Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Dental Download: May 30

This week, we learn from our own DentaQuest Institute how a fee schedule can improve a safety net dental program, hear how researchers are creating a new tool for diagnosing gum disease, and check out a new laser that can help repair teeth. Join the conversation on Twitter using #FridayDentalDL.

Mark Doherty, DMD, is the Director of Safety Net Solutions at DentaQuest Institute. This week, Dr. Doherty offers DentistryIQ readers an inside look at how using a fee schedule can benefit a safety net dental program, and suggests resources that can help determine an appropriate system for any practice. Curious as to what a safety net dental program is? Check out Dr. Doherty’s recent article, How to create and manage a successful safety net dental program,” or visit

Researchers at Columbia University are working to create a tool to more easily identify whether a patient’s gum disease is chronic or aggressive, so that dentists can more effectively prescribe a treatment. Currently, the two forms of gum disease have many overlapping symptoms, so researchers want this tool to use the genes and biological makeup of the mouth to provide a more exact diagnosis.

Harvard University scientists created a laser that can activate stem cells to help heal and repair teeth. At DentaQuest, we believe in helping our patients heal damaged teeth, so a tool that could improve the process of repairing teeth might be a huge breakthrough in the industry.

We know that good oral health is imperative to overall health, and this article offers tips on maintaining a set of pearly whites that will help maintain overall wellness. For more tips, check out our Oral Health Library.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Dental Download: May 23, 2014

This week, we find out how texting can improve your oral health, learn what “health” foods are actually harming your teeth, and see a new “fashion trend” for your pearly whites. Join the conversation on Twitter using #FridayDentalDL.

We’re proud to support this innovative project; Text2Floss is a messaging service created by the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health that uses text messages to remind users to brush and floss, as well as provide oral health tips. According to the Pew Research Center, 90% of American adults have a cell phone, so the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health saw this as a convenient way to provide users with an oral health resource in their daily inbox.

The American Dental Association’s Council on Scientific Affairs recently updated its guidelines for caring for the teeth of children under the age of two. The ADA previously recommended brushing a child’s teeth with only water until the child is two; now it recommends that parents use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth erupts. For more tips on caring for teeth of all ages, check out our Oral Health Library.

It may come as no surprise that coffee can have cosmetic effects on teeth, but did you know that the stains caused by coffee can actually attract plaque? Dried fruit is another snack that harms teeth, as it is highly concentrated in sugar and often chewy, causing it to stick to the surface of teeth and cause cavities.

European researchers found that components in red wine have antimicrobial effects, meaning it can slow bacterial growth in the mouth. According to the study, this could lead to the development of more natural products with a grape or grape seed base to help prevent dental disease.

We’re not so sure about this new “fashion” trend in which a tattoo-artist inks a picture onto a cap or crown, which is then placed onto the tooth. We imagine people who have tooth tattoos often receive the comment, “You have something in your teeth.”

Monday, May 19, 2014

Dental Plans: An Opportunity Worth Taking

Last week, DentaQuest presented a webinar in partnership with America’s Health Insurance Plans on the opportunities for health plans to increase profitability, growth, and efficiency by offering dental coverage to their enrollees. Mike Enright; National Director for Commercial Sales; Shaju Puthussery, Chief Analytics Officer; and Linda Vidone, Dental Director, the positive impact dental programs are having on health insurers and their enrollees.

In the first open enrollment period of the federal health exchanges, more than 7 million people signed up for health coverage, of which nearly one quarter also chose to purchase dental plans. The interest in dental coverage reveals an opportunity for health plans— the opportunity to distinguish themselves among their members and potential members as a single resource for health and dental benefits that considers and covers oral health and overall health and wellness. As we know, good oral health is imperative to overall health.

Additionally, dental coverage is a cost-effective way to act early on significant chronic illness such as diabetes and heart disease. Studies show that when people are engaged in preventive measures - brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and receiving biannual dental checkups – can better control other chronic health issues and require less extensive treatment.

