Program provides needed dental care for handicapped

  Dion Harrison always had a lot of infections in his teeth.

He also has some other health problems that keep him in a wheelchair.

A couple of years ago, Harrison, 49, said he had a year where he would get a tooth infection nearly every month and have it treated with antibiotics, over and over. His mouth was hurting; he could barely chew his food because of the pain. Unemployed at the time, he’d tried unsuccessfully to find a dentist.

When Frederick dentist Harvey Levy finally saw him about two years ago as part of the Maryland Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped’s Donated Dental Services Program, Levy said Harrison’s teeth were cracked and puss-filled. The program provides free dental care to people with disabilities or other impairments who can’t afford treatment and are not covered by other assistance programs like Medicaid or Medicare.

As a member of the foundation, Levy has been taking two pro bono cases under the Donated Dental Services Program since its inception in the late 1980s.

He said while he could offer services to anyone he likes, he prefers the most challenging cases of people that typically have handicaps and may be in wheelchairs. His office is equipped to serve people in wheelchairs.

“We couldn’t save anything,” Levy said of Harrison’s teeth.

Harrison had to go to Frederick Memorial Hospital, where Levy removed all of his teeth in an operation, part of which was funded by the hospital, Levy said.

Levy then made and fit dentures for Harrison. In all, the dental work would have cost Harrison about $12,500, Levy said.

“There’s no pain anymore,” Harrison said. “I can eat better.”

Donated Dental Service Program executive director Lilian Marsh said the statewide program recruits and tries to match volunteer dentists with people suffering from physical or mental disabilities, including people who have cancer, diabetes, are awaiting organ transplantation or are veterans.

“It’s a privilege to work in a job where we can touch people’s lives the way we do,” she said.

The program staff try to match dentists with patients in their home towns and then monitors their progress if they need further treatment or to see an oral surgeon. If the patients can’t afford to pay laboratory costs, the program will cover it.

Last year, the program provided about $1.17 million in dental care in Maryland. About 350 patients completed care last year and 596 others were still receiving treatment, Marsh said. About 40 people in the Frederick area completed treatment last year.

The average patient in the program receives over $2,000 in free care, she said. About 25 dentists in Frederick County volunteer for the program and Marsh said she’s always on the lookout for new volunteers.

Roughly 800 people in Maryland are waiting for such care, Marsh said.

“We can use more volunteers,” she said.


Source: Frederick News Post


How’s Fido’s Breath? 3 Tips for Checking Your Pet’s Dental Health


Do you know the warning signs of dental problems? Pets can be stubborn when you try to check, but it’s worth the effort. Here’s some advice to make the job easier:

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to confess that I’m probably not the best source on maintaining your pet’s dental health at home.

I have tried—unsuccessfully, I might add—countless times to brush my dog Blue’s teeth, but he wiggles and squirms and makes it impossible for me to even get a toothbrush into his mouth. I’ve tried taking him to the pet store groomers, but he makes a beeline for the exit before we step two feet into the store. I had to resort to taking him to the vet to have his teeth deep cleaned under anesthesia.


But I’m nothing if not resourceful, and I found a lot of great information about this important topic online. Here are some tips from the ASPCA to help you maintain your pet’s pearly whites and overall dental health:

Breath test: OK, I know this sounds gross. But sniffing your pet’s breath can tip you off to any dental issues. Cat and dog breath doesn’t exactly smell good, but if their breath has an abnormally strong odor they may have digestive problems or gingivitis, which needs to be treated by a vet. If bad breath is accompanied by a loss of appetite, vomiting or excessive drinking or urinating, consult with your vet immediately.

Lip service: Once a week, with your dog or cat facing you, gently lift his lips and examine his gums and teeth. The gums should be pink, not white or red, and should show no signs of swelling. His teeth should be clean, without any brownish tartar.

Tooth-brushing kits: Local pet stores sell toothbrushes and toothpaste that are designed specifically for dogs and cats. A piece of soft gauze wrapped around your finger or cotton swabs will work as well. Never use toothpaste designed for people on your pets, and don’t use fluoride with dogs and cats younger than 6 months. When in doubt consult with your vet to see what type of toothpaste they recommend.

A few things to look out for: Maintaining your pet’s dental health requires more than an occasional brushing. It’s important that you also keep an eye out for any signs of oral disease that need to be checked by your vet. Here are a few things to watch for:

  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Tumors in the gums; ulcers on gums or tongue; cysts under the tongue
  • Loose teeth
  • Dark red line along the gums or red, swollen gums
  • Pus
  • Difficulty chewing food
  • Excessive pawing at the mouth area

See more tips from the ASCPA here.

Do you brush your pet’s teeth at home? If so, I want to hear from you! What tips can you offer your fellow pet parents?



Suing to Brighten the Future for Teeth-Whitening Kiosks

Over the past decade, drug stores and dentists’ offices saw glowing profits selling and applying smile-brightening strips, toothpastes, and other brilliant innovations. Their success inspired a cottage industry offering competing services out of spas, salons, and mall kiosks. Dentists complained, and since 2005 at least 25 states have ordered teeth-whitening businesses to close, on the grounds that whitening services should be performed only by state-certified dentists and hygienists, according to Angela Erickson, a research analyst at the Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm in Arlington, Va. “It’s what you call license creep,” she says.

On April 30 the Institute for Justice filed suit (PDF) in Alabama, arguing that state regulations that restrict teeth-whitening services to the dentist’s office unfairly stymy competition. The firm filed a similar lawsuit (PDF) in Connecticut in 2011, in a case that will likely go to trial in November. Meanwhile, Erickson published a report criticizing 14 states that have written laws to make teeth whitening the sole domain of dentists and licensed hygienists.

The Institute for Justice is one of a handful of law firms that parachute into regulatory disputes across the country and bring lawsuits on behalf of small businesses. The firm works pro bono and concentrates on four favorite libertarian causes: private property, economic liberty, free speech, and school choice. Some of its other notable cases include a recent lawsuit to allow Benedictine monks to sell low-cost caskets without a certification from the State of Louisiana, and a ruling in favor of California hairstylists to braid hair without a cosmetology license.

Of course, some regulations make more sense than others, and some business ideas shine brighter than the rest. A Kentucky law that lets incumbent moving companies block would-be competitors from getting into the business doesn’t seem to do much public good. There are compelling reasons to sell bulk packages of boneless, skinless chicken breast out of the back of a truck, whatever the regulatory hassle, or to fight to repeal Prohibition-era laws barring wine from being sold in kegs.

Opening a kiosk to sell teeth-whitening services that can be bought over-the-counter and applied at home doesn’t seem like the most dazzling business model. Not that the redundancy of services will make a difference in the Institute for Justice lawsuits. The important question: whether keeping unlicensed entrepreneurs out the business protects public health and safety.

When I asked William Gerrish, the director of communications for the Connecticut Department of Public Health, for the state’s side of the teeth-whitening story, he pointed me to a declaratory ruling (PDF) handed down by the state’s Dental Commission in 2011, which argued that the “inherent risks” in teeth whitening make the practice best suited for licensed dentists. For his part, Institute for Justice lawyer Paul Sherman says risks—tooth sensitivity and sore gums—associated with teeth-whitening products “are exactly the same at home or at the mall or the salon.”


Source: BusinessWeek


A Look At Flossing

Along with brushing your teeth, you should also be flossing on a daily basis. Flossing will remove plaque and debris in areas that your toothbrush isnt able to achieve. A buildup of plaque can lead to gum disease or tooth decay, which is why flossing is very important. If you floss immediately after brushing, youll notice that your gums and teeth will be much healthier.

When you see at dental floss, youll notice there are two types  nylon and single filament. You can profit nylon either waxed or un-waxed, in several different flavors. Nylon floss is made up of several strands of nylon material, meaning that it can shred, tear, or snag between the teeth if it gets caught upon sharp teeth. Even though the single filament floss is more costly than nylon, it will slide easily between teeth, even tight areas and spaces. Unlike nylon, single filament is impossible to shred or tear.

No matter which type of floss you pick, as long you floss regularly, it will remove debris from your teeth and gums. If youve never tried flossing before, you will probably be surprised at just how much debris and food particles it can remove. Flossing is recommended by dentists everywhere, as it can achieve places that even the smallest of toothbrushes cant. Food and debris will construct up between your teeth, which makes dental flossing very important.

The main problem many people have against flossing is the fact that it can result in bleeding of the gums. Anytime you floss and profit between your teeth and around your gums, the floss will rub against your gums, resulting in bleeding. Many people take this the wrong way, and immediately end flossing, usually for great. Bleeding is very common, and should be expected with flossing.

When you brush your teeth, you miss a lot of food particles and debris that continues to fabricate up in your mouth. No toothbrush is designed to acquire all place of your mouth, as every of them miss difficult to come places. With the areas missed by the toothbrush, the debris and plaque will continue to manufacture up until they eventually result in a cavity or decay. To profit this debris and plaque before it builds up into something more serious, youll need to floss.

If youve been frightened to attempt flossing due to the bleeding, you should really get over that fear and floss after you brush. To withhold your teeth and gums healthy, youll to brush and floss your teeth. Regular checkups with your dentist will help as well, although it is up to you to continue your regular maintenance at house with flossing and brushing. If you floss upon a daily basis  you’ll speedily realize just how tidy your teeth and gums will be.

