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

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.

Bad breath can be caused by constipation

Up to 25% of all cases of bad breath can be caused by constipation. Researchers point to a healthier diet and regular exercise as the solution.

Bad breath can be caused by constipationOften, people who are made aware of their bad breath are surprised, because they experience no problems with their oral health and maintain a good oral hygiene. New research from Denmark offers an explanation why many people with good oral health suffer from bad breath. The research indicates that up to 25% of all cases of bad breath can be caused by constipation. Researchers point to a healthier lifestyle as the solution.

Constipation and bad breath – the reasons

Constipation causes an accumulation of undigested food in the bowels and the problem is thought to be caused by a passive lifestyle with a lack of exercise. Many people who suffer from constipation have a job that requires them to sit all day, which does not do much good for the digestion. When combined with a diet low in fibres and a general lack of exercise, constipation is very likely to result which again causes the bad breath.

Constipation and bad breath – the solution

If people are to solve their problems with constipation and bad breath, they need to improve the function of their bowels. In order to solve the problem with constipation, doctors recommend regular exercise, a diet rich in fibres and low in fat and a habit of drinking water every hour.

When dentists are faced with patients who suffer from bad breath without having any problems with oral hygiene or oral health, they are recommended to ask the patient whether he or she has been experiencing problems with digestion or stomach aches, has felt bloated or in any other way uncomfortable or tired. If the answer is yes, the patient might be advised to see a doctor who specializes in intestinal problems.

Good tooth care – important for your oral health

Every day your teeth are under attack and your mouth is at risk of developing different oral diseases. The most prevalent oral diseases can be prevented through good tooth care. What does proper tooth care involve and how can you overcome obstacles to achieving good oral health?

Good tooth care to prevent oral diseasesWhy is tooth care important?

Every day your teeth are under attack and your mouth is at risk of developing different oral diseases. The most prevalent oral diseases that can be prevented through good tooth care are cavities and periodontitis (loosening teeth). Cavities develop as a result of two factors: Plaque and sugar. Plaque is the yellowish-white layer that starts to form on the surface of your teeth already a short time after you’ve brushed them. Plaque consists of many different kinds of bacteria that reproduce and grow in numbers very quickly. This means that the longer time the plaque is left on the teeth, the thicker the layer gets. When sugar is added to the plaque, it results in acid which breaks down the tooth substance and eventually make a cavity in the tooth.

Periodontitis is another common result of inadequate tooth care, since it is also caused by plaque. When plaque has been left on the tooth surface for more than two days, the bacteria start to irritate the gums. The gums will become red and inflamed and maybe even bleed, when you brush them. If the process continues, the bacteria and the inflammation will spread and start to break down the bone that supports the teeth. Eventually the teeth will loosen and fall out.

These two common but serious oral diseases can be prevented through proper tooth care. How?

What does good tooth care involve?

Since the main cause of both cavities and periodontitis is the presence of plaque, good tooth care involves daily removal of plaque from your teeth. Dentists and dental hygienists normally recommend brushing at least twice every day with a medium soft toothbrush. You can read more about choosing the right toothbrush here. A guide on how to brush your teeth can be found here. For some people good tooth care involves more than brushing. Flossing, tongue scraping or the use of interdental brushes might be necessary in order to clean between your teeth and prevent bad breath. Read more about bad breath here

Regular visits to the dentist or dental hygienist are also an important part of good tooth care. Depending on your individual needs, your dentist will advise you on how often to come in for check-ups and maybe dental cleanings. Don’t be quick to think that your dentist is just trying to make an extra buck, if he or she asks you to come in more often than you expected. Some people need to come to the dentist once every three months for a check-up and a cleaning in order to avoid oral diseases. Others only need to come once every year. It might have a little to do with genetic factors and how strong your teeth and gums are, but it mostly depends on how well you care for you teeth. Tooth care is primarily your own responsibility and without your co-operation your dentist will not be able to help you avoid oral diseases – even if you visit the clinic every three months.

Obstacles to good tooth care

The main obstacles to good tooth care are probably forgetfulness and lack of proper routines. In a busy schedule it is not always easy to remember to fit in time for dental hygiene. You can read some advice on how to build good routines for oral health and tooth care here

For many people economy also plays a role, when it comes to deciding when to visit the dentist. While dental care can be expensive, however, the tooth care that you perform at home does not have to cost much. By taking good care of your teeth, you can save a lot of money and trouble in the long run.