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Fluoride is a chemical naturally present in water and in some foods and is essential for healthy bone growth. A few decades ago, fluoride was discovered to have anti-cariogenic (against tooth decay) properties and slowly gained popularity. While most believe that fluoride can do wonders for your teeth and help you get rid of all problems, it is not true. There is only so much that fluoride can do and there are also undesirable effects from it.
Read on to know some myths about fluoride versus the actual facts.
Myth: Drinking fluoridated water can lead to fluorosis, which produces brown, pitted teeth, which are weak and aesthetically unappealing.
Fact: People develop fluorosis only when the water contains excessive amounts of fluorine. The currently defined permissible level is about 0.7 parts per million. At this level, fluoride provides the maximum protection against caries, at the same time not leading to fluorosis. In some cases, mild fluorosis can be seen, which only produces white speckles on the tooth and not brown pits. These teeth have a higher resistance to decay than people drinking non-fluoridated water.
Myth: Fluoride is a forced medication
Fact: Fluoride is a chemical with special benefits to the bones and teeth. In cases where the water does not contain sufficient quantities of fluoride or where the person is prone for decay, adding fluoride will provide the extra level of protection against caries.
Myth: Adding fluoride to the drinking water leads to various other medical conditions (heart disease, cancer, etc.)
Fact: Various studies have shown that this is not true. In fact, fluoride has been endorsed as safe to use and does not contribute to any diseases like heart disease, cancer, autism, or kidney problems.
Myth: Fluoride is not safe for children.
Fact: Children need a good amount of fluoride in their tooth forming years. This produces teeth that are more resistant to decay and are stronger generally. If the regular supply of water does not contain sufficient fluoride, then the child can be given supplements in the form of fluoridated toothpastes and gel applications at the clinic to provide the anti-cariogenic benefit.
Myth: If there is enough water in the fluoride, then there is no worry of tooth decay.
Fact: Fluoride only makes the teeth resistant to easy decay, it does not protect from decay completely. Proper oral hygiene habits (brushing, flossing, rinsing, dental visits) are essential to ensure that there is no plaque accumulation and food deposits to prevent caries. Fluoride is not a replacement for these practices.
Like with anything else, even excessive fluoride is not good for health, therefore the recommended level is 0.7 ppm. Ensure fluoride supplements are used only after a discussion with your dentist.
Did you know that 29.1 million people living in the united states have diabetes? that's 9.3% of the population. Approximately 1.7 million new cases are diagnosed each year and 8.1 million people living with diabetes don't even know they have it.
Diabetes affects your body's ability to process sugar. All food you eat is turned to sugar and used for energy. In type I diabetes, the body doesn't make enough insulin, a hormone that carries sugar from your blood to the cells that need it for energy. In type ii diabetes, the body stops responding to insulin. Both cases result in high blood sugar levels, which can cause problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other parts of your body.
So what does this have to do with that smile of yours and how can you protect it? first, it's important to understand the signs of diabetes and the roles they play in your mouth.
The symptoms of untreated diabetes
The warning signs of diabetes affect every part of your body. After a blood test, you may be told by a doctor that you have high blood sugar. You may feel excessively thirsty or have to urinate a lot. Weight loss and fatigue are other common symptoms. Diabetes can also cause you to lose consciousness if your blood sugar falls too low.
If diabetes is left untreated, it can take a toll on your mouth as well. Here's how:
You may have less saliva, causing your mouth to feel dry. (dry mouth is also caused by certain medications.)
Because saliva protects your teeth, you're also at a higher risk of cavities.
Gums may become inflamed and bleed often (gingivitis).
You may have problems tasting food.
You may experience delayed wound healing.
You may be susceptible to infections inside of your mouth.
For children with diabetes, teeth may erupt at an age earlier than is typical.
Why people with diabetes are more prone to gum disease
All people have more tiny bacteria living in their mouth now than there are people on this planet. If they make their home in your gums, you can end up with periodontal disease. This chronic, inflammatory disease can destroy your gums, all the tissues holding your teeth and even your bones.
Periodontal disease is the most common dental disease affecting those living with diabetes, affecting nearly 22% of those diagnosed. Especially with increasing age, poor blood sugar control increases the risk for gum problems. In fact, people with diabetes are at a higher risk for gum problems because of poor blood sugar control. As with all infections, serious gum disease may cause blood sugar to rise. This makes diabetes harder to control because you are more susceptible to infections and are less able to fight the bacteria invading the gums.
How your dentist can help you fight diabetes
Regular dental visits are important. Research suggests that treating gum disease can help improve blood sugar control in patients living with diabetes, decreasing the progression of the disease. Practicing good oral hygiene and having professional deep cleanings done by your dentist can help to lower your hba1c. (this is a lab test that shows your average level of blood sugar over the previous three months. It indicates how well you are controlling your diabetes.)
Your diabetes dental health action plan
Teamwork involving self-care and professional care from your dentist will be beneficial in keeping your healthy smile as well as potentially slowing progression of diabetes. Here are five oral health-related things you can do to for optimal wellness:
Control your blood sugar levels. Use your diabetes-related medications as directed, changing to a healthier diet and even exercising more can help. Good blood sugar control will also help your body fight any bacterial or fungal infections in your mouth and help relieve dry mouth caused by diabetes.
If you wear any type of denture, clean it each day.
Make sure to brush twice a day with a soft brush and floss correctly daily.
See your dentist for regular checkup.