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Study: Brushing Teeth Frequently May Lower Risk of Heart Failure

There's no denying the array of adverse health consequences associated with failing to brush one's teeth - yet many of your patients probably still struggle with maintaining regular and thorough brushing.

 

Of course, we must continue to press forward and encourage patients to brush!

 

At the centre of your potential for successful patient outcomes is giving clear, understandable proof of the associated health benefits of consistent teeth-brushing. For instance, there is growing evidence that consistently brushing our teeth is conducive to preventing heart failure.

 

The Health Benefits of Brushing Your Teeth

 

As you know, daily brushing prevents harmful bacteria from causing oral infections (e.g., tooth decay and gum disease). However, as we develop a deeper understanding of the oral-systemic link, it is clear that oral health has a strong connection to a wide variety of conditions beyond the oral cavity.

 

For example, there's reason to believe that keeping up with oral hygiene can protect from severe respiratory infections; a study from 2011 has linked gum disease to poor lung health.

 

Brushing regularly also fends off bacteria called fusobacterium nucleatum. High levels of this bacterium have been found in patients with colorectal cancer.

 

The bacteria connected to gum disease, P. gingivitis, is also believed to contribute to worsened rheumatoid arthritis. In studies with mice, researchers found a form of rheumatoid arthritis RA was further exacerbated with the addition of P. gingivitis, which promoted bone and cartilage breakdown.

 

The Science Behind Oral Health's Impact on Heart Health

 

When your patients brush their teeth twice a day – for at least two minutes – the risk for cardiovascular disease is lessened. Various studies have been performed on this subject, looking at it from different angles.

 

In the next section, we'll look at several studies that highlight how vital brushing teeth is to your patients' heart health.

 

One study assessed how lacking in oral hygiene causes bacteria to emanate in the blood. This leads to body inflammation, which is conducive to an irregular heartbeat and heart failure.

 

The researchers examined the results provided by 161,286, aged 40 to 79, who had no history of the conditions mentioned above. After routine medical examinations, information was collected about various health factors, including oral health and oral hygiene behaviours.

 

There was a follow-up after 10.5 years that showed 3% of participants with an irregular heartbeat and 4.9% with heart failure.

 

The findings revealed that those brushing their teeth 3-plus times per day had a 10% lower risk of experiencing an irregular heartbeat. It was also decided that adhering to those best-practice oral hygiene standards generated a 12% lower risk of heart failure after the 10.5-year follow-up.

 

Though, these findings didn't consider things like age, sex, socioeconomic status, regular exercise, alcohol consumption, body mass index, and comorbidities (e.g., hypertension).

 

Another study that was presented to the American Heart Association took an in-depth look at heart health.

 

More specifically, those involved in the research examined whether a person's teeth-brushing habits impacted their risk of experiencing a heart attack, heart failure or stroke.

 

682 people were queried about their oral hygiene habits. It was found through various mechanisms that those brushing less than twice per day for less than two minutes were at an increased risk of those negative heart-centric consequences.

 

Compared to those brushing at least twice a day for at least two minutes, less frequent brushers presented a three-fold higher possibility of experiencing those heart-related ailments.

 

The Facts Speak for Themselves: Oral Health is Simply “Health”

 

Some patients might brush aside (pardon the pun) the importance of brushing their teeth. They might mistakenly believe that keeping their mouths clean and fresh is mostly aesthetic in its function.

 

However, with the above information, you can show to your patients how vital brushing their teeth can be to their overall health.

 

Dental patients must have a full understanding that oral health isn't its own category. Instead, what happens in our mouths plays a role in the rest of our bodies. Such a notion should be a primary focus in how we all care for ourselves.

 

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How To Prepare Your Dental Practice To Bounce Back From COVID-19

Your dental practice has undoubtedly felt the impact of COVID-19.

 

But when the dust settles from the crisis, and you begin to adapt to the new normal, people will begin to think about their oral care. Think about everyone who has put off receiving cleanings, checkups, and fillings due to shutdowns!

 

While you shouldn’t struggle too much to book patients, there might be hiccups along the way. Below are some helpful strategies that can help you bounce back and even thrive in a post-coronavirus world.

 

How Should You Prepare to Re-Open Your Dental Practice?

As we mentioned a moment ago, there’s likely going to be a backlog of patients needing dental care after emergency shutdowns come to an end. It’s been months, and people have neglected their oral health for too long.

