Archive | May, 2013

More children seeing the dentist (via @DentistryIQ)

18 May



Oral health is an important component of general health and routine, and preventive dental care has been associated with increased savings to the health care system. But dental care utilization patterns are changing in the United States. In a series of publications from the ADA’s Health Policy Resources Center, my team looked at national and state utilization patterns over the past decade, using the most reliable data available.

We made some important discoveries. We found that the pattern of dental care utilization during the 2000s was very different for adults and children. The percent of adults with a dental visit in the last 12 months decreased from a peak of 41% in 2003 to 37% in 2010. For children, the percent with a dental visit in the last 12 months increased from 42% in 2000 to 46% in 2003, and roughly held steady through 2010. An important finding is that dental care utilization among adults started to decline in 2003, well before the start of the recent economic downturn. More than the recession is at play here.

Another key finding is that adult dental care utilization declined most among the poor, but all income groups were affected (Fig. 1). Utilization declined for middle income adults from 38% in 2003 to 34% in 2010, and for higher income adults from 54% in 2003 to 51% in 2010. This is clearly not just a low-income adult issue.

As a result, the gap in dental care utilization between adults in low-income and high-income households increased by six percentage points during the 2000s. In a separate analysis, we show that the national trends occurred in most states. In fact, dental care utilization among low-income children increased during the 2000s in all but three states, which is a remarkable achievement. For low-income adults, utilization decreased in the majority of states, with Massachusetts and Virginia being notable exceptions. Research we are now completing shows that the main drivers of the decline in adult utilization are decreases in private dental benefits, stagnating household income, and population demographic shifts.

The decline in dental care utilization among adults warrants significant attention. The evidence suggests that increased financial barriers to dental care are growing among adults. The Affordable Care Act will do little to reverse this, as adult dental benefits are not mandated. Expanding access to dental care for adults, particularly low-income adults, will be a significant policy challenge in the coming years.

To access the full Research Briefs, visit

Marko Vujicic, PhD, is Managing Vice President, Health Policy Resources Center at the American Dental Association, where he is responsible for overseeing all of the Association’s policy research activities. Prior to joining the American Dental Association, he was Senior Economist with The World Bank in Washington D.C., where he directed the global health workforce policy program. You may reach him at




Enterprise Native Bridging Oral Health Care Gap #Alabama (via @dothaneagle)

18 May



Nearly every county in Alabama suffers from unmet oral health needs, but an emerging dental student is planning to make a difference by bridging gaps and taking on the “dental desert” in her community.

The Alabama’s Office of Primary Care and Rural Healthreports 65 of the state’s 67 counties were designated as dental health shortage areas for low-income populations. According to this 2011 data, more than 260 additional dentists are needed to bridge gaps. For some residents, time, resources and distance figure into the equation. In some rural communities an hour’s drive is required for dental services.

In a 2007 report, the U.S. surgeon general identified “special care” communities as individuals who suffer high rates of dental disease, disproportionately among those with low incomes or from rural, urban and frontier communities. Lack of access to dental care not only leads to tooth loss and other dental diseases, it is a major cause of preventable diseases with impact beyond oral health, as the mouth is considered the gateway to the entire body.

Meet Monique Trice. Heading into her third year at University of Louisville School of Dentistry, she said her plans are to return home to Enterprise, with a deeper understanding of the hurdles of access that her community confronts. Enterprise, a community of 27,000 and 80 miles south of Montgomery, is predominantly white and blue collar. Many residents rely on Medicaid which often does not cover the full range of oral health services.

Trice, 24, says she already has envisioned her dental studio in Enterprise. Her path between Enterprise and Louisville has been paved with training, exposure and opportunity—all fortified by a preparatory program known as the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program in 2008. SMDEP, a free, six-week academic enrichment program, is sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Offering tuition, housing and meals at 12 university sites across the country, SMDEP equips college freshman and sophomores from underrepresented populations to pursue careers in medicine or dentistry.

Increasing evidence points to the exponential return on investment by creating opportunities for students like Trice, often more committed to practice in underserved communities because for them it is returning home. 

Paired with mentors, Trice and her 79 classmates at the SMDEP University of Louisville site were exposed to courses that integrated health sciences and problem solving to address unmet needs of underserved communities.

“The program taught me how to implement both clinical and educational experiences in the medical and dental field,” shares Trice.

She and many of her cohorts recognize lack of oral health care and access as a “silent epidemic.” In July 2011, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council released a report recommending the expansion of basic oral health care to underserved populations and increased recruitment to bring more low-income, rural and underrepresented persons into the education and practice of dental care.

