This Week in Perio
Aug. 17, 2011

Mouth can tell dentist a lot about health
Las Vegas Review-Journal
You've heard poets talk about how the eyes are windows to the soul? Let Las Vegas dentist Dr. Peter Balle offer a less poetic but eminently more practical observation. The mouth, Balle says, "is kind of like a window to your overall health." From heart disease to eating disorders to gauging just how stressed out you are, a dentist can tell much about your general health by assessing your teeth and gums. Meanwhile, bad oral hygiene may cause, or complicate the treatment of, such medical conditions as heart disease and diabetes, while medical problems elsewhere in the body even can make it more difficult for a patient to maintain his or her dental health. Dr. Daniel Orr, director of oral and maxillofacial surgery at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine, says dentists long have been aware of a connection between dental health and medical health.More

European dental implant market to hit $2 billion by 2015
Millennium Research Group
According to Millennium Research Group, while the European market for dental implants will show significant growth to $2 billion by 2015, large variations between dental implant markets in various countries will have significant effects on the business strategies of dental implant companies. The fragile economies of Spain and Italy have affected their dental implant markets. Dental implants are mainly elective procedures that are usually not reimbursed by insurance. As a result, patients choose not to undergo these procedures when personal finances are limited and employment is uncertain. Due to reduced procedure volumes, Spain's dental implant market will continue to shrink over the next year. Italy is currently the second-largest European market for dental implants, but the downward pressure on prices will make it difficult for companies to increase revenues.More

Saturated fatty acids linked to periodontal disease
Could filling up on saturated fatty acids be bad not only for your body but your teeth as well? The authors of a study in the Journal of Dental Research suggest it could be. "Saturated fatty acids produce an inflammatory response," the authors wrote. "Hyperinflammation is now recognized as one of the key underlying etiologic factors in periodontal disease." A high intake of SFA — typically found in meat fats, milk fat, butter, lard and certain oils — is associated with nearly double the rate of periodontal disease compared with a lower SFA intake, particularly in nonsmokers, they noted. However, smokers seemed to be immune to the deleterious effects of saturated fatty acids on their dentition. (May require free registration to view article.)More

Time to see dentist? Visits can detect potentially life-threatening conditions
The Clarion-Ledger
There's really no such thing as getting a simple cleaning from a dentist. Dentists check for a host of health conditions when patients come in for regular visits, which is why skipping visits or not going at all can be disastrous to a person's overall health. Dr. Alex Abernathy of Lakeland Dental Care in Jackson, Miss., has practiced dentistry for 33 years. "I've probably saved two peoples' lives," Abernathy said. Once, a patient's bone had a certain pattern indicating a problem. He referred her to an oral surgeon who removed part of her cancerous jaw. On another occasion, a hygienist in Abernathy's clinic detected a "fruity odor" or ketone breath from a young male patient's mouth. That patient was referred to an endocrinologist. He was diagnosed with diabetes that requires him to take insulin.More

New discovery in battle against infections
Researchers from Dr. David Woodland's lab at the Trudeau Institute have now identified a previously unknown link between the migration of white blood cells to infected tissues and the ability of these cells to survive and become long-lived memory cells after the infection has been cleared. The new data is featured on the cover of this month's The Journal of Experimental Medicine. "Defining the factors that regulate the generation of these long-lived memory cells is crucial, as these are the cells that provide protection from re-infection," Woodland said.More

Experts weigh in on alternative heart risk assessments
Lincoln Journal Star
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a nongovernmental physician panel, periodically reviews data to determine whether screening tests are beneficial, based both on study findings and study quality. The 15-member panel includes experts from across the country. What the panel looked at: Seven heart risk assessments, including C-reactive protein, leukocyte count, periodontal disease and coronary artery calcium scoring.More

Dirty mouth can kill you
The Orange County Register via The Seattle Times
Chances are you have a dirty mouth, and it could be killing you. The Surgeon General estimates 85 percent of Americans have gum disease — which make it one of the six major risk factors for heart attacks and strokes. Indeed, the plaque in our mouths is the same as the plaque in our arteries, so if you have bleeding gums, that stuff is entering your bloodstream. "Our mouth is the gateway to health," says Daniel L. Sindelar, for 30 years a practicing dentist in the St. Louis area and co-founder of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health. Sindelar, author of the new book, "Refresh Life," adds, "Our mouths are where our life begins, so don't let it end there."More

New tests at dentist office screen for gum disease, oral cancer
Gannett via The Shreveport Times
Future dental visits may involve more than a simple cleaning. Oral DNA testing also may help screen patients for gum disease or oral cancer. Dr. Jessica Lawson of Urbandale Family Dentistry in Iowa began offering the tests last spring. Two tests involve gum disease and a third for oral human papillomavirus, or HPV, assesses risks for oral cancer. Researchers anticipate salivary testing may become the diagnostic tool of the future, in some instances even replacing blood work, said Lawson, one of the few dentists in the metro area offering the tests. "It really supports what we're doing with our patients," she said. "They know we have their best interest at heart. We're looking to prevent, rather than treat and fix."More

In decline, stillbirths continue to devastate
The New York Times
Though stillbirths have declined sharply since the 1940s, they remain very much with us, and not just among women who are poor or poorly educated or lack access to good medical care. Even under the best of circumstances, sometimes babies just don't make it. And, as Dr. Zoe Mullan and Dr. Richard Horton wrote recently in the British medical journal The Lancet, "The grief of a stillbirth is unlike any other form of grief." Adding to parental devastation is the usual mystery of why a stillbirth occurred. Dr. Robert Goldenberg, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Drexel University College of Medicine, has suggested that a potentially preventable cause is infection, especially untreated periodontal disease, which should be corrected before a woman becomes pregnant. Studies thus far have not shown a clear benefit of periodontal treatment during pregnancy. Still, when a blood-borne infection from any cause is diagnosed, treatment with antibiotics may reduce the chances of a stillbirth.More