Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Recognizing One of Our Own

This June 5 and 6, the AIDS Walk in Massachusetts celebrates a milestone--25 years. On the occasion of this silver anniversary, the AIDS Action Committee is recognizing 25 people whose contributions have been critical to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts and beyond. DentaQuest’s Ralph Fuccillo, President of our Foundation, is one of them.

Ralph is being honored for bringing the right people together to get things done. You can read the very nice profile of Ralph’s impact here.

In all that he does for DentaQuest and for the organizations to which he lends his name and support, Ralph Fuccillo is a connecter and consensus seeker. He is one of the activists who changed the course of prevention for AIDS.

We are very fortunate to have Ralph working just as hard today to get the right people to lend their support to our mission of improving oral health in communities of need across America.

Guest Blog post by Fay Donohue, DentaQuest CEO

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Age Strong! Live Long: Oral Health and Older Americans

May is Older American’s Month. In celebration of this year's theme, "Age Strong! Live Long" I ask all my readers – Have you had a dental health check up this year?

As you can see from this chart, the oral health of older adults is getting better. Good oral health makes life better – it helps us speak, smile, smell, taste, chew, and swallow - and it keeps us looking younger! Preventable oral diseases – tooth decay (cavities), gum disease, and oral cancer - cause unnecessary pain and disability for millions each year.

We think of tooth decay (cavities) as a problem for children and adolescents. But older adults also get cavities too. This can be treated.

It is more likely that older adults experience periodontal or gum disease –gums get puffy and bleed, teeth become loose, chewing is difficult or painful, and food choices get softer and less nutritious. Tooth loss is not necessarily a part of aging. Gum disease is an infection caused by bacteria that gets under the gum tissue and begins to destroy the gums and bone. If you catch this early, it can be treated. But, if you ignore the symptoms and do nothing, you may loose teeth.

Another reason to have puffy and bleeding gums checked out is that gum disease may also be connected to other health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your dentist or physician.

Getting an oral cancer screening each year is another good reason to see your dentist. Every day hundreds of people are diagnosed with an oral cancer; 1 person dies every hour of every day from oral cancer. A screening is easy and painless; survival rates improve with early detection.

Make following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control part of your daily routine.
  1. Drink fluoridated water and use fluoride toothpaste. This is good protection against tooth decay at all ages.
  2. Brushing and flossing every day reduces bacteria under the gum tissue and helps prevents periodontal disease. US News and World Report says flossing is one of 10 health habits that help you live to 100. A New York University study showed daily flossing reduced the amount of gum-disease-causing bacteria in the mouth-- bacteria that can enter the bloodstream and trigger inflammation in the arteries, a major risk factor for heart disease.
  3. Visit your dentist every year --to maintain the overall health of your teeth and mouth and to detect pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions early in their development.
  4. Avoid tobacco. Smokers have a 7 times greater risk of developing periodontal disease than nonsmokers. Spit tobacco also increases the risk of tooth decay. Dental researchers found that on average, 34% of the weight of pouch tobacco is some kind of simple sugar -- either glucose or sucrose!
  5. Limit alcohol. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is a risk factor for oral and throat cancers. Alcohol and tobacco used together are the primary risk factors for these cancers.
Oral health matters – at every stage of your life.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A National Focus on Public Health Dentistry

DentaQuest just returned from the 2010 National Oral Health Conference. In what may be a sign of an improving economy and perhaps of the heightened interest in oral health as a result of health reform, this was one of the best attended conferences in recent memory, with 800 individuals and 30 exhibitors involved in 5 days of programming. Held in the gateway city of St. Louis, the 2010 conference involved a very broad spectrum of dentists, dental hygienists, health researchers, dental and health educators, legislators, and public health officials all engaged in the important work of improving the oral health of the American public.

DentaQuest had several opportunities to talk about the work we’re doing to improve oral health.

Using the DentaQuest Institute's recent quality improvement work for the treatment of Early Childhood Caries (ECC) as an example, we talked about the success we have had with an evidence-based, risk-based disease management approach (chart above) that is similar to the concept of chronic care management of medical conditions. Scroll down to our March blog post on our Early Childhood Caries Initiative to learn more. The results of this pilot are impressive and we are looking forward to get other dental practices to use this model in 2010.

Our Safety Net Solutions team introduced an innovative online learning center at The SNS Portal is part classroom, part library, part chat room, and part town square – and 100% tailored to the information needs of clinical care staff and administrators of safety net dental programs. Safety Net Solutions Program Director Dr. Mark Doherty gave a very well received presentation on surviving the economic downturn for safety net dental providers. It will be reprised as a webinar through the online learning center. Visit the online learning center for dates and registration details.

DentaQuest Foundation President, Ralph Fuccillo, spoke to conference attendees about philanthropy's important leadership role in oral health. And, the Foundation’s Director of Programs and Policy, Dr. Michael Monopoli, discussed the role of foundations in supporting programs that are making system-wide changes to improve oral health.

The DentaQuest Institute is the only national, non-profit providing clinical care, practice management and technology solutions that help oral health care providers improve oral health. The DentaQuest Foundation is the largest national philanthropy dedicated solely to oral health.

I happen to think that the greatest benefit from the National Oral Health Conference is the opportunity for our team to connect with dental public health leaders from across the United States. It makes us better at the work we do with partners across the country in developing and implementing more effective approaches to preventing and managing oral disease.

Guest Post by Brian Souza, Managing Director of the DentaQuest Institute