Dental Fluoride – What Exactly Is It?

”Tooth with Fluoride on it"
Fluoride is your first defense against tooth decay Photo by dolnikowyayimages.com

Fluoride, is an an-ion from the halogen group of the periodic table. It is found in abundance in nature. However, we all know about it because of the fact that it is associated with toothpastes and the domain of dental health, as well as advertised extensively throughout the media.

Fluoride is also included in the water supply, although recently, its levels have been decreased by the federal government. Nevertheless, fluoride is considered essential for dental care and it would be interesting to know how the benefits of this ion got discovered.

Discovery of Fluoride as a Dental Tonic
In the 1930s, researchers accidently found out that residents living in the areas supplied with water that was naturally rich in fluoride experienced fewer dental issues, particularly tooth cavities. So, they expanded the scope of their study and observed the effects of adding fluoride to the water supply of a certain locality.

After usage of several months of fluoride-treated water, the prevalence of tooth decay in the area got significantly decreased.  After this successful demonstration as a beneficial dental chemical, its use gradually gained worldwide acceptance. From the American Medical Association to WHO, every such healthcare entity now approves of its use.

Let’s find out some more facts and truths about this chemical vital for the well-being of the oral cavity.

Fluoride is Naturally Present in Water
As we all know, water supplies naturally contain a proportion of minerals and ions in it and fluoride is no exception. Although, the levels of fluoride are not adequate enough to provide a complete protection and therefore we need to fortify the supply with fluoride-based toothpastes.

But it should be kept in mind that fluoride is not a medication and only be used to fortify the water for strengthening the teeth in a similar manner iodine is added to salt to prevent stunted growth. Fluoride -treated water is an effective measure to protect a large number of people from tooth decay.

Fluoride-treated Water is Safe to Consume
Many people have the apprehensions in drinking fluoride-treated water. But studies have dismissed any detrimental effects of the amount of fluoride used for water treatment. Such minimal amount of this halogen ion doesn’t contain any side effects on digestive system and other physiology of the body.

Excessive Use of Fluoride Leads to Fluorosis
Excessive use of fluoride can lead to a medical condition called fluorosis. It’s a cosmetic dental condition in which chalky white patches start to appear on the enamel. Children less than 10 years are often affected by this dental issue because it mostly happens when formation of permanent teeth meets with the over exposure of fluoride. A treatment from an experienced dentist can help in getting rid of fluorosis. Also, make sure that children are not swallowing the toothpaste while brushing.

Phosphate Rocks: The Primary Source of Fluoride
With large scale use of fluoride in dental products, industries had to look for the naturally occurring options that can provide large amount of fluoride. And they found phosphate rock as the best ore to get the required amount of fluoride. These mineral rocks are also used to extract phosphoric acid used in the manufacturing of carbonated drinks.  

Let’s move our discussion to the underlying function of fluoride in oral cavity.

Fluoride Helps Developing Stronger Teeth

Tooth Enamel Diagram
Fluoride strengthens the development of new teeth by hardening their enamel. Therefore, it is deemed very essential for children who are growing teeth. Fluoride also reinforces the enamel of adult teeth as well.

Fluoride Assists the Process of Remineralization
Remineralization is an ongoing process in which minerals such as calcium and phosphorous get re-adhered to the surface of the teeth to make them harder and stronger. Fluoride assists this process by facilitating the deposits that settle on the enamel.

This fluoride action also helps during demineralization and reduces the dissolution of minerals from the enamel. These attributes of fluoride helps in protecting the oral cavity from tooth decay.

If water in your area is supplied after fluoride treatment and you are using fluoride-based toothpaste then you don’t have to worry whether you are getting enough dental protection. However, if your water supply is not adequately treated with fluorine then it is better to consult your dentist. He can guide you  with the products that can help you in getting a complete fluoride treatment.

In general, always brush with a fluoride toothpaste. It cannot hurt and will always help!

Dental Issues at 50 Part 2

In our previous article, we discussed certain conditions that affect the baby boomer population; such as, dry mouth and cavities. Now, let’s continue to discuss some of the additional dental issues that are encountered by older Americans. According to projections, around 35 percent of the U.S. population will be 50 and above by 2020. Here are some additional dental issues that are prevalent in the population aged 50 and above.  

Gum Diseases

Swollen, reddened and bleeding gums might not be your biggest concern at younger age. But as one ages, inflamed gums (also known as gingivitis) transforms into a serious issue. In old age, gum diseases are often the precursor of total tooth loss. Let’s see how:

If you are leaving your inflamed gums untreated, then soon they will transform into a condition called periodontitis. In this aggravated oral condition, gums start to pull away from the teeth which results in the formation of fissures in between.

If periodontitis is not treated in time, these pockets between the gum and the teeth get severely infected by plaque and bacteria. With ageing effect on the root of the teeth, this infection could culminate into the loss of teeth and oral bones. This dental issue can catalyze the deterioration in oral cavity and might lead to permanent loss of several teeth.

