When is a Computer Operating System Upgrade Really Necessary?

By Larry Darnell, FDA Director of Information Systems

The other day, I sat in a room at my doctor’s office waiting for him to appear. Since I am involved in technology, I quickly notice the computer in the room. It would be what I call a thin client computer with a basic computer operating system on it and a small footprint. All of a sudden, the power goes out at this office and as you might imagine, all things electrical shutdown, including this computer. When it boots back up after the power was restored, I am shocked and dismayed. The operating system is Windows XP! It has been five years since Windows XP reached what we call end of life. That means that the maker of the operating system, in this case, Microsoft, would no longer support, provide updates, or encourage you to use it. Perhaps you remember when they pulled Windows XP out of your cold, clutching hands and gave you Windows 7 or Windows 8. You cursed Microsoft like many others. Yet it is still being used five years later? The continued use of Windows XP is ill-advised, illogical and quite possibly illegal (in health care settings).

Well, in January 2020, Microsoft is doing it again. Windows 7 (which replaced Windows XP) will reach its end of life. There also will be a server operating system that has been super-dependable, Windows Server 2008 R2, reaching end of life, too. Here at the Florida Dental Association, we have been using Windows 10 for some time now on our workstation computers (the order goes Windows XP, 7, 8, 10, there was no 9). However, we do have three servers that use Windows 2008 and we’ve had to replace them with a newer server.

So, how do you know what operating system your computer is using? When your computer starts up, it should become clear:

xp
Windows XP = VERY BAD!

7
Windows 7 = Time to upgrade

8-10
Windows 8 or 10 = Ok for now

Understand that in most cases, it is likely possible to upgrade the computer operating system from Windows 7 to Windows 10 without buying a new computer. However, you would need to make sure that all software programs and hardware devices connected also are compatible with Windows 10.

Now is the time to do a checkup on your computer systems. Do not wait. This is not a Y2K-type concern, but it’s still important that you act now. If you have a third party supporting your computer systems, ask them now about this.

If you want more information on this, you can email me at ldarnell@floridadental.org or check Microsoft’s web pages specific to each event:

 

 

 

A Guide to Finding Your First Job After Dental School

By Ashley Halsey

So, you graduated from dental school and you need to figure out your next step to get a job. First of all, congratulations! Now, you need to follow these steps to help you get your first dental job.

1. Make a Plan

Think about where you want to be in five, 10 years. Do you want your career to go toward being a partner or owner of a practice? Are you interested in simply getting more experience, or paying back your student loans? Think about where you want to go, and it will help you discover how to get there.

Once you know that, you can start thinking about location, but you shouldn’t be focused on that at the start of your career. The best dental jobs usually are not in the heart of the city, where you’ll find there is more competition for patients. If you must live and work in a saturated or difficult market for whatever reason, consider the income offered in different parts of town. You’ll also want to manage your expectations regarding your income.

2. Develop a CV and Cover Letter

The reality is that most applicants don’t get to the interview stage. Because of that, it’s important that your CV and your cover letter set you apart from the crowd and showcase why you should be selected. This can be difficult when you don’t have any experience, but that’s where you must highlight your strengths.

A suggestion from Nancy Keenan, a dental writer at Writinity and Last Minute Writing, is to “include any electives or awards that you might have won, or if you graduated at the top of your class or in the top percentage. Add any volunteer experience that’s relevant and highlight what you learned from each.”

3. Find Opportunities

Networking is the best way to find open dental positions, but it can be difficult to meet with all the dentists and go to every meeting. Do some research online for local dental schools and associations because they might post job openings. A few online databases have dental job listings posted so that’s also a good place to start.

4. Dress to Impress for Interviews

If you’re not sure what to wear for the interview, go for overdressed instead of underdressed. You want the interview panel to know that you’re serious about your career. Think about if your interview outfit makes you look like a dental professional. It’s important at this stage to make a good first impression and establish your credibility.

5. Manage Phone Interviews

You’ll want to respond to all your emails and phone calls right away to show your interest and motivation. Even if you might not be interested in the opportunity, it’s respectful and you don’t know if down the road you may want a position at that practice. On a telephone interview, try to line up an interview in person. Rhonda Gorman, a medical journalist at Draft Beyond and Research Papers UK says that you should “tell them how interested you are and that you’d like to meet with them and see the practice. There’s no harm in taking the initiative to set that up. Don’t forget to smile, even on the phone, because you can tell when someone on the phone is smiling.”

