Dentists: Are You Tired of the Fluoridated Water Debate?

Dentists: Are You Tired of the Fluoridated Water Debate?Are you for or against fluoridated water?

Ever since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced taking important steps to ensure that standards and guidelines on fluoride in drinking water continue to provide the maximum protection to the American public to support good dental health, the fluoridation of public water has been a hotly-debated news item.

The American Dental Association states that 67% of American communities have public fluoridated water systems.

Why does the debate continue when according to many reports no valid scientific study on fluoridation has ever shown any health risks? (see 1991 study)

Yet, the fluoridated water debate rages on this week in the news —

–Philomath Oregon residents will be deciding in their March 13 special election whether fluoride will be restored to the city’s water supply.

–The Pennsylvania American Water Works announced that it has reduced the level of fluoride in the drinking water supplied to its Philipsburg area customers.

–The New Jersey legislature is in the process of putting together a new law that would force mandatory fluoridation to public water systems across the entire state.

–Pinellas Park, Florida voted to provide fluoridation of the water to its citizens as soon as it can find funding to pay for the necessary equipment.

The California Dental Association Foundation cancelled its commitment to pay for the fluoridation facility for Watsonville, California, siting ballooning costs.

–In Bolivar Missouri, city leaders voted to stop adding fluoride to the city’s water supply.

–The fluoride issue is being hotly debated in Bozeman, Montana — even though Bozeman has been adding fluoride to its water since 1953.

–A Carroll County, Maryland water district operator began an anti-fluoride fight in her district.

Basically all water contains some amount of fluoride. When fluoride is added to the water supply it only reaches levels of approximately 1 part fluoride per million parts water; this is the optimal level for preventing tooth decay, this according to the National Cancer Institute.

Scientists at the National Cancer Institute evaluated the relationship between the fluoridation of drinking water and the number of deaths due to cancer in the United States during a 36-year period, and the relationship between water fluoridation and number of new cases of cancer during a 15-year period.

After examining more than 2.2 million cancer death records and 125,000 cancer case records in counties using fluoridated water, the researchers found no indication of increased cancer risk associated with fluoridated drinking water.

Studies by the ADA have stated that fluoridation has been the single most effective public health measure to prevent dental caries, yet groups like the Fluoride Action Network and The Light Party actively campaign against the use of fluoride in drinking water.

Even here at The Wealthy Dentist we’ve seen dentists argue on both sides of the fluoridation issue.  What are your thoughts on fluoridation?

Do you think the fluoride issue will ever be laid to rest?

Dentist Studies Link Between Vitamin D and Fewer Dental Cavities

Dentist Studies Link Between Vitamin D and Fewer Dental CavitiesA new study review by Dr. Philippe Hujoel of the University of Washington in Seattle reveals a link between vitamin D and a 50% reduction in the incidence of dental cavities among approximately 3,000 children ages 2 – 16.

According to United Press International, the study review included clinical trials from the 1920s to the 1980s on approximately 3,000 children between the ages of 2 and 16, from United States, Britain, Canada, Austria, New Zealand, and Sweden.

The review showed that vitamin D was associated with decreased levels of tooth decay.

The UPI further states that the American Medical Association and the U.S. National Research Council concluded around 1950 that vitamin D was beneficial in managing dental cavities. However, the American Dental Association disagreed based on the same evidence. In 1989, the National Research Council, despite new evidence supporting vitamin D’s cavities-fighting benefits, called the issue “unresolved.”

Dr. Hujoel told Medical Daily, “My main goal was to summarize the clinical trial database so that we could take a fresh look at this vitamin D question. Whether this is more than just a coincidence is open to debate. In the meantime, pregnant women or young mothers can do little harm by realizing that vitamin D is essential to their offspring’s health. Vitamin D does lead to teeth and bones that are better mineralized. One has to be careful with the interpretation of this systematic review. The trials had weaknesses which could have biased the result, and most of the trial participants lived in an era that differs profoundly from today’s environment.”

Dentists, what are your thoughts on vitamin D and tooth decay?

For more on this story see: Vitamin D Helps Prevent Tooth Decay

Oldest Dental Filling Ever Uncovered is Beeswax

Oldest Dental Filling Ever Uncovered is BeeswaxDentists have used composite, gold, ceramic, and amalgam for dental fillings, but beeswax?

Scientists have uncovered a 6500-year-old human jawbone with a tooth that has what appears to be cavity covered by beeswax.

The jawbone was discovered last century in a cave in Slovenia and the research group report that radiocarbon dating places the jawbone in the Stone Age.

Researchers Federico Bernardini and Claudio Tuniz of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Italy, along with Alfredo Coppa, Lucia Mancini, Diego Dreossi, Diane Eichert, Gianluca Turco, Matteo Biasotto, Filippo Terrasi, Nicola De Cesare, Quan Hua, and Vladimir Levchenko published their findings in the open access journal PLoS ONE on September 19.

