Last month, a Texas man sued his dentist for negligence after he was diagnosed with oral cancer following a dental appointment in which he sought treatment for an oral ulcer. The dentist told him to use a special mouthwash and sent him on his way. The patient ended up losing his tongue and his teeth, and is suing for damages including medical expenses, mental anguish, pain, impairment, disfigurement and lost wages. The suit accuses the dentist of “violating the duty of care” and negligence.
Was the dentist negligent? What is his, or any other dentist’s liability in cases like this?
The Oral Cancer Foundation has stated, “[A dentist’s] responsibility is at minimum creating awareness, and being involved in opportunistic discovery of suspect tissue through routine screening of your entire patient population, and referral for second opinion or biopsy when appropriate,” while also conceding, “the average person routinely has conditions existing in their mouths that mimic the appearance of pre-cancerous changes, and very early cancers of the soft tissues. One study determined that the average dentist sees 3-5 patients a day who exhibit soft-tissue abnormalities, the vast majority of which are benign in nature.”
So it’s clear to see that there’s a bit of a gray area here. The OCF also states clearly that a biopsy performed by a specialist is the only 100% effective way to diagnose oral cancer, and recommends waiting two weeks after discovery of the abnormality before taking advanced action, as most such problems resolve themselves within that time. So should every dentist, fearing malpractice suits, rush every patient with a canker sore to a cancer specialist? And if early detection is as paramount as the experts say, why wait the two weeks in the first place?
According to the New York Times, more than 35,000 Americans learned they had oral cancer in 2008 and more than 7,000 died from it. Luckily, there are new technologies that make it easier for dentists to detect oral cancer early, but not all insurance companies cover the cost, nor do all dentists offer them. Even the Times is a bit unsure either way: “… These new tests have set off a debate over cost and effectiveness. Experts are divided on whether they will reduce mortality from oral cancer or simply lead to a wave of expensive and unnecessary biopsies.”
In the end, we may never know how much weight can rest on the shoulders of dentists, but at this point in time, it seems the best defense is still a good offense. This means a dentist should take a proactive role to fulfill their duties, which should include, where necessary, referrals or, as is the preferred method at Calabasas Dental Spa, advanced, cutting-edge technology to beat this menace.
As the world becomes ever more aware that one’s oral health coincides, influences and is affected by one’s overall health, respecting the integrity of our dental needs is more important than ever. For this reason, Calabasas Dental Spa combines a relaxing luxury environment with technologically advanced and biologically-minded techniques to maintain the wellness of your mouth and body alike. Call Calabasas Dental Spa today for a consultation at (818) 880-5520 and be sure to follow me on Twitter!
Earlier this year, the famed Dr. Oz devoted an episode of his syndicated self-help TV show to the dangers of mercury fillings, or dental amalgams containing mercury in its filling material. Although mercury has been in millions of Americans’ mouths for more than a century, it’s only in the last few decades that the science has caught up enough to tell us it’s a slippery (and toxic) slope.
You don’t need a hyper-edited intro video with explosions and apocalyptic music to know that mercury’s presence in dentistry is a crude relic of a less enlightened time. You see, if someone were to grind their teeth in their sleep (and we all do that, for sure) or to chew aggressively, the poisonous amalgam may begin to oxidize past the point of no return and could cause the toxin buried within the tooth to emerge in the form of a vapor and be inhaled into the lungs. (Chewing and grinding with about 8 average size amalgam fillings in the teeth over 15 years produces vapors which are inhaled by the person and they end up on average with up to 6 grams of mercury in their lungs). A simple reading of the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) warnings about mercury vapor is all the apocalyptic nightmare one needs:
“Chronic exposure to mercury may result in weakness, fatigue, anorexia, weight loss, and disturbance of gastrointestinal function. A tremor may develop beginning with the fingers, eyelids, and lips which may progress to generalized trembling of the entire body and violent chronic spasms of the extremities … increased excitability, memory loss, insomnia, and depression … severe salivation and gingivitis is also characteristic of chronic toxicity.” In addition, mercury amalgam creates stress to dental structure that results in cracks in the tooth that deteriorate the tooth anatomy causing the teeth to break to a point of needing a crown, in most cases also root canals and sometimes even lead to a tooth loss.
