Diabetes Self-Management Articles

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Keeping Your Mouth Squeaky Clean
New Products That Can Help

by Shirley Gutkowski, RDH, BSDH

Recaldent is also the active ingredient in MI Paste, a product currently available only through dental offices. Your dentist or hygienist may apply MI Paste to your teeth during routine cleaning appointments with a polishing cup, a custom tray, or simply a Q-tip or gloved finger. At home, the paste can similarly be applied with a cotton swab or finger. It should be left on the teeth for three to five minutes, after which any excess can be spit out or swallowed, but users are advised not to rinse their mouths with water.

Recaldent does not contain lactose, so it is safe for people who are lactose intolerant, but it should not be used by people with a milk allergy.

Sugar-free chewing gum
Regular sugar-free chewing gums are gaining respect in many dental circles, including the American Dental Association. In 2007, the association gave its Seal of Acceptance to three Wrigley chewing gums, Orbit, Eclipse, and Extra, based on the finding that the physical action of chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after eating stimulates saliva flow, helping to prevent cavities by reducing plaque acids and strengthening teeth. In October 2008, the ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs followed up by giving the ADA Seal to Cadbury products Trident, Dentyne Ice, and Stride sugar-free gums.

Other functional ingredients
In 2008, Wrigley reformulated its Eclipse gums and mints to contain Magnolia bark extract, which is believed to act as an antimicrobial (or “germ killer”). According to the company, the extract kills bacteria associated with bad breath after the gum has been chewed for about five minutes.

Another ingredient that is expected to be added to chewing gum soon is NovaMin, a compound that delivers calcium and phosphate to the teeth for tooth remineralization. NovaMin is currently used in Oravive and Restore brand tooth and dental care products, as well as in some products that are dispensed only by dental offices.

Researchers at the UCLA School of Dentistry have teamed up with the makers of sugar-free candy products to create a lollipop containing licorice root extract. For centuries, people in multiple cultures have chewed licorice root, and the researchers found that a compound in it kills the bacteria responsible for tooth decay. The lollipops are currently being sold under the name Dr. John’s Kavidy Kops Lollipops with Glylic, through the Web site www.drjohns.com. Recommendations are to have one lollipop in the morning after breakfast and another before bed for 10 consecutive days. This 10-day regimen should be repeated two to four times per year for continued benefits. (Note that lollipops in general are not considered safe for young children because the sticks could pierce their throats if they were to fall on them.)

Some ordinary beverages with no special ingredients added have also been shown to have positive effects on oral health. Studies on oolong tea show that it slows the growth of bacteria associated with dental decay and also reduces the amount of acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. Ordinary cranberry juice also makes it harder for bacteria to attach to plaque in the mouth. This is beneficial because unlike bacteria that has become part of plaque, unattached bacteria do not produce enough acid to cause problems.

A helping hand
Daily brushing and flossing to break up plaque is still your best weapon against tooth decay and gum disease. But now there are an increasing number of products that can add to your efforts without requiring extra time spent at the bathroom sink. If you’re not sure whether a product might be helpful for you, ask your dentist or dental hygienist. But don’t be surprised if you heard about it before they did; these days, the innovations are coming so fast and furious it’s hard for anyone to keep track of them all.

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