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Poor Oral Hygiene, Infection Among Reasons Tongue May Turn White

Refinery 29 (4/12, Stieg) discusses reasons why a tongue may turn white, stating that one cause is a film building up on tongues from poor oral hygiene. Other conditions may affect the color and appearance of tongues, such as fungal infections, other yeast infections, inflammatory conditions, and cancer. The article advises brushing tongues regularly and seeing a dentist for any concerns. I recommend the use of a tongue scraper on a daily basis, particularly before bedtime. Scrubbing your tongue with your toothbrush is not nearly as effective as using a tongue scraper.

USA Today: Proper Toothbrush Storage “Really Matters”

USA Today (4/6, May) notes that toothbrushes can harbor bacteria, including fecal coliform bacteria. Although it is unlikely these bacteria will cause adverse health effects, USA Today states that “how you store your toothbrush is often what really matters.” The article notes that the American Dental Association recommends people rinse their toothbrushes with tap water after brushing and allow toothbrushes to air dry, since covering toothbrushes can create an environment more conducive to bacteria growth. In addition, the article recommends people replace their toothbrushes every three to four months and never share a toothbrush.

NYTimes Examines Health Benefits Of Chewing Gum

The New York Times (4/5, Peachman, Subscription Publication) analyzes the health claims that William Wrigley Jr., founder of the Wrigley Company, made in the 1930s about the company’s chewing gum. In a letter mailed at the time, Wrigley wrote that chewing gum “is good for children’s teeth, which need more exercise than they get with modern soft food.” According to Dr. Jade Miller, president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, there is no evidence supporting this or other claims of oral health benefits from chewing the gum sold in the 1930s, which all contained sugar. However, the article notes that since then, “dental experts have come to the conclusion that chewing sugar-free gum after meals increases the flow of saliva, which can help clear sugars and bacteria from the mouth, neutralize plaque acids and strengthen teeth, all of which can help to prevent cavities.” In addition, Dr. Miller said the increased salivary flow may be particularly beneficial for people with dry mouth. “That can be caused by a lot of medications or medical problems, and increased salivary flow can really be helpful for reducing the risk of cavities,” he said. NOTE: too much "sugarless" gum may causing diarrhea, so use sparingly ...

Oral Cancer - Not Something to Dismiss

Oral cancers account for nearly 3 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States and 1.6 percent of cancer deaths. The article noted that “the American Dental Association recognizes that early oral cancer diagnoses have the potential to have a significant impact on treatment decisions and outcomes, and it supports routine visual and tactile examinations, particularly for patients who are at risk, including those who use tobacco or who are heavy consumers of alcohol."

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Dr. Deems provides expert suggestions and facts about a popular and often-asked about topic: tooth whitening.

Gum Disease May Be Associated With Earlier Death In Older Women, Study Suggests

CNN reports that research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests “gum disease and tooth loss are connected to a higher risk of early death in women past the age of menopause.” Michael J. LaMonte, lead author of the study and a research associate professor at the University at Buffalo in New York, notes that the findings only suggest an association between oral health and premature death. CNN adds, “The research does not show gum disease or tooth loss cause early death.”

For the study, HealthDay reports that investigators “tracked data on more than 57,000 women aged 55 and older.” The researchers found that “a history of gum disease was associated with a 12 percent higher risk of death from any cause.” In addition, researchers found that loss of natural teeth was associated with “a 17 percent increased risk of death from any cause.”

Older Adults Face Additional Oral Health Challenges

Noting the importance of maintaining oral health as people age, the San Diego Union-Tribune (3/20) reports that several factors, however, may “exacerbate problems and inhibit a senior’s ability to brush, floss or visit the dentist.” For example, medications may cause dry mouth, arthritis can limit dexterity, and lack of transportation or dental coverage may make it difficult to maintain regular dental visits. With this in mind, the article shares several tips to help seniors maintain oral health, such as taking steps to avoid dry mouth, using a fluoride toothpaste and drinking fluoridated water, flossing, maintaining regular dental visits, and receiving help from caregivers when needed.

Analysis Finds Association Between Frequent Recreational Use Of Cannabis And Periodontal Disease

The ADA (3/9) reported on an analysis of a nationally representative sample that demonstrated an association between frequent recreational cannabis use and periodontal disease. The ADA reported the findings are “consistent with case reports and previous epidemiological studies in New Zealand and Australia...which also demonstrated elevated periodontal disease prevalence among cannabis smokers.” The ADA reported, “This analysis demonstrates the effect of cannabis as a potential risk factor for periodontal disease.”

Pictures Show How Sugary Drinks Can Damage Teeth

The Daily Mail (3/6, Hodgekiss) shares several images showing how sugary drinks may damage teeth. A dentist at the San Diego Dental Studio set up the experiment, which involved placing one tooth in “a bottle of a popular energy drink, another into cola, a third in diet cola and the fourth into water as the control.” The images show the teeth placed in the colas experienced staining after two weeks, while the enamel on the one placed in the energy drink was “literally crumbling.”

Meanwhile, the Sacramento (CA) Bee (3/7, Brott) carries an “Ask Mr. Dad” column, which responds to a reader’s question about whether caffeine is unhealthy for children. The response states that caffeine is “a problem for kids” for several reasons, including that caffeinated items, such as soda, are often acidic, which “can increase the risk of developing cavities.” In addition, “coffee drinks may also stain teeth.”

For additional information about the impact of sugary drinks on dental health, read the ADA Health Literacy in Dentistry Essay Contest winner’s article, “The Truth About Sugary Drinks and Your Smile.”

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Excellent review by Sueann k., via BirdEye

My experience is always good.

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