Tracking What Goes into Your Mouth

Scientists have developed a new type of sensor that can reside in your mouth and monitor the food you eat and the beverages you drink. Ready or not, the technology is here.

This offers great promise for scientists and for medical and dental professionals who want/need to know what goes into your mouth with great accuracy. This sensor was designed at Tufts University School of Engineering. It is a tiny, wireless sensor that can be attached to one of your teeth. It will bond to the surface of a tooth, and its 2 square graphicstock-excited-bearded-man-enjoying-eating-hamburgers-isolated-on-white-background - SM - storyblocks - Hd7yIdiS2xmillimeters can collect information about your consumption of various chemicals and nutrients.

Scientists believe that this sensor can replace the completely unreliable food diaries. We all know that most of us cheat a bit with a food diary. Our idea of a small order of fries might actually be the equivalent of a doctor’s large order. And it is extremely difficult determine exactly how much salt or sugar you have added to certain foods. “Failing to note” a late-night snack will become impossible, and there will be little opportunity to “fudge” on the amount of candy – including fudge—that you consume.

The technology could be exceptionally helpful to scientists who are studying the effects of nutrients and chemicals on your body. It could also be useful to your physician or your dentist to know how your diet might be helping or harming you. One obvious example might be the person who is doing everything right but is not losing weight. This technology might be just what is needed to analyze how various foods and beverages and being processed by your body. This is the kind of information some of us might want to know in order to adjust your diet to reduce the impact of a particular chemical or nutrient.

When perfected, this kind of technology could help us to understand how medications interact with foods in our bodies. We might learn how to maximize the value of chemotherapy while minimizing some of the side effects. It could also be able to detect and measure our stress levels.

This type of sensor may offer a wealth of helpful information about our diets and our health. It may help all of us to live longer and healthier lives.

Unfortunately, it will take some of the fun out of sneaking an extra serving of ice cream or adding extra salt or sugar to food.

What do you think about these tooth-residing sensors?

A good use of smartphones by teens

A recent study found that a good use of smartphones by teens is to connect with their electric toothbrushes to help them brush longer and better.

A group of 60 teens (ages 13 – 17) were randomly divided into two groups: one group received a soft manual teen with smartphone -SM - storyblockstoothbrush (Oral-B Indicator 35); the other group received a power toothbrush and an Oral-B Precision Clean brush head. All participants were given the same toothpaste. Those using the power toothbrush also received a charger and Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone loaded with the Oral-B Application v. 2.1, OB2 phone app.

All participants received an oral exam to establish baselines for various aspects of brushing and to identify focus areas needing additional attention. Those using manual toothbrushes were instructed to brush as usual for two minutes twice daily and to spend an extra 10 seconds on their focus areas. The same information was given to the group using power toothbrushes via the app. They were sent home to brush as instructed for two weeks.

After two weeks participants were re-examined and their scores were compared to the baseline exam. There was little change in the brushing habits of those using manual brushes (baseline 119.2 seconds; 2 weeks 118.4 seconds). But those using power toothbrushes improved significantly (from a baseline of 108.6 seconds to 143.5 seconds).

The study concluded: “These results demonstrate striking oral health benefits when patients are motivated by advanced oral hygiene products and technologies to brush longer and more thoroughly.”

Please Don’t Try to Whiten Your Teeth with Charcoal

Many conversations are occurring on the internet about tooth whitening. Some offer good advice. But some are pushing ideas that are simply harmful in some way. Before you try some method that you find online check with your dentist. Be certain that what you are planning to try will not damage your teeth.

A case in point is the current trend that suggests the use of charcoal to whiten your teeth. Please don’t try this. Duringcharcoal toothpasts - paid -shutterstock 1017408808 the last two years people have been discovering new ways to use activated charcoal for their health and beauty needs. One such use is cleaning skin with charcoal, which absorbs the oils and stains. The thinking seems to be that if charcoal works so well for the skin, it should also work for teeth, making them whiter.

Charcoal is “wood that has been placed inside a low oxygen environment like a steel or clay box and heated to over 1000 degrees F.” The lack of oxygen ensures that the wood cannot be lit nor can it burn. The heating process removes water, tar, gasses, and other elements in the wood through melting or evaporation. What remains at the end of the process is pure carbon and ash. Brushing with charcoal means that you are rubbing a very hard substance against your delicate teeth.

While most toothpaste contains abrasive elements that clean your teeth, these elements are significantly less damaging that charcoal. In fact, the abrasiveness of the charcoal can actually damage your teeth by eroding the enamel on your teeth. What immediately appears to be whiter teeth will fade over time, making the teeth appear yellow. When charcoal is used incorrectly or too often, it erodes the enamel. When the enamel is eroded, what becomes visible is the underlying dentin.

The effect of a long-term use of charcoal to brush your tooth to whiteness is actually harmful to your teeth. What people do not seem to understand is that damage to tooth enamel is permanent. When you remove the enamel, you cannot replace it.

