Our monthly picks of the best dental and health news, plucked fresh straight from the Internet
Dental care for our furry friends
People typically get braces to enhance the look of their smiles. Dogs are more practical – they get orthodontia to improve the basic functions of their jaws and teeth.
Take Wesley, for example. His braces will fix his tooth alignment issues and enable him to close his mouth completely.
Wesley was treated by Dr. James Moore, a veterinarian at the Harborfront Hospital for Animals in Spring Lake, Michigan. Dr. Moore also does doggie root canals and oral surgery to repair problems such as fractured jaws.
Harborfront posted pictures of Wesley on their Facebook page, and the Internet promptly fell in love with the pup’s metallic grin.
Dr. Moore believes Wesley’s braces will fix his orthodontic problem in only a few weeks. And apparently wearing braces hasn’t bothered Wesley at all.
“He’s a happy little guy,” noted Dr. Moore. “And he is happily enjoying some of the benefits of his celebrity (although he already had ample hugs, kisses and belly rubs). Most importantly, he is eating well, playing, and feeling wonderful.”
Sleepy and hungry?
If you’re not getting enough sleep you may pack on the pounds because your brain is producing marijuana-like chemicals … and you get the munchies.
The brain chemical in question is called endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG for short). It is similar to the chemicals found in cannabis, but 2-AG is produced by your brain. Higher levels of 2-AG can make it much harder to resist things that feel or taste good. It’s likely, for example, that you’ll really struggle to pass up the cookies in favor of a healthy salad when your levels of 2_AG are high.
Blood levels of 2-AG typically dip at night and rise slowly through the day, peaking in the early afternoon. But when you’re sleep-deprived, your levels of 2-AG spike higher and then stay high through the evening, and have a direct effect on the brain systems that control our urge to eat. Additionally, lack of sleep may impact your ability to control your impulses.
The CDC states that two thirds of Americans are overweight, and more than a third of Americans are not getting enough sleep, despite the nearly early 9 million Americans who take sleeping pills.
Researchers from the University of Queensland say that the venom of Peruvian green tarantulas can be used to create more effective, less addictive pain killers.
Don’t try this at home, though. The bite of these spiders produces severe pain, breathing problems and anaphylactic shock. The venom needs to be harvested, and a single peptide toxin (ProTx-II) is then extracted from the venom. The peptide can be used to calm the neural receptors in the brain that produce pain signals.
Researchers hope that their work will improve quality of life for the millions of people who suffer from chronic pain.
Blame your ancestors
Going gray? The good news is that scientists think they have identified the genes responsible for your hair pigment problem. The even better news – gray hair doesn’t necessarily correlate to your age.
Graying is – at least to some degree – genetic, and if your family tends to gray early you’re likely to do the same. Your DNA contains instructions on when to turn off the melanin pigment that is responsible for the natural color of your hair. The gene is named IRF4.
Finding the specific gene responsible for hair color would likely enable researchers to develop a drug to prevent or delay hair graying. It’s not going to happen any time soon though; many years of research will have to happen first.
CNN’s coverage of this story mentioned their reporter, Anderson Cooper, and his response to going gray in his 20s. Cooper described it as “a total shock” and said that it took years to learn to “give in to the gray.”
If you’re not ready to embrace your gray, there are some things you can do to help keep your hair pigment in place. The study also found that environmental factors controlled about 70% of cases of hair graying, while genes were only responsible for about 30%. Stress, smoking, living in a polluted environment and spending a lot of time in the sun increases the odds that gray hair will start to show up earlier than you may have expected.