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 toothbrush can help you have a healthier 2018!

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

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

New Study Further Confirms How Diabetes Leads to Gum Disease | Alhambra Dentist

A new study led by University of Pennsylvania researchers has found that the oral microbiome affected by diabetes causes a shift in the likelihood of disease.  The microbiome is the microorganisms that coexist with our own cells.  We depend on a vast army of microbes to stay alive.  Microbiome protects us against germs, breaks down food to release energy, and produces vitamins.” Hence, when microbiome is affected by diseases such as diabetes, it has been hypothesized that we are more likely to succumb to diseases. This study proves that microbiome affected by diabetes causes gum disease (periodontitis) and explains how this happens.

The research, published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe this week, not only showed that the oral microbiome of mice with diabetes shifted but also change was associated with increased inflammation and bone loss around the teeth.

“Up until now, there had been no concrete evidence that diabetes affects the oral microbiome,” said Dana Graves, senior author on the new study and vice dean of scholarship and research at Penn’s School of Dental Medicine. “But the studies that had been done were not rigorous.”

Just four years ago, the European Federation of Periodontology and the American Academy of Periodontology issued a report stating there is no compelling evidence that diabetes is directly linked to changes in the oral microbiome. But Graves and colleagues were skeptical and decided to pursue the question, using a mouse model that mimics Type 2 diabetes.

“My argument was that the appropriate studies just hadn’t been done, so I decided, we’ll do the appropriate study,” Graves said.

The researchers began by characterizing the oral microbiome of diabetic mice compared to healthy mice. They found that the diabetic mice had a similar oral microbiome to their healthy counterparts when they were sampled prior to developing high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycemia. But, once the diabetic mice were hyperglycemic, their microbiome became distinct from their normal littermates, with a less diverse community of bacteria.

The findings underscored an association between changes in the oral microbiome and periodontitis but didn’t prove that the microbial changes were responsible for the disease. To drill in on the connection, the researchers transferred microorganisms from the diabetic mice to normal germ-free mice, animals that have been raised without being exposed to any microbes.

These recipient mice also developed bone loss. A micro-CT scan revealed they had 42 percent less bone than mice that had received a microbial transfer from normal mice. Markers of inflammation also went up in the recipients of the diabetic oral microbiome.

“We were able to induce the rapid bone loss characteristic of the diabetic group into a normal group of animals simply by transferring the oral microbiome,” said Graves.

With the microbiome now implicated in causing the periodontitis, Graves and colleagues wanted to know how. Suspecting that inflammatory cytokines, and specifically IL-17, played a role, the researchers repeated the microbiome transfer experiments, this time injecting the diabetic donors with an anti-IL-17 antibody prior to the transfer. Mice that received microbiomes from the treated diabetic mice had much less severe bone loss compared to mice that received a microbiome transfer from untreated mice.

The findings “demonstrate unequivocally” that diabetes-induced changes in the oral microbiome drive inflammatory changes that enhance bone loss in periodontitis, the authors wrote.

Though IL-17 treatment was effective at reducing bone loss in the mice, it is unlikely to be a reasonable therapeutic strategy in humans due to its key role in immune protection. But Graves noted that the study highlights the importance for people with diabetes of controlling blood sugar and practicing good oral hygiene.

“Diabetes is one of the systemic diseases that is most closely linked to periodontal disease, but the risk is substantially ameliorated by good glycemic control,” he said. “And good oral hygiene can take the risk even further down.”

In conclusion, if you have diabetes, not only should you brush, brush, floss and see your dentist regularly, but also strictly control sugar intake.  Even if the sugar you ingest doesn’t cause decay right off, the “good germs” (microbiome) will change so that you get gum disease.  So cut down the sugar, folks! 

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

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Your Tongue and Bad Breath | Alhambra Dentist

In traditional Chinese medicine, some doctors can diagnose an issue just by looking at the patterns and colors on the tongue.  Medical doctors and dentists can also tell a lot about your health by looking at your mouth and tongue.

What if you notice your tongue has a white spots?  It could be tongue plaque. Your tongue naturally cleans itself and renews the cells on the surface to get rid of bacteria, dead cells, and debris.  But when someone has tongue plaque, that renewal doesn’t happen and your tongue gets covered in a white film.

