Groundbreaking Sydney University study on HIV testing in dental settings...the majority of Aussies say "yes" Wednesday, July 16, 2014 @ 16:29:47



More than 80 per cent of oral health patients are willing to receive rapid HIV-testing in dental settings, which could help reduce the spread of the HIV according to a groundbreaking study revealed today at a Sydney University HIV Testing Symposium.

The first of its kind study of 521 Sydney-based dental patients assessed patients' willingness to undergo rapid HIV testing in dental settings, their preference for HIV testing-type type and their willingness to pay for the test.

Rapid HIV testing is a screening test that swiftly detects the presence of HIV antibodies in a person's body by testing blood or oral fluids.

It can be done as a simple finger prick or a saliva swab, and results can be made available within 20 minutes.

Rapid HIV testing is currently unavailable in dental settings anywhere in the world although the technology has been widely available for a decade.

Australians will soon be able to access rapid HIV-testing themselves after the federal government last week announced that it had lifted restrictions preventing the manufacture and sale of oral home-testing kits.

"Dentists are well placed to offer rapid HIV testing because they're located throughout the community, have ongoing relationships with their patients, and have the necessary training and expertise to recognise systemic diseases that have oral manifestations, such as HIV/AIDS," says the study's lead author, Dr Anthony Santella of the University of Sydney.

The new research finding has important policy implications, according to Dr Santella: "If rapid HIV testing was widely available in dental settings it could help to reduce the spread of the virus by informing people who aren't aware that they are HIV-positive.

"It's important that policymakers and other stakeholders consider expanding rapid HIV testing beyond medical and sexual health clinics because the average time from HIV infection to diagnosis in Australia is currently more than three years."

"As well, we have fresh evidence that around 45 per cent of dentists feel prepared and willing to perform rapid HIV-testing. This means it would be feasible to offer rapid HIV testing through dental settings, especially in targeted at risk communities."

Among those saying they'd be willing to undergo rapid HIV testing in a dental setting, 76 per cent preferred an oral saliva swab, 15 per cent preferred a pin prick test, and eight per cent preferred a traditional blood test that draws blood through a needle.

Fast facts

  • 60% of Australians see their dentist once in 12 months with 80 per cent seeing a dentist in the course of 2 years.
  • 10 - 20% of people living with HIV are undiagnosed and therefore run the risk of spreading the virus unknowingly.
  • The Australian Government's HIV Strategy aims to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV by 50% by 2015, as a key step towards a 2020 elimination target.

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What's a Dental Hygienist? Tuesday, April 8, 2014 @ 11:23:46

You know, I had never made an appointment to see a Dental Hygienist up until a few years fact I never knew they existed to be honest.  I thought the Dentist and the Dental Assistant did everything, the cleaning, sucking spit, the drilling and name it.  

But, think back to the last time you went to the dentist’s office for an appointment...remember that person who did most of the work on your teeth before the dentist came in to talk to you? Odds are, you saw far more of your Dental Hygienist than you did of your Dentist while you were there, unless you needed a particularly complex procedure done. That should give you some idea of what a Dental Hygienist does. Some of the duties include:

  • Screening patients to assess their oral health and look for conditions that may require intervention.
  • Taking x-rays of patients’ mouths and developing those x-rays.
  • Making impressions of teeth for casts.
  • Removing plaque from the teeth, (this is the really fun bit)
  • Providing fluoride treatments and sealants to strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay.
  • Cleaning teeth by brushing and flossing for patients.
  • Providing patients with suggestions regarding diet as well as dental hygiene procedures.
  • Routine office work involving documentation and record keeping.

Since my enlightement, seeing my Hygienist is something I now do every 6 months...go on, try it...your mouth (and your hip pocket) will thank you!

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10 fun dental facts Thursday, December 12, 2013 @ 11:24:26

#1. Your teeth are completely unique. No other human in the whole entire world has a set the same as yours.

#2. Priceline sells 4100 tubes of toothpaste each and every single day. That’s 125,000 tubes per month, and 1,500,000 per year. Wowzers!

#3. If you’re one of the many naughty people who forget to floss daily, 35 per cent of your tooth surface is going uncleaned.

