Dr Ronan Kennedy BDS (QUB)

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News - April 2021

People with severe gum disease may be twice as likely to have increased blood pressure

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Adults with periodontitis, a severe gum infection, may be significantly more likely to have higher blood pressure compared to individuals who have healthy gums, according to new research published today in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal.
Previous studies have found an association between hypertension (high blood pressure) and periodontitis; however, research confirming the details of this association is scarce. Periodontitis is an infection of the gum tissues that hold teeth in place that can lead to progressive inflammation, and bone or tooth loss. Prevention and treatment of periodontitis is cost effective and can lead to reduction of systemic markers of inflammation, as well as improvement in function of the endothelium (the thin membrane lining the inside of the heart and blood vessels).
Lead study author Eva Muñoz Aguilera, senior researcher at UCL Eastman Dental Institute in London said: "Patients with gum disease often present with elevated blood pressure, especially when there is active gingival inflammation, or bleeding of the gums. Elevated blood pressure is usually asymptomatic, and many individuals may be unaware that they are at increased risk of cardiovascular complications. We aimed to investigate the association between severe periodontitis and high blood pressure in healthy adults without a confirmed diagnosis of hypertension”.
The study included 250 adults with generalised, severe periodontitis and a control group of 250 adults who did not have severe gum disease, all of whom were otherwise healthy. Blood pressure assessments were measured three times for each participant to ensure accuracy. The researchers found that a diagnosis of gum disease was associated with higher odds of hypertension, independent of common cardiovascular risk factors.

From: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210329090000.htm

 

How teeth sense the cold

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David Clapham, vice president and chief scientific officer of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in the United States and an international team of scientists have figured out how teeth sense the cold and pinpointed the molecular and cellular factors involved. In both mice and humans, tooth cells called odontoblasts contain cold-sensitive proteins that detect temperature drops, the team reports in the journal Science Advances. Signals from these cells can ultimately trigger a jolt of pain to the brain.
The work offers an explanation for how one age-old home remedy eases toothaches. The main ingredient in clove oil, which has been used for centuries in dentistry, contains a chemical that blocks the "cold sensor" protein, says electrophysiologist Katharina Zimmermann, who led the work at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany.
Developing drugs that target this sensor even more specifically could potentially eliminate tooth sensitivity to cold, Zimmermann says: "Once you have a molecule to target, there is a possibility of treatment”.
Teeth decay when films of bacteria and acid eat away at the enamel – the hard, whitish covering of teeth. As enamel erodes, pits called cavities form. Instead of cracking a tooth open and solely examining its cells in a dish, Zimmermann's team looked at the whole system: jawbone; teeth; and, tooth nerves. The team recorded neural activity as an ice-cold solution touched the tooth. In normal mice, this frigid dip sparked nerve activity, indicating the tooth was sensing the cold.
That sharp sensation hasn't been as extensively studied as other areas of science, but Clapham says: "It is important and it affects a lot of people."

From: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210326151348.htm

 

Gum disease linked to Covid-19 complications in new study

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A new study has found that people with advanced gum disease are much more likely to suffer complications from coronavirus, including being more likely to require a ventilator and to die from the disease.
The research, which examined more than 500 patients, found that those with severe gum disease were up to nine times more likely to die from Covid-19. It also found that patients with the oral disease were nearly five times more likely to need assisted ventilation.
Coronavirus has now infected 115 million people worldwide. According to the Oral Health Foundation, gum disease can be easily prevented, or managed in its early stages.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the charity believes keeping on top of your oral health could play a key role in battling the virus: “This is the latest of many studies that form a connection between the mouth and other health conditions. The evidence here seems overwhelming – by maintaining good oral health, specifically healthy gums – you are able to limit your chances of developing the most serious complications of coronavirus. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to abscesses, and over several years, the bone supporting the teeth can be lost. When gum disease becomes advanced, treatment becomes more difficult. Given the new link with coronavirus complications, the need for early intervention becomes even greater”.
The first sign of gum disease is blood on your toothbrush or in the toothpaste you spit out. Your gums may also bleed when you are eating.

