Category Archives: Dentistry In The News

Marijuana Use May Increase Risk For Periodontal Disease

Cannabis or medical marijuana has been said to be a beneficial treatment for pain, seizures and spasms. As its use widens, researchers are finding new ways to utilize this now-legal substance in appropriately prescribed doses.

While there is a debate as to side effects of its use, many researchers feel there is too little data along those lines. For instance, insufficient data exists regarding some claims that cannabis exposure in children and adolescents may cause impaired brain development or lead to mental illness.

However, there are a number of studies showing undesirable side effects when it comes to the oral health of frequent marijuana users. In one, as part of the Centers for Disease Control’s 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, study participants who used cannabis one or more times for at least 12 months had more symptoms of periodontal (gum) disease than other participants. (

This increased propensity for gum disease has also been shown in a long-term study of nearly 1,000 New Zealanders. In that study, people who smoked marijuana for up to 20 years had more gum disease even though other health factors were no worse than those of non-smokers.

For decades, it has been known that the harmful chemicals of cigarette smoke were toxic to the soft tissues of the mouth. A study is also underway to determine the risk factors of e-cigs, or vaping, which users claim is a safer method of smoking. However, the argument has been that chemicals are easily absorbed by the moist tissues in the mouth and, therefore, the potential for detrimental side effects is greater.

Regardless of your use or non-use of cannabis, it is wise to know the signs and symptoms of gum disease. These include tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, receded gums, gums that darken in color from a healthy pink to red, persistent bad breath, and pus pockets that form on gums at the base of some teeth.

Not only is gum disease the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss, the bacteria of periodontal disease has been linked to serious health problems. It has been shown that the infectious bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body.

The inflammatory triggers associated with gum disease bacteria have been linked to heart disease, stroke, memory loss, preterm babies, some cancers, impotency, diabetes and arthritis. As more research is being conducted, a growing number of health problems are showing links to this potent bacteria.

If you have symptoms of gum disease, seek treatment at your earliest convenience. Gum disease only worsens without treatment, resulting in more treatment time and expense. Call 586-739-2155 to schedule.

Links Between Gum Disease & Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

For years, researchers have found that the inflammation caused by the infectious bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. Studies have shown that this potent oral bacteria correlates to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, some cancers and preterm babies.

With these serious health risks, men, in particular, should be made aware of another. Researchers have given a closer assessment to recent studies and found that erectile dysfunction (a condition causing difficulty having or maintaining an erection) is more common in men with gum disease.

One article published by reveals that reviewers analyzed data from five studies published between 2009 and 2014. The combined studies included 213,000 male participants between the ages of 20 and 80, according to a report in the International Journal of Impotence Research.

In every study, men who had chronic periodontitis (advanced gum disease) were more likely to have erectile dysfunction, especially males younger than 40 and older than 59. The article stated, “After accounting for diabetes, which can influence both gum disease and sexual function, erectile dysfunction was 2.28 times more common for men with periodontitis than for men without it.” (

In the U.S., an estimated 18 percent of males have erectile dysfunction. Men over the age of 70 are more likely to have ED compared to 5 percent between the ages of 20 and 40.

However, the men who are most affected by ED are getting younger. One outpatient clinic showed that one in four men who sought help for erectile dysfunction were under the age of 40.

Could a healthy mouth lower the risk of ED? In a 2013 study, it was found that treating periodontal disease improves ED symptoms. Thus, a growing number of physicians are advising male patients who have both ED and periodontitis to seek periodontal treatment as a way to reduce its risk.

Researchers are learning much about the hazards of chronic inflammation in our bodies. As an inflammatory disease, periodontal disease has come under closer scrutiny as a potential trigger for other serious health problems. For example, nearly half of the men with ED in one study also had diabetes, another chronic inflammatory disease with links to periodontal disease.

Although many serious health problems are linked to oral bacteria, gum disease is one of the most preventable of all. Twice daily brushing, daily flossing, a diet limited in sugar and carbohydrates and drinking plenty of water are simple guidelines to follow. Yet, it is estimated that over 47% of American adults have some level of gum disease.

For the good of your overall health and well-being, renew your commitment to a healthy smile. Begin with a thorough examination. We’ll discuss how to get your oral health in good shape and ways to maintain it between dental check-ups.

Call 586-739-2155 to schedule or ask to begin with a free consultation.





