Category Archives: Dental News

Could Dentists Screen for Diabetes?

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Dentists Screen for Diabetes

Discussion has arisen as to whether to have dentists screen for diabetes. A number of studies carried out across the world in dental practices have produced positive results in increased diabetes diagnosis.

Dentists can test small samples of blood which can appear on the gums during routine dental treatment. This small step could help the estimated 8 million people in the United States who are unaware fo the fact they have diabetes. “If dentists can screen for diabetes, it may help people get treated sooner when we can get better results managing their disease,” said Sheila Strauss, a lead study author of the studies carried out in recent years.

The study she worked on targeted people who were most at risk of diabetes. Most of the patients in the study were over 45 years old, with any younger patients chosen due to being overweight or displaying another risk factor associated with diabetes. Finger prick and oral blood samples were taken and tested, with the success rate of both for detection of diabetes being roughly equal.

Training and equipment for dentists, would have to be provided, but the arguments for dentists to carry out diabetes tests are becoming more convincing.

Dentists might be able to screen for diabetes [via Reuters]

Guide to Children’s Dental Care Launched for Parents

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Guide to Children's Dental Care

The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) has launched a guide to children’s dental care for parents in an effort to bust dental myths and set children up for a life of good oral care.

The 11-page guide is available online, and covers the stages of milk teeth, when to start cleaning teeth, when to first visit the dentist, and maintaining good oral health. Broken down into age stages, the guide is quick and simple to understand, and confronts common misconceptions which can lead to poor habits and unsatisfactory oral care.

A dangerous myth which abounds is that milk teeth “don’t matter”. Highlighting this, a spokesperson for the BSPD said: “Your child’s baby teeth – also known as milk teeth – do matter and have an important role to play. They hold the space for second teeth to come through into but because the enamel is thin, they are highly susceptible.”

The guide has been launched to counteract the current downward spiral of children’s dental health in the UK, with one in three eight year old children showing signs of dental decay. Explaining the guide, the BSPD said its aim is to: “support parents to access accurate and easy to understand information. The kindest things a parent can do is pay attention to their child’s teeth from an early age. Our new guide explains how. We would strongly encourage all parents to ensure that their child is taken for a dental check as soon as their teeth come through and certainly before their first birthday. This allows families to get preventive advice before problems occur.”

A practical guide to children’s teeth [via the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry]

Latex Glove Ban Proposed in the United States

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Latex Glove Ban Proposed - US

A ban on powdered latex gloves has been proposed by the United State’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency explained its stance, citing the powder used to make the gloves easier to pull on and off as causing: “an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury to health-care providers, patients and other individuals who are exposed to them.”

Allergic reactions to latex can be severe, and there is currently no cure for this particular allergy. The dangers of latex gloves have been recorded by the FDS since 1997, with the recent announcement of the proposition for the ban being met with criticism of slow progress.

Use of powdered latex gloves has generally been on a decline in the US over recent years, with many practices voluntarily replacing them with allergen-free alternatives. In theUK, a similar migration away from latex can be seen in dental and GP surgeries, and institutions such as Great Ormond Street Hospital banning all latex products completely.

The FDA, for only the second time ever, wants to ban a medical device. Here’s why [via the Washington Post]

Reverse Tooth Damage with Preventative Oral Care

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Reverse Tooth Damage

A seven-year study undertaken by the University of Sydney has concluded that non-invasive and preventative oral care can help to reverse tooth damage.

The study discovered that dental decay can be stopped, reversed and prevented by “no-drill” techniques. Such dental care reduced the need for fillings by 30-50%.

Lead author of the study, Wendell Evans, Associate Professor Wendell Evans of the University of Sydney , said: “For a long time it was believed that tooth decay was a rapidly progressive phenomenon and the best way to manage it was to identify early decay and remove it immediately in order to prevent a tooth surface from breaking up into cavities. After removing the decay, the affected tooth is then restored with a filling material – this process is sometimes referred to as ‘drilling and filling’.”

Whilst the report is tailored towards Australian dentists, its findings are universal for dental practices and patients alike. Reversing tooth damage requires early discovery and treatment of decay before cavities form. Four major points have been highlighted:

  • Application of high concentration fluoride varnish by dentists to the sites of early decay
  • Attention to home tooth brushing skills
  • Restriction of between-meal snacks and beverages containing added sugar
  • Risk-specific monitoring

It may seem obvious, but the results are clear. Avoiding sugary drinks and snacks, having a good oral care routine, and regular visits to the dentist can help to reverse tooth damage and prevent invasive procedures.

Professor Evans also highlighted the need for dental care by patients themselves in the report’s conclusion: “The reduced decay risk and reduced need for fillings was understandably welcomed by patients. However, patients play an important role in their treatment. This treatment will need a partnership between dentists and patients to be most successful.”

‘No-drill’ dentistry stops tooth decay, says research [via The University of Sydney]

Oral Cancer Communication Guide Developed

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Oral Cancer Communication Guide Developed

King’s College London’s Dental Institute has researched and piloted an oral cancer communication guide to help dentists talk to their patients about what can be a difficult subject.

Prior to the pilot of the oral cancer communication guide, researchers found that many dentists were low in confidence when it came to broaching the subject of oral cancer to their patients. Despite oral cancer checks being routinely carried out during regular dental appointments, many dentists avoided the topic altogether. King’s College developed the pilot program aimed to reverse this reluctance. 41 dentists were invited to the King’s College lecture theatre to take part in a training session which included: “a brief update on oral cancer, an introduction to the oral cancer communication guide, and learning activities and chances to practise using the guide through roleplay and feedback.”

The session has been deemed a success, with an increase from the dentists taking part reporting an increase in confidence. The number of dentists informing patients they were being checked for signs of oral cancer increased from 16% to 44% after the training.

“The guide includes key messages in an easy-to-follow format. It is not intended to be used as a script, but rather to be used as a guide for interactive discussions about symptoms, the importance of early detection, and when and where to seek help should symptoms occur,” explains Professor Tim Newton, co-author of the study.  “Highlighting the need for training in this area, this study has shown that the training sessions had a positive impact on the dentists’ self-reported behaviour and indicates a positive response to the guide as well.”

Study shows that specialist training guide for dentists can aid communications about oral cancer with patients [via King’s College London]

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