Archive | April, 2015

Daily Dental Tip: Natural Teeth-Whitening Remedy

30 Apr

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Gargle with apple cider vinegar. Do this in the morning and then brush as usual. The vinegar helps help remove stains, whiten teeth, and kill bacteria in your mouth and gums.


Symposium focuses on improving oral health for people across Washington (via @dentistryiq)

30 Apr

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Recognizing that good oral health is essential to healthy living and wellness, more than 100 leaders from a variety of health sectors gathered Tuesday to discuss improving oral health in Washington state.

The health of our teeth and gums can impact the rest of the body. Studies have shown that poor oral health in adults can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Tooth decay can affect a child’s development, speech, and ability to succeed in school. There is growing momentum to focus more attention on oral health because it is an easy way to help keep people healthier.

“We’re learning more, all of the time, about the benefits of a healthy mouth for overall health. That is why preventing oral disease is an emerging priority,” said Keith Grellner, chair of the State Board of Health. “It’s important for doctors, dentists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to work together to ensure healthcare includes attention to oral health. Good oral health improves overall health and saves money.”

After conferring with national experts and reviewing reams of scientific evidence, the Washington State Board of Health (SBOH) adopted seven strategies to improve oral health and prevent cavities. For example, the SBOH recommends that more communities consider community water fluoridation and school-based oral health sealant programs. This is the first time the Board of Health has adopted specific recommendations to improve oral health.

Dr. Bob Crittenden, senior health policy advisor for Governor Jay Inslee, spoke at Tuesday’s event, along with Beth Truett, president and CEO of Oral Health America, a national organization that promotes greater oral health care access, education, and advocacy. Healthcare professionals, policymakers, and advocates discussed ways to implement the SBOH’s recommendations. Promoting greater access to oral health care and proven preventive measures that can lead to fewer cavities, improve health, and lower healthcare costs were themes of the day-long event.

“It’s time to stop separating the mouth from the rest of the body,” said Dr. Bob Crittenden. “Physicians should no longer ignore the teeth and gums to look at the tonsils. If we want to keep people healthy, oral health needs to be addressed. These recommendations are an important step forward to raise awareness that you’re not healthy without a healthy mouth.”

Water fluoridation was a key topic at the Symposium because it is one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent tooth decay. Tooth decay is also expensive to treat. One filling in a single tooth can cost about $2,000 in treatment and maintenance over a lifetime, according to studies.

“For 70 years, water fluoridation has been effectively preventing dental disease,” said Jim Sledge, a dentist and member of the State Board of Health. “More than 200 million Americans drink water with fluoride every day to strengthen teeth. It is time to ensure more people in our state receive the health benefits and cost savings of fluoride.”

“Oral health is critical to overall health. Yet tooth decay and gum disease remain among the most common — and easily preventable — diseases in the US,” said Beth Truett, of Oral Health America. “It is not only a disease of the young, but it affects older adults as well. Healthy aging requires us to recognize that prevention is necessary at all stages of life.”

Tooth decay is the top childhood chronic disease in Washington and in the US. Nearly 20% of children, age 2-19, have untreated cavities, and more than 90% of adults, age 20-64, are reported to have had at least one cavity in their permanent teeth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gum (periodontal) disease has been linked to serious health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and pregnancy complications. Tooth decay is the top chronic childhood disease and a leading cause of absenteeism for school-aged children. It can also have serious impacts on speech development and school readiness. For adults, cavities can be expensive to treat and affect work productivity and quality of life.

The Seattle event was the first of two symposia sponsored by the Washington State Board of Health and the Washington Dental Service Foundation to discuss oral health. The other symposium, in Spokane on April 30, is also sponsored by Empire Health Foundation.


Daily Dental Tip: Your Alternative to Soda

30 Apr


Fizz is fun but also part of the reason soda is so bad for your teeth. Two ingredients — phosphoric acid and citric acid — give soda its “bite” but also eat away at the surface of your teeth. Although the occasional soda won’t hurt, a can or more a day makes your tooth enamel softer and more susceptible to cavities. Switch to water instead, adding flavor with sliced citrus or crushed berries or mint leaves.

#UMass projects aim to provide oral health care for special needs individuals (via @telegramdotcom)

30 Apr


There’s nothing about children and adults with special needs that excludes them from needing a cavity filled or a tooth pulled, but not that long ago, any dental problem would mean a trip to a Boston hospital where they would be anesthetized so a dentist could do his job without having to work with patients who might be less than compliant.

That scenario has changed somewhat, with more dentists in general practice welcoming those with special needs, but those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, autism or autism spectrum — for example, Asperger’s syndrome — still may have difficulty finding a dentist who is willing to take them on as patients.

“It’s a population that is better served now than before, as far as children go, but there’s a big drop-off in finding dentists for adults,” said Richard K. Fleming, adjunct associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and associate professor of exercise and health sciences at UMass Boston.

With the single goal of opening up access to dentistry for individuals with special needs, two different projects are well underway at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, part of the UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division.

A two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health has enabled the Shriver Center, in partnership with Praxis, Inc., an educational technology company, and the Department of Exercise and Health Sciences at UMass Boston to develop two online courses for dentists, dental hygienists and students in those fields to make them more aware of the special needs population, the situations that might arise and how to adjust their techniques to make the visit go smoother for everyone.

The Shriver Center has also received a three-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disability to fund a project to identify the techniques most effective for improving the oral health of individuals with special needs.

With the NIH funds, the two-hour online courses — think video documentaries — have been developed that include advice from three main groups, according to Melissa Maslin, co-manager for the dentistry video project.

