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.

A Dentist for Every Member of the Family – Apex Family Dentistry

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family dentist

At Hansen Dentistry, we know that raising and caring for a healthy family is one of the most important things in life. That’s why we’ve made our practice a place that helps every member of your family have the best oral health possible. From the youngest to the oldest, you’ll find that we are your one-stop family dental care headquarters. As a family dentist, Dr. Rylan Hansen is trained in caring for teeth and gums at every stage of life. Visit our Apex, NC dental office to learn more about our services.

Children’s Dentistry

The key to keeping children’s teeth healthy is prevention. Children should come in for routine oral care starting at their first birthday, with regular six-month visits. At preventive visits we give children a check-up, provide a gentle cleaning to remove tartar, and apply preventive treatments to strengthen and protect the teeth. If we find problems, we help parents try to identify what may be the cause of their child’s issues, to keep teeth healthy in the future. If there are cavities, we provide gentle and age-appropriate restorative treatments to keep your child’s teeth healthy and strong.

We love kids and we love giving them happy experiences at the dentist. Dental anxiety is a serious concern for both adults and children, and we believe the best way to prevent anxiety is by taking the time to make sure your children are comfortable with their treatment. We never coerce or force children into situations they are not comfortable with. We also give them plenty of time to get used to what happens during a dental appointment, and make sure they feel empowered to ask questions and communicate their preferences.

Adult Dental Care

As with children, prevention is the key to good oral health. Six-month visits give us the opportunity to remove tartar from the teeth, to prevent the formation of new cavities. They also give us the chance to spot potential problems before they turn into toothaches and major restorations. Even with routine appointments, its easy to develop oral health concerns, such as tooth decay, gingivitis and gum disease. It’s estimated that 99 percent of all adults have experienced some degree of tooth decay; routine visits allow us to treat problems in their earliest stages, before they turn into emergencies.

We also provide a full range of cosmetic dentistry treatments to help our adult patients look their best. As teeth endure years of hard usage, even the most beautiful of smiles may begin to look stained, chipped or misaligned. Cosmetic dentistry can restore the beauty of your smile, for greater confidence and a positive self-image. Whether you seek small improvements or dramatic smile makeovers, we can help you make your smile look new and bright again.

Oral Surgery

If you need a wisdom teeth extraction, dental implant placement or bone grafting, you’ll be glad to know that we provide these treatments in-house. Dr. Hansen performs oral surgery, which means you won’t need to find a separate oral surgeon to get the care you need.

Emergency Treatment

If you’ve ever had a dental emergency, you know that it’s inappropriate to ask a patient to wait several days for an appointment! That’s why we make room for emergencies in our schedule and offer extended hours and Saturday appointments. Whether you are a returning patient or a new patient, we are always welcoming of emergencies. Put our number in your phone right now, as “emergency dentist” and you’ll be glad you did—should you have to deal with an emergency dental problem in the future.

Periodontal Care

Gum disease is a frightening condition that can rob you of your healthy gums (and teeth). Unfortunately, gum disease is also extremely common. There’s a fair chance someone in your family may one day need periodontal treatments. These cleanings can often be traumatic for sensitive gums, so we have invested in laser dentistry tools to provide gentler periodontal cleanings.

 

At Hansen Dentistry of Apex, NC, we want to be your family dentist. Call us at (919) 363-8444 to make an appointment for any children or adults in your family who are due for a check-up.

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.

What’s the Difference Between Plaque and Tartar? Ask a Dentist in Apex

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WE OFTEN GET THIS QUESTION from our patients, “What’s the difference between plaque and tartar?” Many patients think they are the same thing. However, there is an important difference between the two.  Understanding how they are different can help explain why a daily oral hygiene routine is so crucial, as well as twice-yearly visits to your dentist.

plaque
What Is Plaque?

Dental plaque is the soft, sticky film that builds up on your teeth and under your gums. It starts forming soon after you finish brushing. In other words, plaque is constantly accumulating on your teeth. And guess what? It contains millions of bacteria! When you eat—especially carbohydrates or sugar—you’re not the only one getting a meal…so are the bacteria on your teeth. After these bacteria dine on sugar, they produce acids that erode your tooth enamel and cause cavities.

That’s why good daily oral hygiene is essential to preventing tooth decay and protecting your smile from the bacteria in plaque. To prevent plaque buildup, remember to brush at least twice a day and floss once a day. Drinking water and chewing sugar-free gum after meals and snacks can also help!

