Dr Ronan Kennedy BDS (QUB)

Dr Ronan Kennedy
Clonmullen Lane
Edenderry
Co Offaly
T: 046 973 1304/973 3750

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News - July 2021

Gaps to fill: Income, education may impact inequalities in seeking dental care

Economically advanced Japan has plentiful dentists, as well as a universal health insurance system, yet it also has oral care-related inequities, according to a new study. A team of researchers at the University of Tsukuba examined a huge set of claims and check-up data in search of regional and socioeconomic trends. Their findings included the key observation that regional lower income and educational levels may correlate with failing to seek preventive dental treatment. The study was reported in The Lancet Regional Health – Western Pacific.
Associate Prof. Takahiro Mori said: "We conducted an ecological [population-level] study to try and grasp how people access oral care across Japan, and what they seek. This was the first-ever national-level attempt to examine regional inequality in dental care use in our country”.
The 216 million pieces of data in this study spanned April 2017 to March 2018 and included indicators such as outpatient visits, use of outreach (home) services, and treatments such as fillings and dentures. The data were also examined in different regions in relation to socioeconomic factors, such as income and education.
Perhaps the most important finding regarded income and education, explained the study’s senior author, Prof. Nanako Tamiya: “Access to preventive care was negatively correlated with areas that showed lower income and education levels. This means people in those areas may be less likely to seek preventive dental measures such as calculus removal (i.e., cleaning). This, in turn, can make it harder to preserve teeth, and necessitates more severe treatment”.

From: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/06/210614131242.htm

Predicting tooth loss

Tooth loss is often accepted as a natural part of aging, but what if there was a way to better identify those most susceptible without the need for a dental exam? New research led by investigators at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine suggests that machine learning tools can help identify those at greatest risk for tooth loss and refer them for further dental assessment in an effort to ensure early interventions to avert or delay the condition.
The study, published in PLOS ONE, compared five algorithms using a different combination of variables to screen for risk. The results showed those that factored medical characteristics and socioeconomic variables, such as race, education, arthritis, and diabetes, outperformed algorithms that relied on dental clinical indicators alone.
Study lead investigator Hawazin Elani said: "Our analysis showed that while all machine-learning models can be useful predictors of risk, those that incorporate socioeconomic variables can be especially powerful screening tools to identify those at heightened risk for tooth loss".
The approach could be used to screen people globally and in a variety of healthcare settings, even by non-dental professionals, she added. In the study, the researchers used data comprising nearly 12,000 adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to design and test five machine-learning algorithms and assess how well they predicted both complete and incremental tooth loss among adults based on socioeconomic, health, and medical characteristics.
The results of the analysis point to the importance of socioeconomic factors that shape risk beyond traditional clinical indicators.

From: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/06/210624114453.htm

The tooth on how the pandemic has affected our smiles

New survey data collected by the Oral Health Foundation and Align Technology has found the profound impact of the pandemic on the way UK adults view their smiles. More than half (58%) of British adults surveyed responded that they have changed the way they see their smile as a result of online video calls, with a third (33%) now more aware of the colour of their teeth and nearly a quarter (24%) more conscious about the alignment of their teeth.
The new research, released as part of National Smile Month, shows that one-in-ten (11%) UK adults feels self-conscious seeing their smile during an online meeting or video call.
Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, believes the growth and increased use of digital technologies has led to an increased exposure of the smile: “Physical interactions have been limited over the last 12 months, and for many, have been replaced with gatherings online. This technology has been an invaluable tool, whether it be facilitating business meetings or allowing grandparents to see their newborn grandchildren for the first time. It has also led to us seeing our own face, and smile, far more than we are used to”.
A healthy mouth can be achieved through an effective oral health routine at home, as well as regular dental visits. The key components of an effective oral health routine are brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes, cleaning in between the teeth daily with interdental brushes or floss, and cutting down on how much and how often you have sugary foods and drinks.

From: https://www.dentalhealth.org/news/the-tooth-on-how-the-pandemic-has-affected-our-smiles