Bad Bite & Bad Posture Related? | Alhambra Dentist

Can a better bite give you a better athletic performance?

Dental occlusion, or “your bite”, could be defined as contact between the top and bottom teeth when closing the mouth. Correction of the bite through orthodontic and other treatments leads to better dental health. It’s been known in the field of occlusion that malocclusion (bad bite) may be associated with neck, back and other postural problems. Lately, two new studies appear to further confirm this clinical hypothesis.

Two new studies, carried out in collaboration between the Department of Physiology at the University of Barcelona (Spain) and the University of Innsbruck (Austria), indicate a connection between a bad bite and poor posture.

“When there is a malocclusion, it is classified according to scientifically-established criteria. What is relevant in the study is that malocclusions have also been associated with different motor and physiological alterations,” explains Sonia Julià-Sánchez to Sinc, the main author of the studies and a researcher at the Catalan University.

Both studies, whose results have been published in Motor Control and Neuroscience Letters, provide conclusive data which show that postural control is improved -both in static and dynamic equilibrium- when different malocclusions are corrected by positioning the jaw in a neutral position.

It has been known that athletic performance can be enhanced through bite guards, as well as other means of bite correction. These studies further emphasize the role occlusion plays in the prevention of injuries such as sprains, strains and fractures caused by unexpected instability as fatigue increases and motor control capacity decreases.

“Therefore, it would be helpful for both the general population and athletes to consider correcting dental occlusions to improve postural control and thus prevent possible falls and instability due to a lack of motor system response,” adds Julià-Sánchez.

“Postural control is the result of a complex system that includes different sensory and motor elements arising from visual, somatosensory and vestibular information,” explains the expert.

Dr. Julià-Sánchez explains neurophysiological aspects of the phenomenon. There is a reciprocal influence between the trigeminal nerve and the vestibular nucleus – which are responsible for the masticatory function and balance control, respectively – as well as between the muscles of mastication and the neck.

This influence would explain why dental malocclusions negatively affect postural control. Up until now there was no conclusive research.

“The main problem stems from the fact that the majority of these studies had statically assessed balance under conditions of total stability, which in practice has little actual application in the control of posture while in action,” points out Julià-Sánchez.

The first study took into account the type of dental occlusion as well as whether there had been previous orthodontic treatment. The results showed that alterations in alignment of the teeth were related to poorer control of static balance.

The second study assessed the type of dental occlusion, control of posture and physical fatigue in order to analyze a possible relationship among these factors. The analysis demonstrated that balance improved when malocclusions were corrected, and that the latter had a greater impact on postural control when subjects were fatigued than when they were rested.

The take home lesson from these studies is that, no matter what age or occupation, malocclusion should be corrected.  This could at the least prevent falls and accidents.

So, see your dentist regularly and ask about your “bite”.

If you would like more information about the status of your bite, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Colorectal Cancer May Be Started and Accelerated by Oral Bacteria | Alhambra Dentist

Two recent studies suggest that a type of gut bacteria found in the mouth may trigger colorectal cancer by influencing the immune response and switching on cancer genes. The researchers believe their findings may lead to more timely and improved ways of diagnosing, preventing and treating colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of death from cancer among Americans. The culprit is called Fusobacteria, a type of bacteria in the mouth that is associated with periodontitis, more commonly called “gum disease”. This gum condition is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults.

These two studies were recently published in the Journal of Cell Host and Microbe. In the first study, the researchers determined the oral bacteria called Fusobacterium were found in benign tumors that later turned cancerous. Furthermore, in the mice model they found that Fusobacterium sped up tumor formation through the release of a type of immune cell called “myeloid cells”. The latter cells penetrate tumors and trigger inflammations that can lead to cancer. The researcher, Wendy S. Garrett, MD, PhD from the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center stated that, “Fusobacteria may provide not only a new way to group or describe colon cancers but also, more importantly, a new perspective on how to target pathways to halt tumor growth and spread.”

In the second study, another group of researchers found that Fusobacterium uses a molecule that lives on the surface of the bacterial cells. This molecule allows the bacteria to stick to the human cells and facilitates the invasion of the normal human cell. The molecule called Fusobacterium adhesion A (FadA) switches on genes that spur cancer growth, triggers inflammation in the human cancer cells. The end result may be cancer. The researchers also found that the FadA is much lower in normal patients. This report also said that they identified a compound that can stop the effects of FadA on cancer cells. Even better news is that FadA, according to author Yiping Han of Western Reserve University of School of Medicine, FadA is a “marker that can be used for the early diagnosis of colorectal cancer. Furthermore, FadA can be used to find “therapeutic targets to treat or prevent this common and debilitating disease.”

