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Friday Dental Download: October 24, 2014

This week we learn about Ebola guidance for dentists, discuss the urge for action and education about the benefit of fluoride and learn what your teeth tell you about your body. Don’t forget to check out our new blog series here! Join the conversation on Twitter using #FridayDentalDL.

1. Health authorities offer Ebola guidance for dentists: The American Dental Association released information for dental professionals about the Ebola virus this week. Among other recommendations, it recommends the delay of dental care for patients who recently returned from the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea until 21 days after their trip. In general, providers of dental health care services should continue to follow standard infection control procedures in the clinical setting.

2. Medicaid and CHIP Enrollment Grows by 8.7 Million Additional Americans: The health insurance marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act, state-based Medicaid programs, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are critical in providing health insurance coverage for many Americans who couldn’t afford it otherwise. As of October 17, 2014, approximately 8.7 million additional Americans have now gained coverage through Medicaid and CHIP, many for the first time. In all 50 states, CHIP includes preventative dental services, and many other states are working on improving and expanding adult dental benefits in their Medicaid program.

3. ADEA president urges action, education on fluoride benefits: Time and time again, credible scientific evidence demonstrates that optimally fluoridated water is safe to drink, does not cause systemic disease and provides the best protection against dental caries in both children and adults over the course of a lifetime. Setting the record straight is essential and requires an “energetic response” from people in the position to make scientific evidence easy to understand for the public.

4. Proper Dental Care Linked to Reduced Risk of Respiratory Infections in ICU Patients: New research shows vulnerable patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) who received enhanced oral care from a dentist were at significantly less risk for developing a lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI), like ventilator-associated pneumonia, during their stay. Having a dentist provide weekly care as part the ICU team may improve outcomes for vulnerable patients in this setting. Patients who were provided enhanced dental care were 56 percent less likely to develop a respiratory tract infection during their ICU stay compared to the control group.

5. For Some Children with Autism, Even a Toothbrush Is a Challenge: Since dental cleanings happen only twice per year, it’s incredibly important that parents help their children brush their teeth twice per day. But according to this article in the New York Times' Motherlode section, that can be a challenge for some autistic children. Here are some tips for parents with kids with autism to follow to ensure your child has a healthy mouth:
  • Use an electric toothbrush
  • Accustom your child to the brushing sensation on gums even before the first teeth appea
  • Give your child a reward – but not candy
  • Offer choices so your child feels in control
  • Set up a routine
  • Use a timer
6. What your teeth are trying to tell you: Your teeth and gums tell you something very important about your health. Pennsylvania resident Jennifer Harvey didn't go to the dentist for two years. Her gums were bleeding all the time and when she visited her dentist, she discovered that she had diseased, decayed teeth. More than 800,000 visits a year to the ER are because of teeth troubles. If you have white, yellow or brown spots and grooves on the tooth surface these could be signs of celiac disease. Pain in your top teeth could be a sign of a sinus infection. Canker sores are a tell-tale sign of allergies you may not know you have. Check your risk for dental disease here.