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Do You Know Anything About Oral Cancer? Part 1

Welcome!  Today, we begin a new article series and the topic of series is oral cancer.  The purpose of this series on oral cancer is to increase your knowledge of the types of this dreaded disease.  We want you to be aware of the fact that  your mouth is not exempt from the development and metastasis of oral cancers. So, without further ado, let’s get on with this topic.

What is Oral Cancer?

I think the first step for us, before we actually get into the types of cancer, is to acquaint you with the “what is of oral cancer”.  Generally speaking, cancer of any type is generally found to begin with a cellular process in the body that allows ordinary cells to multiply uncontrollably. The above mentioned cellular process has the ability to be found  anywhere in the human body and the dire truth is that your mouth is not protected from this cellular process.  Additionally, any cancer that is born in your mouth, or anywhere in your body for that matter, can find its way to any other parts or organs of the body.

Therefore, oral cancer is a dangerous disorder that obviously has been born in any of the specific tissues of the oral cavity. Oropharyngeal cancer is a specific cancer type that has its origins in the oropharynx, an area that is located in the throat just behind the mouth.

Types of Tumors

There is not just one type of cancer and, accordingly, there also isn’t just one type of tumor growth. The various types of tumor that can originate anywhere in the body and, yes there are many types, essentially can be grouped into three categories:

  • Benign or non-cancerous growths – these aren’t invaders of other tissues and nor do they spread to other parts of the body.
  • Harmless growths that have the potential to develop into cancer as times goes on at various rates of speed. These are known as pre-cancerous conditions.
  • Cancerous tumors that are known to grow into surrounding tissues as well as spread to other parts of the body.

Types of Oral Cancer

Did you know there are several types of cancer which tend to be found in the oral cavity and surrounding tissues?  In this article series, we plan to briefly describe each of them in subsequent segments of this article series.  Today,  our type of cancer deemed appropriate for discussion is squamous cell carcinoma, the most frequently found oral cancer. And, since it is the type of oral cancer with the highest percentage of frequency (90%), we will likely devote more time to its discussion than some of the other types.  While the other types of oral cancer may not be as prolific, they can be just as deadly.  Rest assured that we will spend sufficient time on each type because we want you to know as much as possible for the protection of you as well as each member of your family.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

As noted above, this cancer type is responsible for over 90 percent of oral cancers found in patients.  This cancer type  can affect any of the tissues in the mouth as well as in the oropharynx and begins its early stage of life as squamous cells. These cells are described as flat, scale-like cells which are normally found in the lining of the mouth and throat.

In its earliest stage of development, it is called carcinoma in situ.  This means that this type of cancer cell is found essentially only in the epithelium, the outer layer, of the lining of the mouth and throat.  At this early stage, it differs from the more aggressive and invasive form of squamous cell carcinoma in that it hasn’t yet invaded the deeper layers of the tissues of the oropharynx and oral cavity.

In the next segment we will discuss another type of squamous cell called verrucous carcinoma.  In the meantime, let me share that the first line treatment for any oral cancer is the identification of it.  Your Periodontist in Long Island can evaluate your oral health and identify any suspicious looking areas which may require treatment sooner rather than later.  Contact us to schedule an appointment for treatment today!

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Are You Confused by Soluble and Insoluble Fiber? Part 5

Welcome back to the final installment of this article series on fiber confusion. Let’s get started so we can finish this discussion with  some of the health issues that have been found to affect human beings as they age as well as some ways to add fiber to your diet.

