Time travel back to 200-400 AD

Experts say the Roman-British population appears to have had far less gum disease than we have today.

By Kelsi Matylewicz / Benco Dental Social Media Intern

One factor that did not contribute to the fall of the Roman Empire: gum disease.

At least that’s what we might infer from a study of skulls at the Natural History Museum led by a King’s College London periodontist.  Experts say the Roman-British population appears to have had far less gum disease than we have today.

Modern habits like smoking, and health issues like diabetes can be damaging to oral health, according to further evidence.

The study, published in the British Dental Journal, examined 303 skulls from a Romano-British burial ground in Poundbury, Dorset for evidence of dental disease. Only 5% of the skulls showed signs of moderate to severe gum disease, compared to today’s population of which around 15-30% of adults have chronic periodontitis.
However many of the Roman skulls showed signs of infections and abscesses, and half had tooth decay.

Professor Francis Hughes from the Dental Institute at King’s College London and lead author of the study said at kcl.ac.uk: “We were very struck by the finding that severe gum disease appeared to be much less common in the Roman British population than in modern humans, despite the fact that they did not use toothbrushes or visit dentists as we do today.”

Theya Molleson, co-author of the study from the Natural History Museum said: “This study shows a major deterioration in oral health between Roman times and modern England. By underlining the probable role of smoking, especially in determining the susceptibility to progressive periodontitis in modern populations, there is a real sign that the disease can be avoided.”

For more of the story: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/newsevents/news/newsrecords/2014/October/Romans-had-less-gum-disease-than-modern-Britons.aspx

How To Eat Halloween Candy and Not Get Cavities


By Lisa L. Knowles, D.D.S./ Intentional Dental Consulting

There is a trick to eating candy and not getting cavities. I didn’t figure it out until a little too late. My childhood was filled with candy, and my teeth represent my poor sugar choices as a consequence.

As an adult and a dentist, I give you my top tricks on how to avoid getting cavities this Halloween season for your sake and for the kids around you:

  1. Do not buy Halloween candy until at least one week prior to Halloween night. I don’t care if it’s on sale or sitting on an end cap in the grocery store. Don’t buy it. You will have time the week before, and you may possibly pay $5 or $10 more in total for your purchases. But, the price of a filling is around $80 for a single surface cavity. The more candy lying around all month, the easier it is to eat it.
  2. If you do buy Halloween candy prior to the week before Halloween night, stash your candy in your highest cupboard. This will make it difficult to reach and therefore less likely to be eaten early.
  3. If you have children, set limits on the amount of candy eaten per day. And, do not let them keep their candy in their bedrooms until they have demonstrated a strong track record of self-control. One of my colleagues told me one year she informed her kids that any leftover candy would be removed the weekend after Halloween. She found wrappers and sucker sticks everywhere in their bedrooms. They ate ALL of their candy because they did not want it to get thrown out.
  4. If you are going to pitch the excess candy, do it undercover. Tell them to eat their favorites Halloween night (up to a certain maximum—our kids get to eat roughly eight bite-sized pieces), and then help the rest slowly disappear when they are gone—but don’t eat it yourself. Throw it out. My kids never eat it all and end up having Halloween candy for weeks.
  5. Eat your candy with a meal. Cavities thrive in an acidic environment. Sugary sweets are very acidic, and it takes the mouth about 30 minutes to buffer the acidic attack. If you constantly pop in a piece of candy every five or ten minutes, the buffering saliva never gets a chance to bring the mouth back to a neutral zone, or neutral pH. By eating your candy with a meal—or right at the end of a meal–you save your body from having to re-buffer again and again. The mouth takes a dip in acidity, chews and swallows food in an acidic environment, and then recovers. If you eat candy right at the end of a meal, the mouth is already at a lower pH, and it does not have to work as hard one more time. Never-ending candy eating at the end of meal is not good either.
  6. Try not to eat candy/sweets after 7 p.m. if you go to sleep around 10 p.m. or later. On Halloween night, this is pretty difficult. But, for other nights, try to abstain. The saliva works as a protective agent in our mouths. The longer the protectant is in the mouth without further particles, the less likely cavities will form. Additionally, the saliva production slows down when we sleep, so the protective agent disappears. This leaves teeth vulnerable to decay.
  7. Brush and floss before bedtimes. People who skip bedtime brushing and flossing often have more cavities. If particles of sweets are left in the mouth all night, with reduced salivary flow, an opportunity exists for cavities to flourish.
  8. Counteract the low pH in your mouth with fluoridated toothpaste that is not acidic itself. Some toothpastes add whitening agents and chemicals that can make the paste acidic. Buy neutral to high pH toothpastes.
  9. Avoid sticky candies and fruit type snacks. Read this post on fruit snacks for further advice: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/28/fruit-chew-snacks-ingredients_n_1304369.html
  10. Avoid sour candies. These candies are typically very acidic and they have sugar added to them. Things that are acidic and sugary are tough on the teeth.
  11. Avoid sticky AND sour combined candies. If I were to prescribe cavities, I would say pop a sticky, sour, chewy candy in your mouth every 15 minutes. I can almost guarantee cavities. Since many kids (and parents) do not floss, guess where the cavities likely begin? Yes, right in between their teeth—right where the chewy, sticky candies lodge each night.
  12. Eat candy in moderation and not every day. This is the hardest one of all. A piece of candy is probably enough for one day. I know…that is harsh. Some people can eat one bag in one day.

