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Xylitol-ThisNaturalSugarCouldHelpyouWintheBattleAgainstToothDecay

Refined table sugar (sucrose) has been in the health spotlight for some time now. While its effects on nutrition and general health are just now gaining attention, its effect on dental health, particularly as a food source for bacteria that cause tooth decay, has been known for decades.

In recent years, though, a different kind of natural sugar known as xylitol has come into popularity. Mutans Streptococci, the main bacteria responsible for tooth decay, is unable to break down and consume this alcohol-based sugar as it can with sucrose. What’s more, there’s evidence that xylitol can actually “starve” the offending bacteria and reduce its levels in the mouth. Xylitol also helps to reduce the level of acid in saliva and supports this vital fluid in its role of balancing the mouth’s pH level. By helping maintain a more pH neutral environment, xylitol can help prevent decay from even starting and promote the production of bacteria that doesn’t produce acid.

One of the most prevalent ways to include xylitol in your diet is through chewing gum. Researchers have found xylitol chewing gum can significantly reduce the risk of tooth decay, especially by inhibiting the decay process. Its reaction with saliva also contributes to the process of hardening the mineral content of enamel, a further inhibition to tooth decay.

Depending on your risk factors for dental disease, we might direct you to chew two pieces of xylitol gum for five minutes after meals and snacks, up to four times a day. Our target dose is about one to two teaspoons spread out during the day. If chewing gum is problematic or undesirable, it’s also possible to receive the recommended dosage of xylitol through hard candy, mints and oral products like toothpaste, mouthwash or sprays that contain the sugar.

Depending on your risk factors, a daily dosage of xylitol in chewing gum and other products can change the environment in your mouth for the better. A few minutes of gum chewing after meals and snacks might provide you the winning edge in the battle against tooth decay.

If you would like more information on the benefits and uses of xylitol, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Xylitol in Chewing Gum.”

By Okabe Dental Arts
April 01, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
CosmeticDentistryandtheUrbanLegend

He once lived in Australia, wore his hair in a mullet, and played guitar in a band called The Ranch. Today, country music star Keith Urban looks different than he did when he started out — and it’s not just the mullet that’s changed. As before-and-after pictures show, he’s had a smile makeover. His teeth, which were dull yellow in color, and used to have a large gap in front, are now white and shiny. The gap is still there — though it has been reduced to a more modest size. How did he manage to upgrade his image, yet keep part of his signature “look” intact?

Cosmetic dentistry has a number of ways to improve the appearance of a smile like Keith’s. One is tooth whitening. It’s a simple procedure that can be done in our office or at your home; either way, it’s an effective treatment that offers great value. In-office whitening, using the most concentrated solutions under our direct supervision, will give you the fastest results. We can also prepare a take-home kit, with custom-made trays and safe bleaching gels you can use at home. You’ll get similar results, but it will take a bit longer.

Of course, whitening isn’t permanent (though it can be repeated when necessary); not all teeth can be lightened as much as you might like; and it doesn’t correct gaps or unevenness. There’s another treatment that does, however: dental veneers. These are wafer-thin coverings made of porcelain, which are bonded to the prepared surfaces of your teeth. They are available in a number of shades — from natural to “Hollywood white” — and can even hide minor chips or spacing problems. That’s why veneers are often the treatment of choice when you’re looking for a “red carpet” smile.

Perhaps the best thing about veneers is that they give you plenty of choices when it comes to designing your smile. You can choose how white you’d like your smile to be, and even fix some “flaws” — or not! So how much you choose to close that gap in your teeth is up to you… but if you’re asking our opinion, the mullet has to go.

If you would like more information on dental veneers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Beautiful Smiles by Design” and “Porcelain Veneers.”

By Okabe Dental Arts
March 24, 2014
Category: Oral Health
EatingDisordersandOralHealth

In recent years, the number of teenagers with eating disorders has increased dramatically. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), as many as 24 million Americans suffer from some form of eating disorder and 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.

There are many long-term problems associated with eating disorders, including osteoporosis, infertility and anemia. Another unfortunate side-effect involves dental health. If your child suffers from bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder characterized by a cycle of food binges and vomiting, his or her teeth may show signs of tooth erosion.

Tooth erosion occurs when the tooth surface loses enamel after exposure to acid. It affects more than 90% of individuals with bulimia and 20% of individuals with anorexia nervosa, a disorder that involves starvation. There is often overlap between the two diseases — those with anorexia may sometimes binge and purge, and those with bulimia may try to restrict their food.

Each disorder results in dental diseases for different reasons. In bulimia, tooth erosion is caused by vomit, which is highly acidic and damaging. The frequency that a person engages in this activity will determine how much the teeth are affected. Usually, we will notice this erosion on the upper front teeth. In more severe cases, the salivary glands can become enlarged, causing puffiness on the side of the face. Anorexics, on the other hand, may have dental problems because they are often negligent about grooming and hygiene in general, including oral hygiene.

