New research and innovations in dentistry could mean good news for many patients through new products and recommended oral care routines. As 2024 begins, there’s a lot to be hopeful about!
New research: Using an electric toothbrush is a good idea for children
Despite our best efforts, getting children to brush their teeth properly can sometimes be a challenge, and recent studies show alarming statistics on cavities and gingivitis (early-stage gum disease) in children:
- Over half of 5-year-old children have cavities
- Cavities and gingivitis combined affect 75% of children aged 9 months to 6 years
- Gingivitis on its own affects up to 91% of children.
But an electric toothbrush could be a game-changer for your child’s dental health! A new study published in the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry shows that electric toothbrush use may help. Children and their parents who participated in the study were assigned to two different groups: parents who brushed the primary teeth of their children aged 3–6, and children aged 7–10 who brushed their own primary and permanent teeth. Participants in each group were given either a manual toothbrush or an electric oscillating-rotating toothbrush.
After four weeks, among all the children, those who brushed or whose teeth were brushed with the electric toothbrushes showed more plaque reduction and greater gingivitis reduction than those who used the manual toothbrushes. The evidence is clear: Using an electric toothbrush is a great way to get teeth cleaner.
Want more information? Read our blog post on electric toothbrushes.
Innovation: A new product could soon provide longer-lasting relief for those with dry mouth
Xerostomia—known as dry mouth—occurs when one’s normal saliva flow is disrupted or stops altogether. It’s not an illness, but an uncomfortable condition affecting sufferers’ quality of life. The condition, which frequently affects older people and patients undergoing radiation therapy, has various causes and can lead to other oral conditions.
While various products may offer some relief, the relief is usually temporary and lasts a short time. But that may soon change, according to the results of a study recently published in Scientific Reports. Scientists at the University of Leeds have developed a microgel that binds to the surface of the mouth in a way that existing products do not, and thus acts as a saliva substitute.
Importantly, early tests show that the new product could last four to five times longer than existing saliva substitutes.
The microgel has been developed in a vegan version made with potato protein, and a dairy version made with lactoferrin, a protein found in milk. Both versions are calorie-free and made with completely non-toxic ingredients. Though the product has been successfully tested in lab trials but not yet on humans, the researchers expect that the next testing stage will also be successful.
For more about dry mouth, read our blog post.
New research: Daily toothbrushing among hospitalized ICU patients can lower risk of pneumonia
For hospitalized patients, developing a new infection can be a concern—but a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that for ICU patients included in the study, daily toothbrushing during their time in the ICU decreased the occurrence of pneumonia.
Hospital-acquired pneumonia can occur when oral bacteria make their way to a patient’s airway and lungs. Immunocompromised patients and those experiencing frailty are especially vulnerable.
Researchers reviewed the results of 15 clinical trials that included over 2700 patients in hospital ICUs. Among those who brushed their own teeth or had their teeth brushed by a nurse or dental professional at least once every day, the researchers found that rates of hospital-acquired pneumonia were lower than among those whose teeth were not brushed daily; this was true even for patients on ventilators.
The results also showed that daily toothbrushing was associated with shorter lengths of stay in the ICU, and fewer days of ventilation for those on ventilators.
While more studies are needed to determine whether daily toothbrushing among non-ICU patients might yield similar results, the results show the power of this simple oral hygiene practice to help patients avoid serious infections and recover their overall health.
For great toothbrushing tips and a video on toothbrushing technique, read our related blog post.
Innovation: For those with peanut allergy, a special toothpaste could soon lower reaction risk
For many years, allergists have used oral immunotherapy—which involves introducing small amounts of the allergen over time to help with desensitization—to help patients with peanut allergy to have less severe reactions if they are exposed to peanuts.
Now, an allergist has presented the first results of a study showing that adults with peanut allergy have tolerated a toothpaste specially formulated with small amounts of allergenic peanut proteins, despite their not being able to eat peanuts.
During the trial, which ran for 48 weeks, 100% of those using the toothpaste consistently tolerated it well; no one experienced a moderate or severe systemic reaction. The results support further research into the use of this kind of toothpaste for both adults and children with peanut allergy.
The bottom line
When you care for your oral health, you care for your overall health—and the professionals at Winchester Dental are pleased to help. By providing outstanding treatment, state-of-the-art technology, and information on new research, techniques, and innovations, we’ve got you covered!
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