Prevention is important. The below graph shows the average 5-year cost of care for children based on their age at his or her first dental visit. The sooner a child begins receiving preventive care, the less likely they are to develop oral health issues, resulting in fewer dental-related costs.

DentaQuest is hosting a concurrent session on June 12 at AHIP Institute in Seattle. If you’d like to learn more about us, visit

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Dental Download: May 16, 2014

This week, we learn about screening for chronic illness during dental checkups, find out why it’s important for retirees to get dental coverage, and talk about a new clinic designed to provide oral health care for patients with special needs. Join the conversation on Twitter using #FridayDentalDL.

Mike Monopoli, DMD, Director of Policy and programs for DentaQuest Foundation and an advisor to the US National Oral Health Alliance, spoke with DrBicuspid this week about the National Oral Health Alliance’s Emerging Framework for Action, which he presented at last week’s National Oral Health Conference. The framework aims to reduce the rate of dental disease among U.S. adults and children by ensuring all communities, especially those with vulnerable populations, have access to care and prevention. Read more about DentaQuest’s involvement in the Alliance here.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of all American adults suffer from chronic illnesses, many of which go unnoticed until significant damage has been done. A recent study from the ADA Health Policy Resources Center found that dentists screening for common chronic conditions could save the health care system as much as $102.6 million annually, as the patient could seek immediate medical attention for an illness, thus preventing the condition from worsening over time.

3.    When You Don't Have Dental Insurance
Although the Accordable Care Act classifies dental care an essential health benefit for anyone under the age of 18, it does not require adults to have such coverage. However, this Forbes article reminds readers that dental care is equally important for adults, as older teeth are more susceptible to decay. Learn how you can get your teeth and gums covered at

The U.S. Community Preventive Services Task Force recommended last year that school-based programs provide sealants for children in an effort to prevent tooth decay. However, the Children’s Dental Health Project released a report this week outlining the difficulties these school-based sealant programs face, such as lack of funding. The report recommends that dentists partner with these programs to reinforce the effectiveness of sealants to parents and caregivers, and to ensure follow-up care.

The Tufts University School of Dental Medicine opened a clinic in Massachusetts to provide oral health care to patients with developmental and acquired disabilities. According to Dr. Darren Drag, Director of Clinical Operations of Tufts Dental Facilities, many of the patients at this clinic do not have the physical ability to properly care for their oral health, leading to poor oral hygiene and untreated tooth decay. This clinic aims to “serve the underserved,” according to Dr. Drag.

This blog post explains one of the causes of the oral health crisis in America: the shortage of dentists.  For example, in Somerset County, OR there are only 17 dentists for every 100,000 people, compared to 76 for every 100,000 in Portland, OR. We are happy to see the Huffington Post continue to blog about the importance of expanding access to dental care in America, as DentaQuest is dedicated to improving the oral health of all.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Kicking off National Women’s Health Week on Mother’s Day

By Dr. Linda Vidone, Dental Director of DentaQuest

This Mother’s Day appropriately marks the beginning of National Women's Health Week, an observance led by the Office on Women's Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services, to encourage and empower women to make their health and wellness a priority.

Many don’t realize that women have a higher risk of oral health issues, such as gingivitis and dry mouth, than men, particularly during periods of spiked hormone levels like menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy. Here’s how each of these stages can affect a woman’s oral health:

     1.    Menstruation: Gums can appear red and swollen during menstruation, but this will typically cease after the cycle ends. If the swelling and redness continues, it may be a sign of more deeply-rooted oral health issues like gum disease so schedule a dental checkup ASAP.

     2.    Pregnancy: “Pregnancy Gingivitis” can cause swelling and tenderness of the gums and is not uncommon among expecting mothers. It’s incredibly important for pregnant women to continue receiving dental checkups and take extra caution with their oral hygiene, as bacteria that causes gingivitis can be passed along to the baby and create issues during pregnancy.

     3.    Menopause: Women going through menopause should take a look at any medications they are prescribed as a common side effect is dry mouth. Of course, dry mouth can occur at any age due to diabetes, dehydration, and stress, among other medical conditions. If you have continuous dry mouth, see your dentist- it’s important that saliva production is constant so that bacteria doesn’t build up in the mouth.

