What Dentists Need to Know This Tax Season

Make sure all documents are gathered and prepared. These documents include W-2’s, IRS Form #1099, IRS Form #1099 Interest and IRS Form #1099 Dividends. Documents may include stockbroker annual statements, cryptocurrency transactions, IRS Form #1098 mortgage statements, etc.

Check receipts. Not only is it essential to have your documents gathered, but make sure all financial transactions have been accounted for prior to filing (i.e., payroll, any equipment depreciation and amortization of goodwill).

Be aware of deductions. There are the typical tax deductions (i.e., dental supplies, lab fees and employee payroll), but there may also be other deductions to be aware of. This includes equipment purchases, continuing education and new owner startup costs. Even how your business is set up as a taxing entity (employee, sole proprietor, corporation, LLC) can determine if the above expenses are deductible.

Remember to factor in all Health Savings Accounts. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are tax-exempt accounts that are used to pay or reimburse certain medical expenses. Having an HSA may qualify for a tax deduction.

Don’t forget about any individual retirement accounts (IRAs) contributions. If you are under 50, your total contributions in 2022 to all traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs can be at most $6,000. If you are 50 or older, that amount is $7,000.

This is the last call for the employee retention tax credit (ERTC). Watch out for those “pop-up” tax credit firms that claim to specialize in such credits. The statute of limitations is quickly approaching when you can file your amended payroll tax form using IRS Form #941X for the ERTC.

Consider using a dental accountant. Don’t hesitate to speak with an accountant about filing your taxes. It can be beneficial for dentists who are filing as owners for the first time.

Source: ada.org

Copyright Reminders

By Casey Stoutamire, FDA Chief Legal Officer

This is just a friendly reminder that any time you use a photo in an email publication, print publication (meeting brochure, newsletter, etc.) or on your website, you must have permission to use that photo. For example, if it is for an upcoming meeting and you want to use pictures of the hotel and/or rooms, work with your hotel contact to get permission, in writing, to use them (this is usually in the form of a license or sublicense).

In addition, if you use a web designer, check your agreement with them to make sure it contains a provision under which the designer will indemnify the association (component or affiliate) if the designer’s improper use of a third-party intellectual property (for example, pictures of a hotel) subjects the association to a claim/liability from the owner.

The same goes for playing music and offering television or movies in your office. The U.S. Copyright Act, Title 17 of the United States Code, gives copyright owners control over the public exhibition of their works. In nearly all cases, this means that a public performance license is required to show copyrighted content in public. And yes, dental and medical offices are considered public spaces when it comes to copyright law. This requirement applies even if the content can only be viewed by a single patient. This section of law applies to movies, television programs, and other audiovisual content enjoyed from sources like broadcast, cable or satellite television; DVDs; downloads; or streaming services. If you fail to comply with copyright law, you could be liable for damages ranging from $750 to $150,000 for each illegal showing, plus court costs and attorneys fees. Long story short, by showing tv programs and movies without a license, you risk fines for copyright infringement and the monetary repercussions can be significant.

However, there is good news. For several years, the American Dental Association has worked with the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC) to provide a discount for members on copyright licensing. MPLC issues the license your practice needs to show copyrighted content in compliance with federal copyright law. The Umbrella License allows for unlimited showings at your dental office without fear of copyright infringement. It provides coverage for old and new titles from more than 1,000 motion picture and television rights holders, including Disney, CBS, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, Paramount, ABC, Televisa, HGTV, Lionsgate, Discovery and many more. To secure an Umbrella License, visit dentist.mplc.org/ or contact MPLC at 866.552.MPLC (6752) or info@mplc.com. Information is also available at ada.org/mplc.

New Issue of Today’s FDA is Available to Read Online NOW!

The 2023 January/February issue of Today’s FDA is available online for Florida Dental Association (FDA) members NOW! Check it out for great articles about implant dentistry – the latest in dental implants: communication, techniques and technology, as well as how technology can make implant placement more seamless. So, what are you waiting for? Head to floridadental.org/publications or just click the cover image below to read the issue.

Nearly 2,000 Volunteers Set to Help Make a Difference at the 2023 Florida Mission of Mercy

Tomorrow begins the 2023 Florida Mission of Mercy (FLA-MOM) — a free, two-day dental clinic hosted by the FDA Foundation. Happening at the Expo Center at the South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach, patients will be seen on a first-come, first served basis between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The goal is to treat 2,000 patients in those two days (Feb. 24-25). Currently, there are nearly 2,000 volunteers registered for the clinic, including nearly 325 dentists. You can find more information and details on the services that will be provided, as well as those who are eligible to receive treatment by checking out the flyer below.

Beginning today, the Florida Mission of Mercy Veterans First Initiative will provide FREE dental care to military veterans at the Expo Center at the South Florida Fairgrounds. Additional details are provided in the flyer below.

The Importance of Dental Public Health

By Vanessa-June Ovbiagele, MPH (Third year dental student), Nova Southeastern University, College of Dental Medicine

In November 2022, I had the privilege to serve a Remote Area Medical mission in Cleveland, Tenn. The community was chronically underserved, and we provided care to more than 200 patients in two days. These cases were complex and further complicated by a fundamental lack of basic knowledge about oral hygiene. Most patients required a review of oral hygiene practices due to a lack of access to oral health care for a significant amount of time. 

Not only was this experience eye-opening, it was indicative of a more significant problem at hand. There are many pockets of populations globally that experience this sort of severe lack of dental care, which disproportionately impacts their health and quality of life due to poor dentition. The role of dental public health in this equation is to pinpoint these populations and to help make policymakers and local governments aware of the gaps in coverage and the need for community involvement to increase education surrounding dental care. Arranging mission trips such as the one that I served on in Tennessee, and an oral screening dental mission trip that I served in Hialeah, Fla., is helpful but are, unfortunately, short-term solutions. 

All in all, dental public health is to advocate for and provide dental care to populations who suffer from a lack of access. The need for dental public health stems from an inability of our global community to find a way to ensure that everyone is receiving proper oral health care and oral hygiene instruction. These current conditions were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has denied routine health care opportunities to many. Without awareness campaigns, affordable dental care and population-level prevention of oral disease, communities like Cleveland, Tenn. will continue to be considered underserved, which only furthers the complications and illnesses associated with poor dentition. 

As a dental student with a Master of Public Health and with the experience of a Remote Area Medical mission under my belt, I can confidently say that challenges to the field hinder dental public health. Everchanging populations and demographics and a crucial misunderstanding of the importance of dental hygiene and its impacts on whole-body health contribute to a pervasive lack of dental care in certain communities. Dental public health efforts can make a big difference.

10 Things You May Not Know About Oral Health

By Karen Weeks

You probably already know that keeping your teeth and gums healthy is incredibly important, but you may not be aware of just how much your oral health contributes to other parts of your overall well-being. Most of us have heard the standard advice for keeping up with flossing and brushing, but do you know the reasoning behind it? Read on to learn 10 things you never knew about dental health.

  1. Straight teeth are easier to keep clean.

Most of us would love to have a perfect smile. Having straighter teeth has many benefits beyond just looking nice. When there’s an overlap, it’s harder to brush and floss effectively and to keep bacteria and plaque from sticking around. Crooked teeth can also lead to halitosis and even gum disease if left untreated.

  • Gum color is important.

Gum disease is a serious condition that has been linked to diabetes and heart disease. Many Americans live with it and aren’t aware of the risks. Healthy gums should be firm and pink, while soft tissue or discoloration could be a sign that something isn’t right.

  • Sugar-free soda can harm your teeth.

Many people choose sugar-free soda as a “healthier” option, but these drinks can still damage your teeth, especially if you drink them often. This is because the acids formed by the bacteria in your mouth and the soda’s ingredients erode enamel and eventually lead to cavities.

  • Acid reflux can cause problems, too.

Recurring acid reflux can damage enamel, as well. This can usually be treated with a change in diet and exercise.

  • Dry mouth can cause problems.

Saliva plays an important role in your oral health by washing away tiny food particles and neutralizing the acids created by bacteria. If you don’t stay hydrated, you may not be making enough saliva. Drink water throughout the day to prevent dry mouth, especially if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic.

  • Stress affects your teeth, too.

Most of us deal with stress in some form or another throughout the week, but did you know it can have a negative effect on your mouth? Many people grind their teeth in their sleep after a hard day, which can wear down or even crack teeth and lead to bite issues and sensitivity. If you notice a sore jaw in the morning, talk to your dentist about how to prevent grinding.

They may recommend trying different methods to reduce stress in your life. If you work from home, try to incorporate a dedicated workspace and take walks to wind down your workday.

  • Healthy food is good for more than just your diet.

Eating well is a good idea, whether you’re dieting or not, since crunchy, fresh vegetables and fruit help to keep your teeth strong. It can also be part of lowering your stress levels. Be sure to floss after eating things like apples or celery to prevent small pieces from getting stuck.

  • Your teeth might not just be stained.

We all want a white smile, but before you reach for over-the-counter teeth whiteners, talk to your dentist about whether that yellow discoloration is a stain or enamel loss.

  • Sleep apnea could be related to your mouth.

Many Americans suffer from sleep apnea—a condition that prevents proper breathing during sleep. There are several causes, including improper jaw development. A dentist can help you find a solution and get relief.

    10.  Medications can affect your gums.

Certain medications can cause inflammation, which can affect your gums and lead to other problems. Talk to your doctor about potential interactions.

Good oral health is an important part of your overall well-being because it can help prevent other issues in the body. By making regular dental care part of your routine and seeking professional help as issues arise, you can keep your gums and teeth in great shape for years to come.

For dentists looking to join the constituent society of the ADA in Florida, join the Florida Dental Association today!

4 Things You Need to Review Before Renewing Your Office Insurance

By FDA Services

FDA Services (FDAS), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Florida Dental Association (FDA), is an insurance agency created for and benefiting dentists. We work tirelessly to secure the best carriers and lines of insurance dentists need throughout their careers. FDAS provides the best coverage at the most affordable prices with incomparable customer service.

It’s important that FDA members and FDAS clients are aware that the property insurance market in Florida is hardening. This means that coverages are more difficult to find, coverages are reducing and prices are significantly increasing. What should dentists do? FDAS recommends reviewing the following four things:

1. Deductibles
Most office insurance policies in Florida will have two deductibles: a wind deductible and an “all other perils” (AOP) deductible.

  • Wind deductibles have been increasing each year, so it’s important you know how they work. They often are stated as a percentage. This means they are a percentage of the coverage amount, and not the loss. For example, if your wind deductible is 5% on your $350,000 building, then in the event of a hurricane your deductible is $17,500.
  • Usually, the AOP deductible is a set dollar amount. It’s typically a range from $500 up to $5,000.

