This Week in Perio
April 27, 2011

Oral warning signs can indicate serious medical conditions
Regular dental exams not only help to decrease a patient's risk of oral diseases, such as cavities and periodontal disease, but they also may help to diagnose other, sometimes life-threatening, medical conditions. Dentists are able to assess a patient's overall oral health and may recognize symptoms of serious diseases, including diabetes, cancer and eating disorders, which often manifest as signs and symptoms inside of the mouth.More

4 ways clean teeth keep you healthy
A variety of studies have established that inflammation and bacteria in the mouth and gums can find its way into the bloodstream, leading to thickening of the arteries and increasing the risk of a heart attack; while fatty plaques that build up on the inside of the vessels can break off, go to the brain and cause a stroke. Need further convincing? One recent study published in the British Medical Journal analyzed data from more than 11,000 adults and determined that participants who reported brushing their teeth less frequently had a 70 percent increased risk of heart disease versus those who brushed twice daily. So do your heart a favor and brush up on good dental hygiene.More

Study: Female dentists focus more on prevention
In this study, the authors surveyed general dentists who were members of The Dental Practice-Based Research Network and who practiced within the United States. The survey included questions about dentists', practices' and patients' characteristics, as well as prevention, assessment and treatment of dental caries. The authors adjusted the statistical models for differences in years since dental school graduation, practice model, full-time versus part-time status, and practice owner or employee status before making conclusions about sex differences. Three hundred ninety-three male and 73 female dentists participated. Female dentists recommended at-home fluoride to a significantly larger number of their patients than did male dentists. Female dentists also chose to use preventive therapy more often at earlier stages of dental caries.More

Jane E. Brody: Thyroid fears aside, that X-ray's worth it
The New York Times
It doesn't take much to scare people when it comes to cancer, especially when the cause, unlike smoking, seems beyond one's control. So I was not surprised by a stream of panicked e-mails I received after a television show in which the popular Dr. Mehmet Oz called thyroid cancer "the fastest-growing cancer in women" and cited the harmful effects of radiation from sources like dental X-rays and mammograms. Oz warned that people who have more than five X-rays a year have a fourfold greater risk of developing this cancer, and recommended the use of a lead thyroid shield when getting dental X-rays or mammograms. One of his guests on the program, Dr. Carolyn Runowicz, a gynecological cancer specialist, said she would not get dental X-rays if the only reason was to check her teeth.More

New device improves early detection of peri-implantitis
A team of Canadian researchers is developing a diagnostic tool they say can enhance the early detection and monitoring of peri-implant inflammation and thereby reduce the number of implant failures. Several diagnostic techniques currently are used to assess the viability of newly placed implants, including implant mobility, sulcular probing, probing depth, and radiography. (May require free registration to view article.)More

Study: Anti-inflammatory drugs reduce effectiveness of SSRI antidepressants
Scientists at the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at The Rockefeller University, led by Paul Greengard, Ph.D., and Jennifer Warner-Schmidt, Ph.D., have shown that anti-inflammatory drugs, which include ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen, reduce the effectiveness of the most widely used class of antidepressant medications, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, taken for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders. This surprising discovery, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may explain why so many depressed patients taking SSRIs do not respond to antidepressant treatment and suggests that this lack of effectiveness may be preventable.More

Barbara Brody: Gum disease and stroke risk
Women's Day
If your gums aren't in tip-top shape, your cardiovascular health could be at risk, too. Several studies have found a connection between oral health and heart health, but now the news gets even scarier: Research recently presented at a meeting of the International Association for Dental Research suggested that gum disease might be as big of a stroke risk factor as having high blood pressure! I asked New York City-based periodontist Dr. Mark Schlesinger to explain why having gum disease increases your stroke risk. The following is what I learned.More

Gail Rosenblum: First dental therapists are ready to be put to the test
Star Tribune
The country's first class of dental therapists and advanced dental therapists — oral health providers akin to nurse practitioners — took their boards recently at the University of Minnesota. We all should be rooting for them. Their success means that thousands of uninsured Minnesotans will have access to quality dental care in supervised settings. The key word in that sentence is "supervised." The American Dental Association remains "firmly opposed" to the concept, arguing that mid-level providers are a Band-Aid approach to a national epidemic of dental disease. "I wish them luck," said ADA President Raymond Gist, "but I think we're going to find the same problems we're already having in trying to get treatment done." The ADA questions the Minnesota model's economic feasibility and the wisdom of giving mid-level providers "more responsibility than they should bear."More

