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Tips for controlling upper back pain

As a dentist, you do many procedures that require a close visual field and fine, controlled movements of your hands for long periods of time.

Center for Professional SuccessThese procedures also require sustained postures and twisting and bending of your neck and upper back.  These postures and movements can place stress on your upper back and neck, contributing to the development of or aggravation of upper back pain.  This can impacts your well-being and the efficiency and productivity of your office.

As always, consult a physician for any persistent problem, but here are some tips for controlling upper back pain from the ADA Center for Professional Success.

  • Maintain proper posture.
  • Use magnification, such as loupes, and adequate lighting to bring your field of vision closer and decrease the extent to which your neck is held forward and flexed down.
  • Position the patient’s head at a level that gives you access to the oral cavity while being able to hold your shoulders in a relaxed, neutral position (rather than a hunched up position) and you are able to hold your elbows at about a ninety degree or less flexion.
  • When possible, use chair arms to support your upper arm or forearm when doing fine, precision work with your hands.
  • Wear properly fitting gloves.
  • Keep equipment in good working order.  Improperly maintained equipment can cause you to use unnecessary pressure and extra time when performing certain procedures.
  • Position equipment within easy reach and visibility to reduce repeated twisting of your neck or torso.
  • Take a break in between or during long or difficult cases.
  • When possible, set up your schedule to rotate long, difficult cases with short, easier cases.

Seek medical consultation for upper back pain, especially in the following instances:

  • After recent significant trauma, such as a fall, a motor vehicle accident or other such accidents.
  • When sleep is disrupted or pain is worse at night.
  • With a history of prolonged steroid use.
  • With a history of osteoporosis.
  • With a recent history of infection or a temperature over 100 degrees F.
  • Numbness or tingling in arms.
  • Severe, sudden headache.
  • Dizziness.

To read the full CPS article, which includes information on symptoms and causes, click here. The article is only available to ADA members.

Other resources on the topic include the American College of Sports Medicine, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, American Physical Therapy Association.

Win a free registration for an ADA Executive Program in Dental Practice Management class

Want a chance to win a free class in the ADA Executive Program in Dental Practice Management? If you are an ADA member, click here to enter.

Clinical and Business

In an effort to provide the best in ongoing education for dentists, the American Dental Association’s Center for Professional Success  recruited dental management experts to introduce applications specific to running a dental practice, which are complemented by ADA-selected foundational business skills delivered by Notre Dame’s graduate-level faculty. The end result is a six course, dental practice management certificate program offered 100% online. The ADA Executive Program in Dental Practice Management takes on the tough practice management challenges today’s dentists must master. This includes reducing costs, enhancing marketing strategies, and practicing amid increased regulation.

These six online courses help dentists navigate the business side of dentistry:

  • Legal and ethical issues in dental practice.
  • Negotiation and conflict management.
  • Understanding leadership.
  • Business strategy and systems.
  • Dental team management.
  • Financial management.

For each course completed, verification of potential continuing education credits will be issued.

One winner will be named each month.

To enter the giveaway, click here.

Visit PMcertificate.Success.ADA.org or call 1.855.598.6559 to learn more about the program.

It’s flu season: What to know about influenza prevention and control

We’re at the peak of flu season.

Since many symptoms of influenza are non-specific, it’s possible that the patient you are treating may have the flu virus without any noticeable symptoms. The spread of the flu can occur among patients, your dental team and yourself.

Cold Here are five major components that should be part of your infection control program, according to the ADA Center for Professional Success.

  • Education and training: Annual education and training around occupational exposure to potentially infectious agents and infection-control procedures is an important aspect of an infection control program. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a PowerPoint available online called Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings.
  • Immunization: Annual vaccinations are a critical part of limiting exposure and deciphering from other communicable diseases. Consider covering the cost of vaccination for your team, or providing vaccinations in the office during work hours.
  • Sterilization: Proper and consistent sterilization practices of all materials in contact or in close proximity to patients are paramount. Verify that your sterilization methods and equipment meet compliance standards.
  • Exposure prevention and post-exposure management: Make sure your practice is screening symptomatic patients. Develop etiquette regarding respiratory hygiene and coughing. Placing cough etiquette reminders in the waiting area and the staff operatory can be helpful.
  • Policy on work-related illness: Encourage patients to seek preventative and curative care, and to report signs or symptoms of illness. Create a work environment that does not punish employees for illness.

Remodeling your practice

Grand Rapids, Mich. — When Dr. Andrea Toth bought an existing practice in October, she knew she needed to remodel.

Dr. Toth

Dr. Toth

Soiled carpets. Furniture from the ’70s. Wallpaper falling apart. White walls no longer white. Bathroom floors appeared moldy.

“The equipment needed updating,” Dr. Toth said. “The dental X-rays and countertops were green. The chairs and upholstery were ripped. It all needed to be cleaned up and modernized.”

