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Ionic Bonding

Atoms with opposite charges form bonds

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Give Me a Big Smile

Give Me a Big Smile

Credit: Amanda
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/manduhsaurus/3251510062
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Dental health is an important part of our lives. Problems with our teeth can leave us uncomfortable, embarrassed, and can often lead to other health issues. Proper tooth care includes regular brushing and avoiding large amounts of sugar in the diet. Regular dental check-ups are also important.

Why It Matters

  • A significant number of adults in the U.S. have or have had issues with tooth decay. Over 20% currently have untreated decay issues while 92% have had decay problems at some point in the past. While higher education and income correlate somewhat with a lower incidence of tooth decay, other factors (such as smoking) do not appear to contribute directly to tooth decay. However, it should be noted that smokers are twice as likely as non-smokers to have untreated tooth decay, possibly due to differences in proper dental hygiene.
  • The basic approaches to reducing tooth decay use common sense. Brush at least twice a day, floss, cut down on sugary foods, visit your dentist regularly – all these steps will reduce the amount of decay-producing materials in contact with the teeth or will provide monitoring by a professional to catch decay early.
  • Direct fluoride application to teeth seems to be of help in reducing tooth decay. Although the data are mixed with regard to fluoridated water (a topic of great controversy in many parts of the country), coating of the teeth with fluoride allows formation of a calcium phosphate-fluoride ternary complex that forms a stronger compound which is more acid resistant. There is also some data to suggest that fluoride can retard bacterial growth.
  • Credit: Ted & Dani Percival
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tedpercival/4116081852/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Fluoridation of water is one of those debates that seem to have no clear resolution [Figure2]

  • Watch the video at the link below to learn more about tooth decay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlAYpCedqec

Can You Apply It?

Use the links below to learn more about tooth decay and fluoride treatments. Then answer the following questions.

  1. How many adults have untreated tooth decay?
  2. How many school hours are lost every year because of health issues related to dental problems?
  3. What is the chemical composition of tooth enamel?
  4. How was the interaction of fluoride and tooth enamel studied?
  5. What are some approaches being studied to reduce tooth decay?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Amanda; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/manduhsaurus/3251510062; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Ted & Dani Percival; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tedpercival/4116081852/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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