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The newest addition to your dentist’s grab bag of goodies might soon be gum. European scientists describe the development of a chewing gum that detects oral infections Tuesday in Nature Communications. The tech could prove particularly useful for diseases that present with minimal to no symptoms.
“It’s a great screening tool to help people test their health status easily,” Lorenz Meinel, a pharmacist at the University of Würzburg in Germany and senior author of the study, said.
From cavities to gingivitis, oral infections are widespread — 15 to 20 percent of middle-aged adults have gum disease — especially for people with dental implants. Dental implants stabilize crowns, dentures and bridges. While useful for the 30 percent of people over age 65 without teeth, the implants can become infected with bacteria and cause peri-implant disease. Constant prescription of antibiotics could be used for treatment, but Meinel said the tactic is impractical because peri-implant disease develops over a long timeframe (5 to 10 years). So he pivoted to the underlying problem. People do not often sense pain with dental implants, so infected gums go unnoticed. Meinel needed an alternative way to get patients to sense their illness. Luckily, a mouth comes with one of the best detectors on the planet: the tongue.
The tongue is highly sensitive to taste, and a vigilant monitor of your mouth’s chemistry. With this in mind, Meinel and his team designed a disease-sensing gum that capitalized on taste as its readout.
The taste alarm in the gum is a compound called denatonium — the most bitter substance known. As an evolutionary signpost for poisons, people are particularly sensitive to bitterness. The denatonium is diluted in the gum, but is still awfully bitter, Meinel said.
The researchers attached this denatonium to a biological tripwire — a molecule that gets chopped up by enzymes in the saliva of patients with peri-implant disease.
In healthy saliva, the biological sensor and denatonium are tasteless and do not dissolve. But, if peri-implant disease enzymes are present in the saliva, they chew away the sensor and expose the denatonium and bitter flavor.
To test its effectiveness, Meinel and his team mixed their sensor with saliva from people with peri-implant disease or saliva from asymptomatic patients with at least one dental implant. After only five minutes, peri-implant disease saliva released nearly three times more bitter compound than spit from healthy subjects did.
The researchers tested the bitterness of their chewing gum to see how folks might tolerate the taste. Rather than submit patients to a gross tasting excursion, the team measured the bitterness released by their chewing gum with an electronic tongue. This instrument senses sour, salty, umami and bitter flavors with electronic taste buds and measures the intensity of those flavors too. The researchers found the bitterness released by their chewing gum sensor was less than half (40 percent) that of denatonium alone.
Meinel and his team plan to try the gum in real people soon, but in the meantime, they are working on gum-based sensors for other infections, including ones to distinguish strep throat from sore throats caused by the flu.
We are seeing an increase in adults with cavities forming over a short period of time and many are drinking more sparkling water. Sparkling water is made by adding carbon dioxide gas to flat water. This process produces carbonic acid, which is the same stuff found in soda, minus the sugar. When your teeth are exposed to high amounts of acid, it eats away at enamel and cavities begin to form. Add more citric flavoring and this adds another layer to the problem. If you drink these sparkling waters frequently, we suggest rinsing with water after drinking and brushing as well. If you are concerned about this and have more questions please ask us at your next visit! Now accepting new patients, call now for your appointment. 703-548-8584
Believe me it is hard to keep up with all the things our kids face on a daily basis! The other day I was reading one of my dental journals and they were discussing “Juuling”- I had no idea what this was and was surprised to learn it is a new form of vaping. The problem with “Juuling” is that it typically has twice the amount of nicotine than similar devices.
Studies indicate that nicotine does cause recession of the gums. Because it reduces that blood flow that passes through the veins, nicotine helps to deprive the gums of crucial nutrients and oxygen necessary for optimal health. Over time, that can cause gum tissue to wither and die.
There is also evidence that nicotine can be a contributing factor in conditions like periodontitis and gingivitis..
Dentists have also complained that nicotine delivery via vaping may be masking many of the symptoms that they would otherwise use to identify the presence of gum disease in their patients. That’s due to that reduced flow of blood and the fact that gum disease’s most obvious symptom is the increased presence of blood in the gums. By suppressing that symptom, some patients may not get the early detection they need.
Nicotine has also been identified as a muscle stimulant, which can cause teeth grinders to intensify that harmful activity.
Although not necessarily relevant to oral hygiene, smoking is obviously related to coughing, known as smokers cough.
Studies are also showing that “Juuling” is more addictive when started at an early age. We suggest talking to your kids about this new trend and we would be happy to address any concerns you may have- just give us a call!
Royal wedding buzz is in full force with the upcoming nuptials of Harry and Meghan! What are we hearing in our office, I want a smile like Meghan’s! Everyone is fascinated with her beautiful natural smile, perfect color, shape and sized teeth- just sheer perfection. So how do you go about creating this fabulous smile? Finding a skilled cosmetic dentist, like Dr. Mullaney, is the first step.
