ADA campaign targets 'dental divide'; should hygienists conduct HIV tests?

Dear DrBicuspid Member,

The ADA has launched a major campaign to help bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots when it comes to accessing adequate oral healthcare in the U.S.

While a vast majority of middle and upper income Americans have access to dental services, the same is not true for millions of poor and uninsured, according to a Harris Interactive poll released by the ADA in conjunction with the campaign.

At a press conference today in Washington, DC, the ADA outlined a range of initiatives intended help address the problem, including streamlining Medicaid credentialing processes and implementing community-based programs that can help divert people with dental emergencies away from hospital emergency rooms. Read more.

In related news, the year-old Network for Canadian Oral Health Research is beginning to connect researchers across the country and encourage the development of new, collaborative, multidisciplinary research teams to look at questions about oral health in new ways. Read more.

Meanwhile, numerous studies have shown that dental offices can play an important role in screening for various medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. Now it appears testing for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) could be added to the list, and that dental hygienists who receive additional training in HIV prevention counseling and testing could be the ones to do it. Click here to read details in this latest Hygiene Community clinical feature.

Finally, in our ongoing Leaders in Dentistry series, we talked with Susan Savage, RDH, BSDH, who is finishing up her yearlong tenure as president of the American Dental Hygienists' Association. She shared her thoughts on how dental hygiene practice has changed over the last 25 years, what role midlevel providers may have in the U.S. healthcare system, and the 100th anniversary of dental hygiene practice.

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