All posts by Katie Devereaux

About Katie Devereaux

Katie Devereaux is a writer and editor, who graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism. She has written for several publications in Florida, Alaska and Illinois.

Protecting Your Mouth During Summer Fun

Most people place an emphasis on protecting their skin in those sunny, summer months, but have you ever thought about protecting your teeth?

In it’s blog “Little known facts about teeth and summer,” Midwest Dental outlines five things associated with summer that could harm your mouth.

Swimming in pools

According to the Guardian Direct, frequent swimmers could develop swimmer’s calculus, a condition that causes discolored front teeth. Because pools have a high pH level, the water can cause brown stains and prevent saliva from doing its job in cleansing the mouth. Poor enamel health is common in competitive swimmers because of prolonged exposure to chlorine.

To protect your teeth from this condition, dental benefits company Delta Dental recommends keeping up with your twice-a-year check ups, rinse your mouth with tap water after you swim, and get sufficient fluoride to strengthen your enamel by fluoridated tap water and brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day.

Staying hydrated

You’re more likely to get dehydrated when doing outdoor activities in the summer. When you’re dehydrated, saliva production decreases, which can affect oral health.

Saliva is your mouth’s first defense against tooth decay. It helps to wash away and keeps your teeth strong by washing them with calcium, phosphate and fluoride. By drinking enough water, you help prevent dry mouth and ensure that your saliva is produced at an optimal rate.

The bacteria-fighting saliva also protects agains gingivitis.

Mouth guards

Summer is the time for outdoor sports, and with outdoor sports comes the potential for injury. While most people think about injuries as being broken bones, scrapes and bruises, they often forget about injuries to the mouth.

Midewest Dental recommends protecting teeth, cheeks, gums and lips with a low-cost mouth guard when playing sports.

“It could save you from a knocked out or chipped tooth, and it will prevent you from grinding your teeth during the big game,” reads the blog.

Sunscreen

You can’t sunburn your teeth, but you can get a sunburn on your lips.

Midwest Dental writes that the lies might be the most susceptible body part to sunburn because most people don’t think about them when planning their protection from the sun.

“It’s important to not rely on regular sunscreen to protect your lips,” the blog reads. “Choose a lip balm with a minimum of SPF 15. It is designed for your lips, and it will stick better.”

And just like with sunscreen, it’s recommended that you reapply it every couple hours.

Spring Cleaning for Your Practice

April showers bring may flowers. And what do may flowers bring?

Spring cleaning!

Even though spring officially started on March 20, it’s not too late to make sure your dentistry is in tip top shape..

According to “How to Spring Clean Your Medical Practice” from The Pulse, Gittleson Zuppas Medical Reality blog, practices should take this time to prepare for the busy appointment season ahead.

“Making sure that your medical practice is clean, tidy, and organized not only presents a professional and reassuring appearance for your patients, it also helps to keep your staff productive and on task,” reads the blog.

To help with the task at hand, GZ Reality offers these tips:

Look at your practice through the lens of your patients

First things first: Try to see your practice through the lens of a patient. “If they see dirt or trash lying around, walls in need of a touchup coat of paint, or even a chair that may be on its last leg, a significant impression is made- whether they’ve been to your practice a gazillion times or they are walking in for the first visit,” reads the blog.

Some questions the real estate company recommends asking yourself when taking stock of your office are:

  • Would they see a space that is clean and organized?
  • Would they see a space that is welcoming?
  • Would they see unsightly garbage or clutter in view?
  • Would they see dirty or scuffed walls?
  • Would they see broken or badly banged up furniture?
  • Would they see carpet in need of a shampoo?

Perceptions matter when it comes to medical practices, and patients should always see yours as professional and thriving. Make a list of the most visible and urgent things to do and prioritize them in terms of importance. When those tasks are complete, you can move on to the less visible items.

Start from the top

Once you’ve determined the needs that are the most pressing and you’ve addressed issues like repainting or conducting minor cosmetic repairs, GZ Reality suggests employing the top-down strategy—start from the ceiling and work your way down.

This includes getting rid of cobwebs in the high corners, dusting ceiling fans and the tops of any window blinds or fixtures, cleaning the tops of shelving or storage areas, etc. These should all be done first. Dirt will trickle down, so by starting from the top, you can ensure that you don’t miss anything.