We recommend oral hygiene products that have earned the Seal of Acceptance from the American Dental Association (ADA). This seal has not been given to charcoal. In fact, the ADA included this statement in an article in its journal last year: There is “insufficient clinical and laboratory data to substantiate the safety and efficacy claims of charcoal and charcoal-based dentifrices.”

Before risking permanent damage to your teeth and gums, always use products that pass two tests: the seal of the ADA and the recommendation of your dentist.

Frequent Marijuana Use and Your Mouth

In the last four-and-one-half years (since 2013) the use of has doubled in the U.S. Marijuana is used both medically and recreationally. As most people know, there are psychological and physical effects of marijuana. But do you know what it does in your mouth?

Whether marijuana is smoked, baked into foods or applied as a topical cream marijuana can have a number of harmful marijuana-pixabay cco - 1832435 640effects. Its use can cause an immediate increase in heart rate, dilation of the blood vessels and circulation interruptions. This results in an increase in blood pressure and a decrease in the ability of the ability of the blood vessels to carry oxygen throughout the body. Some very limited studies have suggested that the risk of heart attack is five times more likely to happen in the first hour of marijuana use. Although users typically report feeling relaxed, calm or sleepy, marijuana can also cause anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations.

It is important that your dental hygienist and your dentist know about your marijuana use before administering any drugs.

The first effect of marijuana in your mouth is typically dry mouth. Many people have attributed this response to the effect of smoking marijuana. A few limited studies have suggested, however, that this effect may occur with other uses of the substance. Dry mouth fosters tooth decay. In fact, research confirms that when compared with non-users, marijuana users have significantly higher incidence of tooth decay. Other effects of marijuana use at least monthly include

  • increased risk of periodontal disease
  • increased risk of head and neck cancers (marijuana contains carcinogens)
  • appearance of red pre-cancerous lesions
  • development of non-cancerous discolored patches
  • thick, white patches forming on your tongue and the lining of your mouth
  • stomatitis-like lesions, uvulitis and gingival enlargement.

It is important that your hygienist and your dentist know about your marijuana use because they will need to look for and monitor any of these effects.

Some dentists do not look for effects of marijuana use when examining patients. Because of the oral risks associated with marijuana use, please inform your dentist.

At Complete Dental Care of Salem, VA, we do not judge; nor do we ever share any information about your health with others. Please keep this in mind when you come into the office and help us to help you by informing us about your marijuana use. The goal is always to improve your dental and general health.

Are Swollen Taste Buds a Real Thing?

Your taste buds (which allow you to enjoy various flavors) are located on the tiny round bumps at the back of your tongue (called papillae). Your taste buds can be swollen due to irritation of the taste buds, or they can be damaged or burned. Taste buds typically regenerate every week or two. But they can be damaged in several ways. There are small projections in the taste buds that are a bit like hairs. They send messages to the brain – particularly about tastes. If they are damaged, you cannot taste your food. Swollen taste buds are not uncommon. The National Institutes of Health tongue of purple smiley- pixabay cco - 42842 1280estimates that 200,000 people seek treatment for problems with their sense of taste.

What irritates taste buds sufficiently to cause swelling? Here are some common causes of taste bud irritation.

  • Dry mouth
  • Burns, cuts or injuries to your mouth or tongue that cause swelling and inflammation.
  • Acid that rises up the throat due to acid reflux
  • Eating very spicy foods or very spicy foods
  • Eating extremely hot or cold food or drinking very hot or cold beverages
  • Infections (flu, colds, fungal infection, bacterial infection)
  • Smoking
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Dental problems
  • Medications that are highly acidic on your tongue

The taste buds can be white or bright red in appearance. They may also have blisters filled with fluid (pustules on the tongue). Under normal conditions taste buds are not visible to the naked eye.

Because your body regenerates the taste buds regularly, swollen taste buds typically resolve quickly on their own. If, however, you have long-term swelling or your sense of smell is also affected, you should see a doctor. Swollen taste buds are sometimes symptoms of tongue cancer, which makes it critical that you see a doctor or dentist for long-term symptoms.

Treatment for swollen taste buds is determined by the cause of the problem. If the cause is infection, for example, the appropriate treatment is antibiotics. In some cases other medications may be prescribed to reduce the swelling. Other treatments may include:

  • Quit smoking
  • Brush and floss your teeth at least twice each day
  • Use a special toothpaste and rinse to treat chronic dry mouth
  • Using a warm salt water gargle several times each day
  • Hold ice chips on your tongue to reduce the swelling
  • Take medication to reduce acid reflux

Your doctor or dentist will talk with you about the best treatment options for you.

If you believe your chronic compromised sense of taste might be due to swollen taste buds, come in. Let’s determine the cause and find the right treatment for you.


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