Gum Disease Causes

Do you know what causes gum disease? In order to understand the factors that contribute to gum disease, it is important to first understand the anatomy of the tooth, and how the gums relate to it.

Tooth Anatomy
Each of your teeth is designed to have a natural, shallow gum pocket surrounding it. This area is called the sulcus – pocket – or if disease is present a periodontal pocket. At the base of this pocket lies connective tissue including ligaments and bone. These structures adhere to the tooth, holding it into the socket. A healthy pocket will be no deeper than three millimeters.

The Invasion Of Bacteria
Plaque biofilm is a byproduct naturally produced by our bodies. As we consume food, that food mixes with our saliva and breaks down into smaller particles. Biofilm then begins to develop and deposit itself onto the surfaces of teeth, and along the gum lines. Plaque biofilm enters into the gum pocket during chewing or by accumulation in the absence of good oral hygiene.

The Destruction Of Gum Attachment And Bone Structure
When plaque is not removed efficiently through careful flossing or brushing, your body’s own immune system begins to attack the bacteria. As the blood supply brings antibodies to attack the biofilm under your gum lines, it destroys the attached gum around the tooth in order to access the area of infection. As this attachment is lost it causes your gum pocket to deepen, destroying bone along with it. After a certain point these pockets become too deep for you to efficiently care for them through normal brushing and flossing.

Heightened Risk Factors
Certain risk factors and health conditions can also contribute to the development and severity of your gum disease.  Some of these risk factors may include:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Tobacco use
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cardiovascular disease

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How To Treat And Prevent Oral Thrush

Practicing good oral hygiene and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are the best ways to prevent oral thrush or yeast infections. Some simple ways to prevent oral thrush include:

  • Practice good oral hygiene every day – brush, rinse, and floss
  • Use pure botanical ingredients to kill the bad bacteria that lead to oral health problems
  • Limit the use of antibiotic or steroid medication
  • Give up smoking
  • Replace your toothbrush frequently or after illnesses
  • Remove dentures and clean them thoroughly each day
  • Manage blood sugar levels

Oral thrush treatment can be handled through conventional or home remedies. Natural, over-the-counter treatments to get rid of oral thrush are typically successful but professional intervention may be needed if the infection is too severe.

Conventional Treatment

Your dentist will most likely recommend that you use preventive home remedies to help clear up your fungal thrush infection. For severe cases of oral thrush, your dentist or doctor may recommend:

  • Prescription antifungal medication
  • Topical medication in the form of a mouth rinse

Home Remedies

Home remedies for oral thrush include:

  • The use of essential oils
  • Decreased sugar intake (yeast thrives on sugar)
  • Increased intake of yogurt or acidophilus
  • Giving up smoking

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Loose Teeth Causes, Signs And Symptoms

Loose teeth are the result of chronic gum disease, gum recession and bone loss. As plaque and bacteria invade the area around the teeth, it destroys the attachment between the teeth and the surrounding support structures. Once gum disease becomes active and remains untreated, teeth become mobile. If mobility is severe enough it ultimately results in loss of teeth.

Causes

What causes loose teeth? Loose teeth are caused by the presence of bacteria and periodontal disease under the gums around the teeth. As the disease worsens, the gum pockets deepen due to loss of attachment structure. The bacteria from gingivitis and gum disease cause the body to destroy bone and gum tissue around the teeth, which are meant to hold the teeth in place.

Signs And Symptoms

Loose teeth typically have other signs and symptoms associated with the condition. These include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Sore gums
  • Swollen, purple or red gums
  • Bleeding during brushing or flossing
  • Pus around the tooth
  • Food packing between the teeth or under the gums
  • Gum recession

Many of these symptoms accompany loose teeth and are typical of active, severe gum disease. It’s important to identify loose teeth as soon as possible so that treatment can be completed before it is too late.

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Gum Boil Treatments

Depending on what type of infection is causing your gum boil there are a variety of home remedies and professional treatments available.

Improved Oral Hygiene

Thorough removal of plaque through using electric toothbrushes, oral irrigation devices or flossing aids can reduce the levels of plaque biofilm in the mouth, decrease the rates of tooth decay, and reverse overgrowth of gum tissue. Using a pure botanical toothpaste and mouth rinse will kill the bad bacteria that lead to common gum problems. This will also create a clean and healthy environment in the mouth.