Enter Dental Caries Stage Right

For those of you following this article series, you may recall from previous segments, that dental caries is simply another term for tooth decay.  Most of us have had our share of cavities and  have had the experience of tooth fillings by a dentist as we were growing up. Interestingly enough, tooth decay or dental caries also can affect babies who are still being given a bottle at bedtime or when put down for their naps.  For them, it’s called early childhood caries (or ECC) and it is also known as “baby bottle tooth decay”.  This type of tooth decay or dental caries is preventable, occurring in young children generally presenting  with the rapid decay of primary upper teeth as well as some of the lower back molars.  How does this damage happen?  The cause of ECC, as noted above, stems from bottles that are given to young children to drink as they nap or at bedtime to help them sleep.  These bottles contain various juices, milk, formula and/or other sweetened beverages preferred by the child and parent. While said young child is awake, his or her natural sucking action keeps saliva flowing, washing away the sugars from the teeth. But what happens after the child falls asleep is what causes the damage. The sucking action and subsequent saliva wash mentioned above is significantly reduced and the aforementioned sugars from the liquid in the bottle naturally accumulate around the teeth.  This then becomes a perfect environment/feeding ground for bacterial growth.  Untreated bacterial growth and continued practice of the bottle giving can allow the dental decay to progress to painful and dangerous infections, abscesses and even tooth loss very early in life.

Things Change As We Age

As we age, we are taught by our parents and dental professionals steps to take to develop the oral hygiene practices that enable our dental tissues to remain healthy…or we don’t develop or apply those oral hygiene measures and our teeth degenerate to the point of tooth loss.  Utilizing the steps of brushing and flossing at least twice a day as well as refraining or limiting the various types of carbohydrate you consume coupled with the establishing and maintenance of a regular routine relationship with a dental professional are some ways to help reduce the problems with your oral health that can later cause infections, abscesses and gum diseases, all of which can lead to other major health issues especially in later stages of life.  If the gums and oral tissues are not properly cared for, the ensuing bacteria growth begins to cause infections that eventually get into your bloodstream.  The makes the bloodstream the primary vehicle for the bacteria to be transported throughout your entire body … even into your vital organs!  If routine dental care is not provided to protect and prevent this bacterial transfer, is it any wonder that we are seeing increased incidences of heart problems, cardiovascular issues, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease… and the list of major health problems goes on and on.

Now, The Senior Oral Health Situation

Statistics show that adults older than 65 years make up a very large segment of the population having untreated dental diseases, like the dental caries mentioned above, as well as periodontal disease. Those same statistics further reveal that about 25% of these older adults probably don’t have their  natural  teeth any longer.  And, unfortunately, it is this same population segment that is the most likely to take various medications which also may have some detrimental effect on their oral health! Additionally, if they don’t enough of the appropriate teeth for chewing, the diets of these sometimes fragile folks becomes a concern.  The consumption of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, and the wonderful health benefits that accompany this consumption are not an option for them.

Do You Know if You Get Enough Fiber into Your Diet?

I think, here,  the first question which should be asked and answered is, how much fiber is needed on a daily basis? More statistics show that, while most Americans only achieve about 15 grams of fiber per daily in their diets, the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends more like 25 grams per day for women under age 50 and teenage girls.  For teenage boys and men under 50, because they consume more calories than the ladies, the recommendation is more like 30 to 38 or more grams of fiber daily.

Having said that, now I will give you some ideas about how to get more fiber into your diet. However, I feel I need to preface this section with a warning that, if you don’t already consume a fair amount of fiber, as you add more fiber into your daily eating pattern, you will likely experience some gas and bloating.  If you drink more water, these symptoms will be eased as fiber absorbs water.  Now, for the list…

  • eat more whole fruit as opposed to fruit juice
  • look for the word “whole” preceding grains when shopping and reading those ingredient labels and take note of the fiber content on that same label.
  • try beginning your day with a good bowl of bran or other type of high fiber cereal – it should contain at least 5 grams of fiber per serving
  • try snacking on raw veggies
  • adding legumes, seeds and nuts in soups, salads and stews can be very nutritious
  • more fiber can be added if you replace some of the white bread, pasta and rice with whole-grain items
  • try to eat a vegetarian meal at least once a week.

You do, of course, have the option of adding fiber by using a fiber supplement but it is important to know that experts don’t agree that the nutritional benefit of supplements versus whole foods is the equal.  However, regardless of which option you choose, any attempt to add fiber, whether soluble or insoluble, to your diet will benefit your entire body for many years to come.  Also, establishing and maintaining a regular relationship with your dental professional will help keep your overall and oral health good.  Dr. David R. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist on Long Island. Contact us to schedule an appointment today!

