Archive for December, 2010

Pew Study Strongly Suggests New Dental Providers Can Boost Office Profits

Monday, December 27th, 2010

According to a new report from the Pew Center on the States, dentists in private practice can maintain and even improve their bottom line by hiring non-conventional dental providers like dental therapists. This is great news for underserved communities–especially children.

From Dentistry iQ:

Most private-practice dentists who hire new types of dental providers can serve more patients, including more Medicaid enrollees, while maintaining or improving their financial bottom line, according to a new report from the Pew Center on the States. New types of providers play a role in delivering dental care similar to that performed by nurse practitioners in the medical system.

Pew’s report is the first to examine the impact that hiring new types of providers — dental therapists and hygienist-therapists — would have on the productivity and profits of a private dental practice, where more than 90 percent of the nation’s dentists work. The study also assesses the impact of dental hygienists, who are currently employed by most dental practices. Dental therapists and hygienist-therapists are trained to perform a broader range of services — including filling cavities — than hygienists.


“This report is good news for dentists who work in private practices, patients who aren’t getting care and policy makers who are eager to find cost-effective solutions to access problems,” said Shelly Gehshan, director of the Pew Children’s Dental Campaign.

Nationwide, 17 million low-income children go without dental care each year. Multiple factors fuel this problem, including a shortage of dentists serving rural and poor communities. As a number of states consider authorizing new types of dental providers to fill this unmet need, dentists in private practice are looking at the effects of this potential change on their businesses.

Read the whole story here.

 –Dennis Pacheco

Free Dental Care Gives Hurting Mainers Something to Smile About

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Mainers who otherwise could not afford dental care were given something to smile about as, for the second year in a row, a team of dentists, oral surgeons, and dental hygienists volunteered their services. The event highlighted a real need in the state, and underscored the dire state of oral health care in the US.

From the Portland Press Herald:

SCARBOROUGH – People — desperate, hurting people — were waiting in line at the Dunstan Dental Center early Friday. By late afternoon, a team of dentists, oral surgeons and hygienists had treated 120 patients who needed dental care but couldn’t afford it.

For a second year, members of the Greater Portland Dental Society offered their services free of charge. Organizers say they plan to make Dentists Who Care for ME an annual event in November. Over time, they hope to expand it statewide.

The national debate over health care and health insurance has largely ignored the plight of dental care, organizers say, although many people with dental emergencies end up in the hospital emergency room. When money is tight and people are out of work, dental care often is ignored until it becomes an emergency.

Read the whole story here.

—Dennis Pacheco

Image courtesy the Portland Press Herald.

Gum Disease Among American Adults “Underestimated”

Monday, December 6th, 2010

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Dental Research, many more American adults may suffer from gum disease (or periodontitis) than was previously expected. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) “appear to have underestimated by as much as 50% how many cases of moderate to severe periodontitis actually exist in the U.S. population.”

The study, published on Sept. 21, 2010, was carried out through the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). 450 adults over age 35 were given full mouth examinations as opposed to partial mouth examinations which had been used to estimate gum disease prevalence in earlier studies. The data gathered from the adults who had full mouth examinations indicated that the partial mouth exams missed 50% or more of the true number of gum disease cases. Given such a discrepancy, NHANES will no longer use partial mouth exams to estimate gum disease in the U.S. population.

The most significant part of the research, however, has to do with its broader implications for public health. We know that gum disease is linked to a number of other “chronic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.”As Samuel Lowe, D.D.S. M.S.and the president of the AAP stated, “This study shows that periodontal disease is a bigger problem than we all thought. It is a call to action for anyone who cares about his or her oral health.”

Vanessa Hurley