The DMD Check-Up: Addressing the Opioid Crisis

December 16, 2016
Greg Kelly

Dentists are in a unique position to counsel patients about what a narcotic prescription means and to be "thoughtful and responsible" when writing those scripts, one news report says.

This week's list of must-read news stories for dentists includes:

Paying California Dentists More to Treat Poor (California Healthline)

A new bill in the California legislature “would require the Department of Health Care Services, which oversees Denti-Cal, to boost pay for participating dentists. California’s reimbursements for these dentists have long been among the lowest in the nation,” remaining unchanged for 15 years.

Most Popular Gifts for Dentists (Dentistry UK)

Tis the season: “Chocolates and other edible gifts (87%) are the most popular gifts for dentists, according to a new Dental Defence Union survey in the UK. Alcohol (40%) came in second as the most popular gift choice.”

The 32 Most Influential People in Dentistry (Incisal Edge)

“In dentistry, a multibillion-dollar health-care industry that's home to some of the nation's most innovative and interesting people, no ranking of ‘influence’ existed until now.” Incisal Edge “has released its inaugural list of the most influential people in dentistry, 32 such ‘voices’—one for every tooth, of course.”

Dentists Reassess Their Role Amid Growing Opioid Crisis (Newsworks)

Dental professionals “have long occupied a rather overlooked position when it comes to addressing pain.” While physicians have taken the spotlight, dentists are also frequent prescribers of immediate-release opioids. Dentists are in a unique position to counsel patients about what a narcotic prescription means and to be "thoughtful and responsible" when writing those scripts.

Fear Leads to Do-it-Yourself Dental Care in UK (Mirror)

“A quarter of people have attempted DIY dental care, rather than visiting a dentist, according to a survey by Sapphire Braces. While fear of the dentist prevents some people from seeking treatment, 41% of those surveyed said the price of treatment puts them off booking an appointment.”

Dental Savings Plans Key to the Oral Healthcare Crisis (Yahoo!)

“Dental savings plans provide an affordable option for the uninsured and under-insured. With a dental savings plan, members gain access to a network of dentists who have agreed to offer reduced rates to plan members—typically 10% to 60% off the cost of virtually all dental care needs and treatments.”

Gum Disease Bacteria Linked to Rheumatoid Arthritis (Science Daily)

Johns Hopkins investigators have “new evidence that a bacterium known to cause chronic inflammatory gum infections also triggers the inflammatory ‘autoimmune’ response characteristic of chronic, joint-destroying rheumatoid arthritis.”

Cleft Lip and Palate Problems Linked to Abnormal Salivary Glands (Science Daily)

“A new study in the Journal of Dental Research suggests that dental problems commonly associated with cleft lip and palate may be caused by abnormalities in salivary glands and an imbalance of immune compounds in the mouth.” According to the CDC, cleft lip and palate is one of the most common birth defects in the U.S.

If You Think US Medical Care Is Broken, Take a Look at Dental Care (Forbes)

Sorry state: Dental care “‘is one of the largest unmet health needs in the U.S.,’ said Elizabeth Mertz, an associate professor in the School of Dentistry at the University of California, San Francisco. As a result, cavities and gum disease are two of the most common chronic health problems that Americans suffer—though they are also among the most preventable.”

Augmented Reality Glasses Help Dentists (ABC.net.au)

“Augmented reality glasses that allow dentists to speed up procedures and help students learn faster are being used at the University of Western Australia. The new technology will allow the dentist to stay within the operating area, rather than refer to a computer, and it is expected the advancement will help the practitioner see an extra patient per day.”

More Oral Healthcare at Federally Qualified Health Centers (Newswire)

“Despite efforts to increase dental visits at federally qualified health centers, only 21% of people who use those facilities received dental services in 2015, according to the UCLA School of Dentistry and Fielding School of Public Health. Solutions include adding dental clinics at federally qualified health centers and providing support for infrastructure enhancements and quality improvement.”

Teeth May Reveal a Multi-Day Biological Clock (Quanta Magazine)

“Tiny lines laid down by tooth enamel appear to reveal a previously unknown biological rhythm. If confirmed, the finding could help researchers understand why big animals grow slower—and live longer—than small ones,” according to a report on a New York University paleoanthropologist.