Dentists caught dirty-handed; amalgam separator debate heats up

Dear DrBicuspid Member,

As a mom, I'm constantly reminding my 11-year-old to wash his hands and brush his teeth. Should I start reminding my dentist, too?

A study published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association finds that many dentists do not wash their hands frequently enough, and even more do not use alcohol-based hand sanitizers as recommended. Find out how well you're complying with government hand-washing policies here.

Other government agencies are more concerned with mercury in our wastewater than hand hygiene. In hearings on Capitol Hill last week, the ADA and members of Congress faced off over the environmental impact of mercury, with some individuals testifying that the ADA and other dental associations are purposely blocking attempts to make amalgam separators mandatory for all dental offices.

The ADA maintains that dentists are already doing their part to protect the environment from mercury, and that the cost of installing an amalgam separator can be burdensome. For more on the debate, click here.

Oral piercings pose problems

Oral piercings may be all the rage, but for many teens -- and their dentists -- they're a real pain. The most common complications are chipped, fractured, or cracked teeth; gingival recession; and halitosis. But there can be more serious issues. How do you warn patients of the risks while still respecting their fashion sense? Here's what some experts recommend.

Imagine being able to image a tooth with 10 times the detail of x-rays, in real-time, chairside, with little more than the press of a button. Sounds great, but would you pony up $25,000 for such a device? In part III of our series "Beyond x-rays," we look at a truly revolutionary -- albeit pricey -- imaging technique just making its way into dentistry: optical coherence tomography.

Also, don't forget to check out our video, "Hispanic patients: The untapped market." Filmed and edited by Senior Editor Laird Harrison, this piece is the beginning of a series of multimedia resources we will be bringing you in the coming months.

And congratulations to our 10,000th member! After just 10 months online, is proud to announce that we are 10,000 members strong and growing. Keep telling your friends and colleagues about us (don't forget the Refer a Friend giveaway for a chance to win an XM satellite radio!), and we'll keep bringing you the best dental news and information available online.

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