5 Types of Sugar that Harm Your Teeth

We all know that sugar is the #1 enemy of healthy teeth, but some of us don’t know just how stealth sugar can be.  Sure, it’s easy to buy “sugar free” foods, but many times sugar is still lurking under another alias.

There are 5 main sugars that make a delightful meal for the bacteria in our mouths.  When these bacteria feed on the sugar, they create a byproduct of acid that attacks our teeth and causes decay.

So before you think you’re outwitting the enemy, make sure you know the 5 sugars and their names that harm your teeth:

5 Main Sugars that Harm Your Teeth:

1. Sucrose – Sucrose hides in plain sight, right under our noses in the sugar shakers on our dining room tables.  It’s the most well-known, and sweetest, sugar because it’s the main sugar found in candy, and comes from sugar cane, sugar beets, and maple trees.  Interestingly, the bacteria in our mouths easily convert sucrose into a sticky glue-like substance that holds plaque onto our teeth and makes it more difficult to remove when brushing and flossing.

2. Fructose – A less sweet form of sugar, fructose is the main sugar found in fruit, berries, melons, corn, and root vegetables such as beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes. However, when fructose is concentrated into a substance known as high fructose corn syrup, it tastes sweeter than fructose and causes much more harm to our teeth.  Because it is cheaper, sweeter, and easier to blend into products, high fructose corn syrup has become the go-to, universal sweetener.

3. Glucose – The body breaks down all other forms of sugar into glucose, which is the main energy supply.  While it’s usually linked with other sugars to form sucrose, in its natural state it is the main sugar found in the body.

4. Lactose – More commonly known as milk sugar, lactose is found in many dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt.

5. Maltose – Maltose is the sugar found in grains such as bread, rice, pasta, and cereal.

***Limit your sugar intake, but don’t eliminate it altogether. Sugar poses a slew of health risks, but we shouldn’t avoid it altogether.  The most important rule of thumb is to eat sugar in moderation and choose which sugars to consume wisely.  If you find yourself eating a lot of sugar, chew sugarless gum after meals and make sure to brush and floss daily.

How to Take Care of Your Toothbrush

Your toothbrush helps to keep you clean and healthy, so why not return the favor? Here are some guidelines for caring for your toothbrush:

1.     Sole ownership.

This is one instance where you should NOT share.  Recent research shows that cavities are contagious.  By sharing a toothbrush, you could also be sharing cavity-causing bacteria.

2.     A little privacy, please.

To avoid swapping harmful bacteria, make sure stored brushes aren’t touching each other.

3.     Give it some space.

When not in use, your toothbrush should be kept in a clean, well-ventilated spot as far away from the toilet as possible.  Keeping your toothbrush in a closed, moist space can encourage the growth of germs.

4.     Give it a shower.

Before and after each use, rinse your toothbrush under running water to eliminate excess residue.  You can even rub the bristles gently with a clean finger.  Shake out the toothbrush to help accelerate drying.

5.     Take a bath.

Bacteria can be reduced even further by soaking your toothbrush in an anti-bacterial mouthwash after each use.

6.     Cut ties.

Swap your toothbrush out every 3 months, or even sooner if the bristles are splayed.  If you’ve recently been sick with a cold or flu, opt for a new, germ-free toothbrush.

7.     Be skeptical.

According to the American Dental Association, there is no evidence that the products that claim to sanitize your toothbrush actually work.

3 Main Ways Fluoride Helps Your Teeth

Most experts agree that a daily dose of fluoride is one of the most effective methods for preventing cavities and tooth decay.  In fact, research shows that cities with fluoride in their drinking water experience 40% to 70% less tooth decay than those without.

  1. Fluoride restores your teeth through remineralization.

Remineralization is the process in which a tooth restores itself in the early stages of tooth decay. Fluoride found in your saliva adheres to the surface of the tooth and attracts other minerals to the problem area, including calcium.

  1. Fluoride helps to make a tooth more resistant to decay.

When fluoride is present during remineralization, it creates the mineral fluorapatite to restore the tooth, instead of the usual minerals, hydroxyapatite and carbonated hydroxyapatite.  Fluorapatite is more resistant to tooth decay caused by acids than the other minerals, so the newly restored tooth can fight off a repeat occurrence of decay.

