Week in Review: Study questions safety of amalgam fillings | Pacific Dental integrates medical records | Intriguing jaw necrosis cases

Dear DrBicuspid Member,

Can amalgam fillings expose patients to high levels of mercury? Our top story of the week reported on the findings of a study linking dental amalgam fillings to high mercury levels in urine.

In the study, mercury levels in urine were estimated to be two times higher in adults who had at least one amalgam filling. However, the study had some important limitations, including that it was funded by an association that has lobbied for tougher amalgam restrictions and that researchers did not account for mercury sources other than fillings.

Pacific Dental integrates medical records

Over the years, experts have called for better integration between dentistry and medicine, but examples of true medical-dental integration are few and far between. So when I heard that Pacific Dental Services had quietly begun integrating electronic medical records through Epic's MyChart software during the COVID-19 pandemic, I knew I needed to see it for myself.

In the latest Technology Focus video, owner-dentist Dr. Ashley Abrams walked me through a sample patient chart in the integrated MyChart platform. She also shared how having seamless access to patients' up-to-date medical history, medications, and medical providers is giving dentists new visibility into the medical field.

Intriguing jaw necrosis cases

Readers enjoyed two eye-catching stories related to jaw necrosis on the site this week. The first covered a case report of a man who developed aseptic necrosis of the ramus lower jaw after a workplace fall. His recovery took more than a year and involved multiple procedures.

Also, new evidence suggests that COVID-19 survivors may be at risk for developing spontaneous osteonecrosis of the jaw, according to a dozen cases reported in BMC Infectious Diseases. All 12 patients developed the serious bone disease within weeks of SARS-CoV-2 infection. They were also all prescribed corticosteroids.

Surgery-free way to remove third molars

Last but not least, researchers intend to test a surgery-free method for removing third molars in a clinical trial later this year. In a recent study, 3D-guided microwave ablation completely destroyed third-molar tooth buds in pigs in just minutes. This minimally invasive procedure could limit surgical risk compared to current extraction methods, according to researchers.

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