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Oral Health And Overall Health: Why A Healthy Mouth Is Good For Your Body
Tips for Becoming a Better Dental Assistant
Dental Assistants are Important
Fears about Dental Radiation
Fluoride in Young Children- New Guidelines


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Oral Health And Overall Health: Why A Healthy Mouth Is Good For Your Body

Taking good care of your mouth, teeth and gums is a worthy goal in and of itself. Good oral and dental hygiene can help prevent bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease—and can help you keep your teeth as you get older.
Researchers are also discovering new reasons to brush and floss. A healthy mouth may help you ward off medical disorders. The flip side? An unhealthy mouth, especially if you have gum disease, may increase your risk of serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, poorly controlled diabetes and preterm labor.
The case for good oral hygiene keeps getting stronger. Understand the importance of oral health — and its connection to your overall health.
What's in your mouth reveals much about your health
What does the health of your mouth have to do with your overall health? In a word, plenty. A look inside or a swab of saliva can tell your doctor volumes about what's going on inside your body.
Many conditions cause oral signs and symptoms
Your mouth is a window into what's going on in the rest of your body, often serving as a helpful vantage point for detecting the early signs and symptoms of systemic disease — a disease that affects or pertains to your entire body, not just one of its parts. Systemic conditions such as AIDS or diabetes, for example, often first become apparent as mouth lesions or other oral problems. In fact, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms.
Saliva: Helpful diagnostic tool
Your doctor can collect and test saliva to detect for a variety of substances. For example, cortisol levels in saliva are used to test for stress responses in newborn children. And fragments of certain bone-specific proteins may be useful in monitoring bone loss in women and men prone to osteoporosis. Certain cancer markers are also detectable in saliva.
Routine saliva testing can also measure illegal drugs, environmental toxins, hormones and antibodies indicating hepatitis or HIV infection, among other things. In fact, the ability to detect HIV-specific antibodies has led to the production of commercial, easy-to-use saliva test kits. In the future, saliva testing may replace blood testing as a means of diagnosing and monitoring diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease, cirrhosis of the liver and many infectious diseases.
Protection against harmful invaders: How saliva disables bacteria and viruses
Saliva is also one of your body's main defenses against disease-causing organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. It contains antibodies that attack viral pathogens, such as the common cold and HIV. And it contains proteins called histatins, which inhibit the growth of a naturally occurring fungus called Candida albicans. When these proteins are weakened by HIV infection or other illness, candida can grow out of control, resulting in a fungal infection called oral thrush.
Saliva also protects you against disease-causing bacteria. It contains enzymes that destroy bacteria in different ways, by degrading bacterial membranes, inhibiting the growth and metabolism of certain bacteria, and disrupting vital bacterial enzyme systems.
The problem with dental plaque: Links to infections and diseases

Though your saliva helps protect you against some invaders, it can't always do the job. More than 500 species of bacteria thrive in your mouth at any given time. These bacteria constantly form dental plaque — a sticky, colorless film that can cling to your teeth and cause health problems.
Your mouth as infection source
If you don't brush and floss regularly to keep your teeth clean, plaque can build up along your gumline, creating an environment for additional bacteria to accumulate in the space between your gums and your teeth. This gum infection is known as gingivitis. Left unchecked, gingivitis can lead to a more serious gum infection called periodontitis. The most severe form of gum infection is called acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, also known as trench mouth.
Bacteria from your mouth normally don't enter your bloodstream. However, invasive dental treatments — sometimes even just routine brushing and flossing if you have gum disease — can provide a port of entry for these microbes. Medications or treatments that reduce saliva flow and antibiotics that disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in your mouth can also compromise your mouth's normal defenses, allowing these bacteria to enter your bloodstream.
If you have a healthy immune system, the presence of oral bacteria in your bloodstream causes no problems. Your immune system quickly dispenses with them, preventing infection. However, if your immune system is weakened, for example because of a disease or cancer treatment, oral bacteria in your bloodstream (bacteremia) may cause you to develop an infection in another part of your body. Infective endocarditis, in which oral bacteria enter your bloodstream and stick to the lining of diseased heart valves, is an example of this phenomenon.