#4. Want to avoid airborne particles from a flushed toilet landing on your toothbrush? Keep it at least 1.8m away from the loo and you (and your mouth!) will remain safe. Phew.

#5. Back in the middle ages, Germans believed the only way to treat a toothache was to kiss a donkey. Righty then…

#6. The enamel covering your teeth is the hardest tissue in your entire body.

#7. When it comes to toothbrush colours, most people would prefer to use a blue one over a red one.

#8. Commercial dental floss was first manufactured in 1882 and was made from silk.

#9. People with red hair are more sensitive to pain (yeah that would be right!) and consequently need more anesthetic during operations than other patients. Those with red hair needed 20 per cent more aesthetic to numb the pain in the dental chair, according to New Scientist. Oct 2002

#10. Earliest known dental work is a total of 11 teeth from 9 adults who lived between 7,500 and 9,000 years ago from residents of a prehistoric farming village called Mahrgarh in what is now Pakistan, the teeth found contain holes drilled with sharpened flint points, which are believed to have been filled with some type of material.

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When do kids start losing teeth? Wednesday, December 4, 2013 @ 14:06:13

My little man, who is 5, lost his very first tooth last night while eating a bowl of fried rice...I always thought it was all about a visit from the Tooth Fairy that caused the most excitement, but to be honest he was more excited about scaring his kindy teacher today with his gappy smile than the $1 left under his pillow.

I know lots of kids are nervous about feeling pain with the loss of a tooth, my son was most concerned with how much blood would come out...and adding to the anxiety, parents are often curious and unsure if their child’s tooth loss is age appropriate, I admit I did think that 5 was pretty young to start losing teeth, but according to dental experts children generally begin to loose their baby teeth beginning at the age of 5 or 6, and finish up by the age of 12 or 13.

This chart outlines the average age of when a child's teeth should erupt and then fall out

It’s best to notify your dentist if its any earlier than the age of 5, especially if the tooth loss is as a result of an accident, or due to cavity/decay, and its important to keep in mind that if your child’s baby teeth came in earlier than usual, they may also tend to fall out a bit earlier than average.

On the flip side, it’s not all that unusual if your child hasn’t lost a tooth by 7 or 8 years of age, however, once again it’s best to speak to your dentist to ensure there aren’t any underlying issues to be aware of.

So, as a general guideline, it’s considered acceptable and normal for children to loose their first teeth between the ages of 4 1/2 and 8 years old...Phew!

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'Gingerism'...why do we spurn the red heads? Wednesday, November 20, 2013 @ 13:24:29


Now...lets start by way of disclaimer here.  

My beautiful neice has auburn red hair, she is a stunner...and my step-daughter has the most amazing shade of red hair you'll ever see, both are gorgeous children and will grow into gorgeous women.  But having said that, I have known in my time a hand full of gingers who don't really tick that box, truth is, rangas are commonly known for being firey and often not all that pleasant on the eye.

And today got me thinking about the origin surrounding the predjudice against blood-nuts, as I was flinging around online this morning I noticed that today, November 20, is 'Kick A Ginger Day' occasion totally invented on the internet, obviously born by bullies to indulge in giving an even harder time to the red heads in their school, family or workplace.

So I wonder where 'gingerism' all started?

I think the obvious roots would be to look at the common place red hair of the Irish and the Scottish...and the in-bred hatred of them by the English in generations perhaps its a racial thing, although I tend to think its the ease at which human nature allows us to pick on minorities and people who are different, simple as that.

But to be fair, through history there have been some iconic and beautiful carrot-tops...Ronald McDonald for instance, then there's Nicole Kidman (although her wispy locks are more of an odd shade of grey these days) and Lucille Ball, who was truly beautiful but not a true red head.

I'm having trouble coming up with any more examples.

Sufficent to say, please don't go around kicking anyone with red hair today, its not fair and its not their fault...we only have genetics to blame.

I also read something poignant today, something to take with you through life; only a ginger can call another ginger "ginger".


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Snoring Thursday, November 14, 2013 @ 14:27:56

I love this story I came across in the UK’s Daily Mail yesterday...some blokes are such idiots...

