New research is suggesting that while people at high-risk of periodontal disease should visit the dentist at least twice a year, others at lower risk may be fine with an annual checkup.
The new findings, just published in the Journal of Dental Research, raise questions about the standard six-month recall for all adults, suggesting instead an approach that stratifies care according to risk. In an era where health costs are skyrocketing, the researchers say their findings could cut wasteful spending and better target care.
“Prevention reduces tooth loss, but little evidence supports biannual preventive care for all adults,” concluded the researchers, led by William Giannobile, D.D.S., M.S., D.M.Sc., chairman of the department of periodontics at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, in the article “Patient Stratification for Preventive Care in Dentistry.” Continue reading
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The new health insurance exchanges mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are required to offer pediatric dental benefits.
But what procedures will be covered under the plans being offered in the states?
Will the benefits be affordable?
Will families actually buy them?
Three million children are expected to gain dental coverage through these insurance marketplaces over the next five years, according to the American Dental Association.
But states are still in the process of integrating dental benefits into the coverage that will be offered when their marketplaces open in the fall. Continue reading
“Portland and its aversion to fluoride reflects Oregon’s unusual politics”
That was the headline that ran over Oregonian writer Jeff Mapes’ May 22 election story.
“In 2011, the board of the Santa Clara Valley [Calif.] Water District voted to begin fluoridating water for about 850,000 customers in and around San Jose. Anti-fluoride activists grumbled but realized they didn’t have the resources to take their fight to the public.
“That’s sure not what happened in Portland, which once again showed that this far northwest corner of the country is willing to go where other parts of the country rarely tread.
“Activists packed the City Council chambers to protest the decision to go ahead with fluoridation and then collected more than 40,000 signatures in a month to place the issue on the ballot. And then, putting together a campaign organization on the fly, they won in a walk – despite being outspent three to one.
“Whether we’re talking about how to fight tooth decay or insisting that someone else pump our gas, Oregonians’ fierce independence and easy access to a Wild West system of direct democracy creates a different civic culture here.”
In the midst of just one of the fluoride debates brewing around the country last fall, Portland’s city council voted 5-0 to approve the fluoridation of the city’s water supply.
Public health advocates cheered. But fluoride opponents swore they would fight on. And they prevailed big time. Continue reading
As many of you know, it can be hard following an ongoing story – keeping up with the latest developments, looking ahead and staying ahead of the competition, finding the larger stories and putting it all into context.
Shannon Muchmore of The Tulsa World has been doing just that since the end of March, reporting on an investigation into a dentist whose clinics have been cited for multiple violations, many related to unsanitary practices. Hundreds of patients are being tested for HIV and hepatitis and officials say as many as 7,000 patients may have been exposed since 2007.
Amid a steady stream of stories, she took the time to share some of her insights into the complexities of the unfolding drama, including how her daily work life has changed, the level of risk faced by patients and some tips for other reporters.
Advocates for the poor and uninsured have worked long and hard to bring attention to the shortage of dental care for millions of Americans. On Wednesday, the American Dental Association weighed in on the problem too, announcing a nationwide campaign designed to respond to address what leaders called the nation’s “dental crisis.”
“We’ve made great progress with each generation enjoying better dental health than the one before,” ADA President Robert Faiella, D.M.D., noted. “But there is still a dangerous divide in America between those with good dental health and those without. Our mission is to close that divide. Good oral health isn’t a luxury – it’s essential.”
Yet many go without that care.
While a vast majority of middle- and upper-income Americans reported good access to dental services, nearly half of lower-income adults said they had not seen a dentist in a year or more, according to a Harris poll released by the ADA as part of the campaign’s launch. The poll also found that poor Americans are more than two times as likely to be toothless than their wealthier counterparts and that low-income adults were far more likely to seek last-resort care in emergency rooms than their better-off counterparts. Continue reading
Dental folks collectively caught their breath when they heard about the study, just published in the journal Pediatrics.
The findings: Children whose parents “cleaned” dropped pacifers by sucking on them were less likely to have asthma or eczema at 18 months than children whose parents did not use this particular method.
In a May 6 story for National Public Radio, reporter Rob Stein explained the findings. He started out by talking with a typical mom who described washing her child’s pacifier when he dropped it, even cleaning it in boiling water if it fell “somewhere particularly gross.”
But, then Stein went on to say “there’s a theory that says: That may not be the best way to go. That sterilizing that pacifier may actually have a big downside. To try to find out, Bill Hesselmar, of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and his colleagues, studied 184 babies who used pacifiers and their parents. Continue reading
Health officials in Oklahoma are working to test patients of two dental clinics for hepatitis and HIV, after an inspection turned up lax sanitation practices and other violations of the state’s Dental Act.
Shannon Muchmore of The Tulsa World has been covering the story, which has gone on to get worldwide coverage, with a steady stream of stories for the past month.
While getting out the latest news, offering descriptions of the lines of people waiting to get tested and exploring the fears of some of the 7,000 patients who state officials say may have been exposed – including one man who believes he contracted HIV while getting a tooth extracted at one of the clinics – Muchmore also has been careful to sound a cautionary note about the intricacies of tracing the bloodborne diseases back to their source. Continue reading
In spite of fierce opposition by some mainstream dental groups, workforce auxiliaries known as dental therapists are now at work in Minnesota.
And two dentists who work with them are attesting to their abilities in new YouTube videos, released by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
In one, John T. Powers, D.D.S., a private-practice dentist in Montevideo, Minn., says that working with a dental therapist has helped him expand access to care in his rural town. The therapist, trained to perform procedures including pulpotomies, extractions and to place stainless steel crowns has freed him to do more time consuming and complex procedures, Powers says.
In a second, Shiraz Asif, D.D.S., clinic dental officer at a community health clinic in Minneapolis, also describes the perks of working with therapists.
“They’ve turned out to be a great help,” Asif says.
These will surely not be the last words on the subject. Continue reading
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An estimated 5.3 million children are expected to get dental coverage next year through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
But will up to 11 million parents decide to drop their own dental benefits when their kids get covered separately?
It’s one of the still-unanswered questions surrounding the health care reform law and it worries Evelyn Ireland, executive director of the National Association of Dental Plans, the trade association representing the dental benefits industry.
The problem is this, according to Ireland: Continue reading
Often overlooked in overall health is the importance of oral health. But 100 million Americans lack dental benefits, and in 2009, there were 830,000 emergency room visits for preventable dental problems.
Robert Faiella, president of the American Dental Association, said awareness of oral health’s importance isn’t enough, but he said the environment is changing with the help of community and state-level initiatives such as hospitals referring patients to local dentists.
Faiella was part of a panel titled “Can states strengthen oral health?” at Health Journalism 2013.
He also showed a video about an ADA initiative to add community dental health coordinators to the dental workforce. Dental health coordinators first go through 18 months of training, then help people navigate the oral health system, find transportation and address language barriers.
Joining Faiella on the panel were Mary Foley, executive director of Medicaid-CHIP State Dental Association, and Mark Nehring, chair of the Department of Public Health and Community Service at Tufts School of Dental Medicine. Continue reading