Essential Oil Application

In addition to improved oral hygiene, the use of essential oils for topical application as part of a mouth rinse can improve bacteria levels in the mouth and improve tissue health. Be sure to use pure botanical oils while brushing and rinsing in order to kill the bad bacteria that cause gum problems.

Periodontal Therapy

If active gum disease or periodontal disease is causing the gum boil, a deep cleaning can remove the active bacteria from your mouth. Full mouth deep cleanings typically cost several hundred dollars and require frequent maintenance visits to keep oral health in check.

Root Canal Therapy

Gum boils caused from dental abscesses require root canal therapy and complete removal of the bacteria and decayed enamel from the tooth. A root canal and crown seal the tooth off from further infection. Complete treatment costs are generally over one thousand dollars.

Surgical Removal Or Drainage

Chronic gum boils, which are uncomfortable or cosmetically displeasing, may require surgical intervention. Draining the boil or surgically removing it can sometimes correct the problem. There is a chance of the boil returning in some cases. Surgically draining the boil is relatively affordable, but invasive surgical needs may cost a few hundred dollars.

Denture Realigning

If the overgrowth of tissue is due to ill-fitting dentures, your denture may need to be realigned professionally to prevent friction or abnormal rubbing of the gums.

More Gum Boil Facts

Gum boils are typically not contagious. However, if the boil is present due to the presence of severe gum disease, it is possible to spread the disease bacteria through kissing or salivary transmission such as when sharing food.

Treating the gum boil through optimal oral hygiene practices should show some improvement or reversal in the area within two weeks. If the area does not improve or worsens after dedicated home hygiene you may need to see a professional for treatment.

Most gum boils usually do not hurt. If the boil is due to infection and is a dental abscess there may be pain present until root canal therapy can be performed. Depending on what type of infection is causing the gum boil, you may be able to heal it on your own at home. Dedicated oral hygiene that removes all plaque from the area on a routine basis may be all you need. If the boil persists you may need professional treatment.

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Children’s Oral Health Disparities Persist Despite Equal Dental Care Access

Oral health of children who receive dental care through Medicaid lags behind their privately insured peers, even though the children receive the same amount of dental care, according to a study from the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine. The study was released recently by Health Affairs.
“If poor and low-income children now enjoy equal access to dental care but do not have equal oral health, then the remedy should focus more tightly on the day-to-day factors that put them at higher risk for dental problems,” said lead author Burton L. Edelstein, DDS, MPH, chair of the Section of Population Oral Health, professor of dental medicine at the College of Dental Medicine (CDM), and professor of health policy and management at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. “Low-income families often face income, housing, employment, and food insecurities that constrain their ability to engage in healthy eating and oral hygiene practices,” he noted.

The study considered data from the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health, which included parent reports of oral health and use of dental care for 79,815 children and adolescents (age 1 to 17 years) of all social strata. No differences were found between Medicaid-insured and commercially-insured children in the odds of their having a dental visit, preventive or otherwise. However, parents of children enrolled in Medicaid were 25 percent more likely to report that their child did not have an “excellent or very good” dental condition and were 21 percent more likely to report that their child had a dental problem within the last year than were parents of commercially-insured children.

“Because we found that low-income kids are seeing dentists at similar rates as privately insured children, we believe that other issues may negatively impact low income children’s oral health. Addressing this would require attention from those currently outside the dental profession, such as social workers, health educators, nutritionists, and community health workers,” said Jaffer A. Shariff, DDS, MPH, a research associate in the Section of Population Oral Health, a periodontal resident at CDM, and co-author of the study. “We need to develop an oral health promotion system that complements traditional dental care.”

Medicaid’s Equal Access Provision mandates that Medicaid beneficiaries have access to equivalent health services as the general population. While the study confirms that the mandate is being followed, it also shows that, “equal access to dental care does not ensure that low-income children obtain and maintain oral health at the same levels as other children,” Dr. Edelstein said.

Dentists need to “rethink the nature of oral health care by seeing it as part of a child’s total health care and by treating tooth decay as the chronic disease that it is. We can’t segregate oral health from overall health,” Dr. Edelstein cautioned. “Evolving health systems that bring teams of providers together to promote healthy behaviors can address common risk factors that benefit a child’s overall and oral health. But if you segregate dentistry, especially for Medicaid kids, then you lose that opportunity.”

New Cavity Treatment Offers No Drilling, No Filling

A new clinical trial at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry is offering patients with cavities in between teeth a new, less painful treatment option.

The new treatment, called resin infiltration, is a way to treat small cavities in between teeth. Normally, the only way to access these cavities is by numbing a patient with a shot and drilling away tooth structure to access the cavity. Resin infiltration allows the dentist to slide a plastic perforated sheet between the teeth with the cavities.

“When we develop cavities between teeth, sometimes we have to go through the tooth, and we end up damaging healthy tooth structure,” said Augusto Robles, DDS, assistant professor and director of Operative Dentistry Curriculum. “This new system allows us to skip the drilling and helps us preserve that structure.”

The cavity is first cleaned by pushing a gel that prepares the surface to accept the resin infiltrant through the perforated sheet. The tooth is then filled by pushing a liquid resin through the perforated sheet. A dental curing light is then applied to the tooth to cure the resin, and the treatment is complete. There is no drilling necessary, and the procedure is typically completed without any anesthesia.

“Since this is a no-shot and no-drill treatment, it is popular with patients,” said Nathaniel Lawson, DMD, School of Dentistry Division Director of Biomaterials. “And since no tooth is removed, it is a very conservative procedure.”

The resin infiltration is one of a kind, and it is an FDA-approved, commercially available product made in Germany, but mostly is being used only in clinical trials in the United States. The UAB Clinical Research Center is conducting the largest U.S. clinical trial of this product, enrolling 150 patients in the study.

Both Robles and Lawson agree that this new system, if adopted nationally by practicing dentists, could be a game-changer for the future of dentistry.

“I never thought this would be possible for dentistry,” Robles said. “In my 24 years of practicing, this changes everything we’ve done so far. It’s marvelous.”

Although this new system helps restore teeth, there are a few prerequisites for patients looking to dodge the drill. This treatment works only in between teeth or on smooth surfaces where there are small cavities. Some cavities that are large or are on top of teeth are not suited for this kind of system because the liquid resin used cannot build up shapes.

“The resin has to be liquid to be able to be absorbed into the cavities in between teeth,” Robles said. “So at this point, the application is pretty specific.”

The UAB School of Dentistry continues to be at the forefront of innovation and patient care. It is clinical trials like this one that give dentists and researchers much to look forward to.

“I’m so proud to be a member of UAB, where I can be a part of a center that is testing new and innovative products,” Lawson said. “This is one of the most innovative products in dentistry I’ve seen in a while.”

How To Prevent Sore Gums

If sore gums are due to gingivitis and bacteria:

Brush the gum lines twice each day with your toothbrush angled 45 degrees toward the margin of the gums. Focus on two teeth at a time, making short strokes back and forth.

Apply just enough pressure to make the tissue blanch – no more, no less.

Floss daily by wrapping the floss tightly around each tooth and sliding up and down under the gums as far as it will go. This is usually two or three millimeters.

Have your teeth cleaned regularly at the dentist to prevent excess tartar buildup.

Consider using a mouth rinse after brushing to help eliminate any other bacteria, especially if you are prone to gum infections or have a history of gingivitis. Be sure to avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol, as it can actually contribute to more bacterial growth in the long run. This is due to the fact that alcohol can dry out the mouth, and a dry mouth is a preferred breeding ground for harmful oral bacteria. Instead, use a 100% pure botanical mouthwash that is proven to kill the harmful bacteria that cause gum problems.

Do you know the benefits of fluoride-free toothpaste?

Preventing other factors that can cause sore gums:

  • Clean oral appliances such as retainers and dentures daily.
  • Remove dentures or partials every night.
  • Have necessary dental treatment completed in a timely manner.

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Gingivitis Dangers And Progression

Gingivitis doesn’t just affect the appearance or discomfort of your gums, it can also greatly affect your entire body.

