At the first WHO global conference on air pollution and health, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus describes air pollution as a “silent health crisis.” Around seven million premature deaths are caused by air pollution every year, four million due to outdoor air pollution.
Air pollution not only shortens life expectancy but can also have a negative impact on our everyday lives, as it causes respiratory diseases and leads to absent days at work and at school.
Children are particularly susceptible to the effects of air pollution. Exposure to air pollution in early childhood, when the lungs are still developing, can decrease lung function, which continues into adulthood.
Additionally, air pollution affects your dental health as well.
Air Pollution in Indiana
The Air Quality Index (AQI) is an indicator of air pollution determined by the four major air pollutants recognized by the Clean Air Act. These include:
- Ground-level ozone
- Particle pollution
- Carbon monoxide
- Sulfur dioxide
The AQI in Indiana is currently 47.5 out of 500. This means that the air quality is good and poses little or no health risk. That’s great news for Hoosiers, but our dental health depends on citizens not becoming complacent.
Air pollution can quickly rise to new heights, and it can adversely affect your dental health. Here’s how.
Industrial waste and car exhaust fumes cause air pollution that triggers tooth enamel erosion. The term tooth enamel erosion describes the process of tooth enamel becoming more and more damaged over time. Researchers in Tel Aviv even found plaque on a 400,000-year-old body’s teeth, which proves that human pollution causes long-lasting dental damage.
When acidic gases are released into the air, the droplets remain in the air, and humans breathe it in. Similar to the way rocks erode in the surf, the teeth in your mouth can also be damaged by constant acid attacks. More of the protective tooth enamel is attacked and removed by acids until the sensitive dentin is exposed, causing pain and more serious dental issues.
Unfortunately, tooth erosion can only be stopped but not reversed. For this reason, it’s incredibly important to actively prevent the breakdown of tooth enamel by brushing your teeth regularly and by eating more consciously. If your diet is too acidic, it may play a significant role in the ongoing erosion of tooth enamel.
Heavy metal poisoning
Heavy metals are found in our water, food, and atmosphere. Smokers inhale heavy metals with every cigarette smoked. For example, the nicotine contained in cigarettes causes receding gums, so gums begin pulling away from your teeth. Plus, your mouth and throat become especially prone to inflammation, which can be painful and lead to bleeding gums, gingivitis, and bone loss.
Although fluoride is essential to protect your dental health, too much of a good thing is dangerous. When high fluoride levels make contact with your teeth, the excessive exposure causes tooth decay and discoloration.
It’s probably unlikely your teeth are experiencing significant damage due to air pollution in Indiana. However, regular visits to the dentist are the best way to keep your teeth healthy. The compassionate team at Danville Family Dentistry can detect any damage to your teeth and provide you with the best treatment. Call us today at 317-745-4400 for a checkup.
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Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.