Posts Tagged ‘ dentist ’

Dental Care Difficult to Come by for Pregnant Women

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Pregnant women who are in need of dental care too often find themselves facing obstacles including refusal to treat or a delay in treatment.  The issue is due to a number of reasons, ranging from lack of oral health attention from OB-GYNs to outdated ideas among dentists that it’s not safe to treat pregnant women.  The New York Times reports:

The problem among dentists is decades old. Many “were taught in dental school that you can’t treat a pregnant woman,” said Dr. Renee Samelson, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Albany Medical Center, who was an editor of the first guidelines on oral health in pregnancy, which were published by the New York State Department of Health and advised on two more sets of guidelines. Dentists simply erred on the side of caution, she added: “There was no evidence of harm.”

Today, although dental treatment during pregnancy is considered beneficial, some dentists still hesitate to see pregnant women, because they fear litigation or harm to the fetus, or their knowledge of appropriate care lags behind the current evidence. One 2009 survey of 351 obstetrician gynecologists nationwide found 77 percent reported their patients had been “declined dental services because of pregnancy.”

“A lot of dentists still fear treating pregnant women, and think, ‘What happens if I have to do an X-ray?’ or ‘What happens if I give antibiotics or local anesthesia?’” said Dr. Howard Minkoff, the chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. “None of these are legitimate reasons not to provide appropriate care for women.”

Since 2006, a few state organizations and dental associations have issued practice guidelines declaring that dental care is safe and effective at any stage of pregnancy, including diagnostic X-rays, cavity restorations and root canals.

OB-GYNs should check for bleeding gums or oral infection and refer a patient to a dentist if her last visit was longer than six months ago, according to the first national consensus statement on dental care during pregnancy, published in September by the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center at Georgetown University.

The statement advised dentists to provide emergency care in any trimester. OB-GYNs can be consulted, as necessary, if a pregnant patient is diabetic or hypertensive, or if general anesthesia is required.

Image: Dentist with woman, via Shutterstock

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Flouride in Water Raises Health Concerns for Some in New Jersey

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Residents of New Jersey are embroiled in a debate over whether the state should require each town to fluoridate its water, something that almost every other state does as a matter of routine.  The New York Times reports on the debate between medical groups, who say that fluoride is the best way to prevent tooth decay in children, and opponents who make arguments–based, officials say, on questionable science–including that fluoride is a carcinogen and it lowers I.Q. in children.

From the Times:

Similar bills have failed in the state since 2005, under pressure from the public utilities lobby and municipalities that argue that fluoridation costs too much, environmentalists who say it pollutes the water supply, and antifluoride activists who argue that it causes cancer, lowers I.Q. and amounts to government-forced medicine.

Public health officials argue that the evidence does not support any of those arguments — and to the contrary, that fluoridating the water is the single best weapon in fighting tooth decay, the most prevalent disease among children.

But they also say they are fighting a proliferation of misleading information. While conspiracy theories about fluoride in public water supplies have circulated since the early days of the John Birch Society, they now thrive online, where anyone, with a little help from Google, can suddenly become a medical authority.

“In the age of the Internet, it’s very easy to spread many of these rumors,” said Barbara F. Gooch, the associate director for science in the Oral Health Division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “People go looking for information about why this is bad, and they find it pretty easily.”

So while William Bailey, the acting director of the Oral Health Division and the chief dental officer of the United States Public Health Service, calls it “the ideal public health measure,” opponents online argue the unproven allegation that the Nazis used fluoride to sedate concentration camp victims.

Image: Girl brushing her teeth, via Shutterstock.

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