Links To Other Diseases And Conditions

Gingivitis, gum disease and periodontal disease are all caused by your body’s immune response to infection in the area. When your immune system is strained by infection, it also makes it difficult to fight other conditions that you may be suffering from. The more severe your gum infection is, the more likely you are to suffer from severe health problems. By treating or preventing gum infections like gingivitis, you can increase your body’s ability to recover from conditions such as:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Arterial plaque
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Premature labor
  • Obesity
  • Erectile dysfunction

Progression Into Periodontitis

Because the beginning stages of periodontitis (periodontal disease) evolve from gingivitis, it is extremely important to tackle your symptoms before they can cause irreversible problems. If gingivitis is allowed to persist and goes untreated, the area becomes so infected that destruction of gum attachment and bone levels occur around your teeth. This attachment loss starts out small, allowing food to pack under your gums as well as tartar to build up on the root of your teeth. Ultimately the infection becomes worse and worse until you reach the point where there is so much bone loss that your teeth become mobile and may possibly fall out.

Once you have lost teeth due to periodontal disease it makes everyday things like talking, chewing and swallowing more difficult to do. Even with tooth replacement options there is never anything quite like having your natural teeth, and you may have some problems adjusting. Bone loss from gum disease is irreversible, so it is important to prevent periodontitis by treating your gingivitis as soon as you begin to experience symptoms.

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How To Prevent Dry Mouth

The prevention of dry mouth involves careful reading of prescription and over-the-counter medication labels. Literally hundreds of everyday drugs such as decongestant use may cause dry mouth.

Use alcohol-free oral hygiene products. Many over-the-counter mouth rinses contain alcohol, which may kill of bacteria but also dry out your mouth. When the mouth is dry, there may be an increased risk of decay or infection due to the washing action of saliva.

Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. If you allow yourself to become dehydrated or don’t have a nutritionally balanced diet, your saliva flow may be compromised. Also avoid salty foods.

Keep your mouth free of bacteria. Boost your oral hygiene in order to help do the job of your saliva, thoroughly removing plaque buildup from around the teeth and gums.

Be sure to use a 100% pure botanical toothpaste and mouthwash that will kill harmful bacteria, promote natural saliva production and promote a healthy, balanced environment inside of your mouth

Treatment

Most treatment for dry mouth involves home tips and over-the-counter products that are targeted toward alleviating the symptoms of dry mouth. Common over-the-counter dry mouth remedies include:

  • Artificial saliva
  • Oral sprays, rinses or gels
  • Chewing Xylitol-containing gum

Conventional mouthwash for dry mouth or toothpaste for dry mouth may help to a degree, but many people complain that the products leave their mouth feeling slimy. The best alternative is to use a 100% pure botanical toothpaste/mouthwash combination that will promote a healthy environment in your mouth and support normal saliva production.

Home Remedies

  • Frequent sipping of water
  • Using essential oils as part of your oral hygiene routine
  • Management of gum infections and periodontal disease symptoms
  • Decreased salt intake
  • Avoiding medications such as decongestants that dry up saliva output

Candies and mints that contain sugar are not recommended as these can cause an increased rate of decay, especially for people who suffer from dry mouth.

Conventional Treatment
In severe cases, prescription medication such as pilocarpine or cevimeline may be used to manage xerostomia and get rid of dry mouth.

More Facts About Dry Mouth

If you have an extremely dry mouth, take a look at any medications that you’re using which could be contributing to dry mouth. Secondly, discontinue using any alcohol-containing products such as mouth rinses. Lastly, treat any symptoms of gum disease that you are experiencing and use botanical oils to help boost your saliva production.

Our mouth gets dry due to lack of stimulation or blockage of the salivary glands. This can be due to gum disease, systemic conditions, prescription medications or even anxiety. When your body is at rest, your salivary glands are as well. It is very common to have a drier mouth in the morning, but it should not be so dry that you can’t easily move your mouth without a sip of water.
Can dry mouth be a symptom of diabetes? Glucose levels may also alter your salivary flow. So yes, dry mouth is sometimes seen in people with diabetes.

Having dry eyes and a dry mouth could be a condition of medications that you are taking, or a symptom of underlying conditions such as Sjögren’s syndrome.

