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The Oral-Systemic Link

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  1. The Oral-Systemic Link How Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) and Registered Dental Hygienists (RDH) Can Work Together Sarah Eakin, RDH Katie Jackman, RDH Sarah Lyons, RDH

  2. The oral cavity is linked to the rest of the body via the cardiovascular system and lymphatic system.

  3. Basic homecare on patients including brushing, flossing, and dental prosthesis care.

  4. Basic oral cancer screenings and when to refer patients for further diagnostics and care.

  5. Lesson Objectives • After the presentation, the students will be able to complete the posttest about the oral-systemic link with 90% accuracy. • After the demonstration, the students will be able to perform basic homecare procedures as shown in the presentation and demonstration.

  6. Lesson Objectives • During the presentation, the students will be able to differentiate between normal oral anatomy and possible abnormal oral conditions through group discussion and picture identification. • After the presentation, students will be able to appropriately refer patients out when necessary as defined by the criteria in the presentation.

  7. Oral-Systemic Link • Linked via cardiovascular system and lymphatic system • Traditionally, oral cavity was thought of as separate from rest of body

  8. Transfer of Bacteria Bacteria, viruses, etc. Teeth and periodontal tissues Blood & lymph fluid Heart, lungs, & rest of body

  9. Xerostomia (Dry Mouth) • Increased plaque = increased periodontal disease • Difficulty swallowing/sore throat • Increased cavities • Decreased taste • Uncomfortable • Difficulty talking • Oral Candidiasis (Thrush)

  10. Xerostomia Caused by Medications • Over 1,800 drugs can cause xerostomia • Anti anxiety and anti depressants • Blood pressure • Antihistamines • Muscle relaxants • Parkinson’s Disease • Urinary Incontinence

  11. Other Causes of Xerostomia • Aging • Medications & other health factors • Cancer Therapy • Radiation of the head & neck • Nerve damage of the head & neck • Stroke patients • Mouth breathing/snoring • Smoking

  12. Systemic Diseases, Conditions & Oral Health • Diabetes Mellitus • Cardiovascular Disease • Smoking

  13. Diabetes Mellitus • Two-way street • Diabetes immunosuppression and increased blood sugar • Periodontal Disease affects blood glucose control Diabetes Clip

  14. Cardiovascular Disease • Direct cause and effect relationship is still being studied • Periodontal disease = risk of cardiovascular disease due to inflammation markers released into the blood stream • Antibiotic pre-med for some heart conditions (infective endocarditis)

  15. Smoking • Dry mouth • Immunocompromised due to constriction of blood vessels • Increases risk for oral cancer and lung cancer Smoking Link

  16. Case Study: Gingivitis increases systemic inflammatory markers • Objective: investigate if gingivitis increases systemic markers of inflammation related to atherosclerotic plaque development • 37 subjects, non-smokers, no inflammatory or cardiovascular disease/risk factors

  17. Case Study (cont.):Gingivitis increases systemic inflammatory markers • Methods: Cessation of oral hygiene for 21 days • Results: Gingival bleeding and Inflammation Systemic inflammatory markers • Reactivation of oral hygiene measures completely eliminated these responses

  18. Importance of Home Care • It is important that patients receive daily oral care • A healthy mouth is crucial for speaking, chewing and overall health

  19. Techniques • Approach patients in an gentle and caring manner. • Remember many older adults or patients are sensitive to having their mouths or head touched. • Always move slowly and explain exactly what you are going to do • While you work speak in a softand friendly voice to put them at ease.

  20. Patients with physical disabilities • Some patients may be independent and you can utilize tooth brushing aids to allow them to brush their own teeth • You can enlarge the handle by attaching it to a bike handle grip, rubber ball or large marker • Strongly encourage an electric brush

  21. Tooth brushing basics • Utilize a soft bristle brush • 45° angle with gentle circular motions • Biting surfaces of teeth • 2 minutes • Tongue

  22. Don’t forget to floss • Many patients you will be taking care of will not be independent enough to do this on their own • Use 18 inches of floss and use index fingers to guide floss between contacts of the teeth (Do not snap) • Use a “C” shape to contour between each tooth • Floss each tooth with a clean section of floss

  23. Denture Use • It is recommended to rinse dentures after every meal • Remove at night • Tissue needs to breathe

  24. Denture Care • Clean dentures X2 daily with a denture brush and a non-abrasive denture cleanser • Regular toothpaste is too abrasive for denture care • Remain moist • Dentures are fragile

  25. Conditions that require a closer look by a Dentist • Bleeding gums • Change in how their teeth fit together • Red, swollen or tender gums • Discharge at the gumline of a tooth • Change in the fit of their dentures or partials • Very bad breath • Loss of taste and weight loss • Loose or chipped teeth

  26. Not Oral Cancer! But need to be seen by a DDS!

  27. Oral Cancer Screenings • A thorough examination of the oral cavity is essential to the total care of the patient • Goal: Identify suspected lesions that require additional testing and refer for medical evaluation

  28. Oral Cancer • Survival rate of oral cancer is very low • Key risk factors: Smoking and alcohol consumption

  29. What to look for • Mouth sore that doesn’t heal quickly • A change in color or texture of the oral tissue

  30. Appearance of Oral Cancer • Size and shape- varies. Can be flat or raised • Color- red and white are most common. Can be blue, purple gray, yellow, black or brown. • Surface texture- May be smooth or irregular • Consistency- soft, spongy, hard or indurated

  31. Most Common Sites • Floor of the mouth • Lateral part of tongue • Lower lip • Soft palate

  32. Floor of the mouth • Have the patient raise their tongue to the roof of their mouth- look for white and red patches • Using bimanual palpation, feel for lumps

  33. Floor of the mouth • Normal • Refer • Tori- hard bilateral- OK

  34. Lateral border of tongue • Have the patient stick out their tongue, grab with gauze. • Examine the sides and underside of the tongue for white and red patches, feel for lumps

  35. Lateral border of the tongue • Healthy • Refer • Geographic tongue- OK

  36. Screening • Explain the procedure to the patient • You will be using different kinds of palpation

  37. In Clinic • Tell, show, do method • Oral Cancer Screenings procedure • TB and Floss demonstration • Denture Care demonstration

  38. Questions about Clinic Aha moment? Was there any information presented that you didn’t know before or clarified something for you?

  39. Summarize • Oral Cavity is connected to the entire body • 2 way street! • Home care is crucial • Catching oral cancer early is important

  40. Questions What is your muddiest point? Is there any remaining confusion or obscurity after our presentation?

  41. References American Academy of Periodontology (2012). Gum disease and cardiovascular disease. Retrieved from Caesy Education Systems (Producer). (n.d.). Periodontal disease systemic effects diabetes. [Online video]. Retrieved from Colgate (2013). Take charge of your diabetes and oral health: Learn about the connection between gum disease and diabetes. Retrieved from Eberhard, J., Grote, K., Luchtefeld, M., Heuer, W., Schuett, H., Divchev, D., Scherer, R., Schmitz-Streit, R., Langfeldt, D., Stumpp, N., Staufenbiel, I., Schieffer, B., & Stiesch, M. (2013, February 7). PubMed: Experimental gingivitis induces systemic inflammatory markers in young healthy individuals. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic (2011, April 7). Dry mouth. Retrieved from

  42. Thank you!