Monday, July 21, 2014

Improving the Oral Health of All: A Missions of Mercy Milestone


Amidst the mountains in Wise County Virginia, the Virginia Dental Association hosted its annual Mission of Mercy (MoM) clinic over the weekend. Hundreds of volunteers turned out to serve food, repair teeth and offer check-ups to some 1300 folks who are unemployed, uninsured or underinsured, as well as their families. Without access to affordable dental care, many people -- especially those who are low-income, underinsured, disabled or seniors -- are left to suffer pain, discomfort, and embarrassment with nowhere else to turn.  One young man walked more than 20 miles to get to the clinic…only 25 years old…and he needed dentures. 
The Wise County MoM, one of the oldest and largest of the MoMs, celebrated its 15th year of service this weekend. In that time, 13,597 Southwest Virginia area patients have received free dental care valued at $ 13.9 million. Thousands of volunteers have made it all possible.
Marcia Brand, Deputy Administrator at HRSA, worked alongside members of the DentaQuest team in Triage throughout the entire clinic…it was fantastic having her there.  Dr. Charles Norman, ADA President, worked in the restorative area during the entire clinic as well as with DentaQuest folks in Triage. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe was onsite on Friday and clearly taken aback by what he saw and the desperate need for health care and dental services. Gov. McAuliffe took time to recognize the 15 years of service milestone, reading a proclamation and thanking the group and the volunteers for many years of needed service.
A similar clinic was held in Charles County Maryland this weekend, the 7th Mission of Mercy clinic in Maryland and the second in Southern Maryland. Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5) visited the clinic on Friday, July 18. “With every dollar donated,” he said, “this program delivers $17 in dental services to Southern Marylanders, providing tremendous value to our community and reducing the number of emergency room visits at our local hospitals…and ensures that the underserved in our community have the care they need.”
Between the two MoMs, nearly 3,000 adults and children received free medical, dental and vision services this weekend. DentaQuest had teams supporting both MoMs. In Wise County, DentaQuest provided snacks for nearly 1,000 volunteer health care and general support volunteers who worked hard throughout the weekend to treat as many as they could.
The Missions of Mercy free care clinics are helping people who are out of options for dental care, but they are a stop gap, not a solution. While we celebrate the spirit of generosity that supports the large volume of people who continue to seek emergency dental care through MoM free care clinics, we are also reminded that we haven’t yet resolved the need for access to routine dental care services and the touching individual stories that spotlight the critical need for improving the oral health of all.  Children have options. The Childrens Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides health coverage, including dental services, to nearly 8 million children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but who can't afford private coverage. In the Affordable Care Act (ACA) pediatric dental is an essential health benefit.

DentaQuest is proud to support MoMs and DADs (Dental Action Days) clinics. We are honored to provide supporting donations and send volunteers to many of these clinics. Dental disease is nearly 100 percent preventable-- when people have access to quality care and prevention. Many do not. That’s a challenge we’re working to overcome.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Dental Download: July 18, 2014


This week, we learn about financial pressures in dental offices, discuss what dental services consumers search for, and discover why endurance training can cause dental problems. Join the conversation on Twitter using #FridayDentalDL.

1. When financial pressures affect a dentist’s diagnosis: Dental care is shifting from a focus on providing patients with services to preventing and reducing the occurrence of dental disease altogether. In an opinion editorial in the Washington Post, one dentist speaks out about the pressures that can result from finding the balance in running a practice and providing the appropriate level of care. The editorial speaks to the concerns within the dental community about the transition from volume-based care to value-based care. In the medical world, this transition began long ago and the ACA is only speeding things up. The dental profession is just beginning this transition. National leaders from dentistry, medicine, academia, business, government, and philanthropy are working on this issue and through the National Oral Health Quality Improvement Committee are developing a road map for the systems that impact oral health. The focus is on improving the oral health of all using the tools of quality and accountability. Learn more here.

2. Ever wonder what dental services consumers search for? FAIR Health offers an analysis: FAIR Health, a data company that serves the healthcare system through data tools and education, compiled information on what dental services consumers search online for most. The company’s goal is to help healthcare professionals guide their marketing and promotion efforts. The report’s findings will help the healthcare industry understand how patients use the healthcare system and how they spend their healthcare dollars.

3. Study: Effect of Endurance Training on Dental Erosions, Caries, and Saliva: Running can be great for the mind and body but a new study is linking an increase in cavities and tooth decay to runners and athletes who train for long periods of time, multiple days a week. Spending that much time and energy requires an increase in carbohydrates and sugary food intake, both of which lead to decay and weaken our defenses against bad bacteria in our saliva. Are you an endurance runner? Check your risk for dental disease here.
It’s true, even celebrities have dental issues. On Wednesday, singer Michael Bublé cracked his dental crown trying to open a ketchup packet. Luckily, Bublé’s manager found dentist David Bloom on Google. Bloom squeezed the singer into his schedule and was rewarded with front row seats to his concert. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Dental Download: July 11, 2014


This week, we learn about the importance of dental check-ups to overall health, discuss why energy drinks cause major dental problems for young adults, and discover why dentist offices in Manhattan serve wine to patients. Join the conversation Twitter using #FridayDentalDL.