He probably wished he just chewed his arm off.

A drunk 41-year-old man has been left red-faced after calling police to remove his snoring sex partner from his Wisconsin apartment.

Benjamin Todd Duddles dialed 911 about 4.20am Sunday to say he wanted 'a female removed from his bed', adding he wasn't sure 'how she got into his apartment'. He then changed his story, saying he let her into his White Rock Ave, Waukesha, unit and she 'just went into his bed and fell asleep'.

Duddles complained the unidentified woman was 'now snoring like a train and he wants her out'. However when cops arrived, Duddles revealed the pair 'drank together, had relations and she fell asleep'.

But when he couldn't rouse the slumbering woman, he called police according to a Waukesha Police Department report.

His unidentified lover was 'found to be fine medically, just has sleep apnea'.

Police suggested Duddles sleep on the couch after reminding him that a snoring woman was not a police matter. He wasn't arrested.

Some of us may have felt the frustration and perhaps despair of having a partner who snores, so luckily there are such things as ear plugs and spare rooms...but unless our bed partner is disrupting our sleep, most of us don’t think of snoring as something to be overly concerned about.

But frequent, loud snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea, a common and potentially serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts as you sleep. Although sleep apnea is treatable, it often goes unrecognised. Learning how to identify the warning signs and how to distinguish it from normal snoring, is the first step to overcoming sleep apnea and getting a good night’s sleep.

And then there are the options for treatment...these might include change of diet or lifestyle, perhaps wearing a breathing device at night or in severe cases, surgery.

But, a good idea is to visit your dentist to explore the option of a dental device. Most dental devices are acrylic and fit inside your mouth, much like an athletic mouth guard. Others fit around your head and chin to adjust the position of your lower jaw. Two common oral devices are the mandibular repositioning device and the tongue retaining device. These devices open your airway by bringing your lower jaw or your tongue forward during sleep.

Dental devices are only effective for mild to moderate sleep apnea. But be aware, there are also a number of troubling side effects from using this type of treatment, including soreness, saliva build-up, nausea, and damage or permanent change in position of the jaw, teeth, and mouth.

It is very important to get fitted by a dentist specialising in sleep apnea, and to see the dentist on a regular basis for any dental problems that may occur. You may also need to periodically have your dentist adjust the mouthpiece to fit better.

In any case...if none of these treatments work...I find that half a bottle of wine before bed will more than likely block out the noise of the freight train snoozing beside you, sometimes its worth the fuzzy head in the morning.  

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NIB embraces medical tourism Thursday, November 7, 2013 @ 15:00:38

A pretty concerning article caught my eye this morning published in industry magazine, Bite, about health insurer NIB openly embracing medical tourism. And while its good that the issue is being addressed by the ADA and official 'warnings' on medical tourism have been issued what I don't understand is that the ADA don't seem anywhere near as concerned by the outsourcing to Asia of crowns, bridges etc. by something like 60%, which bypass the TGA...something that is fast destroying the dental technology industry.

Anyway, have a read for yourselves...

medical tourism

Health insurer, NIB's senior executives have defended the company’s plans to move into the medical tourism market, saying the phenomenon was “not new” and would help to grow earnings in its business.

“It’s not new. It is actually happening,” NIB chief executive Mark Fitzgibbon was quoted as telling shareholders at its annual meeting in Newcastle last week.

He said the question for NIB was about “how can we hitch our wagon to the global thematic of people travelling across borders for their healthcare”.

However, Australian Dental Association federal president Karin Alexander criticized the decision, telling The Australian newspaper that, while prices for offshore treatment seemed cheaper, there was no way that the quality of work performed overseas could be guaranteed.

“We have a very high level of regulation in Australia to ensure safety and we also have rules about security of the workforce and those elements aren’t there in most Asian countries,” she said.

“Dentistry is rarely a one-off operation, but instead requires ongoing consultation, and that requires an individual dentist who knows an individual and what their issues are. Any work done overseas can’t really be followed up anywhere in Australia.”

She said the sort of dental work that Australians went to Asia for was generally high-end operations such as crown work or implants.

“What worries me about having health funds try to provide some sort of quality assurance measures is just how independent they would be. If they employ someone to check out Asian dentists, would that person be fully independent or would they be paid for by the health fund?”

When questioned about the ADA’s opposition to the scheme (as well as other peak medical bodies) Mr Fitzgibbon said the two peak bodies were part of NIB’s consultation over the scheme.

“The response is not surprising,” he said. “You will always have a bias to the status quo. I’m confident they will accept this as a sensible option to improve the quality of something that is already happening.”

The ADA has put out a press release detailing the issues those travelling overseas for dental work must consider, including:

  • Australian dentists provide a level of quality of service not matched in many parts of the world. They do this in a tight regulatory environment. Regulations cover the practitioners, the practice surgery, the treatment delivered, the equipment and materials used, and the infection control standards. There are few countries in the world that match this level of safety and quality.
  • Will the health tourism provider be able to guarantee this same level of expertise and safety and quality?
  • Complex or detailed procedures carry a risk. Having the work done overseas by practitioners that you are not familiar with, in an environment where you do not know the quality of education and training of the practitioner, the regulatory measures in place to guarantee safety and quality of treatment, nor the quality of equipment or products to be used on your treatment only escalates that risk.
  • Treatment which in Australia, would usually be done in stages to allow for adequate healing, is rushed to fit in with travel plans rather than align with best practice.
  • If problems arise there may be no guarantee that the provider will remedy the situation.
  • Any remedial work is unlikely to be covered by any Australian health insurance cover.

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Puckering Up for Party Season - What are the social etiquette boundaries around social kissing? Thursday, October 31, 2013 @ 13:26:13


A few Christmas party invites have started to float in the door at Dentiform this past week, so with the silly season approaching its got me thinking about meeting up with friends and colleagues and some of the rules around that very fragile kissing.

For me its one of those moments I kind of squirm know the scenario, you arrive at a party or any social gathering and immediately you’re greeted with kissing, theres lips everywhere, often coupled with “you look amahhhhaaaazing darling” and often its hard to know who to offer your cheek to first.

Unless its a close friend of course, is it just me or do most of us cringe as the inevitable smooch is approaching...inside I’m screaming, “noooo, I just saw you this afternoon in Coles, you didn’t go in for a kiss then” or “hey Paul (I think that's your name), you work in my building but I have successfully avoided you until now.”

There’s the one or two cheek kiss, the air kiss (hate that one), the kiss and follow-up hug, the missed kiss where you misfire and end up kissing someones neck or shoulder (awkward), and then there’s the lip kisser...the worst kind. I’m sorry but kissing on the lips should be reserved for your partner or your kids when they’re very little, otherwise its just strange. I once had a friend who kissed every female friend he knew on the lips at every given trying to escape his lips touching mine and converting it into a cheek kiss usually ended up in a head bobbing competition like two pecking emus engaging in some kind of odd mating dance.

We’re not friends anymore.

We need to be careful, the party greeting kiss is a potential minefield and can easily result in mixed messages, hurt feelings and inappropriate saliva residue.

Social etiquette experts suggest a few general rules to get you through these;

  • Don't kiss people you don't know. 
  • Don't kiss colleagues. 
  • Do kiss close friends...but never on the lips (I added that last bit).

I guess the key is to make your actions clear to avoid embarrassing confusion, so follow these simple rules and you’ll make it through the party season unscathed;

  • Usually it's right cheek first, but prepare to change direction at the last minute. 
  • Pull back decisively (but don't be too abrupt) if you are just giving one. Be cautious with those you are less familiar with - two might seem over the top. 
  • If confusion occurs over one-kiss-or-two, take charge and go in for a second. Humour (always good) is useful in deflecting embarrassment over the meet-in-the-middle mix-up. 
  • Just holding cheek against cheek feels insincere, but there is a fine line between an acceptable peck and an overly affectionate smacker. Cheek skin must make brief, light contact; sound effects, air kissing and saliva traces are to be avoided at all cost. 
  • If you'd prefer to shake hands, be sure to hold yours out before any kissing manoeuvres begin but, if you're part of a group introduction, don't be the only non-kisser at the party. 

