Tag: Oral health

Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Extracted?

Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Extracted?

stacey_long

By Stacey Long
West Paces Ferry Orthodontics Clinical Manager

What are Wisdom Teeth?

Between the ages of 16 and 23, a young adult’s wisdom teeth begin to erupt behind their back molars. Some people only have one or two wisdom teeth emerge while others have all four wisdom teeth erupt. Wisdom teeth are extracted for a variety of reasons, such as impaction, infection, and overcrowding of teeth. In some cases, they do not need to be extracted but are removed by people who do not want to worry about future problems with their wisdom teeth.

Why Wisdom Teeth Should Be Extracted

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In addition to impaction (a condition in which wisdom teeth cannot erupt because they are lying sideways in the gums), good reasons for having wisdom teeth removed include:

 

  • Damage to other teeth by pushing teeth into other teeth’s roots
  • Painful bite problems due to an uneven bite
  • Development of sinus issues, sinus pressure, and chronic congestion
  • Swelling and inflammation of gum tissue around wisdom teeth (swollen gums encourage cavities by forming pockets around teeth that attract bacteria)

If your wisdom teeth are causing pain or are negatively affecting your oral and general health, you should consider having them extracted.

Not All Wisdom Teeth Need To be Extracted

Why would a large percentage of people decide to have their wisdom teeth extracted? One reason involves the perception that all wisdom teeth need to be extracted eventually anyway. Some dentists encourage extraction of wisdom teeth by telling patients they would not have to deal with possible future problems with their wisdom teeth if they just had them removed.

Extraction of wisdom teeth is not without the risk of complications, however. If you have more than two wisdom teeth extracted, you will most likely be sedated during the procedure. General anesthesia makes some people sick to their stomach when they wake up. Also, you could suffer bleeding issues, post-extraction infections and a painful condition called “dry socket.” This happens when blood clots fail to form correctly in a wisdom tooth’s empty socket.

Should You Have Your Wisdom Teeth Extracted?

Man with a toothache. Pain in the human bodyAlthough wisdom teeth are all-too-routinely removed, deciding whether extraction of wisdom teeth is necessary should involve a trip to your dentist for a complete examination of your wisdom teeth and an informed discussion with your dentist. You should also be aware that certain wisdom teeth myths may influence your decision in the wrong way. Some of the myths include:

  • It is easier on you physically if you have wisdom teeth removed as a young adult. Wrong & Right. You can experience the same complications as a teenager or young adult as you could as an older adult.  That said, the bone around wisdom teeth gets denser as we age making the process more uncomfortable as we get older
  • Leaving wisdom teeth in will force your front teeth to shift and become crooked. Wrong. As experts in orthodontics, we know that wisdom teeth do not crowd teeth, and should not affect the position of your other teeth at all.  They can damage other teeth, but only those teeth they are directly in contact with while growing in
  • Wisdom teeth increase the risk of oral disease. Wrong. Just because wisdom teeth are in the back of your mouth does not mean you cannot reach them with your toothbrush. If the wisdom tooth has partially broken through the gums but still remains partially covered this can be a cause for concern.  Making sure you see your dentist every six months for a professional cleaning will also reduce your risk of cavities and gingivitis.

Have you had your wisdom teeth extracted? Have you chosen to keep your wisdom teeth? We are interested in hearing your stories about the pros, cons, and in-betweens of wisdom tooth extraction.  Share in the comments!

Can Straightening Your Teeth Improve Your Posture?

Can Straightening Your Teeth Improve Your Posture?

 

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Kenny Hackett, Communications Director – West Paces Ferry Orthodontics

By: Kenny Hackett, Communications Director

 

There are many obvious benefits of straight teeth.  Better chewing, a more esthetic smile, and better oral hygiene are well-known benefits of properly aligned teeth.   A new study from both the University Barcelona in Spain and the University of Innsbruck in Austria show that our posture and balance are also affected by the relationship of our upper and lower jaws while biting.  The alignment of our jaws when we bite is called our occlusion.  When there is a misalignment of the occlusion, it is known as a malocclusion.

