Columnist's implant claim stirs criticism

Prominent health columnist Jane Brody's assertion that implants are always superior to bridges has stirred some controversy.

"In an overwhelming majority of cases, implants to replace lost teeth are by far the best long-term solution for maintaining a healthy mouth," wrote Brody in a Nov 17 column. "Also, because they rarely need to be replaced, in the long run they are more economical than bridges."

But some dentists are expressing disagreement. "A bridge can be made in two visits, does not need at least two surgical procedures and does not require long and painful healing," wrote Stephen M. Sheppard, D.M.D., in response. "It restores full function in a very short time." Dr. Sheppard added that one of his patients has a 62-year-old bridge still in place.

And writing on a dental public health listserv, Amos S. Deinard M.D., M.P.H. questioned Brody's advice to her readers to ask for references from patients before selecting a dentist to place implants.

"Great idea, but in view of HIPAA, how many dentists would want to take the time to call their patients to ask permission to pass their names on to prospective patients?" he asked.

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