People who are obese are more likely to have periodontal disease.
A study in the May issue of the Journal of Periodontology is stating that periodontal disease is 76% more likely in obese young adults between the ages of 18 to 34. Basically, if someone is obese or seriously overweight, there’s a very good chance they’ve also got periodontal disease.
Now, it’s important to be cautious about the conclusion we draw from this study. Basically, we don’t know if this is a case of cause-and-effect, or if there is only a correlation.
That is, does being obese cause periodontal disease (or vice versa)? Or is it more of a coincidence that people who are obese have it?
At Beam Technologies, we want to be cautious about stating whether this is causation or a correlation. We’re talking about an environment where we have people who generally aren’t taking the best care of themselves across a multitude of factors, so it could be any number of reasons.
With the prevalence of juice boxes, sports drinks, high-calorie coffee drinks, and the super-sizing of sodas, it’s no surprise that there’s greater incidence of obesity in this age group. Does this obesity equate to a more laissez-faire attitude toward personal hygiene?
We think more studies should be done before we can say with any certainty.
Interestingly, the same study found no increase in periodontal disease amongst those in the same age population who were of ideal weight. The underweight population actually realized a decrease in the amount of periodontal disease.
What makes this study puzzling is that there was no association between body weight and prevalence of periodontal disease in people 35 to 90 years of age.
We definitely think more studies should be done on this matter.
Why do dental studies like this matter?
There are a number of reasons why studies like this matter.
For one thing, it can help dentists, doctors, and even oral care product manufacturers like Beam educate people on the importance of exercise and oral health, or maintaining proper body weight and oral health.
Studies like this can also segment and target this population group for insurance providers, healthcare providers, and periodontal prevention product providers for their own purposes, whether it be opportunity, predictive analysis of cost centers, or even a path to prevention of those costs.
For more information on periodontal disease and systemic health, please visit the Beam website.
We’ve written a lot about how oral health care relates to systemic (total) health care. That is, the condition of your teeth and gums can actually contribute to the condition of your heart and cardiovascular system.
But the reverse is also true. Your body’s health contributes greatly to the condition of your teeth and gums. So much so that your dentist may actually be able to identify the symptoms of bodily diseases just by looking at your mouth.
For some people, the dentist is becoming a substitute doctor in this way.
A recent American Journal of Public Health study found that while 20 million people in the U.S. population avoid seeing a doctor every year, they do pay at least one visit per year to the dentist, which makes it increasingly more sensible for dentists to converge with medical practitioner services.
Dentists can routinely identify systemic health changes, including the following:
- Strep throat
- Oral Cancer
- Eating Disorders
- Substance Abuse
The medical practitioner services at dentistry practices started out in rural areas where access to hospitals and doctors was remote. Today it is becoming more of a trend, especially since one of the unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act is the shortage of doctors.
We can envision a future where all dental hygienists will have at least basic nursing care training, and having a nurse practitioner in a dental practice who is capable of prescribing medications will be a sensible approach.
For more information on how dentists are moving toward systemic health care as it relates to oral health, please visit the Beam website. We have been exploring this issue on a regular basis on our blog.
A few weeks ago, we wrote a blog post about about Why a WaterPik Will Never Beat Flossing. We’ve been fans of the WaterPik, but felt compelled to address some of the advantages of traditional flossing methods as the tried and true for good oral care.
A couple weeks later, we received a nice note from the people at WaterPik who said their water flosser does beat flossing. They cited a few studies to support their statements, so we went looking for them to check them out.
A 2005 University of Nebraska study* they cited said that the WaterPik was 93% more effective than string flossing at reducing gum bleeding, which is a leading indicator of gum disease. Which makes sense — if you have gum disease, which often comes from not flossing, then yes, using something thin and sharp will make your gums bleed. (You can see a Slideshare.net version of the original study here).
The U of Nebraska study also showed that using a WaterPik and manual toothbrush was more effective than string floss and a toothbrush at reducing the “gingival index” on the outward and inward facing surfaces of teeth (9.9% vs. 15.1% – outward; 9.4% vs. 14.2% – inward) , but that there was no significant difference between string floss/manual brush versus WaterPik and a sonic brush (11.4% – outward; 10.8% – inward).
There report also said there was no statistical difference between string floss/manual brush versus Waterpik/manual brush when it came to measuring plaque, although the water flosser/sonic brush outperformed the string floss/manual brush group. (There should have been a fourth group that used a water flosser and manual brush to measure whether it was the water or the sonic brush that made the difference.)
The ultimate conclusion of the study was that it was “an effective alternative” to string flossing. Not better, not worse, but a suitable replacement.
