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What is an RDHAP (Registered Dental Hygienist in Alternative Practice) ?

RDHAP are licensed dental hygiene professionals with years of experience who specialize in treating patients with special needs, such as patients with mental or physical disabilities whose health conditions limit their abilities to access quality dental care. An RDHAP may practice  independently of a dentist in the following setting: Residence of homebound, schools, residential facilities, dental health professional shortage areas and other institutions.

What is Periodontal Disease? 

Periodontal disease is an infection of the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth and covers the bone. The main cause of periodontal disease is bacteria that harbors itself in the mouth. Periodontal disease can lead to painful, inflamed, bleeding gums, pain when chewing and tooth loss. Removal of this bacteria can aid in the healing of the gum tissue and improve overall health. Having regular preventative dental cleaning is especially important when an individual 's health is compromised. Studies have shown that people with periodontal disease are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, respiratory infections, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Regular cleanings every 2 to 3 months will help prevent or treat periodontal disease. 

Diabetes and Periodontal Disease

Inflammation and infection of the mouth can effect blood sugar levels. People with diabetes have difficulty with healing and are more prone to periodontal disease and tooth loss. It is imperative for people will diabetes to have regular preventive cleanings every 2-3 months.   

Pneumonia and Periodontal Disease

Pneumonia is a major cause or mortality in seniors 65 or older. The mouth can contain large quantities of harmful bacteria. Those with periodontal disease have a higher bacterial count. If these harmful bacteria are aspirated into the respiratory tract by an individual with a compromised immune system, infection may be the result causing pneumonia. Regular preventive cleaning to reduce bacteria is recommend every 2 to 3 months.  

What causes dry mouth and what are the risks?

With the intake of many medications, comes a change in the salivary glands which can cause dry mouth. Plaque filled with bacteria becomes sticky. As the plaque sticks to the surfaces of the teeth the bacteria produce an acidic environment. This acidity can cause decay (cavities) on the tooth. Exposed root surfaces become more vulnerable to decay in a dry mouth. Without saliva present to neutralize  the bacteria, decay can become rampant. Fluoride can help protect the teeth to prevent cavities. Fluoride can be over the counter, prescription or professionally applied by the RDHAP. Other products like Biotene can help create moisture in the mouth. Drinking plenty of water can also help to neutralize the bacteria that produce cavities. A regular preventive cleaning to remove bacteria is recommended every 2 to 3 months for these people.