Vital Record » Dentistry http://news.tamhsc.edu Your source for health news from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Thu, 30 Jul 2015 15:00:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Back to school: How to encourage healthy dental habits away from home http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=back-to-school-how-to-encourage-healthy-dental-habits-away-from-home http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=back-to-school-how-to-encourage-healthy-dental-habits-away-from-home#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 13:00:08 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=23529 School is just around the corner, which means backpacks and packed lunches await your children. Whether it’s their first year at school or they’re already climbing the ranks, you want to ensure they are making healthy choices when it comes to lunch. However, one aspect you may not have considered when it comes to lunch options is dental health]]>
young girl brushing her teeth in front of a bathroom mirror

Participate in your child’s morning and nightly teeth cleaning rituals, and teach them the tools to keep those pearly whites healthy and happy.

School is just around the corner, which means backpacks and packed lunches await your children. Whether it’s their first year at school or they’re already climbing the ranks, you want to ensure they are making healthy choices when it comes to lunch. However, one aspect you may not have considered when it comes to lunch options is dental health.

All ages are at risk of developing cavities, especially if they don’t practice healthy dental habits, but “dental cavities are a prevalent disease in our childhood population,” said Kathleen Pace, D.D.S., assistant professor at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry.

Pace offers the following tips for parents to promote healthy dental habits in children:

1. Eat healthy foods at home

A healthy diet won’t just improve your child’s growth and physical health; it will also improve their dental health. Most natural foods contain lower amounts of sugars and aren’t as damaging to the teeth.

One of the easiest things you can do to ensure your child will make healthy, tooth-conscious decisions at school is to eat healthy foods at home. Aim to serve your child a balanced diet, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products and protein.

“Parents need to serve these foods at home so their children will imitate those eating habits when they are elsewhere,” Pace said.

2. Pack fruits and dairy

Natural is usually better when it comes to foods in general, and the same goes for snacks. Instead of popular snacks that may lead to unhealthy teeth or dental habits, try going the au naturel route. Packing fruit will satisfy your child’s sweet cravings and help them gain all the proper nutrients they need to grow healthy.

Milk doesn’t just help their bones grow stronger, it can also help their teeth stay healthier as well. One of the best snacks you can pack in your child’s lunch is a dairy product. Try throwing in a string cheese or a carton of milk to their lunchbox.

“Cheese or other dairies are a great way to end meals,” Pace remarked. “They can help protect tooth enamel, which is key to preventing decay.”

3. Avoid sticky and sugary foods

“In general, any food that is sticky, crunchy or has sugar can promote cavities,” Pace warned. Sticky foods like candy or gummies are not only loaded with sugar, but they can also be difficult to dislodge later. Anything that sticks to the teeth can potentially damage them or cause decay.

“Frequent sugar consumption is one of the worst things for your teeth that can cause tooth decay. Unfortunately, sugar is in almost everything,” Pace said. Avoid packing food with extra sugar like cookies, sugary beverages or candy in children’s daily lunches. Sugary, prepackaged snacks may be convenient short term, but they may also help a cavity thrive later on.

Check all the sugar content on any prepackaged foods or snacks, and opt for more natural or low-sugar foods instead. Switch out your kid’s sugar-bomb applesauce for the no sugar added variety. If you’re having trouble thinking of appropriate snacks, fruits with peels can satisfy your little one’s sweet tooth without promoting cavities.

4. Be active in their dental care

Participate in your child’s morning and nightly teeth cleaning rituals, and teach them the tools to keep those pearly whites healthy and happy. You can also take it a step further by acting as a dental advocate yourself to promote healthy habits in your children.

“Children love to imitate, so let them watch you brush your teeth and floss. Or even better, do it with them,” Pace suggested. “Really try to have your kids brush their teeth after breakfast.”

Healthy habits start at home, so try to make your child’s formative years fun and memorable. While brushing teeth, sing a favorite song or play a catchy tune on your phone to make it enjoyable, and always serve them healthy foods at home. These are habits they’ll take with them throughout their lifetime.

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Meeting the demand for patient-centered care with $5.4 million in grant funding http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=meeting-the-demand-for-patient-centered-care-with-5-4-million-in-grant-funding http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=meeting-the-demand-for-patient-centered-care-with-5-4-million-in-grant-funding#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 17:47:42 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=23946 More than 5 million Texans live in dentally underserved areas, according to 2014 numbers from the Health Resources and Services Administration. Of those individuals, more than 1.5 million did not receive dental services the same year. What makes those figures even more staggering is that the needs of these vulnerable, underserved populations are not limited to dental care. Where oral health is lacking, there also may be unmet medical or psychosocial needs. ]]>
Fourth-year dental student Ethan Yang treats a patient at North Dallas Shared Ministries in June 2014.

