Don’t Delay Dental Cleanings, Local Dentists Urge

GREENWICH – Local dentists are reminding Greenwich residents that dental care should not be neglected, even during the current pandemic. Last March, when the pandemic first reached U.S. shores, many cities issued stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders.

Connecticut was among those states, but since dental offices fell under essential services, they remained open. Still, during 2020, many patients chose to delay routine care, such as cleanings or fillings, out of an abundance of caution or a fear of being exposed to coronavirus. The trend was nationwide, as people weighed the risks of being indoors in situations where social distancing might not be possible.

In November, the American Dental Association released a statement to remind Americans that dental practices remain open, that dentistry can be practiced safely with procedures adhering to COVID-19 prevention guidelines, and that dental care is essential healthcare. “At this point in time, the American Dental Association firmly believes dental care can continue to be delivered safely,” said ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson in that statement.

Now, with vaccines on the horizon, and the first doses being administered in our community and across the state, Dr. Steven Altman, of Greenwich Dental Group, says he’d like to get the word out that it’s safe to visit your dentist. Dr. Altman recalls that in March of last year, the Greenwich Dental Group practice immediately saw a decline in appointments, seeing fewer patients as a result of the pandemic lockdown. “When this all started, back in March, there was definitely a drastic drop, especially for elective procedures,” Dr. Altman says now. “As essential workers, we were still open for emergency calls.” But, where the practice typically would see between 50 and 60 patients a day, that dropped to three or four on a typical day.

Greenwich Dental Group is located on Field Point Road, and is headed up by Dr. David Zadik, who has been a dental care provider in the community for 28 years. Dr. Altman joined the practice ten years ago. The group provides family dentistry, pediatric dentistry, and cosmetic dentistry.

When coronavirus hit Connecticut, Greenwich Dental Group had already planned to renovate their offices. But the slowdown gave the dentists an opportunity to rethink those plans. “For us, we were a little bit lucky, because we were doing renovations,” Dr. Altman said. The pandemic imposed a new direction on those plans: “We had the opportunity to do something different to make the environment safer.”

By summer of last year, the group had installed significant safety upgrades, including HEPA filtration, hand sanitizing stations for patients, and Plexiglas dividers in reception. They implemented other safety protocols as well, including travel questionnaires, temperature checks, symptom screenings, and more space to facilitate social distancing. They also installed a UVC lighting system that has been shown to kill viruses. “That made patients feel comfortable,” Dr. Altman said. “So little by little, word spread, and now we’re pretty much back to the level where we were.”

Now, COVID-19 vaccines are here, and while the rollout will take months, vaccinations raise hopes that a return to normal life is on the horizon in the state of Connecticut. That’s great news. But some dental practices in the state are preparing for a post-COVID uptick in the number of patient visits, as patients who delayed care rush to seek treatment. That could prove problematic, as a rush of patients could mean additional delays. And delaying routine cleanings and fillings can allow conditions to worsen. “A problem that would have meant thirty minutes in the chair can turn into three hours in the chair, or multiple visits,” Dr. Altman cautions. “Maybe you needed a simple filling and now it’s a root canal with a post, with a crown, and instead of a few hundred dollars, it’s a four-thousand-dollar problem.”

The foundation of dental health is preventive care. Good dental care supports your overall health. By the same token, poor dental health can weaken immune defenses and undermine general wellness. So, ironically, delaying dental care for fear of coronavirus could prove counterproductive. Patients may be exacerbating risk of a weakened immune system, out of an exaggerated fear of the risks of exposure to COVID-19 during a dental visit. Even under normal conditions, Dr. Altman says, dental plaque harbors bacteria, which the body must use its immune resources to combat. That can leave you vulnerable to infection. “It’s always better to be proactive. That’s what we’ve been doing since March.”

The bottom line? You don’t need to wait for the vaccine to visit your dentist. It’s safe to see your dentist now. And especially, if you’ve put off regular care, you probably can’t afford to wait.

–Kris Herndon

Originally appeared in the Greenwich Sentinel

The Power of Smiling

Smiling is often thought of as the result of a positive outlook or happy situation. While you are certainly more likely to smile when things are looking up, the power of your pearly whites can work in both directions. Sometimes, smiling will give you a boost of chemicals that can help produce positive emotions even when you’re not initially feeling them. A forced smile may seem counter-intuitive when you’re facing an unpleasant situation, but this could be just what you need to get through the hard times.

Reduced Stress

You may not think of a smile as the correct response to a stressful situation, but this may be just what you need. A study performed by Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman and published in Psychological Science revealed that smiling reduces the body’s heart rate during stressful situations.

Participants were instructed to hold chopsticks in their mouths while performing difficult activities. Some were told to hold the chopsticks in a way that would produce a neutral expression, while others were instructed to hold them so they were smiling. Some of the smilers simply formed the right shape with their mouths, while others were further instructed to create a Duchenne smile, which reaches to the eyes as well.

Those who were smiling exhibited slower heart rates during their challenges, and those with Duchenne smiles had the lowest heart rates of all. Smiling is believed to boost levels of serotonin, even when the smile is forced. Serotonin is a natural stress reducer in the brain. The participants had lower self-reported levels of stress when they were smiling as well. This suggests that even a forced smile can help you deal with difficulties better.

Increased Happiness

Most people think of a smile as the result of happiness, not the cause of it. However, there’s some evidence that putting on a smile can actually help you feel happier. As neurologist Dr. Isha Gupta explains, smiling creates a chemical reaction in the brain that produces dopamine. Low dopamine levels are often associated with depression, while higher levels of dopamine produce a feeling of happiness.

Multiple studies have shown that participants who were smiling while watching a cartoon or film were more likely to perceive the action as funny compared to those with a neutral expression or frown. This indicates that grinning along with the group may help you laugh more easily at jokes and enjoy a more positive perception of what’s going on.

Improved Pain Tolerance

Though smiling alone isn’t scientifically linked with a higher pain tolerance, adding laughter to the mix may offer the key to withstanding discomfort better. A series of experimental studies performed by researchers from the University of Oxford collaborating with both US and European researchers examined the link between laughter and the ability to withstand pain. The study indicated that those who watched a humorous video and laughed together in a group exhibited an increased tolerance for pain.

Laughing with others is a key part of this phenomenon. Those who laughed alone did not enjoy the same benefit. Those jolly facial expressions and the simple act of laughing seems to make it easier to withstand pain in the immediate aftermath. If you have a painful procedure coming up, you may find it easier to handle if you sit down and have a good laugh with some friends beforehand.

Beating the Winter Blues

The winter blues aren’t just an old wives’ tale. This is a real phenomenon caused by the lack of sun in winter months. The decrease in sunlight correlates to an increase in depression, lethargy, and irritability for many. In severe cases, this is known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). One of the most popular ways to treat SAD is with light therapy. Lamps that mimic natural sunlight may help stave off some of the blues that come with short winter days.

