Periodontal Treatments Vital for Patient Health

Periodontal Treatments Vital for Patient Health

Periodontal Treatments Vital for Patient Health

A new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that nearly half of all American adults over the age of 30 suffer from some degree of periodontal disease, with the disease being even more common among seniors over the age of 65. As your premiere dentist in Hillsdale and Portland, Burlingame Dental Arts would like to let you know about these treatments.

Beyond its impact on an individual’s teeth and gums, growing evidence over the last 10 years has shown that periodontal disease may also have an impact on the health of the rest of the body. In other words, individual’s who maintain healthy teeth have less of a risk for suffering chronic health issues, making it all the more important that patients get the periodontal treatment they need.

Major breakthroughs in periodontal therapy have resulted in significant changes in the field of periodontistry, resulting in more patients receiving the treatment and care they need. One of the biggest breakthroughs that occurred in recent years was the discovery that periodontal tissues can be regenerated, rather than just repairing the tissue after periodontal disease has occurred, and that periodontal regeneration can be enhanced with specific proteins products, such as Emdogain, a biological product that helps regrow tissue.

These breakthroughs have helped to confirm that medicine can reduce inflammation – the primary cause of periodontal tissue loss – and can now actually regrow some of an individual’s periodontal tissue. The proteins found in current and emerging protein products can even help dentists regrow periodontal tissue more efficiently and consistently. Researchers in the field of periodontal disease have begun examining a number of extremely promising possibilities for regenerative treatment, including:

  • The study of new proteins that Emodagain consists of in hopes of finding that they posses powerful effect on both the formation of bone and the regrowth of blood vessels, both of which are affected by periodontal disease.
  • Researchers from Japan have begun studying aspects of the body that help to facilitate the growth of blood vessels.
  • European researchers have begun studying proteins used in the regrowth of bone, and have found that these proteins also help improve periodontal regeneration.

While these types of studies offer an immense potential for future breakthroughs, the medical community doesn’t actually need to wait before beginning new types of therapies. Effective products are already available, which can help spur periodontal regeneration in patients.

When left untreated, periodontal disease erodes away at the roots and bone structure that hold an individual’s teeth into position. Over time, the disease will severely compromise the base of a patient’s teeth, causing them to become loose, shift or fall out. Because the long-term damage the disease causes, periodontal disease ranks as the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S.

It has become imperative that periodontal patients undergo therapy that can help regenerate healthy tissue. The emerging breakthroughs offered by dental researchers, combined by advances in treatments already in use today, offers significant progress against periodontal disease, and the chance of more patients maintaining their health and their teeth for years to come.

Beer for Better Health

Beer for Better Health

Beer for Better Health

OK, actually that’s just a catchy title. So far, there’s no “beer for better health” (although on these beautiful, sunny, hot Portland days you may be wishing that). However, there is a side product of beer that may be good for your teeth: hop leaves.

The Hype Behind Hops

As you may know, when Dr. De Graff is not seeing patients he is a part-time brewmaster, and he’d be the first to tell you that one of the key ingredients in beer is the female flowers of the hop plant, humulus lupulus, which are called– conveniently–hops. These cone-shaped flowers are responsible for beer’s bitter finish as well as its aroma.

What do hops and dentistry have in common?

Scientists are now taking a closer look at not the flowers, but the hop plant’s leaves. Because this part of the plant is not used in brewing, hop leaves are thrown out after harvesting the cones. However, researchers have found that compounds present in discarded hop leaves may help fight cavities and gum disease.

Researcher Yoshihisa Tanaka and colleagues report findings that extracts from the hop leaf halted disease-causing bacteria in its tracks. These extracts prevented bacteria from sticking to the surface of teeth, thereby blocking it from producing an infection.

In addition, Tanaka reports that hop-leaf compounds (there are more than 20 discovered) have antioxidant properties and may prevent the release of some bacterial toxins.

Hoppy Ever After

If research continues to show these results to be true (by duplicating the findings and further research), hop growers will have a new product to sell!

In the meantime, brushing, flossing, and regular check-ups with brewmaster Dr. De Graff is the best way to maintain optimal dental health.

Learn more…

If you, like all of us at Burlingame Dental Arts, your kids dentist in Portland OR, are excited by new research and want to learn more– check out the story here at the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

Hoppy brushing!

Anatomical description of the lower jam

Music in Dentistry Part II: Auditory Bone Conduction

You may be wondering, what the heck is auditory bone conduction, and what does hearing have to do with teeth? Those are great questions. This second installment of our music in dentistry blog explores this amazing anatomical phenomenon: how our teeth can help us hear.

Auditory bone conduction explained

Bone conduction is the transmission of sound vibrations to your brain through the cranial bones (as opposed to air conduction). Most frequently, we perceive sound when our ears translate sound vibrations in the air into neural signals in our brain. But we can also perceive sound through conduction via the bones in our head.

Listening with your teeth

If there is something wrong with your middle ear (where your ossicles– the tiniest bones in your body– reside), or inner ear (whose hearing apparatus is known as your cochlea), bone conduction can usher sound from the outside world to your brain. How does this work?

New technological breakthroughs in bone conduction hearing implements have brought us the BAHA: the bone anchored hearing aid. It works by enhancing bone transmission to use as the pathway for sound to travel, thus bypassing the external auditory canal and middle ear, and bringing sound waves directly to the internal ear or the brain. This mode of hearing aid is so connected to the teeth and jaws of patients that one patented product is called SoundBite™!

Remember this, and be the star of your trivia team

In addition to changing the lives of individuals affected with hearing loss, conductive hearing is also responsible for how we hear our own voices (check out this interesting BBC story to learn more about this). Lower sounds transmit better via bone, which is why our voices sound “higher” on recording than we perceive them to sound in real life. It is also why the dentist’s drill or electric brush sounds so loud, but no one else in the room appears bothered!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this small exploration into how interconnected our bodies are! For more news, keep checking our blog, and be sure to ask about our latest findings with Dr. De Graff at your next appointment!

Photo Credit: CircaSassy via Compfight cc

Smiling woman enjoying a glass of red wine

Can Red Wine Fight Cavities?

Crack open your bottles of red wine at your next dinner party, as red wine can help fight cavities! Well, maybe – according to the claims of a study published last month in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The study

Many studies have shown in the past that moderate consumption of red wine can provide health benefits, such as reducing your risk of heart disease. But could red wine also fight against the bacteria forming on your teeth?

The study examined five species of common oral bacteria and placed them in red wine for a few minutes each. The results showed that “red wine, at moderate concentration, inhibits the growth of some pathogenic species in an oral biofilm model.” The study further highlighted the promising attributes of the antimicrobial properties of grape seed extract in killing bacteria.

What does this mean?

Unfortunately, this study doesn’t mean that we should start gargling with red wine. It merely showcases the effectiveness of the antioxidants in grape seeds that makes red wine kill bacteria. But research like this could help scientists create a substance that you could apply to your teeth to decrease bacteria.

On the negative side, red wine can also cause your teeth to stain, so proceed with caution when drinking. Moderation is key to healthy living!

Other ways to fight against cavities

In the meantime, brushing, flossing, and regular check-ups with our fabulous dentists at Burlingame Dental Arts is the best way to maintain optimal dental health.

Read our post, “Best Ways to Improve Your Smile,” for more tips on maintaining great teeth and avoiding cavities.

A young boy reading a book in a library

Great Introductions: A List of Books that Launch Young Patients Towards Lifelong Oral Health

Early dental health is critical. The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry suggests that dentist visits begin at the arrival of a child’s first tooth and no later than their first birthday! With such an early start for such small patients, the staff at Burlingame Dental Arts, your kids dentist in SW Portland, OR  has compiled a list of our favorite books that we think do a good job of introducing dental visits and oral health to children. Take a look!

Just Going to the Dentist, by Mercer Mayer

From the “Little Critter” series, this gentle book leads young readers through a visit to the dentist with the familiar and loveable character Little Critter, whose frank and funny interpretation of the experience provides a light-hearted introduction to dental care. Additionally, Little Critter does need a cavity to be filled (something we strive to avoid in our young patients, but an event that does occur occasionally); his bravery in the face of the procedure is a fortifying example for young readers.

ABC Dentist: Healthy Teeth from A to Z, by Harriet Ziefert

This book does a little multi-tasking by working on children’s alphabet skills while exploring the world of dentistry. The collage-style illustrations make it a fun-filled and lively read from Appointment to Xray.

The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist, by Stan and Jan Berenstain

From the tried and true Berenstain books comes a tale of bravery at the dentist’s. In this episode of the Bear family, Brother and Sister Bear goes to the dentist. Brother goes first, setting an example for his younger sister before it’s her turn to see the doctor. Filled with information and with the Berenstain’s signature calm demeanor and thoughtful attention to “how things work,” this book is a great introduction for children.

Little Rabbit’s Loose Tooth, by Lucy Bate

“I have a tooth in my chocolate ice cream,” said Little Rabbit. “That’s wonderful,” said Mother Rabbit. “It’s about time,” said Father Rabbit… In this beloved favorite, Little Rabbit explores her first loose tooth, finally losing it in a bowl of ice cream. She washes it off and waits for the tooth fairy. Filled with detailed and comforting illustrations, this book provides a gentle introduction to that well known rite of passage we call losing a tooth. It’s a must-read.

