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Entries in Teeth (12)

Friday
Dec142012

Smile by Jury: Tooth Fairy Under Fire

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- According to a new “case study” described in Thursday’s British Medical Journal, the tooth fairy is alleged to have ventured from her typically benevolent perch, causing a bit of mischief by inserting a tooth into the ear of an 8-year-old boy.

The boy was referred to an allergy specialist for an ominous sounding condition known as profuse mucopurulent rhinorrhoea -- which is a $12 way of saying he had a chronic runny nose. X-rays revealed his sinuses were indeed severely inflamed. They also revealed the reason: a calcified foreign object firmly lodged in his ear canal, a tooth.

If the family ever considers legal action against the winged dental nymph, what court would have jurisdiction? And isn’t that a moot point since no witness saw how the tooth actually found its way into the boy’s ear?

The tooth fairy’s imaginary lawyer — let’s call him Fairy Mason — would probably mount a defense placing culpability on the parents.

After the boy initially lost the tooth, he placed it under his pillow, but during the night he woke up highly distressed, claiming the liberated dentistry had been inserted into his left ear. The parents pooh-poohed his fears, dismissing them as a bad dream. But when they couldn’t locate the missing incisor, did they take the boy more seriously?

No, they did not.  Instead they allowed their son to suffer a leaky schnozzle for nearly three years before taking him to the allergist who discovered the problem.

That’s not to say the tooth fairy is always so innocent. Pam Montgomery of Colorado Springs, Colo., reached by ABC News via Twitter, recalls the traumatic childhood experience of losing her first tooth.

“The tooth fairy was banned from my bedroom and told to leave the cash in a cup in the bathroom,” she said.

Montgomery awoke early the next morning to find the dental demon gone — and her father suspiciously hovering near the cup with his wallet out. Why isn’t the British Medical Journal writing about that — even if, like Thursday’s report, it would be somewhat tongue-in-cheek?

In all seriousness, there is a message here. Jonathan Shenkin, a pediatric dentist in Augusta, Maine., who is a spokesman for the tooth fairy (at least for this story) and the American Dental Association, said you can enhance lost tooth safety by placing the precious enamel in a small container or envelope before slipping it under your child’s pillow.

“That way the tooth cannot get into any orifice,” Shenkin said. “Probably not, anyway.”

Shenkin does hasten to add, that while it is plausible a tooth might get stuck in an ear or up a nostril, this probably shouldn’t be super high on a parent’s list of worries. He’s never dealt with any such incidence in his practice and doubts it’s a common occurrence, unless parents are too embarrassed to come clean.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug032012

People Still Have a Lot to Learn About How to Treat Their Teeth

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Americans are smart about a lot of things but taking care of their teeth isn’t one of them, according to the first oral health quiz by the American Dental Association.

Grading the responses to various questions from 1,500 adults, the ADA said the overall mark was a “D,” which might explain why 90 percent of people ages 20 to 64 have cavities in their permanent teeth.

Regarding the misconceptions people have about their teeth, the ADA says that nine out of ten adults believe that brushing after every meal is necessary while only two brushings a day are recommended.

Flossing, one of people’s least practiced activities, is important to do once a day, the ADA, says, not a couple of times a week as half the respondents said.

As far as replacing your toothbrush, two-thirds thought that doing it twice a year sufficed while the ADA suggests three-to-four times annually.

Meanwhile, about 75 percent of adults are unsure about what age a child should visit the dentist. The ADA says the rule of thumb is no later than six months after the appearance of the first baby tooth or no later than the first birthday.

One of the most common misconceptions is that sugar causes cavities, held by just over eight of ten of the survey’s respondents. Actually, it’s germs that feed on sugar, which produces the acid that weakens enamel to form cavities.

Speaking of cavity-causing germs, nearly 60 percent of adults aren’t aware that they can passed from person-to-person through pre-chewing food, sharing utensils or licking a pacifier.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul192012

‘Teach Me How to Brushy’ Promotes Oral Health

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- “Pull out your string and it’s time to get your flossy on/Get at the food make your gums grow up nice and strong (yeah)/ … All my teeth love me because I do the brushy.”

So go the lyrics to “Teach Me How to Brushy (sung to the tune of Cali Swag District’s “Teach Me How to Dougie”),” a new PSA launched by the Oregon Dental Association.

