April Dental Health TipsTuesday, April 23, 2013 by: Dr. Biasucci
Our April Dental Health Tips will touch on the importance of fluoride and also why your daily habit may actually make you more prone to tooth decay. Read on below for some Spring tips to keep your oral cavity healthy!
The Importance of Fluoride
Fluoride is very important in maintaining your oral health. It has certainly been debated over and over in regard to adding it to our water supply, however applying it topically is both safe and effective for keeping your teeth strong and healthy.
First, fluoride is a natural antibacterial agent which can help reduce harmful bacteria in the mouth and thus possibly reducing chances of developing gingivitis (inflammation of the gums due to harmful bacteria).
Second, fluoride is a remineralizing agent for the tooth. When a person ingests food, bacteria in the mouth also ingest food particles and produce byproducts that cause a reduction in pH in the oral cavity. This reduction of pH to a more acidic level can start the process of breakdown of the teeth (cavities). When fluoride is introduced via brushing or rinsing it helps to helps to buffer the mouth and help to rebuild areas of the teeth that have superficially been broken down or demineralized. If you imagine a brick wall with mortar between the bricks, each time you eat the mortar is washed away and if it isn't replaced by fluoride then a cavity can proceed through the tooth and to the inner portions causing sensitivity at first, then pain. As you can see in this brick wall image below, many holes exist between the bricks, if you were think of this as a tooth the holes represent soft and decayed areas that are open to the soft dentin and nerve below. In the beginning stages this mortar (tooth structure) can be replaced with fluoride but as it gets deeper and deeper fluoride is unable to remineralize it completely and the cavity needs to be fixed, usually by having the decay removed and replaced with a filling.
Your Daily Cup of Java
Your daily cup of java may be harming your teeth. Many of us love to start our day with a cup of coffee, hey in this busy world we all need a little caffeine sometimes right? Coffee in itself is not cavity causing, it comes down to what is added to the coffee and the frequency it is consumed. If you add milk, cream or sugar to your coffee listen up! We all know that sugar can put you at higher risk for cavities but so does milk and cream as they are simple carbohydrates that are easily broken down by bacteria in the mouth lowering pH. If you are drinking a coffee with sugar, milk or cream multiple times a day you are constantly lowering the pH and raising your risk of tooth decay. That mortar between the bricks (like the above brick wall photo) will be washed away pretty consistently. If you must have your coffee with sugar, milk or cream, try to drink it in a short time, not sip on it for an hour as this will accelerate the breakdown of your teeth. One way to help to neutralize the effects is to drink some water right after having your coffee - that will help to wash away most of the remaining sugar and carbohydrate as well as helping to counteract the dehydrating effect of the caffiene.
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