Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why Some Have More Oral Problems Than Others (part 3 of 3)

This is the 3rd part of the blog entitled Why Some Have More Oral Problems Than Others. In the first part we discussed how our hygiene or inadequate hygiene affects our oral health. The part focused on our diets. This time we will discuss habits that are detrimental to oral health.


Anyone can come up with a more comprehensive list of habits that are bad for our oral health. Here are some bad habits that I frequently encounter:
  • clenching/grinding
  • chewing ice
  • biting fingernails
  • bulimia
  • smoking
  • using teeth as a tool.
  • athletic events without mouthguards
  • using toothpicks
  • eating non-consumable items

Clenching and Grinding

Many people clench and/or grind their teeth. When we sense stress, the first thing we do is clench our teeth. Unfortunately, most of us are completely unaware that we're doing it. I've even had people tell me that they don't clench as I'm watching them clench.

The problem with clenching and grinding is that we either break teeth or wear them down.

Chewing Ice

I've been guilty of this. It's not good to chew anything that is hard. Yeah, the teeth are capable of crushing ice, but when done frequently, the teeth are subjected to an incredible amount of stress and are more prone to wear and breakage just as in clenching/grinding.

Biting fingernails

I can almost always tell if someone habitually bites their fingernails from the wear pattern on the front teeth. The front teeth become noticeably worn and flat.


People that are afflicted with this disorder make themselves throw up regularly. The pH of gastric juices range around 1.35 to 3.5. These acids are very strong and very corrosive. The attack on the minerals of the teeth occurs incredibly fast.


We are all well aware of the fact that smoking is detrimental to our overall health. Most know that it makes your teeth black, brown or yellow. What most people don't realize is  that smokers typically have the worst cases of periodontitis.

Using teeth as a tool

Many people like to break, tear, pry objects with their teeth. Teeth should not complement your toolbox. Fishermen need to use something else to cut their fishing lines. Beer drinkers should use bottle openers. You get the idea right?

Athletic events without the protection of a mouthguard

If you aren't using an athletic mouthguard, be prepared to lose teeth and have high dental bills.

Using toothpicks

I don't know why toothpicks are even made. I guess they serve well when trying to bind sandwiches and other foods. They are however very bad for your gums. Just floss. It'll do a better job and not cause unnecessary trauma to the gums.

Eating non-consumable items

Eating items such as pencil erasers, plastic, rocks, glass and countless other items are obviously not good for you. Yes, it sounds crazy, but people have eaten these items and more.

There are so many other bad habits that I could write forever about them. Basically, use your teeth wisely. Here's an analogy. Suppose you have a car and you drive it fairly safely. You also perform routine maintenance on it. These days, it's very likely that you'll get well over a couple hundred thousand miles out of it. If however, you took it to the track and raced it regularly and performed little to no maintenance, You'll be incredibly lucky to even reach 20,000 miles.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit www.advanced-smiles.com

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Why Some Have More Oral Problems Than Others (part 2 of 3)

Last time we discussed some of the variables involved with oral health. I mentioned that the three main variables were oral hygiene, diet and habits. In particular, we discussed oral hygiene. This time we will focus on our diets.


The American diet has progressively worsened over the years. I will not focus on the overall health effects of foods, but will focus primarily on how they affect teeth. I will also focus more on what we should avoid in this blog rather than on what we should consume.

What are some of the foods we should avoid?
  • Sticky foods
  • Beverages with high a sugar content
  • Acidic foods and beverages
Sticky Foods

Anything that sits on your teeth for extended periods of time, will accelerate the cavity process.

Sticky foods such as taffy, Tootsie Rolls, caramel, gum and other similar foods remain on the teeth for extended periods of time. The sugars are then metabolized by bacteria in your mouth. As a waste product, acids are produced. The acids then demineralize the tooth structure. This is how cavities form. I wouldn't classify hard candies as a sticky food, but the result is the same since they remain in the mouth for extended periods of time.