Fourth-year dental student Ethan Yang treats a patient at North Dallas Shared Ministries in June 2014.

More than 5 million Texans live in dentally underserved areas, according to 2014 numbers from the Health Resources and Services Administration. Of those individuals, more than 1.5 million did not receive dental services the same year. What makes those figures even more staggering is that the needs of these vulnerable, underserved populations are not limited to dental care. Where oral health is lacking, there also may be unmet medical or psychosocial needs.

As part of a focus on patient-centered care, the creation of “health homes,” focusing on the total needs of these patients and their families, has come to the fore. Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry is responding to this trend by expanding its predoctoral and postdoctoral training with $5.4 million in funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Through collaboration among TAMBCD, Texas A&M Health Science Center, Dallas-area health care institutions and community partners, TAMBCD will amp up its interprofessional training to help integrate dentistry into the broader health care delivery system.

The funding is composed of two awards, each lasting five years: $3.7 million for TAMBCD’s postdoctoral training and $1.7 million for the predoctoral component. Of the 38 awards given nationwide, the dental school is one of only five institutions to receive predoctoral and postdoctoral funding.

Predoctoral: expansions to the interprofessional experience

In 2013, volunteer dentists at North Dallas Shared Ministries, a nonprofit that provides social and health services to low-income residents within 20 metroplex zip codes, saw a total of 479 patients. In June 2014, TAMBCD initiated a partnership with the organization, making it the third site in its community-based clinical training program. In the six months to follow, that same clinic saw 1,719 dental patients, thanks to the influx of TAMBCD students providing care.

“We know that the need is huge,” says Judy Rorrie, executive director of North Dallas Shared Ministries, which will be impacted in a big way by the HRSA funding.

The $1.7 million, which is an extension of a previous HRSA grant, will increase interprofessional experiences at the community-training site. Through collaboration with UT Southwestern Medical School, dental students will work closely with nutritionists, family medicine residents, medical students, physician assistant students and social workers. Whereas in the past dental students may have taken a patient’s blood pressure and heart rate during appointments, they’ll now measure body mass index and assist with diabetes and cholesterol screenings.

“Students won’t, strictly speaking, just be doing dentistry when they are out there,” says Daniel Jones, D.D.S., Ph.D., chair of public health sciences at TAMBCD and principal investigator for the predoctoral grant. “The ultimate goal at North Dallas Shared Ministries encompasses the patient-centered medical home: One-stop shopping, where you can see the dentist, the social worker and case managers to connect people with the right resources.”

In order to make a difference with underserved populations, that’s the way it needs to be done, says Paul Hoffmann, administrative director of community clinics at TAMBCD and co-investigator for both grants.

“We are really going to try to impact the social determinants of health,” says Hoffmann. “If a patient comes in for oral health needs, we are going to do a comprehensive assessment. What other needs does the patient have? Are there economic issues; are there behavioral health issues? It’s about looking at more than just a patient’s chief complaint.”

Postdoctoral: a revamped public health graduate program 

For 14 years, TAMBCD has offered a graduate program in dental public health. There’s just one caveat: In addition to a dental degree, a master’s in public health has been a prerequisite. Until now.

As part of collaboration with the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, TAMBCD will now offer a master’s degree in public health, as part of the newly redesigned residency program in dental public health. The new program has one important distinction: an interprofessional emphasis, which negates the need for an existing public health degree to enroll. The new program also will be made available to a select number of pediatric dentistry residents who want to combine the M.P.H. degree with their residencies.

Existing pediatric dentistry residents who opt not to pursue a master’s in public health will benefit from the changes, too. The grant will gradually expand their clinical rotations to all of the college’s community-based training centers, beginning with North Dallas Shared Ministries.

Andreea Voinea-Griffin, D.D.S., M.S.H.A., who is co-principal investigator and research assistant professor in public health sciences at the dental school, says the changes will affect didactic as well as clinical components of the curriculum, with an emphasis on emerging health care technologies such as teledentistry.

“We are training practitioners for the future, bridging the gap between medicine and dentistry, instead of the way dentistry is done today,” says Griffin.

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Heart medications: What you may not know about side effects in the mouth http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=heart-medications-what-you-may-not-know-about-side-effects-in-the-mouth http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=heart-medications-what-you-may-not-know-about-side-effects-in-the-mouth#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2015 13:00:09 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=19484 For individuals living with cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure and cholesterol, consistent use of heart medications can be a literal life saver, but they can also cause uncomfortable side effects in the mouth. ]]>
3 medicine bottles and loose pills

Heart medications can cause adverse reactions in the mouth.

