‘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.)

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Robert Mugabe in Singapore hospital as health worsens [photos]

Former president — and to his cadres in the Zanu-PF, the Founding Father — of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, is currently in a Singapore hospital getting the best medical assistance available.

That was the word from the country’s current head of state, Edward Mnangagwa, who, in a statement, assured fellow Zimbabweans that his predecessor, and former ally, was recovering well.

Why is Robert Mugabe in hospital?

According to a statement released by Mnangagwa, Mugabe has often been travelling between Zimbabwe and Singapore on a month-to-month basis for regular health check-ups.

The 95-year-old was remanded in the custody of healthcare professionals in Singapore in April after it was determined that he was not fit enough to be discharged.

“From the report the team gave me at the weekend, I am greatly pleased to inform the nation that the former President continues to make steady progress towards eventual recovery and that his condition is remarkably stable for his age,” Mnangagwa reported.

The president further confirmed that based on the report forwarded by his special envoy that includes Mugabe’s personal physician, the former president is responding well to treatment and that he could be “released fairly soon.”

HE President @edmnangagwa updates the nation on the condition of former president of Zimbabwe Cde RG Mugabe pic.twitter.com/BxCbhS45be

— Ministry of Information, Publicity & Broadcasting (@InfoMinZW) August 5, 2019

Prayers and well wishes pour in for Mugabe

Many supporters of Mugabe, including the EFF, have sent well wishes to Mugabe, praying that he recovers well and returns home as soon as possible.

Get well soon President Mugabe. The EFF wishes you a speedy recovery 🙏🏾 our prayers are with you. pic.twitter.com/B7jFKkVbsC

— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) August 5, 2019

We wish the former president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe speed recovery on his health

— African Child (@African94982233) August 6, 2019

Speedy recovery Moetapele 🙏. #RobertMugabe https://t.co/W4A63ccTYj

— 《 I Have A Story To Tell 》🇱🇸 (@PolokoMokhele) August 6, 2019

Recent images of Mugabe in a dire state

Images of Mugabe in his current state have surfaced online. The aged Zanu-PF leader looks nothing like the stern leader that ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for so many years.

Pictures of the day @ robert mugabe pic.twitter.com/TXC0epd1iW

— mzansistories (@mzansistories) July 28, 2019

The state of Zimbabwe post-Mugabe

As Mugabe’s health deteriorates, so does the promise of a new dawn that has been dangled over the heads of Zimbabweans for decades.

Rising fuel and electricity prices, matched with a decaying infrastructure has pitted Zimbabwe in a worrying state. According to the most recent Freedom in the World report, Zimbabwe, under the rule of Mnangagwa, has regressed into the defunct state it was in back when Mugabe was at the helm.

“Zimbabwe’s political system returned in some ways to its pre-coup status quo, as the ruling Zanu PF party won deeply flawed general elections following the military’s ouster of longtime President Robert Mugabe in 2017.

“Despite Mnangagwa’s pledges to respect political institutions and govern in the interest of all Zimbabweans, his new administration has shown few signs that it is committed to fostering genuine political competition, and it has continued to enforce laws that limit expression,” the report read.

This content was originally published here.

Wilmington orthodontist uses 3D technology to get straight teeth

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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.”

More: Westside Family Healthcare to close Middletown location Nov. 28

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. 

Read: How’s your marriage? UD prof will pay you to tell her

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. 

More: Report: Delaware ties for worst state in hospital safety

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.

Read: Wilmington offers free health care to pets, their humans

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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Sexual abuse survivors who aren’t believed are at higher risk of poor mental health

Sexual abuse survivors who aren’t believed are at higher risk of poor mental health
Credit: Shutterstock

Survivors of sexual assault who encounter negative responses from family members when they disclose their abuse are at higher risk of poor mental health later in life, a new study by UNSW medical researchers has shown.

It is hoped that the study—and subsequent research—can help better inform and strategies to avert the longer-term emotional difficulties and risks that abuse survivors encounter later in life.

“There is ample evidence that sexual abuse is widespread among —for example, we know that nearly 1 in 5 globally, and approximately 20% of Australian women report exposure to sexual abuse in childhood,” says study lead author Associate Professor Susan Rees from UNSW Medicine’s School of Psychiatry.

“The association between exposure to sexual abuse and a wide range of common mental disorders and adverse psychosocial outcomes is also well established.

“However, there are only few studies that have tried to qualitatively understand the possible range of sexual assault disclosure responses from parents and relatives—girls’ and women’s most likely confidantes—as well as the survivors’ associated emotional reaction, and mental disorder later in life.”

For this study, the researchers conducted interviews with 30 adult female survivors of sexual abuse who sought support from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s Sexual Assault Counselling Service.

To better understand the interpersonal complexity of the survivor’s experiences, the team enabled the survivors to explore their experiences in a confidential one-on-one setting with skilled counselors. Together, they plotted the survivor’s experience on a visual timeline.

Survivors described the main three toxic responses from when they—often as a child—disclosed the sexual assault.

“Women described being ignored, blamed for the abuse or being threatened that some harm would come to them or the family if they speak out,” A/Prof Rees says.

Women who had these negative disclosure experiences then reported a range of adverse psychosocial outcomes experienced later in their lives—including social isolation, taking drugs, recurrent or persisting mental disorder and future risk of , including bullying at school.

“In short, we found that these are strongly associated with mental disorders and future adversity later in life—particularly if the negative disclosure experience occurred during childhood,” A/Prof Rees said.

The researchers hope that this more nuanced understanding may help to better inform interventions and public campaigns to encourage society to work towards breaking the silence that protects perpetrators and obscures the pervasive harms caused by against children and women.

“For example, parents need to better understand the importance of responding with affirming and caring responses if they are confronted with disclosures, given that the period immediately following a disclosure may be a critical window where survivors are particularly vulnerable,” A/Prof Rees says.

For , the researchers recommend special training to identify and respond to negative disclosure experiences.

And at a societal level, the researchers say they hope that the contemporary public attention for sexual violence, steered by the #metoo movement, will help promote “public acknowledgment of men’s culpability, rather than women’s responsibility.”

“We need to harness this impetus at the community level to overcome denial and victim blaming in the home, too,” A/Prof Rees concludes.

The study was a collaboration between UNSW Medicine and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s Sexual Assault Counselling Service. The Service is planning future research on this topic.

“Our sample was non-representative and we therefore can’t generalize our findings to the wider population of women who have been sexually abused—so we need more research,” A/Prof Rees says.

More information:
Susan Rees et al. Believe #metoo: sexual violence and interpersonal disclosure experiences among women attending a sexual assault service in Australia: a mixed-methods study, BMJ Open (2019). DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026773

Journal information:
BMJ Open


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Sexual abuse survivors who aren’t believed are at higher risk of poor mental health (2019, August 19)
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Olathe School District adds licensed therapists at each high school to help with mental health

OLATHE, Kan. — A metro school district is rolling out a new program to help students with mental health.

It’s one of several ways they’re working to ease anxiety that comes with start of school and everyday life.

At this point, Mayci Armstrong is used to bells ringing and lockers slamming, but she remembers the struggle of that first day as a freshman.

“So my first day, oh man, what a mess,” Armstrong said. “I was so nervous.”

Now a senior at Olathe South High School, she and the rest of “Link Crew” showed freshmen around their new home for the next four years on Wednesday. The upperclassmen help fill them in on the good food, class locations and the inside scoop.

“Okay, girls,” Armstrong said, pointing passing through the hall. “That is the best bathroom in the whole school. It’s like a hotel restroom.”

“They’re going to have an upperclassman that’s going to kind of show them the ropes,” new Olathe Public Schools staff member Tina Mcleod said, “and they’re going to be able to have that all year long. So it’s a fabulous program.”

The district isn’t stopping there. They’re introducing a new program to put student wellness advocates in each of the five high schools in Olathe.

“This is something that is brand new, and we’re really excited about it that the district has allocated funds for these positions,” said Angie Salava, director of social, emotional, learning and mental health services. “They are not grant positions. They are permanent positions.”

