Vatican Invites Abortion Advocate Chelsea Clinton To Talk About ‘Health’ And The ‘Soul’

The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture is set to host Chelsea Clinton, Anthony Fauci, Deepak Chopra, and others for a May conference to explore the “mind, body, and soul” and its role in health care.

The Vatican Council for Culture and the Cura Foundation and the Science and Faith (STOQ) Foundation are partnering together to host “the world’s leading physicians, scientists, leaders of faith, ethicists, patient advocates, policymakers, philanthropists and influencers to engage in powerful conversations on the latest breakthroughs in medicine, health care delivery and prevention.”

Speakers for the virtual conference are the world’s elites. Those picked to lecture on health and the soul include CEOs of large pharmaceutical companies, including Moderna and Pfizer, and former supermodel Cindy Crawford, English primatologist Jane Goodall, Aerosmith lead guitarist Joe Perry, and CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Speaker Chelsea Clinton is a high-profile abortion advocate, like her mother and father, Hillary and Bill Clinton. Chelsea labels the pro-life movement as an “anti-choice movement,” and is an outspoken supporter of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the U.S.

In 2018, Chelsea spoke at a “Rise up for Roe” event in New York City, a meeting organized by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League and Planned Parenthood to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. During her address, she glowingly credited legal abortion for adding trillions of dollars to the U.S. economy.

“American women entering the labor force from 1973 to 2009 added three and a half trillion dollars to our economy,” Clinton stated. “The net, new entrance of women — that is not disconnected from the fact that Roe became the law of the land in January of 1973.”

Chelsea is also Vice President of the Clinton Foundation, an organization riddled with controversy and corruption, and a supporter of global pro-abortion initiatives.

The Catholic Church publicly professes that life begins at conception and abortion is a case of direct killing of an innocent human being — a violation of the rights of the youngest members of our society and the human family.”

In fact, the Catholic Church has been a leading advocate for the right to life for hundreds of years. “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law,” reads the Catholic Catechism.

There is no mention of Clinton’s anti-life stance on the Vatican’s website, she is simply identified as “vice chair, Clinton Foundation.” The Church is actively elevating Clinton, who vocally advocates for a practice that harms mothers and kills innocent children, as an authority on the “mind, body, and soul.”

The conference will take place May 6-8, and “will be moderated by renowned journalists, who will explore the role of religion, faith and spirituality, and the interplay of the mind, body, and soul – and, ultimately, search for areas of convergence between the humanities and the natural sciences.”

The “renowned” journalists include Katie Couric, Richard Lui, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Amy Robach, Robin Roberts, and Meredith Vieira.

“Together we will focus on advances in medical innovation and the creation of healthier communities and seek to catalyze new, interdisciplinary approaches and partnerships to improve health and wellbeing, as well as understand human uniqueness,” the Vatican said.

This content was originally published here.

Our May Practice of the Month — Gronberg Orthodontics! – My Social Practice – Social Media Marketing for Dental & Dental Specialty Practices

Congratulations to our May Practice of the Month — Gronberg Orthodontics!

We recently asked over 600 dental practices about the biggest roadblock to building their online presence. Can you guess the top answer? It was “it’s too hard to come up with ideas and create posts.”

Perhaps you’re not surprised, because it’s how you feel in your own practice’s social media efforts.

So this month, learn from the team at Gronberg Orthodontics, who went from “spending all day looking for something post” to easily creating their own unique, personalized and engaging social media content!

Why is consistently posting worthwhile content important? Because search engines and social media platforms are giving more and more priority to content that meets people’s needs, connects with them on a personal level, and is relevant to their interests and communities. And when people come across that type of content, they’re more likely to engage with it — meaning more interaction, strengthened patient relationships, and increased visibility for your practice.

We reached out to Bonnie Reeves, office manager for Gronberg Orthodontics, for some insight on which social media tools have been most effective in helping her team create content and attract new patients. Take something from what they’ve learned to apply in your own social media strategy!

Q&A With Bonnie Reeves, Office Manager

(Responses edited for length and clarity.)

What has been the biggest surprise of social media marketing for you?

“We have done a couple of videos of our doctors doing the cheek retractor challenge together. They were hilarious and got thousands of views! We couldn’t believe it! It seems that the personalized posts with real photos or videos of our team members and patients get the most engagement. The Social Signs we receive from My Social Practice also make photo opportunities easy.”

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your social media efforts?

“Finding ideas for content and making the time to post on a consistent basis is the hardest thing for me. Before we started using My Social Practice we really struggled with this and it just didn’t get done.

Now, we use the My Social Practice Publisher to find ideas and easily post to multiple platforms. I also like being able to schedule posts ahead of time so that when I do have a moment, I can set up multiple posts. We’re being more consistent and growing our online presence!”

What feedback have you received about social media in your office?

“I think it’s something fun for patients to do while they are in our office. The Photo Booth app and practice campaigns especially help to get patients and our whole team involved. We also see a lot of children so they like that we have some fun.

What advice would you give to a practice starting to build their online presence?

“Use My Social Practice to help you get your name out there without spending all day searching for content or ideas. Social media is changing and My Social Practice keeps us updated and relevant.

Personally, I have found the entire service helpful but I really enjoy the Photo Booth ideas and contest ideas. They are fun and engaging for our office and patients.”

Thank you for your stamp of approval, Bonnie! It means a lot to us to hear that our tools and content are helping you to grow your practice and build patient relationships.

It’s true that it can be difficult to find the time to post something daily. But our easy-to-use Publisher app makes it simple! My Social Practice clients have access to the world’s largest library of dental-related social media content, with images and pre-written captions you can customize to fit your audience. Plus, you can schedule posts in advance to go out to your accounts when you choose! Get a free demo of the Publisher today!

This content was originally published here.

Senate Confirms Dr. Levine, a Transgender, as Assistant Health Secretary in 52-48 Vote – Collins and Murkowski Join Democrats in Supporting Levine

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Dr. “Rachel” Levine, a transgender, as Assistant Health Secretary in a 52-48 vote.

RINO Senators Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) joined the Democrats and supported Levine.

Levine has a horrible track record as Pennsylvania’s secretary of health.

The Coronavirus ravaged nursing homes across the US because of deadly Democrat policies of forcing people infected with COVID-19 back into the long-term care facilities.

Dr. Levine however made sure his 95-year-old mother was removed from the death box and transported safely to a hotel.

When confronted by a reporter for moving his mother out of the elderly care facility while allowing others to die, Levine answered by reading prepared notes and talking points.

“Well my mother is actually a resident of a personal care home — not a nursing home and that is regulated by the Department of Human Services, not the Department of Health,” Levine said. “My mother requested — and my sister and I as her children complied to move her to another location during the COVID-19 outbreak. My mother is 95 years old. She is very intelligent and more than competent to make her own decisions.”

Levine also believes minors can make their own decision to receive puberty blockers.

Dr. Levine refused to answer Dr. Rand Paul’s questions about hormone therapy to 3-year-olds.

Rand Paul RIPPED Dr. Levine during the confirmation hearing last month.

Sen. Rand Paul to Dr. Rachel Levine:

“You’re willing to let a minor take things to prevent their puberty, and you think they get back?… You have permanently changed them… There’s no long term studies. We don’t know what happens to them.”pic.twitter.com/a7AJkInfPG

— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) February 25, 2021

“Rachel” Levine has a work history of failure and illegal practices so it makes sense that he would be promoted into the Biden Administration.

The post Senate Confirms Dr. Levine, a Transgender, as Assistant Health Secretary in 52-48 Vote – Collins and Murkowski Join Democrats in Supporting Levine appeared first on The Gateway Pundit.

This content was originally published here.

College of Dentistry Opens Center for Disabled | Washington Square News

NYU College of Dentistry opened an Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities. (Staff Photo by Min Ji Kim)

People with disabilities that inhibit oral health treatment now have access to a new center — opened by the NYU College of Dentistry — that is uniquely tailored to their needs.

The aims to create a safe, welcoming environment to treat some of the nearly . The facility includes an accessible circular front desk, wide corridors for easy access and large bariatric treatment chairs that can accommodate wheelchairs. One of the most innovative technologies used in the center can be found in the multisensory room designed to help anxious patients relax.

Dean of the NYU College of Dentistry Charles N. Bertolami said the dental school has been interested for years in finding a way to provide additional assistance to those with disabilities. Targets for treatment include patients in wheelchairs who cannot get into a dental chair, autistic patients who need special accommodations for scheduling an appointment and those who are negatively affected by noisy and crowded waiting rooms.

“We wanted to design a facility that took all of these things into consideration to expand the quality of service we could offer,” Bertolami said.

This new center marks a big step forward in the treatment of disabled people whose oral health often is neglected as a result of inadequate accommodations and a shortage of equipped medical workers.

Marco Damiani is the CEO of the in New York City, the state’s largest developmental disability advocacy organization. The AHRC was a guiding partner in opening the center and Damiani said it was a necessary improvement to current services.

“There is a significant lack of access to oral health treatment for people with disabilities,” Damiani said. “There’s been a history of people with disabilities having their entire mouths of teeth pulled because they can’t communicate clearly.”

The multisensory room is designed to help anxious patients relax. A projector illuminates the room with lights that change color to hyper-stimulate or hypo-stimulate patients based on their needs. Clinical Director of the Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities Ronald Kosinski said that the room improves the experience for those who may otherwise be uncomfortable in a dental chair.

“We bring patients into [the multisensory room] who may be very hypersensitive, who can’t sit in a dental chair, who never have been to a dental chair and don’t like the dental experience and need decompression,”  Kosinski said.

The dental school collaborated with students from Tandon School of Engineering and Tisch School of the Arts in developing the new facility, something that Kosinski said was one of the most important elements of the process. Tandon students helped with the development of a new virtual reality app that patients can use to take a tour of the center.

“The Tandon students have really been amazing,” Kosinski said. “They’re hitting the ground running. Being able to utilize [another] school at NYU and work with them collaboratively is such a pleasure, and it’s working so well because the level of excitement is leveled by the students.”

While the center is now open, the official ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on April 18. Executive Vice Dean for Finance and Administration at the College of Dentistry Michael O’Connor further emphasized the need for the center and said he hopes that it is widely used.

“This is very much an underserved population, and dentists are not comfortable with dealing with this population,” O’Connor said. “[People with disabilities] get poor — if nonexistent — dental care and we are going to welcome as many of them as want to come and make this their home.”

This content was originally published here.

Why Joe Biden’s Economic Plan Includes Home Health Care, Not Just Roads And Bridges | HuffPost

Those are supports and services for elderly and disabled people who need help with daily living to stay out of nursing homes or other types of congregant care settings. In practical terms, that means everything from personal attendants who help seniors with bathing to counselors who help people with intellectual impairments find jobs so they can live on their own. 

More proposals are on the way. The second half of the Build Back Better agenda, which Biden plans to introduce later this month, is likely to include major new initiatives to make child care and preschool more widely available, as well as some kind of paid leave program. 

And these do not appear to be token gestures. Wednesday’s home care proposals envision $400 billion in new federal spending, accounting for nearly one-quarter of the $2 trillion package Biden unveiled. A meaningful initiative on child care and preschool would likely require hundreds of billions of dollars more.

Medicaid, the government health insurance program that states operate using federal funds and under federal guidelines, already pays for nursing homes and other forms of institutional care. And there’s no pre-set limit on that spending. The more people who need the help, the more funding Medicaid provides.

The lack of open-ended funding forces states to cut off enrollment and put everybody else on waiting lists. Nationwide, about 800,000 people are now on those lists, and some have been for years. It’s a well-known fact that deters many others from even trying. Most experts think the actual unmet demand for home- and community-based services is closer to 1.5 million.

For decades, advocates have proposed putting home-based care on an equal footing with institutional care. That way, the choice between whether to stay at home or to go into a congregant living setting would be about the preferences and needs of individual people and their families ― not because of a financial disparity rooted in a decision lawmakers made half a century ago. 

Biden’s caregiving proposals, by contrast, would likely become ongoing expenditures. His proposal for home- and community-based services doesn’t formally call for any new spending beyond the 10-year budget window, but as a practical matter, it would be difficult to end funding and cut off services once people and families are using them. The same would be true for a new child care initiative. 

But the economic benefits of caregiving initiatives are real. For one thing, caregiving is literally an investment in making individual human beings more productive. This is most obviously the case when it comes to early childhood programs. Research has shown repeatedly that, when infants and toddlers get good care, they are more likely to stay in school, remain employed and stay physically healthier as adults.

Doing this all at once ― helping more people to pay for caregivers while simultaneously requiring that caregivers get higher pay ― makes the project a lot more expensive. The price tag for the full care agenda is likely to be in the high hundreds of billions of dollars, at least, and could be even bigger depending on how ambitious Biden gets with the elements he has yet to unveil.

That’s bound to be a hard sell politically among Republicans, and perhaps even among some conservative Democrats wary of big government and the spending that goes with it. That is undoubtedly one reason why Biden and his allies are talking about these proposals in the context of their potential to create a more dynamic economy.

This content was originally published here.

Evidence and Orthodontics: Does Your Child Need Braces?

Do straight teeth and a perfect bite improve oral health?

Peter Vig didn’t go into orthodontics looking to take on the entire field. When he entered the profession in 1963 as an academic , he optimistically saw orthodontics as a way to apply his knowledge to benefit patients. He would go on to receive his Ph.D. in facial morphology at the University of London, conduct research at a number of universities, and earn 18 grants from the National Institutes of Health. These feats propelled him, in the eyes of other orthodontists, to the status of research legend. But as his career took off, he became more disillusioned. The more time he spent entrenched in orthodontic research, the more he questioned what he had been taught in dental school: that orthodontic treatment was necessary for health.

Over the years, Vig submitted letters to academic journals, bemoaning a lack of strong evidence for the health benefits of orthodontic treatment and questioning what he calls “the prevailing dogma” of orthodontics. He once testified as an expert witness in a lawsuit against a fellow orthodontist. At one point, the American Journal of Orthodontics, now the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, for whom he was a reviewer, was set to reject Vig’s own paper because editors feared that the results, which questioned the efficacy of diagnosis and variability in treatment, reflected poorly on the orthodontic profession. In response, Vig threatened to write an article about the ethics of orthodontic journals. (When contacted by Undark, the editor in chief of the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics declined to comment.)

Eventually, the editors did agree to publish the paper. But by that point, Vig had come to view the disagreement as yet another example of a lack of scientific integrity in orthodontics. “Shortly after that,” he said, “I quit.”

Vig is now semi-retired. Much has changed in the field of orthodontics since the height of his career. But according to him, orthodontic organizations haven’t stopped making claims unfounded in research. Orthodontics is largely considered a medical specialty, not just a cosmetic one. From small clinics to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), advertisements promise to prevent a host of ills ranging from cavities to jaw pain. Today, the AAO advises parents that all children should have an orthodontic consultation by age seven in order to identify potential problems and develop a treatment plan. According to the organization’s website, a lack of treatment can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, broken front teeth, and loss of bone tissue that holds teeth in place. Many orthodontic clinics additionally warn of persistent jaw pain and headaches.

A small group of dentists and orthodontists across the globe have looked carefully at the evidence underpinning these claims and found it lacking. Although some individual studies suggest that orthodontic treatment improves oral health, such studies are often fraught with bias and often don’t control for variables like socioeconomic status. Further, when the results of multiple studies are analyzed together, they do not provide evidence that orthodontic treatment decreases one’s likelihood of developing conditions such as gum disease and jaw pain.

Vig had come to view the disagreement as yet another example of a lack of scientific integrity in orthodontics. ‘Shortly after that,’ he said, ‘I quit.’

Since the 1940s, there has been a steady increase in the percentage of children who receive orthodontic treatment. From 2010 to 2012, 16.8 percent of U.S. children between 10 and 14 years of age visited an orthodontist . And the proportion who see an orthodontist at any point throughout their childhood is likely much greater. Based on past data, it’s likely that around half of U.S. children today receive orthodontic treatment, according to Philippe Hujoel, an oral health epidemiologist at the University of Washington. Meanwhile, out-of-pocket spending on orthodontic treatments costs $5.4 billion per year. Private insurance and Medicaid cover an additional $4.2 billion of that care, and some nonprofitscover treatments for families in need when Medicaid deems treatment medically unnecessary.

The American Association of Orthodontists declined to comment to Undark. But many orthodontists stand by the association’s claims. Some assert that orthodontic treatments are uniquely difficult to experimentally test. And because of this, treatment decisions are often based on traditional knowledge and an orthodontist’s clinical experience, rather than on scientific evidence, said Peter Greco,a clinical professor of orthodontics at the University of Pennsylvania and an associate editor of The American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics.

“That’s pretty much where the predominance of information is,” Greco said. But, he adds, the field is becoming more evidence-based as time goes on.

Some orthodontists who question their field’s claims about oral health do continue to treat patients. As they see it, clear communication of evidence — or lack thereof — is key. “If you tell a lay person” that a child has “mandibular hypoplasia, or maxillary deficiency, or adenoidal facies — it sounds bad,” said Vig. Parents don’t necessarily know what they’re signing up for. “That,” he says, “is a problem.”

Since antiquity, dentists from Egypt to Greece have sought the perfect bite. Mummies have been found buried in tombs with bands around their teeth. Even the Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder recommended that people file their teeth to bring them into proper alignment. By the early 18th century, French dentist Pierre Fauchard was strapping patients’ teeth to metal arches to wrangle crooked smiles into submission. Early in the 19th century, British dental surgeon Joseph Fox devoted four chapters of his book “The Natural History and Diseases of the Human Teethto the correction of crooked teeth and misaligned jaws.

The end goal of these treatments, however, wasn’t to prevent health problems, but to create a more attractive profile, said Marc Ackerman, an orthodontist and medical ethicist in Boston. Norman Kingsley, considered one of the early fathers of orthodontics, was a classically trained sculptor. During his day job as a dentist in New York, he applied his understanding of facial symmetry to the faces of patients, diagnosing what he referred to as “irregularities” and “deformities.”

It wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century that an American dentist named Edward Angle transformed dentistry’s obsession with straight teeth into the modern science of orthodontics. In his treatise titled “Treatment of Malocclusion of the Teeth,”Angle laid out the precise parameters of a perfect bite, down to the millimeter. He based this ideal on the relative positions of the upper and lower first molars, which he believed should fit cleanly into one another, the crest of the top tooth into the divet in the middle of the bottom tooth. Any bite that deviated from this proposed ideal Angle deemed a “malocclusion” — Latin for “bad close.”

“This was probably the cornerstone of the medicalization in orthodontics,” said Alexander Spassov, an orthodontist and researcher in Greifswald, Germany. Angle’s criteria gave orthodontists a measure that could supposedly identify which bites needed treatment and which didn’t. Still, the transformation of orthodontics into a medical specialty was gradual and hard to trace back to a specific moment in history, Spassov said. For example, although Angle did help establish the specialty by founding both the first orthodontic school and the American Society of Orthodontists (today the AAO), he made no mention of health benefits, Spassov added. It was only later, perhaps after World War II, that orthodontics began to be seen as a preventative treatment for various ills, Ackerman said.

More than 120 years after he waxed poetic about the “artistic harmony” of properly aligned teeth, Angle’s concept of an ideal bite is still the basis used to determine whether patients need orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists measure the overlap between patients’ jaws, the width of their palate, the crowding of their teeth. These measurements are compared to the ideal, then categorized by how they deviate in measurement. Class I malocclusions are the least severe; Class II and III, the most.

This process of systematically measuring teeth and pointing out the way they diverge from ideal is essential in creating demand, said Anette Wickström, a medical anthropologist at Linköping University in Sweden. Wickström studies medical procedures that normalize the appearance of children, such as gender-normalization surgeries performed on intersex children.

“Sometimes we see the medical domain as something that is neutral, just fixing problems. But at the same time, the medical domain is also enacting norms,” Wickström said. From measuring patients’ bites to communicating treatment goals, everyday orthodontic practices send a message that teeth should conform to a very narrow ideal — and anything less is abnormal.

According to a 2015 survey published in The Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry, 57 percent of families seek orthodontic care primarily to give their child straight teeth. The same study also found that nearly 85 percent of parents who opted for treatment for their children did so due to a referral from the dentist. Dentists don’t typically refer patients to the orthodontist to treat an existing medical condition. Instead, the assumption is that getting teeth straightened out will prevent future ills, writes Ackerman in an article for The Journal of Medical Ethics.

For parents, this referral carries the implicit message that treatment is both “necessary and worthwhile” for their child’s health, writes Bill Shaw, a professor of orthodontics and dentofacial development at the University of Manchester in the U.K., in an article published in the academic journal Seminars in Orthodontics. Shaw argues that a dentist’s referral to the orthodontist will initiate “a conveyor belt of entry into orthodontic treatment, with little or no reflection or discussion.”

Similar to Peter Vig, Alexander Spassov began his career under the assumption that orthodontic treatment improves oral health. In dental school at the University of Greifswald, the evidence behind this assumption was never questioned. After completing his residency there, Spassov took a job as a clinical lecturer and researcher in the medical school. Immersed in an academic environment, he saw his colleagues in other disciplines spend each day combing through research literature. These colleagues were engaging in what’s widely known as evidence-based medicine. Developed about 30 years ago, this medical paradigm emphasizes the use of high-quality research in medical decision-making, although in recent years, some experts have moved away from the term and has been much disagreement about what it means.

Following the lead of his medical colleagues, Spassov delved into the orthodontics research. When he found little to support the use of orthodontics as a preventative treatment for oral health, he was deeply troubled. In fact, he began to feel that the lack of evidence presented a “conflict with my professional and ethical principles.”

While continuing to teach orthodontics, Spassov began dialoging with colleagues in the university’s history, bioethics, and philosophy departments, sharing his concerns about offering treatment with weak evidence. In 2014, they published an article on the subject, in a prestigious German medical ethics journal. They pointed out that according to some estimates, fewer than 5 percent of the population fit Angle’s criteria for ideal occlusion (others estimate this proportion could be as high as 25 to 50 percent), and questioned the necessity of treatment, arguing that treatment decisions are often based on incomplete information provided to the patient, overemphasizing questionable benefits. The article cited studies demonstrating that simply brushing and flossing had a greater impact on oral health than orthodontic treatment.

Shaw argues that a dentist’s referral to the orthodontist will initiate ‘a conveyor belt of entry into orthodontic treatment, with little or no reflection or discussion.’

Views like Spassov’s and Vig’s are outnumbered by orthodontists who say their treatments are medically beneficial. “Dental health is definitely enhanced by orthodontic therapy, and I stand firm on that,” said Greco. Greco said that he has seen the positive effects of orthodontic treatment in his own practice. As long as an orthodontist has received proper training and accreditation, Greco trusts them to make beneficial treatment decisions based on their knowledge and clinical experience.

Greco supports evidence-based orthodontics in theory, but putting it into practice takes effort, he said. The gold standard for research on humans is the randomized controlled trial, an experiment in which one group gets the treatment — say, braces — and the other gets a placebo, a varied duration of braces, or some other form of treatment. To eliminate bias, the groups are randomly assigned. At the end of the experiment, researchers compare the results for each group to see if the treatment really worked.

According to Greco, these kinds of studies are uniquely difficult to conduct for orthodontic treatments. For one thing, it’s hard to gather a large enough pool of study subjects to generate meaningful results, and the variation between patients makes it difficult to standardize the procedures. Together, these characteristics make it very difficult to conduct clinical trials where variables are controlled and treatment groups are randomly selected, Greco said. As a result, the majority of research simply compares people receiving orthodontic treatment, without controlling for other variables.

Clinical experience is one component of evidence-based medicine, said Hujoel, but alone it’s not enough. Clinical experience will tell you that a patient can come into the office with crooked teeth and walk out a few years later with a straight smile, Hujoel said. But to claim that changing tooth position has long-term health benefits? “That’s a huge claim to make without clinical trials,” Hujoel said.

Some individual studies do suggest that people with crowded teeth are more likely to have dental problems. For example, a 2000 study found that patients with crowded teeth had more plaque and pathogenic bacteria. And a study published in 2017 found that among nearly 15,000 participants, people who hadn’t received orthodontic treatment were more likely to have a serious gum infection called periodontitis. But because neither study was randomized, it’s difficult to know whether variables like socioeconomic class — a well-known factor in oral health — swayed the findings.

Further, when looked at as a whole, the research paints a troubling picture. Scientists from the University of Washington School of Dentistry carefully selected 12 studies on orthodontics and dental health. The group’s research, published in 2008 in The Journal of the American Dental Association, found that the dental health of individuals who received orthodontic treatment actually worsened slightly over the long term. A more recent study published in the June 2020 issue of The American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics analyzed 7 studies on orthodontics and oral health. While this study didn’t find any evidence for worsened oral health, it came to a similar conclusion: The authors couldn’t find sufficient evidence in the scientific literature for the health benefits of orthodontic treatment.

Treatments aside, it’s not even clear that malocclusion causes bad health outcomes. While some individual studies find risks associated with malocclusion — jaw pain, for example — analyses of the larger body of literature tend to come up short. The 2020 study published in The American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics also analyzed 87 studies on the effects of malocclusion on oral health and didn’t find enough evidence to suggest that crooked teeth lead to poor health outcomes.

‘Dental health is definitely enhanced by orthodontic therapy, and I stand firm on that,’ said Greco.

Of course, not everyone visits the orthodontist to prevent cavities. Many go because they hope straight teeth will improve their life, said Stephen Richmond, a professor of orthodontics at Cardiff University in Wales. And there is some evidence to suggest that might be true — at least in children. In 2016, a team of orthodontists in the Netherlands analyzed the results of 40 studies and found that children with more crooked teeth tended to have a lower quality of life than those with straight teeth. However, the researchers didn’t take into account whether the studies controlled for socioeconomic status — a potentially powerful predictor of both quality of life and likelihood of receiving dental health care.

According to some orthodontists, this lack of objective evidence of health benefits is cause for concern. After all, treatment places a financial burden on families and the health care system, and it also poses some health risks. Even very small risks — from adverse reactions associated with surgical interventions to the long-term effects of X-ray exposure — are bound to impact a small but measurable number of patients if enough people are treated, Hujoel said. And millions of kids receive orthodontic treatment each year.

But others see things differently. “The cost-benefit [ratio] there is so low,” said Greco. “If you can readily correct a problem as a patient develops, you’d want to do that to give that patient every opportunity to develop normally, emotionally and mentally, physically,” Greco said.

No one is arguing that individual orthodontists are intentionally misleading patients. The problem is cultural, Ackerman said. Evidence just isn’t valued as highly in orthodontics as tradition and clinical experience. Although the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation requires an evidence-based curriculum, “It is largely paid lip service,” Ackerman wrote in an email. (The ADA did not respond to requests for comment.) Instead, his residency experience emphasized the classical practice of orthodontics. At one point during residency, Ackerman challenged his chair on a recommendation given to a patient. He still remembers the response he received: “Ackerman — Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up.”

As a lecturer, Spassov was interested in incorporating a more critical discussion of evidence into his curriculum. However, he said that his colleagues dissuaded him. He says he was warned that incorporating evidence-based principles would confuse students. According to Spassov, it is easier and less confusing to just teach the same content each year. But that shouldn’t justify avoiding the topic entirely, he said. Diverging evidence is “at the core of science and research,” he wrote in an email to Undark.

Orthodontists need to rethink how they communicate treatment needs with their patients, said Richmond. “Health professionals have to be careful what they say sometimes,” he said. “When they say, ‘you may have an issue,’ that gets stuck in your mind.”

Ackerman agrees that patients deserve nuanced and accurate information. In 2007 and again in 2018, he challenged the American Association of Orthodontists about specific claims on its website: namely, that malocclusion can cause loss of teeth, speech impediment, and poor nutrition. When asked for evidence to support these assertions, they dismissed the complaint with no real investigation, Ackerman said.

Around a decade after his first complaint, they finally modified the site — and only slightly. Still, it’s a step in the right direction, said Vig.

The website continues to list other risks of malocclusion without providing evidence. That’s what it’s like to fight back against a prevailing dogma with new evidence, said Vig — it’s wearying. In an ideal world, those making a particular claim should carry the burden of proof, he said. Instead, that burden of proof falls on that minority of orthodontists willing to challenge the status quo — orthodontists like Vig, Ackerman, and Spassov. Each time they publish a paper that risks painting the profession in a negative light, each time they demand evidence for a claim, they meet resistance, Vig said. “It makes us pariahs in our profession.”

Isobel Whitcomb is a science reporter based in the Pacific Northwest. Her work has appeared in Bay Nature Magazine, Hakai, and Atlas Obscura, among other outlets.

This content was originally published here.

Xavier Becerra Receives Just 1 GOP Vote on His Way to Confirmation as Health Secretary

The Senate on Thursday narrowly confirmed Xavier Becerra as President Joe Biden’s health secretary.

The 50-49 vote puts the 63-year-old Becerra in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The $1.4 trillion agency encompasses health insurance programs, drug safety and approvals, medical research, and the welfare of children, including hundreds of Central American migrants flooding the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Religious and social conservatives opposed Becerra’s confirmation over his support for abortion — including partial-birth abortion.

During his confirmation hearings, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota called Becerra an “extremist who has used the offices he has held to advance an aggressively pro-abortion agenda.”

On the Senate floor on Thursday, Republicans mostly closed ranks against Becerra. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the sole Republican who voted for him.

“Although there are issues where I strongly disagree with Mr. Becerra, I believe he merits confirmation as HHS secretary,” she said. “I look forward to working with the department to achieve bipartisan results on behalf of the American people.”

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Becerra has been California’s attorney general since 2017. He sued the Trump administration 124 times on a range of policy issues. Before that he represented a Los Angeles-area district in the U.S. House for 24 years.

A lawyer, not a doctor, his primary experience with the health care system has come through helping to pass the Obama-era Affordable Care Act and defending it when Donald Trump was president.

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“I understand the enormous challenges before us and our solemn responsibility to be faithful stewards of an agency that touches almost every aspect of our lives,” Becerra said at his hearing. “I’m humbled by the task, and I’m ready for it.”

The American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association supported his nomination.

A powerful drug industry lobby, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, congratulated Becerra on his confirmation and said it looks forward to a collaborative working relationship.

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But to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, “the distinguishing feature of this nominee’s resume is not his expertise in health, medicine or administration — that part of the resume is very brief. What stands out are Mr. Becerra’s commitment to partisan warfare and his far-left ideology.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said GOP arguments against Becerra “almost verge on the ridiculous.”

Several agencies under the umbrella of HHS have played a part in the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic, including the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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South Lincoln Family Dentistry Focuses on Overall Health, Education, Comfort • Strictly Business Magazine | Lincoln

South Lincoln Family Dentistry Focuses on Overall Health, Education, Comfort

If you’ve ever had a bad experience at a dental appointment or just have general fear or anxiety about dental procedures, South Lincoln Family Dentistry (southlincolnfamilydentistry.com)—located at 2121 S 70th St.—can help. Dr. Christine Bergman takes the time to make every patient feel comfortable by fully explaining every procedure carefully, answering their questions, and listening to their fears. She helps them to make treatment decisions based on that information, and does so using the gentlest of dental technologies and procedures to help manage their anxiety and improve not just their dental health but their overall health. South Lincoln Family Dentistry is one of six local members of Nebraska Family Dentistry, which was founded by Drs. Brad and Kathryn Alderman, who believe in treating the whole person.

“Overall, Nebraska Family Dentistry and all of the member companies operate by linking oral health to overall health,” Dr. Christine explained. “Patients will hear our doctors not only talk about ways to improve the health of our mouths but also how some dental problems are linked to inflammation, heart disease, and other health risks. We look at the patient as a whole person and not just a tooth.”

What’s more, Dr. Christine’s niche is to calm fears of patients who might have had a negative experience in the past and developed anxiety or fear about seeing a dentist regularly as a result. It’s a fear that she dealt with as a child, and ever since she started in the industry, she has focused on getting those fearful people into the office and giving them a good experience to make them comfortable coming back. With modern technologies in the dental industry, she said there is absolutely no reason that going to the dentist should be a negative experience for anyone. Besides that and her warm heart and gentle touch, Dr. Christine often uses essential oils in the office, offers blankets to create a relaxing environment, and provides headphones/TV for patients to help eliminate distracting sounds. Whatever it takes to make a patient of any age truly comfortable, she’ll make it happen.

South Lincoln Family Dentistry, which opened in June 2020, is a proud member of Nebraska Family Dentistry, which includes Cottington Dental, where Dr. Christine began her career as a hygienist for five years before returning to school to become a dentist. Other members include NorthStar Dental, SouthPointe Family Dental, Lincoln Family Dentistry, and Preserve Family Dentistry. Drs. Brad and Kathryn Alderman work alongside their partners at each location and make themselves available for all member dentists to talk over cases and provide guidance. For more information about South Lincoln Family Dentistry, visit , where you can fill out new-patient documents and schedule an appointment online. For additional questions or information, call (402) 413-7700 or email .

This content was originally published here.

Don’t Forget Media Speculated About Trump’s Health Following Ramp Slow Walk, While Biden Mocked Him

President Joe Biden’s multiple stumbles walking up the steps to Air Force One on Friday drew comparisons to the coverage former President Donald Trump received when he walked slowly down a ramp at West Point’s graduation last summer.

NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck shared a video of Biden himself making fun of Trump at the time.

“Look at how he steps and look at how I step. Watch how I run up ramps and he stumbles down ramps. Come on,” Biden said.

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FLASHBACK -> Biden mocks Trump’s ramp walk at West Point and claims he’s stronger: “Look at how he steps and look at how I step. Watch how I run up ramps and he stumbles down ramps. Come on.” pic.twitter.com/U7CL0dBSQA

— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) March 19, 2021

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Three trips in a row. Wow.

Here is Trump walking down the ramp at West Point on June 13. The former president explained afterward that he struggled with it because the ramp was metal and his shoes were leather.

The 45th president tweeted later that day, “The ramp that I descended after my West Point Commencement speech was very long & steep, had no handrail and, most importantly, was very slippery.”

“The last thing I was going to do is ‘fall’ for the Fake News to have fun with. Final ten feet I ran down to level ground. Momentum!”

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Radio talk show host Jason Rantz shared some of the establishment media headlines from that day from outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Hill and CNN — with some speculating what Trump’s slow walk down the ramp meant in terms of his health.

Reminder:

NYT: “Trump’s Halting Walk Down Ramp Raises New Health Questions”

WaPo: “Trump tries to explain his slow and unsteady walk down a ramp at West Point”

The Hill: “Trump defends slow walk down ‘very slippery’ West Point ramp” https://t.co/0F9rN6jSaF

— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) March 19, 2021

The Times‘ piece by Maggie Haberman noted in its sub-headline that Trump at 74 was “the oldest a president has been in his first term.”

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By the way, Biden — the then-presumptive Democratic nominee — was 77 at the time and is now 78 years old.

CNN headlined, “Why the Donald Trump-West Point ramp story actually matters,” highlighting that the former president was in his mid-70s and also that his medical past was a “total mystery.”

Following all the media coverage and speculation about his health that the ramp walk generated, Trump offered a detailed response at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, five days later.

He recounted that when he reached the top of the ramp to get off the stage, Trump turned to West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams saying he had a problem.

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“I’m wearing leather-bottom shoes,” Trump said he told Williams. “There is no way I can make it down that ramp without falling on my a**, general.”

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“So I said, ‘General, get ready ’cause I may grab you so fast, because I can’t fall with the fake news watching,’” Trump continued.

He told the Tulsa crowd, “I would have been better off if I fell and slid down the d*** ramp,” given the media coverage he received.

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Trump further recalled he was surprised the West Point speech was trending on social media afterward, but learned on a phone call with first lady Melania Trump that it was because people were speculating whether he had Parkinson’s disease.

“I’ll let you know if there’s something wrong,” Trump reassured those at the rally.

“I tell you what — there’s something wrong with Biden, that I can tell you.”

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The difference in media coverage between Biden’s trips walking up to Air Force One and Trump’s West Point slow ramp walk was perfectly typified by The Times‘ headline Friday: “Biden is ‘doing 100 percent fine’ after tripping while boarding Air Force One.”

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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High-level health officials told to prioritize COVID-19 testing for Cuomo’s relatives, associates

The medical officials enlisted to do the testing, which often took place at private residences, included Dr. Eleanor Adams, an epidemiologist who graduated from Harvard Medical School and in August became a special adviser to Zucker. Adams conducted testing on Cuomo’s brother Chris at his residence in Long Island, according to the two people.

“If their job was to go test an old lady down in New Rochelle, that’s one thing — that’s actually good,” one of the people with knowledge of the matter said. “This was not that.”

Others who were give priority testing include Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and his wife, as well as members of the media, state legislators and their staff. Cotton and his wife were also tested by a high-level physician in the health department in early March 2020. Another high-ranking person to receive priority testing was Patrick J. Foye, head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and his wife.

Officials in the Cuomo administration said the testing in those early days of the pandemic in March 2020 was not preferential and they noted public nurses were being driven to private residences in New Rochelle, the site of the state’s first outbreak, to test people who were symptomatic or who had been exposed to the virus. During that period, State Police troopers were largely being tasked with driving those samples to the Wadsworth Center laboratory in Albany, which was initially the primary testing spot for coronavirus.

“It’s being a little bit distorted with like a devious intent. … We made sure to test people they believed were exposed,” according to an administration official in Cuomo’s office who spoke on background. “All of this was being done in good faith in an effort to trace the virus. … Early on testing was very very limited there was also a heavy emphasis on contact tracing.”

Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor, characterized the allegations of preferential treatment as “insincere efforts to rewrite the past.”

“In the early days of this pandemic, when there was a heavy emphasis on contact tracing, we were absolutely going above and beyond to get people testing — including in some instances going to people’s homes, and door-to-door in places like New Rochelle — to take samples from those believed to have been exposed to COVID in order to identify cases and prevent additional ones,” he said. “Among those we assisted were members of the general public, including legislators, reporters, state workers and their families who feared they had contracted the virus and had the capability to further spread it.”

Still, one of the people familiar with the matter said that the people with close ties to the governor, including his relatives, would have their samples moved to the front of the line at Wadsworth and be given a priority. They were referred to as “critical samples.”

Another person familiar with the matter said the “sampling missions” had unsettled some of the high-level health department officials tasked with collecting the samples at private residences, including Adams, who had previously worked in the health department’s New York City regional office for the Healthcare Epidemiology & Infection Control Program.

“To be doing sort of direct clinical work was a complete time suck away from their other duties,” the person said. “It was like wartime.”

Adams was instrumental in the efforts to control the state’s first outbreak last year in New Rochelle, where she previously had a private medical practice. But she was often pulled from those duties to conduct the individual testing that could have been done by a registered nurse, a person said.

The state Department of Health declined requests this week to make Zucker or Adams available for interviews. The Times Union told officials it wanted to question Adams about how she felt about being directed to conduct priority testing on people with close ties to the governor, including his brother.

“You’re asking professionals who took an oath to protect a patient’s privacy to violate that oath and compromise their integrity,” said Gary Holmes, a health department spokesman. “More than 43 million New Yorkers have been tested, and commenting on any of them would be a serious violation of medical ethics. We’ve built a nation-leading testing infrastructure to ensure that anybody who needs a test could get one. That work continues today.”

Chris Cuomo, an anchor for CNN, announced March 31 that he had tested positive for coronavirus and would be quarantining in his Long Island residence in South Hampton, where he continued doing his nightly show despite being ill.

“My brother Chris is positive for coronavirus — found out this morning. Now, he is going to be fine. He’s young, in good shape, strong, not as strong as he thinks, but he will be fine,” the governor said during his daily briefing on March 31. “But there’s a lesson in this. He’s an essential worker. … He’s just worried about his daughter and his kids. He hopes he didn’t get them infected.”

The testing of Chris Cuomo took place in the early stages of the pandemic, at a time when many members of the public struggled to obtain coronavirus tests.

While it was not unusual for those with symptoms to be tested in their residences at that time, much of the work was done by public health nurses, and they were often being transported by law enforcement officers, including parole officers.

National Guard troops also had assisted in those early stages of testing, including ensuring that people who had been quarantined remained in their residences — and delivering food to those who had been asked to stay home.

blyons@timesunion.com

This content was originally published here.

Invisalign® Aligners vs Braces for Sports – Happy Mothering

This post about Invisalign® aligners vs braces is sponsored by the Invisalign brand and all opinions are my own.

We finally got our first big snow of the season in the mountains! It’s something the entire family has been looking forward to all summer and fall… time to snowboard!

The girls got their new snowboards and immediately hit the slopes! Since Zoë has Invisalign aligners, we’ve been talking with other parents about Invisalign treatment vs. braces for active kids like ours. There are so many kids in her age group that are ready for orthodontic treatment, and many people are curious about our experience with Invisalign clear aligners.

I’ll let Zoë share her Invisalign treatment review with you as a snowboarder in this video! Then I’ll share the answers to some of the top questions about Invisalign treatment that we’ve heard.

Isn’t Zoë’s smile beautiful?! Everyone who sees her for the first time since she started treatment comments on her smile.

Of course, the compliments always spark a discussion about our experience with Invisalign treatment. If you’re considering aligners for your active kid, here are some of the questions we’ve been getting from other sports parents.

How Much is Invisalign Treatment?

Everything comes down to cost, right? Most often, the cost of Invisalign treatment is very comparable to that of braces.

You can pay out of pocket, but you may also be wondering does insurance cover Invisalign treatment? You’ll need to check with your provider, but many dental insurance companies do cover Invisalign aligners and often times they will cover up to $3,500 (or roughly 50%) of the cost… so it’s worth checking into.

How Long Does Invisalign Treatment Take?

It really varies based upon your child’s individual orthodontic needs.

Since Zoë had an overbite and crossbite that needed to be corrected, her treatment will be a bit on the longer side. She started treatment in June 2019 and we’re now in December 2019.

How Does Invisalign Treatment Work for Overbites?

If you’re wondering if Invisalign aligners can fix an overbite, the answer is yes. This point was really important to us since Zoë had such a severe overbite that her bottom teeth would dig into the roof of her mouth.

We’ve also been asked how Invisalign aligners work to correct overbites since they’re “just plastic trays.” Invisalign aligners use little tooth-colored buttons called SmartForce® attachments on the teeth to grip onto and move teeth into position.

Her treatment isn’t even over yet but her teeth no longer dig into the roof of her mouth! She is on weekly aligner changes, so her treatment has been moving along quickly.

That’s because her Invisalign aligners are made with SmartTrack® material, which is designed to fit better, be more comfortable and provide more predictable tooth movement (compared to aligners made from off-the-shelf, single layer .030in material).

Does Invisalign Treatment Hurt?

This question is one we hear often, especially since braces are known to be uncomfortable. I can personally vouch for braces being painful!

According to Zoë, her aligners hurt for a little bit each week when she changes them out. Her teeth shift quickly and the pain subsides equally as fast. They’re not pain free by any means, but it doesn’t seem like she’s in nearly as much pain as I was as a teen with braces.

She talked a little bit about pain levels during the first couple weeks in our post, What to Expect When Getting Your First Set of Invisalign Aligners.

What’s the Best Invisalign Treatment Alternative?

I’ve been really surprised by how many times we’ve heard this question! I’m going to come right out and say that we wouldn’t consider using an alternative to Invisalign clear aligners. There are plenty of home treatment aligner brands on the market now, but I personally wouldn’t use any of them without an orthodontist’s guidance.

Here’s why… Our next door neighbor was a few months into her Invisalign treatment when she realized her bite was out of alignment. Her orthodontist caught it early, re-scanned her and corrected her treatment plan. Now she’s back on track.

We also had Zoë’s mouth re-scanned last month. Not because her treatment wasn’t going according to plan, but because she lost her last baby tooth and she needed new aligners that would fit the new tooth properly.

If you’re using an at-home aligner brand, you won’t have an orthodontist watching for these types of changes. And when you’re busy with sports like we are, it’s important to have someone looking out for things you may not even know you need to be looking out for!

When it’s time for Kaylee to get orthodontic treatment, we’ll be looking at Invisalign aligners for her too…. no alternatives for us.

Is Invisalign Treatment Worth It?

When I was a teen, I had braces and I played softball. I was always terrified of being hit in the face with a ball, and it made me more skittish on the field during that time than I should have been.

There was no question that Zoë needed orthodontic treatment. It was really important to us to choose what we felt was the safest orthodontic treatment for sports for her, especially since she spends 100+ days on the snow each year.

Fortunately, Zoë doesn’t have to worry about the same things I did with her Invisalign aligners. There is no metal like with braces, so there’s no risk of tearing a lip on a bracket or popping a wire.

I believe choosing Invisalign treatment vs. braces has helped Zoë have more confidence in her active lifestyle. She gets on her snowboard and rides without fear of what braces might do to her, and that’s pretty awesome.

So I’d say absolutely yes, Invisalign treatment has been completely worth it for Zoë! So much so that we’ll be looking at it for Kaylee soon.

Is Invisalign Treatment Right for You?

Our experiences have shown us why Invisalign treatment is the most advanced clear aligner system on the market and reinforced why it’s a better choice than braces for us! If you have an active child in need of orthodontics, the next step is to take the free Smile Assessment for your child to see if Invisalign treatment is right for them and find an Invisalign provider near you for an initial consultation!

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This content was originally published here.

Inside the Struggle in the World of Dentistry During COVID-19

From Cavities to Stress-Grinding, the Pandemic Has Been Hell on Our Teeth

Offices closed down. Massive PPE shortages. Dentists have been up against a lot during this past year. So are you ready to get back in the chair?

Dentistry during COVID-19 has been a challenge for patients and practitioners alike. Illustration by Wren McDonald

On March 26th, at the start of the first pandemic shutdown, Montgomery County resident Cathy Belfield was working from home while her two kids played in the driveway, rolling around on skateboards.

While skateboarding isn’t a typical activity for her son, who is “extremely cautious,” it was a nice day outside, and without anywhere to go, he “needed some kind of outlet,” Belfield explains.

Then the screaming started.

Belfield’s son, Andrew, who was 11 at the time, had face-planted in the driveway, breaking off one permanent front tooth and shoving the other up into his gums. His nerves were exposed, and it was clear he needed emergency attention.

One problem: Belfield’s usual dentist wasn’t open. On March 22nd, Governor Tom Wolf had enacted new COVID restrictions that barred dentists from providing emergency care outside of negative-pressure rooms and without N-95 masks. According to the president of the Pennsylvania Dental Association, no dental facility possessed a negative-pressure space in which to operate. Patients had nowhere to go but the emergency room — which, due to coronavirus, they were being told to avoid at all costs.

“We were in complete panic,” says Belfield. “We thought maybe he would just completely lose his two front teeth.”

Poor Andrew is just one example of the many ways a hellish year was hell on our teeth. Dentists have seen broken braces, gaping cavities, and teeth knocked clean out of heads. Not to mention the whole domino trail of issues that stem from a lack of access to regular care and maintenance on a community-wide level — an issue that’s compounded for those without insurance. The list goes on and on.

A study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called 2020 a “perfect storm” in oral health. Even in normal times, dentistry has long had a problem with patients who struggle to consistently access care. “There has always been a storm challenging our oral health,” says Rittenhouse dentist Joseph Roberts. “COVID just turned it up to a Category 5.”

While most dental offices are back in business (albeit seeing fewer patients due to limited capacity and never-ending rounds of sanitizing), 2020 was an uphill battle for practices and patients alike. So how bad was the past year on our teeth, and how do we bite back?

For Regina Thomas-Salley, it started in November with a toothache. Thomas-Salley, a resident of Lincoln University in Chester County, contacted her dentist, who was quickly able to discern that a root canal she’d had done some 20 years ago, right out of college, needed repairing. Simple enough. But then searing pain started on the opposite side of her mouth. It was so bad she could barely lift her head from the pillow in the morning — so wrenching that if she tapped her jaw on the right side of her face, pain radiated through her inner ear.

She thought she had an ear infection. But her dentist told her the raging pain had nothing to do with the root canal or an infection of any kind. The culprit? Teeth-grinding. The anxiety of months spent working her high-stress banking job from home alongside her husband and three homebound college-student children — not to mention the whole living-through-a-global-health-crisis thing — was manifesting through the gnashing of her teeth.

Stress has been one of the hallmarks of the pandemic. “People dissipate stress in different ways. Some people get GI ulcers. Some people get migraines. Other people grind and clench their teeth,” says orthodontist Kellyn Hodges.

The negative side effects of grinding through tension are many; for Thomas-Salley, it led to temporomandibular joint (or TMJ) disorder, which can cause intense pain and sometimes lead to a locked jaw. And because the myofascial muscles are some of the strongest muscles in the body, Hodges explains, “This grinding habit can literally fracture teeth — it can fracture cusps off, and it can send a fracture line straight down the middle of teeth.”

Thomas-Salley is far from the only one of us who’s been working out her stress on her teeth. A Manhattan prosthodontist shared with the that she was seeing more cracked teeth in her practice than ever before — at least once a day since she returned to the office in June. Dentists say the trend holds true in the Philly region as well. Hanh Bui Keating, a periodontist in Bryn Mawr, has seen at least a 50 percent uptick in patients coming in with cracked teeth. “Some days, cracked teeth is all I do,” she says.

Bala Cynwyd endodontist Eric Hodges, Kellyn Hodges’s husband, says the rise in cracked teeth has thrown off his schedule. One day in November, he had six back-to-back root canals in his appointment book, four of which had to be canceled once he realized those patients had fractured teeth that couldn’t be salvaged. And it’s not just teeth that are cracking: Kellyn Hodges says all the teeth-grinding is leading to more broken braces, appliances and wires as well.

“This is an unprecedented amount of breakage,” she explains. “In the past, on a normal day, we might have had a rate of 30 percent of people coming in with breakage. We are now at a rate of 60 to 70 percent of patients who walk through the door with some kind of breakage.”

While no one wants broken teeth, other issues can stem from these rifts, even when they’re minuscule. Tiny cracks — Bui Keating likens them to the hairline fractures you sometimes see on eggs at the grocery store — may not seem significant at first, but they can allow bacteria into a tooth, leading to infections.

“Most of the time, there’s no pain, believe it or not,” notes Bui Keating. She recommends seeing a specialist if patients notice bleeding, pus, a bad taste, or small pimples on the gums, which can be signs of a deeper infection. “Sometimes it can be an overreaction, but we’d rather find the problems earlier than not.” While these symptoms may come and go, a bad infection can erode the jawbone if left untreated. That requires extensive (and expensive) restructuring.

For those who have found themselves grinding their way through the pandemic, it’s not too late to prevent further harm. Dentists recommend investing in a night guard — a fitted retainer-like appliance made of thick plastic that can take a lot of wear and tear. Kellyn Hodges makes her mother a new one every year, as she tends to grind straight through them (better the plastic than her molars). While you can find generic mouth guards online, Bui Keating strongly recommends that patients get something custom-made by their dentist: “When it’s not fitted right, it can cause more stress in your jaw. When we fit it, we make sure it distributes the force evenly. That’s how it’s protecting your teeth.”

