Saturday, December 24, 2016

Study Suggests Preventive Dental Care Will Increase In The Future

In The Hill “Congress Blog,” the authors of the article “Projections of Dental Care Use Through 2026: Preventive Care To Increase While Treatment Will Decline,” which was published in the December 2016 issue of Health Affairs, discuss their findings. Using data from the 1996-2013 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a forecasting model suggests visits for preventive dental care are projected to increase in the future, while visits for dental treatment are expected to decline. “More prevention and less treatment means significant savings for individuals and government – measured in both individual pain and suffering as well as dollars and cents,” the authors say.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Researcher Finds Evidence Cavemen Cleaned Teeth With Sticks

The Washington Post reports that researcher Karen Hardy broke down “calcified plaque from some of the oldest human remains in Europe,” finding “pieces of indigestible wood fibers.” The article adds that “Hardy believes they’re from small sticks early humans would jam in their teeth to clean them.” By examining the calcified plaque from a “fossil from the Sima del Elefante archaeological site in Atapuerca,” Hardy was also able “to discern that they ate grass, seeds, other plants and meat – all raw, indicating they didn’t yet use fire to cook.”

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Professional Teeth Whitening Superior To Over-The-Counter Options

In a column in the Master Herald, Faramarz Hedayati considers the “increased demand for teeth whitening.” Hedayati adds, “Professional teeth whitening treatment is far more effective and safer compared to do-it-yourself teeth whitening products that can already be purchased over-the-counter.” Such treatments can contain ingredients harmful to teeth, have limited effectiveness and consistency, and weaken tooth enamel. Additionally, over-the-counter teeth bleaching products are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Study Suggests Few Older Americans Have Dental Insurance

InsuranceNewsNet reported Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research on Medicare beneficiaries, published in the December issue of the journal Health Affairs, suggests that “only 12 percent of older Americans have some form of dental insurance and fewer than half visited a dentist in the previous year.” Such “an enormous unmet need for dental insurance among those 65 and older in the United States” means older adults are “at risk for oral health problems that could be prevented or treated with timely dental care, including tooth decay, gum disease and loss of teeth.” The research also highlights “the financial burden associated with dental visits, among both the insured and uninsured.” Study author Amber Willink, PhD, an assistant scientist in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School, said, “With fewer and fewer retiree health plans covering dental benefits, we are ushering in a population of people with less coverage and who are less likely to routinely see a dentist. We need to think about cost-effective solutions to this problem.”

MouthHealthy.org provides a guide to finding and paying for dental care, listing factors to consider when determining if purchasing a dental benefit plan will save money on dental care costs.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Study Suggests Link Between Gum Disease Bacteria And Rheumatoid Arthritis

HealthDay reported a study published online Dec. 14 in the journal Science Translational Medicine found signs of infection by the bacteria A. actinomycetemcomitans, which is linked to gum disease, “in almost half of the rheumatoid arthritis patients compared to just 11 percent of another group of people without gum disease or rheumatoid arthritis.” This suggests “that the germ could cause both gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis,” although study co-author Dr. Felipe Andrade said that this is “an early finding that needs confirmation by others,” and “it may be decades before researchers can actually prove a cause-and-effect relationship between the two.”

Monday, December 19, 2016

US, Canadian Researchers Warn E-Cigarettes May Harm Gums

The Daily Mail reports scientists are warning that vaping can “trigger severe gum disease – and even increase the risk of mouth cancer.” Experts at the University of California Los Angeles say that e-cigarette toxins and nanoparticles can “kill the top layer of cells in the mouth and gums.” University of Rochester researcher Dr Irfan Rahman said, “When the vapours from an e-cigarette are burned, it causes cells to release inflammatory proteins. This aggravates stress within cells, resulting in damage that could lead to oral diseases.” Universit√© Laval researchers say e-cigarettes can cause gum tissue to mutate.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Most Medicare Beneficiaries Lack Dental Coverage

Reuters reports in continuing coverage that a recent study suggests that “only about one in nine U.S. adults with Medicare coverage” also have dental coverage, and “many of them may be putting off oral healthcare as a result.” Researchers “examined nationally representative survey data for 56 million people on Medicare,” finding 80 percent of seniors with dental coverage had a dental visit in the previous year, while only 41 percent of seniors without dental coverage received a dental exam. “We knew that older adults in the U.S. have substantial oral health problems in the way of tooth loss or untreated tooth decay, but this article really brings to light the substantial differences in access to dental services by income groups and how dental insurance mitigates much of these access issues across incomes,” said lead study author Amber Willink, a public health researcher at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The analysis found dental coverage status “appeared to be the biggest predictor of whether a person received oral health care.”
        The findings are published in the December issue of the journal Health Affairs.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Surgeon General Report: E-Cigarette Use Is A “Major Public Health Concern.”

