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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.

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...

Antidepressants: Medications Can Influence Direction of Dental Care

Antidepressants are used to correct chemical imbalances in the brain. The body naturally produces brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which correlate with depression, such as serotonin and dopamine to provide happiness to the brain. Norepinephrine is another neurotransmitter to help treat depression by focusing on attention, promoting concentration, responding to stress, boosts energy, increases alertness and arousal.1 Most medications relieve...

High Blood Pressure: Medications Can Have Impact on Dental Hygiene Care

An understanding of the mechanism, the purpose, and dosage will help determine when and why multiple blood pressure medications are used. Simple lifestyle changes (such as diet, exercise, and weight loss) can lower blood pressure. When blood pressure is very high, and lifestyle measures have failed, medications are commonly prescribed. Some blood pressure medications work in the heart. Others work...

Oral Allergy Syndrome: Educate Dental Patients about Reactions to Food

Oral allergy syndrome (OAS), which is also called pollen-fruit allergy syndrome, is a type of food allergy that causes instant allergic reactions in the mouth and throat. The syndrome is caused by cross-reacting allergens found in both pollen and the protein in raw fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts. This reaction occurs usually from eating raw or fully ripened fresh fruits...

Pharmacology Review of Dental Patients’ Cholesterol Medications

Cholesterol can be controlled by diet, weight management, exercise, and lifestyle, although in some cases, medications may be required. Medications are confusing to dental patients − multiple names and pronunciations, and the spelling is a nightmare. Patients are often unsure what medications they consume and will disclose two medications only to find out it's the same medication. Or they know...