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Category “General Dentistry”

Study shows athletes have poor dental health, despite good oral hygiene habits

New research has shown that athletes have poor dental health, despite the fact that many have good oral hygiene habits.

A study conducted by scientists at UCL revealed that elite sportspeople tend to have poor dental health, even though they devote more time to looking after their teeth. Research teams interviewed a group of 352 athletes, including some who were gearing up for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They found that the majority were more likely to brush their teeth twice a day and floss than the average person, but that standards of oral health were generally lower.

Previous studies have highlighted the prevalence of dental problems among footballers and athletes, and researchers have suggested that elite performers have to work harder to achieve better dental health. In the UK, around half of adult athletes have signs of decay, compared to a third of non-athletes within the same age groups. 

The most recent study, which has been published in the British Dental Journal, aimed to determine why it was more difficult for athletes to maintain good oral health. During the trial, researchers from UCL interviewed performers from 11 sports, including rowing, sailing, cycling, swimming, rugby, football, athletics, and hockey. They found that 94% brushed twice-daily, which was significantly higher than the general public (75%), and 44% flossed daily, which was also higher than the public at 21%. 

While diets among athletes were generally much healthier than the average adult, there were issues, most notably the use of sports and energy drinks, energy gels, and bars that contain a lot of sugar. 

Dr Julie Gallagher, a member of the research team, explained that athletes tend to opt for drinks and snacks that provide a quick energy boost, and the sugar content in these products contributes to an elevated risk of decay and enamel erosion. Of those surveyed, almost 90% admitted to consuming energy drinks.

Number of UK smokers falls by 1.8m in seven years

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The number of smokers in England has fallen by 1.8 million in the last seven years, new figures confirm.

The most recent statistics suggest that the number of smokers has fallen from 7.7 million in 2011 to 5.9 million in 2018/2019. This equates to around 1 in 7 adults.

England has a smaller proportion of smokers than all the other UK nations, but numbers have also tumbled in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, there are more than 250,000 fewer smokers, and the number has dropped from 518,000 to 383,000 in Wales.

In Northern Ireland, there has been a decrease of 36,000 smokers.
In recent years, the government and health bodies have introduced a raft of measures, which have been backed by GP and dental authorities and associations, designed to discourage people from smoking, including plain packaging, health warnings and hiding cigarettes behind shutters in stores, rather than displaying them at the tills.

The decline in smoking has undoubtedly contributed to an increase in the popularity of vaping, with the proportion of people who use e-cigarettes increasing by 70% in the last four years.

Public Health England chief executive, Duncan Selbie, said that smoking in England is in “terminal decline” and stated that the figures suggest that a smoke-free future is a real possibility. Figures are falling, and more and more people are opting to quit or even better, not to start smoking in the first place.

Figures suggest that smoking is directly linked to 1.2 million deaths per year in England. Research suggests that smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack and up to 30 times more likely to suffer from lung cancer than non-smokers.

Smoking is most prevalent in adults living in Hull, Lincoln, Burnley, Mansfield and Rugby, while the proportion of non-smokers is highest in Rushcliffe, Richmond, Oadby and Wigston, Epsom and Ewell and Selby.

Think tank argues that sugar should be treated in the same way as smoking

A UK think tank has suggested that sugar consumption should be treated in the same way as smoking, in a bid to clamp down on public health issues, including obesity, type 2 diabetes and childhood decay.

In the last decade, every effort has been made to discourage people from smoking, and initiatives like prohibiting public smoking, adding warnings to packaging, banning advertising and selling cigarettes in plain boxes, have all had an extremely positive impact. In 2017, the number of smokers in England hit an all-time low.

Based on the success of measures enforced over the last 10 years, the Institute for Public Policy Research has compiled a new report, which suggests that sugary foods should be sold in plain packaging. Tom Kibasi, director of IPPR, believes that eliminating alluring wrappers and labels would help parents to resist “pester power.” The think tank would like to see this move introduced as part of a wider range of initiatives, including a ban on junk food advertising.

Representatives from the food and drink industry have been quick to respond to the report. The Food and Drink Federation suggested that branding represents a “fundamental commercial freedom,” which is vital for competition. Similar arguments were put forward by leading tobacco companies, but the government stood firm and it remains to be seen what kinds of measures will be introduced surrounding the promotion of sugary foods in the future.

A sugar tax has already been enforced on fizzy drinks, but with rates of obesity and childhood decay increasing, many health experts believe that more forceful action needs to be taken to reduce sugar consumption, especially among children. The latest research indicates that the average teenager in England consumers three-times the recommended intake of sugar.

New study reveals dentists in the UK are 37 times less likely to prescribe opioids than US dentists

A new study has revealed that dentists in the UK are 37 times less likely to prescribe opioids than their counterparts in the USA.

A joint research project conducted by teams at the University of Sheffield and the University of Illinois found that dentists in America are much more likely to recommend stronger painkillers than dental professionals working in the UK.

The findings of the study, which have been published in JAMA Network Open, also suggest that dentists in the US could reduce opioid prescription rates by following UK guidelines. Dentists in the UK are encouraged to advise patients to take painkillers like paracetamol and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen, rather than more powerful opioids.

Researchers found that 22% of dental prescriptions in the US were for opioids compared to just 0.6% of prescriptions in the UK.

