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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mom's kiss can spread cavities to baby

A kiss on the mouth or sharing utensils can transmit bacteria

When Rachel Sarah took her daughter in for her first dental checkup a few years ago, she got a surprise. Not only did her 24-month-old have two cavities in her baby teeth, the pediatric dentist suggested she might have “caught” them from her mom.
“The dentist handed me this piece of paper that talked about saliva transfer,” said Sarah, a 37-year-old writer from San Francisco. “It said not to share cups or utensils or food and said, ‘No kissing your kid on the lips.’ I was shocked; I’d been taking a bite of food and then giving her a bite since she started eating. I told the dentist I’d never heard of this and he said these were new findings.”
As it turns out, studies about the transmission of cavity-causing bacteria from mom to baby have been published for 30 years. The primary culprit is Streptococcus mutans, a bacteria that can pass from person to person through the transfer of saliva, such as sharing utensils, blowing on food, and yes, even kissing that sweet little bundle of joy on the mouth.

According to a 2008 study in Pediatric Dentistry, “strong evidence demonstrated that mothers are a primary source of MS [mutans streptococci] colonization of their children; a few investigations showed other potential sources … notably fathers.”
“There have been many, many studies,” said Dr. Jane Soxman, a pediatric dentist from Allison Park, Pa. “It’s well-documented. You can’t blame it all on kissing a child on the lips — that’s one of several different factors that would have to be working together. But the main thing to know is that tooth decay is a bacterial infection and you can spread it from one person to another during the window of infectivity, which is during infancy and especially during the time of tooth eruption. That’s when the teeth are most vulnerable. It’s as if you had a bad cold and were kissing your child, you would spread the cold virus.”
Only parents (or caregivers) with active tooth decay can spread the Streptococcus mutans bacteria through the transfer of saliva. And Soxman stressed that the transmission of bacteria-laden saliva is just one piece of the puzzle. Tooth decay is caused by a combination of factors, including the transfer of infectious saliva, genetics, oral hygiene, and feeding practices, such as letting your baby constantly suck on a sippy cup full of juice or milk or other sugar-laden liquid. (Bacteria uses the sugar to produce acid, which breaks down enamel.) Baby teeth are particularly vulnerable to decay.
“When teeth first come into the mouth, when they first erupt, the enamel is very soft,” said Soxman. “They’re brand new virgin surfaces and are very susceptible.”
But the decay won’t just impact baby teeth. If the bacteria are allowed to thrive, Soxman said, they will colonize and stick around for years, attacking the permanent teeth when they come in.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents have their child evaluated by a dentist when the first tooth erupts, or no later than their first birthday.
Chew Xylitol gum
Luckily, there are preventative measures that can help kick the bacteria to the curb. A January 2010 study in the Journal of Dental Research found that the children of moms who chewed Xylitol gum (starting in the sixth month of pregnancy) “were significantly less likely to show MS colonization.”
“If a woman is decay-active, she should be chewing Xylitol in the third trimester so when the baby’s born, the chance of transmission of decay-causing bacteria will be reduced,” said Soxman. “She should also have her teeth cleaned thoroughly during the second and third trimester.”
Cutting back on saliva-transferring behaviors — such as utensil-sharing, toothbrush sharing, blowing on baby’s food, pre-chewing baby’s food and cleaning off the pacifier with your own mouth — will also help.

But some say that’s easier said than done.
“It’s one thing to tell parents who have active decay to be extra cautious, and it’s something to be aware of for the rest of us, but I don’t think I’d be able to completely eliminate those behaviors,” said Marcy Hogan, a 29-year-old stay-at-home mom from San Jose, Calif. “They’re very natural behaviors and actions. I don’t want to avoid kissing my son and I don’t know how I’d get around blowing on his food. Sometimes it’s too hot and kids are not very patient.”

Dr. Stephanie Su, a pediatric dentist and mother of two from Redmond, Wash., said she tries to stress preventative measures as much as possible since saliva transfer between parent and child is almost “unavoidable.”
“When you look at a lab test, yes, there’s transfer of bacteria, but in real life, you’re not going to be able prevent that. You can’t live in a bubble,” she said. “But you can maintain good hygiene practices and a good diet, and the parents can take care of their own oral health and focus on preventative care like flossing and dental checkups and chewing Xylitol gum if they’re at high risk for decay.”
Both dentists also point to a surefire workaround.
“You could do just about everything as long as you wipe that baby’s mouth out repeatedly with a clean wet cloth,” said Soxman. “I tell parents to wipe the baby’s mouth out as often as they change the diaper. Wipe the tongue, the teeth, and the cheeks from infancy on. Then the colonies of bacteria won’t be established.”

