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Baby Teeth Offer Autism Clues

A recently released study by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has found a connection between prenatal and postnatal exposure to some metals, and autism spectrum disorder, also known as ASD. Conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, the study used naturally-shed baby teeth to measure levels of lead, manganese and zinc in children with and without ASD. The study analyzed the teeth of 32 pairs of twins and 12 individual twins to control genetic influences.

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Crazy Dental Myths Debunked!

  Myths, legends, and mysteries. They are as much a part of the human tapestry as proven facts. But while some, like Bigfoot and that one about getting sick from not dressing warmly enough, won’t seem to go away, here are a few of the weirdest dental-related myths that have been thankfully dis-proven over time.

Swallowed gum stays in your stomach for seven years.

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Not Sleeping Soundly? It Could Be Sleep Apnea.

According to American Sleep Apnea Association, an estimated 22 million adults in the United States suffer from the sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs most frequently in men over the age of 40 who are overweight or obese, though it has been seen in patients of all ages, weights, and genders.

There are three main types of sleep apnea. The most common type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway of the throat is blocked while sleeping. This happens when while lying down, the tongue rests on the soft palate of the throat, and like a domino effect, the soft palate leans on the throat, closing it.

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Feeling Tongue Tied About Ankyloglossia?


 Ankyloglossia, or "tongue tie" is a common childhood ailment that occurs when the lingual frenulum connecting your tongue to the bottom of your mouth fails to separate in utero. An estimated 3 million babies are born each year with tongue ties, and while tongue ties are found in babies of both genders, for some reason, they’re more common in boys than in girls. Furthermore, while it is unknown what exactly causes tongue tie, it can sometimes be associated with certain genetic factors. Dr. Michelle Simpson discusses what exactly a tongue tie is, and how to correct it.

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Veneers Aren’t Just for Your Teeth

If you’re one of the 81 percent of people who believe their smile is unattractive, or the 28 percent who refuse to show their teeth in photos on social media, you could be a candidate for porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers are thin porcelain strips that are fitted onto the tooth and then adhered into place. Porcelain veneers can improve the look of the color, shape and texture of the teeth. Usually placed on the front-facing surface of your teeth, veneers give you the beautiful smile you’ve always dreamed of, without having to undergo lengthy procedures like braces, crowns, or dental implants.

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Keep Forgetting to Brush?

 We get it- life gets busy. No matter how old you are or what you do for a living, it can be easy to forget to do simple everyday things like brushing your teeth if you’ve already got a lot of plates in the air. Unfortunately, forgetting to brush your teeth just once a day can increase your risk for cavities, gum disease, and even periodontitis, which can lead to a lot of other dangerous problems, including tooth and gum loss, and even jaw loss. So, when we say brushing twice a day is important, we mean it!  So, what can you do if you find yourself struggling to remember that all-too-important second brushing each day? Here are some cool new ways to remind yourself to take care of your teeth!

The "Tooth" App. The tooth app is a pretty simple, free app, but brilliant in its simplicity. It has three major functions, all designed to help adults remember to brush their teeth better

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Could It Be Gingivitis?

 If you’ve ever brushed or flossed your teeth and noticed your gums were bleeding, it could be the sign of a condition called gingivitis. 

It is estimated that more than 75 percent of adults in America have some form of gum disease. The most common and earliest stage of gum disease is gingivitis. Patients with gingivitis may experience redness and swelling of the gums, elongated teeth due to receding gums, and the patient’s gums may bleed during brushing or flossing. But while gingivitis itself is not that serious of a condition, if left untreated it can quickly escalate to full-blown periodontitis, which can cause everything from tooth loss to bone and tissue loss. Thankfully, gingivitis is reversible with proper oral health care.

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Wisdom Teeth Removal Patients Should Beware of Dry Socket


Just like getting your driver’s license or taking your SAT’s, getting wisdom teeth removed has become somewhat of a rite of passage for young adults in America. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 85 percent of American adults have had their wisdom teeth removed.   Wisdom teeth (also known as third molars) are the third and last set of adult molars to erupt in the adult mouth, as well as the most common set of teeth to be removed.  This is because wisdom teeth can often become impacted, a condition which occurs when wisdom teeth do not fully erupt. But while partially erupted teeth may not seem like a big imposition, impaction causes many painful side effects, including crowding, inflammation, infection, cysts, cavities and even damage to the other nearby teeth. Worse still, the longer you keep your wisdom teeth, the greater the risk of damaging the rest of your healthy teeth.

