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Top Ten Secrets Your Dentist Doesn't Want You to Know


Many of us fear going to the dentist—the drills and consequential pain that we may experience after the appointment can make any of us quake at the thought of a dental visit. However, it is important to have regular checkups and cleaning. In fact, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, a preventative checkup could save your life. For example, periodontal disease, a chronic inflammation of the gums, has been linked to other serious health risks such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even Alzheimer’s disease.

That being said, many people know very little about their dentist. Just as it is important to have regular dental checkups, it is just as important to have a well-qualified and well-equipped dentist to provide first-class dental care. Currently there are 165,000 dentists nationwide and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the yearly earning of dentists averaged around $147,010 in 2007. Obviously, this country spends a great deal on dental care. But how much do you actually know about your dentist? Here are the top 10 secrets that your dentist doesn’t want you to know:

#1: Your dentist isn’t as educated as you think—dentistry has changed a lot since your dentist graduated from dental school. It is almost vital that a dentist have 100 hours or more of updated dental education EACH YEAR. Dental techniques and advances in materials used in fillings, bonding and root canals are just a few areas in the dental world that are said to change at an “almost daily” rate.

#2: Your dentist doesn’t have the latest technology—digital x-ray and ultrasonic cleaning are just two of the most important and advanced technological creations of today. It would cost your dentist about $2000 to update their equipment to provide you with the best possible care. There is not excuse not to have the latest technology.

#3: Your dentist may be using mercury—simply said, mercury is toxic. However, some dentist still put it in the mouths of their patients. In fact, the American Dental Association and the FDA have no problem with mercury fillings. Scary? Make sure to ask what’s being put in your mouth.

#4: The lab may be more important than your dentist—dental labs create crowns, bridges, orthodontic appliances and dentures. Unfortunately, to cut costs and increase profits, some dentists use foreign labs or cut-rate domestics labs that may use tin, aluminum or even lead to create your mouthpieces. Be particularly wary if your dentist uses a lab in China or Mexico, where the practice of using these cheap metals is very common.

#5: There’s more to good dentistry than just filling cavities—a good dentist checks for more than just tooth decay. A good dentist should also be concerned with sleep apnea, TMJ (jaw-related pain from grinding), periodontal disease, oral cancer, diabetes and hypertension.

#6: You are probably using the wrong specialist for dental implants—periodontists are usually the best option for replacement of your original tooth with an artificial implant. Many people assume an oral surgeon is best qualified to perform these types of procedures. This is usually an incorrect assumption.

#7 Bad dental advice about dentures can be fatal—dentures need to be replaced at least once every seven years. Poor fit or worn out dentures can cause sleep apnea, stroke, or even death.

#8: Your dentist may not know enough about sleep apnea—sleep apnea literally means that a person stops breathing during the night, sometimes several times. It is a blockage of the airway during sleep that can be treated with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). CPAP involves blowing pressurized room air through the airway at high enough pressure to keep the airway open. Your dentist should know about the latest techniques to treat sleep apnea.

#9: Not all cosmetic dentists have the skills to improve your smile—has your cosmetic dentist had post-graduate training? What kind of veneers do they use? Have them show you proof of their work! A cosmetic dentist should be able to show you at least 10 photographs of “before” and “after”.

#10: You may not need that root canal, even though your dentist suggests it—dentists receive kickbacks when they refer you to an endodontist, who will most likely perform a root canal. Why? Because it’s an expensive (and sometimes) unnecessary procedure! Sometimes an extraction and an implant is a better option.

Please keep up your bi-annual cleanings and check-ups. But be prepared with the right questions to ask your dentist to protect yourself and to receive the best possible dental care.


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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    Very interesting information, and a number of things I hadn’t thought about. Thanks for the post.

  2. Tom Moore says:
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    Who’s study did this come from? If the percentage of lab work going offshore is true that means there is about about 2 billion dollars a year going out of the country. At that pace if only 1% have the problems touted in this article that would be 20 million bucks worth and that would be a millions of patients that may have been harmed. Where is that big line of patients that have been harmed. You would think at least 20 thousand so would be in a complaint mode or litigating the harm done to them.Where are they?

  3. Howard says:
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    Did you know that your dentist is likely using a liquid chemical containing hydrogen which is, of course, a highly explosive and incredibly dangerous gas? This very same chemical can be fatal when inhaled in sufficient quantities.

    And did anyone mention anything to me? No, I had to ask.

  4. Tom Moore says:
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    Was that hydrogen bound up with oxygen a known fire accelerant making it even more dangerous? I think the liquid form is known as the universal solvent. That’s scary stuff.

  5. Remy says:
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    There are some dentists who want you to know about sleep apnea. Because there is a solution to treat this sleep disorder that only dentists can do. So, what’s the point to hide this information?
    I read that sleep apnea can be treated with dental devices, and can eliminate snoring, too.

    Source: sleep-apnea-guide.com/alternatives-to-cpap.html

  6. Howard says:
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    While dentists can certainly note signs and symptoms that are indicative of apnea, only an M.D. can legally make the actual apnea diagnosis.

