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Archives for February, 2011

New product could replace the drill

At the moment, the most common ways for dentists to treat tooth decay all involve the use of a drill, which is not only unpleasant for the patient but can also cause irreparable damage to the healthy tooth material.

Whether the dental staff decide to use fillings, crowns or bridges to treat tooth decay, anaesthetic and a drill will be needed. With tooth decay being so common, a lot of people are having healthy teeth damaged in order to fix the unhealthy ones.

However, a new treatment has been developed that can treat the damage caused by tooth decay without the need for anaesthetic or drilling. The product is a liquid plastic which can be applied by the dentist to any patches showing signs of decay or any areas that already have holes to repair them.

The simple and quick process is easier for both the dentist and the patient, and is ideal for those who suffer from dental anxiety, which can often be linked to factors like the noise of the drill.

The first part of the treatment requires the teeth affected to be cleaned using a special gel, which is then washed off when it has done its job. Once the tooth has been dried, using a simple puff of air, the liquid plastic is applied by the dentist. The product needs to be set in the dental surgery and this is done with the use of a hand-held light.

Icon was developed by a German dental company, but is now also available in the UK.

Diet can reduce risks of developing oral cancer

A long-term study by researchers at the Columbia University Medical Centre and Harvard School of Public Health has found that women whose diets are high in folic acid and low in alcohol are less likely to develop oral cancer than those whose diets are low in folic acid.

Folic acid and vitamin B are found in many vegetables and fruits, leading to the conclusion that a healthy diet is also a major factor in whether someone will develop mouth cancer. It has long been established that smoking and drinking alcohol are contributory factors in the development of the disease.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, said: “Rates of mouth cancer in women have been increasing for many years as a result of changed social habits with more women smoking and drinking. This new research could offer a method to reduce this by looking at the folic acid intake and increasing fruit and vegetables containing folic acid in the diet.”

“In the past studies have tended to focus on males, as they are twice as likely to suffer from the disease.Whilst this study focuses on women we know that men also benefit from the protective value of increased fruit and vegetables”.

The study itself followed 87,000 nurses in the US over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, monitoring their diet, alcohol consumption and smoking habits, as well as other aspects of their daily lives. Women who had a high alcohol, but a low folic acid intake were three times more likely to develop mouth cancer than women who drank less and ate a healthy diet.

Vegetables such as peas, beans, broccoli and asparagus are good sources of folic acid, as are some types of bread and fruit juice. Other recent research also found that a diet rich in Omega-3 and high in fibre can also reduce the risk of oral cancer.

Quick saliva test can check for cancer virus

A saliva test that takes only a few minutes to carry out, can be used by dentists to check if patients have an oral HPV, or human papillomavirus, which is known to be a major cause of cancers in the mouth and throat.

The publicity surrounding the celebrities who have revealed that they are suffering with the condition, such as Michael Douglas and Roger Ebert, has raised the profile of the disease, which doctors and dentists hope will help to tackle the high death rate in the future.

Early detection is vital for treatment to be successful, but often the disease is caught too late to be treated. Regular dental checks are one way of monitoring the health of your mouth, as well as your teeth, and you should make an extra appointment to see your dentist if you are concerned about any painful patches inside the mouth or any unusual bleeding.

Oral HPV is one of the most significant causes of the disease, and it is transmitted through sexual activity in the same way that the regular HPV is passed between men and women during sex. In women, HPV is the major cause of cervical cancer and there is regular screening to detect the presence of these potentially dangerous cells through smear tests.

Now this new oral test can help detect the presence of oral HPV and assess the risk of developing oral cancer. The test takes only a few minutes, and is painless; the dentist will take a swab and collect a sample of the cells from the inside of your cheek, which are then sent to a laboratory for testing.

“We can’t stand by and watch this get any more out of hand. It has to stop and we are here to see that happen. If we can get it in its early stages it can be cured. But, early on there is no pain and often times people are simply unaware and unfortunately aren’t being screened annually or at all,” said Dr. Alina Muntean, the owner of Dunes Dental Services in Surfside Beach, South Carolina, one of the many clinics who are starting to offer this test to patients.

New movie inspires kids to take care of their teeth

A new short film, produced in the US as part of National Children’s Dental Health Month, aims to inspire and encourage children to take better care of their teeth.

