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At Oklahoma University College of Dentistry Faculty Practice, doctors showered dental assistants and staff with cookies, luncheons and donuts to show their appreciation.

Fortis Institute in Scranton, PA held an entire week of activities to honor the students of the Expanded Function Dental Assistant class. Activities included presentations by the president of the Northeast PA Dental Assisting Society and Young Dental Supply, a group photo used by a local TV station to feature the students as "weather pointers" of the day, and a fun and games mingle with snacks and t-shirts.

High Desert Medical College dental assisting students celebrated DARW at locations in Lancaster, CA and Bakersfield, CA..

At Citrus College in Glendora, CA, advanced students in the RDA program hosted a potluck celebration for the first semester students, giving everyone a chance to mingle and share stories.

At the Dallas County Dental Assistants Society, no celebration is complete without balloons. So in honor of DARW, the society provided balloons for all at the March general meeting to help bring out the "kid" in everyone in celebrating the profession.

The dental assisting students at Monmouth County Vocational School purchased DARW pins and sent them with a note to Dental Assistant mentors at their internship offices. The celebratory letter recognized their efforts as an assistant and let them know that they are looking forward to their internship during the month of May.

The Dental Assisting class at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, TX was treated to a luncheon by hygiene students, who even provided a dental assisting cake!

Haley Lindsey (L), Diana Perez-Dental Assistant (C) and Renny Stallsworth (R) show their smiles at McRae Elementary School's Dr. Seuss Literacy night in Searcy, AR on March 7. Ms. Perez, who is an assistant to Dr. A. E. Patterson, made and distributed over 100 pediatric dental care kits.

The Center for Technology Essex Dental Assisting Program, in Essex Junction, VT, celebrated DARW this year with a guest, Senada Sokocevic, CDA, EFDA. Senada, a graduate of the dental assisting program and a member of the program's advisory board, is also a phenomenal baker. She shared her culinary talents with the dental assisting students by making "tooth themed" cake pops and gifted each student with a beautiful rose. Each student also received a gift card from the Vermont Dental Assistants Association.

The Phoenix College Dental Assisting Program in Phoenix, AZ celebrated DARW by acknowledging students and dental community partners. At a March 6 celebration with games, raffle prizes, and refreshments, students each painted a souvenir tooth.

Dental assisting students at Mott Community College Flint, Ml, assembled a collage for DARW 2019, with each student contributing an original logo to showcase their creativity and individuality.

Pacific Dental Services[R] Foundation Awards Dr. Carolyn Ghazal Dental Assistant Scholarship

Recognizing the importance of dental assistants in dentistry, the Pacific Dental Services[R] (PDS) Foundation founded the Dr. Carolyn Ghazal Dental Assisting Scholarship, named after Dr. Carolyn Ghazal, PDS' first supported owner dentist, and honoring her dedication to improving the lives of those in need. Based on applicant excellence as well as financial need, this scholarship provides financial assistance to individuals seeking economic independence through a career in dental assisting.

During Dental Assistant Recognition Week, the 2019 Dr. Carolyn Ghazal Dental Assistant Scholarship was awarded to DA student Maria Aldrete in front of her supportive peers. Maria showed extreme drive to build a future for herself as a first-generation college student.

Through the Dr. Carolyn Ghazal Scholarship, the PDS Foundation aims not only to lift the financial burden from students, but also to provide a mentorship program and offer career guidance. This mentorship program connects dental assistant scholarship recipients with experienced dental assistants to guide and support them through the dental assistant program, their externship, and into job placement. Mentorship is key to program completion and encourages students to jumpstart their careers because they have the support, guidance, and confidence of dental assistants who have been in their shoes. Through this scholarship, the Foundation provides students the opportunity to go to school and obtain an education without worrying about the financial burden.

The Foundation supports the next generation of dental professionals by providing scholarships to students who show passion, drive, and integrity in the pursuit of a career in the dental field. Sara Martinez, 2017 Dr. Carolyn Ghazal Scholarship recipient, found her passion for dental assisting after many years of pursuing other interests. Sara put all of her energy into her career but still felt that something was missing, and that something was being able to give people a sense of confidence in their smile. Sara is now a dental assistant at Stone Oak Modern Dentistry in San Antonio, Texas. Through mentorship and dedication to finding her passion, Sara is able to lift the spirits of people every day in the dental office, one smile at a time.

