Maryland study looks at correlation between dental insurance and utilization

Baltimore—Providing people with dental insurance does not necessarily mean they will use it and seek dental care, according to a new study from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, published in the American Journal of Public Health.

The research suggests that outreach and education are needed to ensure that people value their dental health and use their coverage to seek appropriate dental care. The researchers hope that policymakers will use the findings in designing future programs and initiatives, according to first author Dr. Richard J. Manski, Ph.D., professor and chief of dental public health at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

“You can’t just hand people coverage and say, ‘There, that’s better,'” says Dr. Manski. “You need to offer some inducements, some promotional campaign to change people’s attitudes and beliefs. We hope this starts the process of a new way of thinking about the problem.”

The researchers examined data from the Health and Retirement Study of 2008, looking at older Americans who had dental coverage and those who didn’t, and examining who was using dental care. They also looked at personal characteristics such as race, gender, marital status, age, health status and more.

The scientists found that providing dental coverage to uninsured older Americans who do not tend to use dental care will not necessarily mean that, once insured, those people will seek dental care.

Rather, if policymakers want people to use dental coverage and seek care, they have to go a step further than just providing insurance.

While many of the factors that keep people from seeking care—such as age and gender—can’t be changed, other factors could be influenced by outreach. These factors include knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, tastes, health status and income, according to the study.

Education and marketing outreach about the importance of dental care to overall health could alter these factors and make people who get coverage more likely to use it.

Improving the economy and the unemployment rate could also affect the problem for the better.

The number of providers available in the market could also affect the likelihood that patients will use their dental coverage, supporting the development of programs encouraging people to enter the field of dentistry.

The data also indicate that getting people to use dental coverage to seek care is not a short-term process, Dr. Manski said.

“We need to set long-term goals for such things and understand that dental coverage and use is a long-term issue, so that we don’t get frustrated that rates of use aren’t going up right away,” Dr. Manski said.

Oral health is a critical part of a person’s overall health, and the study has implications for other types of health insurance as well, Dr. Manski said.

“Dentistry and dental coverage is a perfect experimental model for health care,” he said. “There are lessons to be learned for overall health coverage and use as well.”

Marko Vujicic, Ph.D., managing vice president of the ADA Health Policy Resources Center, which has studied older Americans’ utilization of dental services, praised the study but said it’s important to note that it focuses on people 50 and older. Many studies, including those published by HPRC, have shown the 50 plus population is the group where dental insurance has a much lesser impact on dental care use, mostly because of a shift in the source of financing, Dr. Vujicic said.

“The evidence suggests that baby boomers place a high value on dental care, have invested in their oral health and are more willing to pay out of pocket for their dental care when they lose coverage,” Dr. Vujicic said.

“The generation behind them, however, is totally different. As our HPRC studies and others have also shown, the access to care issue, the decline in dental care use, the increased financial barriers to care, are all rising among working age adults, especially those under 35. From a policy perspective, all of this evidence emphasizes that expanding dental insurance among baby boomers might not be the most critical issue in improving access to care.”

Scientists develop biopatch for regenerating bone for dental implants

A new biopatch that can regenerate missing or damaged bone may be able to help people who need dental implants, according to researchers at the University of Iowa.

The researchers have created a patch that allows the placement of bone-producing DNA to existing bone cells, which helps cells to generate proteins that lead to more bone production.

The research is detailed in the article “The Enhancement of Bone Regeneration by Gene Activated Matrix Encoding for Platelet Derived Growth Factor” in the January issue of the journal Biomaterials.

Researchers found that collagen scaffold, which is used for tissue engineering, when loaded with genetic information for producing bone grew up to 44 times more bone and soft tissue in an affected area than with just the collagen scaffold patch alone.

The finding could benefit people who need dental implants but don’t have enough bone in the surrounding area. The authors say the patch can also help rebuild bone in the gum area that serves as a foundation for dental implants.

In addition, because they used “nonviral gene delivery system” for the biopatch, the authors say it is less likely to cause unwanted side effects. It is also easier to produce in mass quantities, lowering cost.

March 20 is World Oral Health Day


Geneva—On March 20, dental professionals and others in more than 50 countries worldwide will be “Celebrating Healthy Smiles” on World Oral Health Day.

The 2014 day is organized by the FDI World Dental Federation in collaboration with the ADA. World Oral Health Day is sponsored by Listerine Mouthwash, Unilever Oral Care, Henry Schein Inc. and Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program.

The annual observance offers FDI member dental associations, schools, companies and other groups the opportunity to celebrate the day with events organized under a single, unifying and simple message.

“Reaching local communities on World Oral Health Day 2014 is a priority for FDI. It can only be achieved thanks to the major effort by the national dental associations as well as dental students who prepare novel and exciting activities worldwide,” said Dr. Tin Chun Wong, FDI president.

“When I see the number of organizations that have already signed up to celebrate WOHD in 2014, I realize that this year’s activities will help us spread the word on optimal oral health even wider.”

Visit for the latest news and a variety of downloadable materials, as well as a map pinpointing activities worldwide.