A smile is a unique expression of a person. There are a lot of factors that will affect how the final results will look. Dr. Mullaney can give you a stunning smile, but whether or not it will look exactly like Meghan’s depends on a lot of things- some of them include:
Your face shape
Your jawbone structure
The condition of your teeth
Your lip shape
Your smile is much more than the shape and color of your teeth.
So how do you get to a beautiful Meghan like smile? There are several things that may be considered to get you to your perfect smile, for example, you may need orthodontic treatment, do you have teeth that need to be replaced, are your teeth uneven? These are all things Dr. Mullaney will discuss with you in the planning of your perfect smile.
We would love to discuss your smile and how we can enhance it- call our office now to schedule an appointment with one of the areas premier cosmetic dentists. 703-835-9251
LET’S GO CAPS!! Another playoff season is upon us in the DC area as the Cap’s battle for the Stanley Cup. Alex Ovechkin lost his front tooth to a high stick he took in a game against the Atlanta Thrashers in 2007- hopefully no teeth will be lost in this series with any players. How do these guys protect their teeth, with a sports guard! Now these guards can’t prevent all accidents but it is the best way to try and keep your teeth safe while playing sports. Another type of guard that people don’t give much though to is a night guard. So many of us in the area have stressful jobs, horrible commutes etc and were does this stress come out- night time grinding of your teeth. Most people don’t even know they are grinding at night, some people have symptoms of jaw pain or headaches when they wake up in the morning but don’t really know why. We can see many signs of grinding when you come in for your visits. A guard made specifically for night time grinding is a must if you want to save your teeth from this wear, just like athletes use them to save their teeth from sports accidents. We would be happy to review the benefits of our guard at your next visit! Call us NOW for an appointment- 703-548-8584- you will be glad you did and so will your teeth!
Join us Thursday, April 19th from 6pm- 8:30 for our annual Patient Appreciation Party! This is a night to celebrate you and we have lots of fun things planned for you. Bring a family member or friend and be eligible to spin our prize wheel-you know we always have good prizes! We will also have Donnell back doing seated massage again to relax you. Magic Mike will be back with his card tricks and magic- he is sure to bring you a laugh! We will have plenty of lite bites and wine for everyone, so don’t miss the party of the year!
Please RSVP by April 16th to 703-548-8584- we look forward to seeing you!
This is a very informative article written by Marie McCullough of Philly News- we think it is well worth the read!
Five years ago, when actor Michael Douglas candidly revealed that his throat cancer was linked to having oral sex, two things happened.
He made headlines that mortified his family. And he helped publicize the fact that a pervasive, sexually transmitted virus called HPV was unleashing an epidemic of oral cancer among men.
Since then, scientists have made headway in figuring out why HPV, the human papillomavirus, has this glaring gender bias. Men are four times more likely than women to be diagnosed with oral cancer, a hard-to-detect, hard-to-treat disease that has overtaken cervical cancer as the most common HPV-related malignancy in the United States.
To be sure, changes in sexual norms over the last few generations have played a role in this alarming trend. But research increasingly shows the real problem is something men have practically no control over: their immune response.
Compared with women, men are more likely to get infected with HPV — including “high-risk” cancer-causing strains. They also are less able to wipe out infection on their own, and more likely to get reinfected. The reasons are unclear.
“There is good evidence that men acquire oral infections more readily than women, even if they have similar sex practices,” said Ashish A. Deshmukh, a University of Florida HPV researcher. “And more than the acquisition, it’s the persistence of the virus. The clearance rate is not that fast in men.”
Michael Becker of Yardley has stepped up as the face of this immunological inequity. The 49-year-old former biotech executive is health-conscious, clean-living, happily married for 26 years – and battling terminal oropharyngeal cancer, the medical term for malignancies in parts of the mouth and throat.
“I can’t tell you how many emails I got from parents after the CBS segment,” he said, referring to a national television interview last month. “They said, ‘What do you mean this vaccine is for boys?’ and ‘What do you mean oral cancer incidence has eclipsed cervical cancer?’ ”
The virus is spread through contact with infected skin, mucous membranes, and bodily fluids. Some types can be passed during intercourse or — as Douglas pointed out — oral sex.
While virtually all sexually active people will get infected at some point, the virus is usually wiped out by the immune system without so much as a symptom.
But not always.
In the cervix, persistent infection with high-risk HPV types can lead to precancerous changes that, left alone, slowly turn malignant. Fortunately, the Pap smear enables the detection and removal of abnormal cells before cancer develops. What’s more, age-related changes in cervical cells reduce the risk that HPV will take hold there as women get older.
No such screening test exists for oropharyngeal sites – the tongue, soft palate, tonsils, the throat behind the nasal cavity – and symptoms usually don’t appear until cancer is advanced. Becker, for example, had metastatic disease by the time he noticed a lump under his jaw line in late 2015.
Traditionally, smoking and heavy alcohol use are the big risk factors for oral cancer, but the non-HPV tumors linked to these bad habits have been declining in recent years.
