Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Morning Drill: October 10, 2012

Dr. Vivek Shetty, a professor at the UCLA School of Dentistry

Good Wednesday morning!

On to today's dentistry and health headlines:

UCLA Dentistry receives major grant to develop saliva test to predict onset of PTSD

Each year, more than a million Americans are at-risk of developing serious mental health problems after experiencing a terrifying event or serious physical injury. Once manifested, these psychiatric illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, can be extremely crippling and difficult to treat and are a leading cause of disability in civilian, military and minority populations.
Recognizing these emerging disorders early on provides health care professionals the best opportunity for preventive interventions.
Now, a team of researchers, led by Dr. Vivek Shetty, a professor at the UCLA School of Dentistry, has received a $3.8 million research grant to develop a salivary-biomarker approach for identifying individuals at future risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder and depression following a traumatic event.
Co-funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and the National Institutes of Health's Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, the study seeks to develop a panel of salivary stress biomarkers that will allow early recognition of emerging mental health disorders and permit preemptive psychological care.
"Current assessment strategies rely on subjective reports of symptoms by trauma survivors," Shetty said. "The symptom-based nature of psychological assessments presents significant challenges for trauma-care specialists attempting to differentiate between temporary distress and the early stages of mental health illnesses.
"Moreover," he added, "the time and resource constraints of the acute-care setting do not allow for the structured screening required for psychological assessments. If successful, our salivary stress biomarker panel will allow the development of practical decision-aid tools to complement subjective clinical evaluation and allow timely referrals of 'at-risk' individuals."

Chewing Ability Linked to Reduced Dementia Risk

Can you bite into an apple? If so, you are more likely to maintain mental abilities, according to new research from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

The population is aging, and the older we become the more likely it is that we risk deterioration of our cognitive functions, such as memory, decision-making and problem solving. Research indicates several possible contributors to these changes, with several studies demonstrating an association between not having teeth and loss of cognitive function and a higher risk of dementia.

One reason for this could be that few or no teeth makes chewing difficult, which leads to a reduction in the blood flow to the brain. However, to date there has been no direct investigation into the significance of chewing ability in a national representative sample of elderly people. 

Now a team comprised of researchers from the Department of Dental Medicine and the Aging Research Center (ARC) at Karolinska Institutet and from Karlstad University in Sweden have looked at tooth loss, chewing ability and cognitive function in a random nationwide sample of 557 people aged 77 or older. They found that those who had difficulty chewing hard food such as apples had a significantly higher risk of developing cognitive impairments. This correlation remained even when controlling for sex, age, education and mental health problems, variables that are often reported to impact on cognition. Whether chewing ability was sustained with natural teeth or dentures also had no bearing on the effect.

Schools will add online programs

The Keck School of Medicine, Ostrow School of Dentistry and Rossier School of Education have each announced new online degree programs for graduate students.

Keck will offer a master of public health degree, Ostrow will offer an online master of science in geriatric dentistry degree and Rossier will offer a master of education in school leadership degree.

The programs at the Keck and Rossier schools will be open to students next semester, while Ostrow will begin its new program next fall.

While USC is no stranger to online education, the revolutionary aspect of these programs is its intended target audience.

“The program is designed for working professionals,” said Alex Duke, assistant dean of enrollment management and student services at the Rossier School of Education.

By offering working professionals the opportunity to continue their education, Rossier sets them up to become strong and active in their field, according to Duke.

Roseann Mulligan, program director and chair of the division of dental public health and pediatric dentistry at Ostrow, said the school also intends to gear the geriatric dentistry program toward professionals.

“It will focus on the most common medical and oral health conditions seen in older adults,” Mulligan said.

Joint Task Force Tackles Medicaid Dental Fraud

Through a new joint task force, the Texas attorney general’s office and the office of the Inspector General at the Health and Human Services Commission have teamed up to strengthen investigations of fraud and abuse in the state’s Medicaid dental program for children. And because the task force allows the agencies to coordinate limited resources, state officials say, the state can advance investigations and recover misused taxpayer funds more quickly.

“The Medicaid and orthodontic fraud task force was convened to ensure the state had a comprehensive and coordinated response to a dramatic uptick in fraud by Medicaid providers,” said Daniel Hodge, the first assistant for Attorney General Greg Abbott. “The highest levels of all affected agencies and divisions are actively involved in advancing the investigation as efficiently and effectively as possible."

John Scott, the deputy attorney general for enforcement litigation, chairs the task force, which also includes officials from the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and Civil Medicaid Fraud Unit at the AG's office, and officials from the inspector general and other departments of the HHSC.

In 2010, Texas spent as much on orthodontic services as every other state combined, according to a report released in April by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. "The state has admitted that widespread fraud was occurring and that the organization the state hired to assess prior authorization forms was essentially rubber stamping forms for approval," the report states. An orthodontist consulted by the inspector general's office at HHSC estimated that 95 percent of approved claims should have been denied, according to the report.

Enjoy your morning!

No comments:

Post a Comment