To help companies recruit, retain, and promote female talent — and to help these women crack the glass ceiling themselves — founder Jennifer Owens of the Working Mother Research Institute revealed key trends of successful companies uncovered by the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) at the Greater New York Dental Meeting (GNYDM).

“There’s no single recipe for what works,” said Owens. “If there were, we wouldn’t be here.”

Each year, NAFE’s Top 50 Companies for Executive Women report asks businesses to complete a 250-question survey asking them about female representation at all levels, particularly among corporate officers and profit-and-loss leadership. It also tracks access to programs and policies that encourage female advancement, as well as manager training and accountability for that progress.

According to Owens, the companies that offer the best environments for working women share 4 characteristics: career development programs, manager training, CEO engagement, and a focus on health and wellness. For example, CEOs need to support efforts to encourage career growth among their female employees, conducting meetings to assess progress towards these goals, and even tying pay to achieving them.

“We believe what gets measured gets done,” said Owens.

Health and wellness benefits also are vital, as they can affect employee productivity, absenteeism, and turnover, all of which have an effect on the business’ bottom line, too. With this in mind, NAFE reports that a third of the companies it surveyed offer nap rooms for women who, for instance, have just returned from maternity leave.

“Can you have an onsite nap room? Probably not,” Owens said. “But it’s important to know what the big companies are doing and then picking up what you can use in your own small business.”

Dentists who have their own practices can apply many of these traits and techniques to their offices, Owens said. Dentists can begin by communicating to their employees that they have careers, not just jobs. They also should back that up by investing in developing the skills of those employees. Dentists then should mind how they present themselves as the leader of the team, which impacts job satisfaction too.

“That satisfaction is what will keep them there,” Owens said. “And if you’ve invested in them, because we all invest in our employees, you want to keep them because you don’t want that investment to walk out the door.”

Still, many businesses still present obstacles for female employees to overcome. Owens noted that workplaces in general are built on a model where one spouse stays home to take care of the family, while the other can be an ideal employee elsewhere. As a result, workplaces aren’t set up for complicated lives with dual careers, child care, elder care, chronic illnesses, or more.

Also, there are fewer women at the top, so many women simply don’t see themselves as potential leaders. Bias continues as well, Owens said, via micro-inequalities, mommy tracks, and other less overt practices. So for women, opportunities are lagging. While women represented 51% of the employees at the companies surveyed, Owens said, they only received 45% of the promotions.

“It’s clicking up one percentage point, 2 percentage points,” Owens said. “But when it comes to representation or participation, it’s always slow.”

Yet women aren’t powerless. NAFE also examined 5 traits that successful women share: a prowess for persuasiveness, a focus to set and reach goals, a talent for team building, a strong sense of self, and the courage to break the rules. And while companies may not have a specific checklist of these qualities to use during interviews, they do value them.

“I think that companies innately look for them,” Owens said. “I think the women who have them are doing well.”

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Everyone knows that soda and other sugary drinks are bad for teeth. But sugar-free drinks also can take a toll, according to the Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) at the University of Melbourne. After testing 23 different beverages including soft drinks and sports drinks, its researchers found that drinks with acidic additives and low pH levels can significantly damage enamel even if they are sugar-free.

“While reducing your sugar intake does reduce your risk of dental decay, the chemical mix of acids in some foods and drinks can cause the equally damaging condition of dental erosion,” said Melbourne Laureate Professor Eric Reynolds, CEO of the Oral Health CRC.

According to the researchers, most soft drinks and sports drinks soften enamel by 30% to 50%. Also, drinks with and without sugar, including flavored mineral waters, both produced measurable loss of the tooth surface without any significant difference between them. And of the 8 sports drinks tested, all but 2, which had higher calcium content, caused loss of dental enamel.

In a recent report, the Oral Health CRC recommends better consumer information and product labeling to help people consider their oral health when choosing food and drink products. Reynolds notes that “sugar-free” labeling doesn’t necessarily mean a product is safe for teeth.

“We have even found sugar-free confectionery products that are labeled ‘Toothfriendly’ and which when tested were found to be erosive,” he said.

For example, people who use sugar-free confections to stimulate saliva for health reasons should choose mint or menthol flavored products instead of fruit-flavored items with high levels of food acid, particularly lemon-flavored products with citrate.

The researchers say consumers should check ingredients for acidic additives, especially citric acid (ingredient number 330) and phosphoric acid (ingredient number 338). They also should drink more fluoridated water and limit soft and sports drinks. And after eating or drinking acidic products, consumers should rinse with water and wait an hour before brushing so they don’t remove the softened tooth layer.