The report states that with the use of different analytical techniques, including synchrotron radiation computed micro-tomography (micro-CT), Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating, Infrared (IR) Spectroscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), has shown that the exposed area of dentine resulting from occlusal wear and the upper part of a vertical crack affecting enamel and dentin tissues were filled with beeswax shortly before or after the individual’s death. (PLos ONE)

The beeswax filling is significant because prior to this discovery there has been no published evidence on the use of therapeutic-palliative substances in prehistoric dentistry.

“The jawbone remained in the museum for 101 years without anybody noticing anything strange,” says Claudio Tuniz at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste. That was until Tuniz and his colleague Federico Bernardini happened to use the specimen to test new X-ray imaging equipment, and spotted some unusual material attached to a canine, reports New Scientist Life.

The scientists hypothesize that due to the exposed dentin and possibly the vertical crack, the tooth probably became very sensitive, limiting the functionality of the jaw during occlusion. The occlusal surface could have been filled with beeswax in an attempt to reduce the pain sealing exposed dentin tubules and the fracture from changes in osmotic pressure (as occurs on contact with sugar) and temperature (hot or cold relative to the oral cavity). The binding properties of beeswax could have been increased by the probable presence of honey, one of the main ingredients of external applications used in ancient Egypt to fix loose teeth or to reduce the tooth pain. (PLos ONE)

Since 3D imaging was used to discover the filing, it will be interesting to see how this technology will help dentists diagnose dental problems at their earliest stages.

What are your thoughts on this discovery? 

To read the full research article, see Beeswax as Dental Filling on a Neolithic Human Tooth on PLos ONE.

Dentists: BPA is Back Making Front Page Dental News Again

BPA in Children is Making Front Page Dental NewsBisphenol A (also known as BPA), a chemical used in lightweight plastics, dental sealants and dental fillings is back making news headlines once again.

First, the federal government announced this month that baby bottles and sippy cups can no longer contain BPA.

This was followed by reports from a new study stating that children getting dental fillings made with BPA are more likely to have behavior and emotional problems later in life.

The study, as reported in Pediatrics Online, “makes a strong case that in the short-term, use of BPA-containing dental materials should be minimized,” asserts Philip Landrigan, director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

The researchers in the study tracked 534 children with cavities from when each child received their first dental fillings. Over the following 5 years, the researchers noted that those children who had cavities filled with a composite material containing traces of BPA consistently scored 2 – 6 points less on 100-point behavior assessments than those who didn’t have fillings.

As reported in Science News, the researchers never administered clinical diagnostic behavioral tests to the children.

Instead, they periodically administered some widely used checklists to the children or their parents, allowing each to self-assess features such as a child’s attitudes toward teachers or others, depression, self-esteem, attention problems, delinquent behaviors, acting-out or problems with attentiveness.

Since the children were 6-12 years old at the time, these type of behaviors are not uncommon for children living with a variety of circumstances like divorce, bullying, and problems at home.

However researchers argue that the behavior problems being reported seemed to happen more with the children who had BPA fillings, causing them to believe that some dental fillings may start to break down over time, thus exposing these children to the chemical.

The U.S. government is currently spending $30 million on its own BPA research to determine the chemical’s health effects on humans.

As a dentist, what are your thoughts on the use of BPA?

For more on this story see: Putting BPA-based Dental Fillings in Perspective 

Dental Science Takes Another Step Towards Growing Teeth

Dental Science Growing TeethThe loss of a tooth can be a major setback to an adult dental patient. Although dental implants are available, some dental patients risk bad osseo-integration.

But what if a dentist could help the patient grow a replacement tooth instead?

Researchers in the group of Professor Irma Thesleff at the Institute of Biotechnology in Helsinki, Finland have now found a marker for dental stem cells.

They showed that the transcription factor Sox2 is specifically expressed in stem cells of the mouse incisor (front tooth).

The mouse incisor grows continuously throughout life and this growth is fueled by stem cells located at the base of the tooth. These cells offer an excellent model to study dental stem cells.

To build a tooth, a detailed recipe to instruct cells to differentiate towards proper lineages and form dental cells is needed.

Despite the development of new bioengineering protocols, building a tooth from stem cells remains a distant goal. Demand for it exists as loss of teeth affects oral health, quality of life, as well as one’s appearance.

To build a tooth, a detailed recipe to instruct cells to differentiate towards proper lineages and form dental cells is needed. However, the study of stem cells requires their isolation and a lack of a specific marker has hindered studies so far.

The researchers developed a method to record the division, movement, and specification of these cells. By tracing the descendants of genetically labeled cells, they also showed that Sox2 positive stem cells give rise to enamel-forming ameloblasts as well as other cell lineages of the tooth.

Although human teeth don’t grow continuously, the mechanisms that control and regulate their growth are similar as in mouse teeth. Therefore, the discovery of Sox2 as a marker for dental stem cells is an important step toward developing a complete bioengineered tooth.

“In the future, it may be possible to grow new teeth from stem cells to replace lost ones,” says researcher Emma Juuri, a co-author of the study.

What do you think about the ability to regrow an adult tooth?  Do you think it will happen in your lifetime?

(Source: AlphaGalileo and the University of Helsinki.)

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