April 2008
Volume 4, Issue 4

In the News

News from Industry and Academia.

The 2007 Dental Assistant of the Year
Carletta Carter, CDA, RDA, won the 2007 Dental Assistant of the Year Award sponsored by Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals, Inc. In this inaugural running of the contest, dental assistants were able to nominate themselves, or be nominated by others, by submitting a recommendation online. The qualifications included a minimum 5 years of continuous practice, membership in the ADAA, being Registered or Certified to practice, showing dedication to continuing education and improvement to the dental assisting profession, having experience in writing and/or speaking, and e-mail and Internet access.

The contest garnered nominations nationwide. Ms. Carter received the most nominations of any candidate. "She had so many people who felt that she was the one who deserved the award," says Karen Raposa, senior manager of professional relations at Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals, Inc. "It was very clear to [Colgate] that she has taken [dental assisting] very seriously and that it is truly her calling as a career."

Ms. Carter started her dental assisting training at the Rochester Dental Assistant School. She then completed her clinical at the University of Rochester, where she now works as the dental assisting supervisor/practice manager at the Eastman Dental Center in the Department of Community Dentistry and Oral Disease Prevention.

"I am truly honored to be employed where my clinical training begun," says Ms Carter. "It’s kind of unbelievable, but I’m back to where I started."

Holly Barone, senior operations administrator, University of Rochester Eastman Dental Center, Department of Community Dentistry and Oral Disease Prevention, was one of those who nominated Ms. Carter.

"She’s taken the lead as a spokesperson for the department, serving as a community liaison. She’s out in the community coordinating events where she personally volunteers hours of her time on the weekends to go out and do health fairs and educate the community, not only on the services we provide, but how important dental care is," says Ms. Barone, who works with Ms. Carter.

After graduation, Ms. Carter worked for a community health center for almost 10 years as a dental assistant. Then she moved toward the administrative end of dental assisting. She ensured that the equipment and instruments were, as she describes it, "in compliance." Ms. Carter also worked as a dental secretary and with an oral surgeon and a pediatric dentist.

"I got an opportunity to work with children and learn their fears, and educate their parents as well as work in general dentistry," she says.

In the midst of her ever-evolving career, Ms. Carter decided to take steps to get certified and licensed. Along with some of her colleagues, she studied for the exam at night while working full time as a dental assistant.

"When the law changed for dental assistants, I felt it was important to become licensed," she explains. "I was fortunate to work with a group of dental assistants that shared the same goal: to become certified. Our doctors were really involved and helped us."

Ms. Carter also went back to school and earned a certificate in counseling through Cornell University, enabling her to counsel people who are drug abusers or who have mental health issues. She also earned a teaching certificate through Emmanuel Temple of Rochester Bible Institute.

Ms. Carter oversees dental assisting students from the local community college and a Rochester BOCES program. The students are paired up with one of the 13 dental assistants Ms. Carter supervises.

Ms. Barone adds that Ms. Carter has "un wavering commitment" and "infectious enthusiasm," and it is clear that she en joys her job. "She’s a joy."

Ms. Carter, who admits to loving her work, says the secret to fulfillment is treat ing dental assisting as a career rather than just a job.

"In making it a career you will get in volved with your dental assistant society; you will get involved in continuing education," explains Ms. Carter. "In making it your career, you’ll enjoy what you do."

Her main focus is patient care and com fort, she adds. "I enjoy being a dental as sistant because I enjoy people. I love working with the community because each day is a new experience."

Ms. Carter credits the community she works in as a contributing factor in her love for her career.

"Working in the most poverty-stricken areas of Rochester has been extremely rewarding," she says. "I am committed to assisting the Rochester area to make a stronger and fruitful connection to all populations of people. I see beyond dental care—I see people."

Colgate will award Ms. Carter $5,000, a Dental Assistant of the Year award, and a tour of Colgate’s facilities.

Sell Out Crowd Honors Oral Health America

Over 1,000 Oral Health America supporters gathered on Thursday, February 21 at Chicago’s Navy Pier Grand Ballroom for the largest charitable event in dentistry, raising funds to improve access to care for the 108 million Americans without dental insurance. Oral Health America, the nation’s premier, independent oral health advocacy organization, conducts educational and service programs designed to improve oral health—and raise public awareness of oral health’s importance to overall health.

According to Dr. Mary Hayes, gala co-chair and a Chicago pediatric dentist, "This gala surpassed all of our previous years in terms of sponsorships and attendance in a tremendous outpouring of support for Oral Health America."

The Gala & Benefit also presented an opportunity for the dental community to recognize the leadership of Oral Health America’s Robert Klaus, who is retiring in June, after 20 years as president and CEO. His contributions include the development of numerous programs including the National Spit Tobacco Education Program (NSTEP), Oral Health 2000, Campaign for Oral Health Parity, Smiles Across America, National Periodontal Disease Coalition, and the National Sealant Alliance. He is responsible for shaping Oral Health America’s role as a public advocacy organization, and for raising significant public and private funding for oral health initiatives.

