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Posts tagged “Oral health”

New research links good oral health to lower Alzheimer’s risk

A new study has linked good oral health to a significant reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers from the University of Bergen, Norway, discovered that gum disease plays a major role in determining the level of risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Dr Piotr Mydel, from the research team, explained that during trials, DNA-based proof that confirmed that harmful bacteria can travel from the mouth to the brain was established. Bacteria that are associated with gum disease produce a specific protein, which destroys nerve cells within the brain and affects the memory. Ultimately, this chain of events puts people at greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The strain of bacteria in question, P.gingivalis (Porphyromonas gingivalis) is one of the primary causes of advanced gum disease and gum infections. It can cause long-term infections within the mouth, but research shows that it can also travel to the brain, where it damages the nerve cells. Approximately 50% of the population has this strain of bacteria, and around 10% are at risk of gum disease, infections, and according to this study, Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Mydel argued that the findings of the study do not suggest that the presence of bacteria is causative, but rather that the bacteria significantly increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is one of the most common conditions in older people and it causes progressive loss of memory in addition to confusion and a gradual loss of the ability to recognise people and live independently.

The advice from researchers is to look after your teeth and gums, to see a dentist on a regular basis and to ensure you seek professional advice if you spot signs of gum disease, including bleeding gums, swelling, pain and increased tenderness in the gums.

Dental mistakes you probably didn’t know you were making

Most of us grow up with an oral hygiene routine in place, but sometimes, habits of a lifetime don’t always reflect what’s actually good for us. Unwittingly, many of us make dental mistakes without being aware of the potential consequences.

One of the most common errors people commit when they brush their teeth is rinsing after brushing. Many of us learn to do this as children, and it becomes a habit we don’t even think about. Rinsing is actually counter-productive because it washes away the fluoride that is added to toothpaste. Fluoride is a mineral that protects the enamel and reduces the risk of decay and cavities. Rather than washing the teeth and rinsing after brushing, eliminate this step. This will increase exposure to fluoride.

Another problem is brushing technique. It’s understandable to assume that brushing firmly improves results, but being aggressive with your brush can actually do more harm than good. This is due to the fact that you can damage the protective enamel surface if you’re heavy-handed. If you have an electric toothbrush, you don’t need to exert any extra effort or force. The brush will do all the hard work for you, so gently guide it around the mouth, covering every surface of every tooth.

To improve standards of oral health, dentists are also eager to encourage patients to buy the right toothpaste. In recent years, abrasive products, which are sold as whitening toothpastes, have become increasingly popular. The trouble with these products is that they can weaken the enamel and there is little evidence to prove that they lighten the shade of the teeth. For the best whitening results, dentists recommend professional whitening treatment, which can be legally only be provided by trained, qualified, GDC-registered dentists.

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 a trip to the dentist ease your sleep troubles?

If you have trouble sleeping, your first port of call is probably your GP, but have you thought about seeing your dentist?

There are myriad reasons why you might be finding it tough to snooze soundly, and some have dental connections. If you regularly wake with headaches, you live with a snorer, or you’re prone to grinding your teeth, for example, you may find that seeing a dentist could solve your problems.

Bruxism, the medical name for tooth grinding, is a common problem that tends to be exacerbated by stress and anxiety. If you grind your teeth, you may find that you suffer from jaw pain and headaches, which affect your sleep quality. If bruxism is an issue, your dentist can help. In cases where there is no clear underlying reason for grinding the teeth, dentists may recommend using a bite guard. This is a custom-made appliance, which is worn at night to prevent the teeth from clashing together. It protects the teeth, and also lowers the risk of jaw stiffness and pain, headaches and neck and shoulder pain.

Snoring is another issue that you may not think your dentist can help you out with. The truth is that many dental clinics offer help with snoring. Snoring is often a result of struggling to get enough oxygen when you sleep. To combat this issue, dentists can provide an appliance known as a mandibular advancement device. This helps to open up the airway by pushing the lower jaw forward slightly while you sleep. The result is a peaceful night for all members of the household.

Next time you’re having difficulty sleeping or you’re lying awake listening to your partner snoring away in the early hours, why not see if your dentist can help?

What is your mouth telling you about your health?

