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Dementia and Gum Disease - New research links Alzheimer's Disease to Gum Disease

Newsweek (1/23, Gander) reported researchers found in a study published in Science Advances that Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis), a “bacteria that causes gum disease, has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.” P. gingivalis bacteria gives off an enzyme called gingipains, which is the “main cause of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Steve Dominy, study author and associate professor at University of California.

        The Telegraph (UK) (1/23, Knapton) reported that “an international team of researchers tested the brains of 53 people with Alzheimer’s,” finding the bacteria enzyme present in 96 percent.

        Science Magazine (1/23, Kaiser) stated that “the provocative findings are the latest in a wave of research suggesting microbial infections may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.” Still, some scientists question a causal relationship between the bacteria and Alzheimer’s. “I’m fully on board with the idea that this microbe could be a contributing factor. I’m much less convinced that [it] causes Alzheimer’s disease,” says neurobiologist Robert Moir of the Harvard University.

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Tips for a Healthy November after Halloween

Halloween - for most children this means bags of free candy and a chance to build a stockpile of sweets for the winter. No surprise, Halloween can also present parents with a variety of health and safety challenges. Do we really need to avoid candy all together? No. It’s OK to eat that candy on Halloween but it’s important to have a plan.

Here's how you can help your family stay MouthHealthy on Halloween and year-round.

Time It Right
Eat Halloween candy (and other sugary foods) with meals or shortly after mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals. This helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and rinse away food particles.

Stay Away from Sweet Snacks
Snacking can increase your risk of cavities, and it’s double the trouble if you keep grabbing sugary treats from the candy bowl. Snacking on candy throughout the day is not ideal for your dental health or diet.

Choose Candy Carefully
Avoid hard candy and other sweets that stay in your mouth for a long time. Aside from how often you snack, the length of time sugary food is in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay. Unless it is a sugar-free product, candies that stay in the mouth for a long period of time subject teeth to an increased risk for tooth decay.

Avoid Sticky Situations
Sticky candies cling to your teeth. The stickier candies, like taffy and gummy bears, take longer to get washed away by saliva, increasing the risk for tooth decay.

Have a Plan
It’s tempting to keep that candy around, but your teeth will thank you if you limit your stash. Pick your favorites and donate the rest. Look for organizations that help you donate candy to troops overseas, like Operation Gratitude, or see if your dentist has a candy take-back program.

Drink More Water
Drinking fluoridated water can help prevent tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, look for kinds that are fluoridated.

Maintain a Healthy Diet
Your body is like a complex machine. The foods you choose as fuel and how often you "fill up" affect your general health and that of your teeth and gums.

Stay Away from Sugary Beverages
This includes soda, sports drinks and flavored waters. When teeth come in frequent contact with beverages that contain sugar, the risk of tooth decay is increased.

Chew Gum with the ADA Seal
Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals helps reduce tooth decay, because increased saliva flow helps wash out food and neutralize the acid produced by bacteria. Find one with the ADA Seal.

Brush Twice a Day
Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. Remember, replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won't do a good job of cleaning your teeth.

Clean Between Your Teeth
Floss your teeth once a day. Decay-causing bacteria get between teeth where toothbrush bristles can't reach. Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.

Visit an ADA Dentist
Regular visits to your ADA-member dentist can help prevent problems from occurring and catch those that do occur early, when they are easy to "treat."

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It's that time of the year again... 

Your Dental Benefits: Use Them or Lose Them

When it comes to dental benefit plans, millions of people each year are ringing in the New Year leaving money on the table. According to the National Association of Dental Plans, only 2.8% of people with PPO dental plan participants reached or exceeded their plans annual maximum. Many people also have Flexible Spending Accounts, which help pay for dental and medical care with pre-tax dollars. 

Whether you’re paying for dental care through a benefits plan or using an FSA, your current plans will most likely run out on December 31. Don’t let your hard-earned dental dollars go to waste. Here is a breakdown of what these benefits are, when you need to use them by and how to make the most of your benefits. 

Dental Benefit Plans

Many people with dental benefits get them through their employers, though individual plans are also available through Health Insurance Marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act. Remember, when you buy a plan you and your employer are paying some premium – upfront dollars – that are wasted if you don’t see your dentist.