In other words, no good news if that ugly metal in your mouth decides to malfunction. What Dr. Oz and so many others want to know is why are we still taking these chances when there is another way? At Calabasas Dental Spa, we have long practiced so-called “bio-compatible” dentistry which the International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology (IAOMT) defines as a method that “recognizes the impact of toxic materials and relates it to dental and physiological health. These dentists are concerned with the integrity of the oral cavity and use materials and procedures in their practices that are systemically compatible.”
In addition to not using amalgam here at the Calabasas Dental Spa, and using a strict protocol when removing amalgam fillings, we can also, using a simple blood test, find out which dental materials are most compatible for each person and replace the amalgam filling with material determined to be the most compatible.
Our techniques are minimally invasive and prioritize the conservation of your tooth foundation, with the goal of mimicking that structure (biomimetric dentistry) with the use of contemporary composite (biocompatible) composite resins and adhesive dental procedures. As the world becomes ever more aware that one’s oral health coincides, influences and is affected by one’s overall health, respecting the integrity of our dental needs is more important than ever. For this reason, Calabasas Dental Spa combines a relaxing, luxurious environment with technologically advanced and biologically-minded techniques to maintain the wellness of your mouth and body. Call Calabasas Dental Spa today for a consultation at (818) 880-5520 and be sure to follow me on Twitter!
Last week, in Washington, a rare thing occurred: A U.S. Senator actually addressed the shameful state of dental care in the country. At a hearing on the Affordable Care Act, which is only months away from beginning its nationwide enrollment period, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland showed his teeth. Speaking to the baffling decision to list pediatric oral care under the Essential Health Benefit Packages (EHBPS) – essentially meaning kiddie dental must be ‘offered’ by providers, but it’s not ‘required’ to be covered in full – Cardin says, “There is no guarantee or requirement that families have pediatric dental coverage, and the coverage could be provided in a stand-alone plan with a separate deductible, so that a family with two children might have to pay as much as $1,400 in out-of-pocket costs for dental coverage.”
With dental costs often too rich for many Americans’ blood – more than 100 million Americans don’t go to the dentist due to the price – and the lack of clear solutions has led to a health crisis. As I recently tweeted, half the state of Kentucky, for example, is without any form of dental insurance, leading to what’s formally considered a “dental desert,” state especially in need of coverage. (The ACA does take additional measures for these crisis areas.) The idea that kids should be tended to in terms of dental care and not their parents makes little to no sense for the overall health of our nation.
As it currently stands, adults must purchase separate dental and vision plans, and the ACA continues this ludicrous practice. Starting in October, individuals purchasing individual or small-coverage plans, either within or outside a health-care marketplace exchange, may have to change dentists if theirs won’t accept it. Worse, even participating dentists services have zero limitations placed on out-of-pocket expenses for the patient.
Sound familiar? If so, that’s because this is the current, utterly broken system of handling dental costs and ensuring people get covered. Which is to say, they don’t. As BenefitsPro.com points out, even the covered pediatric plans don’t ensure the patients won’t get bilked:
“A medical plan offering dental coverage may seem cheaper (one premium), but it likely has a large combined deductible, and non-preventive dental expenses may not be covered until the medical deductible is satisfied. The high out-of-pocket maximum for medical must be reached before covered pediatric dental or vision would be paid in full.”
How has it come to this point? For one, we’re only now getting the scientific research that shows dental care is directly tied to overall body health, so there’s a lengthy history of considering dental care ‘secondary’ to so-called general care. For another, 91% of dentists are small-business owners, according to Salon, which means they bear all the risks and costs involved in a practice. This fear of operational cost losses has lead dentists to refuse patients with Medicaid.
That the Affordable Care Act does little to address this logistical quagmire is more than shocking – it’s depressing. Kudos to Sen. Cardin for saying something; if only we had 49 other Sen. Cardins speaking on our behalf.
Tom Cruise does it. Demi Moore does it. Even Miley Cyrus and 50 Cent have done it. If physical appearance is an important aspect of your professional or personal success – and let’s face it, it probably is – you may want to consider porcelain veneers to give your smile the white it deserves. It takes a few visits to form a strategy, determine your needs and get them in place, but whether you’re correcting a dental imperfection, chipped tooth or merely want to look as good as you feel, veneers are a time-tested, massively popular cosmetic option. So what is it, exactly?