If you’re feeling depressed during the winter months, smiling may help some with those blues as well. The boost in serotonin and endorphins in the brain will help boost positive emotions. While grinning isn’t the only thing you can do to beat the winter blues, it’s certainly one treatment option you can pair with other strategies to enjoy a more positive outlook on this season.

Now that you know how powerful your smile can be, it’s time to address any issues that are keeping you from showing off your bright grin. If you’re dealing with discoloration, gaps, chipped teeth, or other cosmetic issues, you may be less likely to smile no matter what the situation. When you have beautiful pearly whites to show off, however, you might find excuses to smile even when life is presenting you with a challenge. Take care of your teeth, so you can enjoy all the benefits of a healthy smile, extending far beyond your mouth.

Reposted from 123Dentist

Millennials don’t know how to brush their teeth.

Millennials aren’t so great at brushing their teeth, even when they’re asked to brush to the best of their ability. That’s the finding of a new study in BMC Oral Health that evaluated the toothbrushing habits of young adults.
Researchers from Germany recorded dozens of young adults brushing their teeth supposedly to the best of their ability. However, many study participants skipped entire tooth surfaces and sections, making the researchers question whether young adults know how to properly brush at all.

“Young adults apparently lack a reasonable concept of what is meant by high-quality toothbrushing,” wrote the authors, led by Renate Deinzer, Dr. rer. nat., a professor in the department of medicine at Justus Liebig University Giessen (BMC Oral Health, October 19, 2018). “More efforts should thus be undertaken to explain to them (and adults) this concept.”

What went wrong

Studies have proved time and time again that adults are notoriously bad at brushing their teeth. However, the researchers were curious if people’s toothbrushing quality would improve if they were asked to brush to the best of their ability.

To find out, they invited all young adults born in 1995 and presently living in Giessen, Germany, to participate in a toothbrushing study. They excluded participants who had any professional dental training, wore fixed orthodontic appliances, or had cognitive or physical impairments that affected their toothbrushing ability. They also excluded those who regularly used a powered toothbrush.

A total of 98 young adults were asked to clean their teeth to the best of their ability. The researchers recorded the young adults with a tablet computer while they brushed in front of a sink. All participants were provided with a standard toothbrush and toothpaste, as well as different proximal hygiene options, including waxed and unwaxed dental floss, superfloss, and interdental brushes.

“The good news from these observations is that young adults, when asked to perform oral hygiene to the best of their abilities, spent an average of 3:20 [minutes] brushing,” the authors wrote. “This is more than 60% above common recommendations and suggests they were motivated to give it their best.”

However, despite their marathon brushing time, the participants’ technique was less than ideal. The young adults spent 40% of their time brushing lateral surfaces horizontally, and nearly 70% of participants still had persistent plaque after they finished.

“These young adults brushed occlusal surfaces nearly 3 times longer than palatinal surfaces, even though gum disease and even caries in adults originate at lateral surfaces,” the authors wrote. “Furthermore, 80% of the study sample skipped at least one sextant when brushing palatinal surfaces; only 5% brushed all palatinal sextants for more than 7.5 [seconds].”

The lack of toothbrushing quality wasn’t the only concerning finding in this study. The researchers had also hoped to include interproximal cleaning in their analysis, but too few participants cleaned between their teeth to make it feasible.

“Only 15 participants performed interdental cleaning,” the authors wrote. “Furthermore, most of these applied them only in some interdental spaces.”

Need to improve education

The study focused exclusively on young adults in a small town in Germany, so the results may not be applicable to those living in other places around the world. Furthermore, the young adults opted into the study, which may have biased the results.

However, the findings are still worrying and suggest that many young adults do not know proper brushing techniques and may conflate brushing longer with brushing better. The authors hope that researchers will conduct similar studies in other countries and also that new studies will investigate whether various oral hygiene education interventions can improve young adults’ brushing behavior.

“The present study demonstrates that — at least in young German adults — the demand to improve one’s oral hygiene might be useless as long as it is not explained in detail what exactly has to be improved,” the authors wrote. “The observed distribution of brushing time across regions indicates that young adults have a poor concept of what is important while brushing.”

6 Simple Ways to Stop a Toothache Fast

These hacks can give you some relief while you wait to see your dentist

There are a whole slew of body pains that hurt like hell, but a toothache is going to rocket to the top of any list. And if you’re not a huge fan of going to the dentist, a toothache can be an even bigger nightmare.

Still, if your tooth is aching, you shouldn’t postpone the trip, says Bobbi Stanley, D.D.S., a dentist at Stanley Dentistry. Pain in your tooth is a surefire sign that something’s wrong (Here are 6 Serious Health Problems Your Dentist Might Find).

A toothache typically comes from inflammation of one or more teeth, which causes pain, Dr. Stanley explains. This can be caused by a variety of issues, including cavities, impacted wisdom teeth, tooth fractures, gum disease, abscessed teeth, or worn-down enamel from tooth grinding.

At-home or over-the-counter solutions won’t solve the problem at hand, so the relief they provide will be temporary, says Dr. Stanley. You definitely need to loop in a dentist if you’re experiencing any persistent pain in your mouth. Still, home remedies for a toothache might come in handy during that painful waiting period before your appointment. Here are a few ways to make your toothache less excruciating.

Click HERE to read the full article and get temporary relief!

CONTACT US immediately for an emergency appointment.

Cross-posted from Men’s Health.
BY Suzannah Weiss FEBRUARY 6, 2018

U.S. sugary drink consumption is declining

Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption is declining, according to a new study from Harvard University researchers. While Americans are drinking fewer sugary beverages than they were a decade ago, consumption still exceeds the limit recommended by the U.S. government.

Americans appear to be getting the message about the dangers of added sugars, according to new research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. However, sugary drink consumption has not declined evenly among all race and ethnic groups in the U.S.
“[Sugar-sweetened beverages] are a leading source of added sugar to the diet for adults and children in the U.S., and their consumption is strongly linked to obesity,” stated lead study author Sara Bleich, PhD, in a press release accompanying the research. “Understanding which groups are most likely to consume SSBs is critical for the development of effective approaches to reduce SSB consumption.”

Bleich is a professor a of public health policy at Harvard. The study was published in the journal Obesity (November 14, 2017).

Sugary drink consumption varies by population

In addition to causing dental caries and erosion, frequent consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to obesity, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Public health advocates and researchers have encouraged Americans to reduce their sugary drink consumption, and some U.S. cities have started taxing sugar-sweetened beverages.

To see if the message is reaching the general public, Bleich and colleagues looked at data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) from 2003 to 2014. The surveys are conducted by the U.S.. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are designed to provide nationally representative data about the health status of children and adults in the U.S.

The researchers’ final analysis included 18,600 children between the ages of 2 and 19 and 27,652 adults age 20 and older. All participants were interviewed by NHANES researchers about their overall beverage consumption within the past 24 hours. Bleich and colleagues then analyzed their results over time.

Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption declined significantly between the 2003-2004 survey and 2013-2014 survey for both children and adults. The number of calories consumed from sugary drinks also declined, while water consumption rose.

