Many people need more help than you’d expect in taking care of their oral health, writes Karalyn Huxhagen

Community pharmacy contributes to dental and oral health in many ways:

  • Tooth and teeth cleaning products.
  • Oral hygiene e.g. mouthwashes, dental floss, interdental sticks.
  • Fixatives and cushions for dentures.
  • Mouth gels and sprays to reduce the incidence of dry mouth (Xerostomia).
  • Mouth ulcer treatments.
  • Toothache treatments.
  • Emergency repair kits for dentures, lost teeth and broken crowns.
  • Prevention and treatment of oral thrush.

Another area of dental health that often involves the pharmacist involves dispensing prescriptions for:

  • Antibiotics–both before and after dental treatment.
  • Pain relief.
  • Vitamin K for bleeding issues.
  • Probiotics to be used after the antibiotics.

 

As dentistry has become more proactive in the management of the whole of person we are often referred customers to recommend supplements that may help the child or an adult to improve the health of their gums and oral cavity.

Poor diet, nutrition and sub optimal health can cause damage to gums, teeth and lead to poor dental hygiene. The dentist will prompt the parent or young adult to seek advice on how to improve their overall health in an effort to reduce the risk of poor dental outcomes.

In my local area I have been asked several times by the centre that provides emergency accommodation to children and women to speak to the mothers about the issues of poor nutrition.

One of the areas that the facility manager wanted me to cover involved discussing what should not be put in a baby’s bottle.

For many of these children they have a baby’s bottle that is filled with cordial or coke. They may still be fed by a bottle well into their junior years.

One lady I encountered was still feeding her child from a bottle when the child was 12 years old.

These children are often propped up in a pram or a bed with the bottle in their mouth to keep them quiet and settled. The destruction to the teeth enamel and their gum disease can be quite horrible to see.

In my location you can only access the state government dental services if you have a pension card. There are not enough resources to provide services to all children and young adults who require treatment.

A community pharmacist can provide support to organisations who provide for those who are at risk of poor dental outcomes.

Sadly, with the increase in addiction to drugs such as ICE we are seeing many younger adults presenting at the support organisations not only covered in sores from their ‘ICE itch’ but they also have terrible gum disease.

You may wish to consider offering to provide counselling and information to the people who access the support organisations in your location. Community pharmacists have a lot of knowledge that can benefit those who are not as fortunate as ourselves.

 

Karalyn Huxhagen is a community pharmacist and was 2010 Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Pharmacist of the Year. She has been named winner of the 2015 PSA Award for Quality Use of Medicines in Pain Management and is group facilitator of the Mackay Pain Support Group.