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Measuring Immunity at Dental Schools

April 23rd, 2021

By Diane Peters

In the early days of the pandemic, many thought that dental offices and dental schools could be a risky healthcare environment that would lead to infections among dental professionals, student dentists, dentistry instructors and patients.

“It didn’t turn out that way,” says professor Michael Glogauer 9T3, 9T9 Dip Perio, 9T9 PhD, who is also dentist-in-chief at the University Health Network. “Dentistry has a rich history of understanding infectious disease.”

To seek evidence-based information around what is really happening in dental education, Faculty of Dentistry researchers are taking part in a national study involving all 10 Canadian dental schools. The study, which began recruitment recently, will assess the blood and saliva on a monthly basis of a subset of 800 people in dental education to tracktheir immune response to COVID-19 — and as a result of vaccine doses — over a year.

“We’re trying to figure out what COVID-19 infection risk means and what vaccination does, all in the context of Canadian dental schools,” says associate professor Carlos Quiñonez 0T9 PhD, who is also graduate program director of Dental Public Health for the Faculty.

The Faculty’s role
Glogauer and Quiñonez serve as co-leads on the U of T portion of the study, which will include 40 students and 40 faculty,instructors and staff. 

They’ll also be coordinating the processes of samples for five of the 10 schools. Glogauer’s lab will be doing the saliva analysis while U of T immunology professor Jennifer Gommerman and assistant professor Olga Rojas will do the blood analysis in their labs.

“We’ll be able to look at the blood and saliva levels of antibodies in addition to monitoring their risk and their development of COVID,” says Glogauer of participants in the study. Because of the prevalence of asymptomatic disease, only measuring biological markers can clarify the true extent of infection rates in the dental education community.

McGill takes the lead
The study is led by professor Paul Allison and assistant professor Sreenath Madathil of McGill University. They were awarded $1.4 million in February from the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, which was established in April 2020 by the federal government to understand infection rates and immunity to the virus.

“I want to try and document what’s going on for our schools,” says Allison. “I want to help the profession understand what’s going on.”

Including undergraduate and graduate students, instructors, faculty and staff gives the study a wide age range and also a risk range — some graduate students and staff members don’t interact regularly with patients and may work remotely — to get a broader sense of what’s happened at dental schools.

Meanwhile, the vaccination status ofthis group across the country will be wide-ranging, with some entering the study after having two shots while many won’t have theirs for a few months. Tracking their immune responses, especially if there’s a gap between vaccine doses, will yield useful information that could have an impact beyond the dental community.

Why immunity matters
The overall end goal will be to better inform regulations for dentistry in the future, should we face another public health crisis. “We’ll have a sightline on what’s happening in schools in terms of infection risk. It’s really important,” says Quiñonez.

Along with informing public health guidance, the study can help better understand the role of saliva testing for immunity. “What we want to test is, can you get as good information or good enough information from saliva? Which is obviously much easier and much cheaper,” says Allison.

McGill and U of T Dentistry are also working together on other studies funded by the task force related to immunity across different sectors of the dental community.


February 18th, 2021

By Lucy Walker RDH, CDA Contributing writer for  Dr. Bicuspid

  1. Sugar Is Not the Only Culprit for Tooth Decay

Sugar consumption is a well-known factor that affects oral and systemic health.  Patients need to understand the different types of sugars and the importance of how sugar affects them systemically.

It is important to remember that tooth decay depends on more than just the frequency of sugar consumption. Medical conditions, radiology treatments, and medication-induced xerostomia can all affect the development of carious lesions.

  1. Xylitol Has Some Sweet Oral Health Effects

Sugar alcohols, also known as polyols, are commonly referred to as sugar substitutes. Xylitol one of many sugar substitutes, commonly added to processed foods labeled as "sugar-free" or "no sugar added" is also naturally found in fruits and vegetables. It is similar to table sugar but  only two calories per teaspoon, unlike sucrose, which has 16 calories per teaspoon.

The sugar substitute also has antimicrobial activity which can reduce numerous types of infections including SARS COV-2 according to an article published in November 2020:  Potential Role of Xylitol Plus Grapefruit Seed Extract Nasal Spray Solution in COVID-19:

While promising, xylitol has its drawbacks. Overconsumption of this sugar alcohol can cause gastrointestinal discomfort in some individuals.

  1. Sugar Can Contribute to Some Diseases

Sugar is linked to numerous chronic diseases, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and could all cause insulin resistance, a risk factor for periodontal disease and key factor in diabetes.

  1. Sugar Can Help (And Hurt) Your Skin

Overconsumption of sugar can cause skin problems, such as acne and accelerated aging.  When too much sugar enters the bloodstream and binds to proteins to form molecules, it will ultimately cause fibers in the skin to weaken resulting in wrinkles.

Although sugar has a negative reputation in sweet treats, it can be an excellent ingredient in skin-care and other hygiene products since it is a  natural humectant which is commonly added to shampoos and lotions to help draw in moisture for hydration. Humectants can even be found in toothpaste to help retain water.

Please click here to read the entire article of Lucy Walker RDH CDA from  to Dr. Bicuspid

Do Germs Live on Your Toothbrush?

February 11th, 2021

Do you Know what Germs live on your Patients' Toothbrush?

By Melissa Busch from Dr. Bicuspid

What's on your toothbrush? Mostly just bacteria from your mouth, according to a study published on January 31 in Microbiome. The types of bacteria living on toothbrushes reflect microbes commonly found in the oral cavity and on the skin -- and not in the surrounding environment.

Toothbrushes used by those who kept up with their daily oral hygiene habits had less-diverse bacteria on their surfaces.  Most of the microbes found on the bristles of toothbrushes likely came from the users' mouths instead of from their guts. The brushes were also mostly free of bacteria from other environmental factors, such as dust or germ-containing aerosols generated by flushing a toilet with the lid up.

Additionally, better oral hygiene, regular flossing, and mouthwash use were associated with toothbrushes that had less-diverse microbial communities. What's the conclusion? A cleaner mouth equals a cleaner toothbrush.

Please click here for the entire article:

Nutrition and Genetics Working Together to Fight Covid-19

February 2nd, 2021

In general, the health of an individual and a population is the result of interaction between genetics and various environmental factors, of which diet/nutrition is the most important.

Human beings evolved on a diet that was balanced in the n-6 and n-3 essential fatty acids with a ratio of n-6/n-3 of 1-2/1 whereas today this ratio is 16/1. These high amounts of n-6 fatty acids leads to a prothrombotic and proinflammatory state associated with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer and increases inflammation.

Poor Diet is one of the leading contributing factors for death in the US and worldwide [1]. Unhealthy diets, characterized by over consumption of ultra-processed foods with a n-6 polyunsaturated ratio are associated with increased weight gain processed foods, and sugary drinks that increase the risk of obesity, type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease [2].

Research has proven that populations differ in their genetic variants and their frequencies in their interactions with the food they eat, for example groups of people with that have fast metabolisms combined with high n-6 intake may increase their inflammatory status which could potentially increase their  susceptibility of SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The Need for Precision Nutrition is a very important area of study that provides specific dietary advice for individuals and subgroups within a population to prevent disease and keep us healthy.

Please read the entire article of

The Need for Precision Nutrition, Genetic Variation & Resolution in Covid-19 Patients


Artemis P.SimopoulosM.D.1Charles N.SerhanPh.D., DSc.2Richard P.BazinetPh.D.3

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