Monthly Archives: August 2016

Better Living Through Dental Lasers

Let’s all be perfectly honest here: nobody really looks forward to their next dentist appointment, regardless of when the date actually lands. Okay, the “perfectly” part of that last sentence may have been a little too on the nose, but the point still stands. The dentist appointment, along with traffic stops and airport security, has been one of these things that society has taught us to accept and doesn’t care how grudgingly we do it or how painful the process turns out to be. We buy that speciality toothpaste in the grocery store, floss twice a day and drink nothing but water – all of it because it’s only a week away and we want to be spared the lecture that we are going to get anyways.


But then again, technology is improving so that you can actually look forward to seeing your dentist for a change. And yes, what was just said does sound like something that was straight out of an infomercial. But ever since the FDA approved the use of lasers for dental treatment in 1994, there have been more and more applications that would make for a more comfortable dentist appointment.

Of course, a more detailed explanation is necessary. Laser technology hasn’t made the type of leaps and bounds expected from people who grew up seeing lasers on cartoons and sci-fi blockbusters (and don’t worry, your jetpack should be coming in as well… once some of the schematics have been figured out). The first, and very likely the most important thing for most people, that it can do is speed up the teeth-whitening process. The dentist puts in a peroxide-based bleaching solution, and then uses the laser to activate it into doing its work . Or rather, the heat from the laser causes the solution to enhance the effect.

And that is just the first of many things that can be done. This is mainly due to the fact that lasers, by their very nature, deliver focused energy in the form of light. There is less bleeding and swelling when it comes to soft tissue treatments. Lasers can also remove lesions in the mouth and handle biopsies. And during root canal treatments, the lasers can be used to fix gums and remove harmful bacteria. Lifetime Teeth Today can provide recommendations and assistance on the details of this procedure. If interested in this procedure, be sure to schedule a consultation in order to fully understand that process.

As you can see, laser use in dentistry can be more palatable for patients who have long dreaded the standard utensils. But can the tools of the future truly replace the tools of the past? The American Dental Association (ADA) certainly does not think so, as none of the laser treatments have received their official Seal of Acceptance. Of course, the ADA does have their reasons for withholding their approval. For one, in teeth where there are already fillings, the lasers can do more harm than good. They also can’t fill cavities or put in crowns, and they are certainly much more expensive than your average drill in the office. And most importantly of all, laser treatment does not eliminate the need for anesthesia. So regardless of what treatment you do, there will be pain in the process.

Ultimately, time will tell how much laser technology will advance and how it can apply to dentistry. After all, many other technologies have made major changes once they became cheaper and easier to use.


Testosterone Replacement Therapies and Prostate Cancer

Understanding hormone therapy options

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer among men, with skin cancer being the first. High-dose testosterone replacement therapies have been found to help in some cases of advanced prostate cancer. However, the most common type of treatment for prostate cancer continues to be hormone suppression treatments, which have been in use for a while. After successful prostate cancer treatments, you may want to receive testosterone replacement therapy. There are some concerns to this, with regards to whether or not testosterone replacement is helpful or harmful after prostate cancer treatment. The science on these issues is continuing to progress, attempting to find out just what type of impact testosterone replacement has on post-prostate cancer recipients.

High-Dosage Testosterone as a Treatment For Prostate Cancer

A new study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital found that there was a possibility that high dosages of testosterone could help treat certain forms of prostate cancer. Testosterone fuels prostate tumors, so the thought of treating this cancer with more testosterone was viewed very skeptically by the medical community. Johns Hopkins’ researchers, in a trial involving sixteen men with prostate cancer that was resistant to castration, found that high doses of testosterone could be linked to the disease waning. Fourteen out of the sixteen men in the trial finished their therapy, and the majority of their cancer seemed to be showing signs that the disease was retreating. Several became newly sensitized to castrating drugs, which were used to treat their prostate cancer but had become ineffectual. The castration drugs began to work again after these high doses of testosterone.

Although this was a small clinical trial, it held promising results for patients looking for other ways to treat their prostate cancer besides hormone suppression therapies, which reduce testosterone levels and can have unpleasant side effects as a result. The main takeaway from the Johns Hopkins study was that the prostate cancer, when exposed to high dosages of testosterone replacement, did not grow any worse and, in many of the cases, it even showed signs of improvement. That casts a hopeful light onto further attempts to find alternatives to hormone suppression.

Testosterone Replacement After a Successful Prostate Cancer Treatment

This issue—whether or not testosterone replacement after surviving prostate cancer is acceptable—is hotly debated. For a long time, there has been a strict “prohibition” on testosterone treatment after prostate cancer. Testosterone plays a role in the development of this cancer and, logically, it could be inferred that further doses of the hormone would only cause the cancer to worsen or, in the case of those who had beaten the cancer, return.

However, that perception has changed slightly. Some experts have pointed out that men experience declines in their testosterone levels as they age, but also develop prostate cancer as they get older. If they are developing this disease as their testosterone rate drops, some argue, then how can testosterone be responsible for it? Doctors such as Harvard Medical School’s Abraham Morgentaler, M.D. also have called on the medical community to look at the benefits that increasing testosterone has on men’s mood, libido, and energy level.

On the other side of the debate are cautious doctors who don’t want to take the risk of the testosterone replacement “reawakening” dormant cancer cells and potentially leading to a return of the disease. The FDA seems to agree with this, as it requires testosterone products to contain a label that says that testosterone therapy is “contraindicated” in men who have previously had prostate cancer.