2. Business Income Limits and Length
Business income covers lost revenue in the event of a physical loss to the practice. In recent years we have seen an increase in the number of caps and deductibles put on this coverage. Following are some samples and explanations. 

  • Fraction Deductible: Often listed as 1/3, 1/4, 1/6 or 1/12, this is the monthly cap on coverage. Since most business income claims are in the first few months before repairs can be finished, it is best to have no deductible or the largest one, 1/3. For example, if your business income has a stated amount of $500,000 and 1/3 deductible, the cap on monthly payment is $166,676 each month until you meet your limit. However, if you had $500,000 but a 1/12 deductible the monthly cap is $41,667.
  • Time Deductible: Instead of a fraction deductible, some policies pay actual loss sustained with no cap on monthly limits. However, the period of payout can be capped. If your policy is six months Actual Loss Sustained, then in the event of a triggering claim, the carrier will pay for business income up to six months if repairs are still being made. The cost to repair/rebuild from major losses can take much longer, so be aware that business income will be cut off after that time period.

3. Utility Services Coverage
Utility Service Coverage, also referred to as off-premises power coverage, covers businesses from property damage and loss due to utility services, originating away from the premises of the insured property and caused by a covered peril. Several years ago, this coverage was standard but due to a large number of claims in the past few years, carriers are deleting or capping this coverage. There are two parts to this coverage and you should research to determine if you have both.

  • Direct Damage: Coverage for damage or loss to your covered property if caused by the utility failure. For example, lightning strikes at a nearby electrical transformer, creating a power surge that causes your operatory light to explode.
  • Time Element: Covers business income or extra expense to cover a loss of income due to the suspension of business because of the interruption in your utility. For example, a fire at the power plant causes an outage at your office preventing you from opening/treating patients for a week.

4. Property and Building Values
The point of insurance is to have coverage for your practice in the event of a covered loss. The insurance carrier will only pay up to your policy limits. With construction costs rising drastically and supply chain shortages, it is important to reevaluate your REPLACEMENT COST limits annually (replacement cost does not factor in depreciation). If your practice was 100% lost in a fire, how much would you really need to rebuild at today’s costs?

Beware of co-insurance clauses: This insurance is not like health insurance. More property policies are including co-insurance clauses in the policy. These are stated as a percentage, usually 80%, 90% or 100%. It is essentially a penalty for not having enough insurance. This reduces your limit amount if the co-insurance requirement is not satisfied.  

Have questions or want more information? Our experienced staff is ready to get to work for you — call or text 850.681.2996 or email insurance@fdaservices.com to connect to our agents today. 

Book Review: Noncarious Cervical Lesions and Cervical Dentin Hypersensitivity: Etiology, Diagnosis and Treatment

By Dr. Virginia McKenzie Melmed

Noncarious cervical lesions (NCCLs) and cervical dentin hypersensitivity (CDH) affect more people than caries and periodontal disease in most high-income countries.  In private practice, clinicians often focus on treating the symptoms associated with these conditions, rather than address the etiologies. In Noncarious Cervical Lesions and Cervical Dentin Hypersensitivity: Etiology, Diagnosis and Treatment, Doctors Paulo V. Sores and John O. Grippo combine their clinical experience and all relevant research to dive into every aspect of NCCLs and CDH and prove the etiologies must be understood to treat these conditions successfully.  After reading this book, the dental clinician will be able to identify and understand the etiology of NCCLs and CDH, so he can stop its progression and treat it successfully.

Noncarious Cervical Lesions and Cervical Dentin Hypersensitivity is divided into three sections:  Introduction, Mechanisms of Action, and Diagnosis and Treatment.  Section I provides the necessary historical background and prevalence data of NCCLs and CDH and explores the specific characteristics of tooth anatomy that make a tooth’s cervical region less resistant to the mechanisms of stress, friction and biocorrosion. The formation of NCCLs is multifactorial, so Section II devotes a chapter to each one of the mechanisms of etiology (stress, friction and biocorrosion), explaining how each mechanism contributes to the development of NCCLs and the effects of these mechanisms working in combination.  The chapter on biocorrosion discusses which patients are considered high risk for developing NCCLs and CDH.

After providing a thorough background into the etiology of NCCLs in Sections I and II, Section III provides the reader with detailed information into the morphological characteristics of the lesions and proposes a new classification of NCCLs to aid in identifying the etiologic factors and determining the appropriate treatment. Nonrestorative protocols of occlusal, chemical, and laser therapies are described in detail, as well as when each of these therapies is indicated. Step-by-step restorative protocols of composite bonding and indirect restorations are thoroughly explained and dental materials recommended for NCCL restorations (Table 9-2) are provided. The textbook concludes with a chapter devoted to surgical protocols, where the severity of the recession defect determines the treatment approach.

When a condition is so often observed in dental practice, it must be addressed.  With this textbook, Doctors Soarer and Grippo provide everything a dental clinician needs to know on the focused topic of non carious cervical lesions and cervical dentin hypersensitivity.  The chapters are logically organized.  The chosen illustrations are beautiful photographs or easy-to-read tables with captions that provide clarity to the illustrations and text.  The end of each chapter contains a purple conclusion box, which highlights the most important concepts from that chapter.  This book is informative, easy-to-understand, and research-based.  I would recommend this book to any dental student, practicing dental clinician, and researcher.

Book Review: Cephalometry in Orthodontics: 2D and 3D

Reviewed by Dr. Alan E. Friedel

Cephalometry in Orthodontics: 2D and 3D was written as an aid for Orthodontists but it is also an exceptional book which can be of value to any dentist interested in a more comprehensive understanding of 2D Cephalometric radiographs and CBCT (3D) radiographs. The chapters are arrayed in a logical progression, and are easily understood and put into useful context.

The first three chapters lay the foundation for what follows. They provide historical perspective, beginning with a review of our understanding of human skull growth and development in the time period before radiology. Much of this knowledge was anecdotal, but some put us on the path we are on today. Up until recent times 2D Cephalometric radiography was all that was available. Radiologists had to learn how to stabilize the skull and take views that would be both reproduceable between patients and for a single patient. This began a more scientific approach to Cephalometry.

Visit floridadental.org/member-center/publications/book-reviews to read the full review.

New Year, New Skills for Your Dental Assistants

Help your dental assistants attain their 2023 professional development skills by enrolling them in the  FDA’s MyDentalRadiography online program. Getting them started is fast and easy. First, you create an account at mydentalradiography.com/FDA and complete the brief supervising dentist tutorial so you understand your responsibilities. Then, purchase a voucher for the 9-unit educational program and assign it to your dental assistant. The student will receive an email with log-in information and a link to the training site.

Once the online training is complete and a comprehensive test is passed, the student exposes a full-mouth series of radiographs including four bitewings under your supervision. If you’re satisfied with their work, you sign the certificate of completion. Then the assistant applies to the state for licensing. Eliminate all the barriers to training with this Florida dental board approved affordable, online alternative. Vouchers cost just $285 for FDA members and $385 for non-members.

Contact Lywanda Tucker at 850-350-7143 for more information or click here to get started.

Relentless Positive Action

By FDA Executive Director and CEO Drew Eason

There’s that person. The one who shows up with nothing positive to say. The comments are about how bad the weather is or how awful other drivers were on the way to the office. The person might go on to complain about work, politics, body aches and pains, etc. We all know that person. Sometimes, we are that person.

I decided a long time ago that I was going to do all in my power to be relentless about being positive about whatever action I needed to take. Relentless positive action. I even had a bracelet made to remind me of my commitment to positivity. I’ve been doing it for a long time and have gotten a reputation for being a positive person. And I benefit personally.

Being positive is believed to have many health benefits*:

  • Increased life span.
  • Lower rates of depression.
  • Lower levels of distress and pain.
  • Greater resistance to illnesses.
  • Better psychological and physical well-being.
  • Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
  • Reduced risk of death from cancer.
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress.

Additionally, people enjoy the company of those with a positive approach. We’ve all had instances where we are getting split into teams to tackle an issue and you might find yourself thinking “please, please don’t put me on Sam’s team.” Why? Because you know Sam will complain the entire time. “This exercise is stupid and won’t change anything.” Followed with multiple eye rolls. No one wants to work with a person like that. The alternative? Working with others who are ready to tackle the future with optimism and a positive approach. That’s the breakout group you see talking, smiling and even laughing as they work through the assignment. That’s the group where I want to be.

Sometimes, positivity can be mistaken for weakness. It is not. Being positive isn’t being cheery and pretending problems don’t exist. It’s more about a person’s overall perspective in life and a tendency to focus on the good in it. I know where problems are, and I address them. I just don’t do it in a negative way. It would be wrong to assume a positive person isn’t willing to address a problem or doesn’t see it. It is more likely he or she knows that being negative would likely just make things worse or, at a minimum, make the situation even more uncomfortable.

Need some examples of what a positive attitude looks like?

  • Enjoying the unexpected, even when it’s not what you wanted originally.
  • Smiling and being friendly to those you don’t know.
  • Being the one who joins a meeting with a friendly greeting and hello, looking others in the eye.
  • Being happy when someone else succeeds.
  • Complimenting others – even strangers.
  • Not talking badly about others.
  • Be as consistently positive as you can. No one wants to guess what version of you they are going to get each day.
  • Tell someone they did a great job.
  • Don’t let those who are negative bring you down.
  • Have a good time…even when you are losing.
  • And, again, smile.

The world is full of challenges. We hear negative messages all day via social and other media. Choose to be a leader by being positive and setting a tone for others to follow. Do it relentlessly as you move your practice, office or association into action to address the challenges of the day. Relentless Positive Action

*Mayo Clinic Staff (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950)

Anyone interested in a reminder to be positive can request an FDA Relentless Positive Action bracelet! Simply email Kelsey Simmons at ksimmons@floridadental.org.

Congratulations to the 2023 FDA Award Winners!

Lianne Bell, FDA Leadership Affairs Manager

Each year the Florida Dental Association’s (FDA) Awards Committee — which is comprised of a member dentist from each of the FDA’s six components as well as a student representative from one of Florida’s dental schools — convenes to discuss and make selections for the association’s annual awards. The committee reviews the nominations in each of the seven categories to determine the winners. The FDA’s recognition of each year’s winners, culminates the annual Awards Luncheon held in June in conjunction with the Florida Dental Convention. The FDA is excited to acknowledge the following individuals for their contributions to organized dentistry, the profession of dentistry and the improved oral health of all Floridians.

The Dental Student Award is given to a third- or fourth-year American Student Dental Association (ASDA) member who has demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities, volunteerism, commitment and involvement in organized dentistry. The 2023 Dental Student Award will be given to Ms. Emily Fuqua, a D4 student at the University of Florida College of Dentistry (UFCD). Emily served on the FDA’s Committee on Conventions and Continuing Education from 2021-23 as the dental student consultant. She was active in helping select speakers and course topics and recruiting attendees.

