Is amalgam safe to use in dentistry?
Dental amalgam is considered a safe, affordable and durable material that has been used to restore the teeth of more than 100 million Americans. It contains a mixture of metals such as silver, copper and tin, in addition to mercury, which binds these components into a hard, stable and safe substance. Dental amalgam has been studied and reviewed extensively, and has established a record of safety and effectiveness. Depending on treatment needs, it is one material available to dentists and patients when considering restorative options. For more information, visit ASDA’s website regarding amalgam usage.
Does our water need to be fluoridated?
Education on benefits of fluoridation is a part of most, if not all, of our dental school curriculums. The American Dental Association has endorsed water fluoridation and fluoride-containing product usage as safe and effective measures for preventing tooth decay. Efforts by the ADA, coupled with the efforts of dentists and other health organizations, has led to a continual increase in the number of communities that have opted for fluoridating their water supplies. However, there are areas in the United States that do not have appropriately fluoridated water systems. From Jan. 2011 through May 2012, 43 states have experienced activity to initiate, retain or defeat fluoridation programs. Chapters should research fluoridation activity in their communities to determine whether they are appropriately fluoridated. For the communities they find that are not, chapters can work with local dental societies and government to implement appropriate fluoridation in water systems. More information regarding water fluoridation can be found on the ASDA website.
Why is NBDE now pass/fail, and is Part I and Part II going to be combined?
Up until January 2012, numerical scores were reported with indication of a passing or failing grade. Now, performance is only scored as pass/fail. Further changes are soon coming — the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE) will combine the NBDE Part I and Part II into a singular Integrated National Board Dental Examination (INBDE).
Who are midlevel providers?
ASDA identifies a midlevel provider as an individual, who is not a dentist with four years of post-collegiate education (three years in the case of University of the Pacific School of Dentistry), who may perform irreversible procedures on the public. Due to barriers to care issues, midlevel provider pilot programs have begun to enter the mainstream world of dental health care. ASDA’s policy on midlevel providers states that only a qualified dentist should perform the following functions, including but not limited to:
- Examination, diagnosis and treatment planning
- Prescribing work authorizations
- Performing irreversible dental procedures
- Prescribing drugs and/or other medications
How can I lower my student debt?
The rising cost of dental education poses a significant threat to ASDA members. With dental school tuition nearly doubling since 2000, new dentists are faced with varying amounts of debt after graduation, which can jeopardize their ability to choose their preferred career path. Rising educational costs might also discourage potential students from pursuing dental school altogether. As a top priority, ASDA leadership and staff have conveyed our strategies to protect members from rising debt to policymakers during National Dental Student Lobby Day. Additionally, ASDA has coordinated advocacy efforts with fellow student/educational/dental associations and supported increased scholarship funding at the national level. Read more about ASDA’s approach to lowering student debt here.
What are “Barriers to Care” and who does it affect?
Oral health only benefits those who have the ability to access it. “Barriers to Care” may be the effect of finances, geographic location, pressing health needs or poor oral health literacy, and can leave patients with serious conditions that threaten their overall systemic health and quality of life. To access the necessary care for their dental needs, patients may require transportation, oral health education or financial assistance. Language, education, cultural and ethnic barriers often further compound the problem.
- 47 million Americans are affected by barriers to care
- 16,511,502 children in the U.S. were not taken to a dentist in 2009
- 29 states and 53 other countries permit expanded function to dental assistants
As of July 2, 2012 there are 4,382 Dental Health Professionals Shortage Areas (HPSA) with 43.8 million people living in them. It would take 8,811 practitioners to meet their need for dental providers (a population to practitioner ratio of 3,000:1). Visit ASDA’s website about barriers to care for more information.
Where can I learn about licensure?
Licensure is a process whereby a state grants dentists the legal authority to practice dentistry. Every dental graduate will need to obtain an initial license from a state. In the United States, each state has the right to set its own requirements for professional licensure. Although specifics may vary, all states have educational, written and clinical requirements:
- Educational: All states’ educational requirements are satisfied by graduation from a dental school accredited by the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation.
- Written (National Board Dental Exams): There are two parts to the National Boards: Part I and Part II. Although additional written examinations may be required at the state level, all licensing boards use the National Board Dental Examinations to satisfy a major portion of their written exam requirements.
- Clinical: Clinical exams may vary (they are not standardized). Most candidates who do not achieve licensure on their first attempt fail in some aspect of the clinical exam. Currently, only five jurisdictions administer their own clinical exams (California, Delaware, Florida, Nevada and Virgin Islands). The remaining boards contract that responsibility to one of the five regional testing agencies. Alternatives to the clinical exam include Post-Graduate Year-1 (PGY-1), Canadian National Dental Examining Board (NDEB) Exam and a portfolio system.
For more information about licensure issues, visit ASDA’s site regarding licensure.
How is ASDA approaching ethical problems?
An important issue facing dental education today is the ethical and professional behavior of its students. Due to the integrity of the profession, certain privileges and rights are afforded to us — and they can be taken away if we do not maintain proper stewardship over those that we care for. The ASDA House of Delegates has passed several resolutions that have focused on ethics, including updating of our Code of Ethics. We also have a task force in place to analyze the research on this issue and develop recommendations to address ethical violations. Visit our SPEA page for more information about ethical issues in dentistry and about events being hosted at CDM.