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New Report Reveals Startling Disparities in Prison Dental Care

The oral health needs of American prisoners are not being adequately met, according to a report in the American Journal of Public Health. The report highlights a strong correlation between poor oral health among inmates and higher rates of chronic illness among the same population.

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Energy Drinks Sapping the Life from Teeth

What comes to mind when you hear the words "energy drink"? Maybe ,like many, you imagine a rush of endorphins strong enough to power you through an intense workout or soccer game. Maybe it calls to mind that much-needed boost of alertness to push through that late-night study session or due-in-like-two-hours term paper you just started. No matter the image, what it probably doesn’t make you think about is an increased rate of oral health problems and higher rates of obesity. But, according to researchers, these maladies are exactly what those so-called energy drinks are causing.

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All About Dentures


 

It’s been estimated that up to 40 million American adults wear a full set of dentures - and each year, that number increases. Dentures, both full and partial, are prosthetic teeth that secure to the inside of the mouth to replace teeth that have been lost or that maybe never developed in the first place. But while dentures look a lot like a natural set of teeth, the way you care for them is very different.

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Another E-Cigarette Explosion Renews Questions About Safety

When Matt Yamashita of Pearl City, Hawaii, went to use his e-cigarette before hitting the basketball court, he got a surprise he won’t soon forget. That’s because instead of creating the steam vapor he was expecting, his cigarette exploded in his mouth, taking with it four teeth and requiring 40 stitches in his mouth. Yamashita will also require surgery for dental implants to replace the missing teeth once his primary injuries have healed. But what caused this explosion - and could it have been prevented?

Dr. Michele Simpson of Wilmington, North Carolina, has a theory, but she says most e-cigarette smokers aren’t going to like it.

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Sealing the Deal: Do Kids Really Need Dental Sealants?


If you’ve ever been told by your dentist that your child’s teeth will benefit from sealants, you may be wondering what they are, and if they’re worth the expense. If you’re curious about sealants, here’s a guide to everything you’ve ever wondered about this beneficial treatment option.

What Are Sealants?

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Why Bedside Manner Matters


Imagine this: You’ve been experiencing a great deal of pain in one of your back molars for several days. You thought you could wait out the pain in hopes that it would go away, but instead it only seems to get worse. You’re already somewhat afraid of going to the dentist, but you can’t take it anymore, so you check Google for a top-rated dentist in your area and call the practice. 

 

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Did Teeth Really Grow in a Man’s Throat?


Teeth can grow in some pretty strange places. They have been found everywhere from tumors to eyes to even in brains. But an unusual case in China now has people asking, Can teeth really grow in the throat?

The case involved a man referred to only as Mr. Zhang, who began to have difficulty breathing. Zhang went to Dr. Zhu Xiangping at Jiangsu Subei People’s Hospital in Jiangsu Province, China, where it was revealed that Zhang had what appeared to be dozens of teeth growing in his throat.

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Why Do We Need Saliva?


To some, it may be kind of gross. To others, maybe just a little weird. But we all produce saliva, whether we like it or not. As strange as it may seem, saliva production is a vitally important function of our exocrine gland system.

Saliva is a fluid produced in the salivary glands of the mouth, cheeks, gums, tongue and lips. It is made of water, mucous, minerals, proteins and the enzyme amylase. 

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Study Shows More Detailed Link Between Diabetes and Tooth Loss


If you’re one of the estimated 29 million Americans who suffer from the insulin-regulating disease diabetes, you are probably already aware of the many high risks the disease carries, including the elevated risk of tooth loss due to periodontitis. But while the connection has long been known and well documented, until recently, doctors have not been able to explain why such a connection exists.

 

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Ultrasonic Versus Spin Brushes: Which Is Better?


Whether you’re tired of getting mediocre results from a manual toothbrush or your trusty old electric toothbrush is starting to show its age, if you’re considering getting a new electric toothbrush it can be very overwhelming - especially if you don’t know the main differences between brush types. If you’re ready to buy a new brush but aren’t sure what kind is best, keep reading!

 

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Is It Time to Reconsider Dental Implants?


If you’re missing one or multiple teeth, chances are you've considered replacing them. Replacing lost teeth not only looks and feels better, but it is also better for your teeth and jaw. That’s because when you leave open spaces in your mouth, you can experience bone loss and the shifting of the rest of your teeth. Shifting teeth isn’t just an aesthetic problem, it can also cause uneven wear, excess tooth decay, and even headaches and jaw pain.

 

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Which Type of Dental Floss Is Best?


When it comes to most things in life, it’s great to have options. Dental floss is no exception, except when you have no idea what the difference is between all those little plastic boxes in the toothpaste aisle. So, what’s the difference between waxed and unwaxed, toothpicks and flossers, and is one any better than the others?

 

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Back to School for Dentists? Why Continuing Education Matters


You’re probably already aware of the importance of continuing education for yourself and your kids, but did you know that it’s also extremely important for your dentist, too? After all, with new advances in dentistry occurring almost every month, if your dentist isn’t continuing her education, she's doing herself and her patients a disservice.  

 

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Think Before You Drink: The Best and Worst Sodas for Your Teeth


Despite slight declines in soda sales in recent years, Americans still spend an average of $5 billion a year on soda, coffee and energy drinks, and the average American drinks 44 gallons of soda per year. In fact, it is estimated that 27 percent of our daily fluid intake is pure soda. With all that soda, it’s no wonder 92 percent of adults have had at least one cavity in their permanent teeth.  

 

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Is Virtual Reality the Future of Dentistry?


For some patients with dental anxiety, they’d rather be anywhere but sitting in a dentist’s chair. But while a lounge chair on a warm, sandy beach sounds like a lovely alternative to fillings and root canals, avoiding much-needed dental work isn’t doing your mouth any favors. So, what if you could visit the dentist and relax on the beach at the same time? No, we’re not talking about poolside dentistry. We’re talking about virtual reality, or more specifically, implementing the use of virtual reality equipment during dental procedures. While the idea may seem far-fetched, it's already yielding some big results around the globe.

 

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No Insurance? What to Do in a Dental Emergency


According to the National Association of Dental Plans, about 44 percent of Americans do not have any form of dental coverage. That’s about 114 million people! But just because you don’t have dental coverage doesn’t mean you should stop routine dental exams and cleanings. But while budgeting for a bi-annual checkup is one thing, it can be quite another financial setback if a dental emergency occurs without coverage. Here are some tips to try if you have a dental emergency, but you don’t have dental insurance.

 

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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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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.

The University of Amsterdam study used glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) stick tests to evaluate the blood of 313 patients. Shockingly, researchers found that the higher the patient’s HbA1c, the more frequent and severe the patient’s periodontitis. Furthermore, nearly 50 perecent of those patients with some stage of periodontitis were at a minimum pre-diabetic.

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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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Michele Simpson DDS

Wilmington Dental Office

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

(910) 550-3959

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3317 Masonboro Loop Rd
Suite 140
Wilmington, NC 28409