Vertigo (Dizziness) Can Be Caused By Jaw Joint Disorder

If you experience dizziness (also referred to as vertigo), this off-balance sensation can place you in an unsure frame of mind, not to mention put your safety at risk.

The latin origin of the word ‘vertigo is “a whirling round.” Vertigo is observed in a number of diseases and causes dizziness and a loss of balance. It can also cause confusion, nausea, lightheadedness, and the feeling of being pulled downward.

Although the cause is often unknown in many cases, problems involving the inner ear are a common cause of vertigo. In addition to a head injury, migraines and lengthy period of bedrest, other contributing factors include:
    •    Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV; a mechanical inner-ear disorder)
    •    Meniere’s disease (a progressive ear disease)
    •    Vestibular neuritis (inflammation of the vestibulocochlear nerve)
    •    Labyrinthitis (a condition caused by inner ear infection)
    •    TMJ (jaw joint) disorder

The inner ear is the common culprit in the majority of vertigo cases. However, the position and fluid motion of your jaw joints (TMJ) and bite alignment are often-overlooked as contributing factors.  Research has found that disorders of the temporo-mandibular joint can lead to balance disparities as well as cause nausea and vision problems.

Recent research has found that vertigo and TMJ Disorder have a deeper correlation than once thought. In these cases, bite misalignment is resolved to reduce tension in connected jaw muscles. This can often eliminate the symptom of dizziness.

But, where is the connection? One suspected pathway is in how the jaws and inner ear share a common ligament. Hence, the bones that are intricately responsible in hearing are also closely connected with the anatomy of the temporo-mandibular joint.

Because a TMJ disorder triggers stress and strain on structures associated with the jaw joints, this jointly-shared ligament can be pulled from its natural position.  The trickle-down effect means the middle ear structure, which is responsible for maintaining equilibrium, becomes off-kilter. However, this is but one scenario. A TMJ disorder can affect the inner ear in other ways as well.

The TMJ is actually a rotating hinge that joins the lower jaw to the head.  It houses a “socket” that is also part of the temporal bone.  TMJ Disorder (or ’TMD’) may move this temporal bone just enough to shift the connected components out of position as well.

Although the relationship to the TMJ and inner ear are gaining more attention for those who suffer with vertigo, many medical practitioners are not fully aware of the connection.  This is why the most effective route to treatment may be seeing a Neuro-muscular Dentist. This is a dentist who is a trained TMJ specialist and is structured to help establish a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

The symptoms of TMD include clicking or popping jaw joints, depression, facial pain, frequent headaches or migraines, jaw pain, limited jaw movement, neck and shoulder pain, numbness or tingling in the fingers, tinnitus (ear ringing) and sleep apnea.

In addition to bite realignment, prevention or reduction of factors such as bruxism, jaw clenching and other things that may cause muscle inflammation give the body the opportunity to repair itself. However, the most effective diagnosis – that is the origin of an effective treatment plan – may include:
    •    TENS Therapy ( transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation): This is an electrical impulse unit that is used to relax the jaw muscles and to allow it to settle into its natural position. Once the natural resting position is established, a properly fitted mouth piece can retrain the jaw muscles to rest in the correct position.
    •    TMJ Orthotics: Customized orthotic (a device resembling an athlete’s mouth guard.) is particularly effective for realigning the jaw.  Many patients report near-immediate relief of vertigo symptoms they have had for years once an orthotic is used.
    •    Restorative Dentistry: In some cases, a ‘bad bite’ is caused by the way that the teeth come together in biting, chewing and at rest.  While mouth pieces may temporarily resolve the problem, the position of the teeth may cause a bad bite to reoccur.  In these cases restorative dentistry may be required to ensure a proper bite and avoid re-emergence of TMD symptoms.

The relationship between TMJ and vertigo symptoms are still being studied.  To fully establish the culprit of vertigo as TMJ disorders, proper testing by a trained, experienced Neuro-Muscular dentist is the most efficient way to resolve the many symptoms that can result.

If dizziness, a sense of being off-balance, or other symptoms are causing you concern, consider that your jaw joints may play a bigger role than is often obvious. Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for a private, no-cost consultation appointment. We’ll discuss your symptoms, medical and dental history, and methods for diagnosis and treatment that may be right for you.

Dr. Barbat Named Top Dentist By Hour Detroit 5th Year In A Row!

