Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Morning Drill: June 28, 2011

A collection of dentistry and health related links/comments to start your day.

Even Diet Soda Induces Weight Gain in the Elderly
The perception that diet soft drinks are a benign alternative to highly sweetened beverages might be dangerously wrong, according to the results of the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging, which were reported here at the American Diabetes Association 71st Scientific Sessions.

Diet soft drinks have long been thought to be a healthier alternative to their sugary counterparts; however, past reports have linked increased incidence of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes to the frequent intake of diet soft drinks.

In the study presented, Sharon P. Fowler, MPH, from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and colleagues examined the effect of the long-term consumption of diet soft drinks by a population of individuals 65 to 74 years of age (n = 474).

At baseline, measures of height, weight, and waist circumference were recorded, as was diet soft drink intake. Three additional exams of the study subjects were conducted over an average follow-up of just over 3.5 years (the study was conducted over a 9-year period).

When the results of these observations were compared with those from subjects who did not drink diet soft drinks, the differences were striking. Overall, consumers of diet soft drinks experienced a 70% greater increase in waist circumference than nonconsumers. Further, among elderly drinkers of 2 or more diet soft drinks per day, mean increases in waist circumference were 5 times greater than those recorded for nonconsumers.

"These results suggest that — amidst the national drive to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks — policies that promote the consumption of diet soft drinks may have unintended deleterious effects," state the study investigators.
U.S. to hear Roche on Avastin for breast cancer
A U.S. health panel begins meeting Tuesday to consider whether the world's best-selling cancer medicine, Roche Holding AG's Avastin, should retain approval for treating breast cancer.

Analysts say the Food and Drug Administration, which proposed removing the breast cancer indication in December, is unlikely to change its mind without new evidence about Avastin's ability to help breast cancer patients live longer.

For Swiss-based Roche, the FDA decision could shave almost a billion dollars off annual Avastin sales, according to analysts.

During the rare two-day appeals hearing, Genentech, a unit of Roche, is expected to argue the drug should be kept on the market pending new studies that show a more significant clinical benefit.

For patients, an FDA rejection of the appeal could mean insurance companies would stop covering the expensive drug for breast cancer, potentially jeopardizing treatment for an estimated 17,000 women currently using the medicine.

Some patient groups are expected to testify on Tuesday that Avastin should be kept on the market for breast cancer to give patients more treatment options. Breast cancer is the second-leading type of cancer among women after skin cancer.

The appeals panel will make a recommendation and the FDA will make the final decision.
Unlicensed Utah dentist may get kicked out of U.S.
An Orem man convicted of practicing unlicensed dentistry has been released from jail but may have to leave the country.

Carlos Counter, 65, pleaded guilty June 14 in state court in Provo to a felony count of practicing dentistry without a license. He was sentenced to 50 days in jail. With credit for time served, the Utah County Jail released Counter seven days later. Counter also was sentenced to three years of probation.

However, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is likely to deport Counter or require him to leave the country on his own, said Utah Assistant Attorney General Jake Taylor. Counter is a native of Mexico who has overstayed his visa, Taylor said.

Court documents say an agent of the Utah Attorney General’s Office in May entered Counter’s Orem home, where there was a room with dental equipment, a nurse and prescription pain medication.

Taylor said Counter claimed to have received dental training in Mexico and appeared to be catering to the Orem immigrant community. The dental office was sophisticated and Counter appeared to know what he was doing, Taylor added.

“It’s just that it wasn’t legal,” Taylor said. “It wasn’t licensed.”
All Western Dental Offices Convert to Digital X-rays
The superior ease of use, safety and accuracy of digital dental X-rays convinced the health care professionals at Western Dental Services, Inc. to make the advanced technology standard equipment in each of its 260-plus dental and orthodontic offices in California, Arizona and Nevada.

The years-long conversion has given the dental HMO state-of-the-art diagnostic technology. Compared to traditional X-rays, digital X-rays offer better image quality, and also deliver many more benefits to patients.

With digital X-rays, a small, smooth sensor can be positioned at any angle in the mouth to capture a detailed image. Nearly instantly, the digital image appears on a computer screen, allowing dentists to make the first shot their best shot. After the picture is taken, dentists can adjust the contrast and brightness of the image to detect even the smallest evidence of many oral health issues.

Patients review their X-rays with their Western Dental dentists, a process that helps illustrate indications of decay, gum disease, infections, weakened fillings or improperly positioned teeth.

"The immediate feedback has helped our patients to become more involved in their own dental health," said Dr. Louis Amendola, D.D.S., Chief Dental Director at the California-based dental HMO.

Computer software gives dentists more diagnostic tools, and enhanced options for displaying, storing and sharing X-rays between computers and networks. 

"We are able to enlarge and compare digital images so that patients can see where they are having problems," Dr. Amendola said. 
Enjoy your morning drill!

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