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Pediatric tooth decay is a growing worldwide epidemic, as a University of Adelaide study reports that 40% of children ages 5 to 10 in Australia have decay in their primary teeth, and a quarter of these children have never gotten any treatment for it. Yet there is a debate in the nation over how best to provide care for these vulnerable populations.

“The prevalence of tooth decay was similar to other comparable countries, such as the United States and New Zealand,” said Associate Professor Loc Do. “But the prevalence of untreated decay was somewhat higher in Australia.”

The results come from the National Child Health Survey 2012-2014, which used data from more than 24,000 children ages 5 to 14 in each state and territory. The survey was a joint project of the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health at the university’s school of dentistry and state and territory dental services.

Furthermore, the survey found that these children have an average of 1.5 primary teeth with decay. Also, more than a third of children ages 9 to 14 had decay in their permanent teeth, and one in 7 in the age group hadn’t been treated previously for it. Overall results varied depending on the state and territory and on the socioeconomic status of the child’s family.

“Children from Queensland and from the Northern Territory had the highest prevalence and severity of tooth decay,” said Do. “Data in Queensland was collected at the start of the expansion of water fluoridation and the start of the survey (2010-12), so it was too early to see the positive impact of drinking water fluoridation.”

Generally, children from low socioeconomic backgrounds and indigenous children had significantly higher tooth decay rates, poor dental and general health habits, and unfavorable patterns of dental visits. While the National Oral Health Plan aims to have 100% of children see a dentist, one in 9 children has never had a visit.

“Significantly more children in the lowest-income households had unfavorable dental attendance. This income-related gap in dental visiting patterns has widened over time,” said Do. “We would like to see regular dental checkups as a matter of course to help children and their families to prevent tooth decay and treat oral health problems promptly.”

The results of the study come at a controversial time in Australian oral care. In January 2014, the federal Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) began allocating up to $1,000 during a 2-year period to families who receive Family Tax Benefit Part A, Parenting, or Double Orphan Pension payments to spend on preventive dental services.

The program has since provided more than 9.7 million services. Also, 80% of CDBS services have been in the private sector, with 97% bulk billed at no cost to families. Yet the government announced in March that only 30% of the nation’s 3.4 million eligible children had been accessing the program.

Now, the government is proposing replacing the CDBS with the Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme, promising a 5-year, $2.1 billion plan. The government will pay states and territories, which then will be responsible for administering care to improve waiting times and help more low-income concession card holders.

According to the government, coverage will expand to all children younger than the age of 18 as well as to 5 million low-income adults. It also will include an expanded range of Commonwealth-subsidized, clinically necessary treatment not covered by the CDBS.

“We are significantly increasing Commonwealth investment in frontline public dental health services, and we expect the result to be an extra 600,000 public dental patients treated every year as a direct result,” said Sussan Ley, minister for health.

The Australian Dental Association opposes these changes. The group attributes the CDBS’s low turnout to ineffective promotion and unrealistic initial targets. Also, it says the new plan represents a funding cut that will burden dental services and patients alike. It has since launched a campaign to save the CDBS.

“The state and territory public sector dental services are already overextended with waiting lists of between 9 months to 3 years, depending on which state you consider,” said association president Dr. Rick Olive. “What is happening is the government is promising delivery but it is doing it in such a way that the services will not, in fact, be accessible. It’s smoke and mirrors.”

The July 2 Federal Election in Australia will determine all 226 members of the 45th Parliament. Once the new government has been established, it will decide whether or not the CDBS will continue or if the Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme will be implemented.

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The Foundation for Dental Laboratory Technology (FDLT) has awarded its 2016 Sterngold Grant to Pasadena City College, which will receive $1,250 in product donations from Sterngold Dental. The company and the foundation created this grant to help make higher-level education more accessible and support the future of dental laboratory technology.

“Through both cash contributions and product donations, Sterngold’s support enables the Foundation to offer more grants and scholarships to interested candidates for advanced education as well as provide direct support to educational institutions’ dental laboratory programs,” said Jeff Stronk, chair of the FDLT.

As a nonprofit 501c (3) organization, the FDLT was developed to advance the profession of dental laboratory technology by addressing industry-driven needs and providing solutions that are relevant and accessible to dental technicians and other members of the dental team.

The FDLT relies on donations from individuals and companies to fund its scholarship and grant programs. Sterngold Dental has pledged $10,000 to the FDLT in both cash and product donations to support the future of dental laboratory technology. To support the foundation, visit nadl.org/dltf/donate-online.cfm.

