Follow along as we dive into the valuable topics / discussions Dr. Halasz was a part of and how the American Dental Association is working to improve the dental experience for both patients and dentists alike!
What is SmileCon?
SmileCon is an annual dental conference where members of the American Dental Association meet to teach, learn, network, and grow as an educated body of professionals.
This year, the conference was hosted in early October at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas Nevada!
Some of you may be wondering…. What is the American Dental Association? That is a valid question!
The American Dental Association was founded August 3, 1859 in Niagara Falls, New York by twenty-six dentists who represented various dental societies in the United States.
Today, the ADA has more than 161,000 members, 55 constituent (state-territorial) and 545 component (local) dental societies.
It is the largest and oldest national dental association in the world and is committed to both the public and the dental profession.
What Exciting Topics Were Covered at SmileCon?!
- Insurance – Eliminate waiting periods for children
- Insurance – Add dental benefits to the Affordable Care Act
- Workforce – Improve the ability to hire quality employees to work in the dental practice
- Accessibility – Lawmakers directed to make it easier for patients suffering with sleep-apnea to get treatment
These are excellent areas of discussion because, if implemented properly, they can help to improve the overall dental care experience! Let’s take a deep dive into these areas of discussion!
Insurance – Eliminating Waiting Periods for Children
What is a dental benefit waiting period? A dental benefit waiting period is the amount of time after purchasing a dental insurance plan that you must wait before you are eligible to receive benefits for treatment.
Waiting periods differ from plan to plan, but there is typically no waiting period for preventive or diagnostic services such as routine cleanings and basic exams.
Conversely, your dental plan may have a 6- to 12-month waiting period for restorative services such as filings and non-surgical extractions, where a 12-month waiting period is often standard for major services such as crowns or dentures.
If you receive services during a waiting period, your dental coverage may not pay for them.
As a Dental Society made up of individuals that care about our patients, we don’t want children to have to suffer for 6-12 months with a tooth ache or cavity before they get treatment because of an insurance clause.
At SmileCon, we strongly encouraged the insurance companies to eliminate this waiting period for children. This is a great step in the right direction and is an excellent example of the tangible change we can make, as dentists, if we all set our focus to improving the industry in which we operate.
Insurance – Add Dental Benefits to the Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is a United States federal statute enacted by the 111th United States Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010.
Together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 amendment, it represents the U.S. healthcare system’s most significant regulatory overhaul and expansion of coverage since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.
The Affordable Care Act does not require adults to carry dental insurance and insurers through the ACA aren’t required to offer dental coverage to adults, but it is a requirement for kids.
Dental care is considered to be an “essential health benefit” for children under 18 (which means that insurers must offer dental insurance for kids, either as part of a medical plan or as a stand-alone plan), but adults don’t have that same requirement.
In some cases, adults find that dental insurance isn’t even available. At SmileCon we discussed how we can make dental insurance more widely available for adults under the Affordable Care Act and we are working towards making that a reality.
Workforce – Improve the Ability to Hire Quality Employees to Work in the Dental Practice
A mystery sits at the heart of the economic recovery: There are 10 million job openings, yet more than 8.4 million unemployed are still actively looking for work.
The job market looks, in some ways, like a boom-time situation. Business owners complain they can’t find enough workers, pay is rising rapidly, and customers are greeted with “please be patient, we’re short-staffed” signs at many stores and restaurants.
This trend is no different in the dental industry. Many dentists are struggling to find quality receptionists, and chair-side assistants to help their practices operate efficiently.
It is an uphill battle for many small business owners because on average, you can make more money on unemployment than you would if you were to reenter the workforce. This creates a lack of motivation for people to look for jobs.
So now, business owners have to pay a higher wage just to incentivize people to work for them. At SmileCon we discussed and strategized how we can find the right people to hire and encourage them to be employed at a dental practice.
Accessibility – Lawmakers directed to make it easier for patients suffering with sleep-apnea to get treatment
For those of you that are unfamiliar with sleep apnea, it is a disorder that occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax when you are asleep preventing normal breathing.
These muscles support the soft palate, the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate (uvula), the tonsils, the side walls of the throat and the tongue.
When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in. You can’t get enough air, which can lower the oxygen level in your blood.
Your brain senses your inability to breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep so that you can reopen your airway. This awakening is usually so brief that you don’t remember it.
This constant state of waking up and attempting to fall back asleep all coupled with a lower oxygen intake can cause symptoms like (but not limited to) loud snoring, dry mouth, headaches, insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty focusing, irritability and more.
At SmileCon, we urged lawmakers to make it easier for patients suffering with sleep- apnea to get treatment from dentists because we can offer simple, non-invasive solutions that will improve their condition.
There are two types of dental appliances which can be used for treating sleep apnea – Mandibular advancement devices (MADs) and tongue retaining mouthpieces.
Generally speaking, you will use an oral appliance to normalize breathing and get a better sleep. However, the most important thing is that dental appliances improve airflow and reduce the frequency and loudness of snoring dramatically.
Now, we’ll give you more details about each type of dental appliances.
Mandibular advancement devices have metal hinges. It’s worth noting that metal hinges are used to connect a device on the upper and lower teeth.
You will sit this device comfortably in your mouth while you sleep. Doing this will put your jaw in the best position for you to get maximum airflow because it helps keep airways open and normalize breathing during the sleep.
What’s great about MADs is that they’re adjustable. In other words, your dentist can adjust this device to fit your in mouth perfectly because it is custom made just for you.
Tongue retaining mouthpieces come with a small compartment that can be used to fit a device around the tongue. Actually, the device holds the tongue and this helps prevent blocking airways.
We recommend this to patients that have difficulty comfortably adjusting their jaw during their sleep. If lawmakers make it easier for these patients to receive treatment we can continue to improve the dental experience and help improve our patients’ quality of life.
SmileCon 2021 in Las Vegas was a huge success! Dr. Halasz was able to learn, offer his input, see some old friends, and bring his knowledge / experiences with him to implement into his practice.
We will keep you updated with the progress of the topics discussed in this blog post but until then, remember “Use your smile to change the world, but never let the world change your smile!”
FROM THE OFFICE OF DR. MICHAEL H. HALASZ, DDS