Dry mouth may also accompany many other conditions that you experience during pregnancy. Because of the increased risk of dental problems at this time – due to any vomiting – dry mouth may make it easier for you to develop dental problems. Stay hydrated and treat your symptoms of xerostomia. They ought to subside after you finish your pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Dry mouth should not be ignored. Having chronic dry mouth can increase your risk for dental diseases like tooth decay and periodontitis. It may also be a symptom of an underlying health condition.

Always choose sugar-free products, and ones that contain Xylitol if possible. These strengthen your teeth and won’t contribute to decay. If you’re looking to freshen your breath as well as treat dry mouth, you can use a drop or two of essential oils on your toothbrush two or three times a day.

Try the all-natural liquid toothpaste with a handcrafted blend of 100% pure cold pressed botanical almond, spearmint and carefully-aged peppermint oils. It naturally helps clean your teeth and gums by eliminating bacteria-causing germs and plaque while leaving you with fresh breath. Click here.

Receding Gums Causes

What causes receding gums? Gum recession is usually due to one of the following causes:

Gum Disease
When you suffer from gum disease, there is an active infection under the surface of your gums between them and your teeth. These bacteria are attacked by antibodies in your bloodstream, which creates inflammation, redness and destruction of the fibers that attach the gums to your teeth. As gum infections persist, the gums creep farther down the root surface due to destruction of attachment fibers.

Abrasive Tooth Brushing
Using a medium or hard-bristled toothbrush can cause more harm than good. Aggressive brushing – even with a soft-bristled brush – is traumatic to your gum tissue and can cause or advance existing gum recession.

Tobacco Use
Smoking makes it very difficult to manage gum recession and promotes loss of gum attachment. However, the use of smokeless tobacco is the most harmful method of tobacco use when it comes to receding gums. The abrasive ingredients inside of smokeless tobacco cause irritation to the tissue and are typically associated with severe gum recession in the area where the tobacco is most often held.

Tooth Misalignment
Crowded, misaligned teeth are at an increased risk to have gum recession. This may be due to excess force placed on them during oral hygiene, or it may be due to anatomical forces that encourage the loss of gums and bone around these teeth.

Grinding Of The Teeth
If you suffer from clenching or tooth grinding, your teeth tend to flex along the neck of the tooth, near the gum lines. This is typically seen as an abrasion in the tooth enamel, but it may also contribute to loss of gum attachment in areas where enamel is damaged.

Orthodontic Therapy
Teeth that are moved too rapidly may not allow proper reformation and transition of the supporting tissues around the affected teeth. This often results in unnatural bone loss around those teeth, followed by gum recession around the affected tooth. It may also cause destruction of the roots.

Oral Anatomy
If you’ve ever noticed the small strip of skin between your lower lip and your two front middle teeth, you should know that this frenum might also contribute to recession in certain cases. Rarely, the frenum may be exceptionally tight or short, causing increased stress on the attached tissue on the tooth. As a result this may pull over time and cause the gums to recede due to the tension.

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Periodontitis Causes, Signs And Symptoms

 

What is periodontitis? Periodontitis is also known as periodontal disease or an advanced stage of gum disease. The meaning of the name describes the condition: perio = around; dont = tooth; itis = inflammation of. So periodontitis is the inflammation and infection of the area surrounding the root of the tooth. It is a severe condition that simply begins as gingivitis but ultimately leads to the destruction of gum attachment, bone and results in tooth loss if left untreated.

Causes

What causes periodontitis? Periodontitis is a natural immune response to bacteria along and underneath the gum lines around the teeth. When plaque biofilm is not removed effectively, antibodies from the immune system seek the bacteria out in order to destroy it. When initial symptoms of gingivitis are left untreated, the condition worsens into periodontitis. Simple swelling becomes an area of more advanced infection, causing the destruction of gum and bone attachment around the teeth.

Periodontitis may be due to:

  • Inadequate oral hygiene
  • Lack of professional preventive care (routine cleanings)
  • Susceptibility from conditions such as a family history of periodontitis, uncontrolled systemic health conditions or badly misaligned teeth.

Signs And Symptoms

Periodontitis is more than just gingivitis. Here are some warning signs to watch for if you suspect you may be developing the condition:

Bleeding Gums – Healthy gums should never bleed. Bleeding during brushing or flossing that persists for more than two weeks is a sign of gum infection such as periodontitis or more advanced gingivitis.

