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The Head and Neck Cancer Foundation urges patients to ask dentists to provide oral cancer checks

The Head and Neck Cancer Foundation is encouraging patients to ask their dentist to include oral cancer checks in routine appointments.

Oral cancer checks should be provided as part of a routine dental check-up, but the HNCF is urging patients to make sure that their dentists are carrying out the assessment as standard. Looking for signs of oral cancer takes less than a minute, and should be included in the price of a regular dental check.

Research conducted by the HNCF in conjunction with YouGov suggested that many patients are unsure whether or not their dentist included oral cancer screening in routine checks. In a survey of patients in Wales, only 50% of adults go to the dentist every 6 months, and more than half said that they weren’t sure if their dentist had carried out an oral cancer check at their last appointment. Patients should be aware of oral cancer checks, as a dentist may say that they’re looking for potential symptoms, and they will also use an instrument to pull the tongue to one side and then the other and to look at the gums and the lips for signs of abnormalities.

CEO of the foundation, Michelle Vickers, said that most of us are unaware of the role dentists play in the early detection of oral cancer, a form of cancer that has become more prevalent in the last decade. Dentists are trained to provide routine oral cancer checks as part of standard check-ups, and those who miss out on appointments could therefore be putting themselves at risk.

To make people more aware of oral cancer and encourage patients to ask their dentist for mouth cancer checks, the HNCF has launched a new campaign called Get Mouthy About Cancer. The idea is simple and involves patients asking their dentist for a routine cancer check. Many people are aware of the signs and symptoms of other types of cancer, but there’s a serious lack of knowledge and awareness linked to mouth cancer, which is resulting in the majority of cases being diagnosed at an advanced stage. Routine checks help to identify changes that could signal oral cancer, increasing the chances of early diagnosis and successful treatment.

Gum bacteria drug could spell good news for Alzheimer’s sufferers

A drug that is used to target specific types of gum bacteria could spell good news for Alzheimer’s sufferers.

Hundreds of patients could be given the drug COR388 after preliminary trials produced promising results. Researchers working on the drug analysed samples of brain tissue from patients who suffered from dementia when they died. They discovered that the samples contained higher than average levels of a bacterium known as Porphyromonas gingivalis (P.gingivalis) and toxins called gingipains. Tests conducted on mice revealed that gingipains can travel from the mouth to the brain, but that COR388 could prevent them from spreading.

Scientists suggest that gingipains facilitate the production of proteins known as beta amyloid and tatu, which are known to cause damage to brain cells and affect the ability to remember and retain memories. Researchers also found that P.gingivalis can be linked to rheumatoid arthritis and aspiration pneumonia.

Prof Jan Potempa, lead author of the study, explained that oral hygiene plays an instrumental role in our health throughout our lives, but stressed that those who have genetic risk factors that make them susceptible to dementia or rheumatoid arthritis should be particularly focused on maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

The drug COR388 has been developed by US company, Cortexyme Inc, which is renowned for producing medicines used to target neurological illnesses. A new trial, which involves a group of 570 patients who suffer from mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, will start in the near future with results expected in 2021.

Prof Potempa, from the University of Louisville’s Dental School, is working with the drug firm on other compounds that could also destroy P.gingivalis.

In the UK alone, around 850,000 people are affected by dementia, and the figure is expected to reach 2 million by 2050.

Stained and yellowing teeth can cost you far more than just your confidence.

Researchers in the US are urging parents to keep their children’s baby teeth to combat potentially deadly diseases later in life.

Scientists from the United States National Center for Biotechnology claim that the stem cells in baby teeth are likely to be in better condition than those found in adult teeth, which may have been exposed to environmental hazards. Stem cells play a valuable role in the regeneration of new cells, and could help to save lives, according to the research team. It is thought that in some cases, using stem cells from milk teeth could eliminate the need to try and obtain stem cells from the bone marrow, which is a more complex process.

Although using stem cells from milk teeth is a relatively new concept, researchers believe that it could become much more commonplace in the near future. Stem cells could be used to treat some forms of cancer and to try and prevent heart attacks, and it’s also possible for the cells to facilitate bone growth, to regenerate tissue in the liver and eyes and to treat diabetes. Cells can be harvested from baby teeth up to 10 years after the tooth has been lost.

A trial in China revealed that stem cells taken from milk teeth helped to restore feeling and sensation in damaged adult teeth. Songtao Shi, from the University of Pennsylvania, which was involved in the study, explained that the treatment gave patients the ability to feel again, for example, to experience hot and cold. The university team is now planning to work on a trial that determines how using stem cells from a child can impact other people.

Why has dental tourism become more popular?

The number of dental patients leaving the UK to have treatment abroad is rising year on year, but why has dental tourism become so popular, and is it safe to have treatment overseas?

CEO of Kreativ Dental, Attila Knott, said that travelling abroad is an appealing option for many because it offers significant cost savings. Kreativ Dental, which is based in Hungary, is one of a host of overseas clinics benefiting from this growing trend. Prices are substantially lower in parts of Eastern Europe than they are in the UK, and this means that patients can afford cosmetic treatments or services like dental implants, which they simply wouldn’t be able to pay for at home. As dental tourism booms in countries like Hungary and further afield in India and Thailand, competition becomes more intense and fees fall, making travelling for treatment an even more appealing option.