6. Prepare for Your Interview

When you’re going in for an interview, prepare in advance. Smile and be enthusiastic, because a lot of it comes down to personality, too. Show genuine interest in the hiring dentist’s practice and their needs for a new dentist, because it’s important to know why they’re hiring a new dentist. In the clinic, treat all the staff with respect and friendliness. After your interview, follow up with a thank you email.

7. Review the Contract

Before you accept a position, you’ll want to review the contract with a legal representative, including compensation considerations and requirements. Does it include all the information that you need to decide if the job is right for you? If you’re not satisfied with the offer, don’t be afraid to request more and negotiate something better.

It can be daunting to look for a job, but by following these steps it should be more manageable. Good luck!

Ashley Halsey is a professional writer at Lucky Assignments and Gum Essays, and writes about career development and networking. She enjoys helping people connect with their dream careers and improve their professional skills. In her free time, she travels and attends many business seminars.

ADA Sets Record Straight on Status of Petition to Food and Drug Administration Regarding SmileDirectClub

Statement may be attributed to Dr. Chad Gehani, American Dental Association president

The American Dental Association (ADA) believes the public has a right to accurate information concerning the status of its pending  citizen petition submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (US-FDA) about SmileDirectClub, LLC’s direct-to-consumer plastic teeth aligner business. SmileDirectClub’s (SDC’s) inaccurate public statements that the ADA’s petition has been “shut down” or “dismissed” may deter customers who have experienced clinical problems in connection with SDC’s aligner “treatment therapy” from reporting their negative experiences to the US-FDA.

SDC’s public misstatements, including in its Oct. 4 press release, are apparently based on a May 30, 2019 letter from the US-FDA to the ADA. The letter, which can be viewed at the citizen petition landing page, did not reject or dismiss any substantive aspect of the ADA’s citizen petition. The US-FDA’s letter explains:

“We appreciate the information [the ADA] provided. Such information is often helpful for us to identify problems with marketed products and possible violations of the laws and regulations that we enforce. We take complaints seriously and we will evaluate this matter to determine what follow-up action is appropriate.”

The letter further explains that the US-FDA does not initiate enforcement actions on behalf of petitioners. Instead, the US-FDA reviews the submitted evidence and decides for itself what action to take. All substantive issues raised by the ADA’s citizen petition remain fully before the US-FDA at this time. The comment period for the public to address the petition and for the ADA to supplement the petition is open until Oct. 22 at 11:59 pm.

Further proof of the continuing pendency of the ADA citizen petition is SDC’s acknowledgement of it in the “Risks Related to Legal and Regulatory Matters” section of SDC’s Aug. 12, 2019 S-1 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Had the US-FDA dismissed the ADA’s citizen petition, there would have been no reason for SDC to mention the petition in its securities filing, and certainly not to identify the regulatory proceeding as one of SDC’s existing “risks.”

The ADA submitted its citizen petition and a complaint letter to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection out of concern for public safety and customer recourse in the event of negative outcomes from SDC’s orthodontic “treatment therapy.” Plastic teeth aligners are designated by the US-FDA as a Class II medical device requiring a prescription. The ADA believes SDC is placing the public at risk by knowingly evading the US-FDA’s “by prescription only” restriction.

In lieu of having dentists review patient dental records or perform any sort of patient exam (whether using teledentistry or otherwise) before prescribing orthodontic treatment, SDC instead requires customers to self-report their dental condition. As the ADA explains in its citizen petition, customer self-reporting does not meet the applicable standard of care because it does not satisfy a dentist’s requisite professional due diligence. Put simply, SDC and the small number of “SDC-affiliated” dentists have no way of knowing whether a lay consumer’s self-reported dental condition is accurate, informed, or true in any respect.

Moving teeth without knowing all aspects of a patient’s oral condition has the potential to cause bone loss, lost teeth, receding gums, bite problems, jaw pain, and other issues. Despite these potentially serious outcomes, SDC requires its customers to hold the company harmless from any negative consequences, as the ADA points out in its US-FDA citizen petition and FTC complaint letter.