  1. Fluoride interferes with cavity-causing bacteria.

When you take a bite of food, bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugar found in the food and produce a byproduct of acid, the main culprit in tooth decay. Fluoride slows down the rate at which bacteria can metabolize sugars, resulting in less acid production.

Top Ten Budget Tips to Keep Your Teeth Healthy

During these tough economic times, many regular activities are being put on hold — and that includes visits to the dentist, as reported by Medill Reports.

So how can people take care of their teeth now to avoid expensive dental procedures in the future? Here are a few tips for you and your kids that will help you keep your teeth healthy.

1) Drink plenty of water. It’s a “natural” mouthwash that can help reduce stains left by coffee, soda and red wine.

2) Eat a piece of cheese. After dinner, munch on some cheddar. It can help neutralize acids in your mouth.

3) Chew sugar free gum. Chewing gum increases saliva production, which helps to wash away plaque and acid and bathe teeth in needed minerals to strengthen tooth enamel.

4) Wait to brush after acidic drinks. After drinking orange juice and soda pop, don’t reach for the toothbrush right away. Wait at least 20 minutes to reduce the chance of enamel wear.

5) Rinse with hydrogen peroxide. (Adults only!) A small amount of H2O2 mixed with water makes a great anti-bacterial and whitening rinse after brushing. Just don’t swallow!

6) Brush with baking soda. It’s a gentle abrasive that can clean like toothpaste.

7) Use a straw. Might feel awkward to drink coffee or red wine through a straw, but doing so can help minimize direct contact between your pearly whites and these staining liquids.

8) Soften your toothbrush. Sensitive teeth can find relief from rough bristles by running the toothbrush under hot water before brushing.

9) Avoid sugar and starches. Both sugar and carbs can feed bacteria that causes tooth decay. It’s just not the sweet stuff.  A handful of crackers can have the same effect as a candy bar at feeding bacteria.

10) Brush and floss. Every day!

8 Great Tips for Taking Care of Your Children’s Teeth

1. Remember, a child’s dental care begins before birth.

A child’s teeth form between the third and sixth month of pregnancy. An expectant mother must practice good health habits to ensure proper development of her unborn child’s teeth. This means consuming plenty of calcium-rich foods such as leafy greens, fortified cereals and dairy or soy products.

2. Just because you can’t see your baby’s teeth doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

At birth, your baby has 20 primary teeth, some of which are almost completely formed in the jaw. The first four teeth will usually erupt when the baby is between 6 months and 1 year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything in the meantime. Simply wiping a baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad after feeding will remove harmful plaque and bacteria.

3. Take your child to the dentist by his/her first birthday.

A dentist will check your 1-year-old for tooth decay, as well as identify fluoride needs and address any potentially dangerous habits such as thumb sucking.

4. Don’t use toothpaste for children under 2.

As soon as the first teeth appear, brush teeth with a little bit of water. After children have reached the age of 2, toothpaste can be introduced in pea-sized amounts.

5. Teach your children the proper brushing techniques.

Most children will be able to brush their own teeth by age 6 or 7. Select for them a brush that has soft, rounded bristles and teach them to use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Show them how to use circular brush strokes to reach all surfaces of teeth, and make sure they spit out the toothpaste and rinse with water after brushing to avoid swallowing any toothpaste.

6. Don’t forget the floss!

As soon as any two teeth touch, make sure that you use floss to clean between your child’s teeth. This is the only way to avoid decay in places where a toothbrush can’t reach.

7. Make trips to the dentist fun for your child.

It is important for your child to have a good attitude toward dental visits. Be positive and remind your child that the dentist is a friendly doctor who is helping to take care of his or her teeth. Set a good example yourself by brushing and flossing twice a day and visiting the dentist regularly.

8. Take an active role in your child’s oral health.

You should always inform the dentist as to the status of your child’s health. Tell the dentist if your child is ill, what medications your child may be taking and if your child has any known drug allergies. If you don’t understand a dentist’s recommendations for the treatment of your child, ask for a more detailed explanation. Ask if there are other treatments available for this problem and, if so, how these other options compare cost wise. Then ask which of these methods would be most effective in treating the problem.