Trice said her own life experiences have made her intimately familiar with the challenges. While her mother worked and attended nursing school (now an RN), Trice juggled two jobs, helped care for three younger siblings while maintaining a 3.5 GPA. A 2008 graduate of Enterprise-Ozark Community College and 2010 Troy University graduate, Trice will complete her studies at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry in May 2015.

 “From the classroom to the clinic, I’d like to see more educators in dentistry,” says Trice. “Not enough patients are educated on their oral health and dismiss the purpose of regular checkups and cleanings. Some patients will skip a filling or have the tooth pulled rather than seek to save it. This is due to a lack of education.”

Started in 1988 (formerly as the Minority Medical Education Program and Summer Medical and Education Program), more than 20,0000 alumni have completed SMDEP which today sponsors 12 university sites with each accepting up to 80 students per summer session.

“SMDEP has had an impactful role in preparing students for dental and medical careers,” says Mark A. López, PhD, senior director for Policy Center: Access, Diversity, and Inclusion at the American Dental Education Association. “We believe the experience and knowledge our students gain through SMDEP contributes to their academic success and ultimately their admittance and graduation from dental and medical school.”



Targeting the ‘dental divide’ (via @Healthcanal)

18 May



ADA launches Action for Dental Health campaign

By Craig Palmer, ADA News staff

Washington—The Association, citing “a disturbing dental divide in America,” announced a nationwide campaign May 15 to reduce the numbers of adults and children with untreated dental disease.

The ADA unveiled the multifaceted campaign, Action for Dental Health: Dentists Making a Difference, at a National Press Club event with national media representatives, members of Congress and oral health advocates and professionals.

“We’ve made great progress, with each generation enjoying better dental health than the one before,” said Dr. Robert Faiella, ADA president. “But there’s 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 a necessity.”

The Association simultaneously released an ADA Dental Divide in America Study conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Association April 24-29 among U.S. adults. The study confirmed “a disturbing dental divide in America” that is also indicated by prior research from multiple sources, the Association said. The Harris study found:

• Nearly half of lower-income adults say they haven’t seen a dentist in a year or longer, while the vast majority of middle- and higher-income wage earners (70 percent) have.

• Lower-income adults 18 and older are more than two times as likely as middle- and higher-income adults to have had all of their teeth removed (7 percent vs. 3 percent).

• Nearly one in five (18 percent) lower-income adults have reported that they or a household member has sought treatment for dental pain in an emergency room at some point in their lives, compared to only seven percent of middle- and higher-income adults.

• Only six percent of those low-income adults who went to the emergency room reported that the problem was solved.

• Even though the Affordable Care Act offers little relief for adult Americans who lack dental coverage, 40 percent of lower-income adults believe that health care reform will help them obtain dental care.

According to a new ADA Health Policy Resources Center analysis of 2010 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and U.S. Census data, 181 million Americans did not visit a dentist that year. Nearly half of adults over age 30 suffer from some form of gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and nearly one in four children under age five already have cavities.

The Action for Dental Health campaign is national and coordinated in its scope and approach and designed to address the dental health crisis in three distinct areas, the Association said in a news release, which is posted at with other campaign information. The three action areas are:

1. Provide care now to people suffering with untreated disease:

• Reduce by 35 percent by 2020 the number of people who visit the emergency room for dental conditions by referring them to community health centers, private dental practices or other settings where they can receive proper dental care.

• Implement in at least 10 states by 2015 a long-term care program to improve the oral health of nursing home residents.

• Expand the ADA Give Kids A Smile local community programs to provide education, screening and treatment to underserved children in order to achieve the vision statement of Give Kids A Smile–the elimination of cavities in children under age five by 2020.

2. Strengthen and expand the public/private safety net to provide more care to more Americans:

• Help provide more care to people by having private-practice dentists contract with federally qualified health centers, therefore increasing the number of patients receiving oral health services 175 percent by 2020.

• Fight for increased dental health protections and simplified administration under Medicaid by increasing by 10 percent the number of states that have streamlined their credentialing process to less than one month.

3. Bring dental health education and disease prevention into communities:

• Ensure that 80 percent of Americans on public water systems have access to optimally fluoridated drinking water by 2020.

• Increase from seven to 15 the number of states where Community Dental Health Coordinators are active by 2015. CDHCs provide dental education and prevention services to the community and help people navigate the dental health system.

