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Are You Increasing Your Risk of Oral Cancer?

How many times a day to you use your mouthwash?  Are you among the millions of very busy people who, when pressed for time, will swish mouthwash around in their mouths in leiu of brushing between meals and snacks?  Do you find yourself reaching for the bottle of mouthwash when you can’t get at your toothbrush or dental floss?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then please pay close attention to what follows.  I recently read an article on oral cancer that actually strongly suggests that overusing your mouthwash could lead to oral cancer!

Recent Study

Wolfgang Ahrens, professor and deputy director of the Bremen Institute for Prevention Research and Social Medicine, did a study to see if there was a connection between using mouthwash more than three times a day, coupled with poor oral health and inrregular dental care leading to an elevated risk of oral cancer.   Other researchers at the University of Glasgow Dental School wanted to delve into issues surrounding oral health, dental care and mouthwash as possible associations with mouth and throat cancer beyond the known risk factors.  Ahrens and his colleagues recruited approximately 2,000 patients with mouth and throat cancers and an additional approximately 2,000 who did not to be used as comparison control subjects during their research investigation.  They conducted this study in 13 centers over 9 countries and set out to find out if there were new risk factors to be included in the incidence of oral cancer in this cohort.

What They Found

The researchers took into account things like smoking, alcohol and socio-economic factors that are known causative factors for oral cancer.  It has been firmly established that smoking and heavy alcohol consumption, especially when combined, are strongly linked to mouth and throat cancers.  Even after taking all of this into consideration, Ahrens and his fellow researchers still found a link between poor oral health and the increased risk of mouth and throat cancers.  They defined poor al oral health as those people who had complete or partial dentures and those with persistent bleeding gums.  It was felt that the alcohol content of some mouthwashes lends to the increased risks as it as it has previously been determined that the alcohol content of some mouthwashes allows carcinogens to infiltrate the mouth lining which increases the cancer risk.  The team found that by using mouthwash more than three times daily, you could be increasing your personal risk of oral cancer.

Your Takeaway

What you need to remember about all of this is simply to limit your personal mouthwash usage to no more than three times daily.  Keeping up with regular dental checkups will also help to reduce your risks of oral cancers.  See your Periodontist in Long Island for identification and treatment of any oral abnormalities 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. 



How Many Ways Do You Know To Keep Your Natural Teeth? Part 2

Welcome back! Last week we were discussing a number of ways to keep your natural Teeth. As you may recall, we previously talked about keeping your natural teeth is by far more desirable in both appearance and performance than some other dental alternatives.  Dental technology has come so far over the past few decades but the goal of keeping the teeth you were born with is always the best goal. Let’s talk about a few more ways to prevent gum disease and keep your natural teeth.

Make the Best Use of Fluoride

One of the first things we need to emphasize is the fact that teeth are dynamic, meaning that they are constantly changing, losing and regaining the necessary minerals to make and keep them strong.  The sugars and refined carbohydrates that we consume contain acids that eat away at the minerals on the surface of our teeth and, eventually will result in tooth decay.  Fluoride is actually a mineral that is known to stop and, for some, even reverse tooth decay!  It seems that fluoride retards the growth of bacteria and can strengthen the surface of the teeth to help them be more resistent.  The dental community says that fluoride can actually heal microscopic cavities before they become problematic.  Many dental professionals and the American Dental Associate promote the use of fluoride but there are some other health professionals who do not.

Can Your Brush be Blamed?

How many different types and styles of toothbrushes have you used over your lifetime?  How many do you see on the drug and department store shelves?  I think it is pretty safe to say that our toothbrushes are being developed with more bells and whistles than a freight train!  Some whirl, some purr, some vibrate to give us the best toothbrushing experience possible.  But the bottom line in this area is simply that there is really nothing new under the sun that can replace a good old-fashioned manual scrub of your teeth.  It really comes down to the brusher instead of the device used to brush your teeth.  Some peopple use both electric toothbrushes and manual brushes for the best result.  If you are concerned, consult your dental hygienist to see if you have deficiencies that could be corrected with either a change in equipment or change in brushing method or technique.

Make Your Gums the Target

Whenever you brush, it is very, very important to target your gums.  By that I mean that you should be sure to use your desired toothbrush to get at the gum line as much if not more than your teeth.  It is at the gum line that the plaque hangs out and causes damage.  It is recommended that you also make an extra effort to clean the tongue-side of your bottom teeth — this is an area most people don’t clean very well.

There are several more suggestions for keeping your natural teeth and we will conclude this series next week with some more of those suggestions.  In the meantime, keep in touch with your Periodontist on Long Island and allow him to identify and treat any gum and periodontal disease early to prevent irreparable damage to your teeth.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him online at and let him tell you how he can treat that gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.