Salava said data shows their students need help in areas of mental health. She noted that the suicide protocol was put to the test more than 500 times last year — and used in every single grade including Pre-K.

“We know that having that resource on site, it removes the barriers of time, transportation, and even money that can prevent some parents from seeking that help for their students,” she said.

That’s where advocates like Mcleod come in.

She’s one of five licensed therapists working for the district to provide individual and group counseling for students dealing with feelings like anxiety and depression.

“In general, I think that we want to give students a language to be able to communicate what they’re feeling and what their needs are,” Mcleod said. “We want to provide a safe environment and let them know that they have someone to talk to and they have supports.”

As Mcleod works to guide students through life, Armstrong is helping them navigate the halls — both equally important.

“I just like to help them relax a little bit because I know how scary it can be,” Armstrong said.

These mental health professionals will not only be in the high schools, but will also be available to schools in every feeder pattern to help students.


If you are having suicidal thoughts, we urge you to get help immediately.

Go to a hospital, call 911 or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

Click on the boxes below for our FOX 4 You Matter reports and other helpful phone numbers and resources.

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Things Your Orthodontist Won’t Tell You

Close up macro shot of a male mouth laughing and showing his straight teethicsnaps/ShutterstockYour smile is one of the first things somebody notices about you, and seeing an orthodontist practically ensures you’ll always have straight, pearly whites. At least, that’s the idea. But as with any other doctor, your orthodontist has some things they wish you knew, but probably won’t ever tell you. (By the way, you’ll definitely want to follow these 10 golden rules for white, healthy teeth.)

Someone else might’ve used your braces before you

Beautiful young woman with brackets on teeth close upVP Photo Studio/ShutterstockBefore you get grossed out, this isn’t always the case—and if it is, it’s not actually as skeevy as you might think. According to foxnews.com, some orthodontists professionally sterilize and remanufacture used braces through companies like Ortho-Cycle, which saves up to 50 percent on costs. This process “is based upon the dissolution of polymerized acrylates at temperatures at which simultaneous sterilization occurs,” according to orthocycle.com.

We know when you haven’t been wearing your Invisalign

Close-up Of Woman's Hand Putting Transparent Aligner In TeethAndrey_Popov/ShutterstockDespite how persistent you are when you tell your orthodontist you’ve been actively wearing your Invisalign, they’ll know the truth right away. “We know if you haven’t been wearing your Invisalign because of a cool feature [on the aligners] (not just because of your answer to our question or the way your teeth look),” says Dr. Matthew LoPresti, DDS, a cosmetic dentist in Stamford, CT. “There are little blue marks towards the back of your aligners that should wear away as you wear the Invisalign. If the blue mark looks untouched, we know you haven’t been wearing the aligners.” (Here are some things your dentists NEEDS you to start doing differently.)

Your treatment will probably take longer than what we initially tell you

Close up of smiling black woman at dentistRocketclips, Inc./ShutterstockYour orthodontist might tell you your treatment will only take a year and a half to two years, but that’s a rough estimate. A lot of treatments take much longer than expected. “Delays in the process may occur like a misdiagnosis of your case, patient’s neglect, or unanticipated movement of the teeth,” says Danica Lacson, a representative for Hawaii Family Dental.

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Our fees might be negotiable

Credit cards close upsumire8/ShutterstockLet’s be honest, a trip to the orthodontist is anything but cheap. “The good news, though, is that orthodontists offer a variety of payment plans. Many allow patients to pay through monthly installments with no interest, and with some orthodontists, you can negotiate the fee itself,” according to foxnews.com. “Some orthodontists will give a discount, usually 5 to 10 percent, if you pay the total in cash or with a credit card at the beginning of treatment.” (You won’t believe these shocking diseases that dentists find first.)

You have to wear retainers after you complete your treatment—forever

teeth with retainerOlga Miltsova/ShutterstockIf you think you’re done with orthodontics after you finish your treatment—think again. “A retainer holds your teeth in place. After you complete Invisalign or any orthodontics, it is necessary to hold those teeth in place,” says Dr. LoPresti. “There are different options which include a removable clear retainer that is worn at night or a permanent fixed retainer that gets bonded to the back of your teeth.”

We know when you’re lying about wearing your retainer

Dentist holding Retainer, Orthodontics Dental concept backgroundponsulak/ShutterstockNot only do you have to wear a retainer after you complete your treatment, but your orthodontist will definitely know if you’ve really been keeping up with it. “Patients that complete their advised treatment and achieve their desired result but then fail to wear their retainers, generally have teeth that drift apart,” says Dr. Timothy Chase, co-founder of SmilesNY. “This can cause a relapse such as crowding, spacing or flaring of the teeth.” (Whatever you do, never, ever ignore these symptoms of a cavity.)

We know when you eat or drink with your Invisalign in

Macro close up of healthy female teeth biting raspberry.karelnoppe/ShutterstockIt might seem harmless to eat or drink with your aligners in, but you won’t be fooling your orthodontist. “When patients eat or drink liquids (other than water) come in to see me, their Invisalign trays are often slimy, dirty, and stained,” says Dr. Chase. “Not only does this result in a cosmetically undesirable appearance to the aligners but it also damages them and can lead to decay.”

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Braces aren’t just a cosmetic treatment

Close-up of ceramic and metallic braces on teeth. Orthodontic Treatment. Dental Care Conceptsalajean/ShutterstockIt might seem like people go to the orthodontist just to straighten out their teeth, but there are tons of other reasons, too. While some people can go through life with crooked teeth and be just fine, others actually require fixture in order to chew and speak properly. “While we do want everyone to have a perfect smile, the reality is not everyone requires orthodontics,” says Seth Newman, DDS, a board-certified orthodontic specialist. (You’ll never catch your dentist eating these 15 foods—and you shouldn’t be snacking on them, either.)

We know you don’t floss or brush as much as you say you do

Close-up Of Young African Woman Flossing TeethAndrey_Popov/ShutterstockRemember all those times you lied to your dentist or orthodontist when they asked if you’ve been flossing? Yeah… they knew you weren’t. “Those who do not brush and floss properly generally have a higher incidence of plaque calculus, gingivitis, and tooth decay,” says Dr. Chase. “A single day of forgetting to floss is damaging but a week or a month of poor hygiene will result in swelling of the gums, bleeding and a foul odor.” (This is the easiest way to get rid of bad breath, according to a dentist.)

Even if you don’t think your child needs orthodontics, get them checked out anyway

retainer for teeth - Beautiful smiling girl with retainer for teethpattara puttiwong/ ShutterstockEven if your child doesn’t show any signs of needing to see an orthodontist, you should really bring them in for a check-up no later than age seven. “If we see a patient early, we can remove baby teeth and the canine has a good possibility of coming in properly,” according to Dr. Jackie Miller, an orthodontist in Washington, MO, and member of the American Association of Orthodontists. “An early visit to the orthodontist can prevent and help detect future problems.” (Here are some dental etiquette rules everyone should follow.)

If you smoke, your treatment might take longer

Beauty & SmokeQuinn Martin/ShutterstockIn case you needed more of a reason to not smoke, it might actually cause you to need to make more trips to your orthodontist’s office. “Smokers give away their habit because of the excessive plaque that builds up on their teeth,” according to Dr. Chase. “This can have a big impact orthodontic appliances used to straighten teeth and result in a longer treatment period.”

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This content was originally published here.

California Is Expanding Government Health Care to More Illegal Immigrants. Here’s What to Expect.

California is now extending health care benefits to more state residents, including young adult illegal immigrants, as conservatives warn it could attract more illegal immigrants to the state and further burden a health care system without sufficient doctors. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, last month signed into law a measure (Assembly Bill 4) amending the eligibility portion of the state Medicaid program known as Medi-Cal. 

“Providing a new public benefit to a group of people in the nation illegally will incentivize more people to risk breaking U.S. immigration law to settle in California,” Chuck DeVore, a former California assemblyman, said.

