Friday, December 5, 2014

Dental Care Is a No-Brainer

Oral hygiene is something we should all be practicing daily, especially those living with Hepatitis C and HIV. I can't express how important it is to stay up-to-date on your dental appointments and cleanings. Digestion starts in the mouth, and if your mouth isn't healthy, then your digestive tract will suffer as well.

Those living with Hepatitis C and/or HIV can develop multiple oral hygiene related issues stemming from improper dental care. Issues ranging from mouth ulcers to the gum disease gingivitis, an irritation and inflammation of the gum line are prominant. People living with Hepatitis C are prone to tooth decay, suffer loss of self-esteem due to poor oral aesthetics and have difficulty with diet due to poor oral health, all leading to a compromised quality of life. An effective preventive care program for a patient diagnosed with HCV is critical and should be an important goal for the dental practitioner.

Follow these simple steps to make your teeth and gums healthy. Even earlier stages of tooth decay can be reversed.
  • Gently brush your teeth twice daily using a soft bristled tooth brush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride tooth paste. If your gums bleed when you brush, that's not a bad thing! The more you brush, the healthier your gums will become. 
  • Spit the tooth paste out, but don't rinse. 
  • Gently clean between your teeth with dental floss and/or an interdental brush, your dentist can show you how. 
  • Limit your intake of sugar foods and sodas. 
  • Chew sugar-fee gum, it stimulates saliva production and neutralizes acids in your mouth.
  • Use Fluoride gels. Your dentist may recommend you applying small amounts to your teeth using a toothbrush or dental tray, your dentist can further assist you. 
One tip I have just for you, and this is just from my own personal experience in tooth pastes; my dentist recommended me switch to a specialty toothpaste called Pronamel by Sensodyne. About 6 years ago I visited the dentist here in Orlando, FL - and after understanding my health conditions, he recommended this one product to me. I'm not a big fan of product placement in private blogs, but if helps my community of "Dragon Slayers," then I'm going to blog about it. I've been on ProNamel for about 6 years now, and it's radically increased the health of my gums and teeth. Before, living with Hepatitis C caused many random mouth irritations and often times, mouth ulcers, which I frequently got.

I didn't notice much change overnight, but gradually, a year later, my mouth ulcers vanished completely and my teeth were actually becoming healthier. Something I didn't think was possible living with Hepatitis C. 

My dentist and I advised a cleaning schedule for me every 6 months with dental X-rays. Being that tooth decay is prominent in patients with Hepatitis C and HIV, I want to do everything I can to prevent that. 

One last note, I'm on state funded disability (SSI), which only covers emergency dental procedures. This means in order to get the care I need, I must purchase my own dental plan for the cleaning and X-rays required. I've always had crooked teeth, but never been able to afford to have my teeth straightened properly. My Dentist recommended Invisalign since I was a hemophiliac, but sadly on my budget, I've never been able to have the perfect smile, but that doesn't detour me from taking care of my teeth. I may never have the perfect smile, but at least I'll have healthy teeth regardless! 

If anyone has any assistance on other ways to get Invisalign care discounted, I'd love to know about it. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hemophilia Gene Therapy Study Offers Hope

It has now been three years since a group of patients with severe hemophilia B, or factor IX (FIX) deficiency, in London received a single dose of gene therapy as part of a new clinical trial. Early results of the trial were positive as these patients began to generate FIX levels ranging from 1%-6%. Prior to the study, they produced little to none of the crucial clotting factor protein.

This seemingly modest boost in FIX “expression” is important. The increase in FIX essentially transforms a patient symptomatically, from severe to mild, with the end result a significant, even dramatic, reduction in bleeds. Results described in a new article indicate that the initial breakthrough results have been sustained during the three years since the study began in 2011.

The report, “Long-Term Safety and Efficacy of Factor IX Gene Therapy in Hemophilia B,” was published in the November 20, 2014, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. The lead author of the update was Andrew Davidoff, MD, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. Davidoff has collaborated for more than a decade with a strong team of researchers, including coauthor Amit Nathwani, MD, PhD, at the University College London. “I believe that, scientifically, this is ready for prime time,” said Davidoff.

The gene therapy trial employed an adeno-associated virus serotype 8 (AAV8), a small virus that does not cause disease and produces mild immune responses, as a vector (delivery vehicles) to introduce a functioning FIX gene into the liver cells of subjects with severe hemophilia B. The goal of the trial was to trigger viable, long-term FIX protein production through a single administration of the therapy.

Overall, 10 subjects with severe hemophilia B participated in the study, six of whom received high doses of AAV8 and reached average FIX levels of 5.1%. According to investigators, this “resulted in a reduction of more than 90% in both bleeding episodes and the use of prophylactic factor IX concentrate.” Also, no toxic effects were reported.

“I think it’s going to have a big impact. The study showed both safety and efficacy, and the side effects were minimal,” said Timothy Nichols, MD, who heads the Francis Owen Blood Research Laboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was not involved in the study. “This is a single shot of medicine given to patients who are treating themselves two or three times a week,” he told Reuters Health over the phone. “Suddenly, they don't have to take the medicine anymore.”

If this breakthrough therapy exists in Factor IX patients with Hemophilia B, it shines light on the possible future for all of those living with the clotting disorder. Just imagine a world free of Hemophilia, HIV and Hepatitis C; according to modern science, we no longer have to imagine but wait.

Source: Reuters, November 19, 2014