Dentistry Is Going Digital!

The rapid advances in technology have been changing the way we do things in many sectors and dentistry is no exception. One of the areas dentists are utilizing digital technology is in crowns. It used to be that if you had a cracked or broken tooth and needed a crown, you would have to go through the long process of having a mold made of your tooth and the surrounding area that was then sent to a dental laboratory where the crown was made. In the meantime, you had to have a temporary restoration placed, then return to your dentist a week or more later, after he or she received the finished crown and have your temporary removed and the crown cemented.

CAD/CAM Technology In Dentistry

Recently, more and more dentists have been welcoming a much quicker option: computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM). This technology allows the dentist to make the crown in the office and treat the patient in one visit. The process of taking a digital scan of the mouth, creating a 3D image of the teeth, perfecting the visual which is known as a restoration, and having the milling machine carve the crown from a ceramic block can take as little as two hours and is known as a “same-day crown.”

Is This Technology New?

Digital technology that assists dentistry isn’t entirely new. Some tech, like the original CAD/CAM system for making ceramic crowns and inlays in-office was has been around for as long as 25 years. According to John Weston, a cosmetic dentist and director of the Scripps Center for Dental Care in La Jolla, California, “Initially, it has been just a few early adopters” likely due to the high startup costs associated with purchasing the equipment (which can run $150-$200K). But now, more and more dentists are getting on board and incorporating “a full digital integration of clinical care, diagnostics and patient communication” says Weston.

Other Technologies & What It Means

Some other new digital technologies being embraced by dentistry include:

• Digital Radiography or X-rays
• Cone-beam Computed Tomography (CT) Imaging
• Digital Dentures

Prosthodontist Steven Spitz, of Smileboston Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry in Brookline, Massachusetts, says these improvements are all about trying “to improve the experience for patients.” The various technologies can make procedures much less invasive for patients. “That means less pain and trauma for the patient and often the need for little or no anesthetic,” explains Spitz.
While start-up costs for some technology can still be expensive, having the equipment eliminates lab costs and allows dentists to work more quickly and efficiently. Because of this, the same-day crown procedure is typically the same price as a traditional one.

The advancement and adoption of digital technology in dentistry is a win for both patients and dentists.

Toothbrush Contamination in Bathrooms

Toothbrush ContaminationToothbrushes are a known source for contamination. While that may sound alarming, it generally should not cause concern. Most of that contamination is the presence of your own fecal matter, and your body is accustomed to the flora. It becomes problematic when bathrooms are communal, like in dorms at colleges. A recent study at Quinnipiac University seems to confirm this according to data presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Study participants who share communal bathrooms (averaging 9.4 people per bathroom) had their toothbrushes collected. Despite the method of storage, at least 60 percent of toothbrushes collected had fecal coliform. There was no difference between toothbrushes that were rinsed with hot water, cold water, or mouthwash. Further, 80 percent of the toothbrushes had fecal coliform from someone other than the user of the toothbrush.

“Using a toothbrush cover doesn’t protect a toothbrush from bacterial growth, but actually creates an environment where bacteria are better suited to grow by keeping the bristles moist and not allowing the head of the toothbrush to dry out between uses,” said Lauren Aber, MHS (Graduate Student, Quinnipiac University.

“Better hygiene practices are recommended for students who share bathrooms both in the storage of their toothbrush but also in personal hygiene,” Aber said. The American Dental Association (ADA) has general recommendations for toothbrush care that should be followed. According to the ADA:

  1. Do not share toothbrushes.
  2. Do not cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers.
  3. Thoroughly rinse toothbrushes after use to remove all debris and toothpaste.
  4. Replace toothbrushes every three to four months.



How Gum Disease Treatment Can Prevent Heart Disease

The American Heart Association has recently published research titled, “Resolvin E1 Prevents Atheromatous Plaque Formation,” which will appear in the May print issue of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology (ATVB), shedding light on the important link between the mouth and heart. Scientists at the Forsyth Institute and Boston University found that using an oral, topical remedy for periodontitis also helped lower the risk of heart attack. The active ingredient is an inflammation-resolving molecule, known as Resolvin E1

This is the first study where researchers discovered a link between gum disease treatment and the reduction of vascular inflammation. One of the key findings in this study seems to highlight how issues with the mouth affects the rest of the body. Lead Investigator Hatice Hasturk, DDS, PhD, an associate member of Forsyth’s Department of Applied Oral Sciences and director of Forsyth’s Center for Clinical and Translational Research said, “Our research is helping to underscore the very real link between oral health and heart disease.” Further, “The general public understands the connection between heart health and overall wellness, and often takes appropriate steps to prevent heart disease. More education is needed to elevate oral wellness into the same category in light of proven connections to major health conditions.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 64.7 million adults are affected by gum disease and heart disease accounts for one in four deaths in the United States. Therefore, Forsyth’s findings suggest it is critical for to expand the public’s awareness of potential risk factors beyond diabetes, smoking, cholesterol and high blood pressure. Americans should become informed gum disease is likely a critical factor in heart disease “independent from diet and lifestyle.”

The research authors are Hatice Hasturk, Rima Abdallah, Alpdogan Kantarci, Daniel Nguyen, Nicholas Giordano, James Hamilton and Thomas E. Van Dyke.

Plano Dentist David WilhiteDavid Wilhite is a Plano Dentist specializing in periodontal gum disease treatment with over 30 years of experience in general and cosmetic dentistry. He can help you with everything from a consultation, to a check-up, to cleaning, whitening, and full mouth restoration.