Sonia Julia, a researcher from the University of Barcelona, states ” Postural control is the result of a complex system that includes different sensory and motor elements arising from visual, somatosensory — denoting a sensation such as pressure, pain, or warmth — and vestibular information — regarding motion, equilibrium, and spatial orientation.  Malocclusion has also been associated with different motor and physiological alterations, especially when people were fatigued.  But postural control was shown to improve — both in static and dynamic equilibrium — when different malocclusions are corrected by positioning the jaw in a neutral position.”

She continued “This relationship can play a crucial role in athletes in how well they ultimately perform as well as in the prevention of injuries such as sprains, strains, and fractures caused by unexpected instability as fatigue increases and motor control capacity decreases.”

Picture courtesy of CBC News.
Picture courtesy of CBC News.

“Therefore, it would be helpful for both the general population and athletes to consider correcting dental occlusions to improve postural control and thus prevent possible falls and instability due to a lack of motor system response,” she concluded.

Orthodontists specialize in the occlusion and correcting malocclusions.  If you feel like your bite may be misaligned you should schedule a complimentary consultation with experts such as Dr. Paul Yurfest and Dr. Kristin Huber of West Paces Ferry Orthodontics.

The iTero Element Laser Scanner

The iTero Element Laser Scanner

New technology at West Paces Ferry Orthodontics

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By: Kenny Hackett

The iTero Element is the newest piece of technology at West Paces Ferry Orthodontics.  It is a digital laser scanner used to provide Invisalign with an accurate model of the mouth.  The machine uses laser light to read the surface of the teeth and then recreates a virtual model of these teeth.

Orthodontic Technician Michele scanning a patient for Invisalign with the iTero Element.
Orthodontic Technician Michele scanning a patient for Invisalign with the iTero Element.

“As of March 2016, iTero scans have been used in more than 2.7 million iTero orthodontic scans, including more than 1 million Invisalign® scans.”According to the iTero website.  The scanner is more accurate than the older model and the scans also take half the time.

For a patient, this means getting in and out faster and having a lower chance of needing a second scan.  West Paces Ferry Orthodontics was so impressed with how much the machines improved the patient experience that we bought two of them!  Visit Westpacesferrryortho.com to request an appointment today and experience the latest technology available to orthodontic patients!

 

Why I love to volunteer

Why I love to volunteer

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By: Paul Yurfest, DDS
I have been in Orthodontic practice over the last 41 years and have had a lot of time to help people while doing what I like to do.

I provide free orthodontics to families who have no means to pay for the service. It’s a lot of fun! I have been doing
ing that since 1975 at the Ben Massell Free Dental Clinic in downtown Atlanta. As part of the JFC&S and United Way organizations, the clinic helps many varied members of the Atlanta community. Helping people is rewarding!

Photo Courtesy of The Ben Masell Dental Clinic.
Photo Courtesy of The Ben Masell Dental Clinic.

Getting into an activity other than Orthodontics has great appeal to me as well. I love gardening, and I love helping people! When I decided to become a Georgia Master Gardener, I did not know I would be combining both gardening and volunteering together!

The Georgia Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Georgia has an office in many of Georgia’s counties. This office is where homeowners or businesses can contact an agent to have questions related to gardening answered.

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Photo courtesy of The Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program.

As a Master Gardener, I volunteer there to answer the questions of many homeowners related to their lawns and gardens. Also, I help teach gardening at Farm Chastain, a small farm in the center of the North Fulton Course at Chastain Park!

The doctors and staff of West Paces Ferry Orthodontics are involved in many types of volunteer activities-  all to help make Atlanta a better place!

If you are thinking of volunteering or are currently volunteering,  share your thoughts in the comments!

Make Your Teeth Whitening Gel Work Better!

Make Your Teeth Whitening Gel Work Better!

Make any brand of whitening gel work better with this easy method

kennyblogprofileBy:  Kenny Hackett

Whitening our teeth has become the norm in America.   According to NBC News, “Teeth whitening is the No. 1 requested cosmetic service today and its popularity continues to soar“.  The popularity of this service has lead to the dental product industry developing stronger and safer gels over time.   Even though these materials are improving, there is still a simple trick you can use to make any bleach more effective.

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Picture courtesy of Beyonddiseas.com

For this easy to do trick, you need baking soda, a q-tip, and just a little bit of effort.  Take the baking soda and add just enough water to create a paste.  Then use your q-tip to buff the front of your teeth.  You have to use a q-tip because a brush’s bristles are too flexible.  What you have done is buffed off the bio-film that lives on the surface of your teeth.  This film comes back in approximately 30 minutes, so it is very important to place your tray with the gel on immediately.

