Dentist in Syracuse, NY
Dr. Karen Lawitts

100 Intrepid Lane
Syracuse, NY 13205

(315) 492-8138
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(315) 492-8138

100 Intrepid Lane
Syracuse, NY 13205

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Posts for: June, 2014

By Drs Lawitts
June 18, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   nutrition  
DietDosandDontsforOralHealth

What and how you eat and drink has a significant impact on the health of your teeth and gums. Therefore, an effective oral hygiene regime must take your diet into account.

Acid is your teeth's enemy; it can erode their protective enamel coating (a process called demineralization). Certain foods and beverages (such as citrus drinks and coffee) contain it, and it's produced by bacteria in your mouth that feed on dietary sugar and release acid as a byproduct (a process called fermentation). Your allies are foods and beverages that neutralize acids, provide minerals and vitamins to repair tooth enamel, and stimulate saliva.

Sugar & Decay
Sugars, the leading promoter of dental decay, exist in many forms in our diet. Some occur naturally, while others — referred to as “free sugars” — are added by the manufacturer, cook or consumer. The latter are most often linked with decay. Soft drinks are the primary source of dietary free-sugars in the U.S.

Sugars in fruit, vegetables, milk and unprocessed, starch-rich foods such as rice, potatoes and whole grains, do not appear to be harmful to teeth. Note, however, that dried fruits contain a highly concentrated sugar level and can stick to tooth surfaces. The sugar substitutes xylitol and sorbitol appear not to promote decay. In fact, there's evidence that chewing xylitol-sweetened gum three to five times daily for at least five minutes (after meals) stimulates saliva flow, which helps protect against decay.

Acids & Erosion
In addition to eroding tooth enamel, acidic foods and beverages create an environment where it's easier for decay-promoting bacteria to flourish. Saliva can reduce acidity but it must have time to work, at least 30–60 minutes. That's why behaviors that maintain acid levels, such as sipping coffee throughout the day, can be harmful.

Saliva-Promoting Saviors
Saliva is a front-line defense against erosion and decay. It helps remove food particles and contains minerals that help neutralize acid and promote remineralization of the tooth surface. Foods that stimulate saliva and/or contribute essential minerals include:

  • Cheese — stimulates saliva and is rich in calcium, contributing to the re-calcification of teeth and protecting against the loss of calcium,
  • Cow's milk — contains decay-counteracting calcium, phosphorous and casein,
  • Plant foods — are fibrous and require chewing, which mechanically stimulates saliva,
  • Water — keeps you hydrated, which is important for saliva production and preventing dry mouth (a condition that promotes acid-producing bacteria), and helps wash away food particles; fluorinated water bestows the protective properties of fluoride (a compound that makes tooth enamel more resistant to acid erosion and promotes re-calcification).

As you can see, brushing and flossing effectively is just part of the oral hygiene equation.

If you would like more information about nutrition and oral hygiene, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Nutrition & Oral Health.”


By Drs Lawitts
June 10, 2014
Category: Oral Health
TheTopTenMainCausesofBadBreath

Nobody wants “halitosis,” commonly known as bad breath. Americans spend an estimated $3 billion per year on breath freshening products like candies, chewing gum and sprays, but that really just masks the problem. Bad breath is clearly a major concern. Treating bad breath effectively means understanding and treating what causes it.

