Dental health and your teeth

Dental hygiene dental care beautiful teethYou eat with them. You speak with them. You smile with them. In fact, you spend most of your life with them. What are they? Your teeth.

As long as they don’t cause you pain or problems, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about your teeth. They are, however, a very important member of your body and deserve your care and attention.

Good dental health starts early in your life with good habits for dental hygiene and regular visits at the dentist. Dental health, though, has nothing to do with how many fillings you have or how many (or few) teeth you have left. Dental health is about the condition of your teeth and gums right here and now. Even a mouth with only very few teeth can be healthy, if good dental hygiene is maintained. At the same time a mouth full of pearly-white teeth can be diseased and unhealthy if for some reason the oral hygiene is suffering.

This website has been established to help you achieve and/or maintain good dental health. If you treat your teeth well, they will be your loyal partners for life.

Better Chewing Ability Might Reduce Dementia Risk

Now it seems that Swedish researchers have a found a new factor that influences the risk of suffering from dementia: Chewing ability.

smiling-senior-coupleDementia – the deterioration of our cognitive functions and gradual loss of abilities such as memory, decision-making and problem solving – is a condition that doctors and scientists have long been searching for a way to cure or prevent. Now it seems that Swedish researchers have a found a new factor that influences the risk of suffering from dementia: Chewing ability.

A team researchers at Karolinska Institutet and from Karlstad University in Sweden looked at tooth loss, chewing ability and cognitive function in a group of 557 people aged 77 or older. Comparing all the data, they found that among those who had difficulty chewing hard food such as apples there was a much higher risk of developing dementia. The connection between chewing ability and dementia risk was not related to variables such as sex, age, education and mental health problems which have also been reported to influence the dementia risk. Whether the chewing ability was maintained with dentures or with natural did not effect the dementia risk either. As long as the person was able to chew well, the dementia risk was lower.

There is still no clear answer as to why chewing ability has an impact on the dementia risk. One theory is that a lower chewing ability means less blood flow to the brain. The question of the exact connection must be further researched.

Our chewing ability is linked to the number and quality of our teeth. A loss of chewing ability could be the cause of numerous cavities or periodontitis, which can all be prevented through adequate dental hygiene.

Duangjai Lexomboon, Mats Trulsson, Inger Wårdh & Marti G. Parker: Chewing Ability and Tooth Loss: Association with Cognitive Impairment in an Elderly Population Study
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 4 October 2012
Karolinska Institutet

Nanocrystals could be used to make natural looking dentures

Scientists have managed to produce a new kind of glass ceramic with a nanocrystalline structure, which seems to be well suited for use in dentures and bridges

denture-and-dental-formDentures need to be able to stand the same pressure as natural teeth. At the same time they must be made of a material that makes them look natural. Many dentures might feel right but don’t look natural or the other way around. Now, however, a group of scientists have managed to produce a new kind of glass ceramic with a nanocrystalline structure, which seems to be well suited for use in dentures and bridges due to their high strength and natural shine.

The new glass-ceramics are made on the basis of magnesium-, aluminium-, and silicon oxide and are distinguished by their enormous strength. “We achieve a strength five times higher than with comparable denture ceramics available today”, Prof. Rüssel explains. So far the high density ceramics,have only been used in other fields such as in computer hard drives.

Materials used in dentures are not supposed to look different from natural teeth. It is also important that the colour shade is right, and since the enamel of natural teeth is partly translucent, so should the enamel of the dentures be.

The making of nanocrystals

To achieve this goal, the basic materials of the glass-ceramics are first melted at about 1.500 °C, then cooled down and finely cut up. They are then melted again and cooled down again. Finally, nanocrystals are generated at a controlled heating to 1,000 °C. This way the crystallisation which is so important for the strength of denture material is secured. For the crystals to look naturally translucent, the size of them should not be more than 100 nanometers. This way, they are too small to strongly disperse light and will not look opaque like some other denture materials. The enamel will look translucent and dentures made from this material will be strong and at the same time look natural.

The science of making these nanocrystals will need to be further developed before they can be used in dentures, but researchers feel sure that their technology might be the future of natural looking dentures.

Dittmer M, Rüssel C.: Colorless and high strength MgO/Al2O3/SiO2 glass-ceramic dental material using zirconia as nucleating agent. J Biomed Mater Res B Appl Biomater. 2011 Nov 21. doi: 10.1002/jbm.b.31972

Do dental x-rays cause brain tumor?

