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Historic Teeth May Provide Important Information for Modern Patients

What an old teeth tell us about a person's overall health? Plenty, according to a new study published in The Journal of Archaeological Science (JAS). In an academic paper titled "The rachitic tooth: A histological examination," scientists analyzed from the 18th and 19th centuries, focusing particularly on the structure of the teeth.  All of the skeletons studied indicated the person suffered from serious Vitamin D deficiency.  The information gained is not only important in understanding how teeth develop but in uncovering the health and dental habits of our ancestors. A team of researchers led by anthropologist Megan Brickley "determined who likely had rickets from their bones and then analyzed their teeth, cutting each tooth into several transparent slices, thinner than a sheet of tissue paper, and examining them under microscopes" (NYT).  The analysis of individuals who suffered from rickets (caused by Vitamin D deficiency) provides important data for both historians and modern hea ...

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Report: More Americans Risk Osteoporosis by Avoiding Drugs; Potential Side Effects Cited

Despite the long-term positive effects of osteoporosis drugs, many Americans avoid those drugs, fearing the potential side effects.  According to a joint statement from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR), the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), and the National Bone Health Alliance (NBHA),  "untreated osteoporosis is a public health crisis."  The statement was released in response to a 2015 Icelandic study that tracked osteoporosis patients over a 16-year period. A New York Times article about the study highlighted the results of the study: "Reports of the drugs’ causing jawbones to rot and thighbones to snap in two have shaken many osteoporosis patients so much that they say they would rather take their chances with the disease. Use of the most commonly prescribed osteoporosis drugs fell by 50 percent from 2008 to 2012, according to a recent paper, and doctors say the trend is continuing." Osteoporosis, a weakening of bones, is often a concern for eld ...

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New Study Reveals Americans Don't Floss Enough

A recent study of 5,000 Americans revealed that only 30% of them floss daily and nearly a third of Americans never floss at all.  The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHNES), conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), also indicated that flossing habits varied greatly by gender, age and race.   Men were more likely than women to avoid flossing altogether while older Americans also reported higher percentages of non-flossing than those aged 30-44. According to U.S. News and World Report, this is the first time serious research has been completed on how frequently Americans floss but dentists anticipate this data will provide them an important baseline for future research.   The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) recommends daily flossing in order to prevent gum disease:                              &nbs ...

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ADA, Health Orgs Urge Greater Oversight of Tobacco Products

The American Dental Association recently joined with 35 other health organizations to urge the United States Food and Drug Administration "to be more diligent about requiring tobacco companies to obtain approval before introducing new tobacco products to market" (ADA News, 3/14/16).  The letter references the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, which was designed to closely regulate new tobacco products marked to the American Public.  According to the letter, It appears that major tobacco companies continue to market new products without an order from FDA that they have met the public health standard for new products or that they have been found substantially equivalent to a predicate product.  From publicly available information, there are some non-compliant new products that have been introduced to the market over the last several years. The letter was co-signed by some of America's largest public health research groups, including the American Academy of Pediat ...

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New Research: Link Between Gum Disease & Alzheimer’s?

A new British study detailed in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease provides even more information about what many dental providers have already suspected: Alzheimer’s disease can be connected to dental health.  Bloomberg.com summarizes the research performed by scientists at School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Central Lancashire: Bacteria linked to gum disease traveled to the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, suggesting that dental hygiene plays a role in the development of the memory-robbing illness, British researchers said. Signs of the bacterium, known as Porphyromonas gingivalis, were found in four out of 10 samples of brain tissue from Alzheimer’s patients, while no signs of the bug were found in 10 brains from people of similar age who never developed dementia, according to the results of the study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Scientists are still trying to determine whether the bacteria me ...

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Periodontal Disease in America: More Prevalent Than Diabetes

Proper oral care can halt the advancement of periodontal disease, which affects nearly half of Americans.

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The Challenges of Pregnant Patients and Dental Care

Despite evidence emphasizing the importance of dental health during pregnancy, some women still find it difficult to obtain care during pregnancy.   An exploration by The New York Times found that women may avoid or be denied dental care for a variety of reasons: Today, although dental treatment during pregnancy is considered beneficial, some dentists still hesitate to see pregnant women, because they fear litigation or harm to the fetus, or their knowledge of appropriate care lags behind the current evidence….OB-GYNs too often fail to check for oral problems and to refer women to dentists. And many women fail to seek out oral care or mistakenly think it’s dangerous, even though pregnancy itself may lead to gum inflammation. Both the American Academy of Periodontology and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology stress the importance of maintaining dental health during pregnancy.  According to the AAP, Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may ...

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Gum Disease and Diabetes

Dental and health researchers continue to study the known link between periodontal disease and Type II diabetes, and to explore ways in which periodontal health can factor into diabetes control.  A joint report published by the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) and the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) offers more detailed information about how health professionals can help patients manage the two chronic diseases (consensus report published here). The AAP website offers patients a simplified explanation of the connection between gum health and diabetes management: Diabetic patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease, which in turn can increase blood sugar and diabetic complications. Research has suggested that the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease goes both ways – periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar. Severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing ...

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Dental Health and the Affordable Care Act

The recent implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has many patients wondering how their dental coverage may or may not be affected.  Following is a summary of how the ACA will affect patients seeking insurance for dental health.  Note that the law impacts adults and children under 18 differently.  All information is taken from HealthCare.gov.   Is dental coverage required under the ACA? Dental coverage for children is an essential health benefit. This means it must be available to you as part of a health plan or as a free-standing plan. This is not the case for adults. Insurers don’t have to offer adult dental coverage. Does everyone have to get dental coverage? Starting in 2014, you must have health coverage or pay a fee. But this is not true for dental coverage. You do not need to have dental coverage to avoid the penalty. What is “dental coverage” under the ACA? Benefits that help pay for the cost of visits to a dentist for basic or preventive se ...

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Researchers Study Link Between Oral Health and HPV

A new study published in Cancer Prevention Research examines the link between general oral health and the oral human papillomavirus (HPV).  The research, conducted by scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, is the first of its kind and indicated a “higher unadjusted prevalence of oral HPV infection was associated with four measures of oral health.” According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), oral HPV can be connected to various cancers: Some types of oral HPV (known as “high risk types”) can cause cancers of the head and neck area. Other types of oral HPV (known as “low risk types”) can cause warts in the mouth or throat. In most cases, HPV infections of all types go away before they cause any health problems. (CDC.gov) An article in the New York Times, however, quotes several experts who note that the link is still too tenuous to be definitive.  Christine Markham, one of the authors of the study, told the Times,  ...

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