The Dental Team Member Award is given to a dental team member who has shown dedicated effort and outstanding accomplishments both within the dental team and in public outreach and volunteerism. The 2023 Dental Team Member of the year is Ms. Katie Schutte. Katie is the primary dental assistant and office manager at Richardson Periodontics, where she plans and oversees two annual charity events that have helped to raise more than $20,000 for the Lake County Education Foundation, which supports local schools, teachers and students.

The Public Service Awards are given to an individual, organization or a corporation that has performed extraordinary acts of charitable service related to oral health. The committee has selected three equally deserving candidates in this category. Drs. Susan Byrne and Tracy Eckles both practice general dentistry in Tallahassee, where they served together as co-chairs of the 2022 Florida Mission of Mercy (FLA-MOM) which took place in March 2022 in Tallahassee. The FLA-MOM is a large-scale, two-day, professional dental clinic that provides care to any patient at no cost, with the goal of serving the underserved and uninsured in Florida. Dr. Byrne and Dr. Eckles worked tirelessly to organize the 1,368 volunteers who treated 1,375 patients, completed 9,493 procedures and performed $1.79 million in free dental care to veterans and underserved individuals in the community. Dr. Brandon Alegre is a general dentist in Boca Raton and has taken on several leadership roles within the FLA-MOM since 2016. Dr. Alegre has given countless hours through the years in preparation for the events and will now serve as co-chair for the 2023 FLA-MOM which will be held in February in West Palm Beach.

The New Dental Leader Award is given to a dentist who has been out of dental school for 10 years or less and demonstrates outstanding leadership qualities and professional/ethical conduct. In addition, this person has held leadership positions in their community and organized dentistry. The New Dental Leader of 2023 is Dr. ArNelle Wright. Dr. Wright is a general dentist in Orlando and founder of the the Doctors for Future Doctors Predental Prep & Mentorship Program. She holds a variety of leadership roles at all levels of organized dentistry, some of which include serving on the Board of Directors for the Dental Society of Greater Orlando, as the 17th District representative to the American Dental Association’s (ADA) New Dentist Committee and as co-host of the ADA’s new podcast, “Dental Sound Bites.”

The FDA’s Leadership Awards are given to members of FDA councils, committees, task groups, delegation members or those in component and affiliate leadership roles. These awards look at the length and diversity of leadership service and the development and implementation of new ideas and programs. This year, the committee has selected two outstanding leaders to receive this honor. Dr. Joseph Richardson is a periodontist with practices in Eustis and Winter Park, Fla. Dr. Richardson serves as an alternate delegate to the ADA’s House of Delegates (HOD) and as a delegate to the FDA’s HOD, where he has acted as chair of the Reference Committee. Additionally, Dr. Richardson is the first vice president of the Central Florida District Dental Association. Dr. Walter “Beau” Biggs is a general dentist in Pensacola. After owning a private practice for many years, Dr. Biggs went to work as a civilian dentist on a military base. He spent five years treating active-duty military and veterans. At the end of his tenure on the floor, he returned to Pensacola, where he has held many leadership positions in the Northwest District Dental Association, including president for 2021-22.

Each year as a part of the Awards Luncheon, the FDA takes the opportunity to recognize and thank its current president, with the President’s Award. The 2022-23 FDA President, Dr. Gerald Bird, is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Cocoa, Fla. Bird has served in leadership within the Central Florida District Dental Association, the FDA and the ADA for many years in various roles. His passion has always been legislative advocacy for the FDA and ADA. Dr. Bird spent years on the ADA’s Political Action Committee, serving as chair from 2017-18 and on the FDA’s Political Action Committee board. He continues to serve his profession and advocate for all dentists as a legislative contact dentist in Florida while also leading the FDA as president.

One of the FDA’s most prestigious awards is the Dentist of the Year Award. The Dentist of the Year is someone who has demonstrated outstanding service to the association, the profession and the community during the previous year, as well as excellent leadership and people-management skills. The FDA proudly announces that Dr. Cesar R. Sabates is the 2023 Dentist of the Year. Dr. Sabates has served his profession tirelessly for years, committing his life to dentistry and organized dentistry at all tripartite levels. Dr. Sabates is a longtime leader in the South Florida District Dental Association and the FDA, where he served as president from 2011-12. He then served as a trustee to the ADA, culminating in his successful campaign for ADA president-elect. He became the first from Florida and the first Cuban American to win this position. During the past year (2021-22), while serving as ADA President, he worked diligently to enact change and bring about a more inclusive culture at the ADA.

The top honor given by the FDA is the J. Leon Schwartz Lifetime Achievement Award. This honor is reserved for those who have demonstrated dedicated effort and outstanding accomplishments in organized dentistry throughout their career. Nominees for the Lifetime Achievement Award must come from the component society leadership as a part of the vetting process. The FDA is delighted to honor Dr. Kim Jernigan with the 2023 J. Leon Schwartz Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Jernigan has served organized dentistry at every level for 35 years, beginning with her time at UFCD, where she was the ASDA president. She represented the FDA in front of the Florida Board of Dentistry as chief liaison for more than nine years. She also served on multiple councils and committees within the FDA, including as chair of the Leadership Development Committee. Dr. Jernigan was the first female president of the FDA, serving from 2012-13. At the national level, Dr. Jernigan was a longtime delegate to the ADA, served as chair for Florida’s delegation, and spent time as an ADA Political Action Committee member and member of the ADA’s Council on Governmental Affairs. Dr. Jernigan is well known in her Northwest District Dental Association and across the state and nation as someone who has led with honor and dignity in her roles in organized dentistry, as well as her professional and personal life.

So, You Want to Buy a New Computer?

By Larry Darnell, Director of Information Systems

I hear you. You are a dentist — a highly educated professional who works with a lot of technology day in and day out at your practice. So buying a new computer/laptop should be easy for you, right?

I just participated in Amazon Prime Days. It is like Black Friday sales a month early. You know what I never buy on Black Friday or Amazon Prime Days? Computers/laptops. Why? For the most part, retailers will put models and features on ridiculous sales that have almost none of the features you really want or need. However, who can turn down a $300 laptop though, right?

I call this time of the year silly season for technology because you have people who want a new “something”, and you mostly have retailers who want to sell you the technology they cannot sell at other times of the year. It is a match made in technology heaven.

Let me ask you a few questions and provide you with some suggestions that can help you make wise purchases (or even no purchase) at this time of year.

First, who is this computer/laptop for? Will it need to be mobile — like travel with you? That rules out a desktop. In fact, I will say there are very few specific cases where a desktop is going to be the best option because laptops and even tablets are just as powerful as desktops these days.

Next, are you tied to a particular brand or maker of a device? If you are an Apple user (like an iPhone), MacBooks and iPads make great options to buy. Why? Because information can so easily be shared between them with built-in apps.

Likewise, if you are an Android or Google user, there are options that work well in that arena too. I would caution you to steer clear of a Chromebook unless you only want it for limited Internet access. Chromebooks are single-purpose laptops with limited power and functionality but are also very cheap.

On occasion, a Microsoft Surface might be a good option no matter the phone you use because it is like a hybrid laptop/tablet that works on the familiar Microsoft Windows Operating system. Familiar is good.

The other thing you will notice is a dizzying array of features, acronyms, and letter/number combinations. Here is an actual advertisement on Amazon for a $650 laptop. 2022 Newest HP 17.3” HD+ Display Laptop, 11th Gen Intel Core i3-1115G4 (Up to 4.1GHz, Beat i5-1030G7), 16GB DDR4 RAM, 1TB PCIe SSD, Bluetooth, HDMI, Webcam, Windows 11, Silver, w/ 3in1 Accessories.

Let’s break that down. Intel Core I3 is an older and slower processor (even an 11th generation one), you want I5, I7 or I9, the higher the number the better. 17.3-inch screen means it could be monstrously heavy for a laptop. Check the weight if you want it to be portable.

16GB of RAM should be a standard today. You might get by with 8 or 12 but you want more in a laptop than that. RAM is where the work on a computer can bog down. A 1 Terabyte (TB) SSD is a solid-state drive which is really good. The drive is where you store your applications and data. 1 TB is 1024 GB (Gigabytes). Most of your cheaper models will push a 256 GB SSD which is NEVER enough.

If you are buying a desktop/laptop you want Windows 11. Most of the other features listed come standard on just about anything you buy. You definitely want to pay attention to ports like USB, HDMI and other video ports. Like how many and what type. In my opinion, this laptop is worth $400 not $650.

If you are wanting to purchase a desktop or laptop, here are the suggestions part I mentioned:

  • Go look at what you are interested in at a store locally. Want to buy a computer/tablet/laptop/phone, you name it. Go get the look and feel at the store. You do not have to buy it there. Anytime I go to a city with an Apple store, I go in and put my hands on all the test models. Best Buy and other Club Warehouses have the ability for you to test out anything, so do it. Find what you like. Make a note of it and the features. Take a picture of the specs with your fancy phone…that’s what it’s for. Then shop around both in stores and on the Internet paying close attention to get the specs and features you want for the price you want too.
  • Is the extended warranty or Geek Squad stuff worth it? Probably not but it depends on your level of expertise. I get AppleCare on my phone because a lot of bad things can happen with a phone. My laptops? Never.
  • If you are shopping online, make sure it is with a reputable retailer. On Amazon, look at the stars, read a few customer reviews. Careful of some 3rd party resellers. Might save yourself some headaches later.
  • Despite what seems like light-speed development, newer is not always better. Case in point, except for the camera, an iPhone 13 is just like an iPhone 14. No need for the pricy upgrade. Wait for the iPhone 16 to get more value for your money.
  • I also tend not to purchase really off-brand of technology. Generic may work for groceries but it’s not as helpful with technology. It really comes down to service and support after you have made the purchase. The off-brands may not provide you with the best options here. Sometimes you really do get what you paid for.
  • Be critical of those things that are put on sale at the high-pressure times of the year. The only exception I might make to that is back-to-school sales because good deals can be found then, but they are usually found at office supply stores not big box retailers or online.
  • Most computer people like me will also never buy from certain manufacturers. Often that is based on personal experience. I have a list just like that. I do not care if they are giving them away, I am not taking it. Making the wrong decision can have long-term consequences so do some research. Be patient. What seems like the best deal today will likely be available again.

Happy computer/laptop shopping. As a guy who just properly disposed of 15 years’ worth of old computers/laptops, it pays to pay more, take your time, and get what you want/need the first time.