Martin Thornhill, co-author and professor of translational research in dentistry at the University of Sheffield, described the situation in the US as “shocking” and added that high opioid prescription rates are particularly alarming given that evidence suggests that alternatives including NSAIDs are as effective when treating oral pain. These drugs don’t tend to cause unpleasant side-effects like some opioids, and the risk of getting addicted to painkillers is significantly lower. UK dentists deal with the same issues as US dentists, but they go about managing pain in a very different way, and researchers believe that adhering to UK guidelines could help to prevent many more patients in the US from becoming reliant on opioids. Opioid addiction is one of the most widespread and dangerous health crises facing the US.

In addition to concerns about the potential for opioid addiction, researchers have also flagged issues related to wasted medication. The teams found that over a million pills are unused each year in the US.

Over half of Americans have delayed medical or dental treatment due to cost

New research suggests that over half of American adults have put off having medical or dental treatment due to cost.

A survey conducted by OnePoll found that more than 50% of participants have delayed treatment because they feared they would be unable to pay the bill. Although missing out on seeing a doctor or a dentist may save money in the short-term, the risk of complex issues increases, and patients could therefore end up paying more. According to the study, those who end up needing treatment at the ER face an average bill of over $12,000.

The US system is very different to the UK, and in 2017 alone, the average American adult spent almost $5,000 on healthcare. As fees are high, many are putting off routine appointments, but doctors and dentists are warning that this approach is likely to be even costlier in the long-run. Preventative procedures and routine checks are usually a lot cheaper than courses of treatment for complex conditions and procedures.

According to the OnePoll survey, which involved 2,000 Americans and was commissioned by DentalPlans.com, 42% of people don’t have money set aside for health problems. This is an issue, as many people end up needing emergency treatment, which they simply can’t afford to pay for. The most common type of emergency procedure carried out was treatment for a chipped tooth followed by lost teeth. Other examples included broken bones and cuts that required stitching.

The survey suggests that the average bill for ER care before insurance is over $12,000, and even those who do have insurance could end up with a bill for around $6,000. With the cost of treatment so high, it’s unsurprising that over a third of people put off paying off the debt and 22% said they had to borrow money to cover medical and dental costs.

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.

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.

Could drawn-out bottomless brunches be putting your smile in danger?

Brunch has become something of a weekend essential in recent years. As more and more people are sharing snapshots of bottomless brunches on their social media feeds, dentists are warning of the dangers of drawn-out, all-day, all-you-can-eat weekend meals.
There’s no doubt that going out for brunch with friends or family is a great way to unwind at the weekend, but dentists are encouraging people to take note of the potential implications of drinking acidic drinks and eating sugary foods over a prolonged period of time. The concept of bottomless brunches urges you to drink and eat as much you want while taking your time. Although this may sound ideal, the rising popularity of the languid brunch isn’t good news for your teeth.
Experts have warned that lengthy meals have a negative impact on your oral health. This is because drinks like prosecco and brunch-friendly cocktails are acidic and eating over a period of time prolongs the length of acid attacks. When you eat, the bacteria in your mouth feed, and this prompts them to release acids, which weaken your tooth enamel. It takes around an hour for the enamel to harden again. If you’re grazing during the day, there is no opportunity for remineralisation to take place and the teeth will become susceptible to decay and sensitivity. Dentists have also seen an increase in cases of reflux, which contributes to enamel erosion caused by stomach acids.
Acid erosion is a problem that cannot be reversed, but it can be prevented by taking good care of your teeth and gums and avoiding eating and drinking sugary and acidic drinks between meals.
Dentists aren’t saying that you can never go out for brunch, but they are advising people to view indulgent, drawn-out meals and alcoholic breakfasts and lunches as a treat to be enjoyed once in a while rather than every weekend.

Dentists urge patients to break the habit of a lifetime, as research shows rinsing after brushing can increase the risk of decay

Many of grow up practising an oral hygiene routine, which involves putting toothpaste on the brush, adding a drop of water, cleaning, spitting and then rinsing. The trouble is that this pattern may not actually be the best regime for your teeth. As new research suggests that rinsing after brushing can elevate the risk of decay, is it time you broke the habit of a lifetime?
Rinsing is part and parcel of teeth cleaning for many people, mainly because this is what they learn to do during their childhood. When you’ve been doing something for so long, you may never even have thought to question whether your cleaning technique is effective. Now, with research studies hitting the headlines, it may be a good time to assess your oral hygiene regime and make suitable changes. You might think that rinsing is harmless, but new research suggests otherwise.
A study conducted by researchers at Dundee University claims that rinsing can increase the risk of tooth decay. Co-authored by professor of paediatric dentistry, Nicola Innes, and lecturer in paediatric dentistry, Clement Seeballuck, the study suggests that breaking the habit could reduce the risk of decay by up to 25 percent. This is because rinsing removes fluoride from the mouth. Fluoride is added to toothpaste and it helps to prevent decay by strengthening and protecting the tooth enamel. When you rinse straight after brushing, you wash away the fluoride without giving it chance to work its magic.
The paper also advised people to cut down on sugary snacks, and to try and avoid eating and drinking anything sugary or acidic between meals. When you eat, the bacteria in your mouth feed, and this causes them to produce acids that attack the enamel. The enamel softens temporarily before hardening again. If you eat throughout the day, your enamel doesn’t have a chance to recover, and the risk of decay and erosion is increased.

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