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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.

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...

Dental Career Longevity: Healthy Immune System for Healthy Job Performance

The immune system is essential as it is a complex network of cells and proteins that defend the body against infections. Other parts of this system are made up of white blood cells, antibodies, lymph nodes, and organs, and the system's primary purpose is to kill the pathogen without harming the host. The dental field is considered a high-risk job...

Barodontalgia: How Pressure Changes can Cause “Tooth Squeeze” Pain

Barodontalgia, also known as “tooth squeeze,” is pain in the tooth region after a pressure change. The name reflects the condition – “baro” means pressure, and “odontalgia” means tooth pain. It is an acute toothache with high sensitivity when a sudden change in environmental pressure occurs.1 Another condition is dental barotrauma that happens when changes in barometric pressure generate damage...

Dental Erosion: Is It Heartburn, Acid Reflux, or GERD?

Heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD are often used reciprocally as they are stages of each other.  The initial signs of any digestive issue may be heartburn. As conditions progress in the digestive process, acid reflux will start to appear more frequently. If that doesn't resolve or settle down, a chronic condition known as GERD becomes a lifetime event. Dentally, it's...

Galvanized Shock: Some Dental Patients Can Still Experience a Shocker

Galvanized shock, which is also referred to as oral galvanism, oral electricity, electrogalvanism, or galvanic currents (and even called "battery mouth") is a distinct, sharp, electrical zap of a sensation when two different metals touch a tooth. Anyone who has experienced this knows exactly what that feeling is. Galvanism is defined as electricity produced by chemical action. Shock is the...

Hepatitis: Different Types of Hepatitis Dental Professionals Should Know About

Hepatitis
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that ranges from minimal symptoms to severe liver failure. Hepatitis is mainly viral with the common A, B, and C strains and these strains are the ones dental professionals are mostly aware of. Other hepatitis categories include infectious, metabolic, autoimmune, genetic, and ischemic. As discussed below, the dental management of hepatitis patients is...

Tooth Staining: Awareness of Oral Health Effects of Tetracycline and Minocycline

Tetracycline and minocycline are common antibiotics used medically for infections and inflammation. While useful for medical reasons, dental professionals know it more for internal staining of the teeth. Tetracyclines lead to permanent tooth staining when ingested during pregnancy, nursing, or during the developmental period of secondary and primary teeth. This vulnerable time frame is from the fourth month in utero...

Cerebrocostomandibular Syndrome: Oral Health Signs of Rare Disorder

Cerebrocostomandibular syndrome (CCMS) is an extremely rare disorder with a low survival rate. This condition is so rare that only around 80 confirmed cases have been reported in medical literature. The disorder involves a severely small chin, glossoptosis, an absent uvula, a cleft palate, narrow chest, missing ribs, gaps between the ribs, and difficulty breathing and feeding.1 Other conditions are...

Oral Submucous Fibrosis: Early Intervention with Betel Quid Chewing is Helpful

Oral submucous fibrosis is a chronic, progressive, premalignant, and irreversible condition. It is often described as a chronic, insidious, and scarring disease for the oral cavity, often with the involvement of the pharynx and the upper esophagus.1 The collagen-related disorder is characterized by inflammation, increased deposition of submucosal collagen, and formation of fibrotic bands in the oral and paraoral tissues....

The Uvula: Conditions that Dental Hygienists can Observe during an Exam

The uvula should not be neglected when evaluating the oral cavity for any discrepancies. The uvula is a fleshy, soft tissue in the middle of the soft palate that hangs down in the back of the throat in front of the tonsils, resembling an oval or teardrop shape (see Figure 1). The uvula’s flexibility prevents food and liquids from...

Caviar Tongue: Are Dental Hygiene Patients Displaying Signs of “Aging?”

Caviar tongue is a condition recognized by purplish veins located on the ventral side of the tongue. Veins are normally visible underneath (ventrally) the tongue since the mucous membrane is so thin and translucent. However, with caviar tongue, the blood vessels become dilated and tortuous and appear round and black (resembling caviar).1 Caviar tongue is also referred to as sublingual...

Scarlet Fever: Why Should Dental Professionals Pay Attention to Medical History?

With the extensive list of conditions on a dental health history, it can be quite overwhelming to really know about all of them and how they affect the dental appointment. While scarlet and rheumatic fever is not too common anymore, there’s still a reason it’s listed on health histories. I have even seen it marked on the health history of...

Strawberry Tongue: Systemic Health Influences This Oral Health Condition

Strawberry tongue, which is also called raspberry tongue, is described as a red tongue that is bumpy, swollen, and, in some cases, enlarged. The condition reflects a systemic issue rather than an oral disorder. When strawberry tongue is present, it means there is an underlying issue involved. To determine the underlying cause, other symptoms will need to be considered.1A healthy...