Study Shows Dental Students at Risk of Developing MRSA Infections

A recent study was conducted on dental students at the University of Washington Dental School1 to help determine the rates of colonization of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. The superbug is carried primarily in the nose and therefore nasal swabs were taken from students studying at the dental school. The study showed 20% of students tested positive for MRSA colonization, placing them at higher risk of developing serious infection. Further tests were carried out in the dental clinics at the school, and 95 samples taken from the dental chairs and floors were found to test positive for MRSA in four out of the seven clinics.

This rate of MRSA colonization is significantly higher than rates reported in the general population and other non-medical settings. Another study was carried out on 84 dental school students and instructors in Buffalo, New York,1 and this study showed an even higher rate of colonization, with 31% of students showing evidence of MRSA. Studies like these highlight the need for further research into understanding the rate of MRSA colonization in non-hospital settings, especially as very little is known about infection-control in non-acute care settings such as dental centres and offices.

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Scaling and Root Planing Isn’t Always Enough to Treat Gum Disease

SRP is not always 100% effective. Calculus and bacteria can be left behind.

Dental scaling and root planing, known as SRP, is often used when a straightforward cleaning isn’t enough, and is sometimes called deep cleaning. This nonsurgical procedure aims to remove the plaque and calculus or tartar which has built up around and just under the gum line by scaling or scraping the teeth. The process can help leave nice smooth surfaces enabling the gum tissue to attach more firmly to the surface of the tooth, and is one of the most common therapies used to treat gum disease1.

While SRP is often regarded as being the gold standard in the treatment of gum disease, it isn’t always 100% effective. Part of the problem is due to the fact that the clinician cannot generally see the calculus below the gum line, and must rely on their sense of touch to scrape away the calculus. This lack of visual feedback heightens the chance some small areas of calculus being inadequately removed. When gum disease is left improperly treated, the patient can experience tissue inflammation, gum recession, and even bone loss. Not only can this put the patient’s overall health at risk, but it can also allow the gum disease to worsen to a point where it requires additional treatments. Read More

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