“The overall decline in both beverage and SSB consumption is consistent with previous literature, suggesting a recent ‘turning point’ toward lower energy intake in the U.S. diet,” the authors wrote. They added that the decline may be attributed to “widespread discussion and media coverage of the role of certain foods in promoting obesity, changes to food allowances, … improvements to school feeding programs, and product reformulations by food manufacturers and retailers.”

While sugary drink consumption declined significantly overall, it did not decline for Mexican-American and non-Mexican Hispanic adolescents or for most non-Hispanic black adults. These groups also have a higher risk for obesity and diabetes, Bleich and colleagues noted.

“Although our results suggested that SSB consumption is declining overall, they also highlighted the need for reducing disparities in SSB consumption by race and ethnicity,” they wrote. “Current public health efforts may be helpful for narrowing this gap.”

The study authors also cautioned that sugary drink consumption is still high, with some demographics consuming more than recommended by public health organizations.

“Overall, beverage consumption declined for children and adults from 2003 to 2014, driven primarily by a decrease in the percentage of SSB drinkers and lower per capita consumption of SSBs,” they concluded. “However, adolescents and young adults still consume more than the recommended among of SSBs set by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and levels of SSB consumption are persistently highest among black, Mexican-American, and non-Mexican Hispanic individuals, who are also at higher risk for obesity.”

Top 5 Worst Halloween Candy for Your Teeth, According to Dentists

by Carly Zinderman, originally published in Reader’s Digest

Chewy candies

The reason candy, in general, is harmful to teeth is that bacteria in the mouth burn the sugar, creating acid as a byproduct, explains Matthew Messina, DDS, spokesperson for the American Dental Association (ADA). The acid then dissolves tooth enamel, which is what causes cavities. Chewy candies, including gummy candies and taffy, are among the worst offenders because they linger and stick around in your mouth, giving them additional time to cause tooth decay. Not to mention some are sticky and strong enough to pull out a filling, bridge, or braces.

Caramels

Caramels are another sticky offender because they stick to teeth—not to mention expensive dental appliances like orthodontics. Like other sweets, caramels are best enjoyed after a meal and brushing and flossing immediately after eating limits the amount of time the stickiness sticks around in your mouth.

Sour and citrus-flavored candies

Sour candies have grown in popularity over the years; and they are bad for teeth on two fronts. They contain both sugar and acid, according to Dr. Messina. Like other candies, limit how many sour candies and lemony sweets you or your child enjoys in order to prevent long-term damage any day of the year.

Hard candies

Hard candies may be a Halloween favorite, but suckers and lollipops actually do more harm than you might realize. Because they are meant to be enjoyed slowly, hard candies and their cousins on a stick linger longer, making it difficult for your saliva to do its job and causing acid to build up in the mouth. Making sure that you properly care for your teeth as soon as the candy is gone can help prevent cavities.

Creamy chocolates

Good news: When it comes to oral hygiene, chocolate tops the list of best bets. Dr. Messina admits to being a fan of chocolate because it dissipates fairly quickly with saliva. Because chocolate doesn’t linger on the teeth for very long, it doesn’t pose as much of a risk for tooth decay as other Halloween candy options. Not to mention that chocolate bars are also among the healthier candy picks for Halloween treats. Like other Halloween candies, chocolates should still be consumed in moderation.

Is bottled water RUINING your teeth?

We test pH levels of seemingly innocent brands – and the results may surprise you…

By Maggie O’neill For Dailymail.com
11 August 2017

It is widely known that soda, beer and coffee are bad for your teeth. Bottled water, however, seems harmless. But dentists warn that is not always the case. Some of the most popular brands of bottled waters have dangerous pH levels and lack essential fluoride, which can cause cavities. However, it is impossible to know from the label which ones are the safest – so we tested the pH levels of nine top brands to see which ones were the best and worst.

The pH level can range from zero to 14. On that scale, seven is neutral, anything under that is acidic and anything higher is alkaline. Our investigation found that samples of four of nine popular bottled water brands were very acidic. The brands – Smartwater, Dasani, Aquafina and Voss – had a pH level of 4.

How do bottled water brands affect your teeth?

We tested nine bottled water brands to see their pH levels. Brands with pH levels closer to zero are more acidic and can erode your tooth enamel. Brands with pH levels between seven and 14 are alkaline.

Smartwater: 4
Aquafina: 4
Voss: 4
Dasani: 4
Poland Spring: 7
Volvic: 7.5
Fiji: 8
Essentia: 8
Evian: 8.5

Drinking acidic water will harm your teeth, warns Dr Eunjung Jo of Astor Smile Dental. ‘Our enamel starts to erode at a pH level of 5.5 so it’s best to avoid any drinks with a pH that is lower than 5.5.’ Dr Jo also said that the damage done to your teeth increases proportionately with the time you spend sipping on a drink so spending three hours drinking a coffee is more harmful than downing it in 30 minutes. ‘The longer you sip and they stay in your mouth, [the] damage is bigger,’ she said.

She added that bottled water is not worse for your teeth than sodas, beer or coffee and she thinks Fiji water is the best for your teeth while Dasani, Voss and Smartwater are the worst. The lack of fluoride – a healthy ion that is good for tooth enamel – in bottled water can also be harmful. Tap water is regulated by the government, which makes sure it has accurate fluoride levels, but bottled water often lacks proper amounts of it. Dr Tema Starkman of High Line Dentistry said it is important to make sure you are always consuming fluoride. She said that this is especially important for children between the ages of zero and five whose teeth are still developing. If these children do not receive proper fluoride levels they can develop hypo-fluorosis, a condition that can leave white spots on their teeth, she said.

‘If they are not drinking a significant amount of tap water and are only drinking filtered, bottled water without measured levels of fluoride, then they could developmentally have problems.’

4 oral healthcare points for your pregnant patients

1. Oral health can affect pregnancy outcome

A pregnant women’s oral health can affect the outcome of her pregnancy. Studies have found associations between periodontal infections and preterm birth, or babies being born early. However, research has not shown that pregnancy outcomes improve with dental treatment.

“A mother who has poor oral health has a greater chance of transmitting cavity-causing bacteria to her newborn, even when the newborn doesn’t have teeth.”— Melanie Mayberry, DDS

“Poor oral health can negatively impact birth outcomes,” Dr. Mayberry told DrBicuspid.com.

Avoiding chronic inflammation and maintaining good nutrition are other important factors during pregnancy, as well as at other times, she said.

Pediatric dentist Anupama Tate, DMD, MPH, emphasized the connection between the mouth and the entire body. She is an associate professor of pediatrics at George Washington University School of Medicine and the director of advocacy and research in the division of oral health at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC.

“Poor oral health for a pregnant woman could be linked to birth complications like pre-eclampsia, preterm birth, and low birth-weight infants,” she said.

2. Dental treatment is safe

Studies have found that obtaining dental care, whether regular cleanings, placement of fillings, teeth extractions, imaging, or other procedures, is safe during pregnancy, and dentists and obstetricians who spoke with DrBicuspid.comrecommended it.

