Category Archives: Oral health

Looking at the ‘adventure’ philanthropy of dental professionals

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health, curating related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo courtesy of Bart Roach

Photo courtesy of Bart Roach

Sara Schilling of the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, Wash., recently caught up with a local dentist who channels his wanderlust into helping others.

His name is Bart Roach.

When Roach is not taking care of his own patients and pitching in at a local clinic for the poor, he is trekking to faraway places where children are suffering from untreated disease.

The walls of his office are decorated with images and souvenirs of his travels. The computer in his office is filled with the photographs, Schilling writes. Continue reading

Plans progress to accredit dental therapist training

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health, curating related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: nlafferty via Flickr

Photo: nlafferty via Flickr

The agency responsible for overseeing dental education in the United States is moving forward with plans to establish a national accreditation process for dental therapist training programs.

In a move that was greeted with both criticism and praise, the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) voted Aug. 7 to begin the accreditation process for programs to train non-dentists to perform certain dental procedures, including drilling and extracting teeth.

Such providers are already providing care on tribal lands in Alaska as well as in Minnesota. A number of other states are considering employing the dental therapists, who work as part of a team of providers supervised by dentists. Continue reading

Midlevel dental providers gain support from national organization

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health, curating related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

With dental care in short supply and oral disease rates high on tribal lands, Native American leader Brian Cladoosby recently announced that his Swinomish Indian Tribal Community in Washington state will begin employing midlevel dental providers to offer preventive and restorative services to the tribe.

The Dental Health Aide Therapist (DHAT) model that the tribe has endorsed has been used in many parts of the world, including Alaskan tribal areas, as a way of expanding services in poor, isolated and minority communities. Continue reading

Bridging the gap between dental and medical care

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

GraphicStock

GraphicStock

Dental care and medical care have long been provided separately in America. New research and evolving models of care are challenging that traditional gap.

Chronic diseases are responsible for billions of dollars in health care costs and millions of deaths each year. Dental office screenings for diabetes, as well as other common conditions such as high cholesterol and hypertension could save the nation’s health care system as much as $102.6 million annually, researchers from the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Resources Center concluded in a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

In this new tip sheet, Mary Otto explains some of the screenings and interventions that may be coming to a dentist’s chair near you, as well as some of the question around providing such care.

Reporter explains how she cultivated sources for story on senior dental care

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health, curating related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Hanah Cho

Millions of seniors in America struggle to find dental care. Hanah Cho met a few of them who were grateful to find care at a clinic run by the North Dallas Shared Ministries.

The patients’ frank accounts of their pain and relief, included in a recent feature by Cho, brought the issue home for readers of The Dallas Morning News.

Cho, who is now a writer/editor at the personal finance startup NerdWallet, took time to reflect on her May 13 dental story, “Bridging the Dental Care Gap for Seniors,” in this Q&A for AHCJ.

She offers thoughts on the challenges and breakthroughs she experienced in putting together the project. She also shares some wisdom on how she convinced people to talk about their troubles with their teeth. Read about how she did the story.

Earliest known evidence of dentistry detected in re-examined Paleolithic tooth

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health, curating related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Image via Nature(A) Occlusal view of the RM3. (B) Detailed view of the large occlusal cavity with the four carious lesions and the chipping area on the mesial wall. Section A-A is directed mesio-distally, passing through the larger carious lesion. (C) MicroCT slice of the Villabruna RM3 in correspondence with section A-A.

Image via Nature(A) Occlusal view of the RM3. (B) Detailed view of the large occlusal cavity with the four carious lesions and the chipping area on the mesial wall. Section A-A is directed mesio-distally, passing through the larger carious lesion. (C) MicroCT slice of the Villabruna RM3 in correspondence with section A-A.

Scientists studying a decayed lesion within an ancient wisdom tooth say they have discovered the earliest known evidence of dentistry.

The cavitated third molar belonged to a young man said to have lived and died in Northern Italy during the Late Upper Paleolithic era.

Images from inside the 14,000-year-old tooth, obtained using scanning electron microscopy, disclosed a pattern of chipping and striations that researchers say were made using a tiny stone pick. Continue reading

Reporting uncovered one of Texas’ largest Medicaid scandals

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health, curating related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

GraphicStock

GraphicStock

The tip about troubles in Texas’ Medicaid dental system was part of a routine conversation. But it was enough to make reporter Byron Harris start digging.

He and his colleagues at WFAA-Dallas spent nine months scrutinizing data, wearing out shoe leather, following up on leads and trying to get people to talk.

In  2011, the “Crooked Teeth” stories raised profoundly troubling questions about oversight of the Medicaid dental program in Texas; the millions upon millions spent on orthodontic services for beneficiaries; the suspect billing practices of many providers. The 11-part investigative series uncovered one of the largest Medicaid scandals in the history of Texas. Government audits, reform efforts and lawsuits followed in its wake.

Harris continues reporting on the issue. He recently filed another story after federal officials concluded that the state owes $133 million for unnecessary dental work. “Texas paid $191,410,707 for unallowable orthodontic services from 2008 through 2010, according to a federal investigation,” Harris told viewers on June 3. “And officials say the federal government now wants a large portion of that money back.”

In this “How I Did It” article, Harris takes us back to the very beginning of “Crooked Teeth.” He explains how the project began, and how it unfolded. He also shares some wisdom on how to use data to follow up on a tip.

Closure of struggling Arizona clinic highlights challenges for low-income dental patients

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health, curating related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo by via Ace Armstrong  Flicker.

Photo by via Ace Armstrong Flicker.

Getting dental care was already hard for low-income adults in Arizona.

Now officials in Coconino County have reluctantly announced their decision to close a dental clinic that has long served the poor and uninsured.

County officials say they are considering a plan to provide vouchers so patients can seek care elsewhere. But there is no guarantee the voucher program will be in place by the time the clinic closes on Sept. 30.

And other questions remain: What services will be covered by the vouchers? Which dentists will accept them? Continue reading

Tribal leaders take new approach to improving dental health

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health, curating related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: National Congress of American IndiansBrian Cladoosby

Photo: National Congress of American IndiansBrian Cladoosby

The Seattle Times last month profiled tribal leader Brian Cladoosby, a longtime leader of Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, which has a reservation on Puget Sound. He also is serving a second year as president of the National Congress of American Indians.

The story, by Times’ outdoor editor Brian J. Cantwell, opens with a scene of Cladoosby fishing for king salmon on the Skagit River. The piece goes on to explore Cladoosby’s outspoken defense of salmon habitats and tribal sovereignity, his colorful, sometimes controversial leadership style and his willingness to go to court to win his battles. Continue reading

Percentage of adult Americans with cavities remains high, study notes

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health, curating related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on oral health resources at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo by ktpupp via Flickr.

Although tooth decay and tooth loss have been declining in recent decades, more than nine of 10 working-age Americans have cavities in permanent teeth, a new federal report shows.

“Among adults aged 20-64, 91 percent had caries and 27 percent had untreated tooth decay,” conclude the authors of a data brief from the National Center for Health Statistics.

The data were drawn from the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The survey, really an ongoing series of surveys, serves as a major tool for assessing the status of the nation’s oral health. NHANES’ size and depth make it unique. The study combines face-to-face interviews and physical examinations of a nationally representative sample of about 5,000 people each year. The work is overseen by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Continue reading