Archive for the ‘Oral Health Tips’ Category

Water Fluoridation Myths and Facts

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

MYTH: “Fluoride doesn’t belong in drinking water.”

FACT: Fluoride occurs naturally in water, though rarely at the optimal level to protect teeth.

  • It’s already there. Fluoride exists naturally in virtually all water supplies and even in various brands of bottled water. If the people making this statement truly believed it, they would no longer drink water or grape juice – or eat shellfish, meat, cheese or other foods that contain trace levels of fluoride.
  • What’s at issue is the amount of fluoride in water. There are proven benefits for public health that come from having the optimal level of fluoride in the water – just enough to protect our teeth. In 2011, federal health officials offered a new recommended optimal level for water fluoridation: 0.7 parts per million. That’s our goal: getting just enough to help all of us keep our teeth longer.

MYTH: “Adding fluoride is like forcing people to take medication”

FACT: Numerous scientific studies and reviews have recognized fluoride as an important nutrient for strong healthy teeth.

  • Fluoride is not a medication. It is a mineral, and when present at the right level, fluoride in drinking water has two beneficial effects: preventing tooth decay and contributing to healthy bones.
  • There are several examples of how everyday products are fortified to enhance the health of Americans – iodine is added to salt, folic acid is added to breads and cereals, and Vitamin D is added to milk.

MYTH: “Our city council can save money by ending fluoridation of our water system.”

FACT: Fluoridation is one of the most cost-effective health strategies ever devised.

  • A community that stops fluoridating or never starts this process will find that local residents end up spending more money on decay-related dental problems. Evidence shows that for most cities, every $1 invested in fluoridation saves $38 in unnecessary treatment costs.

MYTH: “Fluoridation is a ‘freedom of choice’ issue. People should choose when or if they have fluoride in their water.”

FACT: Fluoridation is a public health measure where a modest community-wide investment benefits everyone.

  • Fluoride exists naturally in virtually all water supplies, so it isn’t a question of choosing to get fluoride. The only question is whether people receive the optimal level that’s documented to prevent tooth decay.

MYTH: “We already can get fluoride in toothpaste, so we don’t need it in our drinking water.”

FACT: Fluoridated water is the best way to protect everyone’s teeth from decay.

  • The benefits from water fluoridation build on those from fluoride in toothpaste. Studies conducted in communities that fluoridated water in the years after fluoride toothpastes were common have shown a lower rate of tooth decay than communities without fluoridated water.
  • The CDC reviewed this question in January 2011. After looking at all the ways we might get fluoride – including fluoride toothpaste – the CDC recommended that communities fluoridate water at 0.7 parts per million. Any less than that puts the health of our teeth at risk.
  • Fluoride toothpaste alone is insufficient, which is why pediatricians and dentists often prescribe fluoride tablets to children living in non-fluoridated areas.

MYTH: “Fluoridation causes fluorosis, and fluorosis can make teeth brown and pitted.”

FACT: Very high fluoride concentrations can lead to a condition called fluorosis. Nearly all fluorosis in the U.S. is mild. This condition does not cause pain, and does not affect the health

  •  Nearly all cases of fluorosis are mild – faint, white specks on teeth – that are usually so subtle that only a dentist will notice this condition. Mild fluorosis does not cause pain, and it does not affect the health or function of the teeth.
  • The pictures of dark pitted teeth that anti-fluoride opponents circulate show severe cases of fluorosis, a condition that is almost unheard of in the U.S. Many of these photos are from India, and the reason is natural fluoride levels over there that are dramatically higher than the level used in the U.S. to fluoridate public water systems.
  • In 2011, the CDC proposed a new level for fluoridation – 0.7 parts per million – that is expected to reduce the likelihood of fluorosis while continuing to protect teeth from decay.

MYTH: “Fluoridation causes cancer and other serious health problems.”

FACT: Leading health and medical organizations agree: fluoridated water is both safe and effective.

