Monday, December 29, 2014

Fallout on Mars Mission

We can send a man to the moon, but we can’t stop his teeth from falling out along the way.

One would think zero gravity would prolong bone strength because of the low impact, but, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, astronauts in space lose bone density and mass up to 10 times faster than the earth-bound. At that rate, a journey to Mars could be long enough to cause tooth loss! (This is disconcerting news for the Mars Society, which is dedicated to Mars exploration and settlement.)

So, why is space so bad for teeth? As the bone repair mechanisms in the body shut down in space, bone thickness rapidly degrades and the body is depleted of calcium. (That’s good news for the Aeronautical Milk Advisory Board.) Once back on earth, though, the problem will stop, but the damage already done will be permanent.

Kinda makes you think twice about moving to Mars.

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Brave New Year

Setting goals is easy. Follow-through is much tougher. Many of us will gain inspiration from some of my newest patients who have followed through with a remarkable challenge: overcoming their fear of the dentist.

Bravely, they mustered the will to make a change for the better- to improve their oral health, and ultimately, their physical health. They came to our office, either because a friend or family member said great things about us, or because they had read this column, or because we were on their dental plan. The improvements came incrementally, as we proceeded to rebuild their smiles from the ground up. Today, they are smiling testimonials. To them we say:

Pat yourself on the back for being inspirational to others in 2014!

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Family Values

Parents transmit their own dental hygiene values (good or bad) to their children from the time they are born.

A study by members of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry shows how certain Hispanic and Native American populations have high numbers of very young babies and children with cavities. The parents put their babies to sleep with a bottle and allow the young children to drink sodas and high-sugar drinks. Interestingly, these parents had been educated about decay prevention and the dangers of all-night bottle feeding and sugar sweetened drinks, but continued to do it.

Over time, each generation of children may grow up to believe that cavities are an inevitable part of childhood and neglect their own children’s oral hygiene.

Being good role models for children is so important. Children learn about cavity prevention in school, but it needs to be practiced at home.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Hungry Burglars Should Eat Chocolate

Forensic dentistry, most commonly associated with identifying plane crash victims, has also helped the police identify hungry burglars who find it hard to resist snacking on food they find in their victims' houses. But, even if they wipe their fingerprints, they don't clean their plates, leaving police their tell-tale left-overs. In the past 10 years, a few criminals have even been identified and convicted of their crimes because they left their bite-marks behind.

Now we have even more evidence to catch the thieves; Traces of saliva left on food can hold enough DNA to identify a criminal.

Interestingly, chocolate is almost useless in identifying DNA. This could be due to the small size of the left-over pieces, rather than the chocolate itself.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Dry Mouth Dilemma

If you have dry mouth, you know how uncomfortable it can be. What you may not know is how dangerous dry mouth can be to your teeth.

When your mouth is not being continuously bathed in saliva, natures mouth cleanser, your teeth are at risk for decay. Plaque, the sticky precursor to decay, loves to hang out in a dry mouth. It adheres to the unprotected teeth, creating the perfect environment for decay and infections to develop. Therefore, plaque needs to be brushed and rinsed away continuously to prevent cavities and infections from starting.

Causes of dry mouth may include certain prescription drugs (such as antidepressants), cancer therapies and dieting. Using a “dry mouth formula” toothpaste and chewing sugarless gum with xylitol are two good ways to stimulate saliva and fight cavities. Your dentist may even prescribe saliva-enhancing tablets. No matter what, always drink plenty of water.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Elvis' Teeth

Elvis Presley had a crown on his front tooth that was particularly prone to breaking, so his dentist always kept a spare handy. In 1971, when Elvis was performing in Las Vegas, he chipped his crown on a microphone. The dentist's son hopped on the next plane to Vegas with spare crown in hand.

In 2007, a model of Elvis Presley's teeth and a spare porcelain crown were put up for auction on eBay. The items were being sold by the family of Elvis' Memphis-based dentist. When bidding for the items closed on January 14, the top bid was $4,300- not enough to meet the family's reserve price.

The model of the King's teeth is encased in a custom glass display. The set also includes various letters of authentication and notarized documents, all proving the legitimacy of this on-of-a-kind rock and roll collectible.

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