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tooth Decay to Be a Thing of the Past?

Tooth Decay to Be a Thing of the Past? Enzyme Responsible for Dental Plaque Sticking to Teeth Deciphered


ScienceDaily (Dec. 4, 2010) — The Groningen professors Bauke Dijkstra and Lubbert Dijkhuizen have deciphered the structure and functional mechanism of the glucansucrase enzyme that is responsible for dental plaque sticking to teeth. This knowledge will stimulate the identification of substances that inhibit the enzyme. Just add that substance to toothpaste, or even sweets, and caries will be a thing of the past.

The results of the research have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The University of Groningen researchers analysed glucansucrase from the lactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri, which is present in the human mouth and digestive tract. The bacteria use the glucansucrase enzyme to convert sugar from food into long, sticky sugar chains. They use this glue to attach themselves to tooth enamel. The main cause of tooth decay, the bacterium Streptococcus mutans, also uses this enzyme. Once attached to tooth enamel, these bacteria ferment sugars releasing acids that dissolve the calcium in teeth. This is how caries develops.

Three dimensional structure
Using protein crystallography, the researchers were able to elucidate the three dimensional (3D) structure of the enzyme. The Groningen researchers are the first to succeed in crystallizing glucansucrase. The crystal structure has revealed that the folding mechanism of the protein is unique. The various domains of the enzyme are not formed from a single, linear amino acid chain but from two parts that assemble via a U-shaped structure of the chain; this is the first report on such a folding mechanism in the literature.

Functional mechanism
The unravelling of the 3D structure provided the researchers with detailed insight into the functional mechanism of the enzyme. The enzyme splits sucrose into fructose and glucose and then adds the glucose molecule to a growing sugar chain. Thus far the scientific community assumed that both processes were performed by different parts of the enzyme. However, the model created by the Groningen researchers has revealed that both activities occur in the same active site of the enzyme.

Dijkhuizen expects that specific inhibitors for the glucansucrase enzyme may help to prevent attachment of the bacteria to the tooth enamel. Information about the structure and functional mechanism of the enzyme is crucial for developing such inhibitors. Thus far, such research has not been successful, states Dijkhuizen: 'The various inhibitors studied not only blocked the glucansucrase, but also the digestive enzyme amylase in our saliva, which is needed to degrade starch.'

The crystal structure also provides an explanation for this double inhibition. The data published by the Groningen scientists shows that glucansucrase proteins most likely evolved from amylase enzymes that degrade starch. 'We already knew that the two enzymes were similar', says Dijkhuizen, 'but the crystal structure revealed that the active sites are virtually identical. Future inhibitors thus need to be directed towards very specific targets because both enzymes are evolutionary closely related.'

Toothpaste and sweets
Dijkhuizen points out that in future glucansucrase inhibitors may be added to toothpaste and mouthwash. 'But it may even be possible to add them to sweets', he suggests. 'An inhibitor might prevent that sugars released in the mouth cause damage.' However, Dijkhuizen doesn't expect that toothbrushes have had their day: 'it will always be necessary to clean your teeth.'

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fluoride Facts from the American Dental Hygienists’ Association