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Why Choose Invisalign?

 Is your smile a little less perfect than you’d like it to be? Do you have minor crowding or rotations that you’d like to correct without having to commit to traditional wire brackets? You may be an excellent candidate for the tooth straightening system known as Invisalign.

Invisalign works by creating a series of custom-molded, transparent plastic trays that you wear over your teeth to slowly adjust the positioning of your teeth over time. Most treatments last between 3-12 months, depending on how many trays you need to achieve your desired results.

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Does Brushing Your Teeth Affect Your Appetite?

For years, people trying to lose a few extra pounds have been offered tips like ‘If you get hungry, just brush your teeth," and for many people, that advice has proven to be sage. But as writers at the magazine Popular Science recently discovered, that wisdom doesn’t hold true for everyone.  Following some recent engagement with fans on their Twitter page, the brains behind Popular Science discovered a surprising number of their followers believe that brushing their teeth actually makes them hungrier, not the opposite. So, which is true? Both ideas can’t be right- or can they?

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Say Goodnight to Morning Breath

If you’re one of the estimated eighty million unlucky people in America who wakes up each morning with less than minty-fresh breath, you’re not alone. In fact, approximately thirty-five to forty-five percent of people on earth suffer from the condition known as halitosis, or as it is referred to in the morning "morning breath" – that combination of bad breath and equally bad taste in your mouth that only seems to show up after sleeping. So, what causes morning breath- and what can you do to stop it?

Morning breath is that sour, Sulphur-laden odor in your mouth that shows up after you’ve been asleep. Much like the term ‘morning sickness,’ however, morning breath is a bit of a misnomer. Morning breath can strike anytime you wake up- even after a mid-day nap. Morning breath is caused by the bacteria in your mouth that normally nosh on the carbohydrates left behind after you eat. However, once you brush your teeth and rinse all those carbohydrates away, they have nothing to snack on until your next meal- so they move on to the proteins in your mouth, which can be found in your saliva and mucous membranes. The breakdown of the proteins is what causes the Sulphur smell that most of us associate with morning breath.

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Reading Teeth: What Morphopsychology Says About Your Personality

We recently read a fascinating article about the art of "morphopsychology," which is essentially reading the shape of one’s teeth to determine their personality type- but is there any merit to it?

In morphopsychology, there are supposedly four shapes of teeth, each shape possessing its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Individuals possessing that tooth shape are said to personify the traits associated with their tooth shape. The shapes are as follows:

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Coping with Dental Fears in Looming Nitrous Oxide Shortage

When a deadly explosion tore through an Airgas nitrous oxide plant in Cantonment, Florida in August of 2016, the last thing anyone was thinking about was their teeth. But after the dust settled and the victim was laid to rest, both the medical and food industries were left with the startling realization that a nitrous oxide shortage was a very real possibility.  Unfortunately, despite Airgas’ attempts to shift manufacturing of their laughing gas to other plants, they are still falling short on production nearly a year later. As a result, they have cut back shipments to foodservice companies who typically use the gas as an aerosol to create things like whipped cream. Despite these efforts however, the medical community is still feeling the pinch of the shortage, and patients around the US who have come to rely on laughing gas to get them through anxiety-ridden dental procedures are now faced with the reality of having to attend their dental visit without the aid of this popular relaxer. Dr. Michele Simpson of Wilmington, North Carolina understands what the nitrous oxide shortage means to practices like hers. She's also aware of how it can impact her patients, however, there are things patients can do to help get them through their dental anxiety without the help of laughing gas.

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Dentists Caution Against Growing Foreign Dental Tourism Trend

As health insurance costs skyrocket and more and more employers are declining to offer dental coverage as part of their compensation packages, Americans with costly dental work are feeling the pinch in their wallets. To get the care they need without breaking the bank, many patients are traveling beyond borders to undergo procedures that can often cost three or four times more in the US. But a growing number of dentists are cautioning patients that when you undergo dental procedures in some foreign clinics, you may not be getting the bargain you think you’re getting.

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Could Your Dentures Be Making You Sick?

It is estimated that at least 20 million Americans wear some form of denture- ranging from a partial to a full set of teeth. But despite these high numbers, many dentures or partial denture wearers have not been properly trained in the care and cleaning of these dental devices. This can cause huge problems for the wearer- ranging from ‘dirty’ looking teeth to bad breath to an increased risk for illnesses. So, what can you do to make sure you or your loved ones are properly cleaning these helpful oral appliances? Keep reading to find out.

