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Friday Dental Download: November 21, 2014

This week we discuss that while Americans are gaining dental coverage, they still aren’t getting treated, we learn that tooth decay is linked to risk of kidney disease, and we discover a toothbrush that makes brushing your teeth fun! Don’t forget to check out our Movember blog post to learn more about the relationship between men’s health and dental health, and our new blog series, Why it Matters to Me. Join the conversation on Twitter using #FridayDentalDL.

1. Financial hurdles remain for dental care: Americans are gaining dental coverage through the Affordable Care Act, but according to the dental community, the health care law isn't doing enough to Medicaid to improve reimbursement rates for the care. According to the American Dental Association, approximately 8.7 million children – and about 800,000 adults – could gain extensive dental coverage through the ACA by 2018. A barrier to access dental care is the lack of private dental offices that accept Medicaid or limit the number of Medicaid patients.

2. Cardiologists have knowledge gaps about perio disease: A new study in the Journal of Dental Hygiene looked at cardiologists' knowledge of the relationship between periodontal disease (tooth decay) and heart disease and found that many were unclear about the cause of periodontal disease. Over the past several years, new evidence has shown links between tooth decay and diabetes, adverse pregnancy outcomes, and heart disease. The majority of physicians who participated in the study agreed it is important for cardiologists and periodontists to work together to educate their patients about oral systemic disease risks.

3. An entrepreneur’s vision for dental hygiene: Tooth brushing as an immersive experience: Alex Frommeyer, CEO of Beam Technologies, plans to shake up the world of tooth brushing with the Beam Brush, a platform connecting consumers with their toothbrush, dental goods and services. The electric toothbrush tracks brushing activity through its partnered iOS and Android app. The app collects behavioral data, such as brushing time and movements. It also keeps score for families to compare and share. The updated brush, scheduled to come out December 1, 2014, becomes a remote control for several games, including a horizontal scrolling game with obstacles similar to Mario. This feature allows users to play a game on their app with their tooth brush – engaging them in a mission to brush their teeth for 2 minutes without getting bored.

4. Periodontal disease linked to increased risk of kidney disease: In a study of African-Americans with normal kidney function, those with severe periodontal disease developed chronic kidney disease at four times the rate of those without severe periodontal disease, according to a presentation at the recent American Society of Nephrology meeting in Philadelphia. Researcher Dr. Vanessa Grubbs noted that because periodontal disease is common and can be prevented and treated, targeting it may be an important path towards reducing existing racial and ethnic disparities in chronic and end-stage kidney disease.