Do You Know How Smoking, Psoriasis and Periodontal Disease Are Related?

Do you or does a family member suffer from psoriasis?  Is smoking a habit of the psoriasis suffer?  Do you know how smoking, psoriasis and periodontal disease are related?  I recently read an article on this topic and I would like to share the information from that article with you.  I want all psoriasis sufferers who smoke to know what their risks for severe periodontal disease are.

The Study

The article to which I refer is one written about a study that was done by researchers at the  Facility of Dentistry at the University of Szeged in Hungary.  The study was done in collaboration with the university’s Department of Dermatology and Allergology and it contained eighty two psoriasis patients as well as age and sex matched control.  Each of the study participants were given a full mouth examination and, based upon the information gleaned during this examination, each participant was placed into four categories of severity. The researchers collected demographic and tobacco use information via the use of questionnaires.

Analysis of Data

After analysis of the data collected by the examination and the questionnaires, it was confirmed that there is a connection between psoriasis and periodontal disease.  I must point out at this time that previous studies have established a link between psoriasis and periodontal disease, but this is the first study to consider smoking as a possible permissive factor in the process.  Not only did this study show the above mentioned connection between psoriasis and periodontal disease, but it also show that both psoriasis and smoking have major individual risk factors for the establishment and progression of periodontal disease.  The researchers found that, when both of the risk factors of psoriasis and smoking were present, the probability of developing periodontal disease in the severe category was twenty-four times higher than in those psoriasis patients who did not smoke!  This correlates to approximately four times the combined probability of psoriasis and smoking as risk factors!

Your Takeaway

While Dr Mark Antal, who is the head of the research team, says it is too early to suggest any specific mechanism, it does indicate that what is taking place may not be the simple adding up of two risk factors but may be a synergistic process in which the immune system and the effects of tobacco smoking has on it may be playing a significant role.  While the research goes on into the mechanism behind these findings, you can still have hope for any of the psoriasis sufferers you know and love.  Your Periodontist on Long Island can help to identify and treat gum disease in any member of your family to keep their mouths as healthy as possible.  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 and periodontal disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

How Many Ways Do You Know to Keep Your Natural Teeth? Part 1

We all know that, while technology has gone a long way with dental implants and devices, there is just nothing like having the teeth your were born with in both appearance as well as performance.   And we also all know that we have been told for decades that brushing and flossing your teeth is paramount to maintaining good oral health.  Brushing and flossing your teeth in the morning and in the evening is recommended by most dental professionals for keeping your mouth healthy.  But, how many other ways do you know that will help achieve good oral health?  I recently read an article giving ten ways to keep your teeth and avoid gum disease.  Come along with me while we discuss a few of those ways.

Flossing Is Vital

In these busy, busy days, we all have issues trying to fit everything that we want and need to do into our schedules.  The researchers who ask these kind of questions have queried Americans and have found that between thirty to eighty percent of Americans don’t floss!   I thought the thirty percent was a pretty high number but eighty percent?  Let’s face it, of all the personal hygiene things we do on a daily basis, flossing our teeth ranks right up near the top on the list of least liked activities.  Some folks might say that they would rather have a root canal without anesthesia rather than floss their teeth!  Well…let me tell you…if you are among the thirty to eighty percent who don’t floss, you very likely could get an opportunity to try that root canal!  Or, even worse…maybe you will lose the tooth entirely and have a gap in your mouth that causes problems with chewing and ultimately digesting your food.    I guess you could floss only the teeth you really want to keep….

Try Different Toothpastes

Does your toothpaste really make a difference?  Apparently it is the major thing that matters, technically speaking, because you really don’t need toothpaste to brush your teeth.  Toothpaste is designed to remove plaque as it’s main job but your toothbrush can do that as well.  Your toothpaste has the added benefit of whitening, reducing sensitivity and some even help to remineralize your teeth.  Most toothpastes do all of these things so it is hard to choose the wrong one but a toothpaste with added fluoride and the ADA seal of acceptance is highly recommended.

Are You Making the Most of Your Mouthwash?

Are you like me and pretty much just grab the mouthwash to swish away bad breath?  I have heard it said that this mindset is like buying an iPhone just so you can make telephone calls.  Your mouthwash can be called upon to do a great deal more!  The American Dental Association says that rinsing your mouth with mouthwashes can help to control and sometimes even prevent tooth decay as well as decrease plaque and prevent gingivitis.  They also say that mouth rinses are able to slow the progression of tartar buildup that accummulates on your teeth.  When choosing a mouthwash, here are some things to look for:

  • Antimocrobial agents that can focus on bacteria to reduce plaque formation and buildup, reduce gingivitis and help to freshen your breath;
  • Fluoride to help make your teeth stronger to resist decay;
  • Astringent salts to help temporarilty mask bad breath.  It is not recommended to rely too heavily on this function.
  • Odor neutralizers which chemically deactivate ordor-causing compounds.