For many students, the path to a career that they love is not always clearly paved. The aim with this scholarship is to support and guide students into a fast growing and fulfilling career that will reap many benefits for the students, their families, and their lives.

Braces Do More Than Straighten Teeth; They Also Benefit Health

The most obvious benefit of wearing braces is your teeth become straighter, which in turn can produce a more confident smile.

But while studies have shown that straight teeth and a nice smile have a positive effect on self-esteem, social interactions and job prospects, orthodontists say that the numerous health benefits received as a result of wearing braces shouldn't be discounted.

"Having straight teeth improves more than your social and economic health - it improves your physical health as well," says Dr. Steven Moravec (www., author of Going The Extra Smile: Merging Technology And Expertise For A Lifetime Of Smiles. "Many people are surprised to learn that a badly aligned bite or crowded teeth can lead to many types of health problems, such as headaches, jaw pain, tooth grinding, gum disease and general body inflammation."

According to Moravec, the health benefits of straightened teeth include:

* Preventing tooth decay. "Straight teeth are easier to clean," Moravec says. 'This means you can keep tartar at bay and prevent cavities easier than if you are dealing with overlapping teeth or wide gaps."

* Preventing gum disease. Gum disease has been linked with heart disease, stroke, and other chronic medical conditions.

* Reducing instances of cracked, broken teeth. Irregular teeth cause more pressure to be exerted on companion teeth than they were meant to withstand. Straightening and realigning those teeth will help save teeth that otherwise might be lost to disease, fracture, or wear.

* Helping with sleep apnea. While sleep apnea is often associated with overweight adults, orthodontists and dental professionals are finding that the condition afflicts children as well. "If the bite is corrected as a child, it can reduce mouth breathing, snoring, and in some cases, sleep apnea itself," Moravec says.

* Reducing risk of jaw disorders. Some studies have shown that the jaw joint benefits from straight teeth, as misaligned teeth can result in a skewed bite that causes the jaw to overcompensate.

"Straight teeth are more than just a cosmetic concern," Moravec says. 'The health of your mouth can impact your entire body, and the benefits of having straightened, realigned teeth are a big part of oral and whole-body health."

Foundation for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Announces New Look

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry announced today the rebranding of Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children, its charitable arm, as the AAPD Foundation. In addition to the refreshed name, the nation's largest dentist-led charity dedicated to children's oral health, announced a new tagline, "Big Love for Little Teeth" and new logo.

"We are excited to launch this simplified name and new look that speaks to the passion and commitment our organization has for helping kids get access to consistent, compassionate pediatric dental care in their communities," AAPD Foundation President, Nick Rogers, DDS said. 'This rebrand is a pivotal step toward reaching our goal of providing dental homes to 1 million children by June 2022."

The AAPD Foundation has given more than $4.9 million in new grants and commitments throughout the last eight years with over $1.3 million in 2018. Since its inception in 2010, the Foundation's Access to Care initiatives have provided dental care for over 354,000 underprivileged children.

New Mexico Governor Vetoes Teledentistry Bill

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham chose to veto New Mexico's Senate Bill 241, despite its near-unanimous passage in the State House (59-0) and Senate (37-1). The bill would have expanded teledentistry in the state and established the site of teledentistry as the site from which the dentist would provide care. In her veto message to the legislature, Gov. Grisham wrote: "While I applaud the Legislature's effort to improve access to dentistry in rural areas of New Mexico, SB 241 simply does not strike the right balance between access to dental care and patient safety." She also cited concerns about the bill did not provide sufficient oversight for out-of-state practitioners seeking to offer teledentistry in New Mexico.

The American Teledentistry Association (ATDA) immediately expressed its disapproval of the veto. ATDA Executive Director Dr. Marc Ackerman, DMD, MBA, said, "According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, New Mexico has the highest prevalence of gum disease in the entire United States. Governor Grisham's decision to veto SB 241 maintains the status quo and prevents New Mexicans from getting the oral health care they desperately need."

