DentalPlans News Roundup

 

From getting your teeth whiter to living longer, the health benefits of good dental care to the weird workings of the human mind – plus the obligatory Halloween candy advice – it’s all here in the latest DentalPlans News Roundup.

Dingy Teeth?

Why aren’t your teeth as white as they used to be? Some reasons – you don’t get professional cleanings, you’re getting older – are obvious. Others, not so much. Among the less obvious reasons: your diet, your habit of over-brushing your teeth, your meds and your ancestors. Get the details here.

Live Longer With Rosemary

You might be able to find a magic elixir that will extend your life span right in the herb section of your favorite grocery store. People who reside in the southern Italian town of Acciaroli regularly live to 100 or older, don’t get dementia, and are less likely to develop heart disease and other age-related diseases. Scientists from the University of California at San Diego and Rome’s Sapienza University think their frequent consumption of rosemary is one reason. Check it out.

Placebos Work!

The human mind is a strange thing. Researchers have found that placebos – medicines that have no active ingredients – can still reduce a patient’s pain, even if the patient knows they’re only taking a placebo. And it wasn’t a small amount of pain reduction either. Those who knowingly took a placebo in conjunction with normal pain treatments reported that their pain decreased by up to 30 percent.

Another Reason To Get That Checkup

Regular visits to the dentist could do more than keep teeth and gums healthy: It may decrease the risk of pneumonia by reducing bacteria in the mouth, suggests research being presented at IDWeek 2016™.

Nearly one million Americans become ill with bacterial pneumonia every year and 50,000 die. And based on an analysis of a national database of more than 26,000 people, the new research found that people who never get dental checkups had an 86 percent greater risk of pneumonia than to those who visit the dentist twice a year.

“There is a well-documented connection between oral health and pneumonia, and dental visits are important in maintaining good oral health,” said Michelle Doll, MD, lead author of the study and assistant professor of internal medicine in the Division of Infectious Disease at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond. “We can never rid the mouth of bacteria altogether, but good oral hygiene can limit the quantities of bacteria present.”

The body contains 10 times as many microbes (bacteria, fungi and viruses) as human cells on or in the body, from the skin to the gastrontestinal system (including the mouth). Some microbes are good and some are bad, but even bad microbes only cause disease under certain circumstances. In some cases, bacteria can be accidentally inhaled or aspirated into the lungs and cause pneumonia. Bacteria that commonly cause pneumonia include streptococcus, haemophilus, staphylococcus, and anaerobic bacteria. Routine dental visits may reduce the amount of bacteria that can be aspirated, said Dr. Doll.

 

“Our study provides further evidence that oral health is linked to overall health, and suggests that it’s important to incorporate dental care into routine preventive healthcare,” said Dr. Doll.

Dental Implant Research

To improve the chances of dental implants attaching properly, research suggests temporarily taking beta blockers (a medication typically used to control hypertension) at least temporarily, and stopping heartburn medication.

A research study found that the failure rates of implants for people using beta blockers was 0.6 percent, whereas the failure rate of implants in people who don’t take beta blockers was 4.1 percent. Failure rates of implants for people using heartburn medication were 6.8 percent. By contrast, failure rates of implants for people not taking heartburn medication were 3.2 percent. The stats are compelling – but check with your doctor/dentist before you start adjusting your meds!

Treats: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Dentists know that getting people to say no to sugary treats at this time of year is an exercise in futility. Instead, they suggest you choose your indulgences wisely:

The Good: Chocolates cause the least damage to your teeth because they dissolve quickly in your mouth.

The Bad: Lollipops, jawbreakers and other hard candies take a long time to break down and can damage dental work and chip teeth.

The Ugly: Sticky treats like raisins, toffee, fruit roll-ups and caramels get lodged in the teeth and that can cause decay. Sour candies are chewy and their high acid content can erode tooth enamel.

Seniors And Dental Care

Teeth need tending. Without regular dental care, tooth problems can cause pain and limit how much and what type of food people are able to eat. Similarly, gum disease can loosen teeth and allow bacteria to enter the body. A growing body of research has linked treating periodontal disease with lower medical costs for diabetes and heart disease, among other conditions.

But, as NPR points out, traditional Medicare generally doesn’t cover dental care unless it’s related to services received in a hospital. Medicare Advantage managed care plans generally provide some dental care, but the coverage can vary, and often is minimal, dental care advocates say. The plans often are “a loss leader,” said Dr. Judith Jones, a professor of dentistry at Boston University. “It’s meant to attract people. It gets people in, but the coverage is really limited.”

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