“Crooked” is a 17-minute film that is available to schools, youth groups and parents to entertain their young ones, as well as reinforcing the important message about oral hygiene.

The movie features 12-year-old Samantha who is obsessed with losing her last crooked baby tooth to make her smile perfect. Throughout the film, Samantha’s conversations and inner monologue help to promote good oral health in a fun and original way; Samantha is seen brushing her teeth at school after lunch, while one of the scenes takes place in the dentist’s office.

The film was directed by Todd Thompson, a noted Floridian film maker, who was approached by a local man with the idea. He had suffered his own oral health problems as a child and wanted to find a fun and engaging way to help today’s kids avoid the problems he had experienced.

Steven Tinsworth, D.M.D. and executive producer of Crooked, says that the film’s amusing and original way of enforcing a familiar message “really resonates with young people, and that helps get them into the habit of taking care of their teeth. After all, kids who form good habits now grow into adults with healthy teeth.”

The DVD can be bought online and a percentage of the profits will be donated to National Children’s Oral Health Foundation: America’s Toothfairy, a group which try to provide oral healthcare for underprivileged children.

Dental phobia and serious health concerns

A fear of the dentist is something that is either growing amongst citizens, or people are generally deciding to bite the bullet and let their phobia be known. Nevertheless, putting off a trip to the dentist could lead to serious health concerns going unnoticed.

By attending regular dental check-ups you can have your oral health monitored by your dentist, who can alert you to any problems and make sure you take the necessary precautions. Oral health issues can indeed lead to problems including oral cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

And though dental costs may be one reason for why people are choosing not to attend the dentist, a fear of the dentist is high among the causes. But now there are a range of ways your dentist can help you to overcome your anxiousness in the dental chair.

Such methods include listening to music to block out the sound of the dentist’s drill, sedation techniques to lessen the pain of treatment and generally a team of dental staff who are more understanding of dental phobia and its many forms.

Sadly it is also the case that an adult’s fear of the dentist can attach itself to their child, leading to oral health problems for them as well. But by discussing these problems with your dentist, you can be on the road to recovery to a healthy set of teeth.

Clean up your teeth after romantic treats

Valentine’s Day is over, but for some people the reminder of their romantic gifts will linger on their teeth for many years.

Gorging on sugary chocolates, without brushing your teeth carefully twice a day, can damage your teeth, as the bacteria in your mouth reacts with the sugar and starch in your goodies, creating an acid that will put your tooth enamel under attack.

Red wine may seem a romantic choice at dinner, but the pigment that gives a Merlot its rich colour can stain your teeth, in exactly the same way as it can stain the carpet. Maintaining good oral hygiene, and brushing with a whitening toothpaste, can help keep the stains at bay, but if its too late for preventative measures, you might need professional whitening treatment to help you get your sparkling smile back.

Ironically, while these Valentine’s treats may be bad for your teeth, they are good for you general health; provided they’re consumed in moderation.

Both red wine and chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, are are rich in substances called flavanoids, which help the body cut down on low-density lipoproteins, or bad cholesterol, which is what causes plaque to build up in the arteries. The odd glass of wine or dark chocolate bar can actually help clear these LDLs from the body, leading to a healthier heart.

Temporary tooth system helps restore smile

When you lose a tooth, either accidentally or through decay, it can be embarrassing and upsetting to be left with a gap in your smile; and not everyone can afford to get expensive dental work to replace it without saving up first!

A new product could help maintain people’s social confidence and happiness while they save up the cash for a bridge or dental implant, or even while they’re waiting for the treatment to be carried.

The Temptooth is an cheaper alternative to the temporary false teeth available at the dentist’s surgery, and you can fit it yourself at home! You construct your own tooth, to fit your mouth, following the instructions on the included DVD. All the materials are provided, and once you’ve created your tooth, it is easy to fit into the unwanted gap. According to Temptooth, the whole procedure usually only take 15 minutes

The replacement tooth isn’t meant to be permanent and is only a cosmetic device to cover up the gap and help you to smile with confidence, not to be used for eating tough food with.

‘Snow’ joke to have a sore tooth

Tooth extraction is a very common occurrence in most dental surgeries and is a very routine procedure for both patient and dentist.

Unless, of course, the patient happens to be a 38 stone polar bear.

