Tuesday, July 29, 2008

ViziLite Cancer Screening Test Comes Under Fire by Boston Globe

The Monday, July 28, 2008 Boston Globe featured an article about the new ViziLite oral cancer test. The main thrust of the article is that it's a waste of time and money.

You can read the full article here.

There is always someone who is willing to take the other side in a story in order to have their five minutes in the spotlight. It is not surprising the Globe did not have to look far to find a dentist not supporting a screening test that could save a life or prevent disfiguring surgery -- especially when you have many dentists who still think amalgam fillings are ok.

Oral cancer is rising due to the link to HPV. When oral cancer is detected early it can save your life. At this point there are only two oral cancer screening tests, ViziLite Plus and VELscope, which can detect malignant cells. The research shows that the tests do aid in early detection.

The ViziLite Plus test, which is what I use, is not a harmful test; the patient only needs to rinse with a vinegar tasting liquid and open their mouths. What other cancer screening test is that simple and pain free?

The Globe also goes on about the cost of the test, and quotes one dentist who charges $80 -- which, the Globe notes, insurance doesn't cover.

I charge $70 dollars and offer the test to high risk patients and those who want it. Each kit costs about $40 dollars, so $30 dollars is not a huge profit, as any dentist will tell you. I do not do the screening to make money.

Doctors are now saying that women don't need yearly mammograms, yet a woman I know was recently treated for breast cancer -- cancer which was found during her annual exam. Where would she be today if she had had to wait an additional year for her exam?

The dentists opposed to the oral cancer screening test lower themselves to the status of tooth plumbers instead of mouth physicians. It is my job as a dentist to educate people on maintaining their oral health -- which leads to whole body health -- not simply scrape plaque off their teeth.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The ADA Needs New Thinking With Regard To Amalgam Fillings

In an About.com:Dentistry blog post, Tammy Davenport writes about the current stand-off between the ADA and the FDA regarding "silver" or amalgam fillings.

Silver fillings incorporate mercury, a toxic substance.

The amalgam issue gets me hot under the collar as some idiot dentists act like they are losing a best friend with amalgam. Their argument is lame.

Insurance companies want amalgam because it's cheap. Amalgam is a Civil War-era material. What else in medicine do we use from the 1800's? Nothing, as far as I know. That's why we have medical advances -- so we can offer patients new treatments that improve lives.

The alternative to mercury fillings is composite fillings, which are also called “tooth colored fillings,” or “bonded aesthetic fillings." Composites are technique-sensitive and are a much better alternative to amalgam fillings.

That's because composite fillings require less tooth to be removed during the procedure and once in place, strengthen the tooth, insulate better against hot and cold, and if they wear down, are easily repaired.

Refusing to give up amalgam fillings is akin to a surgeon saying, "All I'll do is amputate legs after a severe injury. Amputation is easy, and I do not want to learn microsurgery, which takes skill and is an investment."

If surgeons had that attitude there would be no advances in medicine.

And, I'm happy to state that in ten years of practice, I have not placed one amalgam filling. My patients are happy and the work they receive is superior -- since it's based on advanced training, modern medicine and new technologies.

Angie's List Poll Says 50% Afraid to Visit the Dentist

According to a news article on CBS3.com, a recent Angie's List poll found that 50 percent of their members were sometimes afraid of their dentist.

And, even if people are not happy with their dentists, they won't take the time to find a new one because it's too much of a hassle.

What I find remarkable is that despite educational efforts and the wealth of information available on the Internet, people are still afraid to visit the dentist.

On top of that, the dental industry has undergone rapid change. Gone are the days of "Civil War era" treatments. Dentists today have an array of tools and technologies that make dental treatments painless.

One of these tools is the Comfort Control Syringe -- which I talk about in the video below.

Other new techniques include one-visit crowns and sedation dentisty.

With CEREC dental crowns, a dentist can place a crown in one visit. With this new technology, you experiences significantly less invasive drilling, fewer injections, and a lot less time taken from your schedule.

With sedation dentistry, dentists have a number of options to help eliminate pain, including topical gels, improved local anesthetics, such as Septocaine, which provides profound numbing, and sedative drugs taken orally, such as Valium or Triazolam, which lower anxiety.