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News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin June 2011
51 JUNE 20 11 clinical hints was popularised by John F Kennedy, who was born in the US whaling state of Massachusetts. From the 18th to the early 20th century, whaling was, for the whalers, minutes of excitement interspersed with weeks of boredom. To alleviate the latter, whale teeth (from the toothed whales, odontocetes) were taken from the processed carcasses and various designs and pictures inscribed on them, using what Herman Melville described in Moby Dick as 'dentistical instruments'. They could be pictures of home and hearth, family, portraits, scenery, ships (especially), action scenes of whaling, then later, when books and magazines were on board, copies of pictures and illustrations. The best teeth for 'scrimshanding' came from sperm whales, which were not all that common and suitable scrimshaw teeth were doled out to the crew by the second mate, who kept a record to discourage hoarding. Although whaling, particularly of the toothed whales, has now almost, thankfully, disappeared, there are still scrimshanders about. There is one, Gary Tonkin, who lives in Albany, south west Western Australia, the site of the last Australian whaling station and which closed in 1960. He obtained their stock of whale teeth and bone. He sands and polishes the teeth, then inscribes the illustration and rubs in black colouring to reveal it. GROW YOUR OWN TEETH The WEEK magazine reported in January 2010 that Professor Paul Sharp, a 'specialist in the field of regenerative dentistry' at the Dental Institute of Kings College, London, has been reported as using stem cells, inserted into the gums of mice, to grow teeth. He says: "there is no reason why it shouldn't work in humans". Your Archivist can think of some, and believes he will be long dead before such a procedure is 'crowned with success', to coin a phrase. RESISTANCE TO ANTIBIOTICS In the February 2011 CH it was noted (Germ Warfare) that the use of disinfectants on surfaces (bench tops, floors, toilets) is not only futile, as the germs come right back again, it is dangerous, as the survivors eventually become resistant. Soap and water is the best approach, on hands, surfaces and so on, as the grime removed also contains the germs. Unfortunately, the plethora of advertising overcomes the health message, and the bug's reproduction rate ensures that eventually those that are not killed will be resistant to everything. This has already happened with Klebsiella pneumoniae. One strain carries the gene NDM-1† which confers on it resistance to nearly all antibiotics, and it has now spread around the world. But what is really scary is that gram negative organisms like Klebsiella can readily exchange genes with gram negative organisms of a different genus, and have done just this with Escherichia coli, which lives in the gut of every warm- blooded being and is ubiquitous in our environment. If antibiotic-resistant E coli become the norm, we humans may be in trouble. ATHEIST HIT BY TRUCK This is the unlikely title of a short and humorous news item recorded by John McNulty in A Subtreasury of American Humour, (Coward McCann Inc., New York, 1951). Another follows: GREEK ORTHODONTIST DISCOVERS TYPHOID The Scientific American (March 2011) reports that experts identified typhoid fever as a possible source of the plague that killed off one-quarter of Athens' population in the 5th century BCE. Manolis Papagrigorakis, a University of Athens orthodontist who published the typhoid discovery in 2006, has assisted in restoring the skull of an 11-year-old girl found in a mass grave there. Your Compiler simply records the above for your interest, and makes no comment. MOUTHWASHES Australian Prescriber, which you, as a dentist, should receive free of charge, is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, and has a very extensive and authoritative Advisory Editorial Panel. So you should be confident that the reports therein can be relied upon. The December 2009 issue has an article on page 162 by C Farah, L McIntosh and M McCullough on mouthwashes. You may have seen TV advertisements promoting mouthwash use, and also read research reports on their desirability or otherwise, but the above article may give you more information to bring to the attention of your patients. Your Abstracter urges you to read it. The article's summary notes that a mouthwash may be recommended as an antimicrobial, a topical anti-inflammatory agent, a topical analgesic or for caries prevention. Before recommending a mouthwash, you should consider the patient's oral condition, disease risk and the efficacy and safety of the mouthwash. Mouthwashes are an adjunct to, not a substitute for, regular brushing and flossing. The article covers ten different active ingredients. You owe it to your patients to note the contraindications, especially for chlorhexidine (tooth staining), peroxidase (dental erosion, long-term) and alcohol (soft tissue damage). The problem, as seen by your Recorder, is that mouthwash use can easily become a habit, which is why the related TV advertisements are so frequent. Aftershave and under-arm deodorants are in the same category. We usually use them from habit, not from need, and the constant advertising of them make it very easy for the user to rationalise skimping their usual flossing, tooth-brushing and personal hygiene activities. THE NAME IS THE SAME Academics take special care that the scientific papers they submit for publication record, correctly, their name and contact details. Thus, when the journal Icarus, (Vol 126, p450) recorded the authors of 'On the revision of radiometric albedos and diameters of asteroids' as Alan W Harris and Alan W Harris, most readers assumed that the second Harris was a typo. This assumption was quickly dispelled when a footnote on page 1 stated: "Since the authors' contributions to this work were equal, the order listed is alphabetical". The footnote strained credulity by adding: "and yes, the middle names are both William". The first Alan worked at Berlin's Institute for Planetary Research and the second Alan retired recently from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena CA. They avoid confusion by using the terms 'Al the Younger' and 'Al the Elder'. You can well imagine the confusion when they attend the same conferences. Hotels automatically assume that the booking is duplicated. They can have a bit of fun when citing co-authored papers as 'Al et Al'. BISPHENOL A This organic chemical, also known as BPA, bears a resemblance to the sex hormone oestrogen, and animal studies have indicated that it might have an effect on growth and development in children. The US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) stated, in 2008, that BPA was safe, but later admitted that the statement was based on two studies sponsored by the American Plastics Council, one of which was not peer-reviewed, and the other of which was criticised by some as having 'flawed experimental design'. † New Dehli metallo-beta-lactamase.
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