Want to know more about fluoride….

At Newby Dental Practice, as a new dentist in Scarbrough, we appreciate how important dental education is. One question that we always get asked is “what is the benefit of fluoride, and how to I make sure my toothpaste has the right amount?”

Well, here are the facts…..

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural mineral that is found in many foods and in all drinking water. The amount of fluoride in water varies from area to area.

What are the benefits of fluoride?

Fluoride can greatly help dental health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay. It also reduces the amount of acid that the bacteria on your teeth produce.

Children who have fluoride when their teeth are developing tend to have shallower grooves in their teeth, so plaque can be more easily removed. Plaque is a thin, sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth.

Is there enough fluoride in my water supply?

Possibly. However, only a few places have enough natural fluoride to benefit dental health. In other places it is added to water. Your water supplier will be able to tell you whether your water supply has fluoride added. The amount of fluoride added to the water will vary depending on which area you live in.

Fluoride is also in some foods and drinks, for example fish and tea. One cup of tea can contain between 0.3 milligrams and 0.5 milligrams of fluoride, and if you drink it with milk your teeth will also benefit from the calcium. It is best to drink tea without sugar to reduce the risk of tooth decay even more.

What about fluoride toothpaste?

Most toothpastes now contain fluoride, and most people get their fluoride this way. Fluoride toothpaste is very effective in preventing tooth decay.

In areas where the water supply has fluoride added, fluoride toothpaste gives extra protection.

All children up to three years old should use a toothpaste with a fluoride level of at least 1000ppm (parts per million). After three years old they should use a toothpaste that contains 1350ppm to 1500ppm.

Parents should supervise their children’s brushing, and use only a pea-sized smear of fluoride toothpaste until they are about 7 years old.

The minimum fluoride concentration adults should have is 1350ppm.This is in most regular fluoride toothpastes.

Spit out after brushing and do not rinse, so that the fluoride stays on your teeth longer. You can use a mouthwash too, with fluoride in, but make sure it is at a different time to toothbrushes, for maximum benefit.

Fizzy drinks…..why they inflict a double hit on teeth!

Fizzy drinks have both sugar and acid. These cause catastrophic damage to dental enamel, the hard protective surface of your teeth.

Acid

Acid is a problem for our teeth as it weakens the enamel of our teeth, leaving them vulnerable to damage. Every time we eat or drink anything acidic, the enamel on our teeth becomes softer for a short while and it loses some of its mineral content.

Our saliva will slowly cancel out this acidity and get our mouth back to its natural balance. However, if this acid attack happens too often, our mouth does not get the chance to recover.  This could result in slowly losing our enamel.

Enamel is the hard, protective coating of our tooth, which protects the sensitive dentine underneath. When the enamel is worn away, the dentine underneath is exposed, which may lead to pain and sensitivity.

The most common types of acid in our food and drink are carbonic acids, citric acids and phosphoric acids. These are the acids that weaken our enamel, leading to dental erosion..

Fizz

‘Fizziness’ is often a tell-tale sign of an acidic drink.  The most common of these are fizzy drinks, sodas, pops and carbonated drinks. It is important to remember that even the ‘diet’ brands are still harmful. Even flavoured fizzy waters can have an effect if drunk in large amounts, as they contain weak acids which can harm our teeth.

Some alcohol is also acidic. Beer, cider, prosecco, white wine and alcopops are all example of alcoholic drinks that are highly erosive for our teeth.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation says: “The best way for us to avoid the damage caused by fizzy drinks is to simply limit our exposure to them.  Only having acidic drinks at mealtimes is a great way to reduce the amount to which our mouth is under an acid attack.

“Another tip is to swallow our drink quickly, without holding it in our mouth or ‘swishing’ it around.  Again, it’s all about reducing the amount of time our teeth are being exposed to acid.  An alternative is to use a straw.  This helps drinks go to the back of our mouth and avoids long contact with our teeth.”

“Plain, still water is the best drink for our teeth.  Milk is also good because it helps to neutralise acids in our mouth.”

Sugar

Sugar in your diet, even from drinks, causes dental decay. Decay is the leading cause for tooth loss in young people in the UK.

Dental de ay is completely preventable, but just being aware of what sugar in present in what you eat and drink.

In fizzy drinks, there is upto 11g of sugar in each portion. This is a whopping amount for your teeth to cope with. If you are having these drinks everyday, or even worse more than once a day, your teeth will exceed thier capacity for repair and cavities will from from decay

Keep fizzy drinks as a treat, and only have them at mealtimes, to reduce the impact they have. Switch to sugar free alternatives, or better still, invest in a reusable water bottle, and make water your drink choice from now on!!

