Interesting Health News


Talk to your pediatrician about protecting pre-teen boys and girls from oral cancer in 20 or 30 years…

Treatment for throat cancer, tongue cancer, and other oral cancers can be disfiguring and debilitating. The side effects are lifelong, and can affect appearance, eating, speaking, and general ongoing pain and discomfort. Wouldn't it be great if we could prevent this with a simple vaccine?

Important NEW INFO! from The Journal of Clinical Oncology, October 3, 2011

Oral cancer is increasingly hitting younger people who have previously been exposed to the virus that causes cervical cancer. (HPV or Human Papilloma Virus)

The Journal of Clinical Oncology reports that the proportion of "virus associated" cancers is rising, compared to "traditional risk" (older age, male, alcohol, and tobacco use) cancers. If these trends continue, oral HPV-positive cancers will become the major form of head and neck cancer by 2020.

16% of cancer samples were HPV positive from 1984-1989.
73% of cancer samples were HPV positive from 2000-2004!

AND HPV-negative cancers declined 50% from 1988-2004, (likely due to declines in smoking and alcohol use.)

Good News! And sort of good news…

The good news is that future HPV positive oral cancers may be prevented with the HPV vaccine in preteens. Senior author, Dr. Maura Gillison, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine at Ohio State University Cancer Center, notes that 90-95% of HPV-positive oral cancers were caused by one HPV type – HPV16, which is targeted by vaccines for cervical cancer. She says "with HPV vaccines, we have a great opportunity to potentially prevent oropharynx cancers in future generations, including in boys and men…"

The "sort of good news" is that HPV-positive cancer patients tend to have a better survival rate than HPV-negative patients. Nonetheless, it's still oral cancer, it's still debilitating, and the impact on quality of life is still permanent.

So, if you have kids, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and young friends…. think about this. We see oral cancer patients, and we can assure you that this is a bad disease. What if it's preventable??

Reference: Journal of the American Dental Association, 142(11), November 2011


Children and teens who are asthmatics tend to be more carious and experience gingivitis than their counterparts of the same age but do not have asthma. In a thesis presented at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg, Sweden, those in the age groups of 2, 6, 12-16, and 18-24, with and without asthma, were studied. In the first study, 3-year-olds with asthma had more caries than their same-age counterparts who did not. "The children with asthma had a greater tendency to breathe through the mouth; they became dry in the mouth, and, were therefore given sugary drinks more often. This may have contributed to them developing higher caries prevalence," said Malin Stensson, a dental hygienist and researcher at the Department of Cariology, Institute of Odontology at the Sahlgrenska Academy. These same children then were monitored in a study from age 3 to 6.

Comparisons were also made between youths between the ages of 12 and 16 who suffered from long-term moderate or severe asthma to those in the same age range who did not have asthma. "Only 1 out of 20 in the asthma group was caries-free, while 13 out of 20 were caries-free in the control group. One factor that may have influenced the development of caries is somewhat lower level of saliva secretion, which was probably caused by the medication taken by those with asthma," said Stensson, adding, "Adolescents with asthma also suffered more often from gingivitis than those without asthma." Researchers also examined the oral health of those between the ages of 18-24. The results from the groups with and without asthma were similar to those in the 12-16-year-olds, although the differences between those with asthma and those without were not as large. - Journal of the California Dental Association, July 2011


A recent study suggests that those who have periodontal disease run a risk for respiratory infections including pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Infections such as these — one of the leading causes of death in the United States — are produced when bacteria from the upper throat is drawn into the lower respiratory tract. Two hundred individuals, who had at least 20 natural teeth and were between the ages of 20 and 60, participated in the study, which was published in an issue of the Journal of Periodontology. All participants underwent a comprehensive oral evaluation to measure periodontal health status. Half of those who took part in the research were hospitalized patients suffering from a respiratory disease such as acute bronchitis, COPD, and pneumonia. The other half had no history of respiratory disease.

Results showed that those with respiratory infections had poorer periodontal health than their counterparts who were disease-free. Researchers believe the presence of oral pathogens associated with periodontal disease may increase a patient's risk of developing or exacerbating respiratory disease and note that additional studies are needed to more conclusively understand this link, according to a news release via ScienceDaily.

Previous research has associated gum disease with other chronic inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes. "Pulmonary diseases can be severely disabling and debilitating," said Donald S. Clem, DDS, president of the American Academy of Periodontology. "By working with your dentist or periodontist, you may actually be able to prevent or diminish the progression of harmful diseases such as pneumonia or COPD. This study provides yet another example of how periodontal health plays a role in keeping other systems of the body healthy." Clem emphasized the significance of regular oral care to help prevent periodontal disease. Taking good care of your periodontal health involves daily toothbrushing and flossing. You should also expect to get a comprehensive periodontal evaluation every year." - Journal of the California Dental Association, July 2011


An all-natural lozenge to help treat individuals with xerostomia may be available to the public in the coming months. A clinical trial currently is under way at Georgia Health Sciences University College of Dental Medicine. "These patients' mouths are as dry as if you've closed the faucet, and we want to turn that faucet back on," said Stephen Hsu, PhD, molecular and cell biologist and coinvestigator of the study. "The cells and glands that produce saliva are still there, they're just not working." Xerostomia affects about 40 percent of American adults.