Source: http://www.dentistry.com/daily-dental-care/pediatric-dentistry/keeping-your-childrens-teeth-healthy

How Does a Pacifier Affect My Baby’s Teeth?

Almost all children suck on their fingers or a pacifier.  And if you have one of those kids that can’t seem to calm down for anything but their binky, it’s hard to imagine not passing it over when they start to get fussy.

Sucking on fingers or a pacifier is a way for kids to comfort themselves, reduce anxiety, and feel secure. This habit is perfectly acceptable for young kids.  The only real harm comes when sucking on a pacifier or fingers lasts for a long period of time.

Kids are okay to suck on a pacifier or thumb while they have their baby teeth, but the habit should ideally be completely broken before their permanent teeth begin to erupt.  Typically, their permanent teeth will begin to push through at age 6, but parents should start to eliminate the sucking habit at age 4.  A pediatric dentist can closely monitor the development of your child’s teeth and jaw to make sure they’re developing properly.

Doctors and dentists agree that the earlier the pacifier is taken away, the easier it stops the habit.  If a child uses a pacifier when they’re permanent teeth are coming in, it could cause the front teeth to be pushed forward.  This sets the stage for future dental problems and could cause the development of a lisp.

Rules for the Pacifier:

  • Let your baby decide if they want a pacifier or not.  Some will take it right away, and some won’t take it at all.  If they won’t take it, don’t force it.
  • Offer the pacifier between feedings.  Don’t use it to neglect your baby or put off feeding time.
  • Try giving the binky before a nap.  Some research shows that sucking on a pacifier at naptime and bedtime may reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.
  • Never tie the pacifier around your baby’s neck.  They could strangle themselves if the cord gets stuck.
  • NEVER clean a pacifier by putting it in your mouth. Cavities are contagious, and you could unknowingly be passing on the cavity-causing bacteria from your mouth.
  • Don’t dip the pacifier in juice or sugar before giving it to your child.  The sugar will cause decay in their teeth.

When Will My Baby’s Teeth Come In?

As with most things with children (as you’ll soon learn), their teeth will start come in when they’re ready.  The age your child is when their teeth first start to come in is not indicative of whether they’re developmentally behind or ahead.  And when you’re up at 3AM with a fussy child who’s cutting his first tooth, you’ll wonder why you ever looked forward to this wonderful event.


The average time for the appearance of the first teeth is between 5 and 7 months old.  However, teeth could come in as early as one month or they might not reveal their toothy grin until 1.5 years olds.  In some extreme cases, a child can even be born with teeth!  This typically only happens in about 1 out of every 2,000 newborns, and these are often extra teeth that should be removed.

If teeth are very early or very late to appear, you should take your child to a doctor to make sure that it is not indicative of a more serious complication.  Delayed eruption could be caused by a nutritional problem, such as rickets, or a systemic condition, such a hypopituitarism or hypothyroidism.  If baby teeth appear very early, it could indicate a hormonal problem such as hyperthyroidism.

The following tables outline the normal ranges for teeth to erupt and to shed:


  Upper Lower
Central incisors 6-8 months 5-7 months
Lateral incisors 8-11 months 7-10 months
Cuspids (canines) 16-20 months 16-20 months
First molars 10-16 months 10-16 months
Second molars 20-30 months 20-30 months


  Upper Lower
Central incisors 7-8 years 6-7 years
Lateral incisors 8-9 years 7-8 years
Cuspids (canines) 11-12 years 9-11 years
First molars 10-11 years 10-12 years
Second molars 10-12 years 11-13 years


  Upper Lower
Central incisors 7-8 years 6-7 years
Lateral incisors 8-9 years 7-8 years
Cuspids (canines) 11-12 years 9-11 years
First premolars (bicuspids) 10-11 years 10-12-years
Second premolars (bicuspids) 10-12 years 11-13 years
First molars 6-7 years 6-7 years
Second molars 12-13 years 12-13 years
Third molars (wisdom teeth) 17-22 years 17-22 years


***A few facts about baby teeth:

  • A general rule of thumb is that for every 6 months of life, approximately 4 teeth will erupt.
  • Girls generally get their baby teeth before boys.
  • Lower teeth usually come in before upper teeth.
  • Teeth in both jaws usually erupt in pairs — one on the right and one on the left.
  • Primary teeth are smaller in size and whiter in color than the permanent teeth that follow.
  • By the time a child is 2 to 3 years old, all primary teeth should have come in.