For individuals living with cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure and cholesterol, consistent use of heart medication can be a literal life saver. Perhaps a not-so-well-known fact is that these types of drugs don’t just impact the cardiovascular system.

While the mouth and gums are not intended targets, Terry Rees, D.D.S., M.S.D., a periodontist who is professor and director of the Stomatology Center at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry, routinely diagnoses and treats burdensome oral conditions that occur as a side effect of heart medication. Some of the usual villains are gum overgrowth, altered taste sensation and burning mouth.

That’s bad news for the 49 percent of Americans living with at least one risk factor for heart disease – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – including millions who are already on heart medication.

The good news is that there are ways to combat the onset of painful and irritating symptoms in the mouth.

“Classic heart medications like the calcium channel blockers used to treat hypertension and heart disease can lead to drug-induced gum overgrowth,” Rees says, “but meticulous dental hygiene and periodontal health will help prevent it.”

A patient who experiences the condition can try changing medications if the cardiologist approves.

“Otherwise the option is to remove the excess gum tissue to allow the patient to be more effective when they brush and floss. This helps prevent recurrence of the overgrowth,” says Rees, who adds that antibacterial products and a water irrigator may help fight infection.

Some blood pressure medications are a culprit in what patients report as dry mouth, altered taste sensation or ‘burning mouth,’ according to Rees.

“Patients typically describe altered taste sensation as a metallic or salty taste or an abnormal response to sweets,” Rees says. “Usually it is older females who mention burning mouth to me; most often on the tongue or roof of the mouth, but sometimes all over.

“If medications are causing the problem, we may be able to offer the patient some relief by collaborating with their physician.” Rees adds that many patients experience no severe side effects from heart medications other than a slight reduction in salivary flow.

“However, for some people over 50 who are taking medications to stay alive, you can’t just take them off the meds to see if that’s what is causing the problem,” notes Rees. “Therefore, you treat the symptoms to make the patient feel better, but the problem does not go away entirely.”

Rees advises many patients that lifestyle modifications can enhance both oral health and heart health.

“There is some evidence to suggest that periodontal (gum) disease may be a low-level risk factor for heart disease,” says Rees. “However, a cause-and-effect relationship has not been firmly established because some risk factors for heart disease — smoking, excessive use of alcohol or illicit drugs, high cholesterol levels, obesity and diabetes — are also risk factors for periodontal disease.

“Both heart disease and periodontal disease are inflammatory processes, and you should treat both. Gum health is important to overall health.”

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You Asked: What is the difference (or lack thereof) between oral and genital herpes? http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=what-do-you-mean-i-might-have-herpes-the-difference-or-lack-thereof-between-hsv-1-and-hsv-2 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=what-do-you-mean-i-might-have-herpes-the-difference-or-lack-thereof-between-hsv-1-and-hsv-2#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 16:50:22 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=23851 For a long time, the medical world made the distinction between oral herpes (HSV-1) and genital herpes (HSV-2), because it was thought that HSV-2 led to types of genital and oral cancers. Now we know that the human papilloma virus is the leading culprit for causing cancers specifically focused around the genitals and mouth, not herpes. However, HSV-1 and HSV-2 aren’t mutually exclusive; there is about a 20 percent crossover between the two types]]>
Woman walking

Oral herpes (HSV-1) and genital herpes (HSV-2) aren’t mutually exclusive; there is about a 20 percent crossover between the two types. The U.S. National Library of Medicine estimates that most people will contract oral herpes by the time they are age 20.

A woman stands on a porch, practicing yoga as the sun sets behind her figure. The entire scene exudes tranquility as she turns to the camera and firmly declares, “I have genital herpes,” with a smile on her face.

Most of us have seen these commercials, and have experienced the bizarre and uncomfortable response that is natural when someone brings such a taboo and private matter to light. However uncomfortable it may be, though, it’s important to be informed about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and the ways you can contract them, including genital herpes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of every six people, ages 14 to 49, have genital herpes.

Perhaps the most shocking thing about the herpes simplex virus (HSV) is that it isn’t necessarily transferred from genitals to genitals during intercourse. HSV has two common strains: HSV-1 (widely known as oral herpes, cold sores or fever blisters) and HSV-2 (the traditional cause of genital herpes).

“For a long time, the medical world made the distinction between HSV-1 and HSV-2, because it was thought that HSV-2 led to types of genital and oral cancers. Now we know that the human papilloma virus is the leading culprit for causing cancers specifically focused around the genitals and mouth, not herpes” explained John Wright, D.D.S., regents professor and department chair of diagnostic sciences at the Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry. “However, HSV-1 and HSV-2 aren’t mutually exclusive; there is about a 20 percent crossover between the two types.”