Highlighting FDA’s Leaders Emerging Among Dentistry (LEAD) Event

Angela McNeight DMD MS, Leadership Development Committee Chair

The Leadership Development Committee of the FDA is excited to announce its annual Leaders Emerging Among Dentistry (LEAD) Event taking place Friday, Jan. 20, 2023, at the Tampa Airport Marriott. This half-day program from 1-5 p.m. provides leadership training to enhance your abilities and interpersonal skills to help you become a stronger leader in your practice and your community. The first half of the program will focus on discovering your communication style and conflict resolution through interactive leadership coaching by renown leadership consultant, Velma Knowles. She will provide a new perspective on your communication style and give tools to adapt your style for greater connection, leading to greater team collaboration and increase in employee morale. The second half of the LEAD event will include interactive, round-table discussions focused on real-life leadership challenges and current trends in the dental landscape. The day will also be sprinkled with informational presentations on FDA governance, advocacy, and Foundation programs to share what is being done at all levels of the organization.

Angela McNeight DMD MS

So, you’ve been to leadership events before and you’ve received training on some of the above-mentioned topics, and you may be thinking…why should I go to this particular event? What makes this event different? While all methods of self-improvement should be applauded, the fact remains that leaders change over time. As you grow in your practice and become more confident in your leadership skills, it is important to re-evaluate your strengths and receive additional training on areas of your skill set that may be a struggle. As much as leaders change, teams and their needs change as well. The challenges dentists face today are different than the challenges faced even a few years ago. Through the self-reflection and goal-setting portions of this event, you will receive tangible skills that you can incorporate into your day-to-day life. Investing time in yourself will bring invaluable insight to your interactions with your team, your community, and your colleagues. After the event, attendees have the opportunity to attend a leadership reception with FDA House of Delegates members to network and learn more about the behind-the-scenes of the FDA.

If you are looking to get more involved in dental leadership, become a more effective leader, or just learn more about organized dentistry, this is the event for you. LEAD is a free event for FDA member dentists as well as Florida dental students. The FDA has a limited number of grants available to assist with travel costs. For more information, access to the hotel room block, and to register, please visit floridadental.org/lead. Registration is limited to the first 50 registrants.

New Issue of Today’s FDA is Available to Read Online NOW!

The 2022 November/December issue of Today’s FDA is available online for Florida Dental Association (FDA) members NOW! Check it out for great articles about peer review – an exclusive FDA member benefit, how the dental workforce shortage is being addressed and even tips on purchasing a new computer. So, what are you waiting for? Head to floridadental.org/publications or just click the cover image below to read the issue.

Receiving Emergency Dental Care Over the Holidays

With the holidays fast approaching, we wanted to remind you that you are required, either personally or through another Florida licensed dentist, or through a reciprocal agreement with another group, to provide 24-hour emergency care for all patients under your continuing care. If you do not provide this emergency care, then you are subject to discipline by the Board of Dentistry (BOD). Emergency care is also listed in the ADA’s Dental Patient Rights and Responsibilities Statement. It states a patient has the right to reasonable arrangements for dental care and emergency treatment. The full list of patient’s rights and responsibilities can be found at www.ada.org.

Unfortunately, I cannot give you any clear-cut parameters on what will be enough to satisfy this rule. For example, is a 24-hour number for patients to call you enough; do you have to be available to have patients come into your office 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Instead, the reasonableness standard will apply here. Ask yourself is the access to emergency care you are providing to your patients reasonable under the circumstances.

The BOD Rule on this is 64B5-17.004, Emergency Care: It is the responsibility of every dentist practicing in this State to provide, either personally, through another licensed dentist, or through a reciprocal agreement with another agency, reasonable twenty-four (24) hour emergency services for all patients under his continuing care.

Book Review: The Art of Occlusal Esthetic Waxing

Reviewed by Dr. Alan E. Friedel

The Art of Occlusal Esthetic Waxing is an exceptional book on an important analog concept in what fast is becoming a digital world. This book is made for those people who believe that digitally created occlusion may come close to, but is not as good as proper analog creation of occlusion, especially when carefully crafted by an exacting dentist.

 The book takes a logical, stepwise approach to educate dentists who are new to these concepts or to remind experienced dentists of the logic behind each of the steps involved with creating aesthetic, functional occlusion. The book begins by setting parameters, building basic agreement about the concepts of occlusion and aesthetics. Most of us have not reviewed these concepts since early in dental school education. The fundamental understanding of occlusion; where the forces of function are properly directed is inherent to excellence in dentistry. The discussion of aesthetics starts tooth by tooth and then pulls back into a discussion of face form, arch form, profile and lips.

Visit floridadental.org/member-center/publications/book-reviews to read the full review.

How to Excel When Treating Patients with Special Needs

By Erin Taylor, DMD

Treating special needs patients provides a unique and fulfilling opportunity within my practices. Having the opportunity to provide excellent dental care and remove the access barrier is not only rewarding for patients and their families but for the doctors and staff within my practices as well.

I first connected to the treatment of special needs patients during my dental school education at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. Consequently, after graduating from my dental school program, I continued my education as a pediatric dentistry resident at the University of Pittsburgh. I continued to diagnose and treat special needs patients at the University of Pittsburgh where our residency program worked directly with the anesthesia department, so we were able to provide treatment for all individuals regardless of age, disability, medical needs or behavior.

As I branched out into private practice, I realized that only a few dentists were comfortable treating special needs patients of any age. Adult special needs patients were referred to pediatric dentists because we were considered “behavior management specialists” even though there were times that the procedures were no longer within the scope of our specialty.

Adult dentistry can become increasingly challenging and complicated as patients continue to age because they may require endodontic, periodontic, prosthodontic and even surgical procedures within an adult dentistry scope. This can be significantly challenging since few adult specialties have access to sedation procedure or are willing to treat adults with special needs. Special needs patients that we see in our practice include those with Down Syndrome or with a rare genetic condition, patients on the autism spectrum, or those with any array of syndromes. Our patient age range is not limited to children; we see patients of all ages with special needs.

Offering treatment to special needs patients is a rewarding segment of dentistry that many providers can implement with appropriate tools and patience. Most adult patients who are referred to our practice will start their appointment with introductions to the office in the form of a meet and greet visit. This gives us the opportunity to discuss dental history, go over their current medical history, and assess the patient’s behavior or ability to cooperate so we can decide what methods would provide the most effective care.

Dr. Taylor treating a patient under IV sedation

From there we are able to develop a treatment plan and present it to the parents or caregivers. If a patient can be seen in a standard clinical setting, we set a date and discuss any routine dental prophylaxis or restorative appointments that utilize traditional communicative behavior management techniques. If needed, we also propose nitrous oxide and oxygen inhalation sedation. If sedation is required due to behavior or other medical complexities, then we can have a discussion about the available sedation options. In our practice, we offer IV sedation in conjunction with a dental anesthesiologist, or we can accompany our patients to an operating room at one of our local hospitals. Make no mistake, there are an abundance of people with special needs who are seen under routine circumstances because of their affable conduct and their ability to maintain a schedule of regimented dental work without preclusion.

I would love to see more practitioners offer these options in their practices. Many providers already possess the tools necessary to improve treatment accessibility to patients with special needs, such as IV sedation with a dental anesthesiologist or M.D. anesthesiologists. I am committed to establishing a team of specialists in my area who are dedicated to assisting with the treatment of our patients with special needs. Access to these additional providers and specialists allows our patients to receive dental care beyond our pediatric dentistry scope of practice.

We share these treatment alternatives with families so they have access to an endodontist, a periodontist and a general dentist who have the tools necessary to sedate patients in their offices. This team approach allows me to provide the most comprehensive dental care available to my patients and their families that would otherwise not be possible as a lone provider. More providers are needed to effectively care for this specific population of patients, and it starts with diligence and the simple desire to provide care. The life-long connections you make with these patients and their families is the ultimate reward.

If you are interested in treating patients with special needs, get involved by taking available continuing education courses and visiting dental schools with special needs clinics. These are both amazing assets for practitioners to get a first look into the field and develop new protocols to effectively diagnose and offer treatment to patients with special needs in the future. Every provider who opens their door and their heart to patients with special needs makes a huge impact, not only in the dental industry, but in their community as a whole!

Book Review: ITI Treatment Guide: Digital Workflows in Implant Dentistry

By Dr. Alan E. Friedel

Digital Workflows in Implant Dentistry is a compilation of material presented in 2018 at the ITI Consensus Conference in Amsterdam that was worked into this book.  This book is extremely thorough in detail and is not intended for dentists seeking a simple “cookbook” approach to digital workflow. If you have an academic interest, or if you are heavily invested into digital dentistry, this book will be of interest. There are 14 chapters to the book, and the first 12 examine different aspects of digital approaches to what were formerly analogue procedures. These concepts include: Digital Scans, CAD/CAM, Implants, Computer Guided Surgery, and Digital Articulators to name a few.

Chapter 13 provides multiple case studies some of which by the nature of digital workflow have areas of overlap. For those readers who find most of the book to be too dense, these presentations are more in the nature of a “nuts and bolts” approach to the topics raised in the preceding chapters. The cases start with single implant restorations and become progressively more complex ending with a case requiring multiple implants and the correction of a large bony defect in a patient’s maxilla.

The final chapter is brief but provides a listing of those technologies which one would have to invest in if a doctor decided to immerse into a digital approach to clinical care. Each chapter ends with concluding remarks where the authors lay out challenges being faced in the area of discussion and provide cautionary notes.

The illustrations are up to the high standard the publisher is renowned for and provide visual understanding of the topics being introduced. These images will be familiar to those doctors used to working in this realm, but will be a revelation to those of us who have not yet experienced high resolution STL files or CBCT radiography.

This book is of an Academic Nature and would be of great value in a teaching environment pointing towards how dentistry will be practiced in the coming generations. It should be part of the library of any institution engaging in digital practice. It is not for the average reader.

Visit floridadental.org/member-center/publications/book-reviews to read the full review.

10 Times your Dental Assistant Has Saved the Day

By Megan Donawa, EFDA, CDA, BA

Being a dental assistant is kind of like being a superhero. We use our abilities beyond those of ordinary people and demolish villains like dental fear, anxiety, and the biggest culprit: tooth decay and periodontal disease. Although these moments of strength are stealth-like, these skills never go unnoticed. Here are 10 times your dental assistant has (flawlessly) saved the day:

  1. Using our mind-reading powers, your treatment room is set up for any and every step within your patient’s appointment…including those unexpected times of treatments that have gone rogue.
  2. We use our accelerated healing powers to talk a patient off the ledge of dental anxiety and fears (because when you’re in our chair, everything is going to be okay).
  3. The best heroes have control over patient documents like health history, radiographs, and past dental history to better prepare you for the battle against oral pathology!
  4. Taking advantage of our super speed, we’re able to maneuver our complete set up from a simple filling to a surgical extraction without breaking a sweat.
  5. Magically projecting our knowledge of insurance basics to dominate the quality of communication between the patient and the team. (Because true champions are cross trained!)
  6. Delicately handing off our patient to the front office to schedule their next treatment to ensure teamwork to serve dental justice.
  7. With organization as our ammunition, we create an effortless workflow to communicate with you.
  8. Hitting back self-doubt with a vengeance and trusting the processes that we’ve put into place for patient care.
  9. Using our supernova voice to bring our best input from the doctor-assistant side to the table during meetings and huddles.
  10. Dental crime never sleeps, so we set back up to save the day again… tomorrow.

