Extraction death 'an accident'; Movie stereotypes dentists -- again!

Dear DrBicuspid Member,

Last March, 7-year-old Jacqueline Martinez of Riverside, CA, went to the dentist to have a molar removed. Three days later she was dead, the result of hypoxic encephalopathy after she aspirated the tooth.

According to the autopsy report -- which concludes that her death was accidental -- the dentist and emergency personnel did everything they could to save her, but some officials say there are still unanswered questions. Find out what happened here.

Patient care and safety is important outside the office as well. Dentists can play a key role in helping patients deal with personal health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking. For example, cigarettes are a leading cause not just of cancer and heart attacks, but also periodontal disease. According to a panel of medical experts at the recent California Dental Association (CDA) meeting, dentists can -- and should -- be proactive in helping patients quit or avoid smoking altogether. Read their tips here.

Another CDA session noted that dentists are also being put on the front lines when it comes to detecting high blood pressure, thanks to new guidelines from the National Institutes of Health. In addition, for 50 years the American Heart Association (AHA) has recommended antibiotic prophylaxis for patients at risk of infective endocarditis before dental procedures. Now the AHA has drastically narrowed the category of patients who need antibiotics before dental procedures. Read more.

On the technology front, wear simulators have long played a key role in dental materials research. Now a biomedical engineer from University of Bristol in the U.K. has developed a robotic "chewing machine" -- dubbed Dento-Munch -- that he says could lead to more durable metals, polymers, and ceramics. But is it really necessary? Find out what some materials researchers think.

Finally, on a lighter note, Contributing Editor -- and fellow dentist -- Dr. Moe Anderson went to the movies last weekend and was not very happy with the way dentists are once again being portrayed in the new film "Ghost Town." Read her review -- and share your thoughts on the best and worst dentist movies -- here. Aside from "Finding Nemo," will Hollywood ever give dentists a break?

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