Is Dentistry a Science? [The Atlantic]

Dated May 1, 2019; last modified on Thu, 02 Sep 2021

Is Dentistry a Science? Ferris Jabr. . May 1, 2019.

Cochrane Oral Health reviews dental procedures in a systematic manner. Unfortunately, most of the reviews don’t find substantive support for dental interventions.

There is currently no substantive evidence for: binannual cleanings, fluoridation reducing tooth decay in adults; regular flossing combating plaque (gum disease? probably); preventative wisdom teeth removal; tooth-colored resin instead of metal amalgam fillings; crown vs. filling to repair root-canaled tooth.

Sample malpractices: excessive (\(» 2\)) root canals; replacing crowns before 10 to 15 years; bundling procedures that don’t always go together.

In medieval Europe, barbers also performed dental procedures. By the 18th century, dentistry was a trade like blacksmithing. “Teeth” by Mary Otto ( Amazon , SPL ) goes deeper into the dental profession.

Physicians typically work for hospitals and universities with oversight, strict ethical codes and standardized treatments. By contrast, 80% of the 200k active dentists in the US have individual practices. In the US, the average debt of the dental-school graduate is $200k. Furthermore, tooth decays have been declining.

Children were responsible for a lot of tooth decay cases. Fluoridation of water and toothpaste has been credited with the reduction of cases.