Friday, November 19, 2010

Bionic teeth

Losing a tooth in adulthood isn't exciting as it was when we were young. In fact, adult tooth loss has serious consequences--like difficulty chewing food or not wanting to smile at school or work. Missing teeth can also weaken the overall structure of your mouth.

In the next few years, there may be a "bionic" option for replacing lost teeth: re-growing them. We have seen the technology work in animals and we hope it will be available for commercial use in the next decade.

Scientists have discovered stem cells in baby teeth and that may put our friend the tooth fairy out of a job. In animals, scientists have used scaffolding to re-grow teeth. Work on the human genome has identified a gene that may actually re-grow a duplicate tooth in your own mouth. This technology is still maybe years away from being realized, yet there is reason to believe that stem cells from baby teeth will eventually be used to grow your own teeth for replacement. Instead of putting teeth under the pillow, parents may be sending their children’s teeth to stem cell banks for cryogenic storage.

A viable option for a lost tooth today is the dental implant. (Incidentally, November is Dental Implant Month). These replacements not only act and feel like natural teeth, but they also offer solid, non-mobile support. It may take three to six months for your new implant to feel fully functional in your own mouth following an extraction of a tooth, but dental implants restore proper chewing functions, allowing you to be able to enjoy foods you love.

Read more about tissue regeneration for teeth at

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Oral Health at the Grocery Store

Time Magazine’s Healthland blog, reporting on a study in the Journal of Consumer Research, explained that paying for food at the grocery store with cash instead of with a credit/debit card leads to more careful spending and healthier food choices.

In Massachusetts, doctors at three health centers are writing prescriptions for fresh fruits and vegetables. They are giving coupons equal to around $1 a day for each member of a patient’s family to buy and eat fresh produce from local farmers’ markets.

What does this have to do with oral health? The mouth is the gateway to the body and the starting point for good health – oral and otherwise. What we buy and eat matters in maintaining healthy mouths and nourishing healthy bodies—for our young and not so young.

Researchers in the Journal of Consumer Research study followed the grocery shopping habits of 1,000 households over six months. People who used debit or credit cards (1) tended to make more impulsive food choices and (2) the impulsive purchases were more often than not unhealthy items like cookies, cakes, and chips and candy. [Beware: acidic and sugary drinks, cookies and chips are the exactly the kind of food items that encourage the growth of cavity-forming bacteria in the mouth.]

Physicians in Massachusetts community health centers are trying to reverse the fast food dynamic, particularly in lower income inner city patients. They are using produce by prescription to steer families away from low cost/low nutrition and often impulse items to healthier, yet slightly costlier fresh fruits and vegetables. The physicians are watching these patients to see whether the food adjustment affects eating patterns and other health indicators like weight, body mass index, and of course, fewer cavities and healthier mouths.

Shop thoughtfully. Minimize sugars and starches, fats and empty calories. Remember that what you buy and eat matters in maintaining your healthy mouth and your healthy body. Healthy food choices are the starting point in reversing the national trend to obesity in children and adults and laying the groundwork for healthier generations of Americans.

Read more:

Healthland blog

Health Affairs:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

DentaQuest Oral Health Center Named “Adult Preventive Practice of the Year” by the ADA

The DentaQuest Institute is pleased to announce that the DentaQuest Oral Health Center (OHC), an affiliated dental office in Westborough, MA, has been selected by the American Dental Association as the Adult Preventive Care Practice of the Year. DentaQuest Oral Health Center Dental Director, Dr. Peter Blanchard and Clinical Director, Dr. Joy-Ann Deane accepted the award at the 2010 ADA annual session in Orlando, Florida.

The Adult Preventive Care Practice of the Year Award recognizes a dental office which has demonstrated excellence and innovation through the combination of practical, preventive oral health care and ongoing patient education. Dental offices from all 50 states applied for the distinction.

The DentaQuest Oral Health Center is a multi-specialty group practice, offering routine care and cleanings, general dental care, dentistry for children, and state-of-the-art orthodontic and endodontic care. What puts the DentaQuest Oral Health Center at the leading edge is its focus on risk-based treatment. By identifying the risk factors unique to each patient, the center helps prevent and manage dental disease. In addition to providing the highest-quality oral health care, the DentaQuest Oral Health Center also strives to help patients understand and make the best decisions about their own oral health.

Science is helping us understand the nature of dental disease, especially the two main ones, tooth decay and gum disease. Because both are bacterial infections, we have the ability to treat them and achieve better oral health. The solution doesn’t always have to be “drill and fill.” By identifying and treating the disease in its early stages, the DentaQuest Oral Health Center’s staff is able to help the tooth “heal” and make it more resistant to future decay.

It is this mission to deliver cost-effective, appropriate dental care using scientific, evidence-based technologies and treatments that are tailored to the dental needs of each patient that caught the attention of the American Dental Association’s evaluation panel. And, it is the reason why other dental practices are turning to the DentaQuest Oral Health Center to learn about this new model of practice.

We are delighted to be working with a number of dental practices nationally, providing technical assistance to help their dental care providers implement proven prevention and disease management protocols.

Guest Post by Mark Doherty, DMD, Executive Director of the DentaQuest Institute.