Nobody really wants to get dentures. Having dentures means you have lost the last remains of your natural teeth, and must now put in a device that doesn’t always feel great or stay put properly. Perhaps this is why many older patients who have had dentures for many years don’t wear them as frequently as they could. The good news is that today’s dentures are more comfortable and natural looking than ever before. New denture wearers never have to experience those awkward dentures of years past, and those replacing older dentures may actually want to wear their new ones, even if no one will see them. But while dentures do replicate the look and feel of natural teeth, what they do not do is replace the need for proper cleaning and oral hygiene.

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Could You Be Diagnosed with Diabetes at Your Next Dental Exam?

A recent study by the University of Amsterdam and published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care found that patients with periodontitis were twice as likely to have undiagnosed Type 2 Diabetes as those with less severe forms of gum disease. We spoke to Dr. Michelle Simpson of Wilmington, North Carolina about this study and what it could mean for the future of diabetes diagnosis.

An estimated 422 million people suffer from the condition known as diabetes. Here in the U.S., that number hovers around 29 million with another 8 million cases undiagnosed. Unfortunately, those numbers appear to be growing. In fact, it’s estimated that 37 percent of Americans over the age of 20 are already pre-diabetic, a condition that if not corrected will inevitably lead to full-blown diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder categorized by the body’s inability to process blood glucose properly. It causes blood glucose (or blood sugar) levels to rise to a state called hyperglycemia, making the body resistant to insulin and causing the pancreas to make extra insulin at first, and not enough insulin as the disease progresses. Patients with diabetes have shorter life spans, and frequently suffer from a host of other complications including increased risk of heart disease, lower-limb amputations, blindness, dementia, sexual dysfunction and kidney failure.

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The Surprising Reason You May Have a Toothache Right Now

Spring. It’s a time of renewed hope. The snow melts, the birds return, the flowers, trees and grasses bloom. But along with all those wonderful perks, many people experience a major downside: tooth pain. So, what could be causing this unexpected discomfort and what can you do to prevent it? We asked Dr. Michelle Simpson of Wilmington, North Carolina for some insight into this surprisingly common problem.

Imagine waking up one beautiful spring morning to chirping birds, blue skies and the most excruciating tooth pain of your life. You take great care of your teeth, never miss a cleaning (okay, maybe you miss a cleaning here or there) and when you went to bed last night your teeth felt fine. What gives? Well, if you’re like many people this time of year, you could be suffering from allergies, thanks to the influx of new pollens returning to the air. But why would allergies hurt your teeth? 

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When Dental Implants Don’t Work

When dental implants were introduced to consumers in the late 1960’s, they offered new hope to patients who thought they’d never have the look and feel of ‘real’ teeth again. Since then, dental implants have steadily increased in popularity, earning a reputation as the luxury alternative to dentures. Today, though still expensive (the average cost of a full set is around $35k, though some sets have cost nearly triple that), dental implants are now becoming more mainstream. But like any medical procedure, they are not without risks. We spoke to Dr. Michelle Simpson of Wilmington, NC about what happens when dental implants don’t implant.

To most people who get dental implants, they are well worth the time, pain, and expense incurred to have them installed. But many patients do not realize that implants carry with them a risk of failure – and when they fail, it can cause irreparable damage to your gums and jaw bone. That’s why it’s important to know the risks associated with dental implants.

"Dental implants are titanium screws that are implanted into the jaw bone. Once the screws have successfully adhered to the bone (a process called osseointegration) and the bone and gum have healed, an abutment is placed on the titanium post. From there, artificial teeth are created and attached to the abutment," says Dr. Simpson. The implant process is done in stages, which are completed over several months. This allows for healing between each stage. But according to Dr. Simpson, "Sometimes, even despite the allotted healing time the implant doesn’t properly bond to the bone."

