Friday, July 25, 2014

Obsolete Dentistry, Part 2

In a previous blog, I listed some procedures that I either don’t perform anymore or perform a lot less. This time around, I’ll list some products that have come and gone during my career. I am not writing about products that served dentistry well and were later replaced by newer, better products. Rather, these are the products that disappeared and left us wondering what we thinking were in even trying them.

I think this is important is because we dentists are constantly bombarded with demands to purchase certain products. We constantly hear, “All the good dentists use product X. You want to be seen as a good dentist, right? So buy X.” We also hear, “The standard of care is to use product Y. Don’t you want to practice within the standard of care?”

Younger dentists, pay attention. Some products being pitched to you today may one day end up on my list of obsolete dentistry. Here are some of my favorites that have come and, fortunately, gone.

Caridex—I actually laughed when I heard this product explained to me. If Peridex is a good product for perio, then Caridex must be a great product for caries. It was designed to replace the dental handpiece in removing caries. How? You would simply use this magic liquid on the decayed tooth. It would dissolve the decay and leave sound tooth behind. I’m not joking. Then you simply restored the tooth. The only problem was that it didn’t work.

Air abrasion—I actually debated this one with a very well-know speaker during one of his lectures several years ago. He predicted that by 2005, air abrasion would have advanced the point where we would no longer be using handpieces. I almost choked on my lunch. Again, I protested. Oh well. I can’t wait until the year 2005 rolls around to see who was right.

Actisite—This one sounded good. It just didn’t work. In a stubborn perio pocket, you would pack a special cord treated with antibiotic and then seal it in with superglue - I mean - cyanoacrylate. You would never place superglue around someone’s tooth, would you, Doctor? The antibiotic would stay in place for 10 days and kill bacteria. The biggest downfall was that you couldn’t keep that cord in place for any significant length of time. It would keep coming out, even though superglue sticks to everything.

Electronic anesthesia—This was an effort to replace the dreaded anesthetic needle. You may have used a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit in physical therapy or at home to relax some muscles. It works great for that purpose. You’ve seen these machines. They have pads that send electrical stimulation to those tight muscles. So why not put those pads on your face and numb tooth #30 for that RCT? The promise here is no needles and complete numbness. Even though your tooth wasn’t numb at least your face got a massage.

What crazy ideas will make my list in the future? I don’t know for sure, but I’m looking in your direction, Twitter.

Andy Alas, DDS

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