The law states that “an individual who does not have satisfactory immigration status or is unable to establish satisfactory immigration status, as required by Section 14011.2, shall be eligible for the full scope of Medi-Cal benefits, if they are otherwise eligible for benefits under this chapter.”

Prior to the bill’s passage, Calfornians under the age of 19 with an income below 400% of the poverty level were eligible to be enrolled in Medi-Cal. The measure expands the existing program to young adults who are 25 years old or younger, regardless of immigration status.

“Providing access to health care coverage and services to all Californians is a key goal of [the Newsom] administration, and this serves as an important step toward accomplishing that goal, while building on the previous expansion of full-scope coverage to children,” wrote Carol Sloane, spokeswoman for California’s Department of Health Care Services, which administers Medi-Cal, in an email to The Daily Signal.

President Donald Trump appeared to reference California’s decision to extend health care coverage to illegal immigrants earlier this month, telling reporters: “If you look at what they’re doing in California, how they’re treating people, they don’t treat their people as well as they treat illegal immigrants. So at what point does it stop? It’s crazy what they’re doing. It’s crazy. And it’s mean, and it’s very unfair to our citizens.”

Cynthia Buiza, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, criticized California for not covering senior citizens who are illegal immigrants.

“The exclusion of undocumented elders from the same health care their U.S. citizen neighbors are eligible for means beloved community members will suffer and die from treatable conditions,” Buiza said, according to NPR

Source of Funding

Sally Pipes, president and CEO of Pacific Research Institute, a conservative-leaning policy group in California, told The Daily Signal the new law will incentivize young illegal immigrants to go to California to benefit from the program. 

Pipes explained that the weight of Medi-Cal costs—roughly $98 million at a minimum estimate—will fall on California taxpayers. 

“Of course, it will hit middle-income earners most. That’s what most people are,” Pipes said. “A lot of these people are having a hard time affording premiums and deductibles already. Now they’re going to have to support people who are coming here illegally, when they’re having trouble paying for themselves.”

Newsom did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment from the governor about how the state plans to pay for the new program. 

“To help pay for expanding Medi-Cal and to subsidize health insurance premiums, California has enacted its own individual mandate, imposing a tax on those who fail to buy insurance,” DeVore said, adding that the estimated cost of $98 million is likely very low. 

The Sacramento Bee reported in late June: “To pay for those [health care] subsidies, the state will fine people who don’t buy insurance through a policy known as the individual mandate, which was first implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act. … It’s expected to bring in roughly $1 billion for premium assistance over three years.”

Medi-Cal’s Problems 

Pipes says that the subsidy rate—the level of income at which California residents will be eligible for Medi-Cal—was also was increased significantly.

“They’re increasing the subsidy rate from 400% under Obamacare to now up to 600% of the poverty level,” Pipes said. “Now, anyone earning up to $75,000 per individual and $150,000 per family is eligible to be on Medi-Cal. And it’s for anyone in California.”

Under Medi-Cal, Pipes said, doctors are paid approximately 40% less than what they would get for treating a regular patient.

“A third of the population is on Medi-Cal already,” she said. “Adding more people to Medi-Cal means that there are fewer doctors taking medical patients, because of the low reimbursement. It’s going to be harder to get a doctor at all, and if they do, the wait is going to be very long.”

California has offered to pay doctors’ student loan debt, in exchange for treating Medi-Cal patients. 

“Being entitled to Medi-Cal doesn’t mean that the estimated 90,000 newly-covered people will be able to see a doctor,” DeVore said. 

“In fact, Medi-Cal recipients often must wait six to nine months before receiving medical attention,” he added. “As a result, they continue to use California’s overburdened emergency rooms where Medi-Cal recipient use nearly doubled from 2006 to 2016.”

Future Expansion Under This Governor 

Pipes said she expects Newsom is not done with the Medicaid program, and will continue to push its expansion.

“The governor promised voters—in particular, the militant nurses union—that they would get single-payer health care,” Pipes said. “This is his first stepping-stone approach to moving towards single-payer health care. He knew he wouldn’t get it in his first year, but this is all part of his grand scheme, working towards no private coverage.”

The law requires appropriations from the Legislature in order to be enacted, either through the annual Budget Act or another appropriations measure, according to the legislative counsel’s digest

With a Democratic supermajority in the California Assembly, Pipes said, she does not anticipate any successful opposition to funding the new program.

The post appeared first on The Daily Signal.

This content was originally published here.

Overtreatment, Lax Scientific Standards Raise Concerns in Dentistry | Forum | Forum | KQED

Chances are a dentist has told you to floss more. But studies from the Cochrane Institute and the American Dental Association have found that many common oral health recommendations such as biannual cleanings, yearly x-rays and flossing have not been verified through scientific research. Forum discusses efforts to steer dentistry toward more evidence-based practices and we’ll talk about challenges facing the field, including charges that many dentists overtreat their patients.

Mentioned on Air:
The Truth About Dentistry (The Atlantic)

Joel White, distinguished professor in restorative dentistry, UCSF School of Dentistry; vice chair, Department of Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences

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.

Elizabeth Warren Calls for ‘Affordable, Gender-Affirming’ Health Care

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called for health care that is high-quality, affordable, and “gender-affirming” in a tweet posted Tuesday afternoon. However, she has not always held that position.

Warren tweeted Tuesday that Americans are entitled to “high-quality, affordable, gender-affirming health care” and criticized the Trump administration for considering a proposal that would revise Obama-era protections for transgender adults, who make up 0.6 percent of the U.S. population, according to government data.

“But the Trump administration is trying to roll back important protections for trans Americans. Help fight back by leaving a comment for HHS in protest,” she added, along with a link to a Protect Trans Health petition:

Everyone should be able to access high-quality, affordable, gender-affirming health care. But the Trump administration is trying to roll back important protections for trans Americans. Help fight back by leaving a comment for HHS in protest: https://t.co/pKDcOqbsc7

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 13, 2019

The petition states:

The Trump-Pence Administration is trying to undermine the Health Care Rights Law, a lifesaving law that helps transgender people access the health care they need without discrimination from health care providers or insurers. Now, the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing a regulation that falsely says discrimination against transgender people is legal.

The Trump administration is considering revising the Obama-era protections outlined in the Affordable Care Act — Section 1557, specifically — which bars discrimination based on race, sex, or sexual orientation. The Trump administration, essentially, wants to revert to the traditional meaning of sex discrimination, which does not include gender identity.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the following proposal in June:

The Department of Health and Human Services (“the Department”) is committed to ensuring the civil rights of all individuals who access or seek to access health programs or activities of covered entities under Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Department proposes to revise its Section 1557 regulation in order to better comply with the mandates of Congress, address legal concerns, relieve billions of dollars in undue regulatory burdens, further substantive compliance, reduce confusion, and clarify the scope of Section 1557 in keeping with pre-existing civil rights statutes and regulations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability.

HHS contends that the rule would “empower the Department to continue its robust enforcement of civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in Department-funded health programs or activities, and would make it clear that such civil rights laws remain in full force and effect.”

Critics consider the proposal a direct assault on the transgender community.

Via USA Today:

This section covers discrimination on the basis of gender identity, but the Trump-Pence White House has needlessly proposed a new regulation that would cruelly strip the ACA of specific protections for LGBTQ patients, specifically transgender people. This proposed regulation callously puts lives at risk, and it’s imperative the American people make their voices heard on why this it is dangerous and unacceptable.

On June 14, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a proposed regulation based on a court’s outrageous claim that the ACA’s protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity is “likely unlawful.” This initiated a 60-day public comment period that runs through Aug. 12. In a press release sent out by HHS, Roger Severino, the Director of the department’s Office of Civil Rights, offered this ratonale: “When Congress prohibited sex discrimination, it did so according to the plain meaning of the term, and we are making our regulations conform.”

