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					                                                         Today Tuesday June 21, 2011    T 10                                                                                                                                                              Today Tuesday June 21, 2011    T 11


     HealtH                                                                                                                                                                        HealtH
Words of                    Eveline Gan
                            eveline@mediacorp.com.sg
                                                                         any wiser since my wisdom teeth intruded
                                                                         into my oral cavity at 21. Rather, they’ve
                                                                         been a constant source of discomfort,
                                                                                                                             Dr Leong added: “Occasionally, when
                                                                                                                        you lose the lower molar, the upper one
                                                                                                                        shifts down, creating an uneven biting
                                                                                                                                                                           An apple a day
wisdom                                                                                                                                                                     ... really does keep the
                            WHILE various cultures mark the coming       stress and swollen gums.                       surface and more food traps.”                                                                      known as atrophy.                                                            The study,
                            of age differently, there is one universal        Like more than 80 per cent of people                                                         doctor away, say scientists                          “The old saying                                                   published in
                            indicator of maturity — our wisdom teeth.    around the world, I have one particularly      WHEN TO GET RID OF IT                                                                              goes that ‘an apple a                                                 the latest issue
                                 Wisdom teeth, the molars furthest       bothersome lower impacted wisdom               While he does not advocate that every              RESEARCHERS have discovered that                day keeps the doctor                                                of the journal Cell
Is it always wise to keep   back in the mouth, usually come in any       tooth which has failed to fully emerge.        wisdom tooth be removed, especially for            ursolic acid — a substance found in the         away’,” he said.                                                   Metabolism, showed
your wisdom teeth?          time between the ages of 17 to 30 years.          Instead of erupting vertically like all   those which are deeply buried in the jaw           fruit’s peel — has natural body building             “Muscle atrophy                                              that ursolic acid reduced
                                 Unfortunately for me, I haven’t felt    good, obedient teeth ought to, it is tilted    bone, Dr Leong said the wisest thing to            qualities and could help people keep a          causes big problems. It’s                                        muscle wasting in mice.
                                                                         forward at an angle that impacts against       do when a wisdom tooth starts causing              toned, slender body.                            also very common — it                                               They believe the
                                                                         my second molar.                               problems is to get rid of it.                           It could even help with diabetes.          affects most people at                                        substance works by
                                                                              According to Dr Leong Hon Chiew, a             Extraction of an impacted wisdom                   In experiments, they discovered that it    some point in their lives, during                       reprogramming genes that cause
                                                                         dental surgeon who runs his own practice,      tooth typically involves a minor surgery.          boosts muscle growth by up to 15 per cent       illness or ageing. But, there’s no medicine   muscle wasting and fat build up.
                                                                         Dr H C Leong Dental Surgeon LLP, it is a       Dr Leong described the process —                   and reduces body fat by more than half.         for it.                                           “Interestingly, although ursolic acid
                                                                         common situation and unfortunately, also       following an x-ray to determine the                     It also has health giving properties —          “We studied muscle gene activity         increased muscle weight in mice, it did not
                                                                         the most problematic.                          position of the tooth, a cut is made on            reducing blood sugar levels, cholesterol        in people with atrophy and used that          increase total body weight, and further
                                                                              The hard-to-reach space between the       the gums. The tooth is trimmed and cut             and harmful fatty acids, according to the       information to find chemicals that might      investigation showed that mice fed ursolic
                                                                         impacted wisdom tooth and the molar            into two to four pieces and taken out              new study.                                      block atrophy.                                acid had less body fat than mice that were
                                                                         next to it becomes a “food trap” and           separately to prevent damage to the bone                Dr Christopher Adams, the study                 “One of those chemicals was              not fed the compound,” he said.
                                                                         a breeding ground for rotting crumbs           and surrounding tissues.                           leader at the University of Iowa, said the      especially interesting. It’s called ursolic       Now they plan to try it on humans to
                                                                         leftover from lunch. This explains why              Risks of the procedure include post-          substance could be especially useful in the     acid and it’s particularly concentrated in    see if it has the same effect.
                                                                         swollen, inflamed gums are so common in        surgical bleeding, bruising or damage to the       elderly who naturally lose body muscle,         apple peels.”                                 THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
                                                                         such cases, said Dr Leong.                     inferior dental nerve, which is sometimes
                                                                              “When you start getting recurrent         located near the roots of a wisdom tooth.
                                                                         gum infections, it is an early warning sign         “The earlier you get rid of it, the           HEALTH LISTINGS
                                                                         that something wrong is going on around        better,” said Dr Leong, although he agreed
                                                                         your wisdom tooth area,” he said.              it this advice is often dismissed by patients.
                                                                              The worst case scenario, he warned,            He said his patients who remove their
                                                                         is that the wisdom tooth and the molar in      impacted wisdom teeth in their teens to
                                                                         front of it (the second molar)                      early 20s almost never have problems
                                                                         get so decayed, you end up                             with their adjacent molar.
                                                                         losing two teeth.                                             “More than 50 per cent of
                                                                              The trouble with                                      those in their mid to late 30s will
                                                                         losing your second                                          come in with a lot of pain and
                                                                         molar, he added, is                                         often, it is from their second
                                                                         that you lose 15 per                                        molar,” he said.
                                                                         cent of your biting                                              Wendy Khoo, 39, who finally
                                                                         surface. That means                                        decided to bid her impacted
                                                                         that crispy piece of                                     wisdom tooth farewell last year,
                                                                         fried chicken                                           wondered why she had put up with
                                                                         will be awfully                                       recurrent gum infections for almost
                                                                         harder to                                          a decade.
                                                                         chew on.                                              “I feared the extraction so much that       WATcH YOuR STEP                                 PRAcTIcAL MANAGEMENT
                                                                                                                        I put up with on-and-off pain for so long.         Organised by Tan Tock Seng Hospital, this       OF ATOPIc EczEMA
                                                                                                                            But if you think about it, what’s half         includes an exhibition and activity booths      Atopic eczema is a common condition
                                                                                                                                      an hour of surgery compared          to raise awareness of falls prevention          in Singapore. Learn what causes and
                                                                                                                                         to 10 years of discomfort?        among the elderly.There will also be a “Falls   worsens this itchy skin condition, and the
                                                                                                                                          Without my wisdom tooth,         and Vision” talk, exercise demostrations,       treatment options available.
                                                                                                                                           I feel so much better now,”     free eye screening and balance test.
                                                                                                                                           she said.                                                                       Date: June 25
                                                                                                                                                  Indeed, those are wise   Date: June 25                                   Time: 2pm to 4pm
                                                                                                                                            words I should heed.           Time: 10am to 3pm                               Venue: Singapore General Hospital,
                                                                                                                                                                           Venue: Teck Ghee Community Club,                Block 6 Level 1, Postgraduate Medical
                                                                                                                                                                           Multi-purpose Hall (Level 1)                    Institute, Rooms 3 and 4
                                                                                                                                                                           Fee/Registration: Free. For more details,       Fee/Registration: S$5.
                                                                                                                                                                           visit www.ttsh.com.sg or call 6357 3265.        Call 6326 5248 to register.

				
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