Source: PLPR

Good dental health essential to overall health

Current dental health services primarily focus on acute treatment and repairs of diseases of the teeth and gums, generally fillings and crowns. The repairs often have little to do with arresting or treating the underlying dental disease. But they do, of course, alleviate the pain that we’ve all had from a cavity or gum disease. However, dental health services are much more than that. In fact, good dental health is related to good overall health.

There is mounting evidence from both dental and medical studies demonstrating that oral microbial pathogens, such as bacteria, have been found in defective cardiac lesions, aortic aneurysms, carotid artery plaques and in the brain tissue of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, for example. The theory is that these microscopic pathogens raise the level of inflammation in the body as measured by C-reactive protein (CRP) and also that these pathogens stick to the endothelium (or the lining of the small blood vessels).

Dentists traditionally have not been involved in the management of chronic diseases of their patients, such as diabetes, coronary artery disease and asthma, generally leaving their management to the patient’s primary care providers. The focus has also been on treatment of dental disease rather than prevention, though that is rapidly changing within the dental community. It’s important for dental and medical healthcare providers to instill the importance of the patient’s role in managing their chronic illnesses as well as their health and how they can reduce risk factors so that they can remain as healthy as possible.

There are obstacles, of course. Dental services can be very expensive and many patients don’t have dental insurance. Those that do may not have plans that cover regular dental hygiene in chronic disease management. Many patients dislike going to the dentist because they fear the pain if they need repairs. They also may not go because if their teeth and gums aren’t hurting them, they might think that they have no need for preventive services. Finally, patients may not be engaged in the importance of dental health and how it relates to their overall health and thus do not regularly brush or floss their teeth.

Dental health may not be a priority for many patients, but it should. Most patients are not aware that it is the bacteria, and not soft teeth, that cause oral disease. These bacteria are passed from parents and from kissing those with oral pathogens. A sugary diet feeds the pathogens, letting them dominate your mouth. Brushing and flossing certainly lowers their presence, as does limiting your intake of sugar. So take care of yourselves and get preventive help from your primary health provider and/or your dentist.


Source: Idaho Press


Dental hygiene especially important for mothers-to-be

Diana Velazquez thought skipping her bi-annual trip to the dentist wasn’t a big deal, that is, until she became pregnant.

Continue reading

When she found out an increase in oral decay and gum disease could lead to pre-term labor, though, the priority of getting her pearly whites looked went up.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control revealed that almost half of women in Maryland who gave birth in 2009 and 2010 reported poor oral hygiene. In addition to potentially going into labor early, doctors say that not taking care of your teeth during pregnancy could put an unborn child at risk of infections or low birth weight.

“All of these things you’ve got to look for and be careful with,” Dr. Idalia Rosado-Torres, the chair of the OB/GYN department at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, said. “I think sometimes we forget.”

Morning sickness can play a major role in the health of your teeth during pregnancy. During a woman’s first trimester, when morning sickness is frequent, women can develop a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. It can affect a future mother even if there are no signs of nausea or vomiting.

“You’re eating a little more frequently, and you still have to take care of your teeth,” Dr. Rosado-Torres said.”

Just like everyone else, doctors recommend that mothers-to-be brush and floss daily. If you have morning sickness, doctors recommend a dimple mouth wash of water and baking soda.


Read more: WJLA

A young woman was sitting on a curb near Farabee Family Dental Care Friday afternoon waiting for her number to be called so she could have a tooth extracted.

She had been there since 8:30 a.m.

“I had an abscess tooth a couple weeks ago and Riggs (Community Health Center) doesn’t have a dentist, so I went to the emergency room,” said Rhonda Barricks, 26, of Lafayette. “I tried to get them to pull it, but they won’t pull it.”

Barricks was one of hundreds who flocked to the 12-room dental practice for the one day of free dental work. The offer couldn’t have come at better time for those who use Riggs regularly but have been out of luck since the clinic’s dentist left in April.

Veronique LeBlanc, president and CEO of Riggs, said the clinic has interviewed two dentists. She said a former dentist for Riggs and other local dentists have volunteered their time.

During Farabee Family Dental Care’s day of free care, patients were offered a choice of a cleaning, filling or extraction.

The practice is part of Heartland Dental Care and was able to bring in support from fellow offices in Indianapolis and Peru to help with the abundance of patients, said Melissa Coors, practice administrator.

“I’d say about half have been extractions so far,” she said about 1 p.m.

Teressa King, 53, of Lafayette was sitting against a tree and waiting to have her tooth pulled. She had been in pain for nearly a year.

“It’s just bad. It needs to come out,” she said.

King had an appointment at Riggs in January, but canceled to tend to her mother in Kokomo who was going through chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

She tried to make another appointment, but it was going to take several weeks because the dentist was leaving. Moreover, King said she didn’t have Medicaid, making it more difficult to access dental care.

“It’s worth the wait to me,” said Barrick’s mother, Lynne Couch, 53, of sitting outside for five hours.


Source: JCOnline