Stayed tuned for more ways to keep your teeth healthy but in the meantime, just remember that your Periodontist on Long Island can 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 explain how he can treat gum and periodontal disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Can Tooth Loss Affect Cognitive Function?

Do you have family members who are losing cognitive function?  Are Grandpa or Grandma starting to act like someone you really don’t know?  How much do you know about the loss of cognitive function as we age?  Well, I need to share with you some interesting things I learned recently from some research done in Japan about cognitive loss and tooth loss.

The Study

The study was titled “Cognitive Function and Oral Perception in Independently-Living Octogenarians” and was presented to the March 20 meeting of the American Association of Dental Research meeting by reseachers from Osaka University in Japan.  It involved over 950 eighty year old participants who were, as the study title suggests, living independently.  They looked at the possibility that cognitive function could be associated with oral perception.  They basically had the study participants identify six different objects with their tongue and palate.  They also evaluated taste perception through a gustatory test that used sweet, sour, salty and bitter water solutions.

Study Results

This interesting study revealed that the oral perception testing scores were definitely positively associated with the number of teeth still retained by the participant.  They found that the older adults with the greater number of teeth were able to perform significantly better when identifying the objects in the study. Additionally, another interesting fact surfaced…when it came to the participants recognizing tastes, it was noted that the male participants recognized the tastes significantly better than the female participants.

The findings of this study adds new evidence to the findings of another study published in December 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.  That particular study was done by scientists at North Carolina at Chapel Hill and they found that participants having fewer teeth or who were toothless had lower scores on the cognitive testing they did when these scores were compared to those participants who had more teeth.  The results of these two studies suggests that participants having more of their natural teeth faired better on oral perception testing.

Your Takeway

You may be thinking that you’re not an “octogenarian” right now so why do you care about these study findings…but someday you will be old and could suffer from some of the maladies that you see older adults dealing with all around you.  Taking care of your teeth and oral health and that of your family members needs to begin as early in life as possible so that you can achieve and maintain the best oral health possible for continued good overall health as you age.  Your Periodontist on Long Island can help to identify and treat gum disease in any member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631) 661-6633 or pay him a visit on the web at and he will tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Can Mother’s Saliva Predict Early Childhood Caries?

Do you have untreated tooth decay or dental caries?  Do other members of your family suffer from untreated tooth decay?  Have you ever wondered about the familial association or connection with tooth decay?  Well, let me share with you some interesting information I learned from an article published in the Journal of Dental Research, March 2014, that discusses a relationship between a mother’s saliva and the oral health of her children.

The Study

The research was done by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentitistry and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry and they were looking for a piece of the solution to break the “intergenerational chain of oral health disadvantage”.  First of all, the intergenerational relationship that exists between the oral health of parents and their children is one that is long established in the dental and medical community.  This study examined the association between the bacterial makeup of a parent’s mouth and that of their children.  Research into this area has resulted in connections between higher levels of salivary mutans streptococci (MS) in mothers and their children.  The researchers suspected that higher maternal levels of MS and lactobacilli (LB) could be connected to an increase in the presence of caries in their children.

Study Parameters

The group of researchers looked at a cohort that included low-income Hispanic women registered as patients at a health center near the U.S.-Mexico border.  The study participants lived in a community without fluoridated water and were in their second trimester of pregnancy.  The study participants were aged 18 to 33 years with a stable address.  The study required participants to provide saliva samples prior to the birth, to respond to questionnaires, dental assessments and saliva collection at four, nine, twelve, eighteen, twenty-four and thirty-six months after the birth of the child.

Study Results

They found that the higher the mother’s rate of dental caries before birth correlated to higher risks of untreated decay in their children.  One hundred percent of the mothers experienced caries during the pregnancy and 34 percent of their children had caries by the age of 36 months and 31 percent had untreated decay!  The researchers hope to break this intergenerational chain of oral health problems with better implemented maternal-child health initiatives.

What Does This Mean To You?

Your takeway is simply this:  the health of the mother does absolutely affect the health of her children, whether it’s oral health or overall general health.  Mom, taking care of yourself is a win-win situation for you and your family.  If you suspect that you have dental caries, gum disease, tooth decay or any type of periodontist issues, whether you’re pregnant or not, your Periodontist on Long Island can help to identify and treat it.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631) 661-6633 or visit him online at and let him tell you how he treats gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Are Schools Helpful In Promoting Oral Health?

Have you ever wondered how the oral health of your child affects his or her performance at school?  Have you ever considered the availability of sugary drinks and snacks at school being a detriment to their oral health?  Or, are you even aware of the access your children have to these sugary drinks and snacks?  Well, I recently read an article published in the Dental Tribune that really opened my eyes….perhaps it will also open yours to the conditions that affect your child’s oral health.

The Most Common Oral Diseases in Children

According to the article I read, gingivitis and dental caries are the most common oral diseases that are being found among children all over the world.  Apparently, dental caries affects sixty to ninety percent of children globally!  It seems that the pain and other discomforts associated with these maladies affects, in a compromising manner, the concentration and participation of your child in school.  This helps to deny your child of his or her opportunity to get the full benefit from those classes at school. 

World Health Organization Global School Health Initiative

This program was apparently gotten off the ground in 1995 in 61 countries in an attempt to improve the health of students all over the world through the schools in those countries.  They do things like teach students how to brush their teeth properly as well as battle access to the sale of sugary drinks and snacks.  Many of the countries in which this initiative was promoted lack clean water and some of the required sanitary conditions to promote improved health.  Other challenges are noted by the organization in the lack of financial resources and trained staff in many of the low-income countries.

Overall Results

The overall results of the World Health Organization initiative reveals that schools do possess a central role in the promotion of health and in the prevention of diseases, including the oral health of your children.  Healthy school environments that are able to provide children with the proper education on dental and oral health are being found to set those children on a firm and straight path toward a healthier lifestyle as they grow. 

What this means to you and your family is this:  As the parents of our most valuable and irreplacable commodity, you should be aware of what type of health training and education is available to your children.  Displaying an interest in this training and education can go a long way toward improving what may be lacking at your child’s school.  In the meantime, your Long Island Periodontist can help to identify and treat gum disease in you and any member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631) 661-6633 or pay him a visit online at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

How Much Do You Know About Beer Hops and Tooth Decay?

Hello to all the beer drinkers out there!   We all know what the benefits of beer drinking are to those who like the brew, but have you ever considered what the brew is doing for your teeth?  I recently read an article that discussed tooth decay and gum disease in respect to beer ingredients.  The information in that article might surprise you. 

A New Study

It seems there is a new study being conducted that is looking at an ingredient in beer that may actually help to prevent cavities and gum disease.  That’s right…you read that correctly…the key word was “prevent”.  Scientists are finding that a particular part of the hop leaves, called bracts, may actually contain healthy antioxidants that could be helpful in fighting tooth decay.  

Tons of  Hops

United States farmers harvest approximately 2,300 tons of hops every year.  Unfortunately, these bracts are noted not to be used to brew and make the beer.  They are, instead, discarded!   Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these bracts could be repurposed for improved oral and dental health uses?

Little to no previous research

Since there is little to no previous research into the compounds in bracts, scientists decided to find out what substances might be contained in them that could be affecting dental health.  They used a technique in the lab called chromatography and this is what they have found to date:

  • they discovered three new compounds
  • they discovered one that was already known but never found in plants
  • they found twenty already known compounds that were found to be in hops for the first time.
  • they also found a considerable quantity of antioxidants called proanthocyanidins in bracts.

Identifying these compounds is the first step in a process that could likely bring some new products and techniques into the dental health theater down the road.  It seems the beer making industry can provide a virtually unlimited amount of bracts to be used in research and development of potential new products and techniques.  What a great way to reduce waste on a planet that generates inordinate amounts of waste annually!

So, what does this mean to you and your family?  It means that science has the potential to develop products, techniques and services that could help to protect your oral health and / or improve it to prevent damage to your oral tissues.  This protection and prevention could also save the lives of those you love down the road as it can ward off some very serious health conditions caused by gum disease as you age.  In the meantime, your Periodontist on Long Island can help to identify and treat gum disease is you and any member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631) 661-6633 or visit him on the web at and let him tell you about treating gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.


Does Mother Nature Supply Protection From Gum Disease?

I think it is wonderful that there has been so much dental research over the past few decades.  Science has given us so much useful information that has lead us to changes and advances in dental care, speaking as one with a deep seated and long standing fear of dentists, it ALMOST makes the semi-annual trip to the dentist a pleasure! Well … maybe not a pleasure, but definitely not a visit that evokes such anxiety that I make myself sick with anticipation of pain and discomfort! I’ve heard some ladies say they would rather give birth without medication than go to the dentist! I think we can all celebrate less invasive and gentler methods of prevention and treatment of gum disease.