  • Fluorine, from which fluoride is derived, is the 13th most abundant element and is released into the environment naturally in both water and air.
  • Fluoride is naturally present in all water. Community water fluoridation is the addition of fluoride to adjust the natural fluoride concentration of a community's water supply to the level recommended for optimal dental health, approximately 1.0 ppm (parts per million). One ppm is the equivalent of 1 mg/L, or 1 inch in 16 miles.
  • Community water fluoridation is an effective, safe, and inexpensive way to prevent tooth decay. Fluoridation benefits Americans of all ages and socioeconomic status.
  • Children and adults who are at low risk of dental decay can stay cavity-free through frequent exposure to small amounts of fluoride. This is best gained by drinking fluoridated water and using a fluoride toothpaste twice daily.
  • Children and adults at high risk of dental decay may benefit from using additional fluoride products, including dietary supplements (for children who do not have adequate levels of fluoride in their drinking water), mouthrinses, and professionally applied gels and varnishes.
  • Good scientific evidence supports the use of community water fluoridation and the use of fluoride dental products for preventing tooth decay for both children and adults.
  • Adjusting the level of fluoride in drinking water first used fluoride as a preventative for tooth decay in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Fluoridation of drinking water has been used successfully in the United States for more than 50 years.
  • Fluoridation of community water has been credited with reducing tooth decay by 50% - 60% in the United States since World War II. More recent estimates of this effect show decay reduction at 18% - 40%, which reflects that even in communities that are not optimally fluoridated, people are receiving some benefits from other sources (e.g., bottled beverages, toothpaste).
  • Fluoride's main effect occurs after the tooth has erupted above the gum. This topical effect happens when small amounts of fluoride are maintained in the mouth in saliva and dental plaque. 
  • Fluoride works by stopping or even reversing the tooth decay process. It keeps the tooth enamel strong and solid by preventing the loss of (and enhancing the re-attachment of) important minerals from the tooth enamel.
  • Of the 50 largest cities in the United States, 43 have community water fluoridation. Fluoridation reaches 62% of the population through public water supplies, more than 144 million people.
  • Water fluoridation costs, on average, 72 cents per person per year in U.S. communities.
  • Consumption of fluids--water, soft drinks, and juice--accounts for approximately 75 percent of fluoride intake in the United States.
  • Children under age six years may develop enamel fluorosis if they ingest more fluoride than needed. Enamel fluorosis is a chalk-like discoloration (white spots) of tooth enamel. A common source of extra fluoride is unsupervised use of toothpaste in very young children.
  • Fluoride also benefits adults, decreasing the risk of cavities at the root surface as well as the enamel crown. Use of fluoridated water and fluoride dental products will help people maintain oral health and keep more permanent teeth.

Wisdom Teeth and Periodontal Disease

Retention of visible third molars makes people more susceptible to periodontal disease around the second molar in middle age and later, according to research published in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Adults aged 52–74 who had had their “wisdom teeth” removed were one-and-a-half times less likely to have periodontal disease at that site.

The study subjects were 6,793 people from Maryland, North Carolina, and Minnesota who were already participating in a dental substudy of an atherosclerosis risk investigation. Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill probed subjects’ third molars (if present) and/or adjacent second molars. A probing depth greater than 5 mm and attachment loss of 2 mm or more on the distal of the second molar or around the third molar was considered disease. Gingival bleeding on the adjacent second molar was noted as well.

Probing depths of 5 mm and greater were 1.5 times more frequent in those who had retained their third molars. Gingival bleeding was 1.3 times more frequent in that group. The researchers encourage further investigations to support the negative effects of retaining third molars.

How to Choose the Right Toothpaste

Just the number of options you have when you buy a tube of toothpaste can be overwhelming. When it comes to choosing the best toothpaste for you, it's important to think about your unique oral health needs. 
The basics
Common toothpaste ingredients include: 
- Abrasive agents- Scratchy materials help remove food, bacteria, and some stains from your teeth.
- Flavoring- Artificial sweeteners are often added to toothpaste to make them taste better. 
- Humectants for moisture retention- these substances prevent the toothpaste from drying out.
- Thickeners- Agents that add thickness to the toothpaste help achieve and maintain proper toothpaste texture.
- Detergents- Those suds you see when you brush your teeth are from detergents.

Fluoride toothpaste

The most important ingredient to look for when choosing toothpaste is fluoride.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. Its use has been instrumental in the dramatic drop in tooth decay and cavity occurrence that has taken place over the past 50 years. Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars and starches that remain on your teeth after eating. Fluoride helps protect your teeth from the acid that is released when this happens. It does this in two ways. First, fluoride makes your tooth enamel stronger and less likely to suffer acid damage. Second, it can reverse the early stages of acid damage by remineralizing areas that have started to decay.
Using fluoride toothpaste is an important way to ensure that your teeth are reaping the benefits of this dental-friendly mineral. Don't think you can skip fluoride if you live in an area where the water is fluoridated. Studies have shown that using fluoride toothpaste helps increase the concentration of fluoride in the teeth, even in areas with water supplies containing high levels of the mineral.

