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Friday Dental Download: May 9, 2014

This week, we learn about students in Pennsylvania improving oral health in the developing world, discuss why you should be sure to ask your dentist for an oral cancer screening, and talk to a dentist who stitches up NHL players during games. Join the conversation on Twitter using #FridayDentalDL.

The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry announced this week that dentists are now required to evaluate a patient’s substance abuse history and current medications, and provide a ‘‘letter of medical necessity’’ to the pharmacy before prescribing Zohydro, a powerful new prescription painkiller. The state’s medical board issued similar regulations to doctors last month to prevent abuse.

This Time Magazine article explains how to check your tongue for warning signs of health issues such as vitamin deficiency or a clogged salivary gland. Oral cancer can also be identified by warning signs found on the tongue, such as abnormal coloring or texture. Check your tongue daily- it could save your life!

People in developing countries don’t always have access to toothbrushes and toothpaste and there is often a lack of dentists to provide preventive care and treatment for oral health issues so a group of students at the University of Pennsylvania is working on an alternative: a special chewing gum with added dental-hygiene benefits. There are already gums with xylitol on the market, but they are typically too expensive for individuals in the developing world, so the students are working with a private chewing gum company to try to secure a low-cost product for distribution in countries that are lacking oral health resources.

Oral cancer rates are on the rise- over 42,000 Americans will receive a new oral cancer diagnosis this year, and many cases go unnoticed without the proper screening, which you should receive each time you visit your dentist. Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist during your next checkup if they’ve screened you for oral cancer. For more questions you should ask your dentist, check out our Q&A with DentaQuest Institute’s Dr. Brian Nový.

The official team dentist for the National Hockey League's San Jose Sharks, Donald Goudy, explains how he provides emergency treatment for players (for both teams) in a small office at the Sharks’ rink. According to Dr. Goudy, his treatment goes something like this: "We bring them back, remove any loose pieces, numb them up, and they go back out." As for those teeth that get knocked out during games? Dr. Goudy says that they usually end up in the Zamboni.