HPV-related tumors, in contrast, have increased more than 300 percent over the last 20 years. The virus is now found in 70 percent of all new oral cancers.
About 13,200 new HPV oral cancers are diagnosed in U.S. men each year, compared with 3,200 in women, according to federal data. Treatment — surgery, chemotherapy, radiation — can have disfiguring, disabling side effects. About half of late-stage patients die within five years.
Natural defenses go awry
Oral HPV infection rates are skewed by gender, just like the resulting cancers. The latest national estimates of this disparity, published in October, come from Deshmukh and his University of Florida colleagues. They used a federal health survey that collected DNA specimens to estimate that 7.3 percent of men and 1.4 percent of women have oral infections with high-risk HPV types. That translates to 7 million men and 1.4 million women.
The chance of oral infection increases for women as well as men who have simultaneous genital HPV infections or a history of many sex partners, but male infection rates still far surpass female rates.
Patti Gravitt, an HPV researcher at George Washington University, believes these estimates are a bit oversimplified because women counted as uninfected may actually have undetectably low virus levels, or HPV may be hiding in a dormant state in their cells.
Still, Gravitt said the study is in line with others that suggest “men are more susceptible to HPV viral infection than women.”
In women, an HPV infection usually sets off the body’s defense mechanisms. The immune system makes antibodies that kill off the invader, then immune cells remain on guard, ready to attack if the virus reappears.
But in men, something goes awry. The HIM study — for HPV in Men — documented this by collecting genital, anal, and oral samples from 4,100 unvaccinated men in Florida, Mexico and Brazil between 2005 and 2009. The samples were tested for the presence of two high-risk HPV types and two that cause genital warts.
Among 384 men who developed infections during a 24-month period, only 8 percent produced antibodies. But this response rate varied depending on the site of infection; none of the small number of orally infected men produced antibodies.
Rather than putting the immune system on guard and protecting men from the virus, infection sharply increased the chance of getting infected again with the exact same HPV type. And many men who got reinfected were celibate at the time.
How could this be? Anna R. Giuliano, the researcher at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., who led the HIM study, said recurring infections may be due to reactivation of dormant virus, or to auto-inoculation – the man spreads infection from one part of his body to another. Or to something else entirely.
While the scientific understanding of this puzzle is evolving, one implication is clear. “HPV vaccination is the only reliable method to ensure immune protection against new HPV infections and subsequent disease in males,” Giuliano and her co-authors declared in a recent paper.
Becker hammers that message – when he is not being hammered by chemotherapy – using his self-published memoir and his blog. This week’s blog gave a shout-out to Sunday’s first-ever International HPV Awareness Day, declared by Giuliano and other members of the International Papillomavirus Society.
Becker realizes that the novelty of the vaccine, the complexity of HPV, and its link to sex are obstacles to immunization. But he focuses on the life-saving aspect.
“Parents are being asked to vaccinate their 11-year-old child and they can’t imagine 30 or 40 years down the line, it will prevent cancer,” Becker said. “If you don’t know it’s connected to six cancers, you’re not going to care. So it really should be cast as an anti-cancer vaccine.”
Staff writer Marie McCullough with Philly News.com
Our team is constantly learning and striving to advance the standard of patient care in our office. As such we have recently added a new procedure to help fight periodontal disease, laser bacterial reduction(LBR).
Understanding of periodontal disease has increased greatly over the last few years, and we know that this disease is a bacterial infection in the gum tissues around the teeth.Â We now not only treat periodontal disease with the removal of mechanical irritants and disease tissue with your periodontal cleanings, but are also addressing the underlying infection that causes it with LBR.Â We recommend that our periodontal patients have their teeth and gums decontaminated with the diode laser during their cleaning appointments for three major reasons:
To reduce or eliminate bacteria from your mouth getting into your blood stream
To prevent cross contamination of infection in one area of your mouth to other areas
To kill periodontal disease bacteria and stop the infection before they cause physical destruction or loss of bony support around your teeth.
The laser bacterial reduction (LBR) process is painless and normally takes about 5-10 minutes. We highly recommend you take advantage of this service at your next visit.
On May 18th we celebrated our wonderful patients- we spoiled them with seated massages, a magician, goody bags and awesome food and wine! Here are a few photos from our event- join our dental family and we will see you next year!
Many of our patients ask if they can chew gum and the answer is yes, as long as it is one with the ADA seal. When you are short on time and can’t brush after a meal chewing gum can help to rid teeth of debris by increased salivary flow in the mouth. There are 2 catches, it must be a sugar free gum that is ADA approved and we recommend chewing no longer than 20-30 minutes. Why only 20-30 minutes you gum lovers ask- well many times the acting of chewing gum can make issues with TMJ flare up by the increased movement of your jaw.
A company earns the ADA Seal of Acceptance by producing scientific evidence that demonstrates the safety and efficacy of its product, which the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs carefully evaluates according to objective requirements- so chew away, sparingly!