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Students from across the globe continue to come to the United States for dental school, which is no surprise as Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings has listed 15 US programs in the 2016 edition of its top 50 dental schools in the world. And while the University of Hong Kong took the top slot, the University of Michigan followed at number 2—a leap up from its fourth place showing last year.

“The School of Dentistry has a 140-year tradition of leading the way in dental education,” said Dr. Laurie McCauley, dean of the school. “We are committed to providing the best possible environment for our students to engage in an education as unique as they are, for our faculty to be creative scholars, and for our staff to fulfill their goals.”

QS scored each school’s academic reputation, employer reputation, and research citations per paper on a scale of zero to 100 and averaged these totals for each final score. Surveyed academics and employers identified up to 10 domestic and 30 international institutions they considered excellent, while GS used Scopus to determine the citation tallies.

“This recognition is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of an outstanding group of students, a world-class faculty, and exceptional staff,” said Dr. Renée E. Duff, assistant dean for student services. “Working together, we continually strive to be the leaders and best in teaching, research, and patient care.”

Meanwhile, the staff at the University of Hong Kong cites the school’s clinical sessions and problem-based discussions as key factors in its success. It actively recruits academics from around the world to meet the evolving educational demands of its students—a population that continues to grow to serve the needs of the territory’s citizens.

“In order to address the shortage of dentists in Hong Kong, we will take in more undergraduate students,” said Thomas Frank Flemmig, dean of the Faculty of Dentistry. “There will be an approximately 40% increase in the number of students admitted to the Bachelor of Dental Surgery Program in the fall of this year.”

The Prince Philip Dental Hospital, which is where the school is located, will need to undergo a significant reconfiguration to accommodate these larger incoming classes. The school is the sole educational center for dentists in Hong Kong, and two thirds of the dentists practicing in the territory were educated there.

Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, was ranked third, falling from number one last year. King’s College London was fourth on the international list. The University of Gothenburg, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven, University College London, Universidade de Sao Paulo, and New York University rounded out the top 10.

“Rising to fourth in the global rankings reaffirms our position as a world-class institution and reflects the dedication, commitment, and innovation of our academic and professional staff, our students, and our alumni,” said Dianne Rekow, executive dean and professor at King’s Dental Institute.

Other U.S. dental schools in the top 50 include the following:

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The U.S. Department of Labor has updated its rules on overtime wages for salaried employees. Effective December 1, 2016, salaried workers who make $47,476 a year (or $913 a week) or less will be entitled to overtime pay after 40 hours. The previous threshold was $23,660 a year (or $455 a week).

“The updates will impact 4.2 million workers who will either gain new overtime protections or get a raise to the new salary threshold,” said Heidi Shierholz, chief economist at the Department of Labor.

The department also reports that 56% of these workers are women, and 53% of these workers have at least a 4-year college degree. Also, 61% are age 35 or older, and 1.5 million of them are parents of children under the age of 18.

According to the ADA, about 39% of all dental offices have at least one employee in a salaried position. Exemptions to the rule include bona fide executive, administrative, professional, and outside sales employees, as well as certain computer employees.

The threshold will be updated every 3 years to match the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-income region of the country. Also, bonuses and incentive programs can count toward up to 10% of the new salary level, as long as they are provided at least quarterly.

According to salary.com, the median annual dental hygienist salary in the United States, as of April 26, 2016, is $68,143, with a range usually between $58,482 and $77,562. The median annual dental assistant salary is $34,446 as of April 26, ranging from $30,575 to $38,086.

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Employees at Ivoclar Vivadent’s North American headquarters in Amherst, NY, recently collaborated with the Food Bank of Western NY in Buffalo for Food Drive Challenge 2016. Seven teams comprising different combinations of company departments competed to collect the most food, which will be distributed among the hundreds of local food pantries and provide more than 1,000 meals. In total, 3,611 pounds of food were collected.

“Our employees are extremely generous, and it has been amazing to see what they’ve accomplished to support our local community,” said Sarah Anders, MBA, chief operating officer of Ivoclar Vivadent. “They all represent Ivoclar Vivadent so well, and on behalf of the Food Bank of Western NY in Buffalo and the entire management team, we thank them for their outstanding efforts and contributions.”

The Purple Team, comprising the finance, information services, information technologies, and outsourcing technology and commercial departments, won with 1,194 pounds of food. The Yellow Team, comprising the human resources, national accounts, office services, and production/inventory and logistics departments, was second with 77 pounds. In third place was the Red Team, comprising the technology, quality assurance, education, technical services, and intellectual property departments, with 489 pounds.

