Oral Health

The latest information about oral health topics.

Introduction

Does mercury in the silver fillings in your mouth pose any long-term health risks? Does fluoride, in spite of everything we've been told since childhood, actually cause more harm than good? What does the latest research reveal about tobacco use on your overall oral health?

This section is dedicated to the latest information about these and other oral health topics, culled from authoritative sources such as the British Dental Association.

For the latest news from the british Dental Association please check their website: www.bda.org

Fluoride

For decades, fluoride has been held in high regard by the dental community as an important mineral that is absorbed into and strengthens tooth enamel, and thereby helping to prevent decay of tooth structures.

In nearly every U.K. community, public drinking supplies are supplemented with sodium fluoride because the practice is acknowledged as safe and effective in fighting cavities.

Some private wells may contain naturally fluoridated water.

Fluoride has come under some recent scrutiny by public health officials, some of whom question how effective it is in preventing cavities.

According to the British Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child may face a condition called enamel fluorosis if he or she gets too much fluoride during the years of tooth development. Too much fluoride can result in defects in tooth enamel.

If you're wondering how fluoridated your community's water supply is, chances are you can get the latest information by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site.

A feature called "My Water's Fluoride" allows consumers to check out basic information about their water system, including the number of people served by the system and the target fluoridation level. Optimal levels recommended by the U.K. Public Health Service and CDC for drinking water range from 0.7 parts per million (ppm) for warmer climates to 1.2 ppm for cooler climates to account for the tendency for people to drink more water in warmer climates.

The Preventative program

Both natural teeth and teeth with restorations survive best in an oral environment that is clean and where the intake of harmful foods is controlled. Our program is designed to help prevent new cavities, preserve teeth that have been restored and manage periodontal disease. At the initial visit oral hygiene instructions are reviewed and are reinforced at subsequent recall visits. The following are helpful recommendations:

1. Brush your teeth twice a day in a circular motion with a soft bristled toothbrush aimed at the gum.

2. Floss every night in an up and down motion while keeping the floss in a U-shape and against the tooth surface.

3. Avoid smoking

4. Avoid sticky sugary foods.

5. Eat a balanced diet.

6. Use antiseptic and fluoride rinses as directed.

7. Sealants placed on young permanent teeth.

Fillings

Fillings, known clinically as amalgams, are synthetic materials that are used to restore a portion of a tooth damaged by decay or traumatic injury. There are different types of materials used to fill cavities, including gold and metal alloys.

Conventional amalgams are the silver-colored material many people have had placed in their teeth following treatment of a cavity. Many amalgams are actually a combination of various metal alloys, including copper, tin, silver and mercury. Mercury, a binding agent used in amalgams, has come under scrutiny lately by some health officials who claim it may cause long-term health problems.

 

Common amalgam alternatives include:
Composite fillings -As stated, composite fillings are just what the name implies: a mixture of resins and fine particles designed to mimic the color of natural teeth. While not as strong as dental amalgam, composite fillings provide a pleasing aesthetic alternative. Sometimes composite resins need to be cemented or bonded to a tooth to allow for better adhesion.

Ionomers -Like composite resins, these materials are tooth-colored. Ionomers are made from a combination of various materials, including ground glass and acrylic resins. Ionomers are typically used for fillings near the gum line or tooth root, where biting pressure is not a factor. They are more fragile than dental amalgam, however. A small amount of fluoride is released by these compounds in order to facilitate strengthened enamel in the affected area.

Porcelain (ceramic) -These materials are usually a combination of porcelain, glass powder, and ceramic. Candidates for porcelain fillings are typically crowns, veneers, and Onlays and Inlays. Unlike ionomers, porcelain fillings are more durable, but can become fractured if exposed to prolonged biting pressures.

Infection control

With all of the increased media attention on infection outbreaks such as AIDS and multi-drug resistant strains of viruses, it's no wonder people have heightened concerns about infection control during a medical procedure.

