Hints & Tips
Children At High Risk For Tooth Decay
Tooth decay affects children in the United States more than any other chronic infectious disease. It is estimated that over 50% of children will have some tooth decay by the age of 5 and that oral infection is the number one chronic disease in kids. Untreated tooth decay causes pain and infections that may lead to eating, speaking, playingand learning problems. Dentists have seen up to dozen cavities at a time in 2-year- olds. It is becoming more evident that the main culprit of the rising problem is sugar. The American Journal of Public Health found that tooth decay and cavities were "significantly associated with greater sugar-sweetened beverage consumption." In addition, the elevated sugar intake can also lead to obesity and diabetes in children.
Some Austailian medical research participants have suggested that soft drinks should come with a warning label. Some places have taken action to curb soft drink consumption, such as New York City's recent ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 oz., but not official steps have been taken in any country to put a label on soft dinks warning of tooth decay.
There is also a misconception that some organic fruit snacks and fruit puree snacks are the best option because of the claim that some are 100% organic without added sugar, even though the amount of sugar may negate any positive effects.
The good news is that tooth decay and other oral diseases in children are preventable. Encourage your children to eat regular nutritious meals, choose fluoridated tap water over bottled water, use fluoride toothpaste and curb the consumption of sugary snacks and beverages.
How Drinking Water Could Save Your Teeth
You may have heard that fluoride plays an important role in healthy tooth development and cavity prevention. But has your dentist asked about the fluoride in your water supply?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral derived from fluorine, the thirteenth most common element in the Earth's crust. Fluoride is especially important for our teeth because it keeps tooth enamel strong, preventing and even reversing the early stages of tooth decay. Minerals are lost from a tooth's enamel layer when acids - formed from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth - dissolve the enamel, leading to tooth decay, cavities, and oral infections.
Almost all water contains some naturally occurring fluoride, which is great news because water fluoridation is estimated to reduce tooth decay up to 40%. Many communities choose to adjust the fluoride concentration in the water supply to a level beneficial to promote good oral health and reduce tooth decay. This practice is known as Community Water Fluoridation. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water. This optimal level recommendation is voluntary therefore finding higher fluoride amounts is common and safe up to a certain level. The CDC recommends that in communities where natural fluoride levels are greater than 2 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water, parents should give kids water from other sources. It is estimated that almost 60% of the U.S. population receives fluoridated water through the taps in their homes. Even though fluoridated bottled water is becoming more available, most bottled waters lack fluoride and therefore lack the benefits to your teeth.
For over 60 years, water fluoridation has proved to be a safe and cost-effective way to promote healthier teeth. In general, everyone over the age of 6 months benefits from fluoride. This includes fewer cavities, less need for tooth extractions and less pain associates with tooth decay. If you are unsure of your community's water fluoridation involvement or levels of fluroide in your home, contact your local water utility company and ask your dentist for more information.
Rinsing with water has actually been shown to balance the mouth's pH after ingesting acidic food and beverages. "We tell patients that, once you're done drinking, the best thing to do is to just rinse your mouth out with water," says Dr. Cole. "It's better than brushing within that first 30 minutes." An antibacterial mouthwash can help prevent the plaque from producing more acids, so keeping a little bottle in your office drawer isn't a bad idea, either.