A Health Care System That’s the Envy of the World

More is spent on taxes by households than on anything else in Amy’s country.  This exuberant taxpayer funding of the public health care utopia known as the “envy of the world” is today Bernie Sanders’s and Kamala Harris’s main advocacy platform all the way to 2020.

Addictive and mind-altering pharmaceutical chemicals are all Amy has at her disposal.  No back specialist or treatments are on the horizon.

The following events did not take place in the Soviet Union or Cuba.  None of this inhumanity was a figment of my imagination.  I’m narrating the details without hyperbole.

Recently, I took a ride through one amazingly affordable health care system — the one Obama and other notable Democrats paint as the “envy of the world.”  See how quickly you can figure out where this envy of the world dwells.

Got your seat belt on? This liberal utopia is a bit bumpy.

You enter a hospital emergency room.  For two months prior, you suffered abysmal pain, unable to shower, straighten out, or sit.  You’re the Hunchback of Notre Dame, debilitated with no reprieve.  When one of your legs isn’t numb from hip to toe, you experience sharp stabbing sensations that make you want to slit your wrists.

Yet you do exactly what your nation’s one-tier medical system instructs you to do: you visit a family doctor who routinely suggests an MRI.  And since you live in the proud lap of liberalism, which ensures the all-inclusive equity of suffering, you are told that your MRI is a mere twelve months away.  A referral to a spine clinic was offered at a six months’ wait.  Lucky for you, a generous dose of an opioid was prescribed in the interim.  The 60 Oxycontin pills (the most addictive opioid on the market, with a street value of $60/pill) were augmented by 270 pills of Gabapentin, a drug designed to deceive your brain into thinking you are not in pain.  You walk away a guaranteed addict with a pocket full of mind-altering chemicals.

By now you should be entirely consoled by the idea that many are in the same boat of egalitarianism for suffering and queues.  The thought of equitable misery is expected to work as an instant pain-reliever.  This barbaric philosophy is at the crux of government policies that outlaw private health care in this country.

This is how my friend’s journey through the cartel of socialist policies began.

As Amy tried to figure out how to take her next breath without screaming, she decided that a 12-month wait is simply inhumane.  She did what most people of means do: she arranged a private MRI.  A diagnosis of bulging spinal discs pressing on nerves in the lower spine resulted.  Amy, now $692 poorer, was always guaranteed health care when she needed it — that is, if she didn’t mind croaking from pain first.

In Amy’s country, an average annual income of $60,900 pays a health care tax bill of $5,516 for the privilege of the “free” health care perk.  In 2016, an average family sent 42.5% of their income straight into government coffers, out of which health care funding is allocated.  Top earners pay up to $37,361 annually for their shot at the “free” emergency room queues, MRI waits, and specialist appointments.

More is spent on taxes by households than on anything else in Amy’s country.  This exuberant taxpayer funding of the public health care utopia known as the “envy of the world” is today Bernie Sanders’s and Kamala Harris’s main advocacy platform all the way to 2020.

Amy’s journey continues…

Addictive and mind-altering pharmaceutical chemicals are all Amy has at her disposal.  No back specialist or treatments are on the horizon.

After a several days of continued suffering, with no relief from prescribed opioids, Amy, now in a wheelchair, heads to the nearest emergency room.  Official wait time is recorded as two hours.  In reality, the two-hour wait was simply the time needed to get through the three separate points of admission.  Bureaucracy requires it.

Amy enters a second waiting room, where she waits three more hours.  Ten hours later, loaded with more addicting opioids (Hydromorphine and Tramadol), Amy is sent home.  She is told that average wait time to see a back surgeon is between 18 and 24 months.

Next come two more visits to emergency rooms out of sheer desperation and helplessness.  Amy knows that these emergency rooms rarely do more than prescribe drugs and lend a sympathetic ear.  But when you have no other choices, you seek relief even where you know there isn’t any.

After each visit to an emergency facility, Amy is prescribed more addictive medications and told she needs to learn to manage her pain.  Amy understands that “managing pain” is code for “living with pain.”  Continuing this regime of ineffective addictive pill therapy is, likewise, synonymous with “there are no resources, no treatments, but you’re welcome to become a drug addict and not waste our time ever again.”  None of the drugs prescribed works.  Amy is told average time for surgery she needs is up to three years.

Amy finally realizes that private care surgery is the only option.  It’s the end of the line; she has to take control of her health, regardless of the public system’s incompetence and lack of resources.

A few days later — another trip to an emergency room by way of ambulance service that refused to drive her to a hospital with a spinal unit.  Amy waits four hours.  In the meantime, she’s generously offered more opioids for her pain. 

After six agonizing hours, Amy is admitted.  Once again, the wait begins.  At 3:00 A.M., a doctor on duty shows up, exactly eight hours since Amy was wheeled in.

Once at Amy’s bedside, the good doctor utters, “There’s nothing we can do for you here.  You should’ve gone to the other hospital with a spinal unit.  But don’t tell anyone I told you.”

Amy’s visit ends with a fresh prescription of meds and a refill for more opioids.  Not even a hint of the word “surgery.”