Cute kids dance around, brushing and flossing, explaining the awesomeness of oral hygiene in the minute-long video.

“We wanted to create a fun, interactive tool parents can use to get their kids excited about good dental habits,” Oregon Dental Association President-elect Dr. Jill Price, said in a statement. “The mouth is a major health center in the body; unhealthy mouths can lead to diabetes, heart issues, and worse. But rather than lecture parents and expect that lecture to reach their kids, we wanted to create a hub for good facts that families will actually want to check out.”

The association also created a Facebook page that includes quick facts and FAQs regarding dental health, particularly in children. The organization invited parents and kids to create their own “Teach Me How to Brushy” to submit to the association.

Nearly 17 million U.S. children fail to see a dentist every year, according to the Pew Charitable Trust.

Dr. Jonathan D. Shenkin, a pediatric dentist in Augusta, Maine, and an American Dental Association spokesperson, called the PSA, “great” and noted one of the biggest challenges dentists face is emphasizing the importance of consistently brushing one’s teeth.

“There is nothing better that a person can do for their oral health than brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste,” said Shenkin. “This video is great because it’s appealing to a younger audience. A lot of people aren’t serious about their health overall, which can coincide with their oral health, so this is a great way to motivate people.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul182012

People Still Have a Lot to Learn About Caring for Teeth

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Americans are smart about a lot of things but taking care of their teeth isn’t one of them, according to the first oral health quiz by the American Dental Association.

Grading the responses to various questions from 1,500 adults, the ADA said the overall mark was a “D,” which might explain why 90 percent of people ages 20 to 64 have cavities in their permanent teeth.

Regarding the misconceptions people have about their teeth, the ADA says that nine out of ten adults believe that brushing after every meal is necessary while only two brushings a day are recommended.

Flossing, one of people’s least activities, is important to do once a day, the ADA, says, not a couple of times a week as half the respondents said.

As far as replacing your toothbrush, two-thirds thought that doing it twice a year sufficed while the ADA suggests three-to-four times annually.

Meanwhile, about 75 percent of adults are unsure about what age a child should visit the dentist.  The ADA says the rule of thumb is no later than six months after the appearance of the first baby tooth or no later than the first birthday.

One of the most common misconceptions is that sugar causes cavities, held by just over eight of ten of the survey’s respondents.  Actually, it’s germs that feed on sugar which produces the acid that weakens enamel to form cavities.

Speaking of cavity-causing germs, nearly 60 percent of adults aren’t aware that they can be passed from person-to-person through pre-chewing food, sharing utensils or licking a pacifier.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May032012

Energy, Sports Drinks Destroy Teeth, Says Study

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Sugar may rot your teeth, but the acid in energy and sports drinks will also do some irreversible damage to those pearly whites, say researchers.

A new study published in the journal General Dentistry found that energy and sports drinks contain so much acid that they start destroying teeth after only five days of consistent use. Thirty to 50 percent of American teens use energy drinks, the paper says, and up to 62 percent drink sports drinks at least once a day.

Damage to enamel can cause teeth to become sensitive to touch and temperature changes, and be more susceptible to cavities and decay.

“Young adults consume these drinks assuming that they will improve their sports performance and energy levels and that they are ‘better’ for them than soda,” said Poonam Jain, lead author of the study. “Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid.”

Jain and colleagues analyzed the acidity of 13 different sports drinks and nine energy drinks by submerging samples of human tooth enamel in each for 15 minutes. They then submerged the samples in artificial saliva for two hours. This was repeated four times a day for five days. The scientists observed damage to the enamel by the time the five days were up.

Energy drinks were the worst culprits, the researchers said. They said acidity levels vary among brands and flavors of energy drinks, and caused twice as much damage as the sports drinks.

“Bacteria convert sugar to acid, and it’s the acid bath that damages enamel, not the sugar directly,” said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale Prevention Center. “So by incorporating a high acid load in a drink, we are just cutting out the middleman on the way to tooth decay.”

These drinks are glorified sodas, with as much or more sugar, said Katz.

“There may be a role for them for rehydration among endurance athletes under intense training conditions, but sports drinks make little sense for anyone else,” said Katz. “A far better approach would be working to improve sleep quality and quantity and overall health.”

