Our monthly picks of the best dental and health news, plucked fresh straight from the Internet
Behind The Scenes at Your Dentist’s Office
Ever wonder what that dental office smell is? According to this excellent article from Mental Floss, “the distinctive odor of your local dental office is a blend of latex gloves and the fluoride gel used for cleanings.” Puzzled about why your dentist insists on asking you questions when your anesthetized mouth is stuffed full of cotton? It’s a distraction mechanism intended to get your mind out of your mouth.
And if you’re curious about what happens to extracted teeth? Dentists horde them. Really, they do. “Second and third-year dental students (they attend four years of dental school total) are expected to collect disembodied teeth if they want to graduate. The first two years, you work on mannequins with plastic teeth. Then you go around asking dentists for the teeth they pull by giving them a jar full of a preservative.” If you’d prefer your own extracted teeth don’t end up with a student, you can take them home: The dentist will soak them in bleach first, though.
Why You Sigh
In a study published Monday in Nature, researchers claim to have found the brain circuit that controls sighing in mice. Not only do we now know that mice sigh, we also know that sighing is a life-saving reflex.
Sighing is defined by science as taking a double breath – inhaling twice before you exhale. We may sigh when we’re sad, bored, or disappointed. but we also sigh every few minutes regardless of how we happen to be feeling in order to keep our alveoli inflated.
As the Washington Post explains “The lungs contain some 500 million tiny, balloon-like structures called alveoli, which all together have the surface area of a tennis court. Alveoli hardly ever collapse, but then again there are a half-billion of them. At that scale, hardly ever becomes pretty often. And if enough alveoli collapse, breathing becomes difficult. It’s thought that sighs serve to re-inflate errant alveoli and keep us breathing easy.”
The action of sighing is triggered by a neuropeptide —protein-like molecules that brain cells use to communicate with one another. Injecting the peptide into mice increased their average sigh rate from 40 times an hour to 400 times an hour. Blocking the receptor for the peptide made the mice stop sighing altogether, though they continued breathing normally otherwise.
Isn’t sigh-ence amazing?
The Five-Second Rule, Tested
There’s a general assumption that if you drop a piece of food, you can still eat it if you act fast and snatch it up within five seconds. NASA engineer Mark Rober tested the five-second rule on the Discovery Science Channel show, “The Quick and the Curious.” Apparently, the rule should be renamed to the “30-second moisture-and-surface” rule, but it is true that speed is of the essence when dealing with dropped food. But so is the texture of the food, and what it lands on.
Bacteria leap onto a piece of food when it hits the ground. Moist food left on the ground for more than 30 seconds accumulates around 10 times more bacteria then food that is picked up after three seconds. Your food is also less likely to be germ-ridden if it falls onto a rug. Linoleum, tile, and laminated surfaces transfer germs more effectively that carpeted areas.
So now you know. And if you’re wondering why anyone would ever eat food dropped on the floor, you’re in the minority. A recent study conducted by researchers from the Aston University School of Life and Health Sciences found that 87 percent of respondents happily pick up and eat food that fell onto floor.
Remember that Concussion
A new study has found that concussions may also be associated with an increase in the long-term risk of suicide.
The suicide rate in Ontario, Canada, where the study was conducted, is approximately nine per 100,000 people, according to the study. But for people who had once had a concussion, the suicide rate was equivalent to 31 deaths per 100,000 people, or three times the suicide rate in the Ontario population as a whole. Each additional concussion is associated with a further increase in suicide risk.
(In the entire U.S. the suicide rate is about 12 per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Concussions are considered to be a mild form of brain injury and are the most common type of mild brain injury occurring in young adults. The study’s authors said that while their findings support past research on how concussions can have lasting effects on physiology, mood and behavior, further research is needed. Meanwhile, when providing your medical history, make sure the healthcare professional knows about any concussions you may have had.
Go Home, Chipotle Employee, You’re Sick
If you were wondering why your local Chipotle was closed for lunch on Monday, it’s because the company shut down nationwide to have a long chat with employees regarding changes to its ingredients, food preparation methods and business processes, following a slew of reported problems with foodborne illnesses in recent months.
Chipotle also informed all of its employees that they are forbidden to come to work when they are sick. And they’re going to get paid for all the sick days that they need to take. Also, if an employee or a customer gets sick in a Chipotle’s restaurant, the branch will be closed for the day while they, presumably, disinfect everything.
PS: want a free burrito? Text “RAINCHECK” to 888-222 and Chipotle will send you a coupon. The only catch is it may take up to ten days to receive the voucher so no instant gratification for you. (And don’t show up to claim your burrito if you’re sick, ok?)