Walker, who is situated at the Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie, had an infected tooth which needed to be removed as it was causing swelling in the mouth, and seemed to be causing the two-year-old bear some discomfort.

For the safety of the bear and the veterinary staff who were working on him, Walker was anaesthetised for the whole procedure – and it took ten people to lift him onto the table after the sedative had been administered!

It turns out that the infection had caused the tooth not to develop, which is why it was important to remove it; experts think he may have broken off the tip of the tooth at some point, which is what caused the initial infection.

The procedure was carried out by a team of four vets including a dental specialist.

A park spokesman said: “It was a pretty standard operation but it was made more unusual by his size.”

“His teeth were X-rayed. At first they thought they could do a root canal operation but when they took a good look they realised they would have to do a removal. The operation lasted four hours. Walker was up and eating again soon after and he was right as rain the next day.”

Walker arrived at the Highland Wildlife Park at the end of 2010 from a Dutch zoo and he shares his enclosure with 28-year-old female, Mercedes.

Dispelling the myths in dentistry

We all like to think we know what’s best, but for many this can have serious consequences. When, for example, you have misconceptions about dental treatment this has the potential to cause damage to both the teeth and body of children.

Your child doesn’t need braces, right? Or do they, seen as straight teeth are not only beneficial in terms of aesthetics, but also ultimately make a positive difference to oral health.

With straight teeth your child will be able to floss between teeth with greater ease, which can ultimately prevent the onset of serious dental problems such as gum disease, and consequently prevent possible resulting problems such as heart problems or diabetes.

And when should you start worrying about the health of your child’s teeth? Baby teeth will only be replaced by adult teeth so their condition doesn’t matter, right? Wrong.

In order to promote healthy tooth development, children’s teeth should start to be cleaned as soon as baby teeth start coming through. There are special products you can buy for baby’s teeth, or merely using a clean damp cloth can help to prevent bacteria from gathering.

What’s more, it is never too early to take your child to the dentist, even if they are not yet ready for an examination. Merely taking them along with you for one of your appointments can help them to get used to the environment of a dental practice, ultimately helping to prevent the onset of any problems such as dental phobia.

Visit your dentist for a healthy heart

Dentophobes are being urged to take advantage of new technology and visit their dentist – so that they can keep their hearts healthy.

As part of Heart Failure Awareness Week in the US, people who have not visited their dentists for a  while because of anxieties or worries about costs, are being urged to return; not just for the sake of their oral health but so that dentists can check for the first signs of more serious conditions, such as heart disease, oral cancer and diabetes.

There has long been a link between good oral health and good general health, with researchers suggesting that the infection that causes gum disease and tooth decay can get into the bloodstream and cause more serious conditions elsewhere in the body, if the original bacteria in the mouth is not dealt with.

“Recent scientific studies and data show that dentists can spot early warning signs in the mouth that may indicate disease elsewhere in the body,” says Christopher Holden, President of Heraeus Kulzer, a US company that is developing new dental products. “Importantly, dentists’ significant training and education enables them to recognize conditions that merit referring patients for care by dental specialists or physicians,” he adds.

There is no longer any need for patients to fear the dentist as most clinics now do everything they can to help the nervous relax, such as inviting them for pre-appointment visits, playing music during the check-up, hypnotherapy and evens sedation in the most serious cases.

New technologies can also help to reduce some of the anxiety; one new gadget eliminates the noise of the dreaded drill, while a new gel that will be launched soon helps eliminate the pain some patients with gum recession can feel during examinations.

“Patients who forgo annual cleanings may have gum recession, and as a result, they may experience some sensitivity during a professional cleaning,” says Rachel Wall, a renowned dental hygienist and founder of Inspired Hygiene. “Gluma Desensitizer PowerGel promotes patient comfort by eliminating pain associated with dental hypersensitivity,” she adds.

Baker Street

Dental Clinic

Dr Watson Chambers 102 Baker Street London, W1U 6FY

020 8563 8063

Liverpool Street

Dental Clinic

9 Artillery Lane, London E1 7LP

0207 247 7151

Earls Court

Dental Clinic

221 - 225 Old Brompton Rd, Earls Court, Kensington London SW5 0EA

020 7370 0055

Kings Cross

LDN Dental

34 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DT

0207 278 6362