Does poor oral health impact brain function?

Perceived stress may detrimentally impact oral health which, in turn, may lead to cognitive decline among specific elderly communities, according to two new studies.

Oral health can be a surprisingly good indicator of a person’s well-being. Not only can oral diseases reduce a person’s quality of life, but they can also increase the risk of other serious conditions.

Researchers have linked gum disease and tooth loss to the occurrence of stroke. An article published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology

in 2010 concluded that gum disease could raise a person’s risk of heart disease by around 20%. It is, however, necessary to carry out more research in these areas.

Teams at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, have now focused on a different link — the one between oral health and cognitive decline.

A recently published review of 23 studies found evidence of a relationship between oral health and cognitive aspects, such as memory and executive function.

Now, a team from Rutgers University carried out two separate studies into cognitive decline and perceived stress. Both papers appear in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The Chinese American focus

The studies focused on Chinese American adults with a minimum age of 60. “Racial and ethnic minorities are particularly vulnerable to the negative consequences of poor oral health,” explains XinQi Dong, director of Rutgers University’s Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research.

He continues, “Minorities have less access to preventive dental care that is further exacerbated by language barriers and low socioeconomic status. Older Chinese Americans are at particular risk for experiencing oral health symptoms due to lack of dental insurance or not visiting a dental clinic regularly.”

Participants for both studies came from the Population Study of Chinese Elderly in Chicago (PINE). The first study quizzed people on their oral health and gave them five cognitive tests to complete.

The second study asked participants if they had ever experienced dry mouth issues. Researchers then asked them to measure their perceived stress, social support, and social strain levels using pre-defined scales.

Social support referred to how often they felt able to open up to or rely on their family members or friends. Researchers defined social strain as how often participants experienced excessive demands or criticism from friends or relatives.

A cognitive link

Out of the more than 2,700 Chinese Americans interviewed, almost half reported tooth-related symptoms. Just over a quarter said they had experienced dry mouth.

There was no significant relationship between gum and cognitive problems. However, researchers believe participants may have been less likely to report gum symptoms due to finding them less problematic.

The researchers did find a link between cognitive decline — specifically global cogniton and episodic memory decline — and tooth symptoms. Episodic memory issues themselves have a link to the onset of dementia

The researchers found a similar association in the second study. Those who reported more perceived stress were more likely to report dry mouth. Spousal social support or strain did not reduce this relationship, but support from friends appeared to protect against dry mouth in some way.

“However, the potential overload of such support could be detrimental to oral health outcomes among older Chinese Americans,” notes study author Weiyu Mao, assistant professor at the University of Nevada’s School of Social Work.

Oral health is key

Any conclusion formed from self-reported data has its limitations. However, the team believes their findings point to a need for better awareness of immigrant health and psychosocial influences on said health.

Dong says they “demonstrate the importance of examining immigrant oral health outcomes later in life to understand the specific type of outcomes of different cultural groups.”

“The studies further serve as a call to action for policymakers to develop programs aimed at improving oral health preventive and dental care services in this high risk population.”

XinQi Dong

Ensuring good oral health of older Chinese Americans should be a primary goal, according to the team.

Mao notes, “intervention strategies need to expand beyond the common risk factors, such as health conditions and health behaviors, and account for the psychosocial determinants, including stress and social support.” Inclusive efforts such as these could even go some way to reducing cognitive decline.

What’s to know about dental abscesses?

A dental abscess, or tooth abscess, is a buildup of pus that forms inside the teeth or gums.

The abscess typically comes from a bacterial infection, often one that has accumulated in the soft pulp of the tooth.

Bacteria exist in plaque, a by-product of food, saliva, and bacteria in the mouth, which sticks to the teeth and damages them and the gums.

If the plaque is not removed by regular and proper brushing and flossing, the bacteria may spread inside the soft tissue of the tooth or gums. This can eventually result in an abscess.

Fast facts on dental abscesses

Here are some key points about dental abscesses. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.

  • There are three types of dental abscess: Gingival, periodontal and periapical.
  • Symptoms of dental abscesses include pain, a bad taste in the mouth and fever.
  • Dental abscesses are caused by a bacterial infection.
  • Treatment for an abscess may involve root canal surgery.
  • To minimize pain, it is best to avoid cold drinks and food and use a softer toothbrush.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of a dental abscess include:

  • pain in the affected area when biting or when touching the affected area
  • sensitivity to cold or hot food and liquids
  • a foul taste in the mouth
  • fever
  • a generally unwell feeling
  • difficulties opening the mouth
  • swallowing difficulties
  • insomnia

The main symptom of a dental abscess is pain. This may be a throbbing pain and is often intense. The pain usually starts suddenly and becomes more intense over the following hours or days. In some cases, the pain may radiate to the ear, jawbone, and neck.

Types

There are three types of dental abscess:

  • Gingival abscess: The abscess is only in the gum tissue and does not affect the tooth or the periodontal ligament.
  • Periodontal abscess: This abscess starts in the supporting bone tissue structures of the teeth.
  • Periapical abscess: this abscess commences in the soft pulp of the tooth.

The type of abscess will dictate the severity and location of symptoms.

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Treatments

Any person with symptoms linked to a dental abscess should see a dentist immediately. Dental abscesses are easily diagnosed by a qualified dentist.

People who have swallowing and breathing problems should go straight to the emergency department of their local hospital.

If you cannot get to a dentist immediately, visit a family doctor.

