Sunday, February 15, 2009

Health Tips for February 15

Health Tip: Take Care of Your Teeth

If you've been diagnosed with periodontal disease, you're not alone. Some 80 percent of American adults currently have some form of the gum disease, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Our mouths are full of bacteria, which along with mucus and food particles form a sticky, colorless "plaque" on teeth. Brushing and flossing help get rid of plaque.

Plaque that is not removed can harden and form bacteria-laden "tartar." The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria cause inflammation of the gums, which is known as gingivitis.

When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to periodontitis, characterized by the gums pulling away from the teeth and forming infected pockets. Bacterial toxins and the body's enzymes fighting the infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place.

If periodontitis isn't treated, the bones, gums and connective tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. At that point, the teeth may have to be removed.

Health Tip: Fluoride Use by Children

Fluoride is a natural substance found in water, and is added to many municipal water supplies to help prevent cavities.

The Nemours Foundation offers these guidelines about the use of fluoride in children::

  • Children should only use fluoride supplements if they live in areas with non-fluoridated water, or if they drink only non-fluoridated bottled water.
  • Children under age 6 should never use a fluoride mouth rinse.
  • Children under 6 months don't need fluoride supplements and shouldn't been given them.
  • Fluoride toothpaste should not be used on children younger than 2 unless recommended by a doctor or dentist.
  • Children should use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
  • Watch children up to age 6 when they brush their teeth to make sure that they spit out the toothpaste, and that not too much is swallowed.

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