Oral Health America’s 18th annual gala featured a full course dinner, dancing, and a silent and live auction. Last year’s event raised close to $200,000, and the organization expects to exceed that amount this year. The 2009 gala committee will be chaired by Keith Suchy, DDS, chair of the ADA’s Council on Government Affairs, and past president of the Chicago Dental Society.

For more information, call 312-836-9900 or visit www.oralhealthamerica.org.

Dairy Products Can Help Reduce Periodontal Disease

A recent studypublished in the January issue of the Journal of Periodontologydemonstrated that routine intake of dairy products may also help promote perio dontal health. The study analyzed the periodontal health of 942 subjects and determined that those who regularly consumed dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt had a lower instance of periodontal disease.

"Research has suggested that periodontal disease may affect overall systemic health," said study author Dr. Yoshihiro Shimazaki of Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan. "This study reinforces what much of the public already knows—the importance of dairy in helping achieve a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy mouth."

Study participants aged 40 through 79 were examined on two periodontal parameters that can indicate gum disease: periodontal pocket depth and clinical attachment loss of gum tissue. Researchers observed that subjects who consumed 55 grams or more of products containing lactic acid each day had a significantly lower prevalence of deep pocket depth and severe attachment loss, therefore demonstrating a lower instance of periodontal disease.

"Millions of adults already suffer from periodontal disease," said Susan Karabin, DDS, president of the American Academy of Periodontology. "By regularly consum ing dairy products such as cheese and milk, something many people do each day, the risk of developing gum disease may de crease. These findings are important since maintaining healthy gums is a critical component to maintaining a healthy body."

HTI Announces Dental Procedures Top List of 2007 Survey of Health Travel

Healthcare Tourism International (HTI), a Los Angeles-based healthcare tourism 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, announced that dental services and India topped the list for most popular health procedures and locations in 2007.

"The phenomenon of receiving healthcare abroad (a ‘healthcare trip’) has grown over the last several years," stated Neilesh Patel, lead author of the Trends in Medical Travel 2007 Report. "Citizens all over the world, especially those from developed countries with relatively high costs of medical care, are increasingly looking beyond their countries of residence for healthcare treatment. Likewise, ‘medical tourism,’ a related phenomenon, is also on the rise. Medical tourists are citizens who travel outside their countries of residence to receive healthcare and also engage in tourist activities while they are abroad.

Using data from www.healthcaretrip.org (1,698 unique searches through December 22, 2007) Patel and colleagues attempted to answer the following questions: Where do patients who are interested in medical travel live? Where would they like to go to receive treatment? What medical/dental procedures are they interested in having done abroad? In addition, the research report offered possible explanations for the data and suggested areas for further analysis.

The investigators reported that overall, dental procedures (40.7%) were the most commonly searched, followed by medical cosmetic procedures (22%). The most commonly desired health procedures were dental bridges (23%), dental bonding (12%), and breast augmentation (4%).

Countries within Asia (39%) were the most commonly searched locations, follow ed by Europe (23%) and North America (20%). India (14%), Hungary (3%), and Mexico (4%) were the most commonly searched countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, respectively.

The survey consisted of a majority of US patients (44.5%) followed by Indian (8.7%), UK (6.4%), and Canadian (6.1%) patients.

"That the largest percentage of visitors came from the United States is not surprising because US residents appear to be the largest clients of health travel," said Patel. "Thus, when US residents search for health travel organizations to facilitate their healthcare trips, the Web site www.healthcaretrip.org often appears in their searches."

While US residents are the largest consumers of medical travel services, India is currently the largest provider of such services, according to the report. "Visits to the www.healthcaretrip.org Web site from Indian medical providers and medical travel facilitators to register their organizations or to see which of their competitors have registered could be the reason why India was second in this list."

The numerous searches conducted from the United Kingdom and Canada were most likely for the same reasons as the United States. "With high incomes relative to the rest of the world, citizens of these countries, such as citizens of the United States, are increasingly looking abroad to receive healthcare treatment," Patel noted.

While the results of this study indicate which treatment locations and pro cedures patients are interested in, they do not provide reasons for these preferences. "Further analysis could be done to understand the motivations of patients. In addition, as the debate continues on whether or not to combine medical travel with tourism, it may also be useful to understand the percentage of medical travelers who view tourism as a key component of their medical travel experience," the investigators concluded.

ADA Rallies Dental Care for Underserved Populations

In a statement to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Domestic Policy, the ADA called on health professionals, policymakers, parents and others to work to remove barriers that block access to oral healthcare services. The ADA statement came on the anniversary of the death of a 12-year-old from complications of an untreated oral abscess that spread to his brain. The death of Deamonte Driver, whose family had lost its Medicaid benefits, galvanized public and congressional attention to the lack of access to oral healthcare. But a year later, public concern and congressional outrage have not yielded significant results.