Through previous animal studies and human sample testing, GHSU researchers found that dry mouth involves salivary gland inflammation, fewer antioxidants and elevated markers for abnormal growth and DNA damage caused by free radicals, according to a news release. Green tea contains polyphenols, which are strong antioxidants, and reduce that damage to the salivary gland. "With green tea polyphenols, we have an agent that's helping to correct the salivary gland's abnormal behavior," said Douglas Dickinson, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Oral Biology and coinvestigator. In addition to the lozenge containing green tea polyphenols, it also contains xylitol and jaborandi leaf extract. The slow, extended release that remains in the mouth contrasts the systemic effect caused by dry mouth prescription medications that can cause profuse sweating and diarrhea, said Scott De Rossi, DMD, chairman of the Department of Oral Health and Diagnostic Sciences and principal investigator. - Journal of the California Dental Association, May 2011


University of Michigan School of Dentistry researchers have discovered that when they inhibited the expression of a protein in oral cancer cells in a petri dish, those cells did not proliferate and more of them died. This finding may give new optimism to individuals suffering from aggressive, localized forms of head and neck cancer. What's more, when researchers suppressed the protein, SIRT3 or Sirtuin-3, in the cancer cells and combined that with radiation or chemotherapy treatment, the prohibitive effect on cancer cells was even greater, said Yvonne Kapila, associate professor of dentistry and lead author of the study, according to a news release. Kapila, whose research team began looking at the Sirtuin group of proteins because some studies suggest they are key regulators for cell integrity and survival, said mice that were injected with SIRT3-inhibited oral cancer cells had a 75 percent reduction in tumors compared to the mice injected with regular oral cancer cells. "We thought that maybe cancer cells, because they are very crafty, may also use one of these proteins to their advantage to extend their own survival," said Kapila. "With oral cancer, often the problem is the difficulty of early detection, thus when diagnosed at a late stage the cancer becomes very aggressive. If one can find a way to tailor treatments to those aggressive situations obviously you have a far better case of survival."

The eighth most common cancer in the world, oral cancer, as well as oral squamous cell carcinoma accounts for 90 percent of all malignancies. The five year survival rate for patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma is 34 percent to 62.9 percent, according to the study. Kapila also commented that oral cancer survival rates haven't changed in decades, so there's a great desire in the scientific community to find more effective treatments. Some research has shown that SIRT1 and SIRT3 proteins may suppress, rather than support, tumor growth, so it's important to remember that each case is different, said Kapila. - Journal of the California Dental Association, May 2011


A recent study suggests that women who regularly obtain dental care reduce their chances by one-third of stroke, heart attacks, and cardiovascular issues. In the analysis, conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, data was used from an estimated 7,000 individuals between the ages of 44 and 88 enrolled in the Health and Retirement Study, according to a news release. The study did not yield similar benefits for their male counterparts.

The study, published online in Health Economics, compared people who went to the dentist during the previous two years with those who did not. The findings add to a growing body of research linking oral and cardiovascular health. "Many studies have found associations between dental care and cardiovascular disease, but our study is the first to show that general dental care leads to fewer heart attacks, strokes, and other adverse cardiovascular outcomes in a causal way," said study lead author Timothy Brown, PhD, assistant adjunct professor of health policy and management at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health.

The longitudinal study followed the same individuals over time, and each biennial survey included questions on whether subjects had visited the dentist and whether they had experienced any heart trouble during the prior two years. Researchers were not surprised that men did not benefit the same as women obtaining dental care. "To my knowledge, previous studies in this area have found that the relationship between poor oral health and cardiovascular disease markers varies by gender, but none have examined differences between men and women with regard to actual cardiovascular disease events," Brown said. - Journal of the California Dental Association, April 2011


High consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as those found in nuts and fatty fish, has been shown in a study to lower the risks of gum disease and periodontitis. During a five-year study of 184 adults, those who ate the highest amounts of fatty acids were 30 percent less likely to develop gum disease and 20 percent less likely to develop periodontitis. The research was published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. "This study shows that a small and relatively easy change in people's diet can massively improve the condition of their teeth and gums, which in turn can improve their overall well-being," said Nigel Carter, DDS, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation. Lead researcher of the study, Asghar Z. Naqvi, MD, MPH, MNS, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, said, "We found that n-3 fatty acid intake, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are inversely associated with periodontitis in the U.S. population.

To date, the treatment of periodontitis has primarily involved mechanical cleaning and local antibiotic application. A dietary therapy, if effective, might be a less expensive and safer method for the prevention and treatment of periodontitis." "Most people suffer from gum disease at some point in their life," said Carter. "What people tend not to realize is that it can actually lead to tooth loss if left untreated, and in this day and age, most people should be able to keep all their teeth for life." - Journal of the California Dental Association, January 2011


Women are less likely to suffer from mouth cancer if they consume high volumes of folic acid in vitamin B in fruits and veggies, according to a recent study. Researchers from the Columbia University Medical Centre and Harvard School of Public health studied 87,000 nurses for 30 years. Women who had low folic acid intake and a high intake of alcohol were three times more likely to develop mouth cancer than their counterparts who, while drank a lot of alcohol, also consumed a high volume of folic acid. This is the first time that folic acid intake has been shown to affect the risk of the disease.

