Tag Archives: dental caries

Best & Worst U.S. States by Public Oral Health Trends

Earlier this summer, The Kaiser Commission released a report titled, “Oral Health in the US: Key Facts” which discussed the many issues our country currently faces in terms of delivering and maintaining quality oral health care among the general public. Unfortunately, these issues emerge because the resources needed to obtain good oral health are simply not available—typically because the cost is too high, or because more and more people are living in regions which are now being labeled as “Health Professional Shortage Areas” (HPSA). The report also went on to compare each state by several indicators that often reflect their status of oral health, including:

  • % of adults who have visited the dentist within the past year

  • % of seniors who have extracted all their natural teeth

  • % of populations living in a dental HPSA

Overall, the statistics were ranked to determine the top 5 (and bottom 5) states throughout the U.S. under each category (above), and compared to acknowledge any potential trends or correlations among them. The following represents the best and worst states by each category:

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The Nutritional Values of Good Oral Health

The connection between oral and general health is being explored more than ever these days, and one of the most evident parallels between the two is the link between oral-systemic health and diet/nutrition. In 2011, an article by the Oral Sciences Department of Surgical and Oncological Disciplines in Palermo, Italy referenced the two as having a bi-unique relationship, and confirming the following statement:

“a balanced diet is correlated to a state of oral health (periodontal disease, dental elements, quality, and quantity of saliva), and vice versa.”[1]

As oral health professionals know, tooth decay becomes a definite concern when patients have a high intake of sugar in their diets, but studies have also shown there are significant correlations between the times that patients consume sugar and the overall prevalence or incidence of caries. Research shows that if sugar is consumed only during meals (even if in large quantities), it has little effect on accelerating the incidence rate of caries for that individual.

On the other hand, frequent ingestion of sugar in between meals produced a notable increase in the occurrence of decay. Moreover, the type of sugar also has a direct effect; for instance, lactose produces less acidity than other sugars, while xylitol (instead of sucrose) can yield an 85% decrease in decay within a two-year period.[2]

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The following are additional facts related to Oral Health & Diet/Nutrition:

Lack of Vitamin D and Vitamin A can result in hypoplasia of the enamel and atrophy of the salivary glands (especially teeth in a pre-eruptive stage).

Extrinsic and intrinsic acids (citric, phosphoric, ascorbic, malic, tartaric, and carbonic) found in fruit juices, vinegar, and other beverages can produce irreversible loss of dental tissue, a.k.a. erosion.

Calcium and Vitamin C have a profound effect on the onset of periodontal disease since calcium plays a role in the density of the alveolar bone that supports the teeth, while vitamin C has an active effect in stimulating reparative mechanisms.

Vitamins A, E, C, and Beta Carotene have antioxidant properties that fight against and/or interfere with the activation of pro-carcinogens and potentially inhibit the growth of malignant lesions (a.k.a. leukoplakia).

Regular intake of fruits, vegetables, and vegetable fats has shown to counteract the risk for developing oral and pharyngeal cancers.

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CDC Says Dental Caries Rising After 40-Year Decline for U.S. Children

The CDC recently announced that for the first time in nearly 40 years, the U.S. is experiencing an increase in the amount of preschoolers with dental caries after seeing decades of declining numbers.[1] So far, this sudden reversal is being reported across various income levels, with a typical yet astounding incidence rate of up to 6-10 caries per individual.[2] Dr. Burton Edelstein—president of the Children’s Dental Health Project and Professor of Dentistry at Columbia University—concluded that the following percentages of two- to five-year-old children have caries that are “visually evident” to the naked eye (without the use of an X-ray):[2]

Out of all those children, an alarming 79% of them have not received any kind of treatment.[2] The belief is that the rise in occurrence is from an amplified consumption of sugary, acidic beverages—such as energy or sports drinks. Another concern is the fact that most kids do not learn how to change their bad habits while they’re still young, and therefore grow up to repeat the same patterns and continue experiencing the effects of decay. Unfortunately, this segment of the population is not the only one to see a rising number of caries; teenagers as well as young adults are also reporting an overall growth, possibly because they are the least likely to have dental coverage, and are not always consistent at keeping up with their 6-month check-ups.

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For more information on this topic, please visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/ or read one of the original articles at http://ow.ly/cD2xU. For CE articles relating to this topic, check out the following courses on managing oral health for pediatric and adolescent patients:
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Molecule ‘Keep 32′ Could Wipe Out Tooth Decay

Yale researchers have recently discovered a new molecule that is able to destroy the common bacteria—Streptococcus Mutans—often responsible for the prevalent onset of tooth decay. They call it ‘KEEP 32′ because of the fact there are 32 teeth in the adult oral cavity, and they’re planning to have it on the market within the next year and a half. So far, tests show it can kill the harmful bacteria in as little as 60 seconds, and will prevent it from coming back for another several hours after it’s applied. For more information, check out the original press release: Researchers Discover Molecule that Kills Mouth Bacteria.
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