While Warren has been attempting to brand herself as a strong transgender ally, she has expressed concerns in regards to taxpayer-funded services for transgender individuals in the past. She openly admitted that taxpayer-funded reassignment surgery for convicted murderer Robert Kosilek, who switched to “Michelle,” would be a bad use of taxpayer dollars.

Kosilek, who long battled the prison system for sexual reassignment surgery, sued the Massachusetts prison system for failing to allow him to receive the “gender-affirming” health care Warren purportedly supports. A federal judge sided with Kosilek in 2012, during Warren’s battle with former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA).

“I have to say, I don’t think it’s a good use of taxpayer dollars,” Warren said when asked about the ruling at the time.

Warren eventually walked that position back, with her then-presidential exploratory committee telling ThinkProgress in January that she “supports access to medically necessary services, including transition-related surgeries.”

“This includes procedures taking place at the VA, in the military, or at correctional facilities,” the statement added.

This content was originally published here.

What if My Dentist Hasn’t Sent My Child to the Orthodontist? | American Association of Orthodontists

You don’t have to wait for your dentist to refer your child to an orthodontist.

Parents are often the first to recognize that something is not quite right about their child’s teeth or their jaws. A parent may notice that the front teeth don’t come together when the back teeth are closed, or that the upper teeth are sitting inside of the lower teeth. They may assume that their dentist is aware of the anomaly, and that the dentist will make a referral to an orthodontist when the time is right. A referral might not happen if the dentist isn’t evaluating the bite.

AAO orthodontists don’t require a referral from a dentist to make an appointment with them.

Dentists and orthodontists may have different perspectives.

Dentists are looking at the overall health of the teeth and mouth. He/she could be looking at how well the patient brushes and flosses, or if there are cavities. While dentists look at the upper and lower teeth, they may not study how the upper and lower teeth make contact.

Orthodontists are looking at the bite, meaning the way teeth come together. This is orthodontists’ specialty. Orthodontists take the upper and lower jaws into account. Even if teeth appear to be straight, mismatched jaws can be part of a bad bite.

A healthy bite is the goal of orthodontic treatment.

A healthy bite denotes good function – biting, chewing and speaking. It also means teeth and jaws are in proportion to the rest of the face.

The AAO recommends children get their first check-up with an AAO orthodontist no later than age 7.

Kids have a mix of baby and permanent teeth around age 7. AAO orthodontists are uniquely trained to evaluate children’s growth as well as the exchange of baby teeth for permanent teeth. Orthodontists are expertly qualified to determine whether a problem exists, or if one is developing.

AAO orthodontists often offer initial exams at no (or low) cost, and at no obligation.

Visit Find an Orthodontist for AAO orthodontists near you.

When you choose an AAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a highly skilled specialist. Orthodontists are experts in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics – properly aligned teeth and jaws – and possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Locate AAO orthodontists through Find an Orthodontist at aaoinfo.org.

This content was originally published here.

Dentacoin Combines Forces with MobiDent to Promote Preventive Digital Dentistry

June 20th, 2018: We are beyond thrilled to announce our new partnership with MobiDent, an India-based company aimed at making in-home, prevention-oriented dental care accessible and affordable to everyone.

“MobiDent is attempting to create a new Ecosystem for dentistry by creating a new generation of dentists (called Digi Dentists), who are trained in home dental care at the MobiDent Academy for Digital Dentistry, empowered with Caddy Clinic and connected to families who can use our Digital Dentistry Revolution Platform to avail on-demand preventive dental care that is convenient, inexpensive and safe. Now if there is a currency available to all connected parties, why wouldn’t we use it?”, shares Vivek Madappa, Co-Founder at MobiDent.

MobiDent’s Caddy Clinic: “Dental Clinic in a Suitcase”
for Affordable & Accessible Dental Care

MobiDent was founded in January 2011 by Dr. Devaiah Mapangada and serial entrepreneur Vivek Madappa in Bangalore, India’s Silicon Valley. Its unique proposition is called Caddy Clinic, or “dental clinic in a suitcase” and it comprises a portable dental chair and dental instruments and equipment required for basic dental procedures.

Through its revolutionary mobile dental care services, MobiDent brings benefits to both patients and dentists. Patients receive regular dental care right at lower costs and without the unpleasant time-consuming visits in the dental offices. Practicing dentists have the opportunity to treat more patients and young professionals can start their career with lower risk and great savings compared to the investment needed for opening a conventional dental practice*. For the last 4 years the concept has attracted 40 dentists across India with 65 000 patients.

In 2016, MobiDent was placed among the Top 10 from 19,000 business ideas, participating in India’s largest entrepreneurship competition organized by The Economic Times & IIM-A. From the same 10 projects, MobiDent won the first prize awarded by the Royal Academy of Engineering, London.

* Unlike in conventional dentistry where founding a clinic typically costs upwards of Rs.8 lakh ($12,000), the MobiDent taxi model costs only Rs.75,000 ($1,125) and its van model – between Rs.1.5 lakh ($2,250) and Rs.3 lakh ($4,500). Source: www.knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu

Intelligent Prevention & Digital Technology:
Where MobiDent Aligns with Dentacoin

MobiDent also differs from traditional dentistry by its strong focus on preventive dental care, which reduces the chances for serious problems by 80-90%, and thus reduces the costs and pain, according to Dr. Devaiah Mapangada. On that note, MobiDent offers special annual packages for home services which include two home visits per year for a check-up, cleaning and polishing, as well as unlimited tele-consultations, a dental health report, and 10% off on any further treatment.

“This digitized, prevention-oriented, patient-centered approach towards dentistry is in complete alignment with the core mission of Dentacoin. We believe that our cooperation with MobiDent will help dentists achieve the needed higher efficiency while simultaneously dramatically improve patients’ access to preventive dental care,” comments Ali Hashem, Key Account Manager at Dentacoin Foundation.

Dentacoin (DCN) Implemented by MobiDent
for Payments & Rewards

“The moment I heard about Dentacoin, I was open to explore its potential. If the world is heading into a digital revolution, it is necessary to have a new, universal currency, which is not influenced by governments, countries and politics. A currency that can connect all of us digitally, ensuring trust and transparency”, explains Vivek Madappa, Co-Founder at MobiDent.

Now each purchase of Caddy Clinic (available on Indiegogo) will allow dentists to receive a 5% discount and claim their reward in Dentacoin, if they start using Dentacoin Trusted Reviews and accept DCN as a means of payment for their services.

In the upcoming months, MobiDent plans to release a mobile app to easily connect patients with dentists, where Dentacoin will also be implemented.

MobiDent in cooperation with Dentacoin sets a new direction in dentistry, focused on improving dental care and making it affordable through shifting the paradigm from “sick care” to patient-centered preventive dental care and utilizing the digital technology advantages. This partnership will also help expand the Dentacoin network, which currently consists of 4000+ dentists using our tools and thirty five clinics in 14 countries, accepting DCN as a means of payment for dental services. See all Dentacoin partner clinics

This content was originally published here.

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.

La Jolla Dentistry: Dr. D’Angelo and team know the power of a smile – La Jolla Light

The dental trio of Dr. Joseph D’Angelo, Dr. Ashley Olson and Dr. Ryan Hoffman comprise one of the largest dental practices in La Jolla — in both number of dentists and office space.

Recently, they expanded their hours to make their comprehensive dentistry services more convenient for their patients. Now, the La Jolla Dentistry office is open Monday and Wednesday evenings, and also on Saturdays, which is quite unusual for a dental practice.

Dr. Ryan Hoffman, who joined the team almost two years ago, told the Light that accommodating the lives of their busy patients is important. “In addition to the technology and all the services we provide, the convenience of coming here is key for working families with children in school, or for college students with strict schedules.”

The D’Angelo, Olson, Hoffman dental office has been located at 1111 Torrey Pines Road since 2004, when Dr. D’Angelo ran a solo practice. “I started out with one or two treatment rooms and gradually doubled in size,” he said. “Then, we doubled again. We have 10 treatment rooms now, and we’ve increased the types of services we provide.”