The U.S. National Library of Medicine estimates that most people will contract oral herpes by the time they are age 20. HSV affects the nervous system, and outbreaks can be brought on by many factors including:

  • Hormone changes, including menstruation
  • Stress
  • Exposure to the sun
  • Fever

This 20 percent crossover means that traditional, oral herpes can be present in the genital region, and conversely, HSV-2 herpes can infect the mouth. According to Wright, both strains will exhibit identical symptoms in the mouth:

  • Itching of lips or skin around the mouth
  • Pain on the lips or in the mouth
  • Tingling near the lips and mouth
  • Lip blisters or sores (ulcers) typically where the lip meets the skin
  • Blisters or rash on the gums, lips, mouth or throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes

“The main difference between the two types of HSV is a slight difference in DNA,” Wright said.

Similarly, HSV-1 will present itself like HSV-2 if it becomes present in the genital region:

  • Blister(s) around the genitals, rectum or mouth
  • Sores that take weeks to heal
  • Swollen lymph nodes

“With both types, the first outbreak that occurs will be the most severe, and may even display flu-like symptoms. Recurrences happen more frequently during the first year of infection, with 50 percent of those infected experiencing four outbreaks within a year. However, each subsequent recurrence will display more mild symptoms and may even be asymptomatic, which increases the chance of unknowingly spreading the virus to a partner (viral shedding),” said John K. Midturi, D.O., assistant professor of internal medicine at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine in Temple.

Although outbreaks can be asymptomatic, viral shedding increases when they reoccur. While antivirals can treat outbreaks and reduce the chance of spreading it to others, they do not cure the virus.

“Once a person is infected with a strain of HSV, it is permanent,” Wright explained. “Antivirals can manage the symptoms and limit its ability to spread, but they do not cure the patient of the virus.”

Both strains of HSV are highly communicable and can infect other parts of the body, specifically if the virus gets into open wounds, but the marked increase of HSV-1 and HSV-2 being found in the oral and genital regions is attributed to increased occurrences of oral sex. For example, if a person is having a recurrence of HSV-1 in their mouth, and is engaging in oral sex, they put their partner at a higher risk of contracting HSV-1 in the genital region.

While most outbreaks are mild, and many people are unaware that they even have the virus, some people can have severe reactions to it. People who are immuno-compromised may experience outbreaks in less traditional locations, such as the esophagus or liver, and may even develop pneumonia precipitated by the virus. Even in those with uncompromised immune systems, the membranes surrounding the brain or spinal cord can become infected and inflamed, causing herpetic meningitis.

“The best method of prevention is treating outbreaks when they occur, to reduce viral shedding, and using condoms or completely abstaining from sexual activities, especially during outbreaks,” Midturi advised.

Condoms don’t cover all the areas that genital herpes can occur, but they can limit exposure. To reduce the spread of HSV, always wash your hands after touching infected areas or fluids and avoid sharing utensils and other objects that enter your mouth during recurrences.

Always inform your partner if you have genital herpes, so you can make responsible decisions, and try to treat any outbreaks that occur. If you suspect you might have genital herpes, visit your health provider for examination or testing. For more information about genital herpes, visit the CDC site.

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Does gum cure bad breath? http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=does-gum-cure-bad-breath http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=does-gum-cure-bad-breath#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 14:00:43 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=23658 Whether it is your morning coffee or garlic bread at lunch, one way or another, you might find yourself seeking a quick fix for bad breath more often than not. Your inclination may be to reach for gum, but Cherri L. Kading, assistant professor and clinic coordinator at Texas A&M Caruth School of Dental Hygiene, explains that may not always be the best option]]>

Woman smiling playfully holding a piece of gum between her teeth.Whether it is your morning coffee or garlic bread at lunch, one way or another, you might find yourself seeking a quick fix for bad breath more often than not. Your inclination may be to reach for gum, but Cherri L. Kading, assistant professor and clinic coordinator at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry Caruth School of Dental Hygiene, explains that may not always be the best option.

“Gum alone doesn’t cure bad breath, but chewing gum does help,” Kading says. The mechanical act of chewing helps to pull out debris that may be stuck in teeth. It also helps to produce saliva that clears debris and acts as a buffering agent.

Kading suggests chewing gum with Xylitol listed as one of the first three ingredients. Xylitol is a healthy alternative to sugar and the optimal gum ingredient for reducing the pathogenic bacteria that contributes to risk of dental cavities, or tooth decay. While it has a sweet taste, unlike sugar, Xylitol does not convert to acids that cause tooth decay. In fact, this sugar substitute has been found to reduce the levels of decay-causing bacteria in saliva. Many stores, especially natural grocery stores, sell gum and mints that are 100 percent Xylitol.

