Posts for tag: fluoride
It’s a common conversation in a pediatric dentist’s office. “I don’t know what to do. My whole family has bad teeth.” Or, “I just don’t understand, we brush twice a day, everyday and she doesn’t drink soda. How can she have cavities?”
So, if the children that are receiving proper dental care are getting cavities, as well as the ones that aren’t brushing and flossing, we have to ask: Is there a such thing as bad teeth? Soft enamel?
Can your child’s, and your very own, dental problems be blamed on genetics, rather than poor dental hygiene? And if so, is this the ultimate excuse or are there ways to avoid these so-called, “bad teeth?”
In recent years, medical progress is being made on so many levels. Genetics are being studied on all levels to see just what role our genes play in our overall health and what we can do to overcome any genetic shortcomings. Because our dental health is so closely tied to our overall health and well-being (remember how dental disease and inflammation is linked to heart disease?), it makes complete sense that scientists are also studying the link between genetics and dental health.
So, is dental health genetic? The answer is yes. . . and no. Sometimes? It’s complicated. While scientists are finding genetic factors that affect some aspects of oral health, they are also confirming many environmental factors that play key roles in dental health- factors we can control.
Tooth decay, Bacteria and Sugar
Sugar in the food we eat feeds communities of hundreds of different types of bacteria that live on our teeth. The acid produced by these bacteria erodes the hard, outer layer of our teeth (the enamel) to cause cavities (tooth decay).
These bacteria in our mouth, the ones that cause tooth decay, aren’t present at birth. We normally acquire them shortly after birth, probably from other family members- think kisses on the mouth, pacifiers, teething items. Recent studies have been able to pinpoint which groups of bacteria are responsible for damaging our teeth. And it turns out that it’s not the genetic (inheritable) bacteria that are causing the tooth decay.
Want to take a stab at what types of bacteria can form cavities? You guessed it! The ones influenced by environmental factors like sugary foods! In fact, sugary drinks may be the very worst for your teeth! They are particularly adept at spreading sugar to every corner of your mouth, feeding the bacteria that cause decay. The good news is that the same types of bacteria in sugary foods that can form cavities, can also be brushed off your teeth!
But the story isn’t that simple.
While tooth decay is largely preventable, some people are more at risk of it than others. And genetics do play a role. Genes can affect how teeth develop and if teeth do not form properly, their enamel can actually be less resistant to bacteria. Genes can also affect whether your teeth will come in crooked or straight. Teeth that are crooked and overcrowded provide more areas for bacteria to hide and grow in, as they are more difficult to completely clean. Brushing and flossing become even more important in these situations, as a constant presence of these bacteria can cause cavities to form.
The color of your teeth is another area that is determined by both genetic and environmental factors. The way in which the white enamel (and the underlying yellow dentine) forms during development is mainly due to our genes. Those whose teeth develop naturally with thinner enamel will have teeth that appear more yellow. Environmental factors that affect the teeth can be broken up into intrinsic factors (those that affect the teeth as they are developing) and extrinsic (those affecting the tooth after it develops). Intrinsic factors could include exposure to antibiotic tetracycline in the womb or excess fluoride as a child. Extrinsic factors affecting tooth color would be drinking coffee or tea and smoking.
So, tooth color, like tooth health, can be affected by both genetics and environmental. And while we can’t control the genetic factors, we can make changes to the environmental factors.
The message is still the same. Your teeth may be inherited, but bad oral health habits do not have to be. Everyone needs to take care of their teeth. Some people may have to work a little harder than others. But we can all take simple steps to ensure proper oral health. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, brush your teeth and have regular check-ups.
Anderson Pediatric Dentistry can help you take care of your child’s smile. Give us a call today at 864-760-1440 and let us give you Something to Smile About!
We've known for a long time that fluoride strengthens tooth enamel against decay. We've also learned that fluoride consumption early in life pays later dividends with healthier teeth.
But while fluoride has generally proven safe, too much ingested by young children could cause enamel fluorosis. This condition produces a mottled or streaked appearance in teeth ranging from faint white patches to darker, pitted staining. Fluorosis doesn't harm teeth, but it does make them less attractive.
To prevent this, it may be necessary with your dentist's help to monitor your infant's or young child's fluoride intake and keep it in check. That will depend in large part on where you live, as well as your child's hygiene and eating habits.
Like three-quarters of public water systems, your local utility may be adding fluoride to your drinking water. The amount is governed by federal guidelines, which currently recommend fluoride amounts of no more than 0.70 parts per million of water. The fluoride levels in your water could have an impact on your child's total fluoride intake. You can find out for sure how much fluoride is present in your water by contacting your water utility company.
Another major fluoride source is toothpaste and other hygiene products. You can control your child's fluoride exposure by limiting the amount of toothpaste on their brush. Children under two only need a “smear,” while those between two and six need only a pea-sized amount.
Processed foods can contain fluoride if fluoridated water was used in their production. In this case, replace as much of the processed food items in your family's diet as you can with fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods.
Along this line, if you have an infant you want to pay particular attention to feeding formula, especially the powdered form you mix with water. If you're concerned about the amount of fluoride in your water consider other infant feeding options. Besides breast-feeding in lieu of formula, you can also use ready-to-feed pre-mixed with water (usually lower in fluoride) or mix powdered formula with bottled water specifically labeled “de-ionized,” “purified,”Â “demineralized,” or “distilled.”
This can be a lot to keep up with but your dentist can advise you. Fluoride is still a potent weapon against tooth decay and a safeguard on your child's current and future dental health.
If you would like more information on the relationship between fluoride and your child's dental health, 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 “Tooth Development and Infant Formula.”
Like many other families, you may use formula instead of breast milk as a safe and healthy alternative to feed your infant. But, if you use a powdered form that you mix with water your child may be taking in more fluoride than they require.
Fluoride is a natural chemical that can strengthen tooth enamel and help prevent decay. After decades of study it's also been shown to pose no serious health risks. Because of fluoride's benefits and safety, many water utilities add tiny amounts to their drinking water supply.
But it can have one side effect called enamel fluorosis. If a child ingests too much fluoride during early development it can cause discoloring mottled spots or streaking in permanent teeth. Although it doesn't affect their health, the teeth can be unattractive and require cosmetic attention.
That's why it's best to keep fluoride consumption to a healthy minimum for children. That, however, is often easier said than done, since we can encounter hidden fluoride in a variety of places. Besides hygiene products and fluoridated drinking water, you may find fluoride in prepared juices and other beverages, bottled water or in foods processed with fluoridated water. There are no labeling requirements for fluoride, so you'll have to research to find out if a product contains fluoride.
There are, however, some things you can do to control your child's fluoride intake. First, know as much as you can about known sources your child may encounter like your water supply. You can find out if your utility adds fluoride and by how much by contacting them or visiting My Water's Fluoride online at https://nccd.cdc.gov/DOH_MWF/.
If you use fluoride toothpaste apply only a “smear” on the end of the brush for children under two and a pea-sized amount for older children. If you have fluoridated drinking water, consider breastfeeding your infant, use ready-to-feed formula or mix powdered formula with bottled water labeled “de-ionized,” “purified,” “demineralized” or “distilled.”
And, do feel free to discuss your concerns with us during your child's regular checkup. We'll help you adjust their diet, water intake and hygiene habits to be sure they're receiving the right amount they need for developing strong teeth — and no more.
If you would like more information on appropriate fluoride levels for children, 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 “Tooth Development and Infant Formula.”