A Breakdown of Statistics on Oral Health: What You Need to Know

March 14th, 2014

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A smile is universal. Across all cultures, it means happiness, welcomeness and attraction. But if those teeth get dirty, they might send mixed signals. Although some say a smile is only skin deep, it in fact provides a window into your body’s overall health. So, here are 10 takeaway statistics that you should know to keep both your mouth and body clean and healthy:

1. Thirty-four percent of Americans did not visit a dentist last year. Your dental professional can spot things you may not notice, remove dental plaque, provide proper cavity treatment, and at the end of the day, help to brighten your pearly whites.

2. The average American consumes a whopping 600 cans of soda annually. This sugary beverage is among the leading culprits for tooth decay. As an alternative to soda, drink water, which helps wash down harmful acids and food debris.

3. Nearly 50 percent of people say that a smile is the first thing they notice when meeting someone.

4. In a survey on dating, bad breath was found to be the No. 1 turn-off. Check out the best mouthwash for bad breath. Whether you’re meeting for lunch or at a concert, keep sugar-free gum on hand.

5. According to a 2007 French study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, roughly 6 percent of people have tonsil stones, which are clumps of mucus, dead cells and debris that get caught in the pockets of the tonsils. While many people may not know about this condition, a growing number of Americans have expressed concern in recent years over what they are and what to do with them. Tonsil stones can cause throat irritation and discomfort and can be popped out using Q-tip or oral irrigator.

6. Almost 4 out of 5 Americans have a cavity by age 17. Once secondary (adult) teeth set in, you have to wear that smile for life! So, take care of it.

7. According to a British study from DailyMail, white teeth can make you look 20 percent more attractive. The same study also found that having white teeth makes you up to 16 percent more employable. Tooth whitening options, anyone?

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Keeping Your Baby’s Smile Healthy Throughout the Year

March 12th, 2014

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The beginning of 2014 didn’t just mark a fresh start for you, it was one for your youngster as well. As a number of studies have indicated, taking care of teeth and gums starts at a young age. The health of primary (baby) teeth often dictates the future health of adult teeth. That means for your little bundle of joy, it’s best to know what to do to keep them nothing but smiles.

Cleanings at home
Many parents don’t realize that oral hygiene for babies starts as soon as they’re born. Even if they don’t have teeth yet, parents should use a clean, damp washcloth to wipe their gums clean after each feeding. Once their teeth appear, toddlers should be taught to hold a toothbrush, but brush for them twice a day with water – no toothpaste is needed. Keep an eye out for long-lasting bad breath, as it could signal an underlying condition.

Visit the dentist by age 1
Similar to the daily cleanings, a staggering 97 percent of parents were unaware that infants should visit a dentist during their first year of life, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPA). Bring your child to the dental office when he or she is between 3 and 9 months, which is typically when the first tooth erupts. If you want to set a date, AAPA recommends that a child should have their first appointment within six months of developing their first tooth.

This is important for several reasons. First, it helps familiarize your child with the dentist and dental office environment. It can also be helpful for a parent to learn new tips. Although you’ve been brushing and flossing your entire life, keeping your infant’s mouth clean demands a different set of skills. Don’t hesitate to ask your dentist to give you a demonstration. Practicing good oral health for kids starts with parents. Lastly, it kickstarts the habit of visiting the dentist every six months.

Nutrition
What you feed your baby can be just as crucial as dental visits. It’s important not to send children to bed with a bottle of juice or milk. Both beverages contain sugar that can wear away teeth when left for long periods of time, such as during nap times or overnight. Plus, you don’t want to add to their morning breath!

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Chewing Gum Boosts Concentration

March 7th, 2014

chewing gum concentrationThirty 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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CDC Study: Children’s Smiles Healthier than Ever submitted

March 4th, 2014

iStock_000008922315SmallParents 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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The Relationship Between Oral Health and Osteoporosis

February 28th, 2014

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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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