The Five Most Popular Publications of 2021

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December 14, 2021

Research is one of five Areas of Activation at CareQuest Institute for Oral Health. It’s an integral part of our strategy to improve the oral health system and build a future where every person can reach their full potential through excellent health. 

Research is also one of our most prolific areas.  

In 2021, CareQuest researchers created and published more than 100 items, including white papers, journal articles, research reports, and infographics. (You can find all the items and more in our Resource Library.) The goal of that research is simple yet powerful: to conduct innovative research and actively seek out and analyze data to reveal opportunities to transform oral health care and improve patient outcomes. And in 2021, there was no shortage of items that fit that description.  

Based on the collective interest from our audience of providers, policymakers, advocates, and oral health stakeholders across the industry, here are the five most popular CareQuest Institute publications from the last year. 

5. More Than Meets the Eye: Oral Health, Eye Health, and Overall Health publications

This report highlights the links between oral health, eye health, and overall health. For example, systemic causes of visual impairment, such as diabetes and heart disease, are also associated with poor oral health outcomes in addition to compromising overall health. Knowledge of these links is key for clinicians to diagnose, educate, and treat high-risk individuals. 

Key points from the report: 

  • Periodontal disease is associated with increased risk of developing glaucoma. 
  • Patients with diabetes have a significantly increased risk of developing glaucoma. 
  • Disabled and aging populations are more predisposed to oral issues and ocular diseases. 

4. Provider and Public Perceptions of Silver Diamine Fluoride 

Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) is highly effective in arresting the progression of active caries as well as preventing new lesions. But is has downsides, too: it leaves a black stain on these lesions and may burn or stain the soft tissue surrounding them. 

How do dental providers and patients view SDF? This report offered details on their attitudes, including the following: 

  • Of nearly 400 surveyed providers, 90% agreed that SDF is an effective treatment. 
  • Of the surveyed adults, 78% thought that the application of SDF on posterior teeth was acceptable versus only 20% who thought it was acceptable on anterior teeth. 
  • Females were more likely than males to accept SDF as the treatment of choice for both posterior and anterior teeth. 

3. A Learning Community That Aims to Change Oral Health 

The COVID-19 Oral Health Recovery and Transformation (COHRT) Learning Community brought together Federally Qualified Health Centers in Massachusetts to make systemic changes to their delivery of oral health care. The goal was to not just respond to the pandemic but also begin the process of long-term transformation in oral health. 

This report describes that learning community and its outcomes, including the following: 

  • There was a steady increase in caries risk assessments (CRAs) at the FQHCs over the course of the learning community, from a total of 275 in June 2020 to 1365 in November 2020. 
  • By the end of the learning community, 75% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that the traditional dentistry model will need to significantly transform in the next five years. 
  • Seven of the eight participating FQHCs reported that they were confident or extremely confident in their ability to use primary and secondary interventions. 

2. New Survey Suggests Optimism about Teledentistry Experience and Access 

This report from June, based on the State of Oral Health Equity in America 2021 survey of 5,320 adults, found that many patients have not experienced a virtual visit with a dental provider: only 2% of survey respondents had received dental care remotely in the last year. This is, at least in part, because of limited awareness and availability: 63% of respondents were unaware of whether their dentist offered teledentistry, and 33% said they knew their dentist did not. 

But patients who had experiences with teledentistry had positive feedback, and many who had never had a virtual visit were willing to try it, given the opportunity. 

1. Inequities Remain Pervasive in Oral Health 

This report from July, the most popular publication of the year, explores the pervasive inequities in oral health. Based on a survey of 5,320 adults, it found the following: 

  • Fifty-seven percent of Black adults have lost one or more permanent teeth due to decay or gum disease, compared to forty-six percent of all American adults. 
  • Black respondents (40%) were two times more likely to respond that oral health is more important than physical health, compared to white respondents (20%). 
  • Eighty-seven percent of respondents supported the alignment of payment with prevention and management of disease—key elements in value-based care. 

The report also highlighted disparities between different groups in terms of the prevalence of different oral health problems and attitudes toward value-based payment within different income levels.

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