Can a Minipig Save Your Gums?

Difficult as it may be to believe, a minipig may be able to save your gums (and your teeth). A new therapy currently under development at Tohoku University in Japan suggests that stem-cells from minipigs may regenerate periodontal tissue in humans. This will, they say, heal gum tissue faster and at lower cost. It will also improve the quality of the minipig- pixabay cco free - 3986310 1280new tissue, according to scientists.

Periodontitis is one of the most common human dental diseases. It has been estimated that as much as 75 percent of the adult population in the USA has periodontitis. It is a painful disease. It results from bacterial inflammation of the gums and, eventually, loss of gums and supporting structures around the teeth. This inflammation creates infected pockets that cause erosion of bone and tooth loss. But this inflammation has been connected with heart disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and more.

Current treatments for gum disease include infection fighting, use of growth factors, and tissue regeneration using autologous mesenchymal stem cells (a patient’s own bone marrow stem cells from cartilage, bone and fat. The goal, of course, is to regenerate whatever tissue has been lost to the disease. Side effects have been limited, but they have caused some defects.

The scientists developing this treatment report that their new treatment can regenerate gum tissue safely and more efficiently than any other treatment currently available. If this treatment proves effective, it can save the gums and prevent tooth loss in millions of patients.

The new treatment does not use an organism’s own stem cells. Instead, stem cells from a healthy organism are transplanted into an affected organism. These “allogeneic stem cells” overcome the shortcomings of current treatments. Specifically, this treatment uses stem cells derived from fat tissue transplanted from healthy minipigs. The treatment has thus far been safe and effective for treatment of gum disease.

The study is “a powerful first step towards further development of stem cell-based therapy for the treatment of periodontal disease,” according to one of the researchers. The researchers plan to take the next step and conduct a clinical trial in humans to demonstrate the positive results of transplanting stem cells and stimulation of successful periodontal tissue regeneration.

This kind of significant advance in treatment could change the oral health and the lives of many Americans. We will be eager to see the results of the next step in development of the treatment. We will keep you informed.

New Appliance Reduces Episodes of Sleep Apnea by Half

A new oral appliance has been developed at the Hiroshima University Hospital for sleep apnea patients. This new treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea has proven effective in opening the airways. In obstructive sleep apnea, causes throat muscles to relax. This narrows the airways while you sleep. Indicators of the condition include snorting, choking or gasping while sleeping. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you do not sleep properly. You will notice dailySleep Apnea effects - paid - Depositphotos 51055441 s-2019 fatigue and a short attention span due to lack of sleep. In more serious forms of the condition the effects can be far more severe, even causing death in some cases.

Primary treatments at this time include CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) machines and single-piece oral appliances (typically made by your dentist). This new appliance brings the jawbone forward and enlarges the air passages at the back of your mouth. The new appliance is custom made for each patient. The new device allows movement of the jaw. This, unlike current oral appliances, eliminates effects on your teeth and eliminates changes in the shape of your face.

In a number of previous studies, measurement of the airways was accomplished while the patient was standing. This does not replicate the changes to the airways when sleeping. In the new study, measurements were made while patients were lying down. Based upon these measurements, the device was designed to widen the air passageways in sleep apnea patients. Researchers found that patients using the devices almost halved the number of sleep apnea episodes during the night because it widened passageways to facilitate easier breathing.

If you have been diagnosed with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, ask me about these custom appliances.

Oral Bacteria Linked to Colon Cancer

A new study at Columbia University, led by Dr. Yiping W. Han, establishes a link between common oral bacteria and development of colon cancer. The oral bacteria F. nucleatum is a primary factor in the development of plaque and periodontal disease. This study shows that it also plays an important role in accelerating the growth of aggressive oral health vector SM - dreamstimefree 13503595colon cancer. This knowledge is important in treating and preventing the second-leading cause of death in the U.S.

