Tag Archives: Dentists

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ADA looks for moonlighting dentists who secretly like to write

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Remember Hermey, the elf who wanted to be a dentist? It’s safe to say you could easily find that beloved, stop-motion TV classic “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on just about any channel this month. Well, the American Dental Association’s award-winning blog New Dentists Now is looking for a few good…OK, not elves. But writers!

Writers who are also dentists, that is. Hey, if an elf can be a dentist then a dentist can be a writer. It’s a smaller stretch, anyway.

Specifically, the New Dentist Now blog is seeking contributors interested in writing about their experiences and insights on the unique challenges facing dentists who graduated from dental school fewer than 10 years ago.

Contributing writers could wax poetic about, let’s say, managing student debt, navigating employment contracts and acquiring a practice. Or how about avoiding burnout, seeking licensure mobility and choosing a career path? The ideas are endless!

The goal of the New Dentist Now, newdentistblog.ada.org, is to be the go-to place for brand new dentists who want to learn from fellow new(ish) dentists on what challenges they can expect after graduation and what they can do to best prepare themselves for a successful career in the field of dentistry.

Contributors must be dentists who graduated from dental school fewer than 10 years ago. New dentists from various fields in dentistry — from associates and practice owners to general dentists and specialists and working in public health and the military — are welcome to submit their stories.

ADA team members can offer guidance on topics, but contributors are encouraged to share insights and learned lessons from their own professional experiences. ADA staff will also be a resource for editing and reviewing submissions.

The blog was conceptualized and developed by the New Dentist Committee of the American Dental Association. New Dentist Now launched in 2013 and was redesigned in 2015. This year, the blog won a bronze award in the digital media-blog category in the annual EXCEL Awards, which recognizes excellence and leadership in nonprofit association media, publishing, marketing and communications.

To view the blog and read other submissions, visit newdentistblog.ada.org/category/guest-blogger.

For more information on how to submit a post for consideration, contact Tera Lavick, new dentist committee director, at lavickt@ada.org.

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Award-winning Austin, Texas, dental practice sets a standard for innovation

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Massage chairs and a technology bar? It sounds like a sleek and modern hotel lounge, but it’s not. It’s Toothbar, a new dental practice in a trendy area of downtown Austin, Texas, that recently won first place in the“new build” category in the inaugural Design Innovation Awards by the American Dental Association.

The practice, which was built from the ground up by Dr. Lauren Jacobsen and Dr. Kimberley Barclay, was designed to appeal to young, professional Austinites.

The floor-to-ceiling windows offer a 360-degree view of different parts of the city. The exam and treatment rooms don’t have doors, just 12-foot-tall soundproof wall partitions with Sonos speakers installed for patient privacy.

Toothbar is the result of several years of hard work on the parts of the two dentists and friends who met while in dental school at Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine. They dreamed of one day buying an established practice together before changing their minds and deciding to go a different route.

Toothbar was designed with an open floor plan concept. Before and after their appointments, patients are welcome to visit the Toothbar Lounge, which has comfortable, reclining massage chairs and a lounge with a bar and snacks. When requested, patients can also get a pillow and blankets, and can charge their phone at a charging station.

“We decided we were just going to start our own practice from scratch,” Dr. Barclay said. “Some people were really shocked when we told them we would be starting anew. They would tell us that it would be incredibly difficult, but we knew we had a vision and that there was a need in the dental market for something different.”

Toothbar’s goal: to offer high-quality dental care and expertise in a way that redefines the way people think about going to the dentist.

Toothbar opened in April 2018 in downtown Austin in the Seaholm District, which was built to complement the newly redeveloped areas surrounding a historical power plant that closed in 1996. The area is brimming with young entrepreneurs and startups, said Dr. Barclay.

Since opening, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, Dr. Jacobsen said. They booked patients ahead of time, which meant that on the day they opened the doors, they had a full schedule of patients to see. Today, there’s a waitlist for new patients.

“Clearly there is a demand for the type of experience that we at Toothbar are providing,” Dr. Jacobsen said. “We’re looking forward to expanding our operations to serve even more Austinites.”