What Is Tartar?

So if that’s plaque, what’s tartar? Tartar is what accumulates on your teeth when plaque is not removed. If plaque is left on your teeth for too long, it will harden into tartar and is much more difficult to remove. In fact, tartar can only be removed by a dental professional–you can’t get rid of it with regular brushing and flossing. Tartar removal is one of the reasons that visiting your dentist every six months is so important!

Plaque buildup that hardens into tartar can cause more than just cavities. It can cause tooth discoloration and sensitivity as well as gum recession and periodontal disease. To reduce plaque buildup and tartar from forming, make sure you are brushing and flossing daily.

Come And See Us Every Six Months

No matter how great your oral hygiene is, plaque and tartar formation are inevitable. So come in to see us every six months! Our job is to help you maintain a beautiful, healthy smile that’s plaque- and tarter-free!

Tips for a Healthy Back to School Smile from a Family Dentist in Apex

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It’s that time of year!  Back to school!!!  The time of year that Moms and Dads are found scratching their heads at Target trying to figure out whether the 3 prong, plastic, 2 pocket folders comes in 5 different colors so they can check it off the school supply list (There is always one item that makes buying the whole list in one trip impossible).  We have been there!

Along with school supply shopping, it is also time to start thinking about what to pack in your child’s lunch.  Among the seemingly endless options there are prepackaged lunches and individual serving sizes of chips and cookies. These foods are usually high in sugar, sodium, and fat and, while easy to grab at the last minute before you miss the bus, do not make the best choices for school lunches.  Sticky foods, such as fruit roll ups and fruit snacks, get stuck in the grooves of your child’s teeth and will likely stay there until they brush later that evening…giving bacteria an abundant supply of sugar.

The good news is that there are other choices that are convenient and far healthier for your child’s teeth and body.

Here are a few ideas the are both convenient and healthy (and please feel free to share your ideas in the comment section below…we believe in the “it takes a village” philosophy).

Cheese- Cheese is actually one of the best foods for your teeth because it neutralizes acids caused by bacteria and contains calcium, which can help the teeth remineralize. Cheese sticks are convenient because they offer single portion servings.

Hard boiled eggs-another healthy and convenient option that provides protein which is helpful for tissue development.

Nuts-especially raw nuts, the rough texture can help clean acid off the teeth and the provide protein.

Vegetable cups- vegetables are much lower in sugar than fruits and also tend to provide more fiber.  Carrots and cucumbers are popular, but try sugar snap peas or sweet bell peppers to keep kids from getting bored as this often makes them crave quick and often unhealthy alternatives.

Water-Opt out of sending juice boxes and sport drinks to school and just send water, which neutralizes the acids in the mouth and cleanses your teeth.

Another important part of helping keep your child’s smile healthy is by keeping them up to date with their dental exams, cleanings, and fluoride treatments. In 2015, the CDC reported that almost 20% of school age children have untreated dental decay.  Taking your child to visit their Apex Dentist helps keep their teeth healthy and helps them have positive dental experiences from a young age.

If your child is old enough to play sports requiring mouthguards, ask your Apex Dentist if they can provide you with a custom mouthguard.  It is important for your child to protect their teeth by wearing a mouthguard. One thing we know is that a better fitting mouthguard is one your child is more likely to actually wear.

Good luck to all our beautiful kids on their first day back at school, whether its the first day of kindergarten or their senior year of high school.  They grow up so fast, so remember to cherish every moment and every (healthy) smile!

Do wisdom teeth need to be extracted? Ask an Apex Oral Surgeon

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We have found that while many of our patients with wisdom teeth know that they should be extracted, very few of them understand why.

So here you go…A Little Wisdom about Wisdom Teeth.

There are several reasons your Apex Dentist might recommend having your third molars, also known as Wisdom teeth, extracted.   Very few people have adequate space in their dental arch for wisdom teeth.  If you are one of the lucky ones that does have enough room, be sure your toothbrush is reaching all the way back to those teeth, as they are often very difficult to keep clean.  If/when 3rd molars develop cavities (as they often do), it is usually better to put financial resources towards having these teeth extracted rather than filled as they usually only cause more problems down the road.

dental-arch

For patients who do not have enough room in their dental arch, the 3rd molars are often unable to properly erupt, making it difficult or even impossible to keep clean.  The improper eruption can cause a variety of problems including but not limited to, periodontal infections, dental decay, and dental abcesses.

