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The DentaQuest Foundation has awarded Oral Health America (OHA) a $668,000 grant to expand the Wisdom Tooth Project and increase efforts in advocating for publicly funded dental coverage for older Americans. The national Wisdom Tooth Project educates older adults and their caregivers, connects communities with support and resources to access care, and advocates for the oral health of older adults, particularly those who are most vulnerable. 

“Maintaining a healthy mouth is one of the keys to independence as we age because of the vital connection to overall health and well-being,” said Beth Truett, OHA president and CEO. “Thanks to the generosity of the DentaQuest Foundation, OHA stands to gain more widespread support for this important movement by working collaboratively on the national and state levels to bring adult dental benefits to Medicare.”

The DentaQuest Foundation has been supporting OHA’s efforts in older adult oral health since 2010. This grant and partnership will enable OHA to lead and strengthen the oral health and aging network to elevate the relationship between oral health and overall health among legislators, advocacy groups, and consumers, according to the organization. 

“Now is the time for alignment and collaborative leadership in the movement to secure oral health coverage for all,” said Michael Monopoli, executive director of the DentaQuest Foundation. “We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with OHA in its efforts to mobilize national, state, and community organizations to come together to make dental benefits and improved oral health available to all older adults.”

OHA aims to build the network and infrastructure necessary to move toward the eventual inclusion of an oral health benefit in Medicare. Efforts will focus on the following: aligning key leaders in the network; further developing 3 working groups—policy and procedure, marketing and communications, and politics; and providing a way for states and grassroots organizations to become more involved in the network.

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Henry Schein recently saluted the Washington, DC, chapter of the Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity for its participation in the Alpha Omega-Henry Schein Cares Holocaust Survivors Oral Health Program, which provides free dental care to Holocaust survivors in need. Launched in November 2014 in response to the White House’s call to help survivors age with dignity and respect, the program has treated more than 500 people across the country.

“The oral health professionals being honored embody the spirit of generosity and kindness that serve as Alpha Omega’s guiding principles,” said Ben Williamowsky, DDS, ambassador of the Washington, DC, chapter. “Without their selfless volunteerism, local Holocaust survivors would not get the treatment they need. We thank them for their work and for setting an example for all of us.”

“The Alpha Omega-Henry Schein Cares Holocaust Survivors Oral Health Program’s impact can be measured in the restored function and smiles of the many people who have been treated thus far,” said Steven W. Kess, vice president of global professional relations at Henry Schein and the program’s co-chair. “These patients have lived through the unimaginable and survived incredible trauma, and we at Henry Schein thank Alpha Omega’s Washington, DC, chapter for contributing so greatly to this program’s success.”

The program provides care to people identified by the network of Jewish Family and Children’s Service agencies or other identified partner organizations as well as people of any faith who were victims of Nazi persecution and meet the program’s eligibility requirements. In addition to financial need, participation is prioritized by 3 factors: the elimination of pain, restoration of function, and lack of dental coverage. Clinicians determine each patient’s scope of care.

According to Henry Schein, a quarter of the 120,000 Holocaust survivors in the United States live in poverty. They often have special oral health needs since they suffered from prolonged nutritional deprivation and had little to no dental care access as children during World War II. The participating dentists were honored at a reception held at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md, where the office of Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md, presented Williamowsky with a Congressional Citation.

“Alpha Omega’s Washington, DC, chapter has shown that kindness and charity can have an incredible impact on the health and happiness of people in need,” said program co-chair and AO past international president Avi Wurman, DDS. “These oral health practitioners have helped Holocaust survivors eat without pain and smile proudly, and we thank them for upholding the ideals to which Alpha Omega’s members aspire.”

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Dentists who want to help the next generation of professionals navigate an ever-changing career will have an opportunity to do so at the Chicago Midwinter Meeting’s Mentor Luncheon, scheduled for 11:30 am to 1:30 pm on Thursday, February 23 in Room CC10 of the Hyatt Regency McCormick Corporate Center, attached to the McCormick Place West Building.

Through the Chicago Dental Society (CDS) Mentor Program, member dentists assist dental students, pre-dental students, and even new dentists in Illinois, primarily in the Chicagoland area. And according to the CDS, the organization needs more mentors than ever before to ensure a one-to-one match of dentists with mentees.

