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How to Subtract Those Added Sugars

June 13th, 2024

Sugars are the simplest carbohydrates, and are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products. Our bodies require these simple carbs for energy. (Even better, we don’t just get energy from fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy—we also get healthy amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and even some protein!)

Problems arise when we get too much of this good thing. Once our bodies have all the sugar they need for immediate energy, they store extra sugars in liver, muscle, and fat cells. Over time, excess dietary sugars can affect weight and blood sugar levels, with potentially damaging results.

And, of course, sugar has an immediate effect on our oral health. The oral bacteria in plaque also need sugars for energy, which they use to make acids. An acidic environment in the mouth dissolves the minerals, which keep our tooth enamel strong. And these weak spots are vulnerable to decay. A steady diet of sugar-filled foods means that your enamel is constantly under acid attack.

So it’s really no wonder we hear a lot about avoiding “added sugars” in our diets, for both our general health and for our dental health in particular. But the concept of “added sugar” can be a bit misleading. If you’re not putting five spoons of sugar on your breakfast cereal, or pouring half a jar of honey in your tea, or using a recipe that calls for a cup of corn syrup, you might think you’re avoiding added sugars altogether. And that’s just not the case.

When dieticians talk about added sugars in our foods, they mean additional refined sugars (like white and brown sugars and corn syrup) that are used in preparing or processing foods.

Unlike unprocessed foods, which have been minimally treated to keep them as natural as possible, processed foods have been baked, or frozen, or mixed with other foods, or somehow changed from their natural state. This is where “added sugars” come in. Both home cooks and commercial processors use sugar to improve flavor, provide sweetness, and extend shelf life when preparing food.

What are some of the worst offenders? Store bought or homemade desserts like cakes and ice cream are prime candidates. Sodas? Most definitely. But it’s not just the obvious culprits. Added sugars are found in many foods we usually think of as healthy, including:

  • Smoothies
  • Fruit Drinks
  • Energy Drinks
  • Granola Bar
  • Power Bars
  • Breakfast Cereal
  • Flavored Yogurt

While eating unprocessed foods is one way to make sure you get no added sugars, you can also eliminate many grams of sugar from your daily diet by trying out low-sugar recipes and choosing processed foods with little or no added sugar.

How to avoid unexpected added sugars? Fortunately, new labelling on food packages lets us know not only how much sugar is in any product, but how much added sugar has found its way into our grocery cart. Take a moment to check out labels, and avoid sugary surprises.

Your body can get all the natural sugar and carbs it needs for energy from a healthy, well-balanced diet. Lowering your added sugar intake won’t deprive your body of necessary nutrients, but it will deprive oral bacteria of their most convenient food source and reduce the amount of acids, which threaten your enamel. In fact, subtracting extra sugars is one of the easiest and most effective ways to add to your dental health!

If you have any questions about reducing your sugar intake, be sure to ask Dr. Craig S. Donn the next time you visit our Cherry Hill, NJ office.

First Filling?

June 5th, 2024

It’s your child’s first filling at our Cherry Hill, NJ office, and perhaps you’re both a little nervous. Your child doesn’t know what to expect, and you want to make sure this is a positive experience. We have some suggestions that might help both of you!

  • Partner with Your Child’s Dentist

Because a pediatric dentist is a specialist in treating children and their dental needs, your dentist will have some suggestions for making that first filling a comfortable and comforting experience.

And because you’re the expert when it comes to your child’s needs, you can let Dr. Craig S. Donn know about anything that might cause your child difficulty or anxiety beforehand.

  • Age-Appropriate Explanations Are Best!

It’s a good idea not to make any explanations too complicated. “Your dentist will help your tooth get strong and healthy again” might be all a young child needs to hear. And talking about drills or needles can be scary, especially when kids have no experience with dental tools and procedures.

A pediatric dentist can help you describe cavities and the filling procedure in an age-appropriate, non-scary way—and can recommend helpful story books for reading ahead of time!

  • Discuss Sedation Beforehand

If you think your child would benefit from light sedation options such as nitrous oxide or oral medication, talk to Dr. Craig S. Donn about sedation procedures.

Your dentist will also have child-appropriate ways to talk about local anesthetics if they’re needed to numb the area around the tooth.

  • Tool Talk

Most adults are familiar with dental tools, but this will be a new experience with new sensations and sounds for your child. A pediatric dentist can describe what each tool is and what it does so kids are comfortable when an instrument is used.

Sometimes a tool can be noisy or vibrate. Some tools squirt water and some (loudly) suck water and debris away. If noises are a problem for your child, let your dentist know in advance, and ask about music or headphones to help minimize sounds.

  • Filling Material Concerns?

For molars, which bear the weight of chewing pressure, a silver-colored amalgam might be recommended. For a filling in the front of the mouth, a tooth-colored composite could be used to blend in. Fillings can also be made with gold or ceramic materials. A severely decayed tooth might require a crown, which is often made of stainless steel when used for a baby tooth.

If you have questions or concerns about the type or appearance of filling material, ask! Your dentist will be happy to explain which material is best suited to restore the appearance and function of your child’s tooth.

  • Getting Ready for the Appointment

Choose an appointment day with a light schedule and let your child dress comfortably. Ask if your child can bring a favorite toy or a stuffed animal friend for comfort.

Your mood will influence your child, so make the day of the appointment as stress-free as possible for the both of you! That’s why it’s a good idea not to talk about any dental fears you might have, or any discomfort your child might experience. Your child will pick up on your feelings, so projecting a calm and positive attitude will help.

  • Aftercare

Your dentist team will give you instructions for your child’s quickest, most comfortable recovery. These instructions include how to treat the extraction site, which foods are best, and over the counter pain medication.