 

Have you been given any helpful tips by the staff of West Paces Ferry Orthodontics? If so, share them in the comments below.

BEING BILINGUAL AT WORK

BEING BILINGUAL AT WORK

 

JAmieblogprofilepic.jpgBy:  Jamie Perez

There are many benefits to being a bi-lingual speaker. It especially helps when you are at your workplace.  The United States of America consist of people from many countries. Spanish is the second most common language after English.  Sometimes we come across situations in which a person only speaks Spanish. What do you do? Having someone in the office that speaks Spanish is great. Our patient can communicate in their native language.  This natural communication ensures no details will be missed with the mindset of “I just did not understand!”  West Paces Ferry Orthodontics’s Spanish-speaking patients will be more comfortable.  It is also nice to have a variety in our office. Working with people of different cultures and diversities is wonderful. How do you feel when you go into an office and see a range of staff from different countries and parts of the U.S?  If you are a Spanish speaker, how do you feel when you know that there is someone in an office that speaks Spanish? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Don’t Believe Everything You Read

Don’t Believe Everything You Read

Flossing Is Important!

 

By: Kristin Huber DMDhubertitle

If the media reported there is no proof you needed to wash your hands would you believe it?  Would you never pick up a bar of soap again?  Of course not!  Recently an article was published that flossing doesn’t have any benefit. As a dental professional, this is mind-blowing. There is no doubt that the mechanical removal of plaque is essential to healthy gums. Plaque is bacteria that builds up on the teeth daily. If not removed, it will cause inflammation and infection of the surrounding tissues. Brushing alone cannot remove all the plaque. Plaque builds up in between the teeth as well, and only dental floss can remove it.

If you have any doubt of the effectiveness of flossing, take a day or two off.  When you floss again,  inspect some bacteria that has built up that you can remove with floss. Better yet, smell it!  Do you want to leave all that bacteria behind in your mouth?

10 Things Parents Should Know About Invisalign Teen

10 Things Parents Should Know About Invisalign Teen

As the nation’s leading Invisalign provider, West Paces Ferry Orthodontics understands making the best choice for your teen’s dental health can be daunting with all the choices at your disposal.  Invisalign Teen is a great option for straightening your teen’s teeth and correcting an unhealthy bite.  West Paces Ferry Orthodontics, in Buckhead Georgia, qualifies 99% of teens as  Invisalign Teen patients… even if they have been told they don’t qualify at other orthodontic practices.  There are many misconceptions about Invisalign Teen so we are sharing 10 facts every parent should know, before deciding whether braces or Invisalign Teen is the best choice for their teen!

 

1. WHAT IS INVISALIGN TEEN?

 

Invisalign Teen is the virtually invisible way to straighten your teen’s teeth without the restrictions that come with metal braces. invisaligntray Rather than wires and brackets, Invisalign® uses a series of clear, removable aligners that have been custom-made for your teen’s teeth. Your teen simply wears them over their teeth and changes them out for a new set of aligners every  week. Your teen’s teeth gradually shift into place, achieving that confident smile.

 

2. IS INVISALIGN AS EFFECTIVE AS TRADITIONAL BRACES?

Yes. When worn according to the recommendations of Dr. Yurfest and Dr. Huber, Invisalign Teen is as effective as traditional braces. Invisalign can effectively treat mild to severe cases, including underbite, overbite, overcrowding and gaps between teeth. Your teen will be a great candidate for Invisalign, as 99% of Teens qualify at West Paces Ferry Orthodontics.  West Paces Ferry Orthodontics offers complimentary consultations, and is conveniently located in Buckhead Georgia.

 

3. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PRACTICAL ADVANTAGES OF INVISALIGN TEEN OVER TRADITIONAL BRACES?

 

If you’ve had braces yourself, you already know the issues associated with metal wires and brackets – aggravated lips, food restrictions, and difficulty brushing.  With Invisalign, the aligners are removable, so your teen can play sports without the worry of being hit in the mouth by a ball, which can cause real damage in braces. softballsmall_HRThey can also continue playing musical instruments properly, without braces getting in the way. With braces, there is a long list of foods your teen shouldn’t eat, from popcorn to apples and raw carrots. With Invisalign, there are no such restrictions. The removable aligners make it easy to brush and floss normally to maintain proper oral hygiene.