Pony Brushes His Teeth, by Michael Dahl

This book is part of a series of books by Michael Dahl in which helpful animals set positive examples for young readers. In this installation of sound advice, Pony watches his father brush his teeth and decides to give it a try. Filled with simple, compelling illustrations that draw in our youngest patients, this book also comes as a board book and is especially useful for children around age two.

What’s your child’s favorite book?

Next time you come in to Burlingame Dental Arts, please tell us your child’s favorite dental tale! We love to learn what “literature” makes small patients comfortable, plus we might find some new favorites ourselves!

If your child is close to that first dental check up, please let us know. Dr. De Graff will roll out the red carpet and welcome your little one to a future of great dental health!

Study Reveals Our Microbiomes Behave Differently in Sickness and Health

Study Reveals Our Microbiomes Behave Differently in Sickness and Health

probably feels like we’re fighting bacteria. Seriously, don’t those little creeps just give you cavities?

Well, this study takes a closer look at bacteria as our human microbiome (and with 10 bacterial cells to every human cell in our body, they do have us outnumbered!) The results may impact on how scientists and healthcare providers approach sickness from a microbiome perspective.

Tiny worlds

As dentists and healthcare providers, our understanding of bacteria is changing almost daily. Projects like the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Human Microbiome Project are working to increase our understanding of our micro-communities, and how they affect our health and wellbeing.

The study

According to researchers, the study reveals that oral bacteria behave differently when you are sick. This is important to learn because you have the same (hundreds) of species in your mouth whether you are sick or not– but in times of disease, the bacteria change their habits.

Using supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), researchers analyzed the genes of over 60 species of bacteria (for those who love numbers and the central dogma of biology: this means over 160,000 genes, yielding 28 to 85 million reads of RNA snippets, and including about 17 million mRNA reads for each sample). Letting TACC do the grunt work, scientists hoped to learn more about what these single-celled organisms did in times of health or hardship.

Their findings?

Bacteria can literally change their metabolism when living in a sick mouth. That means that bacteria who normally choose to eat fructose (a type of sugar) might switch to another type: sucrose, for example.

This can explain one of the impacts of disease, like periodontitis. According to this study, our bodies have the same bacteria in our mouths whether we’re healthy or not. But, when we’re not healthy, the metabolism of those bacteria can change– this indicates that it may not matter exactly what bacteria are making up our microbiome, but what they’re eating.

Knowledge of the microscopic activities our bacteria engage in can also help predict or control disease. Based on these results, researchers are suggesting a future where we might “feed” bacteria differently in times of disease to steer their behavior in a more beneficial direction

Burlingame’s approach to bacteria…

… isn’t changing much yet. Our goals are always to keep our patients’ smiles healthy, and happy. But maybe someday utilizing knowledge about our microbiomes will help us do that. Until then, Dr. De Graff is going to stick with what they know!

We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment at Burlingame Dental Arts.

Photo Credit: EMSL via Compfight cc

Teeth You May Not Know About

Teeth You May Not Know About

So, Burlingame Dental Arts just posted about veterinary dentistry and patching panda teeth… and we got to thinking– man, there must be a lot of different kinds of teeth out there. Panda teeth, chewing bamboo; shark teeth, chomping fish; even bunny teeth– chowing down on salad. But what about tiny teeth? Tiny teeth that are also… tools??

This brings us to ants

Ants are amazing– they are workers, builders, and warriors. They form complex colonies and communicate to one another in a variety of ways, including smell, and their dental anatomy is largely responsible for their success.

Ants’ dental anatomy is kind of similar to ours. For humans, we have a mandible (lower jaw) and a maxilla (upper jaw)– but ants, who live very, very far from us on the tree of life, are supplied with a small pair of maxillae and a big pair of mandibles, which exist outside their mouth. It’s the mandibles that really do the work; ants use their mandibles to do a lot of things– in fact, you could say ant mandibles function as hands and arms, too. Kind of.

Lifting and carrying

Mandibles work as “hands” for ants, and ants use them to lift objects of astonishing size– sometimes larger and heavier than the ant himself. Due to the physical properties of water (hydrogen bonding, in particular) ants are also able to carry liquids, one dewdrop at a time suspended from their mandibles. Ants use their mandibles to carry their young (in larval stage) from one nest to another or away from predators or pathogens. Surprisingly, ants also engage in “social carrying” in which one worker will literally pick up another worker and haul him over to a newly discovered food or nesting site.