So it is quite evident that gum diseases in old age are not just a run-of-the-mill dental issue and persisting with it can certainly lead to irreversible oral damage. Frequent visits to a certified dentist and regular teeth cleaning routine will help you in preventing inflamed gums, particularly at old age.

Mouth Cancer

Mouth or oral cancer is the most serious issue in the domain of dental care and particularly for aging individuals. According to a survey report of National Cancer Institute, the rate of oral cancer has increased by 15% in last four decades.  

The survey also notes that the prevalence of the disease increases with age. In people 50 and above, the occurrence of oral cancer is significantly higher and most of these cancer patients fall within the age bracket of 60 and 70. So, if you are going to turn 50 in near future or have already crossed it then you should remain on guard.

There are a couple of elements which might be a link between old age and oral cancer:

  • Excessive smoking throughout the years continuously leaves the carcinogenic imprints in the oral cavity, making an individual more susceptible to develop cancer on gums, cheeks and internal lining of the mouth.
  • Heavy alcohol consumption is also associated with the prevalence of oral cancer. Even though there isn’t enough research conducted on the subject, but some studies have hinted about the link between cirrhosis and changes in the oral mucosa which is often witnessed in the people with oral cancer. Aside from that, alcohol is a strong dehydrating agent and can facilitate the carcinogens to settle in the mouth cavity.

The survival rate in oral cancer is around 50 percent. The chances of surviving this deadly disease get higher with its early detection. For that matter, it is important to get yourself checked for the symptoms of oral cancer. A detailed examination of your oral cavity by an experienced dentist, once in a while, is a good measure for the early detection of cancer.  

Dental Crowding

Ageing also has its effects on the symmetry of teeth. As we grow old, our teeth also shift slightly their place. If you are noticing that you need more flossing to remove the trapped food particles or a crooked tooth has started to look more evident, then you might be suffering from the problem of dental crowding.  

Dental crowding is not just bad for your smile and facial aesthetics. It is also detrimental due to these reasons:  

  • Crowded teeth are difficult to clean and we all know unhygienic oral cavities are a nursery for periodontal diseases.
  • Misaligned teeth can also instigate the process of tooth erosion.

In case of dental crowding, services of a dentist with the specialization of Orthodontistry can help you out. With the assistance of denture fixtures such as braces, retainers and spacers, you can restore the natural alignment of your teeth.  

Maintaining good daily teeth cleaning routine and regular visits to an experienced dentist are important at any point of age.  

Tooth Erosion: Causes and Prevention

Man with large tooth
The enamel on your teeth is your first defense against decay. Make sure you care for your enamel as if it was your best friend! Photo by 3DAgenturyayimages.com

Tooth or dental erosion is a condition in which the tooth enamel wears down and erodes. In most cases, this corrosion develops due to the acidic content that builds in the oral cavity, which increases as certain sugar-laden drinks and foods are consumed.

Nevertheless, tooth erosion takes place due to several other reasons which will be discussed later on. In this article, we will also keep our focus on the consequences and types of erosion and will discuss some remedies to prevent them.

Tooth erosion is a serious concern in the pediatric healthcare environment of the country because nearly 12 percent American children are suffering from this periodontal issue. It’s important to be aware of the grave consequences of tooth erosion so that one can remain vigilant in preventing it.

Consequences of Tooth Erosion
Tooth erosion can lead to several issues because enamel, the protective hard layer in the oral cavity, is the major victim of this dental problem.

Teeth Discoloration
Worn out enamel means the protective white layer of your teeth has been damaged, which subsequently results in stained, discolored and yellow teeth. Discolored teeth are not just prone to periodontal diseases, they also affect one’s confidence in public and social settings.

Exposed Dentin
Beneath the enamel, there is a soft calcified tissue called dentin. When a person suffers from tooth erosion, dentin starts to get exposed to the external environment. It covers the nerve pulp of a tooth and its exposure can lead to increased tooth sensitivity.

It is imperative to immediately consult an experienced dentist because dentin is comparatively softer than enamel and erodes more quickly. If left untreated, it can culminate in total tooth loss and severe periodontal pains.

Causes of Tooth Erosion

Chemical Reasons  

Foods and Drinks
Acidic content of food items is the leading cause of tooth erosion. Enamel is indeed a hardened layer but it can’t withstand the constant exposure to an acidic environment.  Soft carbonated drinks and some fruit drinks are very rich in edible acids and excessive use is not advised (not to mention weight gain). Similarly, sugary foods when broken down by oral enzymes also releases acids which affect enamel.  

Medical Conditions
Some medical conditions such as heartburn or acid reflux and Xerostomia (dry mouth) can prompt the process of tooth erosion. Administration of some medicines can increase the acidic environment of oral cavity since they may also cause dry mouth.

Physical Reasons
Physical stress also leads to teeth erosion. Physical reasons for tooth erosion are also classified into two sections.

