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Friday Dental Download: Friday September 19, 2014

This week, we learn about the negative effects of plastic beads in toothpaste, discuss the fate of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and discover that people should have no more than five percent of total calories from sugars a day. Join in the conversation on Twitter using #FridayDentalDL.

1. Fate of Children’s Insurance Program is Called into Question at Senate Hearing: On Tuesday, a Senate hearing set the stage for a coming debate over whether the federal government should continue financing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP has helped cut the uninsured rate for children in half, to about 7 percent in 2013 from 14 percent in 1997, when it was enacted. It provides coverage for about eight million children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, the government health care program for the poor, but cannot afford private coverage. CHIP also provides a comprehensive pediatric dental benefit. DentaQuest supports the continuation of this program.

2. Dental and nutrition experts call for radical rethink on sugars intake: In the United States, 92 percent of adults aged 20-64 have experienced decay in at least one of their permanent teeth. Current guidelines from the World Health Organization recommend that no more than 10 percent (50g) of total calories come from sugars, with five percent (25g) as a 'target'. However, the latest research from the University College London and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine suggests that five percent should be the absolute maximum, with a target of less than three percent.

3. Why dentists are speaking out about the plastic beads in your toothpaste: The tiny plastic beads found in many popular toothpaste brands are approved by regulators, but dentists are becoming increasingly alarmed that the beads could cause more dental hygiene problems than they solve. The beads do not disintegrate and are not biodegradable, and dentists are concerned that they're getting stuck in the tiny crevices between the teeth and gums. This can lead to gingivitis. Over time that infection can move from the gum into the bone that holds your teeth, and can result in periodontal disease.

4. New Medicaid policy increases the rate of children receiving vital oral health care in Texas and Florida: University of Florida researchers found that a Medicaid policy change in Florida and Texas that reimburses the pediatricians and other medical primary care providers for basic oral health screenings and cavity prevention has increased the likelihood of children receiving these essential services by 20 and 25 percent. Untreated tooth decay occurs in 25 percent of kids living in poverty. This new policy will increase the number of Medicaid-enrolled children who receive preventive dental services. Click here to learn more about pediatric oral health prevention.

5. American Dental Association Offers Online Education for Dentists in Long-Term Care: 1.3 million nursing home residents face some of the greatest challenges to accessing dental care of any group in America. Through Action for Dental Health, a nationwide, community-based movement that aims to improve dental care for the underserved, the ADA plans to train at least 1,000 dentists to provide care in nursing homes by 2020.