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Are You Confused About Soluble and Insoluble Fiber? Part 4

Faithful followers, welcome back! Today, as promised last time, our article series installment on fiber confusion will cover how fiber affects your oral health.   I hope you will follow along with me while we continue this discussion on fiber confusion in an the attempt to help to clarify this nutritional category for you.  So, let’s get started.

Lots of Research 

As some of you may already know, there is a great deal of research supporting proper diet and nutrition to achieve and maintain basic good physical health — in fact proof is readily available to justify that good nutrition is vital for good basic physical health for everyone, regardless of age or stage of life.  And, you don’t have to look very deeply to locate this data if you desire to confirm it.  Additionally, a fair amount of research is available into the importance of good nutrition as it applies to the health of the oral tissues, specifically in regard to teeth and gums.  It is well-established that there exists a strong relationship between diet and oral health.  Today, we’re going to discuss how this relationship presents in your mouth.

It Presents as Tooth Decay

Dental professionals call it dental caries but you will likely recognize the term as “tooth decay”.   This malady usually begins its life by a bacterial process which ultimately leads to tooth decay through the formation of dental plaque.  The responsible bacteria is always present in your mouth and it tends to attack the  various components that make up the structure of the naturally occurring saliva, also normally present to keep the oral tissues moist.  As the bacterial deconstruction of the saliva progresses, the various components of the saliva tend to stick to the enamel or surface of the teeth and the formation of plaque begins.  While this plaque is the consistency of a clear gel, it is not as innocent as one might think.  It gives the bacteria a perfect place to adhere where it can and does proliferate.  This innocent-looking clear gelatin we call plaque is relatively easy to remove unless it is allowed to remain on the teeth for a period of time.  The sad part is that, if it is not removed on a daily basis, it becomes quite hard and necessitates professional removal by your dental hygienist or other dental professional.  Additionally, this plaque, if not removed regularly, can cause an inflammatory response in the gums called gingivitis which can lead to the eroding of even more tissue types and eventually result in the loss of teeth.

It Presents as Demineralization of the Teeth

You may be wondering how something like dental plaque causes so much damage.  I would love to  answer that question for you. That innocent-looking clear gelatin substance called plaque forming on your tooth enamel contains a lot of  those bacteria we mentioned above.  Those industrious bacteria have the ability to stay quite busy fermenting dietary carbohydrates to be used as their food source. While it’s true that, not only does this fermentation process create sustenance that feeds the bacteria but it is also responsible for the manufacture of a number of acids that are capable of demineralizing the tooth enamel, the protective layer for the tooth. As I am sure you can imagine, the destruction of the tooth enamel allows opportunities  for the bacteria to go deeper into the lower layers of the tooth, resulting in decay of the tooth and cavity formation.

Is There Any Hope to Control This Process?

 The short and sweet answer to this question is yes!   To halt the process described above  all you have to do is make some adjustments to your oral hygiene regimen.  This can also be controlled quite well with proper diet and routine professional dental care.  Because the bacteria/fermentation process begins with carbohydrates that are needed by the bacteria to live, you can adjust your daily diet to restrict or decrease simple carbohydrates like sucrose (sugar), glucose and fructose.  

If dental caries is not treated regularly, the result will be both painful and destructive to those precious oral tissues and this can happen to any member of your family, regardless of age.  The next installment of this series will be a discussion about how the deterioration of oral tissues affects people at different stages of their lives.  In the meantime, your Periodontist in Long Island can help. Contact us to schedule an appointment for treatment today!

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Are You Confused About Soluble and Insoluble Fiber? Part 3

Faithful followers, welcome back to part 3 of this topic on fiber and the confusion it can cause.  In the last segment, you may recall our discussion about soluble and insoluble types of fiber and the food that we listed in which they can be found.  We also discussed some ways one might wish to utilize to include some of those healthy fiber-loaded foods into one’s eating regimen.  As promised in the last segment, today, we’ll be discussing  the health benefits that are available to you from the inclusion of both types of fiber into your diet.  I hope you will accept my invitation to follow along with me while we talk more about  the confusion between soluble and insoluble fiber.

Did you know that fiber is more than just roughage?