Making Sure You and Your Team Feel Safe

By Casey Stoutamire

Recently, I’ve seen an uptick in calls from members asking how to deal with disgruntled patients who are making them and members of their team feel unsafe. Unfortunately, due to frustrations from the pandemic, political polarization, economic pressures (and the list could go on and on), dental offices are becoming more susceptible to violence that has been seen in other healthcare settings. The violence in a dental office can be anything from patients (or their family members) verbally berating dentists and their teams to physical threats or even shootings.

You might think this type of violence won’t happen in your office, but don’t let those be “famous last words.” It is time for dentists to make workplace safety — including the safety of your team and patients — a priority. So, what can you do to make sure you and your team are as safe as possible? First, train yourself and your team for how to speak with patients. This seems basic, but it is one of the most important tools with which you can empower your team. Due to the pressures mentioned above, a patient’s fuse could be much shorter and it is important for you and your team to focus on their concerns, listen carefully and respond accordingly. The focus should be on conflict resolution. Often, the patient just needs to vent and feel as though he or she is being heard. You and your staff know your patients and can identify “problem patients” so the entire team can be alerted to when they are on the schedule. You might also want to consider formal conflict resolution training for you and your team. Available for attendance at the 2023 Florida Dental Convention, “Communication Solutions: Attitudes, Breakdowns and Conflict Resolutions” is a course that will illuminate techniques when it comes to keeping an overall positive work environment.

Second, ensure that your office is physically secure. Are there employee-only entry points that are kept locked? Is there only one entry/exit for patients/non-employees? What is the security for front desk staff? Do you have security cameras? How are your treatment rooms laid out and positioned? I encourage you to involve your team in this exercise so they feel engaged in the process. Also, make sure your team remains vigilant and alert of their surroundings. Do they notice a patient in the parking lot long after their appointment or when they are not even on the schedule? You need to be alerted to these issues so you can handle them accordingly.

Finally, if you do have a patient who is threatening you or your team, you should dismiss them from the practice immediately. If they threaten violence or your team does not want them in the practice, you need to take this seriously as you can never be too cautious in these situations. I suggest alerting law enforcement and making a report. This is especially important if the patient has already been verbally or physically abusive to your team.

As always, your Florida Dental Association is here to help. Please do not hesitate to call us to discuss these delicate issues and talk through your specific scenarios.

Casey Stoutamire is director of third party payers for the Florida Dental Association. She can be reached at 850.681.3629.

Connecting with Hispanic Floridians to Reverse Trends in Oral Health

By The Moore Agency

Every September 15 to October 15 is set aside as Hispanic Heritage Month to recognize Hispanic contributions to our culture and celebrate their achievements in our communities.

Hispanic Floridians are a vital part of our communities and culture. It is even more important for dentists to be aware of the needs, beliefs, and motivating factors of the Hispanic community since they make up almost one in four Floridians, many of which are probably patients of FDA dentists. But there is a disparity among Hispanic populations when it comes to oral healthcare. Only 27.8% of Hispanic adults visited a dentist in 2017-2018, compared to 47.4% of non-Hispanic White adults and 38.9% of non-Hispanic Asian adults.

Lack of knowledge presents a major obstacle to better oral health among Hispanic Floridians. One recent study found that 6 in 10 Hispanics believe that more information on oral care habits in Spanish would benefit them. The issue of lack of knowledge available to this community is an even greater problem since Hispanic individuals often experience more oral health issues compared to the general population.

In response, we have developed a bilingual advertising campaign with the Florida Dental Association. The campaign aims to inform Hispanic Floridians about oral health care and how to find a local dentist in both Spanish and English. Through authentic communication that prioritizes visuals and wording relevant to this audience, the FDA hopes to reverse the oral health trends of Hispanic families in Florida.

Another way you can ensure your dental practice is catering to Hispanic members in your community is to promote if your dentist or dental hygienist is bilingual. Bilingual team members improve a person’s dental visit by removing the fear of miscommunication and providing comfort in a potentially stressful situation. By promoting this on social media or promotional materials, you may be able to help someone in your community treat their oral health issues for the first time in their life.

It is our sincere hope that you see more Hispanic patients in the next few months as a result of this campaign. The Florida Dental Association has made it clear that this audience is a priority, and we will continue to work with them to help Hispanic Floridians attain a healthy smile.

Strategic Planning For Your Dental Practice After Hurricane Ian

By Dr. Richard Huot

In September 2004, the author was experiencing one of two hurricanes to hit his dental practice in a matter of three weeks.  His first article, “Prepared for the Worst,” appeared initially in the October 2004 issue of Dental Practice Report. After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, he wrote “Protecting Your Practice Against Disaster” in the November 2005 issue of Dental Economics.  This article is about what to do after the impossible:  a category 4 near 5 hurricane direct hit on your home and practice such as some dentists have just experienced recently with Ian.

The impact on the individual dental practices will be devastating, and some practices may be slow to recover, quite possibly never opening again due to businesses leaving the area.  Your preventive maintenance schedule will be thrown into disarray, and as “snowbirds” slowly return to Southwest Florida, those appointments may be skipped or postponed, as we have seen in COVID-19 and past hurricanes.  The survival tips below are intended to help my fellow dentists cope step-by-step as they slowly rebuild their lives.  The tips are based on the experiences we relied on, and passed on to our clients, to help us get through those tough times.

Take Care Of Your Family First

Our loved ones need to be reassured that there is hope, despite what appears to be the contrary. I can still remember my then 6-year-old looking at me very seriously and asking me if our home was destroyed.  As dentists, we provide a pretty affluent lifestyle to our children, and they need to be told honestly and gently that life as they know it will change quite drastically for them for at least the foreseeable future.  Initially, while the damage is too extensive to navigate back to your homes and offices, I would recommend that you concentrate on looking for a healthy diversion such as a “change of scenery” in another geographic location.  Some homeowners’ insurance policies cover meals, housing and other expenses while you are not capable of occupying your primary residence. You might even consider attending a continuing education meeting in that time frame!  Regardless of what you choose, I would encourage you to keep all of your receipts for food, travel and lodging until you can determine coverage, and stay away from dramatic news coverages to avoid focusing on events that you have no control over, at least for now.

Another option is to reactivate a license you may have in another state as a “backup” if you are looking at possibly being out of your office for anything more than a few weeks.  It would also be beneficial to look into the process of obtaining a license in another state if that particular state has a recognition program with another.  The process time varies from state to state, but licensure by credentials has been fast tracked since COVID, and many states are looking for practitioners in areas you may like or have visited in the past.  Most practice interruption insurances have deductibles or wait periods and have been hard to obtain since prior hurricane years, so finding employment in that extended time frame is certainly in order.

Take Care Of Your Staff Next

Hopefully, prior to the storm, you have given your staff a copy of all the telephone numbers (cell) and addresses of everyone.  This “phone tree” will be helpful to get an idea of where everyone is and, as owner, you need to reassure your staff members that you will lead them through these tough times.  Until each situation is assessed, I would not make any promises of employment or pay until the local municipalities tell you how they will deal with power and water issues, and you have time to estimate how long your practice will be inactive.  A liberal use of available personal time and vacation time is in order to pay your employees in the meantime, if they have accumulated that time for 2022 and prior years.  Your staff needs to know that you have empathy concerning their plight, but your financial health has to be secure in order for theirs to be.

In our case, my office manager was a volunteer first provider in the area, so I kept her salary going as she helped our community.  She was also able to provide me critical information and advised me when it was safe to come back.  She also kept the staff appraised and slowly had them report as work for them to do become available.  Once electricity is restored, the office manager can assist you in determining when it is appropriate to start scheduling patients and having staff back.  It is critical to instill in your staff that reestablishing a normal work schedule at the soonest time possible is key to the financial health of the practice.

Contact Your Dental Society For Help

The Florida Dental Association and its affiliate dental societies are doing a fantastic job in contacting all dentists affected.  Take a look at the FDAS “Storm Proof” guide for helpful hints after the hurricane hit, and how your practice can recover.  https://issuu.com/todaysfda/docs/hurricane_guide_2022

The American Dental Association has recovery materials that include methods for managing pay and leave issues following a hurricane, tips for accessing patient information during an emergency and links to guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Contact Your Local Bank Or Finance Company For Help

If you haven’t done so prior to the storm, you should have a business line of credit established with the institution where you deposit your earnings.  A good rule of thumb is 1.5 times your monthly overhead expenses.  That should allow you to pay most expenses prior to insurance coverage processing and give you financial piece of mind.

If you don’t have one already, a wireless laptop computer goes a long way in keeping you in touch with your community, and on the laptop, you should have all the vital information that keeps your practice running, along with an alternate power source.  Your accounts payable software should be loaded, to pay invoices from away, and keep track of the situation in Florida via the internet and email.

Make arrangements to retrieve your practice information from the cloud and, if necessary, install a new workstation/server so that information can be accessed by either you or your office manager if equipment was damaged in the office.

Contact Your Colleagues For Help

With the unprecedented number of hurricanes we experience in Florida, it is truly a pleasure to see how dentists “pitch in” and help their fellow colleagues.  We are small businesses and independent as a group, thus may be reluctant to ask for help.  Even after utilities are restored, it may make economic sense for two or more practices to merge, due to economies of scale and the permanent loss of patient base due to businesses relocating and financial hardship.  Even in affluent areas, going to the dentist will be way down the priority list for a good amount of time for all patients.  For any practice agreement of any large length of time, I would advise to get the “space sharing” arrangement in writing to avoid conflicts related to patients, expenses, etc.

For a dentist older than 50, it may make economic sense due to retirement plan rules to sell your practice to a younger practitioner.  Starting from “scratch” is a daunting task, capital intensive and may not necessarily the best financial choice at this stage of your practice life.  My advice would be to seek practice management consultants who have experience in this specialized area, and to identify practitioners in your immediate area who are potential candidates for merger, buyout, etc. 

Maintain A Positive Attitude!

After Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004, there were some days after we returned where it took everything to assume a normal life, especially since we evacuated once again in a matter of two weeks. Much of the same can be said for what it will feel like once you reach your community.  You can avoid “hurricane shell shock” by striving forward and attacking each hurdle one at a time.  Designate a fellow colleague or business acquaintance as a “wingman” and share your experiences with people who can help you get through this. Sometimes just having someone there with a different outlook or ability to spot a solution is all that is needed in the tough times ahead.