Veneers are made up of multiple ceramic layers that replace your original tooth enamel, as well as an adhesive layer that, thanks to advances in dental technology, will last you for decades. The first step in creating the perfect shells for your teeth is an in-depth consultation. This is crucial because there are many factors to take into account when matching your natural shaping and enhancing your look, such as which material will resist stains and mimic your natural reflective properties the best, as well as the look you’re trying to achieve and the makeup of your natural teeth and jaw.
We then shave off a miniscule amount of your natural enamel to determine color and thickness. A model of your tooth is made and sent to the lab for a couple of weeks for creation!
Finally, it’s time for the fitting. This requires some patience, as a little old-fashioned trial-and-error usually accompanies new veneers to get the perfect fit. Of course, just as you wouldn’t put new furniture on top of dirty floors, we don’t want to overlook foundational aesthetics, so your tooth is cleaned, polished and etched (a roughing-up of the tooth which allows the veneer to stick to it better), then cemented is applied and allowed to harden. As with the fitting, there will be some perfection to achieve – cement to scrape off, overbite to account for. And naturally, we need to make sure it’s on there straight!
The good news – besides your gloriously white new tooth – is that veneers require no special care and treatment outside of normal brushing and flossing, they’re stain-resistant and gum tissue gets along just fine with porcelain veneers. Now, this might be asking too much, but just as I would advise with a normal tooth, try to avoid grinding your teeth, smoking cigarettes, drinking too much coffee and all the other nags you’d hear from any other dentist. What can I say – it’s good advice!
At Calabasas Dental Spa, we take great pains to ensure your veneer experience is comfortable, rewarding and benefits from the highest standards in modern technology. So why wait? Contact us today for your Hollywood dental makeover – because if it’s good enough for George Clooney, it’s good enough for anyone.
A couple of bizarre news items I came across this week got me thinking about holistic dentistry, and how it’s come full-circle from necessary workaround pre-technology to today’s tech-enabled return to more naturalistic dental methods.
First was a story from September 2012 about the discovery of what’s believed to be the earliest dental filling – 6,500 years ago, to be precise – which was made out of beeswax. Discovered in 1911 in what’s now known as Slovenia and only now analyzed by radiocarbon methods, the Neolithic jawbone, it’s thought was used as a “third hand” for holding things. The piece notes that tooth drilling dates back as far as 7,500 years. It would seem, however, that most of these techniques were meant only to alleviate pain. Only in recent centuries has dentistry evolved enough to prevent deaths by infection, such as we’ve seen in Ramesses the Great and other historical achievers who were felled by tooth problems.
The idea that we’re coming back around was made clearer by last week’s announcement that Tom’s of Maine, a maker of natural personal care products, is unveiling a “plant-based” toothbrush.
“With a plant-based handle made from renewable castor oil plants instead of petroleum,” the announcement reads, “the Naturally Clean toothbrush also has dye-free, multi-height bristles to clean between teeth and along the gum line.” It’s made of BPA-free No. 7 plastic, and the bristles are colored by mineral-based pigments. It is, of course, recyclable.
By its purest definition, all of this can be placed under the umbrella of holistic dentistry, an approach that incorporates modern science with the world’s natural healing traditions, taking into account the mind, body and spirit of the patient, not just their teeth. Calabasas Dental Spa keeps up with the ever-changing methods and attitudes toward dental maintenance, encompassing unique strategies such as “microdentistry” (minimally invasive), laser dentistry whenever possible and white-filling bonding. All of this, I believe, leads to not only healthier teeth, but a healthier all-around person.
I’m not alone in this belief. It seems that with every new study on overall wellness, oral health and hygiene is connected to any number of body health factors, as I’ve said in a previous blog entry. This is not to say that objective science is not the primary factor in formulating an oral health plan: The holistic movement has been greatly helped by associations like the International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology started out in 1984 with the motto “Show me the science!” and has since become expert witnesses in the area, they claim, before Congress, the FDA, state legislatures and more.
