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Research suggests that flossing could be pointless


After being told for decades that flossing is a vital part of any dental hygiene routine, it may surprise you to know that dental researchers are currently saying that the practice could actual be a complete waste of time. According to a study in America, there is not much evidence that flossing is helpful to maintaining healthy teeth and gums and it has been recommended that it is removed from official health guidelines in the country.

The Associated Press revealed that studies investigating the benefits of flossing provide only weak evidence that the practice is beneficial to dental health, after looking at ‘the most rigorous research conducted over the past decade.’

Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific advisor at the British Dental Association, said that there is actually ‘little value’ to flossing around the teeth and inter-dental brushes are much more effective, where there is space to fit them between the teeth.

Professor Walmsley added that the best way to reduce the risk of decay and gum disease is to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and enjoy sweet treats at mealtimes only.


Fruit juice could be rotting your child’s teeth


Dentists are warning against giving too much fruit juice to children because it has caused decay in the teeth of more than 1,200 toddlers in the UK. Although parents might be assuming that they are giving their children a healthy snack, in fact the sugar in the juice could be eating away at the teeth and may lead to tooth extractions later on.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre said that 1,235 children under the age of two had to be put under general anaesthetic to have teeth removed, including 134 who had only just grown their milk teeth. Dentists blame the problem on increasingly sugary diets, coupled with visiting the dental clinic less frequently.

Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific adviser at the British Dental Association (BDA) said that this problem can affect patients of any age but he explained that toddlers can get cavities because they are given too many sugary foods and drinks. He added that ‘most damaging of all’ is giving sugary drinks in bottles for children to sip during the night; Professor Walmsley said that tooth decay is ‘largely preventable’ and also ‘the main reason why youngsters are admitted to hospital to have a general anaesthetic.’

Cooling face mask developed to help tackle dental pain


A new chilled face mask has been developed to help reduce toothache following a wisdom tooth extraction; the product, based on the same cooling technology designed to ease the pain of arthritis, has gone to clinical trials and patients will have to wear it for an hour after having a wisdom tooth removed.

The mask, called Hilotherm mask is supposed to narrow blood vessels and limit blood flow to damaged areas of tissue, which reduces inflammation, swelling and discomfort. The product is currently on trial at King’s College Hospital NHS Trust has tubes running through it that keep the temperature steady and prevent the blood vessels from widening again, as it has been suggested they do if the temperature drops below 15c. The mask is designed to be placed on the patients face straight after a wisdom tooth has been taken out and it could help to boost healing rates as well as reducing pain.

The British Dental Association’s scientific adviser, Professor Damien Walmsley, commented that ‘we look forward to the results of the trial – if positive it will be of great benefits to patients. The treatment also has the advantage of being a relatively low cost approach to a common problem in healthcare.’

World’s first 100% ultrasound toothbrush launched


Some ultrasound technology has been added to the design of electric toothbrushes in the past but now a 100% ultrasound product is about to be released; the toothbrush doesn’t even need to move to clean the teeth effectively. The new Emmi-dent brush costs £79.95; it gives off a staggering 86 million sound waves per minute and can clean the teeth without rotating or vibrating at all. The waves emitted cause millions of tiny air bubbles to form; these bubbles get between the teeth and kill bacteria by bursting to dislodge tartar and food particles. The ultrasound technology also gets rid of bacteria on the brush head so the bristles are cleaner than regular brushes – both electronic and manual.

Special toothpaste is needed to get the best results from the brush and the manufacturers have added a slight vibration to the handle so that users know when it is switched on. The brush head needs to be held over the surface of each tooth for between five seconds and fifteen seconds, which should be enough to get rid of any bacteria and food debris.

Although initial tests have proved successful, the British Dental Association admitted that further studies need to be carried out to determine how effective the brush really is. Professor Damien Walmsley was keen to make sure that consumers don’t neglect dental hygiene on the basis of new technology, he said ‘The most important factor in maintaining good oral hygiene still remains regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste and avoiding excessive consumption of sweet or acidic food and drink.’

Patients need to be warned of dental implant risks, says King’s College study


According to new research undertaken by the King’s College London Dental Institute, many surgeries in the UK are failing to properly inform their patients of the risks associated with dental implants; more specifically the possibility of nerve damage. The results of the study suggest that because the number of implant procedures has risen in recent years, so too have the number of patients suffering nerve injuries; around one per cent of treatments result in nerve damage, out of approximately 10,000 carried out across the country.

Of the thirty people with nerve problems tested, over half of them suffered constant pain after surgery, and forty percent complained of numbness in the jaw. More worryingly, a third of participants reported experiencing feelings of depression and other psychological problems.