 

Dental experts have pointed out that before the pandemic, there was a struggle in finding available, quality staff. Now, with time on your side, you can assemble a high-level team capable of efficiently managing the abundance of appointments that will flood your practice.

 

If you reopen without the personnel to keep things running smoothly, you may stumble out of the gate.

 

Prepare Your Staff For A New Reality

 

Now, you might be thinking: “But how can I get my staff ready for a post-COVID practice?”

 

The answer to this question is straightforward: communication.

 

A mistake of many practice owners has been a failure to keep in touch with furloughed staff, who would naturally fear the worst. Merely making a phone-call to your temporarily laid-off team members and updating them on where things stand could go a long way....even if it’s to tell them you’re not sure where things stand just yet.

 

Now, with rumblings about re-openings becoming more frequent, communication is more critical than ever. You can go over game plans, let everyone know about safety/sanitation expectations, and discuss how teamwork can help your practice make up for the lost time.

 

What to Expect In The Days and Weeks Prior to Re-opening

Frankly, your practice should expect some road bumps before re-opening.

 

Given the nature of this pandemic, and how scared everybody is, there’s going to be hesitation with dental practices. After all, even though most practitioners keep safe and adhere to strict cleanliness standards, there will always be concerns about the transfer of germs.

 

Furthermore, there will be worries about having enough personal protective equipment, such as gowns, gloves, booties, caps, and masks. These materials have been diverted to hospitals, and it might be challenging to ensure practices are equipped to stay safe and healthy.

 

The government should be providing your province, city, town, or region with expectations or guidelines of post-COVID standards and practices. Customers will also likely have an array of questions about what measures are in place to keep them safe.

 

Be understanding and empathetic with these questions, as well as transparent about what you know and don’t know.

 

Lastly, expect some hesitation from past patients who usually schedule maintenance checkups and cleanings. Many people are going to be out of work and without dental insurance, unable to afford your services.

 

So, when you’re trying to schedule appointments right before you re-open, some of your regulars might not be booking with you.

 

Whether you offer patients workarounds, such as the option to pay in installments, or you lower your prices is up to you. It might make sense to raise prices to make up for any potential loss in business due to the increased unemployment rate.

 

Your Practice Can Thrive in a Post COVID-19 World

Those in the dental industry have chosen one of the most practical fields of work in the world. No matter the state of the economy, people need their wisdom teeth taken out, cavities filled, and their teeth cleaned.

 

You’ve built a strong enough client-base to work around any COVID-related issues to successfully bounce back when the shutdown has reached its end. It’s what you do now, proactively, that will help you navigate the murky waters that will exist during life after COVID-19!

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Commonly Used Mouthwash Could Increase the Risk of Tooth Damage

Chlorhexidine is a common mouthwash ingredient known to help reduce harmful of bacteria in the mouth.

 

However, new research from the University of Plymouth’s Faculty of Health suggests that chlorhexidine could increase the risk of tooth damage.

 

Given the circumstances, it is worth taking a closer look at the potential benefits and drawbacks of this commonly-used mouthwash.

 

What is Chlorhexidine?

Chlorhexidine (also known by its generic name, Chlorhexidine gluconate), is an antimicrobial oral rinse that, when coupled with regular tooth brushing and flossing, can be used to treat gingivitis. Chlorhexidine reduces the amount and diversity of bacteria in the mouth, which helps alleviate swelling, redness and bleeding of the gums caused by gingivitis.

 

Chlorhexidine is generally prescribed to patients for twice-daily use: once after breakfast and again right before bedtime. Like other kinds of mouthwash, patients are instructed to measure out about a half-ounce (15 milliliters) of the solution, swish it in their mouths for about 30 seconds, and then spit it out. Prescription mouthwashes with chlorhexidine have been widely available for more than 30 years.

 

However, mouthwash containing chlorhexidine has been shown to significantly increase the abundance of lactate-producing bacteria that lowers the saliva pH, which could increase the risk of tooth damage.

 

Why Oral Bacteria is Not Always a Bad Thing

Researchers at the University of Plymouth carried out a trial on the effects of mouthwash containing chlorhexidine, giving placebo mouthwash to subjects for a few days, followed by seven days of mouthwash containing chlorhexidine.

 

By the end of each period, the researchers analyzed the microbiome and pH levels in each person. They also looked at things like lactate, how well acids were neutralised (also known as saliva buffering capacity), as well as other factors related to oral health.