This can happen with age, dry mouth, tobacco and alcohol use, and also with fever or illness.  You can clean off tongue plaque by scraping your tongue and using mouthwash.

There are a few other conditions that can cause white spots on your tongue.  If you see separate white spots on your tongue, it could be a sign of a superficial fungal infection, an inflammatory condition, or even early signs of tongue cancer.   It would be best if you see your dentist or doctor when you suspect something is wrong.   Another reason for having white coating on your tongue, is if you’ve been on antibiotics for a while.  Prolonged antibiotic therapy could lead to yeast infection in your mouth that turns your tongue white.  For this reason, doctors will also encourage you take probiotics to replenish the “good” bacteria in your intestines when you are undergoing antibiotic therapy.

healthy tongue should be pink and covered with small, uniform papillae bumps.  When you’re brushing your teeth, it’s a good idea to brush your tongue to get rid of any bacteria that might be lingering on the surface. A tongue scraper also does the same thing and is a handy tool to have. Your dentist or dental hygienist can show you how to do this if you’re not sure.

Another side effect of having plaque on your tongue would be bad breath which has other causes.  So if you are plagued by bad breath, it could be periodontal (gum) disease.  In this disease, bacteria induces a chronic inflammatory process which, over time, results in loss of bone around the roots of the teeth.  This loss of bone for the most part symptom-free and painless until the advanced stages, when a white coating on the tongue appears, along with bad breath and loose teeth. 

Untreated, periodontal disease is associated with systemic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis and even Alzheimer’s disease. 

So, if you see white spots, a cream-colored coating or any lesions on your tongue, see your dentist or physician for diagnosis and treatment.

There appears to be more and more medical experiments and studies delving into what in Chinese medicine makes it work, how it works, and why it works.  Maybe Chinese medicine has more to contribute to western medical science than what is known in the public sector.  

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

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

7 Reasons Why Sugar Is Bad for You | Alhambra Dentist

Refined sugar or added sugar is said to be the most harmful ingredient in the Standard American Diet (SAD).   Its harmful effects on metabolism may be traceable to many other diseases.  Below are 7 of the reasons for you go sugar-free for 2018:

Sugar and your smile. Sugar, as we all know, is bad for your teeth.  What you may not know is that it is also bad for your gums.  Bacteria which cause gum disease and loose teeth can metabolize sugar in its pure form in the mouth, leading to increase in the growth of these germs. Therefore, sugar can cause cavities and loose teeth.

Sugar and liver disease.  Overloading your diet with sugar can cause the liver to overwork to convert sugar into glycogen.  When the saturation is reached, liver is forced to covert glycogen into fat, which in term has deleterious effect on the body.  In more extreme cases of heavy sugar intake, the liver itself can be damaged, leading to fatty liver disease.

Sugar and diabetes.  Excessive intake of sugar can cause insulin resistance.  Insulin is necessary for glucose to enter the cells and be used for energy.  Excessive glucose can cause the cells to become “insulin resistant.”  Be insulin resistant can be the cause of diabetes II, metabolic syndrome, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, etc.

Sugar and cancer.  Cancer is characterized by uncontrolled growth and multiplication of cells.  Insulin plays a key role in regulating cell growth. Elevated insulin levels because of abnormally high take of sugar can contribute to cancer, according to leading experts.  Additionally, high blood glucose is associated with high levels of inflammation, which also contributes to higher risk of cancer.

Sugar and addiction.  Sugar stimulate the production of dopamine from the “feel-good” center of the brain.  Those who have susceptibility to addiction may become addicted to sugar and junk foods.

Sugar and obesity. Strong links have been found between sugar and obesity.  That is no surprise.  But obesity in children has been found to associated with sugar- sweetened beverages.  There is a 60% chance of obesity in children who consume high amounts of these beverages.

Sugar and heart disease.  Strong links have been shown between sugar and heart disease.  High intake of sugar can lead to rise in triglycerides, LDL, high blood glucose and abdominal obesity, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.

So, cutting down or cutting out refined/added sugar in your diet can not only save your teeth, but can save your life.  See your dentist regularly.  Make your goal for 2018 to cut down or cut out added sugar altogether.  Do it now!  You won’t regret it.

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

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.