Night guards can also reduce the strain on the jaw for those suffering from TMJ disorder. Thomas-Salley says her dentist gave her a bite plate — an acrylic appliance that fits over the teeth — to sleep in; she can detect a difference in the pain after nights when she wears it vs. those when she forgets. She’ll pop it in as well when things get tense during the day: “At stressful times, I find myself biting down hard and grinding on my teeth. When I find that happening, I go and put the bite plate on.”

Grinding is a slow and steady way to destroy teeth, but dentists have also seen increases in much more instantaneous, brutal methods. It turns out being bored at home can be a recipe for a lot of dangerous high jinks. “I’m on staff at Abington Hospital, and we saw a lot of trauma over the summer, both adult and pediatric,” says Angela Stout, a pediatric dentist in Erdenheim. With no school — and with sports practices and extracurriculars canceled — kids had less structured time and more pent-up energy to get out. That meant a lot of knocked-out teeth.

It was Stout who answered the call — or, rather, the text — when Andrew Belfield smashed his teeth while skateboarding. As Cathy Belfield was trying to find a dentist in New Jersey who would see her son, her brother texted Stout, his family dentist.

Luckily, while Stout was on the phone with Belfield, she got word that the state was lifting the restrictions on emergency procedures following pushback from dentists, which meant she’d be able to see Andrew the next day. And because she prompted Belfield to hunt down the tooth fragments by flashlight on the driveway and put them in water to keep them moist, Stout was able to reconstruct Andrew’s shattered tooth after performing root canals on both front teeth.

“We saw a lot of trauma over the summer, both adult and pediatric,” says Angela Stout, a pediatric dentist in Erdenheim. Illustration by Wren McDonald

Young Andrew’s case was an extreme one, but it serves as a gruesome reminder that dentistry is essential — and not just in emergencies. When dentists are inspecting your teeth, they’re not only checking that you brush — they’re screening for diseases and oral cancers. “Gum disease is known to be linked to diabetes and heart disease, and certain types of gum inflammation and types of smells are indicative of diabetes,” explains Kellyn Hodges. “We’re often the first professional to inquire about diabetes and send patients back to their generalists. A lot of people really don’t connect those dots, but they’re connected. There are a lot of major diseases that are detected by things in the mouth.”

Dentistry works best when patients have consistent access to care, which is another reason the past year has been so bad for our teeth. In this industry, an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure. Regular cleanings give dentists opportunities to find small issues before they become big ones. But when the pandemic closed down dentist offices along with everything else, all care — except serious emergencies — came to a screeching halt. That meant new problems weren’t caught, and already-established treatment plans were on pause for months. Even after most dental offices reopened, patients continued to postpone care. reported in the fall that 15 to 20 percent of regular dental patients said they wouldn’t reinstate their appointments until there was a vaccine or proven COVID-19 treatment.

According to Stout, this slowdown in care has led to more and worse cavities. Patients who had treatment plans for tooth decay and gum disease all the way back in January weren’t able to see her until her office reopened in June. As a result, “A lot of the decay or cavities that we were seeing that may only have required a simple filling ended up being a root canal and crown,” she says.

The pandemic shutdown also disrupted our set schedules, which contributed to more problems. The dental decay Stout saw in her pediatric patients birthed a new name: “COVID teeth.” “Kids are out of school; they had no routine,” she says. “They were staying up late, eating all night, not brushing. Decay that was starting actually escalated much more quickly because of lack of typical home-care routines.”

We all know, intellectually, that we should be taking better care of our teeth. In a 2017 survey, 85 percent of Americans said oral health is “very or extremely important to their overall health.” And yet in that same survey, only 58 percent of respondents said they visit the dentist at least once a year. And that was before the pandemic! In June, the ADA projected dental spending would drop by as much as 38 percent in 2020. The group predicts that it will improve in 2021 but won’t return to pre-pandemic levels.

That decreased spending represents not just a lack of current dental care but also a risk for the future. Along with cost, people forgo dental care because of time and distance to travel to a dentist. Dental offices are primarily small businesses, and the declines in revenue — not to mention the cost of adding medical-grade air purifiers to offices to make them COVID-safe — is putting some practices out of business and pushing older dentists to retire early, according to Stout. That, in turn, “makes it harder for patients to find a dental home.”

Lack of access to dental care is worse for low-income populations and the uninsured, and it disproportionately affects Black, Hispanic and indigenous communities — which, as we know, also bore the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic. While much of the discussion about school closures this year focused on the need for laptops and access to school lunches for low-income students, dental-care programs were also disrupted. Tiffany Foy, a dental hygienist who worked with a nonprofit in Oregon that provided care to students without regard to income or insurance, she worries about what the cutoff of this pipeline could mean for pediatric patients: “They could have a mouthful of cavities and the parents aren’t even aware.”

Then there’s the question of whether patients feel safe going to the dentist amid a pandemic. It doesn’t help that dental workers — particularly hygienists — have, of all professions, the highest risk of contracting coronavirus, even more than nurses, paramedics, flight attendants and surgeons. (The least at risk? Loggers. Store that factoid away for the next pandemic.)

But what patients might not realize is that unlike, say, loggers, dentists have significantly more experience working safely in an epidemic. The rise of HIV/AIDS, spread via a blood-borne pathogen, changed dentistry forever, creating new universal precautions that are still in place. “We are working very close — six inches to a foot — and we’re working with blood and saliva,” says Bui Keating. “Even as dental students, we don’t come near someone unless we have a shield, mask and gown.”

Unfortunately, face shields, masks and gowns haven’t been easy to come by due to the nationwide personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage. Last spring, non-medical workers collected and donated their PPE to hospitals and frontline workers, and dental offices were among those that turned over their gear. When small dental practices were preparing to reopen a couple of months later, restocking scarce and suddenly exorbitantly expensive PPE became yet another hurdle.

“One of the biggest early challenges was sourcing, finding, and being able to trust our PPE,” says Rittenhouse’s Joseph Roberts. “My staff was petrified of being exposed.” Eric Hodges says that overhead at his practice has skyrocketed, in part due to PPE costs. The masks he once purchased for 85 cents apiece now run him $5. Some dentists have added PPE fees to help cover these new costs, though Hodges says he isn’t ready to pass them on to patients.

PPE isn’t dentistry’s only line of defense against the virus. Dental offices have invested in HEPA air filters with air ionization technology, along with UV lights to disinfect the air and surfaces, in an attempt to reduce the risk of COVID particles hanging around — though the efficacy of these measures is still unclear. And some have pivoted to tele-dentistry, triaging more patients over the phone and putting new policies in place to keep the number of people in their offices to a minimum. “We spent multiple days over weeks reviewing the data, our protocols, and our strategies to first keep the virus out of the office and then to effectively limit or eliminate the risk of transmission inside our four walls,” Roberts says.

Montgomeryville resident Steven Hill, whose two children are patients at Kellyn Hodges’s orthodontics practice, describes himself as “on the more cautious side” when it comes to the pandemic. But when he showed up wearing rubber gloves and a face mask for his kids’ first appointments after dental offices reopened in early May, he was surprised at how seamless every step of the process was and how safe he felt. He stayed in his car until the office called him up. The door was opened for him so he wouldn’t have to touch the handle, temperatures were taken, and he was handed a brand-new pen, which he kept, to fill out paperwork.

“I was really concerned about going, and I could really let that caution down because it was all taken care of for me,” says Hill. “It was just really well-thought-out.”

While the precautions have shifted over time as we’ve learned more about the virus and how it spreads, the safety measures appear to be working. The ADA released a survey of more than 2,000 dentists showing that fewer than one percent had contracted coronavirus as of June, demonstrating that dentist offices could operate safely throughout a pandemic. And thanks to a new resolution adopted by the American Dental Association’s house of delegates in October — which recognized all preventative oral care as “essential” going ­forward — it’s less likely that dentistry will see a widespread shutdown if and when such a situation recurs.

“This resolution helps to ensure that patients have access to a full range of dental care whenever they need it in the current pandemic or other future crises,” said ADA president Daniel J. Klemmedson.

There’s been a lot of talk this year about how experiencing a global pandemic is ramping up our be-ready-for-anything instincts. We’ve spent an entire year stocking up on canned goods and toilet paper and learning to bake bread. But it’s clear by now that those survival instincts should also include staying up on teeth-cleanings and cavity-fillings — just in case.

Published as “The Dentist Will See You Now” in the March 2021 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

This content was originally published here.

Top 10 Health Benefits of Ballroom Dancing

There are plenty of keys to happiness, and dancing is definitely one of them! The art of ballroom dancing has been alive since the 16th century- peaking in the 19th and 20th century after the incorporation of the two-step, tango, and waltz. Thanks to tv shows such as Dancing With The Stars, this elegant art form is back and in the spotlight of the dance world.

Ballroom dancing is a wonderful way for people from all walks of life to get in shape while also releasing their creative juices. This goes past merely benefiting your body- to also benefiting your state of mind and social connections. Dancing is a great social activity, and it has been proving that socializing regularly can have vast health benefits on self-esteem, stress, and even your BMI. Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:

Don’t just dance, ballroom dance!

Uplifting and Fun

Not many activities are as joyful as these artistic dance moves. Low energy, gloominess, and negativity are not allowed on this fun-filled dance floor. Concentrating on moving your body to the beat of the music instantaneously puts you in a positive headspace. While newcomers may spend extra time concentrating on getting their moves right, the instruction is always given in a lively and upbeat manner. Not to mention, you will be surrounded by joyful individuals and uplifting melodies. After you get the moves down, it’ll be pure fun and laughs.

Muscle Toning

You will most definitely develop more strength and muscle definition as you dance along to Mozart. Ballroom dancing contributes to muscle toning by forcing the dancers to resist their partner’s’ body strength. The fast turns, spinning and two-stepping all contribute to muscle building. Men, in particular, have instances of lifting their lady partners- which requires a great deal of strength! If you plan on joining in on these highly intensive dance moves, be prepared for sexy and toned legs!

Bones and Joints

Since dancing is a weight-resisting activity, it can help protect bone density and prevent osteoporosis. It can also help speed up knee recovery after surgery since it’s a lower impact exercise than jogging or biking. If you have weak knees or are gradually introducing your body to exercise, ballroom dancing is a great low-impact activity that can promote a fit lifestyle while also decreasing your chances of an exercise-related injury.

Flexibility

Flexibility is a major benefit of ballroom dancing. Women may already be a bit more flexible than their male partners- but both parties cash in on this appealing health benefit. Most ballroom classes start by stretching and warming up. This is important because stretching can protect against dance-related injuries and allow your body to dance at ease. Ballroom dancing itself contains plenty of stretching and bending. Therefore the more you dance, the more flexible you will become.

Brain Food

In a 2016 study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, it was concluded that ballroom dancing, as well as other forms of social dancing, can help prevent the onset of dementia in elderly patients. It was revealed that “dance improved one of the cognitive domains (spatial memory),” which is vital for learning dance (Dafna Merom, et al., 2016). A lifestyle highly infused with partnered dancing can produce even stronger mental health benefits. The partnered benefits can also decrease loneliness for the elderly.

Burns Fat

Dancing is a low-impact aerobic activity that can boost your metabolism. In just thirty minutes of dancing, you can burn anywhere between 200-400 calories. That’s roughly the same amount burned by running or cycling. Burning an extra 300 calories a day can help you lose between 0.5-1 pound a week. While that may not sound too drastic, 1 pound a week adds up pretty quick!

Creative Outlet

Ballroom dancing is an amazing creative outlet! Not only does it allow you to move your hips at ease to the beat of the music- but it also allows you to release your emotions and thoughts through those artistic moves. The art of dancing is something that comes naturally to people. This makes it an easy activity for anyone to partake in. After a little bit of practice, you will easily find yourself getting lost in the music. You will also unlock a beautiful rhythm your body may have been hiding.

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Conditioning

Engaging in just about any cardiovascular or aerobic activity can help improve your heart health, lower obesity and type 2 diabetes risk, and also promote lung capacity. These full body-conditioning benefits can be elevated by engaging in dance for at least half an hour, four days a week. While that may sound like a big commitment to make, it’s one that your body will thank you for it in the long run!

Endurance

Dancing an effective way to improve general endurance. As the dance sessions get longer and longer, your muscles will be working harder and for a longer period of time. In turn, you will find yourself being able to go on with little to no fatigue. Every time you brush up on your moves dance to improve your two-steps, lifts or speedy turns, you are also training your body to go on for longer periods of time with less succumbing.

Social Connectivity

Joining a ballroom dance class will expose you to a sea of new people who may potentially share common interests with you. Instead of spending your evenings glued to your television screen, you can engage in uplifting conversations and strengthen your social connections by trying this partnered activity. It’s been proven that being more social can help improve self-esteem, lower stress levels, increase sense of purpose, and promote a positive outlook on life.

This content was originally published here.

COVID bill to deliver big health insurance savings for many

WASHINGTON (AP) — Several million people stand to save hundreds of dollars in health insurance costs, or more, under the Democratic coronavirus relief legislation on track to pass Congress.

Winners include those covered by “Obamacare” or just now signing up, self-employed people who buy their own insurance and don’t currently get federal help, laid-off workers struggling to retain employer coverage, and most anyone collecting unemployment. Also, potentially many more could benefit if about a dozen states accept a Medicaid deal in the legislation.

Taken together, the components of the coronavirus bill represent the biggest expansion of federal help for health insurance since the Obama-era Affordable Care Act more than 10 years ago. “Obamacare” not only survived former President Donald Trump’s repeated attempts to tear it down but will now get a shot of new life.

Consider a couple of examples: A hypothetical 45-year-old making $58,000 now gets no aid under the ACA. With the bill, they’d be entitled to a $1,250 tax credit, or 20% off their premiums, according to the Congressional Budget Office. A 64-year-old making $19,300 already gets generous subsidies that reduce premiums to $800 a year. But with the bill, that person would pay no premiums for a standard plan.

Because health insurance is so complicated, consumers are going to have to do their homework to figure out if there’s something in the bill for them. And health care benefits are not like stimulus checks that can be blasted out. There will be a lag as government agencies, insurers and employers unpack the bill’s provisions.

There’s also a political twist. Since most of the health care aid is keyed to the pandemic and expires by the end of 2022, that will let Democrats set up election-year votes to make new benefits permanent, or build them out even more.

“There was always a hope that we were going to be able to return and build on where we started in 2009-2010, and we finally got to a place where it was possible,” said Judy Solomon of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which advocates for low-income people and supported the Obama law.

“We had this massive fight that went on for 10 years,” said blogger Robert Laszewski, who followed “Obamacare” for an industry audience. “Over the weekend, it’s like it’s been erased.”

The COVID-19 bill follows President Joe Biden’s strategy of building on the ACA health law to move the U.S. toward coverage for all. It’s still unclear how big a dent the legislation will make in the number of uninsured people, which has risen to an estimated 33 million or more.

A major health care item in the bill will depend on some Republican-led states going along. States mainly in the South have refused to expand Medicaid to low-income adults under the ACA. The legislation offers them a temporary infusion of billions of dollars to reconsider. If those states, including Texas, Florida and Georgia, were to do that, Biden would be closer to his coverage goal.

Even if the hold-outs spurn the offer, the legislation provides plenty of other benefits.

The biggest winners will be the more than 11 million people already enrolled in “Obamacare” as well as those who are now shopping for HealthCare.gov coverage. Biden has opened up a special sign-up period through May 15.

The bill would change the formulas for health insurance tax credits to make them more generous for most people, and also allow a wider number of individuals to qualify. That makes coverage more attractive for people who are considering whether to buy and more affordable for those who already have it, mainly low-to-moderate income working people.

Insurers are hoping that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will be able to quickly update HealthCare.gov software, allowing the companies to promote lower premiums and attract more consumers while the current sign-up window remains open. Industry also wants the agency to automatically adjust what existing customers are paying, sparing millions the headache of having to go back and reapply.

In a politically significant change, the bill would provide health insurance tax credits to people with solid middle-class incomes who don’t now qualify for help with their premiums. That’s a demographic that includes many self-employed people and business owners who were hit with higher premiums as a result of the ACA, but cut out of the benefits. Their complaints fueled Republican opposition to the health law. “These are the people Trump was responding to,” said Laszewski.

Another inducement is aimed at people who have lost jobs. Those who collect unemployment this year, if even for one week, would qualify for the most generous ACA tax credits as well as its biggest reductions in copays and deductibles.

Other people who lose their jobs may want to keep their employer coverage. A federal law known as COBRA allows that, but the employee has to pay the full premium, often a prohibitive expense. The bill would provide a temporary 100% subsidy.

Republicans cite the health insurance provisions as an example of coronavirus overreach by Democrats. Policy consultant Brian Blase, a former health care adviser in the Trump White House, says most of the additional subsidies for coverage will merely substitute for what private households would have otherwise paid. If made permanent, he predicts that over time the sweeter tax credits will have the unintended consequence of enticing small businesses to stop offering coverage to their workers.

“This subsidy expansion largely replaces private spending with government spending.” said Blase.

This content was originally published here.

Sota Orthodontics opens new Oxford Street location | The Globe

“My personal goal is to have happy people,” said Dr. Todd Hoggan, owner/orthodontist of Sota Orthodontics, which debuted its new Worthington office at 1526 Oxford St. (formerly McCarthy’s Floral) in mid-August.

“Achieving beautiful smiles is the most fun part of it, but it’s really about changing lives.”

While Hoggan and his staff of six (two additional staff members may eventually be added to his Worthington operation) are occupied with examining teeth, making molds and tightening braces in the quest for more perfect mouths, patients will find the clinic’s surroundings contribute to their comfort and relaxation — at least, as much as that’s possible when one’s teeth are being tweaked.

“It’s a different look, a little more current, with new chairs, a new sterilizer and all new equipment,” noted Hoggan.

“We wanted it to look cool, and it features shades of grays, blues and white.

“There’s an expanded waiting room and more capacity generally, with the office flow designed specifically for orthodontics,” he continued.

“It’s a major step for us, and we think it turned out pretty nice.”

Given that Sota Orthodontics’ website says its goal is “personalized care in a patient-focused, warm and inviting environment that allows our patients to relax and enjoy their orthodontic experience,” Hoggan’s refurbished clinic seems to check all the boxes.

However, it wasn’t ambience so much as scheduling freedom that drove Hoggan’s need for a different locale.

“We shared dental office space with AppleWhite Dental [on Worthington’s Second Avenue] for quite some time, and about a year ago they were looking to change hours and times,” explained Hoggan, adding that their weekly Worthington presence has traditionally been each Wednesday.

Because Hoggan, who earned his doctorate of dentistry at the University of Oklahoma Dental School in 2000 and his M.S. in orthodontics in 2003, also has offices and patients in Marshall, Pipestone and Pierre, S.D., he and his peripatetic staff desired greater scheduling flexibility than a shared office space with another busy practice allowed.

“For instance, when winter comes and we sometimes have to shut down the office due to weather events, we’ll have more flexibility to make up for ice days and snowstorms,” said Hoggan.

“That will be a nice benefit.”

Another plus is the central location along one of Worthington’s main streets, although Hoggan is quick to point out that an orthodontist’s office is almost always a predetermined destination rather than a random stop.

Hoggan and his staff provide standard orthodontic care, with Hoggan being a certified Invisalign and Clear Correct clear aligner expert to boot. He has conducted and authored original orthodontic research and incorporates the latest dental/orthodontic technologies in his patient care.

“We want our patients to be the best they can be, but not everyone wants the same thing,” said Hoggan.

“For some people, we’re working to correct something that has bothered them their whole life and has maybe even been embarrassing, so this is a fun, exciting process,” he added.

“It can have its ups and downs — a little pain, some wire pokes — but generally speaking, we want everyone to have a wonderful experience and be happy.”

Hoggan’s enthusiasm for his work and patients shines through, and he is pleased the year-long process of establishing a new site for his Worthington practice is nearly complete.

“The cool thing about being an orthodontist is that every situation is unique—there’s no cookie cutter experience so it’s never a boring process,” Hoggan observed.

“With this new office, we’re well positioned to provide orthodontic care here well into the future,” he continued.

“We want people to be happy and to have a great result in the end — and hopefully we deliver.”

Sota Orthodontics is located at 1526 Oxford St., Worthington, 372-2166. For more information, visit sotaorthodontic.com.

This content was originally published here.

Being ‘godless’ might be good for your health, new study finds

(RNS) — In recent decades, a number of studies have found that being religious can be good for your health.

People who regularly attend services are less likely to smoke, may be less likely to use drugs or be obese and may live longer than those who don’t attend services. Those findings have led some to conclude that, if religion is good for you, being an atheist will be bad for your health.

That’s not exactly the case, said David Speed, professor of psychology at the University of New Brunswick in St. John, Canada.

In a new study called “Godless in the Great White North,” published in the Journal of Religion and Health, Speed looked at data from a

and found that atheists may be just as healthy as devoted believers.

“If you compare the health outcomes for those two groups, they are really similar to each other,” said Speed.

Speed is one of a number of social scientists who are rethinking the connection between religion and health. Past studies, they say, have focused heavily on the health of very religious people while treating atheists and other nonbelievers as an afterthought.

David Speed. Photo via Twitter

That’s a mistake, Speed argues, in part because nonreligious people are not all the same.

Atheists, he said, are different from agnostics, who are different from the religiously unaffiliated, or so-called nones. And some of the benefits of being a part of a church or other faith group — including social support and behavioral rules that can be beneficial — aren’t exclusively religious.

Religious people, for example, are less likely to drink heavily or use drugs, because their religious beliefs discourage those activities. But other groups also discourage drug and alcohol use, he said, pointing to the so-called Straight Edge movement that began among punk rockers in the 1980s.

Some people — include Speed himself — simply aren’t interested in using those substances. Whatever the motivation, these groups see abstaining from alcohol and drugs as important.

“The religious framing is irrelevant,” he said.

Many of the benefits of religion are also linked to stronger social support networks. That is one area where religiously active people do have an advantage over atheists.

“One thing that religion does really well is facilitating social networks,” he said. “If you go to services, you are building a social support network.”

By contrast, he added, “there isn’t the same support structure for atheists.”

Still, it’s important to be clear that the health and well-being benefits are linked to faith groups’ social support, not spiritual belief, said Speed.

In some cases, belief in God might actually be bad for your health, particularly when that belief is shaky. A 2020 study on published in the Review of Religious Research found that “doubting theists” — those who believe in God but are less certain about those beliefs — reported poorer health outcomes.

Because of the growth of the nones in the United States, researchers on that study wanted to look more closely at subgroups in that population. They separated out self-identified atheists and then divided the remaining unaffiliated theists into two groups: “theistic nones,” who had a strong belief in God, and “doubting theists,” who were less certain in their beliefs. Then they looked at health outcomes for the latter two groups.

“The results suggest that the level of certainty in beliefs about God or a higher power are an important factor among religious nones for predicting health outcomes,” according to the study.

Joseph Baker, a sociologist of religion at East Tennessee State University who worked on the study, argues that nonreligious Americans should not be treated as a monolith. He said atheists, agnostics and the nones should be treated as separate groups by researchers.

Baker, who studies secular Americans, also said that atheism can give people a strong sense of identity and a clear set of values, which may help with their well-being, even if they don’t have the same kind of built-in social support that religious people do.

America’s changing religious landscape — in which about 1 in 4 Americans identify as nones — will present challenges in the future. As organized religion declines, researchers are asking what will fill that social void.

“The challenge for secular individuals is to think consciously and seriously about where they will find community — and organize accordingly,” said Baker.

Speed hopes that more research will be done about the question of religion and health. And he hopes that more researchers will spend time studying atheists and other nonreligious people.

“Atheists, in general, are understudied,” he said. “And when they are studied, they are not studied well.”

Ahead of the Trend is a collaborative effort between Religion News Service and the Association of Religion Data Archives made possible through the support of the John Templeton Foundation. See other Ahead of the Trend articles here.

This content was originally published here.

Less Than One Week to Register for Additive Manufacturing Strategies Summit on 3D Printing in Medicine and Dentistry

Without exception, medicine and dentistry affect everyone – and that means that 3D printing affects everyone. The technology is becoming such a part of the medical and dental industries that sooner or later, everyone who has a medical or dental concern find themselves acquainted with 3D printing – whether it’s through a 3D printed implant or prosthetic, a 3D printed surgical guide or medical model, or even a patch of 3D printed skin. To discuss the present and future of 3D printing in the medical and dental industries, last year 3DPrint.com and SmarTech Markets Publishing hosted a new kind of conference – the Additive Manufacturing Strategies Summit, focused exclusively on 3D printing in medicine and dentistry.

A lot can change in a year. New technologies have arisen, existing technologies have been further developed, and many medical and dental procedures have used 3D printing for the first time. So 3DPrint.com and SmarTech are hosting the summit again, taking place next week over three days. From January 29th to 31st, medical and dental professionals, 3D printing experts, and representatives from business, government and academia will gather in Boston to discuss what is happening in 3D printing, medicine and dentistry right now – and what will be happening in both the near and distant future.

