ADA Statement on Study Involving Dental Floss

By the American Dental Association

Recent, wide-spread news coverage based upon a recent research study may raise unwarranted concern about the safety of certain types of dental floss. The ADA Science Institute finds the data insufficient to support the conclusions presented in this research and associated media coverage.

No restrictions on the use of dental floss have been issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the regulatory agency that oversees clearance of dental products marketed to the public. It also is important to bear in mind that this is a single study. Public health policy and safety decisions should be based on the collective weight of scientific evidence.

The study, published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, involves a small sample of 178 women and their self-reported use of a wide array of consumer products and foods.

The study measured blood samples from 178 women and found that those who reported using a certain brand of dental floss had higher levels of a type of PFAS called PFHxS (perfluorohexanesulfonic acid) than those who didn’t.

One of many shortcomings of this study, according to the ADA Science Institute, is that the study measured fluorine as a marker of PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), though the women in the study who reported using a particular brand of floss were found to have elevated levels of PFHxS.

PTFE often is used in food and beverage, pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications. The fact that the researchers were able to find the PTFE marker in several brands of floss does not mean that it is the source of the PFHxS in the women.

Given that this was a retrospective study including self-reported use of products, there are likely many other differences between women who did and did not report having used the brand of floss mentioned.

The ADA sees no cause for concern based on current evidence, and above all continues to encourage people to clean between their teeth daily with floss or another interdental cleaner as part of the ADA’s daily oral hygiene recommendations.

This news release was published on the ADA’s website on Jan. 14, 2019 and can be found here.

MyView: Marijuana Use and Oral Health

By Dr. Melissa Beadnell

Cannabis, pot, hash and weed are just a few of the names used worldwide for marijuana. As you probably already are aware, Oregon legalized the possession of marijuana in 2015 to citizens who are 21 years or older. Even though this legislation is new, let’s face it: people have been growing, using, selling and distributing marijuana for decades or more. It’s interesting to note culturally how marijuana use has changed over the years. We’ve gone from taboo to table. Literally gone from not talking about it to having it right on the table. We need to tweak our perspectives just a bit to understand marijuana use and how it affects us as dental professionals.

Marijuana is derived from the cannabis plant. The main active ingredient is commonly known as THC (tetrahydro-cannabinol) and is the part of the plant that gives the “high.” There is a wide range of THC potency between different cannabis products.

Heavy use of marijuana has been reported to cause respiratory problems, bronchial complaints, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, tachycardia, acute panic and paranoia, and impairment with short-term memory and motor skills. The most beneficial use of marijuana is its antiemetic properties, especially for patients receiving chemotherapy and its ability to reduce intraocular pressure in the treatment of glaucoma. It is used widely for cancer patients, AIDS patients and those with other chronic diseases.

Marijuana use can lead to several oral problems. Of most concern to dental providers are the development of xerostomia and an often dramatic increased rate of caries. Additionally, irritation, edema and erythema of the oral tissues have been seen. A limited number of studies have linked a correlation between marijuana use and the risk of periodontal disease. As far as a link to the development of oral cancer, the high intraoral temperature from marijuana smoking can cause changes in oral tissues and cellular disruption. Although these changes likely could lead to oral cancer, the link has not been established.

Overall, we need to educate ourselves about the changing social environment. Marijuana is the new cigarette, the magical herb or the prescription needed for a subset of our patients. Whatever the reason, the cause or the cure, we need to be able to have an open dialogue with patients. Some visit us while they are trying to quit, and we may be the mentor needed helping them on their journey.

 

This editorial, reprinted with permission, first appeared in the April 2016 issue of the Multnomah Dental Society Hotline Newsletter, and more recently in the ADA News on Feb. 20, 2017. Dr. Melissa Beadnell is the editor of the newsletter and practices as a general dentist in Portland, Ore.

What You May Not Know About Taking Care of Your Child’s Teeth: A Q&A Guide for Parents

February is Children’s Dental Health Month, which aims to educate and engage parents, guardians and kids on keeping kids’ teeth healthy and building good oral health habits for life. To help with this effort, we asked real parents what questions they have or what questions they wished they’d asked sooner as a new parent. With the help of our pediatric member dentists and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, we’ve provided some of the most frequent questions and answers from the experts.

Q: My baby’s teeth haven’t come in yet. What should I be doing to help keep my baby’s mouth healthy?

A: You may be surprised to learn that one of the best ways to keep your baby’s mouth healthy is to make sure that your own mouth is healthy. Untreated dental cavities in your mouth are easily transmissible to your baby via saliva. Yes, cavities are contagious! Keeping your own mouth healthy through good oral health care and regular dental visits will help keep your baby’s mouth healthy.

Also, while your baby’s teeth may not have made their way in yet, it’s a good idea to wipe your baby’s gums and tongue with a wet facecloth daily.

Q: At what age should I start taking my child to see a dentist?

A: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child go to the dentist by age 1 or within six months after the first tooth comes in.

Q: What kind of toothbrushes and toothpastes should I be using for my child at different ages?

A: You should be using a soft child-size toothbrush for your child. Picking a toothbrush with their favorite color, superhero or animal also can help get them excited for brushing!