"Rates of mouth cancer in women have been increasing for many years as a result of changed social habits with more women smoking and drinking. This new research could offer a method to reduce this by looking at the folic acid intake and increasing fruit and vegetables containing folic acid in the diet, said Nigel Carter, DDS, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation. "In the past, studies have tended to focus on males as they are twice as likely to suffer from the disease. Whilst this study focuses on women, we know that men also benefit from the protective value of increased fruit and vegetables."

Folic acid (vitamin B9) is essential to one's health by helping to make and maintain new cells. Alcohol, which leads to a reduction in folic acid metabolism by creating acetaldehyde, which then leads to a reduction of folic acid in the body, is one of the major risk factors for mouth cancer. Pregnant women are advised to supplement their intake of folic acid, to ensure healthy development of the baby. Folic acid is in asparagus, beans, lentils, peas, spinach. In smaller amounts, it also is in broccoli, Brussels sprouts and fruit juices. Folic acid is also added to bread. - Journal of the California Dental Association, January 2011

Click here for more information about folic acid in your diet and vitamin supplements, from Centers for Disease Control of the U.S. Government. Hint: It is difficult to get enough folic acid even from a healthy diet. One bowl of fortified breakfast cereal, (which ones?) or a daily multivitamin will provide what you need. Mouth cancer and birth defects are very serious problems, this aid is easy.


A genetically engineered herpes virus has been shown to help individuals suffering from mouth, neck, and head cancer. Seventeen patients were administered an injection of the virus in addition to radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments. Onco VEX, the cold sore virus, was adapted to grow inside the cancer cells but not in the cells that were healthy. Inside the cancer cells, the modified virus burst and killed tumor cells, and released a human protein helping to stimulate the patients' immune systems, according to a news release about the trial conducted by the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. The virus also was injected into cancer-affected lymph nodes, up to four doses. In tumor scans for 14 patients, shrinkage was observed and more than three quarters of the participants showed no trace of residual cancer in their lymph nodes during subsequent surgery to remove them. More than two years later, more than three-quarters of the patients involved in the study had not died from cancer. "Around 35 to 55 percent of patients given the standard chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment typically relapse within two years, so these results compare very favorably, said Dr. Kevin Harrington, principle investigator for the ICR and he Royal Marsden, adding, "This was a small study so the results should be interpreted with caution; however the very high rates of tumor response have led to the decision to take this drug into a large-scale phase 3 trial."

Side effects from the trial ranged from mild to moderate and were thought to be caused by the chemotherapy and radiotherapy. "This study is very positive news. Mouth cancer is a devastating disease," said Nigel Carter, DDS, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation. - Journal of the California Dental Association, December 2010


Dental researchers at New York University have new evidence that gum inflammation could possibly contribute to brain inflammation, neurodegeneration, and Alzheimer's disease. "The research suggests that cognitively normal subjects with periodontal inflammation are at an increased risk of lower cognitive function compared to cognitively normal subjects with little or no periodontal inflammation," said Angela Kamer, DMD, MS, PhD, assistant professor of periodontology and implant dentistry, who led the team. The team examined 20 years of data that support the hypothesis of a possible causal link between periodontal disease and Alzheimer's disease, according to a news release. Her study, conducted in collaboration with Douglas E. Morse, DDS, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology and Health Promotion at NYU College of Dentistry, and another team of researchers in Denmark, builds upon Kamer's 2008 study, which found that subjects with Alzheimer's disease had a significantly higher level of antibodies and inflammatory molecules associated with periodontal disease in their plasma compared to healthy people.

Kamer's latest findings are based on an analysis of data on periodontal inflammation and cognitive function in 152 subjects in the Glostrop Aging Study, which has been gathering medical, psychological, oral health, and social data on Danish men and women. Kamer presented her findings at the 2010 annual meeting of the International Association for Dental Research last July. A follow-up study - using a larger, more ethnically diverse group of subjects - is planned to examine further the connection between periodontal disease and low cognition, Kamer said. - Journal of the California Dental Association, December 2010


Apparently there's another reason not to bite off more than you can chew: an increase in jaw injuries from noshing on supersized hamburgers. According to the British Broadcasting Company report, a Taiwanese university professor has determined that large hamburgers are the cause of the rising number of jaw injuries. Hsu Ming-lung, of the National Yang-Ming University, has found that patients are having trouble opening their mouths after eating giant hamburgers in some Taiwan eateries. Difficulties arise when diners try to eat burgers taller than 3 inches. Hsu said a human mouth is designed to gape over objects measuring up to 1 ½ inches and overextension, such as in an effort to bite into a giant burger, can injure the joint between the jawbone and the temporal bone in front of the ears. He called on fast-food restaurants in Taiwan to limit the size of their hamburgers to prevent the public from quite literally biting off more than they can chew, according to a news release. - Journal of the California Dental Association, November 2010