When our patients compliment us, it means the world. YOU are the reason we are here and we hope each patient enjoys the ultimate in dental care in our hands.

It was a thrill to be recently named as a Top Dentist by

Celebrating 5th Top Dentist Award!
Celebrating 5th Top Dentist Award!

Hour Detroit magazine, especially since this marks the fifth year in a row for this honor.

A Top Dentist is chosen by a panel of peers who use various criteria to make their selections. You can see the entire list of dentists in their July issue.

I thank you for your faith in us to provide your smile (and the smiles you love!) with exceptional care!

Oil Pulling Risky Substitute For Tried-&-True Oral Care Steps

I’m all for ‘new & improved’ ways to do things. For example, when GPS devices hit the market, I was thrilled to know I could avoid wasting time and gas trying to find unfamiliar destinations.

As a dentist, of course I keep up with the latest ways to achieve and maintain a healthy, confident smile. A recent one I’m following is called ‘oil pulling.’  Although this is certainly new, I don’t feel the same about the ‘improved’ part.

Oil pulling involves holding coconut, sesame, olive or palm oil in the mouth for 3-5 minutes while it is swished around. The practice supposedly pulls impurities from the mouth to eliminate bacteria and toxins from the body.

While oil pulling has recently gained more attention from internet exposure, it is actually an ancient folk remedy. This holistic medicine practice is said to balance the body’s doshas, which claim to balance susceptibility to disease. When performed for oral benefits, oil pulling is said to improve gum problems, eliminate plaque and even whiten teeth.

In reading the claims on the internet, according to some users (both those who are well-versed in holistic medicine and those who try to adhere to it), I’ve also looked into the position of the American Dental Association (ADA) on the subject.

The ADA has been following oil pulling’s claims by carefully scrutinizing recent research. What it has found is that, in spite of the ‘wonder drug’ accolades from some users, oil pulling is no more effective than mouthwash. When it comes to reducing bad breath and oral bacteria, findings show that oil pulling is no more effective than mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine, a common ingredient in most.

Personally, I don’t find where oil pulling could be detrimental to your oral health. Research does show that there are advantages to oil pulling, such as helping with dry mouth. So, for people who are more inclined to practice oil pulling than using mouthwash, that’s a positive since it’s deemed “as effective.” At this time, however, the ADA cites a “lack of science” and does not recommend oil pulling as a supplement to oral hygiene nor as a substitute to traditional oral health care methods.

The ADA is closely monitoring research related to oil pulling since they feel past studies have been inadequate to support claims. The ADA states, “scientific studies have not provided the necessary clinical evidence to demonstrate that oil pulling reduces the incidence of dental caries, whitens teeth or improves oral health and well-being.” They list concerns such as sampling that has been too small, the lack of demographic information and having no blind testing. 

In the dental field, overall, there is  a concern that people may perceive  that oil pulling can replace the tried-&-true methods of oral hygiene. While brushing and flossing may seem ‘old hat’ ways to enjoy a healthy smile, this twice-daily routine has proven to be a safe, effective way to have good dental health. For those who feel oil pulling can replace these steps, they run the risk of developing cavities and gum disease.

While I certainly would never support unsubstantiated claims for new methods to achieve a healthy smile, I do like one thing, in particular, about oil pulling. Things that don’t harm or disrupt oral wellness routines but do draw attention to its importance are okay with me. I’d much rather see someone who rarely brushes begin to use oil pulling on a regular basis than do nothing at all. Perhaps forming a habit of swishing with oil twice daily will remind the individual that oral wellness is part of maintaining overall health. From there, they will hopefully become more aware of the benefits of a healthy mouth, opening the door for even more progress to having a clean mouth and appealing smile.

Fads come and go. Even if oil pulling stays around, I see little reason to worry as long as it doesn’t cause people to assume it’s a replacement for time tested oral hygiene steps.

Post-Menopausal Women At Higher Risk for Gum Disease

During menopause, women often endure hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue and moodiness. Once they become ‘post-menopausal,’ however, these symptoms often dissipate while different ones arise. When it comes to your smile, being post-menopausal places you at higher risk for tooth loss.

Research has shown that a decline in estrogen levels, particularly in the first ten years of being post-menopausal, contributes to bone loss. Recent studies now indicate that bone loss in postmenopausal women can be accompanied by a higher risk of gum disease.