Bad Breath – The bacteria involved in periodontitis often contribute to halitosis, or breath malodor. Because the problem exists deep under the gums, mouth rinses, gums or mints do not easily cover it up.

Swollen, Red Gums – Gum lines become inflamed and red along the margins of the teeth when gum disease exists. Mild inflammation is typical of gingivitis, while more diffuse not concentrated or localized. Inflammation and redness (or even purple colored gums) is a sign of more advanced periodontitis.

Receded Gums – As periodontitis advances, the gums become detached from the teeth and creep down the surface of the roots, leaving exposed root surfaces. This makes teeth appear longer than normal.

Sore Teeth – Infection around the tooth may make chewing or applying pressure to the tooth uncomfortable.

Shifting Or Loose Teeth – When gum detachment or bone loss has occurred, it may cause the teeth to be mobile or shift out of their natural position.

Drainage Of Pus – During very advanced stages of periodontitis, there may be signs of pus that drains along the gum lines when the tooth or gums is depressed. Pus usually appears clear, white or yellow.

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Sore Gums: The Signs, Symptoms And Dangers

 

Sore, swollen and sensitive gums are symptoms of gum disease. Sensitive teeth and gums are often due to the buildup of bacteria along the margin of your gums.

Sore gums often appear as:

  • Inflamed, enlarged gum margins
  • Rounded gums between the teeth instead of sharp and pointed
  • Bright pink, red or even purple
  • Bleeding during brushing and flossing
  • Painful during brushing or flossing
  • Itchy gums

A sore mouth and gums is a signal to you that there is a condition going on in your mouth that needs your attention. Sore teeth can even become mobile or fall out if the infection is severe enough. Even if you have sore gums and tongue, it’s important to take action early on that may be uncomfortable at first to help eliminate the infection.

Dangers And Health Risks

Sore gums are a symptom of infected, swollen gums. This is usually due to existing gum disease on one or all of your teeth. Gum disease can be a complex condition that may make you more prone to suffer from conditions like:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Obesity
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Tooth loss
  • Bad breath
  • Diabetes
  • Premature labor

Try the all-natural liquid toothpaste with a handcrafted blend of 100% pure cold pressed botanical almond, spearmint and carefully-aged peppermint oils. It naturally helps clean your teeth and gums by eliminating bacteria-causing germs and plaque while leaving you with fresh breath. Click here

What Teeth Reveal About The Lives Of Modern Humans

When anthropologists of the future find our fossilized teeth, what will they be able to conclude about our lives?

Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg has an idea. She is a professor of anthropology at The Ohio State University who studies fossilized teeth to answer questions about the life history, growth, and diet of primates and our human ancestors, as well as the relationships between different species.

In a new book, What Teeth Reveal About Human Evolution (Cambridge University Press, 2016), she gives a broad overview of what scientists have learned about our ancestors from studying fossilized teeth.

As for the teeth of humans living today – well, it is a good thing we have modern dentistry. “We have teeth that were adapted for eating a very different diet than the one we eat today, at least in Western societies,” Guatelli-Steinberg said.

In the book, she noted that 99 percent of humans’ evolutionary history was spent eating foods that were hunted or gathered. Our current diets of soft, processed and sugary foods are nothing like the diets for which our teeth are adapted. “Problems like cavities and plaque buildup have been magnified tremendously in humans today,” she said. “Natural selection has not prepared us well for the kinds of food we eat today.”

In addition to having much higher rates of cavities and plaque, modern humans are much more likely to have misaligned teeth that require orthodontic treatment or surgery. “Soft diets do not stimulate jaw growth, and teeth, especially our third molars (wisdom teeth), become impacted,” she said. In fact, third molar impaction became 10 times more common after the Industrial Revolution than it was previously.

Researchers like Guatelli-Steinberg learn a lot about early humans and our ancestors through an examination of teeth. One reason that teeth provide so much information is simply that they are available. Teeth are the most preserved skeletal remains found in fossils. They are small and very mineralized, making them resistant to decomposition and able to maintain their original qualities, she said. Teeth also contain a record of a lot of aspects of their own development, including their chemistry and pathology.