According to a new study at the University of Buffalo in New York, "playing" with a pierced tongue stud could lead to a gap between the front teeth. Researchers asserted that those with tongue piercings were likely to push the metal stud up against their teeth and consequently cause gaps and other problems to arise, such as unnecessary orthodontic issues. Nigel Carter, DDS, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said the study highlighted the risks that tongue piercings have on oral health. "It's certainly something to think about before going out to get a tongue piercing. The temptation of playing with the stud in the mouth would be very high and in time, this could lead to hundreds of pounds worth of corrective treatment. The results of this study stress the risks that are associated with tongue piercings…In order to avoid such health problems in the future, along with the spiraling costs of any related treatment, I would advise people to stay clear of tongue piercings." Sawsan Tabbaa, a professor of orthodontics at the University of Buffalo's School of Dental Medicine and lead author of the study, said that "force, over time, moves teeth" and that the results are caused by people playing with their studs crop up. - Journal of the California Dental Association, October 2010


The National Hockey League team of the Chicago Blackhawks has put up impressive numbers in its 84-year history: two conference championships, 14 division championships, and its fourth Stanley Cup win last May. Blackhawks' Duncan Keith put up astounding numbers of his own during a 2010 playoff game against the San Jose Sharks: A puck shot to the mouth cost the defenseman seven teeth. Seven. And he was wearing a mouthguard. "I dread picturing the degree of damage that the player might have sustained without wearing a mouthguard," said Matthew Messina, DDS, an American Dental Association consumer adviser and a Cleveland-area general dentist, in a news release following Keith's injury

"A properly fitted mouthguard is an important piece of athletic gear that can help protect your mouth, cushion blows that might otherwise cause broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face, or jaw." After Keith's team beat the Sharks, he bared his mouth to show the destruction to his mouth and explained the on-site temporary treatment during the game, "they numbed it after it happened; they just stuck a bunch of needles in there and froze it all up," Keith said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. "It feels a lot better when we win. It would probably be hurting a lot more if we lost."

According to a 2007 evaluation of the effectiveness of mouthguards in reducing injuries, the overall injury risk was 1.6 to 1.9 times greater without a mouthguard, relative to the use of mouthguards during athletic activity. Another study of collegiate basketball teams found that athletes wearing custom-made mouthguards sustained significantly fewer dental injuries than those who did not, said the ADA. "But you don't have to be on the football field or in a hockey rink to benefit from a properly fitted mouthguard," Messina said. "Findings in sports dentistry show that even in non-contact sports, such as gymnastics, mouthguards will help protect participants, and many experts recommend that everyone - children to adults - wear a mouthguard during any recreational activity that might pose a risk of injury to the mouth, including practice and training sessions." - Journal of the California Dental Association, September 2010

Click here to learn more about mouthguards and sportsguards.


A Tickle. Cooing. Funny faces. These are things parents do to make their baby grin from ear to ear. However, according to a recent American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry survey, a stupefying 97 percent of parents are poorly informed about how critical at-home care and dental visits are to their infant's healthy smile. "Oral health is absolutely critical for overall health," said William C. Berlocher, DDS, MA, AAPD president. "Parents know the value of early visits to the pediatrician, but it's alarming to learn how few parents understand that infants need to see the pediatric dentist before their first birthday, even before baby teeth appear." Ninety-seven percent of those surveyed didn't know their children should have gone to a pediatric dentist before they blew out their first birthday candle, leaving the infants susceptible to tooth disease and decay, which can start as early as age six months when the first teeth typically surface. Teeth can be destroyed, lead to needless pain and suffering, infection, loss of function, increased health care costs, and lifelong health consequences if the teeth are left untreated, the AAPD said. - Journal of the California Dental Association, August 2010

Click here to learn more about about dental facts for pregnancy, babies & children.


Numbers do count, according to a Swedish study that found the risk of coronary heart disease was higher in those with fewer natural teeth. "Cardiovascular disease and, in particular, coronary heart disease are closely related to the number of teeth" an individual has remaining, said Anders Holmlund. "A person with fewer than 10 of their own teeth has a seven times higher risk for death by coronary heart disease than a person of the same age and of the same gender with more than 25 teeth left," said Holmlund. Along with colleagues Gunnar Holm and Lars Lind, Holmlund studied more than 7,600 men and women who had been suffering long term (12 years on average) from periodontal disease. They also investigated the causes of deaths of more than 600 people who died during the study period and found that 299 of them passed away due to cardiovascular disease.

