December 30, 2014

Year in Review: The Top 5 Oral Health Stories of 2014

top 5 oral health stories of 2014

Check out our top 5 oral health stories of 2014!

Progress is the name of the game in most health-related fields, and 2014 witnessed quite a bit of progress around oral health. We’ve rounded up our list of the top 5 oral health stories of 2014 and summarized them for you with links to more information below.

Happy reading – and Happy New Year!

#5: Researchers link reduced risk of respiratory infections in intensive care patients to proper dental care.

In October, ScienceDaily reported on new research that showed “vulnerable patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) who received enhanced oral care from a dentist were at significantly less risk for developing a lower respiratory tract infection.”

…having a dentist provide weekly care as part the ICU team may improve outcomes for vulnerable patients…

“Bacteria causing healthcare-associated infections often start in the oral cavity,” said Fernando Bellissimo-Rodrigues, MD, lead author of the study. “This study suggests that having a dentist provide weekly care as part the ICU team may improve outcomes for vulnerable patients in this setting.”

Material for the story was provided by Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

#4: The risk of pneumonia doubles for elderly who sleep with their dentures.

Do you know an elderly person who wears dentures? Here’s some news they absolutely need to hear:

“Poor oral health and hygiene are increasingly recognized as major risk factors for pneumonia among the elderly,” ScienceDaily reported in October.

The article highlighted research that showed “swallowing difficulties and overnight denture wearing were independently associated with approximately 2.3-fold higher risk of the incidence of pneumonia, which was comparable with the high risk attributable to cognitive impairment, history of stroke and respiratory disease.”

…overnight denture wearing associated with higher risk of pneumonia…

“This study provides empirical evidence that denture wearing during sleep is associated not only with oral inflammatory and microbial burden but also with incident pneumonia, suggesting potential implications of oral hygiene programs for pneumonia prevention in the community,” the researchers said.

#3: The future of dental care will include genetic techniques.

Since the Human Genome Project was completed in 2007, epigenetics has had an increasing role in biological and medical research according to Associate Professor Toby Hughes of the University of Adelaide. As a result, dental care is almost certain to include genetic techniques one day soon.

What’s most exciting is the possibility of screening for potential oral health problems from an early age…

“We now have the potential to develop an epigenetic profile of a patient, and use all three of these factors to provide a more personalized level of care,” Hughes said. “What’s most exciting is the possibility of screening for many of these potential oral health problems from an early age so that we can prevent them or reduce their impact.”

The research, by University of Adelaide, was reported in March by ScienceDaily.

#2: Athletes’ oral health problems “must be addressed.”

Are you looking for a competitive edge in 2015? Maybe you should step up your oral hygiene regimen.

“Oral health could be an easy win for athletes, as the oral conditions that can affect performance are all easily preventable,” says Professor Ian Needleman of the Eastman Dental Institute, University College London.

…better tooth brushing techniques and higher fluoride toothpastes could…make the crucial difference between gold and silver.

“Simple strategies to prevent oral health problems can offer marginal performance gains that require little to no additional time or money. Things like better tooth brushing techniques and higher fluoride toothpastes could prevent the toothache and associated sleeping and training difficulties that can make the crucial difference between gold and silver.”

ScienceDaily’s article about the University College London statement was published on October. “Oral health problems in elite athletes ‘must be addressed’.”

#1: Dental hygiene pros are poised to help improve access to oral health care across the US.

Support continues to build for dental therapists. Although this developing story has met with far less media attention than the other stories on our list, various ongoing efforts by the dental hygiene profession get our vote for the top oral health story of 2014.

“Societal, economic, political, and health care factors have converged to create a ‘perfect storm’ of unprecedented possibilities for improved access to oral health care and growth for dental hygienists,” wrote Terri Tilliss, RDH, PhD, of the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. Tilliss was introducing the Annual Report on Dental Hygiene, a special issue of The Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice (JEBDP). The special issue was the focus of an article ScienceDaily published in June.

…the potential of dental therapy education programs deserves quickly adopted, reasonable accreditation standards.

In documents filed with the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) in late November, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) both shared their beliefs that “the potential of dental therapy education programs deserved quickly adopted, reasonable accreditation standards…”.

According to a report about the ADHA and FTC filings, which was published in December by DentistryIQ, CODA will meet in February 2015 to consider proposed standards for dental therapist education programs, which is fantastic news for the millions of Americans without easy access to oral health care today.

What do you think? Weigh in on our choices for the top 5 oral health stories of 2014, or let us know what you would have included in the Reply section below!

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From all of us at, we hope you have a happy and healthy 2015!

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