 

4. ARE THERE ANY EMOTIONAL CONCERNS TO CONSIDER?

Research shows that moms underestimate the extent to which teens feel self-conscious about crooked teeth, and using braces as a solution can often make this lack of confidence even worse. But with Invisalign Teen, no one needs to know your teen is straightening their teeth, removing a potential source of real anxiety for them and giving them the confidence to be themselves in front of everyone.

 

5. WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR INVISALIGN TEEN?

As the nation’s leading Invisalign provider West Paces Ferry Orthodontics is able to qualify 99% of teens for Invisalign Teen treatment.  Invisalign can be used for teens who have erupting teeth — this includes most teenagers. Dr. Yurfest and Dr. Huber will evaluate your teen’s specific dental issues to plan the best treatment for your teen. To see a comparison of experience, log on to Invisalign – Find A Doctor .  West Paces Ferry Orthodontics is the Top provider based on experience.  Your teen will thank you for making that extra effort!

 

6. HOW LONG DOES INVISALIGN TEEN TREATMENT TAKE?

The average treatment time is about the same as with traditional braces, but the actual length of your teen’s treatment depends on the severity of their condition and can only be determined by Dr. Yurfest or Dr. HuberWest Paces Ferry Orthodontics offers multiple Accelerated Orthodontic treatments that work in conjunction with Invisalign Teen that can cut most treatment times in half!

 

7. HOW MUCH DOES INVISALIGN COST?

Invisalign Teen costs about the same as traditional braces. Check your dental insurance plan—orthodontic treatment with Invisalign Teen is covered by many dental insurance policies. West Paces Ferry Orthodontics offers flexible and affordable monthly payment plans as well as complimentary consultations.

 

8. DOES MY TEEN HAVE TO WEAR INVISALIGN ALL THE TIME?

Invisalign Teen is most effective when worn 20 to 22 hours per day. West Paces Ferry Orthodontic’s data show that teens wear their aligners on average for just under 21 hours per day, exactly as recommended and better than adults.  Plus, Invisalign Teen has a built-in assurance check; each aligner has blue indicators that fade over time when used as directed, so Dr. Yurfest & Dr. Huber can track compliance.2girls-phone_HR.jpg

9. WHAT HAPPENS IF AN ALIGNER GETS LOST?

Not to worry—Invisalign Teen offers six replacement aligners for free! In the event that an aligner is lost, you should inform a West Paces Ferry Orthodontics representative right away.

 

10. HOW MUCH TIME WILL BE SPENT VISITING THE ORTHODONTIST?

Invisalign Teen often requires less time with your orthodontist than traditional braces do. There are no adjustments to make, no broken wires to fix. After the initial appointment, follow-up appointments are usually scheduled periodically.

Request An Appointment For  a Complimentary Consultation!

Appointment Request

Parents, Learn More About Invisalign Teen.

Learn More About Invisalign and invisalign Teen

Invisalign Teen vs. Braces Treatment Comparison Chart

Invisalign Teen Compare Chart

 

 

 

How to Properly Brush Your Teeth

How to Properly Brush Your Teeth

Good oral hygiene is not just for a whiter smile and fresher breath, it’s important for your overall health.[1]  Brushing your teeth removes plaque—a thin film of bacteria that sticks to your teeth and will cause cavities, gum disease, and if you ignore it long enough, will cause your teeth to fall out! Bad breath affects how people want to be near us.[2] You know why to brush, but if you would like to learn how to brush your teeth effectively, these suggestions will help.

Use A Good Toothbrush

Choose a toothbrush with soft nylon bristles. This will effectively remove plaque and debris from your teeth, without irritating the gums or eroding tooth enamel like hard bristled brushes can do when used with sideways action. The toothbrush should also fit comfortably in your hand, and have a head small enough to easily reach all of your teeth, especially the ones at the back. If you have difficulty fitting the toothbrush into your mouth, it is probably too big.[3]

  • Electric toothbrushes are a great choice. However, you can do a good job with a manual toothbrush — it’s all in the technique.
  • You should definitely avoid toothbrushes with “natural” bristles made from animal hair as these can harbor bacteria and are hard.