A doctor cannot treat an abscess, but they may prescribe medication and advise on self-care and pain management and are also likely to know the fastest way of getting emergency treatment if required.

Incision: The abscess needs to be cut out and the pus, which contains bacteria, drained away. The doctor will administer a local anesthetic.

Treating a periapical abscess: Root canal treatment will be used to remove the abscess. A drill is used to bore a hole into the dead tooth so that the pus can come out. Any damaged tissue will be removed from the pulp. A root filling is then inserted into the space to prevent subsequent infections.

Treating a periodontal abscess: The abscess will be drained and the periodontal pocket cleaned. The surfaces of the root of the tooth will then be smoothed out by scaling and planing below the gum line. This helps the tooth heal and prevents further infections from occurring.

Surgery

People with a periapical abscess and a recurring infection may need to have diseased tissue surgically removed. This will be done by an oral surgeon.

Those with a periodontal abscess and a recurring infection may have to have their gum tissue reshaped and the periodontal pocket removed. This procedure will be performed by an oral surgeon.

If a dental abscess comes back, even after surgery, the tooth may be taken out.

Pain management

Over the counter (OTC) painkillers may help reduce the pain while an individual is waiting for treatment. It is important to follow the information on the packet carefully. Painkillers are only there for pain reduction and cannot replace a visit to a dentist.

Aspirin, ibuprofen or Tylenol (paracetamol) are effective painkillers. However, some are unsuitable for certain types of patients (read below):

  • Ibuprofen and asthma: If you are asthmatic, do not take ibuprofen.
  • Ibuprofen and stomach ulcers: Do not take ibuprofen if you have, or ever had stomach ulcers.
  • Aspirin and children: Do not give aspirin to children under 16 years of age.
  • Aspirin and pregnancy and breastfeeding: Do not take aspirin if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

There is an excellent selection online if you want to buy aspirin, ibuprofen, and tylenol.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent the infection from spreading and may be taken together with painkillers. Examples of antibiotics include amoxicillin or metronidazole. In no way should antibiotics be seen as a way of substituting treatment with a dentist, or postponing treatment.

Causes

A dental abscess is, in most cases, a complication of a dental infection. Bacteria, often bacteria present in plaque, infect and make their way into a tooth.

Periapical abscess

Bacteria enter the tooth through tiny holes caused by tooth decay, or caries, that form in the hard outer layer of the tooth. Caries eventually break down the softer layer of tissue under the enamel, called dentine. If the decay continues, the hole will eventually penetrate the soft inner pulp of the tooth and become infected.

This is known as pulpitis. As the pulpitis progresses, the bacteria make their way to the bone that surrounds and supports the tooth, called the alveolar bone, and a periapical abscess is formed.

Periodontal abscess

When bacteria which are present in plaque infect the gums, the patient has periodontitis. The gums become inflamed, which can make the tissue surrounding the root of the tooth separate from the base of the tooth.

A periodontal pocket, a tiny gap, is formed when the periodontal ligament separates from the root. The pocket gets dirty easily and is very hard to keep clean. As bacteria build up in the periodontal pocket, a periodontal abscess is formed.

Patients can develop periodontal abscesses as a result of a dental procedure which accidentally resulted in periodontal pockets. Also, the use of antibiotics in untreated periodontitis, which can mask the symptoms of an abscess, can result in a periodontal abscess. Sometimes gum damage can lead to periodontal abscesses, even if no periodontitis is present.

Home remedies

There are actions you can take at home to relieve the pain.

  • Avoid food and drink that is either too hot or too cold.
  • Chewing on the side of your mouth without an abscess will probably be less painful
  • Do not floss around the affected area.
  • Use a very soft toothbrush.

While home remedies can help make a person more comfortable while they wait for treatment, it is important to visit a healthcare professional for treatment to avoid any of the complications of a dental abscess.

Complications

In the vast majority of cases, complications only occur if the abscess is left untreated. However, complications can occur, even after seemingly effective treatment, but this is very rare. Possible complications include:

Dental cysts: A fluid-filled cavity may develop at the bottom of the root of the tooth if the abscess is not treated. This is called a dental cyst. There is a significant risk that the cyst will become infected. If this happens, the patient will need antibiotics, and possibly surgery.

Osteomyelitis: The bacteria in the abscess gets into the bloodstream and infects the bone. The patient will experience an elevated body temperature, severe pain in the affected bone, and possibly nausea. Typically, the affected bone will be near the site of the abscess. However, as it may have spread into the bloodstream any bone in the body may be affected. Treatment involves either oral or intravenous antibiotics.

Cavernous sinus thrombosis: The spread of bacteria causes a blood clot to form at the cavernous sinus, a large vein at the base of the brain. Cavernous sinus thrombosis is treated with antibiotics, and sometimes surgery to drain the sinus. In some cases, the condition can be fatal. This is a very rare complication.

Ludwig’s angina: This is an infection of the floor of the mouth when the dental abscess bacteria spread. There is swelling and intense pain under the tongue and in the neck. In severe cases, the patient may find it hard to breathe. Ludwig’s angina is a potentially fatal condition. Patients are treated with antibiotics. People with severe Ludwig’s angina may require a procedure to open the airway if there are breathing problems.

Maxillary sinusitis: The bacteria spread into small spaces behind the cheekbones, called the maxillary sinuses. This is not a serious condition but can be painful. The patient may develop a fever and have tender cheeks. Sometimes the condition resolves on its own. Depending on the severity, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

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Unhealthy gums to liver cancer risk


A large study of people living in the United Kingdom found that those who reported having poor oral health, such as sore or bleeding gums or loose teeth, had a 75% higher risk of developing liver cancer.