Atlanta civil rights leaders call for halt to water fluoridation
PR Newswire via Yahoo News
Because fluoride can disproportionately harm poor citizens and black families, Atlanta civil rights leaders, Andrew Young and Dr. Gerald Durley, have asked Georgia legislators to repeal the state's mandatory water fluoridation law, reports Fluoride Action Network. Young, former U.N. ambassador and former Atlanta mayor, along with the Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Atlanta, both inductees in the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, expressed concerns about the fairness, safety, and full disclosure regarding fluoridation in letters to the state's minority and majority legislative leaders. Fluoride chemicals, added to 96 percent of Georgia's public drinking water supplies, are meant to prevent tooth decay, especially in the poor. Yet, 61 percent of low-income Georgia third-graders have tooth decay compared to 51 percent from higher income families — and 33 percent and 20 percent, respectively, have untreated cavities showing a dire need for dental care.More

8 ways to beat bad breath
Women's Health via ABC News
Your first and easiest line of defense is good oral care. Cavities, tooth decay and gum disease can all be underlying causes of odor, says Dr. Sally Cram, a Washington, D.C.-based periodontist and a consumer advocate for the American Dental Association. Brush twice a day and floss at least once daily to remove the plaque and bacteria that accumulates on your teeth and under your gumline. And be sure to visit your dentist twice a year for a checkup and professional cleaning.More

Botox injections by New Jersey dentists face new restrictions
The Record
It just might be the ultimate in multi-tasking — getting your teeth cleaned and your wrinkles plumped in the same office visit. A number of North Jersey dentists are injecting fillers and Botox to smooth out smile lines or crow's feet after chiseling plaque, but new state regulations soon may limit those cosmetic procedures. The new rules could restrict dentists to using Botox and fillers only in certain areas of the face. They also require dentists to take a board-certified 21-hour course on injectable pharmacologics. Oral surgeons are exempt from the additional classes.More

Dentists going high-tech
Technology is changing dentistry. In fact, it's significantly reducing the amount of time a patient needs to spend in the dentist's chair. Welcome to the world of one-visit dentistry! "It's a significant time saver for people," says Dr. Deryl Dangstorp, one of a handful of Saskatchewan, Canada, dentists who have invested in a system that enables them to design their own crowns on a computer and then build them in their dental clinics, rather than sending them to a lab to be done. Using this system, a crown can be done in a single visit, instead of the customary two or three. "It's the same technology that the dental labs are using," Dangstorp said. "But this is the dentist's version."More

For doctors, social media a tricky case
The Boston Globe
Facebook is a great place to unload after a long day at work. But what if you work in an emergency room, where privacy is paramount? And what if the thing you want to discuss is not the evening traffic or a grumpy colleague but your patients? Don't do it, experts caution — a lesson that a physician at Westerly Hospital in Rhode Island just learned the hard way. Dr. Alexandra Thran, 48, was fired from the hospital last year and reprimanded by the state medical board. The hospital took away her privileges to work in the emergency room for posting information online about a trauma patient.More

Obama signs law repealing business tax reporting mandate
President Barack Obama signed a bill repealing a tax-compliance mandate in last year's health care law, giving a victory to business groups that led a campaign against the requirement. The repealed provision, under which companies would have had to report more transactions to the Internal Revenue Service, was included in the law as a revenue-raising measure. It was to have taken effect in 2012. "Small business owners are the engine of our economy and because Democrats and Republicans worked together, we can ensure they spend their time and resources creating jobs and growing their business, not filling out more paperwork," Obama said in a statement released by the White House.More

Dentists weigh in on chocolate milk health debate
ABC News
For years, nutrition experts and healthy food advocates have been calling for a ban on chocolate milk in schools to help curb childhood obesity. Some dentists now are joining the chorus, saying it's one of the main culprits in causing tooth decay among their young patients. Although the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry lists chocolate milk among its recommended healthy snacks as long as it's consumed in reasonable amounts, to many working dentists, it is tooth-rotting anathema. "I recommend my patients don't drink it at all because it bathes the teeth in sugar which the bacteria in the mouth metabolize to create an acidic environment," explained Dr. Angie Chin, a pediatric dentist with Premier Dental Associates in Manhattan. "This demineralizes the enamel of the teeth increasing the likelihood of cavities."More