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Mind the Gap: Gap Teeth Are Becoming Trendy

Gap teeth, or diastema, is a dental phenomenon that occurs in an estimated 95 percent of children in America. It is defined as a gap or space between two teeth, most commonly the top two incisors. Diastema can be caused by many things, including overcrowding of teeth, missing teeth, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, a large labial frenulum and low muscle attachment.

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Chronic Gum Disease Linked to Dementia

A recent study by researchers at the Chung Shan Medical University in Taichung, Taiwan, has revealed that patients with the chronic gum disease periodontitis are at a 70 percent higher risk of developing dementia than those with healthy gums.

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Fillings May Soon Grow Some ‘Mussels’

When you think of mussels, what comes to mind? For most people, it’s probably the seashore or a big bowl of cioppino. But for researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Marine Institute, mussels also represent a strong bond, and a stronger, better dental filling. 

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Can This Chewing Gum Save Dental Implants?

For patients who receive dental implants, bacterial inflammation-related implant failure is a serious concern. Though inflammation-related implant failure only affects between 6 and 15 percent of dental implant patients, it can be catastrophic, causing patients to lose not just a costly implant, but also bone and tissue as well.

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Brushing Checkup: How to Optimize At-Home Oral Care

Have you ever gone to the dentist for your semi-annual exam and left stunned at what your dentist told you about the condition of your mouth? Whether it’s surprise cavities, gingivitis, an abscess or a root canal, bad news at the dentist can sometimes come out of left field, especially if you think you’re doing a great job caring for your teeth at home. If you’re concerned about your oral health and want to make sure you’re doing the best you can to prevent tooth decay, gum disease and worse, follow these tips for your healthiest mouth ever!

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Routine Checkup the Ideal Time for Oral Cancer Screening

With oral cancer rates on the incline around the world (a recent news report by CTV news in Canada found that cases of HPV (human papilloma virus)-related oral cancers in Canada have doubled since 2002), getting screened for oral cancer is more important than ever. This year alone, nearly 50,000 people will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in the United States. Of those new cases, only about half will survive more than five years. In fact, this year alone an estimated 9,750 Americans will die of oral cancer. That’s about one oral cancer-related death every 24 hours. Worst of all, the reason behind such a death rate is late detection. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, most cases of oral cancer aren’t spotted until they’ve spread to other organs, which makes early detection the best defense.

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When Looking to Lose Weight, Watch for Hidden Sugars

 With more than 60 percent of American adults considered overweight and one-third of all American adults considered obese, it’s no wonder many are trying to change their diets and lose weight. In fact, in the United States, we spend about $60 billion a year on weight-loss products and programs. With approximately 75 million people a year trying to shed extra pounds, that’s about $800 per person. But while many of the products sold to dieters can help make a significant difference in shedding those excess pounds, many people may not realize the toll those products could be taking on their teeth.

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Should You Try Charcoal Toothpaste?

 Around the world, beauty comes in many forms. While cultures value different body types, hairstyles and eye colors, there is one trait that seems to be universally appreciated: a bright, beautiful smile. But in the United States, and much of the rest of the Western world where lattes, wine and soda are prevalent, achieving that luminous smile can be difficult.

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Enamel Erosion May Come from Unlikely Sources

 For millions of Americans who take diligent care of their teeth, acid enamel erosion may come as a complete surprise. After all, if you’re doing everything right, this sort of thing isn’t supposed to happen. But often, acid enamel erosion can come from some a very surprising source: your stomach. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) will affect an estimated 60 percent of the adult population in their lifetime, and that painful reflux that burns your esophagus can also cause some major damage to your teeth.

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Five Splurges You Should Never Cut Corners On

 For many people, saving money has become the ultimate pursuit. Between savings apps, rebate programs and extreme couponing, finding a good deal has never been easier. But there are times when cutting corners to cut costs isn’t the best idea. Here’s a list of five things you should never scrimp on.

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Do You Even Go Here? Why We Get Wisdom Teeth, and Why We Remove Them

 Even if you’ve never gotten your own wisdom teeth (or third molars), chances are you’ve heard of them, or you’ve heard friends or family regale you with tales of their extraction. Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that grow in the very back of your mouth.

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Artificial Blood Vessels Could Extend the Life of Root Canals

 For patients who have undergone the procedure known as a root canal, the fear and stress surrounding the procedure may not end when the procedure does. As many root canal patients have learned, often getting a root canal is not the final word in healing an infected tooth. That’s because in some cases, when the natural pulp of the tooth is removed, the tooth itself loses strength and may eventually break.