Previous studies have already established that gums and teeth that are in poor health are a risk factor for a number of long-term conditions, including stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

“However,” says Haydée W. T. Jordão, from the Centre of Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast in the U.K., “there is inconsistent evidence on the association between poor oral health and specific types of gastrointestinal cancers, which is what our research aimed to examine.”

Jordão is the lead author of a recent United European Gastroenterology Journal paper on the study.

Cancers of the digestive, or gastrointestinal system, are a major worldwide public health issue.

The authors cite a global study that estimated that approximately 28% of new cases of cancer and 37% of deaths to cancer were due to gastrointestinal cancer in 2018.

The number of people with digestive cancers is rising. Aging populations and increases in “certain environmental and behavioral risk factors” are among possible reasons.

Some previous studies have connected poor oral health with cancers of the digestive system. However, the extent to which smoking, nutrition, and use of alcohol might influence the relationship remains unclear.

Study looked at digestive system cancers

Cancers of the digestive system include, for example, cancers of the: esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, anus, liver, bile ducts, and pancreas.

For their investigation, the researchers included the digestive organ cancers that the World Health Organization (WHO) list in the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) Version 2016 C15–C26 classification codes.

They drew on data from the U.K. Biobank project. The final dataset included information on more than 490,000 adults from England, Scotland, and Wales who were between 40 and 69 years of age when they signed up during 2006–2010.

The team did not include individuals who reported insufficient detail about their oral health or who had a history of cancer when they joined the project.

In all, the analysis took in data on 469,628 people, among whom 4,069 developed gastrointestinal cancer over an average follow-up of 6 years.

Of the individuals who developed digestive cancer, 13% had reported having poor oral health at the start of the study period.

From the other information that the participants had given, the researchers found that those who reported poor oral health were more likely to have obesity and to be female, of younger age, and “living in deprived socioeconomic areas.” They were also less likely to be nonsmokers and eat more than two daily portions of fruits and vegetables.

The researchers defined poor oral health as “painful gums, bleeding gums, and/or having loose teeth.” They tracked the incidence of gastrointestinal cancer through cancer registries.

Oral health and liver cancer risk

The analysis found no link between oral health and overall risk of gastrointestinal cancer.

However, when they examined cancers of specific organs, they did find links between poor oral health and hepatobiliary cancers, which are those that occur in the liver, gallbladder, or bile ducts.

The strongest of these links was with hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common of the adult cancers that start in the liver.

The analysis showed that having poor oral health was tied to a 75% higher risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the incidence of liver cancer in the United States “has more than tripled since 1980.”

The ACS estimate that in the U.S., doctors will diagnose about 42,030 people with cancers that start in the liver and close to 31,780 people will die of these diseases during 2019.

Reason for link is unclear

Jordão and colleagues say that scientists are not certain why poor oral health might have such a strong link to liver cancer and not to other cancers of the digestive system.

They suggest that gut bacteria might offer one explanation. “The liver,” explains Jordão, “contributes to the elimination of bacteria from the human body.”

Perhaps, when diseases such as cirrhosis, cancer, and hepatitis strike the liver, they impair its function, which, in turn, results in bacteria living longer and potentially causing more damage.

There is a bacterium called Fusobacterium nucleatum that inhabits the mouth, but scientists do not yet know whether it has a role in liver cancer.

“Further studies investigating the microbiome and liver cancer are therefore warranted.”

Six natural ways to whiten teeth


Teeth inevitably begin to yellow with age, but a range of strategies can slow the process and even reverse it.

While tooth-whitening kits are readily available at most pharmacies, many natural remedies can help remove stains and protect tooth enamel.

Why teeth turn yellow

Teeth turn yellow for two reasons, both of which tend to accelerate with age:

Enamel thinning

The outer layer of teeth consists of enamel, which is colored almost white and protects the deeper tooth structure. Beneath the enamel is a layer of tissue called dentin, which is yellow-brown. When the enamel layer thins or wears away, the teeth begin to look darker.

Acidic foods, gum disease, and aging can wear down tooth enamel. Some people also have enamel that is naturally thinner.

Stains. Specific foods and beverages, such as coffee, can stain the teeth. Some foods that stain the teeth may also wear down enamel, increasing the yellowing.

Other sources of stains include smoking and tobacco products and certain types of antibiotics.

How to whiten teeth naturally

1. Making dietary changes

Eliminating foods that mark the teeth can prevent further staining. Foods and beverages that contain tannins, such as wine and tea, can stain the teeth. Coffee and dark sodas and juices can also stain them.

Acidic foods can make the teeth look yellow by wearing down the enamel. People who are concerned about the color of their teeth should avoid the excessive consumption of citrus, coffee, and soda. Alternatively, they should always brush their teeth after having them.

Dentists generally recommend waiting 30 minutes after eating before brushing the teeth. Acids can weaken the enamel, so brushing too soon can cause damage.

Quitting smoking or tobacco products can reduce the risk of nicotine stains. It can also prevent tooth decay and gum disease, both of which can damage the enamel and cause oral health issues.

2. Trying oil pulling

Oil pulling is the term for washing the mouth with oil to remove dirt, bacteria, and debris. It is not a substitute for regular brushing or flossing, but some research suggests that washing the mouth with certain oils may help to whiten the teeth.

The American Dental Association (ADA) consider oil pulling to be unconventional dentistry, stating, “there are no reliable scientific studies to show that oil pulling reduces cavities, whitens teeth, or improves oral health and well-being.”

To try this method, rinse the mouth with oil for a minute after brushing, then spit it out.

Oils suitable for oil pulling include:

  • coconut oil
  • sunflower oil
  • sesame oil

3. Brushing with baking soda

Baking soda can gently polish away stains on the surface of the teeth. Some people worry that baking soda is too harsh and may grind away enamel, but research from 2017 found it to be a safe way to remove stains.

Baking soda may also help to fight bacteria, which suggests that it may be able to reduce plaque and prevent tooth decay.

4. Using hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach that can help to whiten stained teeth. For optimal whitening, a person can try brushing with a mix of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide for 1–2 minutes twice a day for a week. They should only do this occasionally.

Hydrogen peroxide may increase tooth sensitivity, so it is not suitable for long-term use or for people who already have sensitive teeth.

5. Whitening with fruit

Papain and bromelain, which are enzymes that occur in papayas and pineapples respectively, may both help to whiten teeth.

A recent study found preliminary evidence that solutions containing these ingredients could offer modest whitening effects. However, the authors of the study caution that more research is necessary to determine whether or not these enzymes are effective.

6. Maintaining excellent oral hygiene

Maintaining excellent oral hygiene is the most important thing that a person can do to reduce tooth yellowing.

Regular brushing and flossing protects the enamel, prevents gum decay, and removes stains.

Good oral hygiene includes:

  • Brushing the teeth at least twice a day. A person should be sure to also clean around the gums and the backs of the teeth.
  • Using a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride can fight and even reverse tooth decay. Though some people oppose using fluoride, dentists believe that fluoride is safe and beneficial for teeth.
  • Flossing to remove plaque between the teeth.

Methods that do not work

Natural teeth-whitening strategies that may harm the teeth include using:

  • lemons
  • oranges
  • apple cider vinegar
  • activated charcoal

Outlook

Few people have naturally white teeth, as teeth tend to yellow with age. However, maintaining excellent oral hygiene and having regular dental checkups can help to keep teeth bright.

Yellow teeth are not usually the sign of a health problem, but a dentist can check for enamel loss and tooth decay.

Natural remedies can help people whiten their teeth at home. A dentist can also offer professional teeth-whitening.

Tooth cavities

Cavities are holes that develop on teeth as a result of decay. They can cause symptoms including toothache. Without treatment, #cavities can worsen over time and cause other problems. Practicing good #oral #hygiene is the best way to prevent them.

Tooth decay occurs from a buildup of #dental plaque in the mouth. This can damage the tooth structure over time. it is possible for this damage to become permanent. Holes can then develop on the tooth, and these holes are what #tooth cavities are.

Several treatments, such as fillings, are available. However, the most effective way to treat tooth cavities is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. This is possible by keeping the #mouth and teeth clean.

It will also help to avoid certain foods, such as those high in sugar. Consuming too much of these foods can cause the buildup of plaque that leads to tooth cavities.

Tooth cavities do not always cause symptoms, so it is important to visit a #dentist regularly.

Causes

Cavities are holes that develop in the teeth.

The mouth contains a large number of bacteria, some of which can be harmful. They form a thin, colorless layer over the top of the teeth. This is dental plaque.

Over time, it is possible for #plaque to build up. For example, this may occur due to a person regularly consuming foods high in sugar and starch.

Repeated exposure to the acid from plaques can damage tooth enamel. Enamel is the protective outer layer covering the teeth. Tooth decay depletes the minerals present in enamel. While the enamel can repair some of this damage itself, the decay can eventually lead to tooth cavities. This occurs when permanent damage affects the enamel, causing holes to form on the surface of the tooth.

This decay can occur in people of all ages but is particularly common in children.

Symptoms

The main symptom of a tooth cavity is the hole itself, the size of which can vary. It is possible for cavities to occur without any further symptoms. In cases where other symptoms occur, they may include:

  • white, gray, brown, or black spots on the teeth
  • #toothache
  • tooth sensitivity
  • bad breath

Without treatment, bacteria can spread to softer tissues inside the tooth. This can speed up tooth decay and cause toothaches to worsen. This can also lead to infections.

Prevention

Using #mouthwash may help prevent cavities.

Once tooth cavities occur, the damage is permanent. Treatments for this damage can range from a filling to root canal treatment. The exact type of treatment will depend on the location and severity of the cavity.

However, tooth cavities are easily preventable. There are ways to prevent the buildup of plaque that causes tooth cavities.

Some prevention tips include:

  • using toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain fluoride
  • brushing the teeth twice per day, using a circular motion
  • gently brushing the gums
  • using interdental cleaners such as floss in the gap between teeth
  • avoiding foods and drinks high in sugar, such as fizzy drinks, particularly those without any nutritional value
  • limiting the intake of starchy foods
  • avoiding snacking between meals or just before bed
  • avoiding tobacco products
  • drinking alcohol in moderation
  • having regular checkups with a dentist

It is also possible to reverse tooth decay in the very early stages. Tooth enamel can repair minor damage itself by replacing lost minerals from saliva or fluoride.

Fluoride is a mineral that can reverse the damage of tooth decay. A #dentist may prescribe fluoride gel or other fluoride products for coating the teeth.

Fluoride treatments can strengthen enamel and protect teeth against damage from plaque. Along with possibly making dietary changes, using these fluoride treatments can help the teeth repair any minor damage from tooth decay.

As tooth cavities are more common in children, it is important for caregivers to check for early signs of tooth decay regularly. This includes looking for white, gray, brown, or black spots on the teeth. These are signs of mineral loss from tooth decay.

Outlook

Tooth cavities result from buildups of plaque that cause permanent damage to teeth. They may not cause any symptoms, so it is vital to see a dentist for regular checkups.

Without treatment, this damage can worsen. Treating cavities, such as using fillings, is possible. It is also possible to reverse minor tooth decay using a fluoride gel.

It is simple to prevent tooth cavities with a healthful diet and good oral hygiene.

Do you smoke Marijuana? Did you meet your Dentist in last 6 months? If you didn’t, it’s time for dental cleaning

Cannabis: Oral Health Effects

Key Points

  • Cannabis smoking is associated with periodontal complications, xerostomia, and leukoplakia as well as increased risk of mouth and neck cancers.
  • Historically, cannabis has been smoked as marijuana, but is increasingly available in other forms, including edible and topically applied products.
  • Cannabis use is increasing, along with state legalization, although it remains federally banned. 

The use of cannabis, particularly marijuana smoking, has been associated with poor quality of oral health but etiology has been complicated by the number of associated factors with frequent users, including high tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use; poor oral hygiene practices; and infrequent visits to dentists. It also leads to xerostomia (dry mouth), which can contribute to a number of oral health conditions. Further, the main psychotropic agent, THC, is an appetite stimulant, which often leads users to consume cariogenic snack foods. Regular cannabis users are known to have significantly higher numbers of caries than nonusers particularly on normally easy-to-reach smooth surfaces.

The proportion of users has increased dramatically since the early 1970s; in a 2016 Gallup poll, about 44% of Americans said they had at least tried marijuana. Since 2012, many U.S. states have begun legalizing the substance for medical and/or recreational usage, and as of 2016, only six states have not reduced legal restrictions. Notwithstanding the gain in the social and legal acceptance of cannabis, public health concerns remain.

A number of studies have suggested a direct relationship between cannabis use and periodontal disease. Recent studies have tested the relationship between periodontitis and frequent cannabis use and adjusted for confounding factors such as cigarette smoking, alcohol use, social status and other health issues. Significantly higher rates of periodontitis were observed among the frequent users compared to non-users, with significantly higher numbers of sites with high pocket depths (≥4mm) and attachment loss. Further, periodontitis may occur at an earlier age in marijuana users than the general population with chronic periodontitis.

The Link Between Stress, Anxiety, and Dental Health

It may come as a surprise, but mental health is closely related to oral health. Issues such as depression, stress, and anxiety can have an impact on the integrity of your teeth. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, almost two-thirds of people diagnosed with depression reported experiencing a toothache, while half of all clinically depressed individuals surveyed rated the condition of their teeth as fair or poor. There’s also a fairly strong link between gum disease and poor mental health. Those with problems such as depression and anxiety need to take extra care when following a dental hygiene routine, to ensure that they keep their mouth clean and healthy.

The Causes of Poor Dental Health

The most common reason behind poor dental health in mentally taxed patients is the behavioral effects of stress and anxiety. It can be difficult to have the discipline to follow a strict tooth care routine when battling a mental health condition, which is why it’s so important to take time out for self-reflection, which can give you the energy to put into everyday tasks. Depressed people are also more likely to have unhealthy diets and skip visits to the dentist.

Stress can also have physiological effects on the body. Spikes in the stress hormone cortisol weaken the immune system, which makes it easier for bacteria to invade the gums and cause inflammation. Certain antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can cause dry mouth, which means that saliva isn’t available to clear away food debris after eating.

Those with severe anxiety sometimes exhibit symptoms such as canker sores and teeth grinding. Both of these are detrimental to oral health, with both short-term and long-term effects. In the case of teeth grinding, patients may permanently wear down essential molars and cause irreparable damage to protective enamel.

How to Care for Your Teeth

While it can be difficult for those suffering from depression and anxiety to establish a dental health routine, it’s critical to do so to keep the teeth and gums healthy. All individuals should aim to brush their teeth twice daily, and floss at least once each day. It’s also a good idea to use mouthwash to help rinse away debris and kill off dangerous bacteria. If necessary, people who are having trouble remembering to care for their teeth can set a morning and evening alarm to remind themselves to brush.

Poor mental health can take its toll not only on the mind, but also the body. Stress, anxiety, and depression can all affect oral health and lead to the onset of gum disease and tooth decay. It’s important that people suffering from mental health issues remember to take proper care of their teeth each day, to keep their mouth in good condition.

USE IT OR LOSE IT

Did you know your dental benefits reset every year? It’s true. If your dental insurance plan, like most is on a calendar year, you will lose out on all unused benefits after December 31st.

That means this is a great time of year to take advantage of everything your dental insurance provides, especially if you have outstanding treatments. Here are just a few of the services you want to use before you lose the opportunity.

Routine Checkups

Many dental insurance plans provide coverage for two checkups a year at six-month intervals. So, if you haven’t had a cleaning in the last six months, now is an excellent time to schedule an appointment with your Vistasol Dental in Montebello ,CA.

Getting a regular checkup ensures your teeth and gums are in tip top shape, and gives your dentist a chance to review your oral health to make sure problems aren’t developing. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy a professionally cleaned and polished smile, which can have you leaving the office feeling like a more radiant, confident you.