One study, published by the National Institutes of Health, determined that post-menopausal females experiencing osteoporosis had a high percentage of periodontal disease compared to postmenopausal women who did not show signs of osteoporosis.

Risk for gum disease increases in conjunction with osteoporosis, according to research.
Risk for gum disease increases in conjunction with osteoporosis, according to research.

Other oral health repercussions of post-menopausal women may include a reduction of saliva, increased dental caries and taste alterations.

Estrogen deprivation due to menopause also increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. While hormone replacement therapy is occasionally prescribed by physicians to alleviate symptoms associated with estrogen deficiency, replacing estrogen (or estrogen and progestin) may also help to prevent some of the chronic illnesses common to postmenopausal women.

While your oral health is our emphasis, your whole health is also a concern. For those who develop particular risk factors due to age or changes in overall health, we will make recommendations to help you avoid problems at regular care visits. Or, should problems arise, early care is the best way to save time and money – and avoid more complex problems from developing as a result.

Let us help your oral health and physical health work together for your overall good! Call 586-739-2155 to arrange an examination to get your smile in great shape!

Study Shows Sugar Is America’s Smile Downfall

Here’s a question for you: Globally, what is one of the most common diseases?

You may be surprised to know that tooth decay is the answer. When researchers from the University College London and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine studied public health records from around the world, they found that the United States is far too sugary.

Almost 90% of school age children in America have had tooth decay with 92% of adults having experienced cavities. Compare this to Nigeria, where their diet contains almost no sugar. The study found that only 2% of the population had tooth decay.

Although fingers point at sugar as the villain, it’s actually how sugar reacts in the mouth that sets the destructive process into motion. When we consume sugar, it combines with saliva and bacteria in the mouth. Although all foods and beverages activate an acid attack in the mouth, sugar is the ‘perfect food’ for oral bacteria. These acids cause decay to teeth to begin.

Yet, the destruction doesn’t stop with your teeth. As oral bacteria reproduce and accumulate, the gums become inflamed. This is the initial stage of gum disease, which is the nation’s leading cause of tooth loss.

American diets are saturated in sugar. Foods and beverages are laden with it and sugary consumables are typically easy to access. Everywhere you turn, from vending machines to fast food establishments to nearly every check-out line, candy bars, gum and sodas are within arm’s reach.

The World Health Organization recommends that a person’s total calories in a day should consist of no more than 5% from sugar. For most, sugar is not an easy substance to delete or reduce in daily diets. Why? Because sugar is addictive. MRI scans have shown that sugar activates the same brain regions as are activated during cocaine use. It’s also been found that the more sugar you consume, the more you need since you build up a tolerance. This is a symptom of substance dependence.

Want to kick the sugar habit? There are numerous books and online sources that guide you through weaning yourself off of sugar. And, going cold turkey isn’t always the best way. Switching to honey, an actual food that the body processes without creating a ‘high,’ is a good way to begin.

While fluoride has helped, on its own, it is insufficient to overcome the continual bacterial onslaught from American sugar consumption. Your smile is more important than sugary indulgences. As a matter of fact, your entire body would operate better without sugar.

Take a stance NOW that sugar will not ruin your smile (or the precious smiles of your family members)! Every habit takes time to break so allow 2-3 months to ease off of sugar altogether. Until then (and always), floss daily, brush twice a day (for 2 mins. each time), drink lots of water and be committed to your 6-month dental cleanings and check-ups.

Past due for your cleaning? Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles and let’s get your smile in shape!

Could Treating Gum Disease Lower Medical Costs?

Could treating periodontal disease reduce medical costs and hospitalizations for pregnant patients and those with diabetes and heart disease? Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania recently conducted a study to determine if gum disease therapy could prevent or lessen some of the adverse effects associated with diabetes, coronary artery disease, arthritis and pregnancy.

Researchers analyzed medical and dental insurance records of 338,891 patients with periodontal disease from 2005 to 2009. Participants were either pregnant or had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, cerebral vascular disease or rheumatoid arthritis. The average age was 49 years with women comprising 45% of the patients and men 55%. Patients with gum disease who had 4 or more periodontal treatments in 2005 were compared to patients who were untreated.