Individuals who received frequent dental x-rays in the past have an increased risk of developing a benign brain tumor called meningioma.

x-ray-single-held-in-handA recent study published in the journal Cancer has shown that individuals who received frequent dental x-rays in the past have an increased risk of developing a benign brain tumor called meningioma.

The link between dental x-rays and brain tumors was studied by collecting and analyzing information from 1,433 patients who were diagnosed with meningioma between the ages of 20 and 79 years. A control group of 1,350 individuals who had similar characteristics but had not been diagnosed with the brain tumor were also studied.

Over a lifetime, patients with the meningioma brain tumor were more than twice as likely to report having ever had a bitewing exam where an x-ray film is held in place between the teeth. Those who had received bitewing x-rays on a yearly or more frequent basis were 1.4 to 1.9 times more likely to develop the brain tumor than controls.

An even greater risk of meningioma brain tumor was linked with panorex exams. Panorex are dental x-rays that are taken from outside the mouth and show all the teeth in one picture. Especially if the panorex dental x-rays were taken at a young age or on a yearly or more frequent basis. Those who had received these dental x-rays when they were younger than 10 years old had a 4.9 times increased risk of developing meningioma. Those who had received them on a yearly or more frequent basis were 2.7 to 3.0 times as likely to develop meningioma as controls depending on their age.

It should be noted that meningioma is not a cancerous tumor and that techniques used for dental x-rays today do not expose patients to as much radiation as before. The study findings suggest though, that dental x-rays do affect the body and that they should only be performed when necessary for diagnostic purposes.

Source: Elizabeth B. Claus MD et al.: “Dental x-rays and risk of meningioma”, Cancer, published online 10 Apr 2012, DOI: 10.1002/cncr.26625

Premature babies grow smaller teeth

Research conducted at Malmö baby-black-in-white-dressUniversity’s Dental Faculty has proved that children born before the 33rd week of pregnancy will grow permanent teeth that are up to 10% smaller in size compared with other children. The research was conducted by orthodontist Liselotte Paulsson-Björnsson, who examined the permanent front teeth and 1st molars in 80 children aged 8 to 10 years. All children had been born prematurely and their teeth were generally smaller and had larger spaces between them. Although this does not affect the function of the teeth it might cause problems cosmetically, thus creating a greater need for orthodontic treatment in this group of children.

Liselotte Paulsson-Björnsson points out that due to the great progress in the care of prematurely born babies within the last 15 years, the results of her research might not apply to babies born prematurely today. She also needs to examine whether it is only the front teeth and 1st molars that are affected or whether teeth developed after birth will also be smaller.

Source: www.mah.se/Nyheter/Nyheter-2011/For-tidigt-fodda-barn-far-mindre-tander/

Can periodontal disease cause premature birth?

Several studies show that there is a link between periodontal disease in pregnant women and premature birth. What is the link and how can you protect yourself?

good oral health in pregnancySeveral epidemiological studies seem to support the theory that there is a link between periodontal disease in pregnant women and premature birth. For instance, one study suggested that pregnant women with periodontal disease are as much as seven times more likely to have babies that are born too early or have a relatively low birth weight.

Why does periodontal disease cause premature birth?

Although the connection between periodontal disease and premature birth seems clearly to be existing, researcher are still not certain about the reasons for this connection.

One theory is that periodontal disease triggers increased levels of the biological fluids that induce labor. In other words, the regulators that are supposed to send the message that birth is to begin are produced elsewhere in the body and the message is sent prematurely. Some of these regulators are called prostaglandins, and they can be produced by different diseases, among which is gum disease.

Another theory is that oral bacteria from the mother is transferred directly into the uterus, causing localized inflammation and adverse pregnancy outcome.

Maintain good oral health during pregnancy

Whatever the reason for the connection between gum disease and preterm birth, it is clear that it is crucial for pregnant mothers to maintain good oral hygiene through the whole pregnancy. Discomfort in connection with the pregnancy such as nausea may at times make it difficult to keep up the good oral hygiene habits from before the pregnancy, but with determination and good support from your dental health professional is it not impossible.

One advice that many pregnant mothers have benefitted from is to buy a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. If you suffer from nausea, a smaller toothbrush will make it easier to reach the teeth in the back of your mouth without causing too much discomfort. The soft bristles will also be more gentle on your gums, which might be extra sore during your pregnancy.

Some pregnant mothers experience more serious dental health problems during pregnancy, such as bleeding gums, loose teeth and bad breath despite frequent brushing. If you experience such problems, you might benefit from a visit to your dentist or dental hygienist. They can help evaluate the condition of your gums, make you aware of areas that you need to pay more attention to and teach you how to care for your own oral health and thereby the health of your baby.