What are Dental Sealants and Does My Child Need Them?

Dental sealants are a quick, easy, and relatively cheap (as opposed to the dentist bills you’ll accumulate for root canals) solution for preventing cavities.  Although the idea behind sealants is not new, they’re quickly becoming the go-to treatment for kids who need extra help in the dental department.



Sealants are a plastic material that is placed in the pits and fissures of the chewing surfaces of your teeth, particularly the molars at the back because toothbrushes can’t reach all the way into the grooves to clean well.


Kids are notoriously bad brushers and tend to ignore the problem areas in the back of the mouth that lead to cavities and decay, making them the prime target market for sealants.  (However, if adults have certain problem areas that could be cured with sealants, this could be an option for them too.) The American Dental Association recommends that kids receive dental sealants as soon as their adult teeth erupt.

Those who are more susceptible to cavities and decay – whether that is because they are genetically prone to cavities, don’t have great oral hygiene habits, or lack access to dental care – should consider getting dental sealants as a preventative measure.


Dental sealants fill in and smooth out the grooves and fissures in your teeth that tend to hide food particles and attract cavity-causing bacteria. According to the American Dental Association, sealants work by “’sealing out’ food and plaque… [because] toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves.”


Dental sealants can protect the teeth for up to 10 years, but need to be checked frequently by a dentist for cracks.  If dental sealants are worn down, it’s possible for decay to get under the sealant.


Dental sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of cavities in the teeth that are covered.  According to Jonathan Shenkin, a spokesman for the American Dental Association, decades of research demonstrate that coating the biting surface of 6-year molars with a resin-based sealant can reduce cavities by up to nearly 80% immediately, and up to 60% for four years or more.


The American Dental Association recommends that kids receive dental sealants as soon as their adult teeth erupt, but less than 40% of dentists actually comply.  Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only 20% of children at poverty level and 40% of kids from higher income homes actually get the sealants.

A spokesman for the ADA and dentist himself, Jonathan Shenkin, said, “The lack of dentists doing sealants is a very silent, and probably the most significant, issue to care we face among children.  Parents should be asking for sealants and not taking no for an answer.”

So why are some parents still slow to punch?  There’s been a lot of debate over the effectiveness and safety of dental sealants.


If you’re a parent, you’ve probably heard the buzzword “BPA” quite a few times in recent years.  The biggest factor in the general safety of dental sealants is Bisphenol A, commonly referred to as BPA, which is a resin used in many types of plastics.  There is some evidence that BPA can be harmful to a child’s health, but it’s not conclusive.  This evidence cites BPA is a hormone disruptor and one study tied prenatal exposure to BPA with hyperactivity and anxiety in babies, especially girls.  In July of 2013, the FDA banned BPA in baby bottles and children’s drinking cups.

Dental sealants themselves don’t contain BPA, but many of them contain compounds that turn into BPA when they come in contact with saliva.  However, professionals claim that “the amount of exposure is extremely low” and can be reduced even further.  By scrubbing and rinsing sealants after they are applied, 88% to 95% of the compounds that can turn into BPA are eliminated.

The jury is still out on this one, as some dentists say there isn’t enough BPA present to warrant any concern, while others maintain that you shouldn’t expose yourself to any level of BPA if possible.

The one thing they do agree on?  If you do opt for dental sealants, make sure to talk to your dentist first about scrubbing and rinsing the sealants thoroughly once they’re applied.


This question is a bit tricky.  Manufacturers are not required to disclose all of the ingredients in their products, and many (somewhat falsely) claim to be BPA-free.  Dental sealants are plastic made from monomers that are derived from BPA, including bis-GMA and bis-DMA.  BPA itself is rarely used in dental sealants.  So in this sense, they are BPA-free.  However, once the sealants are worn down and exposed to saliva, BPA is created by a chemical reaction.


As with all medical and dental treatments, the cost can vary depending upon the provider and your insurance.  Typically, cost is around $30 to $40 for each tooth and is covered by most dental insurance providers.