Monday, January 28, 2013

Teeth Erupt Earlier In Obese Children

(Photo courtesy scientificamerican.com.)
Childhood obesity rates in the U.S. have skyrocketed, increasing from 7% of children ages six to 11 in 1980, to 20% in 2008.  Now, a study in Obesity reveals that the teeth of overweight children erupt earlier than those of non-obese youngsters.

These findings have significant dental and orthodontic importance for two reasons. First, nature didn’t intend for primary teeth to be in the mouth for an extended period, and this increases the risk of dental caries (cavities).  Second, the unusually early appearance of primary teeth can disrupt the mouth’s natural “tooth sequencing,” which can increase the likelihood of misaligned permanent teeth.

What is it about obesity that pushes primary teeth up so early?  Scientists know that obese children tend to reach puberty at an earlier age than their trim counterparts.  It is likely that an abundance of fat cells (which can stimulate growth) causes the jaws to “rev up” earlier than normal.

The bottomline is that for children who tend to be overweight, early dental exams are extremely important to prevent decay and to ensure that teeth are growing in properly.


If you are looking for a dentist in the Chicago area, please consider Wilmette Dental, a North Shore tradition in family dentistry for more than 30 years.  .  Feel free to call our office at 847-251-0085 or request an appointment online at www.wilmettedental.com.

Monday, January 21, 2013

As You Read This, Your Jaws Are Shrinking

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com)
If it seems as you age that your front teeth are crowding a bit -- you’re not imaging it.  That’s because while some parts of our body may get larger as we age (such as our waistlines), our jaw actually gets smaller.  Over the years the jaw, particularly the lower jaw, can shrink as much as several millimeters in both length and width.  And while a few millimeters doesn’t seem like a lot, it can be enough to crowd front teeth and even result in a noticeable change in bite.

The shrinkage is all part of the natural aging process, and varies in degree depending on hereditary and anatomical factors.  Keeping (or not keeping)  wisdom teeth has no affect on jaw shrinkage; patients who have had their wisdom teeth removed may still find their front teeth crowding as they get older.

The discovery of jaw shrinkage comes from a Swedish University study that followed dental students for 40 years to determine if jaw size changed with age.  At the start of the study, which began in 1949, plaster molds were made of the jaws of dental students, most of whom were in their 20s.  Ten years later, the procedure was repeated, and in 1989, 40 years after the study began, a final set of plaster molds was made.  Scientists discovered that over the 40 years, the amount of room for teeth in the jaw did, indeed, shrink.

It’s just one more delightful thing to look forward to as we age!


If you are looking for a dentist in the Chicago area, please consider Wilmette Dental, a North Shore tradition in family dentistry for more than 30 years.  .  Feel free to call our office at 847-251-0085 or request an appointment online at www.wilmettedental.com.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Oral Bacteria Can Increase Blood Clot Risk


And yet another reason to brush and floss regularly:  doctors now believe that oral bacteria that escapes into the bloodstream can cause blood clots and trigger dangerous growths on heart valves.

Streptococcus gordonii is a type of bacteria that lives in the mouth and contributes to the plaque that forms on the surface of teeth.  If these bacteria enter the bloodstream through bleeding gums (a symptom of poor oral health), they can wreak havoc by masquerading as human proteins.  

One such protein actually mimics the human protein fibrinogen, a blood-clotting factor.  This, then, activates the platelets, causing them to clump inside blood vessels, and that can lead to life-threatening blood clots and endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart.  The blood clots encase the bacteria, protecting them from the natural defenses of the immune system and from antibiotics that treat infection.

More than ever before, physicians are recognizing the critical role that good oral health plays in general health.


If you are looking for a dentist in the Chicago area, Wilmette Dental is accepting new patients.  Feel free to call our office at 847-251-0085 or request an appointment online.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Gum Disease Linked To Fat Cells



(Photo courtesy diabetespharmacist.com)
And yet another reason to start that New Year’s diet:  it seems that the body is better at fighting periodontal (gum) disease when fat cells -- which trigger inflammation -- disappear, according to a study in the Journal of Periodontology.

Researchers conducted a pilot study involving 31 obese people, all of whom had been diagnosed with periodontal disease.  Half the group underwent gastric bypass surgery, and had fat cells from the abdomen removed.  The control group had no procedure.  Both the surgery group and the control group then underwent non-surgical periodontal treatments of scaling/root planing and oral hygiene instructions for home care.

While both groups showed improvement in oral health, the surgery group -- the group that had fat cells removed -- fared better than the non-surgical group in measurements of perio disease, including a reduction of plaque levels and bleeding.

Researchers believe that excessive fat cells do indeed have a direct effect on inflammation.  Large amounts of fat cells secrete more cytokines (a type of protein), which makes insulin production less effective -- and makes it harder for the body to fight inflammation.  Losing weight, and thus reducing fat cells, improves overall health -- and that helps the body respond more favorably to periodontal treatment.

Of course, more research needs to be conducted, but this is further evidence that maintaining a healthy weight is very important -- especially your oral health!

Whether or not you are currently a Wilmette Dental patient, we invite you to follow us on Facebook by going to http://www.facebook.com/wilmettedental and clicking “Like”.