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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!

Gum Disease And Rheumatoid Arthritis: Are They Connected?

If you or any member of your family have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis; or if you know someone who suffers from this disease; or if you have family history of it, then the topic of this article may be of interest to you.  Today’s topic is how gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis may be linked.  Come on, let’s talk briefly about a few things I learned recently.

The Research

Researchers from University of Louisville’s School of Dentistry in Kentucky have found a link connecting the bacterium that causes gum disease and periodontal disease and the earlier onset of rheumatoid arthritis.  They feel this connection can cause the disease to progress more rapidly as well as become more severe in nature.  If you know anyone who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, then you know how much discomfort they experience.

The Disease Process

It seems that the gum causing bacterium spawns an enzyme that appears to react with the residue of some proteins.  When this happens, the body looks at the reaction between the bacterium and the proteins and sees an intruder.  This initiates an immune attack response that results in chronic inflammation in the body.  This chronic inflammation can eventually cause bone and cartilage inside the joints to be destroyed.  The offending bacterium is called Porphyromonas gingivalis and the unique enzyme that is produced is called peptidylarginine deiminanse (PAD).  Dr. Jan Potempa from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry Oral Health and Systemic Diseases said: “Taken together, our results suggest that bacterial PAD may constitute the mechanistic link between P. gingivalis periodontal infection and rheumatoid arthritis, but this ground-breaking conclusion will need to be verified with further research.”

What This Means To You

While the pain, disfigurement and disabilities associated with advancing rheumatoid arthritis can be significant to both the patient as well as those who love them, there is some hope.  For those of you who know and love a sufferer of rheumatoid arthritis or if you have family history of the disease, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.  Regular brushing and flossing and regular dental checkups are being touted as going a long way toward helping to prevent the onset of the disease and can help to keep it under better control when it does present.  Your Long Island Periodontist can identify and treat gum and periodontal disease in any member of your family.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631) 661-6633 or visit him online at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Did You Know There Is A New Link Between Gum Disease and Breast Cancer?

If you are like millions of ladies on Planet Earth who have family members with history of breast cancer or have had breast cancer themselves, then you may wish to pay particular attention to this article.  I recently an article about a newly released study done in Sweden that had some eye opening results.  There appears to be a link between gum disease and breast cancer!

Gum Disease

For those who do not know, gum disease is basically a sticky bacterial film that develops on the oral tissues.  This is called plaque and it develops below the gum line where you can’t see it.  It is caused by the foods and beverages that you consume in your normal living habits.  This plaque, over time, will cause gum disease that will present itself as swollen and bleeding gums, bad breath, loose teeth and, eventually, tooth and bone loss.

Study Results

The study, the first to show this link, actually demonstrates that there is an increased risk of breast cancer in patients having gum disease!  The researchers at Karolinska Institute in Sweden looked at over 3,000 patients who had gum disesease and tooth loss and found an 11% increased risk of developing breast cancer.  For those of you who are in the know, previously done studies have shown that gum disease has been positively linked with pancreatic cancer, heart disease, stroke and premature and low birth weight babies!

Risk Factors

There are many risk factors involved here, some of which you can control and some that you cannot.  The controllable ones include habits like smoking, poor oral hygiene, emotional stress and malnutrition.  The risk factors that are out of your control include heredity, medical problems which affect your immune system (like leukemia, diabetes, AIDS, etc), medical conditions or treatments that reduce the flow of saliva (like Sjogren’s syndrome, dysfunction or removal of the salivary glands) or some prescription medications that cause dry mouth.    They have recently found that vitamin D deficiencies also seem to have an affect on gum disease and its associated maladies.  They have found that some major health conditions like cardiovascular disease and cancers are found in patients whose who are chronically deficient in vitamin D.  A simple blood test can be done to determine your vitamin D levels.

Gum disease is treatable and there are a number of different ways to treat it.  Your Long Island Periodontist can identify and guide you in those treatments to find the best way to deal with your oral health situation.  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.



Is There a Connection Between Vitamin C, Gum Disease and Heart Disease? Part 2

Welcome back!  It pleases me so that you came back to read “Part 2” of this important topic.  In Part 1, we talked about a simple definition of gum disease, defining it as an inflammation in the oral tissues that can, if left identified and treated, develop into some pretty nasty infections in your mouth.  We talked about how these infections could result in tooth loss, bone loss and degeneration of the soft tissues in your mouth. We also talked about some statistics that have recently been published by the American Academy of Periodontology and the American Heart Association.  In Part 2, we will talk about why it is vital to identify, treat and control gum and periodontal diseases and how vitamin C can play a role in the control part of the equation.

Gum Inflammation Caused by Plaque

The foods and beverages that we consume naturally cause a film to develop on our teeth and other oral tissues.  If this film is not regularly and properly cleaned from those oral tissues, it can develop into a sticky, yellow substance called plaque.  This plaque forms below the gum line where we aren’t able to detect it.  And, since the mouth is a great incubator for bacterial growth, the inflammation caused by the presence of this plaque substance can fester and bloom into many, nasty infections.  The signs that this has occurred are usually “pink toothbrush” caused by bleeding gums initially and then, as it progresses, you can experience tooth loss, bone loss and further damage to other oral tissues.  Not only are these symptoms uncomfortable and unsightly, they are dangerous as those same bacterium are circulated throughout the body via the blood stream and can wreak havoc on virtually every organ and system in your body!

The Link for Vitamin C

Do not dispair!  There is hope!  Now for some positive input…in a recent issue of Journal of Periodontology, it was reported that vitamin C can help to curb developing gum disease!  They shared that people who consume less than 60 milligrams of vitamin C daily are 1.5 times more likely to develop gum diseases as compared to those who consume 180 milligrams or more daily.  An interesting historical fact was reported…18th century sailors ate limes to prevent bleeding gums when they were on long voyages.  What an interesting old time remedy that actually has some solid medical help imbedded in it!  And, even scientists are now agreeing that vitamin C is a natural anti-inflammatory and has been shown to help rebuild bone and connective tissue.

What Are the Best Sources of Vitamin C?

According to science, the chewable form is not the best way to get vitamin C because it is acidic and can eat away at the enamel of your teeth.  They recommend eating things like brussels sprouts, broccoli, oranges and red peppers to get the best usable form of vitamin C.  You can also try chewing gum with vitamin C , a fairly new form of vitamin C, to help to reduce plaque and early signs of gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Your Periodontist on Long Island can help 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 let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

Is There a Connection Between Vitamin C, Gum Disease and Heart Disease? Part 1

How much do you know about gum disease, heart disease and your overall general health?  Have you ever wondered about connections that might exist between gum disease and other health issues?  How much do you know about how your diet affects your overall general health?  If you have asked yourself or others any of these questions; or, if you have any personal or family history of serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes or stroke, then this article may be of interest to you.  Come along with me while we briefly discuss the possibility of connections between gum disease, heart disease and vitamin C.

What is gum disease?

First of all, perhaps we need to make sure everyone is on the same page in their basic understanding of gum disease.  I know that you have most likely heard media reports on it, or have seen articles in magazines and newspapers about it, and have probably heard the term from your dental profession at least once in your lifetime.  The attention this topic is given is very well deserved as you will soon realize.  I will briefly and simply explain what gum disease is and why it is so vital a topic in regard to your overall general health.

Basically, gum disease has its roots (pun intended) in inflammation that is present in the soft tissues of your mouth.  This inflammation can go unnoticed for a long time before it begins to progress and display symptoms of painful gums and “pink” toothbrush caused by bleeding gums.  If this condition is not identified and treated, it can progress to significant infections in the oral tissues which can, over time, cause tooth loss, bone loss and deterioration of the soft tissues in your mouth.  Normal eating and drinking can cause a soft, yellowish film called plaque to develop on your teeth.  If not properly removed and cleaned by teeth brushing and flossing, this plaque can harden below the gums where you can’t see it and cause the above mentioned pain and bleeding symptoms that accompany periodontitis, gingivitis and other gum diseases.

The Heart and Gum Connection

Once the inflammation starts, it can progress to more significant and advanced stages of periodontal disease which are neither pretty, healthy nor comfortable for the patient.  The American Academy of Periodontology reports that people having gum disease are twice as likely to develop heart disease at some point in their lives; and, they report that those with missing teeth or cavities are at an even higher risk for heart disease!  Add to this the fact that if you are aged 65 years or older, your risks increase for atherosclerosis or clogging of the arteries!   This presents a very sad and serious picture for our U.S. population!

Before you get too depressed over this grim picture, fear not, for there is hope!  There are ways to protect yourself and your family from these serious health maladies.  Come on back next week and we will talk more about this “tale of two cities”, good and bad.  In the meantime, it is important to remember that 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 online at and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.


Is Periodontal Regeneration Right For You?

How many of you reading this article today suffer from some degree of periodontal or gum disease?  Have you lost teeth or maybe even had some periodontal surgery to repair some of the gum and tooth loss?  Are you still battling the symptoms of your ongoing gum disease?  If you have suffered loss of teeth or any oral tissue, you need to know that you are also at increased risk for some overall general health problems as you age.  If you are interested in reclaiming your mouth and want to make it a happy place again, periodontal regeneration may be an option for you.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Simply defined, periodontal disease is gum inflammation that progresses into various stages of infection or disease of the oral tissues.  This means that you could have gum or periodontal disease and not know it if you don’t have regular dental checkups.   I recently read an article about the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the research they are doing into how prevalent periodontal disease is in Americans.  What they found was certainly eye opening…reporting that over half of Americans over the age of 30 years of age suffer from some degree of gum or periodontal disease; and what is even more eye opening is the fact that it is even more prevalent in those over the age of 65 years!

Why is the CDC so interested?

You ask why is the CDC so interested in this?  This latter is certainly significant when you consider that those over 65 are also most likely suffering from many age-related health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and strokes, to name only a few.  The CDC is always looking for ways to help keep Americans healthier as they age.   If you live and breathe on planet Earth these days, you really will have a hard time avoiding the media attention given to research into how some conditions in the body can contribute to other more serious health conditions.  The overall oral health of Americans and its influence on the overall general health of our bodies is certainly among the hottest topics under the microscope!

Perio Therapy’s Ultimate Goal

The ultimate goal in any phase of perio therapy is to help the patient to have healthy and functional oral tissues while keeping as much of their own natural tissue types as possible. Periodontal Regeneration is one of the “new kids on the block” in Dentistry and there is a great deal of research being done.  While some periodontal regeneration options are still under investigative scrutiny, there are some phases of it available to dental professionals now.  Your Periodontist on Long Island can evaluate and provide options for perio therapy for any member of your family.  Together you can decide which is best for you.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or pay him a visit online and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.