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 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.