This year, there are separate medical and dental tracks, both with speakers and panels to cover every part of the respective industries. Panel topics include 3D printing in veterinary medicine, bioprinting, implants and prosthetics, and more. Last week we listed several of the speakers who are lined up to give presentations and participate in panels. Here are some more:

There are still more experts lined up to speak at the summit; the only issue for attendees will be deciding who to see at what time. There will also be a start-up competition, which is not to be missed, as some of the newest and most exciting organizations in the medical and dental sector will be competing for a $15,000 investment. Registration for the summit is open now, and if you register by January 24th you will get 25% off. There are several options for registration; a Gold passport which gains you entry to everything in the entire conference; a Silver passport which gains you entry to everything except for the workshops on January 29th; or a one-day Seminar pass only, plus several other options you can check out here.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.

This content was originally published here.

Burroughs High Varsity Baseball Team Suspended for Health Order Violations – NBC Los Angeles

The varsity baseball team at John Burroughs High School in Burbank has been suspended after pictures of the team’s seniors posing on school grounds not following coronavirus protocols and in violation of state and county health orders surfaced on a team social media site, it was reported Tuesday.

Burbank Unified School District Superintendent Matt Hill told the Daily News in an email the seniors in the photos were suspended for two weeks and could rejoin the team March 15. The rest of the team can begin conditioning March 8, one week later than originally planned.

“We had a group of players and families dress up in uniform and take pictures on campus in violation of health orders (no masks, no social distancing, and mixing of families),” Hill told the Daily News via email.

“They then posted the picture on a JBHS baseball social media site. No player or family from the team notified the coach, school or district of this health order violation.”

Hill said the team would use the one week delay of athletic conditioning to “review health guidelines and safety protocols.”

Parent Jo Dee Freck, whose son Rory plays on the team, took the pictures.

“Our boys have been teammates and friends for years prior to Burroughs, which has brought the families so close,” Freck told the newspaper, adding the players have lost nearly a year together.

“This photo was taken with the idea to commemorate and remember their senior season,” she said. “The boys were just trying to make their moms happy.”

Another parent of a player bristled at the superintendent’s decision to suspend the team.

“For Matt Hill to discipline a team of players based on an individual offense, separate from any team activity, is unprecedented and an egregious abuse of the district’s power in order to prove a point,” Brian Nichols told the Daily News.

“For a district that claims to care about the mental health of its students, this decision is in direct opposition of that claim.”

The suspension does not apply to the school’s freshman and junior varsity teams, which began conditioning Monday.

This content was originally published here.

Many QAnon followers report having mental health diagnoses

Data indicates QAnon believers may be more likely to be mentally ill. AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma

QAnon is often viewed as a group associated with conspiracy, terrorism and radical action, such as the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. But radical extremism and terror may not be the real concern from this group.

QAnon followers, who may number in the millions, appear to believe a baseless and debunked conspiracy theory claiming that a satanic cabal of pedophiles and cannibals controls world governments and the media. They also subscribe to many other outlandish and improbable ideas, such as that the Earth is flat, that the coronavirus is a biological weapon used to gain control over the world’s population, that Bill Gates is somehow trying to use coronavirus vaccinations to implant microchips into people and more.

As a social psychologist, I normally study terrorists. During research for “Pastels and Pedophiles: Inside the Mind of QAnon,” a forthcoming book I co-authored with security scholar Mia Bloom, I noticed that QAnon followers are different from the radicals I usually study in one key way: They are far more likely to have serious mental illnesses.

Significant conditions

I found that many QAnon followers revealed – in their own words on social media or in interviews – a wide range of mental health diagnoses, including bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety and addiction.

In court records of people arrested in the wake of the Capitol insurrection, 68% reported they had received mental health diagnoses. The conditions they revealed included post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, paranoid schizophrenia and Munchausen syndrome by proxy – a psychological disorder that causes one to invent or inflict health problems on a loved one, usually a child, in order to gain attention for themselves. By contrast, 19% of all Americans have a mental health diagnosis.

Among QAnon insurrectionists with criminal records, 44% experienced a serious psychological trauma that preceded their radicalization, such as physical or sexual abuse of them or of their children.

The psychology of conspiracy

Research has long revealed connections between psychological problems and beliefs in conspiracy theories. For example, anxiety increases conspiratorial thinking, as do social isolation and loneliness.

Depressed, narcissistic and emotionally detached people are also prone to have a conspiratorial mindset. Likewise, people who exhibit odd, eccentric, suspicious and paranoid behavior – and who are manipulative, irresponsible and low on empathy – are more likely to believe conspiracy theories.

QAnon’s rise has coincided with an unfolding mental health crisis in the United States. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of diagnoses of mental illness was growing, with 1.5 million more people diagnosed in 2019 than in 2018.

The isolation of the lockdowns, compounded by the anxiety related to COVID and the economic uncertainty, made a bad situation worse. Self-reported anxiety and depression quadrupled during the quarantine and now affects as much as 40% of the U.S. population.

Supporters of President Donald Trump hold up their phones with messages referring to the QAnon conspiracy theory at a campaign rally at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Feb. 21, 2020.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

A more serious problem

It’s possible that people who embrace QAnon ideas may be inadvertently or indirectly expressing deeper psychological problems. This could be similar to when people exhibit self-harming behavior or psychosomatic complaints that are in fact signals of serious psychological issues.

It could be that QAnon is less a problem of terrorism and extremism than it is one of poor mental health.

Only a few dozen QAnon followers are accused of having done anything illegal or violent – which means that for millions of QAnon believers, their radicalization may be of their opinions, but not their actions.

In my view, the solution to this aspect of the QAnon problem is to address the mental health needs of all Americans – including those whose problems manifest as QAnon beliefs. Many of them – and many others who are not QAnon followers – could clearly benefit from counseling and therapy.

[Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]

The Conversation

Sophia Moskalenko receives funding from Office of Naval Research (grant N000 14-21-275485). Any opinions, findings, or recommendations expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the views of the Office of Naval Research, the Department of the Navy or the Department of Defense.

This content was originally published here.

How to Choose the Best Orthodontist for Kids | Making Lemonade

Tips for finding an orthodontist that exceeds expectations, and our son’s experience getting early intervention orthodontic treatment and braces for the first time. If you are looking for an orthodontist for braces or Invisalign in the Cary, Apex or Morrisville, North Carolina area this will be especially helpful!

For more real life parenting solutions, check out how to set up the ideal home learning space and how to organize school papers for grades k-12.

This is a different type of post today, but let’s file it under ‘maintaining mental health and sanity’ both as a parent and a kiddo, as well as helpful life tips when you have a preteen or teen. If you have kids, you’ll want to keep reading for tips to help them adjust to new situations when it comes to orthodontic treatments!

We always knew my son would need braces, so we weren’t surprised during an annual visit to the dentist when they referred him for orthodontic treatment. What DID surprise me was that he had to get an evaluation at an early age… 8 years old! Turns out it’s smart to get a screening around 7 years old because with certain issues early intervention would make things easier down the road.

This was the case with my son, so it was time to get started.

Considering that a huge percentage of the population has a fear of dental work and we’ve had negative experiences in the past, I knew we had to find an orthodontist that was patient centered. Also, since orthodontic visits are frequent during the treatment period I was nervous about the daunting task of convincing an 8 year old to go to his appointments without an argument.

Plus… getting braces isn’t known for being super fun because the whole point of appliances is to move teeth around which takes some finesse. And by ‘finesse’, I mean it can be a little uncomfortable after adjustments and such. Which is… not ideal for an 8-year-old.

Let’s just say I was not looking forward to this. At all. But after our first visit I was so impressed with the experience that I’m now partnering with Bovenizer & Baker Orthodontics to share our journey in this post!

Our Orthodontic Experience

(Important note: the following experience and photos happened prior to the pandemic, so some of these details may have changed– but the warmth and vibe of the office remains the same.)

We learned of a local Cary orthodontic practice (Bovenizer & Baker Orthodontics) through glowing-ly positive word-of-mouth recommendations, and booked a screening appointment. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the happy vibe. Weird, because we’re in an orthodontic office, and that’s not how I remembered the experience when I was a teen!

When I booked the appointment over the phone I noticed the staff was incredibly welcoming and warm, and this continued when we arrived and checked into the waiting room. There were fresh cookies, a beverage machine and Starbucks for parents. Movies were playing to provide entertainment, and all the kids waiting seemed… super chill and not at all nervous. In fact, they were smiling while coming out of the treatment area. I wasn’t expecting that!

They gave us a tour of the office which included a toothbrushing station with environmentally friendly disposable toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash.

We went back for the consult, and they took photos of my son’s teeth, mouth and face. Everything was top of the line and included advanced technology which made the process fast and comfortable. After meeting Dr. Bo and Dr. Baker and going through what the process would entail, we were given a welcome kit that included a way to earn points toward prizes, a view of the prize wall, and a packet of Dippin’ Dots (usually those are for cooling the mouth after procedures, so fun!)

My son’s eyes bugged out of his head when he saw the treat wall that patients get to enjoy after they have their braces off. It’s filled with all the goodies you typically have to avoid while wearing appliances, so it’s a powerful motivator.

Needless to say, we left that appointment beyond impressed. Ben was smiling and chowing down on Dippin’ Dots and looking forward to his next appointment. That’s a huge WIN in my book!

I was so impressed I even posted about it on Instagram, because I’m a huge advocate for local businesses… especially ones that go above and beyond.

Over the next few months, he had a spacer placed and then braces. It was incredible how fast they worked to expand his palate, shift his teeth, and create room for new teeth to grow and prevent impacted teeth. He went from start to finish in about 6 months, finishing just before the pandemic hit.

The difference is wild. In deference to his privacy, I won’t share the mouth photos but needless to say the Before and Afters show a much wider arch and all his teeth in their proper place without crowding. It’s pretty cool to see! This photo was taken after his braces were off, the entire process happened during his 4th grade year:

The follow-up appointments were different because the pandemic was in full-swing and they took major precautions (which is the only way I was going to send my son, considering the fact the other three members of our family are high-risk.) I felt extremely safe with all the systems they put into place to keep their patients safe and healthy, which is BEYOND appreciated in this environment.

Now, Ben will have a few check-in appointments moving forward until he’s ready for full braces in a few years. There is no doubt where we will go for that process!

If you have kids who may need orthodontic work, it’s important to find a practice that combines top-notch skill with a comforting, welcoming environment– especially at such a young age.

For locals in the Apex/ Cary/ Morrisville area, you can call Bovenizer & Baker Orthodontics for a screening appointment and they’ll be honest with their diagnosis. I’ve already had friends set up screening appointments and discover their kids won’t need braces until later, so I know they’re not a practice that will recommend treatment if it’s not needed. I trust them completely.

What to look for in an orthodontic practice

After going through this experience and talking with other parents, here’s a few tips for what to look for when searching for a great orthodontist:

What age do you recommend starting orthodontic treatment?

The American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends age 7 for an initial consultation, but most kids don’t get braces until age 12 or 13. It’s good to get checked at age 7 to ensure there are no impacted teeth or other issues that need to be addressed with Phase 1 or early intervention, as some interventions need to happen during a specific growth phase.

Why We Chose Bovenizer & Baker Orthodontics

They checked every single box in the ‘what to look for in an orthodontic practice’ list above. Plus they have a huge presence in terms of giving back to the community (such as their Chance to Smile program, which gives free orthodontic treatment to foster children in our area!)

When I asked my son to summarize his experience, he said

“they made it fun to get braces and I looked forward to going. I mean, I didn’t think that getting braces could be FUN but it really was!”

Even if you’re not in the Apex or Cary area, I highly recommend checking out the Bovenizer & Baker Orthodontics website so you can see their office in action! It will help you measure your local orthodontic practices against their standards so you can find the perfect fit for your family.

I had many questions as a parent before going through the process so I hope you found these tips for choosing an orthodontist helpful!

This content was originally published here.

ADA president shares the story of dentistry, policy on opioids

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Investing in better oral health for all. Together.

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Learn about ADA CERP recognition, look up CERP recognized CE providers and find CE courses.

Explore CODA’s role and find accredited schools and programs

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This content was originally published here.

Senate confirms transgender Dr. Rachel Levine as assistant health secretary

The Senate voted Wednesday to confirm Dr. Rachel Levine as the nation’s assistant secretary of health, making the former Pennsylvania health secretary the first openly transgender official ever confirmed by the upper chamber.

What are the details?

Two Republicans, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) joined all Democrats in approving Levine’s confirmation, with a final vote tally of 52-48. She is expected to oversee Health and Human Services offices and programs across the U.S.

LGBTQ advocates hailed the news, with Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, issuing a statement saying, “With the confirmation of Dr. Rachel Levine, we are one step closer to a government that mirrors the beautiful diversity of its people.”

In a statement to The New York Times, Levine said after the vote:

“As Vice President Harris has said, I recognize that I may be the first, but am heartened by the knowledge that I will not be the last. When I assume this position, I will stand on the shoulders of those who came before — people we know throughout history and those whose names we will never know because they were forced to live and work in the shadows.”

Levine went on to address transgender youth in particular, writing:

“I know that each and every day you confront many difficult challenges. Sadly, some of the challenges you face are from people who would seek to use your identity and circumstance as a weapon. It hurts. I know. I cannot promise you that these attacks will immediately cease, but I will do everything I can to support you and advocate for you.”

Levine, 63, is a pediatrician who served in senior medical positions at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center before being appointed to serve as Pennsylvania’s physician general in 2015, The Washington Post reported. In 2017, Levine became the state’s health secretary.

Levine’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in her most recent role fell under scrutiny from Republicans, most notably for Pennsylvania’s controversial policy of placing elderly COVID-19 patients into nursing homes in order to keep hospital beds free.

Levine has defended that decision, along with her decision to move her own 95-year-old mother out of a personal care facility due to the pandemic, TheBlaze previously reported.

How did one senator react?

Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey explained his “no” vote on Levine’s confirmation to the Associated Press, saying, “In Pennsylvania, the pandemic struck seniors in nursing homes disproportionately hard compared to other states. This was due in part to poor decisions and oversight by Dr. Levine and the Wolf administration.”

He added that an extended lockdown pushed by Levine “was excessive, arbitrary in nature, and has led to a slower recovery.”

This content was originally published here.

Stanford Doctor Calls Lockdowns the ‘Biggest Public Health Mistake We’ve Ever Made’

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor at Stanford University Medical School, recently said that COVID-19 lockdowns are the “biggest public health mistake we’ve ever made…The harm to people is catastrophic.”

Several U.S. states have started to ease their COVID-19 restrictions over the past few weeks.

Bhattacharya, who made the comments during an interview with the Daily Clout, co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration, a petition that calls for the end of COVID-19 lockdowns, claiming that they are “producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.”

As of Monday, the Great Barrington Declaration has received signatures from over 13,000 medical and public health scientists, more than 41,000 medical practitioners and at least 754,399 “concerned citizens.”

During the interview last month, Bhattacharya said that the declaration comes from “two basic facts.”

“One is that people who are older have a much higher risk from dying from COVID than people who are younger…and that’s a really important fact because we know who his most vulnerable, it’s people that are older. So the first plank of the Great Barrington Declaration: let’s protect the vulnerable,” Bhattacharya said. “The other idea is that the lockdowns themselves impose great harm on people. Lockdowns are not a natural normal way to live.”

Coronavirus in U.S.

He continued, “it’s also not very equal. People who are poor face much more hardship from the lockdowns than people who are rich.”

In an email sent to Newsweek, Bhattacharya wrote:

I stand behind my comment that the lockdowns are the single worst public health mistake in the last 100 years. We will be counting the catastrophic health and psychological harms, imposed on nearly every poor person on the face of the earth, for a generation.

At the same time, they have not served to control the epidemic in the places where they have been most vigorously imposed. In the US, they have – at best – protected the “non-essential” class from COVID, while exposing the essential working class to the disease. The lockdowns are trickle down epidemiology.

Last week, Republican Governors in Texas and Mississippi announced the end to their statewide mask mandates, as well as allowing a majority of businesses to reopen.

“Starting tomorrow, we are lifting all of our county mask mandates and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules. Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!” Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves tweeted last week.

Similarly, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said during a press conference that “It is now time to open Texas 100 percent.”

This content was originally published here.

Socially Distanced Dentistry – Oral Health Group

Dentistry is a very socially interactive profession. COVID-19 has changed our abilities to interact completely. Never in our wildest dreams would any of us ever predicted to be in this circumstance today. It would be impossible to predict exactly how this will impact dentistry, but one thing we know for sure is that it will change us.

In our world of dentistry, we have several “touch points” throughout the day to interact and care for one another. This is our profession; this is what we thrive on. This is who we are and are proud to be. Today, and certainly not forever, this is all gone. We need to, as integral members of the regulated healthcare professions, rise up and maintain contact through social distance for the sake of our patients, our teams, our businesses and our own mental health. This is critical and it is doable.

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There are several ways in which we may engage in meaningful interaction with one another. Regular contact with our team members is vital to giving our lives purpose and a sense of normalcy. The time on our hands provides us with a wonderful opportunity to be educated as a team, to evaluate our systems and ensure we are following current guidelines. This opportunity is a gift and something we rarely have time for in our busy clinical schedules.

Our websites and social media channels can be ways in which we remain in contact with our patients. Posting information that will help them sustain their oral health at home in the absence of regular care is so important. For instance, April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Teach your patients how to check their mouth at home for the early signs of oral cancer through the “Check Your Mouth” website: checkyourmouth.org. Light heartedness is also a gift we may give at this time. It is not frivolous or foolish to maintain a sense of humour at a time when we feel fearful; it is a necessity.

Keeping in contact with our team members through online meeting platforms such as ZOOM provides us with connection. We must guard our emotional and mental health at this time. We may be unaware as to how self-isolation may be affecting a team member and in particular one who lives alone or is isolating with a partner in a difficult relationship. We must give one another hope and a strong sense of a future.

We also need to consider our patients such as the one who may be experiencing a dental issue. These concerns can be daunting and may just be the tipping point. As a dental professional we often know the exact etiology the moment we glance inside the oral cavity or hear the symptoms described. So how do we maintain social distance and yet alleviate the anxiety our dental patients may be experiencing?

The answer is one word: Teledentistry. Telemedicine and Teledentistry will be the future. COVID-19 has just advanced these two platforms ahead of their anticipated debut. The future is NOW. Case in point, my husband was contacted by his dermatologist and informed that the practice would be closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Permission has been provided to share this story as it had such a profound impact. A request was then received to send in any photos of areas that were of concern via email. He has a history of basal cell carcinoma and was on a six-month recall for ongoing assessments. The photos were captured with TELScope, an intraoral telehealth examination device and accompanying.

Refer to Figure 1 to view one of the photos submitted. A call was set up the next day, the dermatologist had reviewed the images and confirmed that there were no areas he had any concern over. A follow up appointment was scheduled a few months later when predictably the COVID-19 pandemic would have resolved. The result: my husband’s concerns were diminished and put to rest and he felt connectivity with the practice. There also is the strong result of sustaining a passive revenue stream amidst this crisis.

Fig. 1

Dentistry is in the same situation. Do we sit by and allow dental practices to slowly dissolve or do we look for innovative ways with the use of advances in technology to sustain ourselves? Do we subject our dental patients to overcrowded emergency treatment rooms? Do we continue to overburden frontline medical healthcare professionals with oral health issues that dentistry is better equipped to handle? The question is real, and the answer is your choice.

Teledentistry is the practice of dentistry and dental care at a distance. Dentists who practice within the platform of Teledentistry must adhere to the same Standards of Practice and the professional, legal and ethical obligations that apply to oral health care. The storage of patient information must continue to possess privacy and security settings in accordance with the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004. Strong encryption must be used where personal health information is stored and/or transmitted.

Our patients don’t understand the different between essential and non-essential dentistry. An area of pain or the finding of an abnormal oral lesion can be very stressful to our patients. Figures 2 and 3 were obtained using Throat Scope, an all-in-one illuminated tongue depressor as a retraction tool and the TELScope app. The photos provide an example of areas of concern that our dental patients may have in the absence of regular dental care. We understand the nature of this type of complaint and through a visual assessment can make recommendations that will alleviate the anxiety.

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

It is time to move this along through regulations and mitigate the damage that will ensue post Pandemic. A time to be proactive not reactive. A time to pivot before it is too late. A COVID world is a different world for all of us and a post-COVID world will be altogether different again. Dental patients will have heightened fears surrounding infection control and will need to be reassured. Many may prefer to go the route of Teledentistry first before scheduling an appointment that is not a dental emergency.

There are several things I hope we have learned when we all emerge from this. The first is that our basic needs are just that: basic. Our real superheroes in life are not our professional athletes and celebrities; they are our frontline workers that sacrificed in order for us to be as safe as possible and alive today. Beauty is not purchased or added on, it comes from within. Lastly, there is one thing to place at the forefront of all our actions: kindness. Stay well. Stay safe and stay home.

Disclaimer: A registrant is advised to consult with their respective regulatory body as to the legal and ethical considerations for using Teledentistry. Members are to contact their respective dental associations for questions/clarification regarding procedure codes under their Suggested Fee Guide.

About the Author

Jo-Anne Jones, President, RDH Connection Inc. is a successful entrepreneur and international, award winning speaker. Jo-Anne has been selected as one of DPR’s Top 25 Women in Dentistry and is a returning 2017 Dentistry Today CE Leader for the 7th consecutive year. Jo-Anne is president of an educational and clinical training company and a sought after writer for leading dental journals and publications across the U.S., Canada, and the UK. Her frank and open style of lecturing complemented by the provision of clinical resources has earned many loyal followers. She may be contacted at jjones@jo-annejones.com

This content was originally published here.

Hullings Orthodontics: Where Beautiful Smiles Grow | Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce

Hullings Orthodontics has been in business since 1990, but is now expanding its team, technology and capacity. Dr. Vincent Santucci joined Dr. Jon Hullings at his practice in summer 2019. Read more from Dr. Vincent and how the team at Hullings Orthodontics is transforming their services with leading edge technology and finding value in their Chamber membership.

Dr. Vincent Santucci, Orthodontist
Hullings Orthodontics
1700 Waterfront, Building 700
Facebook | Instagram | Website
Member since April 2019
316-636-1980

Please tell us a little bit about Hullings Orthodontics.
Choosing orthodontic care is a decision that will make a lasting difference in your life. You’ll have a functional bite, less stress on your jaw, improved dental health and, of course, a beautiful smile to share! Hullings Orthodontics has been happily serving the Wichita community since 1990 and continues to provide the highest quality of care possible with an attentive and personalized approach to treatment. While excelling with more traditional metal and ceramic brackets for all ages, Hullings Orthodontics provides leading edge treatments such as Invisalign, limited clear aligner therapy and surgical options as well.

Why did you join the Chamber?
As a recent transplant back to Wichita after more than 11+ years of schooling across the country, it was important for me to reconnect with the people and businesses of Wichita. Joining the Chamber was a no brainer! It has given me avenues to network with the businesses that keep Wichita alive and to grow as a professional through various learning opportunities with community leaders.

To what do you attribute your success?
We attribute our 30 years of success to the relationships we have built within our community and our patients. A very significant amount of our new patients come to our office as word of mouth referrals from current or previous patients. We are always grateful for the opportunity to provide care to our community and it shows in our patients!

What is your favorite business book?
Well the most recent business book I read was “Harvard Business Review’s 10 must reads – On Mental Toughness” The HBR’s 10 must read series is a collective of articles on topics ranging from managing, business strategy and in this case mental toughness. It helped me form more resilience, manage stress and offered ways to grow from adversity.

What is a fun fact that people might not know about orthodontics?
You can thank NASA for modern braces, they developed the alloys that are currently used to make the wires we use to straighten teeth.

What is a common misconception about your industry?
Orthodontics is not just for teenagers anymore! Esthetic and technological advances in clear aligners provides new opportunities for anyone interested in improving their smiles.

This content was originally published here.

Biden to direct $2.5 billion in funds to address mental health and addiction crisis

President Biden is directing $2.5 billion in funding to address the nation’s worsening mental illness and addiction crisis, an official from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tells Axios.

Why it matters: Confronting the mounting mental health and substance abuse crisis will be an imperative for the Biden administration, even as its primary focus is on combating the broader COVID-19 pandemic.


  • The funding announced today is designed to increase access to services for individual Americans.
  • His pick to lead HHS, Xavier Becerra, is expected to be confirmed by a close vote.

Between the lines: The funds will be broken down into two components by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

  • $1.65 billion will go toward the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, which gives the receiving states and territories money to improve already-existing treatment infrastructure and create or better prevention and treatment programs.
  • $825 million will be allocated through a Community Mental Health Services Block Grant program, which will be used by the states to deal specifically with mental health treatment services.

By the numbers: A survey conducted last year published in August 2020 by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 41% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse related to the pandemic or its solutions, like social distancing.

  • Before the pandemic, over 118,000 people died by suicide and overdose in 2019. An HHS official says the administration is expecting that number to increase because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Preliminary data out of the CDC indicates that the number of drug overdoses through July 2020 increased by 24% from the year prior.

Flashback: On the campaign trail, then-candidate Biden often spoke about the need to address the mounting mental health and substance abuse crisis in America, an issue that hits close to home. His son, Hunter, has openly discussed his own struggles with addiction.

This content was originally published here.

In an Astounding New Book, a Neuroscientist Reveals the Profound Benefits Art Has on Our Health

What can art do to help us? In the midst of a global health crisis, this question becomes even more urgent. While museums remain shuttered in many nations, there is science-backed evidence that seeing or making art can play a crucial role in healing our bodies and minds.

French neuroscientist, musician, and author Pierre Lemarquis has recently published a book on this fascinating subject. L’art Qui Guérit (translated: Art That Heals) takes the readers on an art tour through the centuries, spanning the Paleolithic period until the end of the 20th century, interpreting works through the lens of their healing powers—both for the viewer and the maker. The author weaves together art history, philosophy, and psychology while citing astounding current findings from his field of neuroscience about the healing power of art.

