What is Xylitol? Ask a General Dentist in Apex NC

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We all know about the negative health effects of sugar, especially when it comes to teeth. Fortunately, artificial sweeteners don’t have the same effect on teeth as sugar, and can help you have a much healthier smile. One artificial sweetener, xylitol, even has positive effects on teeth. Here’s everything you need to know about Xylitol from a dentist in Apex, NC.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is categorized as a sugar alcohol. That means that it combines traits of sugar molecules and alcohol molecules to create a structure very similar to that of sugar. However, Xylitol has much fewer calories, doesn’t raise blood sugar levels, and actually kills the harms the bacteria that live on your teeth and cause tooth decay.

Is Xylitol Natural?

Despite the pharmaceutical-sounding name, Xylitol is found in many fruits and vegetables, and is even produced in small amounts by the human metabolism. It can also be processed from trees like birch, or from a plant fiber called xylan. For these reasons, most health professionals consider it to be a safe, natural substance.

How Xylitol Helps Your Teeth

Xylitol functions a lot like a “mousetrap” for the bacteria that live on your teeth. Normally, these bacteria ingest sugar and carbohydrates and convert them into acid, which destroys the tooth enamel. After the bacteria ingest xylitol, however, they are no longer able to absorb glucose. With their energy-producing pathway clogged up, they end up starving to death. That’s why many dentists recommend using xylitol-sweetened chewing gum: it’s one of very few things that can actually kill harmful tooth bacteria.

Why Xylitol is Toxic to Dogs

If you buy gum or candy that contains Xylitol, it is very important to keep it away from any dogs in your house. When a dog eats xylitol, its body mistakes it for glucose and starts producing large amounts of insulin. Then, the dog’s cells start absorbing glucose from the bloodstream, which can lead to hypoglycemia, low blood sugar, and even death. Xylitol may also have detrimental effects on liver function in dogs, with high doses causing liver failure.

It only takes 0.1 grams per kg of body weight for a dog to be affected. To put that in perspective, a 6 pound Chihuahua could get sick or die from eating a single piece of xylitol chewing gum.

Need a General Dentist in Apex NC? Call Hansen Dentistry

If you are in need of a dental cleaning, oral surgery or other dental service, be sure to contact our general dentist in Apex NC. At Hansen Dentistry, we will do our best to make you feel relaxed and at home while receiving expert dental care. To schedule an appointment, click here.

Tooth Colored Fillings vs Silver Fillings? – Learn More from an Apex Dentist

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So you have a tooth that has a cavity and needs a filling. Now what?

Most people know that the two most common options are tooth colored fillings (called composite fillings) and silver fillings (called amalgam fillings).  And most people would agree that the composite fillings are much more aesthetically pleasing than the amalgam fillings.  Some patients prefer not to have amalgam fillings because they contain mercery.  However, it is important to note that ongoing scientific studies conducted over the past 100 years continue to show that amalgam fillings are not harmful.  Sometimes the aesthetic outcome is reason enough to choose a tooth colored filling, especially when the tooth is one that is visible when the patient smiles.

But there are other important reasons that most Apex Dentists these days are choosing to use tooth colored composite fillings rather than amalgam.  And these reasons have to do with the major difference in the way they are placed in the mouth.

Composite fillings are resin-based and are chemically bonded to the tooth.  Amalgams are not.  They are held in place due to a physical retention.  This means that after the dentist removes the decay, he also has to remove additional healthy tooth structure in order to create the proper undercuts and retention grooves to hold the amalgam in place.  This process leaves less remaining tooth structure.

The good thing is that amalgams usually lasts for a really long time.  The bad news is that when they do wear out, they tend to cause larger problems because there is less tooth structure remaining to work with. That is why it is common for a very large amalgam to be replaced with a crown.

If a tooth has a composite filling, the dentist is able to be very conservative in how much tooth structure

he/she removes other than the decay.  This could mean that years later when the composite filling eventually wears out, hopefully another larger composite filling can be placed, rather than a crown.

Another common issue is that teeth with old amalgams tend to develop more cracks.  Because the amalgam filling is not bonded to the tooth, the enamel surrounding the filling is unsupported.  Over time, that unsupported tooth structure microscopically flexes when stress is placed on the tooth.  Years of this flexing can cause cracks to form. These cracks can lead to more extensive (and expensive) treatment, such as a crown,  a root canal, or even loss of the tooth depending on the severity of the fracture.