Large Treatments

If you need more extensive dental treatments involving multiple visits, the end of the year is the perfect time to get started. This is especially true if you’ve already met your deductible and haven’t hit your annual maximum. Once your deductible is paid, your out-of-pocket expenses can decrease dramatically, making it an ideal situation for larger dental treatments.

If you’re getting close to your annual maximum, our dentist in Montebello can help create a plan to maximize your benefits by splitting your treatment between this year and next, allowing you to use the benefits you have remaining this year and take advantage of your renewed benefits after the new year.

This approach can help minimize out-of-pocket expenses by using your coverage in an optimal way. And, if you need more assistance with making the costs manageable, we offer financing options like Care Credit that can give you the opportunity to spread out-of-pocket costs over a time period that is manageable for you, sometimes without any interest charges.

After our dentist has reviewed your situation and developed a treatment plan, we can come up with a financial arrangement that allows you to maximize your dental insurance benefits, and achieve optimal oral health and the beautiful smile of your dreams.

Don’t let your dental benefits go to waste by making sure you use them before December 31. Schedule an appointment here: http://vistasoldental.com/our-office/ today to get started.

What us Beauty?

Dr. Noushin Adhami D.D.S

www.VistasolDental.com

What Is Beauty?

By Dr. Sheila Samton

Sheila Samton is the author-illustrator of many award-winning books for children, as well as a designer and muralist. Her first children’s book, “The World from My Window” (Crown, 1985), also dealt with the subject of beauty. Ms. Samton has two sons and lives in New York City.

What is beauty? 

According to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, it was: 1.6:1:0.6.

This is the “golden ratio,”a.k.a. the “golden mean,”the “golden section,” and the “divine proportion.” It is a proportional relation obtained by dividing a line, or a plane figure, so that the shorter part is to the longer part as the longer part is to the whole. If you take a “golden rectangle” — one whose length-to-breadth is in the golden ratio — and snip out a square, what remains is another, smaller golden rectangle. What makes the golden ratio special to mathematicians is the number of properties it possesses. But what makes it extraordinary to the world is its relation to beauty. The golden ratio has been evoked through the ages to express perfection.

Examples abound. The Egyptians called it the “sacred ratio,” and applied it to the building of the pyramids.

The Greeks used it in the construction of the Parthenon. It is said that daVinci painted the face of the Mona Lisa to fit inside a golden rectangle. People like the architect Corbusier and the composer Bartók have consciously embodied it in their work. And daily in art and science classrooms students discover that geometric forms expressing the golden ratio are simply the most appealing to the eye.

The entertaining BBC series “The Human Face,” tele- vised here two years ago, created a transparent template of an ideal face. Features and facial dimen- sions related to each other on the template in the ratio of 1.6:1:0.6. The template was trans- posed to the face of a beautiful actress. And lo, it fitted perfectly.

So beauty is 1.6:1:0.6.

That’s the easy answer. My own feeling is that we are in denial if we think beauty can be defined by a formula. Consider this story from my youth: I was a child in Brooklyn in the nineteen-fifties. All the ele- mentary school girls in my apartment house worshipped the glamorous Nelda, a woman who lived with her hus- band and a toy poodle in a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor.

She was our icon of beauty. Her long hair was an extraor- dinary color, a hitherto-unseen (by us) white gold known as “platinum,” while her eyebrows were tweezed to nothingness and replaced by a bold black pencil line. Her full lips were painted a glossy replica of the maroon Crayola in our boxes. She was voluptuous; she wore midriffs and shorts and three-inch-high cork-soled san- dals. By contrast our scarcely made-up mothers in their housedresses and flats seemed unbearably plain.

I could go on to tell you about the night a bat got into our building and somehow became enmeshed in Nelda’s pale hair. It is one of the cautionary tales of my childhood and explains why I docilely submitted thereafter to so many short haircuts. But I brought up Nelda to point out how time and change affect one’s perception of beauty. Within a few years Nelda’s looks lost their luster for me, as my esthetic world broadened beyond the neighborhood. I began to find her appearance silly, and eventually embar- rassing, as if my early adoration revealed something flawed in me. Nelda had stopped being beautiful to me, and it was not because she changed but because I did.

Background, conditioning, education, history, time, change. When we discuss beauty we bring all these to the table. At one time I believed that the phrase “form fol- lows function” perfectly expressed the American ideal of beauty. Coined originally by the architect Louis Sullivan as “form ever follows function” in an 1896 article in Lippincott’s Magazine and later embraced by the Bauhaus architects and designers who popularized the phrase in its shorter version, “form follows function,” it means that the function of a building or object deter- mines its form. And further, that the more it expresses its function, the more beautiful it is.

An example of this often cited (and worshipped) by architects concept is the famous Shaker round barn of Hancock, Massachusetts. Hay wagons entered the barn on its upper level, a railed wooden track around the inner perimeter of the building. As the wagons followed the track and circled the building, hay was pitched into the central area below. There waited the cows, facing the center, standing radially. Each wagon delivered its load and left the building by the same door it entered. The round form of the barn totally followed the function of hay pitching.

“Form follows function.” We think of the handles of our own precordless telephones, of well-balanced shears, of knives designed to fit the hands of surgeons and chefs, early sneakers, the first airplanes. Of the first big, square, bulky computers, testaments to their own complexity and unwieldiness. Were these beautiful, or simply possessed of organic reality? And when did it all start to change? Perhaps in Mike Nichols’ 1967 film The Graduate when someone looked young Dustin Hoffman in the eye, told him he had one thing to say to him, and uttered the word “Plastics.”

