May 1st, 2019
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.
April 3rd, 2019
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.
March 27th, 2019
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.
March 13th, 2019
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.
January 16th, 2019
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.
January 3rd, 2019
As the dust settles on the festive period, many of us will be making resolutions for the year ahead. While most tend to try and up their intake of greens and hours in the gym, there’s a lot to be said for making an effort to keep your smile in check. As surveys reveal that the majority of us consider our smile out most important feature, here are some simple, affordable ways to achieve a more attractive smile in 2019.
The best way to brighten up your smile and keep dental disease at bay is to adopt and stick to a daily oral hygiene regime. This should feature two two-minute cleaning sessions and daily flossing. When brushing, take care to cover every individual tooth, and reach right into the corners of the mouth. Electric toothbrushes are proven to be more effective at removing plaque than manual brushes, and they are available from around £15. Flossing is often neglected, but it plays an important role in promoting good oral hygiene, as it targets areas that cannot be cleaned with a brush, including the gaps between the teeth.
Diet also plays a crucial part in oral health, and after the indulgence of the Christmas holiday, it’s good to get back into the swing of healthy eating and moderate your intake of sugary foods. Try and eat a varied diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains and foods rich in fibre and nutrients, and ensure sweets, cakes, biscuits and chocolate bars are treats, rather than a staple part of your diet. It’s also wise to keep an eye on what you drink. Flavoured coffees, smoothies, juices and fizzy drinks often contain a vast amount of sugar.
Another brilliant resolution to make for the New Year is to see your dentist more frequently. If you tend to reach for the phone only when you have toothache or swollen gums, make it your mission to attend 6-12 monthly check-ups. Regular appointments reduce the risk of dental decay and gum disease, and they can also keep your smile looking great and minimise the risk of problems like symptoms of oral cancer being spotted at an advanced stage.
December 19th, 2018
A new study has linked mental health disorders with an elevated risk of oral diseases.
A research project, which has been published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, suggests that experiencing symptoms of illnesses, including depression, can increase the risk of gum disease.
Researchers evaluated and monitored both the mental and oral health of a group of more than 500 people from birth to the age of 30. The findings show that people who have symptoms of depression have a 20% higher risk of developing periodontal disease, an advanced form of gum disease. The study links depression with difficulty in fighting inflammation, the most common sign of severe gum disease.
Chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, said that the findings of the study highlight the importance of mental health. Several studies have linked poor oral health and physical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, but less is known about the connection between the mind and the mouth. This research underlines the significance of a healthy mind and provides an insight into how other forms of health can impact oral health.
Dr Carter also added that the study provides an interesting and useful resource and point of reference for dental professionals. Depression is an increasingly common condition in the UK, and it’s crucial that health and dental workers are able to spot signs and symptoms to support and treat patients effectively. It is estimated that around 20% of people in the UK have symptoms of anxiety or depression, but the figure may be much higher, as many cases go undiagnosed.
Depression can be a barrier for seeking any kind of medical treatment, and Dr Carter suggests that dental patients may be anxious about seeing a dentist due to phobias, a fear of the unknown, or even shame or embarrassment linked to their oral health status.
November 28th, 2018
The Mayor of London has announced plans to implement a ban on junk food advertising on the tube.
Under new guidelines, adverts for products that are high in fat, salt, and sugar will not be permitted on the underground. The ban will also include overground stations and bus stations and stops.
Sadiq Khan said that the measure would hopefully help to combat the “ticking time bomb” of childhood obesity in the city and contribute to healthier lifestyle choices and lower rates of dental disease. Tube stations and bus stops currently feature posters advertising items and products from fast food meals and chocolate bars to fizzy pop and energy drinks. The new ban will reduce exposure to junk food advertising for people who travel on the underground or via buses or trains on a regular basis.
Studies show that advertising can have a significant influence on consumer habits, and ministers are clamping down on advertising across the board. There are already bans in place at certain times of the day on TV, and shops and supermarkets are also being urged to eradicate displays of sugary and fatty foods close to the tills.
The TFL ban will come into play on the 25th February and will cover all areas and networks that are managed by TFL.
A consultation on the matter revealed widespread support for the ban. Of the 1,500 survey respondents, 82% supported the idea.
Mayor Khan said that it was crucial to take “tough action” to tackle preventable childhood illnesses, such as obesity, and stated that preventing exposure to advertising would make a difference, not just to children, but also to their parents and carers.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, described the ban as an “important step in the right direction.”
September 19th, 2018
Vets in Australia have come up with an innovative solution for a pet python with an overbite.
The owners of Toothless, a green tree python, rushed her to the vets after she sustained jaw damage while eating. Toothless was chomping on her usual fodder when her left lower jawbone folded and became dislodged in her throat. When she swallowed, the bone got stuck, and this left her with a substantial overbite. After visiting the vets urgently, Toothless’ owners were surprised to hear of the proposed solution: a makeshift brace.
The vet team at HerpVet, which is the reptile unit based at the Greencross Jindalee Veterinary Clinic, took a look at Toothless and decided to exercise their creativity and come up with a design for special braces. The snake brace was crafted using a paperclip, which was attached to the scales using glue.
Sharing the story on Facebook, the team from HerpVets said that Toothless’ jaw may have been weaker than usual, as she had recently laid eggs and this was her first feed. After dislocating the lower jaw, the bone lay in an awkward position. Due to the diminutive size and fragility of the bone, it wasn’t possible to operate and a brace was fitted instead.
The moulded paperclip appliance was reapplied after it fell off the day after Toothless’ consultation, and it then remained in place until she shed, which gave the jaw time to heal and the much-loved pet time to recover. Toothless was provided with calcium supplements and she will not be given food for a period of around 2 weeks before her final X-ray, which will hopefully confirm that the jaw has strengthened fully. The unique story of Toothless and her brace has been shared by many online, and several people have praised the innovation of the vet team.