Category Archives: Health Tip

Mental Floss

Image courtesy of flickr.com/mattduke

Image courtesy of flickr.com/mattduke

You may have never heard of the word Porphyromonas gingivalis before unless you’ve sat through a dental school lecture.  However, most people have heard of Alzheimer’s disease.  A recent study at the University of Central Lancashire in England may have put the little-known bacteria P. gingivalis in the forefront of Alzheimer’s disease research.

Recently published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, the study showed that evidence of P. gingivalis was found in 4 out of 10 brain tissue samples from Alzheimer’s patients, while no evidence of it was found in any of the 10 brain samples from patients of similar age with no signs of the disease.  P. gingivalis is typically found in the mouths of people who have untreated, advanced, destructive periodontal (or gum) disease.  Gum disease is typically a result of poor oral hygiene (such as improper or nonexistent brushing and flossing) and a lack of regular dental office cleanings.

The researchers stated that the study did not prove that the bacteria, or its byproducts, definitely caused Alzheimer’s disease, only that the bacteria were found in the brain.  Due to this finding, this leads to the need for further research.  P. gingivalis has also recently been noted in other studies on rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, low birth weight and diabetes.  Even though no hard evidence proves a definite causative relationship between gum disease and other diseases, it would seem prudent to have your gum disease issues treated rather than hoping it doesn’t affect your overall health.  Call my office today @ 893-5500 to set up a check-up.

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Doctor, What’s the best toothbrush and toothpaste to use?

motorized_toothbrush

 

Everyday I have the question from my patients about which toothbrush or toothpaste they should use to have a healthy mouth.  My answer isn’t usually as polished and glitzy as the commercials you see everyday selling these products.  My answer is “Whatever you like to use is the best one for you (as long as it is a soft-bristle toothbrush and a minimally abrasive fluoride toothpaste).”

The reason that my answer is that simple is that basically all toothbrushes are the same.  Yes, some of them spin, some vibrate, some will even play  “Rock and Roll All Night” by Kiss right in your mouth through vibrations in your skull!  But they all basically mechanically scrub off the sticky film of bacterial plaque that forms on our teeth all day long.  If you look for the American Dental Association seal of approval that will assure you that the toothbrush has been scientifically proven to be safe and effective.

To qualify for the Seal of Acceptance, the company must show that:

  • All of the toothbrush components are safe for use in the mouth
  • Bristles are free of sharp or jagged edges and endpoints
  • The handle material is manufacturer-tested to show durability under normal use
  • The bristles won’t fall out with normal use
  • The toothbrush can be used without supervision by the average adult to provide a significant decrease in mild gum disease and plaque

As for toothpaste, they all basically boil down to fluoride (this is important to help keep your teeth strong and resistant to cavities), some sort of soap-like chemical that makes them bubble & foam, flavorings, colorings, abrasives (hopefully very mild) and then some other stuff to make them “new & improved” from every other one on the shelf.

Fluoride toothpastes must meet the ADA’s requirements for safety and effectiveness in reducing tooth decay. The manufacturer must provide:

  • Clinical studies in humans
  • Laboratory studies to determine the amount of available fluoride, the amount of fluoride released in one minute, and the amount of fluoride absorption in normal and weakened tooth enamel. These tests are also conducted in the ADA’s laboratory.

There are some toothpastes that contain baking soda as it is known for removing odors from your refrigerator, so it should do the same in your mouth.  Baking soda is somewhat abrasive so using it plain everyday can cause some enamel wear over a long period of time.  It is helpful in reducing the acids caused by oral bacteria so it may help in decreasing cavities as well.

Some toothpastes say they are “whitening.”  This is a bit misleading.  They may contain some peroxide, which is used in dental bleaching, but they are in such small amounts that they don’t actually whiten.  These toothpastes can however be used as an adjunct to maintain a smile that has been previously bleached.

Many toothpastes are produced for use on “sensitive teeth.”  Now there are many things that can cause sensitive teeth.  Sensitivity can be caused by a cavity, a cracked or broken tooth, a tooth or restoration that is hitting too high, or even nerve damage.  The chemical potassium nitrate (that is in toothpaste for sensitive teeth) only decreases sensitivity caused by exposed root surfaces along the gumline.  The potassium nitrate molecules occlude or block up little holes or pores in the enamel-free root surfaces of teeth thus decreasing the sensitivity caused by hot or cold temperatures.

With all this in mind, pick a toothbrush that feels comfortable in your hand and is small enough to fit in between your cheek and outside your last upper back tooth.  Also make sure that the bristles are soft so as not to do damage to your teeth.  Pick a toothpaste that makes your mouth feel good afterward and that you like the taste.  Make sure the toothpaste has fluoride to keep your teeth strong.  And finally make sure that they both have the American Dental Association seal of approval so that you know they are safe and effective.  Now finally even if you find the ultimate toothbrush and paste, it won’t matter unless you use them at least twice daily and use them properly.  If you don’t know how to use them properly, come visit me at my office @ 509 West College Street in Murfreesboro, TN.

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Sleep better at night!!

silent-nite

Silent-Night

Recently I attended the Academy of General Dentistry 2013 annual meeting in Nashville.  My main course of study while there covered everything you would want to know about removable anti-snoring appliances.  This was an eye opener as to just how effective these devices are. According to the physician that led the course these retainer-like devices have been proven to be as effective as the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine in helping folks prevent airway obstruction during sleep . So many of our Murfreesboro friends and family have to use the CPAP -’Darth Vader’ mask every night.  Good restful deep sleep is as important to our health as anything. Call me at 615-893-5500. I’ll have you in for a free consultation or as part of your regular check-up. Do it for yourself or a family member. I’d love to help!