Entries in Cavities (4)


People Still Have a Lot to Learn About Caring for Teeth

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Americans are smart about a lot of things but taking care of their teeth isn’t one of them, according to the first oral health quiz by the American Dental Association.

Grading the responses to various questions from 1,500 adults, the ADA said the overall mark was a “D,” which might explain why 90 percent of people ages 20 to 64 have cavities in their permanent teeth.

Regarding the misconceptions people have about their teeth, the ADA says that nine out of ten adults believe that brushing after every meal is necessary while only two brushings a day are recommended.

Flossing, one of people’s least activities, is important to do once a day, the ADA, says, not a couple of times a week as half the respondents said.

As far as replacing your toothbrush, two-thirds thought that doing it twice a year sufficed while the ADA suggests three-to-four times annually.

Meanwhile, about 75 percent of adults are unsure about what age a child should visit the dentist.  The ADA says the rule of thumb is no later than six months after the appearance of the first baby tooth or no later than the first birthday.

One of the most common misconceptions is that sugar causes cavities, held by just over eight of ten of the survey’s respondents.  Actually, it’s germs that feed on sugar which produces the acid that weakens enamel to form cavities.

Speaking of cavity-causing germs, nearly 60 percent of adults aren’t aware that they can be passed from person-to-person through pre-chewing food, sharing utensils or licking a pacifier.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: BPA-Based Fillings May Change Kids' Behavior

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As if a visit to the dentist for some kids isn't traumatic enough, a new study finds that many who received fillings made from a widely-used, but controversial plastics chemical may suffer minimal yet long-term emotional problems.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, followed more than 500 children and found that children who got composite fillings made with the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, tended to experience behavioral differences over a five-year period.  The more BPA-based fillings a child had, the more likely he or she was to show these changes.

Children with other types of fillings, however, did not experience any differences.

Researchers are not sure if it's the BPA or something in the resin causing the problems and say further investigation is warranted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Florida County Pulls Fluoride from Water

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CLEARWATER, Fla.) -- Florida’s Pinellas County commissioners have voted to stop adding fluoride to drinking water -- a public health effort proved to reduce cavities in kids and tooth decay in adults.

The 4-3 vote reneges the fluoridation policy adopted by the County in 2004, which is still touted as a “safe and effective” way to “inhibit, reduce, or even reverse the onset and development of tooth decay” on the County’s website.

Minute amounts of fluoride -- about one part per million -- have been added to American drinking water since 1945.

“We’ve been doing this for over 65 years now, and over time the percentage of the U.S population that gets fluoridated water has climbed steadily,” said Dr. William Bailey, chief dental officer of the U.S. Public Health Service and acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Oral Health.  “It’s the CDC’s recommendation that all communities should enjoy the benefits of water fluoridation.”

Water fluoridation has been shown to reduce a person’s risk of tooth decay by an additional 25 percent over fluoridated toothpaste, Bailey said.  And a lifetime supply costs less than a single filling.

“Community water fluoridation has been recognized by the CDC as one of the top 10 public health interventions of the 20th Century,” said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser.  “It has dramatically reduced dental caries across the population.  No longer do most Americans worry about losing their teeth as they get older.”

In 2008, 72.4 percent of the U.S. population -- or 195,545,109 people -- had access to fluoridated water, according to the CDC.  Like cereal fortified with folic acid, milk fortified with vitamin D and salt containing iodine, tap water containing fluoride offers a safe and healthful supplement that folks don’t even have to think about.

“It is a public health benefit that reaches every citizen from children to old age,” said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  “The risk is essentially nil in a well-managed program.”

But skeptics question the safety of fluoride, linking it to diseases like Alzheimer’s and arthritis, and even a low IQ.

“Fluoride is a toxic substance,” Tea Party activist Tony Caso told the St. Petersburg Times.  “This is all part of an agenda that’s being pushed forth by the so-called globalists in our government and the world government to keep the people stupid so they don’t realize what’s going on.”

The fluoridation debate is not new.  Scientific panels continue to review the research, and have found no evidence for any adverse health effects of fluoridation. Schaffner said he hopes Pinellas County and other communities that have decided to discontinue fluoridation will reconsider based on the scientific evidence.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FDA Panel Reviews Safety of Mercury Amalgam Dental Fillings

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A federal advisory panel is trying to decide whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relied on adequate science when it determined last year that mercury amalgam can safely be used to fill cavities in healthy people.  At the time, the FDA didn't find evidence that dental mercury hurts developing fetuses, young children and those more sensitive to its potential health effects.

The FDA's scientific review of evidence about dental amalgam fillings, commonly called "silver fillings" because of their silver-gray color, found them safe for adults and children at least six years old.  Dental amalgam is an approximately 50-50 mixture of liquid mercury and powdered metal alloy of silver, tin and copper.  When mixed, it forms a pliable putty-like substance that hardens into place.

The mercury in amalgam fillings, called elemental mercury, releases small amounts of mercury vapor -- a substance that at high levels can be toxic to the brain and kidneys.  Vapor levels are highest right after fillings have been placed in a tooth, and later if they're being removed or replaced.  People trying to stop the use of mercury in dentistry say mercury vapor levels are boosted by chewing, eating, brushing teeth and drinking hot liquids.

"Even in adults and children ages 6 and above who have 15 or more amalgam surfaces, mercury exposure due to dental amalgam fillings has been found to be far below the lowest levels associated with harm," according to an FDA document titled About Dental Amalgam Fillings.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio