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Can Smoking Have An Affect On Your Oral Health? Part 1

If you live and breathe on this planet of ours, then you have been exposed to the media and their on-going reports about the effects of smoking on general overall health.  And, most likely, you have also been exposed to the toxic contaminants contained in cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke — whether it is from the cigarettes, cigars or pipes  that you personally smoke or from the smoking of others.  You don’t have to go very far to see or hear some media report on the effects of that smoke on the human body.  You probably don’t have to go very far to find people who have suffered some of the maladies that have been positively linked to smoking — heart attacks, strokes, various types of cancers, etc.  Today, we are going to talk about how smoking specifically affects your oral health.

Some Examples

I recently read an article from the ADA News that talked about this subject and, in that article, they gave some examples of people who had suffered some of the side effects of smoking in different areas of their lives.  Here are the examples they gave:

  • Amanda: aged 30 years is a female who smoked during her pregnancy.  Her baby was born prematurely — by two months!  After the premature birth, the baby spent weeks in an incubator.
  • Shawn:  this 50 year old male now has to breathe through an opening in his throat as a result of smoking- related cancer.
  • Brian:  This man is 45 years old, HIV positive and a former smoker.  This terribly harmful combination caused his blood vessels to become clogged and a stroke was his result.
  • Terrie:  We really don’t want to forget her.  This 53 year old female died last fall as a result of smoking-related cancer.

As you can readily see from these examples, the horror stories resulting from smoking don’t necessarily contain themselves to a specific gender nor do they contain themselves to any specific age group.   I believe, if you dig deeper into the histories, I am confident that you will find that no particular economic status or any particular job or walk of life  has the corner on the market either.   The ravages of smoking to the human body just don’t care who you are, what you do for a living or what your gender — the deadly process just goes on and on!

CDC Anti-Smoking Campaign

The article that I read talked about the CDC’s anti-smoking campaign that launched on July 7, 2014 and it focuses on the periodontal outcomes from smoking.  Do I have your attention yet?  Periodontal diseases as side effects aren’t usually discussed or even thought of when the subject of health issues that have been linked with smoking comes up.  The CDC has been collecting some pretty powerful stories from former smokers since they launched the initial campaign in 2012 and they are sharing these stories in the hope that people will become more aware and will steer clear of this deadly and addicting habit before it’s too late.

Come back next week and we will talk more about what they are doing to help increase public awareness.  In the meantime, if you smoke, please consider quitting.  Your Periodontist on Long Island can help to identify and treat any existing gum and periodontal disease in any member of your family.  He can help you achieve and maintain a healthier mouth with on-going continued care.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Is It Possible That Bad Teeth Can Be Blamed On Your Genes? Part 2

Welcome back! I’m glad you returned this week for part 2 of this topic.  As you may recall, last week we talked about the fact that some people have great teeth, have few cavities, eat tons more sweets and don’t practice as good an oral hygiene regimen as they should.  And, at the same time, others do all the right things and still spend way more time in the dental chair than any of us would like.  We asked where is the justice in that?  We talked about how, while the science of genetic dentistry is still in its infancy, it is believed that approximately sixty percent of the risk for tooth decay appears to be genetically related factors.  Mary L. Marazita, Director of the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics at the University of Pittsburg School of Dental Medicine reports that scientists have identified five areas of concern in which they believe genetics play a major role.  Last week we talked about our preferences for sweets and the strength of our tooth enamel.  Now, let’s continue with the remaining three areas of concern for bad teeth.

