Researchers see a connection between exercise and dental problems

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A new study suggests you can have nice teeth or nice legs, but you can’t have both.

During the 2012 Summer Olympics, dentists examined 278 athletes and found that most had “poor oral health,” including high levels of tooth decay and gum disease, The New York Times reports. Researchers at Germany’s University Hospital Heidelberg decided to do more testing on the link between exercise and oral health, and recruited 35 competitive triathletes and 35 non-athletes who matched up by age and gender. All of the participants went to a dental lab and underwent exams, including saliva collection, and were also asked about their diets, oral hygiene, and exercise routines.

Researchers compared the saliva and teeth of the two groups, and found that the athletes had more erosion of the tooth enamel than the control group, and also had more cavities, with the risk going up the longer they exercised. After studying the saliva of the athletes as they worked out, researchers found that their mouths became drier, even if they drank water during exercising, and the chemical composition in the saliva became more alkaline. That excess alkalinity might contribute to the development of tartar.

Because it was a short, small study, researchers still have a way to go before being able to link hardcore exercise with bad teeth. “All we can say is that prolonged endurance training might be a risk factor for oral health,” says Dr. Cornelia Frese, senior dentist at University Hospital Heidelberg and the study’s lead author. The study was published in The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports.




10 tips for parents to extract dental fears

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You say your child is afraid of the dentist?  How can this be? The dentist is BFF with tooth fairy! Which probably means the dentist is bros with Santa Claus, too!  What’s not to like?!

But if your child will not listen to reason, here are 10 tips that will help ease dental fears. These are general guidelines; I have already written on how to address injection fears here and here on this blog.

1. Know that some dental anxiety is normal. Children are typically a bit fearful of new experiences and unfamiliar places. His fear, in other words, does not need to make you afraid.  Stay calm and upbeat. Repeat.

2. Don’t contribute to negative stereotypes of dentists. The first memory I have of anything dentist-related is my matter-of-fact, Midwestern mother telling me that “dentists have the highest rate of suicide of any profession” (they don’t) because “everybody hates them” (not true!)  Your children look to you as a model for how they should think and feel. Watch what you say about dentists – the message shouldn’t be negative.

3. Dentist = Awesome. Highlight the positives of your own dental triumphs: I did something good for my health; my dentist is really nice; my mouth feels so clean; I really like going there! (Note: I don’t care if you don’t actually feel this way. Do not push your own issues onto your children).

4. Practice first. Play “Dentist.” Watch fun YouTube videos featuring children at the dentist or read some books on the topic.  Then role-play, with parent acting as “patient” first. Lay back in a recliner; let your child poke around in your mouth. Switch roles.  This activity should be lighthearted and fun. Get your child comfortable with exposing her neck, opening her mouth, and having people touch her teeth and gums.

5. Set clear behavioral expectations beforehand. Examples: “You will follow all the dentist’s directions the first time.” “You will sit in the chair until the dentist says it is okay to get up.”

6. Plan a reward together in advance. Rewards motivate. Your child earns it by following the rules. This should ideally be some fun activity (not expensive) you can do immediately after the appointment. That way, your child has something to look forward to.

7. Don’t over-reassure your child. “It’s going to be alright; don’t worry, the people here are nice, everything will be fine” is translated immediately to “Why is my mother reassuring me so much?! It must be really bad!” If it comes time for you to leave your child with the dentist, do so briskly and without fuss – this will communicate that you know your child can handle it.

8. Be careful where your attention goes. Don’t pay much attention to your child’s protests or tears, but pay a lot to brave behaviors. “I love the way you are sitting still in the chair!” “Great job following directions!” “You are being so cooperative!” are all things to have on auto-repeat.

9. No avoidance; no escape. Do whatever you can to keep a distressed child from escaping the appointment without finishing. She’ll leave demoralized and also likely to link future trips to the dentist with how she was feeling at the height of her anxiety this time.

10. If your child’s dental anxiety is severe or preventing dental treatment, a visit to a mental health provider is warranted. This should be someone who can provide cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), the evidence-based treatment for anxiety for children and adults.  The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies maintains a therapist listing at
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Erythritol Sweetener May Aid Oral Health

Research funded by Cargill shows Zerose® erythritol can provide a significant reduction of cavities, dental plaque and the oral bacteria Streptococcus mutans, considered a major cause of tooth decay.

The project, conducted by the University of Tartu’s Department of Stomatology, is the first to compare the long-term dental benefits of erythritol to two other polyol sweeteners. Polyols are sweetening compounds that contain fewer calories than sugar and do not promote tooth decay. Findings were published in the December 2013 issue of the Journal of Dentistry and the May 21, 2014, online edition of Caries Research.

In the double-blind, randomized, controlled study, researchers studied 485 elementary school kids. Throughout the three-year period, the children were given 2.5 grams of polyol candies three times per day during their 200 school days each year. One group got erythritol, the others received xylitol and sorbitol. The participants’ teeth were assessed using the International Caries Detection and Assessment System. Students in the erythritol group showed the greatest reduction in cavity development.

