Clinical myths in dentistry

July 1, 2006
As I travel the country and speak to thousands of dental professionals every year, certain myths keep coming up that I would like to debunk.

As I travel the country and speak to thousands of dental professionals every year, certain myths keep coming up that I would like to debunk. The general dental attitude is that if a dental clinician or academic has not worked with a certain clinical technology or technique, he or she is comfortable saying that it does not work. This does a disservice to our profession and our patients. Many good, new technologies and materials exist that, when used properly, work quite well, offer superior benefits, and are a great service to our patients.

Let me share a few of these common myths:

Lasers don’t work. How and why this myth is still around is amazing to me. This myth is based totally on ignorance. My fellow dentists, let me proudly proclaim that lasers are here to stay and work quite well, thank you. I’ve had a Waterlase® Dental Laser for nearly two years, and I can say, unequivocally, that it works well in preparing teeth, works just as fast as a high-speed handpiece, and performs just about all soft-tissue applications faster and easier. Also, most of these procedures and applications can be done without injected anesthesia. Patients love the concept and practicality of the dental laser. The question is not if you, the general dentist, will get a laser, but when you will get a laser? I would make it sooner rather than later. A laser will change your life and your patients’ perception of your dental office.

Veneers require aggressive preparations. There are thousands of dentists in the U.S. who prove this myth wrong every day. The concept of a no- or minimal-prep veneer, restricted to the enamel, has been around for 30 years. With the right materials and techniques, dentists are able to provide patients with beautiful veneers with no reduction of painful tooth structure. LUMINEERS with CERINATE® porcelain have a long history of success. It is the way veneers were meant to be! I treat a number of dentists, and when they want veneers, they come to my office. If you don’t want your own teeth cut down, why do you think your patients would want aggressive preparation? This procedure has caused a revolution in the esthetic dental world, and it’s refreshing to finally see a reversal of the grotesquely aggressive preparations that are often done on virgin teeth in the name of esthetics.

One-hour whitening doesn’t work. One-hour whitening is here to stay whether you like it or not. I will predict that, because of the popularity and ease of Crest® Whitestrips® by Procter & Gamble and Tres White by Ultradent, bleaching trays for patients may become a thing of the past. If you learn to do one-hour whitening properly, you will be able to eliminate the sensitivity associated with whitening and be able to get a good, long-lasting bleach for your patients.

Gold is dead. Gold is probably the finest dental material with which we have ever worked. It is very biocompatible with the gingival tissues and has served as some of the longest lasting restorations we’ve done. Captek crowns (available through most dental laboratories) have changed the way I practice because my patients no longer come in complaining of a gray gingival margin after I place a porcelain-fused-to-metal crown. Gold is not dead and is the king of dental materials. It’s time to start using gold again in our porcelain-to-metal crowns and bridges.

It is time to open your mind and embrace new and proven techniques and technology instead of going through your dental career wearing blinders. I hope this column has been helpful, and I am sure it will generate some discussion in your offices.

Next month, I plan to debunk some of the most common practice-management myths, so stay tuned.

Dr. Louis Malcmacher is an international lecturer and author known for his comprehensive and entertaining style. An evaluator for Clinical Research Associates, Dr. Malcmacher is a consultant to the Council on Dental Practice of the ADA. For details about his speaking schedule, Dr. Malcmacher can be reached at (440) 892-1810 or via e-mail at [email protected].

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