Blood Pressure at the Dental Office

Ruth Jones, RDH

Blood Pressure at the Dental Office

Blood pressure screenings in the dental setting are becoming more common and sometimes patients wonder why it’s being done and if it’s necessary. Blood pressure which “measures the force on the arterial walls as the heart pumps blood throughout the body” is an indication of a person’s health. High blood pressure referred to as hypertension has been called the “Silent Killer” because of its high-risk factor for heart disease and stroke, which can be fatal. People may be walking around with it and be unaware of the risk they’re living with. Taking blood pressure at the dental office only takes about a minute and has great benefits. It can alert the dental professional and subsequently the patient of elevated or high blood pressure.  This provides the dental professional with valuable information of how to treat the patient safely. This information also allows the patient to initiate a conversation with their primary physician about ways to control their hypertension. Often, it’s the patients that are unaware of their hypertension that have the greatest risk. In some cases, taking blood pressure before dental treatment can prevent a medical emergency.

In an effort to encourage people to use diet and exercise to control elevated blood pressure at early stages, the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association with other professional organizations lowered the threshold for hypertension and developed new guidelines. The table below is the updated guidelines.

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 5.59.44 PM

Want to learn more? Visit us at


What Are Dental Sealants?

Morgan J

Morgan Johnson, RDH

What Are Dental Sealants?

If you have children, you may have heard your dentist recommend placing sealants on your child’s back teeth (molars and/or premolars). When these teeth erupt, they tend to have deep pits and fissures on the occlusal (or chewing) surfaces. Because of these deep grooves, these teeth are more vulnerable to decay. Children are often still developing good oral hygiene habits, so food and plaque tend to get left behind in these hard to clean areas. To help prevent cavities from occurring on these teeth, dental professionals like to seal up those deep pits and fissures with a plastic material, called a sealant. Sealants are typically most common for children, but they may be placed on adults as well if necessary!

Sealant Procedure

This procedure is very easy, simple, and doesn’t require any anesthetic (numbing)! First the chewing surface of the tooth is polished to remove any debris, and then it is rinsed clean, and dried. Next an acidic solution is applied to the surface, to “roughen” up the enamel, which makes the sealant material better attach to the tooth. Once the tooth is dried again, the plastic sealant material is applied to the tooth, and dried with a curing light. Your bite is then adjusted if needed, and you have a shiny new protective sealant. Longevity of sealants varies from person to person, but they can last for many years!

Want to learn more? Visit us at


Importance of Baby Teeth


Cortney Davis, RDH

With a new baby in my household, I know how important it is to prepare for her teeth to come in. As soon as a baby’s first tooth comes in, it needs immediate attention and care.  Baby teeth are very important to your child’s health and development.

Children have 20 primary teeth are already present in the jaw at birth and will typically begin to erupt when a baby is 6 months to a year old. All 20 teeth should be erupted by the age of 3. Every child is different, but usually the first teeth to come in are located in the bottom front following the upper front of the mouth.

When babies teeth first come in, most babies have tender or sore gums. You can gently rub your child’s gums with wet gauze, a washcloth, a clean finger, or a clean teeth ring to chew on. If your child is still cranky or in pain, you can always consult with you physician or dentist on how to comfort your baby.

As stated earlier, baby teeth are very important to your child’s health and development. They help your child speak, chew, smile, and also hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums. When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in. This can make teeth crowded or crooked making it harder to keep clean and cavity free. That’s why starting infants off with good oral care can help protect their teeth and prevent tooth decay.

Tooth decay in infants and very young children is often referred to as baby bottle tooth decay. Baby bottle tooth decay happens when sweetened liquids or those with natural sugars (like milk, formula, and fruit juice) cling to an infant’s teeth for a long time. Bacteria in the mouth thrive on this sugar and make acids that attack the teeth. At risk are children who get a sugary drink to go to bed or sugary drinks frequently. The most common teeth affected by baby bottle caries are the upper front teeth.

