March 7th, 2014
Thirty years ago, chewing gum in school would get you a straight trip to detention. Now, it turns out the sticky substance does more than clean your teeth - it sharpens your mind, too.
A number of studies have shown that gum can help people stay focused on tasks for longer, enhancing concentration during memory tests.
One research that assessed its effects on audio memory revealed that the participants who chewed gum had quicker reaction times and more accurate results than those who didn’t chew gum. This proved increasingly true toward the latter parts of the 30-minute audio task.
“Interestingly, participants who didn’t chew gum performed slightly better at the beginning of the task but were overtaken by the end,” Kate Morgan, author of the study from Cardiff University, told the British journal Psychology. ”This suggests that chewing gum helps us focus on tasks that require continuous monitoring over a longer amount of time.”
The researchers explained that gum increases the flow of oxygen to regions of the brain responsible for attention. More oxygen can keep people alert and quicken their reflexes. Interestingly, it’s not a task that allows you to fake it ’til you make it: Research shows that people do not get the benefits by just pretending to chew gum.
Carolyne Cybulski, a pre-school teacher in Toronto, found similar results when it came to her kids. She encouraged her little ones to chew gum during the day, since it leads to less fidgeting, increased attention and lowered anxiety.
“Children learn through their senses – and oral activity can be very calming,” Cybulski explained to The Globe and Mail. “The act of chewing gum also provides constant sensory input to the muscles in the jaw and ears and we find it helps children to concentrate better.”
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March 4th, 2014
Parents now have another reason to be proud of their kids. According to a new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the oral health of children has improved as the number of preventative dentist visits increased over the last decade.
The research was led by Dr. Mahua Mandal of the College of Dental Medicine and Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York, who compared dental results of American children in 2003 with those from the years 2011 and 2012. While individual studies have been previously carried out, this is the first data to systematically examine kids’ oral health outcomes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
“Oral health represents the largest unmet health care need for children, and geographic variations in children’s receipt of oral health services have been noted,” Mandal explained to Daily RX.
This data was collected via telephone surveys conducted by the CDC, accounting for a total of 187,065 children. In the study, the parents were asked whether or not their children had visited a dentist in the past year for preventive care, such as check-ups and dental cleanings. They also categorized the condition of their kids’ teeth as either excellent, very good, fair or poor.
The results are in
Mandal and colleagues discovered that the rate of children who were reported to have excellent or very good oral health increased from 68 percent in 2003 to 72 percent in 2011/2012. Meanwhile, the amount of preventive dental visits rose from 72 percent in 2003 to 77 percent in 2011/2012. In 26 states, the prevalence of youngsters with excellent or very good oral health status jumped, with Utah climbing 10 percent within the decade – the most of any state. Missouri showed the least significant improvement. Unsurprisingly, the most substantial advances were seen among children with health insurance and household incomes above the federal poverty line.
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February 28th, 2014
Bone density affects all parts of our bodies, not just our spines and hips. In this way, osteoporosis, or the thinning of bones, has an immediate connection to tooth loss. According to the National Institutes of Health, women with osteoporosis are three times more likely to experience tooth loss than those without the bone disease.
In the U.S., roughly 40 million people already have osteoporosis or are at-risk due to bone density. The word osteoporosis literally means “porous bones” in Greek, and the condition occurs when our bones lose calcium and minerals, causing them to become weak and brittle. Bone is a living tissue that constantly regenerates, yet when the creation of the new bone doesn’t keep pace with the removal of old bone, osteoporosis kicks in. As a result, people are more prone to a painful fracture, even while doing everyday tasks, such as bending over or taking out the trash.
In 2009, a study conducted by Dr. Nicopoulou-Karayianni at the University of Athens Dental School evaluated 665 females aged 45 to 70. The number of teeth and bone density in the hips, femoral neck and lumbar spine were counted. The results showed that participants with osteoporosis had an average of three fewer teeth than subjects without the bone disease, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Skeletal bone density and toothless grins
Though the correlation between skeletal bone density and tooth loss is evident, researchers have tried to probe the causes more deeply. According to the Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, studies indicate a link between the bone disease and bone loss in the jaw. The portion of the jaw bone that anchors teeth is called the alveolar process, and when that bone structure becomes less dense, tooth loss can occur.