While other research published in the past 15 years indicated a link between cardiovascular disease and oral health, Holmlund's investigation demonstrated a direct association between the number of teeth in a person's mouth and cardiovascular disease. In explaining his theory, Holmlund said "infections in the mouth and around the teeth can spill over to the systemic circulation system and cause a lowgrade chronic inflammation," a known risk factor for cardiovascular issues and heart attacks. - Journal of the California Dental Association, July 2010


While a study has determined that fluoride-containing toothpastes (a minimum concentration of 1,000 parts per million) can help prevent tooth decay in children, researchers advocate parents talk to their dentists about concerns of fluorosis, which is caused by swallowing excessive fluoride. Cochrane Oral Health Group researchers conducted a study that involved 73,000 children around the globe and nearly 80 trials. In studying the outcomes of various toothpastes used by the participating children, it was learned that toothpastes containing fluoride concentrations less than 1,000 parts per million were only as effective as non-fluoride toothpastes at preventing tooth decay, according to a press release. The concentration of fluoride toothpastes in the study ranged from 100 ppm to 1,400 ppm. Previous research, also conducted by the Cochrane Oral Health Group, had shown that compared to non-fluoride. - Journal of the California Dental Association, April 2010


While the benefits of wholesome raisins include a source of calcium and antioxidant properties, a recent study has determined that added sugar in raisin-containing cereals boosts the acidity of dental plaque. While some dentists believe raisins and their gummy, sugary equivalents contribute to cavities because their properties make it difficult to quickly clear off the surfaces of the teeth, studies have revealed that is not the case, said Christine Wu, professor and director of cariology research at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Wu also was the lead investigator of the recent study that involved bran flakes and raisins. The result was consuming bran flakes with raisins that had no added sugar did not increase the acid level in dental plaque than bran flakes without raisins. Elementary-age children, ranging from 7 to 11 years old, compared four test foods: raisins, bran flakes, commercially marketed raisin-bran cereal, and a mix of bran flakes with raisins without added sugar, according to the study published in Pediatric Dentistry. Sucrose and sorbitol were used as controls. The kids consumed each food group Within two minutes and, at intervals, the acid produced by the plaque bacteria on their tooth surfaces was measured. With the exception of the sorbitol solution, all of the food groups promoted acid production in dental plaque within 30 minutes, with peak production between 10 and 15 minutes. There is a "well-documented" danger zone of dental plaque acidity that puts a tooth's enamel at risk for mineral loss that may lead to cavities, Wu said. Achint Utreja, a research scientist and dentist formerly on Wu's team, said plaque acidity did not reach that point after the test subject consumed 10 grams of raisins, according to a press release. Compared to eating bran flakes alone, adding unsweetened raisins to bran flakes did not increase plaque acid. - Journal of the California Dental Association, March 2010


In a nationwide member survey conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry, one in three dentists said aggressive tooth brushing is the most common cause of dentin hypersensitivity. Earning second place was consuming acidic drinks and food. An estimated 40 million Americans of all ages suffer from dentin hypersensitivity, which is characterized by sudden and sharp pain in one or more teeth and often is set off by cold or hot, sour or sweet drinks and foods, inhaling cold air, and pressure on the affected tooth.

The combination of a aggressive tooth brushing and consuming acidic foods and beverages can lead to tooth sensitivity, said Van B. Haywood, DMD, because these factors can wear down tooth enamel and affect one's gums. Other contributing factors included specific mouthwashes and toothpastes, tooth whiteners, cracked or broken teeth, acid reflux and even bulimia. Of the 700 general dentists surveyed, 60 percent responded that they have noticed a rise in tooth erosion, compared to five years ago. "Being able to detect tooth erosion in its early stages is perhaps the most important key to preventing dentin hypersensitivity," said Raymond K. Martin, DDS, MAGD. "Discoloration, transparency, and small dents or cracks in the teeth are all signs of tooth erosion and should be discussed with your dentist as soon as possible." Nearly 60 percent of the dentists who participated in the survey said patients avoid cold drinks and food in an effort to manage their tooth sensitivity. Another 17 percent, according to a press release, said that patients avoid brushing the sensitive area of the mouth. "While these may seem like the quickest and easiest ways to prevent sensitivity, none of them will actually solve the problem," said Gigi Meinecke, DMD, FAGD. For those already suffering from sensitive teeth, the AGD recommended:

  • Switching to a toothpaste made especially for sensitive teeth
  • Using a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Flossing regularly and brushing at least twice a day
  • Avoiding highly acidic foods and beverages.

- Journal of the California Dental Association, January 2010

Click here to learn more about about sensitive teeth.


Are your patients wondering about tooth whitening, how to overcome dental fears, or dental care while in other countries? Then tell them to stay tuned each month, or rather, iTuned in.

The American Dental Association recently launched a video podcast, Straight from the Mouth, that provides three- to five-minute Webisodes that are fun and educational. In addition to being available on iTunes, the podcasts are featured on ADA's Web site, Topics range from dental care for kids, oral health care while traveling around the globe, tooth whitening and not letting dental fear get the best of them. "We're having a lot of fun with these, but at the heart of each episode is sound clinical and scientific information to help people maintain their oral health," said Ruchi K. Sahota, DDS, a practicing dentist in Fremont, Calif., who cohosts the show with recent Loma Linda University School of Dentistry graduate Eric Grove, DDS. "Movies and TV shows make fun of dental anxiety," Grove said of the first episode that covered dental anxiety. "But people who suffer from it also can suffer the consequences of neglecting their teeth and gums, and that's no joke. In our podcast, we joke around a little, but we also offer practical tips to help people overcome anxiety. Regular dental care is important, and dentists want to make their patients' visits as comfortable as possible." - Journal of the California Dental Association, January 2010


Would the love of Charlie Brown's life demonstrate more anxiety in the dental chair than the famous blockhead's friends, Peppermint Patty and Lucy Van Pelt?

