December 2, 2021

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Dental

2 min read

William Stork needs a tooth out. That’s what the 71-year-old retired truck driver’s dentist told him during a recent checkup.

That kind of extraction requires an oral surgeon, which could cost him around $1,000 because, like most seniors, Stork does not have dental insurance, and Medicare won’t cover his dental bills. Between Social Security and his pension from the Teamsters union, Stork said, he lives comfortably in Cedar Hill, Missouri, about 30 miles southwest of St. Louis. But that cost is significant enough that he’s decided to wait until the tooth absolutely must come out.

Stork’s predicament is at the heart of a long-simmering rift within the dental profession that has reemerged as a battle over how to add dental coverage to Medicare, the public insurance program for people 65 and older — if a benefit can pass at all.

Health equity advocates see President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide dental coverage to those on Medicare, nearly half of whom did not visit a dentist in 2018, well before the pandemic paused dental appointments for many. The rates were even higher for Black (68%), Hispanic (61%) and low-income (73%) seniors.

The coverage was left out of a new framework announced by President Joe Biden on Thursday, but proponents still hope they can get the coverage in a final agreement. Complicating their push is a debate over how many of the nation’s more than 60 million Medicare beneficiaries should receive it.

Champions for covering everyone on Medicare find themselves up against an unlikely adversary: the American Dental Association, which is backing an alternative plan to give dental benefits only to low-income Medicare recipients.

Medicare has excluded dental (and vision and hearing) coverage since its inception in 1965. That exclusion was by design: The dental profession has long fought to keep itself separate from the traditional medical system.

More recently, however, dentists have stressed the link between oral and overall health. Most infamously, the 2007 death of a 12-year-old boy that might have been prevented by an $80 tooth extraction prompted changes to Maryland’s version of Medicaid, the federal-state public insurance program for low-income people. But researchers have also, for example, linked dental care with reduced health care spending in patients with Type 2 diabetes. When the World Health Organization suggested delaying non-urgent oral health visits last year to prevent the spread of covid-19, the American Dental Association pushed back, with then-President Dr. Chad Gehani saying, “Oral health is integral to overall health. Dentistry is essential health care.”

The ADA-backed Medicare proposal would cover only seniors who earn up to three times the poverty level. That currently translates to $38,640 a year for an individual, reducing the number of potential recipients from over 60 million people to roughly half that number. Medicare has never required means testing, but in a world where Congress is looking to trim the social-spending package from $3.5 trillion over 10 years to $1.85 trillion, the ADA presents

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2 min read

Schiffner, 55, is finally in the home stretch after his wife, Teresa Schiffner, 53, filed multiple grievances against the Fargo dental office where he initially sought care.

“Mine was the first complaint to get it started,” she said.

On Oct. 20, state District Judge Bobbi Weiler ordered the dental office, Fargo Moorhead Dental & Dentures, to pay more than $237,400 in restitution and $25,000 in civil penalties, attorneys’ fees and investigation costs.

The order said the business improperly charged fees against patient accounts for services not actually provided, or fees that were not properly disclosed ahead of time.

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Parrell Grossman, head of the state’s consumer protection division, said more than 500 affected patients have been identified through a review of records.

The business at 4302 13th Ave. S., Suite 10, in Fargo has since paid the penalties and restitution to the state, which will be returned to those patients through refunds, Grossman said.

Those named in the order include owner and president Robert Bates, D.D.S., of Clarence, New York, and David Pennington of Palm Harbor, Florida, president of DP Business Services. The men also co-owned an assisting business known as Fargo Dental Support.

“They fully cooperated. They’ve been sanctioned,” Grossman said.

Though the state maintains the conduct was wrongful, those named in the court action do not admit any violation of law. Under the order, all parties are prohibited from charging such fees in the future.

A phone message left for Bates was not returned and The Forum was unable to reach Pennington. A phone message left for corporate counsel in Syracuse, New York, was not returned.

Fargo Moorhead Dental & Dentures and its supporting businesses were sold on Aug. 1, according to court documents. However, the new owners have not changed the name of the dental office.

