Tag Archives: oral health

Charleston Water System and SCDHEC Unite For Community Water Fluoridation

Bet you didn’t know that the Charleston Water System (CWS) and the S. C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), Division of Oral Health, work together to provide public health benefits.

In what way you ask?

Recently the two organizations worked together to adopt a position statement supporting community water fluoridation. Fluoride is commonly found in water but most of the time, not enough to make a real impact.

Although oral health in the United States is much better today than it was many years ago, cavities are still one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), community water fluoridation is the most cost-effective way to deliver fluoride to people of all ages, education levels, and income levels who live in a community.

Fluoride has been proven to protect teeth from decay as well. Although fluoride-containing products, such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and dietary supplements areFlouridation Graphic25percent available and contribute to the prevention and control of tooth decay, community water fluoridation has been identified as the most cost-effective method of delivering fluoride to all, reducing tooth decay by 25 percent in children and adults.

Following the recommendations of many other organizations such as the World Health Organization, American Medical Association, Canadian Medical Association, CDC, American Dental Association, Canadian Dental Association, South Carolina Dental Association and other professional organizations in the medical community, the CWS works to adjust the naturally occurring level of fluoride in our drinking water in a responsible, effective, and reliable manner that includes monitoring and controlling fluoride levels as mandated by state and/or federal laws, regulations and recommendations.

For more information on what DHEC does to support community water fluoridation in local communities, contact Wes Gravelle.

References: 1 Griffin SO, Regnier E, Griffin PM, Huntley VN. Effectiveness of fluoride in preventing caries in adults. J Dent Res. 2007;86(5):410–414.

Flouridation Large Infographic

Get regular oral exams for early detection of oral cancer

By Adrianna Bradley

DHEC urges you to proactively fight oral cancer by getting regular screenings.

It’s estimated that over 900 people in South Carolina will be diagnosed with oral cancers and cancers of the throat, tonsils and back of the tongue in 2017 alone and 180 will die from oral cancers.  These cancers are more than twice as common in men as in women. They are about equally common in blacks and in whites.

“Regular visits to your dentist or physician is the best method to help detect oral cancer in its early stages,” said Dr. Ray Lala, director of DHEC’s Division of Oral Health. “Oral cancer is a highly preventable disease and very treatable if caught early.”

Oral cancer is most commonly diagnosed in people who are 50 or older, but HPV-related oral cancers are often detected in younger people.

Your mouth is one of your body’s most important early warning systems. Don’t ignore any suspicious lumps or sores that last more than two weeks. If you discover something suspicious, make a dental or medical appointment for an examination. Early treatment is the key to recovery.

Here are some tips on how you can take an active role in preventing oral cancer:

  1. Brush and floss your teeth regularly. An unhealthy mouth reduces your immune system and obstructs your body’s ability to fight off bacteria.
  2. Ditch the tobacco. Whether you smoke it or chew it, your risks for cancer increases dramatically. Call the S.C. Tobacco Quitline today at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-900-784-8669). For services in Spanish, call 1-855- DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569).
  3. Limit your alcohol consumption. The risk of developing oral cancer increases with the amount and length of time alcohol products are used.
  4. Limit your sun exposure. Always use UV-A/B blocking sun protection on your lips when you are in the sun. Repeated exposure increases the risk of cancer on the lips.
  5. Exercise regularly. An active lifestyle can boost the immune system and help fight cancer.
  6. Choose cancer-fighting The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends eating lots of beans, berries, dark green leafy vegetables, flaxseed, garlic, grapes and tomatoes for their role in cancer prevention.
  7. See your dentist regularly. At least every six months, visit a dental hygienist and ask for an oral cancer screening to be done.
  8. Conduct self-examinations. Check the back and sides of your tongue. If you see or feel anything suspicious like lumps, bumps or tender areas, make an appointment to visit your dentist or doctor.

Visit the DHEC website for more information about oral cancer.

Maternal and Child Health shares information, tips for NPHW

During this National Public Health Week (April 3-9), divisions of the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health want to take a moment to highlight some programs as well as provide key information encouraging good health practices.

