Dentists Weigh In on the Dental X-ray and Brain Tumor Debate

More Dentists Weigh In on the Dental X-ray and Brain Tumor DebateGiven the recent negative publicity surrounding dental X-rays and brain tumors, our recent The Wealthy Dentist survey covered whether dental practices will change how they use X-rays.

We asked:

“According to a recent study, dental X-rays may be linked with brain tumors. Will this news change how your practice uses X-rays?”

Here’s how dentists responded:

  • 66%: Definitely no!
  • 25%: Not at this point, although this study has led us to consider it.
  • 9%: Yes, we will be changing our X-ray protocols.

Two thirds of dentists debated the validity of the data. Urban dentists over rural dentists were the most vocal about their skepticism in this survey.

“This study is highly flawed. The number of cancers per population is so small. You could die from an abscess more than your chance of getting this cancer. I read there are 5000 cancers per 350 million people?”

But some dentists did take the X-ray study into consideration —

“We will take this opportunity to reinforce our office position as an industry leader in all phases of patient safety.” (General dentist)

“It’s quite possible, some correlation between brain tumors and old ways to take X-rays. Let’s don’t forget we went from regular films to high speed to a digital generation decreasing every time the amount of radiation.” (Florida dentist)

“We use digital X-rays and take updated X-rays only when necessary.” (Ohio dentist)

“We are using digital radiographs and feel that we do everything possible to minimize unnecessary exposure.” (Texas dentist)

“I believe we have to make the right choices for our patients: how often – how many medical conditions. We also have to look at our society and what devices we use on a regular basis: cell phones, microwaves, electric blankets, TVs, air plane flights, not to mention our landfills loaded with hazardous materials. With technology comes risks but also life-saving devices and techniques.” (Massachusetts dentist)

“We decided on digital films prior to this announcement.” (General dentist)

IF the study is correct, it will certainly affect the number of radiographs a dentist will record.” (Pediatric dentist)

“We’ve been doing the 18 mos to 2 yrs for many years. Only a select few of our dental patients require more frequent radiographic diagnosis.” (Arizona dentist)

“Further thoughts, yes, on this study that was flawed in concept.” (Oklahoma dentist)

“I’ve used a digital sensor for over a dozen years and have always been ultra-conservative in ordering X-rays based on the dental patient’s current and past oral conditions, not on a fixed timetable.” (Illinois dentist)

“We already stretch the limits on our X-rays and consider the history of the patient in doing so.” (California dentist)

“We are empowering our clinical team with information so that they may respond to concerns from patients. We also posted our rebuttal on our Website and Facebook page. We preform x-rays annually and/or on as needed basis.” (West Virginia dentist)

“Should always practice conservatively and limit taking dental (or chest) X-rays to the minimum at all times. I do not agree with taking X-rays ROUTINELY. (California dentist)

251 dentists responded to this survey by The Wealthy Dentist. To hear what the more agitated dentists had to say about the dental X-ray and brain tumor debate, see last week’s article, Dentists React To Dental X-ray Brain Tumor Study as Flawed Science.

What are your thoughts on the dental X-ray and brain cancer debate?

Half of Dentists Use Dental Lasers for Gum Disease (video)

Dental lasers for gum diseaseDentists are split over the use of dental lasers to fight gum disease. When dentists were asked if they use lasers on soft tissue in their dental practices, respondents were split right down the middle.

Half report that lasers are part of their periodontal management, and the other 50% indicate they do not use lasers on soft tissue.

Read more: Dental Lasers Treat Gum Disease

Braces Cost: Braces Fee Survey Analysis Results

cost of braces fee analysisThe Wealthy Dentist conducted a braces survey asking doctors how much they charge for braces.

We found that general dentists charge an average of $4350 for orthodontia work, while orthodontists charge $5141.

Some orthodontists felt that braces should cost more.

“The average price should be $7500-8500 based on inflation. Unfortunately, managed care practices and #$&!@!! general dentists are screwing up pricing. In turn, this ‘trickle down effect’ will only hurt dentists who should be getting $1800 for a crown!” expressed a Colorado orthodontist.

Location is factor that can influence the cost of braces. California is known for being one of the most expensive states for dental treatments in general, and braces are no different.

Suburban dentists’ braces fees have increased to match their urban counterparts, which is a change in the last two years.

Here a few comments from doctors:

“We do Invisalign at a lower cost but only if it is minor movement with treatment taking only a couple of months.” (Pennsylvania dentist)

“My cases are treated with better and more individualized diagnosis, and finish with better facial aesthetics, better occlusion, a better smile line and better function.” (Illinois orthodontist)

“The cost of braces depends on the type and length of treatment.” (New Jersey orthodontist)

“Well-trained GP’s are fully capable of providing orthodontic services!” (Ohio dentist)

“We only do Invisalign.” (General dentist)

The Journal of Clinical Orthodontics conducted an orthodontic practice study in 2007 on the average cost of braces in the United States. The study found that for comprehensive treatment of orthodontics the costs averaged $5,354 for adults and $4,914 for children.

Has the cost of braces remained flat or increased in your area over the last four years?

