News

Short abstracts of news from around Australia. The articles about the dental health of Australians, the delivery of dental care and the education of future dentistry students. Links to full text are attached to the end of the abstract.

Does chewing gum really helping to protect your teeth? Or is it just a bad habit that annoys those around you?

Chewing gum regularly is a bit like going to the gym. Just as strength training leads to larger-sized muscle fibres, chewing gum makes your saliva gland cells larger and more efficient. This means you not only create more saliva while you are chewing the gum, but also during 'rest periods' when you're not chewing anything. And it's during these rest periods that saliva has a big influence on the sorts of bacteria that grow in your mouth.

Chewing sugar-free gum can also really help those at high risk of tooth decay, such as teenagers (whose diet is often not as good as it should be); people who drink a lot of soft drinks or sports drinks; and those whose saliva production is affected by medication, exercise, or lifestyle.

ABC expert: Professor Laurence Walsh Published 04/02/2010

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Getting to the heart of the problem: how do vascular pathologies affect oral health?

A team of epidemiologists, cardiac researchers and dentists led by Professor Joerg Eberhard, Chair of Lifespan Oral Health, received a US$286,000 grant from the Else Kröner-Fresenius Stiftung (Foundation) to conduct, for the first time, a longitudinal assessment of changes of vascular pathologies leading to heart attack or stroke, and oral health.

In addition to the high scientific value of this study, the current funding is an important step to further integrate oral health research into medical research aimed to ease global burdens.

Is Bottled Water Bad For Your Teeth?

Professor David Manton from the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the The University of Melbourne emphasises that dental decay is an important issue in Australia. "Nearly 50 percent of Australian five year old children have experience of dental decay in their primary (baby) teeth. By the time Australian adolescent get to 15 years of age, they have an average of more than 2.5 permanent teeth affected by decay," Manton told HuffPost Australia. The level of decay he is currently seeing is one of the highest recorded in the last decade. "Based on the figures, it's not as much as it was before fluoride was introduced [to tap water] but it's definitely one of the highest we've seen in the last seven to 10 years. And mostly this is being seen in kids' teeth.