However, to really get to the root of bad breath, good, old-fashion dental hygiene is key. If you do not clean your teeth often enough, trapped food will begin to rot and quickly lead to bad breath. Brushing after every meal, and flossing regularly are good ways to get rid of leftover food stuck in between teeth. Kading also recommends tongue scrapers as another good way to get rid of odor-causing bacteria.

If you are looking for a better way to alleviate bad breath in a pinch, consider mouthwash as an alternative to chewing gum.

“Mouthwashes that have essential oils, including thymol, methyl salicylate, eucalyptol, and menthol, in combination with alcohol tend to work best. The essential oils and alcohol work together to eliminate bacteria that causes bad breath,” Kading said.

Whether you choose chewing gum with Xylitol, brushing after every meal, gargling mouthwash or even a combination of the three, your mouth will thank you – and so will the people you talk with throughout the day – as all of those techniques will help in varying degrees to alleviate the odor-causing bacteria that stick around in your mouth.

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Enrichment program opens doors to international collaboration http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=enrichment-program-opens-doors-to-international-collaboration http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=enrichment-program-opens-doors-to-international-collaboration#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:33:24 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=23814 Meet Hessa. There’s not a whole lot this young girl doesn’t do: She’s just as likely to cough or sneeze during appointments as she is to close her mouth in fatigue, hyperventilate, or simply complain of a hurting tooth. Her behaviors help second-year dental students feel more comfortable with practical skills and chairside manner before they begin seeing patients in clinic. There’s one more thing: Hessa is a robot]]>
A student from Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) College of Dentistry in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, completes a lab activity during the monthlong enrichment program at TAMBCD in Dallas.

A student from Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) College of Dentistry in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, completes a lab activity during the monthlong enrichment program at TAMBCD in Dallas.

Meet Hessa. There’s not a whole lot this young girl doesn’t do: She’s just as likely to cough or sneeze during appointments as she is to close her mouth in fatigue, hyperventilate, or simply complain of a hurting tooth. Her behaviors help second-year dental students feel more comfortable with practical skills and chairside manner before they begin seeing patients in clinic. There’s one more thing: Hessa is a robot.

Hessa, a dental simulator, can be found at the Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) College of Dentistry in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which opened in 2012 and is one of 15 colleges within PNU, an all-female university with more than 50,000 students. At the PNU dental school, Hessa is right at home in bright, state-of-the art clinics and labs replete with state-of-the-art technology, including Moog dental training simulation systems.

Since PNU is a new school, it is still building its patient pool, something that takes time. An established patient base and diverse array of cases is one of the factors that sparked PNU leaders’ interest in pursuing an international partnership with Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry. This way, PNU dental students can be exposed to as many oral conditions and treatment modalities as possible while their own program is in its infancy.

It should come as no surprise that observation in TAMBCD clinics has been a highlight during the four-week International Dental Student Summer Enrichment Program, which started June 1 in Dallas.

“I remember the first day in the oral diagnosis clinic. I was amazed by the amount of different cases I saw, such as pleomorphic adenoma (salivary gland tumors), Stafne bone defect (asymptomatic lingual bone depression of the lower jaw), gunshot cases and bone graft surgery,” says Mehdiya Haider, a fourth-year dental student at PNU and one of 15 participants in the enrichment program. “Every day during rotations I learned something new; all the doctors had their own techniques, and they loved sharing them with us,” she adds. It’s a deviation from Haider’s typical patient base; she, like her classmates, treats mostly fellow PNU students.

Participants’ experiences are not limited to the clinic. They have received lecture and hands-on instruction ranging from ethics to onlay casting, crown and bridge preparation, and mouthguard fabrication. The program represents two years of planning between TAMBCD and PNU, with preparations already in the works for next year, says Dr. Loulou Moore, associate professor in restorative sciences and director of the summer enrichment program. There may be potential to develop a faculty exchange program with visiting professorships.

Hoda Abdellatif, B.D.S., M.P.H., Ph.D., Vice Dean of Students Affairs at PNU as well as an adjunct professor at TAMBCD, helped facilitate planning for the program starting in 2013, shortly after joining the PNU College of Dentistry.

“Such a program will expose the PNU students to learn from the differences in clinical care, dental education and culture at the TAMBCD institution, and it will also create a student network between PNU and TAMBCD dental students,” says Abdellatif. “This is hopefully the starting point for further collaboration between the two institutions.”

The exchange program also offers the chance for dental students to see how disease patterns vary in different areas of the world, says Ebtissam Al-Madi, Ph.D., who is dean of PNU College of Dentistry.