Just this month, the popular Dr. Oz show tackled a topic as old as beeswax: mercury fillings making people sick. Holistic dentistry has become mainstream! That’s what facts and long-term case studies will do to a movement – it earns legitimacy. Strange that the methods used by early man have, with the aid of technology, come all the way back around.
Dental implants, one of the fastest growing fields in the area of dentistry, should never be taken lightly. In addition to often prohibitive costs, root-form implants constitute a substantial surgical undertaking, and although they boast a success rate of about 98%, the healing process can take up to six months, multiple x-rays and scans and usually at least two office visits. Countless notable dentists around the world attest to the benefits of such a process, but surgery is surgery. As the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) wisely points out, “A successful implant requires that all parties involved – the patient; the restorative dentist, who makes the crown for the implant; and the oral and maxillofacial surgeon, who surgically places the implant, follow a careful plan of treatment. All members of the implant team stay in close contact with each other to make sure everyone clearly understands what needs to be done to meet the patient’s expectations.”
Still, unlike bridges, no additional teeth need to be altered to place the new tooth with implants, temporary crowns with the immediate load implants allow the patient to continue eating and speaking normally while the jaw bone proceeds with osseointegration. A study published in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery concludes, “Almost all oral and maxillofacial surgery residents feel that implant dentistry will be an important part of their practice.” Although this technology is a major step in the field of dentistry, an article in the UK’s Independent today suggests that an even more futuristic methodology may be emerging:
“Scientists have taken a step closer to growing human teeth from scratch using cells taken from a patient’s mouth,” the piece reads. “A ‘hybrid’ tooth made from a mixture of human gum cells and mouse embryonic cells has been grown in laboratory mice to test a method that might in the future be adapted to become an alternative to dental implants.”
The study, published in the Journal of Dental Research, suggests these so-called “bio-teeth” would develop normally and look much like ordinary teeth, “with good roots and periodontal ligaments.” Sounds awesome, right? Unfortunately, we’re still a long way off from the future: The tooth grown in the lab contains animal-derived material, so a human mouth would never accept it naturally, and one of the scientists behind the study admits, “it was only created to demonstrate that the procedure can produce a viable tooth.” But a step forward has been accomplished and a path carved out for “pure-human” teeth, which is exciting enough on its own!
And, rest assured, that if a breakthrough comes, we’ll be right on top of it. After all, our mission at Calabasas Dental Spa is to provide the most technologically advanced care in dentistry. Go science!
But don’t hold your breath for the “bio- teeth” to become a reality because it may take a while. If you are missing teeth or want to get rid of your old bridges, give us a call. We can help you today!
According to recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half of Americans aged 30 or older have periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease. This equals approximately 64.7 million Americans. That statistic could be easily disregarded: “That’s not a lot, and I brush regularly so I’m probably fine,” one might think. Not only is that cavalier attitude misguided, albeit understandable, it’s the kind of thinking that could lead – or could already have lead – to a worldwide health issue.
That’s not hyperbole. The concept that gum disease is systemic – meaning it affects the entire human body – is not a new one in the field of dentistry and medicine. As far back as the late-1990s, a study published in the journal Europe PubMed Central found a strong link between oral health and the health of the individual as a whole, and another study from the mid-2000s, published by the National Institute of Health, backed it up:
“Recent findings have strongly suggested that oral health may be indicative of systemic health,” the report reads. “Currently, this gap between allopathic medicine and dental medicine is quickly closing, due to significant findings supporting the association between periodontal disease and systemic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, adverse pregnancy outcomes and osteoporosis.”
With almost half of the population potentially inflicted with this disease, that means 45 to 65 million Americans may be at greater risk of cardiovascular disease – one of the leading causes of death in the country and around the world – simply due to poor dental health. And that’s to name just one systemic connection.
Currently, the traditional method for treating gum disease and restoring health tissue is effective enough. It involves plenty of perhaps every patient’s worst pet peeve about visiting the dentist: scraping. There is another way that’s been proven even more effective in battling this potentially huge health risk: lasers! Lasers when used in adjunction with the traditional methods allow us to provide a non surgical treatment alternative to gum surgeries.
