Dr. Schluter's Blog on all things dental

 Dental Sealants are Effective and Safe for your Children Studies show            10/4/2016

I am not sure when it ever became a question whether one should have dental sealants placed on your child's teeth.  There must have been an article in some magazine or some crazy television show which called into question their use.  But really this is a no brainer.  There are many studies that validate the effectiveness of dental sealants.  The ADA and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry just published two new systematic reviews of their effectiveness.  They are effective in preventing decay in the pit and fissures of the molar teeth,  Children are 80% less prone to develop cavities when their teeth are sealed.  Perhaps some people were worried about exposure to BPA with the placement of dental sealants.  Research recently published by the ADA Science Institute has shown them to have less BPA than many foods, drinks, sunscreen, shampoo, body wash, and many other household materials.  So they are safe also.  If you can prevent one filling in your child's mouth that is one less filling that will eventually need replacement which could mean less dentistry needed over their lifetime.  The choice is yours but I made sure my kid's teeth were sealed when they erupted and it has worked well for them.

Oral Health's Connection To Heart Health                                                                09/27/2016

There was an article recently about how poor oral health can affect your overall health.  In my journals I have read many studies connecting oral health to many facets of your overall health.  In this particular study from Finland (a lot of these kind of studies come out of Europe because they have national health programs that give them access to lots of statistics) they found that people who needed or had root canal treatment were much more likely to end up in the hospital with serious heart disease.  To me this is not too surprising since these people were basically harboring an infection in there mouth that can lead to increased levels of bacteria in the bloodstream.  This is not good in that it increases inflammation and the stress on the body.  Taking care of your oral health is an important part of taking care of your overall health.

 Oil Pulling and oral health                                                                                         6/21/2016

Recently a patient asked me about the practice of "oil pulling".  He was doing it now and wanted to know what my opinion of it was and if his mouth looked healthier for it.  Now I was a little perplexed because I had never heard of it.  I told him I had never seen any studies on it so I wasn't able to say whether there was any benefit to it.  In case you don't know oil pulling is a practice where you take a tablespoon of some kind of edible oil and basically swish it around the mouth for a fairly long time.  Some say 1 minute, some say 5 minutes, some say twenty minutes which is a long time to hold anything in your mouth.  Anyway the benefits are supposed to be many. There are claims that it whitens the teeth and improves your oral health, some also claim general health benefits.  I read an article that said this was a old folk remedy that originated in India or southern asia.  Unfortunately, or fortunately if you don't fancy swishing oil around your mouth for 5 minutes, there are no credible studies to substantiate the claims.  The American Dental Association says that mouthwash is better for helping clean the mouth.  Once again brush, floss and rinse with mouthwash.

  Marijuana and Oral Health                                                                                        1/27/2016

Interesting article in AGD Impact, a dental journal.  The thrust of the article was that marijuana use is becoming more prevalent today as the laws are loosened proscribing its use.  The effects of marijuana on the oral cavity are not salubrious, quite the opposite.  It is strongly linked to Periodontal disease with smoking one joint a day as bad as one pack of cigarettes.  There is also an increase in the incidence of oral cancers.  Studies have even shown an increase in dental decay which they attribute to the stimulation of appetite and the consumption of sugary and starchy foods.  I am not sure about the extant of these effects if the marijuana is ingested rather than smoked but some of the effects apparently are still noted.  Also the resins and tars will stain the teeth and cause dry mouth.  Now I am sure that in California the use of marijuana is for purely medicinal purposes however it would be wise to consider some of these deleterious effects resulting from smoking it.  There are, I am sure, positive attributes for marijuana use but from a purely dental perspective it is no better than smoking cigarettes and it could be worse.


 Yet another benefit to brushing your teeth--- better prostate health                      7/21/2015

  I just read in my CDA Journal an article that explained a study on improving prostatis by treating gum disease.  Prostate inflammation was reduced by treating the moderate to severe periodontal disease that the men in the study had.  The Study was done at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and the Department of Urology and Pathology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.   Basically they took 27 men who had confirmed inflammation of the prostate and did nothing to treat them other than the treatment they received to improve their gum disease.  4 to 8 weeks later  21 of the 27 men had shown an improvement in their prostatis.  One of the authors of the study,  Nabil Bissada, explained that gum disease not only affects the mouth, but is a system-wide condition that can cause inflammation in various parts of the body.  This is just one of the areas in the body affected by the inflammation of the gums we call periodontitis.  It is really important to maintain a healthy mouth. 

 Bleaching Your Teeth          6/30/2015

My excellent assistant, Ellan, recently came back from lunch and told me she had watched an episode on Dr. Oz’s medical advice show.  His topic this day was dental  bleaching.  He made some good recommendations on the inadvisability of doing any teeth bleaching without first consulting your dentist.  Bleaching materials are peroxides of varying strengths which can damage exposed dental  tissues, for instance in open cavities, if you are unaware of the potential.  Gum tissues can be burned by too strong of bleaching  materials.  However when used correctly accumulated stain is safely oxidized resulting in noticeably whiter teeth. 

                I remember  back in the early 1980s when I first started doing some teeth whitening.  I would buy hydrogen peroxide solutions from beauty supply stores and place a rubber dam on to protect the gum tissues and proceed to place the peroxide on the teeth to be whitened.  Extreme care was necessary to prevent burned areas on the gums if they contacted  the peroxide solution.  This worked but was a crude method compared to the myriad of ways we have today.

                Dr. Oz seemed to think that the Bleaching done in the dental office was the “Gold Standard” for whitening the teeth.  I am not in total agreement with him here.  Certainly, there are advantages to this kind of whitening but there are also disadvantages.  It is the most time efficient way to whiten the teeth and for some people this is important.  In an hour or two the teeth are whiter and there is nothing the patient has to do on their own.  On the other hand, it is more expensive and the results are variable.  Some patients teeth bleach easily and others are more difficult to get satisfactory results. 

                The most popular and dependable method in my office is bleaching with custom bleaching trays.  Of course,  there are advantages and disadvantages with this method also.  The bleaching trays can be worn for as little as  a half hour or as much as overnight depending on which bleaching gel one uses.  You can go as fast or slow as you want with this method which can be useful if you are sensitive to the bleaching process. ( Some people will experience a temporary sensitivity to cold when bleaching their teeth.)  Also you have the ability to bleach several times until you get the amount of whiteness that you desire.  In addition several months to years later you can bleach the teeth again or touch up the whiteness.   The main disadvantage to using the custom trays is you have to spend the time with the tray in the mouth  which means you will need some time where you can’t talk too much or do much else other than sit there.

                Finally,  there are over the counter products that can be somewhat effective.  These products are not as strong , of necessity, and will work better if you have fairly straight teeth.  They are not as comfortable to wear but can be less expensive.  Again you should check with your dentist before attempting to bleach your teeth.  Also since they are not as strong they will take longer or will not be as effective.  If you use them according to instructions they will work but it will take a little more effort.  I think the white strips are the best of the choices here.

However you choose to do it, you will be glad you did.  It really does make a difference in your look.


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