How To Keep Air Pollution From Damaging Your Oral Health

You brush your teeth after every meal, floss once a day, and make regular dentist appointments. And yet, you continue to have dental issues. While there are many factors that can contribute to your oral health, more research is showing that air pollution can take a major toll on your smile. 

What is oral health?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines oral health as “a state of being free from mouth and facial pain, oral and throat cancer, oral infection and sores, periodontal disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and other diseases and disorders that limit an individual’s capacity in biting, chewing, smiling, speaking, and psychosocial wellbeing.’

Oral health is an integral part of general health. Dental issues can quickly spread to other parts of your body, even affecting your heart. In extreme cases, tooth problems can even lead to death. 

Dental care is particularly important in childhood because poor oral health can affect growth, development, and learning.

What kind of dental issues are linked to air pollution?

Many different factors can impact your oral health. But, studies have shown a link between the following dental issues and low quality air.

Tooth decay 

A study in the Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry found that children who were living in high-pollution areas had higher cavity rates and significant levels of toxic compounds in their tooth tissues.

Another study showed that workers who were exposed to acidic air pollution had more erosion in their teeth, particularly the top front teeth that don’t have as much protection from lips and saliva. These studies seem to indicate that living in cities or near highways may put your teeth at risk. 

Cleft palate

Research shows that women exposed to high levels of air pollution (particularly CO, NO2, and SO2) may be more likely to give birth to infants with cleft palates. The risk is particularly high during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Oral cancer

A recent study published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine showed that high levels of small particles (PM2.5) in air pollution appear to be linked to a 43% greater chance of developing mouth cancer.

Which pollutants are most dangerous to your oral health?

The Environmental Protection Agency uses these common air pollutants to determine air quality: particulate matter (often referred to as particle pollution), ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and lead. All of these pollutants can potentially affect your oral health.

How can we lower our exposure to these pollutants?

While it’s impossible to completely avoid pollutants, there are some things you can do to limit your exposure.

Chose Your Location Wisely

Living in areas that are known to have better air quality can help lower your risk of air pollution-related health problems. Generally speaking, locations near highways, cities, and factories have the worst air quality. There are plenty of online resources to help you choose the best areas. 

Manage your kitchen air

Cooking is one of the biggest sources of indoor pollution. Electric stoves are preferable, but if you already have a gas stove, there are some things you can do to make it safer to use such as making sure that it’s properly installed and opening windows, or using fans when cooking. 

Since kitchens are generally cleaned more often than other areas of the home, it’s also important to consider which cleaning products you use. Many products can actually add additional pollution to your air. 

Keep your home properly sealed.

Improve your home’s insulation, weatherstripping, caulking, and ductwork so that less outdoor pollution is able to enter your home.

Consider how you heat your home

Most sources of heat emit high levels of pollution into your home. Fortunatlely, there are an increasing amount of environmentally friendly options for heating your house. 

Ventilation

Generally, leaving windows open improves your indoor air quality. However, during wildfire season or in high-pollution areas, open windows may not always be the best option.

Use an air purifier

Indoor air is generally 2 to 5 times worse than outdoor air. Since we spend around 90% of our time indoors, it’s vital to keep our indoor air clean. An air purifier can be an effective way of removing the pollutants that affect your dental and overall health.

Which type of purifier is best to help prevent dental problems?

The air pollutants that can impact your oral health can be either chemical or particulate matter. Each type of pollutant requires a different filter.

Particulate matter

True HEPA filters are your best option in removing particulate matter. HEPA filters are made of twisted fiberglass or plastic fiber designed to take particles out of air circulation. A True HEPA filter must meet the United States Department of Energy’s standard of removing 99.95% or more of all particles which are 0.3 microns in diameter, meaning that almost all of the particulate matter in your indoor air will be removed.

Chemical pollutants

The best option for removing chemical pollutants is an activated carbon filter.  Activated charcoal filters work by using charcoal that has been heated to very high temperatures to trap pollutants. When the temperature of the charcoal is raised, the elements and compounds that were bound with the carbon atoms are removed and all the binding sites for carbon become “free” for binding with other molecules and atoms. These open pores between carbon atoms capture chemical pollutants in your home.

The air purifier you should never use

While most purifiers are safe and effective in removing pollutants, there are some purifiers that may actually damage your health

Purfiers that emit any amount of ozone should never be used in occupied spaces.  Ozone exposure can lead to sore throats, coughing, headaches or breathing difficulty.

The best purifiers for improving dental health

Purifiers that combine both True HEPA and activated carbon filters are your best option to improve your oral health.  Compare our air purifiers today to discover which works best for your home. 

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