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Lara James, RDH

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Lara James, RDH, is a licensed dental hygienist of clinical hygiene, including corporate, dental management, and private practices. She graduated in 2004 from Portland Community College in Portland, Oregon. Lara has created DentalAisle.com, a dental blog, to educate consumers on dental products and dental issues. Lara also has written an online continuing education course on dentalcare.com. For more information, email her at lara@dentalaisle.com.

Tunnel Syndromes: Dental Hygienists can Seek Treatment for Occupational Injuries

Tunnel syndromes are comparable in symptoms yet are very distinguishable in their characteristics. Many symptoms overlap with numbness and pain, but the locations are the key determinates. While all three of the nerves start in the neck, they travel down the arm and take different paths. Where the pain starts in the arm can determine which nerve is the...

Be Prepared to Provide Dental Hygiene Care for Pregnant Patients

Pregnancy changes the whole body and the changes range from psychological-emotional swings to the more obvious physical changes. The mouth is not an exception to the many changes in the body. Several conditions may appear during pregnancy, including pregnancy gingivitis, to even the beginning signs of postpartum depression.1 Poor oral health during pregnancy may lead to poor health for the...

Oromandibular Dystonia: Symptoms are Easily Observed by Dental Professionals

Dystonia is a rare condition that affects about 1% of the population during their daily lives. The condition causes involuntary, repetitive, and violent muscle contractions as well as movements derived from a neurological disorder. Dystonia may cause squeezing or twisting with other movements or abnormal postures. It can happen throughout the whole body and is characterized as generalized (affecting...

Pain Management: How Dental Hygienists Can Interpret Varying Expressions of Pain

Why is pain so variable with dental patients? How do some patients tolerate non-surgical periodontal therapy along root surfaces with zero anesthetic? They take it like a champ ─ no flinching, no facial gestures, no moaning, no fidgeting, and no “ouch.” After the dental appointment ends, they reflect, “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” However, other...

Tonsils: Close Scrutiny Can Pinpoint Disease and Raise Oral Health Awareness

Tonsils are part of the immune system and contain an abundance of white blood cells to combat germs from entering the body. They are part of mucous-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT).1 Tonsils are made with lymphocytes and cells that prevent and fight infections.1 The tonsils have antigen-presenting cells on their surface that communicate with the B and T cells as...

Jaw Pain: Evaluating the Severity of Injuries from Dental Treatment

Jaw sprain is a common event yet is commonly underreported or misdiagnosed. The jaw is one of the most used joints in the human body, and it makes sense for it to have wear and tear, overuse, injuries, and pain. Dental patients who experience a jaw sprain have a challenging time keeping their mouths open and constantly need to rest...

Stomatitis: How Dental Professionals Treat and Manage these Conditions

Stomatitis
Stomatitis, also known as oral mucositis, is an inflammation in the mouth that affects the mucous membranes, and the condition arises from either a local stimulation or a systemic provocation.1 The causes of stomatitis are bacterial, fungal, viral, systemic, medications, physical irritants, allergies, irradiation, and chemotherapy, leading to reactions varying from stinging, soreness, red patches, mouth ulcers, blisters, peeling,...

Thyroid Medications: Impact of Drugs from the Dental Professional’s Perspective

The thyroid secretes certain hormones that are active participants in different systems of the body. The thyroid affects many parts of the body, including metabolism, hormones, body temperature, and it keeps the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs healthy. When too many or too few hormones are produced from the thyroid, it's considered a thyroid disorder.1 Dental concerns about thyroid...

Frenums: Checking for Frenum Abnormalities During Oral Hygiene Exams

Frenums are normal anatomy within the mouth, yet often neglected. The frenum consists of loose, fibrous connective tissue, elastic fibers, and striated muscle fibers that develop from muscle bundles of the lip. The purpose is to provide stability to the tongue and upper and lower lip. This mucous membrane fold attaches the lip and cheek to the alveolar mucosa, gingiva,...

Medications: General Principles for Dental Hygienists

Medications cure, treat, or prevent a disease or condition or relieve symptoms from an illness ─ vital elements to maintaining or improving health. Over 20,000 prescription medications are approved for marketing, and more than 66% of all adults in the United States use prescription medications. 1 Dental patients are more often on medications than not. Dental professionals should evaluate the...