Some people love to eat dried fruit. Although fruit is very healthy, dried fruits stick to teeth and are therefore very harmful if allowed to just sit on the teeth.

Soft Drinks

Sodas, pops, soft drinks, whatever you want to call them, are detrimental to your overall health...not just your teeth. They are bad for your teeth for two main reasons.

One reason they are bad for you is the high sugar content. Most people are well aware that sugars are bad for teeth. It's self explanatory.

Another major reason is the acidity. Most people don't realize how acidic these drinks are. Look at the ingredients of your next drink. Some will have phosphoric acid. Why? I don't know. Also, any ingredient with the suffix -ate (such as malate, citrate, oxalate) are acids! Even if these acids weren't present, anything that is carbonated is an acid. Carbon dioxide and water combine to form carbonic acid! Sodas are definitely one of the worst things that we consume. If we knew we were drinking a highly acidic beverage, many of us would pass on it and choose a better option. Well, hopefully now we'll pass on these delicious beverages.


Yes, many juices are very healthy for our overall health. However, some can be very detrimental to our oral health. Citric acid juices such as orange, lemon or grapefruit juices are very acidic. Again, it's the acid that is so harsh on our teeth (and bones).

Many juices also have a high sugar content. Most of us know that sugars are detrimental to teeth. So I need not go into much detail here.

Another factor to consider is the amount of time it takes to consume a beverage. It is much better for someone to consume a drink in a 5 minute period rather than sipping on it and consuming it over an extended period of time. The reason for this is because the amount of time these drinks sit on your teeth is extended dramatically.

I'm not suggesting that we never eat some of these foods. I enjoy them on occasion too. If we must eat some of these foods, make sure you remove the sugars from your teeth as quickly as possible. Most of the damage occurs within the first 20 minutes.

In the next segment of this blog, we will discuss habits.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit www.advanced-smiles.com

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Why Some Have More Oral Problems Than Others (part 1 of 3)

I am often asked, "Why do I get so many cavities? I brush and floss all the time."

I can think of one couple in particular where they wonder why this is the case. The husband says that he brushes and flosses much more than his wife. She never has any issues at each bi-annual exam whereas he on the other hand always has a new problem every time we see him. There is much more to it than the frequency of  brushing and flossing.

I tell my patients that there are three main factors that will determine their short-term and long-term outcome with their oral health. 1. Oral hygiene, 2. Diet, 3. Habits. Lets look at these a little more carefully.

Oral Hygiene

Obviously oral hygiene is incredibly important. I see decay in mouths everyday that could have been prevented by simply having good oral hygiene.

I tell many of my patients that they need to brush and floss better. Sometimes they'll get defensive and say, "I do brush and floss regularly". I certainly don't want to argue with them, but I see that even though they brush and floss regularly, they certainly aren't doing an adequate job. They tell me this as I see a ton of plaque on their teeth.

Yes, frequently brushing is vitally important. I recommend brushing in the morning and prior to bed. In addition, I also recommend brushing after each meal. Most of the damage to the teeth will occur within the first 20 minutes. So, I suggest that brushing within 20 minutes is optimal.

In addition to frequent hygiene, thoroughness is equally important. I prefer electric toothbrushes because they are much more effective at removing plaque than manual toothbrushes. They remove plaque in areas that the bristles do not make contact with. Another benefit is that they are much more gentle than manual toothbrushes. We therefore avoid damage or trauma to the teeth and gums. Some people are too aggressive with manual toothbrushes.

Only 5% of the population flosses on a regular basis. This is a sad statistic. By flossing frequently, we can prevent cavities that commonly form in between the teeth. Also, by removing the plaque below the gumline, we can significantly decrease our risk to developing gingivitis or periodontitis.

Have your dentist or hygienist show you proper brushing and flossing techniques. If you aren't doing it correctly, then you aren't getting the most benefit possible.

In the next segment of this blog, we will discuss diet.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit www.advanced-smiles.com