After discovering oral cancer in one of her patients Dr. Jasmin Henville, a dentist at the Aspen Dental office in Auburn, MA, explains that the mouth is the gateway to the whole body. Dentists play a crucial role in keeping people healthy all around, however fifty-three areas in Massachusetts have been designated as dental professional shortage areas (HPSAs).

The report describes three nonprofit settings where midlevel providers (MLPs) work as part of larger dental teams. The American Dental Association (ADA) has opposed allowing MLPs to carry out certain procedures but as part of a larger Action of Dental Health initiative, the ADA promoted its own alternative model, a community dental health coordinator.

Dental disease is the most widespread disease in the world, but also one of the most preventable and the energy drinks that athletes drink during sports is one of the culprits. Read here about how you can minimize your risk of dental disease.

Scientists say the health of your teeth depends on a combination of genetics and dental hygiene. There are some who floss regularly, yet still get tooth decay. About 60 percent of the risk for tooth decay appears to be due to genetic factors. There are five areas where genes play a role in tooth decay: sweet preference, tooth enamel, taste ability, saliva strength, and microbiome.  Even so, bad genes are not an excuse. You still have to brush and floss every day!!

A root canal or cavity filling can be painful so some dentists offices across Manhattan are serving complimentary glasses of wine to patients to take the edge off. Wine is available to patients in the waiting room prior to their appointments. Patients are saying that it’s something that helps “take the edge off.”  Make that red wine because white win is more acidic and contains sugars, making it more harmful for your teeth in the long run.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Place for Oral Health in School Based Health Centers

by Brian Souza, Managing Director, DentaQuest Foundation
I recently had the opportunity to attend the 2014 School Based Health Alliance Convention in Seattle; DentaQuest Foundation was pleased to be a sponsor.
This is a meeting of nearly 1,000 school-based health providers, administrators, educators, and advocates. While oral health can often be left off the table in important health care discussions, John Schlitt, interim president, began the proceedings by talking about SBHA’s important mission to bring primary, mental, and oral health care to the nation's children. The room erupted in agreement.
While their primary mission is education, schools are also an important resource for children’s health, including oral health, and for reducing health disparities by bringing care to where all children spend the majority of their time. School-based oral health education, screenings, assisted referral, and delivery of oral preventive care services provide equitable, reliable entry into long-term oral health care and assist parents by reducing the need to take time from work and find transportation to and from dental appointments. Children who receive care in schools are often an entry point for others in the family to connect with an oral healthcare provider.

Image via blogs.southtownstar.com
DentaQuest sees this occurring across the country through the work of our grantees and partners. Head Start programs are introducing young families to basics of home oral health care and are connecting children with ongoing oral health care in their neighborhoods. In California, the LA Trust for Children’s Health is piloting sustainable models for delivering in-school screenings of elementary school children and pairing children in need of care with community resources. Services include screening, sealants, fluoride, varnishes, and oral health education, which are all provided at school sites. The school-based clinic at the Whitefoord School in Georgia is delivering full-service dentistry to underserved populations in Southeast Atlanta, and in partnership with Emory University, is helping train dental students, dental hygiene students, and dental assisting students for future work in the community. And this fall, children entering elementary school for the 2014-2015 school year will complete a certificate of oral health as one of their start of school health forms thanks to the efforts of the District of Columbia Children’s National Medical Center and its oral health coalition. This will help school nurses identify children who lack access to oral health services and to develop an overall picture of the oral health of children across the District.
We have an opportunity to expand and amplify these efforts by working to integrate oral health in school based health models across the nation. DentaQuest Foundation is committed to doing just that.
Our Oral Health 2020 campaign is focused on eradicating dental disease in children and improving oral health across the lifespan. One of our core targets is to see oral health incorporated into primary education. The combination of education, prevention, and access to care has the potential to nearly eliminate tooth decay in school-aged children, putting these children on a path to a healthy, disease-free future. 
The School Based Health Alliance is building grassroots support for policies, programs, and funding to expand and strengthen SBHCs.  These conversations strengthen oral health and health care policy, broaden access to quality care and prevention, align financial investments in oral health, and expand the integration of oral health into community-based systems. We believe that is an important mission and important work, and we are honored to be a part of it.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Dental Download: June 27, 2014


This week, we discuss how dentists can improve their work efficiency, learn about deadly flesh-eating bacteria, and introduce a digital technology that’s expected to accelerate the prosthetic workflow. Flow along on twitter using the hashtag #FridayDentalDL

An average of two out of three dental professionals experience occupational pain, and as such, musculoskeletal disease forces early retirement for nearly one-third of dentists. Dental equipment can play a big role in work efficiency as can changing your work habits. Dentists can only improve their ergonomics when they improve their physical well-being.