And The Top Ten Main Causes of Bad Breath Are:

  1. You just woke up — because saliva flow is reduced during the night, it is normal to wake up with a dry mouth and “morning breath.”
  2. It was something you ate — garlic, onions, coffee, alcohol, spicy foods and more — are common causes — luckily they are temporary. Brushing, flossing and mouthrinses may help.
  3. It was because you didn't eat — fasting can result in bad breath. In hunger, especially starvation, a person's breath may actually smell like nail polish remover (acetone). This comes from ketones that are produced as the body metabolizes fat for energy production.
  4. “Xerostomia,” literally dry mouth — from plain old dehydration, and certainly many medications can cause dry mouth leading to bad breath. Drinking sufficient quantities of water is helpful and important.
  5. Smoker's breath — If you are a smoker, the telltale odor lingers — for days and weeks. Try quitting for multiple health benefits.
  6. Ineffective oral hygiene — buildup of food remnants and bacteria on and between your teeth and gums is a prominent cause of bad breath.
  7. Bacterial accumulation on the back of your tongue — large numbers of bacteria accumulating in the nooks and crannies, where they may give off volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), which have an odor reminiscent of rotten eggs.
  8. You may have tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease — one of the main causes of bad breath is gum disease. Studies have shown that the more VSCs a person has on their breath, the more likely it is that they have gum disease. Openly decayed teeth can also be a cause of bad breath.
  9. You may have a problem with your nose or tonsils — Nasal odors exhaled from the nose and mouth may be a result of sinus infections, foreign bodies, or infections of your tonsils.
  10. Serious health conditions — like diabetes, lung disease and cancer can also be systemic (general body causes of bad breath) that do not emanate from the mouth.

Because some of these problems are serious and need treatment, don't just try to cosmetically camouflage bad breath. Make every effort to remove the film of bacteria (plaque) from your teeth and gums every day; if this does not cure your bad breath, contact us for an assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about bad breath. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bad Breath: More than just embarrassing.”


KidsandSportsPreventingDentalInjuryWithMouthguards

There's nothing quite like watching your son or daughter compete on the athletic field. It's a mixture of anticipation, pride — and occasionally, anxiety. Despite all the protective gear and training, kids are sometimes injured playing the sports they love. In fact, when it comes to dental injuries, teens are the most susceptible of any age group. Here's what you should know about preventing sports-related dental injuries in kids.

Of course you know that football and hockey players should always wear mouthguards, both at games and during practice. But don't forget about kids who play soccer, do gymnastics, wrestle or play basketball. According to the American Dental Association (ADA) these athletes — along with participants in about 20 other sports — also need to wear this important piece of protective gear. In fact, the ADA states that not wearing a mouthguard makes an athlete 60 times more likely to sustain dental injury!

In selecting a mouthguard, there are three basic options to choose from: the “off-the-shelf” type, the so-called “boil and bite” protector, and the custom-fitted mouthguard that we can fabricate. Let's look briefly at all three.

The first type, available at many sporting goods stores, comes in a limited range of sizes, and an unknown range of quality. It's the least expensive option, offering a minimal level of protection that's probably better than nothing.

The second type, although popular, is also limited in its protection. This one is designed to be immersed in hot water, and then formed in the mouth using finger, tongue and bite pressure. If it can be made to fit adequately, it's probably better than the first type — though it often lacks proper extensions, and fails to cover the back teeth. Also, upon impact, the rubber-like material will distort and not offer as much protection as you would like to have.

The third is a piece of quality sports equipment that's custom-made for your child's mouth (or your own). To fabricate this mouthguard, we first make a model of the individual's teeth, and then mold the protector to fit just right. Made from tough, high-quality material, it's designed to cover all teeth, back and front, without being excessively bulky. It can even be made to accommodate growing teeth and jaws. And, it's reasonable in cost.

To paraphrase the ADA's recommendation, the best mouthguard is the one you wear. A comfortable, correctly-fitted mouthguard is easy to wear — and it can help prevent dental injury, giving you one less thing to worry about. Now, if you could just get you child to keep her eye on the ball.

If you have questions about mouthguards or sports-related dental injuries, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Athletic Mouthguards” and “An Introduction to Sports Injuries & Dentistry.”




Dr. Karen Lawitts

Dr. Karen Lawitts

 

 

Dr. Lawitts was born and raised in Syracuse, NY. She received her Bachelor of Science and D.D.S degree from Northwestern University in Chicago.  
       
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