The next morning, Amy’s pain gets worse.  She’s in the hospital again.  This time, a twelve-hour wait before she is seen.  When the neurosurgeon arrives he offers, “We don’t do surgery for your condition.  I’m happy to put you on a waiting list to see a back specialist.  If you’re lucky, the average twelve-month wait might expedite to a three-month wait.”  Amy’s visit ends with more helplessness, more crying and desperation. 

As Amy became completely bedridden, I made the case for private surgery south of the border, in Florida.  It was her only option for survival.  A ten-hour flight to Florida wasn’t feasible in Amy’s condition.  But an underground private clinic in a close-by city one hour’s flight time away was perfect.  The cost of surgery?  Twenty thousand dollars.

Three days after the original idea for private care, I picked up Amy from the long awaited surgery, able to walk and talk without groaning and crying.  Only hours after surgery, she was cracking her usual jokes.

Amy’s story doesn’t quite end here.  For lack of any good alternatives, this very Canadian (there you have it!) public health care mess more than charitably fed Amy all sorts of opioids.  Today, my friend is courageously fighting an opioid addiction — an addiction not one medical professional warned her about. 

Unless you live in Canada and have the dubious pleasure of experiencing the one-tier system of finding a family doctor, wait times in hospitals, wait times for imagery exams, wait times to see specialists and wait times for treatment or surgery, you can’t really appreciate the true meaning of the word “affordable” in Canada’s very affordable public health care.  Canada’s single-payer public health care system, heavily funded by taxpayers, forced over one million patients to wait for necessary medical treatments last year.  An all-time record in a country of only 36 million.  The only thing Canadians are guaranteed is a spot on a waitlist. 

Trouble with “affordable” and “free”: both are very expensive.

Valerie Sobel is a writer, economist, and pianist residing in Western Canada.

This content was originally published here.

IU Dentistry serves smiles to Ronald McDonald House families

This past fall, our Indiana University School of Dentistry (IUSD) ASDA chapter partnered with our local Ronald McDonald House to serve families who are displaced while their seriously ill or injured child receives care at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. We helped provide home-cooked meals for families on a monthly basis, interacting with them and spreading information about our resources at IUSD, which is located across the street. These dinners also served as a time for the family members to share their child’s story and connect with other parents who may be going through similar experiences.

We established this programming because we recognized the need for volunteers at our local Ronald McDonald House, and with the facility being only a short walk away from the dental school, it became a no-brainer in terms of getting dental students and the dental school more involved.

One of the toughest parts of the dinners was hearing some of the heart-wrenching stories from the families. For example, one family had multiple other children at home over four hours away. We listened to how they balanced time between being with their child who was receiving treatment at Riley Hospital and tending to their other children at home. As a dental student, it is so easy to get caught up in the exams, crown preps and denture projects that we may forget about the hardships others are facing right in our backyard. Partnering with and serving at Ronald McDonald House taught us how to be a little kinder and more open to listening to and comforting those in need.

My experience at our dinners was always heart-warming and meaningful. Watching my fellow students come together in the kitchen to serve those away from their home for several weeks or even months allowed me to see how much can be accomplished when a group works together and how big of a difference just a warm meal can make.

It is important to continue outreach to displaced populations such as the families at the Ronald McDonald Houses. For children facing a serious medical crisis, nothing is scarier than not having family nearby for love and support. Ronald McDonald Houses provide places for families to call home so they can be near their child at little to no cost.

My advice for a student wanting to start their own outreach project for displaced populations is to tap into local resources to see how you can collaborate to give back. You can make an even bigger difference when multiple organizations come together united. In addition, be creative and optimistic, realizing that no matter how small or large the project is, ultimately, a difference is being made. This event has impacted my understanding of oral health by illustrating to me how without outreach events, those in the community who may need care the most might not know about it or receive it.

One thing I wish I’d known earlier about the event was how much the families at the Ronald McDonald House truly appreciated the meals and the interactions. I had no idea how meaningful this work would be, and I found that sometimes a parent just needed someone to listen to them. Participating in this event as a health care provider taught me how to truly get to know people in the community who are struggling in some of the most challenging aspects of life, having an ill or injured child. This event illustrated the importance of a group of volunteers coming together for a cause and making a difference in the lives of those displaced from their homes.

~Sydney Twiggs, Indiana ’21

ASDA thanks Colgate for their exclusive sponsorship of the National Outreach Initiative. This backing includes funding for the Dentistry in the Community Grant and free oral health care supplies to any chapter that requests them.

This content is sponsored and does not necessarily reflect the views of ASDA.

This content was originally published here.

The trouble with the GOP’s focus on mental health and guns

In recent years, in the immediate aftermath of high-profile mass shootings, Republicans tend to talk about new policies related to mental health. In response to the latest slayings, we’re hearing many of the same familiar refrains.

Here, for example, was Donald Trump’s unscripted comments to reporters yesterday afternoon:

“[T]his is also a mental illness problem. If you look at both of these cases, this is mental illness. These are people – really, people that are very, very seriously mentally ill.”

And here’s how the president followed up on the point this morning, reading scripted comments:

“[W]e must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people not only get treatment, but, when necessary, involuntary confinement.”

There are all kinds of relevant angles to comments like these, which seemed to refer to general policy preferences, not specific legislation. For example, the idea of imposing “involuntary confinement” on the mentally ill is the sort of approach that easily could be abused and applied too broadly. Policymakers would have to deal with the challenges with great caution and care.