  • Taste Ability.  Taste ability is defined as the measure of the variety of things you can taste.  It is not simply whether you are genetically predisposed to enjoy certain flavors but also whether you are able to perceive certain flavors.  This is, apparently, a complicated process that seems to include your tongue and is linked to your sense of smell.  The example given in the article that I read was that of cilantro and the ability of some people to taste it and find it to be the perfect topping for fresh fish tacos while others who tasted it said it tasted like soap.  Studies are showing that the greater the variety in your genetic taste ability profile, the less risk you have to develop tooth decay.  It is not yet clear if this is because a greater variety of tastes leads to less sweets or if there are other reasons for this theory.  Scientists will continue to study this for better information.
  • Saliva Strength.  Science says that calcium, potassium and some other elements are vital for strong and healthy teeth that are able to resist tooth decay.  Unfortunately, it is not as simple as eating the correct foods but it is also important that these foods be metabolized appropriately to be useful.  Your saliva is a big player in this particular process and science has identified gene variants that will make some people champs at this while others are water boys.
  • Microbiome.  Did you know that there is a field of scientific study called microbial ecology and it looks at the various communities of bacteria that exist in the human body?  And, yes, you read that correctly … various communities … plural.  In fact, in just your mouth alone, there are separate communities of bacteria on your tongue, on the surface of your teeth and below the gum line.  All together, these communities make up your “microbiome”.  Don’t be alarmed, this is all quite normal.  This kicker to this one is that your immune system responds to these communities which can affect many things, one of which is your particular risk for tooth decay.

We have talked about the sixty percent of risk for tooth decay being genetic, but how about the other forty percent of the risk?  Next week, we will finish this topic and I will share the other forty percent with you.  Until then, keep up with those regular dental checkups with your dental professional and maintain that good oral hygiene regimen they are recommending.  Remember that your Periodontist on Long Island can identify and treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web and let him tell you how.







If You Are A Runner, Are You At Risk For Worse Oral Health?

I’ll bet this question is not one that comes to mind when you think about the health of someone who is a runner.  You would think that a runner would have to live a lifestyle and eat a diet that would maintain good health and a lean body to enable them to participate in this energy-sapping activity.  I recently read an article about runners and oral health that I would like to share with you.

Runners suffer from some health issues

Most runners will suffer from over-use injuries or skin cancer at some point in his or her running career.  They otherwise score pretty well in other measures of good health but recently new research has brought one area of concern to light — that of oral health.   The new research reveals that runners may suffer increased risks of tooth erosion and cavities than non-runners.  Does this surprise you?  It certainly did surprise me.  Let’s find out why the research is showing this.

Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports

There is a team of German researchers who did some dental research into the oral health of triathletes.  What they found was that significantly higher rates of tooth erosion in triathletes than in non-athletes.  It seems that they also found that those athletes who trained more had higher incidences than those who did not exercise and train as much.

Why is this the case?

Since inquiring minds need to know, I will share what THIS inquiring mind found out.  As we all know, athletes consume more carbohydrates than non-athletes to maintain the energy levels needed to compete in their chosen sports.  Those carbohydrates come in the form of sports drinks, gels and bars and these foods can decrease the PH levels in the mouth to below the critical level of 5.5.  This lowering of the PH in the mouth can result in erosion and caries.  Add to this situation the fact that most athletes will breathe through their mouths during periods of hard exercise.  This habit causes the mouth to get dry and less saliva is produced to protect the teeth.

The Study

The study was comprised of athletes and non-athletes.  Some of the athletes they studied drank sports drinks while some drank water.  They did not find any significant difference in cavities between the two groups but there was significantly more tooth erosion in the athlete group as compared to the non-athlete group.  Saliva profiles were tested and found to be similar at rest but, when the exercise began, the athletes produced less saliva and what they produced was more acidic.  Saliva is considered in the dental community to be important to good tooth health.

Based on the findings of this study, it suggested that endurance training can have a detrimental effect on one’s oral health.  Does that mean you shouldn’t exercise?  Absolutely not!  Our bodies need to be in motion to get and remain healthy in all its parts.  However, if you are involved in endurance training, it behooves you to consult with your dental professional to discuss how to avoid these issues to achieve and maintain good oral health.  Your Periodontist in Long Island can help.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.


