Dental News Roundup

Wait, What? No Need To Brush?!

Neither brushing nor flossing has a significant, scientifically proven effect on cavity prevention, says Philippe Hujoel, a dentist and professor of oral health at the University of Washington School of Dentistry. Instead, the best way to prevent cavities is to avoid, as much as possible, sugar and other simple carbohydrates.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop brushing and flossing altogether. Both activities keep your teeth clean and aesthetically pleasing—and remove any rogue broccoli or other food particles stuck between your teeth. And don’t “snap” that floss either. Read Popular Science’s story on current scientific consensus on the best way to floss and brush. And ask your dentist before you chance your own oral health routine.

Whole Body Dental Care

A documentary entitled, “Say Ahh: The Cavity in Healthcare Reform” focuses on, according to Jannette Whisenhunt, Department Chair of Dental Education at Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, N.C., “a very common problem that the dental field has always known about – but the medical community is catching up with—and that is that the mouth is connected to the body.”

Jannette talks about the film here, saying that “The documentary explains how the periodontal disease process is an inflammatory process that affects the whole body. The bacteria in the mouth can be introduced throughout the whole body. This bacterial load and inflammation puts a stress on the overall system and can set other inflammatory processes in motion or what they call an inflammatory cascade. Our body is set up to fight off a cut or injury with a flood of chemical reactions and blood cells to repair that injury. When there is an overload on the system, our body becomes overworked with this inflammatory process and it cannot react as fast as we need it to.”

Want to know more? Watch the “Say Ahh” trailer.

Managing Travel Time Warp

Travelling this summer? Researchers say that the best way to adjust to a new time zone may be eating “appropriately timed” meals. The idea is to figure out when you’ll be eating breakfast/lunch/dinner in the place where you’ll be visiting, and shift your schedule accordingly a few weeks before your trip. Sounds like an interesting plan if you’re comfortable with eating at weird hours. If you’re heading to Europe from the east coast of the US, for example, you’ll need to start having breakfast around 3am.

The research also indicates that you should start getting more light during what would be daytime in your destination. It all seems a bit complicated but perhaps it’s worth trying if you’d rather experience jet lag symptoms – fatigue, irritability, disorientation, headaches – at home, rather than during your vacation. You can also try using sunglasses to alter your exposure to light, along with “power naps” (A short snooze of no more than 10-30 minutes that occurs between 1:00 to 4:00 PM. Sleep longer than a half hour and you may end up with “sleep inertia” — that unpleasant groggy feeling that takes hours to shake off. And napping later than 4:00 PM (local time!) can leave you unable to sleep at night.

PTSD and Dental Pain

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) takes a toll on the body, including increasing the chances of oral health problems and mouth pain. In part, this can be attributed to stress-related issues like teeth grinding and sleep disturbances. Research is also showing that people with PTSD may have a lower pain threshold. Tell your dentist if you have PTSD, so he or she can work with you to better manage dental health issues, and help you have an easier time when getting dental treatment.

You and Your New Tattoo

Among other aftercare instructions, your tattooist should tell you to skip swimming for a few weeks after getting a new tattoo. That’s because oceans, rivers, ponds and swimming pools – and all other bodies of water, including bathtubs – can contain bacteria and other crud. A new tattoo is an open wound, and needs to be treated as such.

Think your tattooist is being overly cautious, and you really want a swim? Resist the urge. A 31-year-old man died after he went swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and his new tattoo became infected with flesh-eating bacteria that live in ocean water. If you’re getting a new piece of skin art, commit to following those aftercare instructions. And even after the tattoo is fully healed, keep it out of the sun as much as possible (or apply 50+ sunscreen) especially if you have red pigment in your tattoo.

Red ink, especially when exposed to sunlight, can trigger allergic reactions in some people. The symptoms include welting or swelling around the tattoo and severe itchiness. An ice pack – don’t apply ice directly to the skin! – can help reduce inflammation. If your tattoo is healed, you might want to apply an anti-itch cream. Some people have reported that applying a cloth soaked with Domeboro really helps to ease the itch. If you notice signs of infection, or significant welts, swelling, and itchiness that can’t be controlled with ice and topical antiitch treatments, see your doctor or dermatologist.


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