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Researchers in China have found that individuals with periodontal disease have a 1.24-fold increased risk of developing lung cancer. Also, individuals who drink, smoke, or have diabetes have a 1.36-fold increase in lung cancer risk. And, women with periodontal disease are more likely than men with periodontal disease to develop lung cancer.

The research assessed the findings of 5 cohort studies that evaluated 321,420 participants. One of the studies suggested that certain oral bacteria might be involved in the development of cancer cells in the lungs. Another study indicated that successful treatment of periodontal disease might substantially reduce the risk of lung cancer.

“This report can be added to the body of literature that associates periodontal disease with other conditions in the body, including diabetes and heart disease,” said Wayne A. Aldredge, DMD, president of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP).

“While additional research is needed on the possible links between lung cancer and periodontal disease, we know for sure that taking care of your teeth and gums can reduce periodontal risk and possibly the risk of other systemic conditions,” Aldredge said.

According to the AAP, periodontal disease affects half of all Americans age 30 years and older and is 2.5 times more prevalent than diabetes. The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men and women, surpassing the totals for colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. The ACS also expects 158,000 Americans to die from lung cancer this year.

The study, “Periodontal Disease and Incident Lung Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies,” was published by the Journal of Periodontology.

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Aroostook and Penobscot Counties in Maine are facing significant shortages of dental healthcare providers. To address this need, the University of New England (UNE) College of Dental Medicine has dispatched its first group of fourth-year dental students to complete 12-week clinical rotations there.

Known as Key Oral Health Scholars, these students are the first participants in the Key to Oral Health Program, a joint initiative of UNE and KeyBank of Maine designed to meet the growing lack of oral health services in the region. For example, 15 of 16 counties in Maine have been identified as dental health shortage areas, with many practicing dentists approaching retirement age in the next 5 to 10 years.

The Key Oral Health Scholars were chosen for their commitment to serving rural and underserved areas of Maine and their residents. They also have demonstrated a strong history of community service, offered a meaningful vision for addressing critical oral health problems in the state, and outlined a service-learning project that they will implement.

Each student will receive a comprehensive package including scholarship support, housing stipends, travel assistance, and dedicated funding to engage the community in robust service projects. The program’s long-term goal is to encourage students to return and build practices in these underserved areas after graduation.

As these students work in Federally Qualified and other health centers, they will also work with the public in providing oral health education in area schools and senior centers. The program will connect them with business leaders and local dental professionals as well, facilitating the development of relationships with community members.

The 2016 Key Oral Health Scholar award recipients are:

  • Thanh Huynh of Da Nang, Vietnam
  • Adam L’Italien of Enfield, Maine
  • Dustin Nadeau of Brunswick, Maine
  • Nathan O’Neill of Calais, Maine
  • Dzhuliya Servetnik of Westfield, Mass
  • Chelsea Toussaint of Madawaska, Maine

The 3-year project will comprise 12 Key Oral Health Scholars. UNE expects these students to deliver 4,000 to 5,000 oral healthcare patient visits before the program concludes. The project also is supported by the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, the Fisher Charitable Foundation, and the PD Merrill Charitable Trust.

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The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union, with Prime Minister David Cameron announcing plans to resign and the financial markets in tumult in the election’s wake. However, the British Dental Association (BDA) has pledged to assess and keep its members advised on the full implications of the withdrawal.

“We did not take a position in this referendum. Our prerogative is to ensure this profession is heard by any governments making decisions that impact on care, wherever they are based, and whatever happens at the ballot box. Today, that role remains unchanged,” said Mick Armstrong, chair of the BDA.

Legislation in the European Union affects dentistry in the United Kingdom in a number of ways, including the movement of dentists and dental care professionals, the import of dental equipment and materials, and health and safety regulations. The BDA has been a member of the Council of European Dentists and has worked with the European Union and other international bodies on a range of issues, such as the phase-down of dental amalgam.

“At this early stage we do not know what shape Brexit will take, but it could certainly mean significant changes for both dental regulation and the dental workforce,” Armstrong said. “We will aim to ensure withdrawl works for dentists. We will offer support, advice, and protect the interests of our membership and work with our international partners where UK dentists can benefit.”

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The International Association for Dental Research (IADR) recognized professor Michael Paine of the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry at the University of Southern California (USC) with its Distinguished Scientist Award for Basic Research in Biological Mineralization this week at its annual conference in Seoul, South Korea.

