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Bacteria in Brains Suggest Alzheimer’s-Gum Disease Link

Article from Bloomberg July 29, 2013

Bacteria linked to gum disease traveled to the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, suggesting that dental hygiene plays a role in the development of the memory-robbing illness, British researchers said.

Signs of the bacterium, known as Porphyromonas gingivalis, were found in four out of 10 samples of brain tissue from Alzheimer’s patients, while no signs of the bug were found in 10 brains from people of similar age who never developed dementia, according to the results of the study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The findings support a theory that bacteria in the mouth enter the bloodstream through chewing and cleaning the teeth and end up in other parts of the body including the brain, StJohn Crean, the lead researcher, said in a telephone interview. Over time, the chemicals produced by the bacteria could build up and contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s, according to the theory.

“The results are very encouraging,” said Crean, the dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Central Lancashire in England. “We’ve shown an association, not causation. It does nothing more than to prove that these bacteria do get to the brain.”

The study was paid for by the university, Crean said. He and his colleagues are seeking funding for additional research to explore the potential connection between the bacteria and the development of Alzheimer’s.

While brushing and flossing can also cause bacteria to enter the blood, it’s important to frequently and effectively clean the teeth to decrease the number of bacteria and cut the chance that they will travel outside the mouth, he said.

Bacterial Assault

“The issue is to reduce the bacterial load that occupies our gum tissues, to reduce the bacterial assault if and when it happens,” Crean said.

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia mostly affect older people, and the number afflicted by the conditions is growing worldwide as populations age. The World Health Organization predicted dementia cases would triple to 115 million in 2050 from 36 million worldwide in 2010. The exact cause of the illness is unknown.

About 30 percent of people have had or will have gum disease, Crean said. Previous studies have shown links between gum disease and other illnesses including heart disease and some forms of cancer.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kristen Hallam in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at

Empire State Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Recent Conference

Dr. Ira Handschuh acting with the other board members seen below at a sold out conference featuring Mr Steve Anderson one of cosmetic dentistry’s hottest lecturers. Over 200 doctors attended this conference that Dr. Handschuh was instrumental in organizing.The ESACD has become one of the most recognized and highly regarded cosmetic dental affiliate organizations in the country.

To view images larger click on the individual photos




Bleachorexia: When Teeth Are Never White Enough

Written by COURTNEY HUTCHISON, ABC News Medical Unit

The American obsession with dental hygiene has taken an ironic turn over the past decade. In an attempt to have the bright, white, healthy-looking smile of the stars, many consumers are bleaching their teeth into oblivion.

Dentists call this addiction to whitening “bleachorexia,” calling the overbleachers “bleach junkies.” Such patients abuse in-office and at home bleaching agents, leaving teeth eroded, prone to sensitivity and extremely unhealthy, despite their pearly white exteriors.

“The media has done a good job of making whitening sound innocuous, but it’s not,” says
Dr. Ira Handschuh, a White Plains, N.Y.
, dentist. Carbamide peroxide, the whitening agent in most bleaches, can irritate the gums, causing them to recede, making the teeth brittle, chalky and so thin as to be translucent at the edges when the product is overused.

Lyndsey Gurowitz, 28, has been bleaching her teeth for the past decade with a combination of professional bleaching trays tailor made for her teeth, at-home whitening kits and a few sessions at a “bleaching spa.”

“Whenever I thought my teeth weren’t up to par, I’d do another bleaching. I would use the product for the prescribed amount of time, but then they say to do it only once a month and I would just kind of do it whenever I was unhappy with the color,” says Gurowitz, who lives in New York.

“I think it’s a level of hygiene. I don’t want my teeth to look dirty, or like I don’t take care of them. I think I’m being realistic — I don’t want them to look like Chiclets,” she says.

After her dentist told her she was losing the enamel on her teeth, she was given a special, more gentle toothbrush and she started using special toothpaste for sensitive teeth, but she continues to bleach regularly. The bleaching trays, designed to fit snugly on her teeth, are now too large, possibly due to the wearing down of her teeth by the bleach, says Dr. Jennifer Jablow, Gurowitz’s dentist.

“For some people, their teeth are never white enough, so they’ll do anything to brighten,” says Jablow, who coined the term “bleachorexic” back in 2005. Ironically, beyond making teeth weak and prone to decay, overbleaching can actually strip away the protective enamel allowing the underbody of the teeth, which is naturally more yellow in color, to show through.

When someone is a bleaching junkie, you can spot it right away, says Dr. Irwin Smigel, founder and current president of the American Society for Dental Aesthetics. “It’s not everybody, but we see it often enough that it bothers me. Enamel doesn’t grow back. Sometimes we have to put crowns or veneers on when the teeth have become too damaged,” he says.

Bleaching in the Time of the Bard

Whitening strips and bleach trays may be an invention of the past 30 years, but techniques for teeth whitening go back centuries. In the 1100s, physicians would recommend scrubbing teeth with elecampane (a yellow flower) or a sage and salt mixture to make “them firm, white and healthy” or “clean, white, and sweet,” Trevor Anderson, an osteoarchaeologist, notes in a 2004 paper on medieval dentistry.

Later on, some would use acid washes in an attempt to strip away stains, but unfortunately, these rinses mostly stripped away all the enamel on the teeth, leaving them crumbling, says Dr. Scott Swank, curator of the National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore.

It wasn’t until the advent of Hollywood and Technicolor movies that there was widespread interest in whitening teeth, usually through whitening toothpastes, he says. Enter the 1980s and in-office bleaching treatments, and it only took off from there, Swank says.

“I think it’s followed the rise in plastic surgery and other elective cosmetic procedures throughout the 1990s. It’s a matter of what people are willing to put their income into.”

Bright White or Bust

Today, Americans spend more than a billion dollars a year just on over-the-counter teeth-whitening products, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. While bleaching can be done safely, especially under the guidance of a dentist, the advent of at-home bleaching kits and spa bleaching treatments have made it all too easy for bleaching junkies to double up or triple up on treatments at the expense of their dental health.

“Bleaching is very effective in moderation, and it’s safe in moderation,” says Dr. Jablow. “It’s when you’re bleaching all the time, beyond what is recommended — that’s when you run into problems.”

Dr Handschuh’s patient to have Bravo Network show

Congrat’s to my patient Jene Luciani who had more than 200 people (myself included!!!) come out for the event which celebrated the e – reader version of her book, THE BRA BOOK.

The party was filmed by bravo network for a new show that will air sometime this coming summer.

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Ira J. Handschuh, D.D.S.

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Dear Dr. Handschuh, It’s been 6 months since you gave me my new smile and what can I say… it’s amazing! People are stopping me everywhere I go, to comment on the brightness and whiteness of my smile. One acquaintance told me I had a Hollywood smile that belonged on the Red Carpet. And those … Read More

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