According to new research recently published in the Journal of the American Dental Association: Yes. Anesthesiologist Daniel I. Sessler, embarked on a study of hair color after listening to many of his colleagues comment that more anesthesia is required for their red-headed patients. "The reason we studied redheads in the beginning, it was essentially an urban legend in the anesthesia community saying redheads were difficult to anesthetize. This was so intriguing we went ahead and studied it. Redheads really do require more anesthesia, and by a clinically important amount," said Sessler, MD, who also is chairman of the Department of Outcomes Research at the Cleveland Clinic. Previous research has found that redheads require, on average, 20 percent more anesthesia than blonds or brunettes. It was discovered that scarlet-tressed people were more often resistant to Novocaine or other local pain blockers, and it was common for redheads to be nervous about dental procedures, as well as twice as likely to skip going to the dentist as those with locks of brunette or blond. Following the publication of his research, Sessler reported being contacted from other redheads who complained of fears going to the dentist and dental pain. That pain, researchers believe, is because of a mutation in a gene that is known to affect hair color. In those with blond, brown, or black hair, the gene for the melacortin-1 receptor, or MC1R gene, results in the production of melanin. However, a mutation in this gene produces pheomelanin, resulting in paler skin and a cherry mane. Furthermore, it also has been found that carrot tops are more resistant to the effects of local anesthesia and other various numbing drugs that dentists use. While this gene mutation can occur in darker-haired individuals, it is not a common occurrence. - Journal of the California Dental Association, November 2009


Contrary to popular belief, white wine can cause teeth to take on dark stains. Using a spectrophotometer to measure color intensities, dental researchers at New York University used two sets of six cow teeth and soaked them in white wine for one hour before plunging them into black tea. (Bovine teeth have similar surface to human teeth.) The result? Those teeth had more noticeable darker stains than the comparison teeth that were soaked in water before being immersed in the tea. "Dipping teeth in white wine for one hour is similar to the effect of sipping the wine with dinner," said Mark Wolff, DDS, PhD, professor and chairman of the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care at New York University College of Dentistry, who oversaw the study. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the International Association for Dental Research in Miami.

"The acids in wine create rough spots and grooves that enable chemicals in other beverages that cause staining, such as coffee and tea, to penetrate deeper into the tooth," said Wolff. Still, red wine continues to beat out white wine when it comes to staining teeth, he said in a press release. "Red wine, unlike white, contains a highly-pigmented substance known as chromogen," Wolff said, adding that connoisseurs concerned about staining need not cut back on their consumption. "The best way to prevent staining caused by wine, as well as other beverages, is to use a toothpaste containing a whitening." "The acids in wine create rough spots and grooves that enable chemicals in other beverages that cause staining, such as coffee and tea, to penetrate deeper into the tooth." - Journal of the California Dental Association, July 2009

Click here to learn more about about bleaching (whitening).


Sports drinks offer a boost all right, but probably not the kind you want. Dental researchers at New York University recently found that longtime consumption of sports drinks may increase tooth erosion. Because of the drinks' levels of acid, the smooth, hard enamel coating becomes eroded with repeated exposure, seeping into the bone-like material below, weakening and softening the tooth. Severe tooth damage or even tooth loss, if left untreated, can occur. One in 15 Americans are affected. "This is the first time that the citric acid in sports drinks has been linked to erosive tooth wear," said Mark Wolff, DDS, PhD, professor and chairman of the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care at New York University College of Dentistry, who led the study. Slicing a cow's tooth in half, researchers soaked one half of the specimens in water, the remaining half in a top-selling sports drink. The two halves were later compared and it was discovered that the one exposed to the sports drink showed a greater amount of softening and erosion. "Five teeth were immersed in each drink for 75 to 90 minutes to simulate the effects of sipping on sports drinks over the course of the day," Wolff said, commenting that brushing one's teeth immediately after consuming a sports drink is not beneficial since softened enamel is susceptible to the abrasive properties of toothpaste. "To prevent tooth erosion, consume sports drinks in moderation, and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth, to allow softened enamel to re-harden," Wolff said. "If you frequently consume sports drinks, ask your dentist if you should use an acid-neutralizing remineralizing toothpaste to help re-harden soft enamel." Coinvestigators on the study included Michael Rice, an Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry student; and Dr. Mitchell S. Pines, a clinical professor of Biomaterials and Biomimetics at the NYU College of Dentistry. - Journal of the California Dental Association, June 2009