Calabasas Dental Spa is using the latest state-of-the-art gum disease treatment protocol called the LANAP (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure) protocol. The PowerLase ACT is one of the first lasers in dentistry to use digital technology for treatment of gum disease. This Laser Periodontal Therapy used to treat periodontal disease is a patient-friendly treatment.
Using an ultrasonic scalers and small hand instruments, the PerioLase ACT Laser removes deposits from the roots of the teeth, which are associated with inflamed and bleeding gums. A tiny laser tip delivers the light energy to the diseased tissue and eliminates bacteria. There is no scalpel or sutures used at all in this procedure which eliminate the discomfort and speeds up the healing process. The LANAP treatment is virtually painless and takes a very short time in treating the gum area. There is very minimal discomfort post-procedure and the healing time is much quicker than invasive gum surgery. Our patients can rest assured knowing that they will have the best treatment available in dentistry.
According to the American Association of Periodontology (AAP), laser treatment of gum disease results in less bleeding and swelling, which results in less pain for the patient and a faster recovery. The AAP fully supports the use of lasers in the procedure, but because it’s a relatively new method, few dentists have adapted to this advanced technology.
Calabasas Dental Spa is known for having the most technologically advanced care in dentistry and we live up to that name. We’re one of the few dental spas with a fully incorporated and time-tested laser treatment plan. Not only do we treat gums in a non-invasive manner, but also use lasers for restorative, diagnostic and biostimulation and treatment of canker and cold sores with lasers.
Why make the dentist a needlessly painful and bloody experience? Just as technology has improved daily life in almost every respect, we’re at the forefront of using advancing progress for the mouth, the body and a healthy mind. Contact us for an appointment today!
Calabasas Dental Spa: The Whole Experience
What distinguishes Calabasas Dental Spa from other dentistry practices?
Simply put, it is our holistic, whole body approach to dentistry. We believe that a healthy mouth is a mirror for a healthy internal system and subsequently, the opposite is also true. Most dentists simply approach the teeth and gums as separate. However, the health of your gums is hugely important to not only the health of your teeth but also your whole body. We also provide a relaxed atmosphere because we feel dentistry is something that is ‘done’ to you. You need to feel comfortable and understand our diagnosis as well as be part of the treatment consultation. Ultimately, it is your health. We find that many patients come to us after having had a bad experience elsewhere and are quite surprised at how different this approach is.
Advanced Technology for a Healthy Smile
SOPROLIFE Intraoral Camera
In addition to our overall holistic philosophy and relaxing atmosphere, Calabasas Dental Spa is equipped with the most advanced, up-to-date technology in dentistry. Our office is equipped with the finest technology in the diagnosis and treatment of caries (cavities). One of these diagnostic tools is called the SOPROLIFE Intraoral Camera
SOPROLIFE is a new imaging fluorescence device, free from ultraviolet or ionizing rays, which aids in the diagnosis and treatment of cavities. What’s different about this technology? The auto-fluorescence technology allows us to detect occlusal or interproximal decay, even in its earliest stages. Without SOPROLIFE, early decay can often be missed by doing a cursory visual exam or even with x-rays. The SOPROLIFE captures images in three modes: intraoral, portrait, and macro. How does this help you? Not only are we able to find decay earlier, but we can also differentiate healthy from infected tissue in order to remove only the diseased tissue.
We also use the Diagnodent Laser to detect cavities. This laser, (no radiation) is more than 90% accurate and is able to detect cavities inside the teeth as opposed to surface only. Using a laser probe we scan the teeth. When the light from the probe comes in contact with internal tooth decay it emits a fluorescent light which triggers a sound and ultimately a digital numeric readout. The higher the number, the more decay.
It is painless and has been approved for use even in pediatric dentistry. Again, your comfort is our goal.
A Holistic Approach to a Healthy Smile
When you call Calabasas Dental Spa, we will schedule a consultation to decide together on the best approach for you and your healthy smile. No more dreading the dentist. No more cookie cutter approach. We want to be a part of your whole health. Call Calabasas Dental Spa today for the most technologically advanced care in dentistry.
Call us today for a consultation (818) 880-5520 and find out for yourself why we are different.