During the luncheon, dentists and students will have an opportunity to meet—in some instances for the first time—and spend an informational afternoon together as they build relationships that will be beneficial for both parties. For more information, visit or email Lisa Hosley, assistant director of member services, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

All work and no play makes for a dull dentistry conference. That’s why the Chicago Dental Society (CDS) has lined up a variety of fun and informative events for this year’s Chicago Midwinter Meeting (CMW) where attendees can eat, meet, and enjoy themselves, and even dance the night away.

Sports fans and anyone else interested in learning the secrets to success can join the Opening Session with John F. McDonough, president and CEO of the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks, on Thursday, February 23 in the Ballroom at McCormick Place West. Doors will open at 5 pm, and the program will start at 5:30 pm.

McDonough will discuss leadership as the cornerstone of success with CDS president Philip Fijal, DDS. Since McDonough joined the Blackhawks in 2007, the team has won the Stanley Cup 3 times, in 2010, 2013, and 2015. The Open Session also will salute the winners of the Gordon J. Christensen Award, the Cushing Award, and the CDS Foundation Vision Award.

Take a break from the scrubs and masks of typical dental attire and experience haute couture with the annual Fashion Show and Luncheon. ZZAZZ Products will present the latest styles in a high-energy, visually dazzling production on Friday, February 24 in the Hyatt Chicago Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom. There will be a cash bar reception at 11:30 am, and doors will open at noon.

Also on February 24, CDS will present the New Dentist Reception for those who have been a dentist for 10 years or fewer, from 5 pm to 6:30 pm in the 270 Restaurant at McCormick Place West. Cocktails and food will be served as these new professionals have an opportunity to both network and relax with their contemporaries.

Don’t forget your cowboy boots, as popular cover band American Country puts on a set of classic and contemporary hits on February 24 at Park West. The band prides itself on meticulous recreations of the genre’s greatest artists and performances. Doors will open at 8 pm, and the show will start at 9 pm.

Finally, trade those boots for black tie (optional, of course) at the President’s Dinner Dance, wrapping up the 2017 CMW on Saturday, February 25 at the Hyatt Chicago Hotel Crystal Ballroom. There will be a reception from 7 to 7:30 pm, followed by seating for dinner. The High Society Orchestra will be on hand to sweep guests out of their seats and onto the floor.

For tickets for all of these events and other information, visit


The Chicago Midwinter Meeting offers more than 200 educational opportunities as well as more than 700 exhibitors, all spread out over 170,000 square feet of exhibit space. To help attendees navigate this physical and informational maze, the Chicago Dental Society (CDS) offers a free app that’s compatible with all Android and iOS smartphones and tablets.

The app features a 2-D map that lets attendees plot routes to visit any exhibitor they want. Also, users can access their course schedule by logging in and registering their badge number. Plus, they can sync their schedule with their LinkedIn profile. PDF handouts from speakers will be viewable through the app, too. So will online continuing education certification.

Additionally, the app’s Virtual Tradeshow Bag gives attendees access to special offers that will be available throughout the Exhibit Hall. Other features will let users network with other attendees and stay connected on social media. And if you’re feeling lucky, download the app, log in, and update your profile to possibly win a gift card each day of the meeting.

The app is available at the iTunes and Google Play stores.


Volunteers of America Michigan teamed up with the Delta Dental Foundation to open a dental clinic that will provide care to the homeless in Lansing, Mich. Located at the region’s largest homeless service center, it is expected to serve 2,000 patients each year. 

“It’s nearly impossible to find a job or focus on the tasks required for daily life when you suffer from poor oral health or tooth pain,” said Teri Battaglieri, director of the Delta Dental Foundation, which also noted that 41% of homeless people experience dental plain.

“We are proud to fund this clinic, the first of its kind in the region, and provide these individuals with access to high quality dental care so they can be free of pain and find success in life,” said Battaglieri.

The Delta Dental Foundation provided a $322,404 grant to launch the clinic, which opened on Tuesday, February 14. It is located next door to the Sparrow medical practice, which opened in 2014 inside of the Volunteers of America shelter and homeless service center.

“Until now, we have failed to deliver on the need for dental care for homeless people,” said Patrick Patterson, executive vice president of Volunteers of America Michigan. “Many suffer with the misery of daily pain, lost teeth, poor nutrition, and whole body disease that arises from poor oral health. This is going to change that.”

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Children’s Medical Center of Dallas has paid a $3.2 million civil penalty to the US Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The practice was fined for its impermissible disclosure of unsecured electronic protected health information (ePHI) and noncompliance across many years with multiple standards of the HIPAA Security Rule.

