Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Dental Download: January 31, 2014

We’re excited to introduce our new weekly blog feature, Friday Dental Download, which will be a roundup of the week’s top oral health news. This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released their latest report on oral health disparities, a law was passed in California that requires all children have dental coverage and a study was published that may encouragedentiststo screenfor diabetes.Have thoughts on today’s news? Join the conversation on Twitter using #FridayDentalDL.

1. Kids' Cavities On The Rise, Report Finds
This Huffington Post article talks about a new report from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) which states that tooth decay is a common problem in children and is an issue that's growing. The startling data shows that an estimated 5 to 10 percent of US children will have had tooth decay by age of 3, with the number growing to 60 percent by age 5. It’s so important for parents to help their children develop good oral health habits early on, and we’ve got tips for caring for teeth of all ages here.

2. ADA report: Bringing disease prevention into communities
The ADA has released its latest report on oral health disparities in underserved populations, which states that dental caries (cavities) is the most prevalent childhood disease, affecting more than 25% of American children ages 2 to 5 and half of those ages 12 to 15. Further, 28% of people ages 35 to 44 have untreated caries and the rate is 18% in those 65 and older. DentaQuest is committed to improving access to high-quality, affordable dental care through programs like the DentaQuest Institute’s Early Childhood Caries Collaborative and the DentaQuest Foundation’s Oral Health 2014 initiative.

3. Study: Dental setting useful in early detection of diabetes
Robert Genco, DDS, professor of oral biology and microbiology at the State University of New York at Buffalo, conducted a study that found that screening for pre-diabetes and diabetes is feasible in a dental office, with acceptance by the dentists and dental office staff members, patients' physicians, and patients of course. Read the study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association here.

4. Covered California to embed kids' dental coverage in 2015
California announced this week that its health insurance exchange, Covered California, will embed pediatric dental coverage in all medical plans starting in 2015, after their board voted last week to require this coverage for all pediatric medical plans sold through the marketplace. We encourage states to ensure that people have options available to them so that they can choose whether to purchase their dental benefits as embedded or standalone plans.

This weekend, we’re excited to be a part of the Yankee Dental Congress in Boston, where members of our team will be presenting on a number of important dental topics. Keep an eye out for news and updates from the conference.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Cold and Flu Prevention Tips for your Mouth

Dr. John Luther, Chief Dental Officer

It’s cold and flu season again. Many people make it a priority to get a flu shot and always wash their hands to combat the seemingly constant viruses traveling through schools and workplaces. It is equally important to pay attention to your toothbrush to avoid spreading germs.

Here are some additional tips for keeping cold and flu viruses from spreading:

1. Replace your toothbrush often. Most people replace a toothbrush after four months of use, but it should be changed every two to three months and certainly when the bristles start to spread out. Always replace your brush after a cold or flu.

2. Sterilize your toothbrush.  You should do this once or twice a week – especially if someone in your home is sick. You can do this by placing the toothbrush in boiling water or running it through the dishwasher - just put the brush in the silverware basket when you run a load of dishes. Dishwashers are the closest thing we have in our homes to the steam used in the dentist’s office. Cleaning your toothbrush is a good habit to adopt year-round, as there are plenty of germs and bacteria floating around the bathroom.

3. Store your toothbrush so it doesn’t touch other brushes. Use a toothbrush cover if possible, and always store the brush upright. Bacteria can move easily from toothbrush to toothbrush, so any way you can limit contact with other toothbrushes is beneficial. Also, remember that the tube of toothpaste contacts the bristles. That’s another way germs can spread from one person to another. When you’re sick, it is a good idea to use your own tube of toothpaste or squirt the toothpaste onto your clean finger and then apply to your toothbrush.

4. Wash hands before and after brushing. Bacteria from your hands and food particles from your mouth are unavoidable. Washing your hands – before AND after – can help prevent the spread of bacteria.

Good oral health is essential to overall health. Continue to brush and floss daily throughout cold and flu season as well as throughout the year!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Reflections on Health and Equality

By Ralph Fuccillo, Chief Mission Officer
Today, many of us at DentaQuest are taking a few minutes to remember and celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  We honor Dr. King for challenging us on how we can be a more equal society.  He reminded us that, "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhumane."
This January, we also remember the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B.  Johnson’s declaration of a War on Poverty.  This week, politicians and national media have been commenting on whether this national campaign accomplished anything. Current data shows the poverty rate has only dropped to 15 percent from 19 percent over two generations.  46 million Americans live in households where their income is scarcely adequate to cover basic needs. And despite gains in worker productivity, wages are stagnant for middle and low income families.   While the dialogue continues, we know there is more that must be done to reduce disparities in health, especially when it comes to oral health.
In this spirit, I call up these words from Dr. King as an inspiration to work for improving our systems of care, community, policy and financing so health inequity becomes a thing of the past:   
“A true revolution of values will cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act… True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
Our overall enterprise strategies are redefining oral health in ways that will meet the oral health needs of many more Americans.  DentaQuest is committed to improving the oral health of all.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Meeting Dental’s “Triple Aim”

By Cindy Hannon, Manager of Quality Improvement, DentaQuest Institute

The way that healthcare is delivered to patients is undergoing significant change and dental is no different. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement termed our new healthcare goals the Triple Aim: improving the patient experience of care, improving the health of populations, and reducing the cost of care.  At the DentaQuest Institute, we believe this is the future of care and are proud to have created a model that is helping to meet the Triple Aim with our Early Childhood Carries (ECC) Collaborative.

Early Childhood Carries is an aggressive form of dental disease in very young children (1-5 years old). Often times, when the disease is not treated early, children end up in hospital operating rooms for oral surgery, which can involve anesthesia, root canals and stainless steel crowns. This is a very scary, painful experience for young children; it places an unnecessary strain on hospitals, especially given that dental disease is nearly 100 percent preventable.