But hanging overhead is a problem that’s tough for GOP officials to explain away: the last time they tackled a policy related to guns and mental health.

As regular readers may recall, one of the very first measures tackled by the Republican-led Congress in 2017 was, of all things, a gun bill.

When an American suffers from a severe mental illness, to the point that he or she receives disability benefits through the Social Security Administration, there are a variety of limits created to help protect that person and his or her interests. These folks cannot, for example, go to a bank to cash a check on their own.

As recently as 2016, they couldn’t buy a gun, either. The Social Security Administration would report the names of those who receive disability benefits due to severe mental illness to the FBI’s background-check system.

At least, that was the policy. Less than a month into the Trump era, Republicans passed a measure to block the Social Security Administration’s reporting policy, keeping the names out of the FBI system, and making it easier for the mentally impaired to buy firearms.

To be sure, the old system had flaws and was the subject of some legitimate criticism. It’s very difficult, for example, for someone to have their names removed from the background-check system once they’re on it.

But the GOP measure made no real effort at reform. It was more of a blunt object than a scalpel.

And two years later, it’s a political headache, too. The Republicans talking today about the mentally impaired having access to guns are the same Republicans who voted to expand gun access for the mentally impaired.

This content was originally published here.

The Bond Between Grandparents and Grandchildren Has Health Benefits for Both, According to a Study

The Bond Between Grandparents and Grandchildren Has Health Benefits for Both, According to a Study

In the modern world where both parents work full-time and crave professional success, the number of grandparents who are raising grandchildren is increasing rapidly. For many adults, the “intrusion” of grandparents is annoying, because, after all, it’s about their children, “and they know what’s best for them.”

If you have doubts about whether or not to allow your elders to participate in the upbringing of your child, we at Bright Side can tip the scales in favor of the love and care that only grandparents can offer.

Grandparents are good for your health.

The cultural and social situations that occur today have strengthened the relationships between grandchildren and grandparents, mainly because the number of households where both parents work full-time is continuing to grow. In addition, the family disintegration rate is increasingly high. Because of this, there are several studies that have been dedicated to investigating the connection between the bond that grandparents have with their grandchildren and the welfare of the latter.

A special investigation, carried out by the University of Oxford, showed that frequent contact and loving connections between grandparents and their grandchildren generate social and emotional well-being in children and young people. This bond protects grandchildren from problems with development that they could face and boosts their social and cognitive abilities. In addition, “close relationships between grandparents and grandchildren buffered the effects of adverse life events, like parental separation, because it calmed the children down,” says Dr. Eirini Flouri, one of the authors of the study.

It’s not enough to just be close, you also have to get involved.

These conclusions and results were revealed thanks to the analysis of 1,596 children of different ages in England and Wales. Different aspects like socioeconomic status, grandparents’ age, and the level of closeness in the relationship were evaluated. 40 in-depth interviews were also conducted with children from different backgrounds. These surveys, in addition to revealing the healthy benefits that this bond brings, also gave an overview of the importance of these relationships in our society, since almost a third of maternal grandmothers provide regular care for their grandchildren, and 40% provide occasional help with childcare.

The study focused mainly on children who were about to become teenagers, those who, surprisingly and contrary to what one might think, accept the relationship with their grandparents with great satisfaction and love. The reason? The survey revealed that today’s grandparents often have more time than parents to help young people in their activities, in addition to being in a position that gives them greater confidence to talk with their grandchildren about any problems they may be experiencing. However, the emotional closeness may not be enough: grandparents should be involved in education and help solve youth problems, as well as talk with teenagers about their future plans.

The benefits that grandchildren bring to grandparents

The relationships and bonds that grandchildren and grandparents have can also improve the well-being of older adults. A study by the Institute of Gerontology at the School of Social and Public Policy in London found that the grandparent-grandchild relationship is strongly associated with the quality of life of older adults regarding their health. This means that grandparents, mainly grandmothers, who provide care for their grandchildren, enjoy better physical health. The study highlighted the importance of leading a relationship that does not fill grandparents with responsibilities and lets them lead a life without major worries. Otherwise it could cause depression.

The research was based on official data of 8,972 women and 6,567 men, 50 years of age or older, who had one or more grandchildren at the start of the study and lived in Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands and Sweden, contemplating a period of 5 years.

We believe that the help and advice of those who raised us and can now help us raise our children should always be welcomed.

How close were you to your grandparents? What is the relationship that your children have with their grandparents? We would absolutely love to read your stories and opinions in the comments section.

Preview photo credit Coco / Disney Pixar

This content was originally published here.

Clintons Dismiss Calls for Mental Health Reform and Demand Gun Ban

Both Bill and Hillary Clinton reacted to President Trump’s Monday morning remarks on the deadly shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, dismissing his push for mental health-based reform and calling for the ban of “assault weapons.”

Trump addressed the nation Monday on the deadly shootings that occurred over the weekend, resulting in more than 30 fatalities and dozens of injuries. He unequivocally condemned racism, bigotry, and white supremacy, calling them “sinister ideologies” that “must be defeated.”

“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy,” Trump said. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America, hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.”