Perhaps it changed for me when I chose to bring an ele- gant olive green Olivetti typewriter to college with me, rather than the more reliable and chunky Smith-Corona. The Olivetti looked like a piece of art, the Smith-Corona looked like a typewriter. I needed the Olivetti to advertise that I was cool and artistic. Unfortunately, the Olivetti was also a piece of junk, or at least mine was, and I spent four years borrowing my roommates’ less splashy machines.

What is beauty? Industrial designers today certainly think WHAT IS BEAUTY?

they know. I turn to their work and I see: “cool” objects. Softened, biomorphic, futuristic, stunning, “cool” objects. Like Apple products — the candy-colored iMacs and iBooks, the recently revitalized iMac that sits like a pod on a stalk, the iPod music player. The curvy, reborn Volkswagon bug; the rounded, grooved, ultra-designed, candy-colored run- ning shoe. The cell phone, designed with many of the visu- al components of the running shoe. At the time of this writ- ing running shoes are still not able to take photographs. But is Louis Sullivan turning over in his grave as form moves away from function? Or is he laughing because our culture is adoring coolness and thinking it is beauty?

“What is beauty?” I ask a stylist friend. “Beauty today is what the fashion industry says it is,” she answers. If she is right then beauty today is indeed an ephemeral con- cept, since the fashion industry is constantly looking for a “new” face and ready to discard the “old” look it celebrated yesterday. But my friend has something to add: “In the last couple of decades,” she continues, “beauty has become a lot more unconventional.” I call to mind the fair-skinned, rigidly waved Breck shampoo ladies from the fashion magazines of my childhood, and I agree with her. Breck has morphed into Benetton and The Gap, the fair-skinned ladies into a many-hued, multiethnic coalition of young people with dazzling smiles. It occurs to me that those Breck ladies rarely smiled and never showed us their teeth.

Our ads also demonstrate that health and fitness (check those sparkling teeth) are an implicit part of beauty now, at least as the fashion world sees it. Indeed, our athletes, who exemplify fitness and once ignored fashion, today market and model their own lines of clothes. This pairing of fitness and beauty has led us to accept the idea of a man being described as beautiful. Men were not called beautiful when I was growing up unless there was something feminine about them. No one would argue today with a sentence like: “Boy, that Michael Jordan is a beautiful man!”

“The Human Face,” the BBC series I mentioned earlier, put an interesting spin on the fitness-beauty connection. It reminded us that symmetrical faces have always been perceived as more beautiful than asymmetrical ones and went on to say that British scientists have proven that ath- letes with the most symmetrical bodies are not only the most beautiful but the most gifted and successful. Yes, symmetry has long been considered a component of beauty. But it has its good and bad aspects. If we look at our own New York City architecture, we may be struck by the grace and elegance of our symmetrically winged City Hall. But nearby stands the monstrous Municipal Building, also symmetrically winged, a building that would not be out of place in Stalinist Russia.

What is beauty? As an artist, I ask myself this question all the time. I am chronically occupied with the creation of “beautiful” images, with representing, as Webster defines it, “the quality or…qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.” The poet Keats puts it a lovelier way: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever:/Its loveliness increases; it will never/Pass into nothingness…”

Thomas Mann, in his novel Joseph and His Brothers, has something somewhat sterner to say:

I confess that I do not care for talk about beauty. The word and the idea are alike tiresome. For beauty is a con- ception as pallid as it is lofty — a pedant’s dream. There are supposed to be laws of beauty. But a law addresses itself to the understanding and not to the emotions — for these do not brook the understanding’s control. Hence the vapidness of perfect beauty, which leaves nothing to be forgiven. For the emotions need something to forgive, else they turn away in sheer boredom.

Something to forgive. With this in mind I study the portraits by El Greco in his retrospective recently at the Metropolitan Museum. All are lauded as “psychological interpretations” of the sitters’ personali- ties. All are beautiful to me beyond belief, but none so much as “An Elderly Gentleman” and “Diego de Covarrubias,” both of which portray men whose mouths are just a bit off center.

Something to forgive. I like this phrase, when applied to beauty, because it is so unclassical, because it links beauty with feelings. I repeat it to my dentist. He gets it; he’s after “naturalness.” When creating a new mouth for someone, he says, he strives for some irregularity, “to subtly depart from a perfect arrange- ment of teeth.”

But can beauty be explained — or explained away — by a formula? What is beauty? Let’s look at modern literature. There’s an answer I like implicit in the description of my favorite J. D. Salinger character in his story “Down at the Dinghy”:

The swinging door opened from the dining room and Boo Boo Tannenbaum, the lady of the house, came into the kitchen. She was a small, almost hipless girl of twenty-five, with styleless, colorless, brittle hair pushed back behind her ears, which were very large. She was dressed in knee-length jeans, a black turtleneck pullover, and socks and loafers. Her joke of a name aside, her general unprettiness aside, she was — in terms of permanently memorable, immoderately perceptive, small-area faces — a stunning and final girl.