  7. Howard says:
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    David, if you’re going to copy-and-paste from other sources (http://www.dailyfinance.com/2009/08/27/secrets-your-dentist-doesnt-want-you-to-know/), at least do so completely.

    Making it sound as if a digital x-ray system is $2,000, saying referring dentists get kickbacks, and that mainstream science has left questions about the safety of amalgam fillings does no one a favor.

  8. Devon Glass says:
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    This is in response to Tom Moore’s post about the study and why he has not heard of thousand’s of people who have had complications. I would answer by first saying the information the article is based upon is here, http://tinyurl.com/lanjnb. The article spells out all the concerns raised in your comment, but to add something more, I would say the reason you may not have heard much is that many people may not be experiencing any complications at this time, or they may have secondary complications that are not directly related to the imported material. As of 2008, the United States imports over 2.1 TRILLION dollars worth of goods, of which 20 million is 0.0000095 percent. This is not a significant amount, so it’s likely not something people would report much about. Additionally, it’s not just America raising concerns, see this article from Australia here http://tinyurl.com/ml9f26. Finally, the United States has a population of over 300 million, making 20,000 people a very small percent of the total. You hear more about medical malpractice because every year about 200,000 people die from mistakes. If someone has a mouth piece that is made of improper materials, it can be replaced with the proper materials and there is likely to be little harm. In the end, the article is about educating people so they can be aware of what’s out there so they don’t become a victim of dental malpractice.

  9. anthony says:
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    I am a dentist. I have little issue with most of what is said, but #10 is ridiculous. No kickbacks. And now, most general dentists do their own root canals-going back to one of your other points-being a highly trained general dentist, I can do most things just as well as a specialist.

  10. Tom Moore says:
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    I have already read the article at the url you suggest and it is written by a financial adviser that states at the beginning he knows very little about dentistry. He did say he talked with a few dentists and that was absolutely not any sort of study.

    The domestic lab industry as been looking for a way to stop offshore lab work but they know it’s about the price of labor not materials that has allowed offshore to capture 25% of their market in the last few years. The dental lab uses a very high labor percentage to build their product. That’s why its so much cheaper in China. Are there bad guys out there, you bet and as part of the judiciary it is your job to be the patients advocate.

    Accusing the labs in China or other countries as a class without showing any proof they not using FDA registered 510K materials is uninformed mud slinging at best and marches at slander at a quick pace. If that smoking gun was there the number of people in the domestic lab industry would have found it by now. Woulda, Coulda, Mite Be is a slippery sloop that does disservice to what appears to be an already sick bulwark of or society, CAPATILISM.

    Those wanting to paint anything coming from China as bad products might want think back that bad American peanut butter killed more Americans last year than any imported products I’ve heard about.

  11. JoJo says:
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    A patient in need of a root canal must also be wary of a dentist which uses a formaldehyde material for endodontics. It is called Sargenti paste, N2, RC-2B,RC-2W. It was rejected for approval by the FDA and is considered below the standard of care. The American Association of Endodontists has a strong position paper against Sargenti paste.

    The material can damage bone, soft tissue, a nerves. It can cause sinus infections and allergies. Dentists DO NOT tell their patients they are using it. It saves the dentist time and money but can cause a patient their health, and in some cases their lives.

    Always ask!


  12. Tom Moore says:
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    JOJO,Would a dentist using none FDA 510K approved materials tell the patient the truth?

  13. Howard says:
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    Wait a second: if The FDA never approved its use, how are dentists able to get it?

  14. JoJo says:
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    Dentists have it made by compounding pharmacies. Lead is another ingredient that is sometimes added.

  15. Murray says:
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    I think your opinion – #6: “You are probably using the wrong specialist for dental implants….Periodontists are better” isn’t really true. If you have done your homework (#9) and choosen a good cosmetic dentist, these professionals would have a great working relationship with a specialist that has great esthetic outcomes with implants. Their are many Oral Surgeons that have a great understanding of the preservation of hard/soft tissues and get great restorative results. Some do not. Yes, many Periodontists get wonderful esthetic outcomes with implants. Some not as good. I think it would be wrong to broadly state that one specialist is better than another. Maybe the best place to have an implant placed is with a “total solution provider”….a General Dentist, well trained in Implant Dentistry, that handles the case from start to finish? I guess you just need to do your homework on #9 and you should have no problems.

  16. Rakesh says:
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    The day you trust an attorney more than you trust a dentist will be Dooms day. The article was even copied…how pathetic

  17. saynono says:
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    The posting about Sargenti Paste usage in root canals is a very serious one. It contains formaldehyde lead and mercury. Since dentists know they aren’t supposed to be using it, they conceal it from their patients even after they are harmed. Many patients have suffered permanent injuries because of the time lost because their dentists didn’t come clean. If problems had occurred with the industry standard, gutta percha, the patient would have been told. The fact that most of the dental industry does not know it is still in use is another assault on the patient. Their treating doctors/dentists (when they finally go for that 2nd opinion) don’t know that it is still in use and therefore to consider it. Time is of the essence when Sargenti Paste type formulations are overfilled,especially when the overfill is in a nerve canal or near bone. Apparently atleast one death has been attributed to it in 1974 California case.