It is my guess  that many of you may not necessarily tune in when the term “fiber” is used because, if you’re like me, it wasn’t one that you grew up hearing from your parents.  The term “roughage” is probably the one you heard when Mom was trying to get you to eat foods like lettuce, cabbage and carrots.  She probably told you that it would keep you “regular”, though, also like me,  you probably didn’t understand the importance of that term either until later in life.  It’s a well-documented fact that the  consumption of adequate amounts of fiber contributes to intestinal regularity, but it is also well-documented that that’s not the only claim to fame  that fiber has for you!  The “roughage” that Mom used to promote can also help to reduce cholesterol levels, aid in the control and stabilization of blood sugars and even aid in weight loss!  This category of nutrient can also lengthen your life!

Let’s review the two types of fiber and how they work

As mentioned in the last segment, there are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.  If you want all of the benefits that I mentioned above, then you’ll find you’ll need both types.  As a matter of fact,  both types of fiber are products of plants and are considered carbohydrates but that is as far as they get to any similarity to other carbohydrates.  Other types of carbs are pretty much broken down by the digestive process, absorbed by the entire body as it travels through the bloodstream in the form of glucose to nourish every type of tissue in the body.  Fiber, unlike the other types of carbs, doesn’t get broken down and absorbed in the digestive process, but instead it just provides the bulk necessary to move  things right on through.  It slows digestion which helps to reduce the “sugar rush” and insulin spike that happens when other carbs are quickly digested and turned into glucose or blood sugar.  This undigested fiber also helps to make your stools softer and easier to eliminate.

Here are some soluble fiber health benefits

As we mentioned above, soluble fiber slows down the digestive process and it also isn’t well-absorbed.  Because of this, it can help protect you from the blood sugar spikes that come from the digestive process of other types of carbohydrates.  These sugar spikes can raise your risk of type 2 diabetes and also heart disease.  If you already suffer from type 1 or type 2 diabetes, the fiber content of your diet can also help to keep your blood sugar levels under better control which ultimately will help to control the disease process.

Another soluble fiber health benefit: decreased risk of heart disease

Are you aware that fiber can also help control your cholesterol levels?  After the soluble fiber is inside your digestive tract, it literally attaches itself to the particles of cholesterol.  Once attached, the fiber then carries the cholesterol out of your system along with other waste products.  This reduces your risk of heart disease.  Oatmeal may actually be the best fiber food to offer the most protection for your heart and cardiovascular system!

Weight loss is another health benefit

I don’t know about you but this has got to be a plus for all of us!  Fiber can help reduce your weight or help you maintain your weight by keeping that “full” feeling longer without adding a large amount of calories.  

How about healthy bowel movements?

Yeah, this is the “keeps you regular” part of the fiber story!  And, it’s not a dinner table topic but it IS very important to all of us.  Since soluble fiber helps to soak up water as it makes its way through your digestive system, it helps to create the bulk in your stool that you need to avoid constipation and diarrhea.  When you see fiber supplements on the department store or pharmacy shelf, you’re looking at a product that actually contains primarily soluble fiber.

Some insoluble fiber health benefits

Both soluble and insoluble types of fiber play a huge role in weight loss and maintenance because it keeps you feeling full longer and holds off those hunger pangs that send you to the refrigerator or the convenience store for carb and sugar laden snacks.  When you eat plenty of insoluble fiber foods, your digestive health can improve, including bowel-related problems like constipation, diarrhea, hemorrhoids and fecal incontinence.

In our next segment, we’ll discuss how fiber can help your dental health but in the meantime, call Dr. David R. Scharf, your Periodontist in Long Island for initial and follow up dental evaluations. Contact us to schedule an appointment today!

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Are You Confused About Soluble and Insoluble Fiber? Part 2

Welcome back to our faithful followers who are returning for the next segment on the topic of fiber and the types that are available.  If you were with us last time, you will recall that we briefly discussed fiber as well as provided a simple definition of fiber.  You might also recall that mention was made of the two types of fiber that are needed by your body: soluble and insoluble.   I want to acquaint  you with the importance of this category of nutrient  to your body and ultimately to your dental health.  As promised last time, today, we’re going to discuss some of the various foods from which you can get fiber and provide some tips on how to introduce them into your diet safely if you do not already consume them on a regular basis.  So, come along with me while we try to unravel the confusion about soluble and insoluble fiber.

