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Americans today have pretty good chompers on average, at least relative to most other people, past and present. Nevertheless, we do not think enough about oral health as evidenced by the almost complete lack of discussion regarding the effect of lockdowns and mandatory masking on our mouths.
Article by Robert E. Wright from AIER.
Maybe people forced to wear masks all day long take better care of their teeth because they have to smell their own breath, but they probably go “nose blind” pretty quickly. Most people brush and floss to avoid alerting others to the fact that they are afflicted with halitosis and UGS (ugly grill syndrome). In short, masking is a close substitute for mouthwash.
Were the disincentive to take care of one’s teeth merely cosmetic and olfactory, the cost of mandatory masking’s effect on dental hygiene would be minimal and fleeting. But, in fact, oral health and general health are intimately linked. If your mouth is full of rot, your health soon will go to pot. I do not want to get into the details, which are gross (IMHO), but if you can stomach it, read Dying from Dirty Teeth by Angie Stone, RDH.
The subtitle of Stone’s book, Why the Lack of Proper Oral Care Is Killing Nursing Home Residents and How to Prevent It, is much more poignant now than when the book appeared in 2015. Its warnings were largely ignored then though more seniors died of poor oral health than died with Covid, outside of the nursing home massacre states like New York and Michigan anyway. (Never forget!)
Safe from the scrutiny of others, if not from the novel Coronavirus, the masked ones, we know, assiduously avoided (or were denied) general medical care in 2020-21. Most people avoid the dentist like the plague in normal times so unsurprisingly office visits to dentists also plummeted in 2020, a full third according to an article in JADA (the JAMA for dentists). Of course visits dropped barely at all in states like South Dakota and Arkansas that allowed robust civil society responses to the pandemic while they dropped by over half in states, like Cali and Joisey, with severe cases of lockdownitis.
While it is possible to “catch up” on certain types of oral disease, missed dental care can also create a negative health spiral, especially in the aged and infirm. We do not know what the long-term effects of the care skipped or delayed by the pandemic lockdowns will be, but serious researchers will need to add estimates of it to their regression models, lest they confuse “long Covid” with “long in the tooth” (due to periodontitis).
If nothing else, the pandemic exposed the weaknesses in the world’s healthcare systems, including those in America’s uniquely stupid model. It has also exposed weaknesses in America’s dental care system, which also has some gross inefficiencies, one of which entails the scope of work that different categories of oral health professionals can lawfully perform.
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The RDH after Angie Stone’s name stands for Registered Dental Hygienist. It means that she has successfully completed coursework in an accredited program and passed a national examination related to cleaning other people’s teeth and that she has completed a sufficient number of continuing education credits. According to ZipRecruiter, RDHs average $55,000 to $85,000 a year depending on state.
The average dentist, by contrast, earns $130,000 to $250,000 per year depending on state. Dentists must also obtain a degree (DDS or DMD), pass qualifying examinations, and complete a residency and/or train for one of a dozen dental specialties. Where the RDH specializes in cleaning teeth and gums, the dentist specializes in identifying and fixing damage.
In most jurisdictions, dentists also must supervise RDHs and that is where some inefficiencies creep in. Dentists examine patient teeth after a cleaning to ensure that the RDH did a good job but the RDH is usually the one who spots dental problems because (s)he is the one digging around and many even bring attention to problematic areas on X-rays. Most patients have no problems so the exams turn into feel good sessions or, more notoriously, attempts to drum up unnecessary business.
Most dentists would rather be doing a root canal than jawboning with healthy patients just in for a cleaning but “Oh the inefficiency we create, when first we start to regulate.” Dentists earn rents from the cleaning process by charging patients more than they pay their RDHs, even accounting for their overhead, and justify it on the grounds that RDHs are insufficiently qualified to clean teeth without the dentist being around.
Due to the high opportunity cost of their time, dentists on average offer little of their time in pro bono work, leaving free clinics critically understaffed. Many poorer people therefore do not get the oral prophylactic care they need, which causes dental, periodontal, and eventually general health problems. Many an outrageously costly emergency room visit took root years or decades earlier because state regulators and dentists prevented RDHs from cleaning teeth voluntarily, or on the cheap.