He said the office is fully equipped to handle just about any dental concern — from implants to veneers, gum recontouring, cosmetic and restorative dentistry, and Invisalign treatments.

Dr. Olson, who joined Dr. D’Angelo seven years ago, noted: “We are continually evolving technology in our office so it gives us added tools to provide exceptional care.”

The philosophy of providing impeccable care permeates throughout the staff, and Dr. D’Angelo is proud of creating such a culture. The office space has a warm and welcoming feel and the treatment rooms have TVs in the ceiling and mounted on the wall.

Dr. Hoffman pointed out that more younger clients are coming in the door these days: “I’m seeing and hearing a lot more in terms of cosmetics, whether it’s Invisalign or veneers, or before-and-after products, because social media makes dentistry so accessible to many more people these days.”

Dr. D’Angelo added: “Every patient seems to have an understanding that they need to take care of their teeth, and fillings and crowns and cleanings are part of that. But I still say two-thirds of what we do is want-based. For the vast majority of people, even though they have regular dental needs, the things they want seem to take precedence over things they know they need.

“People have come to realize that a smile they feel comfortable with — and a smile they can share with other people — impacts everybody around them.”

He explained that patients aren’t accepting ugly removable appliances and bridges anymore, either, they want implants and Invisalign, and they want their teeth white. Those desires drive the practice, with 3,000 patients and more walking through the door each day.

All three dentists agree that it really all comes down to the power of a smile.

As Dr. Olson put it: “(A beautiful smile) improves your work life, your love life, and your sense of self-esteem.” Dr. Hoffman added that on a personal note, “I have friends who’ve never been in a serious relationship and they’ve invested in their smile and now they’re engaged! It’s not necessarily the smile that did that, but it’s the confidence that came from the smile that altered their personality.”

And that smile power is also reaching seniors. Dr. D’Angelo commented: “It’s amazing how many people in their 70s are still highly concerned about how their smile looks. When they feel confident about their smile it makes them feel younger, feel healthier, feel more engaged. We’re changing people’s lives. From that standpoint, what we do is incredibly rewarding.”

The La Jolla Dentistry office of Dr. Joseph D’Angelo, Dr. Ashley Olson and Dr. Ryan Hoffman at 1111 Torrey Pines Road, Suite 101 in La Jolla is a fee-for-service practice, which means it participates with all PPO plans as an out-of-network provider. (858) 459-6224. joethedentist.com

Business Spotlight features commercial enterprises that support La Jolla Light.

Courtesy Photo
The reception area at La Jolla Dentistry, 1111 Torrey Pines Road, Suite 101, La Jolla. (858) 459-6224. joethedentist.com
The reception area at La Jolla Dentistry, 1111 Torrey Pines Road, Suite 101, La Jolla. (858) 459-6224. joethedentist.com (Courtesy Photo)

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.

My Orthodontist Thinks I Need Invisalign

I don’t try to make bad choices. Really, I don’t. In fact, I don’t think most people set out to do make them either. I think we all end up in a place we hoped not to be and in retrospect say, well, that was probably a bad idea.

Such was my life this past week when I found myself sitting in an orthodontist’s office being handed an estimate for approximately $8,000 (for Invisalign, I don’t want more braces, of which $3,500 would be covered by my insurance), that would essentially correct (or finish) the job I assumed was completed when I paid $4,000 to get my teefus fixed back in 2012. As sad as it is that if I have to pay all over again, how we got to this point is so much dumber than you can possibly imagine.

It all started in 2007 when I told my then-dentist I wanted braces. In order to do so, I was going to have to get my wisdom teeth removed, so I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed at the same time. Can we talk about that for a minute? Yes, let’s. If you’ve had your wisdom teeth removed, you know they can do general (put you out) or local (numb your mouth) anesthesia. Because all of my wisdom teeth were erupted, they opted for local anesthesia. This is where I learned about how my body responds to numbing agents and pain killers. Basically, it doesn’t. My mouth was numb for a solid 10 minutes before I started to feel the orthodontist literally breaking my teeth in half with some pliers.

Nigga. I cried so hard. It hurt so much, but I made it through thinking that I’d get some pain killers and be high off my gourd for the next week. First, they prescribed me Vicodin. It didn’t work. Then Percocet. Which also didn’t work. Literally, my body didn’t respond to pain killers AT ALL. I pretty much had to wait out the pain in the fetal position on my couch at home for a week and some change. After that experience, I put braces out of my mind, because short of checkups, I didn’t want anything unnecessary done to my teeth.

But then (and we’re about to get to the shenanigans now), while riding around in my car in 2011, I heard a commercial for braces and I said to myself, “P, you should get braces.” There was some number to call, so I called it. And it led me to a dentist’s office in Maryland. Well, I live in Washington, D.C., so that made sense. I scheduled an appointment and showed up for my consultation. And no lie when I tell you I was so dumbfounded at this office: the dentist was a black man but his entire office looked like a Pitbull video shoot. I was in an office full of some of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen. And they all worked there. As far as medical office spaces go, it might as well have been heaven.

I even remember calling a few of the homies to be like, “If you need a dentist, THIS IS WHERE YOU NEED TO BE!” I got my consultation and was told the braces would run me $4,000, and I’d walk away with pristine pearly whites. And all of the work would be handled in-house. And I should just come to them for regular dental services. Cool. SIGN ME UP.

That’s where it started going downhill. For one, while I thought the office was unreal, it was easily the most inappropriate office I’d ever been in. The dental assistants were a little too friendly and familiar. I’m not saying it was a happy endings spot or anything, I’m just saying the folks who worked there were super comfortable in ways that I’m not sure are…appropriate. Well, I got my braces and paid the cost to be the boss. Once that was done, and because my insurance changed, that office was no longer an option. Which made me sad, but I also figured that one complaint might take that office off the map anyway, so perhaps it was just time to move on.

I had permanent retainers on the back of my teeth and recently, the retainers on the back of my top row snapped. Because I could feel my teeth almost immediately start to shift, I found an orthodontist and scheduled an appointment the same way I found any new doctors: I checked the list of folks who would accept my insurance and looked for the black folks.

I went in for an appointment, and in the nicest possible way (and without professionally shitting on her fellow unnamed dentist), the orthodontist was like, “Yeah, your teeth ain’t supposed to do what they’re doing, ever, but since I wasn’t there in the first place, I’m not sure if this is accidental or intentional.” You can imagine how hard I clutched my pearls since I JUST got my braces off in 2012. I asked if she was saying the other dentist fucked up my teeth but made it look like the job was done and she would neither confirm nor deny this. I told her that’s what I get for staying at an office because everybody looks like J.Lo.

In order to address and correct the issue, the estimate came back a cool $8,000 strong. I’d feel dumb not getting them fixed since that was a decision I made in the first place and my teeth would just start crip walking again. Mildly, but a crip walk is a crip walk. But I can’t help but thinking I got got by a dentist’s office that didn’t feel right and stuck me for $4,000 out of pocket. And my teeth aren’t terrible, but the new ortho noticed some things that she had various curiosities about.

And it all takes me back to the fact that I seriously picked an office for braces based on a radio ad.

The moral of the story: Don’t pick dentist offices based on radio ads.

This content was originally published here.

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

Source:
The Conversation
Media Contacts:
Nick Perham – The Conversation
Image Source:
The image is adapted from The Conversation news release.

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SUNDAY SOLILOQUY: Front Porch Dentistry – it was the only way during the old days – Alabama Pioneers

Front Porch Dentistry

by

Shannon Hollon

I remember my grandmother(Pauline Campbell Bearden) telling me a story once when they were staying with her grandparents( Pappy and Grandma) during the Great Depression.

Dr. Charles Campbell (Pappy) served as the local country doctor for Fosters and surrounding Tuscaloosa county area for many years.

Dr. Charles M. Campbell MD 1867-1939

On this certain occasion she and her brother(HT Campbell) watched out the front window as Pappy pulled a neighbor(John Ed)teeth with nothing but forceps and a cane bottom chair.