Oral diseases and injuries:
Tooth erosion can occur by friction between the teeth. Bruxism is an oral condition in which the affected individuals grind and clench their teeth with such a force that it results in the wear and tear of the enamel.  Tooth fractures due to bending and twisting of the teeth also leads to erosion.

Daily physical wear and tear: Using a hard-bristle toothbrush, poor flossing and biting on tough objects are additional reasons behind this ongoing wear and tear.

Prevention of Tooth Erosion
Aside from maintaining healthy daily oral hygiene, tooth erosion can be prevented by adopting some of the suggested measures listed below:

Limiting acidic drinks
Eliminating the consumption of carbonated drinks and limiting the use of fruit juices, particularly the ones rich in citrus is important if you want to increase the natural life of enamel. You can also limit the exposure of acidic drinks to teeth by consuming them through straws.

Cut off Snacks
Snacks rich in sugar and starch don’t just make you obese, they also affect your teeth with their acidic byproducts.  Therefore cutting them off from your diet is the best option. Even if you have a craving to munch on them, make sure that you are brushing and flossing afterward.  

Use good fluoride toothpaste and drinking lots of water helps in reducing the acidic content of the mouth. If you are facing the issue of dry mouth, then sugar-free chewing gum is a great help in producing saliva.  

In case of severe tooth erosion, a professional remineralization procedure can help in stopping the process. It also helps in alleviating the inconvenience and pain caused by the erosion of teeth enamel. Consult a qualified and experienced dentist to get further guidance on tooth erosion and remineralization.

 

Dental Issues at 50—Part 1

 

Tooth cavity being attacked by bacteria
Photo by purple devil – yayimages.com

People who reach the age of 50 are not considered official senior citizens yet. However, try telling that to their bodies. ‘Oh my aching bones’ may still be an exaggeration at this point, but it is a good representation of how we start to be more cognizant of our health, including more frequent trips to the doctor and the dentist. Afterall, we all want to stay in the best of health when our grandchildren arrive.

As far as oral health is concerned, cavities, dry mouth and getting dentures are just some of the things we might be subjected to at this age.  In this two-part article series, we will focus our discussion on the frequent dental issues of people reaching their fifties.

Dry Mouth

Normal production of saliva in the oral cavity helps in the prevention of many periodontal diseases and if you are suffering from a constant dry mouth, then it can lead to the onset of tooth decay. Even though dry mouth can occur at any age, people at 50 and above are more prone to develop this condition because of these reasons:   

  • With age, the cumulative side effects of taking different medications start to appear, which results in the inability of the salivary glands to produce enough saliva.
  • Persistent use of caffeine based drinks and an old habit of smoking also badly affects the saliva production in older individuals.  

Saliva contains essential minerals such as phosphate and calcium which helps in preventing the demineralization of teeth. When the teeth are in a mineral enriched environment, they are more resistant to dental diseases, especially tooth decay.   

Many times, the issue of dry mouth gets so internalized that one fails to notice it. There are several signs which show that you are suffering from a dry mouth:

  • You are feeling it difficult to swallow and chew food
  • You might find a sticky sensation between the tongue and the palate
  • Harsh taste lingering even without eating anything  
  • Continuous bad breath and dry throat

You might not feel thirsty even with a dry mouth, so it is important to look out for the above-mentioned symptoms.  

Prevention of Dry Mouth

One can stimulate the production of saliva by taking several measures. Increasing the consumption of drinking water, chewing on sugar-free gum and candies (watch the sugar) are the easiest solution to increase the production of saliva.

Moreover, you can consult an experienced dentist. He/She might recommend you an OTC or prescribed saliva substitutes to reduce the dryness of the mouth. Like a care, keep your mouth well-lubricated and you can reduce the detrimental effects of age on your dental health.  

Cavities

We’ve all had them, especially when we were kids but cavities are not just associated with childbearing years; in fact, as we get older, dental cavities can begin to haunt us again. For people crossing the half-century mark, a number of conditions make them more susceptible to cavities. These include:

  • With age, the root of the tooth becomes spongier, which paves the way for the development of cavities there.
  • If you have already been treated with dental fillings than the surrounding surface becomes more vulnerable to get cavities.  

Even an oral care and cleaning routine can’t prevent the occurrence of cavities, but adding fluoride in it can help you to make your teeth more resilient against cavities. If water supply in your area is not treated with fluoride, then make sure that you add a fluoride rinse in your daily dental cleaning routine. Get a recommendation from your dentist about a good fluoride product. Bear in mind that benefits of fluoride for teeth are not just limited to kids.

Severe instances of cavities become apparent when the decay spreads from enamel to the dentin and even to the pulp of the tooth. Therefore, regular visits to dentists and looking for its signs are important for avoiding absolute tooth loss. A dentist can tell about the extinct of cavities with the help of a regular oral examination or dental X-rays.  

