This Week in Perio
Nov. 30, 2011

Oral health an indicator of overall well-being
The Columbus Dispatch
When you head to the dentist, there's far more at stake than a picture-ready smile. A thorough exam could detect bigger problems than a cavity or gingivitis. Dentists and hygienists routinely notice potentially cancerous spots in the mouth or even on the face, said Dr. Deborah Mendel, an associate clinical professor in the Ohio State University College of Dentistry. And a dentist who asks about dietary patterns — such as too much sugar — might advise a patient to talk to his or her family doctor about other concerns, including diabetes, she said. "We talk to them about what is contributing to their cavity rate, but then we try to talk about how it's better for their health to have less processed food, more fiber and to drink water," Mendel said.More

Diabetics need to pay close attention to their teeth, gums
Indian Country Today
Diabetics have to watch what they eat, make sure they exercise, and, it turns out, they have to make sure they brush and floss with greater vigilance, too. There is a complex relationship between diabetes and gum disease that is "bi-directional" and too often part of a "vicious cycle" of health issues "in American Indians and Alaskan Natives where pre-diabetes and diabetes is so prevalent," according to Dr. Maria Emanuel Ryan, a professor of oral biology and pathology and director of clinical research at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y. "The connection between gum disease and diabetes is related to the chronic inflammation that exists within both of these disease processes," Ryan says.More

A closer look at teeth may mean more fillings
The New York Times
With increasingly sophisticated detection technology, dentists are finding — and treating — tooth abnormalities that may or may not develop into cavities. While some describe their efforts as a proactive strategy to protect patients from harm, critics say the procedures are unnecessary and painful, and are driving up the costs of care. More

Mouse study explains bacterium's unique role in periodontitis
National Institutes of Health
Scientists say they have solved in mice the mystery of how an unusual bacterium can trigger the common dental condition periodontitis while residing in low numbers in the space between tooth and gum. The researchers report that the microbe Porphyromonas gingivalis hacks into the front-line immune cells that police the space between tooth and gum, known as the subgingival crevice, and reprograms them to create living conditions more to its microbial liking. As more immune cells are co-opted to follow the wrong program, the usually benign bacterial residents of the subgingival crevice — not P. gingivalis, as long suspected — opportunistically rise up in number, altering their community dynamics and prompting them to infect the tooth's supportive structures, or periodontium.More

Dental program for pregnant women on chopping block
Several items are on the chopping block to shore up a budget shortfall in Washington state, including a dental program that helps low-income pregnant women. If passed, Gov. Christine Gregoire's plan would take all non-emergency dental care away from more than 30,000 women. Experts said taking care of a mother's teeth is vital to ensure a healthy baby. Studies found mothers can pass cavity-causing bacteria to their children via saliva when they share food or utensils.More

Colleague's dental fears could have killed him
The Columbus Dispatch
Dr. Diane Gorgas writes, "I think I've heard all the reasons people don't go to a dentist: 'It's too expensive,' 'I'm afraid of needles/drills,' 'It hurts.' I don't want to belittle the problem, but avoiding a dentist is one of the most-illogical decisions in medicine. Tooth pain almost never gets better on its own or goes away without intervention. Complications inevitably lead to worsening decay, generalized inflammation and overall worse health, not to mention an increased risk of heart disease. And let's face it, out-of-control dental decay is far scarier than any visit to a dentist."More

5 ways to beat gum disease
Official dental opinion states that when your gums start receding, they cannot recover and all that can be done is scale and polishing to prevent any further gum loss. However, some dental professionals are now realizing that gum tissue can regenerate and with the right recovery program it is possible to reverse gum disease.More

Fluoride critics to get their say at meeting
The London Free Press
Anti-fluoride activists will get a chance to air their concerns at city hall, but health officials are sounding a note of caution over the burgeoning controversy around London's tap water. With about 20 fluoride critics in the gallery recently, the council's built and natural environment committee voted to hold a meeting to hear from Londoners concerned the chemical, added to city water, causes health risks. "It's about time," Sean Keating, a fluoride critic, said at city hall. "The concern is [water fluoridation] is a very dangerous thing to do." Keating and others claim fluoride can cause thyroid issues and weaken bones, which leads to higher fracture rates.More