  • The American Academy of Family Physicians, the Institute of Medicine and many other respected authorities endorse water fluoridation as safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that “panels of experts from different health and scientific fields have provided strong evidence that water fluoridation is safe and effective.”
  • More than 3,200 studies or reports had been published on the subject of fluoridation. Even after all of this research, the best that anti-fluoride groups can do is to claim that fluoride could cause or may cause one harm or another. They can’t go beyond speculating because the evidence simply doesn’t back up their fears.

MYTH: “Fluoridation doesn’t reduce tooth decay.”

FACT: Anti-fluoride groups cite many “studies” that were poorly designed, gathered unreliable data, and  were not peer-reviewed by independent scientists.

  • An analysis of two similarly sized, adjacent communities in Arkansas showed that residents without access to fluoridated water had twice as many cavities as those with access to fluoridated water.
  • In New York, Medicaid recipients in less fluoridated counties required 33% more treatments for tooth decay than those in counties where fluoridated water was prevalent.
  • The benefits of fluoridation are long-lasting. A recent study found young children who consumed fluoridated water were still benefiting from this as adults in their 40s or 50s.


  • National Research Council. “Earth Materials and Health: Research Priorities for Earth Science and Public Health.” National Academies Press. 2007.
  • Readey v. St. Louis County Water Co., supranote 25 at 628, 631 for the court’s statement that it could not assume that the addition of 0.5 parts per million of fluoride to water that already contained 0.5 parts per million would result in infringement of any constitutional rights; Roemer, Ruth. “Water Fluoridation PH Responsibility and the Democratic Process.” American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 55 (9), 1965. (2) Chapman v. City of Shreveport, supra note 25 at 146.
  • ADA Fluoridation Facts, 2005.
  • American Dental Association Website.
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Water Fluoridation: Nature’s Way to Prevent Tooth Decay,” 2006,
  • Pew Center on the States.
  • Nadereh Pourat and Gina Nicholson, “Unaffordable Dental Care Is Linked to Frequent School Absences,” Health Policy Research Brief. (UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, Los Angeles, California) November 2009.
  • American Dental Association, “Statement on FDA Toothpaste Warning Labels,” (July 19, 1997),
  • Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioners Frequently Asked Questions. NNDHA Spring 2008, p. 8.
  • M. Neidell, K. Herzog and S. Glied, “The Association Between CommunityWater Fluoridation and Adult Tooth Loss,” American Journal of Public Health, (2010).
  • M. Willis, C. Esqueda, and R. Schact, “Social Perceptions of Individuals Missing Upper Front Teeth,” Perceptual and Motor Skills, 106 (2008): 423-435.
  • Thomas M. Leiendecker, Gary C. Martin et al., “2008 DOD Recruit Oral Health Survey: A Report on Clinical Findings and Treatment Need,” Tri-Service Center for Oral Health Studies, (2008) 1 (accessed August 19, 2010).
  • B. Dye, et al., “Trends in Oral Health Status: United States, 1988-1994 and 1999-2004,” Vital Health and Statistics Series 11, 248 (2007), Table 5, (accessed December 4, 2009).
  • National Cancer Institute Website. Water Fluoridation Fact Sheet. Accessed July 28, 2010.
  • Dr. Bill Bailey, CDC Podcast 7/17/2008.
  • National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia) (2007). “A systematic review of the efficacy and safety of fluoridation” (PDF).
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ” Water Fluoridation” Homepage.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Public Health Service report on fluoride benefits and risks.” Journal of the American Medical Association 1991; 266(8).
  • Mouden, L. “Fluoride: The Natural State of Water.” Arkansas Dentistry; Summer 2005; 77(2): 15-16.
  • Kumar, J. “Geographic Variation in Medicaid Claims for Dental Procedures in New York State: Role of Fluoridation Under Contemporary Conditions”. Public Health Reports. Vol. 125, 2010.
  • Texas Department of Oral Health Website.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). Review of fluoride benefits and risks: report of the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Fluoride of the Committee to Coordinate Environmental Health and Related Programs. Washington: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service; 1991.
  • “Ten Great Public Health Achievements – United States, 1900-1999,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1999,
  • Guidelines on the use of fluoride in children: An EAPD policy document. European Archives of Pediatric Dentistry, 10 (3), 2009.
  • The British Fluoridation Society, The UK Public Health Association, The British Dental Association, The Faculty of Public Health of the Royal College of Physicians. “One in a million-the facts about water fluoridation.” Manchester, England, 2004.
  • National median fee for a two-surface amalgam (silver) filling among general dentists. (Procedure code D2150, amalgam, two surfaces, primary or permanent.) See American Dental Association, “2007 Survey of Dental Fees”; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Oral Health, “Cost Savings of Community Water Fluoridation” (August 9, 2007),
  • CDC Fluoridation Website.
  • Report of the Fort Collins Fluoride Technical Study Group, (April 2003).