Dr. Richard Huot founded Beachside Dental Consultants, Inc. in 2004 and is a lecturer and author.  He served on the American Dental Association (ADA) ADPAC board from 2008-2012 and was Treasurer in his last year.  He was on the ADA Council of Government Affairs and is currently a member of the ADA Standards Committee for Dental Informatics (SCDI); he also serves as chair of the Council on Insurance and Retirement Plans (CMIRP).  Dr. Huot graduated from the College of Financial Planning in 1996 and is currently enrolled in the Chartered Financial Consultant program at the American College of Financial Services.

5 Strategies to Hire Great Staff for Your Dental Practice

By Anna L. Davies, Digital Marketing Specialist at Whiteboard Marketing

Like every industry, dental offices are facing staffing shortages. According to the American Dental Association, more than 80% of dentists say the recruitment process is extremely challenging.

Finding the staff and talent you need can feel overwhelming. Here are five strategies to help you recruit staff to your practice.

Strategy #1: Use Your Website to Hire New Staff

“Your website, if optimized, can be one of your most valuable recruitment tools,” says Sean White, CEO and owner of Whiteboard Marketing. “Prospective employees look through websites to get a feel for day-to-day life in your office.” In fact, the second most-visited page on a website is your team page.

To optimize your website for staff recruitment, work with your web developer to:

  • Add a careers page to your website so prospective employees can easily find postings.

This helps qualified, prospective employees find essential information about your practice and available positions.

Add individual pages for each job posting linked from the careers page. This makes the job posting easy for prospective employees to locate and help search engines like Google show your webpage when people search for dental jobs near them.

Strategy #2: Use Facebook to Attract New Staff

“With 71% of the U.S. population currently using Facebook, finding your best candidate is just a job post or advertisement away,” says White. “For our dental clients, we have had the most success recruiting quality candidates for front desk and office manager positions.”

Work with your social media manager to:

  • Post open positions on your Facebook business page.

Include the link to your careers page so prospective employees can go to your website and learn more.

After posting, boost this post to reach a wider audience. It will appear on your Facebook business page, in the “Jobs bookmark” and on Marketplace.

Facebook provides easy steps when boosting a job post. The platform considers job ads a “special category” and has a strict non-discrimination policy with limited audience segmentation capabilities.

  • Advertise open positions with Facebook ads.

Facebook advertising allows you to run your hiring ads longer than a boosted post. Use high-quality team images, positive messaging and strong calls to action.

For example, if you’re looking to hire a dental assistant in the Fort Lauderdale area, you can target Fort Lauderdale as your ad radius and people with “dental assistant” as an occupation or interest on their profile.

  • Join your area’s Dental Peeps Facebook group.

Dental Peeps is a private Facebook group for dental staff. Ask your staff to post on the wall and encourage others to apply.

Strategy #3: Post on Key Job Search Websites

Accounting for more than half of all online job postings, job websites serve as the primary recruiting source for employers and employees.

Indeed is the No. 1 job site in the world with more than 250 million active unique users each month,” says White. “Because every dental market is different, research the best site for your area.”

Consider using:

Strategy #4: Ask Your Employees to Refer Potential Staff

According to CareerBuilder, 82% of employers say their best employees come from referrals.

“Employee referral programs are one of the most effective and efficient recruitment strategies you can implement,” says White. “Your current team members understand your practice, patient philosophy, culture and work ethic. They also have the best idea of peers who may be a great fit for your business.”

Motivate your staff to refer employees through an organized incentive program. Some incentive ideas include cash, gift cards or extra vacation days. You also can ask team members to review your practice on hiring websites.

Strategy #5: Maintain an Inventory of Potential Employees

As you navigate the hiring process, you will collect resumes of qualified candidates. Keep these resumes on file for future opportunities at your practice.

Whiteboard Marketing is a national dental marketing agency, based in Dublin, Ohio. With more than 17 years of experience, Whiteboard Marketing creates unique, customized solutions that attract, acquire and retain patients for your practice.

New Issue of Today’s FDA is Available to Read Online NOW!

The 2022 September/October issue of Today’s FDA is available online for Florida Dental Association (FDA) members NOW! Check it out for great articles about how to excel when treating patients with special needs, accessing dental care by those who have disabling conditions, and more. So, what are you waiting for? Head to floridadental.org/publications or just click the cover image below to read the issue.

It’s Back-to-School for Radiography Certification

Education opens so many doors and can help people grow personally, in their careers and in their earning capacities. Dental assistants can join the back-to-school movement this fall by seeking certification in radiography. The easiest way to become certified to expose radiographs is to take the Florida Dental Association’s online radiography training course.

  • It’s completely online! Employees can start any time, study at their convenience, any time, any day, and for as long as they want. No travel, no classroom, no health risks.
  • It’s affordable. Online tuition is only $285 for FDA member dentists.
  • Once licensed by the state, employees will have new skills to contribute to your team, greater job satisfaction and more diverse tasks.

Get them registered!

The first step is for the supervising dentist to create an account at mydentalradiography.com/FDA and complete a short that explains their supervising  responsibilities. By state law, When the tutorial is completed, the supervising dentist is assigned an identification number and can purchase and assign vouchers to staff members. The dental assistant who is to take the training receives a “welcome” e-mail and can create an account and get started learning right away.

About the course

The training consists of nine modules, each with a quiz to test the student’s learning in preparation for the final test. The final test covers the online course material and must be passed. Multiple retries are permitted. After the test is passed, the dental assistant must expose a series of full-mouth radiographs, including four bitewings, with no more than five retakes permitted. The radiograph exposures must be under the direct supervision of the dentist.

Final steps

Once a certificate of completion is produced, the dental assistant applies to the state of Florida to be licensed to take radiographs. Once the state approves the application, radiographs can be exposed under the general supervision of a dentist.

This training is also available to dentists who are not members of the FDA. The cost for non-member dentists is $385 per voucher. This is still another way that FDA members receive value for their membership.

For more information about the radiography program, contact the FDA at 850-350-7143 and speak with Lywanda Tucker or email her at ltucker@floridadental.org.

Oh Great, I’ve Got This Kid with Oral Pathology … What Do I Do with That?!

By Dr. Ben Curtis

Has this ever happened to you? I know I am not the only one! As a pediatric dentist, this is one area where I use to be nervous and concerned, but I know is an opportunity for my office to shine. I integrated an all-tissue laser into my pediatric practice five years ago and it has been a game changer for my patients and my office.

This case is of a 5-year-old child who has a mucocele, a ruptured salivary gland that has formed a cyst of saliva that persists or gets larger. Fig. 1 is before treatment and Fig. 2 is two weeks post-treatment. These lesions are almost always caused by trauma and are quite common in early childhood. Kids of this age are not known for leaving things alone and they tend to bite and suck on these swellings, which makes them worse. The traditional surgical treatment involves a scalpel, lots of gauze to control hemorrhage and sutures to close the surgical site. Well, that sounds terrifying on a 5-year-old child! Not fun, right?

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Then comes the all-tissue laser and changes everything! With an all-tissue laser, we can provide a more minimally invasive surgical approach with minimal bleeding, no sutures and excellent healing … and dare I say, fun for me as the doctor! Could this be a win-win situation for both the patient and the doctor? Yes! I have been able to help countless patients who have these oral pathology lesions with the all-tissue laser in a simple in-office procedure that takes me less than 10 minutes. This procedure has become my most favorite pediatric procedure to preform, and it is all do to the all-tissue lasers help!

Book Review — Lit: The Simple Protocol for Dental Photography in the Age of Social Media

Reviewed by Dr. Kimberly Tran-Nguyen

Dr. Miguel Ortiz is a well-known prosthodontist, lecturer and photographer in the dental world. He created a book to complement the courses he teaches regarding dental photography. In the age of social media, dental photography plays a crucial role if dental practitioners want to expand their practice. What makes this textbook valuable is the knowledge Dr. Ortiz brings with his experience as a previous lab technician, dental clinician and having established a well-known social media presence.

“Lit” is broken down into simplified analogies with visual representations to better explain the concepts in the book. The author organizes the first section of the book into five concepts associated with photography that can be adjusted to produce the photos desired: exposure, aperture, shutter speed, depth of field and white balance.

Visit floridadental.org/member-center/publications/book-reviews to read the full review.

Book Review: Protocols for Mobile Dental Photography with Auxiliary Lighting

Reviewed by Dr. John Paul

Generally, I am not a fan of an infomercial and a great deal of this book revolves around how to use a proprietary device, the Smile Light MDP, with your own cell phone to make dental photographs.

That knee-jerk reaction out of the way, it is possible there is no device similar to the Smile Light MDP available and the book does a fair-handed job of comparing dental photography using a conventional digital camera and all of its attendant gear to making those photographs with your cell phone, the MDP device and a few other pieces of kit, the mirrors and retractors needed for either type means of capturing the images.

Visit floridadental.org/member-center/publications/book-reviews to read the full review.

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Advocate For Your Profession!

By Joe Anne Hart, FDA Chief Legislative Officer
Dentistry continues to evolve and change as innovation progresses and technology advances. As this happens, it is important for individuals who have authority to change policies that may affect the way you practice dentistry be aware of the importance of education and training in dentistry. Let us look at why it is important for YOU – as a member of the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Florida Dental Association (FDA) – to advocate for your profession.

  1. If you are silent, then others who may not share your interest, will have a louder voice and influence over elected officials impacting your profession.
  2. You are the dental expert – use your voice to help educate elected officials (local, state and federal) on policies that will have an impact on your patients and your profession.
  3. People do not understand the level of training required to practice as a licensed dentist. Do not leave your skill level to the imagination of others – be vocal about your profession.
  4. Invest in your profession and reap the benefits of knowing and understanding how the FDA and the ADA represent your interests.
  5. There are national groups spending time and money advocating to change the way dentistry is practiced. You must be pro-active and develop relationships with your elected leaders, who will come to you first as their dental resource.
  6. Dentistry is not a technical license – it is a comprehensive dental degree provided to those who are proficient in comprehensive dentistry, and later afforded the privilege of acquiring a dental license to practice.
  7. Scope of practice is pitched as a solution when groups try to address access to care issues – it is important for policymakers to get the facts about why expanding scope may have a negative impact on patient care.
  8. For the FDA to be effective, we must speak with one voice. Participating in events like Dentists’ Day on the Hill, shows legislators that you believe in your profession and are willing to get involved to protect it.
  9. Investing in your profession by becoming a member of the Florida Dental Association Political Action Committee (FDAPAC) Century Club helps secure resources to support dental-friendly candidates.
  10. And last, but not least …If you are not at the table, then you are on the menu. The FDA works every day to ensure you have representation at the table and that policies are thoroughly vetted and debated at all levels of government. We cannot do this without YOU! Don’t sit on the sidelines as a spectator. Take an active role and advocate for your profession!

New Issue of Today’s FDA is Available to Read Online NOW!