“It impacts dentistry first of all by breaking some barriers, especially with our faculty or students who might think that dentistry is performed differently in the U.S.,” Al-Madi says. “It shows them that dentistry is dentistry wherever you are in the world. It gives them a little addition in terms of seeing the patterns of disease in the States compared with Saudi Arabia,” she added, explaining that the program at TAMBCD may reveal more to PNU students about geriatric dentistry concerns, as the majority of their patient base consists of young, college-age adults. It mirrors the nation’s demographics a whole, as 48.6 percent of the population in Saudi Arabia is 25 years old or younger, according to the PNU dental school website. Al-Madi observes an interesting trend among this population in Saudi Arabia: high rates of dental decay among young adults from high and low socioeconomic groups because of lack of awareness of good oral hygiene coupled with a shift toward diets containing more sugar than in generations past.

Faculty and students agree that the importance of partnerships like the one between TAMBCD and PNU is highlighted as our world becomes increasingly connected.

“This program is an open channel for exchanging knowledge, and it’s good to collaborate,” says participant Tolean Jundieh, who is beginning her third year in PNU’s five-year curriculum. “We are one world now; and there is globalization in all levels, even in dentistry.”

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Dentist, surgeon begins new era in treating head and neck cancers http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=dentist-surgeon-begins-new-era-in-treating-head-and-neck-cancers http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=dentist-surgeon-begins-new-era-in-treating-head-and-neck-cancers#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 13:00:34 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=18995 Dr. David Kang, assistant professor in oral and maxillofacial surgery, joined Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry as its first head and neck oncologic and microvascular reconstructive surgeon. ]]>

David R. Kang, M.D., D.D.S., assistant professor in oral and maxillofacial surgery, joined Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry as its first head and neck oncologic and microvascular reconstructive surgeon. His job description is complex, but the meaning isn’t lost on patients with oral cancer facing the reality of surgery.

Dr. David Kang is the Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry's first head and neck oncologic and microvascular reconstructive surgeon.

Dr. David Kang is the Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry’s first head and neck oncologic and microvascular reconstructive surgeon.

This dual-trained dentist and physician spent an additional year after his oral and maxillofacial surgery residency to complete a fellowship in head and neck oncologic surgery at the University of Michigan. He returned to Dallas with the in-depth training he needed to not only remove cancerous head and neck tumors but to also reconstruct the entire surgical area with free tissue transfer– providing a critical step in a patient’s return to normalcy following a life-altering diagnosis and treatment.

A multidisciplinary approach to caring for cancer patients is required with various specialists involved in their treatment including radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, pathologists, maxillofacial prosthodontics, anaplastologists, speech therapists, physical therapists and occupational therapists who also specialize in the management of lymphedema.

“Our patients are frequently presented to the Head and Neck Tumor Board, which meets twice a month to discuss treatment options including surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy,” Kang said.

Many of the patients Kang treats are dealing with the side effects of radiation – a treatment that, while often effective at combating cancer, is notorious for wreaking havoc on the healthy areas of the body through which it passes. He takes special steps to ensure that his patients’ reconstructions hold up to the radiation that may occur post-surgery.

“In the past, post-surgery radiation treatment led to a decreased quality of life,” Kang said. “But now, with intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), and the ability to harvest vascularized tissue from any area on the patient’s body, we can tailor the reconstruction to the patient’s needs.”

This free tissue transfer approach—or free flap—returns form and function to the patient by using skin, fascia, muscle, nerve or bone tissue to reconstruct any defect, regardless of the size. After microvascular anastomosis, where vessels sometimes less than one millimeter in size are sutured together, the procedure provides immediate blood flow to the reconstructed tissue and allows the surgical site to heal rapidly, allowing patients to begin radiation treatment within four to six weeks. The free flap approach, Kang notes, has become the gold standard in reconstruction of the oral cavity.

In the short time Kang has been at Texas A&M Baylor College of Dentistry, he and his team have treated hundreds of patients with malignant disease as well as trauma, but especially those patients with squamous cell carcinoma. He has also successfully treated extremely rare tumors such as adenoid cystic carcinoma, ameloblastic carcinoma, and mucosal melanomas, not only removing the tumors, but successfully restoring facial aesthetics and function to the oral cavity. While the free flap procedure is impressive, it may not be the ideal choice for all patients, Kang says. With longer operating and hospitalization times, it can be an additional risk for patients with medical comorbidities.

“When a less invasive option is in order for maxillary defects, we will often opt for placement of an obturator, which is very similar to a denture and closes off the defect and restores facial contour,” Kang said. “As with any treatment, we work in collaboration with other health care professionals to find the best treatment plan possible for each individual patient.”

