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New Idea. Our Partners Starts at Impulse Screen. The West Email Newsletters. Whereas a typical dentist might perform root canals on previously crowned teeth in only 3 to 7 percent of cases, Lund was performing them in 90 percent of cases. As Zeidler later alleged in court documents, Lund had performed invasive, costly, and seemingly unnecessary procedures on dozens and dozens of patients, some of whom he had been seeing for decades. Terry Mitchell and Joyce Cordi were far from alone. In fact, they had not even endured the worst of it.
A crown is a metal or ceramic cap that completely encases an injured or decayed tooth, which is first shaved to a peg so its new shell will fit. Crowns typically last 10 to 15 years. Lund not only gave his patients superfluous crowns; he also tended to replace them every five years—the minimum interval of time before insurance companies will cover the procedure again.
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A typical adult mouth has 32 teeth. According to one lawsuit that has since been settled, a woman in her late 50s came to Lund with only 10 natural teeth; from to , he gave her nine root canals and 12 crowns. It takes longer, can cause significant discomfort, and may require multiple trips to a dentist or specialist.
Read: Americans are going to Juarez for cheap dental care. Root canals are typically used to treat infections of the pulp—the soft living core of a tooth.
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A dentist drills a hole through a tooth in order to access the root canals: long, narrow channels containing nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. The dentist then repeatedly twists skinny metal files in and out of the canals to scrape away all the living tissue, irrigates the canals with disinfectant, and packs them with a rubberlike material.
The whole process usually takes one to two hours. Afterward, sometimes at a second visit, the dentist will strengthen the tooth with a filling or crown. In the rare case that infection returns, the patient must go through the whole ordeal again or consider more advanced surgery. In some cases the dentist slips a small rubber tube into the wound, which continues to drain fluids and remains in place for a few days.
They should be used only to treat severe infections, which occur in a minority of cases. Zeidler asked many of those patients about the treatments, but none of them recalled what would almost certainly have been a memorable experience. In addition to performing scores of seemingly unnecessary procedures that could result in chronic pain, medical complications, and further operations, Lund had apparently billed patients for treatments he had never administered.
Zeidler was alarmed and distressed. To find, I felt, someone was doing the exact opposite of that—it was very hard, very hard to accept that someone was willing to do that. Zeidler knew what he had to do next. As a dental professional, he had certain ethical obligations. He needed to confront Lund directly and give him the chance to account for all the anomalies.
Even more daunting, in the absence of a credible explanation, he would have to divulge his discoveries to the patients Lund had bequeathed to him. He would have to tell them that the man to whom they had entrusted their care—some of them for two decades—had apparently deceived them for his own profit. The idea of the dentist as potential charlatan has a long and rich history. Sometimes the results were disastrous.
Barber surgeons came to America as early as By the 18th century, dentistry was firmly established in the colonies as a trade akin to blacksmithing Paul Revere was an early American craftsman of artisanal dentures. Itinerant dentists moved from town to town by carriage with carts of dreaded tools in tow, temporarily setting up shop in a tavern or town square.
They yanked teeth or bored into them with hand drills, filling cavities with mercury, tin, gold, or molten lead. For anesthetic, they used arsenic, nutgalls, mustard seed, leeches. Mixed in with the honest tradesmen—who genuinely believed in the therapeutic power of bloodsucking worms—were swindlers who urged their customers to have numerous teeth removed in a single sitting or charged them extra to stuff their pitted molars with homemade gunk of dubious benefit.
In the midth century, a pair of American dentists began to elevate their trade to the level of a profession. But no definitive proof of this encounter has ever surfaced. Becoming a practicing physician requires four years of medical school followed by a three-to-seven-year residency program, depending on the specialty. Dentists earn a degree in four years and, in most states, can immediately take the national board exams, get a license, and begin treating patients.
Some choose to continue training in a specialty, such as orthodontics or oral and maxillofacial surgery. When physicians complete their residency, they typically work for a hospital, university, or large health-care organization with substantial oversight, strict ethical codes, and standardized treatment regimens. Read: Why dentistry is separate from medicine. Throughout history, many physicians have lamented the segregation of dentistry and medicine.