“Dental treatment during pregnancy, including dental radiographs with proper shielding and local anesthetics, is safe during all trimesters,” Dr. Tate said.

She also recommended proper oral hygiene using fluoridated toothpaste, chewing sugar-free gum, and eating small amounts of nutritious food throughout the day to help minimize caries risk.

Oral health for oral health’s sake is important, said Kim Boggess, MD. She is an obstetrician/gynecologist (ob/gyn) and a professor of maternal fetal medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

Dr. Boggess recommended routine dental care when pregnant women are due for a cleaning or checkup but delaying x-rays until after the first trimester.

“Urgent problems that include pain or fever should be addressed immediately regardless of trimester,” she noted.

Keeping the mouth as healthy as possible and free of caries and disease during pregnancy can reduce the chances of pain, infection, swelling, or chronic inflammation that might cause a woman to use antibiotics or an analgesic for a significant period of time, Dr. Mayberry noted.

3. What is normal?

While some oral health changes are normal during pregnancy, losing a tooth is not, the healthcare practitioners advised.

Some changes commonly occur during pregnancy that affect oral health, explained Renee Samelson, MD, an ob/gyn at the Albany Medical Center in New York. These include periodontal disease, increased food cravings and snacking that can affect caries risk, nausea and vomiting, and increased salivation and gum sensitivity.

Vomiting can bring up acid from the stomach. After vomiting, a pregnant woman should rinse her mouth with water mixed with 1 tsp of baking soda, or just plain water, to get rid of the acid, the dentists and ob/gyns recommended. Brushing teeth should be postponed for an hour after vomiting to minimize dental erosion, Dr. Tate said.

Despite and because of these issues, the dentists and ob/gyns advised that continuing with regular toothbrushing and flossing during pregnancy is important. Using mouthwash containing cetylpyridinium chloride can help eliminate bacteria associated with inflammation that can affect gums, Dr. Samelson added.

4. Untreated problems can be passed on

Untreated oral health problems in a mother can be passed on to her baby, experts noted. They also emphasized that early child caries is a preventable infectious disease.

Pediatric dentist Rocio Quinonez, DMD, MPH, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, discussed the connection between maternal and pediatric oral health, which is not yet completely understood.

“Mothers with cavities have kids with cavities,” Dr. Quinonez said. “There is a biological connection.”

Adults can transmit caries-causing bacteria to children in their households through common activities, such as tasting hot food before letting their child eat it or putting a pacifier in their mouth to clean it off, Dr. Samelson explained. This can affect children’s primary and permanent teeth.

Xylitol and secondarily sorbitol have been found to block the growth of Streptococcus mutans and prevent glucose metabolization, which can help avoid caries, she said. With the exception of gum containing xylitol or sorbitol, she recommended that patients and their children limit consumption of anything that sticks to teeth, which could include dried fruit or certain prenatal vitamins, and brush teeth or chew xylitol gum afterward.

Overall, maintaining good oral health during pregnancy is key but perhaps not as compelling as other aspects of healthcare during the prenatal period.
for more tips, go to: www.drbicuspid.com

Kid-Tested, Dentist-Approved: 6 Teeth Cleaning Tips from Dentist Parents

Click here for more Family Dentistry

As a parent, you may have more in common with your dentist than you think. Many moms and dads—even dentists—struggle to keep their children’s mouths and teeth clean. ADA dentist Dr. Gene Romo is a father of four – ages 13, 10, 8 and 2. “As you can imagine, there can be a wide range of behavior on who wants to brush and who doesn’t in our house,” he says. “I’m not just a dentist, I’m their dad, so making sure they’re establishing good habits early on is important to me.”

To keep your family’s smiles strong, try some of tricks of the trade from dentist moms and dads:

Establish a Fun Family Routine

In Dr. Romo’s house, there’s one rule everyone follows: “You have to brush before bed, and you can’t leave the house in the morning until you brush,” he says. “The most important thing is to make sure your family is brushing for 2 minutes, twice a day.”

Young kids love to imitate their parents, so take the opportunity to lead by example. “One thing I did with all my kids was play a game with them, kind of like monkey-see, monkey-do. We all have our toothbrushes, and they follow what I do,” he says. “When I open my mouth, they open their mouths. When I start brushing my front teeth, they start brushing their front teeth – and so on all the way until it’s time to rinse and spit. It’s just a fun way to teach them how to brush properly, and we get to spend a little time together, too.”

Making brushing a family affair also helps you keep an eye out for healthy habits. “Some kids want to do everything themselves, even toothpaste, so you can watch to make sure they’re not using more than they should – a rice-sized smear for kids 2 and under and a drop the size of a pea for kids 3 and up,” he says. “You can also do a quick final check for any leftover food when brush time is done.”

Try a New Angle

When her daughter was only 6 months old, ADA dentist Dr. Ruchi Sahota asked her husband to hold her while she brushed or brushed when her daughter was laying down. “You can see their teeth from front to back the best at that time,” she says.

If your child is old enough to stand and wants to brush in the bathroom, ADA dentist Dr. Richard Price suggests a different method. “Stand behind your child and have him or her look up at you,” he says. “This causes the mouth to hang open and allows you to help them brush more easily.”

Bigger Kids, Bigger Challenges

Checking up on your child’s daily dental hygiene habits doesn’t end as they get older. It’s more challenging when they get their driver’s license and head off to college, says ADA dentist Dr. Maria Lopez Howell. “The new drivers can drive through any fast food spot for the kinds of food and beverages that they can’t find in a health-minded home,” she says. “The new college student is up late either studying or socializing. They don’t have a nightly routine, so they may be more likely to fall asleep without brushing.”

While your children are still at home, check in on their brushing and talk to them about healthy eating, especially when it comes to sugary drinksor beverages that are acidic. After they leave the nest, encourage good dental habits through care packages with toothbrushes, toothpaste or interdental cleaners like floss with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. And when they’re home on break, make sure they get to the dentist for regular checkups! Or if school break is too hectic– you can find a dentist near campus to make sure they are able to keep up with their regular visits.

Play Detective…

As your children get older, they’re probably taking care of their teeth away from your watchful eye. Dr. Romo asks his older children if they’ve brushed, but if he thinks he needs to check up on them, he will check to see if their toothbrushes are wet. “There have been times that toothbrush was bone dry,” he says. “Then I’ll go back to them and say, ‘OK, it’s time to do it together.’”

If you think your child has caught on and is just running their toothbrush under water, go one step further. “I’ll say, ‘Let me smell your breath so I can smell the toothpaste,’” he says. “It all goes back to establishing that routine and holding your child accountable.”

…And Save the Evidence

It could be as simple as a piece of used floss. It sounds gross, but this tactic has actually helped Dr. Lopez Howell encourage teens to maintain good dental habits throughout high school and college.

