The Top Sugar-Free Food That Can Rot Your Teeth

dental health risks of sugar-free soda popWe all know that drinking too much sweet sugary soda pop can cause tooth decay. Sodas should only be an occasional treat (like a cupcake or a candy bar), not your main source of hydration or caffeine. To get around this issue and still enjoy a sweet drink, many people turn to sugar-free varieties. The only problem is that sugar-free sodas can cause tooth decay too!

Sodas sweetened with real sugar or high fructose corn syrup are bad for your teeth because they feed bacteria. This bacteria processes the sugar and creates acids, which sit on your teeth in the form of plaque and cause dental erosion.

Sugar-free sodas don’t feed decay-causing bacteria. They skip that step altogether. Many sugar-free sodas are acidic on their own, meaning the soda itself can cause dental erosion. Tooth decay occurs when dental erosion eats away at the hard protective outer layer of teeth, leaving the softer dentin underneath exposed. This is how cavities eventually form.

While diet sodas can be a great choice when it comes to reducing the amount of sugar or calories you consume, it’s good to keep in mind that there’s no “easy way out” when it comes to good dietary choices. In other words, soda pop of any kind should only be consumed in moderation (including “energy drink” varieties). Nearly any dentist you ask will agree that a balanced diet that includes a minimal amount of sugar, processed foods, and acidic foods is the best way to maintain your oral health. Think of your balanced diet as the best possible kind of dental insurance (and the cheapest)!

We know that a soda habit can be hard to kick. Often it’s the sensation of cold, crisp bubbles that makes soda hardest to give up. Believe it or not, many people find they get the same satisfaction and refreshing sensation from plain carbonated water. Just keep in mind that fizzy water contains carbon dioxide, which turns into carbonic acid in your mouth, so it’s more acidic that still water and therefore more risky for your tooth enamel. When you’re seeking refreshment, regular water is always your best choice!

If you have any questions or concerns about how your favorite drinks affect your teeth, please feel free to start a conversation with the dentist or the dental hygienist. We’d be happy to share our advice!

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Dentists Don’t Use Novocain Anymore!

trivia about novocain dental anestheticDentists no longer use Novocain when treating patients. No, this doesn’t mean we’ve somehow managed to make dentistry completely painless (we wish!). We mean that Novocain is no longer the anesthetic of choice for dentists. In fact, it hasn’t been for many years.

Novocain is actually a brand name for procain. It was first created in 1905 and started being used in dentistry soon after. Believe it or not, before that, cocaine was the anesthetic of choice for procedures! Novocain was more effective and didn’t have addictive side effects, so it won out as the anesthetic of choice for many decades.

However, there was a serious side effect that caused dentists to start moving away from using Novocain. Many patients can have allergic reactions, sometimes severe, to the chemical that results as Novocain is processed by the body. By the 1980s, barely any dentists were using Novocain anymore. For the past 30 years or so, lidocain has been the local anesthetic that most dentists use. Lidocain was invented in 1943 and is sometimes called cylocain or lignocain. There are few other local anesthetics that dentists may choose based slight variations in their effect, such as being longer lasting.

Lidocain the same way that Novocain does: it’s a nerve blocker. When lidocain enters nerve cells, it prevents them from sending pain messages to each other, therefore the feeling of pain can never reach your brain. Think of it like an email spam blocker. The spam keeps being sent, but it never reaches your inbox so you never see it or experience it.

Local anesthetics like lidocain are usually used in restorative dental procedures, such as crowns or root canals. They are also used in combination with nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or general anesthesia in more complex procedures such as surgical extractions and placing dental implants.

So if Novocain hasn’t been used dentists in a long time, why do patients under 30 still know what it is and ask about it? Our best guess is that patients have heard about it from their parents, grandparents, or TV and movies. If you’re curious about local anesthetic and how we might use it in your treatment, please feel free to ask!

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Why on Earth Do Implants Cost So Much?

comparing the price of dental implantsDental implants are the top-of-the-line when it comes to natural and functional replacements for missing teeth, but that excellence can come with a hefty price tag. Replacing missing teeth can have a positive effect on your health, appearance, and self-confidence for years to come, so we think it’s a worthwhile investment no matter what, but here’s a breakdown of the costs.

So why are implants so expensive? For one thing, comparing pricing for dental implants isn’t like comparing pricing for a new car. Dental implants are not simply objects, they’re also service in the form of dental treatment. Looking at dental implant pricing is more like shopping around for a custom deck for your backyard. The cost is going to depend on the time commitment and skill of the carpenter, the materials chosen and the condition of the location where the deck needs to be built.

Let’s Start With the Materials

While the dental implant itself may look like a bolt or a screw, it is not something you could pick up at your neighborhood hardware store. Dental implants are made from titanium alloy. This durable kind of metal is biocompatible and bonds with bone (in a process called “osseointegration”). This is what helps the implant anchor securely in your jawbone, just like a natural tooth’s root would. The exact formulations of titanium alloy used in dental implants today are the result of years of clinical studies and trials. Some types are more expensive than others (just like different types of wood would affect the cost of timber for your backyard deck).

The second part of an implant is the crown. This is the part that looks like an actual tooth at is visible above your gumline. These crowns just like regular dental crowns used to treat decayed or broken teeth. They are made from special kinds of ceramic or porcelain that are made to look and feel like your natural teeth.

Time and Skill

Luckily, as the popularity of dental implants has risen, so have the numbers of dentists who have become trained in dental implant placement. Many dentists already have years of experience placing dental implants to create long-lasting smiles. But compared with other procedures, dental implant treatment isn’t the quickest. Most of the time, the procedure takes a few appointments to complete, usually with healing time required between appointments. The cost of dental implants includes the time commitment of the dentist and the dental staff. Just like for your backyard deck, you have to expect to pay the craftsperson and any assistants for their time.

Placement Location

The ease with which dental implants are placed depends on your specific oral condition. The treatment planning process will involve x-rays and scans to give the dentist a precise idea of what’s where in your mouth. For example, some people who have been missing a tooth for a long time have started to lose thickness in their jaw. When this happens, bone grafting may be required to build the bone back up before an implant is placed. Think of it like this: a deck on a steep hill would need more support than a deck on a flat lawn, and that extra support costs a little more in time and materials.

No worthwhile investment in your health should ever be considered too expensive. And no other tooth replacement option compares to the durability, usability, and comfort of dental implants. They’re the only treatment that can truly make you feel like you have your teeth back!

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