Tag Archives: saliva

New studies consider how oral flora can impact health of the entire body

Photo: mostly*harmless via FlickrFusobacterium nucleatum

The human mouth is home to a variety of ecological niches, inhabited by hundreds of microbial species.

Scientists are eager to learn more about that world and its dynamic population. They hope their study of the oral microbiome will eventually contribute to a deeper understanding of how oral flora contribute to health and disease.

One new study, recently published in Science, offers an example of the kind of work that is unfolding. Continue reading

Can a spit test tell us about reactions to presidential elections?

Photo: George Lawie via Flickr

Photo: George Lawie via Flickr

The mouth, former Surgeon General David Satcher once observed, is “a mirror for general health and well-being.”

For some of us, the mouth may also be a mirror of post-election reactions to victory and defeat.

Studies have shown that men’s testosterone levels rise and fall in response to winning and losing sporting events, chess matches and other interpersonal dominance contests. Researchers were interested in seeing if the same might hold true for the vicarious experience of watching one’s candidate win or lose in an election. Continue reading

Bridging the gap between dental and medical care



Dental care and medical care have long been provided separately in America. New research and evolving models of care are challenging that traditional gap.

Chronic diseases are responsible for billions of dollars in health care costs and millions of deaths each year. Dental office screenings for diabetes, as well as other common conditions such as high cholesterol and hypertension could save the nation’s health care system as much as $102.6 million annually, researchers from the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Resources Center concluded in a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

In this new tip sheet, Mary Otto explains some of the screenings and interventions that may be coming to a dentist’s chair near you, as well as some of the question around providing such care.

New technology for the mouth: Fashion statement or disease detector?

Tooth tattoos. Who knew? They could be the dumbest thing ever. Or the smartest.

The dental website dentistry.com recently highlighted the dumb kind. It seems some dentists are now bonding tiny gold images such as crosses or letters to their patients front teeth as “fashion statements.”

Mary OttoMary Otto, AHCJ’s topic leader on oral health is writing blog posts, editing tip sheets and articles and gathering resources to help our members cover oral health care.

If you have questions or suggestions for future resources on the topic, please send them to mary@healthjournalism.org.

The ornaments are supposed to be temporary. But critics point out that most folks who pay good money to get them will then proceed to wear them as long as possible, posing a risk to the tooth.

“Dentists who perform this procedure may believe it to be safe,” Cheryl Watson-Lowry, D.D.S., a general dentist who practices on Chicago’s South Side told dentistry.com.

“It is possible that plaque can build up around the tattoo, causing an increasing chance of tooth decay. They seem to be easily removed, so if patients do elect to have them placed on their teeth, I would encourage them not to leave them for a long period of time.”

Now for the smart kind of tooth tattoo.

It’s an innovative tooth-mounted sensing device, fashioned from a sheet of gold foil, an atom-thick layer of graphite known as graphene, and a layer of peptides specially designed to sense bacteria within the mouth.

Researchers hope the device, which must overcome a number of hurdles before it is clinically tested, might someday provide a window into patients’ oral and overall health. Continue reading