Does oral bacteria cause multiple sclerosis?

Research points to an oral bacteria as a contributing factor to the development of multiple sclerosis. Results can affect the treatment of multiple sclerosis and provide new markers for disease activity.

dnaMultiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease where the immune system attacks the brain and spinal cord. The disease causes a wide range of neurological symptoms that include muscle weakness, difficulty in moving, difficulty in speech and many other impairing and painful conditions.

While doctors are very clear about the symptoms and processes of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, they have long been in the dark as to the “tipping” factors, that is the factors that make the body’s immune system start to attack its own tissues. However, some research points to an oral bacteria as a contributing factor to the development of multiple sclerosis. The oral bacteria in question is called Porphyromas gingivalis and is common in humans. It produces a unique type of lipid, which enhances inflammatory responses.

Researchers at the University of Connecticut Health Center have tried to determine whether these lipids play a role in exacerbating autoimmune disease. Results indicated that phosphorylated DHCs from bacteria commonly found in humans may actually trigger or increase the severity of multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases.

Although results like these are indeed good news for those suffering from multiple sclerosis and those at risk of developing the disease, more research is still needed before the research can be used in therapeutic treatment and prevention of multiple sclerosis. For instance, scientists still need to characterize the effects of the oral bacteria on specific cells of the immune system and to identify how and where these lipids are deposited in the body’s different tissues. In addition to triggering and worsening multiple sclerosis, scientists believe that the oral bacteria may have the potential to serve as new markers of multiple sclerosis disease activity and as targets for therapeutic intervention.

How to take care of dentures

Many of the problems that denture wearers experience can be avoided with the proper care and cleaning. Here are three simple steps to taking proper care of your dentures.

denture-in-water1Many of the problems that denture wearers experience can be avoided with the proper care and cleaning. This article will explain three simple steps that are necessary in order to take proper care of your dentures.

Step 1: Give your gums a rest

When asked whether dentures need to be taken out at night, some dentists will answer: “Do you normally sleep with your shoes on?” The two might not seem related, but actually your feet and your gums have this one thing in common: They need air and rest. The environment created between your gums and your dentures is warm and humid, creating the ideal environment for fungus growth. Exposing the gums to your own saliva, however, will keep them healthy. The first step in proper denture care is therefore to care for yourself by taking the dentures out at night and giving your gums some air. Rinsing and brushing your gums and tongue with a soft-bristled brush after meals, before bedtime and before putting them back on in the morning will also help prevent problems such as bad odor and itching.

Step 2: Brushing your dentures
The dentures themselves need to be brushed and kept clean just like natural teeth. For cleaning your dentures make sure to choose a brush that is soft-bristled enough to avoid scratching the dentures. When brushing, be careful not to drop the dentures on the floor or in the zink, at this might break them. Some choose to brush over a soft surface or over a zink filled with water to avoid breakage if dropped. Your dentures not only need to be cleaned on the outside, but also on the sides facing the gums. Actually, this is the most important part as germs and debris on the inside of dentures might cause fungus infection and other irritation.

Step 3: Soaking your dentures

Most dentists advise patients to soak their dentures in water during the night as this prevents the dentures from drying out or warping. If your dentures are properly brushed and cleaned daily, it should not be necessary to spend money on denture cleaning solutions. If there are stains or calculus on the dentures, you can make your own solution of half-and-half water and vinegar. After soaking dentures in vinegar, remember to brush and rinse them before putting them back in the mouth. The solution in itself will not remove stains and calculus but will soften them, making them easier to remove with a toothbrush. For partial dentures, be aware that some solutions will damage the clasps. To be on the safe side, soak partial dentures for no more than 15 minutes or use only water for soaking.

With these simple steps it should be possible to keep your gums healthy and your dentures clean. If you in spite of good hygiene habits start to experience problems with your gums or dentures, make an appointment to have your dentist take a look at it. The problem will probably be easily solved and you can continue living happily with your dentures!

Stem cells can help re-attach lost teeth

Researchers at the University of Illinois, Chicago have extracted and cultivated stem cells that can make lost teeth ‘grow back into’ the jaw.

tooth-three-roots-illustration1News from the world of stem cells again! Researchers at the University of Illinois, Chicago have extracted and cultivated stem cells that can make lost teeth ‘grow back in’ the jaw.

In the experiment, stem cells were taken from rats’ periodontal fibres and cultivated in an incubator. After a while, they were seeded on extracted rats’ teeth og put back into the jaw of the rats. After a few months the stem cells had formed new periodontal fibres between the tooth and the jaw and the tooth was attached just as firmly as a healthy tooth.

