The interaction with diagnosis and treatment
by Keverly Sugden, RDH, BASDH
How many times have you been talking to one of your coworkers and thought, “Wow, I did not know that!” I’m fortunate to work in a large practice with dentists and dental hygienists of many different ages and backgrounds. We learn from one another and all realize that dental education has changed over the years. Dentistry is a dynamic field where concepts and therapies are constantly changing. Dental hygienists are the preventive specialists in the dental practice. Our profession needs to embrace change and keep abreast of new technologies and therapies. A shift is occurring in dentistry to prevent periodontal disease, dental caries, and medical issues. Dentistry is gradually shifting from symptom treatment to prevention. There are so many new technologies, and here are a few to explore.
Periodontal disease is preventable and treatable if we can identify and treat it in the early stages. The only way to effectively treat periodontal disease is to identify and properly manage it. Many patients respond very well to nonsurgical and surgical periodontal treatment. What about patients that do not respond to therapy, or respond for a while and then reverse? Dental professionals now have availability to very effective tests. OralDNA Labs, www.oraldna.com, offers two separate tests — MyPerioPath and MyPerioID. MyPerioPath is DNA-bacterial testing used to identify specific bacteria to guide proper therapy. Treatment outcomes can be improved by targeting types of bacteria present and proper antibiotics necessary. MyPerioID is a DNA-genetic test that establishes genetic risk and can help guide therapy based on genetics. The two tests are salivary tests that are simple to administer. Imagine the difference in the outcome in your periodontal program if you can test patients before you begin treatment! Patients will appreciate this customized and thorough approach to treating their periodontal disease.
Dental lasers are now being used for periodontal therapy by dental hygienists in many states. Discus Dental now offers the NV Microlaser, a cordless and lightweight laser that offers the power of a desktop soft tissue laser. The iLase, manufactured by Biolase, is also a powerful, lightweight, cordless laser. Lasers are very effective in periodontal treatment.
Numerous changes in dentistry
There are several new technologies available for oral cancer screening. The Identifi 3000 is the size of an electric toothbrush and employs three wavelengths of light to enhance early and accurate detection of oral cancers. Check out this technology at www.trimira.net. The Orascoptic DK is a three-in-one diagnostic kit that features a handheld device with mirror, and LED light that will illuminate teeth to show fractures and early carious lesions.
Oral cancer is on the rise in the young adult population and is directly related to the steady increase in the human papillomavirus (HPV). OralDNA Labs offers a test that can identify HPV status called OraRisk HPV, a noninvasive test that identifies the type(s) of HPV present. These new technologies can help save lives.
Dental professionals are now embracing minimally invasive dentistry. Early detection and prevention are the cornerstones of this approach. The newest concept in early caries detection is the use of lasers. Quantum Dental Technologies manufactures the Canary dental caries detection system. The Canary uses a low-power, pulsating laser light that scans for caries. This device allows for caries detection without the use of radiographs and identifies demineralized areas not evident on a radiograph.
Dental hygienists are striving to detect demineralized areas and treat these areas conservatively with remineralizing products such as GCAmerica’s MI Paste Plus. Xylitol is a natural ingredient that reduces the bacteria that causes cavities. Check out www.Xlear.com for information on the benefits of xylitol.
Ozone therapy may eventually be used to treat dental caries in the U.S. High concentrations of ozone kill bacteria in teeth very quickly. A laser can detect decay and demineralized areas, and a suction cup delivers ozone directly to the area. Once the bacteria are eradicated, remineralizing agents can be applied to heal the tooth. Ozone therapy is undergoing approval by the FDA for use in the U.S. Ozone therapy is currently being used in Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Anxious dental patients can now experience a relaxing dental appointment without the use of oral or IV sedation. The NuCalm system by Solace Solutions organically calms the brain. The NuCalm system integrates four separate systems to create deep relaxation. The patient wears black-out glasses and listens to NeuroAcoustic software as the brain receptors are opened and brain nutrients are used to completely relax the patient. The patient is rejuvenated after the dental appointment and there are no side effects or recovery time. Check out www.solacesolutions.com for more information on this incredible new technology.
Sleep apnea devices can add years to patients’ lives. A patient is considered a candidate after an Epworth Sleep Scale and a sleep study are completed. A patient has an apneic event when he or she stops breathing and oxygen levels drop dangerously low due to an improper airway opening. A sleep apnea device can open the patient’s airway and increase oxygen flow and treat sleep apnea. More information is available at the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine at www.aadsm.org.
Dental equipment is improving dramatically. Back Quality Ergonomics LLC designs and manufactures dental office and operator chairs that are custom fitted to the individual dental professional. The CorrectSit and the Dynamic both help dental professionals achieve proper posture. Check out www.bqergonomics.com for more information about the company’s philosophy and products.
I have introduced just a few of the many new technologies and concepts in dentistry. You can stay on the cutting edge by reading dental publications, attending meetings such as RDH Under One Roof in Chicago in 2011, and networking with other dental professionals. The future is ever changing and interesting. Dentistry has undergone many changes recently and is sure to make many more. Keep your eyes and mind open!
Keverly Sugden, RDH, BASDH, is an author, speaker and practicing dental hygienist. She is an adjunct faculty member. She has published articles on group practice management and MI dentistry. Keverly is a member of the American Dental Hygienists? Association and works with local legislators on access to care for children. She has written a training program for large group xadental practices and has organized corporately sponsored continuing education courses for dental hygienists. Keverly can be contacted at [email protected].