There is nothing about Boo Boo’s appearance that can be considered beautiful by fashionable or classical standards or by perceived notions of what is “cool.” One knows instinctively that no “golden ratio” will apply to her face. But Salinger makes a distinction here between inner and outer beauty, and has us believing that Boo Boo’s inner beauty is manifest enough for us to recognize it when we see her. Beauty fades, beauty passes, beauty is ephemeral. These are buzz phrases in our culture. We accept them so thoroughly that we are constantly saying, “She must have been a beauty once,” about lovely elderly women, as if beauty is something that applies only to the young. But faces like Boo Boo’s, or that of El Greco’s “Elderly Gentleman,” are beautiful forever. “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” wrote Keats to end his Ode on a Grecian Urn. Truly beautiful faces express the truth about their wearers.

What is beauty? The debate inherent in the question will go on forever. We are bound to return again and again to the timeless simplicity of form following function, bound to be pulled away by our appetite for the new or the embellished. I end with a definition that may be applied to people or objects: Beauty is one’s inner reality expressed so authentically on one’s exterior that it takes the breath away. We see something whole, and we are awed. The experience is a revelation.What is

10 healthy hygiene tips that prevent tooth loss

Rinse, swish and spit.

When you’re in the chair, it may feel like a lecture, but to the dental hygienist taking care of you, it’s essential education. Because even the most thorough professional cleaning every six months (or so) can’t replace the need for good oral self-care the other 363 days a year. At Vistasol Dental in Montebello we would like to give you a dental hygiene tip that can prevent tooth loss.

1. Fight bacteria.

Brushing, flossing and mouth rinses are all aimed at ridding your mouth of bacteria, whether it’s gum disease or it’s dental cavities, it’s disease caused by bacteria. Whatever barriers you face, like not having enough time to floss during the day, there’s never judging and always a workaround. 

2. Keep routine dental appointments.

Think about the mold in your bathroom in the shower, What three things happen in a shower that make that mold grow? It’s dark, it’s warm and it’s moist. With your mouth, it’s kind of the same thing, especially under your gums – it’s dark, warm and moist. Bacteria like to be left alone to eat all the stuff in there, and grow and get nasty. So that’s why you come in every six months so we can clean that out.

3. Floss thoroughly.

Flossing is important because your teeth are round, not flat, especially your back teeth. Where they’re touching, you’re not reaching. With a toothbrush, you’re missing almost two-thirds of the teeth. Brushing alone cleans teeth’s outer and inner surfaces but misses the sides, paving the way for infection. 

4. Don’t judge your teeth by their color.

It’s a common joke among dental hygienists,  You can tell a patient they have 16 cavities, and they’ll say, ‘But do you do whitening?  But having model-white teeth is a cosmetic concern, not a sign of superior oral health. White teeth are not necessarily healthy teeth. We see many, many people with yellow or gray teeth, and they think their teeth are not healthy or not clean. But that’s not the case. Just like the whites of our eyes are different and our skin tones are different, your teeth have different shades. 

5. Limit coffee and soda sessions.

If you consume coffee throughout your day or continually swill soda, it’s time to rethink. And it’s not just about coffee stains. You shouldn’t drink anything all day long [except water], whether it’s coffee, tea, sports drinks or soda. In between meals, you should only drink water. Coffee is very acidic and it changes the pH balance in your mouth. At the very least, we suggests rinsing your mouth with a little water after each cup of joe to neutralize the acidity. Sparkling water might or might not be OK to drink throughout the day. Carbonated water alone is no problem but if it contains citric acid, too much could damage tooth enamel – so check the label on your bottled water.

6. Scrape, don’t gag.

Bacteria tend to dwell on your tongue. That’s why hygienists recommend brushing your tongue or trying a tongue scraper. The trick is getting used to it. While tongue scrapers are great compliance can be a bit tough. If you’re not taught how to adequately use them, it can be a little gaggy-feeling for patients. Our best tip: Don’t scrape back and forth or up and down on the tongue, because the repetitive motion can make you gag. Instead, scrape in one direction, such as back to front. The desire to avoid bad breath motivates many patients. In order to have your breath smell good, you must have a clean tongue.

7. Devote time to brushing.

Two minutes, twice a day. To keep your teeth for life, it’s brushing and flossing. You have to do those twice a day – the combination. That two-minute routine, usually in the morning and evening, is time well-spent, she says. You want to be infection-free. You want to be able to speak and chew your food. Let’s make it so you feel good about yourself and want to smile.

8. Ask for an oral exam.

You should make sure that a dental professional, whether it’s the hygienist or the dentist in the office, is doing a thorough oral cancer screening. Examining a patient’s mouth, jaw and throat during a routine visit can reveal suspicious changes such as red or white patches, tenderness and lumps. It’s not only smokers at risk, but often younger patients who’ve acquired the human papillomavirus, or HPV. With early detection, patients can be referred to physicians to start treatment. Another potential bonus: Dental panoramic X-rays can also detect plaque in the carotid arteries – leading some patients to see heart specialists for potentially lifesaving treatment.

9. Don’t settle for dentures.

A lot of people have the preconceived notion of my parents had dentures, my grandparents had dentures, so I’m just going to have dentures. And that is not true at all. It’s not dependent on whether your family has a history of dental problems, but how you take care of your own teeth at any age: It goes back to what’s important to you – and if you’re teeth are important, you can keep them for your lifetime.

10. Maintain your super smile.

As you leave the dentist’s office, you wish your teeth could always look and feel this good. With all the dental aids and products now available to patients, it’s entirely possible. It’s not just brushes and string floss. We’ve got water flossers; we’ve got air flossers. We’ve got power toothbrushes and dental picks. A water flosser is basically a pressure washer for your mouth. With tools like these it’s kind of hard to have an excuse not to have a clean mouth anymore.