How can you properly care for your young child’s teeth? Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. As soon as teeth appear, decay can occur. For young children, start brushing their teeth as soon as they begin to erupt by using fluoride toothpaste in the amount no more than a smear the size of a grain of rice and when they are a little older the size of a pea.  Brush the teeth thoroughly twice per day and supervise older children when they brush to ensure they use the appropriate amount of toothpaste and they are brushing every area. Always remind children not to swallow the toothpaste and to spit it out after they are finished. When your child’s teeth begin to touch, it is important that you and your child start incorporating flossing daily to help remove plaque in between the teeth.

The American Dental Association recommends that you bring your child to the dentist soon after the first tooth comes in and no later than your child’s first birthday.  The first couple visits are considered “happy visits” and will help your child get familiar with the dentist office. It also gives your dentist a chance to check for tooth decay and discuss other conditions or habits such as thumb sucking and your child’s diet that may affect your child teeth. Your dentist also can show you how to properly care for your child teeth and can answer any questions you have about their oral care.

Want to learn more? Visit us at


Are My Kids Doing a Good Job Cleaning Their Teeth?

Sharma RDH

Sharna Mulqueen RDH

Are my kids doing a good job cleaning their teeth?

Tooth brushing is one of those important chores that every parent teaches their child. Not only is tooth brushing a lesson in good dental care, it also an opportunity to teach your child about responsibility. As a parent, you know that good dental care is imperative to your child’s overall health.  Your child could be skipping out on brushing their teeth; you can use this guide for clues to check.

Tips That Your Child isn’t Brushing Their Teeth

  1. The toothbrush is dry. If you notice that your child’s toothbrush is dry, it’s a sure sign he or she hasn’t brushed. Check their toothbrush as soon as they are done to verify.
  2. Your child is finished brushing quickly. Even baby teeth need to be brushed for at least two minutes. If you discover your child is rapidly done brushing, help them understand the importance of proper dental care, including brushing every area of their mouth carefully. You can use music and timers to inspire them to brush for the full two minutes.
  3. Food particles are still in your child’s teeth. If your child emerges from the bathroom raving they had a thorough tooth brushing—ask for a smile. If food particles remain, send your child back to the bathroom for a brushing do-over.
  4. Your child’s tongue is white. Clean tongues are pink. Tongues with bacteria lurking are white. Make sure your child knows to brush their tongue as well as their teeth for complete dental care.
  5. Never-ending dental floss. Flossing daily is as important as twice-daily brushing, so monitor the bathroom garbage can for floss strings. Encouraged your child to use any product that can clean in between the teeth. Hand held flossers are a great tool for children to start using.
  6. Your child has bad breath. Bad breath, especially at a young age, is often the result of bacteria buildup caused by food particles that may still be hanging around. Do a breath check and send your child in for a brushing if it’s anything less than pleasant.
  7. Your child has cavities. If your child develops dental issues, such as cavities or tooth pain, seek the advice of one of our Dentist.  This is an obvious sign that your child is skipping all or part of their dental care routine. We are can offer additional tips to help keep your kids excited about brushing.

Want to learn more? Visit us at


Why use an Electric Toothbrush?

Rachel Nelson RDH

Rachel Nelson, RDH

Why use an Electric Toothbrush?


  • Improved Plaque Removal: Studies have shown an improvement in plaque removal which can also reduce your chances of gingivitis.
  • Simple Use: For those with dexterity limitations, electric toothbrushes are created with those in mind; from larger handles to powered head rotation, almost anyone can enjoy the benefits of a more thorough cleaning.
  • Built-in Pressure Sensors and Timers: Oftentimes we do not notice “toothbrush abrasion” until we go to our dental appointments. This occurs when we use too much pressure and end up doing more harm than good. Many of the new powered toothbrushes provide a built-in sensor to tell us when our pressure is too great, and some even provide a timer so we are not tempted to work overtime.
  • Optional cleaning “modes”: If you desire whiter teeth, there’s a mode for that. There are also many other options based on your preference or need. Sensitive teeth are no longer a reason not to use one, as there is an option for that. If you have sensitive teeth or inflammed gums, the massage mode may be best for you. Regular cleaning and deep cleaning modes are also provided.
  • Environmentally more friendly: If you are changing out your toothbrush at the recommended every 3 months, think about how much plastic is being thrown away over the course of a lifetime. While eventually you will have to replace the body of your power toothbrush, the only thing you should have to replace for a long time is the head, which is smaller than a full size manual toothbrush, and therefore less harmful to the environment.
  • Child Friendly: Most stores, and many of the top companies such as Oral B, provide a large selection of child-size electric toothbrushes. There is a variety of options, some with Disney or other classic characters on them, some that play music, and others that can be linked to smart appliances such as phones or tablets to unlock fun games.  This is a great way to introduce children while young to the importance of a healthy homecare routine while allowing them to have fun while doing it.