Oral health educator

Why not make an appointment with our oral health educator, Beth or one of our experienced dentists, who will discuss with you how your sugar and acid intake can be changed to improve your oral health. As a new dentist in Scarbrough, we are pasionate about improving the oral health of you and your family.

We’re here to help, and to make you smile.

Dry Mouth. Is it affecting you?

We can help. Talk to us if you’re struggling with dry mouth.

What is dry mouth?

Your mouth needs saliva to be able to work properly. Saliva keeps your mouth moist, and it helps to break down your food and helps you to swallow. It also acts as a cleanser. It is constantly washing around your mouth and teeth, fighting tooth decay and helping to keep your teeth clean. Dry mouth or ‘xerostomia’ is a condition which affects the flow of saliva, causing your mouth to feel dry.

How can I tell I have dry mouth?

There are several symptoms to look out for. The most obvious one is, of course, a dry mouth. Some people feel that their saliva has become thick and sticky, making it difficult to speak or swallow. Some people also have a ‘prickly’ or burning sensation in their mouth and become sensitive to certain foods. The mouth can become sore and there is a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease. In some cases, the mouth can also become red and shiny. If you have any of these symptoms it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have dry mouth. But it may be best to talk to your dental team or doctor about it.

What can cause dry mouth?

Dry mouth can be a symptom of many different problems and can happen as you get older. Quite often it is a side effect of medication – especially heart, blood pressure and depression tablets. Your doctor, pharmacist or dental team should be able to tell you whether your medication can cause problems. Dry mouth can also be caused by medical treatments such as radiotherapy, or surgery to the head or neck.

In some cases, dry mouth can be a direct result of a medical condition (for example diabetes, lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome and blocked salivary glands).

Are women more likely to get dry mouth?

Women who are going through the menopause (often called ‘the change’ or ‘the change of life’) may suffer from dry mouth. Women who have had their menopause and are taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may also find they suffer from dry mouth. If you are taking medication and have any of the symptoms of dry mouth, talk to your doctor to see whether it could be changed.

Can I prevent dry mouth?

Unfortunately there seems to be no way of actually preventing the problem, although there are products to ease the symptoms.

What problems can it cause?

Saliva helps to cancel out the acid that attacks your teeth, and is a very important part of your dental health. Saliva helps to break down food while you are chewing, allowing you to swallow more easily. Some people find that they have problems with swallowing when their saliva flow is affected.

Saliva is also very important in fighting tooth decay. It helps to fight the bacteria that form dental plaque and cause tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque is the thin, sticky film that keeps forming on your teeth.

Having less saliva can also affect the taste of food and makes it harder to eat drier foods. Sometimes it can affect your speech and it makes people more likely to have bad breath.

What products are there to help with dry mouth?

There are a number of products designed to help your mouth stay moist and comfortable. These are usually gels or sprays. Some have extra ingredients which may help prevent tooth and gum problems. There are also special products to help with your day-to-day oral hygiene (for example toothpastes and mouth rinses).

How often should I visit my dentist if I have dry mouth?

You have a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease with dry mouth, and these can get worse more quickly than usual. So it is important to visit your dental team regularly. Your dental team will tell you how often you should visit.

What can I do to help relieve the symptoms of dry mouth?

There are different ways of relieving the symptoms of dry mouth. Some people find that sipping water, or sucking sugar-free sweets, helps in the short term. It is very important to use sugar-free products, as dry mouth can make you more likely to have tooth decay. Chewing sugar-free gum can also help as it encourages your mouth to make saliva. Your dental team might recommend products such as rinses, gels, pastes and lozenges which you can get from the pharmacist.

What toothpaste should I use?

It is important to use a fluoride toothpaste containing at least 1350 to 1500ppm (parts per million) of fluoride. A ‘total care’ toothpaste may be best as these contain antibacterial agents and other ingredients to control the build-up of plaque.

Some products contain Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), and some people with dry mouth find this can irritate the mouth and make the condition worse.

What can my dental team do to help prevent the problems caused by dry mouth?

We can’t always help with the cause of dry mouth. But by helping you keep your mouth clean and by using fluoride we can, in many cases, help to delay the start of tooth decay. We will be able to give you advice about your diet and tell you how to care for your teeth and gums properly

Why not talk to Beth, our Oral Health Educator. See how she can help you.