“This is one of the highest honors in dental research,” said Yang Chai, DDS, Ostrow’s associate dean of research and the 2011 winner of the IADR’s Distinguished Scientist Award for Craniofacial Biology Research. “We are extremely proud of Michael for being this year’s winner.

During the past 20 years, Paine has published nearly 80 papers on enamel formation. Since enamel doesn’t regenerate or repair itself on its own, understanding how it develops could revolutionize how dentists treat erosion, caries, and even trauma, Paine said.

“The idea that you’re contributing to the literature and adding novel insight into the biological process of enamel formation is satisfying,” Paine said. “It’s important work to the people who are trying to make better dental materials for various applications.”

Paine joined Ostrow’s Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology in 1994 as a research associate. Since 2000, he has received continuous funding from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) to continue his work.

Additionally, Paine is the director of the craniofacial biology graduate program at Ostrow, which recently received a National Institutes of Health/NIDCR grant to provide stipends for student and postdoctoral researchers to cover living expenses, salaries, tuition, medical insurance, and laboratory reagents.

“Ostrow provides a very nurturing environment,” he said. “The dental school and USC in general are very supportive of the faculty and students who devote a significant amount of time doing research.”

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Bacteria that resist antibiotics are a growing danger, prompting researchers to investigate alternative methods for fighting disease. For example, the Perio Tray from Perio Protect uses oxidative and oxygenating agents following the guidelines for chronic wound care to provide non-antibiotic therapy for gum disease.

Also known as biofilms, bacterial communities that cause infections leading to gum disease lie deep in periodontal pockets. These spaces between the teeth and gums are hard to reach with toothbrushes, rinses, and floss. But they also are unique spaces for chemotherapeutic modalities of care because they can be topically accessed.

Keeping medicaments deep in these pockets for a significant amount of time can be a challenge. The Perio Tray, though, is specially fabricated with internal peripheral seals and extensions to place and hold medication deep in these pockets. According to Perio Protect, it can deliver medication into pockets as deep as 9 mm.

Even at a low concentration of 1.7%, the company says, hydrogen peroxide can be a highly effective antimicrobial when delivered and held deep in the pockets with the Perio Tray. It can break down the protein chains in bacterial cell walls, lysising the cell wall and killing the bacterium. Also, the oxygen the peroxide released under the Perio Tray’s pressure changes the pocket’s microenvironment.

Furthermore, the oxygen is toxic to anaerobes, helps promote a healthy oral flora, and fosters the growth of new blood vessels. Combined with professional dental cleanings, Perio Protect says, the Perio Tray with 1.7% hydrogen peroxide is only needed for minutes each day. Used at home between professional cleanings, the company says, it limits biofilm’s ability to reproduce and trigger inflammation for better long-term results.

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VIP tickets for Dentsply Sirona’s SIROWORLD, scheduled for August 11-13 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, will no longer be available after Friday, July 15. All attendees can upgrade to the VIP package for an additional $500. The VIP package includes:

  • Exclusive VIP registration and lounge area;
  • Special seating during general sessions and entertainment events, including Jerry Seinfeld and OneRepublic;
  • VIP reception area during the welcome reception, including special access to a reserved bar and special lounge seating;
  • Exclusive VIP area at the closing party on Saturday, August 13 with upgraded food and beverage options.

SIROWORLD also will offer 11 specialized tracks with more than 100 educational breakout sessions and more than 95 speakers from all fields of dentistry, as well as marketing professionals and business leaders, with up to 18 continuing education credits available.

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will provide $156 million to support 420 health centers in 47 states as well as in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to increase access to integrated oral healthcare services and improve oral health outcomes.

These health centers will use the funding to expand the oral healthcare services that they provide and increase the number of patients that they serve. According to HHS, these centers will hire approximately 1,600 new dentists, dental hygienists, assistants, aides, and technicians to treat nearly 785,000 new patients.

“Oral health is an important part of our overall physical health and well-being,” said HHS secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “The funding we are awarding will reduce barriers to quality dental care for hundreds of thousands of Americans by bringing new oral health providers to health centers across the country.”

HHS acknowledges that oral health problems can indicate illness elsewhere in the body. Additionally, the department recognizes that lack of access to preventive and routine dental care for underserved populations can result in dental conditions requiring more costly emergency dental treatment.

“The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will continue to explore ways to further integrate oral health services within primary care settings and increase awareness of the connection between oral health and overall health,” said HRSA acting administrator Jim Macrae.