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From dark past to bright future http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=from-dark-past-to-bright-future http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=from-dark-past-to-bright-future#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 21:47:15 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=23670 Recent Texas A&M Baylor College of Dentistry graduate, Given Kachepa, was brought to the U.S. by traffickers under the rouse of earning money for his family by performing in a boys' choir. After facing years of adversity, Kachepa is now realizing his dream of becoming a dentist, with plans to one day return to his home in Zambia and open his town's first dental clinic. ]]>
Dr. Given Kachepa

Dr. Given Kachepa talks about his journey from orphan to human trafficking victim to dentist, what kept him going and why returning home is so important.

Three words — perseverance, focus and determination — handwritten on a dry erase board in Given Kachepa’s bedroom at his foster parents’ Colleyville, Texas, home characterize his successful transformation from victim to dentist.

The future did not always look promising for Kachepa, who received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas on May 27. He was born in Zambia and orphaned when his parents died — his mother when he was 6 years old and his father when he was 8. Kachepa was taken in by a relative, but resources were limited, and they lived in a two-room mud brick house.

What was supposed to be an opportunity for a better life in America came when Keith Grimes, operating as a missionary, visited Kalingalinga, an impoverished town in Zambia. After hearing the angelic voices of Kachepa and other boys in town, Grimes organized the Zambian Acappella Boys Choir. He created five choirs with several boys in each, and brought them to the U.S. to perform for audiences around the country. The original group arrived in the U.S. in 1993. Kachepa, who was in the fourth choir from Kalingalinga, came to the U.S. in 1998. At age 11, he was the youngest in the group.

Grimes, also the founder of the charity Teach Teachers to Teach: Partners in Education, promised that the money raised from the boys’ singing performances would be used to support their families back home, build schools in Zambia and give the boys an American education.

Instead of receiving an education or getting money to send home, the boys were kept as slaves in a mobile home and forced to endure a grueling performance schedule — singing in churches, schools, shopping malls and other public venues — with little to no food or sleep and no health care when they fell ill. When they weren’t performing, they were forced to dig a swimming pool for their captor. The boys, who spoke no English when they arrived in Texas, had nowhere to turn for help.

Even after Grimes’ death in 1999, hope for freedom eluded the boys as Grimes’ family members took over the charity and continued to keep the boys in captivity.

The boys were eventually rescued after federal investigators became suspicious of the charity. Kachepa was placed with foster parents, Sandy and Deetz Shepherd. He was finally able to contact his family in Zambia and go back for a visit, but most importantly, he was able to get the American education he was promised many years before.

Kachepa talks about his journey from orphan to human trafficking victim to dentist, what kept him going and why returning home is so important.

Please share a little bit about your future plans. How do you intend to utilize your dental degree?

My future plans are to return to my home country of Zambia and help people with their dental needs. In my compound there has never been a single dentist. What a change it would be if I were able to bring something new to a community that so desperately needs it. It will be difficult work, but just like anything that’s ever been built in this world, it has to start somewhere. That’s my goal. It’s important to me to return home because that’s where my heart lies. That’s where I was born, and I have a big family that desperately needs my help. I have also seen suffering firsthand in Zambia.

A different person enduring your life’s journey might have let the experiences affect them negatively. To what do you attribute your resolve not only to keep going but to pursue a career as a dental professional?

The thing that keeps me going is my faith in God. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have gotten this far, and he wouldn’t have brought me this far only to let me fail at the end. God has carried me through thick and thin, and he continues to be my guiding rod. He carried me when my parents passed in Zambia. He carried me when I went through a horrible trafficking situation, and that’s why I plan to keep going in my endeavor of returning to Zambia to help the disadvantaged people.

I put three inspiring words on my white board in my room in high school. Those words were still there as a reminder when dental school was difficult.

I wore braces in high school, and when they were removed, I loved my smile. It boosted my self-esteem, and I would love to give others a beautiful smile.

What people or programs at TAMBCD have been especially important to your dental school experience?

The post-baccalaureate program helped me get into dental school. Having someone with a disadvantaged background like myself get into dental school would be a difficult task, but the post-baccalaureate program believes in students that show promise.

Do you have a learning experience with at Texas A&M Baylor College of Dentistry that you will carry with you into your profession?

I tend to look at my whole time I was at TAMBCD as a learning experience. That was learning from some of the best professors and students, and that is learning how to manage your schedule, learning professionalism, time management, and different skills.  I still have a long way to go, but it’s something I’m striving towards. I also liked my interactions with patients, because each case taught you something new you didn’t know before. That’s why I think it’s important to take things one day at a time and just keep improving in everything you are doing. Furthermore, I like the fact that you interact with people from different cultural backgrounds at TAMBCD. It kind of forces you to get out of your comfort zone and interact with all kinds of people. Last but not least, I have learned from my time being at TAMBCD that no matter how much you know, you can always learn more.