Research on the subject has been accumulating for some years. A 2019 World Health Organization report, based on evidence from over 3000 studies, “identified a major role for the arts” prevention of illnesses. And in 2018, doctors in Montreal, Canada, made headlines when they started prescribing patients who suffer from certain diseases with museum visits to visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

“A current is making its way in this direction,” says Lemarquis on a video call with Artnet News. He divides his time between actively “bringing back” the arts to the medical profession, working as a clinical neurologist, and teaching brain function at the University of Toulon in southern France.

Lemarquis is also president of a new French association called L’invitation à la Beauté (An Invitation to Beauty), which offers “cultural prescriptions” to patients, including artwork viewings. The UNESCO-supported organization has created an art collection of original works to loan to patients for their rooms at France’s Lyon Sud Hospital, and this program is set to expand.

But how, exactly, can experiencing art make a person healthier? How can it help treat illness?

A terminally ill patient visits “Late Rembrandt” at the Rijksmuseum in 2015. Photo courtesy of the Ambulance Wish Foundation.

When We See Art, We ‘Participate’ In Its Creation

In the last couple decades, neurological findings have shed light on what happens to the brain when it experiences art. Lemarquis’s book details this new sub-field of “neuroaesthetics” uses technologies like functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging to examine which brain pathways are engaged by either making or contemplating an artwork, and to what extent they are stimulated.

Analyzing symbolism and subject matter, Lemarquis also writes that feelings of “rebirth” are made possible. He cities visits to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, as well as Niki de Saint Phalle’s giant 1966 sculpture, the HON – en katedral, where visitors could enter the sculpture’s vaginal opening. 

What may seem intuitive, but is scientifically demonstrated in Art That Heals, is that art of all kinds acts on our brains in a multi-faceted, dynamic way. Neural networks are formed to achieve heightened, complex states of connectivity. In other words, art can “sculpt” and even “caress” our brains. So when we say a work of art moves us, that is physically the case.

Sculptor Niki de Saint-Phalle (C) with fellow artists Jean Tinguely (L) and Per Olof Ultvedt (R) during the construction of their giant sculpture <i>She-a cathedral</i> at the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm. Photo: Hans Erixon/Scanpix Sweden/AFP Photo via Getty Images.

Sculptor Niki de Saint-Phalle (C) with fellow artists Jean Tinguely (L) and Per Olof Ultvedt (R) during the construction of their giant sculpture She-a cathedral at the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm. Photo: Hans Erixon/Scanpix Sweden/AFP Photo via Getty Images.

Lemarquis explains that, in a process helped by mirror neurons, activated both when observing art, we can get the feeling that we are participating in art’s creation, or putting ourselves in the artist’s shoes. Our brains even have a tendency to “think” they are interacting with a biological entity when perceiving a figurative painting of a person, for instance.

“The beneficial effects of the arts were noted as far back as Classical antiquity,” writes Lemarquis, referring to Aristotle, who described the sensation of catharsis when observing a theatrical production, or emotions incarnated by the actors, which helped viewers better understand their own thoughts and sensations.

Later in history, Stendhal, the 19th century French author, wrote of nearly fainting upon seeing frescoes in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence, where he felt, “a kind of ecstasy” from being “absorbed in the contemplation of sublime beauty.” It made his heart beat so fast, he thought he’d collapse. Lemarquis attributes this reaction to his “brain invaded by emotions stimulated by the rise of adrenaline [on] his autonomous nervous system.”

But it can be hard to pinpoint what we feel about an art piece. That is in part because our reaction is the dynamic result of neural stimulation that combines areas of the brain that normally don’t operate together: the deeper recesses of our minds, which govern the pleasure and reward system, as well as other systems dealing with knowledge, perceptual, and motor circuits. Lemarquis writes that, as a result of these processes, we start to experience “aesthetic empathy,” or the impression that an artwork is part of us—that we’ve embodied its “spirit.” 

“This constant back-and-forth, this empty space between the two, is the source of everything— the meaning of life,” adds Lemarquis in the interview.

A visit to the Sistine Chapel is just one of many virtual art experiences you can have from home. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

The Sistine Chapel. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

How Art Can Help Cure

As Lemarquis explains, the art-activated areas of our brains that light up when both making or contemplating art, release hormones and neurotransmitters when stimulated, which are beneficial to our health and make us feel good.

These include dopamine (lacking among Parkinson’s patients), serotonin (found in antidepressants) as well as endorphins and oxytocin, which both can support pain management and reduction. Adrenaline and cortisone can be activated so as to have an invigorating effect on the body, or on the contrary, they can be blocked for a relaxing effect, depending on the artwork. All of these hormones can help treat mental illness, memory loss, or illnesses associated with stress, among other health concerns.

In one example from the book, a hospitalized patient in France suffering from chronic wounds on her legs finds motivation to become more active after a painting of a dancer was hung at her request in her room. It distracted her from her illness and “via mimicry, she started trying to move her legs, while simultaneously asking for fewer doses of painkillers. Little by little, she extended her walking ability, so much so, that her muscle-loss slowed, improving blood circulation, and aiding in the healing of wounds.”

In addition, some artists have been known to consciously compose their works to help heal viewers, such as the German Renaissance painter, Matthias Grünewald, whose famous Isenheim Altarpiece commissioned for a hospital was meant to inspire a sense of “inner balance” among the sick patients there. Similarly, Navajos Indians in North America have long-used healing rituals that involve art and beauty, to help “restore interior harmony” to the sick.

Interestingly, this interaction seems to work best with art that “is not a photocopy,” according to the neurologist. Lemarquis says an “unfinished” aspect of the work—the touch of its creator—helps the observer gain a sense of their own participation. Similarly, science has shown we feel a “distance” from artwork reproduced on a screen, compared to being in its physical presence.

“Our brains capture a lot more information than we are conscious of,” he says. When perceiving an artwork in-person, for instance, the brain is “lit up, by something akin to beams from a lamp.” But when the level of exposure to the work is “weakened,” as it is with a screen image, he says “quantities of information, and consequently, possible (neurological) interactions” are lost.

The 50 years of the cave Lascaux in Montignac, France in June, 1990. Photo: Jerome CHATIChatin/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.

The 50 years of the cave Lascaux in Montignac, France in June, 1990. Photo: Jerome CHATIChatin/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.

Healing the Heart and the Head

Lemarquis has seen first-hand the positive impact of the arts on patients. “Will it cure them?” he says in our interview. “Maybe not, but it will allow them to better manage their illness, and once they can manage it better, they’re on the road to recovery.”

Responses have been overwhelmingly positive from patients who say they feel “less alone” at the Lyon hospital, where Lemarquis has helped set up an art and poetry collection for their “cultural prescriptions.” Caregivers reported patients became more mobile when exposed to their chosen artwork, which leads to improved healing in those cases. Most were noticeably more relaxed, and cheerful. The group L’invitation à la Beauté is now set to expand its art collection to the gastro-pediatric service at a children’s hospital in Lyon.

Similar initiatives are sprouting around the world. In the US, the NeuroArts Blueprint from the Aspen Institute and the International Arts + Mind Lab (IAM Lab) at John Hopkins University, launched in September 2020. The organization says it aims to “advance the science of arts, health, and well-being” by helping “build the emerging field of neuro/arts—the storehouse of robust scientific evidence that tells us art can change the brain and the body and advance well-being in ways that can be measured, mapped, and put into practice.”

“You don’t treat an illness, you treat a person,” says Lemarquis. “You need medicine that’s purely scientific to address the illness, and medicine that’s a little artistic, to address the person, their humanity. The two are complementary. People need to dream. They need imagination.”

L’art qui guérit by Pierre Lemarquis is out now with Hazan.

The post In an Astounding New Book, a Neuroscientist Reveals the Profound Benefits Art Has on Our Health appeared first on Artnet News.

This content was originally published here.

Bellingham Pediatric Dentistry Welcomes Dr. Marc Horton, DMD To Its Growing Practice – WhatcomTalk

Bellingham Pediatric Dentistry proudly announces the addition of Dr. Marc Horton, DMD to its pediatric dentistry practice. A native of Bellevue, Wash., Dr. Marc joins owner Dr. Sawyer Negro, DDS, MSD in providing full-service care to the families of Bellingham and the surrounding area. 

Dr. Marc has joined Dr. Sawyer and his team at Bellingham Pediatric Dentistry. Photo courtesy Bellingham Pediatric Dentistry

“I am thrilled to be joining the Bellingham Pediatric Dentistry team,” said Dr. Marc. “The practice has a remarkable commitment to patient satisfaction and excellence in pediatric dental care. I was especially attracted to the team’s commitment to innovation in its facility, technologies and services deployed for the benefit of its patients, providing them with a foundation for a lifetime of good dental health.”

“Dr. Marc and I trained at the same residency program at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital,” said Dr. Sawyer. “He shares our commitment to providing the exceptional, compassionate care that is central to our practice’s mission. I am so excited for our families to benefit from his experience and talent.”

Dr. Marc received his undergraduate degree from Boston College. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Washington School of Public Health, and earned his dental degree at Boston University. He went on to pursue pediatric training at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital, and completed his pediatric residency in June 2019. Dr. Horton is a Fellow of the Royal College of Canadian Dentists and is Board Eligible as a specialist in the United States.

Photo courtesy Bellingham Pediatric Dentistry

Dr. Marc’s passion for Pediatric Dentistry was fostered during a rotation at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) during his general practice residency, along with other important experiences in his training. “I found, during my training serving both adult and pediatric patients, that I especially enjoyed working with children and their families—knowing that these early, formative experiences with dentistry could truly impact their lives and overall health for years to come,” said Dr. Marc. “In my day-to-day, I ask myself questions like: If this patient were my child, what would I want for them? Given my knowledge about the child and their family, what is in their best interest? Providing patients and their families confidence in their treatment, coupled with knowledge and information to give them healthy smiles for life, is what motivates me.” 

When he’s not counting teeth, Dr. Marc enjoys spending time with his family, running, hiking, camping, and rooting for the Sounders.

About Bellingham Pediatric Dentistry

Bellingham Pediatric Dentistry provides premier dental care to children in Bellingham, Fairhaven, Ferndale, Lynden, Whatcom County, and beyond. Through preventive and restorative treatment, we aim to provide the highest standard of care in a welcoming and secure pediatric environment. 

Our practice is known for its compassionate, inviting approach to dentistry. We are also committed to offering state-of-the art technology and services for the benefit of our patients and their families. Dr. Sawyer Negro, DDS, MSD is the region’s leading resource performing tongue and lip-tie releases (frenectomies) for newborns, which can greatly improve outcomes for mothers and breastfeeding infants. Our practice also offers white zirconia crowns, the number one choice in metal free aesthetic pediatric crowns worldwide. Dr. Sawyer travels throughout the country educating other pediatric dentists on this technology.

At Bellingham Pediatric Dentistry, we are dedicated to building community within our practice and beyond our walls. We genuinely support our patients beyond our office— through sponsorship, community patronage, and event participation. For more information, visit http://bellinghampediatricdentistry.com. 

This content was originally published here.

Abbott accuses Biden admin of ‘not being transparent’ about health of unaccompanied minors at border

Texas governor slams Biden administration’s lack of transparency on ‘Hannity’

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott demanded Wednesday that the Biden administration allow state and local authorities access to unaccompanied migrant children in federal facilities to monitor COVID transmission and investigate human trafficking concerns.

Abbott told “Hannity” on Wednesday that his request to access critical data pertaining to unaccompanied monirs was denied despite the White House’s repeated pledge of “transparency.”

“The Biden administration is not being transparent with either the governor of Texas or the Texas Department of State Health Services,” the Republican said. “We need to know what the health situation of these kids are. We need to know if they’ve been exposed to variants of COVID.”

The governor added that the administration has not only denied access to data pertaining to the health of migrants in his state, but has also refused to share information that will aide law enforcement in arresting and prosecuting migrants that “are still involved with coyotes and smugglers.”

“Our law enforcement … they need to do their job,” Abbott said. “Part of their job is making sure they track down and prosecute anybody involved in smuggling. Once they get over to Texas, they are still involved with coyotes and smugglers. We do have the ability to put them behind bars … [but] the Biden administration is not letting us gain access to that information so that we can arrest and prosecute those that are assisting this immigration process.”

On Tuesday, Abbott publically called on Biden to allow the state to speak with migrants in federal facilities as part of Operation Lone Star, a state anti-human and drug trafficking initiative launched this month.

“We have sought access to these shelters, and we’ve been denied access to those shelters, whether it be involving health care purposes or talking to these children about human trafficking,” Abbott said.

“You got some young children who have been trafficked across Mexico and maybe some other countries and who knows what horrific things may have happened to them … we want to be involved and learn information so we can crack down on this human trafficking mission,” he explained.

Abbott said the crisis at the border should be “exposed for what it is” and blamed Biden for continuing to invite “in young children with the promise of them being able to stay here.

“These children make a very dangerous treks where they have to encounter cartels, drug dealers, gang members, MS-13 gang members, and there could be horrific things happening to them. We know the legacy of human trafficking that happens to these children,” Abbott said. “It must be stopped.”

Migrant children have been arriving at the southern border faster than they can be processed and transferred to sponsor homes, while the Biden administration has repeatedly denied that there is a “crisis” at the border, a senior Customs and Border Protection official recently told Fox News.

“Americans need to know this,” Abbott warned. “This is just the very beginning of what’s going to be a massive expansion of the number of people coming across the board. It will grow tenfold and a hundredfold, especially because of the way the Biden administration has handled this.”

This content was originally published here.

Orthodontist Kept Children In Braces Longer Than Necessary, Massachusetts AG Alleges In Lawsuit – CBS Sacramento

BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office filed a lawsuit against an orthodontist who is accused of using “young patients as pawns to steal millions of dollars” by keeping children in braces for longer than medically necessary.

According to Healey, Dr. Mouhab Rizkallah fraudulently submitted millions of dollars in false claims to MassHealth. In addition to keeping children in braces for too long, Rizkallah is also accused of deceptively billing for mouthguards.

Rizkallah owns and operates six orthodontist practices in Massachusetts that do businesses as “The Braces Place.” There are locations in Somerville, Boston, Lawrence, Lowell Framingham and Lynn.

The investigation began with a patient complaint. Healey’s office alleges that Rizkallah, through two companies, instituted illegal policies and practices since November 2013.

For his MassHealth patients, who were mostly children, Rizkallah allegedly would often put braces only on their top teeth, even when there was no reason not to also put braces on the bottom teeth. Healey said this “significantly extended” treatment time and increased the amount of money collected from MassHealth.

Rizkallah is also accused of billing MassHealth for custom-fitted mouth guards even when the patient didn’t request, need, or receive them. Mouth guards that were given to patients often were from retail stores with a value of $9.99.

Staff members were ordered to cut the price off packaging before patients received the mouth guards, Healey alleges. Rizkallah would bill MassHealth $85-$95 for each mouth guard. In total, Rizkallah’s practices billed MassHealth more than $1 million for the mouth guards.

“For years, this orthodontist used his young patients as pawns to steal millions of dollars from the state,” Healey said. “This illegal behavior harmed families from low-income communities and communities of color who rely on MassHealth for health care coverage. We are suing to hold Dr. Rizkallah accountable for these exploitative practices that victimized vulnerable residents in Massachusetts.”

This content was originally published here.

Teen Mental Health Has Suffered During the COVID-19 Pandemic | Time

As early as last spring, psychologists were warning that even as children and teens were spared most of the physical impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shuttering of schools, the lack of contact with friends and the loss of milestones like birthday parties, graduations and more would exact a heavy emotional and developmental price. Now, a year on, the numbers are in—and they’re in some ways worse than the experts feared.

In a new study by the nonprofit FAIR Health, investigators combed through a database of 32 billion U.S. health insurance claims—focusing on the two billion or so from 2019 to 2020—to calculate the numbers filed for health services in the pediatric age group, which they defined as ages 0 to 22. The researchers focused particularly on the emotionally turbulent years from 13 to 18, and to a somewhat lesser extent on claims filed by those ages 19 to 22. In both groups they found sharp spikes from pre-pandemic 2019 to 2020 in a range of psychological conditions including major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, adjustment disorder, self-harm, substance abuse, overdoses, OCD, ADHD and tic disorders.

Some of the numbers are startling: the 334% spike in intentional self-harm among 13- to 18-year-olds in the Northeast in August of 2020 compared to the same month the year before. Some were smaller but still significant: the 49.6% increase in depression and 67.5% increase in generalized anxiety disorder among 19- to 22-year-olds across the U.S. in April of 2020 compared to April of 2019. All were in some ways predictable—and all deeply concerning.

“We absolutely foresaw this last year,” says Mary Alvord, a psychologist in private practice in the Washington, D.C., metro area and the co-author of two books, including Conquering Negative Thinking for Teens. “Kids feel like they don’t have much control over their lives and now there’s even more uncertainty, with schools closed and peer groups—who play such a big role in the sense of self—unavailable. Their developmental process has been interfered with. Their trajectory has been interrupted.”

Overall, the FAIR Health researchers found, some of the worst spikes occurred in March and April of 2020, during the first phase of the pandemic in the U.S. In those months, claims for any mental health disorder increased by about 100% for the 13-18 group. The number was down to 50% in May, 30% throughout the summer and has settled in at about 20% from then until the survey ended in November—still a significant increase from the previous year. The 19-22 age group saw a similar pattern, hitting highs of 70% in March and April and settling out at under just 20% in November. American girls, in general, have suffered more than boys, accounting for 66% of all mental health claims in both age groups pre-pandemic and 71% since.

The big three conditions affecting the 13 to 22 group in both years were anxiety, depression and adjustment disorders—and they all exploded in the spring of 2020, increasing 80% to 90% year over year for the 13-18 group, and 45% to 65% for the 19-22 cohort. All three conditions have receded some in both groups, but still remain up to 25% more common than they were at the end of 2019.

“We see [increased] depression and anxiety in all age groups, but in adolescence it’s on steroids,” says Robin Gurwitch, psychologist and professor at Duke University Medical Center. “When kids look into the future now, they’re looking at one that wasn’t what they envisioned before. ‘I used to be able to hang with my friends, and now that’s gone. I was looking forward to going to college, but my dad just got laid off and can’t afford it.’”

That kind of pain is too easy to self-medicate with chemical substances—and kids did just that. In the 13- to 18-year-old group, claims for drug overdoses increased 95% in March and 119% in April. For substance abuse that stopped short of overdosing, the numbers were 65% and 63% in those months, respectively. In the 19-22 group, the peak increase for overdoses was a 65% jump in May; substance abuse in general topped out at a 27% increase in April. On this score, the FAIR Health findings are mirrored by those of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reported the highest annual number of U.S. overdose deaths ever in the year ending May 2020.

Unlike COVID-19 itself, the emotional blowback of the pandemic can’t be vaccinated away. Just as there are long-haulers requiring treatment for the physical symptoms of the disease months after being infected, so too will there be kids needing care for psychic pain well into the future. The pandemic that began a year ago will not be leaving us anytime soon.

The Coronavirus Brief. Everything you need to know about the global spread of COVID-19

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Write to Jeffrey Kluger at jeffrey.kluger@time.com.

This content was originally published here.

Septic Tank Teeth (abridged) – International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine

Root canals are dead bodies (and, as such, should be buried six feet below Earth’s surface)!

By R.S. Carlson, DDS

Let us get clear about the issue, really.

Some will argue that the “gangrene of the tooth” is limited to the soft tissue within the tooth’s pulp chamber, gangrenous pulpitis; that the hard exoskeleton of the dental organ—Odonton—has no relationship to being alive, and, therefore, could not be considered gangrenous.

But there is a corpse in the attic.

Goldman DDS, et al, does this in his attacks regarding the safety of “gangrene of the dental organ—the human tooth” without a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of tissue physiology, biology, chemo-electro-magnetic homeostasis, and the compelling dependent interrelationship of these specific layers of the dental organ (tooth and supporting structures including proximal alveolar bone of its jaw segment) starting from the inward to the outward with:

The following schematic diagrams will illustrate the fundamentals of fluid flow to the outside and begin to transmit that the circulatory system is essential for the oral-dental health of the human being.

The migration of electrolytes—the flow of all kinds of fluids from deeper tissues within—beginning with the apical alveolar bone and intimately connected radicular bone outward through all the tissue layers previously mentioned above, 2) through 8), is well documented. Lamaras, Leonora, and Steinmann have documented this beyond argument. One may offer without evidence to the contrary that “teeth sweat,” just as the human skin sweats, eyes tear, toxic gas vapors come out of the lungs, and waste products from metabolism are excreted in the form of gas, urine, and fecal matter.

Everything from the inside of the human body flows to the outside for life to live. This is true with the Odontons, also. Gangrene in a little fingertip includes the nail. Gangrene of the fingertip bone and soft tissue, including the nail, is treated by surgical resection of the entire fingertip, including the nail. The hand surgeon does not reattach the nail to the dead bone and soft tissue. What we do in dental surgery is reattach the nail to a little fingertip by doing a root canal.

It is a grave misperception, pardon the pun, to be informed that a root canal (root cadaver) is a normal and healthy way to retain a “devital tooth”—dead tooth. In an early January 1968 morning lecture at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, we students were told to “never refer to a gangrenous tooth as being dead. Say it is ‘devital.’ You’ll get better acceptance of root canal therapy in your dental practice.”

How true this was – until I began to question the practice of root canal therapy myself. After a year of intense investigation into the other side of the issue we so blithely accepted as students, I concluded in 1981 that this practice was physiologically and biologically unacceptable.

So what do I suggest instead of root canal therapy in my practice to save the dental organ, the tooth? Simply, extract or remove dead and dying tissues form the mouth and jaws. “If it is dead, it should be out of your head!

Logic will offer that dentistry is the only profession that advocates the practice of leaving gangrenous tissue in the human body. The definition of gangrene is: the death of tissue due to loss of blood supply. The reason a tooth dies is due to lack of blood supply.

When the tooth dies, it is a dead body, or organ, in one’s mouth. No amount of medication or scrapping inside the tooth will make it sterile or save it. Asks your doctor about this: Ask, “After you treat me, will the root canal tooth be sterile and will it remain so?” It is like being half alive or half pregnant. What can your dentist say?: “Oh, it’s half sterile”? It is or it isn’t!

When there is gangrene in any part of the body, the good surgeon will remove that from your main body. If he does not and knew about it, he is subject to legal action, for this is ethically and morally bad practice.

But we dentists get a bye. “Well,” we say, “it is only a tooth, and how could that hurt you?” Ask the many who have suffered that route of treatment. They will tell you.
When an animal dies or when we die, where do we put the body? We put it into the ground for sanitation purposes, for civilized society demands this. And this is where all dead teeth should be put, too.

The vibrations of a root cadaver are those of a dead human body. The chemicals given off by dead bodies are cadaverine and putracene, to name but two, and many kinds of bacteria, viruses, molds, and fungi. These leach out of the continuously decaying, decomposing, tooth structure into your blood stream. We knew this 100 years ago, and microbiologists and other scientists are now revisiting this truth – that every part of your body is connected to every other part; 80 trillion cells, all connected.

So where should you put your root canal teeth?

Most certainly in the ground, but only after you separate your human body from the dead body in your mouth, your root cadavers. These you see here are routine pictures of dead teeth:

Dead RC tooth with black gangrene

This dead tooth shows abscess and black.

Two RC teeth are black with abscess.

RC teeth with moth eaten root

Black RC tooth with abscess attached

RC with absecss attached to root

Marble bone about root tips of RCs abscess

Shadows about root tips are abscess

The pathological tissues such as granuloma, cysts, abscesses, marked acute/chronic inflammation, and necrotic bone, to name a few, are the drainage field of the septic tooth. Nature attempts to prevent toxic dissemination throughout the full biome thus insuring its health, hopefully.

A septic tank analogy is valid here in that the dead tooth or dental implant is a reservoir for corrupt matter and their liquids and gases, leaking out into the underlying bone, lymphatic, blood vascular, neurological tissues—apical tissues.

After removal of a gangrenous tooth, a root canal tooth or implant—both septic conditions, what should you do?

Replace the missing tooth, if you can.

Many dental doctors today will advise that you should do a dental implant or traditional fixed bridge to replace your missing tooth. They have no alternatives to avoid leaving you with whittled down teeth looking like pegs or a very invasive, potentially damaging bone/jaw procedure of implant surgery where a hole is drilled into your bone through your gums and a screw post inserted. After 4 to 6 months of healing, if all goes well, the screw post will be topped off with a crown of some kind.

My advice is to avoid implants, flippers, or traditional bridges that require the mutilation of the support teeth. Focus on replacement with the Carlson Bridge® “Winged Pontic” tooth replacement system. In this regard, we simply attach a prefabricated tooth, a “Winged Pontic,” to the good support teeth on either side of the space.

To learn more about some of the problems associated with dental implants, see Dr. Carlson’s article “Actinomycotic Oral Infection (Modern Dental Implants and Root Canals)” in the Biological Dentistry Journal.

Dr. RS Carlson graduated from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in 1969 and completed Post Graduate training in pediatric dentistry with Strong-Carter Dental Clinic, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1970—71. He is a founder of Kokua Kalihi Valley Dental Clinic in 1973 and volunteered from 1973 to 1980, serving low-income families and immigrant populations from the South Pacific Islands and Asia. He has maintained a private practice in Honolulu since 1971, emphasizing Bio-Logical Dentistry. He can be reached at (808) 735-0282, ddscarlson@hawaiiantel.net or carlsonbiologicaldentistry.com. Disclosure: Dr. Carlson is the inventor of the Carlson Bridge® “Winged Pontic” tooth replacement system, a noninvasive approach to replacing missing teeth, with patents issued in November 1999 and October 2001.