“When these drinks combine a load of acid and sugar, they are detrimental to waistline and smile alike,” said Katz.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar062012

Preschool Mouths: Dental Disaster Zones

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Preschoolers across the country are increasingly getting fillings and extractions for extensive dental decay, sometimes requiring surgery and general anesthesia in an operating room, pediatric dentists report.

The trend, seen in families both rich and poor, points to neglect driven by several factors. Despite decades of emphasis on eliminating tooth decay with fluoride toothpastes and frequent brushing, many parents aren’t getting the message that dental care begins when a child’s first tooth comes in, and that a child should be brushing with fluoride by age 2.

Parents of all income levels indulge young children in too many sugary snacks and sippy cups filled with sugar-laden fruit juices, dentists say. Too often, they put toddlers to bed with a bottle of juice or milk. Saliva levels go down overnight, making the mouth even more acidic and allowing sugars in the drinks to eat into tooth enamel for hours at a time.

As a result, dentists are fighting more aggressively to counter the resulting decay, often treating cavities in baby teeth before the bad bacteria can spread elsewhere in the body or harm the adult teeth forming below them in the jaw.

“The myth has been for years, these are just baby teeth, they’re just going to fall out anyway,” said Dr. Amr Moursi, chairman of pediatric dentistry at NYU’s College of Dentistry. Moursi said the need for dental operating rooms at NYU exceeds the supply, forcing dentists to compete with cardiac surgeons and neurosurgeons for operating room time, and forcing patients to wait three to six months to have their dental surgeries scheduled. In addition, he said, it’s hard to find pediatric dentists with operating room privileges, which further squeezes the ability to treat children in need.

“There’s not enough operating rooms in the country equipped to do dental work,” he said.

Severe neglect of a child’s oral health most often occurs among poor families “trying to make ends meet, pay the rent; it’s not a high priority,” Moursi said. However, dentists also are seeing a troublesome trend of lax parenting among more well-off mothers and fathers who don’t enforce brushing-after-meals rules.

As parenting styles have shifted, there has been evidence of changes that “sometimes include a de-emphasis on oral health or anything that the child doesn’t necessarily want, whether that’s bath time, or practicing the piano, or eating their vegetables,” Moursi said. “That’s when we have the conversation: You’re the parent and it’s in their best interest. We give them some techniques to make it easier.”

Just Tuesday morning, Dr. Jonathan D. Shenkin, a pediatric dentist in Augusta, Maine, found six small cavities between the teeth of a 4-year-old girl during her first-ever appointment with a dentist. The child should have been seen by her first birthday. The girl’s mother was at a loss to account for all the decay in her daughter’s mouth, telling Shenkin that she thought she had her children doing everything right: “We don’t drink soda. They brush their teeth twice a day.”

But when he asked if the family uses fluoride toothpaste, she responded that they had just started to use it.

“Brushing with fluoride toothpaste is the most important thing you can do,” he said. Next, parents must pay attention to what their children eat and drink. Numerous well-intentioned parents tell him they only give their children “all natural” products, thinking those somehow are better for their dental health. However, many fruit juices contain just as much sugar as sodas, he said.

Although dentists prefer to spend their time on prevention, a parent’s decision to wait until a child is in pre-school before making a dental appointment is too late to prevent tooth decay that already may have begun, Shenkin said. “The kids coming into our offices at this age already have it at this point. There’s no way to turn back.”

“The goal should always be to treat in the office if possible,” Shenkin said. “The last resort should be going into the operating room under general anesthesia.”

By and large, the children going to the operating room tend to be lower-income children, he said. “When we talk about tooth decay, 80 percent of the disease is in 20 percent of the population…usually the lowest income population. The need for anesthesia disproportionately affects the Medicaid population.”

Although there aren’t good statistics establishing the extent of preschoolers requiring extensive dental work, Moursi said he’s seen a dramatic rise in the number of children with “really severe decay” warranting operating room treatment.

During an interview, he said he’d just received a phone call from an NYU pediatric dental resident who had examined a 4-year-old with several cavities, including one that had caused major facial swelling. “The infection had gone through the tooth, down into the surrounding bone of the jaw and spread up into the face under the eye,” Moursi said.

The child was going to be treated with powerful antibiotics, but might still require a trip to the operating room to extract the tooth, he said. In rare cases, such dental infections can spread to the brain, or into the heart and lungs, he said.