In our bodies, multiple microorganisms called microbes thrive while living in harmony with other microbes. Some, however, are parasitic, which means they flourish and thrive at the expense of our health. Researchers may have found a way to target the pathogenic microbes, the ones harmful to us, through a technology known as STAMP. If STAMP proves to be successful, it could eliminate tooth decay, improving the oral health of millions.

In February, a Maine high school student got his wisdom teeth out, normally a routine dental procedure. Three days after his surgery, he had a lot of swelling and became extremely weak and dizzy. It was later reported that the student contracted necrotizing fasciitis, a rare flesh-eating bacteria disease that destroys the fascia – a layer of connective tissue underneath the skin. Although this type of disease is rare, make sure you communicate with your dentist if you experience unexpected side effects.

Digital technology is increasingly finding its way into everyday dental practice. Intra-oral scanners provide new treatment options for patients and are expected to accelerate the workflow. Little was known about the actual time required to make digital impression, until now. A new study found that the time required for digitalizing a dental implant fixture (like partial removable dentures) took significantly less time than making conventional impressions ­– around 12 minutes.

Mainstream science has now fully recognized the power behind coconut oil. Not only does it combat tooth decay and drastically improve overall mouth health, but also specifically crushes a yeast known as candida albicans that can lead to deadly infections.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Celebrate National Toothbrush Day With These Tooth Brushing Tips


Did you know that tooth decay is the most common childhood disease? Cavities are almost 100 percent preventable when children have access to prevention, education and treatment services, yet one-third of children ages 6 to 8 have untreated cavities in a permanent tooth.

National Toothbrush Day is June 26 and serves as a reminder of how important a little brush is to a person’s health.

Brushing your teeth twice daily is a necessity, not an option. If you brush the recommended amount – twice daily for at least two minutes per session – then you’ve spent a lot of quality time with your toothbrushes over the years. This small brush is a really important tool and there are ways to maintain it and create some good habits for oral health.

DentaQuest offers five important tips for using your toothbrush and maintaining good brushing habits:
  
1. If you were still wearing a heavy coat the last time you replaced your toothbrush, you’re definitely overdue for a new one. Toothbrushes need to be replaced when they get frayed and worn, which is typically every three months. Vigorous brushers will probably need to replace their toothbrush more frequently.

2. Select soft bristles over hard ones unless otherwise instructed by your dentist. Soft bristles are more pliable and can get between teeth easier. Hard bristles can make brushing painful and may also wear away gums and tooth enamel.

3. It may be tempting for teething tots, but don’t let young children chew on the toothbrush head. It drastically shortens the life of the bristles.

4. To maximize the effectiveness of brushing, pick up your toothbrush right after a meal. It helps remove the food debris that bacteria feed on. Use a small dot of fluoridated toothpaste and you’re giving your teeth a dose of fluoride right when they need it most.

5. Bedtime brushing equals better sleep. Repeating a relaxing bedtime routine (including brushing your teeth, of course) eventually gets your body programmed to start winding down for sleep.

Always rinse off your toothbrush after you've used it and let it dry before using it again.  And, don't share your toothbrush with others; you don't want to exchange mouth bacteria.

Remember, a regular check up with your dentist is as important as an annual physical. If you are afraid of the dentist and only make an appointment when you are in pain, think of this – regular preventive care is not painful and it will help prevent painful visits in the future. Good oral health is very important to your overall good health.

Monday, June 23, 2014

DentaQuest Receives Certification Status from National Committee for Quality Assurance


DentaQuest has received Certification status in Credentialing and Recredentialing by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to assessing and reporting on the quality of healthcare. This certification status is presented to health care organizations that meet NCQA’s standards in providing high-quality services to their members.

“We are proud to announce this prestigious certification and to be recognized as a high-quality dental insurer by NCQA,” said Fay Donohue, President and Chief Executive Officer at DentaQuest. “DentaQuest is committed to providing our members with the most cost-effective and comprehensive plans. Our mission is and has always been to improve the oral health of all and, with this certification, we can continue to guarantee our members that they are receiving the best possible coverage.”

NCQA‘s certification review process includes on- and off-site evaluations conducted by a team of clinical and managed care experts. The findings are then reviewed and analyzed by an oversight committee of clinicians that assigns a certification status based on the organization’s performance. DentaQuest’s assigned status is effective through 2016.