Like any health care field, dentistry is constantly evolving as new technology, research and events become available. Staying on top of the latest news and trends is a must for any dental professional committed to career success, practice efficiency and patient satisfaction. Read on to see what the dental community was buzzing about in November!
How entrepreneurship is reshaping the dental industry
Entrepreneurship is the way of the future, even in the regulated healthcare industry. Yet, like all new innovations, there are benefits and risks to these new ways of working.
Companies like Quip, a company that delivers oral care products via online subscriptions, are gaining major traction in the home dental care market - and their influence has only just begun. In an effort to continue encouraging a widespread commitment to oral hygiene, the New York-based startup recently raised $40 million through equity and debt financing to expand their offerings and reach an even wider clientele, according to an article in TechCrunch.
“For patients, we want to help them with everything - that full-service oral hygiene routine,” Quip CEO Simon Enever told TechCrunch in a recent article. “On the flip side, for providers, the attraction to Quip is we’ve built this large digital platform full of eager patients. We started Quip because people were not invested in their oral health, or were only visiting the dentist when a tooth was falling out or in pain.”
But Quip is far from the only start-up in the home hygiene game. A CBC article highlighted a number of companies that are shaking up the dental industry by offering new options for at-home oral care tools, from tasty flosses to DIY orthodontics.The article mentioned cost reduction as a major mission behind the majority of these brands, with products such as Beam Dental going so far as to provide lowered insurance premiums for those with healthy brushing habits.
Of course, there’s no shortage of dental professionals who hold at least some initial concerns about the long-term success of these products. As it turns out, some of those concerns are very valid.
South Florida-based news outlet Wink News interviewed a woman who used a make-your-own retainer kit in an effort to save money. After making a faulty DIY impression, the patient turned to local dentist Dr. Phillip Kraver, who remedied her situation and voiced some concerns about the nature of these home impression kits.
“When you talk about DIY dentistry, there are a lot of different ways patients take matters into their own hands for their oral health,” Dr. Kraver explained to Wink News. “One of the things that scares me the most right now is orthodontics.”
Oral health care for the elderly and their caregivers
New research highlighted in U.S. News and World Report is showing the impacts of aging on one’s oral health and how seniors can and should be proactive about maintaining a healthy mouth. The article discussed common dental issues among seniors - including gum recession, inflammation, infection and cavities - and how they can be prevented and managed. It listed a healthy diet, regular visits to the dentist and management of preexisting conditions as some of the most important methods of oral health maintenance in older populations.
"The rule of thumb is older adults should see the dentist more often,” Dr. Rima B. Sehl, associate professor and director of health promotion and healthy aging at the NYU College of Dentistry in New York City, told U.S. News and World Report. “Insurance companies usually only pay for twice-a-year checkups, but depending on the risk of the patient we recommend even up to four times a year."
It’s not uncommon for elderly people to rely on caregivers to help them schedule and travel to regular appointments - but a study published by PEW Trust showed that those caregivers may be just as guilty of letting their oral health fall to the wayside.
The article reported that, according to a poll issued by the Associated Press and the NORC Center For Public Affairs Research, more than one-third of caregivers surveyed said they went without routine dental care in the past year. A recommended remedy to this widespread problem, as noted in the article, is increased access to dental therapists to make dental treatment more efficient for these caregivers.
How a healthy mouth can aid patients with lupus
Research examining the link between chronic illnesses and dental health is ongoing and continues to prove the importance of oral hygiene in maintaining overall well-being, especially for those living with pre-existing medical conditions.
According to News OK, a new study out of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation has discovered a link between gum disease and lupus.
“Our study shows that patients who might have been exposed to gum disease-causing bacteria show higher lupus activity,” Harini Bagavant, one of the scientists spearheading the study, told News OK. This suggests that strong oral hygiene habits may even allow patients to experience less severe symptoms of lupus.
New infection-control standards for certain oral procedures
As of January 2019, all licensed dentists in California must follow a new irrigation protocol during procedures on exposed dental pulp. According to the CDA, all methods used for irrigation must be “sterile or contain recognized disinfecting or antibacterial properties.” This new protocol was established in light of a 2016 outbreak of mycobacterial infection that led to the hospitalization of more than 60 children in a California dental clinic.
Have you read any interesting dental news that we missed? Let us know in the comments.