 

Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly

The bristles will wear out over time, losing their flexibility and effectiveness. You should purchase a new toothbrush every year, or as soon as the bristles start to splay out and lose their shape. Visual inspection of the toothbrush is more important than the actual timeline.

  • Researchers have established that thousands of microbes grow on toothbrush bristles and handles if stored improperly.[4]
  • Always rinse your brush after using it, and store it upright and uncovered so that it can dry before your next use. Otherwise bacteria will grow.[5]

 

Use A Fluoride Toothpaste

It not only helps remove plaque, it also helps strengthen tooth enamel.[6] However, it’s important to note that fluoride toothpaste is not to be swallowed. It should not be used for children under the age of 3.[7]

You can get toothpastes to target a wide variety of dental and gum problems, including cavities, tartar, sensitive teeth and gums, gingivitis and stained teeth. Choose the one that suits your best or ask your dentist or hygienist for advice.[8]

 

Use A Small Amount Of Toothpaste

Squeeze only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste onto your toothbrush. Applying too much toothpaste can cause to much foam to form, tempting you to spit and finish too early. Plus, it increases the risk of you ingesting more fluoride-filled toothpaste. [9]

TOOTHPASTEAMOUNT

  • If brushing is painful, try brushing more gently with accurate up/down motion only or switch to a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth.
  • Set your bristles at the gum line at a 45-degree angle. Gently brush with a short, vertical or circular motion. Bite your teeth together as you brush and brush the gum line. Don’t brush across your teeth.[10]
  • Spend three minutes brushing. Brushing just a few teeth at a time, work your way around your mouth in a cycle (start outside lower left round to outside lower right then outside upper right to upper left, change to inside uppers before inside upper right ,inside lower right, finally inside lower left). Be sure that you get every tooth, spending about 10 seconds in each spot. If it helps, you can divide your mouth into quadrants: top left, top right, bottom left, and bottom right.
  • If you get bored, try brushing your teeth while watching television or hum a song to yourself while you brush. Brushing your teeth for the duration of an entire song will ensure that you brush thoroughly!

 

Brush Your Molars

Position the toothbrush so that the bristles are resting on top of your bottom molars. Work the toothbrush in an in-and-out motion, and move from the back of your mouth to the front. Repeat on the other side of your mouth. When the bottom teeth are clean, flip the toothbrush over and work on the top molars. To access outside top molars always swing the lower jaw to the side you are working on. This will increase the space available to move your brush up and down by several times so that no sideways motion occurs .

 

Brush The Inner Surfaces Of Your Teeth

Tip the toothbrush so that the head of the toothbrush is pointing towards your gum line, and brush each tooth. Dentists report that the most commonly skipped area is the inside of the lower front teeth, so be sure not to forget those or other areas hard to reach![11]

 

Gently Brush Your Tongue

After you’ve cleaned your teeth, use the bristles of your toothbrush to gently clean your tongue. (Don’t press too hard, or you’ll damage the tissue.) This helps keep bad breath away and gets rid of bacteria on your tongue.

 

Rinse Out Your Mouth

If you choose to rinse after brushing, take a sip of water. Swish it around your mouth, and spit it out.

  • Note that there is some debate on whether or not this is recommended. While some feel that it reduces the efficacy of the topical fluoride treatment, others wish to ensure that no fluoride is ingested. There are also those who just don’t like having toothpaste in their mouths! If you’re at a high risk of getting cavities, it may be beneficial not to rinse, or rinse with just a small amount of water—effectively creating a fluoride mouthwash.[12]
  • Other studies have shown that rinsing after brushing has no significant impact on the effectiveness of brushing with a fluoride toothpaste.[13]

 

Rinse Your Toothbrush

Hold your toothbrush under running water for a few seconds to remove any bacteria from the brush. If you don’t rinse the toothbrush properly, you can actually introduce old bacteria into your mouth the next time you use it. Rinsing also removes any leftover toothpaste. Place your toothbrush somewhere where it will easily dry out.

Finish with a fluoride-based mouthwash (Optional). Take a small sip of mouthwash, swish it in your mouth for about 30 seconds, and spit it out. Be careful not to swallow any.

 

Remember to brush at least twice a day. Most dentists recommend that you brush at least twice a day — once in the morning and once before bed (this is the most important time to brush). If you can fit in a third time somewhere in the middle, even better!   Remember to brush at a 45° angle as this helps remove plaque and food/drink particles on your teeth better than if you did it normally. You should also try to avoid snacking on sticky candy between meals as much as possible, as this results in more food debris and bacteria building up in the mouth.

