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Posts Tagged ‘obesity’

How Can Our Dentists Help Diagnose Diabetes?

In Gum Disease on July 21, 2011 at 4:30 AM

As if we need another reason to keep up our normal thrice yearly dental visits, here comes recent news out of Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in New York.

Problem: As with periodontal disease or gum disease, many people walk around without even knowing they are affected by diabetes.

About 7 million according to the National Diabetes Fact Sheet for 2011. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four people affected with type 2 diabetes in the United States remains undiagnosed.

Solution: Develop additional methods to test and identify diabetes risk factors in an oral healthcare setting – the dental office.

“Our findings provide a simple approach that can be easily used in all dental-care settings.” – lead author and Columbia University College of Dental Medicine Associate Professor, Dr. Evanthia Lalla.

In the study titled, Identification of Unrecognized Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes in a Dental Setting, published in the July 2011 issue of the Journal of Dental Research, researchers at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine found that dental visits present a great opportunity [for our dentists] to identify people with diabetes or pre-diabetes who are unaware of their condition.

So there’s reason number 1,286 on why keeping our regularly scheduled dental appointments not only improves the overall condition of our condition, doing so can actually save us money too.

Dr. Ira Lamster, Dean of Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, and colleagues recruited 601 people visiting a dental clinic in New York.

These 601 individuals adhered to the following qualifications:

  • 40-years-old or older if non-Hispanic white
  • 30-years-old or older if Hispanic or non-white ethnicity
  • Had never been told they have diabetes or pre-diabetes

According to this press release about the Columbia study from outlining the study, approximately 530 of these patients received a periodontal examination and a fingerstick, point-of-care hemoglobin A1c test.

These patients all had at least one additional self-reported diabetes risk factor: family history of diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, or overweight/obesity.

In order for the research team to assess and compare the performance of several potential identification protocols, patients also returned for a fasting plasma glucose test, which indicates whether an individual has diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Researchers found that, in this at-risk dental population examined, a simple algorithm composed of only two dental parameters (number of missing teeth and percentage of deep periodontal pockets) was effective in identifying patients with unrecognized pre-diabetes or diabetes. The addition of the point-of-care A1c test was of significant value, further improving the performance of this algorithm.

So what does all this diabetes and dentistry news mean to the average dental patient?

“Early recognition of diabetes has been the focus of efforts from medical and public health colleagues for years, as early treatment of affected individuals can limit the development of many serious complications,” says Dr. Evanthia Lalla, an associate professor at the College of Dental Medicine, and the lead author on the paper.

The more social connectivity enables the advancement of personal healthcare, the earlier we can identify and treat all too common oral systemic conditions.

SOURCE: Columbia University Medical Center (2011, July 18). Dentists can identify people with undiagnosed diabetes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 19, 2011, from

Why Shaquille O’Neal Went to Harvard

In Sleep Apnea on May 24, 2011 at 4:30 AM

“Sleep apnea, actually, is a pretty common condition which is most likely under-diagnosed and under-evaluated because many people don’t realize that they have it.”

It’s become such a huge health problem in America and has been linked to the “obesity epidemic, high rates of stroke, diabetes, cardiovascular or heart disease, and even mortality.”

Check out this quick video to hear more frightening news, and see why Shaq is attacking Sleep Apnea!

“Sleep apnea is a condition where a person is unable to get air into their lungs when they fall asleep.”

So those bouts of non-breathing – from snoring out loud to what sounds like no breathing – can not only lead to a poor night’s sleep and all the health maladies associated, it can kill us.

Image courtesy of the American Sleep Apnea Association

Some common Sleep Apnea symptoms:

  • Snoring
  • Frequent waking up at night feeling breathless
  • Irritability (from not getting a good night sleep)
  • High blood pressure

Some possible treatments for Sleep Apnea:

  • CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)
  • OSB® (Oral Systemic Balance Therapy)
  • Oral appliances
  • Weight Loss

To get more facts about sleep apnea from The American Sleep Apnea Association, click here. Be sure to check your snore score, or your significant others, while you’re there.

And don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist about any possible sleep apnea or snoring issues you may be experiencing – first-hand or not.


Division of Sleep Medicine | Harvard Medical School Sleep & Health Education Program

American Sleep Apnea Association

Dentists Against Drowsy Driving

In Sleep Apnea on April 28, 2011 at 4:30 AM

According to The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), motor vehicle accidents due to “drowsy driving” account for $48 billion in medical costs each year. Sleepiness in today’s workplace causes another $150 billion in lost productivity and mistakes. A 2006 report released by the Institute of Medicine estimated 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders.

That was about 5 years ago, do you think that number increased or decreased?

The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine established “Dentists Against Drowsy Driving” to raise awareness among healthcare communities and the public about the dangers of untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). As stated by the AADSM, obstructive sleep apnea, like snoring, is a sleep-related breathing disorder. Snoring occurs when the airway is partially constricted. The snoring sound is a result of a collapsed airway. The reduced size of the opening causes the tissues to vibrate, producing the sound.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway partially or completely collapses. This can happen hundreds of times a night, reducing a person’s blood-oxygen levels. When a collapse occurs, the brain wakes the person up to breathe, but they may not even know it. This fragmented sleep pattern can lead to daytime sleepiness – and drowsy driving.

Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. A new study published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety credits drowsy driving with one in six deadly crashes.

“When you are behind the wheel of a car, being sleepy is very dangerous. Sleepiness decreases awareness, slows reaction time, and impairs judgment, just like drugs or alcohol, contributing to the possibility of a crash,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger.

But can snoring really be a sign of something more serious?

It can be.

Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea. But not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. According to the AASM, habitual snoring affects an estimated 24 percent of adult women and 40 percent of adult men. Approximately one-half of people who snore loudly have sleep apnea. OSA patients often make choking or gasping sounds when they wake up to breathe. This noise can help spouses recognize a breathing problem.

Anyone can have a sleep related breathing disorder. Risk factors include obesity, large neck sizes, alcohol, tobacco smoke, and Down Syndrome. Risk increases with age and weight. OSA is more common in men.

Dangers of Undiagnosed Sleep Disorders

Sleep apnea can cause hypertension, stroke, heart attack, and sudden death during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) increases one’s risk for diabetes, obesity, and depression. It can also cause memory problems, morning headaches, irritability, decreased libido, and impaired concentration. And while the American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates that 18 million Americans have OSA.

Unfortunately, an alarming 80 to 90 percent of these people are undiagnosed and untreated.

We can all take some preventative measures to limit sleep disorders, and we can all communicate more with our doctors and dentists to diagnose any possible symptoms of sleep apnea before things progress to unhealthy or dangerous levels. If you or someone you love snores or experiences any level of sleep disorder, don’t continue to ignore it. Go see your doctor, schedule a diagnostic test with a sleep specialist, and talk to your dentist about readily available and easily affordable sleep disorder solutions.

Don’t Drive Drowsy!

Pass it on.