On January 18, 2010, the pediatric hospital filed a breach report with OCR indicating the loss of an unencrypted, non-password-protected BlackBerry device at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on November 19, 2009. The device contained the ePHI of approximately 3,800 individuals. 

On July 5, 2013, Children’s Medical Center filed a separate breach report of the theft of an unencrypted laptop from its premises between April 4 and April 9, 2013. The hospital reported that the laptop included the ePHI of 2,462 individuals. 

Although Children’s Medical Center had implemented some physical safeguards to the laptop storage area, such as badge access and a security camera at one of its entrances, it also provided access to the area to workforce not authorized to access ePHI.

Specifically, the OCR cited the hospital’s failure to implement risk management plans contrary to prior external recommendations to do so as well as its failure to deploy encryption or an equivalent alternative measure on all of its laptops, workstations, mobile devices, and removable storage media until April 9, 2013.

Despite the hospital’s knowledge about the risk of maintaining unencrypted ePHI on its devices as far back as 2007, it issued unencrypted BlackBerry devices to its nurses and allowed its personnel to continue using unencrypted laptops and other mobile devices until 2013. Children’s Medical Center is part of Children’s Health, the seventh largest pediatric healthcare provider in the United States. 

“Ensuring adequate security precautions to protect health information, including identifying any security risks and immediately correcting them, is essential,” said OCR acting director Robinsue Frohboese. “Although OCR prefers to settle cases and assist entities in implementing corrective action plans, a lack of risk management not only costs individuals the security of their data, but it can also cost covered entities a sizable fine.”

The OCR has posted its Notice of Proposed Determination and Notice of Final Determination on its website. Its summary of the HIPAA Security Rule also is available online. Further information about nondiscrimination and health information privacy laws, civil rights, privacy rights in healthcare and human service settings, and filing a complaint are available at

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On December 15, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule requiring dental facilities to use amalgam separators to protect the public from the dangers of mercury waste based on practices recommended by the ADA. The rule was scheduled to be published in the January 24 Federal Register, which would have made it official. 

Now, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is suing the EPA for illegally withdrawing that rule without public notice or an opportunity for comment. The EPA initially expected the rule to reduce the discharge of mercury into publicly owned treatment works by at least 5.1 tons each year, along with 5.3 tons of other metals in waste amalgam.

“The Trump White House ordered the EPA and other agencies to violate the law. That puts Americans at greater risk of exposure to this dangerous neurotoxin, which can do harm even in tiny amounts,” said Aaron Colangelo, litigation director at the NRDC. “EPA’s withdrawal of the mercury rule is not just illegal, but senseless. The rule imposes minimal burden, drew widespread praise from dental providers, and benefits public health and the environment.”

The EPA withdrew the Mercury Effluent Rule before its publication in the Federal Register in response to a January 20 memo from the newly inaugurated Trump administration. The memo ordered federal agencies to freeze all new or pending regulations, including the Mercury Effluent Rule, that had not yet been published in the Federal Register or otherwise taken effect.

“The ADA shares the EPA’s goal of ensuring that dental amalgam waste is captured so that it may be recycled,” said Gary L. Roberts, DDS, president of the ADA, in December when the final rule was first issued. “We believe this new rule, which is a federal standard, is preferable to a patchwork of rules and regulations across various states and localities.” 

Mercury can disrupt brain function and harm the nervous system, with negative implications for IQ, memory, language, and fine motor skills. It is especially harmful to pregnant women, babies, and young children, even at tiny levels of exposure. It can enter air and water in the environment through amalgam cavity fillings washed down the drain at dental offices.

Mercury that enters waterways is converted to the very toxic methylmercury and ingested by fish. When human beings eat these fish, they absorb methylmercury into their bloodstreams. Fish consumption is the main source of methylmercury exposure in the United States, and the NRDC reports that mercury contamination of fish stock is widespread in the nation.

“The Mercury Effluent Rule is designed to require dental offices to remove mercury when it is still in amalgam form, which is much simpler and cheaper than requiring wastewater treatment facilities to remove it once it has been diluted,” said Mae Wu, senior attorney with the NRDC Health Program. 

Most of the 130,000 dental offices in the United States still use or remove amalgam fillings, and fewer than half of them would need to install equipment to reduce mercury discharges, as many already have separators due to mandatory state programs, the NRDC reports. Amalgam separators cost dental offices an average of about $800 per year. 

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