The 2022 July/August issue of Today’s FDA is available online for Florida Dental Association (FDA) members NOW! Check it out for great articles about peer review – an exclusive FDA member benefit, how to create an emergency action plan for your dental practice and tips for being the most interesting person in the world when it comes to contacting your legislators about issues that are important to you. So, what are you waiting for? Head to floridadental.org/publications or just click the cover image below to read the issue.

What Are Google Ads and How Can They Help My Dental Practice?

By Anna L. Davies

If you’re looking for ways to generate new patients for your dental practice by using Google, you may have heard of Google Ads. Google Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is a simple method for your practice website to appear when a prospective patient searches and convert them into a valuable patient.

What is Google PPC Advertising and How Does it Work?

Google Ads are based around keywords that businesses bid on so they can show up at the top of a search result. Whoever bids the most money for key phrases will show up as the first result (up to four results are shown) with the small “Ad” indication. Every time one of these ads are clicked on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP), the business pays a preset fee.

For example, a dental practice may use the phrase “Family Dentist” so they can show up as the first result when a patient searches for “Family dentist Tallahassee Florida.”

Google Advertising is a form of pull marketing, which means that Google Ads target patients with a goal in mind who are trying to find a certain service or product. It is also conversion-driven, meaning that the end goal is to “convert” searchers from potential patients to actual paying patients. As such, you can theme your Google Ads around services or a general goal.

Do My Google Ads Appear Anywhere Else?

Along with showing up on the SERP, your Google Ads can also show up in the Google Map results. Your Google Business Profile will show up as one of the first three results.

Why Does My Practice Need Google PPC?

PPC advertising gets you in front of the patients you want because you can build a unique audience based on demographics, along with specific geographical areas you want to target.

Do Google Ads Work for Dentists?

Google Advertising is one of the most effective ways to reach your potential patients at the exact moment they are searching for certain keywords.

How Do I Get Started with Google PPC?

Work with your marketing partner to discuss your PPC goals. A few factors to consider when building your strategy are:

  • Services that generate revenue for your practice.
  • Services you’d like to promote.
  • What kind of patients you’d like to target.

Establishing a Sustainable Budget

Dentists that invest a minimum of $1,500 per monthly ad campaign see more calls, contact forms and scheduled appointments. Data will show that prospective patients are consistently searching for keywords related to dentistry at all hours of the day. The higher the budget you set, the more clicks you will receive.

Written by Anna L. Davies, digital marketing specialist at Whiteboard Marketing, with assistance from Michelle Yeauger, pay-per-click specialist. Whiteboard Marketing is a national digital dental marketing agency that provides data-driven solutions to help grow your practice. Schedule a consultation call with us to get started, and sign up for our monthly newsletter for more marketing tips.

Are We Ready to Embrace a Bold New Vision for the Dental Profession?

By Raymond Cohlmia, DDS and Marko Vujicic, PH. D

We are at a critical moment for the dental profession. What we do now, or what we don’t do, will define the entire profession of dentistry for decades to come.  The pandemic has brought unprecedented disruption to our personal and professional lives, but it’s really what comes next that is the game changer.  What’s approaching us is not just a guess. We have seen and will continue to see major acceleration in several trends that will have a profound impact on the profession.  

The future is now being painted clearly and several factors once thought to be short-lived fads are now well established trends. From the patient’s perspective, we know that there is a shift in the mindset of how patients are perceiving health care overall. This includes dentistry and is particularly common amongst millennials. This phenomenon coupled with intensified consumerism and public and private insurance replacing the self-pay market is leading to a change in patient base.  This will challenge our previous outlook when we analyze the future consumers of our dental care services.

Furthermore, we know that practice modality is transforming at a dramatic pace. This is fueled by the transition of the dental workforce to a younger, more diverse generation that will soon assume their roles as the new recognized dental care providers in the next decade. A decreasing percentage of dentists own their practice. Most dentists in Florida and much of the U.S. now practice in groups, with solo practice slowly disappearing (figure 1). More and more dentists are joining dental support organizations (DSOs) and a conservative estimate is that 15 percent of Florida dentists practice in these models, much higher than the U.S. average. As millennial and Gen X dentists replace baby-boomers, these trends will continue to intensify.  

The educational format has also shifted to an integrated and holistic approach to patient care.  Dentistry has been very successful in supporting the thought processes of wellness and prevention.  This has become the main focus of the general public’s expectations for their individual wellness. However, we also need to acknowledge that our current system of dental care financing and delivery is not serving all Americans.  We know that half of the U.S. population is not going to the dentist regularly and that cost barriers are the biggest reason why.  Although we have made vast improvements over the last two decades in many aspects of children’s oral health, we have little progress to show when it comes to oral health for adults and seniors. In fact, income and race disparities are widening among adults and seniors for several indicators of oral health and access to care.

What is all this leading to?  It brings us to a critical point for our profession. What we do now, or choose not to do, is critical to our future.  Are we ready to accept that practice models are evolving and, inevitably, dentistry will too, like all other health care professions?  Are we ready to advocate for policies that will work toward finding a routine dentist for all Americans?  Are we ready to transition dentistry into a core component of primary care in order to align with the conversion to a holistic approach to patient care that we’re seeing within the educational format? Changes like these have the potential to grant access to primary care dental providers to millions of Americans. If the answer is ‘yes’ to these questions, then the ADA and FDA will need to shift priorities in terms of how we support dentists and what we emphasize in our advocacy efforts. 

This is a time for bold and defined leadership.  You have heard both of us say that what is in the windshield is much more critical than what is in the rear-view mirror.  The scenery around us will continue to change whether we move or not. The question is, are we choosing to move forward, or stand by and watch it all happen? Our profession is at a crossroads and our view through the windshield is vastly different than what’s staring back at us in the rear view mirror. We must ask ourselves: are we ready to embrace a bold new vision for the dental profession, or are we going to sit back and watch as change happens around us?

Reprinted from Today’s FDA 2022 May/June issue. Visit floridadental.org/publications to view Today’s FDA archives.

New “Chew on This” Focuses on Social Media for Dentists

Do you want to know more about social media marketing for yourself or your practice? Have you wondered what to post or how to cater to the audience you’re trying to foster on your social media pages? Did you know that new patients are more likely to respond positively to personable posts that draw emotion rather than clinical posts about dentistry? All these questions and more are answered in this episode of “Chew on This” with FDA Executive Director Drew Eason and special guest, FDA member dentist, Dr. Joshua Golden. Dr. Golden is a social media influencer who shares his knowledge about successful social media from a dental perspective. This is an episode you won’t want to miss! Watch it now

Hire for Today, Mentor for the Future: Finding the Perfect Associate

By Suzanne Ebert, DMD

Bringing in an associate can be intimidating. You’ve built your practice’s reputation on a certain style of care and may have known some of your patients for decades. You want to know that Mrs. Smith will get the same quality and level of care she’s come to expect, regardless of which dentist she sees in your office.

So what makes an associate “right” for your practice and patients? 

Every week at ADA Practice Transitions (ADAPT), I speak with owners looking to hire an associate or sell their practice. Many insist that any associate coming to work for them must have at least two to five years’ experience. Too often, this means that they refuse to even consider a dentist who would otherwise be a perfect fit.

At ADAPT, we strive to connect doctors who can work well together and respect each others’ professional decision-making. While experience is important, skills can ultimately be trained. Underlying personality traits cannot.

Sometimes it’s best to hire someone who has the right attitude, approach and personality for your practice, then help them gain experience under your tutelage.

Let’s explore why a doctor with a little less experience can be a great asset to your practice. 

Train them to your best practices

Recently graduated doctors often come with a clean slate. They haven’t learned any bad habits and are typically laser-focused on achieving perfection.

Meanwhile, you have spent decades developing your own best practices. You know exactly what to do when conditions dictate that a crown margin must be placed in a somewhat “less than ideal” location, a canal is blocked out or a tooth is broken off at the gingival level. Young professionals crave opportunities to learn these things from an experienced doctor, and you can mold them to your best practices. Yes, they may initially take longer, but patience will pay off. And watching someone grow into their career — and themselves — can be incredibly rewarding.

Get up-to-date about the latest evidence and technology

Even the most diligent doctor has limited time for continuing education.

A recent graduate who has devoted the last four years to learning best practices and studying the research can help you stay current on providing evidence-based care and understanding new technologies.

Support independent dentistry

While 86% of graduating dental students say they want to own their own practice within 10 years, many turn to dental support organizations (DSOs) for their first dental jobs. Some owners bemoan this fact, stating that the training early-career professionals receive in DSOs is not ideal for developing the clinical skills owners value. Even so, many of these same owners refuse to hire anyone with less than five years of experience.

This begs the question: Where do owners expect new graduates to gain that initial experience?

The reality is that DSOs are generally eager to hire new graduates. DSOs can be a fantastic place for young dentists to build their skills while earning a steady paycheck. Owners need to either embrace this model or take matters into their own hands and hire (and train) a recent grad to their specifications.

Young dentists have to get hands-on experience somewhere. Why not in your practice?

Gain a new perspective — and revenue

A new dentist can provide an outsider’s perspective and fresh energy that may enable you to grow the practice. They might offer a treatment you currently refer out, or be able to take over some of the “bread and butter” dentistry to free up your time for more complicated treatments.

Be sure to discuss your intentions with any prospective hire to ensure you’re on the same page.

Plan ahead for your own retirement

Many dentists plan a long, gradual path to retirement. I help some create an “associate-to-owner” pathway, in which both sides agree to a timeline during which the senior dentist sells the practice to the junior dentist.

Other owners find themselves scrambling to sell after an injury or illness. Too often, this leads to practice closures.

Hiring an associate helps future-proof your practice as you’ll already have an in-house dentist who can provide continuity of care to your patients.

Think of hiring as a long-term endeavor. Seek the right person to work with your staff and care for your patients for years to come, rather than seeking someone with a preconceived amount of experience.

To create a free ADA Practice Transitions profile and be matched with dentists who share your approach, visit adapracticetransitions.com

Reprinted from Today’s FDA 2022 May/June issue. Visit floridadental.org/publications to view Today’s FDA archives.

UF Researchers Help Develop Highly Accurate, 30-second Coronavirus Test

The motherboard of a COVID-19 rapid testing device that UF Health researchers helped develop is seen here. The device can return a coronavirus test result as accurately and sensitively as the gold standard of testing, a PCR test, in 30 seconds. (Photo courtesy of Houndstoothe Analytics.)

By Bill Levesque

It is crucial to get a test result for a pathogen quickly, lest someone continue in their daily lives infecting others. Delays in testing have undoubtedly exacerbated the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, the most accurate COVID-19 test often takes 24 hours or longer to return results from a lab.

At-home test kits offer results in minutes but are far less accurate.