Tartar-Control Toothpaste

Everyone has a layer of bacteria on their teeth called plaque. If plaque isn't removed promptly with proper oral hygiene, it hardens into tartar. This hard-to-remove deposit can build up on your teeth and under your gums, ultimately leading to gum disease.
There are a variety of ingredients used in toothpaste to help prevent the accumulation of tartar on the teeth. Chemical compounds, including pyrophosphates and zinc citrate, are often added and have been proven effective. Additionally, some tartar control toothpastes contain an antibiotic called triclosan, which kills some of the bacteria in the mouth.
Certain toothpastes containing multiple anti-plaque agents in one formulation have been demonstrated to be even more effective at tartar control than varieties with only one plaque fighter.

Toothpastes for Sensitive Teeth

For people who have teeth that are easily irritated -- for instance, by hot or cold temperatures -- there are toothpastes available that are specially formulated for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes usually contain potassium nitrate or strontium chloride. These chemical compounds, which can take up to four weeks to offer relief, reduce tooth sensitivity by blocking pathways through the teeth that attach to nerves.

Whitening toothpaste

To help people on a quest for pearly whites, many whitening toothpastes are now being marketed for everyday use.
Whitening toothpastes do not typically contain bleaches. Instead, they contain abrasive particles or chemicals that effectively polish the teeth or bind to stains and help pull them off the tooth surface.
Although you might be concerned that the abrasiveness of whitening toothpaste could damage your teeth, studies suggest that whitening toothpastes are no harder on tooth enamel than other types of toothpaste.

Choosing the best toothpaste for you and your family

Here are some tips to help you choose the best toothpaste to meet your family's dental needs:
- Opt for ADA approval. Whatever your toothpaste needs, be sure to select toothpaste that has earned an American Dental Association seal of approval. Toothpastes that have earned this distinction have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness by an independent review board of scientific experts. All toothpastes earning the ADA seal contain fluoride -- the most important ingredient in any toothpaste.

- Be wary of imposters. In 2007, some toothpastes imported from China were found to contain a toxic substance, diethylene glycol. The FDA is currently advising against choosing toothpaste that says it was made in China.

- Consider your needs and the needs of your family members. As long as you select fluoride-containing toothpaste, the best toothpaste is a matter of personal choice and preference. If you're committed to an all-natural lifestyle, you may want to opt for ADA-approved toothpastes that contain only natural ingredients. For people trying to instill good oral hygiene habits in your children, why not choose fruit-flavored toothpastes with sparkles to entice them to brush their teeth? Some people are eager to restore whiteness to their teeth with whitening toothpastes. Others like the feeling of brushing their teeth with toothpaste containing hydrogen peroxide or baking soda.

Bad News for People with Lip Piercings

Lip piercing can significantly increase the risk of receding gums, researchers at the Ohio State University in Columbus have found. These findings of a study on a form of lip piercing that centers a stud in the lower lip, where it meets the chin, were presented earlier this month at the 83rd General Session of the International Association for Dental Research, in Baltimore.

The study was conducted on 58 participants, half with this specific type of lip piercing. Researchers found that 40 percent of people with the lip piercing had receding gum lines in their bottom front teeth, and 80 percent of the participants who had the piercing for more than 36 months suffered the same affliction. Only 7 percent of the participants who had no form of lip piercing showed signs of recession.

Because the recession of the gum line is due to continual contact with the stud on the inside of the lip, people with this type of piercing will inevitably have problems with receding gums, study author Dr. Dimitris N. Takatis told Reuters Health. Takatis said that recession puts them at risk for tooth sensitivity and susceptibility to cavities. With an uneven gum line, it also becomes more difficult to brush and clean one’s teeth, increasing the chances of plaque build-up, which could lead to long-term problems such as gingivitis.

Removing the piercing is the best solution, as there is no way to prevent gum line recession with an object constantly rubbing against the gums.

Teeth Whitening Sensitivity- Causes and How to Treat It

A whiter smile is a popular accessory for almost everyone today. From in-office procedures to dentist-prescribed at-home treatments to trademarked boxes of strips, gels and goos at the store or online, if you want a whiter smile, there's a method and a price point for everyone. 

But the fact is, with any method, you're applying a bleach formula directly to your teeth and gums; and bleaches are powerful solutions that can cause discomfort if not handled properly.

Dental sensitivity is the most common issue surrounding teeth whitening-and it can happen to anyone, with almost any method.

What Makes Teeth Sensitive?