In 2018 though, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in what may be its crowning achievement, endorsed Dental Therapy as a compromise position. Just as Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners work in the interstices between nurses and doctors, Dental Therapists (DT) perform duties previously monopolized by dentists, but for less money.
A bunch of states, mostly in the north and west, have already legalized Dental Therapy and a bunch more are currently considering DT proposals. Minnesota led the way. But many states remain wed to the old ways, largely because they have given too much say to dentists who are perfectly happy with their professional monopoly. They claim that DTs are unnecessary or underqualified and that all that is needed to increase access to care are … drumroll please! … bigger government subsidies for dentists.
I was recently honored with an opportunity to review a written debate between an RDH and a DDS about a DT proposal in a state that will have to remain nameless for the time being. The RDH mopped the floor with the DDS by presenting a clear case backed with relevant empirical information while the DDS blustered, at times almost incoherently, straining both logic and credulity in the process. I hope the exchange one day becomes public because it exposes what self-serving argumentation completely at odds with reality looks like. Unfortunately, though, the DDS will likely prevail as the decision-making body in that state is composed mostly of dentists eager to protect their six-figure incomes.
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Just as masks hide the condition of people’s mouths, so too do various commissions hide special interest policymaking. America needs to return to the commonsense view that regulations ought to have a solid empirical basis: a claim about the real world supported by data and the best available theory, not bureaucratic or commercial self-interest. Then Americans would have had DTs and no mask mandates and better teeth, gums, and overall health.
New Conservative Network Seeks Crowdfunding Help
They say we have to go big or go home. We’re trying to go big and bring the patriotic truth the the nation, but we need help.
Readers may or may not realize that over the past year, we’ve been bringing more conservative news and opinion outlets under our wing. Don’t take our expansion as a sign of riches; all of the “acquisitions” have been through sweat and promises of greater things to come for all involved. As a result, we’ve been able to bring together several independent media sites under a unified vision of preventing America from succumbing to the progressive, “woke,” Neo-Marxist ideologies that are spreading like wildfire across America.
The slow and steady reopening of America is revealing there was a lot more economic hardship brought about from the Covd-19 lockdowns than most realize. While we continue to hope advertising dollars on the sites go up, it’s simply not enough to do things the right way. We are currently experiencing a gap between revenue and expenses that cannot be overcome by click-ads and MyPillow promos alone (promo code “NOQ” by the way).
To overcome our revenue gap and keep these sites running, our needs fluctuate between $3000-$7000 per month. In other words, we’re in the red and hemorrhaging.
The best way you can help us grow and continue to bring the truth to the people is by donating. We appreciate everything, whether a dollar or $10,000. Anything brings us closer to a point of stability when we can hire writers, editors, and support staff to make the America First message louder. Our Giving Fuel page makes it easy to donate one-time or monthly. Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal as well.
As the world spirals towards radical progressivism, the need for truthful journalism has never been greater. But in these times, we need as many conservative media voices as possible. Please help keep NOQ Report and the other sites in the network going.
Thank you and God Bless,
They’re Trying to Shut Us Down
Over the last several months, I’ve lost count of how many times the powers-that-be have tried to shut us down. They’ve sent hackers at us, forcing us to take extreme measures on web security. They sent attorneys after us, but thankfully we’re not easily intimidated by baseless accusations or threats. They’ve even gone so far as to make physical threats. Those can actually be a bit worrisome but Remington has me covered.
For us to continue to deliver the truth that Americans need to read and hear, we ask you, our amazing audience, for financial assistance. We just launched a GiveSendGo page to help us pay the bills. It’s brand new so don’t be discouraged by the lack of donations there. It’s a funny reality that the fewer the donations that have been made, the less likely people are willing to donate to it. One would think this is counterintuitive, but sometimes people are skeptical because they think that perhaps there’s a reason others haven’t been donating. In our situation, we’re just getting started so please don’t be shy if you have the means to help.
Thank you and God bless!