Friday, February 10, 2012

The Afternoon Drill: February 10, 2012

Dr Cole

Good afternoon!

On to today's dentistry and health headlines:

FDA probes illegal sale of handheld dental x-ray units

The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning dental and veterinary professionals not to purchase or use certain potentially unsafe handheld dental x-ray units that are sold online by manufacturers outside the U.S. and directly shipped to U.S. customers.

The FDA is concerned that these devices may not be safe or effective and could expose users and patients to unnecessary and potentially harmful x-rays. The units have not been reviewed by the FDA and do not meet FDA radiation safety requirements, the agency noted in a press release issued February 10.

The Washington State Department of Health alerted the FDA after tests on a device purchased online revealed it did not comply with x-ray performance standards.

As a result, the FDA is investigating the extent of the problem and is notifying state regulatory authorities, dental professional organizations, and other health organizations about the safety risks. To date, no adverse events have been reported.

A handheld dental x-ray unit is a small, portable device that is intended for dental x-ray examinations. Use of these devices requires a prescription from a licensed practitioner, the FDA noted.

All units that have been cleared by the FDA bear a permanent certification label/tag, a warning label, and an identification (ID) label/tag on the unit.

The certification label should state "This product complies with 21 CFR 1020.30 - 1020.31," "This product complies with 21 CFR Subchapter J," or other similar language.

'Meth mouth' being seen more by local dentists

Oswego County has been the location of several meth lab busts, including a mobile lab seized in parking lot of Lowe’s Plaza, meth lab found in a Town of Williamstown, and two accused of making meth in Mexico.

Another sign of the growing meth problem in Oswego County is being noticed by local dentists.

General Dentistry's, Dr. Robert Schaefer, told News Channel 9 that he’s seeing more and more cases of a condition known as "meth mouth."

Schaefer said, “The cavities that occur with the use of methamphetamine usually develop on the front surfaces of the teeth. The decay from methamphetamine is very, very obvious. It's very different from other types of oral conditions.”

The American Dental Association's website says that dental health care professionals should be aware that methamphetamine use is widespread in the U.S. because it's cheap, easy to make and the high lasts much longer than crack cocaine. Meth is a potent central nervous system stimulant that can cause shortness of breath, hyperthermia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heart beat, high blood pressure, permanent brain damage and rampant tooth decay. Users describe their teeth as "blackened, stained, rotting, crumbling or falling apart." Teeth often cannot be salvaged and must be extracted.
New Attack on Alzheimer's: Cancer Drug Reverses Disease's Symptoms in Mice; Human Tests to Start Soon

A cancer drug quickly and dramatically improved brain function and social ability and restored the sense of smell in mice bred with a form of Alzheimer's disease, suggesting a new way to tackle the illness in people.

Alzheimer's is associated with the accumulation of protein fragments called amyloid-beta in the brain. The new research found that an existing skin-cancer drug called bexarotene cleared the protein in the brains of stricken mice within days. The study was published Thursday in the journal Science.

Because bexarotene is known to be safe for treating skin cancer, "it might be worth trying in Alzheimer's patients as well," said Rada Koldamova, a neuroscientist who works on Alzheimer's at the University of Pittsburgh and wasn't involved in the study. However, she added, the drug's effectiveness against the brain malady would first have to be established in human trials. Test results in mice often don't pan out in humans.

Everyone's brain produces amyloid-beta protein, but while a healthy brain can efficiently remove the protein fragments, the brain of a person with Alzheimer's can't. The resulting buildup is believed to result in impaired learning and memory functions.

The disease is a growing problem, especially in aging societies, but no effective treatment has been found. The drugs used today work just for a short time and only relieve symptoms, instead of halting the disease. Over the years, drugs in about a half-dozen late-stage human trials have failed to make the cut.

Enjoy your afternoon!

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