HEALTH & FITNESS

Discoloured teeth can be turned white
Dr H.S. Chawla

Your teeth can lose their original colour due to a variety of reasons. The most common is following trauma: blood supply to the tooth is obstructed, resulting in the pulp (blood vessels) inside the tooth withering away, giving blackish appearance to the tooth. The common cause for trauma during childhood is contact sports, falls, fights and accidents. Trauma to your teeth can also be caused from the head of an infant, when you are holding the child with his head on your shoulder. This is due to sudden neck jerks and head movements before the child learns to stabilise the head.

Swine flu: Who is at risk?
Jeremy Laurance
Q: What is swine flu?
A: Much the same as human flu - but in pigs. The worry is that pigs are excellent hosts for the virus. And because they are genetically close to humans, they can pass the virus to us more easily than birds can. The great fear over the past decade has been that the avian flu virus, H5N1, would infect pigs which would act as a reservoir for its transmission to humans. Luckily for the world, apart from a few isolated outbreaks, this did not happen.

How to treat ‘swayback’
Dr Ravinder Chadha
Deformity of the spine is a quite common affliction. The spine may be bent on either side, being shaped like ‘S’, termed scoliosis. The upper back can be protruded outwards, known as kyphosis. The lower back can be pushed inwards, commonly termed as lumbar lordosis.

Health Notes
Fat babies more prone to obesity in later life
LONDON: Babies who put on weight very fast in the first months of their lives are more likely to grow into overweight adults, a new study has revealed. According to lead author Dr Ken Ong, from Cambridge, obese or overweight kids have an increased risk of suffering from various diseases in later stages of life, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Obesity ‘raises urinary tract infection risk’
WASHINGTON: A new study has shown that obesity is associated with a higher risk of urinary tract infections (UTI).

 

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Discoloured teeth can be turned white
Dr H.S. Chawla

Your teeth can lose their original colour due to a variety of reasons. The most common is following trauma: blood supply to the tooth is obstructed, resulting in the pulp (blood vessels) inside the tooth withering away, giving blackish appearance to the tooth.

The common cause for trauma during childhood is contact sports, falls, fights and accidents. Trauma to your teeth can also be caused from the head of an infant, when you are holding the child with his head on your shoulder. This is due to sudden neck jerks and head movements before the child learns to stabilise the head.

Some other reasons are staining due to the intake of food items like tea, coffee, “paan”, turmeric, coloured drinks and iron syrup. Smoking also leaves nicotine stains on the teeth. The yellowing of teeth could be due to the ingestion of tetracycline during early childhood when the teeth are in the developing stage. It can also result from living in areas where water has a high fluoride content.

If the tooth has got discoloured because of trauma, before an attempt is made to whiten the tooth, root canal treatment needs to be carried out in this tooth. This procedure itself would lighten the dark colour of the tooth.

After the root canal treatment, a bleaching mixture is inserted inside the pulp chamber. It is left there for a month and a half. It is known as “walking bleach”. Normally, one to three such bleaching dressings are needed to whiten these teeth.

Routine care

Brushing regularly with toothpaste helps remove mild staining. It is prudent to apply toothpaste twice. You should always use a fluoride containing tooth paste. The fluoride in the tooth paste does not discolour the teeth; rather it helps make enamel (outer covering of the crown) hard and resistant to the caries attack. Another useful preparation - GC Mousse - is available: a pea-size amount of it can be spread on the teeth with a finger tip every day.

Professional yearly cleaning

Routine professional cleaning of your teeth by your dentist will help you get rid of many types of stains. Your dentist is the best judge of scaling frequency. Too frequent scaling of teeth is not a good idea as it does tell on your enamel.

You should regularly make your own effort with regular brushing, flossing and inter-dental brushing to effectively clean your teeth and ward off staining.

Teeth darkening with age

Despite your best efforts, teeth do tend to darken with age. Various in-office and at-home bleaches are available which counteract this.

Nearly all bleaching techniques employ the use of hydrogen peroxide in one form or the other. The nascent oxygen released from the use of various agents is utilised for the bleaching process. Apart from these, self- applied tooth whitening strips are also available.

All these techniques may lead to sensitivity to hot and cold food items and drinks. These sensitivities may fade away after a lapse of a few days. If not, then the dentist’s help may be needed to prescribe de-sensitising tooth pastes, or look for the hidden cavity/cavities in your teeth.

Home bleaching

Home bleaching kits are available. For, this, a dentist’s help is needed. The dentist makes the impression of your teeth and custom-constructs bleaching trays to the size of your teeth. In these special trays, he keeps some room for the bleaching material for the front surfaces of your teeth. You are required to add the bleaching material provided in the kit, to these areas and wear the plate overnight or alternatively during the day-time for at least four or five hours for five or six days. The teeth do lighten up in five or six shades.