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Fewer Adults Missing Work Due to Oral Health Problems, But Children Still Falling Short

If you’ve had a toothache before, you probably already know how hard it can be to focus on anything but that pain in your mouth. Maybe that’s why in 2016, a full 21 percent of American adult respondents to a Delta Dental survey reported missing at least one day of work due to oral health problems.  But believe it or not, that number is an improvement from previous years. Here’s what those results really mean, and why dentists think it’s changing.

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Summer Break Doesn’t Have to Mean a Break from Good Oral Hygiene

Summer break is the hardest time to get kids to stay on top of their oral health care routines. At least that’s what 30 percent of parents told Delta Dental in its May 2017 Children’s Oral Health Survey. The survey asked 1,588 parents about a variety of topics related to their children’s oral health, including the toughest times for children to maintain healthy habits.

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9 Clever Household Denture Tablet Hacks

If you are one of the millions of Americans who wear dentures, partials, or even temporary retainers, you probably have a box of denture cleaning tablets in your medicine cabinet. Denture tablets are those effervescent discs that have become the gold standard in cleaning oral appliances between uses. But did you know that denture cleaning tablets are good for more than cleaning oral appliances?

There are actually lots of cool uses for denture tablets that you may not know about. Whether you’re having trouble tackling a tough stain, or have just found yourself with way too many extra tablets after upgrading to dental implants, don’t ditch those tablets! Here are some clever hacks you can use on your denture tablets to make life easier!

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That’s Not Fair! The Worst Fair-Foods for Your Teeth

Summer is finally here, and for many families that means it’s amusement park and carnival season! But while these venues are known for many things (Rides! Games! Prizes!) one thing they’re not known for is their healthy dining options. So, how do you know what foods to avoid when your choices are all less than nutritious? Check out this list of what not to eat at the fair this summer!

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Hold the Juice Please!

It’s no secret that most kids love fruit juice. After all, what’s not to love? It’s sweet and refreshing, and since it’s made of fruit, it’s good for you, right? Not so fast, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. While 100 percent fruit juice really is good for children in moderation, it’s also packed with natural sugars which experts say are fueling an epidemic of obesity and dental caries in young children. As a result, the AAP has once again revised its guidelines for serving 100% fruit juice to babies, toddlers, and young children.

In a recent memo released by the AAP entitled "Fruit Juice in Infants, Children, and Adolescents: Current Recommendations," the AAP announced that it now no longer recommends giving fruit juice to babies under the age of one unless clinically indicated, a change from their previous recommendation of allowing juice at six months of age. The new recommendations state that children between the ages of one and three years of age should drink no more than four ounces of juice per day, and six to eight ounces a day for children ages four to six years old.

So, what’s behind these new guidelines? Dr. Stephen Hill of Allen, Texas says it’s a combination of skyrocketing childhood obesity and cavity rates.

"According for the Centers for Disease control, childhood obesity rates in America have more than tripled since the 1970’s, and the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation says childhood cavities are now the number one most common childhood disease in the world," said  Hill. "The kicker is that both are completely preventable."

So, how bad can fruit juice really be? After all, if it’s 100 percent fruit, it should be healthy, shouldn’t it?

"Remember a few months ago when Starbucks took a lot of heat for their Unicorn Frappuccino, which had 59 grams of sugar in a 16 ounce serving? Look at a 10 ounce, single serving bottle of 100 percent apple juice with no sugar added," said Hill. "It has 33 grams of sugar. If you do the math, the Unicorn Frappuccino had 3.8 grams of sugar per ounce, and apple juice with no sugar added has 3.3 grams of sugar per ounce. That’s a lot of sugar!"

In addition to the new age guidelines, the AAP now also recommends that children not drink juice from sippy cups or bottles that can be drank from throughout the day. Instead, children should be given fiber-rich fresh fruits in lieu of fruit juices, and breast milk, water, or cow’s milk should be offered to children to drink.

"The reason they recommend not using bottles or sippy cups is because these containers allow children to keep drinking juice throughout the day instead of drinking their serving in one sitting and moving on," said Hill. "If they take one sip from a bottle every 30 minutes throughout the day, they’d pretty much have sugar on their teeth the entire day. For the same reason, the AAP does not recommend allowing children to have juice at bed time, as the sugar will sit on their teeth all night as they sleep. For bedtime drinks, you should only give water."

