We are what we eat



I was on Facebook today and found this illustration about a person eating a hamburger and fries, and drinking soda. That person seemed to be pregnant with Ronald McDonald himself!

The illustration might be an exaggeration, but I like the point it’s trying to make, that our body becomes the food that we eat. If we consume healthy foods, we tend to be healthier. But if we eat a lot of fast food, then we look and become unhealthy!

Another dental illustration by Victor Nunes


Last summer, I had displayed some of the artistic creations of Victor Nunes. He is a Brazilian artist who uses foods or instruments to complete his drawings, creating unique masterpieces! He had used toothbrushes as well.

But now I found something new that he designed. A drawing using dental instruments, which look more like orthodontic pliers! Above is what it looks like! And here’s the one with the toothbrushes :)

victor nunes toothbrushes

Palatal expansion

Palatal expansion

A palatal expansion is the use of an appliance placed in the mouth to make a constricted palate more wide. The following video summarizes the procedure.

A narrow palate usually allows less space for upper teeth, causing malocclusion, which is a bad relationship between teeth that gives them a misaligned appearance. Malocclusion also makes it hard to eat and brush your teeth, provoking malnutrition and other dental problems.

It is possible to expand the palate of children, teenagers, and sometimes young adults. There are many types of expanding appliances, but each usually covers the palate and holds on the upper teeth. Activation needs to be done with the expansion screw that is found in the middle of the appliance. The whole process can take several months to a year.


Toothaches were believed to be caused by… worms?


There was a time that people didn’t know the existence of cavities, and even less the world the microscopic bacteria. Therefore when someone had a toothache, they believed that it was caused by very little worms!

The idea now sounds very nasty, but around the 15th century, the dentist profession didn’t exist, and physicians thought that there were “tooth worms” that were causing teeth to hurt and to break apart! Those doctors prescribed a remedy for toothaches that involved lighting a candle and letting the smoke go inside your mouth and fill it. Then, you would lean your head over a warm bowl of water so the pain-causing tooth worms would fall out of your mouth and into the water.

The idea is very disturbing, even for a dentist like me. It makes me so glad that now, to treat a toothache, you can go to place and let professionals take care of you in a sterilized environment!


Do all animals have two sets of teeth like humans?

shark water

Human beings have 2 sets of teeth, also called dentitions. They are referred to as deciduous teeth (primary, baby or milk teeth) and permanent teeth (or adult teeth). Deciduous teeth in humans start coming out 6 to 10 months after birth, and they are eventually replaced by permanent teeth years later, usually starting around the age of 6.

Humans and all animals that have 2 consecutive sets of teeth are called diphyodont. In contrast, polyphyodont are animals who’s teeth are replaced many times. Most mammals are diphyodont, except kangaroos, elephants and manatees.

Among polyphyodont animals, for example, sharks grow a new set of teeth almost every two weeks because their teeth get worn fast and they need to be replaced. Also young and teenage crocodiles have their teeth changed with larger ones every month for reasons similar to the ones of the sharks, but this rate slows down for adult crocodiles.

Many other species of fish and reptiles are polyphyodonts. This phenomena, especially in crocodiles, is presently studied in order to research possible tooth generation in humans.


Stopping the Ebola outbreak


As of the day this article was published, there is no cure and no approved vaccine for the Ebola virus and the disease is continuing its spread in Western Africa. This virus is very dangerous because it makes its victims sick very quickly and it has a 50-70 % fatality rate.

Currently, the best prevention against the spread of Ebola is the application of basic disease interventions, which are summarized, in the following infographic, created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States.


The first step is to diagnose patients who are sick with Ebola. Those would express symptoms of fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea, and bleeding. The only way to make an accurate diagnosis is by taking blood samples and sending to a good laboratory.

When a patient is diagnosed with Ebola, he or she must be isolated and all the aid helpers must wear protective gear. That patient is asked who are the people that were contacted while there were symptoms. Those contacts must be monitored for 21 days (incubation period of Ebola). If any one them showed the same symptoms, they should be tested, and then isolated in a similar way if the diagnosis is positive.

