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Rethink your Drink!

Sugary drinks, when not consumed in moderation, can often lead to tooth decay and erosion. But what constitutes a “sugary drink”? The obvious answer that comes to mind is soda- Coke, Sprite, Ginger Ale, you name it. But interestingly enough, drinks that we consider more healthy than soda- such as fruit juices, coffee, and energy drinks- can also cause long lasting damage on your teeth.

While these drinks may be considered “more healthy” than soda, an overwhelming amount of research shows that these drinks, due to their sugary and acidic nature, can lead to tooth decay. A couple of common drinks that we would not expect to be harmful include coffee, tea, citric fruit juices, and energy drinks. These kinds of drinks expose the teeth to tooth decaying acids, which can cause dental erosions that leads to cavities and a multitude of other dental health problems.

The problem lies within the drinks sugary and acidic nature. Whenever we consume something sugary, bacteria in our mouth produce acids from the sugar, causing tooth decay and erosion. Furthermore, we consume something that is acidic in nature, the enamel surrounding our teeth is temporarily softened. The enamel is the hard outer layer of our teeth that serves to protect against tooth decay, and is essentially our teeth’s first line of defense. Thus, when we consume drinks that are acidic, the acid can dissolve the enamel and heighten the risk of tooth decay. Unfortunately, a regular loss of enamel caused by overconsumption of sugary and acidic drinks can lead to cavities and expose the inner layers of our teeth- something that is sensitive and painful. The following list of drinks are still considered “more healthy” than soda, and we do not want to encourage you to stop consuming these drinks all together. But keep in mind, everything is great in moderation!

  • Citric Juices
    • Fruits like oranges, grapes, and lemons, are heavy with acids that wear down tooth enamel. While their vitamins and antioxidants are great for the body, always remember to wash the juice down with water, such that the acidic substances can be cleaned from the teeth!
  • Tea
    • Similarly to citric juices, tea contains a large amount of healthy antioxidants. Still, we need to keep in mind that tea can cause staining and erosion of the enamel when not consumed in moderation.
  • Energy Drinks
    • Energy drinks contain a large amount of sugar, which alongside with bacteria produces acids that can erode the enamel of your teeth.

 

Lastly, there are certain steps that can be taken to protect against tooth decay and erosion. Stick to natural sugars, make regular visits to the dentists, enjoy healthy foods such as milk, cheese, and veggies, and consume smartly with food and drinks- you never know what could be hurting your teeth!

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Fluoridation Works Two Ways

How does fluoridated water actually work to protect teeth from tooth decay? It’s a question that some people may ask, so here’s the answer.

As this video explains http://www.ilikemyteeth.org/learn-share/how-fluoride-works/, fluoridated water works two ways. First, for young children during the tooth-forming years, the fluoride that is swallowed helps to strengthen the enamel of the developing teeth, making it more resistant to decay. Second, for people of all ages, trace levels of
fluoride (from tap water or beverages made with it) get mixed with the saliva that exists in the mouth and covers the teeth. Saliva neutralizes the acid made by bacteria causing the decay process, and as the acid is neutralized, the fluoride is absorbed by the tooth enamel to make it stronger.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fluoridated water works “mainly by providing teeth with frequent contact with low levels of fluoride throughout each day and throughout life.” A 2013 study published by the British Dental Journal reached this conclusion: “Fluoridation of the drinking water is still the optimal method of fluoride delivery.”

So spread the word to your friends, family and neighbors. Drinking fluoridated water remains a smart way to avoid tooth decay. Life is better with teeth!

Fluoride and Alzheimer’s Disease

Several people have asked whether aluminum, especially in combination with fluoride, is a causative factor in Alzheimer’s disease. This belief that aluminum could be a factor first appeared in the literature in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Numerous studies have been completed and reviewed over the ensuing decades and there is no proven link between aluminum in the body and Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Association, a longstanding and well respected non-profit association, is considered the leading advocate for research and advancement in the treatment of this devastating disease. This authority states on its website that “studies have failed to confirm any role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s. Experts today focus on other areas of research, and few believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat.” Interested readers can go to ALZ.ORG, type in Alzheimer’s and aluminum, and read for themselves. Aluminum does not cause Alzheimer’s and fluoride ions do not facilitate aluminum toxicity in the body. This is also the position of the Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation, another well respected organization devoted entirely to finding answers for this disease.

The fluoride study that is cited as supportive of the claim that aluminum combines with fluoride in the blood, facilitates the transport of aluminum into the central nervous system, and leads to Alzheimer’s was done in 1998. As previously stated, there is no proven relationship between aluminum and Alzheimer’s, so fluoride cannot be a causing factor.

This 1998 study by Varner et al was reviewed by the scientific community and major problems with the design of research were found. These included the unexplained death of 3 of the 9 rats used in the study, improper accounting of the amount of fluoride consumed, and improper use of control groups. References can be found at ADA.ORG – Fluoride Facts.

Erroneous claims of health problems from water fluoridation are often cited by fluoride opponents and include being a causative factor in AIDS, ADHD, allergic reactions, cancer, enzyme effects, lower IQ, kidney problems, mal-positioned teeth, and more. In reality water fluoridation makes life better with teeth.

Local Education About Fluoride and Fluoridation

We are hearing from many people on our Facebook page. While there have been a number of comments that are rude and from people from as far away as Australia who are associated with various anti-fluoride campaigns, most are from locals who raise excellent points for discussion and ask good questions, and do so in a civil manner that promotes good exchange of information. We will continue to work hard over the coming months to provide scientifically accurate information and answers to questions from people in  and around Bennington.

There was a recent article in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics that has been brought to my attention. (Clark, MB et al; Fluoride Use in Caries Prevention in the Primary Care Setting; Pediatrics 2014;134:626-633.) The American Academy of Pediatrics is dedicated to the Health of All Children. The article was presented in the Clinical Reports section which provides guidance to clinicians rendering pediatric care.

The following is excerpted from the article and provides an up-to-date overview of the tragedy of dental disease as well as a clear explanation of how dental caries form and how fluoride works on the teeth. The full article is available on-line at link: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/134/3/626.full.html.

“Dental caries (ie, tooth decay) is an infectious disease in which acid produced by bacteria dissolves tooth enamel. If not halted, this process will continue through the tooth and into the pulp, resulting in pain and tooth loss. This activity can further progress to local infections (ie, dental alveolar abscess or facial cellulitis), systemic infection, and, in rare cases, death. Dental caries in the United States is responsible for many of the 51 million school hours lost per year as a result of dental-related illness, which translates into lost work hours for the parent or adult caregiver.1 Early childhood caries is the single greatest risk factor for caries in the permanent dentition. Good oral health is a necessary part of overall health, and recent studies have demonstrated the adverse effects of poor oral health on multiple other chronic conditions, including diabetes control.2 Therefore, the failure to prevent caries has health, educational, and financial consequences at both the individual and societal level.

Dental caries is the most common chronic disease of childhood,1 with 59% of 12- to 19-year-olds having at least 1 documented cavity.3 Caries is the “silent epidemic” that disproportionately affects poor, young, and minority populations.1 The prevalence of dental caries in very young children increased during the period between the last 2 national surveys, despite improvements for older children.4 Because many children do not receive dental care at young ages, and risk factors for dental caries are influenced by parenting practices, pediatricians have a unique opportunity to participate in the primary prevention of dental caries. Studies show that simple home and primary care setting prevention measures would save health care dollars.5

Development of dental caries requires 4 components: teeth, bacteria, carbohydrate exposure, and time. Once teeth emerge, they may become colonized with cariogenic bacteria. The bacteria metabolize carbohydrates and create acid as a byproduct. The acid dissolves the mineral content of enamel (demineralization) and, over time with repeated acid attacks, the enamel surface collapses and results in a cavity in the tooth. Protective factors that help to remineralize enamel include exposing the teeth to fluoride, limiting the frequency of carbohydrate consumption, choosing less cariogenic foods, practicing good oral hygiene, receiving regular dental care, and delaying bacterial colonization. If carious lesions are identified early, the process can be halted or reversed by modifying the patient’s individual risk and protective factors. Certain American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) publications (Oral Health Risk Assessment Timing and Establishment of the Dental Home6 and Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents7) discuss these concepts in greater depth and provide targeted preventive anticipatory guidance. The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey demonstrated that 89% of infants and 1-year-olds have office-based physician visits annually, compared with only 1.5% who have dental visits.8 For primary prevention to be effective, it is imperative that pediatricians be knowledgeable about the process of dental caries, prevention of the disease, and available interventions, including fluoride.

Fluoride is available from many sources and is divided into 3 major categories: tap water (and foods and beverages processed with fluoridated water), home administered, and professionally applied. There has been substantial public and professional debate about fluoride, and myriad information is available, often with confusing or conflicting messages. The widespread decline in dental caries in many developed countries, including the United States, has been largely attributable to the use of fluoride. Fluoride has 3 main mechanisms of action: (1) it promotes enamel remineralization; (2) it reduces enamel demineralization; and (3) it inhibits bacterial metabolism and acid production.9The mechanisms of fluoride are both topical and systemic, but the topical effect is the most important, especially over the life span.10

Welcome!

For years, Bennington has struggled with poor oral health outcomes. Elementary school students’ lives have been dampened with cavities; adults have struggled to pay extraction bills; and the professional oral health community has been hard-pressed to keep the community in health.

It’s time for a change. We are eager to boost Bennington’s dental health with community water fluoridation — and in the next few months, we look forward to working with the sweeping majority of Bennington residents to affirm that step.

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Bennington Oral Health Coalition representatives lay the groundwork at the Bennington Free Clinic

In keeping with that commitment to locally-led change, our web presence is committed to accuracy, transparency, and community. So if public health in Bennington is a concern for you, stay in touch. You can read our updates here, follow our work on Facebook — and most importantly, you can reach out to us at info@benningtonoralhealth.com to bring your commitment to this campaign.