For toothpaste, you should consult with your child’s dentist regarding the type to use and when to begin brushing with toothpaste that contains fluoride.

Q: My child is teething. How can I help with discomfort or pain during tooth brushing?

A: While many children don’t have noticeable difficulties, teething can lead to periods of discomfort, irritability and excess saliva. To help with these symptoms, you can use oral pain relief medication (such as Tylenol ®) and chilled teething rings. Using topical anesthetics, including over-the-counter teething gels, should be avoided due to potential toxicity in infants and very young children.

Q: How well do I need to be brushing my 2-year-old’s teeth?

A: It may be a struggle, but it’s important to be thorough with brushing and ensure that you are reaching all the surfaces of each tooth. This is especially important for bedtime tooth brushing, as it is the most critical brush time of the day.

Q: At what age should flossing start?

A: Every child develops differently. A good rule of thumb is to begin flossing for your child when his or her teeth begin to touch one another, as the bristles of the toothbrush can no longer clean in between the teeth effectively. If you are unsure, it is always best to consult your child’s dentist.

Q: How can I help build healthy teeth habits with my child and make tooth brushing more fun?

A: The following are links to great videos and resources from the American Dental Association (ADA) that can help make tooth brushing a better experience for you and your child.

Q: How should I choose the most appropriate dentist for my child?

A: When you choose an FDA member dentist, you can be assured that your dentist has pledged to uphold the ADA’s highest ethical principles and practice standards.

To learn more about this commitment and find an FDA dentist near you, you can visit http://learn.floridadental.org/find-your-dentist/.

Also, dentists are individuals with their own personalities and styles, so when choosing a dentist, you may want to call or visit more than one dentist to determine if that person is the right match for your family.

Q: What can I expect at my child’s first visit to the dentist, and what do I need to bring?

A: Your first visit is an opportunity to build a relationship with your dentist and establish a dental home for your child. This visit will include a thorough medical and dental history, an oral examination, an age-appropriate tooth and gum cleaning demonstration, and if indicated, a professional fluoride treatment.

This also is a great opportunity to ask questions and encourage a positive relationship with your child and dental visits.

Q: What are some questions I should ask my child’s new dentist or a potential dentist?

A: First and foremost, you are encouraged to ask questions! If you are unsure of or concerned about any issue related to your child’s oral health, you should not hesitate to ask your child’s dentist.

Here are some example questions you may want to ask:

  • When should I start using fluoride toothpaste?
  • Is my child on track in terms of dental growth and development?
  • What insurance do you accept?
  • Do you accept cash/self-pay? If so, is there a discount for doing so?

To find an FDA member dentist near you, visit http://learn.floridadental.org/find-your-dentist/.
For more information on children’s oral health, visit www.mouthhealthy.org.

 

The FDA’s New Fluoridation Website is Your Go-to Source for the Facts!

By Dr. Johnny Johnson, American Fluoridation Society President

Quick! Answer the following questions within 30 seconds:

1. The patient in your chair goes into cardiac arrest. What is the first phone call you make?
2. What is the concentration of your preferred local anesthetic?
3. Is your community water fluoridated?
4. What is the recommended level of fluoride for community water fluoridation (CWF)?

I bet that the first two questions took you a split second to answer. The third question may have been just as quick. The fourth? Maybe quick, maybe not.

How can you be 100 percent sure that you are correct in your answers? Well, the Florida Dental Association (FDA) would like to introduce you to our new and outstanding fluoridation website: www.floridafluoridation.org!

As dentists, we are expected to be the experts in water fluoridation — and we should be. The proper level of fluoride in drinking water is critical in knocking out at least 25 percent of cavities that adults and children will ever get. It also reduces the severity of those cavities.

The FDA’s fluoridation website is the best website that I have seen anywhere in the U.S. — or in the world for that matter! I know because I have worked with many of you in protecting, restarting and/or initiating CWF in your communities. And we have been an awesome force in ensuring that all of our residents — rich or poor, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, level of education or access to dental care — continue to receive this safe and effective public health benefit.

There are many great resources for information on CWF. However, when it comes to concise information that is user-friendly and state-based, the FDA’s website is primo!  The information is easy to find, concise and presented for both professionals and the public to use.

I challenge you to do these three things:

1. Immediately — right now! — find out what the fluoride level is in your community’s water.1,2,3,4
2. Pull up the FDA’s water fluoridation website.
3. Hang up a poster on CWF in your office — please!

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. CWF is the best bang for the buck for everyone in our state to benefit from the cavity reductions without a single behavioral change.

If you have any questions, challenges or needs, the FDA and I are here to help you. No question is dumb; the only dumb question is the one not asked. We are here to serve you. Call on us. Thank you for fighting the GREAT fight.

Dr. Johnson is a pediatric dentist in Palm Harbor, Fla. and the president of the American Fluoridation Society. He can be reached at drjohnnyjohnson@gmail.com.

References:

1 My Water’s Fluoride (annual water quality report)
2 Dr. Johnny Johnson
3 Florida Department of Health
4 American Dental Association, American Fluoridation Society, Campaign for Dental Health