Dental benefits are now being ranked higher as an essential part of a benefit package by employers, according to the National Association of Dental Plans' 2008 Group Purchaser Behavior Study. An estimated 62 percent view dental coverage as essential to their benefits packages, a nine-point percentage jump from just four years ago. Employers with 250 to 999 employees reported the largest increase since 2005, with 55 to 71 percent. "Clearly one reason for the dramatic increase in employers' views about the value of dental benefits is growing awareness of the connection between oral and overall health," said Evelyn F. Ireland, CAE, NADP executive director. "NADP's 2007 Consumer Survey and other published reports show that dental benefits have a positive impact on individuals' attitudes and behaviors regarding both their dental and overall health." A nonprofit trade association, NADP represents dental PPOs and HMOs, dental indemnity products and discount dental plans. Employers cite dental health on medical health as the most important reason for considering a change in dental carriers. Employers offering dental benefits should consider a variety of strategies to keep dental in their benefits portfolio. According to the NADP survey:

  • 15 percent are likely to transition to voluntary dental benefits (employee-paid)
  • 28 percent are likely to increase the premium paid by employees

This study presents the results of a survey of more than 1,900 employers in the United States last July regarding their attitudes and behaviors toward dental benefits. This recent report, which also offers insight into what drives employer loyalty, the features and benefits employers are looking for in a dental plan, the sales channels used by various-sized employer groups, builds on a similar study conducted four years ago of key findings and trends. The NADP 2008 Group Purchaser Behavior Study is available online in the NADP Mall with detailed data tables. - Journal of the California Dental Association, May 2009


Nothing beats a killer smile.

A recent survey by American Dental Association, Crest, and Oral B found the smile is the most attractive physical feature, outranking hair, body, and eyes. What's more, there are vast differences between the genders when it comes down to good oral health. In the nationally representative survey of 1,000 Americans age 18 and up found 86 percent of women brush their teeth twice or more a day compared to only 66 percent of men doing so. Women said they changed their toothbrush or power toothbrush head every three to four months on average while their counterparts held onto theirs an average of five months. The ADA recommends replacing toothbrushes every three to four months or when the bristles become frayed since ragged and worn bristles decrease cleaning effectiveness. There was disappointment on the subject of America's flossing habit. Only half of those surveyed, 49 percent, admitted to flossing their teeth once a day or more often. More disturbing? One out of three people think a little blood in the sink after brushing their teeth is normal; they do not realize it could signal gum disease or another health problem. There is increasing research that indicates there may be an association between oral health and serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, underscoring the importance of good oral hygiene habits. - Journal of the California Dental Association, April 2009


Although the topic of dental erosion has not been widely studied in the United States, it, unfortunately, is on the rise. According to a study at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, researchers discovered a 30 percent prevalence rate of dental erosion among U.S. children between the ages of 10 and 14. Bennett T. Amaechi, MS, PhD, associate professor of community dentistry at the UT Health Science Center, led colleagues in the San Antonio portion of the nation's first population-based, multicenter study of dental erosion. Nine hundred middle school students participated in the 2004 and 2005 studies at the University of California, San Francisco, Indiana University, and the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio. On the dearth of dental erosion not being widely analyzed, Amaechi said "This study is important because it confirms our suspicions of the high prevalence of dental erosion in this country and, more importantly, brings awareness to dental practitioners and patients of its prevalence, causes, prevention, and treatment." Dental erosion, he said, is caused by acids found in products being consumed at a higher rate than ever in the United States. Among the culprits are certain fruit drinks, soft and sports drinks, beer salts, herbal teas, and candy imported from Mexico (Lucas brand) that are particularly popular among children in San Antonio and South Texas. "When consumed in excess, these products can easily strip the enamel from the teeth, leaving the teeth more brittle and sensitive to pain," Amaechi said. - Journal of the California Dental Association, April 2009

Click here to learn more about about acid, sugar, and your teeth.


With an estimated 500,000 new cases of mouth cancer being diagnosed each year throughout the globe, dentists, especially prosthodontists, are being encouraged to ensure their patients are diagnosed early. In a recent article in the Journal of Prosthodontics, researchers, led by Michael A. Siegel, DDS, MS, FDS, RCSEd, described the diagnostic tools currently available to prosthodontists and the epidemiology of oral cancer to ensure their patients are diagnosed as early as possible. "If prosthodontists and other dentists are more vigilant in performing oral cancer screening examinations on all of their patients, the quality of life and survivability from these cancers will be greatly improved, whereby morbidity and mortality will be greatly reduced," researchers said.

While all dentists are trained to detect these tumors in an early stage, only 28 percent of patients reported ever having had an oral cancer examination. Patients who have lost their teeth must be specifically counseled about returning for prescribed, regular recall examinations, according to a press release. They may wrongly think that as they do not have all or any of their teeth, they do not need to be regularly followed by a prosthodontist. The need for prosthodontics was expected to decrease with the increased efforts of preventive measures; however, the need is actually on the rise as the population ages. Alcohol-imbibing and tobacco-using adults over the age of 40 run the highest risk of developing oral cancer. But since these cancers can develop in anyone at any age, yearly trips to the prosthodontist are becoming increasingly important, the authors said. - Journal of the California Dental Association, April 2009


It's really just a string, but it can deliver a punch to gum disease and caries fueled germs.