To remind them about the importance of flossing, Dr. Lopez Howell will ask her teenage patients to floss their teeth and then have them smell the actual floss. If the floss smells bad, she reminds them that their mouth must smell the same way. “It’s an ‘ah-ha’ moment,” Dr. Lopez Howell explains. “They do not want to have bad breath, especially once they see how removing the smelly plaque might improve their social life!”

Above All, Don’t Give Up

If getting your child to just stand at the sink for two minutes feels like its own accomplishment (much less brush), you’re not alone. “It was so difficult to help my daughter to brush her teeth because she resisted big time,” says ADA dentist Dr. Alice Boghosian. Just remember to keep your cool and remain persistent.

“Eventually, brushing became a pleasure,” Dr. Boghosian says. She advises parents to set a good example by brushing with their children. “Once your child is brushing on their own, they will feel a sense of accomplishment – and you will too!”

From the American Dental Association

These States Are the Happiest and Healthiest

David Johnson
Feb 01, 2017

Have you gone to the dentist in the past 12 months?

Your answer to that question is a key predictor of your health and livelihood, according to a new report from Gallup and Healthways that ranks states by well-being. “People who go to the dentist are generally better at evaluating their lives and in control of their health, while poor oral health is linked to many serious physical issues downstream,” said lead Gallup researcher Dan Witters.

That question was just one of 55 on a Gallup survey taken by more than 177,000 Americans last year, which the group used to determine respondents’ physical, emotional, financial, community and social well-being.

read the rest at Time…

Infrequently Asked Questions: Why do we have wisdom teeth?

And what makes them so wise?

With millions of wisdom teeth extracted every year, it’s worth asking: If they’re such a (potential) danger to our health, why do we have them at all?

Curious, we reached out to Jefferson University Hospital’s Robert Diecidue, chairman of oral and maxillofacial surgery, and Daniel Taub, vice chair of oral and maxillofacial surgery, for the 411 on those stubborn third molars.

Why do we have wisdom teeth?

The world is full of questions we all want answers to but are either too embarrassed, time-crunched or intimidated to actually ask. With Infrequently Asked Questions, we set out to answer those shared curiosities.
The diet of our earlier ancestors was quite different from the one we have today. It consisted mainly of coarse food like raw meat, nuts, leaves and roots, which required extensive mastication force. Therefore, their bodies were suited with larger jaws that provided enough spacing to accommodate three pairs of molar teeth on each dental arch. Nowadays we boil, steam, bake, chop, cook, cut and dice almost every meal, making unnecessary an extra set of molars. With the evolution of the human race and the change in our diet, our jaws have become smaller and thinner providing no room for the third molars. Evolutionary biologists now classify wisdom teeth as vestigial organs or body parts that have become functionless due to evolution.

So they’re a product of evolution, then?

Yes. Our oldest ancestors relied more heavily on their larger jaws and teeth to be able to consume a tough and chewy diet consisting of leaves, roots and raw meats. Having 32 teeth was advantageous for greater chewing surface area. Having all 32 teeth was also advantageous just in terms of numbers and in the situation when a tooth — or teeth — were lost, there would be other teeth to chew [with]. Over time, man’s jaw has become smaller in size, possibly to accommodate a larger brain and cranium, or due to change in diet. As this has occurred, the jaw, in many cases, has become too small for the wisdom teeth to erupt.

Do all people get four?

Although most people typically get all four wisdom teeth, about 9 to 30 percent of Americans of European descent will get fewer than the ‘standard four.’ About 11 to 40 percent of African Americans and Asian Americans will develop fewer than four. Topping the list is the Inuit population of Alaska and Canada, who seem to develop missing one or more wisdom teeth 45 percent of the time. Some people are even lucky enough to develop extra, or supernumerary, wisdom teeth which are referred to as fourth molars. This happens about 2.1 percent of the time and most often occurs in the maxilla or top jaw.

Why are they more likely to not grow in straight — need to be taken out?

If there is inadequate arch space in the upper and lower arches, the jaws, this may prevent the wisdom teeth from erupting fully. Thus, space constraints may cause wisdom teeth to grow in at different angles. Once they come in partially, the overlying gum tissue can become infected due to food impaction in the area, as the wisdom teeth are hard to clean, thus they need to be removed in a timely fashion when patients are young and at the peak of their healing ability.

Why are they called wisdom teeth? Will I be less wise without them?

Third molars have been referred to as ‘wisdom teeth’ since the 17th century. In fact, initially, they were termed ‘teeth of wisdom’ and then later changed to ‘wisdom teeth’ in the 19th century. Eruption of these teeth is between the ages of 17 and 25 when a person reaches adulthood. Linguistic experts agree that they are called wisdom teeth because they appear once the brain undergoes full development. Research shows the brain does not achieve full maturation until the age of 25. Having your wisdom teeth extracted does not mean you will lose your wisdom, but you may lose some of the problems associated with them — such as pain, infection and bad breath.

How can people monitor or take care of their wisdom teeth properly?

Seeing your general dentist every six months is a great start. They will take radiographs, evaluate for decay, gingival health and help reinforce proper oral hygiene. The teeth can be monitored via routine, dental x-rays, panorex radiography or new technology 3D scanners (CBCT). If your wisdom teeth are not impacted, a functional occlusion routine evaluation by your general dentist along with radiographs are a great way to monitor wisdom teeth. If they have any concerns, they will refer you to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for further evaluation and treatment.

By Brandon Baker
Originally published in the Philly Voice

Halloween Sweets

12 Tips for a Healthy Halloween

Halloween is around the corner, which for most children means bags of free candy and a chance to build a stockpile of sweets for the winter. No surprise, Halloween can also present parents with a variety of health and safety challenges. “It’s OK to eat that candy on Halloween but it’s important to have a plan,” says ADA dentist Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty.

Here’s how you can help your family stay MouthHealthy on Halloween and year-round.

1. Time It Right

Eat Halloween candy (and other sugary foods) with meals or shortly after mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals. This helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and rinse away food particles.

2. Stay Away from Sweet Snacks

Snacking can increase your risk of cavities, and it’s double the trouble if you keep grabbing sugary treats from the candy bowl. ”Snacking on candy throughout the day is not ideal for your dental health or diet,” Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says.

3. Choose Candy Carefully

Avoid hard candy and other sweets that stay in your mouth for a long time. Aside from how often you snack, the length of time sugary food is in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay. Unless it is a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the mouth for a long period of time subject teeth to an increased risk for tooth decay.

4. Avoid Sticky Situations

Sticky candies cling to your teeth. The stickier candies, like taffy and gummy bears, take longer to get washed away by saliva, increasing the risk for tooth decay.

5. Have a Plan

It’s tempting to keep that candy around, but your teeth will thank you if you limit your stash. “Have your family pick their favorites and donate the rest,” Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says. “Look for organizations that help you donate candy to troops overseas, like Operation Gratitude, or see if your dentist has a candy take-back program.”

6.Drink More Water

Drinking fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, look for kinds that are fluoridated.