Just like us, ants use their mandibles to eat. Almost all species of ant have tooth-like attachments on the masticatory margin of their mandibles, called denticles, that aid them in dismembering prey, breaking apart leaves, or chewing apart your forgotten peanut butter and jelly sandwich left on the counter on a hot day!

Defense and offense

Like a lot of other animals– but less so humans– ants use their oral anatomy as a weapon. In fact, many species of ant have evolved their own caste of worker class known as “soldiers” with an especially large set of mandibles. These soldier ants defend their fellow ants against other invading ant species.

Mandibles are also used for hunting other animals that ants eat– and these animals are not always small, either. In a few species, like the Dorylinae of Africa, groups of ants can kill a large mammal by the action of their mandibles alone (although they seldom have the opportunity to). But if you fear ant bites, take heart– most are harmless to humans, and in fact the mandibles themselves are rarely used to bite. It’s a stinger.

At Burlingame Dental Arts, we can be suckers for science…

Comparative anatomy sometimes spans vast distances– like that of the difference between humans and ants– but the similarities are intriguing.

Are you an ant expert? An ornithologist? Ichthyologist? Come share your expertise with the team at Burlingame Dental Arts at your next appointment— no matter how abstract, we find teeth fascinating!

Photo Credit: Scott Beale via Compfight cc

Several glasses of red wine

Another Look at Wine

Early this year, Burlingame Dental Arts, your SW Portland kids dentists of choice, published a blog post on the antimicrobial properties of wine according to a new study finding that red wine may kill bacteria that cause cavities. Great news for wine drinkers!

Well, we just read another study examining the relationship between oral health and wine and unfortunately, the results are less rosy (or less… rosé?). 

A second glance reveals…

According to researchers, yes wine may take antibacterial action in your mouth, but the drawbacks might out-weigh the benefits. The problem starts where it often does when it comes to oral health– with sugar.


Alcohol, including wine, has sugar in it just by nature– sugar is part of what gives this time-tested beverage its intoxicating charm! Sugar feeds the bacteria that cause cavities in your mouth, and when they eat sugar, these microorganisms release a metabolic byproduct that really harms your teeth: acid.

… And acid

Acids destroy tooth enamel— the hard, protective outer layer of your teeth. In doing so, they make teeth rougher to the tough, easier to stain, and more vulnerable to dental caries, or cavities. In addition to the bacterial metabolism of sugars in your mouth making acids, wine itself– in fact, alcoholic drinks as a whole– contains acid. So in effect, drinking wine attacks tooth enamel on two fronts: one from bacteria eating the sugar in the wine, and one from the drink itself. Twice as bad news.

But the wine glass isn’t quite half-empty

In wine’s defense, it has been documented in numerous studies as a cardiovascular helper, maintaining heart health when imbibed in moderation. And as more and more research supports the interconnected relationship between cardiovascular and oral health– in fact, oral and systemic health in general– this is nothing to shake a stick at. So how to get around the sticky detail of sugar and acidity harming enamel?

Suggested solutions

Researchers have a few suggestions for wine lovers who also value their smile. For starters, put fizzy beverages back on the shelf– avoid wine “coolers,” champagne, and other bubbly alcoholic drinks. The carbonation contributes to the acid levels that harm teeth. And definitely avoid any sugar or sweetened drinks, for instance, sangria is a wine drink with added fruit and sugar you may wish to decline if you are concerned about oral health. 

Finally, researchers suggest keeping a glass of water nearby and switching sips between your wine and water glasses; this rinses away sugars and acids before they have much chance to do harm.

Sorry for the bad news!

We at Burlingame Dental Arts do apologize for this dismal update on wine drinking! At this point you may be wringing your hands and thinking: What drinks are OK for my oral health? We’re so glad you asked. These mythical drinks that support oral health at all times of day in any quantity are: unsweetened herbal tea and water.

We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!

A woman biting into a green apple

Your Mouth, Your Body

More and more, scientists are finding out information about the close relationship between our oral and systemic health. This month, your team at Burlingame Dental Arts, your choice for pediatric dentistry in SW Portland, found an article in Medical News Today that provides a neat summary of connections recent research has found between the body and the mouth.

Link #1: Alzheimers

Based on 20 years of data, researchers at New York University found that low scores in cognitive function were correlated to gum inflammation in 152 subjects. While the study also took into account other health variables common to chronic or degenerative disease such as tobacco use and obesity, the link between gum inflammation and a low cognitive score was still apparent. In fact, the study found that individuals with inflamed gums were nine times more likely to score low on a test for mental agility than those with no inflammation.

