Action to Fruition

by Will Cavell, c/o 2020

Do you love volunteering your time and services to the less-fortunate in the name of dentistry? Have you previously partaken in helping out thousands of Louisiana residents at the annual LaMoM and Give Kids a Smile programs? Well there is good news for you!

Bill for “Action for Dental Health Act” was introduced into the House in 2017 as a means of breaking down barriers to provide access to oral healthcare in underserved populations. The bill H.R. 2422 had dual-party sponsorship when representatives Robin Kelly (D-IL) and Mike Simpson (R-ID) first presented this bill to their comrades. Action for Dental Health Act garnered the support it needed and in February 2018, H.R. 2422 passed overwhelmingly in the House with a vote of 387-13. Thus, it would head on over to the Senate to decide whether or not this bill would end up on the president’s desk.

In a serendipitous fashion, hundreds of dentists and dental students would soon descend upon Washington D.C. to have a day on the Hill for lobbying on behalf of our profession. The self-dubbed “Tooth Party” had H.R. 2422 at the forefront of issues that we discussed in our meetings with our Representatives and especially our Senators. Conversations were had, and an impact was made. Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy along with Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced the Action for Dental Health Act 2018 (S. 3016) in June 2018, where it was directed to the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee for markings. HELP unanimously passed the bill in committee on July 25, clearing the path for a vote in the full Senate. A date for this vote is still to be determined.

What Does it Do?

The American Dental Association (ADA) started the Action for Dental Health platform five years ago and listed eight initiatives for their cause, which can be found here. The initiatives were soon reflected in the bill that we see today. The program aims to “to provide care now to people who suffer from untreated dental disease, to strengthen and expand the public/private safety net, and to bring disease prevention and education into communities.” Specifically, Action for Dental Health Act takes aim at the following features:

  • improving oral health education and dental disease prevention

  • reducing the use of emergency rooms for dental care

  • helping patients establish dental homes

  • reducing barriers, including language barriers and cultural barriers, to receiving care

  • facilitating dental care to nursing home residents

You may wonder how our country will fund such a bill; however, the Action for Dental Health Act will be of no additional burden to taxpayers. The funds are already there. Existing resources would bypass lengthy red tape stipulations that prevent millions of Americans from achieving good oral health. Essentially, “it would reauthorize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in conjunction with the Health Resources and Services Administration to issue grants and funds totaling $32 million each year for the next five years… The act creates guidelines for who would be eligible to receive funds. They include academic institutions, local dental societies, state dental associations, as well as state and local health and/or dental departments.” This means programs like Mission of Mercy and Give Kids a Smile would have more funding. More funding equals more dental treatment for people in need.

Speaking on the topic, Sen. Cassidy states “As a physician, I know that dental care is crucial to overall health. Untreated dental disease leads to millions of dollars in preventable dental-related ER visits each year. Action for Dental Health expands the reach of existing community based programs which screen, treat and educate underserved populations connecting patients to dentists who can continue to treat them down the road."


Hacks to Keep Your Mind & Body Happy & Healthy During Dental School

by Erin Wilbanks, c/o 2020

Being a dental student can be taxing—both mentally and physically. We can feel so overwhelmed with school that we often forget to take care of the most important thing… ourselves! Maintaining a balance between school and health is key for high performance. The following tips will hopefully help keep you well physically and mentally during long days at school.

Make time in your schedule to work out, and more importantly, enjoy your workouts.

Variety is key for me in my workouts. An app called ClassPass is a great option for big cities, and now it is offered in New Orleans! With this app, you are able to try different studios and classes without the upfront contract commitment. There are different levels of membership depending on how often you plan on working out. Find a friend that already has a membership—they can give you a discount code to try for a month for close to nothing! If you hate running, there is no use in forcing yourself to go run every day. Find what you enjoy- whether that be boxing, barre, Pilates, yoga. Most importantly, listen to your body. You can actually see better results working out with less intensity and fewer times per week if that is what your body needs. I try to do high intensity workouts 2x/week and the other low impact movements, like yoga or stretching 2x/week as well.

Set a workout schedule at the beginning of the week to hold yourself accountable and avoid decision-making fatigue.

Know that you are boxing on Monday, doing yoga on Tuesday, Pilates on Thursday, you are less likely to skip a workout when you have a schedule. In addition, making fewer decisions throughout the day leads to a lower risk of having brain fog. Decision making fatigue is a real thing! Use the break from schoolwork and give yourself something healthy to look forward to.

Meal prep on a certain day of the week, every week.

Bring a grocery list when you go to the grocery store (simple, but it works). This allows you to only shop for the things you need, which leads to saving money and wasting time wandering the aisles of the grocery store. Meal prepping on Sundays works for many people. You will start the week fresh and prepared.

The quality of food that you eat matters.

If you want to experience high performance, you need to nourish your body with the right foods. Choose organic when possible. Pesticides like glyphosate lead to inflammation and endocrine dysfunction. Incorporate high quality fats, proteins, and carbs into your meals. Here are some examples:  

Healthy fats: avocados, grass fed ghee, olive oil, raw nuts, MCT oil, coconut

Healthy vegetables: asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cucumber

Healthy proteins: pasteurized eggs, grass fed beef, low mercury salmon, chickpeas

Healthy fruits: blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, grapefruit, pomegranate

Healthy carbohydrates: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, white rice, cassava

Find a reputable food and wellness blogger to follow on social media.

Their daily posts can spark new ideas and motivate you. Follow people that bring you up and make you feel happy, rather than make you feel like you are constantly comparing yourself. Learn new hacks and tricks from them to make your life more efficient. My favorite health bloggers on Instagram are @shutthekaleup, @leefromamerica, and @rachaelsgoodeats.

Try something new every month, whether you love it or hate it, new experiences are exciting!

Keep an open mind and step out of your comfort zone! This is where growth occurs. Try a new workout class with a friend. Try a food that you have never tried before. Go on that first date. Experience all things “woo-woo” and mystical. Put your judgments and fears to the side and LIVE!

On long drives, listen to podcasts instead of music; multitasking at its finest.

Find a podcast on a topic that you are interested in. There are so many categories… Health and Wellness, Business, Comedy, Politics, Technology, even dental… the possibilities are endless! I learn some of the most beneficial tips from podcasts. My personal favorites are Bulletproof Radio, The goop Podcast, and The Balanced Blonde on iTunes.

Get sufficient sleep!

Your melatonin levels drop after being exposed to just ten minutes of bright light. For at least thirty minutes before bed, avoid bright lights. The blue light from your phone is interrupting your sleep cycle - use apps like f.Lux on your laptop to reduce the emission of blue light. Sleep in a blacked out room. Even a tiny bit of light in your room can disrupt your sleep cycle. Wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day!

Other Health Hacks

1.      Try intermittent fasting

2.      Eat fresh, whole, real foods (no more processed junk)

3.      Download f.Lux for computers during studying- decrease blue light at night

4.      Eat fermented foods and drinks

5.      Read ingredients on every item you use- from food to cosmetics

6.      Decrease sugar intake to lower your inflammation

Most importantly: listen to your body and practice self-care!

Dental school puts your mind and body through some major hurdles. Not every diet and every health trend works for everyone. Pay attention to how you feel after eating certain foods. Being in touch with your body leads to your overall well-being and happiness and ultimately high performance!