Study leader Professor Tara Renton says that patients are not being given the correct information or care before and after the treatment; ‘In our study of a collection of implant patients with injuries we discovered that pre-operative consent, planning and follow-up after surgery was inadequate.’ She says, ‘Clinicians must be vigilant about potential nerve damage when carrying out these surgical procedures.’

Professor Damien Walmsley, of the British Dental Association, comments that no surgery is entirely risk-free and patients should be made aware of the possible side effects beforehand, he also points out that ‘the risk of nerve damage will vary according to where an implant is inserted in the mouth, but dentists take the precautions necessary to minimise this risk and achieve a successful outcome.’

Good oral care could save your life


According to a recent scientific study, failing to brush your teeth properly could have a serious impact on the health of your heart. Researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin have revealed that harmful bacteria found in the mouth can cause life-threatening blood clots, and could also trigger the rare condition infective endocarditis.

The killer bug – called streptococcus gordonii – enters the bloodstream through bleeding gums and thickens the blood, causing it to clot. Inside the thick clots, the bacteria are protected from the body’s natural defences and any antibiotics that might be prescribed, leaving it free to cause havoc with the immune system and organ function. Infective endocarditis could develop if the clots grow on the valves of the heart; a dangerous and possibly fatal condition.

Scientists from Bristol University were also involved in the study and joined their colleagues from Dublin at a conference last week for the Society for General Microbiology. Both sets of researchers are hoping to create a new drug to combat infective endocarditis and prevent blood clots forming on the heart.

Professor Damien Walmsley, of the British Dental Association, spoke of similar results after a study in 2010; ‘The findings contribute to our understanding of the relationship between gum disease and heart disease. It also underlines the importance of brushing teeth twice a day.’

New teeth gel ‘could prevent need for fillings’


Teeth could regrow using the gel, scientists have claimedA new gel being developed by researchers in France could help teeth to grow back and reduce the need for fillings.

The discovery may aid those who provide emergency dentistry, with scientists claiming tooth tissue can be regenerated within four weeks.

Containing a melanocyte-stimulating hormone, which has now been linked with bone growth, the gel was rubbed onto dead cells within the mouth and caused them to reactive.

Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific advisor for the British Dental Association, admitted the experiment looked promising.

However, he added it is unlikely to be helpful for people whose teeth have been badly damaged by decay.

“We will have to wait for the results to come back from clinical trials and its use will be restricted to treating small areas of dental decay,” Professor Walmsley explained.

A recent study presented at the International Association of Dental Research found men with diabetes are twice as likely to lose their teeth compared with males who do not have the disease.ADNFCR-2621-ID-19909282-ADNFCR

Midnight snackers ‘risk losing teeth’


Midnight snackers 'risk losing teeth'Snacking in the middle of the night could lead to an increased risk of serious tooth damage and even loss, experts have warned.

A six year study by the University of Copenhagen found that of the participating 2,217 Danes, the 173 who were categorised as nocturnal eaters lost the most teeth, the BBC reports.

Nocturnal eaters were categorised by their pattern of eating more than a quarter of their daily calories after dinner or in the middle of the night, at least twice a week.

No significance could be drawn between the types of food eaten and the findings, instead the researchers believe the drying-up of saliva flow at night is the causative factor.

The British Dental Association’s scientific advisor Professor Damien Walmsley said: “Eating at night, when the mouth is driest and any food remains in the mouth longer, accentuates the impact of consuming sugary and acidic food and drinks.”

He recommended drinking only water in the last hour of the day and ensuring teeth are brushed immediately before bed.

Lack of regular tooth brushing was recently found to increase the risk of suffering from heart disease, according to a report published in the British Medical Journal.ADNFCR-2621-ID-19813220-ADNFCR

Growing gap between good and poor oral health


There is a growing gap between those with good and poor oral health in the UK, it has been revealed.

Research carried out by the British Dental Association (BDA) has shown that in the poorest areas of Britain, 60 per cent of five-year-olds and 70 per cent of eight-year-olds have signs of decay in their baby teeth.

This is compared to 40 per cent and 55 per cent respectively in more affluent areas, highlighting a noticeable gap in oral health standards.

Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific adviser to the BDA, said: "There has been a significant improvement in the nation’s overall oral health over the last 30 years, but despite that we still see a huge disparity that is all-too-often related to social deprivation."

Meanwhile, the American Academy of Periodontology recently noted that regular flossing could help people improve their overall health by removing bacteria and foods in the mouth, which, if left unchecked, could cause problems if bacteria seeped into the bloodstream.


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