Cavities and caries are often indicated by a toothache and increased sensitivity, even if they are not evidently visible. It is important to treat the issue of the cavity in time because if left untreated, it can lead to the formation of pus in gums and other oral tissues.  

In next article, we will look in some other dental issues which are more likely to develop in the people aged 50 and above.

Laser Teeth Whitening Treatment

Stained or yellow teeth are a clear sign of poorly maintained oral hygiene. Besides that, they also make an individual more vulnerable to develop several periodontal diseases. Awful effects of stained teeth don’t end here. Having stained teeth also contain serious social repercussions. People suffering from stained teeth also experience a dip in their confidence level, especially during public interaction. Others also don’t take a good impression from the individuals with yellow teeth.  

According to the statistics, around 30 million US citizens have used different teeth whitening products in 2017. This number is a clear manifestation of the fact that stained or yellow teeth are not a trivial issue in the country. But we all know that over-the-counter teeth whitening products are not that much effective in reinstating the natural white of teeth. Even the ones that do the trick have a very short term results.

Therefore, the need of getting professional teeth whitening procedures is of great significance. The experience of a qualified dentist can provide you with the best professional services of teeth cleaning and white procedures.

In this article, we will keep our focus on in-office laser teeth whitening procedure that is used to get back the natural teeth gloss.

Step-by-step Breakdown of the Treatment  

Professional laser teeth whitening are becoming popular for their quick and long-lasting results. An experienced dentist is only able to perform such teeth whitening procedures because they are more invasive than the conventional bleaching treatment. Let’s see what entails a professional laser whitening treatment procedure.

 

  • Screening

 

Before commencing the treatment, dentists screen the patients whether they are fit for the laser treatment. If your gums are not healthy and can get serious side effects from the exposure of laser then your dentist might recommend you some alternate teeth whitening treatment. It is also advised for kids and pregnant women to not take up the laser teeth whitening.

 

  • Pre-treatment Routine

 

If you pass the initial screening then you will be treated for minor dental issues. The dentist will start off with in-office teeth cleaning procedure. A good dentist also makes it certain that there must be no tooth cavity before the commencement of the treatment.  

It is imperative to treat and fill every tooth cavity because the whitening gel used in the treatment can’t be spread evenly and can penetrate into the interior of the teeth. Interior of a tooth contain pulp which is the combination of blood vessels, tissues and several nerves. Exposure of bleaching chemicals to these sensitive oral features can prove to be detrimental.

Exposure of laser can cause momentary sensitivity in patients. In some instances, it also leads to gum inflammation. Therefore prior to the first laser session, some dentists prescribe their patients with anti-inflammatory drugs and desensitizing toothpaste. This measure is taken to maintain the comfort of patients throughout the course of the treatment.

 

  • Whitening Procedure

 

Once you are done with all the prerequisites, the dentist will start off the whitening procedure by covering your gums from dams to protect them from the bleaching solution. Fluoride is also applied on teeth before the application of whitening gel.

After evenly applying the gel all through the enamel, a laser beam will be subjected to the teeth to activate the bleaching compound. The photons emitting from the laser beam will exponentially increase the efficacy of the whitening gel. The repetition of this procedure depends on the extent of stains and discoloration.

Once done with this step, a small vacuum is used to wipe off the solution from your mouth. Rinsing off with tap water is followed by the removal of protective dams at the end of the treatment.

 

  • Post-treatment Care

 

Majority of the patients report increased teeth sensitivity after the treatment, while others don’t feel anything. Usually a follow-up check up is scheduled to assess the results of the treatment and to address any side effects.  

It should be kept in mind that laser or any other teeth whitening procedures are not eternal with their effectiveness. In some patients, the results of professional teeth whitening start to wear off in few months. Therefore, the key to have natural white teeth is to maintain a healthy diet, having a daily teeth cleaning routine (brushing and flossing). Regular visits to an experienced dentist also help in keeping in check your overall dental and oral health.   

 

 

 

Effects of Smoking on Oral and Dental Health

Girl Smoking
If you are young. Get smart and don’t start!


Decades of ongoing promotions of cigarettes through popular culture has transformed itself into a widespread hazard, detrimental to just about every part of our bodies and the mouth is no exception. As is quite evident these days, smoking is a leading reason behind the prevalence of diseases and deaths throughout the world.  

In the US alone, smoking is one the leading causes of preventable deaths and various diseases. According to the latest statistics by the CDC, every year more than 480,000 people lose their lives due to smoking. Even though smoking has significantly declined in recent years due to proactive promotions by anti-cigarette organizations, it still captures around 37 million US adults to this bad habit.  

Aside from its carcinogenic effects and proven toxicity in the respiratory system, smoking is equally hazardous for the oral cavity and dental health. In this article, we will concentrate on several different serious implications of smoking-related to dental health.  