The ADA Design Innovation Award was just icing on the cake for these two forward-thinking dentists. Hopefully, they brushed their teeth after eating that cake!

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A curious case of ‘lost’ dentures after surgery

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If you’re scheduled to have surgery, there are lots of things you’re likely thinking about. From the seriousness of the procedure and recovery time to hospital bills and who will take care of your home and loved ones while you’re recovering, there is no shortage of things to think about and plan for.

But one thing you may not have put on your list of items to take care of? Taking out your dentures before going under anesthesia.

According to a new report, one 72-year-old man who had abdominal surgery in England actually swallowed (yes, swallowed!) his dentures during the procedure. They got stuck in his throat and were discovered eight days later.

The initial procedure the man was admitted for was to remove a benign lump in his abdominal wall. But because of the denture issue, he was experiencing severe pain, bleeding and swallowing difficulties. The man endured repeated hospital visits over the course of several weeks, additional invasive tests and blood transfusions before the discovery was made.

He also required two additional operations.

False teeth or dental plates present in patients should be clearly documented before and after any surgery, said Dr. Harriet Cunniffe, lead author of a case study on the elderly patient’s ordeal. Dr. Cunniffe is an ear, nose and throat specialist with James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Great Yarmouth, England.

According to reports, six days after the man’s surgery, he was transported to the emergency department of a local hospital. But doctors there concluded that the bleeding in his mouth, swallowing difficulties and pain were due to a respiratory infection and side effects from having a tube down his throat during surgery.

He was prescribed mouthwash, antibiotics and steroids, and sent home. Two days later, he returned to the emergency department with worsening symptoms. He told doctors he hadn’t been able to swallow any of his prescribed medicines.

At this point, he was readmitted to the hospital. Tests revealed a semi-circular object resting across his vocal cords and that was the cause of the internal swelling and blistering. When the discovery was made, the man said that his dentures were lost during his previous hospital stay for his abdominal surgery.

Doctors operated to remove the dentures and kept him hospitalized for six days. However, he returned a number of times over the next few weeks because of bleeding. Doctors eventually determined that the bleeding was due to internal wound tissue around the blistering caused by his false teeth. They cauterized the tissue to prevent further bleeding.

But the hospital still hadn’t seen the last of him. He returned nine days later with more bleeding caused by a torn artery in the wound. At that time, emergency surgery was scheduled.

Over the next six weeks, however, his tissue healed, he did not require any more emergency care, and his blood count returned to normal.

This isn’t the first documented case of dentures being inhaled while a patient is under general anesthetic.

In the United Kingdom, there are no national guidelines on how dentures should be managed during anesthesia, although this may change in light of this most recent case. In the U.S., The American Dental Association offers guidelines for how dentures are to be handled for surgeries.

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September is Healthy Aging Month: Proper oral care helps seniors age well

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How essential is having a healthy mouth to your physical health? According to many medical experts, you really can’t be in peak physical condition if your oral health isn’t what it should be.

Dentists who are aware of this correlation tell their patients to think about their mouths as the “gateway to wellness.”

No matter how many trips you’ve made around the sun, good oral health is important to your overall quality of life.

From being able to chew food properly and without pain to tasting what you’re chewing, good oral health reduces the likelihood of developing other health issues. For seniors, maintaining oral health becomes even more important. This is because as people age, they become more susceptible to diseases.

Recent studies have shown that the correlation between oral health and overall body health is closer than what was previously believed. According to a recent study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that gum disease increases with age, and 70% of adults 65 years and older are affected. Some risk factors for gum disease are:

  • Crooked teeth
  • Stress
  • Defective fillings, crowns, bridges, dentures
  • Taking medications that cause dry mouth
  • Diabetes
  • Heredity
  • Smoking

Research also links gum disease to other conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and pneumonia. Preliminary reports suggest that gum disease may be linked to Alzheimer’s.