While the president called for bipartisan solutions – including “red flag” laws – he urged lawmakers to address the festering mental health crisis in the nation as well.

“Mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun,” the president noted.

Both Clintons took issue with Trump’s position.

“People suffer from mental illness in every other country on earth; people play video games in virtually every other country on earth,” Hillary Clinton tweeted. “The difference is the guns.”:

People suffer from mental illness in every other country on earth; people play video games in virtually every other country on earth.

The difference is the guns.

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 5, 2019

Former President Bill Clinton took it a step further and renewed calls for an “assault weapons” ban, despite the fact that the 1994 ban did not have any tangible effect.

“How many more people have to die before we reinstate the assault weapons ban & the limit on high-capacity magazines & pass universal background checks?” Clinton asked.

“After they passed in 1994, there was a big drop in mass shooting deaths,” he claimed. “When the ban expired, they rose again. We must act now.”:

How many more people have to die before we reinstate the assault weapons ban & the limit on high-capacity magazines & pass universal background checks? After they passed in 1994, there was a big drop in mass shooting deaths. When the ban expired, they rose again. We must act now.

— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) August 5, 2019

“The ban lasted from 1994 to 2004 and, although crime fell during that time, a ‘detailed study found no proof’ the decline was due to the ban,” Breitbart News’s AWR Hawkins reported.

Even the New York Times admitted that “the law that barred the sale of assault weapons from 1994 to 2004 made little difference.”

Additionally:

Hard numbers showed the percentage of “assault weapons” recovered by police during the ban only rose from 1 percent to 2 percent.

On top of all this, the Times points out that “assault weapons” are not the gun of choice for criminals anyway–and never have been. “In 2012, only 322 people were murdered with any kind of rifle, FBI data shows.” And as Breitbart News reported on January 15, 2013, deaths in which an “assault rifle” were involved constituted less than .012 percent of the overall deaths in America in 2011.

The nitty-gritty details of the 1994 assault weapons ban demonstrate the fundamental flaws in the left’s solutions for gun violence. The 1994 assault weapons ban identified five features and barred any semi-automatic rifle that possessed two of the five. Flagged features included a flash suppressor, pistol grip, collapsible stock, bayonet mount, and a grenade launcher. As the list demonstrates, the features were primarily cosmetic and did nothing to increase firepower.

As The Federalist’s Sean Davis explained in 2016:

The 1994 assault weapons law banned semi-automatic rifles only if they had any two of the following five features in addition to a detachable magazine: a collapsible stock, a pistol grip, a bayonet mount, a flash suppressor, or a grenade launcher.

That’s it. Not one of those cosmetic features has anything whatsoever to do with how or what a gun fires. Note that under the 1994 law, the mere existence of a bayonet lug, not even the bayonet itself, somehow turned a garden-variety rifle into a bloodthirsty killing machine. Guns with fixed stocks? Very safe. But guns where a stock has more than one position? Obviously they’re murder factories. A rifle with both a bayonet lug and a collapsible stock? Perish the thought.

A collapsible stock does not make a rifle more deadly. Nor does a pistol grip. Nor does a bayonet mount. Nor does a flash suppressor.

The New York Times admitted in 2014 that Democrats manufactured the term “assault weapons” in order to ban a “politically defined category of guns — a selection of rifles, shotguns and handguns with ‘military-style’ features’” and added that those weapons “only figured in about 2 percent of gun crimes nationwide before the ban.”

This content was originally published here.

‘Dental Therapists’ Filling Gaps In Rural Dentistry Care

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — It can be hard to keep smiles healthy in rural areas, where dentists are few and far between and residents often are poor and lack dental coverage. Efforts to remedy the problem have produced varying degrees of success.

The biggest obstacle? Dentists.

Dozens of countries, such as New Zealand, use “dental therapists” — a step below a dentist, similar to a physician’s assistant or a nurse practitioner — to bring basic dental care to remote areas, often tribal reservations. But in the U.S., dentists and their powerful lobby have battled legislatures for years on the drive to allow therapists to practice.

Therapists can fill teeth, attach temporary crowns, and extract loose or diseased teeth, leaving more complicated procedures like root canals and reconstruction to dentists. But many dentists argue therapists lack the education and experience needed even to pull teeth.

“You might think extracting a tooth is very simple,” said Peter Larrabee, a retired dentist who teaches at the University of New England. “It can kill you if you’re not in the right hands. It doesn’t happen very often, but it happens enough.”

Dental therapists currently practice in only four states: on certain reservations and schools in Oregon through a pilot program; on reservations in Washington and Alaska; and for over 10 years in Minnesota, where they must work under the supervision of a dentist.

The tide is starting to turn, though.

Since December, Nevada, Connecticut, Michigan and New Mexico have passed laws authorizing dental therapists. Arizona passed a similar law last year, and governors in Idaho and Montana this spring signed laws allowing dental therapists on reservations.

Maine and Vermont have also passed such laws. And the Connecticut and Massachusetts chapters of the American Dental Association, the nation’s largest dental lobby, supported legislation in those states once it satisfied their concerns about safety. The Massachusetts proposal, not yet law, would require therapists to attain a master’s degree and temporarily work under a dentist’s supervision.