She said John Ed would hold on to the chair and give a grunt with each tooth extraction.

Dr. Campbell’s only claim to fame is he delivered a local baby Lurleen Burns Wallace who became the first and only female Governor of Alabama…By the way he was payed a calf for his delivery services of the future governor.

is a collection of lost and forgotten stories about the people who discovered and initially settled in Alabama.

Some stories include:

  • The true story of the first Mardi Gras in America and where it took place
  • The Mississippi Bubble Burst – how it affected the settlers
  • Did you know that many people devoted to the Crown settled in Alabama –
  • Sophia McGillivray- what she did when she was nine months pregnant
  • Alabama had its first Interstate in the early days of settlement

See historical books by Donna R. Causey


By (author):  Donna R Causey

List Price: $12.97 USD
New From: $12.97 USD In Stock

About Shannon Hollon

Shannon Hollon lives in McCalla Alabama graduated from McAdory High School and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Served 9 years in the US Navy Seabees with one tour in Afghanistan.Currently employed with US Steel and serving on the board of directors for the West Jefferson County Historical Society. http://wjchs.com/

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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…

Posted by

“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.

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.

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.

Guns and public health: Applying preventive medicine to a national epidemic – CBS News

It happened again … twice in less than twenty-four hours. Are any of us surprised? And can anybody help?

When a panel of seven doctors was asked how many had seen a gunshot victim within the past week, three hands went up. “I think people think that if their loved one gets to the hospital, that there’s magic there. But sometimes it’s just too much for us,” said Dr. Stephanie Bonne.

If there was ever a time for preventive medicine, it’s now, says a group of doctors. 

“A grandfather was shot yesterday,” said Dr. Roger Mitchell. “A son was shot yesterday. Yesterday – a mother was shot yesterday. And then the day before that, there were five other people that were shot that were connected to Americans in this country.”

They’ve had enough, and seen enough.

“The only thing worse than a death is a death that can be prevented,” said Dr. Ronnie Stewart. “And to go and talk to the mom of a child who was normal at breakfast and now is not here, is the worst possible thing. And honestly, it drives us to address this problem.”

Drs. Stewart, Boone and Mitchell, along with Drs. Albert Osbahr, Niva Lubin Johnson, Chris Barsotti and Megan Ranney were in Chicago this past winter as more than 40 medical organizations, who normally operate separately, joined forces to address the 40,000 firearm-related deaths that occur each year.

Nothing like this has ever happened, they said. “And we recognize that this is an epidemic that we can address,” said Dr. Barsotti.

Their meeting followed a tweet from the National Rifle Association last November that helped fuel a movement: “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane.”

Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves. https://t.co/oCR3uiLtS7

— NRA (@NRA)

In response, Dr. Bonne, a trauma surgeon in Newark, N.J., snapped a picture pof the waiting room and posted it to Twitter along with this message: “Hey, N.R.A., do you wanna see my lane? Here’s the chair that I sit in when I tell parents that their kids are dead.”

Hey @NRA ! Wanna see my lane? Here’s the chair I sit in when I tell parents their kids are dead. How dare you tell me I can’t research evidence based solutions. #ThisISMyLane #ThisIsOurLane #thequietroom pic.twitter.com/y7tBAuje8O

— Stephanie Bonne (@scrubbedin)

“And you hit send. And then what happens?” asked medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook.

“I was part of a chorus,” Dr. Bonne replied.

A chorus of thousands of medical professionals who responded #ThisIsOurLane.

“Our motto is do no harm, for physicians. But I think the community felt that harm was being done to us by that tweet,” said Dr. Lubin-Johnson.

Dr. Ranney said, “I remember sitting there and thinking, how can you lecture docs, many of whom are gun owners, about what we do and don’t know?”

Dr. Ranney is chief research officer for Affirm, an organization trying to address gun violence through the same tools doctors use to combat problems like obesity, the opioid crisis, and heart disease.

This public health approach is not new: in the 1950s, doctors worked with the auto industry to help make cars and roads safer. In the ’60 and ’70s, they spoke out against the dangers of tobacco; and in the ’80s and ’90s, to combat HIV and AIDS, they promoted safe sex and research.

Today, the focus is gun violence in all its forms. It may surprise you to know that mass shootings make up less than 1% of firearm-related deaths. The leading cause is suicide, followed by homicide, and then accidents.

But good answers on how best to prevent these deaths are hard to come by. That’s because of 1996 legislation defunding any research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promoting gun control.

Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.), who appended an amendment to a spending bill disallowing government funds from beings used to, in whole or in part, advocate or promote gun control, told the House, “This is an issue of federally-funded political advocacy … a[n] attempt by the CDC to bring about gun control advocacy all over the United States.” $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget was re-allocated, and it had a chilling effect on almost all firearm research. 

“What was lost was 20-some years of effort to understand and prevent a huge health problem,” said Dr. Garen Wintemute, whose work on handgun violence lost government funding after Congress passed that 1996 legislation. “Consciously, deliberately, repeatedly, over and over, we turned our back on this problem. It’s as if we, as a country, had said, ‘Let’s not study motor vehicle injuries. Let’s not study heart disease or cancer or HIV/AIDS.’

“And the result, I believe, is that tens of thousands of people are dead today whose lives could have been saved if that research had been done.”

In 2018, Congress said government dollars could be used to research gun violence, just not to promote gun control. But Dr. Wintemute says federal research into gun violence is still underfunded.

While private donations for research are now increasing, Dr. Wintemute has over the years spent more than $2 million of his own money to continue his research at the University of California-Davis.

Dr. LaPook asked, “Are you a wealthy man who can afford to just do that, as a rounding error?”

“It’s not rounding error,” he laughed. “But I live a very simple life. I earn an academic sector, ER doc’s salary.”

“So, you are changing your lifestyle in order to fund this research or have in the past?”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

“What drives you to do that?”

“People are dying,” Dr. Wintemute replied. “Given the capacity to do it, how can I not? It really is just that simple.”

His work has led to some surprising conclusions. For example, his studies revealed that in some states comprehensive background checks as implemented had no effect on the number of firearm-related deaths. That’s in part because of a lack of communication among agencies.

“We have learned that probably hundreds of thousands of prohibiting events every year do not become part of the data that the background checks are run on,” Dr. Wintemute said.

Consider the 2017 shooting of 46 parishioners at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Due to a domestic violence conviction, the shooter should had been stopped from buying any guns, but that information was never shared with the FBUI, which oversees the background check system.

“So you think, okay, it’s not as effective as we want, but it can become effective if we do A, B, and C?” Dr. LaPook said.

“There’s no question about it,” Dr. Wintemute replied.

But it’s policy proposals from doctors on issues like background checks and registrations that concern gun-rights advocates.

Dr. LaPook said, “The point the N.R.A. was trying to make with its [“stay in your lane”] tweet was, what makes doctors experts on gun policy?”

“Doctors are not experts on gun policy unless they do their homework,” said Dr. Wintemute. “What doctors are experts on is the consequences of violence. If doctors choose to be, they can become experts on policy.”

When asked if advocating for gun control part of the mission of Affirm, Dr. Megan Ranney said no. “This is about stopping shooters before they shoot,” she said.

The NRA did not respond to “Sunday Morning”‘s repeated requests for an on-camera interview. However, in a phone conversation earlier this year, two representatives said the organization does support research into gun-related violence, but expressed concern that – say what they will – the ultimate goal of many who advocate such research is to take away the guns of responsible citizens.

Dr. Ronnie Stewart said, “We’re not well-served by this overly-simplistic view of simply two sides fighting each other. We have to work together. And that includes engaging firearm owners as a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.”

For these doctors, the issue isn’t about whose lane it is; it’s about what they can do.

As Dr. Stephanie Boone said, “I know that the house of medicine can fix this.”

And, Dr. Albert Osbahr added, “Enough is enough.”

       
For more info:

       
Story produced by Dustin Stephens.

This content was originally published here.