The basics about soluble fiber

As we mentioned in the last segment, soluble fiber is the type that absorbs water and makes it turn into a gel-like mushy substance.  To get a picture of this, try mixing water with oatmeal and note the consistency that results. Soluble fiber rich foods are things like oatmeal, nuts, beans, apples and blueberries – though this is not a complete list but you should get some idea from it.

The basics of insoluble fiber

Insoluble fiber is the type that doesn’t absorb water and it also doesn’t get broken down in the digestive process – it’s pretty much a  “what you eat is what you get” sort of process.  One can compare the consistency to that of adding  water to celery instead of oatmeal – it’s still pretty chunky, digestively speaking.  This type of fiber can be found when you eat seeds and the skins of fruit, whole-wheat bread items and brown rice.  Eating adequate amounts of insoluble fiber helps prevent constipation since it,  like soluble fiber, is also responsible for keeping things moving along properly.

How can you add fiber to your diet safely?

The official dietary recommendation for daily fiber intake is about 25 grams on a 2,000 calorie diet.  I’ll bet you wondering how you can eat that much fiber in a day’s time.  Let me say this first and foremost,  adding fiber to your diet needs to be done carefully and gradually so that you don’t experience discomforts like gas, bloating and diarrhea.   Having said that , let’s go over a few tips on adding fiber to your diet:

  • Choose whole grain bread and cereal products whenever possible.  It is important to note that some cereals have more whole grain than others and many are loaded with unnecessary sugar.
  • Try eating beans more often.  Beans afford you of more fiber than many if not most other plant foods not to mention they are loaded with good protein.  Try eating them a few times a week.
  • Several fruit servings daily.  This can be used as a snack or as dessert for wholesome and healthy benefits.
  • Just one tablespoon of ground flaxseed daily can add 3 grams of fiber to your diet.  This food is both soluble and insoluble and can be mixed into smoothies, soups, casserole, cereals, etc.
  • Let’s not forget the fiber contained in those veggies mom used to force us to eat.  Raw veggies can make a great snack, pre-dinner appetizer as well as a great side with your meals.

It is suggested that, when incorporating these suggestions into your eating regimen, please remember to add them slowly to avoid the gas, bloating, cramping and diarrhea that can occur.

In the next segment we’re going to discuss some wonderful health benefits that are available from  consuming these two types of fiber.  Until then, I would remind you to  keep up with those so very important dental checkups.  Call Dr. David R. Scharf, your Periodontist on Long Island, and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel. Contact us to schedule an appointment today!

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Are You Confused About Soluble and Insoluble Fiber? Part 1

Are you a frequent follower of this site?  If so,  then you already know of the concern that we have for the education of our readers so they know about all things related to their health, both their overall general health as well as their oral health. We want to keep you informed about things we feel will eventually result in changes in your oral and overall general health that you’d likely not appreciate. Having said that, let me tell you that our article today is the first in a multiple article series devoted to the overall health benefits of fiber for both your general health and your oral health – and this includes every member of your family.   My goal for this article series is to make sure you are familiar with the nutritional substance called fiber, how your body uses it, what sources in which it can be found and the affect it has on your overall general health and, most important from a dental / periodontal standpoint, how it affects your oral health.  So, let’s get down to business and begin this week’s installment on fiber confusion.

The basics and types of fiber

Whenever I want to learn something new or expand what I may already know about a topic, the first thing I find necessary  is to understand what it is.  So, it follows that the first thing I  need in this case is a definition for fiber and the two types that are available to us.    According to  Wikipedia, “…dietary fiber or roughage is the indigestible portion of food derived from plants.  It has two main components … soluble and insoluble…” .  I suspect that you’re wondering why one needs or cares about this indigestible portion of what you eat.  Well, I would love to address that issue by explaining the difference between the two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.  I think once you know what they do, it will be quite clear to you and you’ll better understand why you should care.

