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In brief: Workforce projections for dentistry; ongoing supply-chain issues

Feb. 15, 2023
Learn about seven-year workforce trends for dentists and hygienists; what's going on with the supply chain; a 17th-century dental innovation; and more.

2030 workforce projections for dentists, hygienists

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services predicts that within seven years, more than 200,000 dentists will be needed to meet national patient demand. In its report called Oral Health Workforce Projections, 2017-2030, HRSA notes an expected increased demand across several specialties, including for general dentists, oral surgeons, endodontists, and orthodontists. The report also notes a 20% projected increase in demand for hygienists, from 147,470 in 2017 to 176,660 in 2030.

Periodontitis may be a risk factor for heart arrhythmia

In a study published in JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology, researchers found a significant correlation between periodontitis and atrial fibrosis, scarring to an appendage of the heart's left atrium that can lead to an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation. Their finding that the worse the periodontitis, the worse the fibrosis suggests that the inflammation of gums may intensify inflammation and disease in the heart.

Sugar + early interruption of breastfeeding top contributors to early caries

A study of some 800 children in Brazil has shown that adding “free sugar” to a child’s diet and the early interruption of breastfeeding are the main contributing factors to a child having cavities by age 2. The study results “corroborate prior research findings on the role of free sugar in the development of dental caries. Breast milk lactose alone doesn't cause the problem. Practically all the children surveyed by our study were exposed to free sugar at an early age,” noted a study author.

Supply chain issues still plaguing dental practices

Before the pandemic, dental practices spent an average of 5.5% to 6.0% of their revenue on dental supplies. As of 2022, spending has increased to an average of 8% to 9%. According to Boyd Industries, which manufactures operatory equipment and cabinetry, the continuing lapses are a culmination of “the little things that can cause a significant jolt to global manufacturing.”

17th century dental treatment “remarkable”—but likely torturous

The remains of a 17th century French aristocrat show what researchers called remarkable innovation for the time, but the treatment most likely caused the woman considerable pain. Scans showed that woman had severe periodontal disease that had loosened many of her teeth, and that she'd had fine gold wires put in place by piercing the teeth to keep them from falling out. Such a treatment at that time was both innovative and painful, and would have made the situation worse by destabilizing her neighboring teeth, said the author of a study on the teeth.