7. Maintain a Healthy Diet

Your body is like a complex machine. The foods you choose as fuel and how often you “fill up” affect your general health and that of your teeth and gums.

8. Stay Away from Sugary Beverages

This includes soda, sports drinks and flavored waters. When teeth come in frequent contact with beverages that contain sugar, the risk of tooth decay is increased.

9. Chew Gum with the ADA Seal

Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals helps reduce tooth decay, because increased saliva flow helps wash out food and neutralize the acid produced by bacteria. “You might even want to think about giving sugarless gum out as a treat instead of candy,” says Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty. Find one with the ADA Seal.

10. Brush Twice a Day

Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. Remember, replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning your teeth.

11. Clean Between Your Teeth

Floss your teeth once a day. Decay-causing bacteria get between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.

12. Visit an ADA Dentist

Regular visits to your ADA-member dentist can help prevent problems from occurring and catch those that do occur early, when they are easy to “treat.”

Why taking a selfie while brushing your teeth could be good for you!

Teeth have been big news lately. First, there was the issue of whether flossing really helps lower the risk for tooth decay and gingivitis. And now, questions about how often we really need to get dental X-rayshave made the news. The bottom line is that, clinically, these are complex issues that can’t easily be reduced to a simple soundbite.

Maybe it’s time to take a step back and talk about something we can all agree on – toothbrushing.

As a dentist, educator and clinical researcher (an academic dentist sounds so, well, dismissive), I was involved in a very small study, conducted in India, that examined whether taking a smart phone video selfie might help people learn to brush their teeth in a more effective manner. Well, can it help? Short answer: Maybe. Longer answer: It’s complicated, too.

A little selfie-consciousness may be good

Our recent study was conducted by three dentists from India, another researcher from the United States and me. We examined the feasibility of using smart phone video “selfies” to help improve toothbrushing technique.

We conducted a small proof-of-concept study, to determine whether toothbrushing with selfie-taking is worth studying further. As part of the study, Indian dental students were given a one-time toothbrushing training session. Then over two weeks, they recorded – on their phones in the privacy of their own home – five toothbrushing selfies.

Later, the dentist researchers from India reviewed and characterized the selfies. With further analyses from my US colleague, we found some changes and variation over time in the quality and accuracy of toothbrushing.

These changes may suggest that participants were trying to create a new habit, trying to change their behavior, almost as if, while taking the selfie, someone was watching them.

The thought was that by using selfies, participants were more self-conscious about changing their ingrained toothbrushing approach and so may have been better able to “override” their habitual way of brushing. Also, the participants may have had more fun or been more curious about doing a sometimes mundane task.

Habits are hard to change. One needs to overcome “muscle memory” to establish a new behavior. So relearning or retraining, just as with any sports-related skill, may be a gradual process, one prone to trial, error, forgetting and relapse. Some of our data might generally support this. But, based on our pilot study, it seems like adding the selfie to the mix could help people learn, well, new tricks.

Why toothbrushing matters

Why bother brushing our teeth? Oral health is a significant part of overall health. Oral hygiene such as tooth-brushing and flossing, physically cleaning between teeth, can help prevent gum disease and, to a degree, perhaps tooth decay. Cavities can occur between your teeth, where food particles and bacterial debris can linger because a toothbrush often can’t reach into these areas. Your dentist takes X-rays, also known as bite wings, in part to look for tooth decay in these areas. Tooth loss, especially of ones seen when smiling and talking, can lead to a lowered self-esteem and feeling self-conscious in social situations.

Tooth loss can also lead to poor physical health. For example, it can encourage a “softer” diet with fewer fruits, nuts and vegetables. Such food intake can promote a host of diseases and conditions, including weight gain, diabetes and heart disease. And of course, there’s tooth pain, which can be exquisite.

Effective toothbrushing can remove bacteria and organic debris known as dental plaque. Brushing with toothpaste also helps deliver topical fluoride to the teeth, which helps arrest and even reverse early forms of tooth decay.

Persons with risk factors for tooth decay, such as those who consume high levels of processed sugars, do not drink fluoridated water, have infrequent dental visits and have poor toothbrushing habits (lower skill level and less frequent brushing), may benefit from learning more effective oral hygiene techniques.

Having a lower income is associated with many of these risk factors, but most people – regardless of income – can probably improve their oral hygiene skills. And, over the long haul, this could help people keep more teeth and have better oral health.

It’s most important to brush your teeth at night, when your salivary flow goes down. Salivary flow helps buffer the acidic content in your mouth. If you have food particles in your mouth, then certain bacteria use these sugars (almost any carbohydrate) to grow and then give off a form of acid as a byproduct. And it’s this acid that causes tooth decay.

The same goes for kids. Ideally, brush their teeth after breakfast and at night before bed. Most kids can’t brush well until around the age where they can tie their shoes, so an adult will usually do a better job up to that point.

How should you brush? Sometimes people hear different advice from different dentists or hygienists. There is really no “one size fits all” approach, but there are key themes to effective tooth-brushing.

With a soft toothbrush, use gentle, small, circular motions on each tooth, and (using a two-finger “pencil grip” – not too much force) aim the bristles gently at a 45-degree angle where the tooth meets the gum tissue. Pay attention to all tooth surfaces, including the cheek side, the tongue side and the biting surface of each tooth.

Share your selfie – with your dentist or hygienist.

childdental

While ours is very a preliminary study, it opens a door.

But keep in mind, it’s not just the taking of the selfie alone. You will need to review it with your dentist or dental hygienist to get tips on how to improve and on the most important things to work on. Over time, this new, more effective brushing style could become your default habit. But then, you may need another selfie every so often, to make sure that you’re not slipping back into old habits.

An application of the toothbrushing selfie is that technology could be used to evaluate, monitor and permit providers to give real-time, convenient oral hygiene feedback to people across periods of time. This can help put a greater emphasis on prevention, which, at a minimum, should promote good dental checkups and could help keep costs down.

Another application is to remotely screen any number of children in rural areas. A five-second selfie of all the teeth, when reviewed by a dentist, could help identify those who need more immediate or even urgent dental intervention.

Future studies could allow individuals to review their own toothbrushing and critique themselves, and providers could “chime in” with positive comments and suggestions at regular intervals. This could help us understand how behavior change works and what approaches work best for whom.

There are a number of possible applications. The caveat, however, is that confidentiality and legal concerns would have to be ironed out first.

But, again, this was just an initial study, a first step. We established that people could take selfies at home and that we could and later analyze how well they brushed.

That gives us dentists something to smile about.

by Lance Vernon
Senior instructor, Case Western Reserve University

Cross-posted from The Conversation

Hidden Tooth Infections Boost Heart Disease Risk

Could an undetected infection at the root of a tooth be putting you at risk of heart disease? A Finnish study suggests it may.

“Acute coronary syndrome is 2.7 times more common among patients with untreated teeth in need of root canal treatment than among patients without this issue,” says researcher John Liljestrand.

Infection of the root of a tooth is most often caused by tooth decay.