Oral Cancer

image of teeth
Photo by PENCHANyayimages.com

As with most other cancers attributed to smoking, oral cancer is no exception.  It can appear in numerous forms. As a growth or sore in the mouth and remains that after a reasonable amount of time.  There are also the dangers of sores on the lips, tongue, cheeks and in the sinuses, and pharynx (throat). Sores on the bottom of the mouth are also an indication of possible cancer. All are life-threatening, if not diagnosed and treated early.

Halitosis

Halitosis, commonly known as bad breath, is one of the major oral health issues that occur in smokers. Halitosis is not a trivial concern because it can severely impact your social life and public dealings. People might find it unbearable to talk to you in person just because of the stink coming out of your mouth due to smoking.  

Furthermore, bad breath also leads to the development of a perception that a certain individual is untidy and unhygienic in general, even if it’s not the case.

There are primary and secondary ways through which smoking makes your breath smells foul. For instance, as soon as you finish up smoking a cigarette, the smoked particles that remain adhered in the lungs and throats can affect your breath for several hours with their lingering effect.

On the other hand, smoking habits result in the dryness of the mouth. Saliva in our mouth helps in neutralizing the bacteria involved in oral anaerobic reactions, which cause bad breath. Therefore, chain smokers have an enduring bad breath problem because of their dysfunctional salivary glands.

Gum Irritation

Excessive smoking can also cause severe gum irritation. People who don’t follow regular teeth cleaning routine can aggravate this irritation into gum inflammations. Inflamed gums appear swollen and bleed very easily. Gum inflammation, which is also known as a medical term of gingivitis, can lead to more serious periodontal diseases. It is advised to see a professional dentist if you are suffering from unhealthy gums.  

Development of Leukoplakia

People who are smoking for years can also develop an oral health condition called Leukoplakia. In this medical condition, several whitish gray patches protrude throughout the oral cavity (tongue, the floor of the mouth, palate and inside of the cheek).

Development of these patches is in direct connection to the immune response to mouth. Formation of these patches is incited due to the irritation of the epithelial membrane present in the inner lining of the oral cavity which secretes mucus.  

Leukoplakia can also be caused due to poor denture implantation or filling. Rough and uneven tooth surfaces can also lead to the development of this dental issue. Therefore, always consult an experienced dentist to receive any dental therapy.

Teeth Discoloration

Smoking also stains teeth and leads to a yellow and discolored smile. Two ingredients present in cigarettes instigate the process of teeth discoloration.

Nicotine:

Even though it’s a colorless psychoactive substance, but after getting oxidized on the enamel, it turns slightly into a yellow tinge.

Tar:

It is a dark residue formed due to the burning of tobacco and stains the oral cavity in the form of fumes.  

Both of these substances settle in the microscopic pores of the enamel to give your teeth a stained and discolored appearance, which is very much departed from its natural white. A comprehensive dental cleaning and whitening treatment from a qualified dentist can restore the enamel of your oral cavity into its original healthy form.

Apart from these dental health issues, we all know the notoriety of smoking to cause oral cancer. Chronic smoking can also blemish the success of other dental care procedures. So, the only way to protect yourself from the detrimental effects of smoking is to quit it altogether or have a significant reduction in its consumption.

To get rid of this bad habit, nicotine gum and nicotine patches can be used. Similarly, there are medications available to fight the withdrawals of nicotine. It is better to consult your physician or dentist prior to the administration of any of these remedies.

Good Oral Health Means Eating the Right Food!

woman-brushing-teeth
Maintaining good health starts with the good oral hygine

Maintaining good oral health is obviously important but most people have a rather lackadaisical attitude towards dental hygiene. They lack the necessary foresight to realize the long term implications of bad oral health. The damage accrues over a long period of time and its symptoms do not show up until it manifests as pain or outright disease – but by then, it’s usually too late.

Damage to the parts of the mouth also has far reaching consequences to the rest of the body. And sometimes, this damage is irreversible, leaving nothing but regret in its wake. It might require several costly trips to the dentist and dental specialists as well as numerous bills stacking up before the pain finally subsides.

It is obvious that what we eat directly affects our oral health (as well as our overall health).  But as far as dental preventive techniques are concerned, it is prudent to adopt a wholesome diet. Let’s start by discussing the foods to avoid in order to prevent mouth discomfort or more importantly – oral diseases.

Candy

CandyIt is very tempting to toss these into your mouth by the handful. Candy is arguably every person’s – child or adult – guilty pleasure, but many are extremely bad for your health. If the candy is sour, it tends to cause even more destruction. This is because they contain a lot of acid. And acid is your mouth’s worst enemy, causing tooth decay and fostering conditions for the growth of bacteria which gradually erodes enamel.

Now enamel is the hardest material in our body and you may not realize this at first, but candy erodes them like waterfall erodes rock and it may be too late once it becomes noticeable. 

Additionally because candy tends to be chewy, they stick on the teeth for longer periods of time, even after you’ve brushed and flossed. This creates the perfect condition for the growth of excessive plaque which won’t go away until what gets stuck inside the crevices of our molars are swept away.

