Cleaning: A professional dental cleaning is called a prophylaxis. Preventive services during a cleaning may include removal of plaque or tartar, stain removal, fluoride application, sealants (for children), tooth polishing, or cleaning and adjustment of dentures. Diagnostic services may include a review of health history, oral cancer examination and screening, evaluation of gum tissue, cheek biting, chewing and swallowing patterns, x-rays to detect decay, or referral to a specialist for a specific problem. Education services may include tooth brushing and flossing instruction, nutrition education, self-care instruction, and smoking cessation counseling.
Comprehensive services: The coordinated delivery of the total dental care patients require. Includes all levels of dental care, such as diagnostic services, preventive services, and therapeutic (treatment) services.
Dental caries: Caries is the Latin word for "rotten". Dental caries is a disease, commonly referred to as "tooth decay", caused by bacteria which results in the breakdown of the enamel of the tooth or a cavity. Dental caries can spread from tooth to tooth and if left untreated cause serious pain, inflammation, infection, and may eventually lead to tooth loss. In rare cases, untreated dental infection can lead to death.
Dental sealants: Think of dental sealants as raincoats for the teeth. When the cavity-causing bacteria that live in everyone’s mouth meet leftover food particles, they produce acids that can create holes in teeth. These holes are cavities. After a sealant, which is a composite or glass ionomer coating, has been applied to the grooves in the tooth, it keeps those bits of food out and stops bacteria and acid from settling on the teeth. Children and adults can benefit from sealants but the earlier they get them, the better. The first molars appear around age 6, and second molars break through around age 12. Sealing these teeth as soon as they come through can keep them cavity-free from the start, which helps save time and money in the long run.
Dental Assistant: A dental assistant is generally an entry level employee who works closely with a professional dentist to help during patient visits and procedures. A dental assistant’s duties may include scheduling appointments, sterilization of instruments, taking x-rays and passing instruments or suction during dental procedures. The Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association accredits dental assisting school programs, of which there are over 200 in the U.S. To become a Certified Dental Assistant, or CDA, dental assistants must take the DANB (Dental Assisting National Board) CDA examination after they have completed an accredited dental assisting program, or have at least two years of on-the-job training as a dental assistant.
Dual-function exam room: An exam room that is equipped to function for both medical and dental exams.
Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC): FQHCs are safety net providers that primarily provide services in an outpatient clinic. FQHCs include community health centers, migrant health centers, health care for the homeless health centers, public housing primary care centers, and health center program "look-alikes." They also include outpatient health programs or facilities operated by a tribe or tribal organization or by an urban Indian organization. FQHCs are paid based on the FQHC Prospective Payment System (PPS) for medically-necessary primary health services and qualified preventive health services delivered by a FQHC practitioner. The FQHC benefit under Medicare went into effect October 1, 1991, when Section 1861(aa) of the Social Security Act (the Act) was amended by Section 4161 of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990.
Fluoride varnish: Fluoride is often called nature’s cavity fighter and for good reason. Fluoride, a naturally-occurring mineral, helps prevent cavities in children and adults by strengthening the outer surface of the teeth (enamel) and making them more resistant to the acid attacks that cause tooth decay. Fluoride varnish is a highly concentrated form of fluoride that is applied to the surface of teeth by a dentist, dental hygienist, or a primary care provider. Due to its adherent nature, fluoride varnish stays in contact with the tooth surface for several hours, enhancing its effect.
Full scope dental hygiene services: Full scope services vary depending on the state. Refer to each state’s dental practice act to know what the scope is. In Colorado, this can be found here.
Oral health treatment planning: The process of planning and giving guidance to ensure the oral health needs of the patient are met.
Oral health disparities: Common disparities affecting oral health include insurance coverage, finding providers who accept public insurance, transportation, time off work, geographic distance to services, and education. These disparities exist for many racial and ethnic groups, by socioeconomic status, gender, age, and geographic location.
Plan/Do/Study/Act (PDSA) cycles: The PDSA cycle is shorthand for testing a change—by planning it, trying it, observing the results, and acting on what is learned. This is the scientific method, used for action-oriented learning.
Practice coaching: Practice coaching is a service provided to a practice by a trained coach to support practice transformation. Coaches use a range of approaches including organizational development, project management, quality improvement (QI), and practice improvement approaches and methods to build the internal capacity of a practice to help it engage in improvement activities over time and support it in reaching incremental and transformative improvement goals. This support may be provided on-site, virtually (through phone conferences and Webinars), or through a combination of onsite and virtual visits.
Preventive services: Services include a list of recommended procedures from the American Dental Association to evaluate oral health on a routine basis and to prevent disease. Preventive services generally include examination, radiographs, cleanings, oral cancer screening, fluoride, and sealants.
Restorative services: A dental restoration is a treatment to restore the function, integrity, and morphology of missing tooth structure resulting from caries or external trauma as well as to the replacement of such structure. Restorations generally include fillings (amalgam and composite), root canals and crowns, inlays and onlays, implants, and dentures.
Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH): A licensed dental professional, who must register with the state dental association within their area of practice. A dental hygienist is a primary health professional who works alongside a dentist or other dental professionals to provide full oral health care with a focus on the prevention and treatment of oral disease. Dental hygienists are required to have a minimum of an associate’s degree from an accredited dental hygiene school and are required to take a national board examination and maintain a license including continuing education requirements for license renewal.
Scaling and root planing: Scaling and root planing, also known as conventional periodontal therapy, non-surgical periodontal therapy, or deep cleaning, is a procedure involving removal of dental plaque and calculus (scaling) and then smoothing, or planing, of the (exposed) surfaces of the roots to remove the outer layer of the roots (cementum) that is infected with bacteria that cause inflammation.
Team-based care: The delivery of comprehensive health services to individuals, families, and/or their communities by at least two health professionals who work collaboratively along with patients, family caregivers, and community service providers on shared goals within and across settings to achieve care that is safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable.
Triple Aim: The term "Triple Aim" refers to the simultaneous pursuit of improving the patient experience of care, improving the health of populations, and reducing the per capita cost of health care.
Vulnerable populations: Vulnerable populations include the economically disadvantaged, racial and ethnic minorities, the uninsured, low-income children, the elderly, the homeless, those with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and those with other chronic health conditions, including severe mental illness. It may also include rural residents, who often encounter barriers to accessing health care services. The vulnerability of these individuals is enhanced by race, ethnicity, age, sex, and factors such as income, insurance coverage (or lack thereof), and absence of a usual source of care. Their health and health care problems intersect with social factors, including housing, poverty, and inadequate education.
X-Rays: X-ray, or Radiography, is an imaging technique using X-rays to view the internal structure of an object. Dental X-rays are taken at regular frequency to examine the health of teeth and supporting structures when signs or symptoms of disease cannot be seen by the naked eye.