Bits and pieces

April 1, 1999
Since calculus removal is such a big part of state boards and student requirements in school, why not eliminate checking and just weigh the patients before and after?

Since calculus removal is such a big part of state boards and student requirements in school, why not eliminate checking and just weigh the patients before and after?

Trisha E. O`Hehir, RDH, BS

There are lots of interesting bits of information or wonderings that I`ve never quite found a place for in past columns. So, here they are.

Ever wonder why patient bibs usually are square, leaving the shoulders exposed? Of course, the shoulders are the first places splatters and drips seem to go.

An estimated $11 billion is spent in the U.S. for pet health-care services each year. Dental insurance now is available for your dogs and cats. A company in France makes a chlorhexidine impregnated adhesive patch for veterinary use. A new dental chewing gum for dogs recently was introduced in Japan, where the company hopes to break into the dog-chew market.

Another new pet product is a fabric wipe containing baking soda to freshen pets` breath and reduce bacteria in the mouth. There also is an oral gel available for bad breath in pets. It claims to kill oral bacteria and whiten teeth. I probably find this pet information interesting, since my experience with pets is limited to a seahorse when I was 11 years old and a pair of tiny turtles when I lived in Switzerland.

Did you know that the patents for Enamelon toothpaste are owned by the ADA Health Foundation? In addition to toothpaste patents, there are some for remineralization technology that potentially can be used in mouthrinses, powder denitrifies, and food products - a new source of income for the ADA!

More lawsuits are in the news. Gillette Co. (Oral-B) has sued ColgatePalmolive, claiming false advertising in ads for Total® toothbrush. It seems Gillette thinks the ads will cause people to stop flossing. Based on what I`ve seen, people don`t need any encouragement from Colgate to stop flossing; they do just fine on their own!

Interesting company name: hiOsilver. It`s not a mouthrinse, but a turbocharged, oxygenated beverage formulated to control bad breath. Yes, this patented bottled water comes from California.

Not yet available in this country is the oral cancer-screening test by Zila, Inc. The company still is completing complicated FDA requirements. It is being used in 18 countries outside the United States. The Taiwan Health Department is using the test in a national oral cancer-screening program. The London Daily Mail newspaper has endorsed the test, saying it could save up to 1,000 lives a year in the United Kingdom.

Plastic from toothbrushes in the U.S. alone accounts for over 100 million pounds of plastic waste annually. To address this problem, the TerrAdent® replaceable head toothbrush from Germany is being introduced by Eco-Dent International Inc. The toothbrushes can be found in natural products and specialty stores in North America. Each brush comes with one replacement head, and extra heads are sold separately.

Oral-B just introduced a $5 toothbrush, the CrossAction?. The cheapest toothbrushes ? 19 cents each ? are available from a dental hygienist-owned company in Wisconsin, Prophy Perfect. Actually, they?re quite nice brushes for only 19 cents. U.S. toothbrush sales hit $650 million in 1998. The toothpaste market reached $1.6 billion.

Talk about niche marketing, a toothpaste made in Sweden is just for female smokers. In Europe, another brand called OMonday MorningO is suggested for use just once a week.

Q-Pharmaceutical Inc. in Washington state has introduced Q-Dent, a Coenzyme Q-10 toothpaste. It currently is available in the western part of the United States, with plans for national distribution later in 1999. The company also plans to introduce Coenzyme Q-10 in dental floss, mouthrinse, gingival spray and chewing gum.

We will soon see another Total? toothpaste. This one, a mint-flavored gel with a stripe, is called Total Fresh Stripe. It?s already available in England.

Remember the attacks waged against Dr. Paul Keyes for his OcrazyO ideas about using baking soda and salt at home to control periodontal disease? Strange, how many toothpastes and mouthrinses we now have that advertise their baking soda content! We even have baking soda chewing gums and candies. Guess his ideas weren?t so OcrazyO after all.

We now have a new sub-category for oral health products: chewing gum. Several contain baking soda and claim significant plaque reduction. There is an oral-fitness gum containing baking soda, vitamin E, Coenzyme Q-10, and aloe vera; a diet gum; gums to help people quit smoking; and ginsing gums for energy and love. Brain Gum? is being marketed with claims of enhancing learning and other mental functions. Between!? contains baking soda, minerals, vitamins A, C and E and is designed for use between meals, between brushings, and between the teeth.

Since calculus removal is such a big part of state boards and student requirements in school, why not eliminate checking and just weigh the patients before and after?

Topics of on-going research include: a mucosal vaccine for periodontal disease; a drug to treat oral herpes; anti-cavity chewing gums; a link between sleep apnea and artery disease due to a surge in blood pressure; a link between bacteria associated with pelvic inflammatory disease and TMJ dysfunction; time-release minocycline microspheres for subgingival use; an injectable product which induces bone growth at the injection site; and needle-free local anesthesia using a microscopic powder.

Genetically altered tobacco plants are being used in the production of a product for caries prevention which may reduce the adhesion of Strep mutans to tooth surfaces. However, not all studies demonstrate effectiveness.

I?ve never been able to figure out why dental hygienists are hired to work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then patients are scheduled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It must be that all the nonpatient duties of the hygienist that occur before eight and after five are considered volunteer work.

Tooth Art Inc. of Kansas City, Mo., is selling stickers that look like tattoos, but are temporary. For just $4.99, you can get 16 tooth tattoos! They also sell a professional kit to bond tooth art to the teeth, lasting about a month. The tooth art can be easily scraped off when desired. This is the inspiration of a dentist/mother of preteens.

Trisha E. O`Hehir, RDH, BS, is a senior consulting editor of RDH. She also is editor of Perio Reports, a newsletter for dental professionals that addresses periodontics. The Web site for Perio Reports is Her e-mail address is trisha@perioreports. com.