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Oral Health Care for Seniors

Written by Dan Abril.

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Flickr/moodboardphotography

Bad oral health care can lead to problems regardless of age. However, seniors are more at risk and may need to pay extra care and attention.  Some issues that may arise include darkened teeth, dry mouth, thrush, gum disease, and tooth loss. Overall health conditions will also greatly impact an older adult’s oral health.

For seniors, one significant change is the noticeable sensitivity to hot and cold beverages. As gums recede with age, areas of the teeth that are not protected by enamel are exposed thus leading to sensitivity. Dry mouths are another concern. Causes may be due to medication or other health issues but the longer it is left untreated, the more the mouth becomes vulnerable to tooth decay.As we already know, saliva protects teeth by neutralizing acids/plaque.

However, a major consideration for seniors is their underlying health problems. Years of smoking, terrible oral health care, and bad diet can lead to cancer, diabetes, and heart complications. The correlation may not be so obvious at first but scientists have concluded that as is the case with rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease, bacteria that cause periodontal disease can travel the bloodstream and further complicate the existing health condition.  Contraindications should also be taken into account when it comes to treatment.

Tips for Seniors

The following pointers should be observed by anyone regardless of age but seniors should at least:

a.    Eat healthy. Reduce sugar intake and consume adequate amounts of vegetables.

b.    Quit smoking. Smoking is the leading cause of oral and throat cancer. It also increases chancs of developing gum disease.

c.    Brush twice a day. Protect your teeth and scrub away the food residue. This also holds true for dentures.

d.    Floss once a day. Supplement brushing with flossing.

e.    Visit the dentist regularly. Remember that early detection is better than treatments.

For more questions, please feel free to email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Sources:
http://www.pinedaledental.com/blog/article/dry_mouth_what_effects_does_it_have_on_your_teeth
http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-care-seniors
http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-at-Any-Age/Seniors/Senior-Maintenance-and-Care/article/Oral-Health-for-Seniors.cvsp

 

Pushing for Change: How Dentistry Schools Can Help

Written by Dan Abril.

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If you’ve been following crucial environment world news, then chances are you’re familiar with the Mercury Treaty that was adopted early this year. The development was welcome by both environmentalists and health experts, stating that the treaty could do wonders in the management and reversal of mercury emissions worldwide.

Mercury is used in a number of industrial, household – and until recently even healthcare products. The Department of Health (DOH)in the Philippines together with the efforts of various NGOs (non-government organizations) worked to remove the use of mercury-containing products in the healthcare sector.

As you may know from our previous post, mercury is a potent neurotoxin and is a vital component of silver fillings or more commonly known as dental amalgams. Research studies conducted by the International Academy Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) in the US have consistently shown that toxic mercury fumes emanating from the amalgam can seep into the body, pollute the bloodstream and cause complications in the nervous, digestive, and respiratory systems. They also warned that aside from the patients, dental health practitioners are at a significant risk from handling dental amalgams.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates use of dental mercury amounts to between 300 – 400 metric tonnes per year thus justifying a need for a phasedown and elimination.
IAOMT in the Philippines, headed by Dr. Lillian Ebuen, has been working for years to get mercury fillings out of dental clinics and schools. With the adaption of Administrative Order 21, which strictly prohibits the use of mercury-containing products in healthcare facilities, Dr. Ebuen is surprised by the lack of mention for dental clinics and schools.

Dr. Ebuen campaigned vigorously and last year she gained momentum as the DOH finally expressed support for the removal of dental amalgams.  The Quezon City chapter of the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) followed suit with a resolution and expressed commitment to their principles of “protecting vulnerable sectors such as children and pregnant women.”
The chapter resolution expresses the endorsement of non-mercury alternatives among its members and encourages the gradual phase-out of dental amalgams in clinics as well as dental schools.

Dr. Ebuen expressed optimism and excitement and sees the move as a step towards the right direction, saying that the academe is vital for change and that hopefully future generation of dentists will be open to more ideas and stay true to their oath of reaching out to the marginalized sectors.   “The influence of the PDA is undeniable and to have the organization on our side and expressing support for our advocacy is of great boost to us. We are optimistic that other chapters of the PDA will follow soon.” Dr. Ebuen said.