So, how can you get your juice-loving children to scale back on their favorite beverage?

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Chew on This! Chewing Gum Could Save You Money and Your Teeth

Chewing gum is one of those controversial products that people either love or hate. For some, it’s considered low brow and rude to chew gum, while to others it’s simply an enjoyable way to freshen your breath or distract yourself from that cabinet of sweets calling your name after dinner. But while many liken even sugar-free gum to candy, sugarless gum can be a useful tool in helping to maintain excellent oral health.

Recently, a study conducted by the Institute of Empirical Health Economics and published in the American Journal of Dentistry revealed that upping your consumption of chewing gum by just one piece per day could save approximately $4.1 billion dollars a year in tooth decay related costs, with $2.07 billion of that in the United States alone. According to Dr. Stephen Hill of Allen, Texas, this is because chewing sugarless gum increases the flow of saliva as you chew, helping to neutralize the acid left behind by the bacteria in your mouth.

"The excess saliva produced by sugarless gum helps keep the teeth clean, preventing the breakdown of tooth enamel, which leads to tooth decay and cavities," said Hill. "In fact, increasing your saliva flow can even strengthen your teeth, because saliva contains phosphates and calcium which work to reinforce enamel."

The study used data from 25 different countries around the globe to calculate both the cost of tooth decay in each nation, as well as the potential savings that chewing sugarless gum could accrue over time. According to the study, a staggering 60 percent of all dental care costs are directly related to cavities, with 90 percent of all adults possessing at least one cavity.

Though the study was funded by chewing gum manufacturer Wrigley, the American Dental Association backs the study’s findings, stating that chewing one piece of sugarless gum for just 20 minutes following a meal can reduce your risk for cavities if used in conjunction with regular flossing and brushing.

Hill believes this study could be a huge boon to people who love chewing gum but maybe aren’t as meticulous with their oral health care as they could be.

"Chewing gum is a fun way to take care of your teeth," said Hill "It kind of feels like you’re having something you shouldn’t be, but in reality, you’re actually strengthening your teeth. You still need to take care of your teeth the old-fashioned way, but it’s always nice to find out there are things you can have for a change, instead of finding out there are more things you shouldn’t be having."

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Overweight People at Higher Risk for Periodontal Disease

You probably already know that carrying a little extra weight is bad for your health. Being overweight can cause everything from diabetes, heart disease to high blood pressure and heart attack. But now, a new study conducted by researchers at Mahidol University in Bangkok, and Tokyo Medical and Dental University in Tokyo, Japan has found a link between being overweight and an increased risk of periodontal disease.

Conducted in Bangkok, Thailand, the study followed 160 adults, 113 of whom were considered either overweight or obese and evaluated the oral health of each participant. What researchers found was that many of the overweight participants had higher instances of oral diseases such as periodontitis than participants with a lower BMI. The overweight participants also had higher levels of white blood cells and C-reactive protein, which are markers in the blood which are usually synonymous with inflammation.

The study, which was published in the journal Oral Diseases, also found that participants who were considered overweight were also 4.2 times more likely to have gum disease than participants who were at a healthy weight, and those who were considered clinically obese were nearly six times more likely to have gum disease. Dr. Stephen Hill of Allen, Texas is not surprised by the study’s findings.

"Very often you find that when a patient is very overweight or obese, they are neglecting other areas of their health as well," said Hill. "This includes their oral health."

Hill also believes that because periodontal disease is caused by inflammation and many of the participants in the study had elevated levels of C-reactive proteins, that inflammation may be putting obese patients at a higher risk for periodontitis and other ailments.

"If your gums are already inflamed, they are by nature at a higher risk for periodontitis, because periodontitis is caused by bacteria that enters your body via the inflammation of your gums," said Hill. "This causes an accumulation of plaque along the gum line, which can harden and begin to break down the bones of the teeth, causing tooth loss."

But while researchers are not quite ready to say for certain that periodontitis is caused by excess weight, the connection cannot be denied. For now, dentists like Hill believe that these findings are one more reason for patients to keep their weight under control.

"With all the health problems associated with obesity and being overweight, you can add periodontitis to the list of things that are not worth risk," said Hill. 

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6 Things to Consider with Aging Teeth

Getting older is a natural part of being alive. As we mature, our skin thins, our bones may weaken, and our body tends to slow down. As a result, we need to change our routines to accommodate these changes in our bodies. But did you know that as we age, our teeth change, too? In fact, there are many ways we need to adapt our oral health care routines as we get older.

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