Mother Nature’s Contribution

I recently read an article about a couple of natural ingredients that are showing promise in the realm of  the treatment of gum diseases. What do you know about licorice root and coconut oil?  Well, I, personally, knew a little about these natural substances, but this new information really gets my mind spinning!. Follow along with me while I briefly share what I learned about licorice root and coconut oil and how they can affect your oral health.

Licorice Root

A study was done in 2012 by by the American Chemical Society that found the licorice had been used traditionally in Chinese medicine as a cavity prevention method. Stefan Gafner and his cohorts decided to dig deeper into this bit of history.  After close examination of the active parts of the root, they found that several properties did possess the power to kill cavity causing bacteria! Licoricidin and licorisoflaven A were found to be the most effective, being shown to kill two particular bacteria known to cause cavities as well as two bacteria that have been linked to gum disease!  Caution was encouraged, however. Because there are certain side effects and contraindications associated with this natural substance, it is recommended talking with your doctor before gulping it down.

Coconut Oil

There was another study done in 2012 … this one done by the Society for General Microbiology. They studied coconut oil that was treated with enzymes and found that this was effective in the fight against the majority of the Streptococcus bacteria. These bacterium have been found to be a large cause of tooth decay.  This research provides promise for the development of future over-the-counter oral care products.

As you can see, the research goes on and better ways to manage and treat gum and periodontal disease are being found. There is no reason any longer to fear that dental exam. Your Long Island Periodontist can identify and treat gum diseases in any member of your family. Call Dr. Scarf at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at and he can tell you how he treats gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

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How Much Money Could You Save By Flossing Your Teeth?

Are you like many people, myself included, who don’t always floss your teeth regularly?  Are you one of the millions of people who feel that flossing your teeth is an optional part of your daily oral regimen?  Or, are you among the thousands of people who don’t floss at all?  If you answered yes or  even sometimes to any of these questions, then please read on because this flossing your teeth issue could cost you dearly down the road.

Total Inconvenience !

Yes, I know how inconvenient flossing your teeth can be and yes, I understand how pinched we are frequently for time…that extra couple of minutes can really throw you off in traffic for example, and most of us really don’t like putting our fingers into our mouths with that piece of string to clean the external surfaces between our teeth.  But all of this not-withstanding, we really need to understand the importance of this particular step in our daily oral regimen for a truly healthy mouth.  The health of our oral tissues can significantly effect our overall health and the research strongly proves it!

Gum Disease Revisited

Let’s briefly discuss the term “gum disease”.  This is a general term that is applied to gum inflammation and damage that ranges from gingivitis in its earlier stage to a myriad of advance periodontal diseases in the later stages.  This gum disease is caused by bacterium in the mouth which, when not properly cared for, can cause inflammation deep in the tissues, under the gum line where we can’t see it.  This inflammation, if left untreated, can progress to a point where damage occurs to soft oral tissues, teeth loss and even bone loss.  The deeper issue is the fact that this inflammation / infection can be introduced to every tissue type and organ in your body when it gets into the blood stream and circulates throughout your body.  Flossing your teeth helps to control this process. 

Potential Cost of Not Flossing Your Teeth

We have talked briefly about the physical costs of not flossing your teeth, but what about the financial costs of not doing so?  Well, I recently read an article that provided some interesting if not eye-opening dollar figures.  Be sure to sit down when you read these:

  • gum disease (gingivitis) without bone damage can cost up to $1,600 for scaling and root planing with follow up appointments;
  • periodontitis (gum disease with bone damage) especially if surgery is required could add another $3,000 to $4,000 to the above total; 
  • if bone regeneration is required — there are various methods of accomplishing this but you are looking at another $300 to $400 per tooth;
  • in the event that you have left the gum disease advance to a point where it is untreatable, you are likely looking at extraction of hopelessly damaged and diseased teeth at a cost of approximately $100 per tooth with a full set of dentures costing in the neighborhood of $8,000!

On the other hand, dental floss is VERY inexpensive!  I have purchased literally yards of it at the grocery store for less that a buck or two!  There are battery powered toothbrushes or even the trusty muscle-powered ones, prices ranging from a few bucks to $100.  While the professional cleaning and exam varies depending on where you live, you are likely looking at aywhere from $50 to $150.  This is a far cry from the dollar amounts listed above!

Your Periodontist on Long Island can help to identify gum disease and offer a number of treatment options, based upon the condition of your mouth.  And, he can do this for any member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit on the web at  You will be so much better off!