Findings showed most had lower medical costs and hospitalizations following periodontal treatment. Although no significant difference was found among patients with rheumatoid arthritis, patients with diabetes or cerebral vascular disease had significantly lower medical costs, averaging 40% reduction in costs. The biggest decrease was among pregnant women who received treatment, having 74% lower medical costs than those with untreated gum disease. Coronary artery disease patients had nearly 11% lower costs.

Periodontal disease bacteria can enter the bloodstream of otherwise healthy patients through diseased and torn oral tissues. The bacteria has been found to create an inflammatory reaction elsewhere in the body, perhaps triggering or increasing severity of serious health problems.

So, back to our initial question: Could routine assessment and treatment of periodontal disease help to lower severity and costs of specific medical conditions? While the study’s findings do not prove that periodontal disease treatment directly improves the condition of these health problems, ensuring good periodontal health for those affected seems to provide positive outcomes when compared to those who do not have treatment.

As research continues, we will keep you up-to-date on the latest findings that link oral health to your overall health. In the meantime, pay particular attention to your gum health. If your gums bleed when you brush or you have tender, swollen spots on gums around teeth, call for an examination as soon as possible: Toll free 1-866-9-Smiles. Or, begin with a free consultation to discuss your needs prior.

Major League Baseball Player Lost To Oral Cancer

There was sad news for baseball fans recently. Tony Gwynn of the Padres, as well as a Hall of Famer, died of oral cancer, something Gwynn blamed on his use of smokeless tobacco. Apparently, the habit is rampant throughout Major League baseball teams.

A 1999 survey found that nearly a third of Major League rookies were regular smokeless tobacco users (primarily chewing and snuff). Other studies found that approximately 30% of all players were smokeless tobacco users. Recognizing the growing trend and the message it sent to young fans, the MLB set forth rules regarding the use of these products. Still, in 2012, approximately 11% of high school boys were using smokeless tobacco.

Users typically tuck chewing tobacco or snuff in the side of their mouths and spit out the juices. Snuff is occasionally inhaled (snorted) through the nose. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention points out that these products contain 28 carcinogens, a known cause of oral cancer.

Gwynn was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, which began in his salivary gland. He underwent chemotherapy and radiation to fight this aggressive cancer. Unfortunately, it had progressed too far. Oral cancer has one of the worst survival rates of all cancers and takes the life of one American every hour.

Smokeless tobacco users become physically dependent on and emotionally addicted to nicotine. Nicotine, the addictive substance found in cigarettes, occurs naturally in all tobacco. Those who try to quit experience withdrawal, which can cause weeks of depression, headaches, irritability, weight gain and dizziness.

As hard as it may be to quit, reducing the risk of oral cancer is worth it. Users should immediately react to any spot or sore in the mouth or on the lips. Also, a persistent sore throat or difficulty swallowing are symptoms that should also be checked immediately. When treated early, oral cancer can be survivable.

No Soda Is A Good Soda For Oral Health

If you think ‘diet’ sodas are better for you, we have some bad news. Sugar substitutes have been studied far more than most drugs and findings show they cause interferences with how you react to food. Research has even linked drinking diet soda to bigger waists — 70% bigger than in people who avoided artificial sweeteners altogether.

Every time you eat or drink something, there’s a reaction in the mouth described as an acid attack. Bacteria in your mouth feed this acid. Whether you’re sipping a diet cola or one full of high fructose corn syrup, an acid attack is prompted. The only thing that does not trigger this is water.

Because artificial sweeteners don’t register in the brain’s satiety center so they actually urge you to crave sugary treats at a nagging level. They also train your taste buds to find satisfaction only when they detect intense sweetness. Fake sugars and diet sodas complicate your ability to lose weight and up your risk of metabolic syndrome, which precedes diabetes, heart disease, and more.

Another issue is the misconception that a no-calorie soda cancels out the calories in those Oreos. This could prompt you to eat more, and more often. The more you eat, the more your mouth has to undergo acid attacks. And, the greater risk you have for cavities, gingivitis and other problems.

While artificial sweeteners are bad, sugar is no ‘good guy.’ Sugar tends to lowers HDL (good) cholesterol and raises bad triglycerides. It also attaches to proteins that create destructive substances, which increase your risk for heart disease, joint stiffness, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, kidney problems, bone fractures, wrinkles and vision loss.

Your six-month oral hygiene visits are structured so you can avoid more expense and treatment time by catching problems while they are still small. Call us at 1-866-9-Smiles to schedule your visit if you are behind on these check-ups.