“We need to remember that every infant is born cavity-free,” said Dr. Faiella, ADA president. “The key for both kids and adults to maintain their dental health is effective prevention. That is why we are increasing our awareness efforts in schools and underserved communities. By working to ensure all Americans understand the connection between their dental and overall health, we can begin to solve this crisis.”

To learn more about ADA’s Action for Dental Health: Dentists Making a Difference, visit



Daily Dental Tip

18 May


Purchase a travel toothbrush, mini floss and mouthwash kit for your workplace. Use during lunch and keep your mouth fresh throughout the day.

New FAQ Helps Maximize Consumers’ Investments in Oral Health (via @prweb)

16 May


Infographic detail: The amount US citizens spent for dental care rose from $2 billion a year in 1960 to $104.8 billion a year in 2009. [Source: National Center for Health Statistics]


As dental costs continue to rise, continues to invest in developing its online resource library, designed to help consumers get the most for their dental care dollars.

(PRWEB) May 16, 2013

As part of its ongoing efforts to help consumers find the best deals on dental insurance and discount dental plans, leading innovator and provider has expanded the Dental Resources area of its website with the addition of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

“The cost for dental services and procedures has been on a shocking upward trajectory for decades,” Director of Business Development, Avery Smith said. “In fact, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, between 1960 and 2009 the annual amount US citizens spent for dental care rose from $2 billion a year to $104.8 billion annually.” [see Infographic ]

The Dental FAQs provide answers to common questions about dental insurance in general, as well as information about finding a dentist, understanding dental benefits, and navigating the world of discount dental products.

“We’re committed to doing whatever we can to help keep consumers well informed about oral care and the dental plans and programs available to help them achieve their health goals,” Smith said. “The addition of these consumer resources reflects our dedication – and more than fifty years of experience – to providing products and services that promote happy, healthy smiles for all our customers.”


Based in Los Angeles, CA, has been the preeminent online exchange platform for dental insurance and discount dental plan comparison shopping since 2001. A leading innovator and provider of dental insurance and discount protection to individuals and employers, was the first company to enable consumers to compare, apply for, and purchase dental insurance and discount protection from top-rated insurance carriers online via the company’s website at Working diligently to deliver the most competitive carriers and plans nationwide, provides individuals, families, and businesses quality dental coverage to fit every budget and lifestyle.


Enjoy the journey: Be an advocate when it comes to your dental care (via @StarNet)

16 May



I was thinking about two types of professionals – umpires and dentists – as I read recent stories about dentistry in the Arizona Daily Star and followed them in other media outlets.

It’s rare for dentistry to make the front page of our hometown newspaper. And for it to be a topic of national news for more than a week only happens once in a long while.

To me the topic of infection control in the dentist’s office is like umpires in baseball: No one notices the umpires until they make what is perceived to be a “bad call” and then, all of a sudden, they are on the front page of the sports section. One or two umpires/dentists may make a bad call, and all of the umpires/dentists are put under a microscope.

News of questionable infection control procedures in a dental office in Tulsa, Okla., and here in Marana (“HIV, hepatitis scare affects 174 treated at Marana dental clinic,” Arizona Daily Star, April 18, 2013) make it an ideal time to talk about how you can keep you and your family safe.

First off, as a dentist and delegate of the Arizona Dental Association, I can tell you that dentistry welcomes any and all questions that folks have concerning their dental health. Contact the AzDA at 1-800-866-2732 or visit its website at

I hope those who have read accounts of the incidents notice just how many organizations were involved in exposing the story. Dentists in the United States must take infection control very seriously. The diseases we are talking about can become a larger problem, as they may not manifest themselves until much later.

As I tell my patients, every dentist in the U.S. is acutely aware that if they do not follow the rules, regulations and guidelines for infection control, they can expect repercussions. Dentists can face penalties such as suspension or loss of license if someone gets sick or is injured. Malpractice suits are always a possibility if the omissions are deemed egregious and restitution to the patient is ruled appropriate.

So, as a patient, be your own advocate. If you think the office is dirty, go somewhere else. If you notice the dentist or staff not changing into new gloves or disinfecting or washing their hands, speak up.

And, as we are very close to the border, realize that the strict guidelines and penalties for infection control in the U.S. do not exist in Mexico. Practitioners are not held to the same standards, penalties and transparency, such as media exposure, as we are here.

A poor dental restoration affects only one person, but a communicable disease can affect a family and a community.

But also realize that dentists are just like umpires. Most of the time you only hear about the bad call and not the millions of times we have safely cared for our patients.

Enjoy the journey,




#Oregon Dental van goes to school (via @DailyAstorian)

16 May


SEASIDE — Myle Halsen, 5, took her first trip to the dentist Wednesday, but she didn’t have to go very far.