The conclusion to be drawn from these two studies, as far as dentistry is concerned, is the importance of dental hygiene and regular professional dental care. Keeping the mouth as clean as possible, following common sense instructions and seeing the dentist and the dental hygienist on a regular basis is the best way to prevent abnormal growth of “bad” bacteria, including the latest villain, Fusobacterium. Thus, it can be said that you have a lessened risk of colorectal cancer as well as other cancers if you keep your oral health in the optimal condition.

Also remember increased inflammation in the mouth may increase the inflammation index for the whole body. Abnormal inflammation in the body is associated with many diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, heart ailments and diabetes to name just a few. As the eyes are windows to the soul, the mouth is the same to the body.

If you would like more information about colorectal cancer, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Jowl Lines May Be Caused by Grinding Your Teeth (Bruxism) | Alhambra Dentist

There is a muscle that attaches the corners of our mouth to the border of the lower jaw.  It is called the “depressor anguli oris”. It is also called the “triangularis.” Triangularis is a muscle of facial expression. Specifically, it allows us to frown. It stands to reason if we frown a lot, we are likely to over-develop this muscle. The consequence is “jowl lines” that go at an angle from the corners of the mouth to the bottom of the lower jaw.

The bad news is that you don’t have to frown a lot to get jowl lines. You can get jowl lines just from unconsciously clenching and grinding your teeth. You would be doing something a lot of people do unconsciously during sleep, and even during the awake hours. This unconscious habit is called bruxism. According to the American Sleep Disorders Association, the prevalence of bruxism varies from 5 to 20 percent. The wide range is due to reporting something you are not, by definition, aware of. Your dentist can, with some confidence, diagnose you as having bruxism if you have obvious signs of excessive wear on your teeth that cannot be attributed to what you eat and chew. If you are told you have bruxism, don’t fight it. Excessive wear of your teeth is forensic evidence you are unconsciously doing it during the daytime, or you are doing it while you are in certain stages of sleep.

So, what do you do with habit? It needs to be changed. How? Your dentist can make you a specially-designed and calibrated oral appliance that gives you an ideal bite. This ideal bite will lessen the tendency to clench and grind. But to change the habit, you will need to wear this appliance 24 hours per day for at least 6 months, and often as long as two years. While you wear the appliance, you must remember to use it as a “biofeedback appliance” that will train your muscles not to clench and grind. Every time you bite into it, you will be able to tell you are doing so. After a period of time, the muscles will learn not to clench or grind. This is just like training your muscles to golf or play tennis. It takes practice.

The bite appliances are not obtrusive nor obviously visible, especially if your dentist makes it to fit over your lower teeth. The benefits would be that you won’t wear your teeth down and you won’t get “frown” or “jowl” lines in your face.

Seeing the dentist can give you good dental health, as well as save you from facelifts, botox injections or dermal fillers. Don’t forget your regular checkups.

If you would like more information about bruxism, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Controlling Gum Disease for Possible Cancer Prevention | Alhambra Dentist

A recent study lead by New York University of Dentistry and the New York University School of Medicine concluded that a lack of bacterial diversity in the mouth was identified in people with precancerous lesions that could precede stomach cancer. This is based on the fact that there is a healthy mix of a vast variety of bacteria living in beneficial coexistence in the oral cavity. When there is disease, certain bacterial groups take over the oral environment and, in the process, eliminate certain beneficial bacteria. This results in what’s called lack of “bacterial diversity”. Where this shrinkage of bacterial variety occurs, the findings of this study concludes that there are higher incidences of precancerous lesions that lead to stomach cancer. It is also theorized that restoration of the normal balance of bacteria in the mouth would lessen the risk of stomach cancer. These finding were published in the November 2017 issue of Journal of Periodontology.

The American Cancer Society estimated that 26,370 new cases of stomach or gastric cancer would be diagnosed in 2016, resulting in 10,703 deaths. Accumulating evidence suggests that chronic inflammation caused by oral bacterial infections may contribute to the development and progression of various types of cancer, including stomach cancer.

Although some risk factors – such as H. pylori colonization, cigarette smoking, and eating salt and preserved foods – have previously been confirmed to contribute to the development of stomach cancer, many new cases unrelated to these risk factors are diagnosed each year. Scientists have hypothesized that a group of pathogens may be responsible for causing periodontal disease and the resulting chronic systemic inflammation that may contribute to the development of gastric cancer.