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Implants in edentulous and partially edentulous mandibles demand long-term reliability. One recent study of 470 patients who underwent mandibular implant placement at a private prosthodontics practice and received follow-up care for 10 to 27 years examined their performance.

Variables included patient sex and age; degree of edentulism (fully versus partially edentulous); implant location, size, and type; time of loading (delayed versus immediate), bone quality, prosthesis type, and the presence of other implants.

Of the 2,394 implants, 176 failed for an overall cumulative survival rate (CSR) of 92.6%, which is comparable to previous long-term studies. The 1,482 implants in edentulous mandibles saw a 92.6% CSR, while the 912 in partially edentulous mandibles saw a 92.7% CSR.

However, the researchers did note significant differences in CSRs between anterior and posterior locations and between rough- and smooth-surfaced implants in addition to some prosthesis types, ages, and bone qualities.

Differences between implant locations, patient age groups, bone qualities, and prostheses did not suggest any remarkable trends, though. Also, none of the variables showed any significant effect on long-term implant survival.

The researchers concluded that the high CSRs support the use of endosseous dental implants as a long-term treatment option for the rehabilitation of the edentulous and partially edentulous mandible. The study, “A Long-Term Retrospective Analysis of Survival Rates of Implants in the Mandible,” was published by The International Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Implants.

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The Henry Schein ConnectDental Pavilion is now open at the Greater New York Dental Meeting (GNYDM) at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City through December 2. According to the company, the display brings together the profession’s broadest array of open solutions designed to help any practice or laboratory enter the digital age.

“ConnectDental is a patient-centric model that delivers a complete solution, which represents a transformational change in the dental community,” said Stanley M. Bergman, chairman and CEO of Henry Schein Inc. “The Henry Schein ConnectDental Pavilion reinforces our mission and commitment to focus on practice care so that our customers can focus on patient care.”

The pavilion will showcase open-architecture solutions including digital intraoral scanners, milling and printing devices and materials, cone-beam 3-D imaging, practice management, and digital laboratory solutions. Also, the company will demonstrate how its Practice Analysis Tool can help identify tailored solutions that meet a practice’s unique needs.

Products and services from 3M, 3Shape, 360imaging, Bego, Custom Milling Center, Dental Wings, DDX, Dentrix, Glidewell Laboratories, iSy by Camlog, Ivoclar Vivadent, KaVo Kerr Group, Katana, Planmeca, VHF, and Zirlux. A team of clinician advocates also will be on hand in the pavilion’s ConnectDental Café to discuss technologies and solutions with visitors.

“The pavilion is a wonderful educational engagement environment for digital dentistry and a great gateway into the larger world of Henry Schein’s offering, represented in our main booth in the Exhibit Hall,” said Dr. Robert Gottlander, vice president of global prosthetic solutions for Henry Schein. “It is a must-see for practitioners interested in the significant benefits that digital dentistry can provide to their patients.”

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There is a two-way relationship between gum disease and diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Diabetics are more susceptible to periodontitis, which in turn may affect blood glucose control and contribute to the further progression of the diabetes. A team of researchers from Brazil recently took a closer look at this connection.

The researchers gave 32 patients with controlled type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), 31 with poorly controlled T2DM, and 37 nondiabetic subjects clinical and periodontal examinations. The exams also determined the concentrations of chromogranin A (CHGA) in saliva and plasma with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

The poorly controlled T2DM group exhibited significantly higher mean buffering capacity, plaque index, and bleeding on probing than the other groups. No difference was found in the decayed, missed, and filled teeth index between groups. Sites with clinical attachment loss (CAL) of 4 and 5 to 6 mm were significantly higher in both diabetic groups than the control group.

Furthermore, the poorly controlled T2DM group had significantly higher sites with CAL of 7 mm or more than the other groups. Significantly higher plasma and salivary CHGA levels were found in the T2DM groups as well. And in both diabetic groups, probing depths of 5 to 6 mm and CAL of 5 to 6 mm were associated with higher salivary CHGA concentrations.

The researchers concluded that T2DM patients were more prone to periodontal tissue damage than to caries risk. Also, the degree of attachment loss deteriorates significantly with poor glycemic control in T2DM. High concentrations of salivary CHGA are associated with worse periodontal parameters and T2DM, which could be related to the pathogenesis of both diseases.