Soluble Fiber

This type of fiber actually draws water to itself and then forms a gel-like substance that slows down digestion.  This digestive slow-down basically retards the emptying of the stomach and this helps to give you that “filled up” feeling that lasts for longer periods of time,  One of the benefits of this slow-down allows you to control weight a bit better.  If you’re diabetic, you also get an added perk — it helps to control blood sugars and allows an added  effect on insulin sensitivity.  For those of you who suffer from higher cholesterol levels, the soluble fibers have been found to help decrease the LDL, also known as “bad” blood cholesterol because it interferes with the ability of the dietary cholesterol to be absorbed.

Insoluble Fiber

Insoluble fiber is pretty important, too, as it provides the bulk needed to produce the laxative effect our bodies need to eliminate waste.  These fibers don’t dissolve in water so, when they travel through the digestive system, what comes out is pretty much very similar to what went in..  This bulk producing fiber helps to eliminate constipation and aids in the speeding up of food and waste removal from your body.

Enough on this topic for now. In the next installment, we will talk about the foods from which you can get these fibers and how to bring them into your diet if you don’t already eat them. In the meantime, your Long Island Periodontist can help to identify and treat gum disease in any member of your familyContact us to schedule an appointment for treatment today!

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Do You Know the Connection Between Gum Disease and Other Systemic Diseases?

Greetings to all of my faithful readers!  I’d like to ask you several questions (a show of hands is not necessary) about an issue that has major implications on not only your own health but also the health of your loved ones.  If you have been following this blog you already know that we care enough to make sure you obtain the information necessary for you to understand the health risks you and your loved ones face with gum disease and systemic disease.  That being said, now let’s get to those questions I mentioned above.

Here Are The Questions

How many of you know someone who suffers from osteoporosis? How many of you know people who suffer from respiratory disease?  I don’t know if you’ve noticed it but there seems to be an increasing number of people with whom I come into contact who suffer from some sort of asthma, COPD, pneumonia and many other respiratory maladies.  And, here’s one that I see as really increasing : Cancer! How many people do you know who are currently dealing with cancer right now or who have dealt with it in the past?  Just in case you haven’t already guessed, these are the three systemic diseases we will be briefly discussing because I want you to know how these are related to gum disease.  


Although, osteoporosis has always been considered a woman’s disease, it is important to know that it is a disease from which men can suffer.  This disease affects the bone density of your entire skeletal system – regardless of gender! Simply put, it takes the calcium from your bones that is needed to keep them strong and healthy and it uses that calcium for cells all over your body to enable them to perform the functions for which each of those cells were designed by the Creator.  The purpose of this article, we want to focus on researcher findings that shows a possible relationship between gum disease and osteoporosis.  Researchers  generally feel that there is a link between osteoporosis and bone loss, specifically jaw bone loss.  What does this mean for you and your loved ones? Quite simply, this means that the jaw bone, being the basic support or foundation of your teeth, suffers loss of strength due as the bone density of the jaw bone erodes as osteoporosis develops and progresses! One might compare this loss of strength in your oral foundation to the loss of strength you would experience if, for example, underground erosion is wearing away at the foundation of your home.

Respiratory Disease

Did you know that your oral tissues are a breeding ground for multitudes of bacteria, and when you have gum disease, some of those bacteria aren’t friendly to your respiratory system.  Researcher has found that bacteria found growing in your oral tissues can be aspirated into your lungs.  What happens after they are aspirated? They basically set up housekeeping and multiply, causing respiratory conditions like pneumonia!  This phenomina has been found to be particularly strong in people with periodontal disease.

Some Cancers

How many people that you know are now suffering from cancer or who have suffered from cancer in the past?  If you’re like most of us, you’re likely noticing increasing numbers of people that you know are being diagnosed with various types of cancer.  At this point in our discussion, we would like to supply you with some research data that will likely reveal the seriousness of this and heighten your awareness of your cancer risks, especially for the male gender.  The research community has found that men having some degree of gum disease have a 49 percent higher risk to develop kidney cancer. Men having gum disease were also found to have a 54 percent higher risk for developing pancreatic cancer and 30 percent higher risk for developing cancers of the blood! The ladies have their fair share of increased cancer risk and there have been many studies that link higher risks for breast cancers and other reproductive system cancers for women as well.

What does this all mean for you and your family?  It means that establishing a continuing dental routine is vital for each and every member of your family.  It means having everyone evaluated in terms of the present condition of their oral health. It means getting everyone up to speed on a good daily regimen for getting and maintaining good oral health. It means getting treatment for any existing gum disease and keeping up with those vital routine dental followups. Contact us to schedule an appointment for treatment today!

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Flossing: Do You Know How Old This Dental Routine Is? Part 2

Welcome back!  For those of you who were with us last week, you may recall that we were discussing some fossil findings that revealed the use of toothpicks by early cavemen appeared to date back over 2 million years ago.  Today, we are going to conclude this topic with some interesting background information which should help you understand a little more about our interest in the early development of man.  I think you will benefit from this interesting historical information on flossing your teeth your teeth.  So, let’s get started.

Just a Bit of Review

To briefly review last week’s discussion, we talked about what is believed to be a new species of man found in fossils by Louis and Mary Leakey in Tanzania and that other researchers also found similar remains in Cova Forada Neanderthal that supported the fact that toothpicks were being utilized by early man not only for dental hygiene but also for palliative care of periodontal disease pain. Today, we will discuss why I find these earliest documented cases of the palliative treatment of dental disease so interesting and thought provoking.

Cultural Organization of the Neanderthal

Researcher and co-author in the Cova Forada study , Marina Lozano, views this data as a positive step toward the beginning of understanding the Neanderthal species.  Because this species of early man seemed to have experienced a wide range of environmental and resource adaptations and because these adaptations seemed to have expanded into the area of palliative medicine, the collective appetite of science has been piqued.  When this data is viewed in conjunction with their complex cultural organization which included symbolic behaviors like burials and the utilization of feathers and claws as personal ornamentation and garments, it only serves to cause the inquisitive mind to delve deeper, especially since they also seemed to have possessed a very thorough understanding of the natural resources found in their environment. As a matter of fact, we have discovered that the Neanderthals from El Sidron Cave in Spain seemed to have developed an ability to utilize medicinal plants as they expanded their knowledge of various primitive medical treatments.   Researchers feel that the utilization of toothpicks made of plant materials seemed to mitigate painful gums and served to be a type of rudimentary dental treatments.

While using these primitive toothpicks may be considered an early method of oral hygiene, the dental evaluations of the fossils at Cova Forada suggest evidence that medical treatment for painful gums was also being experienced over 2 million years ago.  While our flossing methods and materials used have changed a great deal over the millenia, the reasons for doing so certainly have not. It is still vital to brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day as well as having regular dental evaluations and treatments to achieve and maintain the best oral health possible to get and stay healthy as we age.  Dr. David R. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist on Long Island. Contact us to schedule an appointment for treatment today!

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Flossing: Do You Know How Old This Dental Routine Is? Part 1

Hello!  Are you among those who have wondered who penned some of the ideas currently being touted by dental professionals for good oral hygiene?  Has the thought that some of those dental hygiene recommendations that your dental professional encourages you to include in your daily oral hygiene routine seem “out there”?  Well, to be truthful, I have had these thoughts but today, I would like to talk a little bit about some of the history of flossing your teeth your teeth.  

First, a little background

I recently read an article that piqued my interest.  I love getting into the history of things and why they are as they are.  This has always helped me to learn and to incorporate what I learn into my life repertoire of life experiences.  So, since inquiring minds need to know, into it I dove and this is what I found out about flossing and its history.  It seems that approximately  2.8 to 1.5 million years ago, during the Pleistocene period of human development, a species of the tribe Hominini lived.  Fossils of these early people were uncovered by Louis and Mary Leakey in the early 1960’s at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania.  At that time, the speculation held that these fossils were from a new species whom they called them Homo habilis (meaning “handy man”).  It was speculated that this slightly larger-brained species of early man was responsible for creating the thousands of stone tools that were also found at Olduvai Gorge.