Together we will transform your smile!

Contact us online or call us today at (972) 964-3774

Story Source:

Forsyth Institute. (2015, April 14). How gum disease treatment can prevent heart disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 17, 2015 from

Sugar Papers

A recently discovered archive of 319 industry documents from the 1960s and 1970s at the University of Illinois show how the sugar industry knew as early as 1950 that sugar caused tooth decay. Further, the National Institutes of Health concluded in 1969 that focusing on reducing sugar intake was not a practical public health measure.

The sugar industry trade organization and the National Institutes of Health then began working together to find other approaches, instead of reducing sugar, to prevent tooth decay. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is the leading chronic disease among children today even though it is largely preventable. “The dental community has always known that preventing tooth decay required restricting sugar intake,” said first author Cristin Kearns, DDS, MBA, a UCSF postdoctoral scholar who discovered the archives. “It was disappointing to learn that the policies we are debating today could have been addressed more than forty years ago.”

Kearns found the papers, which were left to the University of Illinois in a collection by the late Roger Adams, an organic chemistry professor who served on the Sugar Research Foundation and the scientific advisory board of the International Sugar Research Foundation. The collection has more than 1,500 papers, including correspondence between sugar industry executives and meeting minutes. Kearns and co-authors analyzed the collection against National Institute of Dental Research documents to see if the “sugar industry may have influenced the research policies of the 1971 National Caries (Tooth Decay) Program.”

Based on their analysis, the sugar industry worked with other allied food industries in the 1960s and 1970s and funded research for things like a vaccine against tooth decay. The analysis further found the sugar industry made strong relationships with the National Institute of Dental Research and sugar industry experts were placed on National Institute of Dental Research panels charged with National Institutes of Health tooth decay programs. That program was not successful in reducing tooth decay on a large scale. Co-author Stanton A. Glantz said, “These tactics are strikingly similar to what we saw in the tobacco industry in the same era.” “Our findings are a wake-up call for government officials charged with protecting the public health, as well as public health advocates, to understand that the sugar industry, like the tobacco industry, seeks to protect profits over public health,” he added.

The Connection Between Mouth Bacteria And Inflammation In Heart Disease

The most common diseases of humankind are oral infections, which are also a key risk factor for heart disease, the worldwide leading cause of death. In an April 16 article published in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism researchers discuss the link between heart disease and oral infections.

The most common oral infections are periodontal diseases including periodontitis and gingivitis, which are chronic and inflammatory, and cavities. Research has shown links between periodontitis and stroke in men and younger people. Further, there is strong evidence that inflammation in oral infections plays a strong role in cardiovascular disease as well. Senior author Thomas Van Dyke of the Forsyth Institute says, “Given the high prevalence of oral infections, any risk they contribute to future cardiovascular disease is important to public health.” “Unravelling the role of the oral microbiome and inflammation in cardiovascular disease will likely lead to new preventive and treatment approaches.”

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen have been found to produce substantial cardiovascular side effects, so it is very important to find alternative therapies. One such therapy is a high dose of atorvastatin, which is commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol. Atorvastatin increases lipoxins and resolvins and prevents cardiovascular and periodontal inflammation. “New discoveries of natural pathways that resolve inflammation have offered many opportunities for revealing insights into disease pathogenesis and for developing new pharmacological targets for the treatment of both oral infections and cardiovascular disease,” says Van Dyke.

As future studies continue to look for effective inflammation-reducing therapies, Van Dyke recommends maintaining good oral hygiene in the meantime. “The majority of diseases and conditions of aging, including obesity and type 2 diabetes, have a major inflammatory component that can be made worse by the presence of periodontitis,” he says. “Periodontitis is not just a dental disease, and it should not be ignored, as it is a modifiable risk factor.”

Source of story:

Cell Press. (2015, April 16). Connection between mouth bacteria, inflammation in heart disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 12, 2015 from

Effect Of Natural Sweetener Xylitol In Preventing Tooth Decay Still Unproven

Recent research published in the Cochrane Library found little evidence that the popular natural sweetener Xylitol prevents tooth decay and cavities. The researchers compiled data from 5,903 participants across 10 studies, but most study methods were so different, the authors could not combine the results. According to lead researcher, Philip Riley of the School of Dentistry at The University of Manchester, “This Cochrane review was produced to assess whether or not xylitol could help prevent tooth decay in children and adults. The evidence we identified did not allow us to make any robust conclusions about the effects of xylitol, and we were unable to prove any benefit in the natural sweetener for preventing tooth decay.

“The limited research on xylitol-containing toothpastes in children may only be relevant to the population studied.”

Riley further added, “For other products containing xylitol we were unable to determine whether they were beneficial. We were particularly surprised to see such a lack of evidence on xylitol-containing chewing gums.”

Xylitol is known for some unwelcome gastrointestinal side effects, including bloating, diarrhea, and laxative effects, but several of the studies that were included in the Cochrane review did not report on this according to Riley. “We expected all studies to report adverse effects as an outcome. Sugar-free gums, sweets, mints and other products are well-known for their gastrointestinal effects and these should be clearly reported in future studies (Manchester, 2015).”

Source of story:

Manchester, U. o. (2015, May 25). “Effect of natural sweetener xylitol in preventing tooth decay still unproven“. Retrieved from Science Daily: