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Fluoridated drinking water may combat dental erosion of dietary origin common to Arabian Gulf countries

Soft drinks, including fruit juices, have a low pH and are therefore highly acidic. When consumed regularly, the acids present in soft drinks gradually dissolve the enamel on the surface of teeth.  This will result in pain and possible loss of the teeth. A recent UAE-based study found that the prevalence of dental erosion in school children aged 5-6 living in Ajman was 36.7 per cent. Acid erosion of dietary origin is a growing problem in countries such as the UAE and wider Arabian Gulf, and the role of fluoride in the prevention of the problem is being examined. 

Amanda Feest, Dental Nurse Team Manager, National Health Services, UK, and Sue Field, Tutor and Examiner for the National Examination Board of Dental Nurses (NEBON), UK, will run a workshop on the issue of dental erosion and the role of fluoride in prevention at the Middle East Dentistry Conference. Previously held as a standalone conference, this is the first year that the Dentistry Conference will run as part of the 6th Abu Dhabi Medical Congress (ADMC) from 14-16 October 2012 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center, UAE. The three-day CME accredited conference will share international best practice tailored to regional disciplines, with an emphasis on lingual orthodontics, implantology, aesthetics, endodontics and the use of lasers in dentistry. 

According to Field, in the early stages of dental erosion, teeth have a smooth polished appearance. There is increased translucency particularly in anterior teeth as enamel is dissolved and incisal chipping occurs as the enamel becomes thinner. There is a loss of anatomical shape and definition in molar teeth and increased sensitivity as dentine is exposed.

“Fluoridated drinking water has been proven to be beneficial and cost effective in providing resistance to both dental caries and tooth surface loss, due to its ability to strengthen tooth enamel from within,” says Field. “However, there are many arguments both for and against its use. There have been numerous studies regarding the use of fluoride, and arguments surrounding its toxicity and possible side effects. Most of this documentation is from sources in the USA since most of their water is manually fluoridated. Fluoride in large doses is certainly toxic. However in the UK the Knox report (1985) and subsequent York report (2000) dispel these theories and advocate its safe use.”

When taken systemically in drinking water, fluoride is most beneficial to children between birth and seven years of age. This is because the fluoride is incorporated intrinsically into the adult teeth whilst they are still developing in the bone. By the age of seven, all the adult teeth (except the third molars) are fully formed ready to erupt as the primary teeth are shed.

“Other types of systemic fluoride that can be given to children are fluoride tablets or drops, however there are far less popular,” adds Field.

According to Feest, there are various ways to prevent dental erosion including using the correct toothpaste and controlling your intake of acid foods or drinks.

“Use fluoride toothpaste containing 1,450 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride twice daily,” says Feest. “Avoid frequent intake of acidic foods or drinks – keep consumption to mealtimes only – and do not brush the teeth immediately after consuming acidic food or drinks. The tooth enamel remains soft for up to an hour afterwards and can be removed by tooth brushing. You could also drink acidic drinks through a straw to minimise contact with teeth.” 

The Abu Dhabi Medical Congress (ADMC) brings together leading international healthcare companies such as Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), Mubadala, Al Noor Hospital, Lifeline Hospital group, and Arabian Millennium Trd. to showcase the latest products and services within the Emergency, Primary Healthcare, Patient Safety, Rehabilitation and Dentistry sectors as well as being a platform for scientific exchange via the accompanying multi-track conference programme dedicated to these healthcare areas.

For more information about the Middle East Dentistry Conference at ADMC visit