USA Weekend, 2012 Resolutions: “Get Your Teeth Cleaned”

Monday, February 20th, 2012

From “The 8 best ways to make your resolutions a reality in 2012″, USA Weekend, December 29, 2011:

Get your teeth cleaned.

If preventing heart disease isn’t on your list of resolutions, add it now:  It’s the No. 1 cause of death in the USA. And if you are scared of dentists, it’s time to get over it.  New research presented at the American Hearth Association’s Scientific Sessions in November found that people who had their teeth cleaned by a dentist or hygienist had a 24% lower risk of heart attack and 13% lower risk of stroke.  One possible reason: Professional cleanings appear to reduce inflammation-causing bacterial growth that can lead to heart disease or stroke.  More tips to protect your heart: Stop smoking, eat healthy, move more, reduce stress and limit alcohol.

Many Prescription Drugs Can Damage Your Teeth

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Many drugs, both prescription and illegal, can cause tooth damage. Estimates suggest that about 40 per cent of people take at least one type of medicine that could cause tooth damage.

Healthy teeth and gums depend on good oral hygiene, a low sugar diet, healthy saliva and regular visits to the dentist. Tell your dentist about any drugs you are taking, including illegal drugs. Prevention is certainly better than cure, since dental restoration treatments can be expensive and time consuming.

Your child’s developing teeth

A child’s permanent teeth start to form in the jawbones soon after birth. These developing teeth are vulnerable to certain substances including…

Read the whole story.

Delta County Colorado Kids Can Now Get Dental Care at Their Doctor’s Office

Monday, January 10th, 2011

You may not be aware of this, but children should take their first trip to the dentist before their first birthday or within six months of getting their first tooth. In fact, most parents wait until their children are nearly three years old for their first trip to the dentist. To help remedy this situation, the Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation came up with an innovative plan to team up dental hygienists with pediatricians for one-stop health care. The program has made a huge difference.

From the Delta County Independent:

Armed with this information, the Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation developed the innovative Delta Dental Hygienist Co-Location Program, which places dental hygienists in pediatric practices, providing Delta families with education and preventive oral health care for their children at the doctor’s office during well-child and sick visits.

“Since medical providers often see children from birth, it gives us the perfect opportunity to start addressing oral health care with parents,” said Mary Vigil, RDH, Delta Dental Co-Location Program hygienist at The Pediatric Associates. “Many don’t realize how important it is to establish good oral health habits from the time their child is an infant.”

In fact, tooth decay is the number one chronic disease of early childhood — it is five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. But, the good news is that it’s nearly 100 percent preventable.

Read the whole story here.

Teeth-Healthy Foods

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

We think about eating well for our heart, our skin, and even our eyes, but what about our teeth? Here’s a guide to some of the most essential foods for maintaining healthy teeth (and a healthy body)! Bon appetit!

Calcium is one of the most important nutrients for healthy teeth. You can find it in milk, fortified soy and rice drinks and salmon.

Since cavities can largely be prevented by fluoride, it can be helpful to search out fluoridated water and teas in addition to the fluoride found in most toothpastes and mouthwashes.

Healthy formation of tooth enamel requires phosphorus (supplied through meat, fish and eggs) and magnesium (in whole grains, spinach and banana).

Vitamin A is also essential for healthy teeth; beta-carotene is what the body needs in order to make an adequate amount of Vitamin A. Beta-carotene can be found in orange-colored fruits and dark leafy greens.