Decay and oral cancers can also become more prevalent with age. One out of every four persons aged 65 and older has dental decay. The National Institute of Health reports oral cancer rates for adults aged 60-69 is 33.9% and those aged 70+ is 40.2%.

How Can Dentists Help Their Patient Age Well?

There will be 74 million older adults — those who are 65 years of age and older — in the United States by 2030, according to Oral Health America’s A State of Decay, Vol. III report (2016). With larger parts of the U.S. population getting older, dentists will need to consider if they are prepared to properly serve their aging patients.

With the aging of a dentist’s patient base come a number of unique challenges an older individual may face — challenges that dental professionals must be ready to address as well. These include increased medical complexities, lack of dental insurance, reduced mobility and cognitive function, just to name a few.

Participation from the entire dental team is necessary to ensure that patients are well-educated and equipped for optimal oral health, even into old age.

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New tooth sheriff in town: ADA names new president

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The American Dental Association (ADA) recently installed its 156th president. The position was awarded to Dr. Chad P. Gehani of Queens, New York. Dr. Gehani and the new and returning officers were installed in their offices before proceedings of the ADA House of Delegates at the ADA FDI World Dental Congress in San Francisco. The meeting was the 160th annual meeting of the ADA.

During his first address to the House of Delegates, Dr. Gehani told members it is his “responsibility to ensure that the ADA remains the guardian of your lifetime commitment to the profession — and I am not just talking about your dues dollars. The ADA must be a responsible custodian of your time as volunteers and of your talents as clinicians, researchers and educators. The ADA must be relevant to all of us,” he concluded.

Get to Know Dr. Gehani

Dr. Gehani received his dental degree from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine. He is the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which recognizes Americans who dedicate their lives to the community and is bestowed by the Ellis Island Honor Society.

When 24-year-old Dr. Chad P. Gehani arrived at the airport in Mumbai, India, in 1975, he had never even seen an airplane before, let alone flown on one. Dr. Gehani held a one-way ticket to New York City. He had a dental degree from the Government Dental College and Hospital Mumbai, but no guarantee of any job in the United States — especially one in dentistry — and was leaving behind all his family and friends.

Within days of arriving on American soil, Dr. Gehani found a job on Fifth Avenue and 28th Street as a janitor. He was paid $3.75 an hour to unload trucks and clean the streets, warehouse and toilets.

Three months later, Dr. Gehani secured a job in a hospital working as a dental assistant and began taking the national board of dental examinations, which started him down the path that would allow him to be recognized as a dentist in the United States.

Nine months later, he was allowed to begin practicing dentistry. Dr. Gehani joined the American Dental Association in 1977, and five years after he arrived in New York, he became an American citizen.

Watch for a full account of Dr. Gehani’s House of Delegates address on ADA.org and in the ADA News.

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To dental groups’ chagrin, federal sealant measure might be removed

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Sealants prevent cavities in kids. Science says so.

So why is the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) proposing a watered-down measure, titled “Primary Caries Prevention Intervention as Offered by Primary Care Providers, Including Dentists,” that would take the place of current recommendations on sealants for kids?

That’s what the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) would like to know!

Leaders from both organizations sent a letter Aug. 27 to the HRSA in response to a proposed change to the current sealant measures.

“We are writing to express our concerns about the proposed replacement of the Dental Sealants for Children Between 6-9 Years measure,” ADA President Jeffrey M. Cole, ADA Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, AAPD President Kevin Donly and AAPD Chief Executive Officer John S. Rutkauskas wrote in the letter. “Research has shown that sealants are effective in preventing occlusal carious lesions in the molars of children when compared with controls without sealants.”

The letter points to an evidence-based clinical practice guideline released in 2016 by the ADA and AAPD that found sealants could minimize the progression of cavities in permanent molars in children and adolescents compared with the nonuse of sealants or use of fluoride varnishes.

“There is in fact evidence to suggest the superiority of resin-based fissure sealants over fluoride varnishes applied to prevent decay in permanent molars,” the letter stated. “While both topical fluoride, as well as dental sealants, are important caries preventive modalities, we fail to see the agency’s rationale for removing the focus on improving sealant rates, especially given the improvement health centers have made.”