The research found that using chlorhexidine mouthwash led to an increase in acidity. More research is needed to determine whether this necessarily means an increased risk of oral diseases.

 

According to Dr. Zoe Brookes, co-author of the study and lecturer at the University of Plymouth's Peninsula Dental School, dental clinicians need more information about how mouthwashes can alter the balance of oral bacteria to in order to prescribe them correctly.

 

“This paper is an important first step in achieving this,” says Dr. Brooks.

 

Co-author Dr. Louise Belfield adds, “We have significantly underestimated the complexity of the oral microbiome and the importance of oral bacteria in the past. Traditionally the view has been that bacteria are bad and cause diseases. But we now know that the majority of bacteria – whether in the mouth or the gut – are essential for sustaining human health.”

 

As you well know, the mouth is swimming with many different microorganisms, most of which are beneficial and essential for maintaining normal physiology of the oral cavity.

The authors believe this is the first study to examine the impact of 7-day use of chlorhexidine on the oral microbiome – important insight, given the renewed popularity of this mouthwash in the current climate.

 

More information is still needed to determine how the chemical works on viruses, however, some suggest that chlorhexidine kills COVID-19 since it kills other viruses, like H5N1 (bird flu), H3N2 (influenza virus), and H1N1 (swine flu) and thus could help reduce the new infection rates among healthy people (or help to flatten the curve).

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How Dentists Can Build Resilience & Avoid Burnout in Tough Times

Tough times come and go, and one of the challenges is we never know exactly when they will strike. It could be a national emergency like COVID-19, a tragedy in your town, or even a personal setback.

 

In any case, these kinds of events can exacerbate what is already one of the biggest challenges in the dental profession: burnout.

 

Dentists, hygienists and other dental professionals report a very high incidence of stress and burnout, with concerns ranging from litigation to regulation to maintaining high standards of patient care.

 

What does burnout look like, and how can you avoid it in these difficult times? Below, we’ll help you recognize the warning signs and outline ways to build your resilience – whether times are good, bad, or somewhere in between!

 

What is ‘Burnout’ in the Dental Profession?

Burnout is a state of overall exhaustion that affects your mind, emotions, and body, caused by exposure to prolonged and excessive stress.

 

When you’re going through a personal struggle or affected by an event like COVID-19, there will always be times of greater stress in your life. Add that to the day-to-day challenges of managing your business and career… it’s easy to see how these forces combine into a recipe for burnout.

 

Burnout can stem from anything in your life that causes long-term stress. Living through a long, stressful period in your practice, whether your business is struggling to survive or overloaded with patients, is a common cause. Even if you don’t own the clinic directly, the strain from these types of situations can get to you – in fact, dental assistants show higher burnout scores in studies than other staff.

 

What Burnout Looks Like

Burnout makes every day feel like a bad day. It often feels like you have lost your passion for everything, and work that used to excite and challenge you suddenly seems dull and pointless. You may feel like nothing you do makes a difference, even when it does.

 

The main difference between ordinary stress and burnout is that burnout is a chronic condition. While stress is temporary, burnout is constant. When you’re experiencing stress, cynicism, exhaustion and frustration day in and day out, you could be experiencing dental burnout.

 

Everyone reacts differently to prolonged stress, so burnout won’t look the same in each person. It’s important not to discount your burnout simply because it looks different than someone else’s.

 

Common signs of burnout include:

  • Declining performance at work
  • Cynicism and a generally negative view of life
  • Physical illness, including headaches or digestive issues
  • Feeling exhausted no matter how much you sleep
  • Overall disengagement with work and your personal life

 

Once you’ve hit burnout, you may need professional help to recover. Don’t be shy about looking for a therapist, counsellor, psychiatrist or another mental health professional to help you get back on your feet.

 

How to Be Resilient and Avoid Burnout

The key to avoiding dental burnout is to prioritize your own needs. That can be very hard for dentists and hygienists, who feel they have such a strong obligation to others’ needs.

 

Because dentistry is a caregiving profession, it’s easy to get so focused on taking care of your patients and others in your life that you forget to nurture yourself. This is especially true if you spend a lot of time with patients, hearing their stories and sharing in their challenges.

 

However, you can’t give back when you’re pushed up against the wall. Taking care of yourself is how you maintain your ability to care for others.