For more on this survey see: Braces Cost an Average of $4,350 at General Dentist

Dental Practice Management: Scheduling a Comprehensive Exam

Dental Practice Management: Scheduling a Comprehensive Exam
What is the best dental practice management policy on length of a new patient exam?

51% schedule a minimum of 40 minutes for comprehensive dental exams, this survey found.

Only 27% of dentists said they perform comprehensive exams in less than 30 minutes.

“Actually, I schedule an hour and sometimes it takes longer The compete exam is THE single greatest internal dental marketing technique,” offered one dentist, a subtle comment for comprehensive exams being a part of an overall dental marketing plan.

Here’s how dentists responded to this survey asking what length of time they schedule for an initial comprehensive exam:

  • 4% 10 minutes.
  • 10% 15 minutes.
  • 10% 20 minutes.
  • 3% 25 minutes.
  • 22% 30 minutes
  • 51% 40+ minutes.

Here are some further comments on scheduling comprehensive exams from dentists:

It should be one hour …

“One hour. It’s COMPREHENSIVE. That cannot be done in less than 45 minutes. It means you are looking at radiographs, perio probing, restorative, occlusion, TMJ, health history, and oral cancer exam. I defy anyone who says that a “comprehensive” exam can be done any faster.” (Georgia dentist)

“For new patients, an hour max, but if I only give them 20 minutes of my time, I don’t get the case as often.” (Illinois dentist)

“Really should schedule 50 or 60 minutes on adults.” (General dentist)

“We schedule one hour initial exam for perio charting, radiographs, photos, models, charting restoration, and for getting to know the patient.” (Michigan dentist)

“We schedule an hour, but sometimes it takes even longer.” (California dentist)

It should be more than an hour …

“We schedule 1 1/2 hours for initial medical history gathering, interview, complimentary Velscope cancer screening, necessary x-rays and comprehensive exam. NO cleaning at this appointment.” (Minnesota dentist)

“I actually spend and hour and a half for each new patient examination. Not one gets into hygiene without a NP exam.” (Washington dentist)

“My first appointment is 1.5 hours in length with a pre-paid reservation fee.” (California dentist)

“My patient is scheduled for 2 hours. In that time we take photos, x-rays, models and intra-oral images as well as the full exam, interview and charting with the doctor.” (New Jersey dentist)

“We schedule 90 minutes. 45 minutes for the exam and 45 minutes for records.” (Florida dentist)

Note: Survey sample included 100 respondents.

Dentists Reveal Alarming Cavity Problem Among Preschool Children

Dentists Reveal Alarming Cavity Problem Among Preschool ChildrenDentists across the U.S. are reporting an increase in young dental patients with cavities.

Some dentists feel that this increase is due to parents skipping children’s regular dental appointments during tight economic times and not pushing young children to brush their teeth after each meal, or at least twice a day.

But could this possibly be linked to a reduction, or lack of fluoridated water beyond regular oral hygiene?

The CDC reports that over 19% of children ages 2-19 have untreated cavities — the first increase in 40 years, with the largest increase in the number of preschoolers with cavities since the last study completed five years ago.

The New York Times recently reported that dentists nationwide say they are seeing more preschoolers at all income levels with 6 to 10 cavities or more. The level of decay, they added, is so severe that they often recommend using general anesthesia because young children are unlikely to sit through such extensive procedures while they are awake.

Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, a pediatric dentist in Augusta, Me. told the New York Times, “I have parents tell me all the time, ‘No one told us when to go to the dentist, when we should start using fluoride toothpaste’ — all this basic information to combat the No. 1 chronic disease in children.”

Dentists believe there are several contributing factors to the increase in tooth decay: lack of regular, enforced tooth brushing, too many sweetened juices without brushing, regular visits to the dentist starting when the child is 1, and parents who are choosing bottled water over fluoridated tap water.

The Times article features an image of the surgical wing of the Center for Pediatric Dentistry at Seattle Children’s Hospital with 30-month-old Devon Koester.  Eleven, of his twenty baby teeth are being treated due to cavities.

NBC’s chief medical editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman spoke to the tooth decay problem on the “Today” show. She said that too much sugar, lack of regular brushing, and drinking bottled water instead of regular old tap water has exacerbated the problem.

Dr. Snyderman offers the following report on tooth decay in children’s teeth —


The American Dental Association offers the following tips for parents with babies, Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers —

  • After each feeding, clean the baby’s gums with a clean wet gauze pad or washcloth.
  • When teeth start to appear, brush them with a child’s size toothbrush and plain water.
  • At the direction of your dentist, some children under two may benefit from the use of fluoride toothpaste. Look for toothbrushes that carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance.  They have been evaluated by the ADA for safety and effectiveness.
  • Begin flossing when at least two teeth begin to touch.
  • Start dental visits by the child’s first birthday. Make visits regularly. If you think your child has dental problems, take the child to the dentist as soon as possible.
  • Brush teeth of children over age two with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and make sure to floss daily. Look for toothpastes that carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance. They have been evaluated by the ADA for safety and effectiveness.
  • Children should be supervised while brushing to keep them from swallowing the toothpaste.

Dentists, what has been your experience? Have you seen an increase in young children with severe cavity problems?

What do you think are the reasons behind this growing dental care trend?

For more on this story see: Preschoolers in Surgery for a Mouthful of Cavities

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