Every time your teenager visits our office, we will conduct a thorough examination, which includes looking out for the specific signs of eating disorders. If we do find that your teenager has severe tooth erosion, we'll be sure to discuss our findings with you. We may recommend a sodium fluoride mouth rinse to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce its loss. Most importantly, you should speak with your child and seek guidance from a professional to help deal with the issue.

If you would like more information about eating disorders and oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bulimia, Anorexia and Oral Health.”

By Okabe Dental Arts
March 21, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral hygiene  
TopFiveWaystoPreserveYourTeethforLife

You may have heard the expression: “If you just ignore your teeth, they will go away.” That may be true — but by practicing good oral hygiene, more and more people are now able to keep their natural teeth in good condition for their entire life. So we prefer to put a more positive spin on that old saw: “Take care of your teeth and they will take care of you — always.” What’s the best way to do that? Here are our top five tips:

  1. Brush and floss every day. You knew this was going to be number one, right? Simply put, tooth decay and gum disease are your teeth’s number one enemies. Effective brushing and flossing can help control both of these diseases. Using a soft-bristle brush with fluoride toothpaste and getting the floss into the spaces between teeth (and a little under the gum line) are the keys to successful at-home tooth cleaning and plaque removal.
  2. Don’t smoke, or use any form of tobacco. Statistically speaking, smokers are about twice as likely to lose their teeth as non-smokers. And “smokeless” tobacco causes tooth discoloration, gum irritation, an increased risk for cavities, and a higher incidence of oral cancers. Of course, smoking also shortens your life expectancy — so do yourself a favor, and quit (or better yet, don’t start).
  3. Eat smart for better oral (and general) health. This means avoiding sugary between-meal snacks, staying away from sodas (and so-called “energy” or “sports” drinks), and limiting sweet, sticky candies and other smile-spoiling treats. It also means enjoying a balanced diet that’s rich in foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. This type of diet incorporates what’s best for your whole body — including your teeth.
  4. Wear a mouthguard when playing sports. An active lifestyle has many well-recognized health benefits. But if you enjoy playing basketball, bicycling, skiing or surfing — or any other sport where the possibility of a blow to the face exists — then you should consider a custom-fitted mouthguard an essential part of your gear. Research shows that athletes wearing mouthguards are 60 times less likely to suffer tooth damage in an accident than those who aren’t protected — so why take chances with your teeth?
  5. See your dentist regularly. When it comes to keeping your smile sparkling and your mouth healthy, we’re your plaque-fighting partners. We’ll check you for early signs of gum disease or tooth decay — plus many other potential issues — and treat any problems we find before they become serious. We’ll also help you develop healthy habits that will give you the best chance of keeping your teeth in good shape for your whole life.

If you would like to learn more about keeping your teeth healthy for life, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. For more information, see the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Tooth Decay — The World’s Oldest & Most Widespread Disease” and “Dentistry & Oral Health For Children.”

By Okabe Dental Arts
March 12, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
Tooth-HarmingHabitstoAvoid

Did you know that you probably do at least one thing during the course of an average day that puts your healthy smile at risk? These are some of the more common offenders:

Coffee, Soda, and Sports Drink Consumption
If you really can’t give them up, try to consume these beverages with restraint. Their high acidity and/or sugar content can erode protective tooth enamel, making your pearly whites more prone to staining and decay. Even natural fruit juices should be consumed in moderation as they tend to be high in sugar and sometimes acidity (e.g. orange juice). Your best bet? Water, of course. It won’t damage your teeth and thanks to fluoridation may even help remineralize and fortify your enamel.

Brushing Immediately After Eating
If you were told to brush after every meal, forget it. Acids in foods and beverages can soften your enamel, and brushing may actually accelerate erosion. Wait at least an hour to brush, which is the time it generally takes for your oral pH to normalize and your tooth enamel to reharden. However, it is advisable after eating to floss and rinse out your mouth with plain water or a mineralized dental wash to help wash away food particles.

Jaw Clenching, Tooth Grinding, Pencil Chewing
These and similar “parafunctional” behaviors — outside the uses for which teeth are designed — can cause undue tooth wear and exert stresses that can cause chips and fractures. They can affect other parts of the oral system, too, potentially resulting in jaw joint pain and muscle spasms, headaches and other head and neck ailments.

It’s hard to cut out all high-sugar/high-acid foods and beverages, so where complete elimination isn’t possible, focus on moderation and try to consume them only during mealtime. Jaw clenching and other parafunctional behaviors are often subconscious and may be harder to control; in such cases an unobtrusive device like a clear occlusal (bite) guard can alleviate the problem.

If you would like more information about tooth damage and prevention please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Tooth Decay” and “Stress & Tooth Habits.”





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Dentist Honolulu, HI
Okabe Dental Arts
1221 Kapiolani Boulevard
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 596-0837

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