Category Archives: Eating Disorders

Fluoride Treatments – Are They Really Necessary?

Water and faucetFluoride is a natural mineral that is found in various concentrations in soil and drinking water.

Why is fluoride important?

Every day, a tooth’s enamel (the outer layer that makes a tooth hard) has minerals both added to it (remineralization) and removed from it (demineralization).  During Tooth anatomyremineralization, minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate are added to the enamel layer via foods and drinks that contain these minerals.  Minerals are lost (demineralization) when acids—from bacteria in the mouth and certain foods and drinks – attack the enamel.  Tooth decay results when the enamel loses more minerals than it receives.

How does fluoride prevent tooth decay?

Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks.  Fluoride also helps to speed remineralization of erupted teeth in both children and adults.

Where is fluoride found?

Fluoride toothpasteAlthough some foods, such as seafood and certain teas, naturally contain fluoride, the primary source of fluoride is drinking water.  Tap water in most cities in the United States contains fluoride.  Some, but not all, bottled waters contain fluoride.  Fluoride also can be applied directly to teeth through toothpastes and mouth rinses that contain fluoride.  You can buy these products at most pharmacies and grocery stores.

Dr. Marinic and/or his hygienist can also apply fluoride directly to your teeth in the form of a gel, foam, or varnish.  These products contain a much higher level of fluoride than toothpastes and mouth rinses.

When should fluoride use begin?

Infants and children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years shouldInfant smiling receive fluoride.  Their primary teeth and permanent teeth develop during these ages, so the stronger their enamel is, the better.  Because most children receive their first permanent teeth at around age 6, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends prescribing fluoride supplements for children between the ages of 6 and 16 who are at high risk for dental caries and whose community water source is less than optimal.  In areas that have minimal fluoride in the water, fluoride supplementation may begin earlier.

Although fluoride is an immediate concern for children and adolescents, adults also can benefit from fluoride.  Topical fluoride – including toothpastes, mouth rinses, and fluoride treatments – is as important for fighting tooth decay in adults as it is for strengthening the teeth of children.

When is additional fluoride necessary?

Additional fluoride treatment can benefit children and adults with certain oral conditions, including dry mouth, gum disease, and cavities.  Dry mouth makes an individual more prone to tooth decay because the decreased saliva production makes it harder to wash away food particles and thus decrease the cavity-causing acids.  Gum disease can expose more of the tooth and tooth roots to bacteria, increasing the chance of tooth decay.  Patients who have many cavities and develop new ones each year may benefit from additional fluoride treatment.

Additional fluoride might also be appropriate for patients with crowns, bridges, and braces, as the portion of the tooth that isn’t covered by a crown, bridge, or brace may be at greater risk for tooth decay.  To find out if you and/or your children are receiving enough fluoride or should consider fluoride treatment or supplements, ask Dr. Marinic.  He may prescribe fluoride supplements (in liquid or pill form) or offer suggestions for increasing the amount of fluoride you receive.

Is Everything OK in Your Mouth?

Dorothy cleaningRegular dental exams not only help decrease your risk of oral diseases, such as cavities and gum (periodontal) disease, but may also help to diagnose other, sometimes life-threatening, medical conditions.  Dr. Marinic is an important part of your health care team.  He is able to assess your overall oral health and may recognize symptoms of serious diseases, including diabetes and cancer, which often manifest as signs and symptoms inside your mouth.  There are many diseases with oral manifestations that, in many cases, may first present in the mouth.

Diabetes

More than 25 million people in the United States suffer from diabetes. Diabetes is associated with high levels of blood sugar and is known to lower resistancGum diseasee to infection and increase the chance of the following:

  • Gum disease, including gums that bleed easily or are tender and swollen
  • Tooth decay
  • Taste impairment
  • Inflammatory skin disease
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Changes in teeth position

Additionally, patients with diabetes (especially those with dentures) are more likely to experience oral fungal infections, including thrush (oral candidiasis).

Oral cancer

During your regularly scheduled dental check up, Dr. Marinic will also search for signs of oral cancer.  Oral indicators of cancer include:Oral cancer

  • Sores that bleed easily or do not heal
  • Crusted, rough areas of skin
  • Lumps or thick hard spots
  • Red, brown, or white patches
  • Changes in the lymph nodes or other tissues around the mouth and neck
  • Tenderness or pain, numbness inside the mouth
  • Changes in the way the teeth fit together

While Dr. Marinic will check all his patients for these signs and symptoms, patients with a history of smoking, using smokeless tobacco, or drinking heavily are at an increased risk for developing oral cancer.

Eating disorders

Eating disorderEating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, physically damage both your oral and overall health.  These disorders, which include patterns of insufficient food intake or excessive food intake with purging, can rob the body of much needed vitamins and minerals.  These vitamin and mineral deficiencies can present themselves orally.   Without proper nutrition, the gums can lose their healthy pink color and become increasingly soft and tender, bleeding easily.

Additionally, disorders that involve excessive vomiting, such as bulimia, can cause discoloration and erosion of the teeth through constant contact with stomach acid. Those with eating disorders may also experience:

  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Dry mouth
  • Thin, sensitive teeth
  • Loss of tooth enamel

Alcohol use disorders

Alcohol use disorders affect more than 17 million adults in the United StatesAlcoholic beverages alone.  In addition to causing irreparable social and medical problems, alcohol use disorders can severely impact your oral health.  Dentists treating patients with alcohol abuse problems may observe the following signs and symptoms:

  • Tooth decay
  • Tooth erosion
  • Moderate to severe gingivitis (gum disease)
  • Gum irregularities
  • Poor dental hygiene

Be proactive about your oral health

Diseases that negatively impact your general health also can damage your teeth, gums, and mouth.  Regularly scheduled dental exams allow Dr. Marinic to detect or monitor these diseases and recommend treatment.  Patients should inform Dr. Marinic about all medical conditions they have or medicines they are taking, which may affect their oral health.  Remember, maintaining a healthy body includes taking care of your oral health.