Who Is the American Dental Association Anyway?

Who Is the American Dental Association Anyway?

who is the ADAMost of us have seen them: little boxes on the sides of toothpaste, toothbrushes, and packets of dental floss that have the words “ADA Accepted” on them. ADA stands for the American Dental Associate, but who are they and what does the seal mean?

The American Dental Association is the largest membership organization of dentists in the United States. It has over 160,000 members from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The goal of the non-profit organization is to look after the oral health of the public with a focus on ethics and science.

The ADA is made up of dentists and run by a president, a board of trustees, and a house of delegates. The organization was formed in 1859 when a group of dentists met in Niagara Falls, New York. In 1861, the ADA’s annual meeting was cancelled due to the Civil War. In 1907, the ADA Relief Fund was established to come to the aid of dentists who suffered from man-made or natural disasters, in response to the catastrophic earthquake in San Francisco 1906. By 1929, one third of member’s dues were earmarked for scientific research and the Journal of the American Dental Association was the premier dental scientific journal. In 1930, the ADA introduced its seal of approval.

The ADA has a research arm that conducts studies that include tests on the safety and effectiveness of oral health products, which can sport the seal if they pass. In addition to toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss, you can also find the ADA seal on mouth rinses, sports mouthguards, sugar-free gum and even tap water filters. Companies that make these products can submit them for review and the ADA will test their claims to make sure they’re safe and effective for the public. The companies are then free to use the seal in their marketing and on their packaging.

In addition to those seals, it could be said that the ADA also puts its seal of approval on dentists themselves. The ADA is involved in establishing the standards of dental education and training for U.S. dentists. Through the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations, they help regulate the testing and qualifications for becoming a licensed dentist in each state. We should note that a dentist doesn’t have to be a member of the ADA in order to be a fully qualified dentist. However, many dentists choose to be members because of the benefits it provides to both them and their patients.

 

 

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Dry Mouth Isn’t Just Unpleasant…It Can Cause Tooth Decay!

Dry Mouth Isn’t Just Unpleasant…It Can Cause Tooth Decay!

drinking water to combat dry mouth and tooth decayA dry mouth is a uniquely uncomfortable feeling and should not be dismissed as a trivial issue for one very important reason: a dry mouth can make it more likely that you’ll get tooth decay! The presence of saliva in your mouth is an important part of keeping your teeth healthy.

Dry mouth, which is called xerostomia by dental professionals, is sometimes just a temporary feeling caused by regular activities such as strenuous exercise of speaking aloud for a long period of time. However, some people experience chronic dry mouth, which can lead to big problems over time: in other words, tooth decay.

The saliva in your mouth helps wash away cavity-causing bacteria as well as the food debris that such bacteria might feed on. In addition, saliva contains minerals that help strengthen teeth and can ever re-mineralize weak areas that might be at risk for tooth decay. All of these benefits of saliva are what makes its absence in the case of dry mouth so troublesome.

One of the most common causes of dry mouth is medication. Many medications (some say over 400!) can cause dry mouth, such as anti-depressants, diuretics, and antihistamines. Dry mouth can also be a side effect of radiation treatment in cancer patients because it can interfere with the salivary gland’s ability to create saliva.

Whatever the cause of dry mouth, it’s important to start treating it right away to reduce the risk of tooth decay. One easy solution is to sip water throughout the day to keep your mouth moist. You should also talk to the dentist about your symptoms and see if you may need to use a special mouthwash or artificial saliva product.

If your dry mouth could be a side effect of a medication, you can also talk to your primary care doctor about changing the medication to something that might not cause dry mouth. You should also avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol, as these can make dry mouth worse. There are many alcohol-free mouthwashes that are just as tasty and effective.

 

 

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Toothbrushes Used to Be Made From Plants & Animals

Toothbrushes Used to Be Made From Plants & Animals

a history of the toothbrushThe modern toothbrush has only been around for about 90 years, but it is the latest in a long evolution of tools to fight tooth decay, stretching back thousands of years and involving a whole range of flora and fauna!

Pre-History – Chewing on Sticks

Long before our ancestors used toothbrushes to ward off tooth decay, people chewed on sticks or twigs to clean their teeth. The earliest chew sticks found date back to 3500 B.C. in Mesopotamia and a tomb from 3000 B.C. in Egypt. Archeological finds also indicate that people used bird feather quills and porcupine spines to pick and clean their teeth.

Chew sticks are still around in the Middle East and northern Africa in the form of miswaks (also called siwaak or sewak). A miswak is made from twigs from the Salvadora persica tree (or arak in Arabic), which is easily frayed to form a brush-like tip at one end. In addition to being an alternative to the toothbrush for cleaning teeth, these sticks are part of pious ritual for many Muslims.

Bone & Bristle Toothbrushes

The next evolution in anti-tooth decay tools came from China, where the first actual toothbrushes were invented. During the Tong Dynasty around the years 600-900, the first bristled toothbrushes appeared. They typically had handles made from bone or bamboo and had bristles made from the stiff hair of northern hogs.

This Chinese invention of bristled toothbrushes eventually made it to Europe in the 1600s. Europeans changed the design by replacing hog hairs with horse hair, which were softer and therefore preferable.

The first mass produced toothbrush was designed by William Addis of England in 1780. (It was around this same time that being a dentist became a formally recognized medical profession, which some scholars correlate with the rise in sugar in European diets due to colonial trade.) Addis actually created the first prototype from a piece of bone when he was briefly in prison! After gaining his freedom, he started mass producing the toothbrush, eventually passing the business on to his son. Their Wisdom Toothbrush company was family owned until the 1990s and still produces modern toothbrushes in Europe.

20th Century Innovation

The next big innovation in toothbrushes came with the invention of nylon by the Du Pont chemical company in the 1930s. From then on, most toothbrushes were made with softer nylon bristles. Not only were they more pleasant to use and easier on the teeth, they were less likely to harbor bacteria like old-fashioned bristles made from animal hair.

The next big invention in toothbrush technology came with addition of electricity. The first electric toothbrush was invented in 1954 and became available in the United States in 1960. Like modern electric toothbrushes, the earliest ones involved a motor that vibrated the brush, supposedly enhancing the action of the bristles.

The Future

Who knows what the future of toothbrushing holds (maybe toothbrushing robots!). What every dentist (and patient) knows is that if you stick to using a soft bristled toothbrush (replaced every 3 months) to brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes, there are healthier smiles in your future!

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