Fresh fruits are a fantastic way to maintain healthy teeth. Although fruit can be sweet or acidic (or both), stimulation of saliva production from eating fruit helps wash away the acidity as well as any lingering food particles in the mouth. Apples are a particularly good choice since they stimulate saliva flow as well as the gums thus reducing the amount of particles left over in the mouth which can lead to decay.

One good indication that your diet may be lacking in Vitamin C is bleeding gums. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables every day, including harder, fibrous ones (like celery or carrots) can help keep gums healthy.

Vanessa Hurley

Top 5 Ways to Save Your Teeth this Halloween

Monday, October 25th, 2010

According to Dr. Gib Snow, a Los Angeles orthodontist, “The week after Halloween is one of the busiest times of the year for orthodontists. Emergency visits spike as we see children, teens and even adults who have suffered dental injury or damaged metal braces as a result of eating candy and other treats.”

Even if you don’t have braces, caution against overindulging in Halloween treats can go a long way toward preserving your oral health. Below, a few tips to consider once the bewitching hour is upon us…

1. Treats that are hard, crunchy or chewy can spell disaster for teeth. Try to limit indulging on these types of candy.

2. Soft candy, such as chocolate kisses or peanut butter cups, melt in your mouth and aren’t as damaging to teeth. Still, you should…

3. Remember to brush and floss after eating anything sugary.

4. After drinking soda or a holiday cocktail, don’t make a habit of chewing in the ice, as it can cause damage to tooth enamel.

5. If you wear braces, be especially good with dental hygiene, as candy trapped behind braces can lead to tooth decay and staining.

Vanessa Hurley

A History of the Toothbrush

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Thomas P. Connelly D.D.S. has written a fascinating article on the history of the toothbrush on the Huffington Post website. From the Egyptians’ creation of “tooth powder” in 5000 B.C. to the first U.S. patent for the toothbrush in 1857, Dr. Connelly discusses it all. Check out his post for more quirky facts about the  “invention that Americans said they couldn’t live without” here.

Vanessa Hurley

The Top 5 Ways to Prevent Cavities

Monday, September 27th, 2010

To paraphrase a well-known aphorism, the price of eating ice cream is eternal vigilance. If, like me, you have a sweet tooth, then one thing you need to consider is how to keep that sweet, sweet rocky road from leading to bitter, bitter tooth decay.

When it comes to cavities, the name of the game is prevention. And the best way to fight cavities is to make sure you never get them in the first place. To that end, the American Dental Association offers these guidelines for preventing cavities in children, teenagers, and adults.

From the website of the American Dental Association:

Preventing Decay:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner.
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.
  • Ask your dentist about dental sealants, a protective plastic coating that can be applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay often starts.

Visit the ADA tooth decay page to learn more.

Dennis Pacheco and Vanessa Hurley

There’s an App for That?

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Although the iPhone has only been around for 3 short years, not a day seems to go by without hearing the phrase “there’s an app for that” at least once. iPhone applications range from useful to intriguing to just plain kooky (iVoodoo, anyone?). Health apps in particular are becoming increasingly popular, with health-related apps for the iPhone alone reaching almost 6,000 according to a report by mobihealth news (1).

Since we’re always thinking about oral health, we decided to investigate whether apps related to the health of one’s teeth exist too. We’re happy to report that they do! Whether you’re looking for adult or children oriented oral health apps, Apple’s got you covered. The best part: Most are free!

Below is a list of some iPhone oral health apps we found particularly interesting. We hope you do as well.

Brush: (free) A toothbrush timer app that lets you know when to alternate brushing to a different section of the mouth.
Brush It Up ($0.99) – A game which increases in difficulty over time to teach kids how to effectively brush teeth.
CavityFree 3D (free):  Teaches patients how to correctly brush and floss teeth by using 3D demonstrations. This is a particularly helpful app for those with braces
Checkdent (free):  Features up-to-date videopods about dental health and treatments. Topics of interest include bleaching, implants, braces and periodontitis.
Checkdent Pro ($1.99) Similar to Checkdent, but features live operation videos.

Reference: Mobi Health News

Vanessa Hurley