 

Chances are you’re familiar with the notion of “self-care”, but many people are mistaken thinking it’s all about pampering yourself. Self-care goes far deeper than that. Pampering is great, but you need to take other steps as well!

 

Here are some ways to care for yourself:

  • Calm your mind with meditation or other mindfulness practices
  • Eat healthy meals that provide you with the energy you need
  • Exercise regularly to stay healthy and keep endorphins flowing
  • Prioritize time for hobbies and relaxing with loved ones
  • Don’t hesitate to seek out counselling or mental health services

 

It’s important to understand that having limitations does not make you a failure. Everyone has limitations. Recognizing that and respecting it helps you stay healthy and avoid burnout.

 

Make time for yourself. Realize the importance of your role and that your work makes a difference. When you do, you’ll be building resilience and protecting yourself from burnout.

 

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Study: Women with Sleep Apnea at Greater Risk of Cancer

It’s estimated that 858,900 Canadian adults have been diagnosed with sleep apnea: a chronic condition that causes obstructed breathing sporadically throughout one’s sleep cycle. Without treatment, this condition can lead to serious complications and long-term health effects.

 

 

Recently, a cross-sectional study found that women were at higher risk of cancer when suffering from sleep apnea. Specifically, the prevalence of cancer is higher in women with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and nocturnal hypoxia than in men with the same condition.

 

Fortunately, there are a variety of ways dental professionals can play a role in diagnosing, treating and helping patients mitigate the risks of sleep apnea.

 

Here, we’ll delve deeper into the research and review the role dentists and dental hygienists can play in helping patients with sleep apnea.

 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Cancer Risk and Other Health Complications

There is growing evidence to suggest a potential association between obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and cancer. Last year, researchers reviewed data on 20,000 adult patients with OSA from the European Sleep Apnoea Database (ESADA). Approximately 2% of these patients had a cancer diagnosis.

 

The findings of this review suggest that the prevalence of cancer was higher in females with OSA and nocturnal hypoxia, but not in males. This conclusion was drawn after adjusting the data for age, gender, body mass index, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

 

This new study highlights just one of the many adverse impacts of sleep apnea on one’s health. In addition to the potential link between OSA and cancer, adults living with untreated sleep apnea are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

 

There is also a discernable link between sleep apnea, strokes, and obesity, and chronic fatigue resulting from sleep apnea can increase the risk of these individuals being involved in motor vehicle accidents.

 

How Dental Professionals Can Help Patients with Sleep Apnea

So, how does this relate to our roles in the dental profession?

 

Although dental professionals are not able to diagnose patients with sleep apnea (diagnosis should be done at an accredited sleep center), dentists and dental hygienists can help screen patients for potential symptoms, guide them towards a proper diagnosis, and in some cases provide treatment to offset the effects of the condition.

 

Most people see their dentist or dental hygienist more often than their doctor, and the first signs of sleep apnea are frequently those found in the oral cavity.

 

For example, an enlarged tongue and/or tonsils, GERD, and tooth grinding/bruxism are telltale red flags for untreated sleep apnea. Upon discovering these indicators, dental professionals can interview the patient to screen for other potential sleep apnea symptoms.

 

Patients showing symptoms of this condition should be referred to their family physician. From there, a review of a patient’s overall medical history can occur to rule out the presence of sleep apnea.

 

After receiving the necessary request or prescription, a dental professional can provide orthodontic assistance (OA).

 

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Study: Dental Amalgam Boasts Superior Contamination Resistance Than Other Materials

If you’ve been going back and forth on amalgam and whether you should continue using it in your practice, the findings of a new study could provide some clarity.

 

For two full years, five undergraduate students at Loma Linda University examined the impact of extreme contaminations on amalgam fillings during condensation. The goal of these dedicated research design students was to determine the shear-strength degradation effects on dental amalgam.

 

The researchers assessed the reaction of amalgam to gross contamination during condensation under the following elements:

  • Water
  • Saliva
  • Blood
  • Handpiece lubrication oil

The results, published under the title, “Amalgam Strength Resistance to Various Contaminants,”  demonstrated that amalgam is capable of withstanding “worst-case-scenario” levels of contamination equally or better than its alternatives, including resin-modified glass ionomer.

 

Just How Well Does Amalgam Retain Its Strength?