In addition to these public health concerns, the ADA’s letter to the FTC cited various SDC practices the ADA believes to be deceptive under section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, including:

  • Informing purchasers they have recourse against SDC via arbitration, when the same document includes a “small print” provision obligating the customer to waive any and all rights the customer “or any third party” may have against SmileDirectClub.
  • Soliciting customers by claiming that SDC aligners will correct their overbite, underbite, and crossbite conditions, or their “extreme” malocclusion. But after customers complain about poor clinical outcomes, SDC invokes other documents stating that its aligners cannot treat bite conditions at all and can only treat mild to moderate teeth misalignment, not “extreme” misalignment.
  • Claiming that SDC customers receive the same level of dental/orthodontic care as actual dental patients, when in fact SDC and its affiliated dentists provide virtually no care and, contrary to its claims, SDC does not use teledentistry.

The ADA considers it our public duty to make the relevant regulatory agencies aware of these facts, so those agencies can be fully informed and consider whatever actions they deem appropriate.

The US-FDA’s MedWatch voluntary reporting form may be used by both consumers and health care professionals to report poor clinical outcomes associated with medical devices, including plastic teeth aligners. The FTC also offers consumers an online form to report complaints about unfair and deceptive business practices on its website.

ADA News Release, originally appeared on Oct. 9, 2019 and can be found here.

Smiles Over 65: Oral Health in Your Golden Years

By Karen Weeks, Elderwellness.net

Many people mistakenly believe that missing teeth and poor oral health is simply par for the course of aging. The truth is that you can have healthy teeth and your own natural smile for a lifetime. To make this happen as you enter your retirement years, it may become necessary to pay even closer attention to your mouth. Healthy dental habits, such as brushing and flossing, are a great start, but you also need to get comfortable in the dentist’s chair.

But it Costs so Much …

One of the most pressing issues with seniors today is that dental care is expensive. And those with original Medicare are left to foot the entire bill when their teeth and gums are on the line. There is good news, however, in that you have choices when it comes to your Medicare coverage. Medicare Advantage plans from companies like Humana offer comprehensive health care coverage, and the majority of these private Medicare policies provide a wide assortment of dental benefits. And considering that your oral health can affect other aspects of your well-being, you can’t afford not to see your dentist.

Healthy Habits

If you’re not brushing and flossing at least twice each day, you should. According to the American Dental Association, cleaning your teeth, or dentures, can help keep bacteria out of your mouth. And when it’s not in your mouth, you have less of a chance of it spreading throughout your body. Flossing is likewise important and is the most efficient way to remove solid food particles from between teeth. Dry mouth is a serious concern for many seniors, so you also should make a point to drink plenty of water and quit smoking.

Potential Problems

Even if you establish a healthy oral hygiene routine, there are still issues that can arise. Sensitive teeth, for example, can happen over time with wear and tear. As the enamel on the outside of your teeth wears down, they may feel discomfort when exposed to heat or cold. Enamel is extremely strong, but it can be damaged by aggressive brushing, receding gums, or an acidic or sugary diet.

Cavities also are cause for concern if you don’t make your teeth a priority. Even though your adult teeth are stronger and more able to fight off decay than baby teeth, certain medical conditions, such as arthritis, can leave you less able to give your mouth the attention it deserves. Regardless of age, untreated cavities can cause pain and can make it difficult to eat like you are supposed to.

Health Conditions Can Affect the Teeth

Taking care of your dental health is exceedingly important if you suffer with age-related medical conditions. High blood pressure and diabetes, for example, are known to cause or contribute to gum disease. Obesity and rheumatoid arthritis also are linked to the health of the soft tissues in your mouth. Surprisingly, even less serious conditions, like acid reflux, can wreak havoc on your teeth. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can push acid from your stomach into your mouth, and this acid can quickly wear away at your teeth. Stress, depression and many autoimmune diseases also can take a toll. For these reasons, you should make a point to visit your primary care physician for a full physical every year. Between the screenings they’ll offer and your regular dental checkups, your health care team can identify health problems that affect the teeth and vice versa.

It is possible to enjoy a beautiful smile and uninterrupted eating habits throughout your entire life. But it does take work, and a commitment to whole health. If you’re concerned about money, check your Medicare plan and make sure that you are covered.

Ms. Weeks can be reached at karen@elderwellness.net.