For more info, please email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

So You Want To Be A Dentist?

Written by Dan Abril.

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You’re fresh HS grad and you are flipping through colleges, universities, and college courses. However, you are dead set on pursuing a career as a dentist. Congratulations, dental health care is a rewarding profession. While it may not be as glamorous as Liberal Arts or as popular as nursing, dentistry has its own “pogi” points.

Dentists are somewhat unique. Dental professionals get to appreciate the world of both science and art. Aside from treating patients from caries and other oral health dilemma, dentists should be creative and display enough understanding of symmetry.

Veering away from the traditional

Popular culture has portrayed dentists in a humorous but somewhat bad light (recall that dentist in Little Shop of Horrors?). Fortunately, those stereotypical roles are being left behind and these days; dentistry has proven to be quite flexible and has made strides in other areas concerning oral health.

For example, dentists are involved in the diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of the gums and teeth. There are dentists whose expertise includes restoration, surgery, and other aspects related to the aesthetic side of dentistry. Finally, there are dentists associated with public education and the prevention of diseases.

The area you are willing to explore depends entirely on your interest and your life goals. 

Are you prepared?

Dentists are basically, people-oriented. Having to deal with different personalities - with different demands, different social backgrounds, and different problems – dentists would have to demonstrate extreme patience and composure at all times.

As a science, dentistry thrives on research and new methods and tools are always introduced. As such, dentists must also be prepared and equipped to a lifetime of learning.

The Schools

If you’ve answered yes and yes, then it’s time to consider the schools. Dentistry is offered in about 30 colleges and universities in the country. Tuition fees range from PhP 8,000.00 to PhP 50,000.00 per semester.

It truly is an investment and for many folks, the large amount of cash needed to finish 6 years of dental school (pre-dentistry courses, included) is the deal breaker. However, committing to a course in dentistry and eventually getting a degree and professional license are rewarding enough.

Next, we’ll discuss how future dentists and dental schools can help put health issues at the forefront of  public health awareness.

http://toptennation.blogspot.com/2008/05/top-10-ways-to-know-if-dentistry-is.html
http://www.adldentallabs.com/dental/dentist.htm
http://philippinecollegecourses.com/top-college-courses.html

Gum Disease and Arthritis

Written by Dan Abril.

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Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that affects a person’s joints and linings. The disorder develops when a person’s immune system misclassifies a person’s protein and works overtime to defeat it.

Why this happens is still not clear but doctors and experts have attributed it to genetics or environmental factors. Recently however, researchers have discovered that there is a correlation between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis. 

The Link

Comparing and analysing synovial fluid samples from rheumatoid sufferers and from those who don’t suffer the condition, dental researchers from Germany found that those who have rheumatoid arthritis carry the DNA of the bacteria that cause gingivitis infections. This latest research highlights previous studies between gingivitis to arthritis.

Earlier, researchers from the New York Hospital for Joints Diseases discovered that there is a link between gingivitis and rheumatoid arthritis. Comparing samples from sufferers and non-sufferers, the study revealed that those who have arthritis had greater exposure to the gingivitis bacteria and those with worse gum disease exhibit severe arthritis.

How bacteria found in the mouth can lead to arthritis is still not clear but according to other reports and studies, it could be through extra-oral translocation, which simply means that the bacteria are moving from the oral cavity to other areas of the body.

Prevention

Fortunately, gum disease in its early stages can be treated and be reversed but if left unchecked, it can worsen and lead to a developed stage of gum disease that affects more than the gums. The best treatment against gum disease is to keep the gums healthy. Regular dental visits and observing proper oral health care through brushing and flossing lessens the bacteria.

However, if you are already suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, proper brushing and cleaning can be difficult. The American Dental Association (ADA) have suggested the following to make it easier for the patient:

•    Look for toothbrushes that are easier to grip.
•    Use mouthwash to prevent cavities.
•    Explore other types of floss available.
•    Quit smoking.
•    Discuss the problem with your dentist.