Alcohol

Social gathering of friends with alcoholic drinks
Social gathering of friends with their happy drinks

Many large numbers of people enjoy a good brew every now and then and for some, it is more ‘now’ over ‘then’ .  Try telling them to stop drinking alcohol and you’d be reliving the prohibition period of the 1920s. 

Whatever your choice of drink is and your inherent frequency for slugging down the happy juice, be aware there will be consequences to your oral cavity, not to mention other parts of your body (and we are not talking about the dangers of driving or over drinking. We’ll save that for another article).

What do alcoholic drinks do to your oral health? First, it tends to absorb your saliva when you gulp it down. The action of saliva is extremely important for the well being of our oral hygiene, they prevent food from sticking to our teeth and naturally wash away any debris stuck to them. But when the mouth is dry, it allows all kinds of infections and gum diseases to flourish within the oral cavity.

You could try offsetting the dry conditions created by alcoholic beverages by drinking lots of water and then rinsing with fluoride toothpastes.

Carbonated BeveragesBottles of Soda

Coffee and soda can really have an impact on your teethYes companies have to sell the ‘diet’ editions of carbonate beverages so as to satisfy the concerns of paranoid health conscious people as well. But carbonated beverages are probably one of the worst oral health offenders we delightfully drink in excess.

Many studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between soda consumption and tooth decay.  A case study found that the damage done to our mouths by diet soda is comparable to the damage done by years of abuse from smoking methamphetamine or cocaine. Let that thought sink in. Who could have expected that soda would have the same damaging long-term effects as meth?

You could argue that given its health implications in the long run, soda might as well be labeled the new ‘drug’.

Water
Water- the healthiest of all drinks comes in many forms. It exists as a solid, a gas and as a liquid. Here’s the catch though, any other form of water other than liquid can harm us if consumed (or ‘inhaled’) excessively. Especially in ice form. Some people have the natural tendency to chew down on ice. What they don’t realize however is that ice is a hard substance. It’s the equivalent of trying to bite down on solid rock with the exception that rock doesn’t give away under pressure.

Ice erodes, chips, breaks and damages teeth irreversibly and sometimes requires emergency dental trips. So when you receive chilled beverages served with solid ice, try not to toss them in your mouth. If you’re that thirsty simply wait for the ice to melt and then drink the water.

Chips and Snacks
Another guilty pleasure of life. Chips contain copious amounts of starch. When chips become ensnared by the tiny gaps in our teeth, the starch breaks down  into sugar. This sugar then serves to make the lives of bacteria so much easier because it is food for them. And we just supplied an excessive amount of harmful strains of bacteria.

Coffee with Sugar
We all need a cup of this black drink before going to work, and we all mix in at least two spoonfuls of sugar pellets to add taste. But did you know that coffee can stain your teeth? It dries the mouth and leads to bad breath.

It is preferable to not use sugar with coffee to lessen the risk it can pose to our teeth. Better yet – Stay away from sugar altogether! 

For healthier teeth, eat natural foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Those that contain vitamin C would be the best for your teeth, as vitamin C keeps your bones and teeth strong.

Implications of Pizza on Oral Health

Pizza Pie with Tomatos
Pizza can be healthy for you, especially with your teeth if eaten in moderation

Although pizza was first invented by the Italians, it’s the Americans who developed a voracious appetite for this delight. In fact, around three-billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. on an annual basis, enjoyed by people from all demographics and age groups. When it comes down to it, the numbers are staggering. An estimated 251 million pounds of pizza go into our bellies each year.

But while satiating your never-ending desire for pizza, have you ever considered the health implications of it, more specifically, your oral health?

Unlike most fast foods which we also tend to rapidly consume, pizza actually has a GOOD effect on our health. You heard right. Contrary to the hype about pizza and weight gain, it is not a big weight gainer and it doesn’t cause cancer or a heart attack, compared to everything else we may eat, but pizza does contain copious amounts of cheese, so eating it in moderation is recommended.  

According to researchers from Italy, the consumption of pizza reduces the likelihood of a heart attack. This is also true for people who are obese. The main source of fat in pizza is from the cheese and oregano oil, but as mentioned, taken in moderation should not be a major factor. As far as our dental health is concerned, pizza is extremely beneficial.

Cheese contributes to bone health. According to a study published in the Journal of General Dentistry, chest and dairy products in general actually help to protect the teeth against cavities and the gradual build-up of plaque.

68 participants between the age of 12 to 15 were segmented into four groups. Each was assigned a particular type of food to eat, these were cheese, milk, yogurt and paraffin. The participants chewed the food for three minutes and then cleansed their mouths with water. The pH (measure of acidity) of their dental plaque level was then measured at 10-minute intervals after consumption.

The groups who consumed milk, paraffin and yogurt showed no pH changes in their mouths. The group with cheese, however, showed significant changes in their pH values, which rapidly increased after each interval.

