How your smartphone could rot your teeth

If we leave the house without our phone, most of us feel a void, a disconnect from reality.

If we leave the house without our phone, most of us feel a void, a disconnect from reality.

Published Feb 3, 2016


London - Back and neck pain isn’t the only problem that may be caused by using your mobile.

We look at some of the other ways in which your phone could affect your health...

FREQUENT smartphone use could make your selfie smile go stained and gappy, according to research.

Electromagnetic radiation from mobiles seems to impair the effectiveness of saliva at protecting our teeth from decay, according to research from Tel Aviv University. Ear, nose and throat specialists compared the saliva of long-term phone users with that of deaf people.

Scientists reported that spending an hour on a mobile significantly reduces the natural production of saliva. This reduced saliva was low in the protein albumin and the enzyme amylase, according to the report published in 2012. Albumin is known to protect against tooth decay and amylase fights harmful bacteria in the mouth.

And, last June, scientists reported that frequent mobile use can cause tooth-braces to leach their protective nickel plating into your saliva. The problem is caused by the electromagnetic fields emitted by phones breaking down metal in the braces, reports the American Journal of Orthodontic and Dentofacial Orthopedics.

The rise of smartphones’ popularity has brought about an increase in red, scabby ears and cheeks, according to skin experts in the journal Dermatology Online.

They warn that prolonged contact of metal mobile phone parts with the ear and face can cause allergic reactions — a condition that the experts at Wake Forest University, South Carolina, have christened cell phone allergic contact dermatitis.

MOBILE-RELATED insomnia is a growing problem. A report this month in the journal Social Science & Medicine has warned taking a mobile into the bedroom significantly increases the risk of sleeplessness.

Researchers at Belgium’s School for Mass Communication Research surveyed 844 Flemish adults and found nearly two-thirds took their mobile to bed. They slept less and then felt more tired during the day.

The blue light emitted by mobile screens suppresses production of the sleep- inducing brain chemical, melatonin, making it harder to nod off, according to a 2013 study in the journal Current Biology.

Smartphone makers are taking steps to ensure devices emit less of this disruptive light, it has been reported this week.

Apple has announced a software update to include a “night shift’ mode that changes the colour of the display. Apps that allow devices to be switched to a “sleep-safe” mode are available on Android.

MOBILE phone use seems to be causing problems with our concentration.

The effect is most worrying among young people. A study of more than 7 000 adolescents in 2014 by researchers from the Chinese ministry of education found those who spend more than an hour a day on their mobiles have the worst attention spans. Limiting their use to an hour or less “may help adolescents to stay focused”, write the researchers in the journal BMC Public Health. However, simply owning a mobile can keep your brain in a state of distraction, demonstrated by the existence of “phantom phone vibration syndrome”, where people think their phone is ringing when it isn’t.

A 2012 study of undergraduates published in the journal of Computers in Human Behavior found 89 percent had experienced phantom phone vibrations, because their brains are on alert for calls, texts and emails.

SCIENTIFIC arguments are raging over whether the electromagnetic radiation emitted from mobiles can increase users’ risk of cancers of the brain, neck and ear.

The only way we will know for sure is through massive studies of millions of people over an extended period of time. This is because these cancers are rare, so it is statistically difficult to know if their incidence is rising and if this is due to mobiles.

Our greatest hope of clarity lies in a EU-wide scientific study called Cosmos which is following 290 000 healthy people in five European countries for 30 years. The UK has the most participants — 105 000 adult mobile users.

One thing nearly all the scientists agree on is the fact that if there is a risk, it will be greatest among those who use their mobiles the most.

Dr Mireille Toledano, a senior lecturer in epidemiology at Imperial College London, is one of the Cosmos team.

“While any question marks at all remain over the safety of mobiles, we recommend that people reduce the exposure of their brain to mobile phone radiation,” she says.

Regardless of the cancer risk, your life may be happier and healthier if you can manage to put the cursed gadget down for a while.

Daily Mail

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