May 9, 2022 - Podcast

Episode 265 — Dentures and nutrition, and substitute teachers

Dentures may have a potentially negative impact on a person’s overall nutrition, according to new research from the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Dentistry. The research team used electronic dental and health records to gain a better understanding of how oral health treatments affect individuals’ overall health over time. Dentures don’t provide the same chewing efficiency as teeth do, and this may alter eating habits, says Thankam Thyvalikakath of IU and Regenstrief. It’s important that dentists are aware of this to provide advice or a referral for nutrition counseling, she says.  Also, patients should report to their dentists if they experience any problems with their dentures, such as damage or improper fit that compromises chewing efficiency.  For the study, the research team matched the dental records of more than 10,000 patients in Indiana with medical laboratory data, specifically markers for malnutrition. The laboratory tests included complete blood count, basic metabolic profile and lipid and thyroid panel tests, among others. They compared the lab results from two years before a patient received dentures to two years after. Researchers found that people with dentures had a significant decline in certain nutrition markers during those two years. People who did not wear dentures did not experience this decline. The marker levels were still within normal range, but researchers say there is the potential that the levels will continue to fall as more time passes. The results also highlight the importance of maintaining good oral health and preventing tooth loss to maintain optimum nutrition. The researchers will next explore other factors that may influence nutrition, including insurance status and patient characteristics.

In other news, teacher and substitute teacher shortages have been an issue throughout the country, leaving school districts struggling to fill positions. Substitute teachers have historically earned low pay but have been in high demand in the past few years as more people leave the profession. A new eight-week course on substitute teaching guidelines and tips is aimed at helping students navigate the substitute teaching process while providing a much-needed resource to local school districts. It makes sense to tap into a pool of IU students who are eager to learn but who may need the extra bit of help to navigate the logistics of becoming a substitute teacher, says Suzanne Thomson, course creator and adjunct professor in the IU School of Education. Seventeen students completed the online course, which walked them through the typical employment process of a school district, including how to get a substitute permit. Afterwards, students could choose one of three projects: complete the substitute teaching hiring process in the local Monroe County Community School Corporation, complete it in another district of their choice or make a plan on how they’d go about this process. Fellow course creator and IU faculty member Sharon Daley says that becoming a substitute teacher is a long and sometimes complicated process, and it helps to have someone walk you through it. Students in the course also created a cheat sheet on best practices when substitute teaching, which included professionalism, networking, managing a classroom and developing a lesson plan, if needed. The class will continue in the fall 2022 semester, with two, eight-week courses planned. Daley says she would like to expand the class beyond education majors to provide students in different majors an opportunity to experience what it is like to teach.