Media places link between periodontal disease and heart disease in the spotlight

During April, the ever-vigilant news media picked up two stories of particular interest to dentists and their patients.

During April, the ever-vigilant news media picked up two stories of particular interest to dentists and their patients. I hope you’re already aware of the information and the particular spin the media gave these stories, but just in case you didn’t see them, here’s a synopsis on both:

On April 10, Cancer, an American Cancer Society peer-reviewed journal, published an article called “Dental X-Rays and Risk of Meningioma,” which summarized a study that sought to develop a correlation between dental radiographs and brain cancer. Meningiomas are typically benign tumors and tend to be the most diagnosed tumors of the brain. The reference to “dental X-rays” captured media attention. Soon, print articles and television reports appeared, warning about increased radiation causing brain tumors. Many experts in dental radiology question the study’s methodology and believe it’s flawed. Go to page 52 for more information on this story from dental experts. They discuss the overreaction by the news media, and the concerns many of our patients now have.

The second story involves a recent press release from the American Heart Association stating that there is “no causative link found between periodontal disease and heart disease.” The media quickly jumped on this story with sensational headlines, such as “Link Between Heart Disease and Gum Disease Doesn’t Exist,” “A New Scientific Statement from the AHA Pours Cold Water on the Idea that Periodontal Disease Contributes to Atherosclerosis, Heart Disease, or Stroke,” and “The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs Says It Agrees with the Conclusions of the AHA Statement.”

I immediately consulted with my friend, Dr. Chris Kammer, the president of AAOSH, for his take on this story. Here are his comments:

“As president of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), I became very concerned about the recent press release from the American Heart Association (AHA) saying that there is ‘no causative link found between periodontal disease and heart disease.’ At AAOSH, we have never stated that there is a causative link. However, there are hundreds of studies connecting periodontal disease and heart disease, and that cannot be denied. There is a relationship, and even the AHA has stated it is ‘real and independent of shared risk factors’! However, if you read how this story is being reported by various news outlets, you’ll see that media headlines and statements are giving the public quite the opposite impression. It is clear to me that much work is needed to reeducate people that there are an overwhelming number of studies that show a connection, and we cannot ignore the increased risk of heart disease associated with gum disease just because we do not have all the answers yet. This is far too serious to wait another 10 years for more connections or even a cause.”

I totally agree with Dr. Kammer’s remarks and urge you to go to the following link for more information on our website: http://www.dentistryiq.com/index/display/ article-display/4812730791/articles/dentisryiq/clinical/ oral-systemic_health/2012/05/aaosh-issues_position.html.

We must do all that we can to help our patients understand the importance of any kind of inflammation in the body. A great resource is the AAOSH website, http://www.aaosh.org.

I saved the best for last! Be sure to read our cover story, “Mega Trends in Dentistry,” by Ken Runkle, on page 36. Ken has been America’s profitability expert for over 25 years. He started Paragon Management in 1986 out of the basement of his home in Columbus, Ohio.

Ken believes in profitability through growth. He feels most dental practices are well staffed and managed. There’s not a lot of room to cut expenses. True profitability happens when practices experience growth. That growth tends to put all the numbers in proportion and brings true profitability.

Ken sees the world with an “abundance mentality.” He does not believe that the pie is only so big and that we all have to fight to get our share. He believes that together we can all make the pie bigger. When Ken goes into a dental practice, his approach is to focus on growth and abundance. He believes we can all experience the success, wealth, and prosperity that we are destined to achieve.

He believes that the No. 1 failure of most dentists is not communicating their expectations. Communicating expectations clearly to the entire team is the No. 1 key to the success of any dental practice.

Have a wonderful, fun-filled summer with those you love!

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor
email: joeb@pennwell.com

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