For some patients, the idea of taking a break is also attractive. Many people return having had dental work and enjoyed a holiday and still find that they’ve saved hundreds, even thousands of pounds.

While there are many advantages of going abroad for dental treatment, there are also drawbacks. Standards of training may not be as impressive, regulations and good practice guidelines may not be as stringent, and the quality of materials used may not be as high. To combat the risks, it’s crucial to undertake extensive research before choosing a clinic, and to ensure that dental professionals have the relevant expertise and qualifications. It’s worth noting that it will probably cost a lot more to see a UK dentist to correct botched dental work than it would have been to have treatment at home in the first place.

More than 90% of childhood extractions are required for decay

New data published by Public Health England has confirmed that over 90% of extraction procedures carried out in hospitals in England are required for extensive decay. Nine out of ten children aged 0-5 need treatment in hospital as a result of a dental disease, which is almost always preventable.

Research suggests that there has been an overall improvement in children’s dental health in the last year, but standards are falling in younger children under the age of 5. Dental problems are also still the most common reason for hospital admission among children aged between 6 and 10 years old.

Dental decay can cause severe pain and low self-esteem, and studies show that the need for extractions under general anaesthetic contributes to around 60,000 missed school days per year.

One of the main causes of decay is excessive sugar consumption. There has been a slight decline in consumption in the last year, but data shows that a large proportion of kids are still consuming far more than the recommended daily intake. The average child is taking in the equivalent of 8 more cubes than the recommended quantity.

Public Health England’s Change4Life campaign is encouraging parents and children to be more aware of sugar content, and to make healthy swaps, which will reduce the average daily intake of the entire family. Cereals, flavoured yoghurts, fizzy drinks and juices, dried fruit, and cereal bars are all products that often contain high levels of sugar. Health experts are encouraging parents to read food labels and to stick to whole grain cereals and porridge, natural yoghurt and water and milk. The Change4Life website also has information about healthy snacking, after it was revealed that many children consume the recommended daily intake of sugar through snacking alone.

In addition to making healthy food swaps, Public Health England is also eager to promote regular routine dental checks from the age of 12 months, and twice-daily brushing.

American researchers link oral bacteria to colon cancer progression

Researchers in America have established a link between a form of common oral bacteria and the acceleration of colon cancer.

A team from the College of Dental Medicine at Columbia University found that a common strain of oral bacteria, which is linked to tooth decay, can also contribute to colon cancer progression. F.nucleatum, which is often found in dental plaque, could play an instrumental role in the pace of colon cancer growth. Colon cancer is currently the second deadliest form of cancer in the US.

Yiping H Wan, study leader and professor of microbial sciences, explained that genetic mutations play a significant role in the development and spread of cancerous cells, but there are other factors to consider, including the presence of microbes. Scientists discovered that around a third of colon cancer cases are associated with the strain, and those were found to be more aggressive than others, but until now, it was not known why this was the case.

In a previous study, Han and his team discovered that the bacterium produced a molecule known as FadA adhesion, which was found to stimulate growth in cancerous cells, but not in healthy tissue. Prof Han wanted to build on the findings of that study and determine why F.nucleatum only triggered growth in cancerous cells. The most recent study focused on this interaction, and researchers found that non-cancerous cells lack a protein called Annexin A1, which stimulates growth. Using in-vitro trials, which were followed by trials involving mice, they determined that prohibiting Annexin 1 function prevented F.nucleatum from binding to cancerous cells. Subsequently, this slowed growth.

In light of their findings, Prof Han and the team are now looking for ways to use Annexin 1 as a biomarker for advanced, aggressive cancers and to utilise the study as a base for developing potential treatment options.

American researchers link oral bacteria to colon cancer progression


Researchers in America have established a link between a form of common oral bacteria and the acceleration of colon cancer.

A team from the College of Dental Medicine at Columbia University found that a common strain of oral bacteria, which is linked to tooth decay, can also contribute to colon cancer progression. F.nucleatum, which is often found in dental plaque, could play an instrumental role in the pace of colon cancer growth. Colon cancer is currently the second deadliest form of cancer in the US.

Yiping H Wan, study leader and professor of microbial sciences, explained that genetic mutations play a significant role in the development and spread of cancerous cells, but there are other factors to consider, including the presence of microbes. Scientists discovered that around a third of colon cancer cases are associated with the strain, and those were found to be more aggressive than others, but until now, it was not known why this was the case.

In a previous study, Han and his team discovered that the bacterium produced a molecule known as FadA adhesion, which was found to stimulate growth in cancerous cells, but not in healthy tissue. Prof Han wanted to build on the findings of that study and determine why F.nucleatum only triggered growth in cancerous cells. The most recent study focused on this interaction, and researchers found that non-cancerous cells lack a protein called Annexin A1, which stimulates growth. Using in-vitro trials, which were followed by trials involving mice, they determined that prohibiting Annexin 1 function prevented F.nucleatum from binding to cancerous cells. Subsequently, this slowed growth.