The business released a statement on Thursday, Oct. 28, saying in part, there was “no admission of liability” with the resolution of the case and that it was “focused entirely on past administrative accounting procedures that are no longer in place.”

The business said it agreed to the resolution to avoid protracted litigation and to focus on “high-quality care to our patients.”

Fargo Moorhead Dental & Dentures issued the above statement in response to a court case that alleged the dental business improperly charged fees against patient accounts for services not actually provided.

Fargo Moorhead Dental & Dentures issued the above statement in response to a court case that alleged the dental business improperly charged fees against patient accounts for services not actually provided.

The Schiffners settled their complaint with Pennington separately for $4,400 and are happy about the state’s action against the business and Bates and Pennington, who have a history of complaints over prepayments for unfulfilled dental work.

“They’ve done this before,” Teresa Schniffer said.

In January 2011, thousands of patients nationwide were left without care when Allcare Dental & Dentures abruptly closed its network of offices.

Founded by Bates and Pennington, Allcare said it was “severely cash constrained” and had no way to continue operating, according to media reports at the time.

Attorneys general in at least a dozen states were involved in the investigation of the Pennsylvania-based company, according

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2 min read

Conn. (WTNH) — The American Dental Association is now saying dentists can refuse to treat unvaccinated patients.

The news comes as more and more oral procedures are getting booked out into the new year.

The Association’s Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs said in a statement that is not unethical — per se — to turn unvaccinated patients away.

“With the types of communicable diseases (and variants) that are occurring in the population, dentists must consider the ethical implications of treating or not treating patients with active illness, accepting or declining new patients who have not been vaccinated, and dismissing or maintaining existing patients who have not been vaccinated,” the statement read in part. “The American Dental Association’s Principles of Ethics & Code of Professional Conduct is a useful guide in navigating these challenging questions: ‘The ethical dentist strives to do that which is right and good.’”

A local dentist News 8 spoke to said he believes doctors have an ethical obligation to treat even unvaccinated patients. But he also said medical professionals should use their own discretion when it comes to what goes on in their practices.

“I feel like it’s our ethical responsibility to see all patients,” Dr. Jameel Dhanani said.

Dhanani told News 8 he and his medical staff don’t ask their patients if they’re vaccinated. Instead, they treat every patient as if they are not protected against COVID-19.

“Our protocol is to treat everyone as though they’re unvaccinated so when people come to the office, our protocols will not change whether somebody is vaccinated or not.”

He has taken multiple precautions in seeing his patients, including leaving space between visits and seeing fewer patients in a day.

“In our office, we maintain social distancing, full screening before and ask patients who had been in contact with somebody with COVID-19 to delay their appointments for non-emergency care.“

Dhanani said dentists are also trained to deal with a variety of diseases that may come into their offices. For him, COVID-19 is no different.

“There was one time dentists did not wear gloves and had to learn how to wear gloves, so we are used to protecting ourselves and changing with the times and changing with science and if science brings new factors on the way we need to improve our practice, we are very eager to follow and protect ourself and our patients.”

One thing that has not changed under the dentist code of ethics is demonstrating honesty, compassion, kindness and integrity when it comes to working with patients regardless of their vaccination status.

Local dentists react after American Dental Association says they can turn away unvaccinated patients

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2 min read

Like many seniors, William Stork of Cedar Hill, Mo., lacks dental insurance and doesn’t want to pay $1,000 for a tooth extraction he needs. Health advocates see President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide dental coverage to people like Stork who are on Medicare. An unlikely adversary: the American Dental Association.

Joe Martinez for Kaiser Health News


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Joe Martinez for Kaiser Health News


Like many seniors, William Stork of Cedar Hill, Mo., lacks dental insurance and doesn’t want to pay $1,000 for a tooth extraction he needs. Health advocates see President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide dental coverage to people like Stork who are on Medicare. An unlikely adversary: the American Dental Association.

Joe Martinez for Kaiser Health News

William Stork needs a tooth out. That’s what the 71-year-old retired truck driver’s dentist told him during a recent checkup.

That kind of extraction requires an oral surgeon, which could cost him around $1,000 because, like most seniors, Stork does not have dental insurance, and Medicare won’t cover his dental bills. Between Social Security and his pension from the Teamsters union, Stork says, he is able to live comfortably in Cedar Hill, Mo., about 30 miles southwest of St. Louis.