Meanwhile, MayoClinic.com says that flossing is still considered the most effective tool for cleaning tight spaces between your teeth, and that a water flosser is not a good substitute. Of course, they haven’t done any sponsored laboratory tests, so we don’t have any data to back it up.
So is string flossing better, or is a water flosser? We like string flossing for a couple of reasons:
- You can carry a packet of floss picks or small spool of floss with you. A friend of ours carries a small bag of floss picks in his backpack, and uses one after every meal. Plus, you’d get tired of carrying a WaterPik everywhere.
- String floss can fit between tight spaces between your teeth. If you’ve got really tight teeth, a water flosser just can’t get in there. We’ve tried.
Having said that, we do like the water flosser because it’s great for people who have mobility issues, and for those people who don’t like or want to floss. Since not flossing will most likely lead to gum disease and gingivitis, you don’t want to give yourself bloody gums when you do remember to floss.
If you start to use it every day, that can even help you turn back your gingivitis and gum disease. If you have to choose between not flossing and using a WaterPik, by all means, use the WaterPik. If that’s what it takes for you to have a healthy smile, we’re all for it.
But if you prefer string floss instead, by all means, stick with what’s working for you.
What do you think? String floss or water? Do you have a preference, or do you use both?
* The University of Nebraska study was authored by the following:
- Caren M. Barnes, RDH, MS UNMC College of Dentistry Lincoln, NE, USA
- Carl M. Russell, DMD, PhD Canton, Georgia, USA Lincoln, NE, USA
- Richard A. Reinhardt, DDS, PhD, UNM C College of Dentistry Lincoln, NE, USA
- Jeffrey B. Payne, DDS, MDS , UNM C College of Dentistry Lincoln, NE, USA
- Deborah M. Lyle, RDH, MS, Waterpik Technologies Fort Collins, CO, USA
Many of us in the oral care industry identify with one of our favorite movie scenes from a John Candy movie, Uncle Buck. His nephew, Miles, tried to pull the “I brushed my teeth already” routine on his savvy uncle, who had a great comeback.
Uncle Buck: Did you brush your teeth?
Miles Russell: Yeah. You can even feel my toothbrush.
Buck: You know, I have a friend who works at the crime lab at the police station. I could give him your toothbrush and he could run a test on it… to see if you actually brushed your teeth… or just ran your toothbrush under the faucet.
(Miles imagines hearing sirens, Uncle Buck leaves.)
Maisy Russell: If that’s true, we’re gonna REALLY have to start brushing our teeth.
Back in 1989, Uncle Buck didn’t have the many “plaque disclosure” products we have today that contain harmless dyes to show the plaque-infested areas your child missed while brushing:
- Tablets your children chew, mix with their saliva for 30 seconds and then spit out. The stained areas will indicate plaque still remaining on their teeth.
- Swabs: Your children can wipe the surfaces of their teeth to indicate plaque remaining.
- Solution: This is a mouth rinse your child can swish around for 30 seconds and then spit out that will show where plaque remain.
Of course, if you’re out of these products, there’s always the old-fashioned way, smelling their breath, but this can be hazardous for the parents!
Checking to see if the toothbrush is wet or checking the sink for telltale toothpaste signs is no longer a working solution, as kids go to elaborate lengths today in their ruses to prove they’ve brushed their teeth.
The best way to monitor them? With a Beam Brush and smartphone app. You can actually measure how long a Beam Brush is in operation and manage the data in the app. Use it to make sure you’re brushing the full two minutes twice a day. Or you can even use it to measure how your kids are doing, without standing over them with a stopwatch. Just keep an eye on them with the app, and you’ll better understand their progress.
All without a trip to the crime lab.
For more information on how your family can help your children learn to brush better, visit the Beam toothbrush website.
It’s universal. Dentists are always hearing parents’ complaints about their kids not brushing their teeth. Just in case you were wondering if your family was “typical,” here are some of the frequent excuses we hear kids say to their parents:
- I forgot.
- I’m too busy.
- I don’t want to.
- I can’t find my toothbrush.
- We’re out of toothpaste. (Ever notice how they wait until it’s been two or three days before they tell you?)
And sometimes, kids get a little clever with their excuses
- I brushed already. (Evidence is a wet tooth brush, or toothpaste remnants smeared in the sink).
- My brother/sister dipped my toothbrush in the toilet or the family pet licked my toothbrush. (This often means a 24-hour reprieve until a parent can buy a new toothbrush from the drugstore, so it’s wise to have extra toothbrushes in storage).
