A review of some serious health issues

With the new year off and rolling, FOCUS Editorial Director Maria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS, turns her attention in this issue to serious health issues such as the early detection of diabetes, thwarting the H1N1 virus, tobacco control, and the future of dental hygiene.

Jan 17th, 2014
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In this newsletter, we deal with some very serious issues. Early detection of diabetes, thwarting the H1N1 virus, tobacco control, and the future of dental hygiene are the topics discussed. I will outline some other issues here in the Introduction.

Another subject of importance is pertussis. In the last century, pertussis was one of the most common childhood diseases and a major cause of childhood mortality in the United States. Before the pertussis vaccine became available in the 1940s, more than 200,000 cases of pertussis were reported annually in the United States.(1) Since widespread use of the vaccine began, incidence has decreased more than 80% compared with the previous era.(1) Since the 1980s, Canada, Australia, and the United States have seen a resurgence of pertussis.(1)

In 2004 in the United States, 25,827 cases were documented, the most since 1959, with 38% of reported cases among adolescents.(1,2) In 2012, more than 48,000 pertussis cases were reported in the United States, the most since 1955, when nearly 63,000 cases were reported.(3)


The best treatment for pertussis is primary prevention. To limit the spread of infection, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that chemoprophylaxis be administered to all household contacts and other close contacts.(5) For more information on the causes, epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment, and prevent of pertussis, view the Updated Treatment and Prevention Guidelines for Pertussis.(6) The best way to prevent pertussis (whooping cough) among infants, children, teens, and adults is to get vaccinated. Also, keep infants and other people at high risk for pertussis complications away from infected people.

A very tragic incident occurred in Hawaii, where 3-year-old patient Ashley Boyle died after she was sedated with different drugs during an extensive dental procedure. Hawaiian officials have started an investigation of an Oahu dentist after the parents alleged that the child was not monitored during the procedure. Dr. Geyer, Island Dentistry for Children, and unidentified staff members, are named in a lawsuit, and the practice is now closed. The mother said her daughter was diagnosed with 10 cavities and needed four baby “root canals”.

On January 7, 2014, CNN published a piece on The Truth about Pediatric Root Canals.(7) For more on the opinion of a pediatric dentist regarding Ashley Boyle, read the CNN article.(7) A similar tragedy occurred with teenager, Jahi McMath, was rendered brain-dead after a routine tonsillectomy procedure.

On a brighter note, there is yet another toothbrush on the market.

Kolibree has introduced the world's first connected electric toothbrush at CES this year, designed to track brushing habits and encourage better dental care. Kolibree analyzes brushing habits and then displays them on a mobile dashboard, which can be accessed via an iOS app.(8) The Kolibree uses Bluetooth to connect to an iPhone, automatically synchronizing data each time the toothbrush is used. A built-in sensor measures the amount of time that a user spends brushing and whether hard to reach areas were properly cleaned.

The toothbrush itself features switchable heads, allowing multiple users to use one toothbrush base, but the company suggests that sharing could complicate the data gathering process and recommends an individual brush for each person. The Kolibree toothbrush has vibration speeds and brushing patterns ranging from 4,000 to 12,500 RPM, and the battery lasts for approximately one week before needing to be recharged.

Enjoy your weekend, and Go 49ers! (I just can’t resist!)

1. Pertussis. In: Atkinson W, Wolfe S, Hamborsky J, eds. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 12th ed. Washington DC: Public Health Foundations, 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/pert.html.
2. Bechini A, Tiscione E, Boccalini S, et al. Acellular pertussis vaccine use in risk groups (adolescents, pregnant women, newborns and health care workers): a review of evidences and recommendations. Vaccine. 2012; 30(35):5179–5190.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pertussis (whooping cough). Fast Facts. August 28, 2013. http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/fast-facts.html.
4. http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/downloads/BAM-villain-for-kids-fs.pdf.
5. Committee on Infectious Diseases, American Academy of Pediatrics. Pertussis (whooping cough). In: Pickering LK, Baker CJ, Long SS, McMillan JA, eds. Red Book: 2012 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. Elk Grove Village, IL, 2012:553–556. http://aapredbook.aappublications.org/content/1/SEC131/SEC237.body.
6. Cohen S, Black A, Ross A, and Mandel E. Updated treatment and prevention guidelines for pertussis. Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants: January 2014 - Volume 27 - Issue 1 - p 19–25.
7. The Truth about Pediatric Root Canals. http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1073285/.
8. http://www.kolibree.com/.


Maria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS

To read previous RDH eVillage FOCUS introductions by Maria Perno Goldie, go to introductions.

To read more about pertussis and dental hygiene, click here.

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