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Patient education material from Harvard

Harvard Medical School recently published a short 53-page report titled, “Dental Health for Adults: A guide to protecting your teeth and gums.” It’s a well-done publication with a concise but detailed explanation about most things dental.


The downside is that I can’t see consumers (which the publication is prepared for) spending $18 for the report until perhaps when conditions deteriorate too much in their mouths. Much of the information is preventive in nature, and can guide consumers with oral health choices. My general reaction to the news about the report’s release is that dental professionals should purchase a copy and put it out in the waiting room.

Dr. Hans-Peter Weber, the medical editor for Harvard Health Publications, states in his foreword, “The impact of oral disease can extend far beyond the mouth. Research continues to unveil links between chronic gum infection and conditions as serious and as varied as diabetes, stroke, cancer, heart disease, and pregnancy complications. The special section of this report takes a look at the new evidence connecting overall physical health to oral health. While some of this research is preliminary, one thing is clear: when you take care of your teeth, you’re really taking care of yourself, both now and in the years to come.”

The Harvard report on adult dental health is kind to the dental hygiene profession as well, referring to the occupation by name several times (although it’s always “dentist or dental hygienist can ...”).

For that matter, the hygienist may want to put a copy in his or her operatory too, particularly for the patient who seems to have an endless list of questions and comments about the products in the oral care aisle at the drug story or grocery story. The comments about toothpaste and floss, for example, are very insightful and to the point. There are different advantages to the variety of products, and charts help make decisions easier.

In addition, there’s even an explanation about the benefits of xylitol (in a chewing gum form).

Harvard Health Publications can be contacted here or by calling 877-649-9457.

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Comment by Mary Jane RDH BS on January 1, 2010 at 1:14pm
Really quite amazing when you think about it..how much is a pack of cigarettes? don't know..never smoked..
Comment by Thornhill Dentist on September 17, 2009 at 12:18am
I agree. Dental information can be very valuable to patients, but there is no way I can see patients willing to actually pay for it.
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Comment by Vicki Cheeseman on September 15, 2009 at 8:45am
Thanks for the post, Mark. I agree that it would be an excellent idea for dentists/dental hygienists to make this publication available to patients in their practices. It sounds like the material would be very helpful, but there are likely few patients who would pay extra to see it. The oral-systemic link is a must-see for everyone.

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