Give Kids a Smile Day is Feb. 7


With Give Kids A Smile Day just days away, a total of 1,500 GKAS events have registered, and estimate they will treat nearly 345,000 children on or around Feb. 7. More than 9,000 dentists and 28,000 other dental team members and lay volunteers will be providing care to kids in need through GKAS programs.

Programs are encouraged to register if they haven’t done so yet—either before or after their events, and all program coordinators/dentist participants are asked to report their actual program totals following their events. Log on to GKAS.

GKAS program coordinators nationwide should have their digital cameras ready to capture the highlights of the event.

The ADA News welcomes digital photo submissions from GKAS program participants—including candid pictures of children, dentists and team members interacting and clinical photos (patients in the chair, dental team in gloves, masks and protective eyewear). Be sure to include identification of those pictured and facts about your event.

Send high-resolution photos for consideration for use in the ADA News and on ADA News Today (on to as soon as possible following your event.

Program coordinators can also post photos on the new ADA GKAS Facebook page. Clinical photos submitted for the website should also show dental professionals using universal precautions.

GKAS corporate sponsors continue to generously support the program. Henry Schein Dental will provide professional dental kits containing gloves, patient bibs and bib holders, masks, plastic cups, tongue depressors, gauze pads, prophy angles and paste, fluoride varnish, chair sleeves and fluoride trays. Colgate Palmolive Co. has donated toothbrushes and toothpaste. DEXIS Digital X-ray Systems will donate the use of their X-ray units and the expertise of their staff to U.S. dental schools requesting assistance, state associations and large group practices during GKAS.

Focus on presidents-elect in January

Presidents-elect: Dr. Maxine Feinberg, ADA president-elect, speaks during the 2014 President-Elect’s Conference held Jan. 26-28 at ADA Headquarters in Chicago. This year, 48 of 52 presidents-elect, along with 26 executive directors, attended the conference. It is the first time executive directors have been invited to the event. Look for the story on the coverage of the President-Elect Conference in the Feb. 17 issue.

Dr. Curtis Leciejewski (right), president-elect of the Delaware State Dental Society, speaks during a group discussion while Dr. Robert W. Emery, president-elect, District of Columbia, listens.

Dr. Curtis Leciejewski (right), president-elect of the Delaware State Dental Society, speaks during a group discussion while Dr. Robert W. Emery, president-elect, District of Columbia, listens.

Dr. Suzanne Germain speaks at the President-Elect Conference, held Jan. 26-28, 2014.
Increasing diversity: Dr. Suzanne Germain speaks at the President-Elect Conference, held Jan. 26-28, on the importance of increasing leadership diversity and inclusion. Dr. Germain is an ADA Institute for Diversity in Leadership alumni. She launched the Indiana AIR (Acceptance, Inclusion, Respect) Leadership Program in 2012 to provide targeted leadership training to a small group of promising leaders from various backgrounds in hopes they will gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to take on leadership roles in organized dentistry and in their communities. Institute for Diversity in Leadership participants learn about defining leadership; creating vision; leading effective teams transparently; negotiations and conflict management; decision making; effective presentations; and nonprofit boards, stakeholder engagement, marketing and fundraising.

Research sheds light on caries history

Researchers reported in January that ancient humans developed cavities, toothaches and swollen gums—suffering the same oral maladies that modern humans face.

Examining adult skeletons of hunter-gatherers in the Pleistocene age in North Africa (from some 15,000 to 13,700 years ago), researcher Louise Humphrey of the Natural History Museum in London and her colleagues found that a diet that included acorns and pine nuts led to dental disease.

Reporting online Jan. 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers found early evidence linking a high prevalence of caries to a reliance on highly cariogenic wild plant foods.

They noted an “exceptionally high prevalence of caries” (51.2 percent of adult teeth), “comparable to modern industrialized populations with a diet high in refined sugars and processed cereals.”

This appears to be the earliest evidence of high caries infections found by archeologists, the report said. The researchers propose that eating plants that were high in fermentable carbohydrates caused an early shift toward disease-associated oral microbes.

They were able to systematically harvest and process wild food like acorns and pine nuts, which in turn led to a more sedentary lifestyle than previously recognized for this era.

“The transition from hunting and gathering to food production is associated with a change in the composition of the oral microbiota and broadly coincides with the estimated timing of a demographic expansion in Streptococcus mutans, a causative agent of human dental caries. Here we present evidence linking a high prevalence of caries to reliance on highly cariogenic wild plant foods in Pleistocene hunter-gatherers from North Africa, predating other high caries populations and the first signs of food production by several thousand years,” the researches say in the abstract of their article.

New ADA guide offers advice from top dental consultants


Is your schedule balanced, overtaxed or underutilized? Do your internal controls make potential embezzlers think twice? Are your payment systems set up to maximize collections and reduce write-offs?

The new ADA Practical Guide to Expert Business Strategies: Advice from Top Dental Consultants (P032) addresses these questions and more by tapping into the knowledge and experience of today’s leading dental experts, including Dr. Charles Blair, Susan Gunn, Cathy Jameson, Dr. Roger Levin, and Sally McKenzie. It is ideal for both dentists and office staff. Read the articles on your own, or use them as topics for staff meetings. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter generate conversation and ideas for improving your practice—from patient care to your bottom line.

