U.S. study examines mental health of dental professionals during pandemic
The first known U.S. study to evaluate the mental health of frontline dentists and dental hygienists during the pandemic found that dental health care workers report anxiety and depression symptoms during peaks of transmission among the public.
Published jointly in the August issues of The Journal of the American Dental Association and the Journal of Dental Hygiene and available online at JADA.ada.org, the study indicates between June 2020 and June 2021, 17.7% of dental health care workers reported anxiety symptoms, 10.7% reported depression symptoms, and 8.3% reported symptoms of both. The one-year study conducted from June 2020 to June 2021, included 8,902 dental health care workers participating monthly in an anonymous longitudinal, web-based survey.
According to the findings, between June 2020 and June 2021, dental hygienists reported higher rates of depression symptoms than dentists at each surveyed time point, with depression symptom rates peaking in December 2020. Dental hygienists’ depression rates declined in 2021 as dentists’ rates of depression symptoms remained steady. At the end of the study period, both groups had relatively similar rates – 11.8% for dentists and 12.4% for hygienists.
“Interestingly, dental health care workers reported lower rates of anxiety and depression symptoms than the general public, despite being on the front lines and providing oral health care during the pandemic,” says author Stacey Dershewitz, J.D., Psy.D., Adjunct Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director of the Center Clinic at the George Washington University Professional Psychology Program. “As the pandemic continues, it is critically important that dental health care workers continue to develop their ability to recognize and address signs and symptoms of mental health conditions within themselves and their colleagues, promote healthy work environments, reduce the impact of stress on the profession, and make supports accessible to those who are struggling emotionally.”
Some participants’ anxiety symptoms decreased after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The study – also the first to examine the association between the COVID-19 vaccine and mental health – found that unvaccinated dental health care workers who intended to be vaccinated suffered significantly more anxiety symptoms (20.6%) compared to fully-vaccinated dental health care workers (14.1%).
“The hope is that this is just the first of many steps in monitoring mental wellness of the entire oral care team,” says JoAnn Gurenlian, R.D.H, M.S., Ph.D, A.F.A.A.O.M., Director of Education and Research, American Dental Hygienists’ Association. “There is much work to be done to dismantle barriers to treatment and prioritize wellbeing in the oral care setting, as well as look at future research around contributing factors to mental illness that may be unique to these professions.”
The study is part of ongoing collaborative research efforts between the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Dental Hygienists’ Associations (ADHA) to understand COVID-19’s impact on dental health care workers.
PDS fully deploys EHR system across locations
Pacific Dental Services® (PDS) announced it has fully deployed Epic, the most widely used comprehensive electronic health records system in the United States, into 100% of its supported dental practices. Currently supporting almost 900 dental practices and growing, PDS is the world’s first organization of its kind to enable dental and medical data integration, which holds the promise for improved patient health, according to a release.
“As the single largest commitment of time, energy, and resources for any single project in the history of PDS, even as the COVID-19 pandemic gained traction in early 2020, the decision was made to proceed with deployment to its supported practices, with the first launch occurring in April of that year,” PDS said in a release.
“Oral healthcare is a critical component of overall health, and this investment has enabled our supported clinicians and their patients to more fully participate in the promise of a seamless, comprehensive healthcare system focused on whole-body health,” said Stephen E. Thorne IV, Founder and CEO of Pacific Dental Services.
In just over two years, PDS said it successfully converted over 9.7 million patient records from its existing practice management software to Epic, spent 16,000 hours training almost 14,000 team members and clinicians, integrated the new software with existing human resources, revenue cycle management, and financial systems, and completed deployment to over 885 individual supported practices across 25 states.
Epic holds more than 250 million patients’ current electronic health records. The system is used by leading hospitals, healthcare systems and medical schools, which rely on the company’s unique software to manage the patient’s health journey. A number of dental schools have also begun transitioning their systems to Epic for this reason.
“Whether the patients of PDS’ supported practices go to the dentist’s office, a clinic, or a hospital, their providers can now review their dental history along with the rest of their medical history from one record in Epic,” said Judy Faulkner, Founder and CEO of Epic. “Our collaboration with PDS supports the connection between dental and medical care, creating a more comprehensive approach to health.”
In just over two years, Pacific Dental Services said it:
• Successfully converted over 9.7 million patient records from its existing practice management software to Epic
• Spent 16,000 hours training almost 14,000 team members and clinicians
• Integrated the new software with existing human resources, revenue cycle management, and financial systems
• Completed deployment to over 885 individual supported practices across 25 states
Heartland Dental announces strategic investment in 123Dentist
Heartland Dental announced that it has signed an agreement to invest in 123Dentist along with lead investment partners KKR and Peloton Capital Management. Heartland’s investment comes as part of the announced strategic business combination between 123Dentist, Altima Dental and Lapointe Group, which, when consummated, would create one of the largest dental support organizations in Canada, with nearly 350 supported dental practices across the country. The combined organization will retain the name 123Dentist.
