HEALTH & FITNESS

Does bleaching damage your teeth?
Dr J. Bindra
Who does not want to have white sparkling teeth? But everyone is not gifted with them. There are various types of stains on teeth, and there are different ways to prevent them and to remove them.

The seven great medical myths
Jeremy Laurance
They are among medicine's most widely held beliefs - drinking eight glasses of water a day is essential for health, shaving hair makes it grow back coarser, reading in a dim light ruins eyesight. Yet despite their popularity, they are myths.

How to manage calf pain
Dr Ravinder Chadha
Calf is the most common site for muscle soreness and cramps. Muscle soreness is common after excessive training sessions.

Ballroom dancing as the latest slimming aid
Paul Bignell
Leading doctors said that ballroom dancing could offer a treatment for Britain's growing number of obese people. Ballroom dancing, they claim, is not only good entertainment, as last night's television final of Strictly Come Dancing proved: it is one of the best forms of cerebral and aerobic exercise.

Novel way to get embryonic-like stem cells
London: Scientists have come up with a way to convert an ordinary skin cell into cells that seem to be very similar to embryonic stem cells, which can be directed to form any kind of tissue.

Health Notes
First two years important for kids’ IQ
WASHINGTON: A new study has found that the quality of care given to a child within the first two years of life directly affects brain development and IQ.

  • Chemical linked to sleep also vital for brain stimulation
  • Gold nanoparticles may make cancer diagnosis faster
  • Brain abnormalities that cause borderline personality disorder

 

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Does bleaching damage your teeth?
Dr J. Bindra

Who does not want to have white sparkling teeth? But everyone is not gifted with them. There are various types of stains on teeth, and there are different ways to prevent them and to remove them.

The three types of tooth stains:

There are superficial stains that exist only on the surface of the teeth. Ordinary toothpastes will remove most of these. If they are more tenacious, they may need to be removed by a professional cleaning treatment (scaling and polishing).

Apart from tenacious stains, there are embedded stains that have soaked into the teeth. The two worst kinds of these are tobacco stains and coffee stains. They can become quite pronounced. After a lifetime of smoking, your teeth can become a serious shade of brown. Toothpastes and professional cleaning won't remove these. These require a professional tooth-whitening treatment.

This type of discoloration is successful with bleaching in at least 90 per cent of patients, although it may not be an option for everyone.

There are structural stains that have been present since the time the tooth was formed. All teeth have some degree of intrinsic colour, and there are genetic variations of varying amounts of colour that people have, the same as with skin colour. In addition, there is a particularly nasty gray-brown colour that is the result of taking the antibiotic tetracycline while your teeth are forming. These tetracycline stains are made a part of the structure of your tooth and are very difficult to bleach out.

Other types of gray stains caused by fluorosis are lightened, but results are not as dramatic. In such cases, no one can really predict how much lighter your teeth will become. Every case is different. Typically, there is usually a two-shade improvement as seen on a dentist's shade guide.

Several studies during the past decade have proved bleaching to be safe and effective. If your teeth are genetically a little on the dark side, tooth bleaching will still whiten them. You can also bleach tetracycline stains, but since they are so intense, you may not get a really white tooth by bleaching alone and will have to cover them with porcelain veneers or another type of treatment.

However, if you have very sensitive teeth, periodontal disease, or teeth with worn enamel, your dentist may discourage bleaching.

Any type of bleaching does not damage the teeth. When carbamide peroxide, the active whitening agent, contacts water, hydrogen peroxide is released which whitens the teeth. Bleaching does not soften, demineralise or weaken the teeth. However, it is discouraged in patients who have too much sensitivity, especially in cases with a severe erosion of enamel. Unreasonable patients who are perfectionists and who do not have a good understanding of what bleaching can do for them are also discouraged.

In cases of deep stains or endemic fluorosis (with mottled enamel) the dentist prepares some solutions of ether, hydrochloric acid (30 per cent) and hydrogen peroxide.

The anaesthetic ether removes surface debris. Hydrochloric acid etches the enamel surface and hydrogen peroxide bleaches the enamel.

Caution

Self-treatment with household or hair bleaches should never be attempted. Extensive research and clinical studies indicate that whitening teeth under the supervision of a dentist is safe. In fact, whitening is the safest cosmetic dental procedure available. Bleaching is not recommended for children under 13 years of age and pregnant or lactating women.

