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In one way or another, we have all been affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Whether it be caring for a loved one who has been stricken with the disease or watching as a friend or family member slowly declines and their fondest memories are erased, the heart-breaking disease has touched us all. As healthcare practitioners we take the health of our patients very seriously, and unfortunately we have seen many patients and loved ones suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study by scientists and researchers at Cortexyme, a privately held, clinical-stage pharmaceutical company, made links between an oral bacteria and one of the plaques often associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The oral bacteria, Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg), is one of the primary agents that contributes to the development of chronic periodontitis, something we see in our office all too often. The pharmaceutical company is in the early stages of developing a drug that would block the pathogen, Pg, and could halt the development and progression of the disease.
Now that researchers have been able to connect the pathogen/oral bacteria, Pg, to the increased production of the specific plaques in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s the goal is to create an inhibitor that blocks the pathogen and in turn would halt or slow the progression and maybe even development of the disease. According to Stephen Dominy, MD, the chief scientific officer and cofounder of Cortexyme, “we have solid evidence connecting the intracellular, Gram-negative pathogen, Pg, and Alzheimer’s pathogenesis while also demonstrating the potential for a class of small-molecule therapies to change the trajectory of the disease.”
Scientists at Cortexyme began their studies by using mice to test what happens when various levels of the oral infection are present. In all cases the Pg led to an increased production of amyloid beta, a plaque commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists used their findings to create specific therapies targeting the Pg in test subjects. An article we recently read in Dentistry Today explained the study by saying, “Seeking to block Pg-driven neurotoxicity, the researchers designed a series of small-molecule therapies targeting Pg gingipain. They demonstrated that inhibition by COR388 reduced the bacterial load of an established Pg brain infection, blocked Aβ42 production, reduced inflammation, and protected neurons in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that mediates memory and frequently atrophies early in AD development.” The article went on to confirm that, “In October of 2018, Cortexyme announced the results of its Phase 1b clinical trial of COR388 and called it safe and well tolerated in healthy older volunteers and AD patients when given at a range of doses for up to 28 days.”
While these findings by Cortexyme are very exciting, it is still early in the process and the company plans to continue their studies with larger clinical trials on patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s Disease. As oral health practitioners we take the health of our patients to heart and we love to hear that scientific advances are being made to fight a disease that is all too prevalent in our lives today. The fact that oral health is directly connected to this study puts it even more at the forefront of our minds and reiterates the importance of good oral hygiene and regular trips to your dentist.
Have you started orthodontic treatment recently? Are you having a little trouble getting used to your braces? If so, you are not alone: Everybody goes through an adjustment period during which they momentarily wonder if they’ll really ever get used to this. Don’t worry — you will! And we’ve never heard anyone say, on the day their braces come off and their new smile is revealed, that they aren’t glad they went the distance. Just ask Houston Rockets all-star center Dwight Howard, who discussed his own orthodontic treatment in a recent interview.
“I’m sure I was no different than anyone else who has ever had braces,” he told Mediaplanet. “At first I hated them so much… That changed once I got used to them and I actually grew to love them.” What’s Howard’s advice? “Do exactly what your orthodontist says and know that the outcome is well worth it in the end.” We couldn’t agree more! Here are some tips for wearing braces comfortably:
- Hard & Chewy Foods: If you love fresh fruits and vegetables, that’s great; there’s no reason to give them up, just the really hard ones. You don’t want to bite into an apple or carrot or any other hard foods like bagels and pizza that have any “size” to them. Small pieces may be ok as long as they can’t bend your wires. Chewy, sticky candy should really be avoided completely. Same with soda, sports drinks and so-called energy drinks because they contain acids that promote tooth decay and can cause a lot of damage around the braces.
- Effective Oral Hygiene: Keeping your teeth clean is more important than ever, but also more challenging than ever. It’s easy for food to get stuck under wires and around brackets, but failing to remove it can cause tooth decay, gum irritation and soreness. Therefore, the cleaner your teeth and your braces are, the healthier you will be. Use interdental cleaning brushes and/or a floss-threader to get behind your wires. A mouthrinse can also help strengthen teeth and keep bacteria in check. If you have any questions about how to clean between your teeth, please ask for a demonstration at your next visit.
- Pain Relief: Some soreness at the beginning of orthodontic treatment is normal. To relieve it, you can use an over-the-counter pain reliever and/or a warm washcloth or heating pad placed on the outside of the jaw. If brackets or wires are rubbing against the inside of your cheeks or lips, try applying wax to these areas of your braces. If this does not offer enough relief, we may be able to trim the end of a poking wire. Call us if you need help with this.
Our goal is to make your orthodontic treatment as comfortable as possible on the way to achieving your all-star smile. If you have questions about adjusting to braces, contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Caring for Teeth During Orthodontic Treatment.”
Her parents Will and Jada are Hollywood royalty, who helped her land her first acting role when she was 7. She released a hit single, “Whip My Hair,” before she had quite reached the age of 10; shortly afterward, she was signed to a record label. Yet the young singer and actress Willow Smith has at least one thing in common with plenty of ‘tweens and teens across America: She needed to wear braces to correct problems with the alignment of her teeth.
Why do braces seem to be a part of growing up for so many kids? One answer is because they work so well. Braces apply gentle pressure to the teeth through a thin, flexible wire called an archwire. Attached to the teeth with a metal or ceramic bracket, the archwire exerts a light force which causes teeth to gradually move into better positions. Sometimes, when additional force is needed, elastic bands or other appliances may be used in conjunction with braces.
Most everyone is familiar with the silvery metal “tracks” of traditional braces. But did you know that there are a number of other options too? For a more inconspicuous look, you may be able to have braces with tooth-colored ceramic brackets; then, only the thin archwire will be visible in your mouth. It’s even possible in some cases to place the metal wires and brackets on the tongue side of the teeth. With this system, called lingual braces, the orthodontic hardware is truly invisible.
What if you didn’t need metal braces at all? Some people can get good results using a system of clear plastic aligners instead of braces. The aligners are worn 23 hours a day, but can be taken off for cleaning and for important events. They work best for correcting mild or moderate alignment problems.
Still, plenty of people feel that if they’re going to wear braces, they might as well flaunt them. That’s why some types of braces are available with bands that come in different colors. When Willow’s brother Jayden wore braces, he was reported to favor red and black ones. Jayden, who is about two years older than his sister, had his braces removed just before Willow got hers put on.
So if it turns out that you need braces, remember that lots of your favorite celebrities wore them too. And keep in mind that, depending on your own situation, you may have several options to choose from.
If you would like more information about braces or orthodontic treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Magic of Orthodontics” and “Orthodontics for the Older Adult.”
Welcome to the Blog of Steven R. Baker, DDS, PA
Whether you are an existing patient or searching for a dentist in the Prarie Village, KS area, we’re excited you are here. With the dental industry advancing, we recognize the importance of keeping our patients and visitors up to date with all of the new and exciting things taking place in our practice.
As we move forward with our blog, we hope to promote dental awareness as a vital part of your healthy lifestyle. Here you will find a variety of articles and topics including dental news, advancements in dental technology and treatments, practical oral health advice and updates from our practice.
We hope you find our blog to be helpful, engaging and informational to ensure your best dental health.
As always, feel free to contact our office with any dental questions or concerns.
-- Steven R. Baker, DDS, PA