Where to Purchase

  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Amazon
  • Walgreens
  • CVS
  • Best Buy
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Costco
  • Sam’s Club

Caring for your Electric Toothbrush

Regular maintenance should include rinsing the head with water or mouthrinse and placing in an upright position to air dry.  Some companies, such as Sonicare, offer toothbrush head sanitizer.  Like the whole of a manual toothbrush, the head of your electric toothbrush should be replaced every 3 months; should the bristles become frayed, or in some cases if the color starts to fade, replace sooner. The body should be rinsed with water, unless otherwise directed, and gently wiped down.  Your toothbrush should be stored in a dry environment away from other toothbrushes to avoid transfer of bacteria.

Brands of Electric Toothbrush

Dental professionals have taken an interest in the increasing popularity of electric toothbrushes. Below are some of the top brands recommended:

  • Oral B
  • Sonicare
  • Sterline
  • Waterpik
  • Panasonic

When choosing an electric toothbrush, it is always important to do your own research.  Many studies and reviews are available online, many of which are done by dentists and other dental professionals themselves. Next time you are at the dentist, ask your hygienist what kind of toothbrush is right for you.

Want to learn more? Visit us at






Cannabis and Your Oral Health


Andra Mahoney, RDH BSDH

Cannabis and Your Oral Health

Cannabis is illegal on the federal level.  However, as of March 2018, 30 states have legalized the use of either medical or recreational marijuana.  As this becomes more prevalent, we all need to become aware of the effects cannabis use has on our mouths.

Why people use Cannabis

-Sleep Problems

Reduce pain from:
-Multiple Sclerosis
-Spinal Cord Injuries
-Rheumatoid Arthritis

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Decrease seizures in Drug-resistant Epilepsy

Reduce Muscle Spasticity

Reduce Nausea and Vomiting related to Chemotherapy and AIDS treatments


Types of Marijuana

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol): the primary psychoactive compound of the plant.

CBD (cannabidiol): nonpsychoactive, does not produce the typical “high”.

Weed: leaves and buds of the female plant.

Hash: resin made from the plants.  Resin can be dried into blocks.

Hash Oil: most potent form, applied to different items.


Ways to Administer

Inhalation: smoked in cigarettes (joints), pipes (bongs), hollowed out cigars (blunts), hookah pipes.  Alternatives to smoking include vaping, inhaling a fine mist caused by heating the marijuana instead of burning it.  Dabbing is when hash oil is made into a wax and heated to a vapor in a glass pipe.

Oral: edibles (food or beverages), capsules, sublingual (under your tongue), tinctures, or oromucosal sprays (mouth sprays).

Topical: creams, and oils.

Alternatives: suppositories.


Adverse Reactions

Physical Effects:
-Addiction is significantly greater with adolescent onset use as opposed to adult onset use.
-Myocardial Infarction (MI)
-Ischemic Stroke
-Acute Kidney Injury
-Respiratory, including lung cancer
-Nervous system disorder
-Dry Mouth
-Decrease development of brain’s white matter

Psychological Effects:
-Paranoia and anxiety are often found in the use of THC.
-Self Harm and suicidal behaviors
-Confusion, impaired functioning


Effects on your Mouth

The inhalation category referenced above has the most negative effect on your mouth.  Especially if used chronically.