We recognized that this method of care was just treating the symptoms and not the cause.  Nor was it preventing the disease from recurring again; many children returned in a year with the same symptoms in other teeth. So, partnering with dentists and their care teams at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) and St. Joseph Hospital for Specialty Care in Rhode Island (St. Joe’s), the DentaQuest Institute created the ECC Collaborative in 2008. We focused on teaching dental care providers and dental clinics how to work with children and parents to prevent dental disease rather than just treat it. Our goal has been, and is, to spread best practices about preventive education and disease management to think differently about the way we treat young and vulnerable patients before and after surgery. This disease management protocol is, we believe, providing a more engaged caregiver experience and this is helping improve patient and family outcomes, ie. better oral health. This Collaborative is building evidence to meet the Triple Aim.

During the first phase of the program:

  • Children participating in the ECC Collaborative reported a 50 percent decrease in pain.
  • The number of children who did not develop additional disease after the initial treatment improved by 69 percent.
  • Operating room utilization was reduced by 55 percent.
The ECC Collaborative has expanded considerably since 2008. In 2011, five community health centers and hospital-based dental clinics across the country joined BCH and St. Joe’s for Phase II. The teams collected data about disease risk, pain from untreated decay, and new cases of disease.  Each site focused on individual system changes, engaging and educating staff in the importance of scheduling recall visits within the recommended timeframe, educating care givers to think about possible behavior changes and helping them set self-management goals for their child. Once again, we saw that disease management and prevention improved outcomes, reduced disease, controlled cost and kept the children’s mouths healthier.

You can learn more about the ECC Collaborative, what current participants are doing and how to get involved. Watch our video.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

DentaQuest CEO Fay Donohue Discusses the Pediatric Dental Mandate

Although the Affordable Care Act includes pediatric dental care in its “essential health benefits” package, the implementation is confusing, leaving families in most states unsure of their options and more importantly, impeding children from receiving much needed oral healthcare.

DentaQuest president and CEO Fay Donohue discussed the issue with NPR’s Julie Rovner today, highlighting the problems some Americans face when searching for dental insurance for their children, and why it is important for all children to receive coverage.

Below is an excerpt from Julie Rovner’s article or you can listen to the full story here:

“‘In some states, for example — a Maryland or a Massachusetts — you can go onto the exchange and shop just for dental," Donohue says, "and are able to pick a dental plan for yourself that makes sense and is an easy experience."
In other states, she says, "it is extremely difficult, and in others, pretty impossible."
That's not just a problem for the bottom line of dental firms, Donahue says. Unmet oral health needs — particularly those of children — are a serious health problem. It's estimated that 1 in 10 children from low-income families is in pain from untreated dental problems.

"How can you go to school and learn anything when you're in pain?" Donahue asks. "If you care about education, you've got to care about oral health."
That difficulty in finding plans extends to adults, too. Under the health law, any adult who doesn't have dental coverage should, theoretically, be able to just go to the exchange and buy a plan.
But Donohue says that's not always happening, either. "In some [states], you can," she says. "In some, you can only buy dental if you've already purchased a medical. And in some, they're not there at all."
DentaQuest is committed to improving the oral health of all, and we are committed to working with our partners to ensure that the intent of the ACA to provide dental coverage for all children is met. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Resolution to Smile About

As 2013 comes to a close and we start making our New Year’s resolutions for 2014, getting healthy seems to be at the top of everyone’s list.

But being healthy isn’t just about working out and eating a nutritious diet; good oral health is imperative to overall health according to the US Surgeon General.

The New Year is the perfect time to start practicing good oral habits that will last a lifetime: Brush 2 minutes, 2 times a day, every day.

Prevention helps you maintain good oral health and the single most important thing that you can do to protect your teeth is to brush for two minutes, twice a day, every day. And floss too.

It’s equally as important to make sure this a daily routine for your children as well.

Here are some brushing tips for all ages:

Babies to 2 years: Gently wipe the baby’s teeth with a clean damp washcloth. For kids under age 2, use a soft toothbrush and a little water; no toothpaste is necessary. Once teeth are cleaned at bedtime, babies should drink only plain water (no juice, milk or soda).

Children, 2 years to 6 years: Help your children brush their teeth. Hold the toothbrush with them and show them how to clean every tooth surface and to gently brush their tongue to remove germs and freshen breath. Use a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste and teach your child to spit out the toothpaste when they’re done Check out this video to for more tips on teaching children how to brush their teeth.

Children, 6 years to thirteen: Once children know how to brush, let them do so on their own, but supervise to make sure all teeth get cleaned. The goal is to spend 2 minutes to be sure they brush every tooth – the front, back, chewing surfaces and sides. Teach your children how to floss between teeth and make this part of their nighttime routine.

Teens and Adults: We are all busy with work, school, sports, family – but that is no excuse for not brushing. Clean your teeth gently but thoroughly for a full 2 minutes before you head off for the day (work or school) and finish the day by brushing to remove leftover food in your mouth and floss between your teeth. Your goal is to remove food that will decay, creating acids that will attack the tooth’s enamel, and also to remove plaque. Plaque is the sticky film of germs that forms on teeth and gums after eating. If it’s  not removed by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, plaque can lead to cavities.

And remember this: Simple, repetitive tasks will become habit in just 21 days. Start on January 1 and make it your goal to brush 2 minutes, twice a day, every day. You can do this!

Finally, think about when you last saw an oral health professional. If you haven’t done so in the last six to 12 months, now is a good time to schedule your next visit. Dental disease (cavities and gum disease) is preventable.  

DentaQuest will be tweeting encouragement and reminders all month long. Follow us at @dentaquest.