They say the eyes are the window of the soul, but a look inside the mouth can also reveal a lot about a person. Dentists and doctors are well aware of the importance of looking for potential warning signs in the mouth, but do you know what your mouth may be saying about your health?

Most of us know that bad breath means we probably need to do a better job with our toothbrush, but did you know that there are a series of potential oral warning signs that could flag up dental and general health issues? If you’ve ever noticed blood when you clean your teeth, for example, this can be a symptom of gum disease, a condition that is known to elevate the risk of an inflammatory response in other parts of the body. Gum disease can cause complications during pregnancy and childbirth and it can also increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Another sign to look out for is chapped, dry lips, which can indicate iron deficiency. Iron is found in many common food items, including meat and leafy green vegetables. A lack of iron can cause anaemia, which is commonly characterised by feeling tired and lethargic.

Mouth ulcers are very common, and in the vast majority of cases, they don’t cause major problems. Sores can be painful, especially when you’re eating, but they usually heal within a week or so without the need for treatment. If you have an ulcer that is hanging around, however, this could be cause for concern. Slow-healing sores can be a symptom of oral cancer. Other signs to watch out for include difficulty swallowing, lumps and swelling, and red or white patches in the mouth or throat.

The mouth can provide a useful insight into general health, and sometimes, it may be possible to spot warning signs of developing conditions. As well as keeping your smile in check, regular routine appointments could also enable dentists to investigate potential issues, so don’t forget to call and make an appointment if it’s been a while since you took a trip to the dentist.

Finland falling behind with dental hygiene, studies suggest

Finland is a nation most people associate with good health and an effective healthcare system, but studies suggest that the Scandinavian country is lagging behind when it comes to dental hygiene.

According to a World Health Organisation report entitled ‘Growing up unequal: Health behaviour in school-aged children,’ just over half of Finnish men and 80% of women aged over 30 brush their teeth twice a day. The statistics are even worse for younger generations, with 55% of 15-year-old boys and 26% of girls skipping at least one cleaning session per day.

The study shows that Finland rates poorly when compared to other European countries. In Switzerland, 79% of boys and 91% of girls brush twice a day. The numbers are also much higher in the UK, Sweden, Germany and Norway.

Liisa Suominen, professor of oral health at the University of Eastern Finland, said that the results are surprising, especially as Pisa tests show that Finnish youngsters are more intelligent than the average child in Europe. Research suggests that bad habits in childhood and adolescence are likely to continue into adulthood, especially among males.

A study cited by Yle revealed the potential implications of poor oral hygiene, with rates of periodontitis, advanced gum disease, significantly higher in Finland than in Sweden and Norway. Sixty percent of Finnish adults have signs of advanced gum disease compared to 50% in Norway and 40% in Sweden.

New study slams cereal manufacturers for depicting unrealistic portion sizes

A new study, which has been published in the British Dental Journal, has criticised cereal manufacturers for depicting portion sizes that are far too large. Experts believe that cereal boxes show serving suggestions that are far bigger than a standard portion, which could confuse consumers and contribute to excessive sugar consumption.

Researchers discovered that popular cereals, including Frosties, Coco Pops and Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, are packaged in boxes emblazoned with images of bowls overflowing with cereal. In some cases, the pictures show a serving size of approximately 90 grams, despite the fact that most manufacturers recommend a portion size of 30 grams. According to the new study, if the imagery was correct, children aged up to 10 could be consuming more than half their daily sugar intake in a single bowl of cereal.

As part of the study, researchers analysed the packaging and nutritional information of 13 popular cereal products. They discovered that the sugar content of several well-known options equated to more than a third of the total weight. The team also claim that if the imagery on the box was used as a template for buyers, 8 of the 13 cereals analysed would provide a child between the ages of 4 and 6 with more than 50% of their recommended daily intake of sugar.

Maria Morgan, study author and senior lecturer at Cardiff University, said that it was “impossible to know if manufacturers are deliberately tricking people,” but suggested that misleading images could contribute to excessive sugar consumption. Ms Morgan also claimed that it was likely that families from low-income backgrounds would be worst affected by such images.

The study has been published a month after NHS England’s chief encouraged food manufacturers to review and revise the sugar content of the products they sell.

Trading Standards issues warning over illegal tooth warning

Trading Standards has issued a warning over the provision of illegal tooth whitening treatment.