Is It Possible That Bad Teeth Can Be Blamed On Your Genes? Part 1

Do you know people who seem to have beautiful, white and strong teeth despite the fact that they eat tons of sweets, rarely brush their teeth and have very little experience in the area of dental cavities?  And, you brush several times a day, and floss as directed by your dental professional and still have to deal with the “laughing gas” once or twice a year?  Where is the justice in that, you ask?  Well, I recently read an article on this topic.  Allow me to share what I learned about bad teeth and your genes from that article.

Common Chronic Disease Around the Globe

Some of you may remember an episode on the “The Simpsons” in which the dentist brought out the “The Big Book of British Smiles” in an attempt to scare a child into better compliance with the recommended oral hygiene regimen.  I am sure many viewed the episode laughed and thought it was funny but the sad truth is that this “bad teeth” situation is not just a British problem.  Science says that whether or not your teeth are healthy and to what extent you experience gum disease depends on a combination of both genetics AND dental hygiene.  The statistics that Mary L. Marazita, Director of the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine quotes say that approximately sixty percent of the risk for tooth decay appears to actually be genetic!

Other Areas of Concern for Genetics

Mary reports that even though genetic dentistry is pretty much still in its infancy, they have identified five areas in which genes seem to play a role in tooth decay:

  1. Your preference for sweets.  While we know that everyone likes sweets, or so we like to think, we all know people who can take them or leave them.  Their worlds don’t revolve around that chocolate candy bar or bowl of ice cream.  Even children, whether you believe this or not, do not ALL morph into “crack-addled lunatics” at the mere sight of the candy aisle in department and grocery stores.    In actual fact, if all the other factors are the same, the stronger your sweet preference, the greater your risk for tooth decay.  So…literally…you could have two children in your home and they would not behave the same in regard to sweet preference, based upon their genes.
  2. Tooth Enamel.  This one can be pretty much a no brainer — we all know that not everyone has strong tooth enamel.  In this area, we also know that the tooth enamel protects the inner structures of the teeth from damage.  So, if the enamel is soft, it is easier for bacteria to get into the inner structures of the teeth and do their damage — end result is cavities.  Your genes have been proven to be the primary determining factor for the structure of the enamel of your teeth. Enter tooth decay if your genes say you have soft tooth enamel.

There are three more areas of concern that are related to your genes that are very important for this discussion.  Come back next week and we will continue this topic and talk about those other areas.  In the meantime, it is vitally important that you maintain your good oral health regimen and regular visits to your local dental professional. Your Periodontist on Long Island can help to identify and treat gum and periodontal diseases in any member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit on the web at and he can tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Digital Technology: Does It Have A Place In The Dental Practice?

In today’s busy electronic world, it seems there are digital devices for just about everything one could imagine.  We carry tiny computers in our pockets and purses or attached to our belts in the form of our smart phones; there are tablets that are small enough to put into your pocket and purse that are able to do virtually anything you can do on your personal computer.  We can even see our callers in real time when conversing with them on our smart phones, computers, laptops and tablets!  Who would have ever thought we’d be doing these things in 2014?  This is only scratching the surface of the hundreds if not thousands of digital products currently on the market or those that will be on the market in the very near future…and this is only for the personal use of ordinary people.  What about the digital uses in the commercial and medical communities?  Have you ever considered the uses of digital imaging in the dental office practice?  Well, come along with me and I will share some information I recently learned about some new digital technology being used in some dental offices.

Digital Technology in the Dental Office

It seems that, in the dental office like thousands of offices all over this country, digital technology is present and is increasingly determining the way work is being done.  Let’s talk about intra-oral scanners, for an example.  These digital devices can provide new treatment options for the patient as well as accelerate the prosthetic workflow.  In this particular case, there has been little solid information about how long it actually takes to make digital impressions but, recently a new study was released that increased our knowledge in this area.