“When you have a 6-month wait to get into the O.R. and they’re all 3-year-olds, we know we have a problem,” Moursi said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec022011

When Dentists Drill Too Much

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- By the time a dentist finds a cavity, that tooth has been through several stages of a chronic infectious disease called dental caries, where acids dissolve tooth enamel, letting bacteria inside. Unchecked, the tooth can die.

Dentistry today focuses on early intervention to prevent bacterial invasion of the dentin, a layer just inside the enamel, and the vital pulp. Laser scanning, fiber optics and fluorescent technologies have allowed dentists to better visualize weakened, decayed enamel before it becomes visible on an X-ray or to the naked eye. Some dentists say high-tech tools enable them to perform minimally invasive dentistry, which preserves more of the tooth, often by treating "incipient carious lesions," also called microcavities. These abnormalities begin as white spots, which can progress to dark, stained pits and fissures.

Dentistry has evolved from "drill and fill" mechanics to a disease model focused on averting decay, supported by a 2001 National Institutes of Health consensus statement that identified a shift toward improving the diagnosis of early lesions and stopping their progression.

However, this early treatment may -- but need not -- involve the good old dental drill.

Some dentists want to fill all these little pits and flaws, sometimes warning of cavities to come, perhaps leading to a dreaded root canal, or losing the tooth. "Some dentists may honestly believe they're doing a patient a favor by treating early," said Dr. James C. Hamilton, now retired from the University of Michigan dental school. "Some dentists would convince patients caries is like cancer. 'Do you want me to leave a little cancer in your mouth? No.'"

Hamilton led a five-year study that found early treatment of microcavities using an air drill (less painful than a traditional drill) and a composite filling failed to conserve more of the tooth than watchful waiting until caries were diagnosed.

"We found no benefit at any time for early treatment," Hamilton said in an interview Thursday. He worries that expensive equipment pushes some dentists toward more aggressive treatment to get a "return on their investment."

"When you buy this new technology to treat incipient carious lesions, you have increased your overhead. You now have to make this piece of equipment pay for itself," Hamilton said. With the cost of a filling ranging from about $100 to $250, dentists might be "using this to find and treat those lesions when in fact they ought to be just watching them," he said.

Patients may balk at what they perceive as overzealous dentists proposing unnecessary and costly filling of microcavities before they've eaten into the dentin. That's why they should ask for a second opinion as they would for a medical issue, said Dr. Irwin Mindell. His mid-town Manhattan dental practice is very conservative and often proposes "watchful waiting" for microcavities.

"We have a very aggressive recall system. It's not that if you don't do it now, chances are you aren't going to come back to the dentist for another three years and at that time, we have another major problem," Mindell said. "I know I'm going to see the patient six months hence."

Mindell, who has been in practice since the 1950s, said that if damage hasn't reached the dentin, "you don't treat, because it may take years and years and years to become something. A lot of stuff never goes any further." For patients who aren't prone to cavities, removing the compromised enamel could lead to "greater loss of tooth than what the decay process will do."

But there's also a third way, said Dr. Peter Arsenault, a clinical professor at the Tufts University dental school in Boston. "Does treating mean drilling? Not in my eyes. That's what carpenters do," he said.

For the appropriate patient, Arsenault proposes a treatment plan that requires "a lot of dedication and a lot of education." It relies on neutralizing acidity in the mouth with frequent use of pH-boosting sprays and drops; killing mouth bacteria with xylitol--a sugar alcohol derived from birch trees, and using re-mineralizing toothpastes that stabilize and shore up weakened enamel.

Arsenault teaches dental students and dental colleagues the Caries Management by Risk Assessment (CAMBRA) approach, which uses a patient's history of cavities and dental work, oral hygiene habits and consumption of acid-promoting sugary foods, among other factors, to categorize them as low-risk, moderate-risk or high-risk for developing cavities.

"For each level of risk, there's a bit of an art, and a bit of science to it," Arsenault said Thursday. He described a low-risk, highly motivated patient who came to him a year ago with four small spots in her dental enamel and conscientiously adhered to the recommended treatments. When he examined her teeth earlier this week, the spots had shrunk. "She's thrilled I didn't have to drill this tooth," he said.