-Increase in cavities/tooth lose due to poor hygiene
-Increase in cavities/tooth lose due to increase in sugary, carbohydrated foods
-Inflammation in gums resulting in higher risk for periodontitis (gum disease)
-Inflammation in gums resulting in leukoplakic (white) patches
-Xerostomia (dry mouth)
-Cannabis Stomatitis (changes in the lining of the mouth)
-Oral Cancer
-Negative interactions between local anesthetic and nitrous oxide



There are many reason why people use marijuana.  If you do, make sure you are informed on the risks and weigh those to the benefits you find in using cannabis.  If you smoke marijuana, look into alternative methods such as edibles or topical applications.  Visit your dental professionals regularly so that we can help keep you healthy!  Regular dental hygiene appointments to keep your teeth/gums healthy, oral cancer screenings, and any teeth restorations as needed.   But most importantly, make sure you find a place that you feel comfortable openly, safely discussing your cannabis use so that we, as oral health professionals, can provide you with the safest care possible.

Want to learn more? Visit us at


Yao, Suellan Go, DMD, and James Burke Fine, DMD. “Consumption of Cannabis and Effects of Periodontal Health.” CDA Journal Volume 45. Issue 9 (2017): 475-481. Print.

Coping With a Medical Emergency


Maria Ambra, RDH

Coping With a Medical Emergency

“Why are you asking me so many personal questions about my health? Are you my medical physician?”

“What does my blood pressure or my diabetes have to do with my cleaning?”

Several times during the day, as Dental Hygienists, we experience scenarios where patients ask these types of questions. Some patients believe that there is no correlation between the dental visit and their medical conditions.

Medical emergencies can occur when we least expect them; before, during or after dental procedures, especially when there is an underlying medical condition. Reviewing a complete medical history at each dental visit is the best way to be prepared or possibly prevent an emergency. It’s always prudent for us to ask you questions, or your physicians if you unsure why you take certain medications, to see if a medical conditions could impact dental treatment.

As dental hygienists, it is critical to evaluate the your current physical state, while a dental hygiene procedure is in progress. Either a simple prophylaxis or a Scale Root Planning, monitoring the your behavior during the dental visit is very important.


Some of the most common medical emergencies seen in dental offices are:


Local anesthetic reaction occurs when blood levels of anesthetic are too high or if the patient is allergic to components of the anesthetic (Sulfites). It is important for us to know what medications you are allergic to.


Syncope is the result from the loss of blood flow to the brain and can affect anyone of any age at any time.


Blood glucose disorders can occur in diabetic patients that can experience either Hyperglycemia or Hypoglycemia. It is important for us to ask the you your current HbA1C level.


Hyperventilation is abnormal, rapid breathing that decreases carbon dioxide levels in the blood usually caused by anxiety.  Keeping open communication with us on your anxiety levels can help us avoid this.  There are several things you can talk to the Dentist about to help reduce your anxiety.


Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath and wheezing. It is important for us to know if you have asthma, and important for you to bring your inhaler to your appointments.


Blood Pressure monitoring is also very important before any dental procedure. Some people are most often not aware of any blood pressure conditions they might have.  It is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.  If your medical physician tells you that you have high or low blood pressure, it is important for us to you so that it may not hinder any dental treatment.  It is also important and you take your medication as prescribed, especially before any dental procedures. We take your blood pressure before giving your anesthetic to reduce your risk of a medical emergency.

Want to learn more? Visit us at


American Academy of Allergy

The Anaphylaxis Campaign

American College of Physician-American Society of Internal Medicine.

Cold Sore vs. Canker Sore

Becky RDH








Becky Larson, RDH

Cold Sore vs. Canker Sore

 In the dental field, we often have patients that are afflicted with both cold sores and canker sores.  These sores are often confused with one another.  Since medications and treatments differ with both of these types of sores, I will explain the difference between them and why it’s important to identify each correctly.

A canker sore is more like a shallow ulcer and is found inside the mouth.  Canker sores can be painful and make it difficult to eat or talk.  Most often, canker sores are caused by stress or injury to the tissues in the mouth.  Sometimes certain types of food can further trigger or irritate a canker sore.  Less often, canker sores occur due to vitamin deficiencies, gastrointestinal diseases (like Crohn’s or celiac), nutritional problems, and/or an impaired immune system.  Usually after a few days the pain from a canker sore decreases significantly.  They usually don’t require treatment and clear up within a week or two.  However, dentists can treat canker sores with a laser for immediate pain relief if needed.