Evaluation of Time Efficiency of Different Intra-Oral Scanners

Researchers continually seek to increase our knowledge and time efficiency in many areas in both the private sector as well as the medical sector.  In an attempt to evaluate the time efficiency of different intra-oral scanners, they considered three different models: 3M ESPE’s Lava Chairside Oral Scanner, Align Technology’s iTero intra-oral scanner and CEREC, which is manufactured by Sirona.  The researchers measured the time needed for different procedures using these three scanners.  They then compared the results for three conventional impression materials. What they found was interesting:  the time needed to digitize a single abutment, a short-span fixed dental prosthesis and a full-arch prosthesis preparation ranged from 6 to 22 minutes using the intra-oral scanners while making the impressions the conventional way took 18 to 30 minutes.  They concluded that the computer-aided impression making was significantly faster for all of the scenarios they tested.  This suggested that the digital technology could usher in more time-efficient workflows for dental offices. While this digital technology will enable more efficient time management for the dental office and better utilize the patient’s time in the office, it still requires that the patient be seen and diagnosed for the procedure.  Your Periodontist on Long Island can help to identify gum disease, periodontal diseases and the need for some of the above mentioned procedures.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.

Can You Say Goodbye to Root Canals? Part 2

Welcome back!  Thanks for coming back to get the rest of the exciting news about this new therapy.  As you may recall from last week, we talked about a new study report that was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine and it talked about some research into using laser to regrow dentin.  I think this is all so exciting — especially for those of us who have had experiences in our pasts (and maybe in our present) that include dental fillings, crowns and root canals…to name a few.  So, let’s get right to the additional exciting information I promised about this new process.

Some History on Stem Cell Research

I know you have heard about stem cell research and some of the stories have been pretty gruesome.  This area of medicine has its share of stem research stories but they have pretty much been centered on ways to engineer stem cells to prod tissue regeneration.  Most of these techniques have involved re-introducing changed stem cells into the patient or by guiding stem cell populations externally by adding growth factors.  This new process or technique isn’t introducing anything externally except the laser light which turns on the TGF-beta that already lives in the body.

How It Works

Apparently, it isn’t the heat from the laser that does the “turning-on” but rather the energy of its photons.  When the laser light is focused on dentin, the photons get absorbed into the tissue and are said to activate molecules called reactive oxygen species (ROS) that naturally occur in the body.  The ROS turns on the TGF-beta which, in turn, prods the chain reaction that eventually leads to dentin reformation.  It must be noted here that it’s kind of like Goldilocks in the Three Bears story…too little won’t work and too much is destructive.  The power of the laser must be at a specific level of intensity and must not produced ANY heat for it to be effective.

More Exciting News

Not only could this technique alter modern dentistry as we know it, but researchers say that the TGF-beta protein can be found in other body tissues as well.  Tissues like skin and bone, for example, could be regrown using this technique.  They also point out that TGF-beta is known to control inflammation of tissue.  This opens the door to the potential of using the growth factor to control certain inflammatory diseases.   But, alas, these uses are truly further down the road than the potential use for dentistry.

Many dental clinics already use laser in their various treatments of gum disease.  Your Periodontist on Long Island is one of those dental professionals who use laser to treat gum disease.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit on the web at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Can New Teeth Be Grown From Stem Cells?

As we all know, there is a great deal of ongoing research into the use of stem cells to create and regenerate all types of tissues in the human body.  Have you ever wondered if there is any possibility that new oral tissues could be created or regenerated?  How about the actual creation or regeneration of the teeth?  This is a question that I have asked and wondered about — this is until I recently read an article about some stem cell research into making new teeth!  Come on along with me while we talk briefly about the information in that article.

New Research Data Being Presented This Summer

The new research data on making new teeth from stem cells is being released at the Royal Science Exhibition this summer.  The data that Paul Sharpe, Dickinson Professor of Craniofacial Biology at King’s College London Dental Institute will be sharing shows that making new teeth in mice could be a reality within the next five years.   He says that growing these new teeth is plausible from embryonic cells but that using adult cells coupled with growth stimulating chemical factors is a more likely option for this technology to get to the marketplace with an affordable price tag.