 

 

 

References

  1. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/news/20100527/brushing-teeth-may-keep-heart-disease-away
  2. http://www.knowyourteeth.com/infobites/abc/article/?abc=b&iid=291&aid=1134
  3. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-teeth-10/brushing-teeth-mistakes
  4. http://www.adha.org/oralhealth/brushing.htm
  5. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dental/DE00003
  6. http://www.ada.org/1322.aspx
  7. http://www.fluoridealert.org/issues/dental-products/toothpastes/
  8. http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Oral-Hygiene/Brushing-and-Flossing/article/How-to-Brush.cvsp
  9. http://blog.juliegillisdds.com/?p=47
  10. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-teeth-10/brushing-teeth-mistakes?page=2
  11. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-teeth-10/brushing-teeth-mistakes?page=2
  12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8281561
  13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12399689
  14. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/brushing-your-teeth/AN02098
  15. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-teeth-10/brushing-teeth-mistakes?page=1

 

 

 

IS FLUORIDE DANGEROUS?

IS FLUORIDE DANGEROUS?

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural mineral found throughout the earth’s crust and widely distributed in nature. Some foods and water supplies contain fluoride.

Fluoride is often added to drinking water and provided through  toothpaste.  Fluoride  varnishes are also  applied by dental professionals to reduce tooth decay.  In the 1930s, researchers found that people who grew up drinking naturally fluoridated water had up to two-thirds fewer cavities than people living in areas without fluoridated water. Studies since then have repeatedly shown that when fluoride is added to a community’s water supply, tooth decay decreases.

How Does Fluoride Work?

Fluoride helps prevent cavities in two different ways:

  • Fluoride concentrates in the growing bones and developing teeth of children, helping to harden the enamel on baby and adult teeth before they emerge.
  • Fluoride helps to harden the enamel on adult teeth that have already emerged.

Fluoride works during the demineralization and remineralization processes that naturally occur in your mouth.

  • After you eat, your saliva contains acids that cause demineralization -a dissolving of the calcium and phosphorous under the tooth’s surface.
  • At other times when your saliva is less acidic it does just the opposite- replenishing the calcium and phosphorous that keep your teeth hard. This process is called remineralization. When fluoride is present during remineralization, the minerals deposited are harder than they would otherwise be, helping to strengthen your teeth and prevent dissolution during the next demineralization phase.

Invisalign patients can also use their Invisalign Aligners with over the counter Fluoride rises to increase the effectiveness of the fluoride rinse by pouring it into the trays!

Fluoride is not only safe, but it is effective and necessary — that’s the conclusion of every major health organization in America. Critics of fluoridation disagree with that conclusion. Let’s examine these claims and look at the evidence.

Claim #1: “Fluoride causes cancer.”

  • In 2011, a U.S. study found no link between fluoride and bone cancer. The design of this study was approved by the National Cancer Institute1. The study is considered very reliable because—unlike previous studies—it examined actual fluoride levels in bone.
  • In October 2011, after lengthy review, a committee of California’s Office of Environment Health Hazard Assessment voted unanimously that the evidence did not support classifying fluoride as a cancer-causing substance.

Claim #2: “Fluoridation is harmful because it causes a condition called fluorosis.”

The Facts:

  • Dental fluorosis is a change in the appearance of the tooth’s enamel surface. Nearly all fluorosis in the U.S. is mild, leaving faint white marking on teeth. It does not cause pain, and it does not affect the health or function of the teeth. It’s so subtle that only a dental professional can correctly identify it.
  • Dental fluorosis occurs among some people in all communities, even those that do not fluoridate their local water systems. For example, fluorosis occurs in countries like Norway, which does not fluoridate its public water systems because it occurs naturally.
  • Fluorosis results from increased consumption of fluoride, over an extended period of time, while the teeth are developing under the gums. One source is toothpaste, which contains a much higher concentration of fluoride than optimally fluoridated water2. This is why parents of children under the age of 6 are advised to supervise their kids’ tooth-brushing and apply the age-a small smear of toothpaste to the toothbrush.
  • A study published in 2010 found that mild fluorosis was not an adverse health condition and that it might even have “favorable” effects on overall health. That’s why the study’s authors said there was no reason why parents should be advised not to use fluoridated water in infant formula.