The first radiograph was of a patient for whom Dr. Hansen had to perform an extraction not only the partially erupted  wisdom tooth but the 2nd (more important) molar as well due to the decay caused by the wisdom tooth.

radiograph

The second radiograph demonstrates another reason that 3rd molars often need to be extracted:  dental abcesses.  This particular abcess was so large that this patient was a risk of her lower jaw breaking. The radiograph also demonstrates the importance of routine dental check ups, as this patient did not have any pain associated with the dental abcess.   She literally would not have ever known that it was there except that she was consistent with her dental examinations, including dental radiographs.

Understanding dental problems that can arise from  wisdom teeth is important so patients are able to take necessary steps to seek treatment. Typically, your Apex dentist will recommend having wisdom extracted between ages 15 and 25 because healing and recovery is much easier for younger patients.

If only our wisdom teeth made us all-knowing and wise…that would make for a good case in keeping them!

Is Sparkling Water Bad for Your Teeth? Ask an Apex dentist office

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We have been asked this question a lot lately, maybe because it is summer and people are looking for a cold refreshing alternative to water that is not soda or juice.  I mean, who doesn’t love a Coconut La Croix every now and then!?!

 Unfortunately the answer is True.

The problem is that the CO2 that gives sparking water its fizziness is converted to carbonic acid in your mouth.  This acid lowers the pH level and while buffers in our saliva work to neutralize pH levels, the process is slow.

What happens in a mouth with a reduced pH level?  Teeth are demineralized.  In other words, the hard enamel that protects the soft inner part of your teeth (dentin) literally looses some of the minerals that make it hard.  When the enamel is soft, dental erosion occurs…even in the absence of sugar. Adding sugar to the equation creates even more of a problem.  This is because your teeth are not only at risk for erosion, but decay also.  So while sparkling water is worse for your teeth than regular water, it is not as bad as non-diet soda.

One important factor to consider is the length of exposure.  If you pop open a can of

La Croix and drink it with a meal over a 15 minute time period, that is not so bad. Swishing with a mouthful of regular water when you are done makes it even better. However, if you sip on that same size can, without food, for over an hour, the exposure time is much higher.  Your saliva just can’t keep up and so more erosion will occur.

deer-parkBottomline:  The best thing you can drink is water.

When you drink other beverages, try to consume over a shorter duration of time, rather than sipping throughout the day.  If you drink something acidic, don’t brush right away, as the enamel is soft and you will be literally brushing away your teeth!  Instead, rinse with water and brush with fluoride toothpaste an hour later.

The goal of this post is not to say that sparkling water is horrible and you should never drink it.  After all it is a more “natural” alternative to soda and does not have any sugar. However, when a bottle of sparkling water looks almost identical to a regular bottle of water it can be hard to tell if there is any difference.  And it is important to understand the difference so that we can enjoy these beverages and then take the necessary steps to keep our teeth healthy and strong!

Cheers!

An Exciting Month at Hansen Dentistry! – Dentist in Apex

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What an exciting Month at Hansen Dentistry!

 I enjoyed meeting everyone who came to the office during the last week of May and the month of June.  Building relationships is the best part of my job as a leading dentist in Apex. I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to be your dentist.  After years of looking for the right practice to join, I know I have made the right choice coming to Hansen Dentistry.

Several patients have asked how we came to find out that the Simpsons were selling their practice.  My family and I go to church with the Simpsons.  They actually approached us when they heard that were looking for practice purchase opportunities.  So we kind of feel like they hand picked us!  As you might imagine, because Apex is such an amazing, incredible place to live, opportunities in this area are not too easy to come by.  But it was when I saw how Dr. Simpson’s attention to detail mirrored my own, that I knew it was a good fit.

There have been some exciting changes too!  We have a new website, and a new logo.

You will probably also notice we have made some cosmetic

changes around the office.  A little paint and new lighting…did you know I was an electrician before I went to dental school?  We are also now in-network with most insurance companies.  More on this to come.

One of the changes that is the most exciting to me is that we now have the ability to do in-office same day CEREC crowns, root canals, and implants.  Less referrals means less cost for our patients.  Plus

it is just more convenient.

And I guess another change is this blog!   This is just the first blog post so I will keep it short and sweet.  We will be updating regularly with educational posts and fun posts to share about what we are doing at the office.

We would love any feedback from you.  If there are topics that we can cover here to help you better understand your dental health, feel free to comment or call us!

Thanks for a great first month!

Happy Independence Day to you!  How blessed we are!

-Dr. H