Two Cells Required

Dr. Sharpe says that it takes two cell types to make teeth.  Those cell types are: epithelial and mesenhymal.  He says that a message must be sent from one cell to the other to begin the process of making teeth.  His research reveals that epithelial cells seem to have the ability to respond to various oral tissues during dental surgeries but the task before them remains finding a good source of the mesenchymal cells that are able to behave in the same manner.

Stem Cells in Adult Bone Marrow

Dr. Sharpe reports that stem cells in adult bone marrow have the ability to create different types of tissues in the body but, unfortunately, they only possess this ability for about 24 hours.  Their goal is to find a way to energize those cells to produce tissue as well as to energize them into having this ability for more than 24 hours.  Apparently, some researchers have administered studies of shark and snake teeth, which are generally replaced after a tooth breaks or falls out. This stem cell-rich dental lamina is being examined thoroughly to understand how this process works. If this new and exciting research shows how epithelial and mesenchymal cells can be successfully combined, then new teeth should be capable of being created.

As they pointed out early in this article, growing new teeth in mice is likely five years down the road and who knows how much farther down the road the reality will be for humans.  So…in the meantime, it is imperative that you and every member of your family strive to achieve good or improved oral health to keep your mouths as healthy as possible and keep those precious teeth.  Your Periodontist in Long Island can help to identify and treat gum disease and periodontal diseases for you and your family. Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit on the web at and let him tell you how he treats gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Use Red Wine To Prevent Dental Cavities? How Does That Work? Part 2

Welcome back!  I am so glad you returned for “the rest of the story” about red wine’s healthy attributes.  Last week, we talked about how well documented the health benefits of red wine are for the heart and we briefly talked about some new information gleaned from a study recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that explained how bacteria that lives in our mouths are able to form symbiotic relationships with dental plaque and can wreak havoc in damage to our oral tissues.  This week, I want to take this discussion a bit further and talk about some interesting new strategies for antimicrobial treatments that might waiting in the wings for their proper introduction into our oral health therapies and regimens.  We’re going to talk about how red wine can help to prevent dental cavities.

The New Strategy

The researchers, noting that polyphenols from tea and cranberries and phenolic extracts from wine and grapes have recently been charged with inhibiting the growth of strains of streptococcus, used a biofilm model of a dental plaque to test their theory. They placed biofilm cultures that combined five species of bacteria known to be associated with oral disease into various mixtures.  The biofilm cultures were placed in a red wine mixture, an alcohol-free red wine mixture, red wine with grape seed extract mixture and water mixed with 12% ethanol.  The cultures were exposed to the above mixtures for a couple of minutes each.

What They Found

They found that the red wine, both with and without alcohol, as well as the combined wine and grade seed extract were the most effective at combating the bacteria.  Their conclusion:  “Our results show that red wine, at moderate concentration, inhibits the growth of some pathogenic species in an oral biofilm model.”  It was further felt by the researchers that their findings could contribute to previously discovered knowledge in regard to the benefits of red wine on human health.

Still Another Study

In still another study, recently reported in Medical News Today, questions were raised about the health benefits of the antioxidant resveratrol, which is found in grapes, berries, peanuts and chocolate, and whether it protects against cardiovascular diseases and cancer or if it really makes people live longer.  The researchers found no evidence to support the claims about resveratrol but did find positive association between the consumption of red wine, dark chocolate and berries with heart health.

So, this new research and the conclusions they found opens the door for development of new ways to use natural ingredients to protect against the formation of bacterial damage in our mouths.  But, all of this is still on the horizon for most of us. In the meantime, remember that your Periodontist in Long Island can identify and treat gum disease and periodontal disease in any member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit online and let him tell you how he can treat gum and periodontal disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Can You Say Goodbye To Root Canals? Part 1

How is THAT for an attention-getting title?  How many of you reading this article right now have suffered through the pain, discomfort and anxiety of having a root canal?  A show of hands will suffice, thank you!  How many of you are putting off that routine trip to your local dentist because you fear you will hear the words “root canal”?  Did you answer “yes” to either of these questions? Well, just maybe what I have to tell you about today will be of interest to you.  Today, I want to talk about an article I read about some new research into the possibility of changing the way dentists think about root canal as a treatment option.