Arsenault first learned about CAMBRA at an NYU conference four years ago, where he said that at first, "it sounded like hogwash." But he was quickly won over and brought CAMBRA to Tufts. "We're showing with low-risk patients we can slow down, freeze and reverse" the caries process, he said. With extreme-risk patients, they can fill decayed teeth with materials that release fluoride to safeguard the other teeth.

CAMBRA is now being taught at dental schools. Although the American Dental Association supports a risk assessment approach to dentistry, it hasn't yet taken a position on treating microcavities. "Evidence-based things are slow-moving," Arsenault said. "It's a momentum thing. It's on its way. We're getting closer."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov192011

Want Whiter Teeth? Watch What You Eat!

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.) -- Being careful about eating certain foods after using a teeth whiteners can help keep your teeth sparkling and opalescent, according to HealthDay.

Tobacco, soy sauce, soda pop, wine, and blueberries are among the foods you should avoid. Fruits and vegetables like apples, cauliflower, carrots, and celery, by contrast, help to keep teeth clean and white.

HealthDay reports that bleaching teeth can lead to sensitivity, and overuse of whitening products can seriously erode enamel.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct072011

Florida County Pulls Fluoride from Water

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CLEARWATER, Fla.) -- Florida’s Pinellas County commissioners have voted to stop adding fluoride to drinking water -- a public health effort proved to reduce cavities in kids and tooth decay in adults.

The 4-3 vote reneges the fluoridation policy adopted by the County in 2004, which is still touted as a “safe and effective” way to “inhibit, reduce, or even reverse the onset and development of tooth decay” on the County’s website.

Minute amounts of fluoride -- about one part per million -- have been added to American drinking water since 1945.

“We’ve been doing this for over 65 years now, and over time the percentage of the U.S population that gets fluoridated water has climbed steadily,” said Dr. William Bailey, chief dental officer of the U.S. Public Health Service and acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Oral Health.  “It’s the CDC’s recommendation that all communities should enjoy the benefits of water fluoridation.”

Water fluoridation has been shown to reduce a person’s risk of tooth decay by an additional 25 percent over fluoridated toothpaste, Bailey said.  And a lifetime supply costs less than a single filling.

“Community water fluoridation has been recognized by the CDC as one of the top 10 public health interventions of the 20th Century,” said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser.  “It has dramatically reduced dental caries across the population.  No longer do most Americans worry about losing their teeth as they get older.”

In 2008, 72.4 percent of the U.S. population -- or 195,545,109 people -- had access to fluoridated water, according to the CDC.  Like cereal fortified with folic acid, milk fortified with vitamin D and salt containing iodine, tap water containing fluoride offers a safe and healthful supplement that folks don’t even have to think about.

“It is a public health benefit that reaches every citizen from children to old age,” said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  “The risk is essentially nil in a well-managed program.”

But skeptics question the safety of fluoride, linking it to diseases like Alzheimer’s and arthritis, and even a low IQ.

“Fluoride is a toxic substance,” Tea Party activist Tony Caso told the St. Petersburg Times.  “This is all part of an agenda that’s being pushed forth by the so-called globalists in our government and the world government to keep the people stupid so they don’t realize what’s going on.”

The fluoridation debate is not new.  Scientific panels continue to review the research, and have found no evidence for any adverse health effects of fluoridation. Schaffner said he hopes Pinellas County and other communities that have decided to discontinue fluoridation will reconsider based on the scientific evidence.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep122011

Brush Your Teeth to Prevent a Heart Attack

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Everyone knows taking good care of your mouth, from daily brushing to frequent flossing, helps refresh your breath and protect your gums, but it can help save your heart too.

New studies show that having gum disease can quadruple your risk of stroke and spike your risk of a heart attack up to a dozen times higher by releasing plaque-causing bacteria into your bloodstream.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show, visited ABC's Good Morning America on Monday and offered some tips on how to keep your teeth -- and heart -- healthy:

-- Brush your teeth for a full two minutes every day.
-- Be careful not to brush too hard, and pick a soft-bristled brush with tapered tips.
-- Make sure your toothpaste does not contain triclosan or sodium lauryl sulfate as ingredients.
-- Reach for a natural mouthwash that is both alcohol- and sugar-free.
-- Chewing sugarless gum and mints is a great way to help protect your teeth against enamel decay, but make sure what you chew is sugarless in order to prevent tooth decay.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio