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Alert Dental Hygienist Helps Save Girl's Life

Feb 17, 2015

By Dean George

It was supposed to be just another routine cleaning for an 11-year-old patient, but when the Oklahoma dental hygienist looked into the young girl’s eyes, she knew something was wrong.

Fortunately for Journee and her family, the action dental hygienist Rachel Stroble took January 28th helped saved her life as she was on the verge of rupturing a pancreatic tumor.

“The mass had just infiltrated everything,” Anna Van Ostrand-Woodard told the Washington Post. “We were told that Journee was one basketball game from this thing rupturing.”

Journee Woodard

Dental Wire and Agent Straight-Talk have written frequently on the importance of preventive dental visits. Not only can dentists spot oral health issues before they become more serious, but dentists often see early warning signs for high blood pressure, heart issues, oral cancer, diabetes and HIV while treating their patients.

During routine visits dental hygienists often clean patients’ teeth. They also provide preventative dental care and educate patients on how to improve and maintain good oral health.

When Stroble noticed Journee’s eyes were alarmingly yellow, she immediately notified dentist Michael Chandler. He agreed that something wasn’t right and together they encouraged Journee’s Mom to take her to the doctor immediately.

What the two dental professionals saw in Journee Woodard’s eyes that day was jaundice.

Subsequent blood tests, an ultrasound, CT scan and MRI revealed a grapefruit-size tumor that took surgeons nine hours to remove. The good news is that Journee surprised doctors by recovering so quickly and rejoined her parents and three siblings at home less than a week later.

Suffice it to say no one in the Woodard family will be changing dentists or skipping any dental appointments in the future.  “I didn’t feel like there was anything I could do to help, which is one of the harder things,” said Dr. Chandler. He told Atlanta’s NBC affiliate 11 Alive that he and his staff were simply being diligent and doing their job.

The Woodard’s have been using Dr. Chandler’s office since 2010 and Anna Woodard said they plan to keep him “forever.”

“The night before (her dental appointment), I was so close to calling,” Journee’s mother told the Post. “I was exhausted and I thought, ‘how are we going to juggle this?’” Journee was actually the last of the children to have a six-month exam, and her mother pledged she would never cancel a dental appointment ever again.

If you have been putting off getting a dental plan for whatever reason, here’s your sign: it doesn’t pay to skip dental visits and forego regular checkups, but it may be very costly if you do. To see plans available in your area, click here.

Sources: washingtonpost.com, cbsnews.com,11alive.com
Photo source: naturalsociety.com


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