As reported by 1,362 administration-funded health centers, their performance improved more than 10% between 2015 –– when the sealant measure was first adopted –– and 2018.

Nearly 53% of children 6 to 9 years old who are at an elevated risk for caries received the recommended sealants. Thirty-six states also have performed better by at least 5% on the measure from 2015 to 2017.

The HRSA explained its rationale in a letter to health centers, stating the fluoride varnish measure would increase the target population from high-risk children who are 6 to 9 years old to children and adolescents as old as 20 and include oral health preventative measures that health centers without dentists can employ.

“The application of fluoride varnish to the teeth of children reduces the risk of development of caries,” the administration stated. “Increasing the use of non-dental providers (i.e., primary care providers) providing fluoride varnish to their patients can reduce the incidence of caries and promote better oral health.”

However, the fluoride varnish measure would track only one application of varnish during the measurement period, contrary to evidence-based guidelines that state topical fluoride should be applied every three to six months in children at an elevated risk for cavities.

The ADA and the AAPD are encouraging the HRSA to only consider metrics that are supported by strong scientific evidence and further tested for validity, feasibility, reliability and usability. The officials noted the sealant measure was developed and tested by the Dental Quality Alliance, an entity convened by the ADA that maintains the measure through a periodic review process to align it with emerging science and implementation experience.

“The use of measures that have not been adequately tested undermines confidence in measures among providers and consumers of health care,” the letter concluded.

Updates on this issue can be found at ada.org.

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Dental students in Costa Rica design metal saliva ejector to reduce waste

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I feel the urge to use the phrase “going green” to describe what a few dental students have accomplished, but since we’re talking about teeth and oral hygiene, I’ll resist the urge.

Let’s just say this group of dental students has engineered a solution to the wastefulness of one-time use plastic saliva ejectors that most U.S. dentists use daily. Dentists must dispose of plastic saliva ejectors after each patient in accordance with infection control protocols.

But thanks to the ingenuity of these conservation-minded dental students, this could become a thing of the past.

The four students at the University of Costa Rica (UCR) have developed a metallic saliva ejector that can be cleaned in the autoclave and reused again and again.

For example, the team estimated that the UCR Faculty of Dentistry throws away 166 ejectors each day, 3,317 each week, and almost 4,000 each year.

The students also note that if the average dental office sees 12 patients a day, they will throw away a little more than 3,000 ejectors every year. Metal ejectors would eliminate this waste. Not to mention the cost savings!

“Plastic saliva ejectors are one of the instruments used by dentists that generate a big impact at the environmental level,” said Yulieth Segura Castillo, one of the students. “So we proposed a stainless steel, autoclavable, surgical-grade ejector to reduce this impact through a design that meets all of the conditions for professionals who decide to change from the usual plastic ejector.”

The dental students began their research and development process with several prototypes made out of various metals.

During the testing phase, some could not stand the heat, were deformed or failed during use. Next, they worked with a metallurgist to develop a final prototype that successfully passed all sterilization and functionality tests.

Although a metal saliva ejector will cost more than a plastic one, the students call the metal ejector a long-term investment. It will save dentists both the costs of buying thousands of plastic ejectors as well as the costs of disposing of them, since many waste companies that collect biological waste charge by weight.

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Kissing can ward off tooth decay

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Pucker up! It turns out kissing is good for you in more ways than you might think.

Most people know that kissing comes with loads of mental and physical benefits that make getting your smooch on totally worth it. From inducing an increase in happy hormones, including oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, and a reduction in stress-causing cortisol, kissing is a great way to feel better — mentally, emotionally and even physically!

But science has even more to say about the benefits of a kiss. It turns out kissing can also help prevent cavities. No, really. It’s true.

It may not be as effective as flossing and brushing on a regular basis, but kissing increases the flow of saliva, which then helps prevent tooth decay.