The ADA News reports that the US Surgeon General said in areport released Dec. 7 that e-cigarette use among youth has been increasing in recent years at an “alarming rate,” and public health professionals, parents, and others must work together to address it. “All Americans need to know that e-cigarettes are dangerous to youth and young adults,” said US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy in a news release about the report. “We need parents, teachers, health care providers and other influencers to help make it clear that e-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals and are not okay for kids to use.”
        The surgeon general’s office also in December launched a new, consumer friendly website, E-cigarettes. SurgeonGeneral.gov, aimed at educating parent and adult influencers of young people about e-cigarette use.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Oral Health Issues May Indicate “Serious Health” Problems

The New York Post (12/6, Shea) reports that oral health issues can indicate “serious health issues,” ranging from “digestive troubles to diabetes.” The article discusses what health conditions may be revealed by problems with gums, teeth, saliva, lips, and breath. For example, xerostomia may be an indicator of Sj√∂gren’s syndrome, while red and bleeding gums may be a sign of gum disease or diabetes. In another example, the article reports that halitosis may result from poor oral hygiene practices but could also be a sign of acid reflux.
        TIME (12/6) carries a Health.com article that also discusses the association between poor oral health and other health conditions, stating “research suggests that the condition of your gums is connected to a variety of health issues,” such as heart disease. The article stresses the importance of cleaning between teeth every day to remove debris and help prevent plaque buildup.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Melbourne Scientists Publish Research On Therapeutic Dental Vaccine

A release on EurekAlert (12/4) states a team of dental scientists at the Oral Health CRC at the University of Melbourne has developed a vaccine that “could eliminate or at least reduce the need for surgery and antibiotics for severe gum disease.” The vaccine “targets enzymes produced by the bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis, to trigger an immune response,” which then “produces antibodies that neutralise the pathogen’s destructive toxins.” According to the release, the vaccine has been validated by research published in the journal NPJ Vaccines, and clinical trials could begin in 2018.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Research Team Develops Model To Digitally Reconstruct Teeth

Engadget reports that Disney Research and ETH Zurich have developed a method “to digitally recreate teeth beyond the gum line” using “source data and everyday imagery.” After creating a model for an “average” set of teeth using 3D scans, the team “wrote an algorithm that adapts that model based on what it sees in the contours of teeth in photos and videos.” According to the article, the technology will benefit “digital actor models in animated movies and video games,” but also has “plenty of medical uses.” For example, dentists could use the technology “to previsualize a patient’s mouth before they sit in the operating chair.”
        A release on EurekAlert states that the model-based method to reconstruct teeth uses “just a few, non-invasive photos or a short smartphone video of the mouth.” In addition, the “method can digitally reconstruct teeth even though some teeth are obscured in the photos or videos by the edges of the mouth or by other teeth.”

Friday, December 2, 2016

Oral Cancer On The Rise In The United States

The Dental Tribune (11/28) reports in continuing coverage that FAIR Health, a nonprofit healthcare transparency organization, analyzed data on privately billed medical and dental coverage claim lines related to oral cancer diagnoses, finding the overall number of claims in the United States rose by 61 percent between 2011 to 2015. According to the article, “The greatest increase was in malignant neoplasm of the nasopharynx, hypopharynx and oropharynx,” followed by “malignant neoplasm of the tongue.”
        MouthHealthy.org and the Oral Health Topics on ADA.org provide information on oral and oropharyngeal cancer for patients and for dental professionals.

Taking Care Of Children’s Oral Health Is Necessary

In an article in U.S. News & World Report, Jonathan Fielding, MD, professor of public health and pediatrics at UCLA, states that “we are not taking care of our children’s teeth,” noting that “tooth decay is among the most common chronic conditions of childhood,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Poor oral health in children can cause pain and infections and adversely affect school attendance and learning. Dr. Fielding notes that according to the American Dental Association, there are “more than 125 health conditions that may affect or be affected by oral health, including cardiovascular disease, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, HIV/AIDS, osteoporosis, obesity, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.” In addition, the ADA states that children with tooth decay are more likely to have tooth decay as adults. Given this, Dr. Fielding recommends children practice good dental hygiene and make dietary changes, while also stressing the need for additional public health steps, such as expanding access to fluoridated water, applying fluoride varnish and sealants to teeth, increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates, and expanding the availability of dental coverage.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Congolese Boy Thriving After Receiving Free Facial Reconstruction Surgery

The AP reported that Dunia Sibomana, a nine-year-old Congolese boy, is thriving after receiving a rare surgery at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital in New York last January. The surgery involved “grafting tissue and muscle from his forearm to recreate his lips,” which had been “ripped off” during a chimpanzee attack three years ago. The Smile Rescue Fund for Kids, founded by retired orthodontist Dr. Leon Klempner, brought Dunia to the hospital. “A lot of the social stigma that he came with is now gone,” said Dr. Klempner. “He’s got a lot more confidence now. He doesn’t get the stares that he used to get.”

        The Daily Mail reported that Dr. Klempner said Dunia “will undergo a series of additional surgeries in 2017 to improve his appearance and function.” Following the first surgery, he is already speaking more clearly, keeping food in his mouth, and no longer drooling constantly.