This strategic investment is Heartland Dental’s first in a DSO outside of the United States. Through the partnership, Heartland Dental and 123Dentist will work together to support the expansion of education and training at 123Dentist, leveraging the breadth and depth of Heartland’s continuing education programs, including leadership development, coaching, and classroom / online education.
As part of the Heartland Dental network of supported practices, 123Dentist supported doctors will receive access to over 80 CE programs provided to Heartland Dental supported doctors and team members annually. Unlike any other continuing dental education program, Heartland Dental’s offerings focus on three disciplines – clinical, operational, and leadership, and 123Dentist supported doctors will benefit from courses such as Clinical Essentials and Leadership Fundamentals and Clear Aligner Fundamentals.
AGD comments on CMS physician fee schedule proposals
The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) recently submitted comment to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on its Medicare physician fee schedule proposals and request for information on Medicare Part A and B payment for dental services. In its comments to CMS, AGD leaders, Gerald J. Botko, MS, DMD, MAGD, president of AGD, Myron (Mike) Bromberg, DDS, chair, AGD’s Legislative and Governmental Affairs Council, and Joseph Battaglia, MS, DMD, chair, AGD’s Dental Practice Council, explain that it’s the organization’s opinion that CMS does not have the authority to expand coverage regarding medically necessary dental provisions.
In June 2022, more than 100 Members of Congress sent a letter to the CMS administrator urging the use of its regulatory authority to increase Medicare’s coverage of some dental services. In the letter, the congressional representatives indicated support if the agency expanded its determination of “medically necessary” dental care. In AGD’s comments, due to Congressional inability to pass legislative proposals on inclusion of dental services into Medicare it is perceived that the agency is responding to the advocacy efforts of a single political party.According to AGD’s letter, CMS’s research must be verifiable, reproducible and not based on poor-quality
evidence. The authors stress that, “The federal government must demonstrate the scientific basis for declaring medical necessity for dental indications and it has not yet done so.”
Dental Foundation supporting one health initiative
University of the Pacific’s unique Sacramento-based interprofessional health care initiative has received new support with a $250,000 Access to Care grant awarded to the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry by the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation.
The funds will support the launch of an innovative teaching and patient care facility that will be one of the first of its kind at a university, according to a release. The project will include the creation of a new clinical and academic facility in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood, designed to provide comprehensive primary health care services to the public, while providing an integrated clinical learning environment for students.
Dugoni is collaborating with the School of Health Sciences and Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy to develop the project. The initiative will include expansion of the Dugoni School’s successful International Dental Studies program as well as programs in the School of Health Sciences.
Henry Schein acquires Midway Dental Supply
Henry Schein, Inc., announced the acquisition of Midway Dental Supply, a full-service dental distributor serving dental offices and dental laboratories across the Midwestern United States. Henry Schein acquired 100% of Midway Dental, which was founded in 1987 by the late Roger Abigt, and is headquartered in Livonia, Michigan. This transaction is expected to be modestly dilutive to Henry Schein’s earnings per share in fiscal year 2022 and increasingly accretive thereafter. Financial terms were not disclosed. Midway Dental’s sales from 2021 were approximately $110 million, including nearly $20 million in sales of personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 related products. Midway Dental offers a comprehensive portfolio of dental consumable merchandise, equipment, services, and education products to nearly 7,000 customers, which will be immediately consolidated into Henry Schein’s U.S. Dental business, according to a release. The integration of Midway Dental’s sales and service team with Henry Schein’s network of trusted advisors will further advance the Company’s efforts to deliver customized solutions and technology-driven products and services to help our dental customers meet the needs of patients.
Host of DEO Growth Summit 2023 announced
DEO recently announced that the 2023 DEO Growth Summit host will be DEO Partner Emmet Scott. Scott is a DSO industry expert who’s been featured in Forbes Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, USA Today, and more. He is CEO/co-founder of Community Dental Partners, one of the fastest-growing DSOs in the country, having led its growth from 1 to 90+ locations with $100+ M in revenue to date and growing. Scott is also the author of the
No. 1 Amazon Bestselling book “DSO Secrets: The Ultimate Guide To Building Your Dental Empire” and the host of the DSO Secrets Podcast. The 2023 Summit will be held June 8-10, in San Diego. Learn more at: deodentalgroup.com