This content was originally published here.

Rand Paul Slams Dr. Fauci’s Public Health Recommendations: “He Tells You Noble Lies” | Dan Bongino

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul took aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci, saying the famed TV scientist has framed himself as a “Greek philosopher” who has been forced to feed the public “noble lies.”

“But you have to remember that his lies are noble lies, Laura. He’s not telling you this because he’s a mean man,” Paul said when asked by Fox News Laura Ingraham why he is one of the few politicians willing to call out Fauci for lying. “He’s telling you this because he feels sorry for you because you don’t understand, and Americans aren’t smart enough to make informed decisions. So, he fashions himself some sort of Greek philosopher. He tells you these noble lies.”

Paul cited Fauci’s ever changing recommendations on masks over the last year as an example of his “noble lies.”

“So, at first, he told you that all the masks don’t work. But he told you that because he wanted to protect the N-95 masks, which actually in a health setting do work,” Paul said. “But then, later on, he said, all masks do work. But that’s also a lie also because, really only the N-95 masks work.”

“It’s a compilation of lies,” the Kentucky Republican continued. “But they’re all done to protect you because he doesn’t think you’re smart enough to make any of these decisions on your own.”

Paul also slammed President Biden’s latest COVID-19 speech, which featured Biden hinting that Americans might be able to hold gatherings on Independence Day.

“Well to show you so far out of touch President Biden is, he said he’s going to let us get together with two or three people from our family July 4th,” Paul said. “Has he not met anybody? Everybody is making their own decisions now. Where we are forced to comply with Dr. Fauci and his Faucisms, we do. But in private, most of us are doing what we want, when we want, and have been for a long, long time. We do try to take precautions.”

Paul also expressed doubt that lockdowns could be credited for stopping the spread of the virus.

“You can sequentially look at the date when each mandate was passed and when it got ratcheted up,” Paul said. “You can look at the incidence of the disease, and what you find is they were proportional, meaning the more mandates we got, the more disease we got.”

“The mandates did not cause the disease but there is no evidence the mandate slowed down the disease at all,” Paul continued.

Paul then turned his attention to former President Donald Trump, who he said deserves a lot of credit for the pace of the vaccine rollout.

“President Trump was criticized for a lot of things, but one thing he did do was shake things up in the bureaucracy. He didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” Paul said. “I think President Trump’s personality actually did force the issue on the vaccine and probably helped it to get done in record time.”

Paul’s dust ups with Fauci over the summer became the stuff of legend, with Paul constantly grilling the nation’s top infectious disease expert during Senate testimony.

“I think we ought to have a little bit of humility in our belief that we know what’s best for the economy, and as much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end-all,” Paul said last May. “I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make the decision. We can listen to your advice, but there are people on the other side saying there’s not going to be a surge and that we can safely open the economy and the facts will bear this out.”

Last June, Paul accused Dr. Fauci of politicizing the coronavirus pandemic.

“All of this body of evidence about schools around the world shows there’s no surge,” Paul slammed Fauci. “All of the evidence shows it’s rare. I mean, we’re so politicized this and made it politically correct.”

Fauci has remained in the public eye even as a new administration entered the White House, making multiple media appearances which he has used to warn that the pandemic is far from over and that Americans could have to continue wearing masks into 2022.

Don’t miss The Dan Bongino Show

This content was originally published here.

Expert Series: How Invisalign® is Empowering ChangeMakers | 4-H

National 4‑H Council and Invisalign have launched a partnership to empower and recognize young people who are creating change in their communities through acts of kindness and service—big and small. Because everyone—especially our youth—should be seen and celebrated for the good they are doing in the world.

I caught up with Kamal Bhandal, VP of Global Brand and Consumer Marketing for Align Technology, to talk more about the Invisalign@ ChangeMakers Initiative and how the mother of two is inspiring her children to be a positive influence in their community.

What is a ‘ChangeMaker’?

Kamal Bhandal (KB): Simply put, a ‘ChangeMaker’ is someone who springs into action to solve a problem for the greater good of a community.

In what ways do you think the Invisalign® ChangeMakers Initiative will inspire young people to become change agents in their community?

KB: Everywhere you look, young people are actively driving change within their communities. In some instances, it may be a young person who leads a local blanket drive to donate to the local shelter, or it may be the young leader who activates their local school district to provide school lunches for families during the pandemic. There are many more examples all around the country, and often these are local stories that aren’t widely known, but provide tremendous impact in the community.

Align Technology’s Invisalign brand, in partnership with National 4‑H Council, has launched the Invisalign® ChangeMakers initiative to shine a light on these stories and elevate the young people who are driving change within their communities and bringing smiles. In doing so, we hope that more young people can see how teens just like them and feel connected to a larger youth community. Our collective goal with this partnership is to spotlight those inspiring stories so that every young person can see themselves as someone who can drive positive change within their communities.

Can you share some of the work Align Technology leads to inspire change in communities and how today’s youth can help support those efforts?

KB: Align is committed to improving the lives of our employees, customers, patients, stakeholders, and the communities in which we live and work. Our philanthropic philosophy is to support organizations whose visions tie closely to our own – improving smiles, empowering our customers through partnerships with learning institutions and foundations, and supporting and educating teens.

We are committed to developing youth leaders around the world. Here in the US, we’re actively partnering with leading organizations—like 4‑H—who are also committed to shaping and developing youth. Other partners include Junior Achievement including their S.H.E. Leads program, Boys & Girls Clubs of America,  and Cristo Rey San Jose High School.  Our partnerships with these organizations include mentoring, program support, as well as workshops that cultivate critical business and STEM skills, corporate work-study programs, and internships. Today’s youth can support these efforts by getting involved with the local chapters of any one of these programs.

As a mom of school-aged children, how are you inspiring them to be ChangeMakers? Why are those teachings so important?

KB: As a mom of a teen and a tween, I try to focus on a few things: (1) exposing the kids to a range of perspectives; (2) fostering empathy for others; and (3) supporting areas of individual interest. The teen years are a critical time in brain development as teenagers have an increased capacity to appreciate various perspectives. By learning about different communities and various ways to solve problems, it not only helps increase awareness of the variety of challenges that exist within communities, but it also stimulates more creative thinking on how problems can be solved. When it comes to having empathy for others, we try to create learning experiences that foster a sense of empathy—such as through volunteering or random acts of kindness—and provide support for a specific area of interest that is important for each of them. However small or large the individual interest area may be, we try to support and encourage the kids to drive change that will create positive impact, and also experience how that feels.

How do we continue to give young people a platform to share their ideas, experiences and innovation, and how will those ideas impact the future?

KB: Organizations like 4‑H that celebrate and support youth in cultivating their ideas are critical. Today’s youth are full of ideas and creative solutions that can help drive positive changes that will enhance the lives of others who are a part of their community – large or small. To give young people a platform to share their ideas, it’s critical that we:

This content was originally published here.

Keep wearing your mask, health officials say after Gov. Greg Abbott lifts mask mandate

Austin residents take photos on Congress Avenue bridge in Austin on May 13, 2020.

Austin residents take photos on Congress Avenue bridge in Austin on May 13, 2020.

Credit: Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune

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Keep wearing your mask and taking COVID-19 safety precautions, local health experts said Tuesday, after Gov. Greg Abbott announced he was lifting the statewide mask mandate and restrictions on businesses.

“Despite the impending removal of the state mask mandate, we must continue our vigilance with masking, distancing, and hand washing,” said Dr. Mark Escott, Travis County Interim Health Authority. “These remain critical in our ongoing fight against COVID-19.”

Expressing concerns about highly contagious variants of the virus and the need for local health officials to maintain some authority over their local situations — which vary widely from county to county — doctors and health officials cautioned that Texans should not take Abbott’s announcement as a signal to relax the behavior that has lead to a recent decrease in coronavirus case rates and hospitalizations.

That means continuing to stay home when possible, avoid large gatherings, stay separate from vulnerable family members, wash hands frequently, and wear masks in public or around others who don’t live in the same household.

Their advice mirrors that of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which still recommends that people wear masks, even as more people get vaccinated. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease, has also recently said that double-masking makes sense in light of highly contagious variants.

In a jubilant press conference, Abbott said the mask mandate and any business restrictions that limited customers would sunset next Wednesday. He added that people should still take the same precautions they have been taking for the past year.

“Removing state mandates does not end personal responsibility, or the importance of caring for your family members and caring for your friends and caring for others in your community,” he said. “Personal vigilance to follow the same standards is still needed to contain COVID. It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed to stay safe.”

Dr. Ivan Melendez, Hidalgo County Health Authority, said it’s premature to abandon safety precautions and hopes Texans can stay patient even in the absence of statewide rules.

“I think that people have a lot more common sense than we give them credit for, but … it’s very hard for human beings not to start socializing and to stop wearing masks,” he said.”I understand they are looking for any sign they can go back to the old ways, but I would just remind them that we’re in the bottom of the ninth, two runs out, and we’re almost there. This isn’t the time to put the bench in. This is the time to continue with the A-Team. Very soon, we’ll be there.”

Dr. John Carlo, CEO of Prism Health North Texas and a member of the state medical association’s COVID-19 task force, agreed it was too soon for Texans to relax their safety practices, adding he is especially concerned about the increasing spread of the U.K. variant of COVID-19, which is thought to be more contagious and perhaps more deadly.

Researchers also say it’s possible that people who already got COVID-19 could be reinfected, and that while the vaccines appear to be effective enough against the variants, new ones that show up as the pandemic stretches on could be more resistant.

Carlo said allowing the variants to spread could undo all the progress that has been made by Texans’ careful behavior in recent months.

A recent study showed that all the variants that have been identified have been recorded in , the first city in the nation where that has happened.

Although the effects of the vaccination effort on COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations vary in different regions of the state and in different populations, only about 6% of Texans have been fully vaccinated against the disease. Experts have said that between 70% and 90% of the community should be vaccinated before the state achieves herd immunity.

Health experts say that continued caution is vital, particularly at a critical time when Texas is still vaccinating its most vulnerable residents first.

“Whatever the governor has recommended, it should not change what people do in terms of wearing masks or not,” Carlo said. “It’s very clear that we need to continue to wear masks in public places, period. Regardless of whether there’s an order from the governor or not. The bottom line is the individual decision making that has to take place that ultimately makes the outcomes.”

This content was originally published here.

SMART DENTISTRY – Oral Health Group

SILVER MODIFIED ATRAUMATIC RESTORATIVE TECHNIQUE CO-CURE METHOD

Minimally invasive dentistry has been recognized as a valuable strategy to manage dental caries for nearly two decades. 1 With the continual development and introduction of new materials and technologies, it is both practical and reasonable to be less intrusive and to be able to preserve more tooth structure at the same time as definitively treating carious lesions. In recent years there has been an overwhelming influx and development of bioactive and biomimetic materials.

This has allowed for restoration in a way that will have a biologic effect and one which mimics biochemical processes of the dentition. The added benefit of minimally invasive dentistry and bioactive biomimetic materials is that they allow for faster and less invasive procedures. Although these techniques and materials have been available for some time, they have not been used to their full potential. The time to do so is now.

Caries arresting treatments, such as Riva Star (SDI) are powerful tools in our efforts to practice minimally invasive dentistry. Riva Star (SDI) is a two step treatment that consists of application of a silver diamine fluoride (SDF), followed by potassium iodide. This is available in capsule forms or bottles. The silver ion in the SDF, acts as an antimicrobial which denatures proteins and breaks down cell walls, inhibiting DNA replication and as a coagulant which occludes dentinal tubules. The fluoride ion in the SDF, promotes mineralization, creates fluorohydroxyapatite, inhibits demineralization and inhibits bacteria. From all available evidence, there is no doubt that SDF is effective.

3 4 5 6 7 However, the hallmark of SDF is that it leaves the arrested lesion with a black stain or scar. This is unsightly and in many instances the aesthetics are unacceptable to the patient. The application of potassium iodide, the second step of Riva Star (SDI) acts to minimize the black staining. By applying the potassium iodide solution over the SDF, a silver iodine precipitate is formed which minimizes the staining in comparison to using other SDF treatments alone.

Treatment with Riva Star (SDI) alone will arrest caries, but will not restore the cavitation. In order to restore the tooth back to form and function, an ideal technique is the Silver Modified Atraumatic Technique, given the acronym SMart.

The SMart method marries Riva Star (SDI) with glass ionomer cement, the restorative material of choice in this technique.

A glass ionomer cement is a dental restorative material which is based upon the reaction of silicate glass powder (fluoro-alumina-silicate glass) and polyalkenoic acid, an ionomer. Riva Self Cure (SDI) is a high quality glass ionomer cement restorative material available in different viscosities and set times. Use of Riva Star (SDI) prior to restoration will the enhance the bond of the restoration to dentin. Another added benefit of conditioning with 38% SDF is to increase resistance of both glass ionomer cement and composite resin restorations to secondary caries. To further enhance the strength of the restoration it is desirable to “sandwich” the glass ionomer cement with a resin modified glass ionomer cement or bonding agent, such as Riva Bond LC (SDI) and then a strong overlay of composite resin. The strength is further improved by curing all layers simultaneously in a co-cure technique. All layers are shown in diagram 1, which depicts a cross sections of a restoration in this SMart co-cure method. The advantages of the co-cure technique are the elimination of several placement steps and the resultant significantly stronger chemical bond between glass ionomer cement and composite resin than other techniques. The entire SMart co-cure method is depicted clinically in figures 1 – 7.

Our paradigm for managing carious lesions must change. The techniques and materials are well established. It is time for us to step out of our comfort zone of traditional dentistry for the benefit of our patients and our profession and make a change for the better with minimally invasive dentistry, the use of caries arresting agents and bioactive restorative materials.

Dr. Cohn is a general dentist, devoted solely to the practice of dentistry for children. She maintains a private practice at Kids Dental in Winnipeg, Canada. She is proud to be a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Speakers Bureau, Catapult Education Speakers Bureau, Pierre Fauchard Academy, and a cofounder of Women’s Dental Network. Dr. Cohn has been named as Dentistry Today’s Leader in Continuing Education multiple years in a row. She has published several articles, and webinars and enjoys lecturing on all aspects of children’s dentistry for the general practitioner both nationally and internationally.

This content was originally published here.

Study Reveals More People are Using Psychedelics to Self-Treat Mental Health

The use of psychedelic drugs as an underground self-treatment for mental health conditions is on the rise, according to the world’s largest drug survey, with thousands of people turning to substances like LSD, MDMA, psilocybin and ketamine to treat psychiatric illnesses and emotional distress.

Of the 110,000 worldwide respondents to the 2020 Global Drug Survey, 6,500 (just under six percent) reported using recreational drugs as a DIY mental health treatment. These included cases of people microdosing alone with LSD or magic mushrooms, as well as cases where people took psychedelics under the supervision of another person in an unregulated setting. While these supervisors were most commonly reported as being friends and partners, the unregulated settings also included psychedelic retreats and so-called “traditional healing groups”.

The findings show that while health regulators around the world debate whether or not to legalise the therapeutic use of drugs like LSD, MDMA and psilocybin, demand among users is increasing. And according to Dr Monica Barratt, a professor at Australia’s RMIT University and a co-author of the study, it “may end up being filled outside of the medical setting”.

Depression, anxiety and relationship problems were the most common underlying factors leading people to self-medicate with illicit substances—but others included PTSD, bereavement and problems related to substance use. As the authors note, “people are thus using psychedelics to treat the most common mental health problems that people currently seek help for from traditional medical services.”

“The findings suggest there are many people with common preexisting conditions for whom existing treatment modalities are either insufficient or unattractive to engage with,” they add.

The most common reported reason for taking LSD was to enhance wellbeing (about 52 percent) followed by use to deal with a specific emotional worry or concern. The most common primary reason given by respondents who used magic mushrooms was to enhance general wellbeing, followed by use to cope with worries and to get relief from a psychiatric condition.

Just over 4 percent of respondents who used psychedelics as self-treatment reported visits to the emergency department.

The authors of the study urged caution for anyone thinking of self-treating with illicit substances, and Dr Barratt pointed out that mental health professionals have an important role to play in supporting such people—as long as they’re appropriately trained.

“Accredited training for psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers to do preparatory and integration sessions to help support people who take underground psychedelics for self-treatment may help bridge the gap,” she said in a statement.

Overall, the authors noted that conversations around the regulation and use of certain drugs in clinical settings need to develop as quickly as possible, in order to meet the rising demand from people who are evidently not able to access more traditional mental health treatments.

“The longer the delay in rolling out these treatments through clinical services the greater the risk that vulnerable people will be tempted to access these drugs in situations that carry potential greater risk of harm,” they state. “More scientific data is needed of course, but our data suggest that should these new treatments become available there will be a large group of people keen to engage with them.”

They further note: “despite their potential utility as treatments for several mental health conditions, unplanned attempts to use these substances to deal with serious mental illness are not recommended. Positive outcomes and healing can only occur with the holistic preparation and integration of psychedelic experiences in a supportive environment with access to additional resources if needed.”

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This content was originally published here.

Michigan Gov. Whitmer threatened with subpoena over secret payout to health director

Michigan Republican Sen. Jim Runestad, joined by daughter of nursing home victim Jamie Nicholson, discuss why the Democratic governor should be held accountable for her COVID-19 directive.

Michigan Republicans threatened Gov. Gretchen Whitmer with a subpoena Tuesday amid news that Whitmer’s former health department director is set to receive a $155,506 payout after his unexplained resignation in January.

News of the so-called golden parachute for former state health department Director Robert Gordon comes as state Republicans question the Whitmer administration’s numbers about coronavirus deaths in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

“We want to know if what happened in New York, did that happen here? Can you show us that data? They refused to show us the data,” state Rep. Steve Johnson, chair of the Michigan House Oversight Committee, said at a press conference on Tuesday. “Now, last night we find out that our governor has bought the silence of former Director Gordon with $150,000 of taxpayer money.”

Gordon signed a confidentiality agreement and is set to receive nine months’ worth of salary after his sudden resignation in late January, The Detroit News first reported.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wears a mask with the word “vote” displayed on the front during a roundtable discussion on healthcare, Wednesday Oct. 7, 2020, in Kalamazoo, Mich. (Nicole Hester/Ann Arbor News via AP)/

“What I want to know is, what are they hiding?” Johnson said. “We are going to begin an investigation. … It came to light that it’s not just Director Gordon but his aide as well has one of these agreements. Our office has issued a request for a copy of each agreement.”

“The Oversight Committee will be doing hearings on this matter. We are reaching out to the department, asking them to come forward testify on this matter,” Johnson said. “If we have to do a subpoena, we will.”

Whitmer previously dodged a question about whether she was behind Gordon’s departure, which was so abrupt it came just eight hours after he had issued an order allowing indoor dining to resume.

“To lead this department in unimaginable circumstances, it has been grueling,” Whitmer said at a Jan. 25 press conference according to The Detroit News. “On behalf of all of the people of Michigan, I want to thank him for his service to our state. He worked hard to protect our public health.”

Fox News’ Houston Keene contributed to this report.

This content was originally published here.

AG Healey sues orthodontist for keeping kids in braces longer than needed | Boston.com

A Massachusetts orthodontist kept kids in braces longer than necessary and submitted millions of dollars in false claims to MassHealth, according to a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Maura Healey Monday.

The defendant, Dr. Mouhab Rizkallah, runs six practices under the name “The Braces Place,” which has locations in Boston, Somerville, Lawrence, Lowell, Framingham, and Lynn. The attorney general’s complaint alleges that Rizkallah has intended to defraud the state’s Medicaid program since November 2013.

“For years, this orthodontist used his young patients as pawns to steal millions of dollars from the state,” Healey said in a statement. “This illegal behavior harmed families from low-income communities and communities of color who rely on MassHealth for health care coverage. We are suing to hold Dr. Rizkallah accountable for these exploitative practices that victimized vulnerable residents in Massachusetts.”

The headline example in Dr. Rizkallah’s alleged fraudulent activity involved arbitrarily delaying putting braces on children’s bottom teeth to increase their treatment time — and, by proxy, money from MassHealth. The investigation began after a patient complaint.

The suit also states that the doctor billed MassHealth for custom sports mouth guards that did not exist. The complaint says that he told his staff to cut the $9.99 price tag off of prefabricated retail mouth guards, gave them to patients, and billed MassHealth up to $95 for each one. The AG’s office says that MassHealth paid Dr. Rizkallah over $1 million for the mouth guards.

The office alleges that the conduct violates the state False Claims Act and the state Medicaid False Claims act, constitutes a breach of contract by Dr. Rizkallah’s companies, and resulted in the unjust enrichment of the doctor. The suit seeks treble damages and civil penalties.

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How These Two Childhood Friends Created a Multi-Million Dollar Dentistry Business


7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Emmet Scott and dentist Chad Evans believe if you want to be successful, you have to experience your business through your customer’s vantage point. They created Community Dental Partners and Smile Magic Dentistry and Braces to revolutionize the patient experience within healthcare.

Through Community Dental Partners, they help dentists who previously only had two options: grind it out day after day and hold on until it’s time to retire or partner with corporate dental and run the risk of losing individuality and freedom. By combining Scott’s business acumen with Dr. Evans’ clinical background, the childhood friends revolved their business model around the idea that dentists have two minds. The first mind is the clinical mind and it concerns all the activities dentists have learned in school. The second mindset deals with the business mind, which focuses on everything from staff management to an exit strategy.

In addition to partnering with dentists and dental practices in underserved areas, Scott hosts a podcast called DSO Secrets, and the two run www.MySmileMagic.com, which they call “a Chuck-E.-Cheese-like dental practice for kids.” The two sat down with Jessica Abo to share how they have created their business and how you can better serve your customers.

Let’s start by going back to the beginning. How do you know each other, and what made you want to go into business together?

Dr. Chad Evans: This is one of those stories where we actually grew up together. At two years old, our parents moved next door to each other. My dad and his mom knew each other from high school. Starting at two years old, we became best friends.

Emmet Scott: At nine years old, I moved away, and I said, “Don’t worry, buddy. Someday I’ll come back.” And of course, then life went on. 10 years ago or so we crossed paths again. Dr. Evans reached out and said, ‘I’m going to open my first dental practice, and I’d really love some help.’ At the time, I was hosting a radio show and doing some consulting around scaling businesses and looked at the opportunity and his vision. 

Dr. Evans: My dad was actually a lab technician, which means he makes crowns and bridges. At 11 years old, I went to work with him. He ignored all the child labor laws, and I went to work at that and became a pretty good lab technician. Eventually I went to dental school, but that experience and the time that I spent in the dental space gave me a lot of exposure and experience within the industry. I saw just so many different opportunities, so many different areas where I felt like the industry and the way dental offices are traditionally designed and the way they traditionally operate just wasn’t quite meeting the patient’s needs.

Scott: What made Dr. Evans unique is he wanted to serve patients a lot of clinicians and a lot of doctors don’t want to serve. He served a two-year mission in Chile. He was fluent in Spanish. He has seven kids. He said, “Hey, I want to help in the pediatric market underserved. I don’t care if it’s Medicaid, whatever.” And then we all looked at each other. I have five kids, and we said, “Well, what do kids really like?” It’s not the dentist in case you were wondering.

We said, “They like Disneyland. They liked Chuck E. Cheese. They like those types of experiences. What if you brought that into dentistry? What would that look like?”

Dr. Evans: Traditionally, moms are dragging crying children into the dental office, and I wanted the opposite. I wanted moms to have to drag their crying children out of the dental office because they didn’t want to leave.

Scott: We’ve designed the whole practice as if you were going through a story around Charlie the Chipmunk. We actually made the kids part of the experience. We call them back as prince or princess. We gave them gold coins along the way. As they finished their X-ray, they got a gold coin. As they finished their exam, they got a gold coin. And then at the end, they sat on a little throne and for their bravery in dentistry, we crown them as King or Queen of Smile Magic. They got a balloon, they got a sticker. Mom gets a sticker, because she’s always a little freaking out. And then we ask them if they have any money, they have their gold coins, they spend their gold coins. They of course get an electric toothbrush of some kind, right? And they’re going, “Mom, when do I get to come back?”

You’ve been at this for more than a decade. Can you walk me through the growth you have seen over the years?

Scott: We started supporting this dental practice, Smile Magic, that we created. Then along came a group of practices that needed support in underserved, rural towns. We set up Community Dental Partners as a dental support organization that would support any dental practice in underserved areas.

Dr. Evans: As we started having success and word was getting out, we had dentists approaching us that said, “I want to offer that kind of experience to my patient. I want to be able to do that. What do I have to do? Can you support us so that I can do that now?”

Scott: We went from one practice to supporting 60 practices, and I think we’ll have 250,000 or more patient visits this year in Texas.

Dr. Evans, what advice do you have for someone who is trying to put their patient or customer first? And they aren’t sure if they are doing a great job at doing that?

Dr. Evans: One of the things I always do myself, I put myself in their shoes and I ask myself if I were the patient, how would I want to be treated? What hours would I want to have availability? What days would I want to be able to come in? All those things that you would naturally ask yourself if you were in the other position. If you can answer honestly that you are providing care and service in a way that you would enjoy as the customer, then I think you’re probably doing it right.

