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When someone says fluoride, most of us automatically think children. While it is true that fluoride is an important part of our children’s oral health, it is also a necessity for adults as well. Adults, just like children, get cavities. So adults, just like children, should receive fluoride. In fact, there are many age related problems that increase our need for fluoride. Some examples include:
- Eating disorders
- Drug or Alcohol abuse
- Lack of regular professional dental care
- Poor Oral Hygiene
- Exposed root surfaces of teeth, recession
- Decreased salivary flow, resulting in dry mouth
- Poor diet
- Existing fillings
- Tooth enamel defects
- Undergoing head and neck radiation therapy
I’d like to address recession and dry mouth specifically, since those are very common problems.
Recession is when the gums have receded below the crown of the tooth, exposing the root to the tooth.
This creates two main problems. First, the roots of the teeth do not have enamel, they are covered by cementum.
As we all know, enamel is the hard material that protects the surface of the tooth. Enamel is 70 times stronger than cementum. This, unfortunately, means that the roots of the teeth are more prone to decay than the crowns of the teeth. The best recommendation for recession and the prevention of decay is fluoride. Make sure you are using a soft bristled brush with soft brushing (to prevent further recession) in combination with fluoride toothpaste. Also, you may received fluoride treatments at your dental appointments. The most beneficial would be fluoride varnish. Your hygienist is able to apply this for you at each appointment. The varnish coats the tooth in a protective layer of fluoride to aid in the prevention of decay.
The second problem that recession creates is sensitivity. When the root is exposed tiny little tubules open up on the tooth and the chances for sensitivity increase. This makes eating or drinking cold or sweet things painful. You will often notice a sharp zing when the area of recession comes in contact with cold or sweet items. The best recommendation for sensitivity due to recession is fluoride. Sensitivity toothpaste, such as Sensodyne, contain an increased amount of fluoride (as opposed to regular toothpaste) to assist in the prevention of sensitivity (and decay).
Fluoride varnish is also helpful as it coats the tooth and temporarily closes the tubules decreasing the sensitivity.
The last topic that I wanted to address is dry mouth, also known as xerostomia. Many adults take medicine and the most common side effect of many medications is dry mouth. A decrease in saliva increases your risk for decay. Saliva is important in washing away bits of food, neutralizing acids created by bacteria, as well as containing minerals that help prevent tooth decay. If you are having problems with dry mouth, try rinsing with a fluoride mouth was or a saliva substitute.
All these reasons and many more show the importance of fluoride use for adults. If you have any other questions about the other problems that fluoride can help with, feel free to make an appointment with us and we’ll answer all your questions!
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Fluoride Treatments in the Dental Office ADA: http://www.ada.org/sections/scienceAndResearch/pdfs/patient_72.pdf
Can Fluoride Help Adults? Colgate: http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-at-Any-Age/Adults/Adult-Maintenance-and-Care/article/Can-Fluoride-Help-Adults.cvsp
Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental Caries in the United States CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5014a1.htm
Katie Sias, BS RDH
Adverse Effects of Not Replacing Missing Teeth
According to the American College of Prosthodontists, more than 35 million Americans do not have any teeth, and 178 million people in the United States are missing at least one tooth. Tooth loss occurs due to a number of issues such as decay, gum disease, injury, cancer, or wear. Your teeth are designed to work together to help you chew, speak, and smile. There are several tooth replacement options your Dentist may suggest depending on your needs such as implants, bridges, or dentures. However, do you know the risks of not replacing those missing teeth?
When a tooth is extracted or missing, bone loss can occur. The jawbone is preserved through the pressure and stimulation of chewing. When a tooth is missing, the bone resorbs and results in less density and width/height of the bone. Unfortunately, if left untreated for a long amount of time, the bone can start deteriorating around the adjacent teeth as well.
When a tooth is missing, the opposing tooth that is still there can often shift and super-erupt because it does not have a tooth to occlude with. Adjacent teeth can start drifting forward in the place of the missing teeth. These can cause a change in bite that will eventually affect your chewing and lead to more serious side effects.
When your teeth shift out of alignment and your upper and lower jaws do not meet properly, it strains and damages the jaw joint. Muscle soreness may occur as you will tend to favor the other side of your mouth for chewing.
Missing teeth increase the risk of periodontal disease. When teeth shift out of alignment, it makes it harder to properly brush and floss those teeth.
Missing teeth can affect the esthetics of your face. Many people feel less confident about their smile when they have gaps from missing teeth. If you are missing many teeth, the skin around your mouth loses support and will start to droop, which can make you appear older than you are.
Speak and Eat:
Missing teeth can alter the way you speak and eat. Depending on which teeth are missing, it may become difficult to bite and chew certain foods. Often times, you will most likely being overusing the other teeth to compensate for the missing tooth or teeth. You may develop a lisp or change in your ability to clearly pronounce certain works.
Most patients are unaware of the adverse effects of not replacing their missing teeth. Now that you know some of these risks, please consult your Dentist for the best replacement option for you!
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