Three months later, she got her wish. New equipment. New dark wooden floors. Modern furniture. Clean new granite countertops.

“It’s given me a completely different feeling when I come in to work,” Dr. Toth said. “The best part is that my staff and my patients love it.”

Dr. Toth spoke with ADA New Dentist Now blog to share some advice and suggestions, based on her experience, for making a remodeling experience as smooth as possible.

With financing, be patient

The biggest obstacle Dr. Toth said she faced in the process was the issue of finance.

“I was trying to get a loan from a bank, but it was taking so long,” she said, adding that when she finally heard back regarding the loan, the bank wanted to hold the practice as collateral.

“My husband and I just decided to pay for it,” she said. Even then, with the holidays and the search for contractors, the construction and remodeling couldn’t start until Jan. 10 — finishing a week later.

For those who can’t afford it and need a loan, be patient.

“I would advise that you have a realistic idea of how long this this will take,” she said. “Give yourself enough time and plan ahead. Realize that you can’t have it all in an instant.”

Lobby (Before)

Lobby (Before)

Lobby (After)

Lobby (After)

Find the right people

Another process that took time was the search for a contractor to be tasked with the construction — replacing the floors, painting the walls, removing the wall paper, etc.

The dentist that Dr. Toth had bought the practice from had been in the space for over 30 years. When she came to acquire it, she didn’t have the layout of the of the facility.

“I didn’t know what were in the walls,” she said. Contractors asked where and how the plumbing was set up; where the electrical wires were.

“My guess was just as good as theirs,” she said. “So some contractors didn’t want to work with me.”

In addition, some companies would send someone to visit the practice, then never submit a bid as promised. Then there were contractors who would submit bids that excluded costs on certain work — which made their bids appear low.

In the end, Dr. Toth found a local contractor, Copper Rock Construction from Grand Rapids.

“They were very upfront with me on the costs,” she said, adding that they were more affordable compared to the other bids. “They said that if they go over budget, it won’t be over 15 percent. They were sincere, with good prices and did good work.”

Dr. Toth also went with Dental Equipment and Repair, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, to remove and reinstall all dental-related items such as cabinets, dental chairs and dental equipment.

“I was very happy with the results,” she said.

Utilize the Internet and friends

When it came to decorating the space, Dr. Toth said, Dental Equipment offered to furnish the space.

However, after conducting simple Google searches, she found pieces that were much more affordable, including artwork, mirrors and furniture.

It was through looking at photos online of other dental practices that she was inspired and decided to get dark wooden floors.

“The rest sort of fell into place,” she said. “I met with neighbors and friends to give me some input on what they thought. And I considered what they said in my decisions.”

Operatory (Before)

Operatory (Before)

Operatory (After)

Operatory (After)

Oversee the operation

Once you’ve hired the right people, don’t disappear.

Dr. Toth said she made sure she was available to coordinate schedules. For example, Copper Rock Construction couldn’t paint until Dental Equipment finished installing a certain equipment or cabinet.

“I would come over and make sure everything was going as planned,” she said.

In addition, her front desk staff worked during remodeling week to answer phone calls from patients.

“If anything needed my attention,” she said. “I instructed them to call me.”

For more information or tips on remodeling your practice, visit the ADA Center for Professional Success website here.

Know any students who qualify? ADA Foundation Volpe Research Center seeks young investigators for Summer Scholars Fellowship Program

Gaithersburg, Md. — The ADA Foundation Dr. Anthony Volpe Research Center is seeking young investigators for its 2015 Summer Scholars Fellowship Program.

ADA FoundationThe application deadline is Feb. 13.

Since its inception in 1940, the Summer Scholars program has been a way for students to apply classroom and lab experience to real world scenarios. The program has given talented students, both undergraduates and dental school students, the chance to participate in basic research at the VRC as well as gain hands-on experience in the clinical theater. Students work side-by-side with mentors while becoming part of the research process.

The ADA Foundation operates the Dr. Anthony Volpe Research Center laboratory facility on the grounds of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a federal government research campus. Its origins date back to 1928. The ADA initially operated the laboratory facility, formerly known as the Paffenbarger Research Center, and later jointly operated it with the ADA Foundation. The lab conducts unique research in cutting-edge fields of biomaterial and tissue engineering technologies.

For more information, contact program coordinator Gretchen Duppins at gretchen.duppins@nist.gov. Visit adafoundation.org to learn more about the VRC.

APHA seeks 2015 abstracts on oral health issues

The American Public Health Association is accepting abstracts on oral health for the APHA 143rd Annual Meeting Oct. 11-Nov. 4 in Chicago.

The deadline for oral health abstract submissions is Feb. 11.

Participants may submit abstracts on the conference theme, Health in All Policies, or on issues pertinent to oral health.