But the states looking to allow therapists must also find ways to train them. Only two states, Alaska and Minnesota, have educational programs, and they aren’t accredited. Minnesota’s program is the only one offering master’s degrees, a level of education that satisfies many opponents — dentists generally need a doctorate — but is also expensive.

“I would have to relocate to another state to go to school, and if you need to work and you still have a job, why would you do that?” said Cathy Kasprak, a dental hygienist who once hoped to become a therapist under Maine’s 2014 law.

Some dental therapists start out as hygienists, who generally hold a two-year degree, do cleanings and screenings, and offer patients general guidance on oral health. Some advocates of dental therapists argue they should need only the same level of education as a hygienist — a notion that horrifies many opponents.

Some lawmakers in Maine, which will require therapists to get a master’s from an accredited program, are optimistic about Vermont’s efforts to set up a dental therapy program with distance-learning options. It’s proposed for launch in fall 2021 at Vermont Technical College with the help of a $400,000 federal grant.

Nearly 58 million Americans struggle to afford and make the trip to dental appointments in thousands of communities short on dentists, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

One of the biggest benefits of dental therapists, proponents say, is that they can make preventive care easier to get by lightening the load of dentists, whose appointment slots are often stolen by complex procedures.

Even in states where therapists must practice in dental offices, like Minnesota, they can shorten travel times by opening slots for simple procedures closer to home, a small but growing body of evidence shows.

Christy Jo Fogarty, Minnesota’s first licensed advanced dental therapist, said the nonprofit children’s dental care organization she works for saves $40,000 to $50,000 a year by having her on staff instead of an additional dentist — and that’s not including the five other therapists on staff.

Dental therapists make $38 to $45 an hour in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Dental Association. Dentists, meanwhile, average over $83 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to state law, at least half of Fogarty’s patients must be on governmental assistance or otherwise qualify as “underserved.” She has also achieved the level of “advanced” therapist, meaning she has practiced with at least 2,000 hours of supervision and can make outreach trips on her own, to places like Head Start programs and community centers.

“Why would you ever want to withhold these services from someone who was in need of it?” she said.

Ebyn Moss, 49, of Troy, Maine, went without dental appointments for seven years before breaking a tooth below the gum line in 2017.

Moss has since had four teeth pulled, a bridge installed, a root canal, two dental implants and seven cavities filled at a cost of $6,300, and expects to shell out another $5,000 in the next year — a bill Moss is paying off with a 19% interest credit card and $16,000 in annual income.

“That’s the cost of choosing to have teeth,” Moss said.

Now, Moss gets treated at a dental school in Portland — a two-hour drive for appointments that can last 3 1/2 hours.

A dental therapist nearby would have made preventive care easier in the first place, Moss said.

The ADA and its state chapters report spending over $3 million a year on lobbying overall, according to data from the National Institute on Money in Politics. The Maine chapter paid nearly $12,000 — a relatively hefty sum in a small state — to fight the 2014 law that spring.

Some opponents of dental therapists argue they create a segregated system that gives wealthy urbanites superior care and puts poor, rural residents on a lower tier. Dental groups in Nevada and Michigan had argued lawmakers should instead boost Medicaid reimbursement to encourage dentists to accept low-income patients.

Some see less noble reasons for opposition: competition and potential loss of profits.

“They’re afraid if dental therapists come in to take care of the poor, they’re going to compete for their patients,” said Frank Catalanotto, a dentistry professor at the University of Florida.

Despite signs of more openness, successes aren’t uniform. Legislation failed in North Dakota and Florida this spring. Bills are pending in Kansas, Massachusetts and Wisconsin, as well as Washington, where therapists could be authorized to practice outside reservations.

“Available data have yet to demonstrate that creating new midlevel workforce models significantly reduce rates of tooth decay or lower patient costs,” ADA President Jeffrey Cole said in an email.

But the recent authorization of dental therapists in so many states may indicate the lobby’s influence and the arguments of other opponents are beginning to lose power.

“There is no justification, no evidence to support their opposition to dental therapists,” said dental policy consultant Jay Friedman.

He and some cohorts suggest dental therapists may need only as much education as a hygienist and argue they shouldn’t be working primarily in clinics. Such rules don’t help vulnerable groups like poor children in rural schools, he said.

“It’s no longer a question of if dental therapists will be authorized in every state,” said Kristen Mizzi Angelone, manager of the Pew Charitable Trusts dental campaign, which has waged its own push for dental therapists. “At this point it’s really only a matter of when.”

(© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

This content was originally published here.

Wilmington orthodontist uses 3D technology to get straight teeth

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  • Hudson Fields concerts spark debate

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COMMENTEMAILMORE

For Jessica Keogh, braces were not an option.

The 33-year-old never had them growing up as a kid. She’s always wanted to fix her crowded bottom teeth but hated the idea of sporting braces as an adult.

When her cousin told her about a website where a Wilmington orthodontist will give her a free consult about getting clear, plastic aligners to straighten her teeth, she gave it a shot. 

Now, months later, Keogh wears her aligners every day. Most people don’t realize she has them at work.

“Who wants braces,” she said, “Obviously, I’m going to take this.”

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Wilmington orthodontist John Nista has developed a new process called “Simply Fast Smiles” that combines new industry concepts and emerging technology. The doctor said through clear, plastic trays, he can straighten some people’s teeth in six months. And the bill is typically about $3,000, half the normal cost of most sets of braces.

