Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dental myths

The New York Times "Well" blog recently took on dental "truths." This is gospel we have had "drilled" into us since birth.

First, the surprising news that flossing--the prime guilt producer of dentists--is not really supported by studies saying it makes a big difference in dental health. It may help with bad breath and gum disease, but the evidence is not strong. Apparently, it does not do much to reduce plaque or cavities.

Bam!

Second, there is little need and support evidence-wise for yearly x-rays. Still, dentists recommend them, often from childhood on. If something hurts, yes.

There is a whole journal urging more rigor in examining dental procedures--it's called Evidence-Based Dentistry.

On the plus side, brushing is good and effective--but it is brushing with fluoride toothpaste that produces the anti-cavity results. This has been shown to reduce gingivitis, and plaque, too.

OK--what about powered toothbrushes? Randomized, controlled trials do support those. One review said the rotating kind is best.

Twice-a-day brushing is still supported.

What about twice-a-year cleaning? Evidence-Based Dentistry found eight randomized, controlled trials, but all were rated with a risk of bias--and the results were all over the map. Upshot: Who knows if twice-a-year scaling and cleaning is necessary.

When filling cavities, bonded amlgams--often recommended, are not supported by evidence--and they cost more than non-bonded amalgams.

How about the interdental brush to get a plaque between teeth? Almost no long-term benefits have been supported.

How about the preventive nature of periodic visits themselves? One study following 36,000 children did find these visits were associated with fewer restorative visits in the future--but one a year is probably enough.

But--it may also have been sealants applied to kids' teeth that had the protective effect. This may be able to be applied at lower cost, say by the hygienist. Fluoride varnish is also effective.

How about fluoride? They can't do randomized tests it because they are so sure it is a positive that they can't have controls who don't get it.

Bottom line? Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, preferably with a power toothbrush.  For kids--sealants or fluoride varnish.

As for the rest, you may be a product of your genetics and diet.

Hundreds of NYT readers responded. Many said if they didn't floss, their gums bled. So you can decide on that. Others said fluoride is a poison and to avoid it--again, a poison with good side efx--your call.


Dental myths

The New York Times "Well" blog recently took on dental "truths." This is gospel we have had "drilled" into us since birth.

First, the surprising news that flossing--the prime guilt producer of dentists--is not really supported by studies saying it makes a big difference in dental health. It may help with bad breath and gum disease, but the evidence is not strong. Apparently, it does not do much to reduce plaque or cavities.

Bam!

Second, there is little need and support evidence-wise for yearly x-rays. Still, dentists recommend them, often from childhood on. If something hurts, yes.

There is a whole journal urging more rigor in examining dental procedures--it's called Evidence-Based Dentistry.

On the plus side, brushing is good and effective--but it is brushing with fluoride toothpaste that does produces the anti-cavity results. This has been shown to reduce gingivitis, and plaque, too.

OK--what about powered toothbrushes? Randomized, controlled trials do support those. One review said the rotating kind is best.

Twice-a-day brushing is still supported.

What about twice-a-year cleaning? Evidence-Based Dentistry found eight randomized, controlled trials, but all were rated with a risk of bias--and the results were all over the map. Upshot: Who knows if twice-a-year scaling and cleaning is necessary.

When filling cavities, bonded amlgams--often recommended, are not supported by evidence--and they cost more than non-bonded amalgams.

How about the interdental brush to get a plaque between teeth? Almost no long-term benefits have been supported.

How about the preventive nature of periodic visits themselves? One study following 36,000 children did find these visits were assoicated with fewer restorative visits in the future--but one a year is probably enough.

But--it may also have been sealants applied to kids' teeth that had the protective effect. This may be able to be applied at lower cost, say by the hygienist. Fluoride varnish is also effective.

How about fluoride? They can't do randomized tests it because they are so sure it is a positive that they can't have controls who don't get it.

Bottom line? Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, preferably with a power toothbrush.  For kids--sealants or fluoride varnish.

As for the rest, you may be a product of your genetics and diet.

Hundreds of NYT readers responded. Many said if they didn't floss, their gums bled. So you can decide on that. Others said fluoride is a poison and to avoid it--again, a poison with good side efx--your call.


