The DMD Check-Up: Bad Gums Linked to Kidney Disease

February 26, 2016
Greg Kelly

Our weekly look at the top news stories for dentists.

A new study finds a link between gum disease and death from chronic kidney disease, though researchers say the link is still more mystery than answer. That story tops this week’s DMD Check-Up. Also on the list, a new high-tech electric toothbrush, and the Tooth Fairy tightens her belt.

Bad Gums Linked to Kidney Disease (Medical News Today)

Severe gum disease increases the risk of death from chronic kidney disease by 10%, a new British study warned. “We are just beginning to scratch the surface of the interplay between gum disease and other chronic diseases,” reports the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

World’s First Electric Toothbrush that Sees What You Don’t (BusinessWire)

Calling it the “most intelligent brushing system available to-date,” Oral-B is out with its Oral-B GENIUS electric toothbrush—“that combines cutting-edge motion sensor technology located in the brush, and video recognition using the smartphone’s camera, to track areas being brushed so that no zone is missed.”

Dentists Prioritizing Patient Care Over Corporate Dentistry (Seattle Times)

A hard-hitting editorial from the president-elect of the Washington State Dental Association: “In healthcare, high-quality patient care is the greatest measure of success in a competitive environment. Allies of corporate dentistry offer lucrative contracts that can explicitly prey on new dentists’ need to rapidly pay off student loans. Addressing student debt and prioritizing patient care should never be placed in opposition to each other.”

Digital Scans Make ‘Goop’ Outdated in the Dentist Chair (HomeTownLife.com)

“Virtual reality is here in dentistry.” A report about “the first dentist in Michigan and one of few in the country” to use an intraoral scanner that makes digital impressions. The system is more accurate than impression material which can be distorted by varying temperatures.

Tooth Fairy Giving Is Down 10% (The Street)

There's another indicator that the economy is softening, and it can be found under a young boy or girl's pillow at night—Tooth Fairy giving. According to a Delta Dental poll, average parent giving for a lost tooth was down to $3.91. This giving has served as a good economic indicator, historically—the annual poll has tracked with the S&P 500 for 12 out of the last 13 years.

Nearly Half of Americans Pay No Federal Income Tax (MarketWatch)

An estimated 45% of American households paid no federal income tax last year, according to data from the Tax Policy Center. The top 20% of American earners (which includes most dentists) paid the most taxes, “forking over nearly 87% of all the income tax collected by Uncle Sam.”

Dentists Have 3 Months to Enroll in Medicare or Opt Out (ADA.org)

US dentists who prescribe Part D covered drugs to Medicare beneficiaries have until June 1 to enroll in Medicare or opt out. “Any way you slice it, dentists have to take action or their patients may suffer the consequences,” said the ADA Council on Dental Benefit Programs chairman.

Dental Schools Adopt Strategy to Combat Opioid Abuse (Boston Globe)

In an effort to combat the state’s opioid crisis, several Massachusetts dental schools will teach skills in managing pain, prescribing painkillers, and detecting improper drug usage. “The curriculum will train and encourage dentists to counsel patients and collaborate with other health professionals, two areas relatively new to dental practice.”

A Simple Rule for Our Ancestors' Molar Size (Cosmos)

Some ancient dental history: “You might not think you could extract much about a whole species from a single tooth, but Australian researchers now show how our pearly whites are information goldmines—and reclassify one of our oldest relatives.”

Periodontal Disease Linked to Breast Cancer

(Medical News Today)

Postmenopausal women with periodontal disease are more likely to develop breast cancer, according to research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Female smokers are particularly affected. One possible explanation for the link is that bacteria enter the body's circulation and ultimately affect breast tissue.

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