What do you want to say to the entrepreneurs out there who have a product or are offering a service that might not be that sexy? You’re disrupting the dental industry, and most of the time when people are thinking about going to the dentist, they’re not running to the dentist by any means, let alone having children running to the dentist.

Scott: Our field is the one that has idioms, like, “Oh man, it’s like getting a root canal” or “it’s like pulling teeth.” If you’re feeling concerned about your industry, I understand. What I would say is focus on the customer. What are they most interested in? What’s the benefit? All of us can understand that oral health care is critical, that having bacteria in your mouth that transfers to somebody else is not something we want happening. If you can create parallel experiences that the customer really loves, then you can bring them your product and the benefits of your product.

Where do you hope to go from here?

Scott: We’ve launched National Dental Partners. And now we’re reaching out to more dentists who are looking for this level of support. We know that there are entrepreneur clinicians who say, “We can do this better”, and maybe they don’t want Charlie the Chipmunk in their office. They’re serving different patient avatars, and they need a support team to do that.

This content was originally published here.

Michigan Gov. Whitmer paid top health official massive sum in secret deal after his abrupt resignation: report

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has found herself in hot water after her administration agreed to pay former state Health Department Director Robert Gordon more than $150,000 in taxpayer money after he abruptly resigned his position in January.

The deal, which was first reported by the Detroit News, was made with the requirement that it remain confidential.

What are the details?

According to the Detroit News, Gordon was paid $155,506, a total of nine months salary and health benefits, in agreement for releasing the state “from any potential legal claims.”

“The agreement is the clearest evidence yet that the split between Gordon … and Whitmer was not amicable, and it shows the Democratic administration used taxpayer funds to ease his departure,” the Detroit News reported.

The deal was inked on Feb. 22, one month after Gordon, who helped coordinate Michigan’s COVID-19 pandemic response, abruptly left his job.

The separation agreement stipulates that, out of the interest of confidentiality, the state would tell Gordon’s future employers that he voluntarily resigned.

Why did Gordon resign?

The actual reason remains unknown.

Interestingly, Gordon resigned just hours after signing a pandemic-related order allowing restaurants to begin offering indoor dining at reduced capacity. Gordon was not present at the press conference that announced the resumption of indoor dining.

Whitmer’s administration had been using Gordon to issue its pandemic-related emergency orders because the Michigan Supreme Court ruled last October that Whitmer had violated the Michigan state constitution by continuing to issue highly restrictive COVID orders without approval from state lawmakers.

What was the reaction to the deal?

Republicans are using news of the secret deal to draw more attention to Whitmer’s handling of the pandemic.

Rep. Steve Johnson (R), chairman of the Michigan House Oversight Committee, told Fox News:

We’re still investigating the things the Whitmer Administration has done during COVID in plain sight, when we find out about a secret payoff behind closed doors. While it doesn’t surprise me, the deception is shocking and shows how badly this Administration needs oversight so they can be held to account.

Meanwhile, the Michigan Republican Party wants to know what Whitmer is trying to hide by keeping the deal secret.

“Mr. Robert Gordon was the state’s health director and played an instrumental role in the state’s COVID-19 response. Michigan taxpayers deserve to know the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Mr. Gordon in the middle of a public health crisis,” Ted Goodman, spokesman for the Michigan GOP, said.

“Why is Gov. Whitmer refusing to explain this secret deal?” Goodman added.

“What is @GovWhitmer trying to hide?” the Michigan GOP tweeted.

Anything else?

News of the deal comes as Republicans demand an investigation into Whitmer’s pandemic response, particularly as it relates to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

This content was originally published here.

Bubba Watson opens up about mental health struggles

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” – Dr Seuss Bubba Watson stood on the first tee at Torrey Pines last month doing socially distant interviews about Linksoul, the lifestyle clothing brand. He had just become a major investor, and now he shuffled back and forth and spoke quickly, and with limited eye contact. Then his energy lifted to almost comic proportions, words spilling from his mouth with fervor as – even if only briefly – he looked you in the eye with vitality. To the casual observer, the shifting, twitchy Watson could have come off as dismissive or even arrogant. His excitement could have been just PR spin. Both assumptions would have been wrong. Being misunderstood has plagued Watson his entire life, and this scene provided clues as to why. His exhibited behavior was not new for the three-time Genesis Invitational winner – in fact it was textbook for someone with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and/or anxiety issues. Watson has both. To try to understand Watson is to try to understand both conditions. “In the past there were times I’ve slipped up and people have blasted me… people have made fun of me,” says Watson, who will play in a threesome with Dustin Johnson and defending champion Adam Scott at Riviera Country Club on Thursday and Friday. “And it definitely is hurtful. The big thing for me now is I’m accepting it more. One of the many problems was I held things in for so long that it hurt me. It hurt when people would write things about me without knowing me. “Now I’m at a point where I can say let’s just talk about it,” he continues. “I don’t need to hide that I’m a man who sometimes cries. I’m a man with issues just like everybody else. There’s ups and downs to life, no matter if you’re a TOUR golfer or a person that nobody ever sees. “It’s OK to not be OK sometimes.” Mental health has often taken a back seat in life, but those who suffer from anxiety disorders can tell you it’s always front-of-mind. Watson suffers from social and generalized anxiety – he has trouble in large crowds and feels self-conscious and judged in social settings. The condition has proven especially challenging for an elite athlete who performs in front of the world. Remember when Watson won the 2012 Masters by hooking a wedge shot out of the trees at the 10th hole? As he ventured outside the gallery ropes his main stressor was not how he would win the playoff but his close proximity to the patrons. The shot – which seemingly hooked at a right angle to the green, setting up his eventual victory – didn’t bother him. Self-taught, highly visual, and unusually adept at working the ball both ways, Watson was used to making such magic. Anxiety has been a part of his life for some time, but roughly two years ago it started getting worse. He couldn’t sleep, lost weight and even feared for his life. Sometimes he thought of his former Green Beret father, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder before dying of cancer in 2010. A few times Watson thought he was having a heart attack and was hospitalized. All along he was also letting the negative opinions of others seep into his soul, and his game suffered. Although he won three times in 2018, it is perhaps no surprise that he hasn’t won since. “I thought I was going to die, and my mental issues had a good hold on me for a while,” Watson says. “I went down to 162 pounds” – he is 6 feet, 3 inches tall – “and then I quit checking my weight because it was also stressing me out. But I fought out of it and came back from it.” These days Watson says he is also more accepting of the good he’s done in his life. He knows he’s trying to be a good father and husband and is keenly focused on charitable undertakings. His deal with Linksoul is as much to do with continued growth as a person as it is with his bottom line. Watson expects to personally evolve from it in ways he might not even be able to predict. “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Unknown. Thousands of critics, be they viewers, keyboard warriors (this correspondent included) or even his peers, have fallen into the trap of passing judgement on Watson without the full story. We’ve judged the 12-time PGA TOUR winner not just on his ability to curve the ball in all manner of self-taught and head scratching ways (genius), but also by some isolated behaviors. “Absolutely he’s misunderstood as any person that’s on TV for brief moments can be,” says his caddie Ted Scott. “Sometimes the world demands perfection and that’s not something that exists. I don’t want to tell somebody what they should or should not think about Bubba Watson. “But I’d suggest,” he continues, “trying to get to know him. Look at his character off the course before making snap judgements. With minimal digging you’ll see that he’s a man of faith. He’s adopted two kids. He’s happily married. He’s very involved in charity. The man has a massive heart.” Fellow Scottsdale resident Aaron Baddeley insists Watson is one of the TOUR’s nice guys. “At the 2011 Presidents Cup I hit a bad tee shot that caused us to lose the last hole to halve our match,” Baddeley says. “I was pretty gutted. The first guy who came up to me with kind words was Bubba from the opposite team. Not many people would do that. Sometimes people don’t see his true self or just don’t want to see it. For whatever reason they’ve made their mind up ahead of time. But I know he’s someone I can always trust because his heart is always in the right place.” Despite the lavish praise from friends, Watson is the first to admit he hasn’t always exhibited his best self in public. He doesn’t look to offer up excuses, but the fact is he has some. While some would claim ADHD isn’t a real medical condition and those who have it are just lazy attention seekers who need to try harder, in reality ADHD can manifest differently in individuals. Firstly, it’s not about a want for attention at all. It is a disorder that brings heightened levels of hyperactive or impulsive behaviors and makes focus on single tasks difficult. Yet it is important to note that ADHD does not mean an inability to focus completely. Quite the opposite, those with the condition often exhibit hyper focus in areas where their passions lie. Swimmer Michael Phelps and musician Adam Levine are part of the hyper-focused ADHD crew. It has been said that golf – in which players can intermittently let their attention wander and then laser in on a shot when necessary – is in fact the perfect ADHD sport. This would explain why Watson is great at his sport, and also why his list of investments, plus his varied off-course endeavors, read very different to many TOUR pros. Watson has put his money behind a candy shop, a car dealership, a driving range, a minor league baseball team and now Linksoul – all places where he finds joy. He knows that if he invests outside his passions, even if they may be prudent investments, he won’t make the connections that help him grow. Linksoul brands itself as a lifestyle rather than an apparel company, and while its roots are in golf it doesn’t follow the traditional golf-attire rout. Instead, it embraces itself as a philosophy. Co-founded by John Ashworth, the company has distanced itself from corporate rigidity and operates under the assumption that if one enjoys their life, they’ll in turn enjoy their work. “I just love what their spirit is and what they’re trying to create,” Watson says of the partnership. “I feel what their energy is, and the fact it is a mesh between the business world and the play world speaks to me and the phase of life I’m moving into now. “I want to continue to learn about business,” he adds, “and people will see that I’m actually intelligent and understand business and how things work and how things can go forward.” “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison. Watson doesn’t mention intelligence by accident. He knows there are people who think he lacks it, and he admits he may have deliberately, and unwittingly at times, fueled those misperceptions. It was the easier role to play. Even his infamous Golf Boys character fit that bill. “I portrayed a story for a while,” he says. “When I first came out on TOUR, I was hard-headed and it takes me a while to learn things, to see things in certain ways, to act in certain ways. I wasn’t prepared for it. Intelligent might not be the right word, but I hope people see that I’m actually smarter than I portray sometimes. I want the world to see that I actually am smart, and the things I try to do have thought behind them and are about connecting with my passions. “I try to do things in a way I find fun and engaging – it might be different to what people see as normal but I’m finding out it speaks to others who might sit outside the traditional golf bubble.” It certainly does. Watson has always used social media, and these days TikTok is falling in love with his antics. At the Waste Management Phoenix Open two weeks ago, during a practice round, Watson hit a bunker shot at the famed 16th hole before being joined by influencers Joey Reed and Tosha to do their viral dance to the song “Wrap Me In Plastic.” Traditional golf fans weren’t all that impressed, but the video has over 1.5 million views and is crossing over well beyond “the traditional golf bubble.” “To be nobody but yourself in a world that’s doing its best to make you somebody else is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting,” – E.E. Cummings Watson is putting his new personal growth to the test by trying to ignore the haters and take the road Cummings described. He is buoyed by the progress of society, which increasingly doesn’t see “different” as such a bad word. He says he’s up for the fight on the course, too, as he looks to make the TOUR Championship for the first time since 2018. He sits 76th in the FedExCup heading to Los Angeles’ storied Riviera Country Club, one of his happy places after winning there in 2012, 2014 and 2018. With two Masters titles among his 12 TOUR wins, he has given some thought to the World Golf Hall of Fame. He needn’t worry – he is almost certainly heading for St. Augustine at some point. Watson also hopes his evolution as a person can also help him open the door to another goal. “I’d really like to be considered as a Presidents Cup and or Ryder Cup captain and I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to be in that space,” he says. He certainly knows the terrain, having played on two winning Presidents Cup teams (2011, 2015). On the four occasions he played in the Ryder Cup (2010, 2012, 2014 and 2018) the U.S. was defeated by Europe. In 2016, he acted as an assistant to captain Davis Love III as the U.S. won at Hazeltine. Watson calls it “the most fun and the most thrilling moment” he’s had in golf. Steve Stricker will captain the U.S. Ryder Cup team later this year at Whistling Straits, with Love III recently announced as the 2022 Presidents Cup captain. Watson sent a congratulatory text that also included a reminder of his skills as an assistant should he not make the team. Golfer, candy man, car salesman, captain, voluntary assistant captain, Linksoul ambassador. Why fit in when you were born to stand out? Why, indeed.

This content was originally published here.

How to Clean Invisalign | My Crazy Good Life

Keeping your Invisalign retainers clean is easier than you might think! Here are some tips on how to clean Invisalign aligners and also what to avoid when cleaning them. 

This post, How to Clean Invisalign, is sponsored by Invisalign.

Jack is in the process of using Invisalign to straighten his teeth, and Invisalign is providing treatment in exchange for our honest thoughts and experiences. 

Make sure to keep your mouth, aligners, and teeth all squeaky clean and healthy with these tips and tricks. Remember, it’s important to clean your trays properly so they’re not damaged or weakened in the process! 
 

How to Clean Invisalign

If you’ve ever started an Invisalign journey you probably know that they’ll have to come out and be cleaned several times during the day for eating as well as a deeper clean daily. 

Figuring out how to clean your Invisalign retainers is an important part of caring for your aligners. Let’s take a look at some of the do’s and don’ts associated with cleaning your Invisalign trays.

Cleaning Invisalign Trays Do’s: 

DO clean your Invisalign retainers once a day. The best ways to clean them are with specified retainer soaking products OR with a soft bristle toothbrush and a clear liquid soap. 

DO soak them. A great DIY soak for a squeaky clean Invisalign aligners is equal parts lukewarm water and white distilled vinegar. 15 – 30 minutes (maybe while you’re eating dinner) will do the trick! 

DO check packages. If you do select a store bought soak for your Invisalign trays make sure it is specifically designed for retainers. Something designed for dentures is not a great idea for your clear plastic retainers.

Cleaning Invisalign Retainers Don’ts:

You should never use an abrasive cleaner on your aligners. Something too coarse or stiff can scratch or damage your Invisalign trays. 

Another big don’t is mouthwash. It can seem like a great idea because the alcohol will kill the germs, right? Nope! Soaking them in mouthwash is not good for their structure and it won’t do a good job of eliminating buildup or germs. 

Finally, remember that toothpaste is not designed to clean your Invisalign retainers. Just like with dentures, it can be abrasive and cause more places for germs to build up and grow. 

Are you thinking about Invisalign® Treatment for someone in your family? I highly recommend it, and am happy to answer any questions you have! 

This content was originally published here.

This new study shows listening to heavy metal is good for your health

heavy metal health study-min

It’s no secret most of us often turn to music to relieve stress, reduce anxiety and escape life’s demands. For all of you metalheads out there, that means rocking out to bands such as Iron Maiden, Metallica, Black Sabbath and Pantera.

However, a new study has reportedly found that blasting heavy metal music may be better for your health than you realize. According to a study conducted by the Vera Clinic, listening to heavy metal music can reportedly lower blood pressure and heart rate and reduce anxiety.

Read more: You can spend the night in the ‘Silence Of The Lambs’ house—here’s how

For the study, Vera Clinic, a Turkish hair transplant and rhinoplasty practice, had 1,540 volunteers between the ages of 18-65 take part in non-verbal reasoning tests designed to produce lower stress levels. Participants listened to a specific soundtrack that was made up of various Spotify playlists. Then, they were fitted with heart rate and blood pressure monitors and recorded their health stats throughout the study.

Researchers found that heavy metal was the second most effective genre at reducing anxiety. In fact, 89 percent of participants reported a decrease in their blood pressure levels. As well, their heart rates dropped by an average of 18 percent.

It turns out, the ’80s pop music playlisthad the greatest impact on participants. According to the study, participants saw a 36 percent decrease in heart rate. Meanwhile, 96 percent of individuals reported a drop in blood pressure while listening to this playlist.

Read more: This MGK and YUNGBLUD collab gets 11 pop-punk renditions in new cover

For Doctor Avlanmış, who led the study, they noted a key observation about heavy metal music.

“In terms of heavy metal, I’d observe that angry music can help listeners process their feelings. And as a result lead to greater well-being.”

All of the findings from the recent heavy metal study can be viewed via MetalSucks here.

Over the years, various music studies have been conducted. As it turns out, researchers have found out just how much heavy metal music can impact listeners. Back in 2015, one study suggested that metal music can actually make people calmer. Meanwhile, in 2018, another study reportedly found that metal music can be good for listeners’ brains.

Read more: grandson gives “Dirty” a vibrant new spin in this live performance—watch

More recently, a 2019 study found that listening to heavy metal music while in the car can apparently make you a bad driver. As well, another 2019 study concluded that listening to heavy metal music doesn’t really cause violent behavior or lack of empathy.

What are your reactions to the study’s findings of heavy metal music’s impact on health? Let us know in the comments below.

The post This new study shows listening to heavy metal is good for your health appeared first on Alternative Press.

This content was originally published here.

Diversity, enthusiasm … dentistry: Hong Kong literary festival lauded as one of the world’s best by authors | South China Morning Post

Author Jeong Yu-jeong of South Korean at a book signing at last year’s Hong Kong International Literary Festival. Photo: Isaac Lawrence
Author Jeong Yu-jeong of South Korean at a book signing at last year’s Hong Kong International Literary Festival. Photo: Isaac Lawrence

This content was originally published here.

COVID-19 pandemic fuels attacks on health workers globally

Two Nigerian nurses were attacked by the family of a deceased COVID-19 patient. One nurse had her hair ripped out and suffered a fracture. The second was beaten into a coma.

Following the assaults, nurses at Federal Medical Centre in the Southwestern city of Owo stopped treating patients, demanding the hospital improve security. Almost two weeks passed before they returned to work with armed guards posted around the clock.

“We don’t give life. It is God that gives life. We only care or we manage,” said Francis Ajibola, a local leader with the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives.

The attack in Nigeria early last month was just one of many on health workers globally during the COVID-19 pandemic. A new report by the Geneva-based Insecurity Insight and the University of California, Berkeley’s Human Rights Center identified more than 1,100 threats or acts of violence against health care workers and facilities last year.

Researchers found that about 400 of those attacks were related to COVID-19, many motivated by fear or frustration, underscoring the dangers surrounding health care workers at a time when they are needed most. Insecurity Insight defines a health care attack as any physical violence against or intimidation of health care workers or settings, and uses online news agencies, humanitarian groups and social media posts to track incidents around the world.

“Our jobs in the emergency department and in hospitals have gotten exponentially more stressful and harder, and that’s at baseline even when people are super supportive,” said Rohini Haar, an emergency physician in Oakland, California, and Human Rights Center research fellow. “To do that work and to do it with commitment while being attacked or with the fear of being attacked is heartbreaking to me.”

Medical professionals from surgeons to paramedics have long confronted injury or intimidation on the job, especially in conflict zones. Experts say many attacks are rooted in fear or mistrust, as family members react to a relative’s death or a community responds to uncertainty around a disease. The coronavirus has amplified those tensions.

Ligia Kantún has worked as a nurse for 40 years in Mexico and never felt threatened until last spring. As she was leaving a hospital in Merida in April, she heard someone shout the word “Infected!” She was drenched in hot coffee before she could turn around.

“When I got home 10 minutes later my daughter was waiting for me and I hugged her crying, all scared, thinking, ‘How is it possible that they have done this to me?’” she told The Associated Press.

Kantún said many people in Mexico at the time thought health workers wore the same uniforms in public that they wore when treating coronavirus patients. “That ignorance was what made them act that way,” she said.

Researchers saw the most attacks last spring and summer as the coronavirus swept across the globe. Yet recent events from Nigeria to the Netherlands, where in January rioters set fire to a coronavirus testing center, prove the threat remains.

Haar said she expected health care workers to be widely celebrated for their lifesaving work during the pandemic, just as Italians sang tributes to doctors during the lockdown.

“But actually that didn’t happen in many, many places,” she said. “There’s actually more fear, more distrust, and attacks grew rather than decreased.”

Many attacks may have gone undetected because they are never reported to police or in the media. Insecurity Insight scrambled to expand its monitoring as a flood of attacks were detected in countries that have traditionally been safe for health workers, said director Christina Wille.

In the United States, for example, researchers counted about a dozen threats to health care workers last year. Several incidents involved the injury or arrest of street medics during Black Lives Matter protests.

“I think in the U.S. the culture has been more of trusting health workers,” Haar, the emergency physician, said. “There hasn’t been a longstanding conflict where there’s been a dissonance between health workers and the community.”

Yet health workers in the U.S. are still subject to great risk. Hospital employees in the U.S. are nearly six times as likely as the average worker to be the victim of an intentional injury, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and last month a Minnesota medical assistant was killed during a shooting at a clinic by a former patient unhappy with his treatment.

Misinformation has spurred violence in some cases. Wille said her team looked closely at social media postings in April after three Ebola treatment centers were ransacked in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We could actually see that there was a build-up over several days of misinformation about what they call the ‘Ebola business,’ that this was all related to people inventing the disease,” she said.

Experts say that even though health workers are in many cases the target of attacks, entire communities suffer when they lose access to medical care after a clinic or medical facility is forced to close due to threats.

“You’re robbing the community of the service they would have provided,” said Nyka Alexander, who leads the World Health Organization’s communications on health emergencies.

With or without a pandemic, the most dangerous places for health workers are often areas of conflict and political upheaval. Last year, hundreds of threats and acts of violence were tracked in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Naser Almhawish, surveillance coordinator for Syria’s Early Warning Alert and Response Network, said he faced threats several times while working as a doctor in the city of Raqqa. He recalled the day in 2012 at Ar-Raqqa National Hospital when armed men confronted him in the middle of an operation, saying they’d kill him if the patient died.

“You just freeze and you know that you are working and you are trying to save this guy,” he said. “This is our duty. I didn’t ask if this guy was a military, civilian or anything. He’s a human being who needed an operation.”

Almhawish said such attacks on health care settings in Syria had waned in the last year. Researchers said declining violence in the country was the reason they didn’t see a greater surge in total health care attacks in 2020.

Kantún, the nurse in Mexico, said she went almost eight months after the attack last April without wearing her nursing scrubs in public. Now, one year into the pandemic, she feels health workers are more respected. But she still worries.

“I’ve had that fear of going out and finding my car scratched, or my car window broken,” she said. “I do have that fear, since I lived it.”

Helen Wieffering is a Roy W. Howard Fellow. Joshua Housing is an investigative fellow on the global investigative team.

Contributing to this report are AP video journalist Federica Narancio and Anne Daugherty and Devon Lum at the University of California, Berkeley Human Rights Center Investigations Lab.

This content was originally published here.

A GOP Senator Just Compared Trans Health Care to ‘Genital Mutilation’

She’s set to be the highest-profile trans government official in U.S. history. So Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul used the Senate confirmation hearing for Dr. Rachel Levine to falsely compare gender-affirming health care to genital mutilation.

“Most genital mutilation is not typically performed by force but, as WHO notes, that by social convention, social norm, the social pressure to conform, to do what others do and have been doing as well as the need to be accepted socially and the fear of being rejected by the community,”  Paul told Levine, a Pennsylvania pediatrician and health official who has been nominated to become President Joe Biden’s assistant health secretary. 

“American culture is now normalizing the idea that minors could be given hormones to prevent their biological development of their secondary sexual characteristics,” he said. “Dr. Levine, do you believe that minors are capable of making such a life-changing decision as changing one’s sex?”

He didn’t ask a single question about the pandemic that’s claimed more than 500,000 Americans’ lives. Instead, he mischaracterized how gender-affirming care works and downplayed the discrimination facing trans and nonbinary people in favor of amplifying an effort, currently popular among state-level conservatives, that would deprive trans kids of health care.

Levine didn’t react to the provocation. If confirmed, she would be the first openly trans person to be confirmed by the Senate. 

“Transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed,” she told the Republican senator. She said that she’d be happy to work with Rand and discuss the issue. 

Rand accused her of evading the question. He later thundered, “We should be outraged that someone’s talking to a three-year-old about changing their sex.”

Beyond his apparent assumption that the words “sex” and “gender” are synonymous—they are not—Rand’s suggestion that Americans are now “normalizing” gender-affirming care ignored the reality that trans and nonbinary children face high levels of discrimination. About 78 percent of trans students report being discriminated against at school, according to a 2017 survey of more than 23,000 students by GLSEN; about 70 percent of gender-queer and non-binary students said the same. In that same survey, almost half of all trans kids said that they’d missed or changed schools because of fears for their safety.

This demographic also faces devastatingly high rates of suicide attempts. More than half of trans male and 30 percent of trans female teenagers said that they’d tried to end their lives, according to a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2018. More than 40 percent of nonbinary teens also said they’d attempted suicide.

Puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormone therapy may be able to save these kids’ lives: Research indicates that they improve trans and nonbinary kids’ mental health. The average risk of suicide for trans children fell by about 75 percent after spending a year on gender-affirming hormone therapy, according to a Trevor Project research brief.

Medical professionals are, for the record, not performing surgery or giving hormones to three-year-olds. But major medical organizations do support trans kids’ rights to gender-affirming, inclusive health care and have done so for years. In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that trans and gender-diverse kids have “access to comprehensive, gender-affirming, and developmentally appropriate health care that is provided in a safe and inclusive clinical space.” 

Rand’s focus on trans children’s bodies echoed an ongoing, nationwide conservative attempt to restrict trans’ kids lives by blocking them from gender-affirming care and participating in sports that match their gender identity. So far this year, legislators in 16 states have introduced 19 bills that would block trans kids from receiving gender-affirming care, according to a tally by the ACLU.

Biden has promised to make his cabinet the most diverse in U.S. history, but many of his nominees—and particularly the women of color—are now facing pushback in the Senate. 

