Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Morning Drill: June 21, 2011

A collection of dentistry and health related links/comments to start your day.

Is the U.S. dental hygienist market saturated?
As the overall job market in the U.S. continues to be sluggish, a few recent reports -- which considered hiring outlook as a criterion -- have ranked dental hygienist among the top 10 professions in the country.

But the reality is that in many parts of the country hygienists are having a hard time finding work, according to many in the field.

What accounts for the discrepancy?

Primarily the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), according to Caren Barnes, RDH, a professor in the department of dental hygiene at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry.

"They publish statistics that say this is a high growth area, while the job markets are actually saturated," she told DrBicuspid.com.

According to the bureau's Occupational Outlook Handbook for 2010-2011, dental hygienist ranks among the fastest-growing occupations, and job prospects are expected to be favorable in most areas, although competition is likely in some areas.

Todd Jonson, an economist with the BLS, said that they make these projections by looking at both current trends and future labor markets.

"When you have projections looking 10 years ahead, you can't expect to be dead-on," he explained.

While reports of qualified hygienists being unable to find work could be true, he added, these reports are coming from individuals, while the BLS is looking at national trends.

Caryn Solie, RDH, president of the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA), said that the BLS used a census survey for these projections that indicates there is a growing need in the population for the professional services of dental hygienists.

"However, due to a variety of factors -- including the impact of the recession -- we have seen that in some portions of the country traditional clinical practice jobs are in short supply," she added. "This is not an issue that is unique to dental hygienists, and we do feel that growing opportunities in the field will help to alleviate some of these issues."
Experts Issue Guidelines on Safe Weight Loss for Athletes
Gymnasts, wrestlers and boxers often feel pressure to lose weight to boost performance, but the drastic methods they sometimes use -- including strictly limiting calories and intentional dehydration -- can be dangerous to their health, experts warn.

To offer guidance to athletes, coaches and parents, the National Athletic Trainers' Association has issued a new set of guidelines for safe weight loss by athletes.

They include: using body composition assessments to measure lean body mass versus fat; gradually shedding no more than 1.5 percent of body weight a week; eating a balanced diet that includes all food groups; and losing weight under the supervision of nutrition, health and weight management experts.

"In the performance sports -- gymnastics, dance, ballet -- they have this huge responsibility to not only do a performance but to look good while they are doing it. It's a unwritten rule that they have to be a certain weight, and they get a lot of pressure, not just from dance masters but from the public's expectations and themselves," said Paula Sammarone Turocy, lead author of the guidelines and chair of the department of athletic training at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. "We also see it in traditional sports -- jockeys, wrestlers, boxers. They all have weight requirements. If they don't make the weight, they don't compete."

And the pressure to shed weight cuts across all sports, she added. Many cyclists, swimmers, runners, soccer players and even football players believe that losing weight will mean they can run, swim and jump faster.

Getting down to an ideal body weight to improve performance isn't a problem in and of itself, she said. It's when athletes go to extremes that their drive can backfire. "When it's done improperly or done to extremes it does interfere with performance," she explained.

The new guidelines were to be presented Monday at the annual meeting of the National Athletic Trainers' Association in New Orleans and are published in the June issue of the Journal of Athletic Training.
US Dentists' Amalgam Use Surprises Researchers
Despite improvements in resin-based composite technology, US dentists are placing more amalgam restorations than composites, and amalgam is still emphasized by US dental schools, according to the results of 2 studies published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

"I thought that most people were using composite," researcher Sonia K. Makhija, DDS, MPH, an assistant professor of dentistry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told Medscape Medical News. "It was surprising that so many people are using amalgam."

Dr. Makhija and colleagues in the Dental Practice-Based Research Network, a collaboration of practicing dentists who participate in research, analyzed reports from 182 US dentists on 5599 restorations of carious lesions in posterior teeth.

Overall, the dentists used amalgam for 3028 of these restorations, and composite in 2571 others. (The researchers collected no data on the 930 restorations these dentists made out of gold, glass ionomer, or anything else other than composite and amalgam.)

Although the dentists were not a statistical sample, previous studies have suggested that they are generally representative of what dentists are doing in the United States, Dr. Makhija said.
More Evidence Vitamin D Boosts Immune Response
Laboratory-grown gingival cells treated with vitamin D boosted their production of an endogenous antibiotic, and killed more bacteria than untreated cells, according to a paper in the June 2011 issue of the journal Infection and Immunity. The research suggests that vitamin D can help protect the gums from bacterial infections that lead to gingivitis and periodontitis. Periodontitis affects up to 50 percent of the US population, is a major cause of tooth loss, and can also contribute to heart disease. Most Americans are deficient in vitamin D.

Vitamin D has become a hot area of research in recent years. In addition to infectious diseases, studies suggest that it has protective effects against autoimmune diseases, and certain cancers.

Diamond says that after he began conducting research on vitamin D, he began taking it as a supplement. Since then, "I have had only one cold in four years, and that one lasted only three days," he says. "Other people I've met who have done the same have seen similar results. We are trying to figure out how it's working, and what other infectious diseases can be mitigated by it."
Enjoy your morning drill!

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