However, researchers at the University of Florida (UF) have helped to develop a COVID-19 testing device that can detect coronavirus infection in as little as 30 seconds. The testing device is just as sensitive and accurate as a PCR or polymerase chain reaction test, the gold standard of testing. UF researchers are now working with scientists at National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University in Taiwan.

Researchers say the device could transform public health officials’ ability to quickly detect and respond to the coronavirus or the next pandemic.

UF has entered into a licensing agreement with a New Jersey company, Houndstoothe Analytics. They hope to ultimately manufacture and sell the device, not just to medical professionals but also to consumers.

According to a recent peer-reviewed study published by UF researchers, the device boasts a 90 percent accuracy rating and comparable sensitivity to that of a PCR test.

Fan Ren, Ph.D. and Josephine Esquivel-Upshaw, D.M.D. 

“There is nothing available like it,” said Josephine Esquivel-Upshaw, D.M.D., a professor in the UF College of Dentistry’s Department of Restorative Dental Sciences and a member of the research team that developed the device. “It’s true point of care. It’s access to care. We think it will revolutionize diagnostics.”

The device is not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Researchers say they must first ensure that test results are not abstracted by cross-contamination. This analysis is ongoing as researchers work to identify other pathogens that might be found in the mouth and saliva that could precipitate contagion, such as other coronaviruses, staph infections, the flu, pneumonia and 20 others.

The hand-held apparatus is powered by a 9-volt battery and uses an inexpensive test strip, similar to those used in blood glucose meters. Coronavirus antibodies are attached to a gold-plated film at the tip of the device. The test strip is placed on the tongue to collect a tiny sample of saliva. The test strip is then inserted into a reader connected to a circuit board that houses the “brains” of the device.

If someone is infected, the coronavirus in the saliva binds with the antibodies and begins to dart around as they are prodded by two electrical pulses produced by a unique transistor. A higher concentration of coronavirus changes the electrical conductance of the sample which alters the voltage of the electrical pulses.

The voltage signal is amplified a million times and converted to a numerical value, which is essentially the sample’s electrochemical fingerprint. That value indicates a positive or negative result. A low value indicates a higher proportion of the virus detected within the sample. Researchers say the device’s ability to quantify viral and antibody load makes it especially useful for clinical purposes.

Esquivel-Upshaw confirms that the product can be constructed for less than $50. In contrast, PCR test equipment can cost thousands.

 The research team also is studying its ability to detect specific proteins that could be used to diagnose other illnesses, including cancer, a heart attack and immune health. 

Fan Ren, Ph.D., a distinguished professor in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering’s Department of Chemical Engineering and his team have been developing semiconductor-based sensor devices for nonmedical purposes long before COVID-19.

Ren notes that he finds inspiration for his work in the recent death of his wife which was unrelated to COVID-19. [SL1] He connects his grief to the mourning of the rest of the world amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Almost a million people have died of COVID” in the United States, Ren said. “Those are so many tragedies. Old people. Young people. You name it. I said, ‘No, that’s it.’ That is too much.”

He told of several institutions working on devices that use a field effect transistor (FET) like that found in the COVID-19 testing device his team is developing. Even so, those devices are made for one-time use. The sample is applied directly to the FET, so the transistor is no longer usable and must be discarded.

Ren states that the expendable nature of those devices makes them expensive and impractical for mass testing.

The UF device is unique in its structure due to the separation of the transistor from the sample, like blood glucose meters that use test strips to collect a drop of blood after a lancet pierces a finger. This innovation sets the device apart from the rest in both affordability and ease of use.

Ren proposes that the device could be a crucial advancement in testing for venues with large crowds, such as concerts, sporting events or classrooms. Researchers say the unit would also potentially provide access to inexpensive and accurate testing in rural areas and developing nations.

Researchers also discussed the limitless opportunities for personal usage of the device such as parties, events, and other gatherings.

“Yes or no. You’re infected or not infected. You get the answer right away,” said Ren.

Reprinted from Today’s FDA, 2022 May/June issue. Visit floridadental.org/publications to view Today’s FDA archives.

How Coalition’s Incident Response Helps Reduce Risks During a Cyber Attack

By Leeann Nicolo with Coalition Inc.

Traditional cyber insurance protects businesses from the impact of a cyber breach after it occurs. However, what if cyber coverage could actually help reduce the risk of an attack before it happens? 

As cyber incidents increase across the globe — cyber claims severity rose 56% for small businesses last year — reducing the risk of an attack proactively is critical to reducing overall business risk. 

Enter: Coalition’s Incident Response (CIR)

Driven by a team of technical experts, incident responders, forensic specialists, and security engineers, Coalition provides security across the lifecycle of a business, elevating the ability to respond to bad actors, including a security support center to help prevent attacks before they happen — and respond more effectively if they do.

From ransomware to reputational impacts, CIR solved 46% of incidents reported to Coalition last year —  without additional costs or using up policyholder deductibles. Even more consequential, CIR helped many policyholders prevent cyber incidents last year, as Coalition’s insureds experience less than one-third the frequency of claims compared to the broader cyber insurance market (based on 2020 and 2021 National Association of Insurance Commissioners [NAIC] report data).

The incident timeline: investigate, remediate, communicate

When a cyber incident does occur, policyholders should be encouraged to report the incident to their insurance provider immediately. 

Reporting an incident gets the ball rolling and alerts all necessary vendors and experts to mobilize, with the goal of reducing the overall impact of the incident. Coalition’s Claims team responds immediately to help determine what services to activate, from forensics specialists to a breach coach, and/or a PR firm to manage crisis communications. 

The Coalition team will walk an insured through an investigation and remediation of the incident, while also working on all points of critical communication simultaneously. Here’s the Coalition Incident Response timeline as seen through an investigate-remediate-communicate lens: 

  1. Investigate what happened, to determine the tactics and techniques used by the threat actor during the incident. Building off of the insured’s Active Risk Assessment — a scan of how the insured’s network is seen on the dark web, so all vulnerabilities are visible — CIR collects and analyzes forensic artifacts and system logs to dive into what vulnerabilities may have enabled the incident and how the business can react to protect itself. This includes determining if the business has available backups and utilizing tools to have oversight and block the threat actors from gaining more access. Were any previous vulnerabilities noted and not patched? Were all the potential protections implemented in good time? While Coalition’s in-house team leads the investigation of the cyber incident, based on its complexity, third-party specialists could be also called in to supplement Coalition’s expertise. 
  1. Remediate for both the short- and long term. While remediation steps are informed by the investigation, this step happens alongside the investigation. The goal here is to act quickly in order to minimize the damage. CIR recommendations will be based on what is known and learned about the business, as well as on protection implementations recommended to them during earlier stages of the Active Insurance life cycle.  For example, if the business has viable backups in place for all of their critical data, CIR can guide the business through a process that avoids interacting with the bad actor and gets them back online more quickly. As a general rule of thumb, offline backups offer the greatest chance of survival during a cyber incident, because they’re unreachable to the threat actor. Online backups are often also seized or locked up by the threat actors along with your network. The CIR team guides insureds through the entire process of restoring from backup, from negotiation, to testing encrypted data, and finally (if necessary) paying the threat actors for a decryption key to regain control of the network. Remediation is also a time during which CIR will make network recommendations for the future. These may include: 
    • Multi-factor authentication (MFA), the electronic authentication of two or more pieces of evidence in order to be granted access to a website or application 
    • Endpoint detection response (EDR), software installed on all servers and endpoints, designed to stop ransomware and identify unusual behavior in an application
    • Network segmentation, a strategy that provides limited network access to employees, based on job qualifications, tasks or seniority. This helps businesses reduce network access. 
  1. Communicate the technical details. CIR will act as the business’s technical expert during the incident’s communication process. This includes communicating with the bad actors if necessary, but also providing the appropriate technical detail to include in internal and external communications about the incident.  For example, depending on the regulatory laws in effect in the states in which the business operates, CIR will provide guidance on what needs to be communicated to anyone with breached data. CIR can also work with the policyholder to provide an accurate understanding of how much the claim will cost based on the remediation necessary and forensic investigation that took place.

Very often during and after a cyber incident, it’s important to engage a special public relations firm that deals with cyber incidents and their crisis communications needs. Coalition’s cyber coverage includes this service, and such a team is engaged if necessary by the CIR team as well. 

Coalition Incident Response is active

Coalition’s Active Insurance goes beyond a cyber insurance standard, playing an integrated role in your business’ cybersecurity across its lifecycle. It’s like combining the safety features of a vehicle — reverse backup sensors or automatic braking — with the post-accident coverage. 

Coalition’s Active Insurance approach consists of Active Risk Assessment, which takes place before the policy is written, Active Protection during the policyholder period, and Active Response, a post-breach response. All three phases of this lifecycle provide a continuous feedback loop of the business’ current risk level and vulnerabilities.

To report a cyber incident, Coalition policyholders can reach CIR here.

To learn more about Active Insurance, download the Coalition Active Insurance eBook.

Reprinted from Coalition Inc. Visit coalitioninc.com/blog to view the rest of the content on Coalition’s blog.

Chew on This: Dental Supply Best Practices with TDSC.com

Do you ever wonder what drives the cost of dental supplies? Want to know how to best keep supply costs low or if we should expect another shortage of personal protective equipment? Were you aware that all Florida Dental Association (FDA) members are part of a group purchasing organization and eligible for exclusive discounts?

FDA Executive Director Drew Eason gets answers to all these questions and more during his “Chew on This” interview with representatives of TDSC.com, powered by Henry Schein. Watch the interview!

Learn more by visiting TDSC.com and, if you’re attending FDC 2022, stop by the TDSC booth (Booth 430) to meet the TDSC team and play a game to win. 

Today’s FDA is Available to Read Online NOW!

The May/June 2022 issue of Today’s FDA is available online for FDA members NOW! Check it out for great articles about the Florida Dental Convention (FDC) and what to know before you go, artificial intelligence (AI) in today’s dentistry and, of course, special edition FDC speaker previews. So, what are you waiting for? Head to floridadental.org/publications or just click the cover image below to read the issue.

The Future of Dental Practice Marketing


Dental insurance checker

Online scheduling info

Social media statistics

Video marketing info

Facebook Ads info

Google Ad info

Info about claiming and optimizing your Google Business Profile (GBP)

Anna L. Davies info

Whiteboard Marketing info

FDC2022 Speaker Highlight: Dr. George K. Merijohn – Why YOU Should Take Dr. Merijohn’s KIWImethod® Grafting Workshop

Hurricane season starts June 1st. Make sure you’re prepared by using the FDAS’ 2022 Hurricane Guide!

June marks the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season. Be prepared for the 2022 hurricane season thanks to the FDAS’ 2022 hurricane guide! Check out articles about disaster preparedness, loss or damage, insurance resources, claims and what to do after the storm.

Click here for more information.

Florida’s Mission of Mercy Provides $1.79 Million in Dental Care at No Cost to 1,300 Floridians