National Women’s Health Week is a wonderful opportunity to remind women that their health and wellness should be a high priority and that there are many measures they can take to prevent oral health issues. Women (and men and children) should always be sure to brush twice a day, floss once a day, and visit the dentist for a biannual checkup.

So this Mother’s Day, why don’t you really make your mom smile by giving her a new toothbrush?

Friday Dental Download: May 9, 2014

This week, we learn about students in Pennsylvania improving oral health in the developing world, discuss why you should be sure to ask your dentist for an oral cancer screening, and talk to a dentist who stitches up NHL players during games. Join the conversation on Twitter using #FridayDentalDL.

The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry announced this week that dentists are now required to evaluate a patient’s substance abuse history and current medications, and provide a ‘‘letter of medical necessity’’ to the pharmacy before prescribing Zohydro, a powerful new prescription painkiller. The state’s medical board issued similar regulations to doctors last month to prevent abuse.

This Time Magazine article explains how to check your tongue for warning signs of health issues such as vitamin deficiency or a clogged salivary gland. Oral cancer can also be identified by warning signs found on the tongue, such as abnormal coloring or texture. Check your tongue daily- it could save your life!

      People in developing countries don’t always have access to toothbrushes and toothpaste and there is often a lack of dentists to provide preventive care and treatment for oral health issues so a group of students at the University of Pennsylvania is working on an alternative: a special chewing gum with added dental-hygiene benefits. There are already gums with xylitol on the market, but they are typically too expensive for individuals in the developing world, so the students are working with a private chewing gum company to try to secure a low-cost product for distribution in countries that are lacking oral health resources.

Oral cancer rates are on the rise- over 42,000 Americans will receive a new oral cancer diagnosis this year, and many cases go unnoticed without the proper screening, which you should receive each time you visit your dentist. Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist during your next checkup if they’ve screened you for oral cancer. For more questions you should ask your dentist, check out our Q&A with DentaQuest Institute’s Dr. Brian NovĂ˝.

The official team dentist for the National Hockey League's San Jose Sharks, Donald Goudy, explains how he provides emergency treatment for players (for both teams) in a small office at the Sharks’ rink. According to Dr. Goudy, his treatment goes something like this: "We bring them back, remove any loose pieces, numb them up, and they go back out." As for those teeth that get knocked out during games?  Dr. Goudy says that they usually end up in the Zamboni. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday Dental Download: May 2, 2014

This week find out which states are leading the country in dental visits, see how a new app can detect oral cancer, and learn how dental offices can better accommodate pediatric patients with autism. Join the conversation on Twitter using #FridayDentalDL.

A new Gallup Poll found that Connecticut residents were the most likely to say they visited a dentist in the last 12 months, with Massachusetts and Rhode Island residents following close behind. On the other end of the spectrum, only 53% of Mississippi residents reported having seen a dentist in the same period. On average, 64.7% of Americans in 2013 said they visited the dentist at least once in the past 12 months. Check your oral health IQ here.

The World Health Organization reports that “sharp increases in the incidence rates of oral/pharyngeal cancers have been reported for several countries and regions,” including the US. A new app, created by a team at Stanford University, allows health workers to take photos of a patient’s mouth and send them to an offsite expert for analysis. This app could prove to be helpful in extremely rural or underdeveloped regions where access to dentists is limited.

According to Sharon Cermak, professor in the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, the loud noises, bright lights and strong scents of a dental office can cause fear in children with autism. Cermak published a study that identifies ways dentists can better accommodate patients with autism by soothing their senses with softer lighting and calming music. According to the article, preliminary findings show that autistic children were less anxious when these sensory adaptive techniques were implemented.

Researchers from Deakin University in Australia found a connection between poor dental health and depression, although they have yet to determine why there is such a link. The researchers believe this may lead to discovery of a correlation between oral and mental health.

      5.       Hippos Practice Good Oral Health, Too
Check out this photo of a hippopotamus in Guangzhou, China getting a dental checkup. Imagine having to keep those pearly whites clean?