7 Facts About Orthodontics | American Association of Orthodontists

Whether you call the process “braces,” “orthodontics,” or simply straightening your teeth, these 7 facts about orthodontics – the very first recognized specialty within the dental profession – may surprise you.

1. The word “orthodontics” is of Greek origin.

“Ortho” means straight or correct. “Dont” (not to be confused with “don’t”) means tooth. Put it all together and “orthodontics” means straight teeth.

2. People have had crooked teeth for eons.

Crooked teeth have been around since the time of Neanderthal man. Archeologists have found Egyptian mummies with crude metal bands wrapped around teeth. Hippocrates wrote about “irregularities” of the teeth around 400 BCE* – he meant misaligned teeth and jaws.

About 2,100 years later, a French dentist named Pierre Fauchard wrote about an orthodontic appliance in his 1728 landmark book on dentistry, The Surgeon Dentist: A Treatise on the Teeth. He described the bandeau, a piece of horseshoe-shaped precious metal which was literally tied to teeth to align them.*

3. Orthodontics became the first dental specialty in 1900.

Edward H. Angle founded the specialty. He was the first orthodontist: the first member of the dental profession to limit his practice to orthodontics only – moving teeth and aligning jaws. Angle established what is now the American Association of Orthodontists, which admits only orthodontists as members.

4. Gold was the metal of choice for braces circa 1900.

Gold is malleable, so it was easy to shape it into an orthodontic appliance. Because gold is malleable, it stretches easily. Consequently, patients had to see their orthodontist frequently for adjustments that kept treatment on track.

5. Teeth move in response to pressure over time.

Some pressure is beneficial, however, some is harmful. Actions like thumb-sucking or swallowing in an abnormal way generate damaging pressure. Teeth can be pushed out of place; bone can be distorted.

Orthodontists use appliances like braces or aligners to apply a constant, gentle pressure on teeth to guide them into their ideal positions.

6. Teeth can move because bone breaks down and rebuilds.

Cells called “osteoclasts” break down bone. “Osteoblast” cells rebuild bone. The process is called “bone remodeling.” A balanced diet helps support bone remodeling. Feed your bones!

7. Orthodontic treatment is a professional service.

It’s not a commodity or a product. The type of “appliance” used to move teeth is nothing more than a tool in the hands of the expert. Each tool has its uses, but not every tool is right for every job. A saw and a paring knife both cut, but you wouldn’t use a saw to slice an apple. (We hope not, anyway!)

A Partnership for Success

Orthodontic treatment is a partnership between the patient and the orthodontist. While the orthodontist provides the expertise, treatment plan and appliances to straighten teeth and align jaws, it’s the patient who’s the key to success.

The patient commits to following the orthodontist’s instructions on brushing and flossing, watching what they eat and drink, and wearing rubber bands (if prescribed). Most importantly, the patient commits to keeping scheduled appointments with the orthodontist. Teeth and jaws can move in the right directions and on schedule when the patient takes an active part in their treatment.

AAO orthodontists are ready to partner with you to align your teeth and jaws for a healthy and beautiful smile.

When you choose an AAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a highly skilled specialist. Orthodontists are experts in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics – properly aligning teeth and jaws – and possess the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Locate AAO orthodontists through Find an Orthodontist at aaoinfo.org.

This content was originally published here.

World Health Organization declares Ebola outbreak an international emergency | Science | AAAS

An Ebola victim was laid to rest Sunday in Beni in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

World Health Organization declares Ebola outbreak an international emergency

The World Health Organization (WHO) today declared that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which surfaced in August 2018, is an international emergency. The declaration raises the outbreak’s visibility and public health officials hope it will galvanize the international community to fight the spread of the frequently fatal disease.

“It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our effort,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “We all owe it to [current] responders … to shoulder more of the burden.”

As of today, Ebola has infected more than 2500 people in the DRC during the new outbreak, killing more than 1650. By calling the current situation a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), WHO in Geneva, Switzerland, has placed it in a rare category that includes the 2009 flu pandemic, the Zika epidemic of 2016 and the 2-year Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa before it ended in 2016.

The declaration does not legally compel member states to do anything. “But it sounds a global alert,” says Lawrence Gostin, a global health lawyer at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. During the West African epidemic, for instance, the U.S. Congress supplied $5.4 billion in the months after WHO’s emergency declaration.

Even as they declared the emergency, WHO officials attempted to tamp down reactions they said could harm both the DRC’s economy and efforts to stop the outbreak. “This is still a regional emergency and [in] no way a global threat,” said Robert Steffen, the chair of the emergency committee that recommended the PHEIC designation and an epidemiologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, during a press teleconference today. He added in a written statement: “It is … crucial that states do not use the PHEIC as an excuse to impose trade or travel restrictions, which would have a negative impact on the response and on the lives and livelihoods of people in the region.”

The DRC’s minister of health, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, issued a statement accepting the declaration but expressing concern about its motives and the potential impact on his country. “The Ministry hopes that this decision is not the result of the many pressures from different stakeholder groups who wanted to use this statement as an opportunity to raise funds for humanitarian actors,” Kalenga wrote. He said such funds could come “despite potentially harmful and unpredictable consequences for the affected communities that depend greatly on cross-border trade for their survival.”

Steffen’s committee previously declined three times, most recently last month, to recommend that WHO declare the outbreak an international emergency. What changed, he said today, was the 14 July diagnosis of a case of Ebola in the large, internationally connected city of Goma, from which 15,000 people cross the border into Rwanda each day; the murders last weekend of two health workers in the city that is currently the Ebola epicenter of the DRC; a recurrence of intense transmission in that same city, Beni, meaning the disease now has a geographical reach of 500 kilometers; and the failure, after 11 months, to contain the outbreak.

Funding is also at issue. In June, WHO announced its funding to fight the outbreak fell $54 million short; today, accepting the emergency committee’s recommendation, Tedros said the funds needed to stop the virus “will run to the hundreds of millions. Unless the international community steps up and funds the response now, we will be paying for this outbreak for a long time to come.” (A written report from today’s meeting added: “The global community has not contributed sustainable and adequate technical assistance, human or financial resources for outbreak response.”)

When the first known Ebola case in Goma was diagnosed this week, concern spiked about international spread. In addition to being a metropolis of nearly 2 million people where Ebola may spread quickly and be difficult to trace, Goma has an international airport. Separately today, the government of Uganda, in conjunction with WHO, issued a statement describing the case of a fish trader who died of Ebola on 15 July; she had traveled from the DRC to Uganda on 11 July before returning to the DRC.

“Although there is no evidence yet of local transmission in either Goma or Uganda, these two events represent a concerning geographical expansion of the virus,” Tedros said. The risk of spread in DRC, [and] in the region, remains very high. And the risk of spread outside the region remains low.”

Last month, the outbreak’s first known Ebola fatalities outside the DRC were reported in a 5-year-old boy and his grandmother. The two had traveled from the DRC to Uganda after attending the funeral of a relative who died from Ebola.

Health officials are also worried about the safety of those battling the outbreak. Since January, WHO has recorded 198 attacks on health facilities and health workers in the DRC, killing seven, including two workers who were murdered during the night of 13-14 July in their home in Beni. The two northeastern DRC provinces that have experienced the outbreak are also plagued by poor infrastructure, political violence, and deep community distrust of health authorities.

Josie Golding, epidemics lead at the Wellcome Trust in London applauded the declaration of the public health emergency. “There is a grave risk of a major increase in numbers or spread to new locations. … This is perhaps the most complicated epidemic the world has ever had to face, yet still the response in the DRC remains overstretched and underfunded.”

Gostin called the declaration “long overdue. Until now the world has turned a blind eye to this epidemic. WHO has been soldiering on alone, bravely alone. And it’s beyond WHO’s capacity to deal with all of this violence and community distrust.”

PHEICs are governed by the International Health Regulations, a global agreement negotiated in the wake of the 2003 SARS outbreak. The regulations, in force since 2007, stipulate that a PHEIC should be declared when an “extraordinary” situation “constitute[s] a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease” and “potentially require[s] a coordinated international response.”