Gloves, gowns and masks are required to be worn in all dentist offices today, a far cry from just a few decades ago, when fewer than one-third of all dentists even wore such personal protective equipment, or PPE. After each patient visit, disposable PPE-such as gloves, drapes, needles, and scalpel blades-are thrown away, hands are washed, and a new pair of gloves used for the next patient.

All hand instruments used on patients are washed, disinfected and/or sterilized with chemicals or steam after each use.

One of the most effective methods for preventing disease transmission-washing one's hands-is practiced in our office. It is routine procedure to wash hands at the beginning of the day, before and after glove use, and after touching any surfaces that may have become contaminated.

Concerns about the quality of water used in a dentist's office are unfounded, provided the dentist follows the infection control guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and the British Dental Association.

Some health "experts" in recent years have called into question the risks associated with so-called "biofilms," which are thin layers of microscopic germs that collect on virtually any surface. Essentially, these bacteria and fungi occur everywhere, including faucets in your home; your body is no less accustomed to being exposed to them than in any other situations.

In fact, no scientific evidence has linked biofilms with disease. If you have a compromised or weakened immune system, you are susceptible to germs everywhere. Consequently, let our office know if you have such a condition so additional precautions, if any, can be taken.

Latex Allergy

Naturally occurring latex has been linked in recent years to allergic reactions in people who use such products as latex gloves. The proteins in the latex, which can also become airborne, can cause problems in vulnerable people such as breathing problems and contact dermatitis. Some allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock, have been more severe.

Many health experts have rightly attributed the dramatic increase of allergic reactions to latex in the health care community to the increased use of gloves and other personal protection equipment in light of the AIDS epidemic.

Latex is a pervasive substance in many household items-from toys and balloons to rubber bands and condoms.

Latex allergies could cause the following symptoms:

Dry skin
Hives
Low blood pressure
Nausea
Respiratory problems


Tingling sensations People with high-risk factors for latex allergy include those who have undergone multiple surgical operations, have spina bifida, or are persistently exposed to latex products.


If you are vulnerable to latex or have allergies related to it, please notify our office and, by all means, seek medical attention from your family physician.

Age and Oral Health

Is tooth loss inevitable in your later years? How much should adults be concerned about cavities? Here you'll find helpful answers to some frequently asked questions about oral health questions you may have as you get older.

As many people get older, they often overlook their oral health when considering other wellness issues, according to a survey by a major national dental group.

Four years ago, the Surgeon General released a landmark report that explored the effects of tobacco on oral health. The report galvanized the medical community even more toward the issue of tobacco use and its overall impact on our health.

In his report, the nation's chief health officer found a lot of inequities in how the nation's health care system cares for minorities and the disadvantaged. The General Dental Council and the General Medical Council called upon all U.K. health organizations to more actively promote oral health.

Tobacco

What effects can smoking have on my oral health? Are cigars a safe alternative to cigarettes? Are smokeless tobacco products safe? The British Dental Health Foundation has some alarming news that you should know on its web site at www.dentalhealth.org.uk

The British Dental association states that it "has long been a leader in the battle against tobacco-related disease, working to educate the public about the dangers inherent in tobacco use and encouraging dentists to help their patients break the cycle of addiction. The BDA has continually strengthened and updated its tobacco policies as new scientific information has become available."

 

Oral Piercing

Oral piercing (usually on the tongue or around the lips) is one of the more disturbing fashion trends in recent years. Many people fail to realize that that even precautions taken during the installation of a piece of piercing jewelry are not enough to stave off harmful, long-term consequences such as cracked or chipped teeth, swelling, problems with swallowing and taste, and ugly scars. Add to this the possibility of choking on a piece of dislodged jewelry and one has to ask if the risks are warranted.

But the most serious long-term health problems from oral piercing come in the form of damage to the soft tissues such as the cheeks, gums and palate, as well as opportunistic infections. Any kind of body piercing may also put you at risk of contracting deadly infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.

A common form of body piercing involves the tongue. Tongue piercings have been known to cause blocked airways (from a swollen tongue). In some cases, a tongue piercing will cause uncontrolled bleeding.

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