Is Your Dentist Keeping Secrets from You?

Is the article “10 Things Your Dentist Won't Tell You” fact or fiction?

close up of dentist
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The April 2006 issue of Smart Money magazine contains an article, written by William Mauldin, that has recently become the target of major controversy from dentists all over the country as well as the American Dental Association.

The article, “10 Things Your Dentist Won't Tell You” appeared on as well as’s major news and features. It has been said by many to be completely one-sided and filled with half truths.

Was This a Serious Article?

When I first read this article, I assumed it was a joke. In my opinion, it was so far from the truth that I just assumed the writer was either bored or looking for attention. With the controversy that this article provoked, I had to seriously come to grips with the fact that AOL and Smart Money magazine must not have read it before they published it.

How Often to Visit the Dentist

In the article, Mr. Mauldin writes, “You really don't need to see me every six months." This is the one statement where he is actually correct. What amazes me is that the author actually thinks that this is a secret. Anyone with common sense knows that there are not two mouths exactly alike.

People at a greater risk for oral diseases should have dental check ups more than twice a year. Tobacco and alcohol use, diabetes, pregnancy, periodontal and gum disease, poor oral hygiene and certain medical conditions are some of the many factors that your dentist takes into consideration when deciding how often you need your dental cleaning and check up.

Unfortunately, dental insurance companies will usually only pay for check ups twice a year, or every 6 months.

Top 10 Reasons to Have a Dental Cleaning

Are Dentists Keeping Secrets?

Mr. Mauldin goes on to say, "Those old metal fillings of yours may be leaking toxic waste." In a recent letter written to the editor of Smart Money magazine, Dr. Robert Brandjord, president of the American Dental Association, states, “Dental materials experts say it would take almost 500 amalgam fillings in a mouth to see the subtlest symptoms in the most sensitive person.”

FACT: More than 70 percent of all fillings today are placed with resin or composite materials. Amalgam has been supported as being safe by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the FDA and the US Public Health Service.

It is also suggested by the author that many dentists won’t buy digital radiograph equipment because of the cost. Not true. A radiograph film shows much more detail than a digital image. By the way, Mr. Mauldin received this information from a Kodak salesman for dental imaging equipment. Enough said.

When Mr. Mauldin wrote, "Did I mention that we'll need to do this again in a few years?" he doesn’t take into account that many dental insurance companies will pay to replace crowns every 5 - 7 years, although most crowns will last a lot longer.

Unfortunately, dental work does not last forever. Neither will the tires on my car, but if I have regular maintenance check ups, they will last a lot longer and potential problems can be detected early.

This controversial article suffers from deficiencies in well-researched information, favoring instead a sensational ten-item "listicle" treatment rather than full and factual reportage.

These two remarks made by Mr. Mauldin kind of go hand in hand, “But healthier teeth mean less demand for traditional dentistry. Hence the booming field of cosmetics” and “I care more about your smile than your teeth". These statements are just stupid. The majority of dental health professionals are hard working, dedicated and honest people that truly care about your teeth as well as your overall oral health. I don’t know of a single dentist that would ever think this way and the author doesn‘t even offer documentation of a dentist making this statement.

It is true that cosmetic dentistry has boomed over the last decade, thanks to the latest technology and equipment. A recent study conducted on behalf of the American Association of Cosmetic Dentistry showed that close to 99.7 % of Americans believe that a smile is an important social advantage. What’s wrong with having a great smile? Again, anyone with common sense would protect their investment with proper and regular dental care, including check-ups.

The last statement by Mr. Mauldin that I will address is, “That reminds me of a joke I once heard in rehab." Truly bad taste Mr. Mauldin. If your statistics are true about 15 to 18% of dentists being addicted drugs or alcohol, how do they compare to the statistics of surgeons, general physicians, neurologists and other health care professionals?

Any journalist could find the dirt on a small percentage of a single profession and totally condemn the whole profession by their findings, but that wouldn’t be fair or accurate. Reading this article not only made me question the ethics of the writer, it also reminded me of some major headlines that I have seen throughout my life:

  • Medical Surgeon Arrested for Having Sex With Teen Age Boys
  • Nurse Steals Baby from Hospital
  • Pilot Charged with Being Under the Influence While Flying
  • Mortician Accused of Taking Gold Teeth from Dead Bodies
  • Lawyer Charged with Hiring Hit Man to Kill Wife
  • Medical Doctor Investigated for Killing his Patients
  • Former US President…(I won’t even go there)

OK, get real. After reading these headlines, I would still go the doctor, fly on a plane, seek advice from an attorney, have a baby in the hospital and trust that the mortician would leave my teeth alone.

The reality is that there will always be some bad mixed in with the good. If the good continues to outweigh the bad by 90% or more, I think we are doing just fine. What was it that a former US leader once said? Oh yeah, I remember, “I didn’t inhale.”

FACT: You can’t believe everything that you read... 10 Things Your Dentist Wants You to Know

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