Researchers found that erythritol slowed the development of cavities and reduced the need for dentist intervention as compared to sorbitol and xylitol. Erythritol reduced dental plaque weight by 24 percent in a three-year study period, while xylitol and sorbitol caused little to no change. Erythritol also lowered the levels of the Streptococcus mutans bacteria better than xylitol and sorbitol.

Erythritol occurs naturally in low amounts in fruits like grapes and pears, and in fermented foods, including cheese, wine and soy sauce. It is produced commercially through a yeast fermentation process. Erythritol contains zero calories, has no glycemic effect, and has the best digestive tolerance of any polyol. Because erythritol is similar in taste, sweetness quality and mouth feel to sugar, it is used in a wide range of products, including oral health care, beverage, confectionery, bakery and dairy products.

“Most oral care products contain sweeteners, but as this research clearly shows, not all sweeteners are the same,” said Peter de Cock, a global nutrition and regulatory manager at Cargill. “With Zerose erythritol, manufacturers can formulate great-tasting oral care products that deliver significant dental health benefits compared to other sweeteners tested.”



Teeth-whitening: Protecting dentists or health?

This fall the U.S. Supreme Court will consider a dispute between the Federal Trade Commission and the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners. The heart of the antitrust challenge: Can a board of industry insiders with no other government oversight take action to manipulate its own market?

The board in North Carolina sent dozens of cease-and-desist letters to spas and other businesses offering teeth-whitening services. The board also sent threatening notices to the property managers renting to the businesses. The message: You can’t perform this simple cosmetic procedure unless you’re a licensed dentist.

It’s another example of a state licensing board focused on protecting the economic interests of the workers it is supposed to be regulating. And Iowa should pay attention to the Supreme Curt case.

Last year, as part of an ongoing series on job licensing, The Des Moines Register editorial board obtained copies of more than 20 letters sent by the Iowa Dental Board to businesses offering teeth-whitening services. The letters informed owners they were “not licensed in the State of Iowa to practice dentistry” and advised them to “CEASE AND DESIST from this illegal activity.”

(Unlike North Carolina, Iowa law specifies only dentists can whiten teeth, a change in the statute that came about after lobbying by the dental board a few years ago. The statute may prevent an antitrust lawsuit, but it would not necessarily stand up to a constitutional challenge in court.)

Iowa board investigators visited mall kiosks, tanning salons and people’s homes. In some cases investigators posed as customers, asking questions, including whether the worker was certified in CPR, and had the worker walk them through the process. Then they revealed who they were and informed them of the law.

One man who had rented space in a Cedar Rapids mall to offer teeth whitening told investigators he had consulted an attorney and purchased a franchise and was just getting started in his new endeavor. Another was so rattled by the investigators he said “he was closing immediately,” according to reports we obtained.

Whitening teeth is not dangerous. The greatest risks are irritated gums and increased tooth sensitivity. Many people buy a mouth tray and whiten their own teeth with the same products purchased by dentists. Injured Iowans were not complaining to the dental board. This isn’t about protecting the public.

It’s about a board made up of mostly dental professionals ensuring that dentists capture all revenue from a lucrative cosmetic service. It’s about the board using its power to shut out competitors.

Of course this should come as no surprise in Iowa where you can’t style a wig or massage a back without permission from the state. Iowa has mastered the art of devising job licensing requirements that thwart competition, kill small business and make it difficult for new workers to enter many professions.

If state officials aren’t going to bring common sense to the licensing laws, they might find themselves dealing with a court challenge similar to North Carolina’s.



Common oral hygiene myths busted


Oral hygiene habits often vary from one person to the other. However there are certain myths which are believed to be facts and followed by most people thinking they are good oral health practices. According to a recent survey conducted by TePe, many of us struggle to know what is good practice when it comes to taking care of our teeth, with 20 per cent of respondents questioned brushing only once a day and 45 per cent having never heard of floss or inter-dental brushes. This lack of knowledge can do more harm than good so here are few myths debunked by the brand’s experts.

Myth: Eating fruit before you go to bed cleans your teeth

Fact: While containing necessary nutrients, a lot of fruits contain sugary substances that are not good for your teeth before bed. Eating fruit before bed provides sugary and acidic conditions for plaque bacteria to thrive. Coupled with the reduction in the protective saliva flow that occurs naturally at night, eating fruit before bed puts teeth at risk of damage.

Myth: There is no harm in sharing toothbrushes

Fact: It is always best to keep to your own toothbrush because your unique bacteria does remain on the brush and some bacteria simply should not be shared in this way.

Myth: All mouthwashes do the same job

Fact: Mouthwashes, like toothpaste, contain different ingredients that are included to achieve different results. Some of the ingredients are not suitable for all individuals. People with a dry mouth, who suffer with mouth ulcers or who have sensitivity should avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol.

