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VETERAN COLUMBUS DENTIST CHALLENGES CONVENTIONAL WISDOM IN GROUNDBREAKING NEW BOOK ON FAMILY DENTAL CARE

WHAT EVERY PARENT SHOULD KNOW: THE HIDDEN THREAT TO HEALTHY TEETH IS ACID, NOT SUGAR

(Columbus, Ohio – June 6, 2005) – Columbus dentist Jeff Wilcox knew he was onto something when he started seeing the same pattern in his patients’ X-rays.

“I can usually tell a pop drinker just by looking at their x-rays,” he says. “Those people who have a lot of decay are almost always heavy pop drinkers.”

It’s a pattern he’s seen so often, even among younger patients with healthy oral care routines, that Dr. Wilcox felt compelled to do something about it. Now, in his new book, Acid Attack: The Real Causes of Dental Problems and How to Avoid Them,” Wilcox draws on his 27 years of experience as a Columbus dentist to challenge popular notions about the origins and causes of tooth decay. His observations will give parents and children a new perspective on making their teeth last a lifetime.

Acid Attack is a candid and revealing discussion about a personal health issue with important implications for parents and children who recognize the value of preserving a lifelong healthy smile. Its straightforward, no-nonsense advice comes from an experienced Ohio dentist, with a well-established and widely respected family practice in Columbus.

In his book, Dr. Wilcox gives parents some valuable information that will enable them to help themselves, and their children, to have much better dental health. “I see my primary role as a teacher. I educate parents so that they can help their children (and themselves) to prevent dental problems from happening in the first place. If I fix the problems that are already there, but don’t teach you what to do to prevent them from coming back, I haven’t helped you very much.” When patients are armed with the right information, they can take control of their own family’s dental health.

This being Wilcox’s first book, he wrote “Acid Attack,” to give patients the insight, knowledge, and tools they need to protect their teeth from the real cause of tooth decay: consistent exposure to acidic substances, many of which come from surprising and unexpected sources.

“Even as children, we’re conditioned to believe that sugar is the main culprit in tooth decay,” Wilcox says. “It’s true that sugar is bad for your teeth. But sugar is not the main cause of tooth decay.

“The main culprit in tooth decay is acid. No question about it.”

Dr. Wilcox explains that plaque germs eat what we eat. “Every time you eat, you feed them, and one of their by-products is acid,” he says.

“These germs are especially efficient at digesting sugars, and this is what researchers based their conclusions on decades ago. They observed that the acid levels in your mouth went up more when you consume sugars than when you consume other things. What they didn’t realize is that these acids are not the ones that are primarily the cause of decay.”

So where do the most destructive acids come from? Dr. Wilcox points a critical finger not just at regular and diet soft drinks, but also popular sports or “energy drinks”. Even citrus juices, he says, can pack a punch against tooth enamel. The other primary source, especially popular with children, is sour candies.

He’s not alone. A recent study by the University of Maryland Dental School, the results of which were published in the March, 2005 issue of General Dentistry, found that such energy drinks are even more destructive to tooth enamel than your run-of-the-mill sugary colas. Some studies cite damage from long-term acid exposure in the teeth of some children as young as 14. Clear pops were among the worst offenders. (See attached article)

Before you go reaching for that diet cola, take heed. Diet colas don’t get much slack from Dr. Wilcox either. “Sugar free doesn’t mean better for your teeth,” he admits. “It’s the corrosive effects of the acids in these beverages that are much more detrimental to a healthy smile than their sugar content.”

But the acids that erode our teeth don’t just come from outside our bodies, Wilcox says. It can come from inside our bodies too.

“Some people have body chemistries that make their saliva naturally more acidic. This makes them more prone to tooth decay, even though most people with this condition may not even be aware of it.”

Other internal sources of acid, he says, include acid reflux disease and bulimia. In both cases, the teeth are repeatedly exposed to the natural, but highly corrosive, hydrochloric acid found naturally in our stomachs.

So what can parents and children do to protect their teeth from these threats? Dr. Wilcox says effective prevention begins with solid information, and then applying that information in ways that promote healthy and consistent dental care habits.

Some advice and practices Dr. Wilcox recommends are:

• Chewing gum: “It promotes the production of saliva, which neutralizes acid.” He cautions that you should avoid the sour kinds (they have high levels of acid in them.)

• Avoiding pop of any kind and so-called “energy drinks”.

• Using an electric toothbrush. “Much more efficient than manual brushing,” Wilcox admits.

• Drinking fluoridated water during childhood. “When teeth are forming, fluoride makes the tooth enamel more resistant to acid corrosion.”

The other problem Dr. Wilcox sees, even in very young children, is gum disease. Many of us ignore a bit of bleeding when we brush or floss, but it’s a warning sign. “Don’t let anyone tell you that bleeding is normal – it’s not.” For adults, flossing (under the gums – not just between the teeth) is critical to keep gums healthy. For children, the most important thing is removing the plaque germs efficiently. For this, Dr. Wilcox strongly recommends an electric toothbrush. “Brushing for a few minutes twice a day (morning and right before bed) with an electric brush will do wonders for kids’ dental health,” he says.

Besides insights on acid and tooth decay, Acid Attack ventures into a host of other dental health subjects, many of which patients may have always wondered about, but never bothered to ask. They include insights and advice on root canals, crowns (caps), tooth bleaching, night grinding, wisdom teeth, dental implants and insights into the controversy over silver fillings (amalgam) versus composite fillings.

In short, Acid Attack is the informative conversation that you always wish you’d had with your own dentist, but never had the time for.

“Acid Attack: The Real Causes of Dental Problems and How to Avoid Them” by Jeff Wilcox, D.D.S. Vantage Press, New York, 2004 (56pp), is available in paperback at Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, and http://www.acidattack.com.
 


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