This study assesses the association between periodontal pathogen colonization and the potential risk of developing precancerous lesions – including chronic atrophic gastritis, intestinal metaplasia, and dysplasia – that may predict stomach cancer.

The researchers studied 105 individuals scheduled to receive an upper endoscopy. After the endoscopic procedure and histopathologic evaluation, 35 people were diagnosed with precancerous lesions of gastric cancer and another 70 people of the same ages without precancerous lesions were included in the study as a control group.

The researchers concluded that the colonization of microbes (germs) and lack of bacterial diversity in the oral cavity are important factors that, when at higher or lower levels respectively, may contribute to an increased risk of developing precancerous gastric lesions.

So, it is critical not only to your oral health, but critical to your general health, to see your dentist regularly. Regular checkups will save your teeth and even save your life. ​

If you would like more information about cancer prevention, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Baby Teeth Showed Autism Associated with Lead and Other Heavy Metals | Alhambra Dentist

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 1 in 68 children in the United States have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Researchers have shown that autism may be caused by a complex reaction between environmental factors and genetics. Separating these causative factors has been particularly challenging. A new study by Manish Arora, Ph.D., a dentist and environmental scientist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, has shown a way to isolate genetics from environmental factors, using baby teeth of ASD children. This was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Previous studies that have investigated the relationship between toxic metals, essential nutrients, and the risk of having ASD; but these studies showed only metal concentrations in the bloodstream after ASD has developed. Information as to the level of toxic metal before ASD was diagnosed has been left to guesswork. This study reasoned that if pre-ASD toxic levels can be determined, then environmental exposure toxic metals may be statistically separated from genetic factors. .

The method used in this new study, however, manages to bypass many of these limitations. By looking at naturally-shed baby teeth, the researchers explain that they have access to information that goes as far back as a baby’s prenatal life. And by studying twins, Dr. Arora and colleagues were able to separate genetic influences from environmental ones.

To determine how much metal the babies’ bodies contained before and after birth, the researchers used lasers to analyze the growth rings on the dentine (root structure) of the baby teeth. Much like looking at the age of a tree by examining the rings on its trunk, scientists can determine the amount of lead in dentine layers during different stages of development of the tooth bud. By this means, the scientists were able to ascertain the level of exposure to lead at different stages of fetal development prior to birth.

Laser technology allowed the scientists to accurately extract specific layers of dentine, which is the substance that lies beneath the tooth enamel.

Cindy Lawler, Ph.D., head of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Genes, Environment, and Health Branch, explains the importance of using this scientific method for studying autism:

“We think autism begins very early, most likely in the womb, and research suggests that our environment can increase a child’s risk. But by the time children are diagnosed at age 3 or 4, it’s hard to go back and know what the moms were exposed to. With baby teeth, we can actually do that.”

To isolate genetic factors causing ASD, the scientists recruited 32 pairs of twins.  The scientists were able to compare the twin that developed ASD to the twin that did not. The study showed that the difference between the ASD twin and the normal twin was only the level of lead in the bloodstream.  Hence the conclusion is that heavy metals, or the body’s ability to process them, may affect ASD and that children with ASD had much higher levels of lead throughout their development. Finally, manganese and zinc were found to correlate with ASD as well. Children with ASD seemed to have less manganese and less zinc than children without, both pre- and postnatally.

Overall, the study suggests that either prenatal exposure to heavy metals, or the body’s ability to process them, may influence the chances of developing autism. Dr. Arora called the method “a window into our fetal life”. More extensive studies based on using baby teeth to look through this window are recommended by Dr. Arora.

Dr. Arora‘s study represents one of the numerous ways dental science impacts medical research. Dentists are working side by side with physicians and scientists to generate solutions to health problems.

If you would like more information about ASD, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Good News on the Opioid War Front | Alhambra Dentist

New Study Shows Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) in Combination are just as Effective as Narcotics.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse stated in March 2018 that “Every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids – including prescription pain relievers, heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl – is a serious national crisis that affects public health, as well as social and economic welfare.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year…”

There is good news on the war on opioids. It has been common in the U.S. to treat dental pain with a combination of acetaminophen and ibuprofen in lieu of opioids. A new study from an emergency department in New York tracking pain of the extremities further confirmed and extended the advocacy of this non-narcotic practice for the medical use.

This medical study was a randomized, controlled trial that compared the effectiveness of a combination of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) with combinations of acetaminophen with various dosages of oxycodone or codeine.