“Teeth give us insights into a variety of aspects of evolution,” she said. For example, researchers study the structure of teeth – like bumps and grooves – to see how species are related to one another. Also, since the scale of dental development is related to overall development in most animals, researchers can use teeth to determine how long it took individuals of different species to grow to adulthood.

On the other end of life, researchers can study the amount of wear on fossilized teeth to get a very rough estimate of how old an adult was when he or she died. And, of course, there is much to learn about diets. Microscopic wear on the chewing surfaces of teeth can suggest what kind of food an individual ate. “Different kinds of food can require different ways of bringing the teeth together. As that happens, the food will mark the teeth in different ways, depending on their properties,” she said.

The chemical composition of the teeth themselves is revealing. Scientists can identify the stable isotopes and trace elements in fossilized teeth to determine an individual’s diet. Much of Guatelli-Steinberg’s own research has focused on using patterns of tooth growth to assess what life was like for the individuals under study. “Tooth growth is disrupted in periods of severe physical stress, such as illness or starvation, so teeth can be a window to challenges that our ancestors faced,” she said.

Other Findings

In a 2004 study, Guatelli-Steinberg and colleagues used a scanning electron microscope to compare fossilized teeth of Neanderthals with those of modern Inuits, or Eskimos. The researchers were looking for tiny defects – horizontal lines and grooves in tooth enamel – that suggest the individuals were experiencing stress. The results showed that Neanderthals did not have lives that were dramatically more difficult than those of the modern Eskimos – a finding that challenged traditional thinking at the time.

More recently, Guatelli-Steinberg has used a relatively new method of studying fossilized teeth to examine growth increments. The technique pioneered by anthropologist Tanya Smith, called X-ray synchrotron microtomography, uses a specialized imaging machine to see inside teeth without having to cut them up.

This allows researchers to create virtual sections of fossil teeth to see periods of growth, or when growth was interrupted, in increments as short as just a few days, she said.

Regardless of what new techniques are developed to study teeth, Guatelli-Steinberg said she expects future anthropologists will “likely have a field day” studying modern human teeth. “In various cultures today, we have people who notch teeth, inlay them with jewels or gold, lengthen them, file them down and remove them altogether,” she said. “One can only imagine what anthropologists will make of all the things we do to our teeth today.”

STUDY: Natural Tooth Repair Method Could Revolutionize Dental Treatments

 

A new method of stimulating the renewal of living stem cells in tooth pulp using an Alzheimer’s drug has been discovered by a team of researchers at King’s College London.

Following trauma or an infection, the inner, soft pulp of a tooth can become exposed and infected. In order to protect the tooth from infection, a thin band of dentine is naturally produced and this seals the tooth pulp, but it is insufficient to effectively repair large cavities.

Currently dentists use human-made cements or fillings, such as calcium and silicon-based products, to treat these larger cavities and fill holes in teeth. This cement remains in the tooth and fails to disintegrate, meaning that the normal mineral level of the tooth is never completely restored.

However, in a paper published in Scientific Reports, scientists from the Dental Institute at King’s College London have proven a way to stimulate the stem cells contained in the pulp of the tooth and generate new dentine – the mineralized material that protects the tooth – in large cavities, potentially reducing the need for fillings or cements.

The novel, biological approach could see teeth use their natural ability to repair large cavities rather than using cements or fillings, which are prone to infections and often need replacing a number of times. Indeed when fillings fail or infection occurs, dentists have to remove and fill an area that is larger than what is affected, and after multiple treatments the tooth may eventually need to be extracted.

A More Natural Solution

As this new method encourages natural tooth repair, it could eliminate all of these issues, providing a more natural solution for patients.

Significantly, one of the small molecules used by the team to stimulate the renewal of the stem cells included Tideglusib, which has previously been used in clinical trials to treat neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease. This presents a real opportunity to fast-track the treatment into practice.

Using biodegradable collagen sponges to deliver the treatment, the team applied low doses of small molecule glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) to the tooth. They found that the sponge degraded over time and that new dentine replaced it, leading to complete, natural repair. Collagen sponges are commercially-available and clinically-approved, again adding to the potential of the treatment’s swift pick-up and use in dental clinics.