It’s best not to plan strenuous activities immediately after a filling.

  • Partner with Your Child’s Dentist

Yes, we know we already talked about this, but it can’t be stressed enough. When your child has his or her first filling, in a way it’s your first filling, too! Your pediatric dentist is there to help you navigate this procedure and to help make sure that the experience is a positive one for both of you.

Can You Stop a Cavity Before It Starts?

May 29th, 2024

You’re busy getting ready for your day, and of course you’re starting your day off right by looking after your dental health. A two-minute brushing, some careful flossing, and—wait, is that a white spot on your tooth?

If your mirror reveals a patch of white on your enamel, it could be a symptom of early tooth decay.  Does this mean a cavity is necessarily in your future? Perhaps not, if you act promptly to reverse the damage!

Cavities, after all, don’t suddenly appear in our mouths. Tooth decay is a process, and it begins with a weak area in the enamel that often appears as a white spot on the tooth. These weak spots are known as “incipient cavities,” because they can easily become cavities if left untreated.

Why do these weak spots occur? And how can we repair them? Let’s look at some tooth science.

  • Demineralization

Your tooth enamel is one of the marvels of the human body. Enamel is mostly made of calcium and phosphate ions, minerals which combine to form hydroxyapatite crystals. These crystals create a substance so strong that tooth enamel is the hardest part of the body—harder even than bones.

But it’s not indestructible! If you don’t care for your teeth with regular brushing and flossing, you’re leaving your enamel open to attack.

The bacteria in plaque convert the nutrients they get from the food we eat—especially sugars—into acids. These acids strip away the calcium and phosphate minerals which are the building blocks of our enamel, weakening the surface of the tooth.

Over time, these weak spots get bigger and deeper as bacteria and acids continue to attack the tooth surface. Eventually, cavities form, damaging the enamel surface, and, over time, even reaching into the dentin and the pulp inside the tooth. Once a cavity has formed, you need dental treatment to clean away the decay and repair the tooth structure.

The good news is that, when caught early, it’s possible to rebuild a weak spot in the tooth enamel before a cavity can fully develop.

  • Remineralization

While acids strip minerals from your enamel, your body is also replacing those lost minerals all throughout the day. How does this balancing act take place? With the help of saliva.

The very minerals which acids strip from your enamel are found in saliva. Saliva bathes your teeth with calcium and phosphate ions which, in turn, bond with your enamel to rebuild and restore enamel strength. When missing minerals are replaced like this, it’s called remineralization.

But this careful balance of demineralization/remineralization can become upset. If you neglect brushing and flossing, for example, plaque buildup will increase the amount of acids your teeth are exposed to. This means that your body won’t be able to replace the minerals as quickly as they are stripped away, and the result is a white patch on your tooth where the enamel has lost mineral strength.

If you’re surprised by the appearance of a white spot on your tooth, it’s a good idea to visit our Cherry Hill, NJ office for a diagnosis. If the spot is caused by an incipient cavity, Dr. Craig S. Donn can provide you with some options to restore your enamel’s strength.

Fluoride toothpastes and fluoride treatments are some of the most efficient ways to remineralize your teeth. Fluoride is attracted to the minerals in your enamel. It bonds with the tooth surface, and, once there, it helps attract the calcium and phosphate ions in your saliva to restore lost minerals and repair weak spots.

But fluoride does more than just restore your tooth’s strength—it improves it! Fluoride ions join with the calcium and phosphate minerals in your teeth to form fluorapatite crystals, which are even larger and stronger than hydroxyapatite crystals.

Early treatment is your best opportunity to reverse the early stages of tooth decay. Keeping up with your brushing and flossing, eating a dental-healthy diet, seeing Dr. Craig S. Donn regularly, and treating incipient cavities promptly will help ensure there are no unwelcome surprises in the mirror—just beautiful, healthy smiles!

Periodontal disease; I have what?!

May 28th, 2024

Our team from our office understands the diagnosis of periodontal disease can be scary and confusing, but the good news in most cases is that it is treatable and manageable with a little work on the part of the patient.

Periodontal disease is an infection of the gum tissue, bone, and supporting structures for the teeth. In the past it was known as pyorrhea. Diagnosis is commonly made through a combination of dental X-rays, periodontal readings (called probe depths), and visual clinical findings.

The mouth is a gateway to the rest of the body and can provide clues to the patient’s overall health. In fact, the first signs of some chronic diseases appear in the oral cavity; they can be a hint for the dentist to refer the patient to a medical doctor for a thorough exam.

If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to premature tooth loss, sensitivity, and chronic or acute mouth pain. If you have diabetes, you are more prone to periodontal disease and can experience greater difficulty controlling your blood glucose levels. The body ends up spending so much energy fighting the infection in the mouth that it cannot achieve balance elsewhere. Studies have shown that once periodontal disease is treated, the glucose levels become more responsive to control as well.

Standard treatments can include scale and root planing, medicated mouth rinse, and in some cases antibiotic therapy or laser therapy to help control bacteria while promoting healing. Periodontal disease can range from a few localized pockets to extensive and severe infection that may require surgery.

The process of scale and root planing may entail two to four appointments for treatment, with follow-up maintenance exams every three to four months to help prevent the spread of disease. In most cases you will be numbed for comfort during the procedure. After treatment you may feel a little sore—but you are taking steps to improve your health!

Scheduling an appointment with the Cherry Hill, NJ office of Dr. Craig S. Donn will give you an accurate diagnosis and a range of treatment options. Periodontal disease is “silent,” which means you will not always experience pain as a signal of infection. When caught early and subjected to proper oral hygiene care on a daily basis, treatments are usually successful.

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  • American Dental Association CareCredit