Monday, June 04, 2012

The Morning Drill: June 4, 2012

Good Monday morning!

On to today's dentistry and health headlines:

Woman accused of shooting husband in lot of his dental office

A dentist was shot several times in the parking lot of his dental practice late Sunday in what authorities are describing as a domestic violence incident, according to the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.

The man’s wife was taken into custody a short time later. Pamela A. Franklin, 41, is held without bond on a felonious assault charge at the Adams County jail.

She is accused of gunning down her husband, James R. Franklin, 55, after the two argued in a vehicle parked in the lot of Franklin Dental Practice, 15 Shaker Run Rd., just after 10 p.m.

Once he was shot, Franklin got out of the vehicle in an attempt to escape, but she shot him several more times, sheriff’s officials said.

A witness who called 911 to summon for help put James Franklin in his vehicle until an ambulance arrived to protect him since the shooter was still in the area.

Franklin was taken to the Adams County Medical Center and was later flown to University Hospital in Cincinnati.

CDC: U.S. oral health improvements mixed

A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is once again putting the country's oral health disparities in the spotlight.

The report, issued May 31 by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, found that while the presence of tooth decay has declined over the last two decades, more than one in every five Americans still suffers from untreated caries.

The report used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 2005-2008 to assess the prevalence of untreated caries, existing dental restorations, dental sealants, and edentulism in the U.S. by age, race/ethnicity, and poverty level.

"Although prevalence of dental caries has been declining in the U.S., the magnitude of the decline has varied across different population groups during the past two decades," the authors wrote. The prevalence also varied by age, they noted.

For example, the caries rate has remained relatively steady among all age groups, with teenagers having the lowest prevalence. Among youngsters ages 5 to 11, 20% had untreated cavities, while 13% of those ages 12 to 19 had untreated cavities. Those ages 20 to 44 had the highest rate of untreated cavities, 25%, although this trend gradually decreased among older age groups to 20% for adults age 65 and older.

SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005–2008

Medicaid recruiters scramble for Texas dental patients

They might be called bounty hunters.

They're dressed as dental professionals, but they are recruiters whose job is to find Medicaid-eligible children for dentists to work on.

In 2010, Medicaid paid $1.6 billion for dental work on children, more than $500 per child.

The recruiter's job is to entice parents to take their children to the office of a certain dentist. They often give free gifts to parents to seal the bargain.

Some dentists, in turn, compensate the recruiters by giving them a bonus for each child they bring in to the office.

All of it is ultimately funded by taxpayers' money.

On a recent Friday afternoon on John West Road in East Dallas, Juanita Bonner was walking along a sidewalk after picking up her children from the school bus. With her kids by her side, she was stopped by a van from Access Dental.

"Today he offered me a free pizza dinner," Bonner said. It was not a rare occurrence. It happens every day, she said. "Not just Access... it's everybody."

The freebies dispensed in the battle for patients are diverse: Pizza dinners, manicures, pedicures, and the most prized of all: Walmart gift cards.

"Can you imagine getting a $20 gift card just to bring your kid to the dentist?" asked grandmother Linda Passow.

Her daughter, Misty Kinney, has three children. Mother and daughter were fueling their car at a Mesquite shopping center when they said they were approached by a man who appeared to be wearing dental scrubs.

Kinney recalled what he told her: "'Each child we get in [to the office]" we give out a $20 gift card.'"

Kinney got an appointment card from the recruiter and set up a time for Misty's son to visit the AmeriSmiles clinic . Then, mother and daughter called News 8.

Traditional dentistry wary of dental therapists

Crystal Ann Baker isn't a dentist, but she fills cavities, pulls teeth and even performs children's root canals.

Baker, who treats low-income patients in St. Paul, Minn., is among the nation's first dental therapists — an innovative and controversial health position intended to fill socioeconomic and geographic gaps in dental care.

With nearly 17 million children nationwide lacking dental care and health reform expected to increase demand, California and other states are exploring similar models to expand the dental workforce, setting the stage for a series of battles with dentist organizations that warn that patient safety is at stake.

The American Dental Assn. argues that dental therapists lack the training and education needed to perform irreversible surgical procedures and to identify patients' other medical problems.

The California Academy of General Dentistry argues that high school graduates with a few years of training could end up performing delicate procedures with permanent consequences. "Imagine how you would feel if your children were being taken care of by these people," said Sun Costigan, president of the organization.

Enjoy your morning!

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