The top story was about a Maryland dentist thought to have diagnosed the first cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection from oral lesions during a routine dental exam. Tissue samples confirmed that the patients were positive for the novel coronavirus.
Other popular COVID-19-related articles focused on clinicians-turned-inventors who made products to better protect patients and staff from exposure. Outside the pandemic, stories about the benefits of honey, a lawsuit filed against a major dental service organization (DSO), and a toddler who went into cardiac arrest while under dental anesthesia were also popular.
Without any additional suspense, here are the top 10 articles of 2021:
- Did a dentist diagnose COVID-19 from a dental exam?
Dr. Gary Bauman, who has been practicing at the Baltimore Center of Advanced Dentistry in Lutherville, MD, for 20 years, may have diagnosed the first cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection from oral lesions during a routine dental visit. Sores and bleeding gums in the healthy mouths of two teenage siblings led to the diagnosis, which was confirmed from tissue samples.
- COVID-19 vaccines may be causing orofacial reactions
Two COVID-19 vaccines being given to patients in the U.S. and other countries have been linked to orofacial adverse drug reactions such as temporary facial paralysis, according to a brief report published on February 1. Dentists should know about inconsistencies in the descriptions of the adverse drug reactions from the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 and Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccines.
- Study flags cancer risks from dental x-rays
Dental x-ray radiation exposure caused an estimated 967 cancers in the U.S. in 2019, according to a study published in Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, and Oral Radiology. Dental radiography-related cancers represent about 3% of new cancers in the oral cavity/pharynx and 5% of brain tumors. However, up to 75% of these cancers may be preventable through appropriate selection criteria and rectangular collimators, the researchers found.
- Vancouver dentist, son invent face shield that fits loupes
Growing frustrated with the personal protective equipment available after a three-month COVID-19 lockdown, Dr. Scott Yamaoka and his son got creative. None of the face shields on the market offered enough clearance for his dental loupes, so Yamaoka and his son, an engineer, developed one that did: the Loupe Shield.
- DSO Aspen Dental hit with deceptive advertising lawsuit
On December 9, Massachusetts filed a lawsuit against DSO Aspen Dental Management for allegedly running a series of bait-and-switch advertisements that resulted in unexpected costs for thousands of patients. The suit was filed in Suffolk County Superior Court and accuses Aspen Dental of violating the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Law, as well as a settlement the DSO signed in 2014 with the state related to similar conduct.
- It ain't just sugar: 9 oral benefits of honey
Dr. Alvin Danenberg, a retired periodontist in Bluffton, SC, explained that honey isn't the same as sugar. He discussed the many benefits of using raw honey, including using it in the mouth to decrease the pathogens causing tooth decay and gum disease.
- Periodontist invents aerosol dome to protect patients, team
Dr. Lara Ryan, a periodontist in Overland Park, KS, devised a better way to protect her patients and team from exposure to SARS-CoV-2. She invented the Perio Dome, an aerosol hood with an attached vacuum that captures aerosols and splatters that may contain pathogens such as the novel coronavirus.
- How rules are changing for dental assistants in the U.S.
In 2020 and 2021, approximately two dozen states in the U.S. enacted legislative and regulatory changes related to dental assisting requirements, according to a report from the Dental Assisting National Board. States have made a variety of updates, including adding amendments clarifying the scope of practice for dental assistants, changing education requirements, and introducing rules on the use of teledentistry.
- Use of dental gag causes cardiac arrest in toddler
A 5-year-old boy under general anesthesia for oral surgery went into serious cardiac arrest, triggered by his mouth being propped open with a dental gag, according to a case report published in March. Excessive mouth opening with a dental gag triggered the reflex of the trigeminal and vagus nerves, immediately causing a rare case of asystole. Fortunately, the boy made a full recovery.
- OSHA rule to protect healthcare workers now in effect
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emergency temporary standard that protects healthcare workers, including some dental practitioners, from occupational COVID-19 exposure took effect in June. The rule aims to protect workers facing the greatest risk of exposure, including those working in hospital settings and in places that treat patients suspected or confirmed of having COVID-19.
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