Archive for the ‘gum disease’ Category

National Smile Week: How a Healthy Smile is a Natural Drug

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

national smile week

In the height of summer, there are plenty of things to grin about. Add National Smile Week to the list and you have fresh reason to flash your pearly whites. National Smile Week takes place during the second week of August, seeking to promote dental health and the maintenance of a bright, healthy smile. 

Beyond making you look more attractive, a smile – and what’s going on in the mouth behind it – plays a large role in the overall health of your body. While some believe “the eyes are the window to the soul,” the mouth is no doubt the gateway to the body. 

Drop diabetes risks
Scientists point out that maintaining a healthy grin can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, among other problems. Few people realize that diabetes and oral health are inextricably linked, even though a recent study shows diabetes now affects at least 
1 in 10 Americans. The connection all starts with sugar. Sugar is one of the leading causes of tooth decay and the standout side effect when the body fails to produce insulin properly. As a result of insulin resistance, blood glucose (sugar) cannot be kept at normal levels, which can reach the gums and teeth and leave them vulnerable to cavities, gum disease and more. But proper brushing habits can significantly lower this problem. 

Releases feel-good chemicals
Smiling has also been known to release endorphins, serotonin and natural pain killers, according to a study conducted by the British Dental Health Foundation. While we know that joy is the source of smile, the smile can also be the source of joy. Our emotions are reinforced and even driven by their corresponding facial expressions, so even a simple grin during National Smile Week could lift your mood. Surely, smiling is a natural drug. 

When we grin from ear-to-ear, it increases happiness both in yourself and those around you. Brain activity has been shown to reach the same level of stimulation when people smiled as eating multiple chocolate bars.  (more…)

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Dental Therapists: New Wave of US Oral Care to Combat Dentist Shortage

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

dental therapists chronic bad breath

Within the last few years, a new class of dentists has emerged called dental therapists. The position has spawned in states facing oral health care shortages, but the new professionals, also known as midlevel dental providers, are being met with strong resistance from dentists.

In 2009, Minnesota became the first state to allow licensing of dental therapists. Since then, Alaska followed and Maine signed a state bill regarding the measure into law last month, becoming the third state to do so. Meanwhile, legislative efforts in other states like Vermont, Kansas and New Mexico are underway.

Essentially, dental therapists are dentistry’s version of physician’s assistants. After two years of intensive training prior to entering the field, they operate under the direct supervision of dentists and are able to perform hygiene maintenance (regular cleanings), fill cavities, give restorations, provide sealants, utilize extractions and administer local anesthesia. They can do as many as 53 procedures in some states. Conversely, licensed dentists, who receive eight years of training, can perform more than 500 procedures.

At the heart of the problem is the severe shortage of dentists, which is fairly surprising considering the profession ranked No. 3 in U.S. News & World Report’s 100 Best Jobs of 2014.

“Maine is having an oral health crisis,” Mark Eves, Maine’s speaker of the House, told USA Today. “The rural part of the state is at a critical point where we need to do something.”

In Maine, 15 out of its 16 counties do not have enough dentists, with more than 62 percent of low-income children in the state going without access to dental care in 2011, according to DentistryIQ. The 600 practicing dentists among a population of 1.3 million constitutes the fewest dentists per capita in New England. To complicate matters, 40 percent of Maine’s dentists are nearing retirement.

A similar dilemma is taking place in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Heather Luebben, an advanced dental therapist, pointed out that Minnesotans lack access to proper dental care, as licensed dentists are too few and far between. Luebben began her career as a hygienist before training to become a dental therapist, and she is one of 32 dental therapists who are now practicing since the state’s law was passed. (more…)

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Study: 1 in 10 Americans have Diabetes

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

diabetes dry mouth gum disease

The percentage of Americans with diabetes has almost doubled since 1988, new research shows. Now a staggering 21 million adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the blood glucose disease, which has a potent ability to affect their oral health.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the rate of diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes was 5.5 percent. By 2010, that number jumped to 9.3 percent, according to the new report.

For the study, which was published in the April 15 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This included more than 43,000 adults followed from the first survey period (1988 to 1994) to the most recent (1999 to 2010). From 1988 to 1994, the rate of diagnosed diabetes was 5.5 percent. By the next survey in 1999 to 2004, that number had leapt to 7.6 percent. In the most recent survey, which looked at data from 2005 to 2010, the prevalence of diabetes rose to 9.3 percent.

“Diabetes has increased dramatically,” Dr. Elizabeth Selvin, associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the study’s lead author, told HealthDay. “The rates have almost doubled since the late ’80s and early ’90s.”