416 patients participated in the study. For blinding purposes (so no one knows what he/she is taking), the combinations of medications were delivered in identical capsules. Pain was assessed on a scale of 0 – 10, with 0 representing no pain, and 10 being extreme pain. The reduction in pain score for the acetaminophen-ibuprofen group was 4.3 compared to 4.4, 3.9 and 4.2 in the groups who had taken oxycodone or codeine. The difference was determined to be statistically insignificant.

The authors concluded that, “For patients presenting to the ED [Emergency Department] with acute extremity pain, there were no statistically significant or clinically important differences in pain reduction at 2 hours among single-dose treatment with ibuprofen and acetaminophen or with 3 different opioid and acetaminophen combination analgesics,” and that “further research to assess adverse events and other dosing may be warranted.”

In other words, the non-narcotic group received the same degree of pain reduction as those groups who had received narcotics.

When you have need for pain pills, ask your physician (and your dentist, if appropriate) whether you can control pain with the acetaminophen-ibuprofen combination in lieu of taking opioids.

Do not exceed the recommended daily dosages nor take these non-opioid medications long-term without consultation with your doctor. Never take more than you need to control pain.

If you would like more information about the war on opioids, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Sugary Soft Drinks and Fruit Juices Cause Dental Enamel Erosion | Alhambra Dentist

A recent study published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry reported that from a pool of 3,773 participants, researchers found 79% had evidence of dental erosion, 64% had mild tooth wear, 10% had moderate tooth wear and 5% displayed signs of severe tooth wear. The participants in the study with moderate and severe tooth wear consumed more soft drinks and fruit juices each day than the other groups.

Dental erosion is when enamel – the hard, protective coating of the tooth – is worn away by exposure to acid. The erosion of the enamel can result in pain – particularly when consuming hot or cold food – as it leaves the sensitive dentine area of the tooth exposed. Acidic erosion of the enamel along the gum line of the front teeth can lead to an unsightly smile line.

The enamel on the tooth becomes softer and loses mineral content when we eat or drink anything acidic. However, this acidity is cancelled out by saliva, which slowly restores the natural balance within the mouth. But if the mouth is not given enough time to repair itself – because these acid attacks are happening too often – the surface of the teeth is worn away.

Anything with a pH value (the measure of acidity) lower than 5.5 can damage the teeth. Diet and regular sodas, carbonated drinks, flavored fizzy waters, sports drinks, fruit and fruit juices are all known to be harmful to teeth if they are consumed too often. Many sodas and fruit juices contain at least six teaspoons of sugar and as they often come in portions that are larger than recommended, they can lead to tooth decay, as well as dental erosion.

Fruit juice may be a nutritious drink. However, the high concentrations of sugar and acid can lead to severe dental damage if these drinks are consumed often each day.  Water and milk are the best choices by far, not only for the good of our oral health but our overall health too.

If you would like more information about dental erosion, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

When Your Breath Is Cutting into Your Social Life | Alhambra Dentist

Many patients inquire about their foul breath when it begins to affect all aspects of their lives: work environment, social interactions, and feeling good about oneself. The main questions? What is the bad breath coming from and how do you fix it?

A few of the factors that affect your breath are the diet you maintain (the food you ingest), the condition of your teeth (if cavities are present or not), as well as the bacteria in your mouth. A variety of foods can cause different scents, but the factor that plays the largest role is the bacteria in the mouth.  Every mouth has bacteria, some of which are good, and some which aren’t. Removing the bacteria is essential to keeping good overall health, as well as reducing the possibility of halitosis (bad breath).

It is necessary to brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day, but ideally after every meal. When brushing, it is essential to also brush your tongue. It is also critical to see your dentist and hygienist on a regular basis so they can take x-rays, and measure your gum pockets to determine the extent of the bacteria in your mouth, as well as remove the bacteria from above the gums. Occasionally, it is noted that bacteria may be able to get inside the gums and cause gum infections (gum disease) and tooth loss. This is the leading cause of bad breath, and removal of the bacteria is essential. Generally, when this is noted, a deep cleaning might be recommended to remove the bacteria causing the problems. This can be done with lasers and small cameras that show where the bacteria are. Removing these bacteria also removes the bad breath.

Once it has been determined you have gum disease, it is recommended to have cleanings done every three months to maintain the health of the gums. Generally, gum measurements are made to determine how well the gums are responding to treatment and cleaning, and to ensure the continued improvement of the bacteria removal. It is necessary to always brush and floss as often as possible throughout the day.