“We have dentists and dental hygienists who have expertise in treating patients with disabilities, a couple of patients with intellectual or development disabilities and a couple who have autism or autism spectrum disorders, and then their caregivers who, in this video are parents.”

According to Maslin, the message the videos are trying to convey is that “a lot of these patients can be seen by general practice dentists, as long as they (the professionals) know some of the modifications they need to make.”

Starting shortly, some 120 dentists, dental hygienists and students from all over the country will view the two online courses, according to Fleming. “We wanted to test this, not with people who have great experience with special-care dentistry, but those who don’t,” said Fleming.

“We wanted people to whom this would be new to,” said Fleming, “so we can ask how much they learned about this population, whether their attitudes about treating this population in the future have changed and whether their perceived competence to do that has changed.”

One of the two-hour online courses focuses on treating patients with autism and autism spectrum disorder, who have problems with sensory stimuli, according to Helen Hendrickson, co-author with Fleming of the NIH grant application.

“Of course, a dental office for anybody is kind of a sensory overload,” said Hendrickson. “However, for an autistic individual, having a bright light shone in their eyes, hearing the buzz of the drill, tasting dental paste, having tools thrust into their mouth: all can be overwhelming,” explained Hendrickson, co-manager for the dentistry video project.

Some strategies for working with these individuals can include angling or dimming the lights or having the patient put on a pair of sunglasses. There’s professional toothpaste or polish with no taste to it. And some of the problems with dental tools can be resolved by showing patients the tools beforehand and explaining how they are going to be used.

The second of the two-hour online courses focuses on those with intellectual disabilities who may have difficulty understanding what is happening around them, who may have difficulty following directions, who tire easily.

Dentists can give patients more concise instructions, show patients how a procedure will be done in order to reduce their anxiety, learn how to recognize signs that the patient cannot tolerate the procedure much longer, and take breaks or break a visit into two or even three appointments.

Once the videos are ready, they will be made available to practicing dentists and dental hygienists, who can use them to earn continuing education credits. The videos will also be offered to schools of dentistry and dental hygiene, giving them the opportunity to add them to their curriculum, according to Hendrickson.

Most of the available information on the dental problems of those with special needs comes from health checks individuals have to undergo before they are OK’d to compete in the Special Olympics, according to Alexandra Bonardi, clinical assistant professor in UMass Medical School’s Family Medicine and Community Health.

“That screening may be the first time a dentist has looked inside their mouth,” said Bonardi.

While those with special needs have a high rate of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss, sometimes the dental problems can be much worse, even life-threatening, according to Bonardi, who is the former director of the Center for Developmental Disabilities Evaluation and Research at the Shriver Center.

“The screening has identified really, really serious oral health conditions,” said Bonardi, who recalled a young Special Olympics competitor whose dental exam exposed a badly inflamed abscess, the infection from which could have spread to the jaw bone and beyond. Instead of taking the playing field, the young man was taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital for treatment.

While much anecdotal evidence supports the need for better access to oral health care, there also have been numerous articles written on that topic as well as oral health issues, according to Bonardi, who has been working on the CDC project on Oral Health Surveillance/Disparities.

Dentists, hygienists and physicians have systematically reviewed more than 4,000 articles, looking for evidence of good oral health practices for people with special needs. In doing so, the researchers have now pared down to about 125 evidence-based articles that are undergoing a final review, according to Christine Clifford, research director for the Oral Health Surveillance/Disparities project.

Because of the somewhat overwhelming workload, Clifford said articles had to be broken down into four categories: prevention strategies, education and behavioral interventions, access, and when and how to use sedation. The latter may be the only answer if all else has failed.

The final result of the Oral Health Disparities project will be a tool that can be useful, not only to academicians, but to community groups servicing those with special needs, according to Clifford.


Daily Dental Tip: Advice for Toddlers & Elders!

28 Apr


Toddlers and older adults tend to fly under the dental health radar, but they need mouth maintenance just like the rest of us. Children should see a dentist by the time they’re 1, and until they are coordinated enough to tie their own shoes they’ll need help cleaning their teeth. Older folks have their own oral issues. Arthritis can make brushing and flossing challenging, and as people age, the amount of saliva they produce decreases, which means more tooth decay and also discomfort for those who wear dentures.

#Oregon: Oral Health Fair raises oral cancer awareness (via @KPICNews1)

28 Apr


ROSEBURG, Ore. — Residents had an opportunity to access free oral cancer screenings at the Community Cancer Center in Roseburg.

It was the very first Oral Health Fair, an event hosted by the Douglas County Oral Health Action Group.

The event caters to both children and adults.

Studies show a strong link between the health of your mouth and the rest of your organs, and dentists say there’s also a high rate of tobacco use in Douglas County — a primary risk factor for oral cancer.

That’s why this fair is raising awareness.

“Oral cancer is often not a cancer that is spoken of,” said organizer Alexis Atchison, D.D.S. “It’s a very debilitating cancer; it’s a very disfiguring treatment. People don’t want to talk about it – they’re very quiet about it and we want to bring it to people’s attention.”

Many symptoms of oral cancer are painless and go unchecked, which is why experts say routine oral screenings and patient education are vital to better health.


Daily Dental Tip: Self-cleaning foods

28 Apr


There are some foods that are firm or crisp and help clean teeth as they’re eaten. Some choices include apples, raw carrots, celery, and popcorn. For best results, make these types of foods the final food you eat in your meal if you know you won’t be able to brush your teeth right after eating.