While there are many factors which may cause the osseointegration process to fail, new research is shedding some light on a surprising reason. A recent study by McGill University in Montreal found that certain medications may be to blame for some osseointegration failure. In the study of 728 patients, those who took antacids during the osseointegration process had more than double the risk of implant failure (6.8%) than those who did not take them (3.2%). On the other hand, patients who took beta blockers (a medication is taken to reduce blood pressure that works by blocking the hormone epinephrine) were found to have the lowest risk of implant failure – just .6%, whereas those who did not take beta blockers had a 4.1% chance of implant failure. It is believed that because antacids decrease calcium absorption (and have been found to increase the risk of bone fractures), they make it harder for dental implants to osseointegrate to the jaw successfully. Conversely, according to Dr. Simpson, "Beta blockers have been shown to increase bone formation in other studies- so their use in dental implant patients actually increased the body’s ability to accommodate the implant."

What this means for future implant patients is still unknown, there is a good chance that beta blockers may play a role in the healing process. In the meantime, Dr. Simpson says the research can help dentists provide more information to their patients about what to avoid during the implant process. "Now we know to tell patients to limit their use of antacids. Whether that means they need to cut back on certain foods or find a different medication that doesn’t affect the bone metabolism, it will empower them to have the best odds at a successful implantation."

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Alzheimer’s Drug Could Heal Cavities

Dental occlusions, or cavities, are the number one dental problem facing American adults today- with nearly 90% of people between the ages of 20-39 possessing at least one filling in their teeth. But when it comes to treating cavities, very little has changed since the 1830’s when the first amalgam fillings were used- that is, until now. Recently, a team of scientists at King’s College in London made headlines after finding success treating cavities with a new drug in development for the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease- and their findings could change how we treat cavities forever.  Wilmington, NC’s Dr. Michelle Simpson explains.

Though it hasn’t even hit the market yet, the drug Tideglusib is already causing quite a stir in the medical and dental communities- for its ability to help both Alzheimer’s patients and surprisingly, regrow the dentine in the teeth of laboratory mice. Recently, a group of researchers at King’s College in London set out to discover if the stem-cell-encouraging drug Tideglusib can be used to help more than Alzheimer’s patients. To conduct the study, researchers drilled small holes in the teeth of test animals and then filled those holes with tiny, biodegradable sponges soaked in the drug Tideglusib. As the teeth absorbed the Tideglusib, the sponges dissolved, and the holes in the teeth healed shut on their own. "This is important because unlike with fillings that simply act as a semi-permanent patch which re-fills the damaged area of the tooth, Tideglusib healed the damaged teeth- eliminating the need for fillings entirely," explains Dr. Simpson.

Next up for Tideglusib is more clinical trials- this time with actual cavities- not just holes drilled into healthy teeth. If the King’s College team is able to demonstrate success with tooth decay, then human trials will likely follow, and hopefully someday in the near future, Tideglusib will be approved for use in treating cavities. In addition to trials for the treatment of dental occlusions and Alzheimer’s disease, the drug is also in testing for use in patients with Myotropic Dystrophy and teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

So, what does a dentist think about Tideglusib potentially healing cavities? "It would be wonderful," says Dr. Simpson. "I actually think it would help patients take better care of their teeth because they would be less afraid of getting fillings or having teeth extracted, and less afraid to visit their dentist in the first place. If I were to tell a patient ‘if we catch your cavity before it has a chance to worsen, we could heal it’ I think they’d be a lot more likely to come in at the first sign of a problem. Instead of waiting until the pain is unbearable, and losing the tooth."

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Veneers vs. Crowns: Which is Best for You?

If you read a lot of celebrity news, you’ve probably already heard a lot about porcelain veneers- which celebrities have them, which celebrities need them, and how much better their teeth look after getting them. If you’ve ever wondered if veneers are right for you, keep reading. Dr. Michelle Simpson discusses these handy little porcelain facings, and the many ways they can benefit your smile.

One of the most common questions we get about porcelain veneers is, what are veneers- and how are they different from crowns? Veneers are porcelain facings that are adhered to the front of your tooth to improve the look of your smile. They are often used on teeth with chips, undesirable shapes, permanent discoloration, or other damage that is only on the front facing surface of the tooth. Conversely, crowns are cap-like fillings that offer 360-degree coverage that encompasses the entire tooth’s surface- so, it not just the front of the tooth. Crowns are most often used when a tooth is broken, or when too much of the original tooth has already been replaced by fillings and attempting another filling or veneer carries too much of a risk. In terms of insurance, whereas veneers are usually considered cosmetic, crowns are generally considered more of a necessity and are often at least partially covered by some insurance plans.

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Michele Simpson DDS

Wilmington Dental Office

3317 Masonboro Loop Rd • Suite 140 • Wilmington, NC 28409

(910) 550-3959