Claim #3: “Fluoride must pose a danger because there’s a warning label on toothpaste.”

Anti-fluoride groups claim that the existence of this label, required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), demonstrates that fluoride poses a danger. But here are the facts:

The Facts:

  • In 1996, the ADA reviewed studies and concluded that “a child could not absorb enough fluoride from toothpaste to cause a serious problem” and added that fluoride toothpaste3 has an “excellent safety record.” The American Dental Association (ADA) believes the warning label on toothpaste exaggerates the potential for negative health effects from swallowing toothpaste.
  • Every day, millions of Americans use fluoride toothpaste without any negative effect. The warning label simply reflects the fact that:
    • The concentration of fluoride in toothpaste is much higher than that of fluoridated water.
    • Parents are advised to supervise children’s tooth brushing to prevent swallowing because consumption of more concentrated forms of fluoride when children are young and their teeth are forming can lead to fluorosis.

Claim #4: “Europe doesn’t engage in fluoridation, so why should we?”

For a variety of reasons, European countries employ a number of different means to provide fluoride to their citizens:

The Facts:

  • Salt fluoridation is widely used in Europe, and milk fluoridation is used in several countries. In fact, more than 70 million Europeans consume fluoridated salt or milk. Fluoridated salt reaches most of the population in Germany and Switzerland. These two countries have among the lowest rates of tooth decay in all of Europe.
  • Fluoridated water is provided to 12 million Europeans, mostly reaching residents of Great Britain, Ireland, Spain and other countries.
  • Italy has not tried to create a national system of water fluoridation, for two reasons. First, the drinking of bottled water is well established in Italian culture. Second, a number of areas in Italy have water supplies with natural fluoride levels that already reach the optimal level to prevent decay.
  • Technical challenges are a major reason why fluoridated water isn’t common in Europe. In France and Switzerland, water fluoridation is logistically difficult because there are tens of thousands of separate sources for drinking water. This is why these countries use salt fluoridation, fluoride-rinse programs and other ways to get fluoride to their people.

Claim #5: “Fluoride is a by-product of the phosphate fertilizer industry.”

Opponents use this misleading message to associate fluoride with fertilizer and industrial waste.

The Facts:

  • Fluoride is extracted from phosphate rock, and so is phosphoric acid—an ingredient in Coke and Pepsi. Neither one of them comes from fertilizer.
  • Fluoride is extracted from the same phosphate rock that is also used to create fertilizers that will enrich soil.
  • The quality and safety of fluoride additives are ensured by Standard 60, a program commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Standard 60 is a set of standards created and monitored by an independent committee of health experts. This committee provides regular reports to the EPA. More than 80 percent of fluoride additives are produced by U.S. companies, but no matter where they come from, Standard 60 uses on-site inspections and even surprise “spot checks” to confirm the additives meet quality and safety standards.

Claim #6: “The National Research Council said that fluoride can have harmful effects.”

Opponents point to the NRC’s 2006 report on fluoride as a reason to question water fluoridation, but that misrepresents the purpose of this report.

The Facts:

  • The NRC raised the possibility of health concerns in U.S. communities where the natural fluoride levels in well water or aquifers are unusually high. These natural fluoride levels are dramatically higher than the level used to fluoridate public water systems
  • The NRC states that its report was not an evaluation of water fluoridation. “…it is important to note that the safety and effectiveness of the practice of water fluoridation was outside the scope of this report and is not evaluated.”
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wrote that the NRC’s findings “are consistent with CDC’s assessment that water is safe and healthy at the levels” used for water fluoridation.

Claim #7: “There are highly fluoridated states that have higher decay rates than states where fluoridation is less common.”

It is erroneous to compare fluoridation and tooth decay rates from state to state as proof that fluoridation does not reduce tooth decay.