At Beam, we believe in motivating kids and families to overcome these sad excuses. As we mentioned in a previous blog, parents brushing their teeth with their kids often resolves some of these excuses.
Using our Beam Brush and smartphone app to track your family’s progress collectively will encourage the whole family to brush. And if you further motivate your kids with a family reward, like pizza night or a night at the movies, then you’re more likely to get their cooperation.
Oral healthcare is finally being understood and studied as a serious tool in your systemic health, so setting that expectation for your children at a young age will create great oral healthcare habits for a lifetime. For more information on how your family can help your children learn to brush better, visit the Beam toothbrush website.
Our Beam app synchronizes your Beam Bluetooth toothbrush with your smart phone so you know when you’ve brushed for two minutes, and can track your oral care. You do it because you know the value of good oral care, and know that there are physical health reasons to do it.
But how do you get your kids to brush their teeth?
The way we see it, there are two forms of motivation, positive reinforcement and guilt. At Beam, we prefer to focus on positive reinforcement. Brushing teeth has gotten some bad PR over the years. It’s been lumped in with mundane chores: “Take a shower. Brush your teeth. Make your bed.” We want to put the fun and incentive back into teeth brushing.
For Younger Children: Initially, you may want to tell them a story in a framework they understand as to why brushing their teeth is important: “The sugar bugs will make holes in your teeth if you do not brush your teeth.” That helps them visualize the concept of why they need to brush.
Brushing together with your children is also a good idea. Studies have shown that when parents brush their teeth with their kids, the kids do a better job later on.
Charting also works. Young kids take great pride in earning sticker rewards, so charting their progress, as you can do with this free chart ensures that their progress is visible, whether on the refrigerator door or somewhere prominent in their bathroom. This is also why the Beam App works well, because it helps you and your kids visualize their progress.
We also like the KidsDental iPad app from Orca because it uses animation to teach kids how to take care of their teeth, but does it in an entertaining way.
Creating a fun shopping event focused on oral healthcare can also help. Every six months, take your child shopping for new toothpaste, mouth rinse, dental floss and perhaps some new pajamas.
The Dental Detective is always a fun game for kids: have them use a chewable tablet dissolving agent to see if plaque remains (it will look pink where the plaque remains on their teeth after brushing) and then don your best Sherlock Holmes hat and hold up the magnifying glass to their mouth to solve the mystery of whether or not they’ve brushed properly.
For Older Children: Especially children with siblings, incentivizing is often done through competition. The child who brushes first after dinner gets more time playing video games, or brushes every day for a week gets to stay up an extra 30 minutes longer.
You can also set a family goal: families can band together to combine their two-minute teeth brushing times towards earning rewards, like movie theater tickets or dinner out.
Enthusiasm is contagious and this, combined with positive reinforcement, will keep everyone in your family motivated to do their best with their oral healthcare. For more information on how your family can help your children learn to brush better, visit the Beam toothbrush website.
For some patients, getting a dental check-up is like attending church for your teeth every six months with the same residual feelings of guilt, inadequacy and not measuring up to the performance standards set for you.
However, many patients would be surprised to learn the dentists are their own worst patients — sort of like the cobbler’s children going without shoes. Dentists can be so focused on their patient’s teeth that they don’t tend to their own per the standards of care recommended for their patients.
My own dentist, Dr. Dan Sheridan, got braces at age 52. He could afford them. He knew about their efficacy. He had been a professional in dental care for 25 years. However, he postponed it until some pain point made him decide it was finally time to commit to straightened teeth.
When people, such as dentists, make a living and earn money from a task, they are sometimes less motivated to perform that task on their own. However, we are walking billboards for our own practices, and that should motivate us, but it doesn’t always work.
We know professional writers who have typos in their email, web design companies whose websites are two years overdue for a facelift, and accountants who don’t balance their checkbooks every week.
The bottom line is, don’t beat yourself up. If you skip brushing your teeth once in a while, it won’t create tragic, irreversible results. And you’re not a bad person if you haven’t taken great care of your teeth in the past — there are trained professionals whose job is to tell other people how to take care of their teeth, and even they aren’t always that good at it.
For more information on proper oral health care — including rinsing, flossing, and brushing for the optimal amount of time (two minutes; you can time it with the Beam app!) — please visit the Beam website.
Coffee, tea, red wine, and even certain foods can stain our teeth. They get a little dingier and yellower as we get older, so many people want to whiten and lighten them. They’ll brush and brush and brush, hoping to return their not-so-pearly whites to their original dazzling state.
But one of the greatest fallacies is that just brushing your teeth with normal toothpaste will make them white. It doesn’t work this way. Brushing your teeth will remove the plaque and disease from your teeth, but the color will remain the same, or even get dingier as time goes by.
You could try whitening toothpastes, and they’ll make a bit of a difference. However, whitening toothpastes will merely remove any surface stains. If you drank coffee heavily for a week, the whitening toothpaste, coupled with topical whitening solutions, like Crest White Strips, would certainly remove those surface stains. The actual color of your teeth would remain the same, but you won’t achieve the ten shades of lighter color, like you see in the commercials.
To get that level of white, the teeth whitening kits you can get from your dentist are much more intensive and invasive. Those kits can actually change the color of your teeth versus the whitening strips and toothpastes that are on the market today.
However, keep in mind that they can be very harsh, and are best used with your dentist’s supervision. Plus it’s even possible to overdo it, and can harm your gums. So be sure to talk to your dentist before you start using professional whiteners. Try the whitening toothpaste first and see if you’re satisfied with the results.
For more information on teeth whiteners and other oral health care tips, please visit the Beam website.
We think we know what foods are bad for us and good for us. Our moms told us every day: no sugared cereal, no sodas, no junk food.
“That stuff’ll rot your teeth!” Mom said. Sometimes we listened, sometimes we didn’t, and sometimes we just had it when we were at our friend’s house.
Now that we’re parents (or at least parenting age), we’re passing the same knowledge on to our kids. But what many people don’t know is that not all foods are created equal when it comes to the war they wage on your teeth every day. There are a few foods that, when we talk about the dangers to teeth, are a big surprise to a lot of people.
Children’s Vitamins: A lot of children’s vitamins already have sugar in them, so the chewable kind, and even worse, the gummy kind are getting caught in the crevices of children’s teeth and causing cavities. Always have your kids brush vigorously after taking these kinds of vitamins. If you’re not careful, they could do more damage than any value they delivered.
Fruit: Surprisingly, all of those Vitamin C-filled fruits are doing a real number on your teeth. Not only is the sugar (fructose) content high in fruits like oranges and grapefruit, but you’re also adding citric acid to the mix, which is really hard on teeth. One family we know had their kids eating frozen blueberries as a snack, and they suddenly had a rash of new cavities. So brush, or at least rinse, after eating any fruit.
Pasta, Rice and Starchy Foods Like Potatoes: Did you know that once you ingest these foods, your saliva metabolizes them into complex sugars which then coat your teeth? BAM! They’re the perfect storm of cavity creators. Even oatmeal, at least the pre-packaged flavored kinds like apple-cinnamon, can cause problems.
Sports Drinks: You probably don’t stop to think about it while you’re out in the sun doing healthy activities like tennis, and guzzling a 16 ounce red Gatorade. But those drinks are combining sugar and acid, the dynamic duo of destruction for your teeth. Try water instead, or rinse with water after you finish your sports drink.
For more information on tooth-healthy foods, visit the Beam website. There you can find all kinds of information on oral health care and digital health for kids and adults, as well as learn more about the Beam Toothbrush and the Beam mobile app.
As we learn more about oral health care and our systemic health (overall health), we’re learning new things about how something as simple as not brushing our teeth can lead to, or even signal, more serious health problems.
The daily habits of oral health care and teeth brushing give seniors a cognitive advantage, according to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society study. In this study, they monitored more than 5,000 people over an 18-year period and found that those who didn’t brush their teeth daily had a 65% greater chance of developing dementia over those patients who did brush daily.
In other words, the physical daily routine of brushing is good for the brain, because it helps keep the brain active.
But daily brushing is an indicator of dementia as well. Eldercare caregivers who notice a hygiene change in their senior patients, such as not brushing their teeth daily will often flag that behavior change and watch more closely for signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.
Another interesting study from the 2007 Journal of the American Dental Association found a link between tooth loss and dementia: people who had the least amount of teeth — ranging from 8 teeth to no teeth at all — were more likely to be afflicted by dementia.
Let me be clear here: We do not mean to say there’s a cause-and-effect relationship between plaque build-up and dementia or Alzheimer’s, although the dental profession would be interested to learn if there is a connection. We do know that plaque build-up on the teeth can be connected to heart disease, but the field of oral/systemic health is still in its infancy, so we’re learning new things every day.
Fresh breath, your systemic health, and possibly avoiding dementia are all incentives to brush daily. To ensure you’re optimizing your oral healthcare habits, you need to brush for two minutes, two times a day, as well as floss and rinse. You can use the Beam Toothbrush and our handy mobile app to help you keep track of your oral health habits, to make sure you’re staying on target.