Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Can a Robot Feel Your Dental Pain?

A Yahoo News story today featured a new Japanese robot that will mumble "ouch" when a dental student touches a nerve.

Things have come a long way from working on a typodont! It was a set of plastic teeth attached to a pole that we would attach to our bench and practice on. It was very awkward and the teeth never had the same consistency as real enamel or dentin.

The robot is a great teaching aid for dental students to simulate a real patient from the beginning of their training. Incorporating robots and better simulation aided with computers is the way to better train dentists. This is just beginning of technology being incorporated in education. Kudos to the Japanese!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Connection Between Throat Cancer and Oral Sex

One thing many people don't realize is that dentists check for more than cavities during a regular check-up.

They also check for signs of cancer, including cancers of the tongue, jaw, lips, and throat. In fact, according to the Mouth Cancer Foundation:

Oral and pharyngeal cancer is the sixth most common malignancy reported worldwide and one with high mortality ratios among all malignancies.

Even worse, people also don't understand the connection between oral sex and one's oral health. Many people mistakenly believe oral sex is "safe" sex because one can't get pregnant or because the risk of transfering a sexually transmitted disease is lowered.

In fact, in a study found in the May 10, 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers noted that people who had one to five oral sex partners doubled their risk for throat cancer.

Those who had more than five increased their risk by 250%.

Even more disturbing, the researchers believe oral sex transmits the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the same virus that causes cervical cancer in women.

According to a new CDC study, 1 in 4 U.S. women ages 14 - 59 have HPV.

With HPV rates so high, it behooves all sexually active men and women to wear condoms, even when performing oral sex.

And, should you or your partner exhibit any type of sore or lump anywhere in the mouth or on the tongue that doesn't heal within three weeks, contact your dentist or medical professional immediately.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Magnolia Bark Extract Helps Fight Tooth Decay

Magnolia-flavored toothpaste, mints, and chewing gum might become on store shelves someday. According to research cited in the November 2007 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, mints laced with magnolia bark extract kill 20 times more bacteria than regular mints. The extract could help fight tooth decay and bad breath.

Currently Colgate toothpaste has an ingredient Tricolsan that acts as a bactericidal agent. There has been significant research by Colgate-Palmolive company for years that proves their toothpaste is effective in controlling oral inflammation due to bacteria. Colgate set the standard for toothpaste to be more than just a way to freshen breath.

Up until its release over ten years ago, no toothpaste had an effect on oral health as Colgate Total does. Last year Crest finally came out with Crest ProHealth. These two toothpaste's are the only products that really make a difference with regard to oral health.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Successful Smiles Podcast: The Facts About Dental Tourism

Dr. Helaine Smith's Successful Smiles \ healthcast #5

In this episode of Successful Smiles, I cover the facts about dental tourism -- the new trend of seeking low cost dental work outside the U.S. The podcast covers the following:

  • The benefits of going outside the U.S.

  • How dental care in other countries differs from U.S. dental care

  • Tips for evaluating a non-U.S. dentist and his/her practice

  • Other resources you can find online
Links mentioned in this episode:
Send any questions about dental health, or suggestions for future podcasts, to