Oral health abstracts may be in one of two formats:

  • Oral sessions — formal presentations to larger groups, including Q&A sessions with the audience.
  • Poster sessions — visual representation of research and findings where presenters can interact one-on-one with attendees.

APHA membership is not required to submit an abstract, but if an abstract is accepted for presentation, the presenting author must become an APHA individual member and must register for the annual meeting by the pre-registration deadline.

For more information on the conference and abstract submission guidelines, visit apha.org.

Are you practicing in public health?

Federal grant helps dental school grads provide care for underserved in Alabama

A federal grant is helping recent dental school graduates pay down their loans in exchange for treating Medicaid patients in some of the most underserved parts of Alabama, according to Action for Dental Health.

Action for Dental HealthThe program is a collaborative effort between the Alabama Dental Association and the University of Alabama School of Dentistry, which received the three-year federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in 2013, according to Dr. Allen Conan Davis, who serves as a principal in managing the grant and is the assistant dean for community collaborations and public health at the dental school.

“The school of dentistry and the association have had a great relationship, because we’ve had a mutual interest in addressing access to care issues,” said Dr. Davis. “I think that relationship helped us secure the HRSA grant.”

A total of nine dental graduates – three each year – receive $100,000 apiece to pay down loans if they devote 30 percent of their practices to Medicaid patients and agree to stay in their communities for at least four years.

Six graduates were placed in dentally underserved areas in Alabama by the end of 2014, said Dr. Davis. Three more are expected to take part in the program this year.

To read the full story, click here.

Action for Dental Health, launched by the ADA, is a nationwide, community-based movement aimed at ending dental health crisis facing America today. To learn more, click here.

FDA approves new hydrocodone product that’s hard to abuse

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved an extended-release hydrocodone product with properties that can reduce abuse of the drug, according to ADA News.

Hysingla ER (hydrocodone bitartrate) is an opioid analgesic that can treat pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock-long-term use. The tablet is difficult to crush, break or dissolve and it also forms a thick gel and cannot be easily prepared for injection. Because of those characteristics, the FDA has determined it would be difficult to abuse the drug.

“While the science of abuse deterrence is still evolving, the development of opioids that are harder to abuse is helpful in addressing the public health crisis of prescription drug abuse in the U.S.,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Preventing prescription opioid abuse is a top public health priority for the FDA and encouraging the development of opioids with abuse-deterrent properties is just one component of a broader approach to reducing abuse and misuse and will better enable the agency to balance addressing this problem with ensuring that patients have access to appropriate treatments for pain.”

To read the full story, click here.

Have you used hydrocodone products in your practice?

New Dentist Committee meets in Chicago

The New Dentist Committee held their first meeting of the year today at ADA Headquarters to discuss a variety of topics including NDC priorities, networking and leadership, engagement and outreach and new dentist issues.

The meeting, set to continue Jan. 31, also included a tour of the new ADA Video Studio, along with receiving reports from ADA staff on the ADA Strategic Plan, the Diversity and Inclusion Plan and dental school programs and strategies.

The Committee is an ADA volunteer agency comprised of 17 volunteers representing the ADA districts, serving four-year terms. All members must have graduated from dental school less than 10 years ago at his/her term start. The New Dentist Committee serves as the voice of the new dentist. As a committee of the Board, their primary purpose is to advise the Board of Trustees on matters relating to new dentists. They also review and advise the Board on member benefits and the member experience from a new dentist perspective as well as on policy affecting new dentists. The Board recently approved a charter for the New Dentist Committee that more clearly defines its responsibilities.

For more information on the New Dentist Committee, how to contact your representatives or to get involved, click here.

Here are some photos from their meeting during a strategic discussion on evaluating ADA member benefits:

(Left) Dr. Michael LeBlanc, NDC chair, and Dr. Chris Hasty, NDC vice-chair

(Left) Dr. Michael LeBlanc, NDC chair and District 12, and Dr. Chris Hasty, NDC vice-chair and District 5

Drs. Andrea Janik and Eric Childs

Drs. Andrea Janik, District 15, and Eric Childs, District 9

Dr. Martin Smallidge, District 4

Dr. Martin Smallidge, District 4

Dr. Lindsay Yates

Dr. Lindsay Yates

New Dentist Committee


Are you interested in learning about the different types of group practices?

Learn more about the different types of group practices in videos posted on the ADA Center for Professional Success website.

Center for Professional SuccessDentists from three different practice group models spoke at ADA 2014 — America’s Dental Meeting in San Antonio about their organization’s structure, management, patient care and more. In 2014, the ADA Health Policy Institute proposed a classification system for group practices and a nomenclature that would more specifically describe them.

The videos include presentations on group practices that are dentist-owned and operated; affiliated with a dental management organization affiliated; insurer-provider; not-for-profit; and government agencies.

The presentations are available here.