In light of their findings, Prof Han and the team are now looking for ways to use Annexin 1 as a biomarker for advanced, aggressive cancers and to utilise the study as a base for developing potential treatment options.

Dentists urge the public to take caution when buying high-street tooth whitening products

Dentists have urged the public to exercise caution when buying high-street tooth whitening products.

The British Dental Association has issued a warning over the safety of some products after new research revealed that some items sold at popular stores like Boots and Superdrug softened the enamel. The findings of the study have been published in the British Dental Journal.

During the trial period, researchers tested five different products, which were available to buy at Boots and Superdrug. The products were all non-hydrogen peroxide whitening solutions. The team, led by Dr Joseph Greenwall-Cohen from the University of Manchester Dental School, found that three of the products contained an ingredient known as sodium chlorite. This active ingredient was found to affect the hardness of the enamel on contact with acid.

Dr Greenwall-Cohen explained that not all whitening products are the same, and stressed that some aren’t as safe as others. In light of the findings of this recent trial, dentists are advising patients to be cautious when looking at different products and choosing which systems to use.

In addition to containing ingredients that can affect the strength of the enamel, dentists have suggested that there are several products on the high street that don’t work. Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific adviser for the BDA, said that there is a risk of people wasting their money, but also, more importantly, a danger of damaging the enamel and putting oral health at risk. Enamel forms a protective layer, and once it is weak or thin, it cannot be repaired. Weak enamel is associated with a high risk of decay and sensitivity.

For those who want to achieve a whiter smile without any risks, dentists recommend professional treatments administered by qualified, experienced dental professionals.

Kent Dentist Issues Warning Over the Damaging Effects of Energy Drinks

A dentist from Kent has issued a stark warning over the damaging effects of consuming energy drinks after a 21-year old man who had become addicted to Monster drinks shared his story in the national press.

Vinnie Pyner, from Margate, decided to tell his tale to warn others about the dangers of drinking energy drinks. Vinnie started buying cans of Monster when he was at college. At first, he had a can from time to time to keep him awake and give him energy to study, but before long, he was consuming 6 cans per day. Vinnie started to notice that his teeth had become discoloured and weak, and he began hiding away his smile and becoming increasingly withdrawn. When he bit into an apple, his front four teeth crumbled, and he was so distressed that he didn’t even want to tell his mum.

A trip to the dentist confirmed extensive damage, which will require intensive restorative treatment, including new dentures and multiple fillings. Vinnie said that he had become addicted to Monster without really even realising the damage it was doing to his teeth, and he wanted to warn others before they found themselves in a similar situation. Vinnie was so self-conscious that he dropped out of college, and became a recluse, not wanting to see friends or socialise.

In light of the story, Gillingham dentist Dr Alfred Koloszvari, spoke to journalists about the dangers of excessive consumption of sugary drinks like fizzy pop and energy drinks. Even
drinking one can per day can multiply the chances of developing decay by up to 10 times. The sugar content is a problem, but fizzy drinks are also acidic. This means that when you drink an energy drink, your enamel comes under attack. Once the enamel is worn or thin, the tooth is vulnerable, and holes, also known as cavities, are likely to form.

The advice from dentists is to avoid fizzy drinks and to have them as an occasional treat, rather than a staple item in your diet. Drinking through a straw can reduce exposure and lower the risk of acid erosion, and dentists also recommend drinking water afterwards and sticking to meal times. Drinking sugary drinks and snacking on sweet foods between meals can increase the risk of enamel damage further.

Dentists support Fizz Free February campaign

The British Dental Association has lent its support to a campaign, which was originally launched by Southwark Council in 2018. Fizz Free February is designed to encourage people to abstain from fizzy drinks throughout the month of February. The scheme is now part of NHS England’s Sugar Smart campaign.
Jane Avis, cabinet member for families, health and social care at Croydon Council, explained that giving up fizzy drinks was a simple way to reduce sugar intake and also cut spending. Giving up a daily bottle of soft drinks could save the average person more than £430 per year and dramatically decrease sugar intake. Many drinks contain more than the recommended daily intake in a single serving. Almost 80% of cans contain at least 6 teaspoons of sugar.
The British Dental Association is getting behind the campaign, which targets children and young adults, in a bid to stem rising rates of decay and encourage people to make positive lifestyle choices. Mick Armstrong, chair, said that prevention is key to reducing rates of decay. The effects of excessive sugar consumption are clear for dentists to see on a daily basis, and cutting out fizzy drinks could make a huge difference to standards of oral health moving forward. Fizzy drinks are laden with sugar, and they’re also acidic, meaning that they represent a double whammy in terms of enamel damage.
The Fizz Free February campaign has also been endorsed by health secretary, Matt Hancock, TV chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Labour MP, Tom Watson.
The idea behind the campaign is incredibly simple and it’s similar to Stoptober and Dry January. If people can cut out fizzy drinks for a period of time, there’s every chance that they will reduce their intake drastically in the future and, hopefully, make choices that are healthier and more nutritious.

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