Also to help stopping the spread of Ebola, health care workers must wear protective gear and keep a clean environment. If a patient dies, safe and disinfected burial practices should be conducted. Also, it is not recommended to eat raw animal meat because many mammals (primates, bats, etc.) can transmit the virus to humans.


Mr. Bean at the dentist!

This is a classic, where Mr. Bean goes to a dental appointment and everything seems to go wrong! But don’t worry as when you see your dentist, these things won’t happen :)

Enamel is the hardest substance in the body

tooth structure

You might have thought that it was bones, but it is actually tooth enamel that is the most solid substance of the body. It is so because of its high content (96 %) in minerals. The remaining 4 % is water and proteins. The primary mineral of enamel is called hydroxyapatite.

The second hardest substance in the body is not bone, but dentin, which is a tooth’s layer that is found under the enamel. Dentin also contains mineral hydroxyapatite (70%), and the rest is organic material (20%) and water (10%). Because dentin is softer, it is more easily decayed than enamel. Usually a cavity starts as a small hole in the enamel, but spreads more quickly and widely once bacteria reach the dentin.

Because enamel covers all teeth in the mouth, it is made to be very hard so it can chew and break soft and hard foods. But even though it’s the hardest substance of the body, enamel is brittle which means it can break more easily when under high pressure. Dentin is less brittle than enamel, and that property gives a tooth more flexibility.


Can Ebola be transmitted by coughing or sneezing?

ebola virus

The only way that the Ebola virus could be transmitted by coughing or sneezing is by the mucus. A person with Ebola and that coughs or sneezes can infect another person if his/her mucus comes into contact with the eyes, the nose, the mouth, or a wounded skin of another person.

But Ebola is not spread through the air like other viruses such as measles, chickenpox or flu. The Ebola virus can be transmitted only by direct contact between body fluids (blood, saliva, mucus, sweat, tears, vomit, feces, breast milk, urine and semen) of an infected person who has symptoms. Coughing and sneezing are not common symptoms of Ebola.


Facts about Ebola


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US has put out this info sheet to inform the population about how you can and cannot be infected with the Ebola virus.

You cannot get Ebola:

  • through the air
  • through water
  • through food

You can only get Ebola:

  • by touching the blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola;
  • by touching contaminated objects, like needles;
  • by touching infected animals, their blood or other body fluids, or their meat.


Your heart and lungs look good too!


This is a caricature of a patient opening wide to a dentist, so wide that the dentist can see and examine some of his internal organs. It is funny but there is some truth into it.

When someone has a systemic disease, sometimes it can have oral signs. Like for example diabetes. If the dentist suspects anything, he or she will refer the patient to the general doctor to have it checked.

Also they say that a healthy mouth is a sign of a healthy body. That’s why it’s important to keep your teeth and gums healthy in order not to cause infection or inflammation that can reach other organs of your body like your heart and your lungs.


Dangers of thumb sucking


As the image above suggests, if thumb sucking persists with your child, his or her upper jaw will grow in a more forward way, changing the appearance of the face, creating an abnormal bite, and maybe causing speech problems.

Here are some ways to make your child break the thumb sucking habit:

  • It is important not to turn it into a confrontation by telling your child not to suck their thumb anymore. Try to recognize and praise them when not sucking their thumb instead of criticizing when they are.
  • Talking to your child about thumb sucking is also important, in a way that you help them understand that when they are ready to stop, you will be there to help. You empower them to say “Mommy, I don’t want to suck my thumb anymore.”
  • Don’t prohibit your child if he tries to suck his thumb or fingers after being hurt or injured. They need to be in this comfort zone, and by not letting them go there, you’re only traumatizing them more.
  • Practice self-awareness with your child by saying “Do you know you are sucking your thumb” when you see them do it. If they say no, help them recognize that, and find another way to soothe them if they needs it, like a blanket or stuffed animal.

If you have tried all of the above and at a later age your child did not lose the habit:

  • at night, you can gently remove the thumb from your child’s mouth while he or she is sleeping;
  • you can cover your child’s thumb with a bandage to remind them that they should not suck anymore;
  • if nothing works, there are appliances that can be put in the mouth of your child, by a dentist or orthodontist, that will stop the habit.