Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pucker Up Valentine – With Fresh Breath and a Healthy Mouth!

By Dr. John Luther, Chief Dental Officer at DentaQuest

Did you know a Valentine’s Day kiss with your loved one is good for your oral health? A nice smooch will stimulate saliva, a natural cleaner for teeth that washes bacteria and food particles to help fight cavities. 

As you get ready to pucker up, take these steps to be sure your breath is sweet:

1. Brush Up. Bad breath, or halitosis, can be embarrassing. The best way to prevent bad breath is to eliminate potential causes. Bacteria lingering in your mouth from food or infections can create odors and lead to decay. Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes with fluoridated toothpaste, and daily flossing, is a good start. Also clean your tongue –it can retain bacteria. A gentle and thorough cleaning with a tongue scraper or toothbrush can remove lingering food particles.

2. Stick to Crunchy Produce. Foods play a role in lingering bad breath. Most people know they should avoid foods with strong smelling ingredients, like garlic or onion. But did you also know that oils from some cheeses and soft drinks are absorbed into your lungs and the smell is given off in your breath for a while? Foods such as apples or oranges contain helpful enzymes that naturally remove bacteria. Crunchy foods like carrots or celery help stimulate the flow of saliva which also helps get rid of odor causing bacteria. Snacking on parsley or mint leaves can also help freshen your breath.

3. Chew Xylitol Gum. Gum increases saliva production and helps neutralize acid; however, many gums contain sugar, which of course negates the healthy benefits. Chewing gum with xylitol, a naturally occurring sweetener, fixes this problem. In fact, studies have shown that because cavity-causing bacteria are passed from mothers to newborns, mothers who chew xylitol gum are less likely to transmit the harmful bacteria to their children, and cavities among these children are reduced by up to 70 percent. 

4. Say “No” To Smoking. In case an increased risk of cancer and death is not enough reason to turn you off from smoking, here’s another: smoking causes bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay. That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends quitting and offers tips on how to quit at

5. Check Your Medicine. Because the cause of halitosis can be a dry mouth, make sure to look through your medicine cabinet. A side-effect of some medications, such as antihistamines, tranquilizers, and various blood pressure medicines may be a decrease in the flow of saliva in children and adults. If dry mouth sounds familiar to you, talk to your dentist and physician. They may be able to suggest alternative medications or prescribe a medicine that helps your salivary glands work better.

So many solutions, yet we’ve only just started. Remember to maintain proper oral hygiene to make the most of out your smooch – and your overall oral health! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Three OH2014 Grantees Land HRSA Funds

Guest post by Carmen Fields, DentaQuest Foundation Associate Director National Programs

Three of the DentaQuest Foundation’s Oral Health 2014 Initiative state coalition participants – Oregon Oral Health Coalition, South Carolina Rural Health Research Center and West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services– leveraged their planning and outreach developed with the Foundation’s support and resources to land federal grants from the Department of Health and Human Services/ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). All three state coalitions received HRSA State Oral Health Workforce Grants for projects running from 2012-2015.

Launched in 2011, Oral Health 2014 is a national movement to reverse profound oral health disparities in the United States.

The Oregon Oral Health Coalition received a more than $800,000 grant to support oral health workforce activities. By partnering with the Oregon Health and Science University, the Oregon Office of Rural Health, the State of Oregon’s Medicaid division, the Oregon Dental Hygienists Association, and others, the coalition’s project will focus on dental sealants with specific aims to:
  • expand preventive dental through  a school-based dental sealant program by using a broad network of practice dental hygienists;
  • increase access to service in rural and frontier schools; and
  • create a statewide certification process to ensure high quality and appropriate services are provided at schools.
When recently speaking to the Oregon Oral Health Coalition’s Program Manager Shanie Mason, who is also a member of the Oral Health 2014 Coalition, she expressed to me her enthusiasm about the grant.

“This is about creating a system,” said Mason. “We are enlisting a comprehensive approach that looks at delivering sealants from a variety of perspectives—not just a singular program.”

Meanwhile, South Carolina Rural Health Research Center received a similar grant of $1.5 million. The center’s activities under the HRSA grant will focus on many of its same Oral Health 2014 objectives—public health infrastructure, access to preventive care and safety net enhancements.

South Carolina’s Director of the Division of Oral Health Christine Veschusio spoke to me about how DentaQuest Foundation’s Oral Health 2014 grant has helped the coalition prepare to apply for additional funding under HRSA.

“The Oral Health 2014 planning grant positioned our state so that we could secure funding from multiple sources ensuring synergistic success on multiple fronts,” Veschusio said. “Since the HRSA State Oral Health Workforce grant was released during the Oral Health 2014 planning year, we were positioned to leverage both opportunities. HRSA supported the infrastructure for the demonstration project for which we received DentaQuest Foundation funding.”

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services also received a HRSA Oral Health Workforce Grant of $1.5 million to be used to address dental graduate retention within West Virginia and help improve access to care.

When I spoke to West Virginia State Dental Director Dr. Jason Roush, he conveyed his excitement for the grant.

“Through funding from the DentaQuest Foundation and others, West Virginia now has the infrastructure in place to compete for federal funding,” said Dr. Roush.

We at the DentaQuest Foundation are honored to be a part of these three state coalitions’ progression. In total, eighteen state coalitions have moved into the second phase of the DentaQuest Foundation’s Oral Health 2014 Initiative, receiving support for the implementation of their 2011 plans.

The Oral Health 2014 initiative’s motto is “Advancing Local Leaders for National Impact.” The DentaQuest Foundation plans to award up to 10 additional planning grants to states in 2013.

To learn more about the DentaQuest Foundation’s Oral Health 2014, visit