Today's Dental News

Oral Health Advocates Push for Dental Therapists

Oral health advocates, bolstered by favorable national reports on dental therapists, are pushing for legislation that would train and deploy mid-level providers. But the Oregon Dental Association (ODA) promises to fight any bill introduced next session.

Judith Woodruff, health work force program director with the Northwest Health Foundation, advocated for developing training programs for dental therapists, a new type of provider whose scope of practice falls between that of a dental assistant and a dentist. Dental therapists would be relatively inexpensive to train and hire, Woodruff said in testimony before the Senate Interim Committee on Health Care last week.

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Tracing Microbes Between Individuals Towards Oral Healthcare

The human body is home to a complex ecosystem of microbes increasingly recognized as having a critical role in both health and disease. Viruses can attack and change the composition of bacterial communities, yet little is known about how this might influence human health. In a new study published online in Genome Research, scientists have performed the first metagenomic analysis of a bacterial immune system in humans over time, finding that the defenses of the oral microbiome are unique and traceable, information that could help personalize oral health care in the future.

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Corporate Dentistry Debate Looming in Kansas

Under Kansas law, only a licensed dentist can own and operate a dental clinic.

A corporation cannot. It’s illegal.

It’s been that way for as long as most dentists can remember.

“The law protects the public,” said Kansas Dental Board Executive Director Betty Wright. “It puts patient care ahead corporate profits.”

Some legislators aren’t so sure that allowing corporate clinics that are owned and operated by Kansas dentists would diminish the quality of care that patients received. During a recent meeting of the Joint Committee on Health Policy Oversight, several members noted that so-called franchise clinics tend to accept more Medicaid patients.

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Reality of Tooth Decay Outweighs Concerns over Sealant

Dental sealants, the popular, thin plastic coatings applied to the grooves of teeth, can reduce tooth decay in children by more than 70 percent. While highly effective, sealants pose concerns: they’re made with bisphenol A (BPA), a controversial and ubiquitous synthetic chemical that in low doses has been associated with changes in behavior, prostate and urinary tract development and early onset of puberty.

So far, experts strongly recommend sealants based on their proven benefits and the brief exposure to BPA, which can be minimized by taking certain steps in the application process. At the same time, however, there are gaping holes in the data, including the “quality and quantity of BPA absorption,” according to a review of the literature recently published in the journal Pediatrics.

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Five Dental Trends for 2011

The face of dentistry changes each year, and 2011 will be no different. Here are the top five dental trends for 2011, brought to you by the Consumer Guide to Dentistry:

1. Smile makeovers meet BOTOX and injectables. Soon you may be visiting your dentist every few months for more than just routine cleanings and followups, especially if your dentist uses dermal fillers and BOTOX as part of overall smile makeover procedures. Because dentists are experts in smile and facial aesthetics, many are going the extra mile to offer facial injectable fillers in order to provide patients with the most comprehensive antiaging and rejuvenation experience possible.

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