If bottled water is your primary source of drinking water, you may not be getting enough fluoride. Although fluoride is added to public water supplies in much of the U.S. to reduce tooth decay, the majority of bottled waters on the market do not contain optimal levels of fluoride.
A number of factors affect whether or not you’re getting enough fluoride, including:
- The fluoride level in your bottled water, which can vary greatly by brand.
- The amount of bottled water you drink during the day.
- Whether you use bottled water for both drinking and cooking.
- Whether you also drink fluoridated water at school, work or elsewhere.
If you drink mostly bottled water, you should talk to your dentist about whether you need supplemental fluoride treatments—especially if you have children. Your dentist may recommend fluoride drops or tablets if he or she feels your child is not receiving adequate levels of fluoride.
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Any dental emergency like an injury to the teeth or gums can be potentially serious and should not be ignored. Ignoring a dental problem can increase the risk of permanent damage as well as the need for more extensive and expensive treatment later on. Here’s a quick summary of what to do for some common dental problems:
Toothaches: First, thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water. Use dental floss to remove any lodged food. If your mouth is swollen, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth or cheek. Never put aspirin or any other painkiller against the gums near the aching tooth because it may burn the gum tissue. See your dentist as soon as possible.
Chipped or broken teeth. Save any pieces. Rinse the mouth using warm water; rinse any broken pieces. If there’s bleeding, apply a piece of gauze to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth, cheek, or lip near the broken/chipped tooth to keep any swelling down and relieve pain. See your dentist as soon as possible.
Knocked-out tooth. Retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown (the part that is usually exposed in the mouth), and rinse off the tooth root with water if it’s dirty. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, try to put the tooth back in place. Make sure it’s facing the right way. Never force it into the socket. If it’s not possible to reinsert the tooth in the socket, put the tooth in a small container of milk or cup of water that contains a pinch of table salt. In all cases, see your dentist as quickly as possible. Knocked out teeth with the highest chances of being saved are those seen by the dentist and returned to their socket within 1 hour of being knocked out.
Objects caught between teeth. First, try using dental floss to very gently and carefully remove the object. If you can’t get the object out, see your dentist. Never use a pin or other sharp object to poke at the stuck object. These instruments can cut your gums or scratch your tooth surface.
Lost crown. If the crown falls off, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible and bring the crown with you. If you can’t get to the dentist right away and the tooth is causing pain, use a cotton swab to apply a little clove oil to the sensitive area (clove oil can be purchased at your local drug store or in the spice aisle of your grocery store). If possible, slip the crown back over the tooth. Before doing so, coat the inner surface with an over-the-counter dental cement, toothpaste, or denture adhesive, to help hold the crown in place. Do not use super glue!
Abscess. An abscess is an infections that occur around the root of a tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums. Abscesses are a serious condition that can damage tissue and surrounding teeth, with the infection possibly spreading to other parts of the body if left untreated. Because of the serious health problems that can result from an abscess, see your dentist as soon as possible if you discover a pimple-like swelling on your gum. An abscess is typically very painful.
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