Sunday, October 16, 2011

Beware: Piercings Can Lead to Gum Bleeding and Other Dental Diseases

Piercings, especially to the lips and tongue, can cause serious dental complications, such as gum bleeding and broken teeth, according to research conducted by the University of Tel Aviv.

In the study of 400 consecutive patients, who were aged 20 years on average, every fourth person with a piercing in the tongue or lips revealed symptoms such as gum bleeding. Some 13.9 per cent had broken teeth or other dental complications, the study found.

Dental professionals were warned of the increasing number of patients with oral piercings and to provide appropriate guidance to patients regarding the health risks.

Studies have shown that people who have piercings in their mouth are much more likely to have injuries to their teeth and gums. Of concern to health personnel are the associated risks, which include damage to dentition, infection, speech impediment and nerve damage.

The study found receding gums, a problem that can lead to tooth loss, in 35% of those who had pierced tongues for four or more years and in 50% who had worn the long-stemmed barbells for two or more years. Researchers say that during tongue movement, long-stemmed barbells are more likely to reach and damage the gums than short barbells.
Long-term lower lip piercings can lead to tooth loss, according to a German dental organization.

If the back of the piercing pushes against the gums, it can wear them down and lead to bone decay, says proDente, a Cologne-based organization of dentists, dental technicians and industrial and dental suppliers.

Given information recommend you discuss potential risk factors with your dentist before mouth piercing. Taking precautions now will increase your chance of keeping your teeth for a lifetime.

Published in World May 26, 2008

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Binge Drinking Epidemic Among Underage Drinkers

It’s always been typical for college-age kids to have beer “keggers” or drink too much hard alcohol at parties, getting tipsy or even passing out from the imbibing. Frowned upon by authorities, it was largely a harmless activity as long as there were no automobiles involved.

That has all changed with the popularity of “binge drinking” by underage youth. Many hospital emergency rooms are seeing young people arriving with blood alcohol levels in the mid-.3s and even .4, which is four to five times the legal limit.

“That’s the level at which 50% of  people die,” says Dr. Mary Claire O’Brien, an emergency medicine doctor  and assistant professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina. “Ten years ago we only saw those levels in chronic alcoholics.”

Soda Pop with a “Kick”

The reason is that adolescents don’t consume alcohol for the same reason as adults. Their goal is not to sit around and enjoy a drink or two, but to get as drunk in as little time as possible. Unfortunately, now there are many more ways to accomplish this. The alcohol beverage industry as developed new recipes for combining more alcohol with caffeine, while appealing to the “soda pop” taste preferences of young people, has caused a huge increase in overdoses. In addition, the shift from beer to hard alcohol among teens and young adults has exacerbated the problem.

Even social media sites, such as Facebook, have contributed to the problem, as kids share high-alcohol-content drink recipes and their exploits with binge drinking with their Facebook friends.

This extreme drinking isn’t rare, either. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 90% of all teen alcohol consumption occurs in the form of binge drinking!

41% of high school seniors say they’ve had an alcoholic drink within the last 30 days, and by the time these kids are in college that number jumps to 72%.

Alcohol and Caffeine: A Dangerous Combination

The recent craze of combining alcohol with highly caffeinated energy drinks is a recipe for disaster. “The caffeine blocks the part of alcohol that makes you sleepy and might otherwise cause you to pass out,” says Dr. O’Brien. “This enables you to drink far more than you normally would, raising your blood alcohol level to dangerous heights.”

Four Loko, one of the most popular products to hit the market in the last few years, has caused so many problems that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) stepped in and forced the manufacturers of that and other similar products to remove the caffeine. Four Loko has been reformulated and is back on the store shelves. It is still the equivalent of drinking four or five beers.

Drinking Games

Young people are turning to hard liquor more, and away from beer, especially in drinking games and contests. Shots of hard liquor are far more intoxicating due to the much higher alcohol content, and the fact that the undiluted alcohol hits the stomach and gets into the bloodstream extremely quickly. While drinking beer would take quite a while to affect the binge drinker, shots of hard liquor can almost immediately be felt. For those participating in drinking games, that is the whole point.

What Parents Can Do

If you’re worried that your teen may be binge drinking, consider this:

• Know the warning signs. Signs of extreme drinking include a drop in grades, changes in behavior and mood, a new set of friends, memory lapses, and difficulty concentrating

• Have a talk. Ask your kids what kinds of experiences they’re having, make your personal values clear, and calmly lay out the risks.

• Establish a code word. Agree on a phrase they can say if they are in an uncomfortable situation and need to give you a signal to come and get them, no questions asked.

Sources: Parade Magazine, CDC, FDA

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Congress Debating Further Restrictions on Teen Drivers

While all states require a restricted driver's license at age 16, a bill by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand would require all states set 18 years old as the minimum age for a driver's license with no restrictions. States that don't comply would lose precious federal highway funds.

Sen. Gillibrand is pushing the bill because of the high rate of serious accidents among teenage drivers. National accident statistics show that 16- to 19-year-old drivers have the highest rate of serious accidents and traffic violations of any age group. In addition, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has found that automobile accidents are the leading cause of death among U.S. teens. In 2008 alone, more than 4,000 teenagers were killed in car accidents!

The Gillibrand bill would require all 50 states to adopt a three-stage licensing system. At 16, youths could get a learner's permit, allowing them to drive ONLY when accompanied by a licensed driver 21 or older. After a waiting period of at least 6 months, they could qualify for an intermediate license, would would bar nighttime driving and prohibit drivers from carrying more than one friend at a time, unless accompanied by a 21-year-old licensed driver. At the age of 18, they could qualify for an unrestricted license.

The bill has resulted in complaints from teens and some parents that the increased restrictions will be difficult for suburban and rural families, who rely on cars for transportation.

David Snyder, vice president and associate general counsel of the American Insurance Association, responds that "safety is far more important than convenience" and that most parents agree when they hear the data regarding how dangerous teen driving is. The insurance industry's bigger problem will be House Republicans, who are reluctant to take control of licensing from the individual states.

In Washington state, a learner's permit can be obtained at 15, and a restricted license at 16 years old. A full, unrestricted license is available at 17 if the teen driver maintains a perfect driving record the first year, or if not, when they turn 18.

Some Teen Driving Statistics (2008 is the latest data available)
    •    Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year-olds.
    •    16-year-olds have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age.
    •    16-year-olds are 3 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than the average of all other drivers.
    •    63% of teenage passenger deaths in 2008 occurred in vehicles driven by another teenager.
    •    81% of teenage motor vehicle crash deaths in 2008 were passenger vehicle occupants.
    •    The number of drivers ages 15-20 involved in fatal crashes totaled 5,864 in 2008.
    •    In 2006 (latest data available) crashes involving 15- to 17-year-olds cost more than $34 billion nationwide in medical treatment, property damage and other costs, according to an AAA analysis.
    •    In states with GDL programs that include at least five of the most important elements, there was a 20% reduction in fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers.