This Week in Perio
Dec. 15, 2010

Why smokers have more periodontitis but less inflammation
A study led by investigators at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry may shed light on how tobacco smoke contributes to gum disease. "We have known that smokers are more likely to get gum disease and more likely to develop the plaque buildup that contributes to gum disease, but the clinical conundrum has always been why do they actually have less of the inflammation in and around their gums that we normally see in gum disease," said David Scott, Ph.D., associate professor of oral health and systemic disease research at the School of Dentistry and lead investigator on this study. "Our study sought the answer or answers to that question." (May require free registration to view article.)More

Tooth decay to be a thing of the past? Enzyme responsible for dental plaque sticking to teeth deciphered
University of Groningen professors Bauke Dijkstra and Lubbert Dijkhuizen have deciphered the structure and functional mechanism of the glucansucrase enzyme that is responsible for dental plaque sticking to teeth. This knowledge will stimulate the identification of substances that inhibit the enzyme. Just add that substance to toothpaste, or even sweets, and caries will be a thing of the past. The results of the research have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers analysed glucansucrase from the lactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri, which is present in the human mouth and digestive tract.More

Report: West Virginia ranks No. 1 in chronic diseases
The Associated Press via Charleston Daily Mail
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows West Virginia has the highest prevalence of a number of chronic diseases and risk factors. The data analyzed numerous chronic disease statistics in the United States, Guam and Puerto Rico and select county or city areas. While the report found that incidents of various disease and poor health indicators "varied substantially" by state and territory, West Virginia led the nation in many negative health indicators. The research team analyzed 2008 data and found that West Virginia had the highest rates of tooth extraction, diabetes, limited activity, stroke, cardiovascular disease and requirement of special medical equipment.More

Repeal of 1099 reporting for small business — What's the holdup?
Health care reform came with a tacked-on provision for small businesses that's a massive paperwork headache. All small business owners will be required to file 1099 forms for every vendor of products and services they pay more than $600 in a year. The provision kicks in at the beginning of 2012. Everybody seems to want this provision repealed — even the Small Business Administration recently endorsed repeal. But two different amendments to repeal the rule failed in September, a defeat the National Federation of Independent Business called a missed opportunity. The following are two reasons why 1099 repeal is still in a holding pattern.More

National survey finds oral health is a priority in perception, not practice
Americans place a high value on the importance of oral health, yet there is room for improvement when it comes to practicing proper oral hygiene at home, according to a nationwide survey of 1,008 adults released by Philips Sonicare. The findings suggest that consumers have good intentions toward taking care of their oral health, but need more education and motivation to follow through with standards of care. Americans value their own personal hygiene and make no exception when it comes to others. When meeting someone new, a person's smile was cited as the No. 1 characteristic that attracts positive attention (47 percent). Aspects of oral hygiene such as bad breath (89 percent) and yellow teeth (79 percent) took the lead for major first date turn-offs, outranking other physical traits like acne (52 percent) and baldness (21 percent).More

The changing reality of the team approach to implant dentistry
Dental Economics
The marketing dynamics within the dental implant industry are changing with regard to oral surgeons and periodontists growing or even maintaining their implant referral practices. General practice dentists, who have traditionally worked in the team approach to provide optimal treatment for their patients, are realizing that the most profitable way to participate in the implant revolution is to start placing implants. In some cases, this is encouraged by the same implant sales reps who help increase referrals to the surgical specialists who use their implant systems. The salesperson who offers to increase referrals by providing "technical support" through abutment selection or training on impression procedures may achieve this objective by directing referrals away from another surgical specialist who does not use that salesperson's implant system.More

Dental tourism's low costs luring Americans
ABC News
The price of dental care can be costly, even for people who have insurance. Experts say more and more people are heading to places like Mexico, Turkey, Brazil, Thailand and South Korea to get dental work done for much less. It's an industry phenomenon called dental tourism. Sheilia Liner had broken and damaged teeth for years. Even with dental insurance, she was quoted about $14,000 to fix them, a price tag she couldn't afford. "I just thought I'll never be able to have it done," Liner said. Liner booked a trip through a dental tourism company, which found her a dentist in Costa Rica to do all the work. She paid $3,600 to the dentist, and she made a vacation out of it. "I was just so excited to be able to smile again," said Liner, now smiling from ear to ear. "It had been a long time."More

US judge rejects key part of new health care law
Los Angeles Times
A federal judge in Virginia on Dec. 13 rejected part of the new health care law, becoming the first court to rule that Congress had placed an unconstitutional requirement on Americans to get health insurance. The much-anticipated decision, which the Obama administration is expected to appeal, will not stop implementation of the sweeping overhaul that the president signed in March. The new mandate is not set to go into effect until 2014, when Americans also will gain guarantees that they can get health benefits even if they are sick. On Dec. 13, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson denied a request from Virginia Atty. Gen. Ken Cuccinelli, the lead plaintiff, to stop implementation of the law while higher courts consider the case.More

University of Colorado settles with family of man who died after oral surgery, agrees to pay $150,000
The Denver Post
The University of Colorado has agreed to pay $150,000 — the maximum allowed by state law — to the family of a 41-year-old man who died after surgery to extract an abscessed tooth. Patrick O'Rourke, an attorney for CU, confirmed that the university had paid the settlement to the family of Simon Medrano, who suffered a brain injury during oral surgery Sept. 9, 2008, and died four days later without ever regaining consciousness. "We wanted to resolve a case where we thought that there was a harm to the family, and they have our sympathies," O'Rourke said. The $150,000 payment is the maximum allowed under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act.More

FDA revisits mercury fillings
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee is holding a two-day hearing to re-review the scientific basis for the FDA's conclusion that mercury in amalgam dental fillings is not harmful to patients. The committee initiated the hearings less than 18 months after the federal agency made the decision. Committee members are examining challenges from four consumer and dental groups that say the FDA used flawed science when it set the guidelines for mercury safety levels. Although the FDA noted there will be no vote on this, they may recommend to reverse the decision and send it to the main FDA board for review.More

FDA issues warning to Invisalign maker
San Jose Mercury News
A San Jose, Calif., company that makes a device used to realign teeth has been warned it could face federal fines or other penalties because it hasn't disclosed enough information about patients who suffered serious side effects after using the product. Align Technology, which touts its Invisalign system to reposition teeth, recently disclosed that it received the warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration on Nov. 18 and that it since has provided the agency with information it hopes will resolve the matter. Calling Invisalign "a wonderful product" that has been used by more than 1.3 million patients, Align CEO Thomas Prescott said in an interview that he knows of only "a small handful of what appeared to be potentially allergic reactions" to the product. Nonetheless, he said, "we take this very seriously."More

Peanut butter may reduce gum disease
A study involving 9,000 adults conducted at the Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health found eating foods containing polyunsaturated fatty acids such as peanut butter and salmon reduced gum disease. The specific fatty acids associated with gum disease reduction were docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. Researcher Asghar Z. Naqvi said, "To date, the treatment of periodontitis has primarily involved mechanical cleaning and local antibiotic application. Thus, a dietary therapy, if effective, might be a less expensive and safer method for the prevention and treatment of periodontitis. Given the evidence indicating a role for n-3 fatty acids in other chronic inflammatory conditions, it is possible that treating periodontitis with n-3 fatty acids could have the added benefit of preventing other chronic diseases associated with inflammation, including stoke as well."More