Uncertain evidence on the value of school dental screening programmes

Boy having teeth examinedOral diseases, especially dental caries, affect children worldwide. If unchecked, oral health can deteriorate progressively and adversely impact children’s general well-being. It also has a financial bearing at family and community levels. School dental screening is a public health measure where oral examination of children is carried out in the school setting, and then parents are informed about the oral condition and treatment needs of their child. The screening aims to identify oral health concerns at an early stage, and prompt parents to seek treatment where required.  Continue reading

Metal-free materials for making crowns and bridges

Teeth in the foreground

Fixed prosthodontic treatment is a routine dental procedure in which one or more missing or severely damaged teeth are replaced by artificial substitutes. The material used to make the prosthesis may be made of a metal framework with a veneering of an aesthetic material (ceramic) or entirely in metal or it can be made with different non-metal structures (metal-free materials). There is still uncertainty regarding metal-free long-term performance compared to metal-based crowns and bridges. Continue reading

Zinc supplements may be effective for taste disorders but more high quality studies are needed

The sense of taste is essential to the health and psychological well-being of an individual. Taste disorders can range from lack of taste, to distortion of taste, to reduced ability to taste. Any disorder in taste perception can lead to conditions like malnutrition and consumption of poisonous food substances. The cause may be due to disease, drugs, radiation treatment, or ageing; or it may result from unknown causes. Various treatment methods have been used to improve taste sensation. These include the use of zinc compounds, pilocarpine, alpha lipoic acid, transcranial magnetic stimulation, ginkgo biloba and acupuncture. Continue reading

How effective are painkillers in reducing the discomfort caused by orthodontic treatment?

Pain is a common side effect of orthodontic treatment. The pain resulting from orthodontic treatment may differ depending on the amount of force applied and the type of braces used. It may also change over the first few days following treatment. Pain has been ranked as the worst aspect of treatment and is the most common reason for people wanting to discontinue orthodontic treatment. Painkillers, swallowed or applied directly to the sore areas of the mouth following treatment, are thought to relieve the pain, making brace treatment more comfortable and acceptable. These painkillers are often cheap, readily available, easy to use and do not cause serious side effects. Continue reading

Keratinocyte growth factor is likely to reduce the risk of oral ulcers in adults undergoing some forms of cancer treatment

Doctor examining a patient in her office

Sore mouth and ulcers (oral mucositis) is a side effect of treatment for cancer including chemotherapy, head and neck radiotherapy, and targeted therapy, affecting over 75% of high-risk patients. Ulcers can lead to severe pain and difficulty with eating and drinking. Sufferers may need strong painkillers, possibly have to go into hospital and even be fed through a tube into their stomach or their veins. These complications may disrupt their cancer therapy, meaning they are not receiving the best treatment, which may reduce survival. Cancer patients have weakened immune systems due to their treatment and are less able to fight infections. An ulcer is an open wound and there is a risk that bacteria can enter the body leading to infection or sepsis (a dangerous inflammatory reaction of the body to infection).

Mouth soreness and ulcers can be costly to healthcare systems, yet there are few preventive interventions or treatments proven to be beneficial. Cytokines and growth factors may help the regeneration of cells lining the mouth, thus preventing or reducing oral mucositis and its negative effects.

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Do the drugs work? Cochrane evidence on antibiotics in dentistry

799px-Medication_amoxycillin_capsule13-17 November is World Antibiotic Awareness Week. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that antibiotic resistance is:  “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today”. Antibiotics are used to prevent and treat bacterial infections, but if over-used they can cause bacteria to change and become resistant. This makes infections more difficult to treat, and results in longer hospital stays, higher medical costs and increased mortality (World Health Organization, 2017).

Antibiotics are still commonly used in dentistry, Cope et al (2014) estimate that 8-10% of antibiotics used in primary care are prescribed by dentists in some parts of the world. Their effectiveness has been explored by several Cochrane Oral Health reviews over the years, looking at some of the scenarios where they might be prescribed. Today we have a look back over the evidence… Continue reading