'The bigger picture is that the greater population of New Mexico is underserved for quality oral care or any oral care at all. It's not about the difference between in-office care versus remote care: it's the difference between NO care and expensive care," said Ackerman.

Guardian, Children's Health Fund Launch Oral Health Education Initiative

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian) and Children's Health Fund announced the launch of a statewide oral health education and public awareness initiative in Pennsylvania as part of their "Guardians of the Smile" national partnership. Supported by a $1 million grant to Children's Health Fund by Guardian, the partnership provides dental services and education to children, teaches students about the importance of proper oral hygiene, and aims to instill good habits from an early age.

Oral health professionals from Guardian and Children's Health Fund worked with Scholastic to create educational kits, which they will distribute to 5,000 classrooms throughout Pennsylvania. Each kit serves an entire classroom and contains grade-appropriate lessons and activities that teachers can use to help students learn good oral health habits. The materials will reach students in grades K-3 in communities across the state including Central Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley, Wilkes-Barre, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The launch of "Guardians of the Smile" in Pennsylvania aligns with the state's 2017-2020 Oral Health Plan issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. One of the plan's goals is increasing public education to help prevent oral health disease.

The "Guardians of the Smile" program also features a website at where teachers and parents can find educational resources and materials, along with information on the "What Makes You Smile?" art and writing contest, which invites students in classrooms across Pennsylvania to share what brings them happiness and makes them smile. Students, teachers and schools are eligible to win prizes. The prize for the winning school will be an oral health event featuring the Tooth Guardian[TM] mascot and educational activities with oversized toothbrushes, teeth and floss.

AmeriHealth Caritas Aims to Reduce Oral Health Care Barriers for Individuals with Disabilities

AmeriHealth Caritas, a national leader in Medicaid managed care and other health care solutions for those most in need, has announced the launch of Inclusive Dental, a program designed to address growing concerns around oral health care barriers for individuals with disabilities.

According to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 61 million Americans--or one in four U.S. adults--have a disability that impacts major life activities. Physical or intellectual disabilities can often cause patients to be uncomfortable during dental visits.

The Inclusive Dental initiative will utilize collaborations with providers, legislators and professional schools to develop strategies designed to improve access to quality care.

"We have been able to design a solid solution to a health care problem that we cannot ignore--our most vulnerable members foregoing much needed dental care because the experience can be difficult to endure, or traumatic," said Paul Tufano, Chairman and CEO for AmeriHealth Caritas.

"Inclusive Dental is about making sure there is equitable oral health care for all and demonstrating that we can do something different to make things better for all of our members," said Lawrence Paul, D.D.S., vice president of Corporate Dental for AmeriHealth Caritas. "We're committed to raising awareness around the barriers to oral health care often encountered by individuals with disabilities and we're excited to be working with a variety of stakeholders to develop ways to improve the delivery of service."

Inclusive Dental will develop resources and trainings designed to better support current providers as well as future dentists through partnerships with local professional schools. The program is starting in the company's southeastern Pennsylvania market; partnerships with Temple University's Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry and the University of Pennsylvania's School of Dental Medicine are already underway. The program will expand to other AmeriHealth Caritas markets in the future.

Poor oral health can negatively impact a person's overall health and wellness. Often, patients with disabilities may require additional staff and other resources during dental treatment since they may be more prone to conditions that other patients do not have, such as behavior or mobility challenges, seizures, gastroesophageal reflux and visual or hearing impairments. A major objective of Inclusive Dental is a better understanding of how to offer the best care while working with patients facing these challenges. The initiative will provide continuing education credits to providers and work with dental schools to ensure that students are being taught how to properly engage with patients living with disabilities.

The program's leaders will also work with local, state and federal elected officials to advocate for policies to adequately address the oral health needs of individuals with disabilities as well as their caregivers, including loan forgiveness for dental school graduates who commit to serving people with disabilities.
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Publication:The Dental Assistant
Date:May 1, 2019
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