Hope this helped...and PS - for any colleagues reading this, I’m a one-kiss-on-the-right-cheek-no-hug kind of a girl ;)

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Halloween Lollies - its not all bad news!! Wednesday, October 23, 2013 @ 10:22:59


This Halloween, it seems a number of dentists are telling parents that it is okay to let kids gorge themselves on lollies.

There's no reason to be spooked. Dentists aren't hoping to make money on the inevitable windfall of rotting teeth. The fact is, if you're going to eat lollies, gorging is far better for your teeth than rationing.

Slowly snacking on your Halloween treaties every few hours, day after day, keeps your teeth bathed in enamel-corroding acid, the by-product of bacteria feeding on sugar and other carbohydrates in your mouth. This leads to dental caries, or cavities.

For example, as far as oral hygiene goes, it is better to eat five choclate bars at once than to eat one every few hours. In the first scenario, acid will build up in your mouth, but your saliva will naturally neutralise this over the course of an hour or so. And then that acid is gone. In the second scenario, you are constantly exposing your teeth to acid throughout the day, too much for saliva to wash away.

Gorging also is better, because it is more likely to be followed by tooth-brushing. People, and especially children, are less likely to brush their teeth after every lolly eaten, particularly if they aren't at home.

Potato chips are's why

Lollies are not necessarily the worst thing for your teeth, anyway. The factors that really lead to cavities are stickiness and acidity. Potato chips and pretzels, for example, are worse offenders than chocolate, because these cooked carbohydrates cling to your teeth — giving mouth bacteria something to feast on longer and thus generating more acid.

Although it sounds counterintuitive, substituting chocolate for so-called healthier chips or fruit chews is actually worse for the teeth.

Among the lolly world, the sticky and sour kinds are the worst for your teeth. Those gummies that stay lodged in a molar till Christmas are nothing but trouble. Sour lollies tend to have more acid, so sour-tasting gummies are a double-whammy.

Of course, all this "good news" about lollies only applies to oral health. Aside from the generous 2 percent of the recommended daily allowance of iron in a Kit Kat bar, and 1 percent vitamin A, lollies and choccy bars are of course largely devoid of nutrients and constitutes empty calories. The aforementioned Kit Kat contains more than 200 calories per serving, twice the calories found in a large apple.

Some children are so obese that they suffer from pre-diabetes or even full-fledged type 2 diabetes, which traditionally only has affected adults. These children shouldn't be eating any sweeties AT ALL.

Oral health is nothing to neglect, though. Tooth decay and gum disease are major public health problems, associated with poor digestion, heart attacks, strokes and cancers, stemming from inflammation and subsequent infections.

If you think lollies are the only unhealthy element of Halloween, consider this: Halloween is one of the top three major nights for dangerous binge drinking, along with New Year's Eve and St. Patrick's Day.

On a positive note, 10 beers will wash away even the most stubborn gummies...there's a silver lining to evertything it seems!

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Are we facing an oral crisis in our state's north? Thursday, October 17, 2013 @ 11:00:09

There's a hot debate in our state's north at the moment surrounding water flouridation...the Opponents of fluoride are linking the additive to cancer, dementia and brain damage

At a public meeting in Byron Bay last night there was overwhelming opposition to fluoridation.

Byron meeting

Fluoridated water is provided to 96 per cent of people living in NSW but it's never been in Byron's water supply despite a health department survey showing the majority of people in area would support the move.

The rate of childhood tooth decay in Byron is already amongst the worst in the state and the crowd at last night's meeting was told the region was facing an oral health crisis.

Many health authorities believe fluoridation is the best solution to that problem, but the crowd did not seemed to be convinced, and a number of other health professionals preach to dangers of flouridated water and that the best water for teeth was un-fluoridated.

Although, Wollongong University's Dean of Medicine and Toxicology , Professor Alison Jones told the crowd that there was no evidence to support such claims.

"The mythology around the source of the fluoride and that it must be necessarily contaminating drinking water with high concentrations of heavy metals that's simply not true.

The Australian drinking water is routinely and systematically checked and the mythology around that is as I am suggesting, nonsense," Professor Jones said.

Byron Shire councillors are due to get a private briefing on the issue later this month, so stay tuned.

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