A study in the Journal of Periodontology, "Treatment outcomes of dental flossing in twins: molecular analysis of the interproximal microflora," provides new information about the importance of a flossing, as well as to brushing daily the tongue and teeth. "The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of dental flossing on the microbial composition of interproximal plaque samples in matched twins. The study was a two-treatment, examiner masked, randomized, parallel-group, controlled study," noted authors, Patricia Corby, DDS, MS, assistant professor of Periodontology and Implant Dentistry, and Walter Bretz, DDS, MPH, DrPH, associate professor of Cariology and Comprehensive Care, New York University dental researchers. Fifty-one well-matched twin pairs (each set of twins was a case and a control), were studied by Bretz and Corby, regarding treatment responses to dental flossing over a two-week period. Following that period, putative periodontal pathogens and cariogenic bacteria were overabundant in the group that did not floss as opposed to the group members who did. The authors also noted that, "Twins who flossed had a significant decrease in gingival bleeding compared to twins who did not floss. Relative to baseline, bleeding scores were reduced by 38 percent over the two-week study period in the flossing group of twins." In conclusion, the researchers said, "In a well-matched twin cohort, tooth, and tongue brushing, plus flossing, significantly decreased the abundance of microbial species associated with periodontal disease and dental caries after a two-week program." Because twins have similar dietary habits, health practices, and live together, they are considered ideal subjects for research that compares periodontal diseases and dental caries development in people similar environments and age. - Journal of the California Dental Association, April 2009


"Nearly 600,000 people had veneers in 2006, an increase of 15 percent over 2004, according to the latest statistics available from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Many of these, in their generic perfection, were obviously fake. "The owners of the Chiclets are walking around as proud as peacocks," said Dr. Lowenberg, the Manhattan dentist, "and their family and friends are walking around behind their back saying, ‘What did she do to her teeth?'" Click here to read the full article.

Click here to learn more about veneers.


"The federal government said Friday it planned to lower the recommended levels for fluoride in water, the first such change since 1962." Click here to read the full article.

Click here to learn more about about fluoride facts.


"Dental cavities are not good news, but when it comes to preventive oral health, they may be among the smaller problems…But there are two much more serious problems that can lead not only to loss of teeth but also to loss of life: periodontal disease and oral cancer." Click here to read the full article.


"Before oral cancer becomes a potentially deadly disease, it usually forms precancerous lesions that can be readily seen. And outside of the skin, the mouth is probably the easiest place to look for signs of abnormal tissue growth… Yet, each year more than 30,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in the United States and 8,000 people die of this disease." Click here to read the full article.


"…as medical credit cards become increasingly popular, they are getting more scrutiny — not much of it flattering." Click here to read the full article.


The difference between having one mandibular molar and having zero is profound. Nuts, raw vegetables, hard pretzels: Will I ever eat them again? I envision myself hamster-chomping pabulum and veggies boiled to mush. Suddenly I feel very old. What's more, I look old. With no back teeth in my lower jaw to brace my jowls, I resemble Edvard Munch's famous screamer. Click here to read more. AARP The Magazine, March/April 2011

Click here to learn more about about dental implants.


"More people in the UK die each year from mouth cancer than from cervical and testicular cancer combined."

According to a new study, monitoring cancer tumors for the human papilloma virus may help health experts predict a patient's survival chances. Researchers monitored 198 patients with mouth cancer following surgery or radiotherapy for two years. It was discovered that those with HPV positive cancer were four times less likely to die than those who were HPV negative, according to a news release. Additional information showed that cancer was three times less likely to reoccur at the primary site in patients with HPV positive cancer. "Our study, which focused on a group of patients with advanced oropharyngeal cancer, found that those with cancer caused by HPV had a significantly better chance of survival than cancer which was not caused by HPV. And this beneficial HPV effect was seen regardless of the type. - Journal of the California Dental Association, February 2011


While the advances in angioplasty can be lifesaving, it does not fix the real source of the issue of atherosclerosis, the spread or damage from the disease, nor does it lessen the risk of future heart attacks or survival, according to an article in the Harvard Heart Letter. A new study of women and men planning on having elective angioplasty showed that 60 percent didn't necessarily need the procedure and would have been better off with intensive medical and making lifestyle changes. An estimated five in every 100 people who undergo the procedure have complications ranging from kidney damage and an abnormal heart rhythm to stroke, heart attack, or prolonged bleeding. An astonishing 88 percent said they believed that the procedure would help protect them from having a heart attack down the road, according to a news release. It is widely believed that people upcoming meetings think of the procedure that uses a small, wire-tipped balloon to enlarge a cholesterol-choked arteries, as a cure; however, according to the study, it is not. Although angioplasty can ease chest pain brought about by stress or physical activity, it does not address atherosclerosis. Timely angioplasty can limit damage to the heart and can prevent a heart attack from turning into a deadly cardiac arrest. In the throes of a heart attack, the benefits of angioplasty outweigh the risk. But in cases of infrequent angina or in instances when a narrowed coronary artery isn't causing major health troubles, angioplasty adds little or nothing to intensive medical therapy and lifestyle changes, according to the study. To read the full article, "What can Angioplasty do for you?", click here. - Journal of the California Dental Association, February 2011


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