To summarize, here’s a breakdown of the findings discovered in the research discussed above:

  • Amalgam strength wasn’t reduced to a significantly statistical extent (p= 0.05) by water contamination.
  • Compared to water and blood-contaminated water, saliva reduced in between both.
  • In saliva, the final remaining strength was the same or more than the uncontaminated strengths recorded in the available literature for other restorable materials (e.g., composite resin, resin-modified glass ionomer, glass ionomer.)
  • Amalgam strength degradation was at its most significant – at around 50% – when fully immersed in handpiece lubrication oil during condensation. However, contamination from handpiece lubrication oil was proven to be highly unlikely in practice.
  • Still, the oil contamination resulted in amalgam strengths were the same or more than other available restorative materials while exceeding the minimum compressive strength of 35,000 pounds per square inch

How Do the Alternatives Compare to Dental Amalgam?

The results above already indicate the dental amalgam can withstand contaminative circumstances better than many alternatives.

 

Let’s look closer at the alternatives and see how they stack up.

 

1. Composite Resin Fillings

As the most regularly used alternative to dental amalgam, composite resin fillings are tooth-coloured and white. Acrylic resin is the primary material used in the making of these fillings—and they’re reinforced with powdered glass filler.

 

It’s common for composite resin colours to be customized to match surrounding teeth. They’re also often light-cured by blue light in layers to lead into the last restoration.

 

Yes, there’s no doubting the strength and blending capabilities of these fillings. Also, they don’t need much removal of healthy tooth structure for placement.

 

But they come up short in other aspects.

 

First and foremost, the composite resin is harder to place than amalgam—plus, they’re infinitely more expensive. Lastly, while they are strong, these fillings appear to be less durable than amalgam.

 

2. Glass Ionomer Cement Fillings

Organic acids (such as eugenol), bases (such as zinc oxide), and potentially acrylic resins can be found in glass ionomer cement.

 

Glass ionomer fillings are tooth-coloured like composite resin, and its properties seem most ideal for more meagre restorations.

 

These fillings cure on their own and don’t necessitate a blue light for the setting process.

 

While ease of use and quality of appearances are definite plusses with glass ionomer cement, they’re not particularly useful for more significant restorations.

 

Is Amalgam Usage Long for this World?

Of course, we can’t forget that these findings are only part of a bigger picture on the use of dental amalgam.

 

The material’s mercury content makes dental amalgam a public health and ecological risk, particularly after its removal. On July 14, 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized regulation specifically targeting the use and disposal of dental amalgam. In Canada, dentists must use amalgam traps and filters to collect amalgam waste and recycle it appropriately.

 

As such, many dentists – as a protective measure – are opting to use alternatives to amalgam for health, safety and ecological reasons.

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How Proper Lubrication Can Extend the Lifespan of Any Dental Handpiece

As a dental professional, your handpiece is one of your single most important tools of the trade. You’d like to keep this trusted instrument performing good-as-new for as long as possible.

 

Unfortunately, handpiece maintenance isn’t always as simple as the sales brochure makes it out to be. Keeping a handpiece in top shape requires that you follow a strict regimen of cleaning and lubrication. That’s a lot to ask of anyone in a fast-paced, fully-booked dental practice.

 

Wish there was a way to extend the life of your favourite handpiece and spend less time on maintenance?  It could be easier than you think, if you choose your maintenance supplies wisely.

 

Why Your Handpiece Lubricant Makes a Difference 

As you know, cleaning and lubrication are the cornerstones of basic handpiece maintenance.

 

Handpieces must be cleaned after each use (even between sterilizations) to avoid cross-contamination, and daily lubrication is necessary to keep the turbine, air motor, shank and head in good working order.

 

It is important to follow cleaning with lubrication, as the abrasives found in handpiece cleaners can get into the mechanisms of the handpiece.

 

Today, many clinics use automatic handpiece maintenance systems to lubricate multiple handpieces simultaneously. However, lubricating a handpiece manually is relatively simple:

 

Disassemble the handpiece and remove the burr so you can reach its internal components.


Inject lubricant into the air drive port so that it reaches the turbine.


Lubricate both ends of the contra-angle, or remove the cylinder from the prophy angle and lubricate both ends.


Re-assemble the handpiece and operate, head down, for 10-30 seconds (depending on the manufacturer's instructions) without a burr to purge excess lubricant.
Wipe any excess lubricant remaining on the handpiece using a dry gauze pad or paper towel.

 

10 Tips to Extend the Life of Any Dental Handpiece

Proper lubrication is essential to getting the most life and the best possible performance from any dental handpiece.

 

Here are a few pointers on choosing a handpiece lubricant that can help you minimize downtime, reduce the frequency of repairs and avoid unnecessary costs while extending your tool’s lifespan.

 

Lubricate the Handpiece Chuck Separately

The handpiece chuck generally requires separate care and a direct dose of lubricant.

 

Lubricate Before Sterilization, Not After

A high-quality handpiece lubricant like Sable EZ Lube will not break down in autoclaving temperature or otherwise be affected by the sterilization process. Lubrication prior to autoclaving has also been shown to increase the longevity of air-turbine handpiece bearings.

 

Avoid Overlubricating Low-Speed Handpieces

Applying too much lubricant to a low-speed motor can saturate it and cause it to become sluggish.

 

Use a Product That Cleans And Lubricants At Once

This saves you valuable time when it comes to preparing your handpiece for sterilization. We’ve developed Sable EZ Lube to remove dirt and stains from handpiece surfaces while it lubricates.

 

Don’t Lubricate ‘Lube-Free’ Turbine Bearings

Certain Kavo and Star Dental handpiece turbines are not designed for direct lubrication.

 

Use a Food-Grade Handpiece Lubricant

We know that a handpiece can discharge lubricant in the direction of the bur for some 40 minutes after lubrication. Using a food-grade synthetic lubricant will ensure that this will not affect your patients.

 

Never Use Any Non-Dental Lubricant For Your Handpiece

Safety comes first! Non-dental lubricants may not be safe for your patients or good for your handpiece. Sable EZ Lube was developed in conjunction with Aerospace Lubricants Inc. specifically for dental handpieces.

 

Always Follow the Handpiece Manufacturer’s Instructions
Maintenance standards can vary between different manufacturers, and in different models from the same manufacturer.


Use The Adapter That Corresponds Your Coupling System
This will ensure that you deliver the right amount of lubricant to the deepest recesses of your handpiece. Our Sable EZ Lube comes in 500ml aerosol cans with nozzles available for most handpieces, including contras, straights, heads and low-speed motors.


Don’t Skimp on the Lubricant!
Your handpiece can’t function properly without proper lubrication!  If cost is a concern, there are affordable handpiece lubricants on the market. Sable EZ Lube is affordably priced, with cost savings of 20-30% over other top lubricant brands.

 

Have any questions about our handpiece lubricants? Get in touch with us and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

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Treating Patients with Thyroid Disease as a Dental Hygienist

Thyroid conditions present oral and systemic manifestations that can challenge even the most seasoned dental professionals. Up to 15% of the general population has some form of thyroid abnormality, and many people have never been properly diagnosed - which makes treating them all the more complicated.

 

As a registered dental hygienist, there are ways you can help to identify and manage the oral manifestations of thyroid diseases. Here, we’ll discuss two of the most common thyroid diseases you’ll see in your practice: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

 

Oral Manifestations of Hypothyroidism

 

Hypothyroidism, also called underactive or low thyroid, is a decrease in the hormone production and functioning of the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism most often affects women from middle age onward, but it can occur in people of any age.

 

Many people who have hypothyroidism present only a few or very mild symptoms. However, those with severe hypothyroidism can experience numerous symptoms including slow metabolism, weight gain, lethargy, sensitivity to cold, and puffiness of the face.

 

When treating a dental patient with hypothyroidism, you may notice one or more of the following common oral manifestations:

  • Salivary gland enlargement
  • Compromised periodontal health
  • Glossitis, or inflammation of the tongue marked by soreness, swelling and change in colour

People who experience severe hypothyroidism as a child may present long-term dental and craniofacial manifestations in adulthood, such as:

  • Enamel hypoplasia
  • Micrognathia, or undersized jaw
  • Mouth breathing
  • Thick lips
  • Macroglossia, or oversized tongue

Oral Manifestations of Hyperthyroidism 

 

Hyperthyroidism, also called overactive thyroid, is the unregulated production of thyroid hormones. It is most often called by an immune system disorder called Grave’s Disease and usually affects women under 40, but it can occur in people of all ages.

 

Many of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism mirror hypothyroidism in reverse - sensitivity to heat, weight loss, increased cardiac output are common. It can also cause emotional instability, tremors, abnormal heart rate and hypertension.

