Posts for: February, 2012
You probably know that tooth decay results when the bacteria in your mouth release acids after consuming sugars. After you eat sugars, particularly the type of sugar known as sucrose, increased acid in your mouth begins to dissolve the enamel and dentin in your teeth, and you end up with cavities.
What are the Types of Sugars?
Modern diets include several types of sugars. Most of these are fermented by oral bacteria, producing acids that are harmful to teeth.
- Sucrose (commonly known as sugar)
- Glucose (released from starch consumption)
- Lactose (milk sugar) — Less acid is produced from this type of sugar
- Fructose (found naturally in fruit and also added to many processed foods)
Recommended intake of “free sugars” is no more than 10 teaspoons per day. Note that a can of soda contains over 6 teaspoons! Soft drinks are the largest source of sugar consumption in the U.S. In 2003, for example, Americans drank an average of 52 gallons of soft drinks. Average per capita consumption of all sugars in the U.S. was 141.5 pounds (64.3 kg) one of the highest levels in the world.
Sugar substitute xylitol (which is chemically similar to sugar but does not cause decay) can be part of a preventive program to reduce or control tooth decay. Chewing gum sweetened with xylitol stimulates saliva flow and helps protect against decay.
Sugars Released from Starches
Starches are foods like rice, potatoes, or bread. When you eat refined starches, such as white bread and rice, enzymes in your saliva release glucose. However, these foods have a lower potential to produce decay than foods with added sugars. When sugars are added to starchy foods, as in baked products and breakfast cereals, the potential for decay increases.
Less refined starches such as whole grains require more chewing and stimulate secretion of saliva, which protects from harmful acids.
The Case for Fruit
Fresh fruit has not been shown to produce cavities, so it makes sense to eat them instead of sugary desserts and snacks. Dried fruit is more of a problem because the drying process releases free sugars.
Hearing the news that you need a root canal often causes anxiety for most people given all the bad press this procedure has received (e.g., “I'd rather have a root canal than...”). However, the truth is that root canal treatment relieves pain; it doesn't cause it. And it is typically highly successful. The real pain occurs for most people when decay is left untreated or the nerve in a tooth under a very large filling becomes infected and dies.
For these reasons, we have put together the following list of questions you should consider asking prior to having a root canal or endodontic (“endo” – inside: “dontic” – tooth) treatment.
- Am I a good candidate for root canal treatment?
- Does it hurt to have a root canal?
- What can I expect if I do not have a root canal treatment?
- Are there any other treatment options for me given my situation? If so, what are they?
- Do you do root canal treatment or should I see a specialist?
- How long will the entire process take from my first appointment until my root canal treatment has healed?
- Will the pain I am in immediately subside after a root canal or will it take some time?
- Will I need or receive any type of sedation while having the treatment?
- Are there any risks associated with root canal treatment? If so, what are they?
- How long can I expect my natural tooth to last after root canal treatment?
- What could happen to cause a root canal to require a second treatment?
- How much will my root canal cost?
- Will my insurance cover all or a portion of the cost?
- Will the tooth be as strong after root canal treatment, or will it need a crown?
- Will there be any special maintenance required on an ongoing basis after I have a root canal?
To learn more about root canals, continue reading the Dear Doctor article, “I'd Rather Have A Root Canal.” Or if you feel you may need a root canal or other dental procedure, contact us today to schedule a consultation.