In an even more unsettling study, researchers at the University of Central Lancashire studied the brains of patients with Alzheimers and without, learning that the patients with the disease also had the bacterium porphyromonas gingivalis living in their brain. Apparently, this motile species of bacteria was able to enter the brain either through the blood stream or via the roots of teeth, leading to nerves, and at last the brain.

Scientists also found that functional neurons in the brain were damaged by the brain’s own immune response to the bacterial invader, thus strengthening their hypothesis that gum inflammation could be linked with cognitive disabilities.

Link #2: Pancreatic cancer

Periodontitis, a serious form of gum disease that can lead to oral bone loss, has been strongly linked with pancreatic cancer— a type of cancer whose diagnosis is largely regarded as a death sentence– first by researchers from Harvard in 2007 and then by several studies since then.

At the moment, scientists aren’t sure whether gum disease is caused by pancreatic cancer or whether gum disease causes pancreatic cancer, but the strong correlative relationship is there. In the cohort study entitled Health Professionals Follow-Up, scientists at Harvard found that men with gum disease were 64% more likely to get pancreatic cancer than men with no history of gum disease.

Link #3: Heart Disease

Cardiovascular disease is probably the most famous of systemic health disease linked with oral health problems. Bacteria in your mouth are able to travel to your heart via your blood when oral inflammation and infection leads to bleeding. Once in the blood, bacteria stick to platelets, convincing them to clot together and thus hide the bacteria from the body’s immune system. This shielding mechanism can interrupt blood flow, leading to heart attack or stroke.

There are many resources on cardiovascular disease and gum health. To learn more about how this can affect you, talk to your doctor and your dentist at Burlingame Dental Arts.

In conclusion

We know the information can sound grim, but really it’s not! Think about it– loss of cognitive function with aging, cardiovascular disease– these are big causes of mortality in the developed world, and what research like this does is allow us to prevent this type of disease.

Proper dental hygiene and regular visits to the one of our doctors at Burlingame Dental Arts not only keeps your smile bright and your breath fresh, but it can play a big role in keeping your heart healthy and your mind sharp. Together with you, we’re working for your whole health, for your life.

Schedule your next appointment with us now, and happy brushing!

A young girl with her hand inside a jack o lantern full of Halloween candy

Halloween and Dental Health!

A young girl with her hand inside a jack o lantern full of Halloween candy

Halloween is on its way! And while the festivities are certainly fun, the team at Burlingame Dental Arts often finds that we’re fielding a lot of questions from concerned parents about how to moderate the phenomenal influx of candy consumption that Halloween brings.

Before we go too far, your dentists in Portland OR, Dr. De Graff, just want to say: kids will be kids. When it comes to Halloween, don’t stand between your small ghouls and goblins and their sticky, sweet good times. Our job as parents is to help create an environment of moderation.

That said, here are some tips for maintaining dental health over the Halloween holiday!

Be choosy about your candy

Not all sweets are created equal: hard or sticky candies get stuck on teeth or take longer to eat, lengthening your child’s exposure to sugar. Chocolate and other candies that “melt” in your mouth are a better option because once they’re gone– they’re gone.

Eat candy at meal time

But not as the bulk of the meal, as your child may suggest! The truth is if your child eats candy, say, as a dessert after a meal– he or she is taking advantage of the increased saliva production that takes place while eating. The higher amount of saliva works to wash sugars and acids from candy out of the mouth before they can do damage.

Water is your best friend

Encourage your child to drink plenty of water at all times of day. Just like saliva, water works to wash food particles and sugars out of the mouth before bacteria can use them to do their evil work on your child’s teeth. In addition, water is the best way to stay hydrated (far better for your child than “energy drinks”) and is an important part of general health.

Keep eating healthy

Sometimes during holidays, we can get a little carried away by the festivities and forget that our bodies can’t run on caramel apples and candy corn alone. It is especially important during the elevated sugar consumption of Halloween to maintain a healthy diet for every meal and snack. This not only protects your child’s immune system by keeping his or her body healthy, but a good meal leaves less room for candy!

Emphasize oral health

Chances are, your kids is going to indulge in candy now and then. Halloween is an opportunity to show him or her how to indulge in moderation, and how oral hygiene is tied to such indulgences. Teach your child the importance of brushing and flossing after eating sugary foods, and be sure to stay up-to-date with his or her dental appointments at Burlingame Dental Arts.

Got any tricks of your own?

At Burlingame, we love to seize any opportunity to teach our small patients about oral health in a way that’s fun and accessible to them– that’s why we think Halloween is such a great holiday! What tricks do you use for healthy trick-or-treating? Please share them with us at your or your child’s next appointment!

Photo Credit: christopherallisonphotography.com via Compfight cc