Lead author of the study, Professor Paul Sharpe from King’s College London said: “The simplicity of our approach makes it ideal as a clinical dental product for the natural treatment of large cavities, by providing both pulp protection and restoring dentine. In addition, using a drug that has already been tested in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease provides a real opportunity to get this dental treatment quickly into clinics.”

 

A Closer Look At Gum Disease Treatments

 

Traditional treatment methods for gum disease typically involve one or a combination of several of the following procedures: deep cleaning/scaling and root planning, periodontal maintenance/prophylaxis, gum flap surgery, crown lengthening, local antibiotic therapy, prescription medications, orthodontic therapy or gum and bone grafting.

Deep Cleaning/Scaling And Root Planing
Most dental patients with moderate to severe gum disease will undergo deep cleanings at their dental office. A deep cleaning allows the patient to have their mouth numbed in order to allow the hygienist to comfortably remove all of the biofilm and tartar deposits deep below the gums. This procedure can be moderately uncomfortable, but local or topical anesthetics are usually used to alleviate any discomfort. Some soreness may follow the procedure for a day or two.

Most deep cleanings are only partially covered under dental insurance plans, leaving you responsible for the remainder of the charges. Deep cleaning procedures are performed and charged as four different quadrants (upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left).

Periodontal Maintenance/Prophylaxis
Periodontal maintenance and routine cleaning appointments are the best methods for maintaining gum health or managing cases of mild gum disease. Prophylaxis appointments are typical cleaning visits that you have every six months, but a periodontal maintenance visit is the term for a similar recall cleaning after a deep cleaning has been performed. These allow your hygienist to monitor your gum health and remove any new areas of bacteria.

Gum Flap Surgery
If gum disease is severe enough, you may need to see a periodontal specialist. The gums will be retracted to allow access for the removal of all bacteria that lies deep below on far portions of the root surface. Because this is an actual surgery there will be some recovery time needed for healing and discomfort.

Crown Lengthening
Another treatment for severe gum disease is crown lengthening. This procedure follows a gum flap surgery, but when your gums are put back in place, a portion of the tissue is removed in order to create a shallower gum pocket around the tooth. Shallower pockets are easier to keep clean, allowing you to better care for the diseased area. The result is a tooth that is longer in appearance with some exposed root surfaces. While it may be easier to care for the gum disease condition, it can result in aesthetic concerns and tooth sensitivity.

Local Antibiotic Therapy
Some types of locally-administered antibiotics can help areas of advanced gum disease respond quicker to deep cleaning or surgical procedures. After the medication is put in place you may need to wait up to two weeks before flossing the area. A separate dosage must be placed in each area of concern, so it cannot be used for more than a few locations. Some commonly used topical medications include:

  • Actisite
  • PerioChip
  • Arestin
  • Elizol
  • Atridox

Prescription Medications
Prescription medications such as mouthwash or oral antibiotics may be prescribed and are relatively inexpensive. You’ll want to be careful with mouthwash containing alcohol, because it can dry out the mouth. A dry mouth can be a breeding ground for bad bacteria – the very kind that can lead to gum disease and other oral health problems. Some commonly used prescription medications include:

  • Chlorhexidine
  • Tetracycline
  • Periostat

Topical drugs like mouthwash, such as chlorhexidine, may be used for approximately two weeks to help reduce inflammation and bacteria in the mouth. Rinses can be used throughout the entire mouth or placed on a toothbrush and used at the site of infection. Long-term use of chlorhexidine can cause staining of the teeth.

Orthodontic Therapy
Correcting misaligned teeth with orthodontic therapy (braces) has been shown to be part of a comprehensive treatment for periodontal disease. This is because it makes your teeth straighter and easier to keep clean. Crowded areas are more difficult to clean as they often harbor bacteria and are more likely to develop gum disease than areas where your teeth are aligned correctly.

Gum And Bone Grafting
Surgical procedures such as gum grafts or bone grafts may help to stabilize the support structures around your teeth. Gum grafting is typically best for areas of recession that suffer from tooth sensitivity and can at times be a moderately invasive procedure. Bone grafting is useful when there is advanced bone loss and you are at increased risk to lose teeth. Both of these grafts may be taken from your own body or from a donor bank.

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