The study included 508 Finnish patients with a mean age of 62 who were experiencing heart symptoms at the time of the study.

The coronary arteries of the patients were examined using angiography, and 36 percent of them were found to be suffering from stable coronary artery disease, 33 percent were undergoing acute coronary syndrome, and 31 percent did not suffer from coronary artery disease to a significant degree.

Their teeth were examined using panoramic tomography of the teeth and jaws. As many as 58 percent were found to be suffering from one or more inflammatory lesions.

The researchers also discovered that dental root tip infections were connected with a high level of serum antibodies related to the bacteria that cause such infections. This shows that oral infections affect other parts of the body as well.

Gum disease, such as periodontitis, is regarded as an independent risk factor for coronary artery disease and diabetes. Infections of root tips have been studied relatively little in this context, even though they appear to be connected with low-grade inflammation as well.

Cardiovascular diseases cause more than 30 percent of deaths globally. They can be prevented by a healthy diet, weight control, exercise and not smoking. With regard to the health of the heart, measures should be taken to prevent or treat oral infections, as they are very common and often asymptomatic. Root canal treatment of an infected tooth may reduce the risk of heart disease, but the researchers note that more research is needed.

Sealants are a Proven and Effective Therapy for Preventing Cavities in Children and Teens

Study: Sealants may reduce caries by up to 80%

By Tony Edwards, Editor in Chief, www.drbicuspid.com

August 5, 2016 — Sealants may reduce carious lesions on the occlusal surfaces of permanent molars by up to 80%, according to a study jointly published by the ADA and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD).

The authors of the review, hailing from multiple dental schools, organizations, and institutes, sought to summarize the available evidence regarding the effectiveness of dental sealants for preventing pit-and-fissure occlusal caries in primary and permanent molars on children, adolescents, and adults to develop a joint evidence-based clinical practice guideline (Journal of the American Dental Association, August 2016, Vol. 147:8, pp. 631-645).

“Sealants are a proven and effective therapy for preventing cavities in children and teens,” stated lead author Timothy Wright, DDS, in a release from the ADA and AAPD. “The joint report reaffirms that sealants should be a routine part of cavity prevention, as children with sealants are up to 80% less prone to cavities compared to those without them.”

Caries prevalence

In the U.S., nearly a quarter of children and more than half of adolescents have caries in their permanent teeth, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2011-2012. Pits and fissures on occlusal surfaces, especially those on permanent molars, increase the risk of these patients developing carious lesions, the authors noted.

“The joint report reaffirms that sealants should be a routine part of cavity prevention.”
— Timothy Wright, DDS, lead study author

The researchers started with more than 2,800 published studies from 1976 through 2016 for their systemic review and reduced the number to 24, including only parallel and split-mouth randomized controlled trials with at least two years of follow-up. They included studies whose authors reported sealant-effectiveness data compared with a control without sealants, fluoride varnishes, or other head-to-head comparisons.

In comparing sealant use versus nonuse, the researchers reviewed nine studies with a total of 3,542 participants. They found that those who received sealants reduced their risk of developing new carious lesions by 76% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.19-0.30; p < 0.00001) compared with participants who did not receive sealants.

The researchers also compared sealant use versus fluoride varnishes by reviewing three studies with a total of 1,715 participants. They found that those who received sealants had a 73% reduction in the risk of developing new carious lesions (95% CI: 0.11-0.69; p = 0.006) compared with participants who received fluoride varnishes.

Age of studies

The authors acknowledged several limitations with the review, including an inability to contact primary authors of the studies if there were issues related to risk of bias, as some of the trials were more than 20 years old. They also noted an inability to assess publication bias by means of using a funnel plot owing to the limited number of included studies per outcome.

More research is needed to provide more data about the merits of the different types of sealant materials, the authors noted.

“Available evidence suggests that sealants are effective and safe to prevent or arrest the progression of noncavitated carious lesions compared with a control without sealants or fluoride varnishes,” they concluded.

Survey: More pregnant women in U.S. visiting a dentist

May 16, 2016
By Michelle Manchir

The number of pregnant women in the U.S. going to the dentist has increased 5.5 percent over the last year, according to survey data released in May from Delta Dental Plans Association.

In 2015, 57.5 percent of mothers in the United States reported they visited the dentist during their pregnancy, Delta Dental Plans Association said. The 2016 survey results show that number has increased to 63 percent.

“This is positive news and we’re glad expectant mothers are increasingly visiting the dentist. Oral health issues have a heightened risk of occurring during pregnancy, so being aware and on top of these is crucial,” said Dr. Bill Kohn, Delta Dental Plans Association’s vice president of dental science and policy, in a news release.

Most women who reported seeing a dentist during pregnancy — 37 percent — said it was a routine checkup, while 13 percent said they wanted to address a particular oral health issue and six percent said they wanted to discuss what to expect when it came to oral health while pregnant.

The survey was conducted between Dec. 16, 2015, and Jan. 14, 2016, among a nationally representative group of 1,307 parents of children ages 6-12.

Dental professionals can use ADA’s consumer website, MouthHealthy.org, to help inform patients about what’s safe and healthy for them during pregnancy.

For more information, visit MouthHealthy.org/pregnancy.

In 2015, The Journal of the American Dental Association published research that showed it’s safe for pregnant women to undergo dental treatment with local anesthetics.

The researchers compared the pregnancy outcomes between a group of women exposed to dental treatment with anesthetics and a control group that did not have treatment. The study showed that exposure to dental care and local anesthetics during pregnancy is not associated with increased risk for major medical problems in newborns.

Gum diseases could open the body to a swarm of infections

Mouth microbes may be connected to a variety of illnesses, more and more studies are showing.

Dental care has been disconnected from general health care for many years now, but the more you start to think about it, the stranger it seems. After all, you don’t really separate any other branch of medicine so… why teeth? It all started in the 19th century, following conflicts between surgeons and dentists in England. The conflict was carried on in the United States, after medicine became linked to employer insurance and Medicare. The fissure between medicine and dentistry widened, until it was irreparable. Medicine was split into dental care and all the rest… and has remained so to this day. But is it really fair to exclude dental care from the rest of health care?

When Salomon Amar, a periodontal specialist at Boston University, began exploring links between oral bacteria and heart disease in animal studies in the late 1990s, reactions were unfriendly. Skepticism, in all its forms, was the general response – why would a dentist become involved in heart disease studies? But Amar was’t alone. Wenche Borgnakke, a dental researcher at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, has been making the same case for years, pointing to several published studies. Especially, a study published last year in the journal Medicine highlights that patients on dialysis who received periodontal treatment had an almost 30 percent lower risk of pneumonia and hospitalization from infections. Furthermore, a recent study found that gum problems is associated with a 10% higher mortality.

The scale seems to be tipping the other way, as more and more physicians are noticing connections between oral hygiene and general health. Says Jean Wactawski-Wende, a cancer epidemiologist at the State University of New York at Buffalo:

“The more I work on oral health and cancer, the more I think, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to keep my teeth clean.’ ”

Plaque seems to one of the main culprits, and that makes a lot of sense – after all, it’s a thick layer of bacteria inside your mouth.