Plaque as cause of common conditions?
Long-term gum infection can eventually result in the loss of your teeth. But the consequences may not end there. Recent research suggests that there may be an association between oral infections — primarily gum infections — and poorly controlled diabetes, cardiovascular disease and preterm birth. More research is needed to determine whether oral infections actually cause these conditions, which include:
  • Poorly controlled diabetes. If you have diabetes, you're already at increased risk of developing gum disease. But chronic gum disease may, in fact, make diabetes more difficult to control, as well. Infection may cause insulin resistance, which disrupts blood sugar control.
  • Cardiovascular disease. Oral inflammation due to bacteria (gingivitis) may also play a role in clogged arteries and blood clots. It appears that bacteria in the mouth may cause inflammation throughout the body, including the arteries. This inflammation may serve as a base for development of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, possibly increasing your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Some research suggests that people with gum infections are also at increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The more severe the infection, the greater the risk appears to be. And gum disease and tooth loss may contribute to plaques in the carotid artery. In one study, 46 percent of participants who'd lost up to nine teeth had carotid artery plaque; among those who'd lost 10 or more teeth, 60 percent of them had such plaque.
  • Preterm birth. Severe gum disease may increase the risk of preterm delivery and giving birth to a low birth weight baby. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, in fact, estimates that as many as 18 percent of preterm, low birth weight babies born in the United States each year may be attributed to oral infections. The theory is that oral bacteria release toxins, which reach the placenta through the mother's bloodstream and interfere with the growth and development of the fetus. At the same time, the oral infection causes the mother to produce labor-triggering substances too quickly, potentially triggering premature labor and birth.
A compelling case for good habits
If you didn't already have enough reasons to take good care of your mouth, teeth and gums, the relationship between your oral health and your overall health provides even more. Resolve to practice good oral hygiene every day. You're making an investment in your overall health, not just for now, but for the future, too.
Related Information

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Tips for Becoming a Better Dental Assistant

Relevant Campus(es): Upper Darby, PA; Voorhees, NJ; Wilmington, DE
Category(ies): Dental Assistant
Being your best on the job can give you greater job satisfactionThe job of a dental assistant is not easy. You spend hours on your feet, assist dentists during tricky procedures, follow infection prevention protocols, handle front office tasks, and take on any tasks that you are asked to do. With all of these responsibilities, you should be proud of your job!Taking your job seriously and striving to be successful are important aspects of a rewarding career. To be the best dental assistant that you can be, we are recommending 5 suggestions.1. Be proactive.
In a busy dental office, there is always something to do. Look around and spot what needs to be done, whether it is straightening the waiting room, restocking inventory, or talking to a patient who appears nervous.2. Be a good listener and ask questions.
Dental assistants are in a position of assisting others. For this reason, they need to be particularly good listeners. If the dentist or hygienist asks you to do something, be sure to listen carefully, think it through, and ask any questions that you might have. Remember, it’s better to ask questions than to make a guess and do it wrong.3. Be observant and organized during procedures
Many dental assistants are expected to sit chairside and assist the dentist during dental procedures. There can be fast changes of instruments and multiple tasks that need to be done at the same time. When the procedure begins, be observant. Try to anticipate what the dentist might need. Stay organized so you know where every instrument is when you need it. No one is perfect, and a procedure can get a little stressful. But be sure to learn from your mistakes. And remember, you will get better each time!4. Be a good communicator
Good communications are the key to so many things. Dental assistants need to communicate clearly in a number of areas. They need to communicate with patients about good dental hygiene. They need to communicate with dentists and hygienists during a procedure. And they need to handle office matters, such as insurance and payments, which might require communicating with insurers.5. Stay current with new procedures, skills, and technology
Like so many fields, dentistry is constantly evolving. Make an effort to attend continuing education opportunities. Don’t be afraid of trying new things. Keep up with the new trends in dental technologies as well as new office technologies. It’s best to be seen as someone who is always willing to learn and improve.Bonus tip:6. Keep up a positive attitude
In a dental office, people work closely together and see each other every day. Help contribute to a pleasant work place by being a positive person and showing your professionalism. Avoid complaining and try to develop a can-do attitude. Being approachable and friendly will help you become a valuable part of the office team.With these suggestions, we hope you are well on your way to developing the traits you need to be a successful dental assistant. Remember, your job is critical to the effectiveness of your dental office. Your work is valued, and you should be proud of your career!__The Harris School of Business offers a dental assistant training program at its campuses in Upper Darby, PA (near Philadelphia), Wilmington, DE, and Voorhees, NJ. Schedule a tour to learn more about our program!