Understanding diabetes Diabetes is a disorder that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than average. When you consume food and drinks, the body normally breaks down all of the sugars and starches into glucose, which is an essential fuel source for cells. However, for the 21 million Americans with the disease, the body has trouble regulating insulin, the hormone responsible for transferring the sugar from the blood to the cells as nourishment.

There are two main forms of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and usually develops during adulthood, while Type 1 typically occurs in children and young adults, affecting roughly 5 percent of people who have the disease.

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National Smile Month

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

national smile month

Our neighbors across the pond are celebrating National Smile Month from May 19 to June 19. As the largest and longest-running oral health campaign in the U.K., National Smile Month seeks to heighten awareness about vital oral health issues such as cavities and gum disease, and while they might be some 3,000 miles away, the power of a smile can go a long way.

For the majority of Americans and Brits, one’s teeth is the first thing they notice when meeting someone. According to a British study, white teeth can make you look 20 percent more attractive and up to 16 percent employable. They can also chip five years off of how old you look. First impressions are everything, and your smile has an instant impact on those around you.

The mouth-body connection
Beyond the sheer appearance of your pearly whites, the mouth is considered the gateway to the body. What foods you eat, beverages you drink and chemicals you smoke enter the mouth to affect the system as a whole. Research has shown that rotten oral health is connected to an increased risk for cardiovascular problems, Type 2 diabetes and complications during pregnancy. In one study published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with serious gum disease were 40 percent more likely to have a chronic condition.

So, what comes to mind when you think of poor oral health? Yellow teeth, gap smile and rancid bad breath. While that’s certainly the epitome of things, there are many more common problems that we tend to overlook – and many more people suffer from them than you may think.

You wouldn’t ignore a bleeding foot, so why ignore bleeding gums? Puffy, red and bleeding gums can be a sign of gum disease. On a basic level, the condition is attributed to plaque building up along the gum line, which irritates the tissues and erodes dental enamel. As it progresses, the gums become inflamed, a condition known as gingivitis.

If plaque is not removed with regular brushing and dental appointments, it will harden into what is called tartar – and only a dentist can get rid of it. In the most severe cases, tartar buildup may lead to gum recession, or periodontitis, that wears away at the jawbone and usually results in tooth loss.

Tips to maintain proper oral health
To avoid these concerns, here are the three key ingredients for a clean smile and healthy gums:

  1. Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. (more…)
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Slimmest and Fattest Cities in US

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

slimmest fattest cities US

A new Gallup poll has revealed the cities in the U.S. with the most obese populations. For the third year in a row, the city with the lowest obesity rate in the U.S. continues to be in Boulder, Colo., at 12.4 percent. As for large communities with a population of more than 1 million, Memphis had the highest rate at 31.9 percent. 

As health officials have pointed out, diet affects not only your waistline, but your mouth as well. After consuming food and beverages, your body processes their nutrition and supplies the body with energy, but some of the food particles linger on teeth and gums, causing problems like cavities, gingivitis and bad breath.

Nationwide, the obesity rate jumped to 27.1 percent in 2013, the highest Gallup and Healthways have recorded since tracking started in 2008. Obesity is measured by calculating a person’s body mass index (BMI) score, which takes into account height and weight. BMI scores of 30 or more are considered obese.

The fittest major U.S. communities were Denver-Aurora, Colo., San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, Calif., and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., whereas the fattest communities were Memphis, Tenn., San Antonio, Texas, and Richmond, Va.

The data reflects the state level results for 2013, which discovered that West Virginia and Mississippi were the most obese states, while Montana and Colorado were the least obese. Three areas in Colorado – Boulder, Fort Collins-Loveland and Denver-Aurora – ranked among the communities with the 10 lowest obesity rates. Colorado is famous for its outdoor recreation and natural landscape, so these results may not be that surprising.

According to the Journal of American Medicine (JAME), more than one-third of U.S. adults (34.9 percent) are obese. No state has met the goal of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2010 initiative to lower obesity prevalence to 15 percent. Only one U.S. metropolitan area has hit the target.

Connection between obesity and oral health problems
Obesity can affect a person’s oral health in two main ways. First, it impacts your diet with what you consume and how often you consume it, which can result in a higher risk of tooth decay. Chowing down on foods with a lot of sugar builds plaque on your teeth – the starting point of most oral health problems for kids and adults.

Secondly, obesity can lead to an increased risk of gum disease. Studies have indicated that the more obese a person is, the higher their chances are of developing gum disease.

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