Laser As A Tool

The article that I read talked about a new study the was recently published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.  The lead researcher in this study, Praveen Arany and colleagues went into some detail about how they used focused laser light on rats to stimulate the growth of lost calcified tissue that comprises teeth called dentin.  Their feeling was that, if this regrowth therapy works on humans, it is possible that we could see some dental procedures that require crowns, fillings and other complex procedures become a thing of the past!  I, for one, vote for that!  What an amazing possibility!  I know a lot of really courageous people who quake in their boots at the mere mention of a trip to the dentist, or who shiver and shake at the sound of the dentist’s drill!

How This Therapy Works

According to the research report, the key to the success of this procedure lies in a native protein called transforming growth factor, or TGF-beta.  The preliminary testing of dentin tissues revealed to the researchers that this growth factor was drastically altered when the focused beam of light was introduced.  When they dug more deeply into it, they found that the TGF-beta, when hit with the laser light beam, actually stimulated the stem cells that were already present in the dentin.  Once the native protein TGF-beta is turned on,  it is then able to bind to the stem cells that live in the tissue.  It can then encourage those same stems cells to begin some cellular changes that enable them to proliferate and reform dentin.

There is more information about this amazing process that is just as exciting but it will take more time than we have today.  Come back next week and we will talk more about some of the background into this research and how it can be used most effectively.  In the meantime, since this therapy is still in the research stage, it really isn’t a good idea to avoid seeing your dentist to keep up with your oral health checkups or to avoid that root canal that you may desperately need NOW.  Your Periodontist on Long Island can help to identify and treat gum and periodontal diseases (and, yes, do root canals, too) for any member of your family. Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Can Antibacterial Agents In Your Toothpast Increase It’s Effectiveness?

In these days of designer drugs and various treatments for just about every malady that humans can suffer, have you ever wondered if there is anything available to help prevent periodontal disease and tooth loss?  I am sure you have gone to your family doctor with a complaint of pain, discomfort or the like and he or she has picked up the prescription pad and written a prescription for a drug to deal with your complaint.  And, many of those drugs actually work, even at the cost of the systemic side effects!  Are you like me and have wondered if there is any simple way to control what goes on in your mouth to prevent gum disease?  Let’s talk briefly about the issue of the effectiveness of your toothpaste.

The Cochrane Library

I recently read an article about a new review that was done in The Cochrane Library.   As we all know, tooth decay and gingivitis are the leading causes of tooth loss all over the world.  It has been well documented that both of these conditions are the result of a film of bacteria called plaque that forms and builds up on the teeth.  If this film of bacteria is not appropriately treated in a timely and regular fashion, it can cause deterioration of the oral tissues that an result in periodontitis.  Periodontitis is a more advanced form of gum disease that generally starts as gingivitis and progresses.

The Review by Cochrane Library

A team from the Cochrane Oral Health Group looked at thirty published studies of toothpastes containing triclosan and copolymer.  When they analyzed the combined data, they found a twenty-two percent reduction in plaque, a twenty-two percent reduction in gingivitis,  forty-eight percent reduction in bleeding gums and a five percent reduction in tooth decay or cavities when compared with toothpaste having fluoride alone.  They did not find any significant reduction in periodontitis, however, when they compared the data with toothpaste without the combination.  They found no reports of adverse reactions to the triclosan or copolymer.

What does this mean to you and me?  Basically, my take on this was that brushing with a good toothpaste is a very important part of your oral hygiene regimen.  I think I will chose a toothpaste that contains the combination in an attempt to control some of the early manifestations of gum inflammation that can lead to the more serious oral diseases.  If you’re not established with a dental professional, this is also a very important step that you should take for yourself and your entire family.  Your Periodontist in Long Island can help to identify and treat gum disease in any member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.