 

A dental patient who has hyperthyroidism may present the following oral manifestations:

  • Increased susceptibility to periodontal disease and dental caries
  • Enlarged extraglandular thyroid tissue (mainly in the lateral posterior tongue)
  • Burning mouth syndrome
  • Xerostomia or dry mouth caused by Sjogren's syndrome

Treating Dental Patients Who Have a Thyroid Disease

 

As a registered dental hygienist, it is important to understand how thyroid dysfunction could affect your patient care.

 

First, you are well-positioned to notice the symptoms of hypo- or hyperthyroidism and aid in early diagnosis. Your keen eye could be what points a patient in the right direction to receiving treatment for their condition.

 

For patients who have confirmed thyroid disease, it’s also important that you and your colleagues deliver care that will help, not harm. Complications can occur from improperly treating dental patients with thyroid disorders.

 

Rebecca Marie Friend, BS, RDH demonstrates this perfectly in a recent column for Today’s RDH. When an elderly patient came in presenting with hypothyroidism, Rebecca took the time to carefully review the patient’s health history and discuss the patient’s medications, including over-the-counter remedies. Not only did this discussion reveal an important oversight by the patient’s doctor, but Rebecca was able to provide the patient with a better understanding of the condition.

 

Rebecca also provides the following recommendations to hygienists and other dental professionals in treating dental patients who present with thyroid disorders.

 

  1. Establish communication with the patient’s endocrinologist and other healthcare providers. This will ensure that you are kept up to date with the patient’s medications and the rest of the healthcare team is aware of the patient’s oral manifestations.
  2. Plan treatment in a way that limits stress and infection. Patients with hypothyroidism are at greater risk of infection due to increased bleeding and delayed wound healing.
  3. Treat the oral manifestations of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism as needed, including periodontal disease, caries and xerostomia.
  4. Conduct an extraoral head and neck examination at each appointment. This will help you detect changes to the patient’s thyroid region.
  5. Be sure to always use a thyroid collar when taking patient X-rays. The thyroid gland is very sensitive to radiation, and excessive exposure is a known risk factor for thyroid conditions.
  6. Help the patient feel comfortable in the chair. People who have hypothyroidism could use a blanket to help keep their legs warm, while those with hyperthyroidism might appreciate you turning the thermostat down a few extra degrees.
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What You Should Be Asking to Find the Best Dental Handpiece Repair Service

Dental handpieces are the bread and butter of any dental office.

 

Imagine a violinist without a violin or a painter without a paintbrush. That is what dental handpieces are to dentists and hygienists.

 

Without them, a dentist couldn’t fully function safely and easily.

 

Every dentist has their own personal preferences to which handpieces they use. The speed, and size and just overall feel of the equipment allows us to feel comfortable in delivering the best possible experience and quality for any patient.

 

But like most things, everyday use can wear down the machinery. Handpieces are investments and so their repairs shouldn’t be brushed aside.

 

What should you ask when your handpieces are wearing down and it’s time to get them repaired?

 

1. Do All Repairs Come With A Warranty? 

 

Handpieces are investments to your overall business. You need a guarantee that it will work.

 

The tools you use in your office, are extensions of yourself and your business. If something goes wrong because of a faulty repair, you’re liable for that patient’s safety.

 

A warranty is a silent indicator that the company is confident in their services to ensure your tools with a failsafe. Not only that but if something does happen, you’re covered.

 

Typically, the average repair service warranty is 3-6 months, depending on the handpiece and the type of repair. You’ll want a company that carries out quality repairs with a guarantee that it will work well.

 

If a repair service lacks a warranty, it’s probably best to avoid their services. They may have an inexpensive price tag, but you’ll get what you pay for. There’s a reason they are cheap.

 

Imagine yourself bringing your car in to get new brakes on your car. The technician says they’ll be covered under warranty for the next year. This is a necessary investment to ensure that you’ll be safe on the road, not only to those around you but also yourself.

 

Handpiece repair warranties are similar to car warranties. They are necessary investments to perform your daily tasks safely.

 

2. What Kind Of Parts Are Being Used?

 

Like we said before, handpieces are investments to the success of your business.

 

The last thing you’ll ever want is to replace your high-quality handpiece parts with cheap, poor quality parts. You wouldn’t replace violin strings with yarn, so why would you expect anything less than high-quality parts for every repair?

 

Sadly, if you end up with poor quality parts in your tools, not only is it not going to last as long but it may also damage your tools beyond repair.