In-office bleach

The dentist protects your gums by placing a gum guard. He mixes bleaching material and applies it in a copious amount on your teeth. He focuses a special bleaching light on your teeth with an in-built timer for 10 minutes. The delivery of bleaching light enhances the release of the nascent oxygen from the bleaching material. This procedure is repeated three times in a single sitting. A total of half an hour is spent on the chair. The teeth can lighten up to 16 shades.

Disadvantages

One disadvantage is the development of sensitivity, which in most cases diminishes over time, or with the help of desensitising tooth-pastes.

Second, the teeth do darken with time. If you want the bleaching to last longer, you should avoid or restrict eating food items and other things that darken the teeth as have been mentioned above.

Should teeth be bleached?

The answer is, of course, yes if you are in show business. The answer is also yes if discolouration/stains on your teeth bother you.

You should first get your teeth scaled and polished. If this does not satisfy you, then you can go for professional bleaching. At-home beaching is less expensive but takes more time. In-office bleaching is relatively expensive, but is done within just half an hour. At any time in your life, to pep yourself up, it is a good idea to get your teeth bleached. Happy smiling!

The writer, who heads the Dental Department, The Apollo Clinic, Chandigarh, is a former Head, Oral Health Sciences Centre, PGI, Chandigarh. Email: chawlahs@gmail.com



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Swine flu: Who is at risk?
Jeremy Laurance

Q: What is swine flu?

A: Much the same as human flu - but in pigs. The worry is that pigs are excellent hosts for the virus. And because they are genetically close to humans, they can pass the virus to us more easily than birds can. The great fear over the past decade has been that the avian flu virus, H5N1, would infect pigs which would act as a reservoir for its transmission to humans. Luckily for the world, apart from a few isolated outbreaks, this did not happen.

Q: How worried should we be?

A: At this stage, no one knows. The virus that has caused the outbreak is a strain of the H1N1 type that contains bird, pig and human genes in a combination never seen before. Immunity to it will thus be limited. Scientists are working to establish the precise nature of the virus, the symptoms it causes and its capacity to cause disease and death.

Q Has swine flu infected humans before?

A: Yes. There have been rare cases since the 1950s, mostly in people such as farmers who work directly with pigs. In Europe, 17 cases have been reported since 1958. In the US, an outbreak at a military camp in New Jersey in 1976, infected over 200 soldiers, of which 12 were hospitalised and one died.

Q What are the symptoms of swine flu?

A: Similar to ordinary human flu - cough, sudden fever, headache, muscle pains. In severe cases, it may lead to pneumonia, multi-organ failure, and death. The incubation period for ordinary human flu is two to five days.

Q: Can it be treated?

A: Yes - up to a point. Early indications are that patients in Mexico and the US have been successfully treated with the antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza. These drugs cannot prevent flu but they can limit its severity, and thus save lives, if taken as soon as symptoms develop. However, the swine flu has proved resistant to older anti-virals such as amantadine.

Q: Who is at greatest risk?

A: In Mexico, the virus appears to be targeting those aged 20 to 40. This is not unusual - the same occurred during the worst pandemic of the last century, in 1918, when 20 to 40 million people died. Young healthy people with strong immune systems react most powerfully to the virus but the very strength of their reaction produces inflammation and secretions in the lungs which can be overwhelming. In the US, the virus appears to be targeting children who are suffering only mild illness. The difference in the two countries is so far unexplained. One hypothesis is that a second virus may be circulating in Mexico which is interacting with the swine flu virus to produce more severe symptoms.

Q: How can I protect my family?

A: By acquiring a stock of anti-viral drugs such as Tamiflu or Relenza, available only on prescription at an NHS cost of around Ł20 for a course of 10 doses (enough for one person). Otherwise, the best defence is strict personal hygiene. It is hard to better the advice printed by the 'News Of the World' on 3 November 1918: "Wash inside nose with soap and water night and morning; force yourself to sneeze night and morning, then breathe deeply. Do not wear a muffler, take sharp walks regularly and walk home from work; eat plenty of porridge." Porridge is, of course, a known cure-all - but the rest of the advice holds as true today as it did then.

Q: Is there a vaccine against it?

A: Not in humans (there is in pigs). Ordinary seasonal flu vaccine for humans might offer some protection because there are similarities between the H1N1 human flu viruses and the new H1N1 pig flu virus. Investigations are under way to see if the seasonal vaccine would have a protective effect but those will "take some time".

— The Independent

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How to treat ‘swayback’
Dr Ravinder Chadha

Deformity of the spine is a quite common affliction. The spine may be bent on either side, being shaped like ‘S’, termed scoliosis. The upper back can be protruded outwards, known as kyphosis. The lower back can be pushed inwards, commonly termed as lumbar lordosis.

These deformities are the result of bad posture, muscular spasm/weakness, leg length insufficiency and osteoporosis (due to aging). It is of vital importance to know the structure of the spine in order to understand the deformity. The spine comprises of small bones called vertebra, which are held together via muscles and ligaments.