“If you say you’re going to the orthodontist because you need braces, the first thing that goes to your mind is that it’s going to be expensive, it’s going to take time and it’s going to be painful,” he said. 

“My piece of the puzzle doesn’t have to do that.”

Nista uses a 3-D scanner and printer, as well as advanced software, to create about 25 plastic moving aligners. He prints all of the plastic trays at the same time for the patients, resulting in fewer check-up appointments. The patients wear a new aligner every week, which incrementally straightens their teeth. 

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While this program can be for anyone with adult teeth, most of his patients have been adults who have had previous dental work. 

Nista, who has been an orthodontist for 28 years, said the industry has changed and adapted its practices every couple of decades. But it wasn’t until Invisalign was created in the late 1990s that there has been such a major technological breakthrough in orthodontics, he said.

Invisalign showed orthodontists that clear, plastic aligners can efficiently move people’s teeth while avoiding the severe pain and unattractive look of braces. Forbes reported in April that Invisalign hit its 4 millionth patient last September. In 2016, the company’s sales reached $1 billion for the first time. 

In recent years, it has led to the creation of a handful of other clear aligner competitor companies. 

The startup SmileDirectClub has received national attention in recent months for its business model of saying it will straighten people’s teeth — without in-person doctor consults and X-rays.

People can get fit for aligners by going to a SmileDirectClub store or ordering a mail-in kit. The aligners are then sent in the mail and cost $1,850. There aren’t any locations based in Delaware. 

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The American Association of Orthodontists has filed complaints with dental boards and attorney generals in 36 states against the company, saying its service can lead to medical risks. 

While Nista is also wary of the company, since there’s no direct contact with a doctor, he said it does signify the changing times of the industry. People don’t want to pay a fortune and invest a lot of time to get straight teeth.

“There is a big wave of this coming,” he said.

The first step of Nista’s “Simply Fast Smiles” is the free online consultation — which is done via selfie.

To see if a patient qualifies, Nista asks people to complete the “Smile Test” by submitting four photos that show different angles of a person’s mouth through his website. The images will be sent directly to Nista’s email. He’ll then determine the amount of work he or she needs and email the patient directly.

The idea to use telemedicine for orthodontics came to him when he watched his niece, a dermatologist, do a consult on her phone while on the beach during a family vacation. There’s no reason he couldn’t do the same thing, Nista recalled thinking. 

“Everyone knows how to take a selfie,” he said. 

Nista said it only takes orthodontists a couple minutes (at most) to decide if the aligners can properly straighten a person’s teeth in a short period of time. Looking at images via email saves time for both him and potential patients, he said. 

Telemedicine applications have become increasingly popular because doctors can treat patients in the comfort of their own homes reducing costs including travel time. The Medical Society of Delaware and Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children have encouraged their doctors to use this technology in the past year. 

In addition to orthodontic X-rays and photographs, Nista uses software that takes a digital scan of a patient’s mouth. The computer program then shows what it will take for the teeth to get into a “goal position.”

It also creates the design of the 25 plastic aligners which are then 3D printed at the same time. Whitening gel is also included in the individual aligners.

For most patients, the aligners are changed about once a week. Additional aligners can be printed over the course of the six months if necessary, Nista said.

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Unlike other patients, Keogh has about 40 aligners due to the amount of work she needs on her teeth. She said the whole process was a lot easier than what she imagined, especially with the payments. 

She was still quoted a total of about $3,000. That’s about $800 less than what her mother paid for aligners at another practice. Since Keogh paid for it upfront, she said she doesn’t need to worry about for copays or charges for follow-up appointments.

Now at the halfway point, Keogh said she’s seen progress in her bottom teeth. It’s already boosted her confidence, she said. 

“I can’t wait till they’re all the way straight,” Keogh said. 

Contact Meredith Newman at (302) 324-2386 or at mnewman@delawareonline.com. Follow her on Twitter at @merenewman.

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Heavy metal music may have a bad reputation, but it has numerous mental health benefits for fans

Summary: Heavy metal music may have a bad reputation, but a new study reveals the music has positive mental health benefits for its fans.

Source: The Conversation

Due to its extreme sound and aggressive lyrics, heavy metal music is often associated with controversy. Among the genre’s most contentious moments, there have been instances of blasphemous merchandise, accusations of promoting suicide and blame for mass school shootings. Why, then, if it’s so “bad”, do so many people enjoy it? And does this music genre really have a negative effect on them?

There are many reasons why people align themselves with genres of music. It may be to feel a sense of belonging, because they enjoy the sound, identify with the lyrical themes, or want to look and act a certain way. For me, as a quiet, introverted teenager, my love of heavy metal was probably a way to feel a little bit different to most people in my school who liked popular music and gain some internal confidence. Plus, I loved the sound of it.

I first began to listen to heavy metal when I was 14 or 15 years old when my uncle recorded a ZZ Top album for me and I heard singles by AC/DC and Bon Jovi. After that, I voraciously read music magazines Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Metal Forces, and RAW, and checked out as many back catalogs of artists as I could. I also grew my hair (yes, I had a mullet … twice), wore a denim jacket with patches (thanks mum), and attended numerous concerts by established artists like Metallica and The Wildhearts, as well as local Bristol bands like Frozen Food.