Better than implants?

Researchers are hoping to be able to use this technique to re-implant teeth that have been lost due to trauma, or even to attach tooth replacements directly into the gum. Teeth attached with stem cell fibres in this way will have a big advantage compared with implants that do not have periodontal fibres and have a very bad prognosis as soon as they start to loosen a little.

Natural looking dentures – is it possible?

Have you ever met someone who you immediately knew was wearing dentures? It doesn’t have to be like that. These days dentures can be made to look so natural that only the trained eye can tell that they’re not your natural teeth. How?

natural looking denturesHave you ever met someone who you immediately knew was wearing dentures? Maybe the teeth were too big, too perfect, too straight or too white? Or maybe the dentures just didn’t fit and kept dropping down or sliding around when the person was talking or eating? An experience like this is often enough to discourage anyone from choosing dentures as the replacement for lost teeth. But it doesn’t have to be like that. These days dentures can be made to look so natural that only the trained eye can tell that they’re not your natural teeth. How?

Do you really want natural looking dentures?

First of all, you need to decide whether you really want natural looking dentures. If you don’t want anyone to notice that you exchanged your natural teeth for dentures, you will need to have your dentures made to look exactly like the original teeth with all their imperfections, such as miscolorations, cracks and visible fillings. Others decide that changing to dentures is their chance to get the teeth they always wanted. Although they might be happy with their perfect, white new teeth, this change will probably not go unnoticed by their friends and relatives. Others might find it unusual too, to see such a young looking set of teeth on a not so young looking person. Still others decide to go with with a set of dentures that is just slightly better looking than the original teeth. They reason that most people are not in the habit of studying other peoples’ teeth so closely that they would notice small changes like that. Which is probably true.

How to get natural looking dentures

If you decide to go for the natural look, make sure that your dentist takes note of exactly how your original teeth look. If many teeth are already missing, bring a photo of yourself where you are smiling and thus showing off your natural teeth. This will also help the dentist see, not only what the dentures are supposed to look like, but also how the impression should be of your whole face when you are finally wearing the dentures. Dentures when worn should not be too tall or protruding, making it difficult to close your lips around them and they should not be so low that they never show when you smile. If you find that you suddenly have wrinkles around your mouth, especially at the corners is a sign that your dentures are too small or too low. If you’ve had dentures for a long time and start to experience these problems it is also a sign that your need to have your dentures refitted or maybe even changed.

The above is just a simplified introduction to achieving natural looking dentures. Your dentist will be able to give you much more advice and guidance. Hopefully, at least this article has convinced you that a change to dentures does not need to become the talk of the town. Your dentures can be made to look so natural, that only you and your dentist will ever need to know about it.

Mouth rinse manufacturers might face prosecution

Manufacturers of mouth rinse products often claim that their products are effective against gum disease and plaque. But that is simply not true.

Mouth rinse productsManufacturers of mouth rinse products often claim that their products are effective against gum disease and plaque. But that is simply not true. At least, it is not a proven fact that they have this effect. That is the conclusion of a report by the FDA, which has resulted in warning letters being sent to three manufacturers and marketers of mouth rinse products.

Only one proven effect of mouth rinse products

The only ingredient in mouth rinse products that has a scientifically proven effect is fluoride. Fluoride is only effective against cavities in that it helps remineralize teeth. Although the fluoride in mouth rinse products might have a beneficial effect against cavities, it will not remove the plaque itself nor the diseases caused by plaque. Only a toothbrush can remove plaque, and only by regularly removing plaque can gum disease be effectively prevented.

Are mouth rinse products beneficial?

Since gum disease is a medical problem, products claiming to have therapeutic effect must have presented scientific proof supporting this claim. The manufacturers of mouth rinse products have not presented any such proof and are thus not permitted to claim that their products have any such therapeutic effect. False claims as to the effect of mouth rinse products might have a harmful effect on the oral health of buyers, since they put too much trust in the product and pay too little attention to the oral health habits that are actually effective in preventing oral diseases, such as brushing and flossing.

Since the amount of fluoride needed to protect teeth against cavities in most cases is met just by using toothpaste for brushing twice a day, many dental health professionals find mouth rinse products to be an unnecessary supplement to the daily oral health routine.

In the warning letters from the FDA, the three companies were given a deadline of 15 days to take action to correct the matter. Otherwise they would risk prosecution and the removal of their mouth rinse products from the shelves.