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MythBusters: Dentistry Edition [Part II]

We did it once before and now we’re back for more – busting myths!
Since your patients have unlimited access to some of the most bogus dentistry myths around, it’s helpful to know which ones are the most popular in order to educate your patients properly.

We already busted a few of the most popular ones, but we decided to include a few more myths your patients may believe are actually true.

ggg1. Tooth extraction affects eyesight.
If you search this myth, you’ll get a ton of results that claim this myth is true – all coming from patients themselves. Dentists know that tooth extraction does not affect eyesight because the nerve and blood supply is different for teeth and eyes.

2. The more you brush, the healthier your teeth will be. At first glance, this myth seems pretty plausible – the more you brush, the less likely food will stain and lodge itself into your teeth, right? Excessive brushing over time can actually lead to oral complications in the future like tooth sensitivity and bleeding gums.

3. Using toothpicks widens gaps between teeth. Unless your patients are using metal pins to dislodge food from their teeth, toothpick usage will not expand the gaps between their teeth. Wooden and plastic toothpicks are essentially harmless and effectively remove food particles that are trapped between your teeth. However, make sure your patients are being careful when using toothpicks since they can puncture the gums and soft tissues. It’s always good idea to recommend flossing over toothpicks when possible since it is a safer and more effective way of cleaning between the teeth.

4. Kids are more likely to get cavities than adults. This wasn’t always a myth since children naturally have more porous teeth making them more susceptible to cavities. However, the advancements in preventative care, access to fluoridated water and the help of sealants have reduced the amount of cavities in children by 50 percent in the last 20 years. A more recent discovery is the prevalence of cavities in senior citizens. Dentists attribute this change to certain medications that trigger dry mouth as a side effect. The lack of saliva in their mouths makes it difficult for them to fight tooth decay since it is responsible for neutralizing the acid in things we ingest, disinfection and prevents food particles from plastering themselves to their teeth.

5. All fillings eventually need replacing. This myth is dependent on how well your patients take care of teeth. If they follow a healthy oral regimen (brush, floss and rinse twice a day) on a daily basis, there is a strong chance their filling could last a lifetime. The only reasons a filling would need to be replaced is if it wears away, cavities develop around the filling or if the tooth cracks.


Can ‘Salivaomics’ Change the Face of Dentistry?

According to a press release from the UCLA School of Dentistry, dentists may now be considered the “renaissance men” of the medical world. Along with a collaboration of institutes, Dr. David Wong and his team of scientific researchers at UCLA conducted extensive research in the world of “salivaomics” which yielded results that could change the face of dentistry.

Salivaomics, the study of biological molecules in saliva, suggests that the molecules found within in it could potentially detect autoimmune diseases, diabetes and various types of cancer early on in individuals. Along with his team, Dr. Wong suggests that detection through a saliva sample is just as accurate as any sample of blood or bodily fluid but is less invasive and more convenient for the patient.

The science behind these findings reveals that the genes, proteins, DNA and RNA naturally found in human saliva are able to explain exactly what is going on in the body and not just the degree of their oral health.

By no means do these findings suggest that any patient should forgo their annual appointments with their family doctor. Dr Wong expects that future research in salivaomics will eventually translate into practical medical applications.



A Lesson in Ageless Thinking From James Bond

There is a scene in the latest James Bond movie, “Skyfall,” where 007 is introduced to his new quartermaster—a man significantly younger than he is. “You must be joking,” he says when the younger man identifies himself.
“Age is no guarantee of efficiency,” the quartermaster says.

“And youth is no guarantee of innovation,” Bond replies.

Quite true. This exchange reminds me of how we tend to get locked into the notion that certain ways of thinking belong to certain age categories. This is a common fallacy. I know a lot of fairly young dentists who have more real experience and practical wisdom—by virtue of their dedication to their clinical development—than some colleagues twice their age. At the same time, I could introduce you to dentists in their 70s and beyond who could run circles around some recent graduates when it comes to embracing new technology.

There is no such thing as being “not ready” to be the best clinician you can be. There is no such thing as being too old to reinvent yourself as a dentist, and this is a truth that is truly ageless.



A Brief History of Toothpaste

Did you know that oral hygiene was a top priority in society as early as 5000 BC? Even though the brands of toothpaste that we have today are the most effective in preventing oral disease, the concoctions up until now haven’t been too far off. Take a ride on a fantastic voyage into the history of toothpaste.

4 AD: The world’s oldest-known formula for toothpaste was created by Egyptians. They crushed rock salt, mint, dried iris flowers and pepper and mixed them together to create a cleaning powder. Although this concoction is known to create bleeding gums, research suggests it is the most effective compared to most toothpastes used as recently as a century ago.

1780: People were known to scrub their teeth with a powder that was made up of mainly burnt bread. That’s right – what a lot of us eat for breakfast was once considered an effective solution for clean and healthy teeth.

1824: A dentist named Peabody added soap to toothpaste for added cleanliness. Soap was later replaced by sodium lauryn sulfate to create a smooth paste

1873: The first commercially produced, nice-smelling toothpaste was launched by Colgate and sold in a jar.

1892: Dr. Washington Sheffield is the first person to put toothpaste in a collapsible tube. It has been suggested that this version of toothpaste is the most similar to today’s version.

1914: Fluoride is added to toothpastes after discovering it significantly decreased dental cavities.

1975: Herbal toothpastes, such as Tom’s, become available as an alternative to cleaning teeth without fluoride. These toothpastes include ingredients like peppermint oil, myrrh and plant extracts.

1987: Edible toothpaste is invented. What is mainly used by children just learning to brush their teeth was actually invented by NASA so astronauts could brush their teeth without spitting into a zero-gravity abyss.

1989: Rembrandt invented the first toothpaste that claimed to whiten and brighten your smile.

With the world of dentistry evolving at such a rapid pace, what do you think is the milestone in the toothpaste timeline? Let us know below.


A Brief History of Dental Floss

Dental floss is considered a key element in proper oral hygiene. However, according to the ADA, only about 12 percent of Americans floss daily. The concept of flossing isn’t a new idea at all and it’s surprising that patients don’t take it more seriously. In fact, discoveries made by researchers have suggested that cleaning between the teeth was practiced as early as the Prehistoric period. Although the earliest versions of floss were similar to what is found in stores today, there have been quite a few advancements in the design to help simplify the process and create a more comfortable experience.
Prehistory: The exact date of the first use of dental floss is unknown but researchers found evidence that floss existed in prehistoric times. Grooves from floss and toothpicks have been found in the mouths of prehistoric humans. It is suggested that horse hair was used as floss and twigs were used as toothpicks to dislodge anything from the teeth.

1815: American dentist, Dr. Levi Spear Parmly introduces the idea of using waxed silken thread as floss. Later in his career, he published a book, A Practical Guide to the Management of Teeth, which emphasized the importance of brushing and flossing daily.fdg

1882: Unwaxed silk floss is mass-produced by the Codman and Shurleft Company.

1898: The first dental floss patent is granted to Johnson & Johnson.

1940s: Due to rising costs of silk during World War II and its tendency to shred, nylon replaces silk as the main material in floss. This development is credited to Dr. Charles Bass, who is also known for making floss and essential part of daily oral hygiene.

1980s: The first interdental brush is invented as an alternative to flossing.

Today: Floss has evolved a lot over time. Today we are seeing the use of Gore-Tex in some varieties, and the addition of spongy floss and soft floss for sensitive gums. Floss picks have also become quite popular and simplify the process of flossing posterior teeth and flossing around braces.

With the advancements that we have seen over time, what do you think is the next step in the evolution of dental floss?