Inside every tooth are millions of microscopic "dentinal tubules" that extend from the nerve (pulp) inside the tooth to the outside surface of the tooth. There's fluid inside these tiny tubes, and when this fluid moves inside the tubes, it causes sensitivity. Minerals from saliva normally plug up the open outer ends of the tubes, preventing fluid movement and sensitivity. All bleaching gels tend to dissolve these "plugs," allowing the fluid in the tubes to move and cause sensitivity.


For some people the reaction is minor, but for others the reaction can be very painful - and that's where the subject of genetics comes into play. It seems that everyone has a different reaction. Fair-haired and fair-skinned folks tend to experience the highest degrees of sensitivity. But people with various dental problems are also at risk (that's why so many dentists recommend a thorough exam and history before moving forward with powerful teeth whitening techniques.) Genetics can play such a major role in dental sensitivity that some people may never be good candidates for teeth whitening although there is significant progress in addressing this problem.


Bleach Stability
Just think about how strong a whitening gel has to be to actually change the color of your teeth. It's no surprise then that manufacturing dental-grade bleach formulas for oral applications is a tricky science. And it's hard to get it right; make them too powerful and they're hard to keep at peak strength throughout the blending, shipping and storage process. Make them too weak and they won't work at all. That's why the people who make whitening formulas aim for something in the middle - literally - the goal of most whitening gel scientists is to create a shelf-stable bleach with a completely neutral acid/alkaline ratio or pH.

It's hard to do though - so frequently bleaching gels are just a bit off "neutral." What this means for the little tubes in your teeth is this-if the bleaching gel is too acidic, it can dissolve the plugs at the end of your tubes even more, leading to more sensitivity.

So, if you're thinking about whitening your teeth with an unknown over-the-counter method or manufacturer, consider how much science really goes into your more beautiful smile. Then reconsider.


Acid Reaction
The overall action of bleach on enamel, dentin, and gums is cause of most sensitive reactions; and the one most people are familiar with. Minor dental problems (chips, cracks, decay) or daily living and consumption of acidic foods and beverages (such as some sodas, sour candies and overabundance of fruit) can weaken tooth enamel (or create small openings in enamel) to make it easier for acids to reach the inside of the tooth and dissolve the little plugs at the end of your tubes. That's why good hygiene and a good diet make a difference in keeping sensitivity at bay. Regular cleaning, flossing (plaque removal) and examination catch small issues as they occur - minimizing the chance for damage to the inside of your teeth.


How to Treat Teeth Whitening Sensitivity

Because sensitivity is such a big issue in the world of teeth whitening, there's a lot of interest in solving the problem-or at least in providing sensible, affordable and reliable ways to eliminate or minimize the discomfort.

Desensitizing agents can be found in the formulas of whitening solutions and are also used as stand-alone medications that dentists apply during a whitening procedure. Popular stand-alone desensitizers include: UltraEZ® Desensitizing Gel Syringe (with Fluoride and Potassium Nitrate) and Orajel Advanced Tooth Desensitizer. Some dentists utilize desensitizing methods after whitening; one system now performs desensitizing techniques beforeand after (KöR Whitening Deep BleachingTM).

Fluoride is probably the most commonly used desensitizing agent. It acts on your dentinal tubes to temporarily reduce their size, reducing the fluid movement in the tubes.

Potassium nitrate is another popular agent. It actually works its way into the center of your tooth (the pulp) and has a numbing action that may reduce discomfort. It tends to work better on some than others. However it doesn't do anything to reduce the tooth nerve inflammation caused by fluid movement in the tubes.

There's more and more research into the use of a compound called amorphous calcium phospate (ACP). ACP helps to strengthen the enamel, but seems to do little to plug the open ends of the dentin tubes.
Desensitizers that rapidly build new plugs in the open-ended tubes have shown to be the most successful at stopping fluid movement in the tubes and preventing bleaching sensitivity. These desensitizers are oxalates (minerals) and HEMA (resin) based products.

If desensitizers are not fully successful, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories may be used. If "anti-inflammatories" sounds too medical, just remember ibuprofen or Aleve. These classes of pain relievers work to minimize inflammation of irritated tooth nerves - which, in turn, helps to reduce additional discomfort and sensitivity some people may feel. If you experience inflammation, your dentist may give you something before and/or after your procedure - or recommend that you follow through at home.