Dental Assistants are Important

Dental Assistants are very important to the dentist and a dental practice in general. As discussed in previous blog posts of ours assistants have many responsibilities including: instrument passing, x-ray taking, chart notes, suctioning, impressions, and many more. Without dental assistants the dentist would be greatly overwhelmed. Dental assistants tend to be the first point of clinical contact for patients, so being friendly, being able to clearly explain procedures, and ask the right questions is essential. It is important for dental assistants to build trust with patients. Some patients are feel more comfortable talking to a dental assistant rather than the dentist and will direct questions to the assistant when the dentist is not in the room. Every assistant should be prepared for questions and to reply with educational answers, without being condescending. 

How the assistant acts can determine if a patient will accept and move forward with treatment or not, therefore acting appropriately is essential. The ability to connect with your patient is important in them accepting the treatment plan proposed. This means using simple language, not overusing dental terminology the everyday patient won't understand, and reading the patient's nonverbal communication. Patient's tend to spend the most amount of time with dental assistants so these roles they play are essential.

For those out there reading this who are dental assistants, how do you connect with your patients? 

Fears about Dental Radiation

Recently it seems as though more and more people have been fearful over the amount of radiation exposure from dental x-rays. Dental offices do minimize the exposure of radiation to patients it is still best to get all the pertinent information. At Practical Dental Assisting of Oregon students must take a full mouth set of x-rays on a patient to send to DANB in order to get their radiology certification. The same precautions taken in dental offices are taken at Practical Dental Assisting of Oregon as well.
Recently in an article published by AEGIS Communications in Inside Dental Assisting magazine, AEGIS spoke to the fear of patients in regards to dental radiation. The article recognized that the average annual radiation exposure from natural sources in the U.S. is roughly 3.1 millisieverts, of which no negative health effects have been found from these levels. Radiation from medical and dental sources make up about 48% of the total radiation exposure per year. Also according to the American Dental Association dental x-rays account for about 2.5% of the total medical radiographs and fluoroscopies.
Furthermore with advances and changes in technology the amount of radiation from x-rays is continually decreasing. Currently intra oral radiographs use a quarter of 1% of the radiation that was necessary for these radiographs 90 years ago.
As a dental assistant and as a patient you should be cognizant of whether or not the office you work at or go to has good radiologic practices, some of these include:
  • use the fastest image receptor compatible with the diagnostic task
  • proper exposure and processing techniques
  • use of appropriate radiation shielding (lead apron, thyroid shields, etc.)
  • limit the number of images obtained to the minimum necessary to obtain diagnostic information
The moral of the story is that the average annual radiation exposure has not caused adverse health effects, but you should still be aware of the x-rays that are being taken to ensure they are not being taken in excess.
To read the full article from Inside Dental Assisting click here.

Fluoride in Young Children- New Guidelines

CBS News recently reported that the American Dental Association is saying that children should be given fluoride even younger than thought; as soon as their first teeth come in. In the past the American Dental Association has recommended fluoride toothpaste for kids age 2-6, but are now finding that more and more children have cavities before kindergarten, making it pertinent to start them with fluoride even younger. According to the American Dental Association more than 16 million U.S. children have tooth decay that goes untreated, making this issue ever more important. By not having fluoride children will be more susceptible to cavities and teeth wear. To read this full article by the CBS News click here. What do you think about giving children fluoride toothpaste as soon as their baby teeth erupt?