“Even if you have a cleaning crew that does a regular clean of common areas, you’ll still want to make sure that you’re tackling the places that are hard to reach or that may get missed, such as faux plants, photo frames, lampshades and baseboards,” reads the blog.

Get your staff involved

The more people working on them, the easier these jobs are. Ask your employees to spend a day helping out. You can offer them over time and treat them with lunch or dinner while you all work. This will also help them to feel accountable for and invested in their workplace.

“You can also ask your staff to make sure that their own personal space is clean and organized. Make a checklist of all the things you would like to see done, and then divvy it up between everyone and get to work,” the blog reads.

Ideas of spring cleaning tasks

  • Go through the junk drawer, or in some cases, the junk storage cabinet (everyone has one).
  • Go through any medications on site, and discard those past the expiration date.
  • Get rid of old medical supplies that are never used or have been broken.
  • Get rid of paper clutter, and file everything away properly.
  • Get rid of old business cards and papers with old logos.
  • Get rid of out-dated mail, magazines, and anything that is not pertinent to the practice today.
  • Clear digital clutter from computers… such as old files that are no longer necessary or temporary files. Also, be conscious to place important information into properly labeled folders.

“Remember that first impressions matter to your patients, and organization matters to the productivity of your staff. Take some time to give your medical practice a healthy spring clean, and greet the new season ready to take your business up a notch,” the blog reads

Hepatitis A Cases on the Rise

Fatal outbreaks of Hepatitis A are affecting several pockets of the country.

In the last month, news stations in Tennessee, Florida, New Hampshire, Alabama and Kentucky have reported on the effects the virus is having on their states.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention defines Hepatitis A as a vaccine-preventable, communicable disease of the liver that is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water.

The CDC website states that while most children less than 6 years old with Hepatitis A do not have symptoms, adults with hepatitis A have symptoms that include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice.

Hepatitis and the dental profession

According to a National Center for Biotechnology Information article”Hepatitis– Prevention and management in dental practice” by Parveen Dahiya, Reet Kamal, Varun Sharma and Saravpreet Kaurdentists, dentists are among the high-risk groups for hepatitis, as the virus is transferred via saliva.

“A dentist can play a major role in the prevention of hepatitis by considering each and every patient as a potential carrier of hepatitis. Proper infection control, sterilization, and prophylactic vaccination protocols should be followed in order to reduce the risk of hepatitis,” reads the article.

To decrease the burden of hepatitis in dental health care workers, the group recommends that dental professionals receive immunizations against the hepatitis viruses and should also use individual protective equipments such as gloves, head caps, masks, etc.

Exposures that might put a dental professional at risk are:

  • Percutaneous injuries (needlestick or cut with a sharp object)
  • Contact with potentially infectious blood, tissues, or other body fluids
  • Mucus membranes of the eye, nose, or mouth or non-intact skin (exposed skin that is chapped, abraded, or afflicted with dermatitis).

Below is a list of guidelines created by the authors for determining treatment options for patients with a current or past hepatitis virus:

  • No dental treatment other than urgent care should be rendered for a patient with acute viral hepatitis.
  • Hepatitis B is of primary concern to the dentist. Individuals still carry the virus up to three months after the symptoms have disappeared, so any patient with a recent history of hepatitis B should be treated for dental emergency problems only.
  • For patients with a past history of hepatitis, consult their physician to determine the type of hepatitis, course and length of the disease, mode of transmission, and any chronic liver disease or viral carrier state.
  • For recovered hepatitis A or hepatitis E patients, perform routine periodontal care.
  • For recovered hepatitis B and hepatitis D patients, consult with the physician and order hepatitis A hepatitis B patients laboratory tests.
  • If hepatitis B tests are negative but hepatitis B is suspected, order another test.
  • Patients who are hepatitis B positive are probably infective (chronic carriers); the degree of infectivity is measured by an hepatitis B test.