What are your immediate plans since graduating from TAMBCD and when do you plan to return to Zambia to open a dental practice?

My immediate plans are to find a job here in the Dallas-Ft.Worth area. Then I want to work for three or four years, payoff my student loans while also hopefully saving money to buy a place in my compound of Kalingalinga and renovate it into a dental practice. It would be a practice that probably only carries out extractions and deep cleanings. There are no dental labs in Zambia, so to be able to make crowns, dentures, or doing fillings or root canals would be challenge initially because of the equipment and skill needed to do those things. But extractions and deep cleanings, I’m sure can be done right away as long as you have the right people working for you. Now this a huge endeavor and I know it won’t be easy, but nothing in life is ever easy, the possibility of failure cannot keep me from trying something I’m passionate about. I will take things one day at a time  and see where the Lord will lead.

Reflecting on your journey to this point, what thoughts come to mind?

As I look back, I’m thankful that I have had a lot of people help me get to this point in my life. Growing up without parents meant someone had to take a chance and take the responsibility of caring for someone else’s child. Those people have been my aunt, Margaret Bimbe, in Zambia and the Shepherd family in the U.S. My aunt in Zambia took me in shortly after I had lost my parents, and even though life was difficult, she showed me and my siblings the love and care we needed at the time. In the United States the Shepherd family came to my rescue after I was removed from a horrible experience of being a victim of human trafficking. They have provided the love and care I desperately needed and continue to need. Because of the trafficking situation, I have had the opportunity to speak about my experience on behalf of trafficking victims in many places, so their voices can be heard and they also can reclaim their lives. I hope to continue my work in that regard, and thankfully God has brought me this far and continues to carry me every single day of my life.

]]> http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=from-dark-past-to-bright-future/feed/ 0 Sports drinks: Read before you swig http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=sports-drinks-read-before-you-swig http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=sports-drinks-read-before-you-swig#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 13:00:23 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=19207 It can be tempting to turn to sports drinks. After all, many on store shelves today are sugar free and loaded with electrolytes, vitamins and protein, which makes them good for quenching thirst and — for those endurance athletes out there — adding that coveted energy boost. Unfortunately, they also have an ingredient that isn’t so readily marketed]]>

It can be tempting to turn to sports drinks. After all, many on store shelves today are sugar free and loaded with electrolytes, vitamins and protein, which makes them good for quenching thirst and — for those endurance athletes out there — adding that coveted energy boost. Unfortunately, they also have an ingredient that isn’t so readily marketed: acid.

TAMBCD students compete during Dental Olympics.

TAMBCD students compete during Dental Olympics.

“The acids that are added for taste contribute to the risk of tooth demineralization,” says Lisa Mallonee, associate professor in dental hygiene at the Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry and licensed dietitian with a master’s degree in public health and coordinated degree in nutrition. “Even most liquid drops, powders and additives have some sort of acid as a preservative, which has erosive potential for the teeth when sipped on frequently throughout the day or consumed in excessive quantities.”

That doesn’t mean sports drinks have to be completely eliminated from the modern active lifestyle. The best way to minimize the side effects on your teeth, Mallonee says, is to consume your sports drink all at once instead of sipping or drinking multiple bottles throughout the day. Since frequent consumption may be indicated for endurance athletes, education on sports drinks and their potential effect on teeth must be reinforced.

Plus, there are tons of alternatives filled with hydration benefits.

“Consuming ‘plain old water’  is always best,” says Mallonee, who also encourages consumption of fruits and vegetables high in H20, like oranges, peaches, pineapples, cucumber, tomatoes and zucchini. “They pack a one-two punch of hydration and antioxidants in one scrumptious snack.”

Another growing trend: coconut water.

“It is low in calories and sodium yet high in potassium,” Mallonee says, adding one cautionary detail: “Natural, unflavored coconut water is best — otherwise it’s no better than soft drinks or juice because of the added sugars.”

Looking for electrolytes? Look no further than berries, bananas and grapes for potassium, and cantaloupe, melon and honeydew for sodium.

“People WANT to be healthy and in shape, and sports drinks embody active lifestyles,” Mallonee says. “Lifting weights or breaking a sweat during a moderate intensity workout doesn’t usually warrant the need for these drinks. For your weekend warriors or your average walk-the-dog-around-the-block kind of activity, good old water, fruits and vegetables loaded with water and electrolytes will suffice.”

 

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