Other natural whitening techniques that can be tried at home:

Please make sure you consult with your doctor before trying any home remedy. Brushing with baking soda or hydrogen peroxide (or sometimes both) are popular suggestions. However, baking soda is a harsh abrasive and you risk taking the enamel right off your teeth with repeated use. And we do not recommend brushing with hydrogen peroxide. While most whitening gels use some concentration of hydrogen peroxide, it is controlled. Brushing with the chemical yourself is risky as you could inadvertently ingest it.

Many fruits are natural tooth cleaners. Apples are especially good to keep teeth cleanest. Drink as much water as possible, and stay away from sodas — even in diet. Acids in sugary drinks wear away your enamel, showing your dentin, which is yellowish in colour naturally. Tap water especially has fluoride that strengthens your enamel, covering up more of the yellow dentin. And of course, reducing coffee and tea intake and quitting smoking will stop the yellowing effects dead in their tracks. So you can start your new healthy life with an equally looking healthy smile.

The writer is a Ludhiana-based senior dental surgeon.

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The seven great medical myths
Jeremy Laurance

They are among medicine's most widely held beliefs - drinking eight glasses of water a day is essential for health, shaving hair makes it grow back coarser, reading in a dim light ruins eyesight. Yet despite their popularity, they are myths.

Medicine is littered with false beliefs because doctors assume that if they have been held for long enough they do not need re-examination.

The power of belief is one of the most important reasons why medicine works, underlying the placebo effect and providing a key weapon in the doctors' arsenal, and no professional is keen on undermining it.

In a review of widely held medical beliefs - by public and professionals alike - two US doctors selected seven for critical examination and searched for evidence to support or refute them. The results suggest the beliefs are built on sand.

Rachel Vreeman of the Indiana University School of Medicine and Aaron Carroll of the Regenstrief Institute, Indianapolis, say they could find no evidence to confirm the beliefs, or there was evidence that proved them wrong.

Writing in the Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal, they say: "Physicians would do well to understand the evidence supporting their medical decision-making. They should at least recognise when their practice is based on tradition, anecdote or art. While belief in the described myths is unlikely to cause harm, recommending medical treatment for which there is little evidence certainly can."

Not to be believed

Drink at least eight glasses of water a day

This advice derives from a 1945 recommendation that adults should consume 2.5 litres of the stuff daily, or one millilitre for every calorie consumed. The crucial part of the recommendation - "most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods" - is often ignored. Drinking too much water can be dangerous.

Reading in dim light ruins your eyesight

It causes eye strain, difficulty in focusing and dries the eyes because of reduced blinking while squinting but there is no evidence it causes lasting damage.

We only use 10 per cent of our brains

Studies of patients with brain damage suggest damage to any area of the brain has lasting effects. Brain imaging studies have shown no area of the brain is completely inactive and despite "detailed probing" the non-functioning 90 per cent has not been located.

Hair and fingernails continue to grow after death

They don't. It is an illusion caused by the dehydration of the body which results in the skin retracting. This gives the appearance of increased length to the hair and nails - actual growth requires hormonal regulation which is not sustained after death.

Shaving causes hair to grow back faster or coarser

Shaved hair lacks the finer taper seen at the end of unshaved hair. It has also not been lightened by the sun, so it appears darker.

Mobile phones are dangerous in hospitals

Many hospitals still ban them, despite the lack of evidence that they interfere with electronic equipment, except in rare instances and at close quarters. Technological improvements have reduced the risk further.

Eating turkey makes people drowsy

This myth is based on the assertion that turkey contains high amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid involved in sleep.

But turkey contains no more than chicken or beef. Its sleep-inducing effects are due to the quantities eaten.

— The Independent

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How to manage calf pain
Dr Ravinder Chadha

Calf is the most common site for muscle soreness and cramps. Muscle soreness is common after excessive training sessions.

Calf pain can be due to multiple reasons:

lChildren, especially under five years of age, can complain of calf pain termed as “growing pains”.

l A sudden acceleration in aerobic activity can lead to tearing sensation in the calf muscles.

l Decrease in circulation or neurogenic (lower back problems like spinal stenosis, prolapsed disc, etc.)

l Dehydration,

l Long tight socks

l Walking long steep hills can aggravate calf pain. It helps to use a zig-zag path which reduces steepness.

l Driving long distance in a car while keeping knees bent and toes of the foot held in a Plantar-flexed position (i.e. away from the body).

