Arkansas Public Media

Arkansas Public Media is a regional journalism collaboration funded by KUAR 89.1 and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Alarming reports of lung-related injuries linked to vaping are raising awareness about the potential risks associated with the use of electronic cigarettes, widely marketed as a healthy alternative to smoking tobacco. But new research also indicates that vaping may impair oral health. 

 

The U.S. is going through rapid demographic changes with dramatic increases in the number of older adults. The Census Bureau projects that by 2035, there will be 78 million Americans aged 65 years and older, outnumbering people under the age of 18. Chronic illness, disability or institutional living often affect routine oral healthcare among this demographic, which also faces unique oral health risks that could impact quality of life if left unattended.

Dental insurance is available in Arkansas as an additonal cost option under private and group health insurance plans. The state's expanded Medicaid program, Arkansas Works, provides optional access to dental insurance as well, as do Medicare advantage plans. Traditional Medicaid only covers emergency medical oral health. Plus, not all dentists in Arkansas accept Medicaid. And based on national data, a majority of Arkansans on Medicare may go without dental coverage.

The quest for a perfect snow-white smile is being fulfilled for patients by a growing esthetic dental industry. But consumers who purchase esthetic oral care products online or in stories for at-home use should beware, expert say, of certain oral health risks. 

Telehealth technologies have high potential to improve oral health in Arkansas. Teledentistry is now widely used by orthodontists across the state, but not yet by most Arkansas dentists.

  

Brush, floss and then forget. The odds are, unless teeth are causing pain, we don't think about them much.

But for Dr. Peter Ungar, what he calls "ready-made fossils" in human mouths have a lot to tell us about the past and how to prevent pain in the future.   

Some Arkansas Dentists Take To The Road

Jul 10, 2019

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More dental practices are reaching out to patients with fear or extreme sensitivity to oral pain to let them know that sedation can be an option to help them cope with dental health care.

“Anything is better than ignoring it,” says Dr. Todd Higginbotham, a dentist in Jonesboro. 

Higginbotham offers a spectrum of sedation options that include anti-anxiety pills, typically benzodiazepine medications such as valium or xanax.  He also can administer nitrous oxide ("laughing gas") to take the edge off procedures and oral conscious sedation, which places patients into a relaxed semi-conscious states. 

One-year-old Davi Spurlock is a good sport about letting pediatric dentist Dr. Misee Harris examine her four baby teeth and bright pink gums for the first time.  After her exam, she placidly plays at brushing the teeth of a toy dinosaur.

Davi’s visit to Children’s Dental Clinic in Paragould is a “Happy Visit.” Dental groups use the term to encourage first visits in the most happy and stress-free of circumstances to allow children to have a positive introduction to oral health care.

The nearly 12-foot long, 78-year-old, oil on canvas mural inside the Piggott Post Office is being featured on a new stamp issued by the United States Postal Service.

“Air Mail” by artist Daniel Rhodes is one of a series of murals commissioned by the government in the 1930’s and1940’s to add beauty to the lobbies of post offices and provide some work for artists during the Great Depression.

Brushing and flossing may lower the risk of heart disease, a new study suggests.

The observational study conducted by the Institute of Biomedical and Health Sciences at Hiroshima University in Japan and presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in Chicago last October looked at the tooth-brushing behavior of 682 people.  After adjusting for other factors, researchers found that those who did not follow the suggested brushing time of at least two minutes at least twice a day had three times the risk of heart problems when compared with people who brushed for longer.

Tooth injuries can happen to anyone, and often do.  Whether it's sports gone wrong, a fall in a hospital or at home or just chewing on hard food, teeth can become chipped or partially to completely dislodged.  Dr. Amir Mehrabi, an endodontist in Little Rock, spoke with Arkansas Public Media about the causes and cures of tooth injury.

Jars of local honey from Crooked Creek Bee Co. will disappear from Arkansas stores following a decision from the state's largest commercial beekeeper to end its retail operations amid concerns over the weedkiller dicamba.

Owner Richard Coy described his customers as disappointed but understanding about the decision, which he announced on Facebook on New Year's Day.  His honey was sold in some 80 grocery and natural food stores around the state.

The holidays can create an extra burden for people struggling after the death of  a loved one, a divorce or other stressors throughout the year.  Dr. Brittney Schrick, a family life specialist for the University of Arkansas's Cooperative Extension Service, spoke with Arkansas Public Media about some tips for coping when the 'happiest time' of the year feels lke anything but.

A neurosurgeon with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is helping with a study on a high-frequency device similar to a pacemaker that can help ease amputation pain.

The study is part of clinical trials at up to 25 sites nationally.  Dr. Erika Petersen, a neurosurgeon and researcher, will lead the local study for UAMS.  Amputees will undergo surgery to be implanted with the device, which they can then activate for pain relief on an as-needed basis.

Champion Duck Callers Flock to Stuttgart

Nov 24, 2018

Champion duck callers gathered in Stuttgart this weekend to compete for the title of best in the world.  It was the 83rd year of the World Duck Calling Championships in the Arkansas town with a population of under 10,000.

Many practice all year for the 90 second duck call.  In the field, hunters adopt a softer and less aggressive call to lure the ducks to their hunting grounds.  But on the stage, the calls must be louder and executed in perfect detail.

The sixth annual Delta Health Disparities Conference at Arkansas State University on Friday focused on the non-medical factors that contribute to health disparities in Arkansas.

Health disparities occur when one population group experiences a higher proportion of illness, disability or early death when compared with another population group.

