Today's Dental News

Dentists Help to Detect Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) is an umbrella term that describes the range of effects that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol while pregnant. Each year, FASD affect an estimated 40,000 infants in the United States—more than spina bifida, Down syndrome, and muscular dystrophy combined. Dentists have found themselves to be in a unique position to aid children with FASD because they may often see patients on a more frequent basis than a physician.

Defects caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol have been identified in virtually every part of the body. These areas include the brain, kidney, heart, ears, bones—and face. Dentists are now learning how to spot orofacial characteristics that often affect children with FASD, according to an article published in the September 2010 issue of AGD Impact, the monthly newsmagazine of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).

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Kentucky Tries to Improve Dental Care

Residents of Kentucky want to change the way they’re perceived. They don’t want to be judged specifically on what their smile looks like.

That’s why the state implemented a law that forces children to have proof of a dental screening or examination by the time they enter school. The law took effect this year but was passed in 2008.

About 42 percent of Kentucky children from ages 2 to 4 have some kind of tooth decay that hasn’t been treated. That’s why the state government decided it needed to create the law.

Kentucky’s dental problems don’t end there, however. The state has one of the highest rates of toothlessness and had the worst rate in 2002. The rate has since improved, but it can improve even more.

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Taste Genes Predict Tooth Decay

Dental caries is a highly prevalent disease that is disproportionately distributed in the population. Caries occurrence and progression is known to be influenced by a complex interplay of both environmental and genetic factors, with numerous contributing factors having been identified, including bacterial flora, dietary habits, fluoride exposure, oral hygiene, salivary flow, salivary composition, and tooth structure. Previous reports have characterized the influence of the genetic variation on taste preferences and dietary habits.

In an article published in the Journal of Dental Research titled “Taste Genes Associated with Dental Caries” lead researcher Steven Wendell and researchers Melissa Brown, Margaret Cooper, Rebecca DeSensi, Mary Marazita, Xiaojing Wang and Robert Weyant, all from the University of Pittsburgh; and Richard Crout and Daniel McNeil from West Virginia University, hypothesized that genetic variation in taste pathway genes (TAS2R38, TAS1R2, GNAT3) may be associated with dental caries risk and/or protection.

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Smiles Could Impact Political Races

This election season, political candidates’ smiles could be the deciding factor in whether candidates gain voters’ trust, asserts Charles Martin, DDS, founder of the Richmond Smile Center.

“If you hide your smile, what else will you hide?” is a question many voters may be contemplating, Dr. Martin said. “Not everyone wants to hear it, but candidates’ looks determine whether they gain votes.

“The better you look, the more votes you’ll score. Research shows that your smile, which is usually the most prominent feature on a face, has a direct effect on how others perceive you—even more than the eyes—and what happens in the voting booth supports this time and time again. Voters may not even realize they’ve been swayed by a candidate’s smile rather than the candidate’s platform.”

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Majority of Dentists Overseas Believe Use of Doctor Title is Fine

Four out of five dentists think it is appropriate to continue to use the courtesy title of ‘Dr.’ according to a poll carried out by the British Dental Association (BDA). The survey was carried out as part of a discussion hosted on the communities section of the BDA Web site between late July and early September. The debate attracted high levels of interest, being viewed more than 2,800 times.

The discussion, which was open from late July to early September, saw contributions from BDA members across the United Kingdom. The results of the poll will be used to emphasize the profession’s concerns in the BDA’s formal response to the General Dental Council’s consultation on the issue.

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