Cheese effectively decreased the cavity in their mouths. Low pH levels indicate an environment which has been contaminated with acidity, putting the person at risk of tooth erosion, a gradual process which eats away at tooth enamel.

Here are the few things to keep in mind before choosing your pizza

 

Vegetable pizza is even more healthy
Pizza with vegetables and meat

What Sauce to Choose?

Any binge eating pizza session is incomplete without incredulous amounts of tomato sauce thrown into the mix. Now tomatoes are a great source of manganese, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin K. And they all have a great role to play in our teeth. Vitamin K helps to stop tooth decay by increasing the process of calcium absorption in the body. Potassium helps to improve bone density

The Type of Crust

Scientists claim that eating those chewy crusts helps release a chemical which can protect against bowel cancer. This chemical has antioxidant properties that prevents changes in the body which can lead to a tumor. The chemical reaction is a result of baking only… an essential process for making good pizza.

Meat

Most pizzas typically come packed with meat. And if you choose a pizza which mixes in different kinds of meat such as beef and chicken, that serves to increase the protein intake. Teeth rely on protein to help maintain their structure while increasing muscle development. This is extremely important if a child is using braces for correcting the posture of their teeth in accordance with the jaw.

Man Eating Pizza
Pizza is good for your teeth and digestive system

Pizza has TONS of Fiber

Pizza contains an incredibly high amount of fiber. This helps to keep the saliva flowing, which in turn helps to increase our mineral defenses against tooth decay. In addition, fiber also helps individuals who tend to be more constipated because of their troublesome bowel movements and it helps to maintain  healthy weight (there’s some compensation for all that cheese). It also lowers your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Unhealthy Pizza

Pizza can be unhealthy if you choose the wrong ingredients or if you eat too much of it. Although it’s incredibly tempting to have a binge eating session with pizza, if you combine processed meats which include salt and nitrites, it could become a factor in heart disease and cancer.

Our Thoughts

If eaten in moderation, pizza can be a boost to our oral health, but if you choose the wrong ingredient, overwhelm yourself with cheese or end up eating too much of it, the negative health effects might just outweigh the positive ones. Moderation is a key component here and our recommendation is to eat pizza from outlets which do not contain processed meat and use whole grain for their crusts. Finally, it works wonders for your teeth, especially if you choose vegetable-based toppings.

 

Diabetes: A Major Cause of Gum Diseases

Among modern diseases, diabetes is one of the most widespread. Statistics from the World Health Organization reveal that the number of diabetes patients has increased by more than three times in the last 35 years. In the US, roughly 30 million people from all types of demographics are suffering from diabetes, out of which 27 million are suffering from the type 2.

Diabetes, whether type 1 or type 2, is notorious for its various detrimental effects on many different physiological functions of the body. Oral health is also not spared from the damning impact of the blood glucose irregularity, particularly the one of type 2 diabetes.

Gum Complications Spring out of Diabetes

Many periodontal diseases can be acquired following the type 2 diabetes. It will be important to know the underlying reason as to how and why diabetes becomes a springboard for numerous gum diseases.

Connection between Diabetes and Gum Diseases

In type 2 diabetes, glucose levels in the body fluids get higher due to the failure of the pancreas to produce enough amount of insulin, a hormone integral to regulate glucose in the body. Saliva, a body fluid just like blood and sweat, also gets its glucose level increased in type 2 diabetes.

Oral cavity with continuing glucose-rich saliva is more prone to the development of plague because harmful bacteria develop exponentially in such oral environment. The growth of these harmful bacteria in people suffering from type 2 diabetes can give rise to many different types of gum diseases.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the most common side effect of diabetes on oral health. It is an unhealthy state of gum caused by inflammation. Symptoms of gingivitis are pretty evident with red, inflamed or bleeding gums.

Periodontitis

Without proper treatment and with ongoing effects of diabetes, gingivitis can easily be transformed into periodontitis. In this severe type of gum disease, things go far worse for the people affected by diabetes. Some of the common symptoms of periodontitis are:

  • Pulled away gums
  • Constant bad breath    
  • Changed chewing pattern
  • Formation of infectious pus between teeth and gum

Thrush

People with higher glucose levels in their blood are also vulnerable to acquire yeast infection in the oral cavity called thrush. Usually, it appears as red or white scraps on gums and other parts of the cavity. These scraps sometimes also turn into open sores.

Diabetic individuals often take different antibiotics to relieve the awful effects of unregulated glucose levels. Most of these prescription medicines can result in the development of fungus in the oral cavity in the form of thrush.  

Burning Mouth Syndrome

Oral cavity with an uncontrolled level of glucose can also lead to a rare problem of burning mouth syndrome. Affected individuals feel burning sensation in their gums with extreme dryness and bitterness of taste.

Diabetes and Gum Diseases Reciprocate Each Other

Diabetes and oral health respond to each other. If diabetes facilitates the development of gum problems then in return severe gum infections might contribute in raising the glucose levels in the blood. This reciprocation becomes very dangerous for the affected people.

Therefore, diabetic patients must not consider any sign of dental health deterioration inconsequential. Apart from maintaining a good routine of dental health care (regular brushing, flossing, healthy diet), it is better to have regular checkups from a dentist.

When to Consult a Dentist?

People suffering from diabetes must respond to these signs immediately to protect their dental health.

  • Even a momentarily gum inflammation in diabetic individuals can lead to periodontitis. Therefore, immediately consult your dentist in case of even minor inflammations.  
  • Dry mouth in patients suffering from diabetes is not a just mere inconvenience because it can lead to the development of many different oral infections and eventual tooth decay.
  • The appearance of any white or red spot or patch on gum, tongue or inner mouth walls also commands an immediate consultation from a dentist.

Diabetes is a chronic disease. Therefore, one must have to remain on guard all the time to ensure better dental health. Try to maintain your blood sugar in healthy range. Use antiseptic, non-alcoholic mouthwash to prevent dry mouth and to kill oral pathogens. Brush your teeth with a soft bristle toothbrush after every meal and floss once a day at least to protect your dental health from the perils of diabetes.

 

The Link Between Oral Care and Deadly Diseases

 

”Dentisy
Photo by adrenalina – yayimages.com

In an age dominated by personal appearances – thanks in part to celebrities and politicians – more Americans are now investing truckloads of money into cosmetic dentistry. A study by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) found people annually spend $3.75 billion on cosmetic dentistry to improve the aesthetic appeal of their faces, especially their smiles. Some of them just want their teeth to be a few shades whiter.

But another set of data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that 40 percent of all adults aged 65 over never paid a single visit to the dentist in a year, the primary reason for not visiting a dentist is the exorbitant costs.

This is a strange contrast in a world dominated by huge segments of society pouring in billions just for improving their looks, compared to millions of Americans who are barely able to keep their teeth healthy. While they might have health insurance, it usually does not cover dentistry because the premium is beyond what they could afford.

Oral Health America reported that 70% of senior citizens have no dental coverage. Most employers in the United States offer dental coverage as part of their employee benefits, which is highly sought after by newer recruits.

The primary reason why so much emphasis is placed on dental care is that poor oral hygiene can have repercussions to other parts of the body. The mouth serves as the entry point for food, which means oral health is of critical importance to our overall well being. Specifically, poor dental health increases the risk of debilitating diseases; such as, diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory problems, cancer and dementia to name a few.

Research has shown that dental infections directly contribute to cardiovascular disease, strokes and other related diseases. An article published in the Journal of Internal Medicine has proven that there is a link between gum disease (periodontitis) and heart disease. More than 90% of patients with heart diseases have or had periodontitis.

Bottom line: Simple habits like brushing and flossing one’s teeth are more important than most people would like to admit.

The theory linking oral hygiene with cardiovascular diseases

The exact mechanism behind the link has not been understood but the statistics don’t lie. Initial studies from as early as 1989 have shown that dental infections must be taken into account for all strokes and heart attack victims. Patients with serious gum disease had a 40% chance of contracting another chronic condition on top of it.

One proposed theory postulates that inflammation in the mouth causes inflammation of the blood vessels. Because inflamed vessels prevent the proper flow of blood to the heart and the rest of the body, it raises blood pressure. Another theory states that plaque can actually seep through the blood vessels and travel all the way to the heart or brain and cause heart attacks.

How infections generally start

Because of a general lack of oral hygiene, bacteria in the mouth builds up over time and accumulates just enough to cause inflammation which prompts the immune system to attack them. This tug of war between bacteria and the immune system causes the gums to become inflamed. The inflammation continues until the infection is removed from the body.

But this inflammation comes at a steep price to the mouth. Over time, the release of potent chemicals begins to compromise the gums and the structural integrity of the bones which are responsible for holding the teeth in their place. The result is no longer just a mild infection, but a serious gum disease, which is called periodontitis.

Diabetes is directly linked to lack of oral hygiene

Perhaps the strongest connection between oral hygiene and the rest of the body is diabetes. Inflammation of the mouth weakens the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels because of a lack of insulin. For patients who already suffer from diabetes, it further complicates their health balance. It starts a vicious cycle because high blood sugar actually fosters conditions for infections to grow in the mouth. It really is a two-way relationship.

Lack of dental insurance among senior citizens

The brunt of the dental problems is faced by senior citizens who no longer contribute as part of the active workforce and have exhausted their savings, making it a financial constraint for them to invest in dental care. With the exception of certain procedures required in a hospital, overall, Medicare does not pay for dental care, so the onus then falls on society to take proper care for those marginalized because of their age. This is significant since the elderly are more susceptible to dementia and poor dental health can lead to dementia as bacteria starts to find its way into the bloodstream and subsequently, the brain.

Regular contributions to non-profit charitable organizations which specialize in dental care should become a norm if we’re to uproot easily preventable diseases such as periodontitis.