“If you do not brush your teeth, it will sit there and accumulate. As that plaque gets thicker and thicker, there is less and less oxygen in the deepest layers,” Borgnakke says. Safely sheltered, the innermost plaque starts to favor anaerobic bacteria, which, when they escape into the blood, can survive in the oxygen-starved nooks and crannies deep inside the body.
While many questions still remain, and the relationship between gum health and overall health remains an open question, there is growing evidence that you gums can open the body to a swarm of infections. The science is not yet clear on it, but in the mean time, it’s better to be safe and sorry. Clean your gums, you may be helping your entire body.

by Mihai Andrei
April 8, 2016

Source: G. Hajishengallis/Nat. Rev. Immuno. 2015

4 Tips for Avoiding Bad Breath When You’re On the Go

Moms, busy professionals, students and many other people are so busy throughout the day that they sometimes forget to take care of their mouths.

You’re so busy throughout the day that you might sometimes forget to take care of your mouth. While this is understandable, the fact that you’re busy shouldn’t mean that you neglect your oral health. When you forget or pass on brushing and flossing, you open to door to bacteria that can lead to bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. In order to stay healthy, take care of your mouth even when you may not have the time to do so.

People who lead busy lives should remember the following things to help them keep their mouths clean.

1. Carry travel-sized oral health products

Travel-sized oral health products can really come in handy. Many are small enough to easily keep in your car, purse or backpack so that you have them when you need them. If nothing else, try to keep some floss and a small bottle of alcohol-free mouthwash handy. That way, if you have a meal where you get something lodged in your teeth or feel that your breath may have taken a turn for the worse, you can try to take care of it while still out and about. In addition to those two things, you can also carry a travel toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste. Travel toothbrushes are compact and often have a small case or cover that allows you to carry and use them without any mess.

2. Drink lots of water

Drinking lots of water will help you wash away any food particles and bacteria that collect in your mouth. This will help keep your breath fresh, and because most water in the U.S. is fluoridated, you’ll even be strengthening your teeth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fluoride added into water helps remineralize teeth and prevent cavities. For this reason, it has been added to water supplies for over 70 years. By drinking lots of water and carrying a refillable water bottle, you’ll be able to help keep your teeth healthy.

3. Stay away from certain foods and drinks

Sugary foods and drinks should be avoided. When sugary foods are eaten, bacteria in the mouth interact with the sugar and leave behind an acid that can attack your teeth. This leads to cavities and tooth decay. Starchy foods high in refined carbohydrates, such as fried foods or snacks like potato chips, are no friend to your teeth and can lead to the same result as sugary foods. If you do end up eating these foods, you should make sure to clean your mouth after doing so.

4. Use sugar-free mints, lozenges or gum

Chewing gum or sucking on a mint can help clean your teeth. Gum and mints increase the amount of saliva in your mouth, which will wash away any leftover food or plaque that has collected on your teeth. While any gum or mint will increase the amount of saliva, sugar-fee gum or mints are much better and will help your oral health much more. Try to use products that contain xylitol instead of sugar as this natural alternative to sugar actually fights off the bacteria that cause bad breath and tooth decay.

Worlds first caffeinated toothpaste jolts you awake and prevents cavities

If you find that you simply cannot start your day without a caffeine fix, but can’t stand the aftertaste of coffee, this toothpaste is just the thing for you. Invented by American entrepreneur Dan Meropol, Power Energy Toothpaste is the world’s first caffeinated toothpaste, designed to give people that much needed morning boost as well as keep their teeth squeaky clean.

Meropol, a Brown University graduate, said he was disturbed to learn that only fifty percent of Americans floss daily, and fifty percent brush only once a day. So he was trying to come up with ways to inspire people to take better care of their teeth, when his friend Ian suggested a caffeinated toothpaste.

At first, Meropol figured that a caffeinated toothpaste must already exist, but he was shocked to learn that no one had ever thought of it before. So he decided to run with the idea and started formulating a special blend of his own. He eventually came up with Power Toothpaste, which provides an instant hit of caffeine that’s absorbed through the gums and mouth.

This is supposedly faster than the traditional coffee-through-the-stomach method, taking effect even before you’ve finished brushing. But this also means that the ‘high’ won’t last very long. “I was sleepy again less than an hour after brushing with Power Toothpaste,” wrote Motherboard contributor Rachel Pick, who tried the product first hand.

That’s because the caffeine fix is instant, and it isn’t being absorbed over time like with a cup of coffee. “Power Toothpaste is only meant as a quick jolt to take you out of your morning fog, and in that regard, it works well,” Pick wrote. Which is exactly what Meropol is aiming for – he just wants people to improve their dental care habits, and if a temporary caffeine high will do the trick, so be it. “Too many people aren’t taking care of their teeth, even when they know they should,” he said.

Pick also noted that Power Toothpaste doesn’t contain fluoride, so it technically classifies a cosmetic product rather than a drug. Dentists are apparently okay with this, but they do recommend following it up with a mouthwash that does contain fluoride.

Meropol first shared the toothpaste with his family and friends, and is now ready to bring it to the masses. He started an Indiegogo campaign on January 19, and he’s already raised over $15,000, completing 35 percent of his goal in just three days. Looks like a lot of people are interested in getting a rush while they brush.

Devices Reduce Blood Pressure in Sleep Apnea

January 5, 2016 — Both continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and mandibular advancement devices (MADs) reduce blood pressure in patients with obstructive sleep apnea, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The meta-analysis found no significant difference between the blood pressure outcomes associated with the two therapies, but CPAP had a considerably higher probability of reducing systolic blood pressure, concluded lead study author Daniel Bratton, PhD, and colleagues (JAMA, December 1, 2015, Vol. 314:21, pp. 2280-2293).

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs in about 2% to 4% of the population in Western countries according to a 2002 study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (May 2002, Vol. 165:9, pp. 1217-1239); however, the study authors noted that the prevalence of the condition is on the rise because of increasing obesity in these populations. The condition is associated with oxygen loss and wakefulness from sleep, which can lead to increases in blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a 2010 study in Nature Reviews Cardiology(December 2010, Vol. 7:12, pp. 677-685).

CPAP versus MADs

Continuous positive airway pressure devices have been shown to be an effective treatment for improving symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, such as daytime sleepiness. The authors of the current study cited multiple studies that show the device also lowers blood pressure. For patients who are unable to tolerate CPAP, an alternative treatment often used is the mandibular advancement device, which works by protruding the mandible and tongue to keep the airway open during sleep.

In this study, the researchers from the University of Zurich in Switzerland compared CPAP and MAD to see what changes the devices had in the blood pressure of patients with obstructive sleep apnea. The meta-analysis included 51 studies from the databases of Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Library to the end of August 2015 and included 4,888 patients with obstructive sleep apnea.

The researchers found that both CPAP and MADs were associated with similar reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared with an inactive treatment.