Monday, August 29, 2016

Normal consumers using sports drinks

I don't mean Gatorade, either. I mean all the hard-core drinks, powders, goos and bars in the sports nutrition arena.

Writing in the August issue of Food Technology, A. Elizabeth Sloan talks about several trends in this space:

--53% of Americans exercised more than 30 minutes a day three or more days a week--an all-time high (Gallup 2015).

--106 million adults are exercise walkers, 56 million exercise with equipment, 45 million do aerobic exercise, and 45 million run (National Sporting Goods Assn, 2016).

--Hispanics and younger consumers are the most likely to exercise regularly.

--Teen sports participation is an at all-time high.

--Energy and sports drinks were among the 10 fastest growing packaged consumer goods in 2015.

--Nearly half of consumers 18-24 consume sports drinks or mixes when not working out. A third of those over 55 do, too.

--45% of adults bought a high=protein sports/energy bar in the last month.

--One in five adults look for products with vegetable protein.

I would offer one caveat--look at all ingredients...Some extreme products used by body builders can be dangerous. Google! Even loading up on too much protein can have side effects.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Oldies but goodies

"Get off my lawn" is the alleged rallying cry of grumpy older people--yet a new study at the University of California San Diego suggests that the mental health of adults gets better over time.

They have an improved sense of psychological well-being.

You can check this out in the August issue of J of Clinical Psychology.

Interestingly, they also noted high levels of stress and symptoms of depression and anxiety in adults in their 20s and 30s.

Usually we think of aging as meaning loss of mental faculties--the old dementia bugaboo. We assume that mental health declines along with cognitive function.

Yet actual findings show mental health trending upward after middle age.

Most epidemiological studies show a decline in mental illness in older adult--dementias being the exception.

One reason might be that as you get older, you learn not to sweat the little things. Older adults may be better at adapting to stressful changes.  Older people may mature more emotionally.

I am getting my bathroom remodeled and have been living in a construction zone all week, so I may not be the one to ask...I feel like I am not as resilient as I used to be.

And--seriously--no one needs to get on my lawn, ever.

But I also have achieved some perspective in my later years. I know as easily as something turns bad, it can flip to good.

"This too shall pass."

But, of course, as a worrier, I still worry. What is it doesn't pass?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Foodies--48 million foodies

According to an article in Food Technology by A. Elizabeth Stone, 48 million Americans consider themselves foodies--meaning involved with food, interested in food and cooking. This would be the live to eat crowd.

Some morsels about them:

--Over the past five yrs, consumers who want to try a new product first have gone up by 39%.

--Those who want to eat more "gourmet" food--up 27%.

--Foodies are 60% more  likely to buy foods labeled organic and natural--and 40% more likely to buy locally.

--Although they usually buy 10 items or fewer per trip to the store, 47% of foodies spend $100 or more per trip (only 34% of non-foodies do this).

--Foodies shop for groceries four days or more per week.

--Despite this preoccupation, foodies tend to want short cooking times more than non-foodies.

--Still, 47% of foodies bake for fun, compared to 32% of adults overall.

--Core foodies are much more likely to count calories, be on a diet, exercise regularly, and are twice as likely to avoid certain foods because of allergies or intolerances.

--One in five foodies bought food from a restaurant 15 or more times a month.

Foodies--I like the name. It's yummy.




Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Memory Cafes

Recently at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, some people sat around a table with Egyptian artifacts in the center. The museum people explained each item in a highly entertaining way.

One artifact was a brain hook used by Egyptian embalmers to remove the brain.

One of the participants mused, "I wish I could use it to scrape Alzheimer's off my brain."

These participants were members of a Memory Cafe--a program created by the Penn Memory Center for patients with memory issues and their caregivers.

So often, dementia leads to isolation--and this can lead to depression and anxiety,

The Memory Cafe offers a safe place for people to socialize with those who share their concerns.

This Memory Cafe thing started in 1997 in the Netherlands. It pread through Europe and came to the US in 2008.

Today there are more than 100 in this country.

Social connections, friendships are the goal. These are not really a support group gabbing about dementia or caregiving all day.

Sometimes the meetings include music. This is very soothing--everyone enjoys it.

Above all, no one has to worry about acting "weird" or being judged or disdained.

It's probably even fun.