Dear Dr. Oz
Dear Dr. Oz,
I would like to begin by saying, your show has been very informative over the years and I appreciate what you are trying to do for patients and health care providers. I am a little disappointed in your recent show titled “Undercover Investigation: Dental Scams: Are You Being Overdiagnosed and Overcharged?” Before I go into the issues I have with this episode, let me first say that I appreciate the fact that the dentists you had on the show discussed that most dentists practice on a spectrum, some conservative and some are more proactive. I’ve been working in dentistry for over 20 years, during that time I’ve worked with 10 dentists, all practice differently, but certainly fit in this spectrum. I would also like to mention that you did in fact state that most dentists were honest and did not overdiagnose. The problem is, unfortunately most people/patients that watched that episode will not remember that you made that statement. The title of that episode is what they will remember. Confirmation bias is alive and well.
When doing an investigation, I would hope that the investigation would be thorough. I did not find this to be the case for the evidence your show presented. You sent Mara to three dentists that had bad reviews, yet only one that had good reviews, and that dentist sat on the panel you interviewed during the show. I would’ve liked to see what some dentists with good reviews would have diagnosed to have a better comparison. I was unable to watch the episode when it aired live, I watched it on my computer a few days later. I paused the show when the x-rays were on the screen to see if I could get an idea of what treatment I would think needed to be done. I’m not a dentist, I’m a registered dental hygienist and I often like to test my knowledge. The x-rays were not very clear looking at them via the computer, I’m sure they were much clearer in the original format. However, the first thing I saw was a tooth that had a root canal with no crown. I immediately thought that would be one of the main concerns of each dentist that examined this patient. To my surprise only 1 out of 4 dentists recommended this procedure. It was discussed briefly on the show, and none of the dentists on the panel addressed the fact that putting a crown on a tooth after root canal therapy is standard of care. I can’t speak to the other diagnosis, maybe they were reasonable, maybe not. However, judging by the backlash dentistry is still dealing with from your episode in 2010 titled “The Fastest Growing Cancer in Women” and the theory that mammograms and dental x-rays are contributing factors in thyroid cancer, I’m positive there will be similar backlash about putting crowns on teeth with root canals. I know your main goal with that episode was to recommend patients request a thyroid collar when having dental x-rays and mammograms, but are you aware that many patients refuse dental x-rays altogether due to this one episode? Dental professionals have a certain standard of care that they must follow, neglecting to take dental x-rays for a time that exceeds the ADA’s recommendation is supervised neglect. This struggle is real, and a daily occurrence 8 years later! I would like to add having a crown placed after a root canal is not only recommended by most dentists but also by the American Association of Endodontists. Their website states in reference to root canal post treatment care “Once your root canal and follow-up appointments are completed, you will need to return to your dentist for a final crown to fully restore the tooth. It is important to make this appointment as soon as your endodontist completes work on your tooth.” You can read it for yourself here: https://www.aae.org/patients/your-office-visit/post-treatment-care/
In closing, I would like to challenge you to make an episode that focuses on the outstanding education and abilities of dentists and dental hygienists, as well as the importance of regular dental visits. Most people are not aware that we do not “just clean teeth” and “drill and fill”. At each appointment we take blood pressure, screen patients for sleep breathing disorders, do a complete head and neck cancer screening, nutritional counseling, tobacco cessation, review medical history and educate patients on the oral-systemic disease connection. We are highly qualified health care providers, and too often we get a bad rap. There are absolutely some unethical dentists in this world, just as there are unethical doctors. Let’s be honest though, there are far more exceptional healthcare providers than there are unethical healthcare providers. I would love to see an episode that highlights the positive attributes that occur in the dental office and not just negative attributes.
Spring Hatfield, RDH