When You Need to Use Them By

Many insurance companies have a benefit deadline of December 31, and this means that any of your unused benefits don’t roll over into the New Year for most dental plans. Still, some plans may end at different times of the year, so check your plan document or ask your employer to be sure. 

Tips for Making the Most of Your Plan

The key with this type of coverage is to take advantage of any benefits before they expire for the year.

Prevention is better than cure both for your health as well as your pocketbook. Most plans typically pay 100% for preventive visits, so if you have not had one yet, this may be a good time to schedule one. 

Start thinking about using your coverage early. During a dental appointment that's over the summer or in the fall, talk to your dentist about what your dental needs are and what treatment you might need before the end of the year. (For example, a back-to-school appointment is a great time to bring this up.) Make any upcoming appointments early so you can take care of them before the holidays.

Once you've determined what your dental needs are, work with your dentist and benefits provider to figure out what is covered. Often, your dentist's office will look into this information for you. You can also call your plan using the 800 telephone number on your identification card, or go to their website for information.

 Flexible Spending Accounts

A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is an account you can set up through your employer. During open enrollment, you choose how much money to put into this account, and a portion of this amount is deducted from each paycheck pre-tax. FSAs generally cover services or products that help keep your mouth healthy, including cleanings, braces needed for dental health reasons, benefit plan co-pays, dentures and more.

Many FSAs work like debit cards, and you can use that card to pay for various medical and dental expenses, including some products available at your local drugstore. 

When You Need to Use Them By

Generally, you must use the money in an FSA within the plan year by December 31. However, your employer may offer one of two options that give you a little more time to spend what’s in your account:

Some provide a grace period of up to 2½ extra months to use the money in your FSA.

Others may allow you to carry over up to $500 per year to use in the following year.

Whether it’s at the end of the year or a grace period, you lose any money you haven’t spent. Check with your employer or FSA administrator to see what your plan allows.

Tips for Making the Most of Your FSA

Plan carefully so you don’t put more money in your account than you will spend within a year on dental or other health care costs.

As with dental benefit plans, talk with your dentist in the summer or fall during regular appointments to see if you have any needs or procedures that need to be completed. You may be able to use your FSA to pay for these needs or use your FSA to pay any associated co-pays or co-insurance.

Contact your FSA administrator for a list of covered services and products (usually referred to as eligible expenses). However, most FSA accounts cannot be used for cosmetic procedures and services like whitening, veneers or cosmetic braces.

Make any remaining dental appointments as soon as you know you need them to ensure your FSA dollars can be used in time.

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Fluoride or no Fluoride, that is the question...  

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 Fluoride-Free Toothpaste Does Not Prevent Cavities, Study Finds.

The AP (8/7, Donn) reports that although the ability of fluoride to help prevent cavities “has been widely accepted for decades,” the “internet is dotted with claims” that “fluoride-free toothpaste also prevents cavities.” However, a review published in the journal Gerodontology found that oral hygiene efforts without fluoride do not reduce cavity rates. ADA spokesperson Dr. Matthew Messina said, “The study is important,” adding, “The study is supporting what we’ve been contending for a long time.” The article notes that “the ADA recommends using fluoride toothpastes.” Combining fluoride dental products with fluoridated water offers additional protection, added a professor at New York University.

For more information about toothpastes, visit the Oral Health Topic Page on toothpastes. All toothpastes with the ADA Seal contain fluoride. The ADA provides a complete list of toothpastes with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

For more information about fluoride and the ADA’s advocacy efforts on fluoridation, visit ADA.org/fluoride. In addition, the updated 2018 edition of “Fluoridation Facts” is available in print (J120), as an eBook (J120T), or as a bundle (J120BT) of the two.

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Women With Diabetes Have Greater Oral Cancer Risk Than Men, Study Finds.

HealthDay (7/20, Preidt) reported that a new study finds “the increased risk of cancer in people with diabetes is higher for women than men.”

Medscape (7/20, Davenport, Subscription Publication) reported, “The review, which involved data on more than 19 million individuals from 47 studies, revealed that women with diabetes have a 27% increased risk of all cancers than women without the condition, compared with a 19% increased risk for men with diabetes.” The investigators “calculated women with diabetes had a 6% increased risk of all-site cancers in comparison with men with diabetes.” The research “also showed that, versus men, women with diabetes had, specifically, an increased risk of developing kidney, oral and stomach cancer, and leukaemia, and a lower risk of developing liver cancer.” The findings were published in Diabetologia.