Oral bacteria and the toxins they produce can migrate through the bloodstream and airways, potentially damaging the heart and lungs. Poor oral health is associated with narrowing arteries, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and respiratory disease, possibly due to a complex interplay of oral microbes and the immune system. And some research suggests that gum disease can be an early sign of diabetes, indicating a relationship between sugar, oral bacteria, and chronic inflammation.
Most major medical associations around the world have long endorsed evidence-based medicine. The idea is to shift focus away from intuition, anecdote, and received wisdom, and toward the conclusions of rigorous clinical research. Although the phrase evidence-based medicine was coined in , the concept began taking shape in the s, if not earlier some scholars trace its origins all the way back to the 17th century. In contrast, the dental community did not begin having similar conversations until the mids. There are dozens of journals and organizations devoted to evidence-based medicine, but only a handful devoted to evidence-based dentistry.
In the past decade, a small cohort of dentists has worked diligently to promote evidence-based dentistry, hosting workshops, publishing clinical-practice guidelines based on systematic reviews of research, and creating websites that curate useful resources. Part of the problem is funding: Because dentistry is often sidelined from medicine at large, it simply does not receive as much money from the government and industry to tackle these issues.
The standard euphemism for this proclivity is overtreatment. Whereas medicine has made progress in reckoning with at least some of its own tendencies toward excessive and misguided treatment, dentistry is lagging behind. I think the majority of dentists are pretty good. Studies that explicitly focus on overtreatment in dentistry are rare, but a recent field experiment provides some clues about its pervasiveness. A team of researchers at ETH Zurich, a Swiss university, asked a volunteer patient with three tiny, shallow cavities to visit randomly selected dentists in Zurich.
The Swiss Dental Guidelines state that such minor cavities do not require fillings; rather, the dentist should monitor the decay and encourage the patient to brush regularly, which can reverse the damage. Despite this, 50 of the dentists suggested unnecessary treatment. Their recommendations were incongruous: Collectively, the overzealous dentists singled out 13 different teeth for drilling; each advised one to six fillings.
A multitude of factors has conspired to create both the opportunity and the motive for widespread overtreatment in dentistry. The financial burden of entering the profession is high and rising. In the U. In the s, with fewer genuine problems to treat, some practitioners turned to the newly flourishing industry of cosmetic dentistry, promoting elective procedures such as bleaching, teeth filing and straightening, gum lifts, and veneers.
It just adds to the whole idea that you go to a physician feeling bad and you walk out feeling better, but you go to a dentist feeling good and you walk out feeling bad. They all agreed with his conclusions. Zeidler confronted Lund about his discoveries in several face-to-face meetings. Repeated attempts were made to contact Lund and his lawyer for this story, but neither responded. They were shocked and angry. We were amazed. It was completely frozen, like a statue. He pointed to a tiny, pearl-like object on the back of its abdomen and explained it was an egg, planted there by a parasitic wasp.
The spider had been stung and temporarily immobilized so the wasp could transplant its egg. Soon, the spider would shake off the trauma and go about its life as usual; completely unaware of the danger it carried. Days later and without warning, the tarantula would stop cold in its tracks. Within seconds, a new wasp, that had eaten the spider from the inside out, would emerge from its abdomen and fly away, leaving behind the empty carcass of its host. Like the wasp larva, feelings buried alive never die, especially fear.
Lying comes from fear. You may be late meeting someone and blame it on the traffic or cover up being fired to avoid embarrassment. The scenarios surrounding why we lie are endless. The fact is that our lies are born from our traumas, both big and small. Dishonesty begins with the self.
“Lying comes from fear.”
The first lie is the one we tell ourselves. So, we repress the truth and our feelings about it with a lie to keep the pain at bay. We never lie to protect the feelings of others. Lying is always self-serving. We rarely give ourselves enough time to process the hard lessons truth of the situation.
Being honest with ourselves and others requires an ability to think and feel at the same time in order to fully integrate a difficult experience and neutralize any lasting negative energy. Living in our own little world of self-created lies and avoiding the truth of our life experience takes great energy and produces an even greater amount of stress.
To deal with it, we often turn to illicit or prescription drugs. Even yoga can be an addictive diversion. It can provide intense emotional release because we store pent up energy in our bodies.
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