Whether you have composite or amalgam fillings it is important to maintain your regular cleaning and check-up appointments with your Apex dentist. He/she can keep you informed about the condition of your fillings. That way when one does wear out (and they will, because unfortunately no dental work lasts forever), you can be pro-active, which typically leads to a less expensive and more conservative outcome.

Why We Changed our Name to Hansen Dentistry

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Hansen Dentistry recently changed its name to Hansen Dentistry and we wanted to share with you the reasons why!
 
#1-We wanted to streamline and give you just one name to remember! Rather than having to remember your Dentist’s name and the practice name…now they are one in the same!
 
#2-Let’s face it, while the meaning of the word “Renaissance” is strong and positive, no one knows how to spell it!! Ok, maybe not “no one” but for those of us who did not win our grade school spelling bee, it can be a little tricky and we wanted to well, streamline (see reason #1). There are also a few other “Renaissance” dental offices in the area and we didn’t want patients to be confused if we had any association with these other practices (we don’t).
 
#3-Dr. Hansen really values the opportunity to practice what he considers the “Art of Dentistry” as a sole practitioner. He is meticulous and kind of a perfectionist and as a sole practitioner he has the freedom to do be able to practice dentistry this way. We want patients to know that at our practice they can count on seeing the same friendly faces of our team and always, always the same Doctor. This results in not only quality care but continuity of care and we want patients to know that at Hansen Dentistry, they can expect both!
 
So here is looking to the future with a new name, but the same dedication to our patients! As always, we are very grateful for your continued relationship with us as your dental health care providers.
 
-The Hansen Dentistry Team

Four Things to Consider When Choosing a Dentist in Apex NC

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Are you new in town or looking for a different dental experience?  There are many dentists to choose from in the Apex Cary area and so sometimes it can be overwhelming as you try to find a good fit for you and your family. It is important to choose a dentist who you feel you can trust. Look for a dentist who…

 1)  Is an Active Listener

You should feel like your dentist gives you a customized dental experience. Not a one size fits all appointment.  This can only be done if the dentist takes time to not only look in your mouth, but to listen to you.  The dentist might be an expert on what is going on in your mouth, but you are the expert on why.  What’s is going on in your life and how is that effecting your overall and dental health?  Are you a mom who is busy doing a fabulous job taking care of your children but tend to put yourself on the back burner?  Are you a bride preparing for your wedding and want the best smile of your life?  Did you just get your first job, have dental insurance for the first time since before college and want to get back on track? How do you feel about your smile?  If there is something you could change about your smile, what would it be?

Your dentist should be interested in you.  Not just your mouth.

2) Respects Your Time and Your Resources

A dentist should not keep you in the waiting room too long and should be punctual for appointments.  Scheduling coordinators should give you options for appointments that are convenient for you. If taking off work is difficult, find a dental office that offers appointments on Saturdays or late weekday hours.

 A dentist should also offer different billing options so that your financial resources can be optimized.  For example, hopefully they file your insurance, have financing options, and/or offer a cash discount if you are a cash paying patient.

3)  Educates You about all aspects of your appointment

The entire dental team should be good educators.

The dentist will educate you on all matters related to your oral health and how it effects your overall health and well being. This includes performing oral cancer screenings as a part of a head and neck exam.

The dental hygienist should educate you on what you can do daily to keep your teeth healthy and maintain your smile.

Insurance can get confusing.  What you will pay, what insurance will pay? Do you pay up front?  Or only the difference? The financial coordinator’s job is to help you understand all aspects of your financial arrangement.

4)  Stays Current with Technology and Continuing Education

 You wouldn’t use a phone from 15 years ago.  So why go to a dentist who does not stay up to date with current technology?  Advancements in technology in the dental field offer many of the same benefits as those outside the field.  More comfort, less time, better results. For example, same day CEREC crowns mean less wait time for patients. They also mean no annoying temporary crown while you wait for the permanent one to come back from the lab.

Continuing education allows dentists to stay current with technology and procedures.  It gives them an opportunity to brush up on procedures they are already comfortable with and expand their scope of practice.

Not sure what your dentist does to stay up to date?  Just ask!  If your dentist is already doing this, he/she would most likely love the opportunity to share this information with you!

 

Overall, just remember to trust your gut.  Taking some time to find a dental practice that meets your specific needs is worth the effort. Perhaps that means calling to ask for an office tour and to meet the dentist and staff before scheduling your first appointment.  Once you find the right fit, you will be glad you did!