The study, “Impact of Glycemic Control on Oral Health Status in Type 2 Diabetes Individuals and Its Association With Salivary and Plasma Levels of Chromogranin A,” was published by Archives of Oral Biology.

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The toxic ingredients of methamphetamine can cause “meth mouth,” which is severe tooth decay marked by black, stained and rotting teeth that often need to be pulled. And with 1.3 million people in the United States using the drug at some point over the past year, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, dentists should prepare for seeing such evidence of its use among their patients.

A study by the University of California, Los Angeles, examined 571 methamphetamine users with a range of drug use behaviors and found that 96% of them had experienced cavities, with 58% showing untreated tooth decay. On all dental outcome measures, they evidenced high dental and periodontal disease.

About 31% of the subjects were missing 6 or more teeth, compared to 8.5% of adults in the general US population with 6 or more missing teeth. Only 23% of the subjects had all of their natural teeth, compared to 48% among the general population. Nearly 3% were edentulous, and 40% indicated embarrassment with their dental appearance.

Subjects who were 30 years old and older, women, and cigarette smokers were disproportionally affected by dental and periodontal disease. In fact, women had higher rates of tooth loss and caries in addition to a greater prevalence of anterior caries. Smokers were more likely to manifest 5 or more anterior surfaces with untreated caries and 3 or more teeth with root caries.

The researchers performed comprehensive oral examinations and psychosocial assessments on the subjects. Three calibrated dentists characterized dental and periodontal disease via National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey protocols. Data on substance use history and other attributes linked to dental disease was collected as well.

The distinctive patterns of dental and periodontal disease among users could alert dentists to hidden drug use, according to the researchers. Also, they say, users’ concerns about their appearance could be used to initiate brief behavioral interventions and referrals in dental settings.

The study, “Dental Disease Patterns in Methamphetamine Users,” was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It was published by JADA.

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Cleft lip and palate are among the most common birth defects, affecting about one in 700 babies. While smoking during pregnancy and other factors can contribute to its development, genetics are believed to be behind them at least in part in about 70% to 80% of cases. Researchers led by the University of Pittsburgh will explore these genetic causes of cleft lip and palate as well as treatments.

“In addition to looking at variations in genes that might lead us to treatments, we’re also looking for answers for parents who have a child with a cleft and want to know if any future children are at risk,” said principal investigator Eleanor Feingold, PhD, professor of human genetics and senior associate dean at the university’s graduate school of public health.

“This project will help us improve genetic counseling so we can tell parents if their family is predisposed to cleft lips and palates or if it’s a genetic aberration that is highly unlikely to happen again,” said Feingold.

The research will sequence the whole genomes of 430 children with clefts, as well as the genomes of their parents. According to the National Institutes of Health, which is funding the project under the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, it is among the largest whole genome sequencing efforts to examine an oral condition that it has ever initiated.

“The sequencing will provide a wealth of data that will be made available to scientists everywhere, providing the basis for years of research into causes, prevention, and treatment of cleft lip and palate,” said project director and principal investigator Mary L. Marazita, PhD, professor and vice chair of the university’s school of dental medicine department of oral biology and director of its center for craniofacial and dental genetics.

Marazita has studied cleft lip and palate since the 1980s and has developed a database of almost 6,000 families with the condition. The researchers will search the database for “trios,” or mothers, fathers, and children all with cleft lip or palate. These trios will have their whole genomes sequenced to find the variations causing the child’s cleft. Researchers then will be able to determine if the cleft arose spontaneously or if it was from a variant passed along by a parent.

The DNA samples for 430 trios will be sent to the McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University in St. Louis for sequencing. In about 3 months, the researchers will get the information and share it through a centralized data repository. Marazita expects to get more than 200 terabytes of data to mine, with assistance from about 2 dozen co-investigators and collaborators at nationwide institutes.

“It takes a village to do this kind of work, and we are eager to tackle it,” said Marazita.

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Ultradent Products raised $85,263 during its annual drive for the Utah Food Bank. That translates to 341,036 pounds of food for needy families throughout the year.

Since the drive began in 2011, the company has helped raised 1.2 million pounds of food, with donations going to the Utah Food Bank as well as to victims of global disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

“My grandfather taught me as a young boy that it is only with an open hand that one has the ability to receive,” said Dr. Dan Fischer, founder, president, and CEO of Ultradent Products.

Donations were raised through opportunity drawings, bake sales, pop-up boutique sales, Food Truck Friday events, and a charitable golf tournament, all organized by company employees. Representatives of Ultradent Products presented a check for $85,263 to the food bank on November 19.

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