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University of Iowa News Release

April 11, 2006

Photo: Sandra Guzman-Armstrong, D.D.S, UI clinical assistant professor in the Department of Operative Dentistry.

Online Course To Help Educate Dentists On Effects Of Meth

The University of Iowa College of Dentistry has received a $20,000 grant from Delta Dental of Iowa to develop a Web-based continuing education program for dental professionals about the clinical management of dental caries (tooth decay) on chronic methamphetamine users. 

The grant will help create an online course to educate Iowa dentists, hygienists and dental assistants about how to better address the concerns that chronic meth use poses to oral health.

It is common for meth users to develop a condition called rampant caries, which is an excessive amount of cavities that spreads very quickly through the mouth. Traditionally, this condition has been treated with surgical techniques. The online course will offer Iowa dental care providers new strategies to combat the problem using a medical approach. 

Faculty members in the UI College of Dentistry became aware of the need for the development of this program after receiving multiple requests from dentists around Iowa who are encountering patients with rampant caries due to chronic meth use and are unsure how to manage and treat them.

"This population commonly has 'rampant caries' exacerbated by methamphetamine use and lifestyle. Traditional treatment strategies are often not adequate for patients with rampant caries because they may be non-compliant, often lack insurance or funding for care, and commonly continue the habits that are harmful to their oral health," said Sandra Guzman-Armstrong, D.D.S, UI clinical assistant professor in the Department of Operative Dentistry. 

The "medical model" approach will include ways to manage the problem such as caries risk-assessment, fluoride-releasing traditional restorations, antimicrobial mouth rinses, microbiological monitoring of the disease, diet counseling and other chemotherapeutic agents.

The UI program will educate dental teams statewide in the recognition and management of rampant caries and caries related to methamphetamine abuse. The program will also address issues related to meth abuse including recognition of substance abuse, effective communication and statewide resources for referral for substance abuse.

There is no current data on the incidence and prevalence of rampant caries in Iowa, but researchers suggest that the number of Iowans affected could be in the thousands.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, 319-335-8032, mailto:david-pedersen@uiowa.edu; Writer: Andrea Schreiber

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at http://www.uihealthcare.com.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, 319-335-8032, david-pedersen@uiowa.edu.