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May JADA: Researchers seek long-term solutions to access after studying Mission of Mercy events

April 26, 2018

By Michelle Manchir

May JADA cover

Incorporating systematic data collection into Mission of Mercy events could help build lasting solutions such as developing emergency department referral programs that find patients a dental home, according to research in the May issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association.

For May’s cover story, “Mission of Mercy Patient Characteristics and Dental-Related Emergency Department Use,” a team of dentists and researchers in Florida surveyed 1,462 patients attending a 2016 MOM in Jacksonville, Florida, asking about their reasons for seeking health care, dental care use and dental-related emergency department use.

“The goal was to gain a better understanding of the patients who seek care at a Mission of Mercy,” said Dr. Jolene Paramore, corresponding author of the article who is also a periodontist in Panama City, Florida, and president-elect of the Florida Dental Association. “By studying the Mission Of Mercy patient characteristics, we can learn their needs, share the data with collaborative partners, like hospitals and foundations, and strategically plan for sustainable emergency department referral programs and other definitive solutions.”

For the Jacksonville event, researchers found that attendees who were younger adults, of non-Hispanic ethnicity, had less than a college education, lived below the poverty level and reported poorer oral health were at an increased risk of having dental-related emergency department visits.

The results also suggested a lack of understanding among participants about the connection between oral and overall health, Dr. Paramore said. Only 18 percent of participants reported fair or poor overall health, whereas 75 percent reported fair or poor oral health.

Dr. Paramore said she and another study author, Dr. Andrew Brown, gathered patient characteristics at two other Mission of Mercy events in Florida in the past two years. She hopes to publish those finding and encourage other states to do the same.

“The studies give us data to aid in the development of appropriate interventions which are culturally competent and focused on the populations identified as at the highest risk,” Dr. Paramore said. “Through effective dissemination and community partnerships, ‘after-MOM’ effects can be maximized to benefit patients and their families, hospitals and the broader community by improved oral, overall and behavioral health.”

To read the full article, visit JADA.ADA.org.

Other features in the May issue of JADA include insight from The National Dental Practice-Based Research Network on opioid prescribing and risk mitigation implementation in management of acute pain;  an assessment of inappropriate antibiotic prescribing among a large cohort of general dentists in the U.S.; and a take on molar hypomineralization in the U.S.

Each month, JADA articles are published online at JADA.ADA.org in advance of the print publication.