From: https://www.dentalhealth.org/news/gum-disease-linked-to-covid-19-complications

 

 

 

Researchers develop system for children’s oral health screening using smart devices

dfdfdResearchers in Australia have recently received government funding for a project that aims to develop a system that would allow parents to take photographs of their children’s teeth. The photographs would then be sent to dental practitioners for evaluation. The novel system would improve access to routine dental care and reduce inappropriate or unnecessary referrals, thus helping to minimise travel and waiting times.
The project is being conducted in collaboration with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Telethon Kids Institute and is being led by a group of researchers from the University of Western Australia in Perth. It is part of a line of ongoing research that has been looking at the application of consumer-level technology for facilitating access to dental care.
The 12-month project aims to develop a system for screening infants and children using smartphone images taken by untrained people. The images would be accessed by the dental team, who would then help determine whether cases require a referral or can be delayed.
“The core of the teams’ 25 years of effort is to bring access to dental health to those at the marginal edges of society,” co-researcher Dr Marc Tennant, Winthrop Professor at the School of Human Sciences at the university, told Dental Tribune International, “This access is about many facets, including cost and social and geographic factors”.
Tennant explained that the present project focuses on the oral health of children, but that the wider programme includes adults.

From: dental-tribune.com

 

Gum disease increases risk of major cardiovascular events

dfdfdPeople with periodontitis (gum disease) are at higher risk of experiencing major cardiovascular events, according to new research from Forsyth Institute and Harvard University scientists and colleagues.
In a longitudinal study published recently in the Journal of Periodontology, Dr Thomas Van Dyke at Forsyth, Dr Ahmed Tawakol of Massachusetts General Hospital, and their collaborators showed that inflammation associated with active gum disease was predictive of arterial inflammation, which can cause heart attacks, strokes, and other dangerous manifestations of cardiovascular disease.
For the study, researchers performed positron emission tomography and computer tomography (PET and CT) scans on 304 individuals to view and quantify inflammation in the arteries and gums. In follow-up studies approximately four years later, 13 of those individuals developed major adverse cardiovascular events. Presence of periodontal inflammation was shown to be predictive of cardiovascular events, even after researchers controlled for all other risk factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.
Importantly, researchers found that bone loss from prior periodontal disease was not associated with cardiovascular events. Patients that did not have actively inflamed gums had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease – even if those individuals had a prior history of periodontal disease. Researchers hypothesise that local periodontal inflammation activates and mobilises cells signalling through bone marrow, which triggers the inflammation of arteries, leading to adverse cardiac events.
While the study sample size is relatively small, Van Dyke said the observation is significant and should be studied in a much larger population. For people with active gum disease, seeking treatment could potentially prevent a dangerous a cardiac event.

From: sciencedaily.com

 

Bleeding gums may be a sign you need more vitamin C

dfdfdCurrent advice from the America Dental Association tells you that if your gums bleed, make sure you are brushing and flossing twice a day because it could be a sign of gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease. So if you are concerned, see your dentist. However, a new University of Washington (UW) study suggests you should also check your intake of vitamin C.
"When you see your gums bleed... You should try to figure out why your gums are bleeding. And vitamin C deficiency is one possible reason," said the study's lead author Philippe Hujoel, a practising dentist and professor of oral health sciences in the UW School of Dentistry.
Hujoel's study, published in Nutrition Reviews, analysed published studies of 15 clinical trials in six countries, involving 1,140 predominantly healthy participants, and data from 8,210 US residents surveyed in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The results showed that bleeding of the gums on gentle probing, or gingival bleeding tendency, were associated with low vitamin C levels in the bloodstream. The researchers found that increasing daily intake of vitamin C in those people with low vitamin C plasma levels helped to reverse these bleeding issues. Hujoel does recommend people attempt to keep an eye on their vitamin C intake through incorporation of non-processed foods such as kale, peppers or kiwis into their diet, and if you can't find palatable foods rich in vitamin C, to consider a supplement of about 100-200 milligrams a day.

From: sciencedaily.com