A cold sore on the other hand is caused by a virus and are extremely contagious.  A cold sore is actually a group of fluid-filled blisters and occur outside the mouth, usually around the lips or nose or under the chin.   Once the blisters break, they will ooze and then crust over.  Cold sores are most contagious during the oozing stage.  Cold sores are sometimes referred to as “fever blisters” and are caused by the herpes simplex virus.   While there is no cure for cold sores, anti-viral medications can be prescribed to help promote faster healing.  Because they are extremely contagious with no cure, most dental professionals recommend rescheduling  your dental visits until after the cold sore has crusted over to prevent spreading of the virus.

As always, if you have questions or concerns with your oral health or notice persistent sores that won’t heal, please consult your dentist for recommended treatment options and/or medications.

Want to learn more? Visit us at


Xerostomia (Dry Mouth)

Lindsay RDH

Lindsay Olsen, RDH

Xerostomia (Dry Mouth)

  • Xerostomia (dry mouth) is a common side effect of many of the medications that are commonly prescribed to nursing home patients.
  • Saliva has antimicrobial properties as well as minerals that help defend tooth enamel against acid attacks from food, drinks, and decay-causing bacteria (US HHS, 2000).
  • Sjogren’s Syndrome, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment are also contributors to xerostomia.
  • According to the Surgeon General report, LTCF residents are prescribed and average of eight drugs (US HHS, 2000).

Signs and Symptoms of Dry Mouth:

  • Dry, cracked lips
  • Thick or ropey saliva
  • Fissured tongue, burning feeling of tongue
  • No saliva pooling on the floor of the mouth
  • Examination gloves stick to the tongue or oral mucosa
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing, speaking
  • Increased need to drink water, especially at night
  • Bad breath
  • Denture pain
  • Bacterial infections
  • Dental decay
  • Increased plaque

Relieving Dry Mouth:

  • Sip on water or sugarless drinks, or suck on ice chips
  • Avoid irritants, such as alcohol, tobacco and caffeine
  • Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candy
  • Avoid salty or spicy foods
  • Use humidifier at night
  • Consider using saliva substitutes (Biotene, ACT fluoride rinse for dry mouth)


Want to learn more? Visit us at


US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and

Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health. (2000). Oral health in 

America: A Report of the Surgeon General. Retrieved from


US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and

Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health. (2000). Oral health in 

America: A Report of the Surgeon General. Retrieved from


Is using hydrogen peroxide as a mouth rinse safe?

KO6A8495-Edit - Copy

Lora Cook, RDH

Is using hydrogen peroxide as a mouth rinse safe?

Many commercial mouth washes and whitening strips have hydrogen peroxide as one of the key active ingredients. However many are using straight hydrogen peroxide as a mouth wash to kill germs. Is this a safe and effect practice?

Hydrogen peroxide is compose of water and oxygen that works to kills germs and bacteria, and helps to whiten teeth.  It comes in either 1% or 3% concentrations. You can even see it in action! When it foams in your mouth you know that it is working at killing bacteria.  It also can be used to clean your night guard, retainers, or even soak your tooth brush in. Best of all it is inexpensive.

However this is not the magic cure all, there are some strong precautions that I would like to share with you.  While there are many benefits it can be harmful on gum tissue if used in too strong a solution or too long. It is very drying to the tissues. This will also work to kill good bacteria in the mouth.  This will leave opportunity for yeast infections of the mouth to flourish, also called thrush. Candidiasis is a fungal or yeast infection of the mouth or throat. Candida yeast that normally live in the mucosa membrane will flourish causing a over growth of candida, commonly called yeast infections.

This can be a relatively safe practice by following a few guidelines; dilute peroxide with 50% water, and do use every day.  If you are one of the many people who suffer from dry mouth stick with a over the counter rinse formulated for dry mouth sufferers.


Want to learn more? Visit us at