So maybe I cannot completely guarantee that you will not get cavities if you follow these 12 tips, but I hope you can at least avoid getting some cavities. There are many other reasons why people get cavities, from malformation of enamel on their teeth to poor salivary flow due to the intake of certain medications. Naturally, visiting your dentist for your check-up visit x-rays within 6-12 months from Halloween is advisable, too. This allows the dentist an opportunity to look for those in between cavities that might have snuggled in while you and your particles of chocolate chewies were sleeping. Better to catch them while they are small, than when they are big and hurting. If cavities do form in your mouth, it’s an oral indicator that something has to change. It’s usually how much and how often sugar and acidic products enter your mouth.

Halloween is often celebrated with candy. It’s a cultural ritual hard to stop. But, how you eat your Halloween candy can be changed. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

An app that will make you wish you were five again.

The free Disney Magic Timer™ by Oral-B® app, which appeals to ages 2-7, is considered the “Best New App” for “Kids.”

Featuring 16 of children’s favorite Disney and Marvel characters, use this app to effortlessly encourage your patients to brush longer. They can collect a new digital sticker after each successful two minutes of brushing; track progress with stars and milestone badges on the Brushing Calendar.

Characters featured are: Winnie the Pooh, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Jake (from Jake and the Neverland Pirates), James P. “Sulley” Sullivan, Belle, Lightning McQueen, Ariel, Dusty, Cinderella, Tinker Bell, Rapunzel, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America.

Three easy steps make the magic happen:
1. Download the Disney Magic Timer™ app by Oral-B®
2. Scan any Crest or Oral-B Pro-Health Stages product with an iPad, iPhone or iTouch
3. Favorite characters come to life.

The creators invite your patients’ success stories with the new app through: @oralb http://web.stagram.com/n/oralb/

View more details at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/disney-magic-timer/id747541884?mt=8


Virtual Tooth Fairy Ball: Twist on traditional fundraising


Contrary to a recent survey that the tooth fairy left 8% less under pillows this year (an average of $3.40 for every lost tooth) than in 2013, as reported by USAToday.com, the wanded warrior will dig deep into her fairy dust coffers during a Ball and Silent Auction slated for November.

A day with Dr. Gordon Christensen including a private mini course, facility tour and lunch for four at his Utah research center; a Nomad Handheld Intraoral X-Ray Device;  and “On the Glass” tickets to Minnesota Wild vs. New York Rangers are among silent auction items at the Virtual Tooth Fairy Ball and online auction November 1-24.

The event, organized by National Children’s Oral Health Foundation: America’s ToothFairy (NCOHF), aims to help fund nonprofit clinics serving at-risk children according to a report in Mentor Magazine.

Dental companies and oral care professionals are invited  to become virtual toothfairies without leaving home. Corporations may donate items to a silent auction or purchase virtual “tables” for $5000 each. Contributors’ grants will be named in honor of the donating companies. In addition, participating firms will be recognized in event-related communications, and will also be awarded memberships in the America’s ToothFairy Kids Club — a perk they can pass along to employees, customers and associates.

Group dental practices and individual clinicians are also invited to participate by bidding on auction items.

RSVP at: http://www.ncohf.org/get-involved/toothfairy-ball/rsvp

American Ninja Dentist lives her dream, shares her story

This past June, North Carolina dentist Dr. Desiree Walker was a featured athlete on NBC's American Ninja Warrior, the heart-racing, extreme obstacle competition, and ran the course.

Caption: This past June, North Carolina dentist Dr. Desiree Walker, shown, was a featured athlete on NBC’s extreme obstacle competition, American Ninja Warrior.

By Desiree Walker, DDS (@sarahdesiwalker)

“A great dentist”, “a kind dentist”, “a gentle dentist” – these were the normal, positive phrases that I hoped that my patients would use to describe me.  Never did I think that one of the adjectives would be “Ninja” and never did I think that many of my patients would refer to me as the “Ninja Dentist”. But I am, at least locally, thanks to the NBC show American Ninja Warrior.

This past June, I was a featured athlete on American Ninja Warrior, the heart-racing, extreme obstacle competition, and ran the course.  Not only did I get to showcase what one of the hosts called the most epic fall this season, but also myself, as a dentist and an athlete. The opportunity was a thrill of a lifetime, but the biggest blessing was the chance to share my story of dentistry and fitness; two topics that are rarely blended together.  It was a chance to encourage females, dentists and professionals, that wellness, exercise and movement can be integrated into any lifestyle.

The events began unfolding back at the end of April. I was in my office on a Saturday afternoon, re-bonding ortho brackets on my husband Ash, when I got a call on my cell phone.  I never answer calls while in the operatory with patients, of course, but this was a different situation, especially with the patient being my husband and the call coming from Los Angles, the complete opposite end of the country.  I de-gloved and answered.
The conversation went as follows:  “This is Claire, one of the producers from NBC.  We received your application and tryout video for American Ninja Warrior.  Would you be interested in participating on the show in Miami?”

Wow – I wasn’t expecting that! Several months ago, I did a spur-of-the-moment iPhone video of one of my actual training workouts in my house.  It was the last day for submission of the application to the American Ninja Warrior Show, and we were snow bound in our homes.  I did a brief introduction and filmed the workout.  I sent in the video and application that evening, not thinking much about my chances of being chosen.  I was in the third full month of my ground-up construction, start-up dental practice. It was consuming most of my time, focus and energy.

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