WHO officials also today addressed the thorny conflict over whether a second, experimental Ebola vaccine, in addition to a Merck vaccine that has already been given to 161,000 people in the DRC, should be deployed there now. Officials worry that Merck’s stockpile—although it is being stretched by reducing the dose of the vaccine being given to each recipient—will be depleted before the outbreak ends. But on 11 July, Kalenga gave a firm “no,” rejecting the use of any new experimental vaccine in the country because of unproven effectiveness and the potential for public confusion. (A Johnson and Johnson [J&J] vaccine that has been shown to be safe in healthy volunteers is waiting in the wings and its use has been advocated for by several infectious disease experts.)

But today, Michael Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said the organization still supports introducing the J&J vaccine if it can win “appropriate national approval.” “The Ministry has expressed concern about introducing a second vaccine … mainly around the issue of confusion in the local population. We are working through those issues about where and when the vaccine could be used,” Ryan said.

David Heymann, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and formerly WHO’s assistant director-general for Health Security and Environment, said today’s emergency declaration may have set a precedent. “The Emergency Committee appears to have interpreted the need for funding as one of the reasons a PHEIC was called—this has not been done in the past.”

This content was originally published here.

Smartphones, Tablets Cause Mental Health Issues in Kids as Young as Two

Our smartphones—we’d feel lost without them. They serve many purposes; sometimes they are a quick way to distract fussy or “bored” children and keep them occupied. There’s a growing amount of evidence, however, that the use of electronic devices can be harmful to children.

A recently published population-based study of over forty-four thousand participants looked at the effects of screen time on children aged two to seventeen years and is the newest to point to a very disturbing issue: 

“After 1 h/day of use, more hours of daily screen time were associated with lower psychological well-being, including less curiosity, lower self-control, more distractibility, more difficulty making friends, less emotional stability, being more difficult to care for, and inability to finish tasks.” (1)

Screen time included television, smartphones, computers, and other electronic devices. On a scale of low use of one hour a day, moderate use at four hours a day, and high use at seven or more hours a day, the incidence of depression, anxiety, and mental illness was twice the rate for high users than low users. Even moderate users were found to experience lesser psychological well-being than low or no users of personal electronic devices. The observations in the study were consistent regardless of race, sex, and socioeconomic status.

This is particularly disturbing when you take into account that pre-teens spend an average of six hours a day in front of a screen and most teenagers average more than nine hours—and that’s apart from using computers for school work. (2)

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Poor Physical Health

The relationship between children’s screen time and poor physical health has been definitively established.

A great body of research has linked children’s excessive screen exposure to poor diet, childhood obesity, diabetes, poor sleep, and lowered general physical fitness. (3, 4, 5, 6) As we know, it’s impossible to separate physical from mental health. When someone spends an inordinate amount of time looking at a screen, necessary daily motor movement is reduced significantly. A comprehensive Canadian study found detrimental effects across the health board for children who engage in more than two hours of screen time on a daily basis and recommends no more time than that, in favor of physical activities. Children are not meant to be sedentary. (7)

Mental Health and Cognitive Development

Other research has found a relationship between impaired brain development in young children and exposure to electronic devices. The younger the child, the greater the relative rate of development; “the critical period” between birth and age three is when the neural network is most rapidly forming and laying the foundation for the rest of life. Children’s experience and environment during this time is extremely influential in how the brain grows. (8)

Higher amounts of screen time for young children has been directly associated with poor brain development and behavioral problems. (9, 10) In fact, more than two hours a day of screen time in pre-school children can delay mastery of language and cause underdeveloped memory, poor reading and math skills, and sometimes trouble distinguishing virtual from physical reality. (11)

Giving Your Child a Smartphone is Like Giving them Drugs

Giving your child a smartphone is like “giving them a gram of cocaine,” warns Mandy Saligari, a top addiction therapist working in the United Kingdom. (12)

Long periods of time spent messaging on Instagram, Snapchat or any other social app can be just as addictive as drugs and alcohol. Some studies have shown that “coming off” smartphones can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Screen Time and Adolescents

Pre-teenagers and teens are no less at risk for harm caused by too much screen time. As children get older, their use of electronics changes from entertainment and education to social interaction—often replacing face-to-face human contact. With increased use, many adolescents become addicted to their devices, as the brain releases dopamine (the pleasure hormone) with certain visual stimuli and engagement. (13) Ninety-one percent of teens access social media on at least an occasional basis, with more than half more than once a day. (14)

This excessive use of electronic devices can cause a hormone imbalance and affect neurotransmitters in the brain. This imbalance can affect behavioral and emotional responses; addicted adolescents can experience anxiety, depression, impulsivity, and insomnia. (15) “Facebook Depression” is a real condition characterized by mental health and self-esteem issues.

From an article published by the American Psychological Association:

“[Among students in grades 8, 10, and 12] psychological well-being (measured by self-esteem, life satisfaction, and happiness) suddenly decreased after 2012. Adolescents who spent more time on electronic communication and screens (e.g., social media, the Internet, texting, gaming) and less time on nonscreen activities (e.g., in-person social interaction, sports/exercise, homework, attending religious services) had lower psychological well-being. Adolescents spending a small amount of time on electronic communication were the happiest.” (16)

Further, adolescents who spend a lot of time on their smartphones can develop “text neck”: a repetitive strain injury caused by hunching over a handheld device. Muscle pain in the neck, shoulders, and back can result from the commonly-assumed head-forward posture. The Cleveland Clinic reports that an increasing number of teens and pre-teens are being treated for pain associated with this condition. If left unaddressed, “text neck” can create other musculoskeletal problems, including respiratory, heart, and circulatory issues. (17

Additionally, physical manifestations of cell phone dependence or addiction can include the development of vision, hearing, and tactile problems. Common behaviors associated with other types of addiction (including substance abuse and gambling) have been linked to teens’ screen addiction as well. (18)

Screen Time Recommendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following daily maximum screen time limits for children:

Digital media has its place in children’s lives, as long as it doesn’t replace real-life experience or interactive learning and personal relationships. The consequences of overuse can influence children’s physical and mental health in the short and long terms. 

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Child detention is a mental health crisis

The children who have been detained in overcrowded, squalid migrant camps at the border aren’t just facing poor living conditions. They are also facing higher risks of serious mental health problems, some of which could be irreparable.

The big picture: Children are fleeing life-or-death situations in their home countries, and instead of healing their psychological and emotional trauma, federal officials are exacerbating the damage through means that the medical community views as flagrant violations of medical ethics.


The literature is clear: People who seek asylum and are detained in immigration camps, especially children, suffer “severe mental health consequences.” Those include detachment, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, which put them at higher risk for committing suicide.

What they’re saying: Medical professionals remain appalled at what they’ve seen and are raising alarms the U.S. immigration system is still needlessly hurting the already vulnerable mental health of these kids.

  • Marsha Griffin, a pediatrician in Texas, visited the Ursula detention center in late June with colleagues from the American Academy of Pediatrics. She recalled a young boy in a cage crying because his father had been taken to court and he had lost his aunt’s phone number. Another child relinquished his space blanket, saying it led to nightmares. “This is child abuse and medical neglect,” Griffin said.

Between the lines: Parents and other adult caregivers are usually the only source of stability for children. Every expert interviewed said separating them in any capacity is psychologically damaging and morally intolerable.

  • “The children who are separated — I’m speechless,” said Rachel Ritvo, a child psychiatrist who has practiced at Children’s National Medical Center. “That was what was done in slavery. That’s what was done in the Holocaust.”

The bottom line: “Most kids will have lasting scars from what they have seen or are enduring right now,” said Wes Boyd, a psychiatrist and bioethicist at Harvard Medical School who has evaluated more than 100 asylum seekers in the past decade. “They’re going to need as much medical help as they do legal help.”

Go deeper: Growing up, and parenting, as a refugee

This content was originally published here.