During a routine teeth cleaning, I asked my dentist, Dr. Scott L. Wolters, who practices at Meadow Bridge Dental in Beavercreek, about some of the problems he sees.
Most of what we discussed was food related, and some of it was surprising:
1) Liquefied sugar: Drinks, like soda and juices, cause cavities. Not surprising. We've heard for years that bacteria in the mouth eats sugar and produces acid that breaks down tooth enamel.
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2) Sticky sugar products: Treats like jelly beans are retentive, meaning they stick to your teeth, where they can cause cavities. OK, this makes sense.
3) Ice crunching: One of the hardest things on your teeth is crunching on ice. Why? “Because it’s hard and cold,” Wolters said. Ice crunching causes a series of expansion and contraction, which can cause the teeth to crack. Hmm, that's sort of like how pot holes on the streets and roads are created in the winter time.
4) Pizza: THIS was the shocker. Wolters said 85 percent of his patients that come in with a chipped tooth tell him it happened while they were eating pizza, Either that, bagels or another bread product. “It’s because of the grinding,” he said. “That’s when a tooth will chip.”
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5) Lack of saliva: This was also a surprise. “One of the biggest challenges in dentistry is dealing with medication-related dry mouth,” Wolters said.
Anti-depressants, blood pressure medications and many other pharmaceuticals cause drying of the mouth. This is one reason your dentist wants to know what drugs you’re taking.
Spit contains antimicrobial properties, Wolters said. To combat dry mouth, he recommends drinking lots of water and avoiding sugary drinks. Also, you should ask your dentist about topical products and chewing gums that can help with dry mouth.
6) Nuts: You might think that nuts are bad on your teeth, but Wolters said as long as you don’t have underlying issues, like large fillings, nuts are OK to eat.
7) Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco: Tobacco stains the teeth. It also can cause gum disease and cancer.
8) Meth: The worst thing Wolters and I discussed was meth. “If you take meth, your mouth is going to be absolutely ruined,” Wolters said. “Meth dries out the mouth and causes you to crave sugar.”
“It’s not rocket science,” he added at the end of my exam. “We know what prevents oral disease: good dental hygiene and seeing your dentist twice a year.”
He also recommends using a powered toothbrush to stimulate the gums.