Kissing is nature’s natural cleansing process. According to a study published by the Academy of General Dentistry, kissing stimulates saliva, which washes out the mouth and helps remove the cavity-causing food particles that accumulate after eating. Saliva’s mineral ions have been shown to even promote repair of small imperfections in tooth enamel.

Of course, more than a good-night kiss is needed to fully protect teeth. Besides, slacking on good oral hygiene would probably lead to fewer kisses anyway. So, keep up the daily dental hygiene regimen. And always brush and floss before going to bed, since sleep slows the production of saliva.

No one to kiss? We don’t recommend grabbing a stranger and laying one on. You can get saliva flowing in other ways like chewing gum, too (sugarless, of course).

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Dental professionals support raising legal age for purchasing tobacco to 21

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The American Dental Association (ADA) recently announced its support for a new bill that would raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.

The ADA praised lawmakers for introducing Senate Bill 1541, the Tobacco-Free Youth Act. “Preventing oral cancer and other tobacco-related diseases has been a longstanding priority for the ADA,” said ADA President Jeffrey M. Cole and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin.

Did You Know?

Nearly 9 out of 10 people who die from oral and pharyngeal cancers use tobacco and the risk of developing these cancers is related to how much (and how often) they use. On average, 40% of those with the disease will not survive more than five years.

Tobacco products are also linked with higher rates of gum disease, periodontal disease, mucosal lesions, bone damage, tooth loss, jaw bone loss and more.

In a letter to lawmakers, the ADA noted the legislation would help prevent tobacco use among our youth by raising the national age to legally purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 as well as help reduce the number of young people who begin smoking before age 21, which represents 95% of current adult smokers, according to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

E-Cigarettes Under Scrutiny

The bill would also apply to all the young e-cigarette users.

Research shows that young people who use e-cigarettes are much more likely to transition to smoking cigarettes. For that reason, the letter stated that the ADA does not consider these nontraditional tobacco products to be safer (or less harmful) alternatives to smoking.

The ADA has also joined a coalition led by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids supporting the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019. That legislation addresses the e-cigarette epidemic and calls for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement health warnings for cigarette packages (including an oral cancer image) within 12 months.

If passed, the act also would raise the minimum age for purchasing non-traditional tobacco products such as e-cigarettes to 21 and prohibit non-face-to-face sales of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and e-cigarette accessories.

You can follow all of the ADA’s advocacy efforts on this issue at ADA.org/tobacco.

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Dentists invited to donate services to veterans

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There is more than one way to serve your country. If you’re a dental professional, you have the opportunity to use your unique skills and training to serve those who served our country.

In honor of the Memorial Day holiday, an organization called Dental Lifeline Network announced on May 14 that it is launching a volunteer recruitment campaign encouraging dentists to provide dental care to veterans, specifically those with special needs. Dental Lifeline Network is a nonprofit, humanitarian organization that provides access to comprehensive dental care for vulnerable people with special needs, the elderly, and those who are medically compromised.

The program is called “Will You See One Vet” and the campaign asks general dentists and specialists to volunteer and donate their services to help veterans through Dental Lifeline Network. From clearing up painful dental infections to being able to eat again — providing comprehensive dental care can make a life-changing difference for veterans.

Sadly, many veterans do not qualify for dental benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans must meet certain eligibility factors in order to receive even routine dental care, such as a service-related dental disability or condition, or be a former prisoner of war.

The campaign utilizes imagery of veterans sharing their life-changing stories after receiving comprehensive dental care in targeted outreach, media and advertising. This includes a radio public service announcement that will run nationwide in donated time all month long.

“This awareness campaign showcases the life-changing difference our volunteers have made in the lives of veterans,” said Fred Leviton, CEO of Dental Lifeline Network, in a recent news release. “We hope sharing this message will inspire even more volunteers to participate in our program, allowing DLN to serve a greater number of veterans in our communities.”

Dental Lifeline Network is made up of more than 15,000 volunteer dentists and 3,500 volunteer laboratories.For more information on volunteering, visit WillYouSeeOneVet.org. To donate, visit dentallifeline.org/donate.

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