 Division of Children’s Health: First Sound

First Sound is South Carolina’s early hearing detection and intervention (EHDI) program. All babies delivered in birthing hospitals are screened for hearing loss before going home. Some babies will need further evaluation to confirm results.

It is very important that babies are screened and, if recommended, follow up with further testing. Hearing loss occurs in newborn infants more frequently than any other health condition for which screening is required. Hearing is extremely important for the development of speech and language skills. Early detection of hearing loss enables the infant to receive early intervention services to avoid developmental delays in speech and language. Age-appropriate language development is essential to success in school.

Women, Infants and Children program (WIC)

WIC is a special supplemental nutrition program that also provides breastfeeding information, support and assistance.

  • WIC offers a positive clinic environment that supports breastfeeding
  • WIC mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their infants, unless there is a medical reason not to.
  • WIC mothers choosing to breastfeed are provided support and information through peer counselors, certified lactation counselors and other experts. Support groups, classes and breastfeeding educational materials are also available.
  • Breastfeeding mothers are eligible to participate in WIC longer than non-breastfeeding mothers.
  • Breastfeeding mothers can receive breast pumps and other supplies, if appropriate, to help with the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding.
  • Mothers who exclusively breastfeed their infants receive an enhanced food package.

Division of Oral Health: A few brief messages dental health

  • Prevent tooth decay by brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Pregnant women need to visit the dentist regularly even when pregnant.
  • Drink from the tap. Drinking fluoridated water is an easy way to prevent tooth decay.

Division of Women’s Health: Take precautions against Zika

The CDC recommends that pregnant women not travel to areas with Zika risk.

  • Avoid traveling to affected regions, especially if you are or are trying to become pregnant.
  • Travelers should wear repellent for at least two weeks after returning because that’s how long the virus stays in a person’s bloodstream.
  • If a mosquito bites a person who has Zika in their blood, that mosquito can pick up the virus and pass it on to another human when it takes its next blood meal.
  • Travelers should also wait at least six months to have unprotected sex after visiting an area with risk of Zika because the virus can persist in semen and in the vaginal tract long after symptoms emerge.

Division of Research and Planning: Safe sleep reminder for babies

A safe sleep environment can help reduce a baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes of infant death. This is a good reminder for parents, family members and other caregivers of any infant under one year of age. This 1-minute video shows the ABC‘s of how to create a safe sleep environment for baby – Alone, on his/her Back, in a Crib (or other safety approved sleep surface):  https://youtu.be/Rs9Jw3uIoaU.

For more information

Visit the DHEC website for more information on the agency’s observance of National Public Health Week. You can also go to the official National Public Health Week website.

Lowcountry dentist receives special recognition

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADr. John Patrick Howard, the Director of Dental Services at Our Lady of Mercy Outreach Center on John’s Island, South Carolina, was recognized as the recipient of the 2016 Carlos Salinas award.  Dr. Howard received the award and special recognition at the Medical University of South Carolina’s Annual Continuing Education Course on “Dental Program for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Individuals with Special Health Care Needs” held on September 30, 2016. He was presented with an award and his name will be placed on a perpetual plaque displayed at the MUSC College of Dental Medicine.

“The South Carolina Dental Association, South Carolina Oral Health Coalition and Advisory Council, and Specialized Care Company established this award in 2008 to honor a dentist for excellence in providing care to and advocacy for individuals with special health care needs,” said Dr. Ray Lala, the Director of DHEC’s Division of Oral Health. “Dr. Howard has been the Dental Director at Our Lady of Mercy Outreach Center since its inception and over the span of his career has provided compassionate care for underserved and special needs populations.”

The award, in its ninth year, is named for Carlos Salinas, DMD, in recognition of his lifetime commitment to patients with special needs. Dr. Salinas was a professor and director of the Medical University of South Carolina’s (MUSC) Division of Craniofacial Genetics, Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, and director of MUSC’s Craniofacial Anomalies and Cleft Lip and Palate Team. He was with the College of Dental Medicine for 35 years before his passing in 2015.