 

One of the best things you can do is find out what others recommend. Personal recommendations are huge because they know how the product actually turned out.

 

No one should ever take expensive equipment to someone they don’t know!

 

3. Does The Company Provide High-Quality Customer Service?

 

You need someone who will give you the best experience possible.

 

What does that look like? Someone that honours the promises they make. If they are charging you for a quick turnaround, they make sure they are delivering their work on time.

 

If you don’t get a good feeling around them, or your personalities clash, then don’t entrust them with your repairs.

 

Some of the best repair services are the ones that let you speak directly with one that’s handling your equipment. They have the knowledge on what needs to be done.

 

An indication of a good repair company is if they offer you a free no obligation quote. You need someone to tell you if your tools are just beyond repair. Someone who won’t waste your time trying to fix something that can’t be.

 

Giving you an estimate or advice, means that you can trust their knowledge and they have your best interest in mind.

 

Extending the lifespan of your handpieces can allow you to save money. But you need someone who will tell you like it is, when things are beyond repair. Talk to us about our handpieces and how we can help you!

 

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Struggling with a Difficult Patient? Here’s How to Manage 4 Difficult Dental Patients

In any business, there are customers that we like and customers that test our patience. The same goes for the patients that visit the dentist’s office.

 

And sometimes, it’s hard to handle them so that they have the best experience and you can do your job.

 

Here are 4 types of patients that can be difficult and how to manage them.

 

 

1. The Google Expert 

 

We all know that one patient.

 

They know all the latest and greatest medical news and can’t wait to share with the dental hygienist. Instead of giving them a cleaning, we’re bombarded with questions that have taken four years of dentistry school to learn.

 

“Why didn’t you use this treatment?’

 

“Shouldn’t you be doing this?”

 

It can be exhausting.

 

It’s wonderful that the patient is enthusiastic about getting involved with the process, but it can hinder dental hygienists’ trying to do their job and sometimes even be harmful to the patient.

 

So, what’s the best course of action?

 

Be firm with the patient and confident in your own education. It’s important to make sure that they know we have their best interest in mind and that we are a much better resource than anything they can find on the web. 

 

2. The Late Comer

 

It’s 3:50. Their appointment was at 3:30. At this point, we’re assuming they just aren’t coming.

 

That’s when they stroll on in. The only thing more frustrating than that is if it happens on the regular.

 

Lateness has a domino effect. Regardless if all the next patients are on time, there’s no way to get back that 20 minutes. The worst part is making other patients wait just because someone has chronic tardiness. It isn’t good for anyone.

 

The best way to manage lateness is to incorporate a late policy. And stick to it.

 

Anyone that is more than 15-20 minutes late to their appointment, cannot be seen that day and will have to reschedule.

 

Generally, patients will respect the set appointment time and it will reduce the amount of late arrivers.

 

3. The Nervous Patient 

 

Dental anxiety is no joke. Nearly 1 in 5 patients have some degree of dental anxiety.

 

As dental hygienists, no one wants to see a patient cringe and tense as we recline the chair or pull back their cheeks. But no matter what we try to do to calm them, nothing works.

 

Sometimes, their discomfort and tension can radiate onto us, making us nervous too.

 

The best advice is to stay calm yourself. This is much easier said than done but often times what you put out into the world you get back in return.

 

It may be beneficial to open up the floor to a discussion about what is causing the anxiety and how we, as hygienists, can ease that discomfort. By knowing what makes them the most worried, you can avoid or minimize that factor.

 

In extreme cases, the patient may need to consult their doctor for anti-anxiety medication to take before appointments.

 

4. The Chatty Cathy 

 

You love them, but at the same time they can be quite frustrating.

 

These are the types that will get to know you, ask about the kids or about upcoming vacations. They are often the sweetest patients you’ll get!

 

As much as they make the workday go by faster, they can eat into the appointment through their conversations and suddenly we’re behind schedule!

 

It can be challenging when managing a Chatty Cathy because we don’t want to be rude in any way but we also have to get the job done on time. But like any skill, managing chatty patients comes with time and experience.

 

Focus the conversations towards the beginning and end of the appointment as well as during the period of time before the patient is seen by the doctor. These time zones are optimal for conversations because they don’t interrupt your job but also give the patient a chance to socialize.

 

Not only that but it will also build a better relationship with the patient!

 

While these four types of difficult patients can pose a challenge, there’s nothing we, as dental hygienists, can’t handle.

 

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