Having a whiter smile can create real feelings of confidence and self-esteem for people, but alongside the advantages may come the discomfort of sensitivity. But, with a little education and awareness, you can help to make sure you experience the brighter side of whitening - whether you opt for do-it-yourself techniques or seek the help of your dentist. Keep smiling!

Power Toothbrushes Vs. Manual Toothbrushes

Wondering if that hi-tech power toothbrush on display at your dentist’s office is really better than the regular ones? What about a power toothbrush that uses AA batteries? What’s the difference between them all?

In addition to things like your brushing technique, how often you brush and the length of time you spend doing it, experts believe that the type of toothbrush you use will directly affect how well you remove plaque.1 In order to decide which type of power toothbrush is right for you, it’s helpful to understand exactly what kinds are available to you and how they differ from one another.

Knowing the Three Types of Power Toothbrushes
The three types of power toothbrushes on the market are rechargeable electric (including sonic), regular manual and battery power.
  • Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush: A rechargeable electric toothbrush, also known as a “power toothbrush”, is the kind you plug into the wall to recharge, keeping the handle and replacing the brush head every three months. Rechargeable electric toothbrushes differ among the kind of cleaning technology they use, such as oscillating-rotating (3D Cleaning Action) or sonic technology.
  • Regular Manual Toothbrush: In contrast, regular manual toothbrushes are the basic toothbrushes you’re probably accustomed to with a plastic handle and various nylon bristle designs on the brush head. This is the most common type of toothbrush, and it doesn’t require any power sources.
  • Battery Power Toothbrush: Those who want a dose of power but are weary of electric toothbrushes may like battery power toothbrushes. Like electric toothbrushes, battery power toothbrushes are sometimes simply called “power toothbrushes” due to their use of an AA battery. While similar in design to regular manual
Assessing Technology and Features
Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush: Generally rich in technology and features, electric toothbrushes provide the many oral health benefits. Some can even enable you to improve your brushing habits. Hi-tech features include:
  • Numerous brushing modes specialized for sensitive teeth, whitening benefits or gum-massaging action
  • Pressure sensors to signal when you’re brushing too hard
  • Timers to help you keep track of how long you’re brushing each quadrant of your mouth
  • Digital reminders to replace your brush head
  • Oscillating-rotating or sonic technology
  • Multiple brush head compatibility so you can choose which kind of bristle design you prefer
Most electric toothbrushes also come with features for added convenience, like a brush head or toothbrush holder, bathroom-counter storage units and travel toothbrush chargers.

Regular Manual Toothbrush: While ordinary toothbrushes don’t nearly provide the benefits and features of rechargeable electric toothbrushes, the technology featured in their brush heads, bristles and handle designs can be quite advanced, for example:
  • Crisscrossed, extra-long or multi-level bristles
  • Polished or rounded bristle tips
  • Textured bristles
  • Cupped-bristle design for whitening benefits
  • Ergonomically designed handles with special grips
  • Tapered or angled brush head
  • Gum stimulators
  • Tongue cleaner pads
Battery Power Toothbrush: While similar in features to regular manual toothbrushes, these kinds of toothbrushes also vibrate to provide additional cleaning action. In addition to those of manual toothbrushes, features include:
  • Built-in AA battery that can be replaced in some models
  • “On/Off” or “+/-“ button located on the handle
  • Bristles or split brush heads specially designed to pulsate along with the vibrations
Modifying Brushing Technique
Proper brushing technique varies when using different kinds of toothbrushes. Both regular manual toothbrushes and battery power toothbrushes require you to provide all or most of the brushing action, moving the brush back and forth along all sides of your teeth and gums. In contrast, rechargeable electric toothbrushes provide the cleaning action while you need only guide it along all surfaces. Once they get the hang of it, many people find this method of brushing easier.

Understanding Power Toothbrush Value
Rechargeable electric toothbrushes tend to have a higher price value than battery power and regular manual toothbrushes, but you can find some for as low as $22 MSRP, like Oral-B® Vitality. Keep in mind that they offer more health benefits and features. Regular manual toothbrushes cost the least, and they are often sold in multi-packs as well as individually. Battery power toothbrushes are usually only a few dollars more than ordinary manual toothbrushes. Your dental professional is the best person to ask for a recommendation for what’s right for you.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What Can A New Zealand Reptile Tell Us About False Teeth?

