BPA, Meningiomas, Heart Disease, Oh My!
It’s really been a banner year for us in the dental profession. Systemic diseases “caused” by dentistry have been in the news so much that I feel like dentistry itself is running for the highest public office. News agencies are of course the regulator of public opinion and right now it seems they’re trying really hard to keep us from getting that spot on Pennsylvania Ave.
The year in review thus far. It started first with a scare that dental radiographs could be linked to a type of brain cancer called meningiomas. The bottom line is that the media picked up on a preview of a study that was pretty poorly done. There were four major flaws. 1. It was retrospective, looking at past radiographic exposure. Dentistry has done many things to improve radiation exposure in patients over the last few decades. 2. It was based on patients recall of their exposure to radiographs from 30 years ago. And most of the subjects already knew they had meningioma. 3. Meningioma is one of the most common types of brain cancer and is usually very benign. 4. “Is linked to” vs. “is caused by” while the methodology may have been flawed, the study highlighted a link between the relationship of dental radiographs and meningiomas, but failed to find and adequate causative link which what was reported upon. Media loves to use the “is linked to” relationship to bring two things together in a causative manor.
An article was also published downplaying the relationship between periodontal disease and heart disease. For quite sometime dentistry had used a model of gum disease as a contributing factor of vascular disease. Although not entirely disproving this model, the article focused on more general vascular inflammation as a primary causes of heart disease and failed to correlate gum disease as a contributory factor. However, many studies have been published directly correlating gum disease and vascular inflammation.
This brings me to our recent BPA headlines and our misbehaving children. We’ve known about BPA’s in our resins that we use to fill and seal teeth for quite some time. According to the ADA, “As a trace material: BPA may be used in the production of other ingredients found in some dental composites and sealants. Bis-DMA and bis-GMA are both produced using BPA as a starting ingredient, so residual trace amounts of BPA may be present in the final product.” The key to that statement is trace amounts. There were also some huge flaws in this study. They failed to correlate socioeconomics, diet, and used a very small sample size. Also the changes in behavior results they did see were not behavioral changes parents picked up on, and have not previously been verified as to whether this is an effective way to measure behavior changes from filling materials. This article also has some other flaws, but I’m not going to get into them right now. Let’s go forward.
I seriously hope that at least one of my two boys choose to go into dentistry. What? Wait, why am I saying this? With all this negative press on dentistry shouldn’t I be discouraging them from this field? Won’t dentistry be obsolete after everyone starts to realize how much they are being poisoned by their dentist? To that I say, “nah!”
I sincerely hope that we can look back on this year and attribute a revolution in dentistry and oral health care to it. A revolution that sees a decline in the number of dental restorations placed, a decline in the amount of dentistry done and a decline in these horrible problems that dentistry is causing in the general population. Wait a minute, won’t that just put you out of business? To that I just say, “nah!” as well.
I will love if one day one of my boys comes up to me and asks me, what’s with all this dentistry we’re doing? There will be plenty of dentistry to be done. Mark my words. No vaccines, no super anti-strep mutans (that’s one of the major cavity bugs) lollipop, no keep32 will be the demise of dentistry. There’s plenty of work out there. Everything we do to fix what people neglected will need to be replaced at some point. Unfortunately people just don’t always take care their teeth, or even worse their kids teeth , and I don’t see that changing in the general population. Hopefully my patients will see the benefits of regular care and even more so, how to not only take care of their teeth but their children’s teeth as well.
Lets just do more to prevent cavities from occurring in the first place and we won’t have to worry about what to place when we have a cavity. Let’s not let our kids drink soda and eat chips constantly say no to those blow pops and bazooka gum.
Dentistry may regress, since apparently we all we can do safely is pull out teeth with cavities. But hey, we can always put implant dentures in, that is until someone does some bunk research and it ends up highlighted on one of those major networks.
The court of public opinion rendered it’s guilty verdict on dentistry these past few months, it might make my job a little harder but rest assured, dentistry will always be able to safely restore your teeth. Just do you’re best to take care of them, and don’t believe everything you see on TV.
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