The most common symptom of calf pain is leg cramps. Cramps may develop when a person sits or lies down for a long period without movement, and the toes of foot held in a Plantar-flexed position (i.e. away from the body). An afflicted individual is awakened by intense pain while sleeping. The area becomes hard due to vigorous muscle contraction, and relief is attained by moving the foot towards the body (Dorsiflexion) or getting out of bed and standing or walking. Walking helps in stretching the muscle. If immediate relief is not felt then soreness cramps may last an hour or more.

Treatment includes rest, ice, compression and elevation during the first 48 hours.

Bilateral heel lifts provide rest to calf muscle.

Aerobic activity is shifted from running to stationary cycling.

Ultrasound with massage helps in removing inflammation.

Exercises to be initiated when pain has decreased by about 25 per cent.

Pedal exercise: Move one foot forward and then in a backward direction in a slow rhythmic movement while the other the foot rests. Repeat this cycle with other foot. Continue the activity by alternating the feet for 15 times.

Sitting calf stretch: While sitting, loop a stretch band around the ball of the foot. Pull the band towards the body while keeping the knee straight. Hold this position for a count of 15 and then relax. Repeat eight times.

Standing calf stretch: Place both hands against the wall. Keep the injured leg back. Slowly lean onto the wall while bending the front leg until a stretch is felt in the calf muscle of the injured leg. Hold for a count of 15. Repeat three times.

Prevention is the most effective form of management of calf pain.

(1) Heels in excess of 7.5 cm (3”) are likely to cause shortening of calf muscles leading to calf pain.

(2) If the car accelerator pedal is too flat and the position of the foot is nearly parallel to the floor, calf muscle remains in a shortened position leading to cramps.

(3) Aerobic activity — running, cycling, — etc should be gradually increased.

(4) The tight elastic in socks can be loosened by pressing it with hot iron. It is wise to buy long socks that have elasticity distributed uniformly throughout the whole length.

It is important to know that the cause of chronic calf pain can be diagnosed correctly so that treatment can be initiated early and followed conscientiously to prevent agonising pain.

The writer is a former physician and physiotherapist, Indian cricket team.

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Ballroom dancing as the latest slimming aid
Paul Bignell

Leading doctors said that ballroom dancing could offer a treatment for Britain's growing number of obese people. Ballroom dancing, they claim, is not only good entertainment, as last night's television final of Strictly Come Dancing proved: it is one of the best forms of cerebral and aerobic exercise.

The celebrity-studded TV programme is credited with boosting dancing's popularity, but now medical experts hope people can be encouraged to turn off the box and take to the dancefloor themselves.

Dr Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the Faculty on Public Health at the Royal College of Physicians, said: "Ballroom dancing can be extremely beneficial for a person's fitness. Depending on which dance you do, they can be pretty hard work. For example, Latin dance, jive and the quick step are very energetic. They are wonderful forms of cardiovascular exercise."

Nor are the benefits purely physical. "Exercise can help mental health sufferers in their fight against depression," said Matt Birks, a senior lecturer in mental health at Derby University. One reason, dance science expert Emma Redding suggested, is the challenge of learning the dance steps. "When you are concentrating hard on mastering a new step or thinking about what comes next in a sequence, you don't have room in your head to be worrying about your problems," she said.

Strictly contestant John Barnes revealed that he entered the show to shed some pounds. The former footballer, whose weight has crept up since his playing days ended, said: "I wanted to get fit and lose weight. I needed something to push me. This was that something." After his stint on the show, the ex-England star was more than 20lb lighter.

Schools have also recognised the benefits of getting children moving to music.

As well as a health bonus there is also the chance of meeting a more permanent partner. "Ballroom dancing has the added benefit of being a social activity, unlike the gym," said Professor Stephen Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners. "It is a chance to meet people which is particularly effective for working people," he said.

The numbers taking up ballroom are rising so fast that official figures haven't yet caught up. Only last week, when the Royal Festival Hall's Clore Ballroom was reopened after a major refit, hundreds of people turned up to (fox)trot their stuff.

Ballroom dancing has its origins in England in the late 18th century, among the upper classes. Only early in the 20th century did it become popular among the working classes who attended public dance halls. During the last century, it gained increasing popularity across Europe, the Americas and Asia: "I have seen a lot of success within ethnic minority groups, especially Muslim women, who tend to do very little exercise but are happy to attend dance classes, especially those for their cultural group," Dr Maryon-Davis added.

There is just one word of warning: Sammy Margo, of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said there has been a rise in ankle and foot injuries since ballroom took off.

— The Independent

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Novel way to get embryonic-like stem cells

London: Scientists have come up with a way to convert an ordinary skin cell into cells that seem to be very similar to embryonic stem cells, which can be directed to form any kind of tissue.

Dr. George Daley, a researcher at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston, hopes that the new approach may pave the way for an age of regenerative medicine, wherein people can get tailor-made treatments for injuries and diseases like Parkinson’s and diabetes.

The researcher also hopes that the new technique will make it easier for scientists to study diseases far better than before.

Although two other research teams worked on a similar project wherein they used commercially available cells grown in labs, Dr. Daley says that it is feasible to get skin cells from any volunteer.

“Ours is the only group to go from skin biopsy to cell line,” Nature magazine quoted Dr. Daley as saying in a statement.

His team is now trying to generate the so-called induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS) cells to match a variety of diseases. Dr. Daley has, however, admitted that the approach is yet not ready for human trials, and that tests on mice had shown that the method could cause cancer or other unforeseen problems.

He said that his team would continue to work with true embryonic stem cells, taken from days-old embryos.

Although the use of embryonic stem cells is controversial because it involves the destruction of the embryo, most stem cell experts say it is essential to continue to study them. — ANI

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Health Notes
First two years important for kids’ IQ

WASHINGTON: A new study has found that the quality of care given to a child within the first two years of life directly affects brain development and IQ.

Led by researchers from Tulane University, a team of investigators followed abandoned young children in Romanian orphanages over time.

The researchers found that children placed in foster care at younger ages had significantly higher IQ than those placed in foster care after the age of two.

“Our findings suggest that there may be a sensitive period in the first two years of life in which experiences are especially important in shaping cognitive development. This work adds to a growing body of scientific evidence about the importance of early relationship experiences,” said principal investigator Charles Zeanah, professor and chief of child psychiatry, Tulane University School of Medicine. — ANI

Chemical linked to sleep also vital for brain stimulation

LONDON: A new study suggests that a brain chemical that causes people to feel sleepy also plays a significant role in making deep brain stimulation a success, thereby easing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and other brain disorders in patients.

Lead researcher Dr Maiken Nedergaard, a neuroscientist and professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says that the chemical called adenosine is very important for the effectiveness of deep brain stimulation (DBS), which is used to treat people affected by Parkinson’s disease and is being tested in patients with severe depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

During the treatment, a small device called “brain pacemaker” is implanted in the patients’ brains so that electrical signals could be delivered to a very precise point in the organ. — ANI

Gold nanoparticles may make cancer diagnosis faster

LONDON: A study on mice has suggested that gold nanoparticles may make diagnosis of cancer faster and less invasive.

The researchers have shown that by using tiny gold particles embedded with dyes, they could identify tumours under the skin of a living animal, which may lead to earlier detection of cancer.

Lead researcher Shuming Nie, a professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, says that the gold particles, when interspersed with antibody fragments called ScFv peptides that bind cancer cells, grab onto tumours after being injected into the body.

The scientist says that the tumour-bound particles, when illuminated with a laser beam, send back a signal that is specific to the dye.

“This is a new class of nanotechnology agents for tumour targeting and imaging,” Nature Biotechnology quoted Dr Nie as saying. — ANI

Brain abnormalities that cause borderline personality disorder

WASHINGTON: A new study has led to the identification of abnormalities in the brain that are mainly responsible for borderline personality disorder in people.

Led by an interdisciplinary team of scientists at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, the study discovered the activity in key brain areas associated with a core difficulty in patients with borderline personality disorder.

“It’s early days yet, but the work is pinpointing functional differences in the neurobiology of healthy people versus individuals with the disorder as they attempt to control their behavior in a negative emotional context,” said Dr David A. Silbersweig, one of the three lead researchers.

“Such initial insights can help provide a foundation for better, more targeted therapies down the line,” he added. — ANI

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