Dental Microwear-texture Analysis Reveals Diet

Part of the evaluation of these fossils included dental microwear-texture analysis that was performed to determine a number of things, one of which was that their diet did not consist of primarily rough-textured foods.  This texture analysis seemed to point to the fact that their diet consisted of a foods that placed them somewhere between various species utilizing tough-textured foods and leaf-textured foods.  In this analysis, they looked at the percentages of the tooth surface structure that contained “pits”,  which is defined as the frequency and depth of dental damage that results from the consumption of certain foods across the species.  This is a widely used and accepted measurement for reliability.

Fossils of Neanderthals

The Leakey’s findings were collaborated by some other researchers who examined the Cova Forada Neanderthal fossil  with the belief that these species of homids did in fact utilize toothpicks made of various materials to ease the pain of periodontal disease.  These fossils and findings are believed to be the earliest evidences found that document cases of palliative care in the primitive treatment of dental disease! Marina Lozano, co-author of the study as well as a professor at the Universitat Autoonoma de Barcelona says, “this disease usually causes bloody and inflamed gums, so the systemic use of toothpicks could mitigate sore gums.  However, in the case of Cova Forada, the toothpick was not only used as a primitive method of dental hygiene, but it is associated with a dental disease and with the clear intention to alleviate the pain, and that makes it unique”.

Next time, we will conclude this discussion on the ancient history of flossing.  But, in the meantime, remember to brush and floss your teeth at least twice daily and keep up with those vitally important dental evaluations and treatments.  Dr. David R. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist on Long Island so call or visit his office and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel. Contact us to schedule an appointment for treatment today!

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Snacking Tips To Keep Your Child’s Smile Healthy

GOOD NUTRITION IS ESSENTIAL for a child’s healthy growth and development. It’s also important for their dental health! A good diet can help your child build strong, healthy teeth, while poor eating habits puts your child at a higher risk of tooth decay.

You may understand how important nutritious meals are, but one thing some parents struggle with is snack time. Here are our best tips on how to make sure your child’s snack time is tooth-friendly!

Not All Snacks Are Created Equal

Stay away from starchy, sticky or sugary foods during snack time, like dried fruit, crackers, chips and cookies. These types of snacks can stick to the teeth for long periods of time, potentially causing cavities. For snack time it’s best to opt for fruits, vegetables, nuts, yogurt and cheese.

If You Indulge, Do It During Mealtime

Don’t worry, we don’t expect you or your child to never eat sweets or starches. There is a better time to eat them than at snack time, however, and that is during meals! That’s because it’s not just important what you eat, but when you eat. At mealtime, there is an increased amount of saliva in the mouth that can help wash away those starches or sugary treats, counteract acid-producing bacteria and remineralize teeth.

Watch Out For Added Sugars

Almost all foods have some type of sugar in them. Naturally occurring sugars–like those found in milk and vegetables–are less worrisome, since these choices are healthy overall. What you want to keep an eye out for when choosing snacks are added sugars.

According to the American Dental Association, added sugar consumption should be limited to less than 10 percent of total energy intake, ideally less than five percent. To put things in perspective, one can of soda is equivalent to three times the daily recommended sugar intake of a child!

Choose Beverages Wisely

On that note, we’d like to advise parents to choose their children’s beverages wisely. Soda and juice may be your child’s preferred drinks, but milk and water are much healthier choices. Good sources of calcium, like milk, aid in building strong teeth and bones and water helps to wash away food particles that may be clinging to teeth, thus protecting against decay.

Sip All Day, Get Decay

Whether your child is drinking milk, juice or soda, don’t let them sip it throughout the day. Constant consumption of either food or drink is harmful for teeth, because not only are you feeding yourself, you’re also feeding the cavity-causing bacteria that reside in your mouth. Limit snacking to once or twice a day and have your child sip on water. If they drink anything that contains sugar, have them drink it during mealtimes or all at once.

Your Family’s Health Is Our Priority

If you have any tips or healthy snack ideas that your kids love, leave it in the comments below! At our practice, we care about the health of your whole family. Proper nutrition, especially at snack time, will ensure healthy smiles for you and your children for a lifetime!

Thank you for being part of our practice family!

Contact us to schedule an appointment for treatment today!

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