drinking anything, aside from water, after you have brushed your teeth at night.

 

5) Watch Your Fillings

 

Do you have fillings? If so, you can usually expect them to last for eight to 10 years. However, some fillings break down earlier than that. When a filling starts to chip and break apart, food and bacteria can get caught underneath, causing decay deep in the tooth. Be sure to make a dental appointment if your tooth filling is not holding up.

 

6) Wear a Mouth Guard

 

Mouth guards are standard equipment for contact sports like hockey and football. However, less confrontational sports—such as baseball, skiing, and skateboarding—can also pose a risk of injury to your teeth. Even minor dental injuries can lead to long-term consequences, so a mouth guard is a good investment for anyone who participates in a sport on a regular basis.

 

7) Read the Ingredients on Toothpaste

 

What’s in your toothpaste? Different kinds of toothpaste—those for desensitizing, tartar control, whitening, et cetera—consist of different active ingredients. Understanding how these ingredients work will help you choose the right toothpaste for you. You should always choose a toothpaste containing fluoride, even if your tap water is already fluoridated. 

 

8) Beat Bad Breath

 

There are many possible causes of bad breath, but poor oral hygiene is a common source. When you don’t brush and floss regularly, odor-causing bacteria can accumulate between teeth and in the back of your throat. However, bad breath can also be a sign of a medical problem, so have a dentist rule out any oral hygiene issues first.

 

9) Use Mouthwash as Directed

 

Mouthwash cannot replace proper brushing and flossing, but it can help boost your oral hygiene and control issues like bad breath, plaque, and oral sores. Be sure to read the instructions on the bottle before using it. Depending on the ingredients, the manufacturer may recommend using it either before or after brushing or flossing for the best results.

 

10) Make Regular Dental Appointments

 

Do not wait until you have a problem to see your dentist! Even if your teeth and gums seem fine, the dentist might notice things you can’t feel or see. Scheduling regular dental exams will help you detect and treat cavities, tooth decay, gingivitis, and other oral health issues before they become painful and/or expensive to fix.

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First Data On New Dental Fillings To Repair Tooth Decay Revealed

 

Amalgam Fillings

 

This might be a shock, but its true: data indicates that over 80 percent of the population in the United Kingdom has at least one filling in their teeth, seven fillings being the average. In addition to this, dentists fill eight million cavities with amalgams each year.

 

There are many mercury-based amalgams, but thanks to new data released by Professor Robert Hill, this may not need to be the case much longer. This data, regarding new bioactive glass composites, indicates a prolonged composite life and a lessened need for amalgams with mercury. This is major progress in restorative materials for everyone’s teeth.

 

The bioactive glass composites, according to Professor Hill, possess a unique ability to release fluoride. Fluoride, as you know, is an essential component in oral health. It is a mineral often found in soil, water, and some food. It improves teeth’s resistance to decay, and may even reverse tooth decay that has already started. The bioactive composites can also release high quantities of phosphate and calcium, two other elements needed to form strong tooth mineral.

 

The bioactive glass composites, according to Professor Hill, possess a unique ability to release fluoride. Fluoride, as you know, is an essential component in oral health. It is a mineral often found in soil, water, and some food. It improves teeth’s resistance to decay, and may even reverse tooth decay that has already started. The bioactive composites can also release high quantities of phosphate and calcium, two other elements needed to form strong tooth mineral.

 

The benefits of the new bioactive glass composite have caught the attention of the dental community. It is definitely clear these fillings can provide significant improvements in oral health when patients require dental fillings. BioMin Technologies has even licensed the technology of the bioactive glass and hopes to find a use for the remineralizing in dental products with restorative properties.

 

In recent developments in the dental industry, there is significant pressure to reduce and hopefully eliminate the use of amalgams with mercury by the year 2020. In fact, Richard Whatley, who happens to be the CEO of BioMin Technologies, indicates this is actually included in a number of international agreements. The good news is this new bioactive glass composite is a great help in the reduction of mercury-based amalgams. The fillings, as described previously, do not simply put teeth into stasis. They actually help to reverse the effects of tooth decay and return your teeth to their optimum health.

 

These new dental fillings, along with proper oral hygiene practices like regular brushing (twice a day) and flossing (most recommend once a day, or at least with meals where food often gets caught in your teeth), are sure to help the overall oral health of everyone, particularly with the scourge of tooth decay.

 

 

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Can Chemicals in Food Packaging Damage Children’s Teeth?

 

In recent years, there has been increased concern about the harmful effects of chemicals found in everyday products. Endocrine disruptors such as BPA are known to increase the risk of cancer, birth defects, and other conditions.

 

Now, research has linked these chemicals to MIH – a condition that irreversibly damages children’s teeth. The study found that early exposure to chemicals found in food packaging and fungicides may interfere with the growth of dental enamel.

 

Molar incisor hypermineralisation (MIH) is a condition that causes defects in a child’s tooth enamel. MIH weakens the enamel of permanent molars and incisors, causing the teeth to be cavity-prone and sensitive to hot and cold. The condition affects up to 18% of children aged six to nine.

 

Molar incisor hypermineralisation (MIH) is a condition that causes defects in a child’s tooth enamel. MIH weakens the enamel of permanent molars and incisors, causing the teeth to be cavity-prone and sensitive to hot and cold. The condition affects up to 18% of children aged six to nine.

 

To study the effects of endocrine disruptors on enamel, Dr. Katia Jedeon and his colleagues experimented on rats. They gave the rats daily doses of endocrine disruptors, in an amount equivalent to the average dose a human would experience daily. The exposure started in utero and continuing for a month after birth – the period when tooth enamel develops. 

 

After 30 days, they collected cells from the surface of the rats’ teeth and analyzed them. The chemicals had a clear effect. Two genes that control the creation of tooth enamel, Klk4 and SLC5A8, were expressed differently.

 

The study also revealed a potential cause of this effect.

 

In the second part of the experiment, the researchers collected ameloblast cells, which play a key role in forming tooth enamel. They found that sex hormones, like estrogen and testosterone, boost the expression of the genes that make tooth enamel. Endocrine disruptors can block the effect of male sex hormones. This indicates the chemicals may lead to MIH by blocking the hormones needed for development of tooth enamel.

 

Unlike bone, tooth enamel does not have living cells. This means it cannot regrow, so any damage to the enamel is permanent. However, parents can protect children by reducing their exposure to endocrine disruptors.

 

"Tooth enamel starts at the third trimester of pregnancy and ends at the age of 5, so minimizing exposure to endocrine disruptors at this stage in life as a precautionary measure would be one way of reducing the risk of enamel weakening,” says Dr. Jedeon. 

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