But that $1,000 cost is significant enough that he has decided to wait until the tooth absolutely must come out.

Stork’s predicament is at the heart of a long-simmering rift within the dental profession that has reemerged as a battle over how to add dental coverage to Medicare, the public insurance program for people 65 and older — if a benefit can pass at all.

A once-in-a-generation opportunity

Health equity advocates see President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide dental coverage for those on Medicare, nearly half of whom did not visit a dentist in 2018 — well before the pandemic paused dental appointments for many people. The rates were even higher for Black (68%), Hispanic (61%) and low-income (73%) seniors.

The coverage was left out of a new framework announced by Biden on Thursday, but proponents still hope they can get the coverage in a final agreement. Complicating their push is a debate over how many of the nation’s more than 60 million Medicare beneficiaries should receive it.

Advocates of dental coverage for everyone on Medicare find themselves up against an unlikely adversary: the American Dental Association, which is backing an alternative plan that would give dental benefits only to low-income Medicare recipients.

Medicare has excluded dental (and vision and hearing) coverage since its inception in 1965. That exclusion was by design: The dental profession has long fought to keep itself separate from the traditional medical system in order to preserve the field’s autonomy.

Dental care and health are intertwined

More recently, however, dentists have stressed the link between oral and overall health. Most infamously, the 2007 death of a 12-year-old boy that might have been prevented by an $80

Read More...
2 min read

Dental problems are the problems that affect the tooth and the oral cavity. Improper oral and dental hygiene, most of the time, gives rise to various dental issues. Ignorance and improper treatment may worsen the problem and result in tooth loss and other infections.

Dental problems can develop at every age, from children to adults. Simply brushing your teeth multiple times a day may not be enough to prevent an issue. You may need to do a dental check-up occasionally from a certified dentist or medical professional. Family dentistry in Falls Church, VA, like Gentle Touch Dental PC, will help you understand and diagnose your dental and oral tissues and provide services according to your needs.  

Symptoms:

  1. Toothache- One of the common symptoms of any dental issue is toothache. The pain can be moderate or extreme and can indicate dental issues like cavity or gum diseases, abscesses, or impacted teeth. One may also experience jaw and mouth pain along with pain in chewing due to toothache. 
  1. Bleeding gums- This may indicate gingivitis or some gum disease. You may experience soreness in your gums. Gingivitis causes redness, swelling, and irritation to the gingiva.
  1. Sensitivity- If you experience hurt or pain whenever you drink or eat something cold or hot instantly, you have sensitive teeth. Sensitive teeth also sometimes indicate tooth decay, fractured teeth, worn tooth enamel, etc. 
  1. Mouth sores and ulcers- Vary in their severity. A tender area of the gums can indicate an infection in the mouth. 
  1. Bad breath- Also known as halitosis, is a symptom of dental problems like improper hygiene or gum diseases.
  1. Yellow or discolored teeth- Also indicate bad hygiene or excessive coffee, tea, or tobacco consumption. Sometimes it can also be because of genetics or aging.
  1. Clicking or popping of the jaw- With jaw pain can be caused by many problems such as arthritis, TMJ, teeth grinding or clenching, and injury to the teeth. 
  1. Dry mouth- Certain medications make your mouth dry. Frequent dry mouth can also indicate a medical disorder. 
  1. Frequent Headaches- Associated with toothache or jaw pain.
  1. Cracked or broken teeth- Injury to the mouth may result in cracked or broken teeth. 

Causes:

  1. Bad oral and dental hygiene.
  2. Extreme consumption of sugar or sugar products. 
  3. Smoking and chewing tobacco can cause oral cancer.
  4. Diabetic patients are prone to dental issues.
  5. Genetics along with family history may also contribute to some oral diseases. 
  6. Acid reflux, GERD, vomiting may lead to higher acid levels in the mouth, causing weakened enamel. 
  7. Hormonal changes can also be responsible for dental problems. 

Make sure to visit a dentist regularly to ensure that the dental problems are at bay. … Read More...

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