A related study discovered that one-third of all colorectal cancers were associated with F. nucleatum. Further, that the bacteria is responsible for creating a molecule called FasA adhesin, which appears to stimulate cancerous activity in colon cells. In addition, they found that a problematic protein, Annexin A1, is present in cancer-prone cells, but not in healthy colon cells. This protein fuels the growth of cancer. The oral bacteria F. nucleatum also encourages further growth of Annexin A1, in effect supercharging development of cancer cells.

It is hoped that this research will help in the understanding of the development of colon cancer and contribute to a treatment.

Your mouth is the gateway to your body, allowing bacteria, viruses, and more to travel to your organs. A clean and healthy mouth can prevent the growth and transmission of disease causing and promoting bacteria to reach other organs. Your best defense is a strong oral health regimen. Brush for 2 minutes twice daily, floss daily, and visit your dentist twice each year. You may want to add rinsing with mouthwash, as well.

Hydrogen Peroxide Teeth Whitening is More Dangerous Than Previously Thought

Brilliant white and perfectly matched teeth are considered a symbol of beauty and self-care in this country today. Statistics for 2018 indicate that 40.5 million people in the USA used tooth whitening products. We spend more than $1 billion every year on teeth whitening products. New research released this week shows that these whitening products might be causing tooth damage, as with tooth whitening strip - paid - shutterstock 1064100836

Several studies have demonstrated that most human teeth are not naturally pearly white. Most teeth are actually different shades and tints that tend more toward yellow than white. The studies also show that natural teeth are not all completely uniform in color.

Following upon several studies that have shown that hydrogen peroxide can damage teeth, researchers at Stockton University wanted to learn how hydrogen peroxide harms the teeth, and which part of the tooth it attacks. Specifically, they investigated the whitening strips you can buy in your local drug store and how they damage one of the three layers of the tooth.

About Hydrogen Peroxide

The main ingredient in over-the-counter whitening strips is usually hydrogen peroxide. It is an oxidizing agent that has many uses. It is used as a sterilizer for wounds.

It is also used as a color-lightening agent that is used to bleach hair. As many have learned the hard way, if you use too much hydrogen peroxide to lighten hair, or if you use it too often, it can seriously damage your hair and scalp.

The new research discovered that hydrogen peroxide damages the dentin of the tooth, the “middle layer.” Your tooth has three layers:

  1. An outer, shiny enamel layer
  2. A center dentin layer
  3. An inner layer composed primarily of connective tissue that helps to keep the tooth in place.

Effect of Hydrogen Peroxide on the Tooth

The researchers found that hydrogen peroxide can penetrate through the enamel and infiltrate dentin. This layer contains about 90-95 percent of the protein collagen. Specifically, they found that the hydrogen peroxide fragments the collagen in the dentin. This causes a loss of collagen mass in the dentin layer of the tooth.

The authors of the study wrote: “Our results showed that treatment with hydrogen peroxide concentrations similar to those found in whitening strips is enough to make the original collagen protein disappear, which is presumably due to the formation of many smaller fragments.”

The collagen in the dentin and the connective tissue that keeps the tooth in the jaw aids in mineralization and stability. It is also crucial for improving bone density, which is essential to healthy teeth.

At this time, the researchers are not certain whether this damage is permanent or if it can be reversed. Their plan to determine whether the hydrogen peroxide affects other proteins contained in the dentin, as well.

If you are one of the millions of people using over-the-counter tooth whitening strips, you should know that the hydrogen peroxide used may be harming your teeth. If you wish to continue a whitening regimen, see your dentist and discuss the best whitening option for your needs.

Arthritis and Jaw Pain

Is there a connection between arthritis and jaw pain? The short answer: Yes, in a number of cases. Here is a more complete answer.

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There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related rheumatic diseases. A list of those can be found here: Each type of arthritis has a unique characteristic in terms of its cause and its pattern.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. This is the “wear and tear” form that degrades some joints through overuse. Because it is caused by overuse, it typically manifests as we age.

Other types of arthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis) are caused by an autoimmune defect that causes the immune system to attack healthy joints by mistake. When this happens, the joint tissues become inflamed, swollen, twisted, and painful. Arthritis can affect any joint in the body. The autoimmune forms can also affect other types of tissues.