Please refer to MouthHealthy.org, ADA’s consumer website, for information on diabetes and oral cancer

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Smoking Associated With Increased Atrial Fibrillation Risk, Study Suggests.

Reuters (8/2, Lehman) reported a new study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that “current smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop the most common heart rhythm disorder, atrial fibrillation.” The article added that “the more a person smokes, the greater the risk, but quitting smoking appears to lower it significantly, the authors report.”

An ADA Science Institute-developed Oral Health Topics page discusses tobacco cessation methods, dental considerations when it comes to tobacco use, and other relevant and evidence-based information. 

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Stress May Cause Bruxism, Fatigue, And Other Health Issues.

The Daily Mail (12/30) described how stress may cause six health issues, including bruxism. The Daily Mail stated research has found an association between stress and teeth grinding, which can cause headaches, jaw pain, and fractured teeth. The article advised seeing a dentist to discuss possible solutions, which may include using a mouth guard at night to protect teeth. The article also discussed how stress may contribute to irritable bowel syndrome, excessive sweating, hair loss, insomnia, and fatigue.

MouthHealthy.org provides additional information for patients on bruxism.

In addition, a study in the November 2016 issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association suggests that teeth grinding is associated with alcohol and tobacco use.

   

Ask us about night guards that are customized for your needs at our office. 

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NIH: Dentists See “Striking” Differences Between Those Who Floss And Those Who Don’t.

In light of the news stories that have questioned the benefits of dental flossing due to a lack of research, the National Institutes Of Health (11/1) states in its November newsletter that dentists have “seen the teeth and gums of people who floss regularly and those who haven’t,” and “the differences can be striking.” The article notes that “red or swollen gums that bleed easily” can indicate “flossing and better dental habits are needed.” A dental health expert at NIH said, “Cleaning all sides of your teeth, including between your teeth where the toothbrush can’t reach, is a good thing.” While strong evidence showing the benefits of flossing “may be somewhat lacking,” the article observes, “there’s little evidence for any harm or side effects from flossing, and it’s low cost.” The article encourages people to talk to their dentist to address any questions or concerns about their teeth or gums and to learn the proper flossing technique.

        The ADA has released a statement on the benefits of using interdental cleaners, and a Science in the News article titled “The Medical Benefit of Daily Flossing Called Into Question” discussed evidence about the impact of flossing on oral health.

        MouthHealthy.org also provides resources for patients on flossing, including the correct flossing technique.

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ADA Spokespeople Provide Tips For Dental Health During Halloween.

U.S. News & World Report (10/27, Oliver) spoke with American Dental Association spokesperson Dr. Ruchi Sahota about the worst Halloween candies for teeth, which Dr. Sahota identifies as sticky, hard, and sour candies. Sticky or gummy candies stick to teeth, while hard candies allow sugar to linger in the mouth, both of which increase the risk of dental decay, says Dr. Sahota. In addition, sour candies may weaken tooth enamel since these candies are more acidic. Dr. Sahota says that chocol-md-6ate, especially dark chocol-md-6ate, may be the best option, “because it can more easily be washed away with saliva.” The article notes that “cavities aren’t just a problem on Halloween, of course,” and prevention on Halloween, and year-round, is “simple, and starts with good oral-care habits, like regular brushing and flossing.”

Vox (10/27) reports that Dr. Matthew Messina, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association, said, “The key is to minimize the amount of time sugar is on the teeth – something really sticky that’s hard to get off the teeth, like caramel, gives sugar more time,” adding that candy corn, like chocol-md-6ate, can be brushed “off very easily.” Dr. Messina recommends consuming food and beverages in moderation and proper dental hygiene for oral health.

Visit MouthHealthy’s Kids’ Halloween Headquarters for additional information, including tips for a healthy Halloween and a newHalloween Candy Survival Guide.

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FDA Update on Homeopathic Teething Tablets and Gels: FDA Warning - Risk to Infants and Children

AUDIENCE: Consumer

ISSUE: The FDA is warning consumers that homeopathic teething tablets and gels may pose a risk to infants and children. The FDA is analyzing adverse events reported to the agency regarding homeopathic teething tablets and gels, including seizures in infants and children who were given these products, since a 2010 safety alert about homeopathic teething tablets. The FDA is currently investigating this issue, including testing product samples. The agency will continue to communicate with the public as more information is available.

Homeopathic teething tablets and gels have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA for safety or efficacy. The agency is also not aware of any proven health benefit of the products, which are labeled to relieve teething symptoms in children. 

BACKGROUND: Homeopathic teething tablets and gels are distributed by CVS, Hyland’s, and possibly others, and are sold in retail stores and online.

RECOMMENDATION: The FDA recommends that consumers stop using these products and dispose of any in their possession. Consumers should seek medical care immediately if their child experiences seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating, or agitation after using homeopathic teething tablets or gels.

Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:

Read the MedWatch safety alert, including a link to the FDA News Release, at:

http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm523435.htm

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Study Finds Association Between Poor Oral Health And Heart Disease.

Men’s Health (9/23) reported that a new study from Finland suggests poor oral health may affect heart health. Researchers examined “the teeth and the arteries of more than 500 people,” finding that those needing a root canal were “nearly 3 times more likely to have acute coronary syndrome” than “patients with healthy teeth.” Study author Dr. John Liljestrand suggests the bacteria from the tooth infection may spread to other parts of the body, including the heart. Dr. Liljestrand recommends brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and regular dental visits to help reduce the risk of tooth decay.

In an article in the Omaha (NE) World-Herald (9/24), Dr. Robert Schwab, a physician specializing in internal medicine at Boys Town National Research Hospital, also stated that research suggests poor oral hygiene may impact overall health, including heart health. With this in mind, Dr. Schwab provides tips to promote heart and oral health.

MouthHealthy.org provides additional information on root canal treatmentoral health, and heart disease and oral health.

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Study Shows Taking Video Selfies May Help Improve Brushing Technique.

Lance Vernon, senior instructor at Case Western Reserve University, writes in the Conversation (UK) (9/6), that in the wake of studies questioning the value of flossing and regular dental x-rays, it may be time to “talk about something we can all agree on – toothbrushing.” A recent “very small study” in India looked at whether a video selfie may improve people’s brushing. The idea is that people may be “more self-conscious” about their toothbrushing while recording themselves, and so they may improve their technique. While the results are “complicated,” Vernon says it did show that people can take selfies of toothbrushing and others can use them to “analyze how well they brushed.”

The piece also appears in the New York Observer (9/8, Vernon).

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Study: Teen “Night Owls” More Likely To Have Tooth Decay.

The Daily Mail (9/1, Reporter) reported that a new study finds teenagers who are “night owls” are “up to four times as likely to require fillings as those who prefer an early night.” The researchers suggested this may stem from the teenagers neglecting “to brush their teeth before falling asleep.” In addition, the study found teenagers who go to bed late are “more likely to wake up later and skip breakfast,” resulting in “increased snacking throughout the day.” Given this, the Oral Health Foundation is “encouraging parents to ensure their children understand the importance of brushing their teeth before bed, and the impact of tooth decay.” Dr. Nigel Carter, the foundation’s chief executive, said the combined effect of not brushing teeth regularly before bed and skipping breakfast is “a real recipe for disaster” for oral health and increases the “risk of developing tooth decay.” Dr. Carter said, “Problems in the mouth can affect the way our children communicate, their relationships and their wider general health, so it is vital they prioritize their oral health.”

MouthHealthy.org provides additional information on oral health for teenagers.

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August 2016: Study: Patients With Gum Disease May Be More Likely To Suffer Heart Attack, Stroke, Severe Chest Pain.

Reuters (8/23, Crist) reported that a study finds an association between gum disease and heart disease and stroke. According to the article, the “study of more than 60,000 dental patients” indicated that “those with gum disease were twice as likely to have had a heart attack, stroke or severe chest pain.” Researchers found that “even after taking other risk factors for cardiovascular disease into account, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking,” individuals “with periodontal disease were still 59 percent more likely to have a history of heart problems.” The findings were published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

MouthHealthy.org provides additional information on gum disease for patients.

 

   

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