Over the years, there has been much research into the effects of heavy metal. I have used it as one of the conditions in my own studies exploring the impact of sound on performance. More specifically, I have used thrash metal (a fast and aggressive sub-genre of heavy metal) to compare music our participants liked and disliked (with metal being the music the did not enjoy). This research showed that listening to music you dislike, compared to music that you like, can impair spatial rotation (the ability to mentally rotate objects in your mind), and both liked and disliked music are equally damaging to short-term memory performance.

Other researchers have studied more specifically why people listen to heavy metal, and whether it influences subsequent behavior. For people who are not fans of heavy metal, listening to the music seems to have a negative impact on well-being. In one study, non-fans who listened to classical music, heavy metal, self-selected music, or sat in silence following a stressor, experienced greater anxiety after listening to heavy metal. Listening to the other music or sitting in silence, meanwhile, showed a decrease in anxiety. Interestingly heart rate and respiration decreased over time for all conditions.

Metalheads and headbangers

Looking further into the differences between heavy metal fans and non-fans, research has shown that fans tend to be more open to new experiences, which manifests itself in preferring music that is intense, complex, and unconventional, alongside a negative attitude towards institutional authority. Some do have lower levels of self-esteem, however, and a need for uniqueness.

One might conclude that this and other negative behaviors are the results of listening to heavy metal, but the same research suggests that it may be that listening to music is cathartic. Late adolescent/early adult fans also tend to have higher levels of depression and anxiety but it is not known whether the music attracts people with these characteristics or causes them.

Heavy metal has positive effects on fans of all ages. The image is adapted from The Conversation news release.

Despite the often violent lyrical content in some heavy metal songs, recently published research has shown that fans do not become sensitized to violence, which casts doubt on the previously assumed negative effects of long-term exposure to such music. Indeed, studies have shown long-terms fans were happier in their youth and better adjusted in middle age compared to their non-fan counterparts. Another finding that fans who were made angry and then listened to heavy metal music did not increase their anger but increased their positive emotions suggests that listening to extreme music represents a healthy and functional way of processing anger.

Other investigations have made rather unusual findings on the effects of heavy metal. For example, you might not want to put someone in charge of adding hot sauce to your food after listening to the music, as a study showed that participants added more to a person’s cup of water after listening to heavy metal than when listening to nothing at all.

Finally, heavy metal can promote scientific thinking but alas not just by listening to it. Educators can promote scientific thinking by posing claims such as listening to certain genres of music is associated with violent thinking. By examining the aforementioned accusations of violence and offense – which involved world-famous artists like Cradle of Filth, Ozzy Osbourne, and Marilyn Manson – students can engage in scientific thinking, exploring logical fallacies, research design issues, and thinking biases.

So, you beautiful people, whether you’re heading out to the highway to hell or the stairway to heaven, walk this way. Metal can make you feel like nothing else matters. It’s so easy to blow your speakers and shout it out loud. Dig!

About this neuroscience research article

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The Conversation
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Nick Perham – The Conversation
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The image is adapted from The Conversation news release.

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Elderly couple suicide: High medical bills blamed for elderly Washington couple found dead in apparent murder-suicide; left notes about high health care cost – CBS News

A sheriff’s department in Washington state shared a story about an elderly man who killed his ailing wife and then himself, apparently because they did not have enough money to pay for medical care. The devastating story was shared on the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page and has gone viral. 

A 77-year-old man called 911 and told the dispatcher, “I’m going to kill myself,” according to the sheriff’s department. He indicated he had prepared a note with instructions and the dispatcher tried to keep him on the line, with no success. The man disconnected the call, and when deputies arrived at the house, they sent a robot mounted camera inside.

Both the man and his wife were found dead by gunshot wounds. Detectives are investigating it as a likely murder-suicide. 

Murder / Suicide near Ferndale

At 0823 hours this morning deputies responded to the 6500 block of Timmeran Lane near…

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“Several notes were left citing severe ongoing medical problems with the wife and expressing concerns that the couple did not have sufficient resources to pay for medical care,” the sheriffs department’s post reads. “Next of kin information was left in a note and detectives are working with out of state law enforcement to notify the next of kin.”

The identity of the couple has not been released. Their two dogs were brought to the Human Society for care. Several firearms were also impounded.

“It is very tragic that one of our senior citizens would find himself in such desperate circumstances where he felt murder and suicide were the only option,” Sheriff Bill Elfo said, according to the post. “Help is always available with a call to 9-1-1.”

Americans spend more on health care than citizens of any other country, and that gap is projected to widen. Health care spending is expected to consume almost 20% of the U.S. gross domestic product by 2027, according to a recent estimate from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 

Suicide rates have increased among all age groups in the U.S. between 2008 and 2017, including those age 65 and over.

How to get help for yourself or a loved one

If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or thinking about suicide, talk to someone who can help, such as a trusted loved one, your doctor, your licensed mental health professional if you already have one, or go to the nearest hospital emergency department.

If you believe your loved one or friend is at risk of suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get the person to seek help from a doctor or the nearest hospital emergency department or dial 911. It’s important to remove access to firearms, medications, or any other potential tools they might use to harm themselves.

