Letter: Leave dental work to a dentist | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Leave dental work to a dentist

Leave dental work to a dentist

As a dental-health professional who has practiced dentistry for over 40 years in California and Aspen, I take exception to Dr. Lankering's opinion article ("Know your body," letters, Nov. 6, The Aspen Times).

Dr. Lankering, who is a chiropractor and has no formal clinical dental education, talks about the correlation between root canals, amalgam fillings, dementia and cancer. I cannot disagree more with that statement. Dental professionals in this valley have placed thousands of successful amalgam fillings and completed root-canal therapies on thousands of patients.

Concerning amalgam fillings — which are a combination of silver, copper, tin, zinc and mercury mixed together then placed in the tooth for structural repair — they are approved by the American Dental Association and FDA. In 2009, the FDA released a final statement to the public after a six-year study, concluding that "any mercury levels released from dental amalgam fillings are not high enough to cause harm in patients."

There are better fillings available, such as tooth-colored or porcelain, but they are more expensive to the consumer. The patient's personal dentist advises them of the pros and cons of each restoration and the patient can make an informed decision. I have personally not used an amalgam restoration in any of my patients' restorations for over 35 years, mainly because of the superiority of the bonded tooth-colored fillings. (aesthetics, strength, marginal integrity and decay resistance). Amalgam restorations have a life cycle and do break down with time; they should ultimately be replaced with current tooth-colored bonded ones.

I do not believe that amalgam fillings should be removed if there is no clinical breakdown of the material, unless the patient wants it to be done. Once the amalgam filling is removed, a decision has to be made by the patient and their dentist as to the type of replacement restoration to be placed.

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Concerning root-canal therapies, the patient has multiple choices to consider. Do root-canal therapy, extraction of the tooth, extraction of the tooth and placing an titanium root implant with a post and crown; or let the infected tooth stay in the patient and hope for the better.

Again, the pros and cons of each possible treatment therapy is discussed in the doctor-patient relationship. Clinical studies have shown the there is a direct correlation between oral infection and heart disease, strokes and general health. A clean, healthy bacterial managed mouth and decay free teeth is tremendously important for total body health. Root-canal therapies have a very high success rate, and should be considered by the patient before any extraction of the tooth.

Please contact your personal dentist to discuss any concerns and types of dental treatments for your dental health.

Dr. Robert Jensen

Aspen