The horrors of war and the sacrifice of those who served were remembered when Arkansas State University held its Armistice Centennial Celebration on Sunday.

The event included the playing of traditional taps, and ASU Chancellor Kelly Damphousse read the names of 38 soldiers from Craighead County who died in World War I. 

Governor Hutchinson Wins Second Term

Nov 6, 2018

Asa Hutchinson has been re-elected as Governor of Arkansas. Unofficial totals following Tuesday's elections have the Republican incumbent with 63 percent of the vote to Democratic challenger Jared Henderson's 35 percent. Independent Mark West has a bit under three percent.

With the 2018 Farm Bill more than a month late, analysts are watching to see whether the bill will pass this year or go into 2019.

“States like Arkansas, and many others, that are highly dependent on agriculture have a big stake in the outcome,” said Ferd Hoefner, a senior strategic advisor and longtime Farm Bill expert with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

The mammoth legislation that covers a number of agricultural and rural programs did not pass by the September 30th deadline, leaving major programs such as crop insurance and food stamps to continue under the policies of the 2014 Farm Bill.  Other programs are in limbo.

The recent Johnny Cash Heritage Festival in Dyess has reneweed interest in the musical legend's childhood. 

In this new video from Arkansas Public Media, we take a look inside the agricultural resettlement home in rural Dyess where Johnny, then known as J.R., lived with his parents and six siblings after the Great Depression. 

App Aims to Ease Harvest Fire Concerns

Oct 21, 2018

When Arkansas State University assistant professor of digital design Joe Ford noticed that both he and his 3-year-old daughter were getting ill from smoke every autumn, he started wondering whether his design skills could help.

Ford teamed up with associate professor of physics Ross Carroll to build an agricultural burning app that helps farmers measure wind speed and direction and other factors to quickly determine whether a burn is safe or should wait for another day.

In Arkansas, the burning of residue from a row crop is legal, but the smoke draws complaints from communities about health risks, the distinctive odor and temporarily blocked highways.  In November, the rice industry offered voluntary smoke management guidelines to help ease the tension between communities and farmers. 

As many as 15,000 people from the Republic of the Marshall Islands have moved to Northwest Arkansas to work, obtain health care and raise their children. But unlike the American nuclear family, islanders traditionally may relinquish their children to the care of relatives and clan members, if in dire need. By extension, a growing number of impoverished pregnant Marshallese women in Arkansas are consenting to private legal adoptions to improve their children’s welfare as well as to secure medical and living expenses. But some may not understand that they risk losing all contact with their child, under traditional Arkansas adoption rules. This autumn, community advocates and lawyers are laboring to protect the interests of both islander birth moms and parents wishing to adopt Marshallese babies. 

Doctors Urged To Tone Down Medical Jargon

Oct 11, 2018

As part of Health Literacy Awareness Month this October, doctors and other health care professionals are being urged to ditch the medical jargon and adopt plain, real-world language that will be easier for patients and caregivers to understand and remember.

Arkansas Public Media spoke with Alison Caballero, program director with the UAMS Center for Health Literacy, about the effort to get health professionals to break the habit of using advanced medical terminology.  

Colleges and universities around Arkansas are hoping for an easier flu season this year by offering vaccinations to students.

At Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, students and others streamed into a mass flu clinic at the Red Wolf Center in the middle of campus at a rate of about 100 people an hour to get their shots early in the season.

Student Steven Holmquist said he was more than willing to give up a few minutes of his time to get a shot to protect himself and others, since the flu can spread quickly on a campus.

“I think it’s important to be worried about other people’s health as well,” he said.

Under the Environmental Protection Agency's Regional Haze Rule, states that didn’t meet air quality and visibility goals risked triggering federal controls. But now, the EPA is steadily giving control back into the hands of states.

Arkansas's plan, which is awaiting final approval, calls for one of its largest coal-fired plants, the White Bluff plant in Redfield, to stop burning coal within the next ten years.

The Health Department continues to track cases of hepatitis A that have been occuring since February.

The incidents have forced some affected customers to get vaccinations after possible exposure.

But the Arkansas Department of Health's recent investigation into the cause of some 175 sick customers at JJ's Beer Garden and Brewing Co in Fayetteville doesn't appear to be related to the outbreaks of hepatitis A in the eastern part of the state.  That case was instead found to be related to norovirus. 

Reports this week from Supreme Court "Special Masters" split the fortunes of two popular ballot measures set to go before voters Nov. 6. 

The two voter-initiated proposals turned in the required number of petition signatures this summer to qualify for the midterm election ballot.

Daniel Breen / Arkansas Public Media

University of Arkansas at Little Rock administrators are warning of cuts to make up for a roughly $9 million budget shortfall for the current school year.

At a campus meeting at the school's Donaghey Student Center Friday, UA Little Rock Chancellor Andrew Rogerson addressed faculty and staff on preparations for the budget deficit stemming from a drop in enrollment.

The school has seen a drop in enrollment from about 11,000 students in fall 2016 to roughly 9,000 students today. Rogerson said the university has been particularly hard-hit this year.

Arkansas’s health experts are offering a mixed reaction to a new report that finds our state making small progress in its fight against obesity.

Tonya Johnson, director of nutritional services at UAMS, welcomes the decline from 35.7 to 35.0 percent for Arkansas’s obesity rate as indicated by the State of Obesity report released earlier this month, but she said that far more needs to be done to move the rate down faster.

“We are still not making drastic changes in our overall behaviors,” she said.

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