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Fighting the Silent Epidemic of Poor Oral Health - Editorials
Common Dental Emergencies - Article
ABSTRACT: Dental caries, a bacterial disease of teeth characterized by destruction of enamel and dentine, is often the underlying cause of dental pain. When a carious lesion impinges on the dental pulp, pulpitis follows and, ultimately, necrosis of the pulp occurs. Untreated necrosis may lead to a localized abscess or a spreading infection into the surrounding soft tissue that results in cellulitis. Immediate treatment involves antibiotic therapy for cellulitis, perhaps with drainage of abscesses, while definitive treatment requires root canal therapy or extraction of the involved tooth. Pericoronitis is an inflammation of the soft tissue overlying a partially erupted tooth. Localized cases respond to irrigation. Secondary cellulitis can develop. Definitive treatment may require surgical extraction of the underlying tooth or excision of the gum flap. Avulsion of a permanent tooth secondary to trauma is a true dental emergency. The tooth should be reimplanted on the spot, and the patient should be seen immediately by a dentist for splinting and antibiotic prophylaxis. Most dental problems can be prevented with regular dental care and steps to minimize risks of oral trauma.
ABSTRACT: Family physicians commonly encounter patients with dental infections, such as dental caries and periodontal disease. Dental caries is caused by bacteria that destroy the enamel and dentin; it can be detected by an oral examination that shows stained pits or fissures on the tooth surface. Use of fluoride is the most effective prevention measure for dental caries. Untreated caries may progress to pulpitis and, eventually, to necrosis of the pulp. In irreversible pulpitis, the tooth dies and the patient may have a localized abscess that can spread to surrounding tissue. Periodontal infections are caused by bacteria in the subgingival dental plaque. In gingivitis, the inflamed gums bleed easily with brushing or flossing; the condition can be controlled with good oral hygiene. Periodontitis is characterized by a loss of supportive bone structure caused by chronic gingivitis; it is also associated with some systemic diseases. Localized periodontitis is treated with mechanical debridement and good oral hygiene, whereas generalized periodontitis requires adjunct antibiotic therapy. Pericoronitis results when food particles become trapped under the gum of an impacted tooth. This condition can be controlled by removal of food debris and good oral hygiene. For patients in whom dental infections are disseminated and have invaded the deeper oral spaces, antibiotic treatment should be initiated at the time of referral.
Oral Health During Pregnancy - Article
ABSTRACT: Oral health care in pregnancy is often avoided and misunderstood by physicians, dentists, and patients. Evidence-based practice guidelines are still being developed. Research suggests that some prenatal oral conditions may have adverse consequences for the child. Periodontitis is associated with preterm birth and low birth weight, and high levels of cariogenic bacteria in mothers can lead to increased dental caries in the infant. Other oral lesions, such as gingivitis and pregnancy tumors, are benign and require only reassurance and monitoring. Every pregnant woman should be screened for oral risks, counseled on proper oral hygiene, and referred for dental treatment when necessary. Dental procedures such as diagnostic radiography, periodontal treatment, restorations, and extractions are safe and are best performed during the second trimester. Xylitol and chlorhexidine may be used as adjuvant therapy for high-risk mothers in the early postpartum period to reduce transmission of cariogenic bacteria to their infants. Appropriate dental care and prevention during pregnancy may reduce poor prenatal outcomes and decrease infant caries.
ABSTRACT: If appropriate measures are applied early enough, it may be possible to totally prevent oral disease. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that infants be scheduled for an initial oral evaluation within six months of the eruption of the first primary tooth but by no later than 12 months of age. The rationale for this recommendation is provided, although the recommendation itself is not universally accepted. Specific recommendations include elimination of bottles in bed, early use of soft-bristled toothbrushes (with parental supervision) and limitation of high-carbohydrate food intake after teeth have been brushed.