Treating patients with hepatitis infections

If a patient with active hepatitis requires emergency treatment, the authors recommend using the following precautions:

  • Consult the patient’s physician regarding status.
  • If bleeding is likely during or after treatment, measure prothrombin time (PT) and bleeding time. Hepatitis may alter coagulation; change treatment accordingly.
  • All personnel in clinical contact with the patient should use full barrier technique, including masks, gloves, glasses or eye shields, and disposable gowns.
  • Use as many disposable covers as possible, covering light handles, drawer handles, and bracket trays. Headrest covers should also be used.
  • All disposable items (e.g., gauze, floss, saliva ejectors, masks, gowns, gloves) should be placed in a lined wastebasket. After treatment, these items and all disposable covers should be bagged, labeled, and disposed of, following proper guidelines for bio-hazardous waste.
  • Aseptic techniques should be followed at all times. Minimize aerosol production by not using ultrasonic instrumentation, air syringe, or high-speed handpieces. Remember that saliva contains a distillate of the virus. Pre-rinsing with chlorhexidine gluconate for 30 s is highly recommended.
  • When the procedure is complete, all equipments should be scrubbed and sterilized. If an item cannot be sterilized or disposed of, it should not be used.
  • All working surfaces and environmental surfaces should be wiped with 2% activated glutaraldehyde (Cidex).

More Women Leaders in Dentistry

By the end of 2019, there will be 13 women serving as president of their respective state dental association—the most ever serving at one time in the American Dental Association’s 160-year history.

For her March ADANews article “Changing faces: State dental associations see most women serving as presidents,” writer Kimber Solana interviewed one of the future presidents, Jennifer Enos, about the changes she’s seen regarding women in dentistry during her career.

Enos began working as a dental assistant in 1999, and at that time, the Arizona Dental Association president-elect knew only one female dentist.

“The increase in diversity in our profession is fantastic,” Enos told Solana. “It allows many opportunities for growth and innovation with the varying backgrounds and perspectives.”

Enos has served on the board for 10 years, and for the first five, she was often the only woman in the room.

But now, in 2019, when Enos attends her local dental society’s meetings, she says the male-to-female ratio is almost even.

According to ADA Health Policy Institute data, 49 percent of U.S. dental school graduates in 2017 were women—a 12 percent increase since 1997.

“The increasing number of women pursuing dentistry is shifting the demographic makeup of the dental workforce,” Solana goes on to write in the article. “In 2018, 32 percent of all dentists were women, up from 16 percent in 2001.”

The ADA Health Policy Institute projects that by 2037 female dentists will make up 46 percent of the dental workforcere anticipated to be 58 percent female.

“Dr. Enos said there’s a multitude of reasons why women should pursue leadership roles in organized dentistry, including giving back to the profession through advocacy and improving public health,” Solana writes.

“Truthfully though, I think they should do it to be selfish,” Enos said to Solana. “Seriously, the people you meet — the other amazingly talented, smart and strong women and men who really care — that you get the privilege to develop friendships with are truly the best people to be found anywhere.”

Those joining Enos as presidents of their state dental associations are:

Dr. Kristi M. Soileau, Louisiana Dental Association; Dr. Maria de L. Castellvi Armas, Colegio de Cirujanos Dentistas de Puerto Rico; Dr. Cathy L. Harris, Delaware State Dental Society; Dr. Evis Babo, Georgia Dental Association; Dr. Marlene Shevenell, Maryland State Dental Association; Dr. Janis B. Moriarty, Massachusetts Dental Society; Dr. Margaret Gingrich, Michigan Dental Association; Dr. Barbara B. Mauldin, Mississippi Dental Association; Dr. Lindsey D. Jackson, New Hampshire Dental Society; Dr. Sharon K. Parsons, Ohio Dental Association; Dr. Terryl A. Propper, Tennessee Dental Association; and Dr. Elizabeth C. Reynolds, Virginia Dental Association.

Vaping and Oral Health: Not a Compatible Pair

In 2003, what would become the first commercially successful electronic cigarette was created in Beijing, China by Hon Lik, a 52-year-old pharmacist, inventor and smoker. Lik reportedly created the device as a safer alternative to cigarettes after his father, also a heavy smoker, died of lung cancer.

The use of e-cigarettes, referred to as vaping, works by heating a liquid to generate an aerosol that the user inhales. The liquid in the e-cigarette contains propylene glycol, glycerin, flavorings, water, and nicotine.

Ever since Lik’s product went on the market, smokers have been switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes in an attempt to be healthier.

But is it actually healthier?

In their January Perio-Implant Advisory article “Vaping and oral health: It’s worse than you think,” Scott Froum, DDS, and Alisa Neymark, DDS, write about the dangers of e-cigarette use and the effect it has on oral health. After researching the topic, the two came up with four major dangers posed by vaping.