Rep. Deb Haaland, a Democrat from New Mexico who would be the first Native American to lead the Department of the Interior, has been attacked for being too “radical.” Neera Tanden would be the first Indian American to head the Office of Management and Budget, but she’s run into trouble due to her history of attacking prominent officials on Twitter.

This content was originally published here.

Zimmer Biomet dental unit to distribute Invisalign maker’s intraoral scanners | MedTech Dive

Dive Brief:

Dive Insight:

Zimmer Biomet executives touted “continued improvement” in the dental business on its most recent earnings call, with CEO Bryan Hanson telling investors the unit “has been gaining traction over the last few quarters.” The business markets dental implants, as well as sutures and putty.

But on a year-over-year basis, dental sales declined from $428 million in 2016, to $419 million in 2017, to $411 million last year. A Wall Street Journal report from March 2018 said Zimmer Biomet was considering divesting the dental business altogether.

Zimmer Biomet’s most recent annual report said it competes primarily with Danaher’s Nobel Biocare, Dentsply Sirona and Swiss manufacturer Straumann in the dental implant market. It attributed the continued slide in sales in 2018 to “ongoing competitive challenges in the U.S. and EMEA and restructuring of our dental organization in certain European markets.”

The agreement with Align “expands Zimmer Biomet’s global footprint in the rapidly growing market for digital restorative dentistry solutions,” the medtech said in its announcement.

For Align, the deal comes after recently public teledentistry company SmileDirectClub served as a bit of a boon and a bane. The two companies struck a deal in 2016 for Align to become SDC’s exclusive third-party supplier of non-Invisalign clear aligners. But the business partners have since had disputes. An arbitration decision in March forced Align to close its piloted Invisalign stores due to non-compete provisions.

Align is optimistic about the potential of the Zimmer partnership for its scanner business.

“Through this partnership, the iTero scanner becomes the preferred intraoral scanner used in the U.S. and European Zimmer Biomet Institutes, which train thousands of dental professionals annually,” said Yuval Shaked, senior vice president of iTero Scanner and Services.

Also this week, Danaher dental spinout Envista priced its initial public offering, which it said is expected to close Friday. Danaher’s plans to have its dental businesses form a separate publicly traded company were first announced last July.

This content was originally published here.

Support Birmingham at Magic City Dentistry’s food drive in December for a chance to win big

Sponsored

Donate non-perishable items at the Vulcan statue at Magic City Dentistry for a chance to win big! Photo via Nathan Watson for BhamNow

Throughout December, Magic City Dentistry is hosting a food drive to support Alabamians through Community Food Bank of Central Alabama. Read on to see how you can win big while supporting your community.

Win Big By Supporting Alabamians

Magic City Dentistry
Next time you visit Magic City Dentistry, you might see Saban or another one of Bham’s dogs hanging out! Photo via Magic City Dentistry

“When we were developing this practice, we knew that we wanted to connect to this community that we love.  We are always looking for ways to do that.  Donating food during this time of year is a no brainer, is easy, and makes you feel good!”

Kristye Dixon, Practice Manager

If you’ve been here for a while, you know that Birmingham is essentially a small-town community in a big-city environment.

Being part of a small town means looking out for your neighbor, especially during the holiday season. So, Magic City Dentistry is collecting cans, dried food, and other non-perishable items to donate to the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama.

From now until December 31, bring in any nonperishable food item to their office at 2117 1st Avenue North, Birmingham, Alabama 35203

When you donate an item to the food drive, you will be entered to win in a drawing held on January 6th.  The winner will get to choose between either a Zoom In-office teeth whitening OR a teeth cleaning and check up!

Community Food Bank of Central Alabama

Food Bank
Donations to the Community Food Bank help kids just like these have full bellies. Photo via Community Food Bank of Central Alabama

Helping out your fellow Alabamians is as simple as picking up an extra can or two when you go grocery shopping. By supporting the Community Food Bank, you’re helping thousands of Alabamians get the food they need.

The Community Food Bank supplies millions of meals each year by donating to 230 food pantries, shelters and children’s programs. These donations serve 60,000-80,000 Alabamians each month.

What Should I Bring?

You can help cover Vulcan in cans by donating to Magic City Dentistry in December. Photo via Nathan Watson for BhamNow

Since high-protein foods help families create filling meals, seeking quality canned foods is better than just grabbing a random can from the shelf. But if you feel lost in the grocery store (like me), here’s a handy list of high-quality canned foods to bring to a drive:

  • Tuna, salmon, chicken and other meats
  • Beans
  • Soups and stews
  • Canned chili
  • Low-sodium vegetables
  • Pasta or rice
  • Canned or dried fruit
  • Cereal, oatmeal, or grits

Want to support the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama, but can’t make it out to Magic City Dentistry? Donate online.

Cover Vulcan in Canned Food

Sonia Summer’s design for Vulcans on Parade, displayed at Magic City Dentistry. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now.

When you walk into Magic City Dentistry, Sonia Summer’s design for Vulcans on Parade is the first thing you’ll notice.

During the food drive, all donations will be stored around Vulcan. Although there is a lot of space, how incredible would it be to completely cover Vulcan with donated food?

Address: 2117 1st Avenue North, Birmingham, Alabama 35203

So, next time you visit the grocery store, consider picking up an extra can or two. Then, bring them to Magic City Dentistry and help cover Vulcan. By donating to the food drive, you can win a Zoom teeth whitening or a teeth cleaning and checkup! Your donation will help an Alabama family stay full during the Holiday season.

Be sure to snap a pic with as you cover Magic City Dentistry’s Vulcan with canned food and tag @bhamnow!

Sponsored by:

The post Support Birmingham at Magic City Dentistry’s food drive in December for a chance to win big appeared first on Bham Now.

This content was originally published here.

Why Are So Many Health-Care Workers Resisting the Coronavirus Vaccine? | The New Yorker

Tiffany Chance has worked as a certified nursing assistant since 2005. As an African-American woman in her mid-thirties, Chance typifies the demographics of her profession: most C.N.A.s are young, over a third are Black, ninety per cent are women. She was born and raised in Ohio, and for years worked at a single nursing facility. When the pandemic started and nursing homes faced dire personnel shortages, as many employees contracted the virus or quit in fear of it, Chance started picking up scattered shifts through IntelyCare, a staffing agency that allows health-care workers to choose jobs the way that Uber drivers accept riders. She often works six shifts a week, eight or twelve hours each, across several nursing homes.

When considering a shift, Chance, who has asthma, tries to choose nursing homes without active coronavirus spread. This information, however, is self-reported, and there’s often a delay. “I’d pick a place that said they don’t have the virus, then I’d show up and they’d say, ‘Actually, some of these people have COVID,’ ” Chance told me. In early October, she scheduled a shift at a new facility, which, she was told, had no coronavirus-positive residents; she was given a surgical mask, not an N95 respirator. A week later, as she started to develop a runny nose, she received a call: a resident had tested positive. Soon, her breathing worsened. “God, it was terrible,” she said. “It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. I couldn’t walk an inch without getting out of breath.” Chance couldn’t work for weeks; during that time, she received no sick pay. She tried to sign up for food stamps and unemployment benefits, but “I had to jump through so many hoops. They wanted my medical records, my test result, my pay stub, my last employer. I’m thinking, What does my last employer have to do with this? I need help right now!” She tried to e-mail the paperwork, but was told it would take longer to process than if she dropped it off. “I’m, like, I can’t drop it off, I have COVID.” As the weeks wore on, she turned to family for help with food and money for rent. “I kept thinking, You work this hard, you care for so many people. And when you get sick, this is how you’re treated.”

While navigating these bureaucratic hurdles, Chance’s symptoms worsened; during one especially rough night, she considered going to the hospital. But the following morning her breathing eased, and slowly it returned to normal. Chance is convinced that her illness didn’t get worse only because, a few years ago, she’d received the pneumonia vaccine. “I really think it helped,” she said. “That vaccine saved me.”

Chance doesn’t want a coronavirus vaccine. (Because it’s not known how long naturally acquired immunity lasts, the C.D.C. recommends that people who have already had the virus still get vaccinated.) I asked her how she has come to believe that one vaccine saved her life but another threatens her health. The vaccine “came out too fast,” she said. “I think they removed a lot of barriers to get it done faster.” She continued, “It’s not that I don’t believe they’re trying to do a good job. I think they have awesome scientists working really hard. I applaud them for doing what they’re doing. I just don’t believe there’s been enough research yet. There’s no way they’ve been studying it for long enough.” Beyond the speed of development, Chance has questions—about how long vaccine-generated immunity lasts, about how serious the long-term side effects might be, and about what could happen if the virus mutates further. Until these questions are answered to her satisfaction, she has no plans to get immunized. “I’m not saying never,” Chance told me. “I’m just saying not now.”

Like Chance, Kia Cooper has been a certified nursing assistant for nearly two decades. She works in and around Philadelphia; early in the pandemic, she would split her time between traditional nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. She prefers the latter. “Nursing homes give you too many patients, and they are much more dependent on you for everything—dressing, bathing, feeding, transport,” she said. “It’s backbreaking work.” In Cooper’s experience, it’s not unusual for a single C.N.A. to care for twenty nursing-home residents at a time. One evening in the spring, she arrived for an overnight shift to find that the other C.N.A.s scheduled to work hadn’t shown up. “It was me and two nurses for fifty residents,” she said. “The charge nurse kept calling people to try to get them to come in but no one responded.”

Cooper now prefers to work in home care and assisted-living facilities, where the residents require less support; she’s found four assisted-living facilities on the outskirts of Philadelphia that she likes. Recently, a previous employer offered her a chance to get vaccinated. She passed. “I’m not totally against it,” she said. “But it was so rushed. I want to wait and see how others do.” Her experience with a health-care industry that seems to put profits over the interests of patients and staff—that denies hazard pay, that fails to provide adequate protective equipment—also contributes to her hesitancy. “I do wonder if it’s a money thing,” she told me. “These are big companies trying to force these products on everyone. You have to wonder, Are they doing it for us or are they just trying to make money?”

Destiny Hankins, a licensed practical nurse from Tennessee, currently working in Ohio, shares these concerns. “Sometimes, it feels like no one cares about us,” she said. “I’ve worked in places where pretty much the whole staff walked out because the facility lied to us. They said there was no COVID when there was. They didn’t give us P.P.E. They didn’t have the decency to be straight with us.” During the pandemic, Hankins has been sleeping in her garage to avoid infecting her twelve-year-old daughter, who has epilepsy, and her fiancé, who has an autoimmune condition. She told me that she’s managed to stay safe by adhering to a mantra she’s dubbed the “three ‘P’s”: prayer, precautions, and P.P.E. When the vaccines first became available, she decided that she didn’t want to get immunized. She thought that the vaccines might contain live virus, which would pose a threat to her family; she saw a video of a woman who, after receiving the vaccine, claimed that she was unable to move properly. She heard from some colleagues and acquaintances that the vaccine contained microchips. Eventually, she learned more, and decided that she wanted the shot. But because she works part time at several facilities, and full time at none, she hasn’t been able to get one.

Despite confronting the damage of COVID-19 firsthand—and doing work that puts them and their families at high risk—health-care workers express similar levels of vaccine hesitancy as people in the general population. Recent surveys suggest that, over all, around a third of health-care workers are reluctant to get vaccinated against COVID-19. (Around one in five Americans say they probably or definitely won’t get vaccinated; nationwide, hesitancy is more common among Republicans, rural residents, and people of color.) The rates are higher in certain regions, professions, and racial groups. Black health-care workers, for instance, are more likely to have tested positive for the virus, but less likely to want a vaccine. (Thirty-five per cent turned down a first dose.) Compared with doctors and nurses, other health professionals—E.M.T.s, home health aides, therapists—are generally less likely to say that they’ll get immunized, and a recent survey of C.N.A.s found that nearly three-quarters were hesitant to get the vaccine.

At Yale-New Haven hospital, ninety per cent of medical residents chose to get the vaccine immediately, but only forty-two per cent of workers in environmental services and thirty-three per cent of food-service workers did. The problem may be most pressing in nursing homes. In December, the governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, said that sixty per cent of the state’s nursing-home staff had declined the vaccine; in North Carolina, the number is estimated to be more than fifty per cent. According to the C.E.O. of PruittHealth—an organization that runs about a hundred long-term-care facilities across the South—seventy per cent of employees in those facilities declined the first dose.

This hesitancy is less outright rejection than cautious skepticism. It’s driven by suspicions about the evidence supporting the new vaccines and about the motives of those endorsing them. The astonishing speed of vaccine development has made science a victim of its own success: after being told that it takes years, if not decades, to develop vaccines, many health-care workers are reluctant to accept one that sprinted from conception to injection in less than eleven months. They simply want to wait—to see longer-term safety data, or at least to find out how their colleagues fare after inoculation.

Another major hurdle is mistrust of both the political and the health-care systems. The problem is most acute in historically marginalized communities, which already live with racial disparities in life expectancy, maternal mortality, access to medical care, representation in clinical trials, informed consent, the physician workforce, and COVID-19 outcomes. And it’s exacerbated among health-care workers who are underappreciated and poorly paid. “In many cases, vaccine hesitancy is not a lack-of-information problem, it’s a lack-of-trust problem,” David Grabowski, a professor of health-care policy at Harvard, told me. “Staff doesn’t trust leadership. They have a real skepticism of government. They haven’t gotten hazard pay. They haven’t gotten P.P.E. They haven’t gotten respect. Should we be surprised that they’re skeptical of something that feels like it’s being forced on them?”

Health-care leaders have resorted to various carrots and sticks to get their employees vaccinated. Given the newness of the vaccines and the lack of long-term safety data, most employers have opted to encourage—not mandate—vaccination; some have offered cash bonuses, days off, even Waffle House gift certificates. (“If that doesn’t get you in line, I don’t know what will,” the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, said.) But officials at some organizations have started mandating vaccination. (The law generally allows companies to pursue compulsory vaccination, and recently the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission signalled that employers might begin requiring it for the coronavirus.) “I have very mixed feelings about mandates,” Grabowski said. “I see this a lot on Twitter: just mandate the vaccine and good riddance. Putting the ethical issues aside, the people who say that have no understanding of the labor market here. It’s a very fluid workforce. A number of employees would just say, ‘No thanks,’ and nursing homes would be even more understaffed than they already are. That’s a very dangerous place to be.”

Relative to the staff, nursing-home residents have very high levels of vaccine acceptance—above ninety per cent in many places. This is good news, considering the devastation that COVID-19 has visited upon these facilities. So far, nursing homes and long-term-care facilities have accounted for some hundred and forty thousand COVID-19 deaths—forty per cent of the total U.S. death toll, though these facilities represent only five per cent of the country’s cases. But, even in nursing homes, vaccination efforts have not proceeded with the requisite urgency. In the month after the vaccines were released, less than a quarter of the doses made available for nursing-homes were administered; even today, nearly a quarter of residents of long-term-care facilities have not received their first dose of a vaccine, according to the C.D.C.

In most states, CVS and Walgreens, in partnership with the federal government, are responsible for vaccinating people in long-term-care facilities. The federal government sends vaccines to the states, which allocate doses to nursing homes; teams from the pharmacy giants then visit the facilities on pre-specified days. In mid-December, Alex Azar, the head of Health and Human Services in the Trump Administration, suggested that all nursing-home residents could have their first dose by Christmas. But, even before Azar spoke, many states had informed the C.D.C. that their programs responsible for nursing-home vaccinations wouldn’t be active until at least December 28th. Four weeks later, some facilities are still waiting for their first appointment.

“It’s worth saying that this was never going to be easy,” Grabowski told me. “Given the number of facilities and the population you’re dealing with, it was always going to be an operations and logistics nightmare. You can’t just set up a drive-through or bring people to Dodger Stadium en masse. You have to go to every facility, make sure every resident has a chance to get vaccinated—that requires very high levels of management and coördination.” The speed of vaccinations has been further complicated by what some believe is unnecessary paperwork, including, for example, gaining written consent from residents, many of whom have dementia or other cognitive deficits. Large pharmacies also don’t have established relationships with care facilities and cannot use nursing-home staff to help administer the vaccines. “If you talk to them, I think they’d tell you that things are actually proceeding according to schedule,” Grabowski said. “It’s just a slow schedule.”

Some states have opted out of the program. West Virginia has relied on local pharmacies, in addition to the big chains, to administer vaccines; by the end of December, the state had the highest nursing-home-vaccination rate in the country—all two hundred and fourteen facilities had been offered the vaccine, and more than eighty per cent of residents in two hundred homes had received their first dose. Nationwide, each CVS or Walgreens is responsible for vaccinating around twenty-five nursing homes; in West Virginia, there are more pharmacies than nursing homes participating in the vaccination program. Many nursing-home residents in West Virginia received their second dose before those in other states got their first.

Kimberly Delbo has been the director of nursing services and innovation at an assisted-living facility in central Pennsylvania for three years. Delbo takes great pride in the culture that she’s helped create. “We’re a small, tight-knit family,” Delbo told me. “The most important thing we can do as an organization is make sure people know that we truly care about them.” In an industry where a fifty-per-cent annual staff-turnover rate is not uncommon, Delbo’s facility did not lose a single employee in 2019; last year, it had a ninety-per-cent retention rate. During the pandemic, employees have had access not only to adequate protective gear but also to what she calls the “health-care heroes’ room,” complete with a massage chair, aromatherapy, antioxidant drinks, and fresh fruits and vegetables. “They work hard,” she said. “They deserve a tranquil environment.”

Around Thanksgiving, the facility had a coronavirus outbreak in which nearly one in seven residents and half of the staff were infected. One woman—a C.N.A. for more than forty years—contracted the coronavirus and lost her husband and her father within the same month. “She still came back to work,” Delbo said. “She said, ‘This is what I’m made for.’ When you see that kind of resilience, it’s truly humbling. You think, These are the real heroes.” To manage the staff shortage, Delbo lengthened shifts from eight to twelve hours, and reached out to contacts in the state’s health department to arrange emergency staffing. Her son, also a nurse, took time away from his regular job to help out. “It sounds bad—and it was—but, compared to some other facilities, we were relatively spared,” Delbo said.

In early December, Delbo was told that her facility would be vaccinated by the end of the month. As the New Year approached, however, the projected date was revised to mid-January. She sent some staff members to a local hospital to see if they could get immunized; it wasn’t until January 23rd that the pharmacy team finally delivered the first doses to her facility. “The vaccine-distribution process has been very discouraging,” she told me. “It was presented one way on paper but turned out to be completely different in reality.” The residents at her facility are aged seventy-eight to a hundred and eight. “You would think this is a priority population,” she said. “We were like sitting ducks, just praying we could dodge the bullet of another outbreak. We were watching as the general public started getting vaccines, and we were still waiting.”

Like staff at nursing homes across the country, those at Delbo’s facility are split on whether to get vaccinated. “I have a staff member who’s been with us for twenty years and said, ‘Can I be the first person to get it?’ ” Delbo said. “But others are very unsure about it. They ask me, ‘Kim, what do you think about this vaccine? Is it safe?’ ” Delbo has made educating residents and staff a central priority. “We’ve been very proactive about building confidence in it, about getting them the facts, about debunking conspiracy theories and social-media myths,” she said. “We can engage in this dialogue because they trust us. I think what’s important for people to understand is that you don’t build trust in a day and you don’t build it for a specific purpose. We’ve been investing in trust for years. We were doing this before the pandemic, and we’ll do it after.”

This content was originally published here.

As Health Officials Resign, Cuomo Says He Doesn’t Trust The Experts

“Trust the science.” “Listen to the experts.” These were the media’s mantras in 2020. Oh, and one other one: “Cuomo is so competent.” Today we know, as many long suspected, that the last one is not at all compatible with the first two. The New York Times reports that nine top New York state health officials resigned in recent months, citing Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the reason why.

On Friday, Cuomo had this to say about the experts: “When I say ‘experts’ in air quotes, it sounds like I’m saying I don’t really trust the experts. Because I don’t. Because I don’t.” Can you imagine if Donald Trump had said that at any point during the pandemic? The entire staff of CNN would have had a collective mental breakdown. Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s head would have exploded on live TV.

The statement comes a week after a bombshell New York attorney general report indicated Cuomo has undercounted deaths in nursing homes and engaged in a cover-up regarding his own role in those deaths. In addition, New York’s initial vaccine rollout — which was basically a result of Cuomo rolling up his sleeves and saying, “Step aside, college boy,” to his health officials — was an abject disaster.

And all of this from the man who in the spring was declared the most effective leader in America by much of the media. Take this headline from a Jennifer Rubin article in the Washington Post: “Andrew Cuomo gets it right: Govern by science, not your gut.”

Here is CNN’s Chris Cillizza back in May: “What the future holds for Cuomo is hard to predict. But what’s far clearer is that Cuomo’s competent and, at times, charismatic handling of the coronavirus crisis in his state has made him one of the most popular politicians in America today.”

And here is his headline from Jan. 28, even before today’s New York Times reporting: “Andrew Cuomo’s Covid-19 performance may have been less stellar than it seemed.” Ya think, Chris? Ya think? The list of major mistakes made by our media during the pandemic could stretch around the Earth several times over, but the adoration of the Cuomo is emerging as one of the absolute worst.

This is because the unserious and non-curious coverage of the Empire State’s governor was driven, like so much else, by little more than hatred of Donald Trump. It was never about science or experts. Trump didn’t have nine top officials resign because he refused to listen to them. In fact, Anthony Fauci, who now seems to enjoy throwing Trump under the bus, has said in the past that Trump did whatever he asked him to. In retrospect, that might have been Trump’s biggest mistake.

The fact that the media’s coverage was driven first and foremost by a desire to make Trump look bad affected far more than just their genuflections to Emperor Cuomo. If you think that schools being closed, restaurants at limited capacity at best, a devastated travel industry, and a whole host of other horribles might be related to a year of anti-Trump pandemic coverage, you are exactly right.

Governors such as Florida’s Ron DeSantis and South Dakota’s Kristi Noem have objectively better records both in terms of coronavirus deaths and obviously in terms of state economies that they didn’t choose to grind into a fine dust. Yet month after month, we heard little except what monsters they were, monsters that wouldn’t listen to the science. Now who didn’t listen to the science?

In a strange way, Cuomo himself is a victim of the media here. They don’t care about him; they never actually liked him that much. They just used him to make the other guy look bad. Now, with Cuomo having served his purpose, his sycophants in the press are happily flaming him for clicks or a good headline. I can’t feel sorry for him; his choices were his own, but one can’t help wonder if they might have been a little different had the media been honest with us and with him.

What we are learning as Trump recedes from power and the media resumes some modicum of truth-telling is just how badly they lied to us for over a year now. People have been destroyed because of it. Now as the corporate press happily flicks the halo from atop Saint Andrew’s head with their finger, the truth is coming out. It is far too late. And the people of America, not just New York, have every reason to be very, very angry about it.

This content was originally published here.

Women’s Equality Day and progress in dentistry

One hundred years ago, the 19th Amendment was adopted. Women were finally given the right to vote, which was a centerpiece of the first women’s rights movement. Today, this milestone is commemorated as Women’s Equality Day, celebrated every year on Aug. 26 since 1971. Albeit difficult, women have risen to achievements beyond our wildest dreams. We’ve reached for the stars, literally, making an impact in all industries and professions, from engineering, science and technology, publishing, health care and so much more.

For me, dentistry provides a career that allows me to make an impact by fostering meaningful relationships with my patients, thus improving their health, and many women are choosing this field with the same mindset. According to the ADA Health Policy Institute, in 2018, nearly 50% of dental school graduates were women; this number was a mere 11% in 1978. When asked why she chose dentistry, Brianne Schmiegelow (Missouri-Kansas City ’21) stated, “I wanted the freedom to spend time with my family and friends and to have a life outside of my career, while still being able to make a lasting impact on my community through my work.” 

While so many women have paved the way for us and made great strides in dentistry, such as Lucy Hobbs Taylor, Ida Gray, M. Evangeline Jordon and so many others, there are still times when we encounter people who challenge or doubt our abilities. On her external rotation, Taylor Little (Missouri-Kirksville ’21) experienced a patient who left the office because she was not a male provider. While most reactions are usually not this strong, Little says she recognizes she may be the first female provider some patients have ever had. To her, this presents a unique opportunity to bond with the patient and showcase her skills. For a fellow classmate of mine, she shared the experience of having interviewers ask her questions about family style and time commitment — all based on her gender. Sometimes it feels as if women can be shamed for desiring a powerful career or that some of society assumes we all want to be wives and mothers and do not think we could have time for both if we do. Progress is progress, but it has been slow, and while this can be discouraging, we can remember our advocates and support systems.

When asked what Women’s Equality Day means to him, Dr. Dylan Weber (Missouri-Kansas City ’20) stated that it’s the “recognition and celebration of the unique and innate power of all women. As a male dentist, I strive to contribute to a practice environment where my co-doc and mentor receives the same level of respect I do for merely being born male. This carries to the collective of our all-women staff who have been incredible in my introduction to dentistry in private practice.”

Women’s Equality Day means a lot of different things to a lot of people. For some, it’s a celebration of how far we’ve come; it is a remembrance of those who have paved the way to create these vast opportunities we sometimes take for granted. For others, it’s a reminder of how far we still have to go. The world isn’t perfect — and it won’t ever be — but we can take this time to remember those who came before us and to continue to push for equality, justice and peace.

~Alyssa Kieschnick, Missouri-Kansas City ’21, District 8 Wellness Chair

This content was originally published here.