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Inside Dental Hygiene
September 2018
Volume 14, Issue 9

Importance of Oral Health Care Benefit for Older Adults

Oral Health America, along with a diverse group of partners, recently released "An Oral Health Benefit in Medicare Part B: It's Time to Include Oral Health in Health Care." This white paper is an interprofessional, collaborative effort written and published by leaders in the consumer, healthcare, and dental fields. Top findings include:

70 percent of all Medicare recipients lack or have limited dental insurance and fewer than half access dental care each year.

71.2 percent of dentists agree that Medicare should include comprehensive dental benefits and a majority indicated they were willing to comply with typical Medicare practice requirements.

This white paper recommends the addition of a comprehensive oral health benefit to Medicare Part B as it covers outpatient services. Advantages to the inclusion of Part B include:

• Provides the greatest number of beneficiaries access to a basic level of oral health care, encouraging equitable health solutions and provider participation.

• Simplifies a potentially confusing program and process for providers and beneficiaries.

• Uses established protections for both Medicare beneficiaries and providers, alleviating the need for a new system and bureaucracies.

To move an oral health benefit in Medicare Part B forward, Congress must pass legislation to remove the statutory exclusion in Section 1862(a)(12) of the Social Security Act. They also must establish dental coverage in Part B, permit payment for preventive services prescribed in the dental benefit, and define the dental services in the Medicare Statute. Read more about the medical necessity, costs, proposed structure, and legislative changes needed at oralhealthamerica.org/medicaretoolkit.

Gum disease may be a key initiator of rheumatoid arthritis

The results of a study presented at the European Congress of Rheumatology demonstrated significantly higher prevalence of gum disease in individuals at risk of rheumatoid arthritis. These results support the hypothesis that local inflammation at mucosal surfaces may provide the primary trigger for the systemic autoimmunity seen in RA.

Dental school program trains healthcare professionals in smoking cessation

The West Virginia University School of Dentistry has become certified to train physicians, dental professionals, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, counselors, and others to work inter-professionally to determine evidence-based patient-specific solutions. The four-day curriculum, recently completed by 19 participants, offers in-depth discussion, case studies, role playing, replacement therapy, and relapse strategies.

This is the first inter-professional team to earn certification in tobacco cessation treatment, which required 24 contact continuing education hours. Plans are underway for another course within a year.

Oral microbiome of youth born with HIV increase their risk of dental decay

A team of scientists from The Forsyth Institute, in collaboration with the Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study, has found that HIV-infected youth, compared with uninfected youth, had lower numbers of Corynebacterium. This type of bacterium can help prevent the lactic acid produced by cavity-causing bacteria from reaching healthy teeth, which may help protect teeth from dental decay.

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