Using a moving 3D computer model based on the skull and teeth of a New Zealand reptile called tuatara, a BBSRC-funded team from the University of Hull, University College London and the Hull York Medical School has revealed how damage to dental implants and jaw joints may be prevented by sophisticated interplay between our jaws, muscles and brain. This research will appear in a future edition of the Journal of Biomechanics.

The tuatara is a lizard-like reptile that has iconic status in its homeland of New Zealand because its ancestors were widespread at the time of the dinosaurs. Unlike mammals and crocodiles which have teeth held in sockets by a flexible ligament, tuatara have teeth that are fused to their jaw bone - they have no ligament, much like modern dental implants.

BBSRC postdoctoral fellow Dr Neil Curtis from the University of Hull said "Humans and many other animals prevent damage to their teeth and jaws when eating because the ligament that holds each tooth in place also feeds back to the brain to warn against biting too hard."

Dr Marc Jones from UCL, also a BBSRC postdoctoral fellow, added "In the sugar-rich western world many people end up losing their teeth and have to live with dentures or dental implants instead. They've also lost the periodontal ligament that would attach their teeth so we wanted to know how their brains can tell what's going on when they are eating."

The team has created a 3-D computer model of the skull of the tuatara to investigate the feedback that occurs between the jaw joints and muscles in a creature that lacks periodontal ligaments. "Tuataras live happily for over 60 years in the wild without replacing their teeth because they have the ability to unconsciously measure the forces in their jaw joint and adjust the strength of the jaw muscle contractions accordingly", said Dr Curtis.

Although this explains why tuatara and people with false teeth manage not to break their teeth and don't end up with jaw joint disorders, it is still clear that having a periodontal ligament is very useful, in particular for fine tuning chewing movements. This may explain why it has evolved independently in the ancestors of mammals, crocodiles, dinosaurs, and even some fish.

There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that people with implants and dentures may make food choices related to their lack of periodontal ligament. However, the tuatara pursues a broad diet on the islands where they live including beetles, spiders, snails, frogs and occasionally young seabirds.

Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive said "To support the extension of health and wellbeing into old age, it is vital that we appreciate how we as human beings have developed our extraordinary ability to adapt to adverse situations. This work allows us to understand some of the complexities of the feedback and responses occurring in healthy human bodies and brains. It is impossible in evolution to predict future innovations such as dental implants and yet this research indicates a level of redundancy in our biology that opens opportunities to support long term health and wellbeing."
Source: Nancy Mendoza- Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

Who Hasn't Had Dental Cavities?

A research study has for the first time revealed data about dental cavities, periodontal disease, oral treatment needs, the use of dental prostheses and dental hygiene habits among the adult population in the Valencia region. The results show that 90% of people have cavities and 20-35% need prostheses.

"These data will make it possible to draw comparisons with other studies carried out in other autonomous regions and nationwide ones", José Manuel Almerich, co-author of the study and a scientist at the University of Valencia (UV), tells SINC.

The study, published in the journal Medicina Oral, Patología Oral y Cirugía Bucal, for the first time provides data about the situation with regard to cavities, periodontal disease, oral treatment requirements and the use of dental prostheses in two age cohorts (35-44 and 65-74) in the adult population of Valencia. The study also includes an analysis of these people's oral hygiene habits.

The prevalence of cavities was above 90% in the two samples studies. Social class and educational levels have an impact on the presence of cavities, with those with lower social and education levels having more cavities. Nationality also has an impact, with foreigners having more untreated cavities.

Among the people aged 65 to 74, 20.7% are 'totally toothless'. "From these data we can deduce that the dental status of the institutionalized geriatric population is significantly worse than that of elderly adults living in their homes", says Almerich.

In terms of periodontal disease, the second most prevalent problem, the most disadvantaged social classes again present the worst health status, while the need for dental prostheses fluctuates between 20-35% for the entire population studied, increasing in the older age group.

Bad habits starting in childhood

The study confirms our poor dental hygiene habits and rare visits to the dentist. "Preventive efforts should be aimed at raising awareness about the need for early diagnosis of problems and the best possible oral hygiene", the Valencian researcher suggests.

The findings of this study underline the need to improve dental care among adults. The authors highlight the need to develop new policies that will improve prevention as well as dental care measures "that will make it possible to improve the bucodental map within a few years".

Source: Plataforma SINC