The Facts:

  • Water fluoridation is one important way to prevent tooth decay, but even where it is present, many other factors contribute to rates of decay. For example, research confirms that low-income people are more at risk for decay than upper income Americans. This makes sense because income status shapes how often a person visits a dentist, their diet and nutrition, and other confounding factors.
  • Comparing different states based solely on fluoridation rates ignores these key income differences. For example, West Virginia and Connecticut reach roughly the same percentage of their residents with fluoridated water—91 percent and 90 percent, respectively. Yet the percentage of West Virginians living below the poverty line is nearly double the percentage of those living in Connecticut.
  • A more reliable comparison would examine decay-related problems of people in the same state and income group. A 2010 New York study did precisely this—comparing Medicaid enrollees in counties where fluoridation was prevalent to enrollees in counties where most communities were not fluoridated. The study found that residents of counties where fluoridated water was rare needed 33 percent more fillings, root canals and extractions than those in counties where fluoridated water was common.

Claim #8: “A Harvard study shows that fluoride and lower IQ scores.”

Claims have been made about fluoride and IQ scores. They are not based on sound science but on flawed studies conducted outside the U.S.

The Facts:

  • The “Harvard study” was a review of previous studies on IQ scores for children living in areas of China, Mongolia and Iran where the water supplies have very high levels of natural fluoride. In many cases, these areas had significantly higher levels than those used to fluoridate public water systems in the U.S. — more than 10 times as much as the optimal level used in the U.S.
  • The Harvard researchers who reviewed these studies were quoted as saying, “While the studies the Harvard team reviewed did indicate that very high levels of fluoride could be linked to lower IQs among schoolchildren, the data is not particularly applicable here because it came from foreign sources where fluoride levels are multiple times higher than they are in American tap water.
  • The studies that were reviewed were observational in nature, were conducted over several decades, and did not account for confounding factors, Neither these studies nor the Harvard analysis can conclude a cause for the change in IQ scores that was observed.
  • Between the 1940s and the 1990s, the average IQ scores of Americans improved 15 points. This gain — about 3 IQ points per decade — came during the very period when fluoridation steadily grew to serve millions and millions of additional Americans.
  • British researchers who evaluated similar fluoride-IQ studies found “basic errors” and wrote that different data were combined in a way “that does not give a valid or meaningful result.
  • For additional information, visit Fluoride and IQs4.

Claim #9: “The government has never conducted a randomized, control study of fluoridation.”

The Facts:

  • Numerous clinical studies have proven that fluoridated water protects teeth. Since 2010, studies from Nevada, New York, and Alaska have added to the overwhelming evidence that fluoridated water protects teeth from decay. In 2014, separate studies from New Zealand and Great Britain have added to this body of knowledge.
  • A randomized study for fluoridation would require a community to be divided into two groups, where some homes would receive fluoridated water and the others would not. It is logistically unfeasible, if not impossible, to pipe fluoridated water into some homes and not others. That is why we rely on the body of evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of fluoride, such as those above, and on the randomized clinical trials of toothpaste, tablets and varnish.

Claim #10: “Fluoride can harm plants and animals that live in the wild.”

The Facts:

  • The fluoride level in a fluoridated water system is not high enough to harm plant or animal species. And research shows that even high levels of fluoride do not have a toxic effect on plants in ponds.
  • The average fluoride level in ocean water is 1.4 milligrams per liter, which is significantly higher than the level used to fluoridate public water systems. No reputable source has identified any negative effects on salmon or other fish that live in the ocean.
  • An environmental analyst who reviewed a 1989 study about the spawning habits of salmon criticized its authors for failing to “cite any research at all to substantiate their speculation.” This study failed to rule out the presence of other factors, such as the water turbidity and water velocity near dams.

Claim #11: “Fluoridating water is ‘medicating’ people without their approval.”

The Facts:

  • Fluoride is a nutrient, not a medicine. Medicine is used to cure or control a medical problem that has already been diagnosed, such as hay fever or high blood pressure. Fluoridated water is not a cure; it’s a proven way to prevent a medical problem: tooth decay.
  • Fortifying drinking water with fluoride is a lot like fortifying milk with Vitamin D. These additives prevent poor health. America has a history of fortifying foods or beverages to strengthen health—for example, adding iodine to table salt, fortifying milk with Vitamin D, and adding folic acid to breads and cereals.

Sources:

1: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/myths/fluoridated-water-fact-sheet

2: http://ilikemyteeth.org/fluoridation/

3: http://ilikemyteeth.org/fluoridation/fluoride-toothpaste/

4: http://ilikemyteeth.org/fluoridation/dangers-of-fluoride/fluoride-iqs/