Finally, remember that early detection is the best defence. Should you show symptoms of gum disease, visit your dentist. For inquiries, feel free to email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

References:
http://arthritis.about.com/od/rheumatoidarthritis/f/periodontal.htm
http://www.everydayhealth.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/the-link-between-gum-disease-and-rheumatoid-arthritis.aspx
http://www.hopkinsarthritis.org/physician-corner/rheumatology-rounds/round-34-periodontal-disease-and-rheumatoid-arthritis/

Vitamins and Supplements for Oral Health

Written by Dan Abril.

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The quest for healthy teeth and gums does not end with tooth brushing and flossing. Regular dental check-ups plus a nutritious diet are needed to achieve that end goal.  However, given the external pressures of modern living (pollutants around us and food grown on nutrition depleted soil), a balanced diet may not be sufficient enough.

Vitamin C. This vitamin is not only a powerful antioxidant but also promotes the production of collagen – a  vital ingredient in the growth and development of supportive tissues surrounding the teeth. Vitamin C also fights infection and gives teeth the extra protection it needs. 

Calcium.  Healthy teeth and bones need adequate calcium. Utilized by bones in creating and regenerating tissue, calcium give bones supporting teeth the strength it needs.

Vitamin A. Necessary in the development and maintenance of healthy skin, hair, eyes, bones and teeth; Vitamin A prevents inflammation and promotes the recovery of swollen gums. In addition, this vitamin keeps the mouth moist as it aids in keeping mucus membranes healthy. 

Vitamin D. Like Vitamin C, Vitamin D helps fight infection by raising the person’s immune system.  Further, the vitamin fortifies teeth making it less susceptible to decay and cavities. If that isn’t enough, it has been suggested that Vitamin D helps in the healing process of damaged teeth. 

Coconut oil. Gargling with coconut oil helps in reducing bacteria in the mouth. Adding it to food or beverages provides extra nourishment for the body’s self-healing properties.

Before proceeding with these supplements, always remember to consult a physician first. Remember that too much of anything good can be damaging to the system. Professionals will give you proper daily recommendations so as to avoid overdose and possible complications.
For further questions, please email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

References:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/355655-vitamin-supplements-for-healthy-teeth-gums/
http://www.wholehealthmd.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?nm=Healing+Kitchen&type=AWHN_News&mod=News+Perspectives&tier=3&id=95E9746D626A427D901A641C72E711B6
http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/03/reversing-tooth-decay.html

Fluoride: To Be or Not To Be?

Written by Dan Abril.

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There is much controversy and debate surrounding fluoride these days. On one hand of the spectrum are supporters stating that fluoride reduces tooth decay and adding it to drinking water is beneficial to those who can’t afford dental care. On the other end are those who are expressing alarm that fluoride side effects outweigh the benefits.

But what is it?

Fluoride is a chemical ion of the element fluorine and is one of the most abundant elements on earth. Used mainly in toothpastes, mouthwashes, and other chemical products; fluoride is said to help prevent tooth decay through protection against acids and the remineralization of damaged teeth.

While it may be true that fluoride toothpastes offer protection and fluorinated water has saw the decreased of tooth decay among children and adults in the lower social strata, studies are being done on its possible health effects.

Side Effects

Some health groups have stated that long-term exposure and excessive consumption of fluoride can cause low IQ, depression, weight gain, increased cancer risks, and heart problems. This concern has been somewhat validated through a research done by Harvard University.
According to the website of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), the recent research revealed that there is a correlation between children living in high-fluoride areas and low IQ. In contrast, children in low-fluoride areas display much higher IQ.  Although the studies aren’t conclusive enough, the initial findings support the concern of health groups and demand further study.

Alternatives

In the meantime, if you wish to avoid fluoride; there are fluoride-free toothpastes available. They can usually be found in health shops and are slightly more expensive than the regular toothpastes. Alternatively, you can take the DIY route and make your own toothpaste with coconut oil and baking soda.  Coconut oil is known for its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties while the baking soda acts as a mild abrasive for cleaning teeth.

For more info on fluoride, check out IAOMT’s website at http://www.iaomt.org or send us an email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

References:
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1068-FLUORIDE.aspx?activeIngredientId=1068&activeIngredientName=FLUORIDE
http://www.naturalnews.com/038217_fluoride_tap_water_side_effects.html
http://www.livestrong.com/article/133760-side-effects-fluoride/
http://iaomt.org/harvard-study-confirms-fluoride-harms-brain-development/
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/154164.php