The regulator has warned that visiting non-dentists for treatment can result in significant injuries, as research suggests that treatments are being offered for as little as £60.

Under EU legislation, tooth whitening is a dental treatment, and as such, it can only be provided by trained, qualified dental professionals who are registered with the General Dental Council. The GDC has clamped down on illegal whitening in recent years, and a number of people have already been prosecuted. Whitening treatments are widely available in beauty salons and shopping centres, and there have also been numerous cases linked to individuals who have set up whitening businesses without any formal dental qualifications.

Prof Damien Walmsley, scientific advisor to the British Dental Association, said that businesses are targeting people who want to look better and jumping on trends that have become incredibly popular in the wake of media attention generated by programmes like Love Island, Geordie Shore and The Only Way is Essex. The reality is that the people are buying into clever marketing campaigns and investing in treatments that are not only unlikely to work, but also potentially hazardous.

Tooth whitening has become incredibly popular recently, and illegal treatments are appealing to many because they are usually cheaper than services offered by dental clinics. The problem is that members of the public may be unaware that the practice is both illegal and potentially dangerous.

Dentists have advised anyone who wants whiter, brighter teeth to see their dentist, and the GDC has asked members of the public to be vigilant and to report suspicious behaviour. Trading Standards has also urged those interested in having whitening treatment to consult a dentist.

New study reveals alarming standards of oral health among Britain’s elite athletes

A new study has revealed alarming standards of oral health among Britain’s elite athletes.

A study conducted by researchers at University College London showed that around 50 percent of athletes suffer from dental issues that are severe enough to have a negative impact on their performance. The team identified high rates of gum disease and other oral health conditions among groups of performers, including swimmers, rowers and rugby players.

Ian Needleman, a professor from the prestigious Eastman Dental Institute at UCL, explained that high carbohydrate intake is a major contributing factor to the prevalence of dental issues among athletes. The co-author of the study also added that dry mouth is an issue in sports where heavy breathing is common, including cycling and running. Stress can also cause some athletes to vomit before a performance, which can increase the risk of acid erosion of the enamel.

The study involved around 350 athletes from nine Olympic teams, the Reading football team, England’s rugby team and cyclists from Team Sky. Athletes underwent oral health checks and assessments, and they were also asked to complete a questionnaire about the impact of dental issues on performance. Just under half of those surveyed had decay, while 77 percent had gingivitis (mild gum disease). Almost 40 percent admitted that they experienced bleeding when brushing. More than a third of participants said that dental issues had a negative effect on their performance, as well as their ability to rest and relax.

The findings of the study are interesting, especially as almost all (99%) of those involved said that they brushed their teeth twice a day. This is significantly higher than the national average of 75%, yet the risk of decay was found to be higher in athletes than the general population.

The findings of the study were presented at a European dental conference in Holland recently.

Government statistics show that dental decay costs 60,000 school days every year

shutterstock_509471827Government statistics show that dental decay is costing children around 60,000 school days per year.

Figures suggest that a child in England has had a tooth removed every 10 minutes, with an average of 141 extraction procedures carried out every day. The new figures from Public Health England were released on the day a new sugar tax was introduced by the government. Some children as young as 12 months old are undergoing treatment under general anaesthetic for a condition that is almost always preventable.

Dental bodies are worried that high-sugar diets and poor oral hygiene are contributing to an epidemic, which is subjecting children to pain, causing them to miss school and costing the NHS millions of pounds.

In light of the statistics, dental experts are keen to promote healthy eating and improve education related to dietary choices and the impact of eating too much sugar. Recently, Public Health England launched a campaign to limit snacking to a small number of 100-calorie snacks per day after it was revealed that a significant portion of children were exceeding their daily recommended sugar intake through snacks alone. The new sugary drink levy will increase the cost of buying fizzy drinks, which can contain around 9 cubes of sugar per 330ml can. The maximum recommended daily intake for a child aged 5 years old is just 6 cubes.

Dr Sandra White, lead dentist at PHE, said that it was “upsetting” to see so many children requiring hospital treatment and called for parents and older children to consider alternatives including water, sugar-free cordial and low-fat milk.

Some dentists have called for the revenue generated by the sugar tax to be invested in oral health education programmes and preventative measures for children.

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