Week in Review: What sugar does to enamel | ADA weighs in on Medicare changes | Caring for patients with cancer

Dear DrBicuspid Member,

Which type of sugary drink causes the greatest amount of dental erosion? Our top story of the week covered a study in which researchers soaked molars in four different solutions to find out.

After four weeks of submersion, the researchers found no difference in enamel hardness between molars soaked in sugary milk and those submerged in artificial saliva. However, the results weren't as promising for teeth immersed in Pepsi or orange juice.

ADA supports Medicare changes

In big news this week, the ADA offered its support for proposed changes to Medicare that would expand coverage of medically necessary conditions requiring dental services. However, the association wants the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to address issues related to the administration and reimbursement of benefits.

If the proposed changes take effect, various types of dental exams and treatments would be covered in specific cases, such as before organ transplant procedures and for hospitalizations stemming from oral bacteria. In July, lawmakers asked the CMS to expand services even further to cover conditions that can be worsened by oral bacteria and infection, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Caring for patients with cancer

Dentists should be part of teams caring for patients with cancer, according to a clinical instructor from the New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry. In an interview, the educator breaks down why NYU dentists are increasingly integral members of cancer teams, particularly for patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) and diseases requiring bone marrow transplants.

One consideration for patients with HNC is improving oral function during and after treatment, and implant-retained prostheses are increasingly being used to accomplish that goal. Researchers compared survival and complication-free survival rates of fixed and removable prostheses for this patient cohort, and only one type came out on top.

Dentists safely administer vaccines

Last but not least, dentists administered COVID-19 vaccines just as safely as nurses in a study of 125 patients who received a second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, fewer complications were reported in the dentist group, although the difference was not significant.

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