Dental Tribune Europe

Sunstar presents fourth World Dental Hygienist Awards

By Marc Chalupsky, DTI
June 30, 2016

BASEL, Switzerland: As a leading competitor in oral health care with its GUM, BUTLER, Ora2 and other established brands, Swiss-based Sunstar has been one of the first businesses to emphasise an integrated approach to the relationship between oral health and systemic disease. At the fourth Sunstar Foundation World Dental Hygienist Awards, the company again recognised three outstanding dental hygienists who have made significant contributions to the community and their profession. The winning submissions also provided new insights for general health. The award ceremony took place on 24 June at the 2016 International Symposium on Dental Hygiene in Basel in Switzerland.

Dr JoAnn Gurenlian, President of the International Federation of Dental Hygienists, thanked the Sunstar Foundation for its involvement in exploring the connection between oral and systemic health. She also recognised dental hygienists for their continued contribution to scientific research and community care.

The Sunstar Foundation was established in 1977 with the aim of improving oral care among the general public. For its World Dental Hygienist Awards competition, held every three years, an expert panel evaluates submissions in research and project categories by individuals with a background in dental hygiene. The papers are given a score of one to seven, and this year, almost all 39 manuscripts received a score of six and above. The winning papers may be considered for publication in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene.

In their opening remarks, Sunstar global public relations director Mayumi Kaneda and Scientific Affairs Manager Dr Marzia Massignani emphasised that the company has been a reliable partner in education in oral and general health over the last 20 years. It held its first symposium in 1986, followed by a number of high-level events on the latest issues in medicine and dentistry. In 1997, the Sunstar–Chapel Hill Symposium in North Carolina in the US introduced the newest research in periodontics through a systematic approach to oral and general health. Many of the findings presented at the congress became mainstream knowledge. Next year, Sunstar is inviting dental and medical professionals to another congress with the aim of initiating the most important topics for the next 20 years.

Massignani further explained that, through seminars and symposia held jointly with the Joslin Diabetes Center, the world’s largest diabetes research and clinical care organisation, both organisations have sought to gain recognition that periodontal disease has a strong association with diabetes and arising complications. At its 20th symposium, held in January in Singapore, Sunstar again provided new evidence to clinicians and patients about the strong link between oral health and diabetes.

One of the highlights at the Singapore event was the release of the new educational video The Fascination of Science: The Invisible Made Visible, in which leading scientists explain the effects of periodontitis on glucose metabolism and the cardiovascular system. Periodontitis and other inflammatory processes of the oral cavity contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and other systematic conditions, such as atherosclerosis and Type 2 diabetes. Besides a fascinating introduction to the cell-to-cell communication and dissemination of bacteria in periodontitis, the highly informative video covers effective dental treatment options. Sunstar has released the video in seven languages, along with a patient-friendly version.

Award winners
In the research category, Dr Juliet Dang received an award for her thesis, Identification and Characterization of Novel Human Papillomaviruses in Oral Rinse Samples. Although about 200 human papillomavirus (HPV) types are already known, the thesis hypothesised that new HPVs could be identified using next-generation sequencing technology in conjunction with cloning and Sanger sequencing. Using oral rinse samples from healthy controls and patients with different types of head and neck carcinomas, she discovered three novel and potentially oncogenic HPVs.

Dr Rebecca M. Barry won in the research category with her thesis, Prevalence of Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Mississippi Dental Hygienists in Relation to Operator Positioning and Work Habits, which found that the majority of practising dental hygienists develop musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) regardless of operator position used. Furthermore, the study participants developed MSDs sooner after entering practice than previous research had suggested. Barry also found that less than a quarter of Mississippi dental hygienists in the study used ergonomic devices. She recommended proper operator positioning and use of ergonomic devices to help reduce or prevent future MSDs among dental hygienists.

As the winner in the project category, Dr Sandra Kemper, presented her report on the Smiles Forever Foundation, titled “A dental hygiene education and service model for Latin America”. Through her non-profit organisation, she has helped to provide full dental care services in under-developed states, such as Bolivia. Since 2001, the foundation has established schools and clinics across the country and more than 30 women have graduated from the two-year programme to become dental hygienists.

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