Hugging an orange and white stuffed kitten, Myle walked out the door of Seaside Heights Elementary School and into a dental van. There, John Koski, a fourth-year dental student from Oregon Health and Science University, examined her teeth and took X-rays.

Sponsored by Providence Seaside Hospital and Medical Teams International, the van offers free dental services to North Coast students who have no insurance.

Usually the van travels to the hospital, but this time, through the urging of Providence’s foundation director, Sydney Van Dusen, the vans arrived at the doorsteps of five schools this week.

Students at Astor and Lewis and Clark elementary schools had already been checked by Wednesday; Gearhart and Warrenton elementary schools were due for visits at the end of the week.

“We have two vans here today,” said Elizabeth Bunce, dental van coordinator for the Providence Seaside Hospital Foundation. “We will see 18 kids.”

When the vans went to Providence Seaside, parents often were unable to take time off work to transport their children to and from the hospital, Bunce said.

As a result, not as many children who needed dental care could receive it, she said.

“Our goal is to have the van come to the schools at least twice a year,” she said.

But it costs $1,000 a day – $5,000 a week – to bring the van to the schools. The hospital foundation plans to raise funds to enable it to come to the North Coast regularly.

Last year, 2,600 Oregon students were treated, said Matt Stiller, mobile dental program manager for Medical Teams International.

“With the support of Providence Seaside Foundation, we look forward to making these services more accessible to both children and adults on the Oregon Coast,” he said.

Each van is a self-contained dental office, with two stations, a pediatric dentist, a dental technologist and several third- and fourth-year dental students. They see the students from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

“The afternoons aren’t good for kids,” said Dr. Lee Emery, a pediatric dentist. “They get tired and restless.”

Many services

Although a full range of services isn’t provided in the vans, the dentists fill cavities, pull teeth and perform some repair work.

“This girl is going to get a stainless steel crown,” said Emery, pointing to a young girl in a dental chair. He pulled out a drawer divided into squares, each designated with a code for a particular tooth. Each square was filled with at least seven crowns per tooth.

Students who complain about a tooth hurting are referred to the dental service by the district’s nurse and by teachers who notice that the kids might need dental work.

That need can get in the way of succeeding in school, said Dan Gaffney, Seaside Heights principal.

“If you have a student in pain, it’s hard to concentrate,” Gaffney said. “Or, if there’s something wrong with a tooth, and you’re worried about how you look, that could affect your confidence.”

It took a month of organizing the paperwork, asking for parents’ permission and having them complete the forms required by the dentists before the vans arrived, Gaffney said.

“It has always been a matter of whether the parents could take the time off work to take their kids to the dentist,” Gaffney said. “The kids are here, they have their parents’ permission. We can take the kids out of class for a short period of time, and then they’re back in class. The parents don’t have to worry.”

Longtime project

For 24 years, Emery, an assistant professor of pediatric dentistry at OHSU, has travelled to various locations and treated patients in the van.

“I do this two days a month,” he said. “It’s all volunteer. I take my dental students with me. It teaches them to be altruistic when they get into the community.”

Emery said he volunteers his time because so many children need assistance.

“It makes you feel good,” he said. “If it wasn’t for us, the kids wouldn’t get any treatment.”

He talked about one boy he had just seen whose permanent molar had a deep cavity that involved a nerve.

“That kid is going to sleep well tonight, and he’s going to eat better,” Emery said.

Michelle Nguyen and Cathrine Martell, both third-year dental students, had already assisted with filling, cleanings and fluoride treatments in the first two hours with few complaints from the kids.

“These kids are pretty resilient and cooperative overall,” Nguyen said. “They’re pretty tough kids.

“Maybe they understand we’re there for them; we’re on their team,” she said.

Different strokes

Martell said she noticed a difference between working with adults and with children.

“It’s definitely different,” she said. “You don’t want to make it a traumatic experience so they will never want to go to the dentist again.”

For Myle Halsen, going to the dentist may have been more than she bargained for. She had to have three teeth pulled, but her mother, Sandra Halsen was there to hold her hand and promised that the tooth fairy would visit her.

Myle didn’t like the shots of novocaine that OHSU dental student Koski had to give to her, but he talked her through it.

“When it starts to hurt, you’re going to count to 10 and when you get to 10, it will stop,” he told her.

Kris Handy, the mobile dental clinic van manager and a pediatric dental assistant, also tried to soothe Myle.

“If you didn’t have your teeth pulled, it would hurt so much!” she told the girl. “You were very brave.”