"Fundamental changes to the Medicaid program are long overdue to ensure that low-income children have the same access to oral healthcare services that most Americans enjoy," said ADA President Mark Feldman. "It is time to help Medicaid meet its obligation to help vulnerable groups get necessary services."

The ADA urged the passage of two critical pieces of legislation. The "Essential Oral Health Care Act" (H.R. 2472) would draw more private practicing dentists into Med icaid and the State Children’s Health In surance Program by significantly increasing federal matching funds for states to im prove their plans.

Second,"Deamonte’s Law" (H.R. 2371) ad dresses dental workforce needs by providing grants to dental schools and qualified hospitals to increase the pursuit of pediatric dentistry.

ADA Addresses Lead-Contaminated Dental Crowns

The ADA issued a statement based on a February 28 report by an Ohio CBS-TV af filiate that a crown received from a Chi nese laboratory contained lead. The reporter worked with a local dentist to order eight dental crowns (porcelain and full-metal) from several laboratories in China, which were then sent to NSL Analytics in Cleve land for testing. One of the crowns tested positive for lead at 210 ppm.

"We don’t know whether this is an isolated incident or indicates a larger problem, said Drs. Mark Feldman and James Bramson, president and executive director of the ADA and authors of the statement. "We were surprised to learn that any dental prosthetic device might have lead in it. We understand that the lead was found in the surface of the crown, so our scientists suspect (but do not know for sure) that it could have come from the pigment. It’s also theoretically possible that the lead could have come through a soldering pro cess or as a contaminant from the lab environment.

"No dental prosthetic device should con tain lead," Feldman and Bramson continued. "We have been advised by industry experts that there are no FDA-approved materials used in dental prosthetic devices that contain lead, which again points to the importance of your lab adequately as suring you that they use only FDA-approved materials."

The underlying concern, they said, "should not be where dental lab work is done (because there are offshore labs that do great work) but rather how you, the dentist, and your patients can be assured of the quality of the work and safety of the materials used."

The ADA is going to have its own laboratories perform random, objective testing of prosthetic devices, some from US laboratories and others from offshore laboratories. "We believe it is important that the ADA do this type of objective testing to gather additional intelligence on whether the Ohio testing was an isolated incident or cause for greater concern," said Feldman and Bramson. "As always, we’re going to let science show the way."

General Anesthesia Deemed Safe for Special-Needs Population

Patients with special needs often undergo general anesthesia for dental treatment as a way to avoid risks of injury and excessive stress. A new study assessed the safety of general anesthesia for dental treatment of special needs patients as it related to the American Society of Anesthesiology Physical Status (ASAPS) classification, procedure, and other factors, finding that it is safe. The study was published in the Winter 2007 issue of Anesthesia Progress.

In the study, data from 363 records was analyzed and tabulated. The researchers chose to highlight two case studies that illustrated some of the issues for the special needs population. Some of the unexpected anesthetic challenges were:

• limited pre-anesthesia assessment of airway and general physical condition;
• limited medical risk assessment due to lack of cooperation or lack of access to medical support systems;
and
• lack of compliant care-taker network to ensure pre-anesthesia and post-anesthesia compliance.

Nashville Dentist Receives First ADAHumanitarian Award

The American Dental Association (ADA) has named Dr. Thomas S. Un der wood, a Nashville general dentist, as the first recipient of the ADA Humanitarian Award, recognizing him for more than 3 decades of providing dental care to underserved people in the United States and abroad.

The ADA Humanitarian Award’s program, which began in 2007, honors dentist members who have distinguished them-selves through outstanding, unselfish leadership and dedicating extraordinary time and professional skills to help improve the oral health of underserved populations throughout the world.

"I am delighted that Dr. Underwood is the first recipient of this new and very prestigious ADA Humanitarian Award," said ADA president Mark J. Feldman, DMD. "Through his tireless efforts, he has truly brought smiles and comfort to thousands of needy individuals."

Dr. Underwood’s unselfish efforts have taken him around the world, volunteering from Jamaica and Honduras to Kenya and Zambia. According to Dr. Underwood, he soon realized that such efforts would fill a void in his own home state. He decided to do something about it and with support from the Nashville Dental Society and the outreach commission of the West End United Methodist Church, he founded the Nashville Interfaith Dental Clinic (IFDC) in 1994. The clinic has grown from a small, church-basement facility to a full-time, 7,500-square-foot dental program that provides affordable care to more than 1,200 patients each year.

In the late 1990s, Dr. Underwood began working to help children statewide covered by the TennCare Medicaid program gain access to dental care, with funding dedicated to oral healthcare. Today, the TennCare dental program has enrolled more than 850 dentists statewide, and treated more than 660,000 enrollees from birth to age 20 since it launched in October 2002.

Dr. Underwood’s formal award recognition will occur among his peers at the ADA’s 2008 Annual Session in San Antonio, October 16 through 19.

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