Healthy spine implies that cervical spine curves inwards, thoracic curves outwards and lumbar could be flat or slightly inwards. These natural curves work as shock absorbers so that the mechanical stress during movement is distributed.

Lumbar lordosis is often referred to as “swayback”, “saddleback” and “hollow back” due to the excessive inward curve. Too much of curvature puts stress on the entire back. Pain is experienced due to weak/ stretched-out muscles, which are incapable of providing adequate support.

Causes

Obesity: As it forces an individual to lean backward to improve balance.

Pregnancy: Weakness of the abdominal muscles increases forward rotation of the pelvis which pushes the spine inwards.

Osteoporosis affects the vertebrae as they lose strength, increasing instability of the spine leading to excessive “hollow back”.

Upper back hump is compensated by enhancing the low-back curvature.

High-heel footwear pushes the low back forward, causing “swayback”.

Standing for prolonged periods of time is associated with exaggerated lumbar lordosis due to the fatigue of muscles of the spine. Relief is achieved by flattening the back vis-a-vis flexing one leg and the knee joint and placing a foot on the raised platform.

Tips to avoid “swayback”

  • When sleeping on the back, placing a pillow under the knees helps alleviate pressure off the lower back.
  • Sitting on a chair where the back of the chair and seat is more than 90 degrees should be avoided.
  • Supporting the lower curve of the back with a pillow.
  • When sitting, keep the feet flat on the floor. Add a small wedge at the end of the seat so that hips are slightly raised as compared to the knees.
  • When standing, keep one leg at a higher level, e.g. on a step to support the lower back.
  • Avoid locking the knees when standing straight.

Exercises

Certain exercises also help alleviate the pain associated with “swayback”.

Stretching and strengthening of abdominal and buttock muscles which support the lower back is critical. Good posture is mandatory to keep the curves in their proper natural position while standing and sitting.

Hip flexion stretch -- Standing with one leg ahead of other. Bend the front knee on the floor, gently leaning forward and feeling the stretch.

Pelvic tilt/ hip extension —Lying on the back with the knees bent; tighten the stomach muscles to flatten the lower back and count up to 5. Lift the hips towards the ceiling, staying for a count of 10. Repeat 10 times.

Sit-up — Lying on the back with the knees bent. Gently slide your hands up towards the knees and bring it back down again. Repeat 10 times.

Back pain can be effectively treated only if the deformity of the spine is also diagnosed and treated so as to have long lasting relief.

The writer runs his pain management clinic in Chandigarh. E-mail-Chadha_r2003@yahoo.co.in

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Health Notes
Fat babies more prone to obesity in later life

LONDON: Babies who put on weight very fast in the first months of their lives are more likely to grow into overweight adults, a new study has revealed.

According to lead author Dr Ken Ong, from Cambridge, obese or overweight kids have an increased risk of suffering from various diseases in later stages of life, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Researchers at the universities of Cambridge and Bristol also found that girls with quick weight gain early in infancy are more prone to have their periods at a younger age, which is also linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. — ANI

Being anxious could triple your chances of developing asthma

LONDON: Do you have a neurotic personality? Well then it’s time to relax or else you could end up developing asthma, says a new study.

Researchers at Heidelberg University in Mannheim, Germany, conducted a study and found that neurotic personality could triple the chances of developing asthma.

Adrian Loerbroks and colleagues used a questionnaire to evaluate tendencies to hysteria, anxiety and depression in 4010 adults without asthma, reports New Scientist.

After nine years, the research team reassessed the volunteers and found that those who had high levels of neurosis were three times as likely to have developed asthma as those with low scores. — ANI

Bone density may help predict prostate cancer risk

WASHINGTON: A new study by Johns Hopkins researchers has found that men with denser bones may be more likely to develop prostate cancer.

Recent research at other institutions has suggested that women with high bone mineral density are at an increased risk of aggressive breast cancer.

For the study, Stacy Loeb, in the Department of Urology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and colleagues gathered data from the BLSA, a long-term study that has tracked health-related information for hundreds of Baltimore-area men and women since 1958. — ANI

New pill that ‘trains people to eat less’

LONDON: Want to get rid of those extra pounds but cannot do away with that craving to gulp down your favourite food? Well, then it’s time to resort to Appesat-a new diet pill which “trains” people to eat less.

Set to go on sale this week, Appesat, which is made from extracts of seaweed, works by expanding in the stomach and stimulating hunger sensors in the stomach wall.

The sensors then send a message to the brain saying the stomach is full. The pill remains in the stomach for three or four hours, and continues to suppress appetite, before being fully digested by the body. — ANI

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Obesity ‘raises urinary tract infection risk’

WASHINGTON: A new study has shown that obesity is associated with a higher risk of urinary tract infections (UTI).

To identify whether obesity is associated with a UTI diagnosis, Baltimore researchers evaluated insurance claims of 95,962 subjects over a five-year period (from 2002 through 2006).

They found that, as BMI increased, the odds of being diagnosed with a UTI increased as well. This association was strongest for morbidly obese patients. — ANI

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