If you would like more information about bad breath prevention, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Diabetes Leads to Gum Disease; Gum Disease leads to Diabetes | Alhambra Dentist

Poorly controlled diabetic patients are at risk for numerous oral complications, such as periodontal disease, salivary gland dysfunction, infection, neuropathy, and poor healing.

Diabetes mellitus (diabetes) is a common chronic disease of abnormal carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism that affects an estimated 20 million people in the United States, of whom about one third are undiagnosed. There are two major forms recognized, type-1 and type-2. Both are characterized by inappropriately high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia). In type-1 diabetes, the patient cannot produce the hormone insulin, while in type-2 diabetes the patient produces insulin, but it is not used properly. An estimated 90% of diabetic patients suffer from type-2 disease. The causes of diabetes are multiple and both genetic and environmental factors contribute to its development. The genetic predisposition for type-2 diabetes is very strong and numerous environmental factors such as diet, lack of exercise, and being overweight are known to also increase one’s risk for diabetes. Diabetes is a dangerous disease which affects the entire body and diabetic patients are at increased risk for heart disease, hypertension, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, neuropathy, and infection when compared to nondiabetic patients. Diabetic patients also have impaired healing when compared to healthy individuals. This is in part due to the dysfunction of certain white blood cells that fight infection.

The most common test used to diagnose diabetes is the fasting blood glucose. This test measures the glucose levels at a specific moment in time (normal is 80-110 mg/dl). In managing diabetes, the goal is to normalize blood glucose levels. It is generally accepted that by maintaining normalized blood glucose levels, one may delay or even prevent some of the complications associated with diabetes. Measures to manage diabetes include behavioral modification (proper diet, exercise) and drug therapies (oral hypoglycemic, insulin replacement). The choice of therapy prescribed takes into consideration the type and severity of the disease present and patient compliance. The physician may request the patient to keep a log of their daily blood glucose measurements to better assess therapeutic success. Another commonly obtained test is the hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), which is a surrogate marker used to assess blood glucose levels over an extended period (2-3 months). This test provides the physician with a good picture of the patient’s glucose levels over time.

Oral changes are evident in poorly managed diabetics. These patients are at risk for numerous oral complications, such as periodontal disease, salivary gland dysfunction, infection, neuropathy, and poor healing. None of these complications are unique to diabetes. However, their presence may serve as an early clue to the possible presence of diabetes, prompting your dentist to perform or request further testing.

Periodontal disease is a commonly observed dental problem for patients with diabetes. It is similar to the periodontal disease encountered among nondiabetic patients. However, as a consequence of the impaired immunity and healing associated with diabetes, it may be more severe and progress more rapidly. The potential for these changes points to the need for periodic professional evaluation and treatment.

In conclusion, we can summarize the above by citing the American Dental Association, which states that those with diabetes are more at risk for getting periodontal disease; and those with periodontal disease are more likely to contract diabetes. Good hygiene and regular visits to the dentist will lower our risk for gum disease, as well as diabetes and other diseases. Keeping your blood sugar level within the normal range by proper diet and exercise will keep your body healthy and lower the risk of gum disease.

(This column is partly based on statements of the American Academy of Oral Medicine.)

If you would like more information about diabetes, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Maintaining Good Health by Taking Care of Your Toothbrush | Alhambra Dentist

Most dentists agree you should change your toothbrush at least every two to three months. According to a recent report, “20 Things You Should Throw Away For Better Health” by TIME (1/30, Jones), a toothbrush is one of these things. The American Dental Association (ADA) spokesman, Ruchi Sohota, was quoted to say, “Toothbrush bristles start to fray after two months and should be replaced by three months”.

After daily wear, a toothbrush can get worn and become less effective in cleaning teeth and gums. Bacteria, germs and fungus can flourish in between the bristles. Putting a wet toothbrush in an enclosed case can cause mold to grow on it. Let your toothbrush dry before putting it a case.

It is very important to change your toothbrush after you have had a cold, flu, mouth infections, cold sores, and sore throat. This will help you from re-infecting yourself and others. Even if you are not sick, bacteria and fungus can still grow on your toothbrush.

Always rinse, shake any excess moisture, and air dry your toothbrush after you brush your teeth. Also try to keep your toothbrush away from any flushing commode because of germs that may travel with any aerosols.

Taking care of your tooth brush can help you have a healthier 2018!

If you would like more information about toothbrushes, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.