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Widespread Support for Rapid HIV Testing in Dental Surgeries



More than 80 per cent of oral health patients are willing to receive rapid HIV-testing in dental settings, which could help reduce the spread of the HIV according to a groundbreaking study revealed today at a Sydney University HIV Testing Symposium.

The first of its kind study of 521 Sydney-based dental patients assessed patients’ willingness to undergo rapid HIV testing in dental settings, their preference for HIV testing-type type and their willingness to pay for the test.

Rapid HIV testing is a screening test that swiftly detects the presence of HIV antibodies in a person’s body by testing blood or oral fluids. It can be done as a simple finger prick or a saliva swab, and results can be made available within 20 minutes.

Rapid HIV testing is currently unavailable in dental settings anywhere in the world although the technology has been widely available for a decade. Australians will soon be able to access rapid HIV-testing themselves after the federal government last week announced that it had lifted restrictions preventing the manufacture and sale of oral home-testing kits.

“Dentists are well placed to offer rapid HIV testing because they’re located throughout the community, have ongoing relationships with their patients, and have the necessary training and expertise to recognise systemic diseases that have oral manifestations, such as HIV/AIDS,” says the study’s lead author, Dr Anthony Santella of the University of Sydney.

The new research finding has important policy implications, according to Dr. Santella:

“If rapid HIV testing was widely available in dental settings it could help to reduce the spread of the virus by informing people who aren’t aware that they are HIV-positive.”

“It’s important that policymakers and other stakeholders consider expanding rapid HIV testing beyond medical and sexual health clinics because the average time from HIV infection to diagnosis in Australia is currently more than three years.”

“As well, we have fresh evidence that around 45 per cent of dentists feel prepared and willing to perform rapid HIV-testing. This means it would be feasible to offer rapid HIV testing through dental settings, especially in targeted at-risk communities.”

Among those saying they’d be willing to undergo rapid HIV testing in a dental setting, 76 percent preferred an oral saliva swab, 15 per cent preferred a pin prick test, and eight per cent preferred a traditional blood test that draws blood through a needle.
Fast facts:

• Sixty per cent of Australians sees their dentist once in 12 months with 80 per cent seeing a dentist in the course of 2 years.

• Ten to 20 percent of people living with HIV are undiagnosed and therefore run the risk of spreading the virus unknowingly.

• The Australian Government’s HIV Strategy aims to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV by 50 per cent by 2015, as a key step towards a 2020 elimination target.

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Top 5 Clinical Cases This Week



1. Smile Makeover for a Patient With Heavily Stained Teeth


By: @drmertyuce

2. Smile Makeover of Harry Potter Actor, Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom)


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3. Implant Denture Smile Makeover


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4. Supragingival Debridement of Lower Anterior Teeth


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5. Orthodontic Treatment of Crowded and Misaligned Teeth


By: @ortodontisthanifiyildirim


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Does Dentophobia Lead to More Decay and Tooth Loss?



People who have a severe fear of the dentist are more likely to have tooth decay or missing teeth, according to a new study from King’s College London.

The study, published today in the British Dental Journal, compared the oral health of people with and without dental phobia. The results showed that people with dental phobia are more likely to have one or more decayed teeth, as well as missing teeth. In addition, the study found that those with dental phobia reported that their quality of life is poor.

In this study, researchers suggest that this could be that because many people with dental phobia avoid seeing a dentist on a regular basis to address preventable oral conditions. The team also found that once a visit has been made, the phobic patient might also prefer a short-term solution, such as extraction, instead of a long-term care plan.

Anxiety about visiting the dentist is common and becomes a phobia when it has a marked impact on someone’s well-being. Researchers analysed data from the Adult Dental Health Survey (2009), where out of 10,900 participants, a total of 1,367 (344 men and 1,023 women) were identified as phobic.

‘This phobia can have a major impact on a person’s quality of life, including on their physiological, psychological, social and emotional wellbeing,”

said lead author Dr Ellie Heidari from the King’s College London Dental Institute.

“Other research has shown that people with dental phobia express negative feelings such as sadness, tiredness, general anxiety and less vitality. An action as simple as smiling will be avoided due to embarrassment of their poor teeth.”

“Our study found people with dental phobia tend to experience a range of dental diseases which result from their avoidance of the dentist. Ideally we would want to help them overcome their dental phobia and attend the dentist, but in the interim perhaps we could be helping them to take good care of their teeth themselves,”

said author Professor Tim Newton from the King’s College London Dental Institute.

“By providing these patients with a detailed at home oral healthcare plan, dental practitioners could help reduce acute conditions with preventative care.”


The oral health of individuals with dental phobia: a multivariate analysis of the Adult Dental Health Survey, 2009,

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How Did a Single Tooth Reveal the Identity of a Pharaoh?



Many people often underestimate the role of teeth in the world of forensics. Most associate forensics with blood samples and DNA analysis. However, few would know that teeth can provide a precious insight into ancient discoveries.

One such example is the identification of a female mummy known as Hatshepsut. She was Egypt’s greatest female pharaoh who reigned over 3,000 years ago for 15 years and was the second woman to have ever assumed the throne. Hatshepsut was a caretaker ruler on behalf of her step-son, Tuthmosis III. After her death, Tuthmosis III went to great lengths to remove all traces of her existence. Archaeologists later confirmed that it was to remove her from the male Tuthmosis lineage.


The search for Hatshepsut’s mummy has been one of the greatest mysteries for Egyptologists. The British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered a tomb while excavating the Valley of the Kings in 1902, where she was believed to have been buried. Four mummies were discovered along with a small wooden box that contained a mummified liver. No further investigation was carried out by Carters team.

Pharaoh3The Valley of the Kings

In 1989 Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s foremost archaeologist, decided to take another look at the wooden box using a CT scanner. He discovered hidden, a single molar tooth along with one root still attached. Upon seeing this, he examined the 4 mummies that were found with the box and realised one of them did indeed have a missing tooth. The mummy had an empty socket in her jaw and Galal El-Behri, a dentist from Cairo University, was able to determine that the socket was a perfect fit for the tooth in the box!

Pharaoh1Zahi Hawass

“This is the most important discovery in the Valley of the Kings since the discovery of King Tutankhamun, and one of the greatest adventures of my life,” said Zahi Hawass.

You may be wondering why this discovery was so significant? This was because it revealed Queen Hatshepsut’s cause of death – an abscessed tooth that was pulled out. Despite her having osteoporosis, cancer and being obese, the truth was that she died from the excruciating pain from an infected tooth around the age of 50. It was this mystery, solved from a single tooth that resurrected Hatshepsut’s place amongst the great Egyptian rulers.


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