5 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Teeth
3. Yes, you can get too much fluoride, but... continued...
Many people were concerned with cases of fluorosis, a condition that causes cosmetic white spots on teeth. But those cases are almost always mild or very mild. Still, it's a good idea to make sure your community has safe levels of fluoride in its drinking water. Be careful how much other fluoride you use.
And keep an eye out for kids. Children up to 3 should use a rice-sized smear of fluoridated toothpaste. Kids from 3-6 should use a pea-sized amount.
4. Toothpaste should be spit out, but not necessarily rinsed away.
Other than just being awfully gross, if you (or a kid in the house) makes a habit of swallowing toothpaste, you (or that kid) stand a chance of getting too much fluoride. As the tube says, don't swallow.
But, Pollick says, it's not necessary to rinse afterward. He says you can rinse, but the longer the fluoride stays in contact with your teeth, the more effect it can have in preventing tooth decay.
The idea behind not rinsing is the same as it is for in-office treatments where dentists apply a fluoride-rich gel, paste, or "varnish" to teeth and often let it sit for approximately 30 minutes. Some people at higher risk can undergo these treatments several times a year. Doctors also can prescribe high-fluoride toothpaste or rinses.
5. Your teeth can be an indicator of your overall health.
One in 7 adults aged 35 to 44 has gum disease. For adults older than 65, that increases to 1 in every 4.
That's a problem, because tooth decay and other infections in the mouth may be associated with health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
"Oral health is an integral part of overall health," Harms says. "What people don't realize is that people who have higher levels of gum disease also have a higher level of heart disease." They also, she says, have a higher rate of low birthweight babies and premature births.
One group of people who have higher levels of gum disease, Harms says, are people who have diabetes..
"I think people need to realize that the bacteria and the inflammation associated with your body fighting the bacteria can have an effect in other areas of the body. We don't quite understand all of this yet. But we know there's a link."