Danger No. 1: Propylene glycol

Propylene glycol is a viscous, colorless liquid primarily used in the production of polymers and food processing. Because of it’s fairly sweet taste, and can be found in edible items, such as liquid sweetness, ice cream and whipped dairy products.

In the case of e-cigarettes, propylene glycol acts as a carrier for nicotine.

“When used orally, the breakdown products of PG include acetic acid, lactic acid, and propionaldehyde, which are all toxic to enamel and soft tissue,” Froum and Neymark write. “In addition, propylene glycol is a hygroscopic product, which means water molecules in saliva and oral tissue will bond to the PG molecules, leading to tissue desiccation. The result of this is xerostomia, or “dry mouth,” which has been shown to lead to an increase in cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues.”

Danger No. 2: Vegetable glycerin and flavorings

Vegetable glycerin and flavorings make up the majority of the e-cigarette’s inhalant. Like propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin is a colorless, viscous, sweet-tasting liquid used in the food industry as a sweetener. It is also used in many medical, pharmaceutical and personal care products. Because it’s 40 percent less sweet than sucrose and not metabolized by cariogenic bacteria, it was previously thought to not cause cavities, but studies have shown the combination of vegetable glycerin and flavorings produce an increase in microbial adhesion to enable and an increase in biofilm formation.

“In addition, a 27% decrease in enamel hardness was demonstrated when flavorings were added to e-liquid as compared to unflavored controls,” they write. “The viscosity of the e-liquid also allowed Streptococcus mutans to adhere to pits and fissures. In other words, e-liquid allows more cavity-causing bacteria to stick to a softer tooth and can lead to rampant decay.”

Danger No. 3: Nicotine

While the percentage of nicotine is much lower in e-cigarettes than in traditional tobacco products, one electronic cartridge–200 to 400 puffs–can equal the nicotine of smoking two to three packs of regular cigarettes. And because nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, it affects the gingival blood flow and can have dangerous effects on gum tissue.

“It also affects cytokine production, neutrophil function, and other immune cell function,” Froum and Neymark write. “In addition, nicotine decreases connective tissue turnover. All of this results a much higher chance of developing gum disease and tooth loss.”

Danger No. 4: Lithium batteries

There have been two reported deaths associated with vaping.

In January, a 24-year-old man died after his vape pen exploded and tore his carotid artery, and in May 2018, a 28-year-old Florida mad died when his vape pen exploded, sending projectiles into his head and causing a fire in his house.

“Although these types of sensationalized deaths are rare with e-cigarettes and vaping pens, the explosions of these pens are not,” Froum and Neymark write. “The problem lies within the vape pen and the lithium batteries overheating and exploding. These explosions are usually attributed to improper charging of the device or have been linked to a type of device called a mechanical mod that has no internal safety and can overheat and explode.”

Researchers estimate that there were about 2,035 e-cigarette explosion-related injuries between 2015 and 2017, more than 40 times the initial 195 incidents estimated by the United States government. The injuries caused by these explosions are serious, the pair write, and often lead to disfigurement of oral soft tissue.

Vaping v. Cigarettes

While vaping is thought to be a safer alternative to cigarette smoking. However, Froum and Neymark write, vaping can be just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, when compared with smoking.

They go on to write that while vaping has helped many people quit smoking, it has also upped their oral health problems. Dentists across the country have seen rampant decay, smooth-surface and interproximal lesions, tooth loss, and cervical enamel demineralization. And, unfortunately, the vaping fad is making its way down to the youth.

“The problem is that vaping is thought to be a safer alternative to traditional tobacco products, and companies are adding flavoring products to attract younger generations,” they write. “According to a 2013–2014 survey, 81% of current youth e-cigarette users cited the availability of appealing flavors as the primary reason for use.”

Froum and Neymark write that middle- and high-school-age children is the group in which e-cigarette use percentage is increasing the most.

“Because of the known dangerous effects of traditional tobacco methods, use among middle and high school students has been steadily decreasing since 2014,” they write. “However, since the introduction of the e-cigarette, that number is now increasing, and it is estimated that one in five high school students may now be using tobacco products. E-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018 increased 78% among high school students and 48% among middle school students.”

With the amount of young vapers now out there, Froum and Neymark think things are about to get worse.

“Because of this, a tidal wave of oral health problems is heading our way.”