For immediate help if you are in a crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.

-Ashley Welch contributed to this report.

This content was originally published here.

Canada has an excellent health care plan. Bernie Sanders’s might be even better

During last night’s Democratic debates, Senator Bernie Sanders naturally talked up his signature policy point, his Medicare for All proposal. He also made a familiar comparison, describing a bus trip he made from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, with Americans who fill prescriptions in the northern country at a fraction of what they cost south of the border.

“I took 15 people with diabetes from Detroit a few miles into Canada,” he said in last night’s debate, “and we bought insulin for one-tenth the price being charged by the crooks who run the pharmaceutical industry in America today.”

The differences between the two countries’ health plans are often highlighted in arguments for extending universal health care to all Americans, while eliminating private insurance. The US is the only industrial nation without universal health care, so it’s handy that such a close neighbor serves as an example of how it works. But, in fact, there are a few ways that Sanders’s plan would provide even more comprehensive coverage than Canada’s.

As Sanders said in a post-debate interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, his version of Medicare for All would include dental, vision, and hearing care for seniors in the first year of a transition to universal coverage. By the fourth year, all Americans would be eligible for the same benefits. Presumably, so would a plan under Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is “with Bernie” on healthcare. Senator Kamala Harris should be asked to clarify her stance on related co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses during Wednesday’s debate (July 31), the Washington Post suggests, though her proposal, which doesn’t eliminate private companies, does suggest the same type of comprehensive coverage.

What few Americans may realize is that these particular aspects of care are not entirely covered by Canada’s provincial health plans. But they’d certainly be an asset to the United States’ population—and particularly to senior citizens. Growing evidence suggests that a person’s vision, hearing abilities, and oral hygiene could all be connected to cognitive health.

The case for covering seniors’ hearing, dental, and vision care

Seniors are among the fastest growing demographics in the US, with those over 65 expected to outnumber children under 18 by 2030. Older adults have distinct health needs compared to younger adults: Namely, they’re at the highest risk of developing dementia. Already, about one in 10 adults over 65 is living with Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia), although the rate is higher among communities of color—which happen to be the fastest-growing aging populations in the US.

Rapid cognitive decline can result from several kinds of misshapen proteins building up in the brain. But the many pathways to dementia are still poorly understood—and at this point, impossible to prevent or treat. It’s costly, too: Currently, the US spends $290 billion (pdf) caring for those living with Alzheimer’s in particular, and the Alzheimer’s Association, a non-profit organization, estimates that that figure will reach $770 billion by 2050.

Some research has suggested there may be a relationship between poor oral hygiene, , and hearing abilities and developing cognitive decline or dementia. In the absence of successful tactics to prevent the conditions, some experts hope that interventions connected to these three functions could help slow or prevent dementia.

Suzann Pershing, an ophthalmologist at Stanford University School of Medicine, conducted a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology that found an association between poor vision and lower cognitive ability in older populations. She told the New York Times that “while this association doesn’t prove vision loss causes cognitive decline, intuitively it makes sense that the less engaged people are with the world, the less cognitive stimulation they receive, and the more likely their cognitive function will decline.”

The same is thought to be true of hearing loss, which can lead to social isolation. (Consider that even adults who don’t have hearing problems are liable to give up on conversation in a loud place.) Another possibility to explain this link, AARP magazine reports, is that straining to hear and understand sounds can put extra stress on the brain. “The benefits of correcting hearing loss on cognition are twice as large as the benefits from any cognitive-enhancing drugs now on the market,” Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University School of Medicine, told AARP magazine. “It should be the first thing we focus on.”

The connection to dental care is a little trickier. Preliminary research has shown that Porphyromonas gingivalis, a type of bacteria that causes periodontitis, is more commonly found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not clear if the bacteria itself plays a role in the brain’s deterioration, or if people living with dementia end up unable to take proper care of their teeth, resulting in severe infections.

To be clear, there are no known direct causes of dementia; there just appear to be risk factors that could lead to the condition. Suffering from hearing impairment, vision loss, or gum disease certainly does not lead to cognitive decline in everyone. But by the same token, every senior stands to gain from total vision, dental, and hearing coverage—perhaps especially those already dealing with cognitive impairment.

Canada is not a great role model for these forms of care

Which is why Sanders’s proposal stands to serve US seniors even better than Canada’s system serves its own elderly citizens. Across Canada, eye exams and treatments for conditions affecting the eyes are covered under provincial health plans. But lenses, frames, and contact lenses typically are not, except for those people on financial assistance. And while hearing tests are covered, provincial governments offer either no assistance or only capped subsidies for hearing aids, which are notoriously expensive.

Dental coverage for most seniors is missing entirely, until someone is in so much pain that they visit an emergency room. Most employers offer dental and vision coverage, but once a person retires, those benefits vanish, and relatively pricey private insurance becomes the only option.

The other leading Democratic candidates in the US have addressed seniors’ concerns in their policy talking points. As they should, if they’re aware of demographic trends and the fact that more senior voters are moving to the left. But only the Sanders platform—and by default Elizabeth Warren’s—is as specific about full universal coverage for these three issues.

One day, Bernie’s bus may need to travel to Canada again—this time bearing pointers for his neighbor to the north.

This content was originally published here.