All HRSA-funded health centers were eligible to apply for the awards. All applications were reviewed by an objective review committee comprising experts from outside the federal government reviewed all applications after they were approved for eligibility. The committee then scored and ranked the applications, and the HRSA provided funding accordingly.

The health centers in California will receive more than $24 million. Those in New York will receive $8.65 million. Florida’s health centers will receive $7.6 million. Missouri’s health centers will receive almost $7.5 million. Ohio’s health centers will receive almost $6.5 million. And, North Carolina’s health centers will receive $5.25 million.

Health centers in Nevada, Wyoming, and North Dakota won’t be receiving this funding, either because the HRSA did not receive applications from any health centers in those states or because the applications that were received did not score high enough to be awarded funding. Applications to HRSA are considered pre-decisional, so the administration cannot comment further on why the centers in those states did not receive any funding.

Nearly 1,400 health centers operate approximately 9,800 service delivery sites in each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin, employing more than 170,000 workers who treat nearly 23 million patients. In 2014, these employees included more than 3,700 dentists, more than 1,600 dental hygienists, and more than 7,400 dental assistants, technicians, and aides, serving about 4.7 million patients in nearly 12 million oral health visits.

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Do you need more mail in your life? I didn’t think so. I can’t say I personally sit around thinking to myself, “Man, I would be so much happier if I had more junk mail to sort through.” In fact, if my physician’s office sent me a newsletter, there is a better chance it would end up in the recycling bin than in my hands sitting around the pool. Are we really that narcissistic as dentists? Why do we think our patients want to read about us? I’m going to brutally honest here—they don’t.

You may think I’m crazy for limiting my direct mail, but I can tell you right now, I’m not! Sure, I can see some benefit of keeping our practice top of mind. And if you really enjoy putting together a newsletter, go for it. What I am saying is that you don’t have to send out birthday cards, holiday cards, contest announcements, and more to have a wildly successful practice. I personally don’t enjoy doing this type of marketing. I don’t like paying someone to organize, create, and mail something that’s not going to be worthwhile for my practice and will likely just end up in the trash without ever being read. What a waste, right?

Many years ago, however, I tried it. Even though I didn’t enjoy doing it, an “expert” told me it was really important. I didn’t trust my gut, and I should have known better. But it’s okay, because I learned an invaluable lesson. Experience without reflection is worthless. Experience with reflection is priceless! I spent thousands of dollars hiring a company and coming up with nice material to send out to patients. It was beautiful. Guess what effect it had on my production and collection levels. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. No cigar.

My point is that you don’t really need it. You don’t need to waste time and money sending out mail that is not being read and is just annoying your patients rather than attracting them. If you want a good return on investment, take that same $2,000 to $5,000 and spend it on a leadership course, on a coach, or on learning how to better connect with your patients. Those things will have a tremendous effect on the success of your practice. I have never had a patient say, “Hey Doc, I don’t really like you. Your interpersonal skills are terrible. But, dang, that newsletter blew my socks off. When can we get started with treatment?” Focus on what matters. The key to success is to think like a patient, not like a dentist.

The only things I really enjoy sending my patients via direct mail are simple handwritten thank you letters, especially for writing a review or referring a patient to our office. This way they see that I noticed. They see that it made a profound impact on me enough to sit down and write them a letter, and it makes them want to do it again and again. I am sincerely thankful when my patients do these things, and these are the things that will grow my practice. I can get a lot of thank you cards with my logo on them from Vistaprint for $50. I would pay $50 for just one warm lead from a good referral any day of the week. Why not? Have you seen what the lifetime value of one good patient can be? A lot more than a whole mess of single-visit patients!

At the end of the day, maybe it is time to take an inventory of the things that you do that appear important but are only wasting your time and money. Remember, you can’t do everything. We have a finite amount of time and money for such expenses. Focus on what matters. Do the things you enjoy, and cut out the junk you don’t. There are few things I hate more than wasting money on something that I don’t like doing. Would you rather have a dentist with excellent interpersonal and communication skills, or one that sends you a cheap auto-generated birthday card or newsletter? Guess what? Our patients feel the same way!

Dr. Justin Short graduated from the Southern Illinois School of Dental Medicine in 2005. He maintains a highly successful practice in St. Louis working 10 days a month. He also is the founder of the Lifestyle Practice, where he helps other dentists profit more and work less by building their own extraordinary practices. And for more insider advice on building and growing a successful practice and improving your relationships with your patients, check out 5 Things you DON’T Need…to Have a Wildly Successful Dental Practice.

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