Myth: Brushing your teeth harder than normal is a better way to keep them clean

Fact: To maintain a healthy mouth, it is recommended that we brush for two minutes, twice a day with a soft to medium toothbrush, using a gentle circular brushing motion with fluoridated toothpaste and cleaning the spaces in between the teeth with floss or an inter-dental brush.

Apart from these myths, many even follow wrong brushing practices. Here are a few common ones:

Not cleaning the tongue

Tongue too can be a breeding ground for bacteria and you must not ignore it. Rinsing your mouth is a good idea and you shouldn’t forget to use a tongue scraper.

Brushing immediately after eating

Ideally, you should wait for some time to brush your teeth after a meal. Certain foods contain acids and brushing immediately after eating them can increase the risk of tooth abrasion. If you wait for some time, the saliva in your mouth will neutralise these acids. If you want, you can rinse your mouth with water.

Keeping your toothbrush unclean

Not many people will be able to buy a new toothbrush every day. Therefore, it is important to properly rinse it with water after brushing and ensuring that it dries.



The Health Sites

With inputs from IANS/

Photo source: Getty images

Dentists brush up on teeth care techniques in different countries

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For something we do twice a day, advice on how we should brush our teeth is “unacceptably inconsistent”, finds a new study comparing recommended methods in Britain, Australia and elsewhere.

It found a “worrying” lack of agreement between dental associations and even the textbooks used to train dentists on how we should brush our teeth or even for how long.

Lead author John Wainwright said the wide range of recommendations – six methods with many variations – was because of a lack of strong evidence showing one method was conclusively better than another.

Should you use a gentle circular motion or scrub? Should children be taught the same method as adults? And how long and how often should you brush your teeth?

The answers depend on your country, even your dentist’s preferred style.

The British dentist Dr Wainwright said he advises his patients to use a gentle scrubbing motion, concentrating on the biting surfaces and where the gums and teeth meet. Yet his method differed from other British dentists, causing his patients to ask why different dentists make different recommendations.

“What … we need is better research into what the easiest to learn, most effective and safest way to brush is,” he said.

The present situation, where not just individual dentists but different dental associations worldwide were recommending different techniques, was not only confusing but it was undermining faith and trust in the profession.

The most common technique, used in Australia and many other countries, is the ”modifed bass” technique. It involves jiggling the brush back and forth near the gum line, and a gentle back and forwards cleaning of two or three teeth at a time. The secret is using a soft brush and having bristles at a 45 degree angle to the gums, Derek Lewis, a member of the Australian Dental Association’s oral health committee, said.

This method should take about two minutes twice a day, something only 40 per cent of Australians manage, he said.

Unlike Dr Wainwright, Dr Lewis said just scrubbing “10 teeth in a row like a pair of army boots” caused more harm than good.

But the report said no large-scale studies had shown Australia’s method to be more effective than scrubbing.

Dr Lewis, who is a dentist in Springwood, Queensland, said any technique would work, provided it was done with ”sufficient application and diligence, but not too vigorously”.

To compare one technique with another would be unethical, he said. “It is not easy research to conduct. You need big numbers, and it is not ethical for one of the experimental groups to use a technique that may cause damage like a scrubbing technique,” he said.

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Dental Tips for Back to School

We’ve all enjoyed the summer with family vacations, summer sports, and fun in the sun. Now it’s time to gear up with new backpacks, a trendy wardrobe and school supplies as we send our kids back to school.

As we prepare to get our children back into the normal routine, it’s important to include good oral hygiene habits. Here are some tips to help keep those smiles bright and healthy throughout the school year:

All good oral hygiene habits begin with a visit to your dentist who plays a big role in monitoring your children as they grow. A dental checkup allows the dentist to review your child’s medical history, examine their teeth and soft tissues, and reinforce good oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing.

When brushing your children’s teeth, it’s important to monitor your child’s brushing until at least 9 years old. For preschoolers and younger children, you can help them improve their brushing by allowing them to brush their teeth first and then finishing the job for them. Ensure they are brushing for at least two minutes, use a soft bristle toothbrush that does not have sprayed bristles from overuse, and use a cavity preventing fluoride toothpaste with a flavor your child enjoys. Since they may not be able to brush during their lunchtime, it is important to make sure they are brushing at least twice a day after breakfast and before bedtime to ensure a clean mouth throughout the day and during the night.

Flossing should occur daily, but can be difficult for some younger children and may require your help. Try using floss pics or flossers with handles to make it easier for you and them. Many flosses come in fun colors and flavors to help get your child excited about flossing. Finally, always make sure your school-goers are fueled with a nutritious diet. Pack a healthy lunch and snacks including fresh fruits, vegetables, and other foods that help neutralize acids like cheese and dairy. Avoid sugary sodas and juices and encourage your children to drink plenty of water. With just a few easy tips, your children will be off to school with happy. healthy smiles.


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