The Human Jaw

The jaw is composed of several complex joints. The movement of the joints is assisted by muscles, bones and soft tissues. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and others are used consistently in eating, speaking, yawning, swallowing and some facial movements and expressions. Many people grind their teeth either when awake or when asleep (or both). Grinding puts a great deal of stress on these joints that are frequently used.

When a form of arthritis attacks or invades the joints of the jaw, particularly the temporomandibular joint, it typically causes inflammation, swelling, distortion and pain. More severe cases of arthritis affecting the joint can also limit joint movement and/or the ability to open one’s mouth and keep it open for any time.

How Arthritis Affects the Jaw

A large number of people with rheumatoid arthritis also have TMJ problems and experience jaw pain. One study estimated that as many as 90% of rheumatoid arthritis patients also have TMD. It seems that the effects of rheumatoid arthritis on the joints in the hands is a good indication of TMD severity.

Both rheumatoid arthritis and TMJ are more common in women: about three times as many women than men have rheumatoid arthritis.

Psoriatic arthritis can also affect the jaw. It also causes pain, swelling, stiffness. It has also been shown to be a cause of teeth grinding and a range of other dental issues, including tooth loss. A recent study found that as many as 35% of people who have psoriatic arthritis also have jaw pain.

Arthritis affects the jaw by causing narrowing in the joint space, joint and bone erosion, bone deformity, and eventually complete disappearance of joint space. In addition to pain, the jaw may make cracking, crunching, or grinding sounds. The ability to open one’s mouth may become limited.


Physiotherapy has been of no long-term benefit according to repeated studies. The effects of arthritis upon the jaw are treated in much the same way as other joints. Initial treatment with NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), application of heat, and steroids is typical. These drugs help to reduce pain and inflammation. The second tier of medications are typically DMARDS (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) which promote remission of the disease and prevention of additional damage to affected joints. In some cases, pain can be relieved by injecting local anesthetics and sometimes arthroscopic surgery.

The best test for damage due to arthritis is the CBCT, a relatively new approach to imaging. This type of imaging detects early effects of arthritis upon the jaw more accurately than traditional X-rays.

What You Can Do

Arthritis in the jaw is painful. As the disease progresses, movement may become limited. The jaw is essential in speaking and eating. There are some things you can do to complement your doctor’s or dentist’s treatment. These include:

  • Change your diet to include more soft foods that are easier to chew.
  • Avoid chewy candy and chewing gum.
  • Avoid opening your mouth any wider than absolutely necessary when eating, talking or yawning.
  • Apply ice or heat to your jaw area. Try both ice and heat to discover which treatment is most effective for you. If you find heat to be most effective, moist heat will be most effective.
  • Mouth guards can be custom designed and fitted by your dentist, or braces can be used, to hold your jaw in the optimal position. These devices often need to be used for only a few hours per day. Your dentist will explain how and when you can derive the greatest benefit from these devices.
  • Ask your doctor and dentist about possible benefits of acupuncture. Your doctor or dentist can refer you to a good acupuncturist. Some people find this particularly effective.
  • Take medications prescribed by your rheumatologist or dentist regularly and as prescribed.
  • Know what kind of side effects of your medications could affect your mouth. Some of the medications can make you more susceptible to infections (Candida or Thrush), some (e.g., Methotrexate) can cause mouth ulcers. These can often be treated with folic acid. Discuss any reactions or infections with your doctor immediately.


Rheumatoid arthritis and Psoriatic arthritis are two forms of the disease that often affect the jaw. Early diagnosis and treatment can assist in pain management and in reducing inflammation. If you have arthritis and you have pain, popping sounds, or other crunching or grinding sounds when you move your jaw, it is wise to see your dentist and your rheumatologist immediately. Prompt treatment is key to controlling the effects of arthritis on the jaw and relieving pain.

Some rheumatologists and some dentists may work together to treat your jaw pain. The goal of all treatment is to reduce your pain and limit the future damage the arthritis may cause. At Complete Dental Care in Salem VA, Dr Wallace is eager to work with your rheumatologist to coordinate your treatment.


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