Studies have shown that men that have had prostatectomies (prostate removals) did not show a reoccurrence of the cancer after they were given testosterone replacement. These studies, conducted by Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and Baylor College of Medicine, treated men with testosterone therapy and then followed them for a lengthy follow-up time (in one of the studies, the follow-up time was twelve years) to see if they redeveloped the cancer. The researchers found that there was no reoccurrence of the prostate cancer after the testosterone replacement therapies.

A middle-ground that the medical community seems to be coming towards is that of caution: if you’re going to give patients testosterone replacement therapies after successful prostate cancer treatments, it should be done slowly and gradually, so that there is a chance to stop the treatment immediately if a reoccurrence of cancer is shown. During this time, more studies are being conducted on patients who have not had their prostates removed to see if they, too, do not show signs of returning cancer when receiving testosterone treatments.

A successful prostate cancer treatment is excellent, but it will likely leave your testosterone levels depleted. Low testosterone can cause fatigue, erectile dysfunction, low libido, irritability, mood swings, and more. Because of these side effects, doctors and medical researchers are doing everything they can to make the science of post-prostate-cancer testosterone replacement therapy more definitive, clear, and accessible.

Sleep and Your Memory – How a Good Recollection Relies on a Good Night’s Sleep

From Your Mattress to Your Memory

We’ve all pulled an all-nighter at some point in our lifetimes, especially if we’ve been to college or work unusual hours. There comes a point where going to sleep just seems a little futile, so instead we grab a cold shower and a cup of coffee, and just plow on through. However, skipping sleep doesn’t really do you or your mental prowess a lot of favors. Whenever you feel tired and sleep deprived, you find it harder to focus, to react and, crucially, to remember things. You’re more likely to forget important information when you’ve not slept very well or slept at all, and this is because there are essential links between your mental prowess and your sleeping behaviors.

For instance, we already know that when you go to sleep, your brain uses it as an opportunity to reorder and codify new information acquired during your waking hours. We see it every night as we dream.

While the mechanics behind dreams and the purposes they serve are still poorly understood, scientists and doctors have strong reasons to believe that they’re essential for the acquisition and retention of experiences and information. Put crudely, dreams may simply be the result of the brain reorganizing your neural pathways and strengthening connections to process what it’s learned. During this process, it retains important information while discarding unimportant information. Mundane details such as your commute to work will be less likely to be kept than the learning of a new skill or an especially noteworthy experience. Functionally, you could think of it like defragging an old hard drive. So when you deny your brain this opportunity, it should come as no surprise to find that your thoughts are cluttered.

“I’d Better Sleep On It”

Before undertaking any learning, it’s a good idea to get a good night’s sleep so you can come into it fresh, and refreshed. While forcing yourself to stay up late the day before an exam is the time-honored college tradition, the truth is there’s a reason we only burn candles at the one end. Taking the time to sleep allows the brain to prepare itself to receive and catalog new information, and studies show that being well-rested correlates positively with memory retention and learning, while conversely being tired makes learning slower.

Skill retention can be held back by as much as 40% if you haven’t slept properly.

There are ultimately three processes behind your memories:

Acquisition – the act of experiencing or learning something new, which forms the initial memory.

Consolidation – in which the memory is codified and retained within the brain, allowing it survive on a longer basis.

Recall – the capacity to bring up that memory in future while retaining its clarity.

The acquisition and recollection of memory is a conscious effort but consolidation, on the other hand, only occurs during rest. No matter the type of memory, it will be harder to retain if you do not get enough sleep as your brain will have little opportunity to cement it, resulting in half-remembered or lost information. However, the process is still very puzzling. Despite being associated with a specific period of sleep – the rapid eye movement (REM) stage – there does not seem to be any detrimental effect if the patient is under an effect in which REM is suppressed. In these cases, memory retention goes on as normal. Scientists are still trying to work out why this is, and unlocking the mystery may help us further understand the mechanics behind sleep and how the brain operates.

Not only does sleeping benefit memory retention, but it’s also useful for retaining motor-skills and coordination for physical tasks as well. During one test, subjects were made to sleep or nap after performing a task such as playing the piano or playing football. In the majority of cases, sleeping was found to have benefitted the subjects in retaining what they had learned on the topic.

Practical Applications

It’s clearly advisable to students then that they get a good night’s sleep before undertaking any academic tasks. Whenever studying, always try to do it while still awake and refreshed, and always try to ensure that you get a good seven-and-a-half to eight hours sleep the night before. This should help you retain more and more of what you learn beforehand. Further getting plenty of rest before an exam will make it easier to recall important information during the process.

Unfortunately, as we get older, the periods of sleep in which memory retention is undertaken gets gradually shorter. By the mid-30s people will already start finding it harder to retain memories. Furthermore, as we get older it frequently seems harder and harder to get the sleep we need. But there are a number of ways you can improve not just the quantity, but the quality of your sleep.

Improving Your Sleep Hygiene

Sleep is a lifestyle habit, and you need to treat it that way. Sleep and wake at the same time each day, and avoid too much activity or bright screens directly before bedtime. While it might seem like a good idea to wear yourself out, more often than not, you’re only keeping yourself awake longer. Make sure you’re not drinking caffeine after lunch — you’d be surprised how long the effects can linger.

Ask yourself if your sleep environment is really conducive to sleep. Try to keep it free of electronics or other distractions. If you find yourself getting up to check the thermostat, consider also using more or less bedding. You can use curtains and white-noise machines to counter any outside interference, as well.

Lastly, don’t forget the bed you sleep on. If you don’t know when the mattress was last replaced, it’s probably been too long. If you wake up feeling sore every morning, a lumpy old spring mattress could be the culprit. A new premium foam mattress might be all you need to get your sleep back in hand.