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Due to the ongoing lead crisis, many children in the Flint area of Michigan now drink bottled water, which typically doesn’t include fluoride. Or, they’re drinking more sugar-sweetened beverages instead of tap water, further putting their teeth at risk of tooth decay.

To combat these obstacles, the Delta Dental Foundation is providing $204,000 to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Mott Children’s Health Center to support free fluoride rinse and varnish programs for students.

“The fluoride rinse and varnish programs are safe and effective interventions for children who do not get enough fluoride in their drinking water,” said Carol Lutey, director for child and adolescent dentistry at the Mott Children’s Health Center.

Starting June 1, up to 6,000 children in kindergarten through sixth grade in the Flint Community Schools summer programs will receive fluoride rinses. Also, up to 2,000 students attending Head Start programs in Genesee County will receive fluoride varnish applications this fall.

The fluoride rinse program will expand to surrounding schools later this year. A team from the University of Michigan Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit will evaluate the programs for their effectiveness.

“Fluoride is very important for good oral health,” said Teri Battaglieri, director of the Delta Dental Foundation. “It helps to prevent tooth decay, which is the most common chronic childhood illness in the United States.”

“Our priority remains on ensuring that children and families in Flint have access to all of the health services they need,” said Nick Lyon, director of MDHHS. “These programs made possible by our partnership with the Delta Dental Foundation are vital as we move forward in providing Flint residents with access to good, healthy resources.”

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Comedian Jerry Seinfeld will perform a private standup act for attendees at Dentsply Sirona’s SIROWORLD 2016 in Orlando, Fla, on Thursday evening, August 11.

“Jerry Seinfeld is a comedic titan and we’re ecstatic to welcome him to our lineup of entertainment this year!” said Michael Augins, group senior vice president of the company’s US commercial organization.

Along with his eponymous sitcom, which ran on NBC for 9 seasons, Seinfeld is known for his standup work and books. His latest project, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, is now in its seventh season online.

“After a full day of educational sessions and training, his performance at SIROWORLD is sure to give the audience a boost of energy that will carry throughout the remainder of the event,” said Augins.

Scheduled for August 11 through August 13 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, SIROWORLD 2016 will offer groundbreaking and informative educational sessions and copious networking opportunities in addition to astonishing entertainment, according to Dentsply Sirona.

Early bird registration rates are now available through May 31, including doctor registration at $1,695 and staff, spouse, guest, and technician registration at $995.

VIP tickets, which include reserved seating, upgraded dining, and special admittance into entertainment including Seinfeld’s performance, cost an additional $500.

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The nutrition label included on packaged food in the United States is about to get a makeover with a spotlight on added sugars among other changes, courtesy of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“For more than 20 years, Americans have relied on the Nutrition Facts label as a leading source of information regarding calories, fat, and other nutrients to help them understand more about the foods they eat in a day,” said FDA commissioner Robert Califf, MD.

“The updated label makes improvements to this valuable resource so consumers can make more informed food choices—one of the most important steps a person can take to reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity,” Califf said.

In their 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the US Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture recommend a limit of less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars.

These departments define added sugars as sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. In addition to heart disease and obesity, these additives increase consumers’ risks for diabetes and tooth decay.

“We need more data about the extent to which dental caries rates fluctuate with changes in total added sugar consumption and over what periods of time,” said Dr. Carol Gomez Summerhays, president of the ADA. “Until we have better data, limiting added sugar intake to less than 10% of energy intake seems like a reasonable public health goal.”

The new label will list the total amount of sugar per serving in grams as well as the total amount of added sugars, also in grams, plus the percentage of the recommended daily value that these sugars represent based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet.

“For years, we’ve encouraged consumers to monitor—and minimize—their added sugar intake,” said Gomez Summerhays. “Now they can do so simply by reading a nutrition label.”

The new label design also will highlight calories and servings with requirements for serving sizes that more closely reflect the amounts of food that people actually eat. These habits have changed since the last serving size requirements were published in 1993.

The daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D also have been updated to be consistent with Institute of Medicine recommendations and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Calories from fat have been removed, because research shows that the type of fat is more important than the amount.

“I am thrilled that the FDA has finalized a new and improved Nutrition Facts label that will be on food products nationwide,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “This is going to make a real difference in providing families across the country the information they need to make healthy choices.”

Most food manufacturers will be required to use the new label by July 26, 2018. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to comply with the new rules. The FDA will conduct outreach and education about the new requirements.

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