The DMD Check-Up: Hygienists' Role in Improving Populations' Oral Health

December 9, 2016
Greg Kelly

“Research conducted by the University at Albany's Center for Health Workforce Studies finds that in states where dental hygienists are allowed by law to practice at higher levels of professional competence and skill, the population's oral health notably improves,” one news report says.

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

More Involved Dental Hygienist Improves Oral Health (Medical Xpress)

“Research conducted by the University at Albany's Center for Health Workforce Studies finds that in states where dental hygienists are allowed by law to practice at higher levels of professional competence and skill, the population's oral health notably improves.”

Pet Care Costs Can Top Human Medical Bills (CBS News)

“Pet owners may shell out as much—or more—money for their pets’ health care as they do for their own, a new report by Healthy Paws Pet Insurance suggests. Pricey new technologies and more advanced treatment options drive up costs in many cases.”

Many Americans Skip the Dentist Due to Cost (UPI)

“Americans are more likely to skip needed dental care because of cost than any other type of health care, researchers report in Health Affairs. Working-age adults are particularly vulnerable, the study found. Some 13% reported forgoing dental care because of cost.

The 25 Most Meaningful Jobs That Pay Well (Forbes)

“Jobs that meet the world’s needs don’t have to pay a pittance—good news for the growing number of professionals who want to take home competitive compensation for doing work that makes a positive difference.” Dentist is #8, with a $128,700 median salary and an 89% high job meaning. The top 7 jobs are all physicians.

Oral Health And More (Health Affairs)

Required reading for dentists—a thoughtful and respected health media entity does a solid and serious review of oral health in America. The December ‘16 Health Affairs charges that “the divide between dental care and medical care is vast, has significant consequences for patients, and is entirely of our own making.”

Time to Stop Using Bite Marks in Forensics? (EurekAlert!)

“Forensic dentists claim that they can accurately associate a bite mark to the one and only set of teeth in the world that could have produced the crime scene bite mark. There is, however, no sound basis for believing that forensic dentists can do such a thing. A new paper in Journal of Law and the Biosciences addresses the issue.

Significant Shortage of Minority Dentists in USA (Medical Xprress)

“Underrepresented minority dentists represent a smaller percentage of the dental workforce and are unevenly distributed in relation to minority populations in the United States, according to a study by researchers at UC San Francisco. They added that “evidence suggests that workforce diversity promotes social justice and increased health equity.”

Dentist Wins $22 Million Judgment (WBRC Fox 6 News)

A Tennessee dentist won a $22 million lawsuit against a TennCare dental benefits contractor. Federal jurors agreed that the company, “DentaQuest, excluded Dr. David Snodgrass from treating TennCare children because he criticized the company’s practices.”

World’s First Dental Vaccine Could End Painful Surgery (The Sun)

“According to research from Australia, a breakthrough vaccine significantly reduces the need for antibiotics and painful treatment—and may become a reality within the next few years. Clinical trials of the vaccine on patients with gum disease could begin in 2018.”

Most Utah Children Have Cavities (Deseret News Utah)

“A Utah Department of Health report revealed that about two-thirds of Utah children ages 6 to 9 have had cavities. But even more concerning was the fact that about 3,000 children in the state presented urgent dental problems like abscesses and infections that require immediate dental care.”

Dentists Divided Over Dental Therapists’ Role (DrBicuspid.com)

“About half of dental professionals believe midlevel providers should have the opportunity to work in their state, while the other half disagree, according to a new survey by the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network. And just 30% of dentists expressed interested in hiring a dental therapist.”

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