    It is inexcusable to use this material today. FDA rejected in 1993, every accredited school teaches NOT to use it as it is below the standard of care. These “dentists” who use it believe that the reason it has not been approved is becaues of a big endodontic conspiracy because general dentists are taking away money from endodontists. Other than sounding like an argument on an elementary school playground, most general dentists use gutta percha so why are the endodontists not against it? These dentists who use it are unethical and dangerous.

  18. patrick says:
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    well know fact is that when you cant do anything else. YOU BECOME A DENTIST.
    the dental field is full of low rate so called dr’s
    so easy a cave man can do it and do a better job.

  19. Tom says:
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    Patrick, what are your credentials? I have degrees in math, and dentistry, and was a military electronics officer. I’m also an inactive member of Mensa with a proven IQ in the top 2% of people in the U.S.Dentists are highly educated and intelligent. The misinformation in these blogs and in the article is outrageous. Explosive hydrogen? Please explain scientifically.What garbage. Sargenti:it gained some popularity back in the 80s. I’ve taken films of tens of thousand of teeth since the 90s, and don’t recall seeing any having Sargenti in the canals.I didn’t find any info of substance on Google, but my understanding in the 80s was that Sargenti was THE main root canal filler in Europe. A best seller novel and movie “Gorky Park” was partially solved because the victim had gutta percha rather than Sargenti in his tooth, proving he was an American. “Mercury” fillings! I love that one. Mercury in amalgam is no more released than poisonous chlorine is from salt. There was a time that aluminum was blamed for Alzheimers, and mercury for MS, however their associations have found that to be nonsense. Please, any one of you uninformed, name one disease that people with dozens of silver fillings have that people who have had dentures most of their adult life don’t have.There’s a reason the major health organizations of the U.S., and the World Health Organization, have not found amalgam to be a health hazard. The above article is nothing but a list of unsubstantiated allegations.Sure there are some periodic changes in the way root canals are shaped and filled, or in the quality of bonding agents and composites, but nothing like this guy says. Variations of a theme, only. Die from dentures? C’mon. You can die taking a bath. What’re the odds? Treat TMJ? The author has no clue how complicated TMJ treatment is, and how uncertain the outcome is even from someone with years of experience treating the malady. Same thing with sleep apnea.Dentists have no way of analyzing blood oxygenation during sleep, nor whether a person stops breathing during sleep. This author would be leading a dentist down the path of malpractice by having them diagnose the best way a patient should be treated for this potential life threatening condition. “Root canals may be unnecessarily referred for a kickback'” Is that so? Not only would that be malpractice, but the kickback itself is illegal. This guy’s claim that dentists receive a kickback is just a lie. Sure there are bad apples who lose their license, just like there are in the field of law (who are disbarred) but that’s not how he worded it. He wrote, “dentists receive a kickback when they refer…” Isn’t there an adage that when you’re caught lying in court your entire testimony is tainted? This guy has no inside information on “dental secrets”. Mittleman, I highly doubt you have the integrity to post this.

  20. saynono says:
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    Tom, are you saying that no one in the US uses Sargenti Paste? They do and if you google sargenti paste there is a lot out there about it, whether you agree there is substance to it or not. Do you use sargenti paste?

    Not being used in the US is exactly what these Sargenti using dentists want the profession to think. That way, when they use their new formulation that contains the liquid formaldehyde and looks more like gutta percha when set, they can cover their tracks even better.

  21. Tom says:
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    I did not say no one in the U.S.uses Sargenti. I wrote that I have not seen any in thousands of films. In the early 80s I worked in two offices that utilized it. I used it in their offices because that’s what was there.I was a new dentist, and had not even heard of it. It was not controversial at the time. I have not used it in my office, nor do I use Formocresol. I have not even heard or read the word “sargenti” for a minimum of 15 years.Treatments come, treatments go. It’s a non-issue to me. If it’s banned then licenses should be lost.If the ADA, FDA, and CDC find no problem with it that’s good enough for me.I don’t know where any of those stand. I’m in no position to determine what science is or isn’t valid.Since I don’t do original research I have to trust those trusted by the majority of scientists. I only happened onto this thread by one link to another, where I saw the untold “secrets” of dentists. I was curious to see what nonsense would be listed.Pretty much what I expected,junk science (not sargenti), but the junk science of the …whoooo…secrets.When I said I didn’t find much on google, I didn’t have a lot of time. Most sites looked about the same thing. I was interested in whether it is still widely used in Europe, the side of people who defend it’s use,etc. I couldn’t care less if sargenti is banned world wide. I do care about articles like Mittleman’s. That guy is so irresponsible. You should be more concerned about people like him as much as sargenti. I’ve given my two cents worth. I’m bowing out from further contact. IF sargenti is as dangerous as you think I don’t see this as a very effective venue. I’d be constantly writing the ADA and FDA to get it banned once and for all. Good luck.