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February 25th, 2014
Oil pulling. No, it does not have to do with digging beneath the dirt to fill up expensive barrels. Gaining ground in recent years, oil pulling describes swishing around coconut oil in the mouth in an effort to pull bacteria from your mouth and body. Though its health benefits have been debated for some time, people who use it tend to swear by it. Daily oil pullers report improvements in dental hygiene, such as whiter teeth and healthier gums, as well as a detox of the body.
While it may be rising in popularity, the practice is far from new. Oil pulling was invented thousands of years ago by Ayurvedic medicinal practitioners who utilized it for its cleansing properties. In the ancient Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita, oil pulling claimed to cure about 30 systemic diseases, spanning from migraines to asthma.
Until recently, it’s been hard to find qualified experts in the scientific or dental community to back up these health claims. Now, some dentists have spoken up about the resurgent trend.
Jessica Lo, a dental hygienist, said she saw a healthy transformation in her patients who oil pulled, according to Indianapolis ABC affiliate WRTV.
“Specifically the patients that had periodontal disease – they’re the ones that had the gum infections, the inflammation, the bleeding, the tenderness, the bad breath,” Lo told WRTV. “This is amazing, because I’ve been able to whiten my teeth and not have sensitivity.”
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February 21st, 2014
Get out the wands and dollar bills, because Friday, Feb. 28 is National Tooth Fairy Day.
This holiday celebrates one of children’s favorite visitors. Since losing baby teeth is sometimes a traumatic experience for young children, entering the magical world of the smiling, gift-giving Tooth Fairy helps wash fears away. Whether your child is scared about the pain or what his or her mouth will look like afterward, this is the day to help.
National Tooth Fairy Day marks a great opportunity to share with your kids the importance of keeping your teeth bright and healthy from a young age. Say so long to cavities and bad breath. Studies have shown that how well children take care of their baby teeth often translates into how well they will take care of their teeth as adults.
However, there is one simple, yet frequently overlooked fact: Children’s smiles depend on their parents. Encourage your kids to brush, floss and eat smart every day. Don’t forget about visits to the dentist, either! Working on habits surrounding oral health for kids will give them a head start on a lifetime of picture-perfect teeth.
Four magical tips
So, before parents tuck money under their child’s pillow at night, here are three things they should put to use to keep their kids smiling through the gaps in their teeth – these tips could even save you money on dental treatments down the line.
- Brush following the “two-and-two” rule: twice a day for two minutes each. Most people spend only 46 seconds brushing, according to Delta Dental. It’s time to step up your child’s game! For youngsters, one good way to do this is to bring your smartphone or mp3 player into the bathroom and play their favorite song. Have them brush until the two-minute mark. For pre-teens, you and your spouse could decide to lengthen TV-watching privileges or cut down one of their chores for good oral care habits.
- Floss once a day. Though often considered the forgotten middle child of hygiene routines, flossing is extremely important, since it can dislodge food particles from nooks that a toothbrush cannot reach. Some dentists find that flossing before brushing proves to be more effective in developing the practice into a habit, since after we brush we sometimes get the false notion that our mouths feel clean enough, and we will forego flossing.
- Fun tip: Demonstrate what flossing does. Please note that it’s a bit messy! In the kitchen, put on a pair of plastic (kitchen) gloves, then smear peanut butter, preferably chunky, over one side of your fingers and between them all the way down to your knuckles. Then, squeezing your fingers together, have your child try to brush your fingers, which are serving as the substitute for teeth. Does the toothbrush clean the food stuck between the fingers? Now, instruct your child to floss between your fingers. A lot better, right? This exercise will help visualize the power of flossing.
- Visit the dentist once every six months. There doesn’t have be an issue with your child’s teeth for them to go in. In fact, their dentist – and tooth fairy – will be more than pleased to see them when they don’t have problems! If you notice long-lasting halitosis, or bad breath, it may be a sign of an underlying issue for your child, such as a rotting tooth. If the tooth finally comes loose, yank it and leave it for the tooth fairy. Otherwise, consult your dental professional.
On National Tooth Fairy Day, oral health for kids is the shining star. However, putting these habits to use after Friday and throughout the year will ensure your kid will wear a bright, healthy smile for years to come.