Open Wide - The Official Blog of The Chicago Dental Society

Permanent link  Chairside Screenings for Chronic Diseases Could Bring Big Savings


Screenings by dentists for the most common chronic medical diseases could save the American health care system as much as $102.6 million annually, according to a new study conducted by the American Dental Association's Health Policy Resources Center (HPRC).

The findings were published Feb. 13 in the American Journal of Public Health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7.8 percent of the U.S. population has undiagnosed hypertension, 2.7 percent has undiagnosed diabetes and 8.2 percent has undiagnosed high cholesterol. Screening for these conditions in dental offices could lead to savings of up to $102.6 million, or $33 per person screened, and healthier outcomes for patients.

“As many as 27 million people visit a dentist but not a physician in a given year,” Kamyar Nasseh, PhD, lead author of the study said in a prepared release. “This presents an opportunity for dentists to be part of an integrated health care team working to combat chronic illnesses.”

There is potential for additional savings over the long term through prevention, health promotion, and early interventions that the study did not model.

“We have long known that the mouth is the window to the body,” said ADA President Charles H. Norman.“But we have an increased understanding about roles that dentists can play in detecting chronic, systemic disease. This study shows that dentists can contribute to reduced health care costs in the U.S. by screening for chronic conditions.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of all American adults suffer from chronic illnesses, which account for more than 75 percent of health care costs and 70 percent of deaths each year in the United States. Chronic diseases are estimated to cost the country $153 billion annually in lost productivity.


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Permanent link  Midwestern University clinic adds pediatric care to menu of services


Midwestern University’s Dental Institute recently announced the addition of pediatric dental care — exams, cleanings, tooth restoration, and minor oral surgery  — for children from age 5 and up. Orthodontic care is also available. Since some children can benefit from early orthodontic intervention, the Dental Institute strongly advises an orthodontic screening by age 7.

The Dental Institute is home to some of the most advanced technology and diagnostic tools available to help provide patients with quality dental care. Student dentists in their final years of professional training treat patients under the supervision of licensed faculty who have many years of private practice experience. As a teaching clinic, patients can expect comprehensive, compassionate care – at about half the cost.

The Dental Institute is part of Midwestern University’s Multispecialty Clinic located at 3450 Lacey Road, Downers Grove IL. For more information about the services offered at the Dental Institute, contact 630.743.4500 or visit


access to care , children , dental care , dental school , midwestern university , pediatric dentistry ,

Permanent link  Be careful of cold cereal's effects on teeth


It’s back to school time – which means that a fast breakfast of cold cereal before a mad dash to the bus stop will return to many of your patients’ routines.
They might be interested to know that a glass of milk after eating sugary cereals may prevent cavities, according to new research from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry. The research is published in the July issue of the Journal of The American Dental Association.
Dry ready-to-eat, sugar-added cereals combine refined sugar and starch. When those carbohydrates are consumed, bacteria in the dental plaque on tooth surfaces produce acids, said Christine Wu, professor of pediatric dentistry and director of cariology, who served as principal investigator of the study. Reports have shown that eating carbohydrates four times daily, or in quantities greater than 60 grams per person per day, increases the risk of cavities.
The new study involved 20 adults eating 20 grams of dry Froot Loops cereal, then drinking different beverages: whole milk, 100 percent apple juice, or tap water.
"Our study results show that only milk was able to reduce acidity of dental plaque resulting from consuming sugary Froot Loops," the researchers reported. "We believe that milk helped mitigate the damaging effect of fermentable carbohydrate and overcome the previously lowered plaque pH."
Dr. Wu said many consumers think that since milk is considered to be cavity-fighting, acid production by plaque bacteria can be minimized by mixing it with cereal. However, in an unpublished study in her lab, it was discovered that the combination of Froot Loops and milk became syrupy. Eating cereal combined with milk lowered plaque acidity to levels similar to that obtained after rinsing with a 10 percent sugar solution.


dental care , oral health ,

Permanent link  What do you know about IME?


The following editorial regarding Incurred Medical Expense (IME) appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of the CDS Review.


Penny wise, pound foolish

By Walter F. Lamacki, DDS

Editor, CDS Review


In June, Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation extracting $2.7 billion from the state’s $14 billion Medicaid program, ostensibly to save the program. One of the changes is the elimination of coverage for adult dental care, a bankrupt idea that former Gov. Jim Edgar tried in the 1990s and had to abandon when emergency room costs skyrocketed, thus eliminating any phantom savings. The $51 million adult dental program represents about 2 percent of the cuts. A 2005 study by the Kaiser Foundation concluded that any savings from the elimination of adult care are miniscule.

While one door slammed shut another opened a crack for those, I believe, to be the most underserved population of patients: those 100,000 residents living in nursing homes in Illinois. Up until now, those who received care under Medicaid were treated by volunteers and a few Medicaid providers on a hit or miss basis — miss being the operative word. But a quirk in the maze of federal regulations can increase access to care for this neglected patient pool.

Incurred Medical Expense (IME), until now an obscure provision of the Medicare/Medicaid regulations, can help many residents of nursing homes receive necessary dental care. The resident must be enrolled in Medicaid and have some income, usually Social Security. Typically residents assign their Social Security payments to the facility to pay for their monthly fees. However, they do not relinquish total control of their Social Security checks. When a resident with Medicaid receives a bill for services not offered by the facility, they may qualify for IME. They can elect to apply their Social Security checks to pay their dental bills. In most cases, the dentists will be paid their usual and customary fees. Medicare then will reimburse the nursing home for the lost income. Most states do not require pre-treatment authorization.

Please visit for a more detailed explanation of IME and the steps dentists must take to receive payment for their services. We don’t know — at this time — what changes, if any, the Affordable Care Act will bring, but my guess is some similar program will be in place.

If you chose to take care of nursing home residents (and I hope you will), your treatment presents a whole new perspective. Patients can have diabetes, chronic heart failure and other chronic conditions. The most difficult condition you will face is varying degrees of dementia and its big brother, Alzheimer’s disease. As Shakespeare’s Hamlet tells us, “Old men are twice children;” compassion and patience will be valuable tools in your armamentarium. 

You won’t have pretty pictures of your patient’s mouth, with a dozen pearly white porcelain veneers made possible by your persuasive skills. Many of the residents have outlived their closest relatives and seem to be warehoused out of sight and mostly forgotten. Improving the quality of their lives and giving them back their dignity will enrich you immeasurably. 

Post your response below, or email the editor at


access to care , cds review , dental care , health care reform , medicaid ,

Permanent link  IL Gov. proclaims February is Gum Disease Awareness Month


It’s official: Governor Pat Quinn has signed a proclamation to recognize this month — February 2013 — as Gum Disease Awareness Month in Illinois.

Gum disease is one of the most common diseases in the United States – more prevalent than cancer, heart disease and arthritis. The consequences can be serious, but the condition can be treated in every patient. Treatment options range from regular check-ups to conventional gum surgery or laser surgery.

Mounting university research links gum disease to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, pre-term and still births and certain cancers. Over 85 percent of Americans adults have some degree of gum disease, but fewer than half are diagnosed. Often symptoms of gum disease are ignored until the disease is in advanced stages, when tooth loss is common.

Illinois has adopted Gum Disease Awareness Month in order to educate residents about widespread health threat of gum disease and the importance of prevention and treatment. With a key message of encouragement to take an active role in preventing gum disease, recognizing risk factors, getting diagnosed and seeking treatment, the initiative is lead by the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry, a non-profit educational and research center dedicated to providing evidence-based clinical training in laser dentistry therapies.

To learn more visit or join the movement at and



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