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Marijuana use may raise risk of periodontal disease

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the risk of periodontal disease may be increased with long-term marijuana use, suggests a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

However, the study found no link between long-term use of the drug and greater risk of other physical health problems.

Marijuana - also referred to as cannabis - is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.

According to a 2014 survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), around 22.2 million Americans report using the drug in the past month.

Marijuana use is particularly common among adolescents and young adults. NIDA report that in 2015, almost 35 percent of 12th graders had used marijuana in the past year, while 21.3 percent were current users.

The short-term health implications of marijuana use are well established. For example, some users may experience feelings of fear, anxiety, delusions, psychosis, and hallucinations.

However, the long-term effects of marijuana use on physical health are less clear, and this is something the researchers of this latest study set out to address.

Periodontal health at risk with persistent marijuana use

Study co-author Madeline H. Meier, Ph.D., of Arizona State University, and colleagues analyzed the data of 1,037 adults who were part of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study of New Zealand.


Dental public health expert welcomes report on the state of British children's teeth

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The Local Government Association has published a report that states that around 100 children and teenagers a day are being admitted to hospital for surgery to remove rotten teeth.

The report says that £35 million was spent in 2014-15 on removing children's rotten teeth, a 66 per cent increase since 2010-11. In all, 40,970 surgical procedures were carried out on children for their teeth in 2014-15, as opposed to 32,457 in 2010-11.

The report points the blame at the amount of sugar children consume in food and drink.

Professor Liz Kay, Foundation Dean of the Peninsula Dental School at Plymouth University and a nationally-recognised dental public health expert, welcomes the report.

She said: "The contents of this report are simply shocking. I find it outrageous that in this country and in this day and age so many children are undergoing surgery for a condition which is largely preventable. If that many children were having another body part removed because of something we could prevent there would, quite correctly, be a public outcry."

She added: "While the report highlights the parlous state of our children's teeth and makes for depressing reading, it has at least brought the issue to the public's attention. Much has been made of sugar's contribution to childhood obesity, but its effect on children's teeth is just as perilous. A better understanding of diet and good oral health techniques will help parents and carers go a long way to improving their children's teeth and avoiding those trips to hospital for surgery. But they need to be supported by the food and drink industry which must surely now address the amount of hidden sugar in what ordinary people consume every day."

Here, the team at Plymouth University Peninsula School of Dentistry provide basic advice on looking after children's teeth.

Food and drink

  • Try to limit the amount of sugary and acidic foods and drinks kids consume. Sugary drinks and snacks between meals will harm teeth and frequent snacking may make your children less hungry when it's meal time.
  • Between meals try tooth friendly snacks like cheese, fruit and vegetable sticks (e.g carrot, cucumber), breadsticks, marmite or butter on toast, rice cakes, or a bowl of non-sugary cereal with milk (don't add sugar or honey!)
  • Limit dried fruit between meals as it is high in sugar and can stick to children's teeth
  • Never allow sugary foods or drinks just before bed, and only drink water at night
  • Keep sweets, cakes, fizzy drinks and other "treats" for pudding or as part of a meal

Brushing your teeth

To keep children's teeth happy and healthy follow this brushing code:

  • Help children to brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day. Always last thing at night and then at one other time during the day (lots of people choose first thing in the morning - this should be before breakfast).
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is the superhero ingredient in toothpaste. You only need to use a small amount of toothpaste, about the size of a pea.
  • Adults and children over three years old should use a toothpaste with a fluoride level of 1350ppm to 1500ppm (parts per million). This will be printed in tiny numbers on both the box and the tube so have a look and see how much is in yours.
  • Use a toothbrush with a small head. This will help you to clean the back teeth and in all the tiny spaces.
  • Spit, don't rinse! Don't wash all the superhero fluoride off the teeth!
  • Brush teeth in a special order so you don't miss any: and make sure you get all five surfaces of each tooth (biting/chewing surface, front, back, inside and outside)
  • Be gentle! Use circular or tiny side to side movements- don't scrub gums away
  • Brush the gums where they meet the teeth gently using the same circular or tiny side to side movement
  • A disclosing tablet may help to show any areas you might have missed. These are available from the dentist or chemist and contain a vegetable dye which will show up any plaque you have missed when brushing.
  • Replace a child's toothbrush regularly. A three-month old toothbrush is 30 per cent less effective at removing plaque than a new one
  • If using a powered toothbrush make sure it is charged or change the batteries regularly so the brush remains effective.
  • Make brushing fun! Sing songs with your child whilst you brush or download their favourite song to brush their teeth to - there is a brilliant and proven app called Brush DJ that does just this
  • Make a brushing chart and award a sticker each time your child cleans their teeth
  • There are some great tooth brushing apps so maybe choose one together
  • Remember -- we recommend that you help your children brush their teeth until they are at least seven years old.

Scientists sharpen view of gene transfer between pathogenic bacteria

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May lead to ways to curtail spread of antibiotic resistance.

Bacteria possess the ability to take up DNA from their environment, a skill that enables them to acquire new genes forantibiotic resistance or to escape the immune response. Scientists have now mapped the core set of genes that are consistently controlled during DNA uptake in strep bacteria, and they hope the finding will allow them to cut off the microbes' ability to survive what doctors and nature can throw at them.

The findings, by a team of researchers from the University of Oslo, the Forsyth Institute, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, appeared last week in the American Society for Microbiology's new open-access journal, mSystems.

The researchers wanted to know precisely which metabolic pathways in the bacterial cell must be activated for the bacteria to become "competent," or able to acquire genes from DNA in the environment. They focused on Streptococcus mutans, a strain involved in tooth decay.

Earlier studies of competence had pointed to more than 300 active genes. The new study identifies only 83 genes in 29 regions of the strep chromosome that are specific to the competence pathway, with 27 of these genes lying within an interconnected network controlled by one of three key regulator molecules. When the researchers compared the new results to earlier studies in five other strep species, they found that in all those species a core set of only 27 activated competence genes was required for DNA uptake.

"Streptococcus is a diverse group of species that evolved from a common ancestor to adapt to diverse hosts and sugar-rich niches," says study co-author Donald Morrison, professor of biological sciences at UIC. "Our findings -- that two-thirds of the core activated genes in streptococcus have transformation functions -- suggest that this is an ancient response, maintained because of its value in promoting ready access to external DNA."


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