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Dental Therapy: Good news for Minnesota safety net clinics

Dental therapy, the newest oral healthcare profession in Minnesota, has firm roots in the state’s safety net clinics, found new research from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.

Findings from the study indicate dental therapists are being used in innovative and diverse ways, allowing the dental therapy profession to continue to evolve in the way it addresses specific oral health care needs.

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u-of-m-voices

Dental Therapy: Filling the gaps in dental disparities

The next time you’re in a dental office, there’s a chance your clinician might say, “Hi, I’m the dental therapist who will be working with you today.” More of these providers are entering the market each year thanks to innovative programs like the one found at the University of Minnesota. As a result, more and more Minnesotans are getting exposed to dental therapists.

But some patients still have questions around what a dental therapist actually is and the type of work they’re licensed to perform. Here’s some quick background.

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research-and-clinical-trials

U of M researchers lead development of first evidence-based diagnostic criteria for TMD

The first evidence-based diagnostic criteria has been developed to help health professionals better diagnose temporomandibular disorders (TMD), a group of often-painful jaw conditions that affect an estimated 10 to 15 percent of Americans. The international effort was led by the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.

The Diagnostic Criteria for Temporomandibular Disorders (DC/TMD), developed by a collaborative team of researchers in North America, Europe and Australia, are professional recommendations on how best to detect and assess jaw joint (TMJ) and jaw muscle problems – as well as headaches related to TMD.

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patient-care

Managing summer dental emergencies

Few disruptions can derail a summer vacation faster than a dental emergency.

A slip on a wet dock, a careless swing of a wiffleball bat, an errant elbow in a pickup basketball game – any or all could result in a tooth being knocked out.

No less unpredictable, tooth pain can come seemingly out of nowhere and can be agonizing. Worse, some dental pain may actually signal a more urgent issue like an infection or abscess.

Yet if a dental emergency presents itself and you’re an hour (or more) away from your dentist, what’s a person to do?

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expert-perspectives

U of M expert: Diet soda intake alone hasn’t created an epidemic of tooth erosion

A new case study appearing in General Dentistry, the journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, has made national headlines after drawing parallels between the oral hygiene issues seen in methamphetamine and cocaine users and a patient who consumed an excessive amount of diet soda for years.

Of the patients in question – a 29-year-old crystal methamphetamine user, a 51-year-old crack cocaine user for 18 years and a patient who admitted to consuming two liters of diet soda a day for three to five years – none had visited the dentist in years and all had extremely poor dental hygiene, resulting in what the authors described as erosion, cavities and discoloration.

But University of Minnesota School of Dentistry experts warn that extrapolating the true clinical impact of any single patient case is challenging. In addition, without context around the level of soda intake in question, alarming news headlines like those seen this week may be giving consumers the wrong message.

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in-the-news

U of M leads the way in dental therapy

There’s a new kind of practitioner emerging in Minnesota dental clinics.

Recently, Green Bay Press Gazette and Wadena Pioneer Journal took a look at dental therapy and the University of Minnesota’s involvement in the new profession.

Megan Meyer, a 2011 graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry dental therapy program, regularly fills cavities, extracts primary teeth, and puts in crowns and spacers.

These responsibilities are normally reserved for the dentist.

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