Pre-order a copy of the 119-page book now for February delivery. The book (P032) is $49.95 for ADA members and $74.95 retail. It is also available as an e-book (P032D) and print/e-book bundle (P032B).

Save 15 percent on The ADA Practical Guide to Expert Business Strategies Book (P032), e-book (P032D), and print/e-book Bundle (P032B) using promo code 14110 by March 15.

To order and for more information, visit or call 1-800-947-4746.

Special Care Dentistry Association annual meeting set for April 10-13


The Special Care Dentistry Association will hold its 26th Annual Meeting on Special Care Dentistry April 10-13 at the Westin Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

The annual meeting is designed to serve as a continuing education and networking opportunity for dental professionals who provide care to geriatric patients, patients with disabilities and patients in hospital settings.

The session will open on April 11, with the Max Bramer Memorial lecture featuring Derrick MacFabe, M.D., who will be speaking on The Self Centered Bug—Can Gut Bacteria Modulate Brain Function and Behavior in Neurodevelopmental

This lecture outlines basic science and clinical evidence that short chain fatty acids, present in diet and produced by opportunistic gut bacteria following carbohydrate ingestion, may be key triggers in autism spectrum disorder. Dr. MacFabe will present his current research during the lecture.

The closing keynote speaker on April 11 is Rachel Simon, who will discuss her bestselling memoir, “Riding the Bus with My Sister: A True Life Journey.” Ms. Simon’s sister Beth is a spirited, independent woman who has an intellectual disability and who has forged a unique alliance with her community through her travels on the local buses. The book chronicles the year she spent riding the buses with Beth, as well as their lives together from birth to middle age.

This talk incorporates such issues as discrimination, parental struggles and victories, the concerns of siblings throughout the life cycle, the transition to adulthood, self-determination, travel training and the importance of friends in the community. A book signing will follow Ms. Simon’s keynote session.

The meeting will also include sessions regarding the impact of the Affordable Care Act on populations with special health care needs, managing a patient with self-injurious behavior, laser applications for patients with special needs and care delivery for disabled adults and frail elders.

New this year, the meeting will feature a separate educational track just for dental students at a discounted fee on April 12. The day will feature breakfast, four student-specific educational breakout sessions, a students-only meeting with SCDA President Ken Fedor, D.D.S., access to poster presentations and roundtable discussions and an evening reception.

View the advance program at for more details on registration, housing, CE courses, special events, exhibitors and more.

Subscribe to ADA/PDR Dental Therapeutics Online

Arranged in three sections, ADA/PDR Dental Therapeutics Online (X064) contains drug information essential to solving patients’ dental problems.

To help dentists make the most informed medication-related decisions for patients, ADA/PDR Dental Therapeutics Online includes:

• descriptions of the general category of drugs;

• listings of specific drugs by generic and brand name;

• special dental considerations;

• adverse effects and precautions;

• pharmacology;

• information for patient/family consultation;

• drugs prescribed primarily by physicians;

• issues related to dental pharmacology that affects the dentist’s practice.

A one-year subscription is $69.95 for members; $104.95 retail price.

Save $10 on ADA/PDR Dental Therapeutics Online (X064) with promotional code 14100 through Feb. 28.

For more information, visit or call 1-800-947-4746.

Four keys to effective dental website design

There are four keys to creating an effective dental website to help grow dental practices, according to PBHS. They are:

• Provide a clear call to action: Possibly the most vital feature to making a website effective is a message or call to action which will clearly engage your visitor. For example, placing a “Call us now!” with your office phone number in the top heading or sidebar of your website is clearly identified by placement and the use of action words. Further engagement would focus on specific advertisements for a new patient special, exclusive promotions, or events that may be occurring within the practice. When you gain their interest, patients will feel inclined to call your practice.

• Quality education information: Visitors on your website would like to know more about procedures or services before placing that call. If you provide appropriate details about services and procedures your practice offers, the patient will become more confident in your abilities. Empty or content-lacking Web pages misuse valuable website real estate.

• Superior dental website design: Dental technology has vastly changed over the last decade. The same holds true for dental website design. If your website is outdated and leaves no lasting impression on its visitors, it will reflect on the image of your practice. If your website was built in the “primitive Internet era,” its design can depreciate the value of your practice brand. Dental websites that carry a modern design, with an easy to read layout, encourage visitors to engage and sift through your content. If you are unsure about the technology your website uses, consult one of our sales associates or account managers about your current dental website design.

• Provide information about the doctors and practice: Web pages that lack personality and clarity will turn patients away. Shed some light on your practice by providing more personal information, such as biographical information on the doctors, practice and staff. Patients want reassurance they are working with real people. By providing photos for an office tour slideshow or your staff, you are inviting patients to get to know you as real people. This portion of your website is also important in that it separates you from your competitors. What makes you different? Most likely it is the people employed at your practice and the skills they bring to the table.

Effective dental website design is about making the experience for your patients easy, fun and inviting. PBHS offers a variety of designs, packages, and services to support the growth of your practice and enable you to make the most of your online presence.

Related: Website design key to dental practice growth

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