2111 Jefferson Davis Highway Suite # 1 South
Arlington, VA 22202
Novick, Arthur, D.D.S. DMD PC
11325 Sunset Hills Road
Reston, VA, 20190
For Your Smile
5921 Harbour Lane Suite 400
Chantilly, VA, 20151
Robert A. Gallegos, D.D.S. and Ronald D. Jackson, D.D.S.
204 E. Federal Street
Middleburg, VA, 20118
Helleberg, John H D.D.S.
277 Hydraulic Ridge Rd
Charlottesville, VA, 22901-8127
Every science has its beginnings in myth and folklore. Early dental practices, in particular, are deeply tied to the mysticism surrounding the teeth and tongue. Because the mouth is the center of speech and nourishment, diverse cultures treat dental events in their lives with respect.
There is a universal human belief that teeth confer power. These remedies and practices were intended to cultivate that power-by keeping teeth for a lifetime. The same spirit-much refined-motivates modern dentistry.
For relief, boil earthworms in oil and pour into the ear on the side where there is pain (Pliny, 77 AD).
Pour juice of onions by drops into the mouth, bite a piece of wood struck by lightning (ibid.).
Put tobacco in the armpit; hold a heated root of a birch on the cheek; or hold a small frog against the cheek or lick a toad's abdomen (Norwegian folklore).
Lay roasted parings of turnips, as hot as they may be, behind the ear; keep the feet in warm water, and rub them well with bran, just before bedtime (John Wesley, 1747).
"Round the tooth to be drawn, he fastened a strong piece of catgut; to its other end he affixed a bullet. Then he charged a pistol with this bullet and a full measure of powder. The firing performed a speedy and effectual removal of the offending tooth" (Dr. Monsey, 1788).
In the US and Europe, the blacksmith did extractions, presumably because they had the "proper tools."
"If one had a tooth extracted, it must be burned, because, if a dog got it and swallowed it, one would have a dog's tooth come in its place" (Dr. Holmes, 1862).
To clean the teeth, rub them with the ashes of burnt bread (Poor Will's Almanack, 1780).
To stable and steadfast the teeth, and to keep the gummes in good case, it shall be very good every day in the morning to wash well the mouth with red wine (London, 1598).
In parts of England, the superstition persists: one prevents a toothache by "clothing one's right leg prior to the left" (G.P. Foley, 1972).
To make the teeth of children grow hastily, take the brain of a hen and rub the gums therewith. It shall make them grow without any sorrow or diseases or aching (London, 1934).
Roast the brains of a rabbit and rub a small amount on the gums (US, 1942).
According to the American Cancer Society, about 30,000 new cases of mouth cancer are diagnosed annually in the U.S. About half of those who have oral cancer die within five years. Early detection can make a dramatic difference in treating the cancer at curable stages and reducing oral cancer deaths.
Early detection capabilities recently have been enhanced by a new computer-assisted mouth cancer screening tool. A nationwide study of 945 patients ranging in ages from 18 to 83 was conducted by dentists at 35 U.S. academic dental care sites.
Brush biopsy specimens were obtained from oral lesions as part of the extensive research, testing the accuracy of computer-assisted diagnostic equipment. The brush biopsy caused little or no bleeding and no anesthetic was required. The computer-assisted image analysis was used to identify suspicious cells in the samples.
The computer analysis properly identified every case of pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions as confirmed by lab tests from their traditional tissue evaluations. Additionally, it also correctly identified some lesions that were benign in appearance, but were actually found to be pre-cancerous or cancerous. Had it not been for this new diagnostic equipment, these lesions would have escaped detection and the patient would not have received any additional oral cancer testing.
"Early evaluation of oral pre-cancerous lesions can have a dramatic impact on oral cancer mortality rates," says Dr. James J. Sciubba, DMD, PhD, professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology at State University of New York at Stony Brook, who also serves as a spokesperson for the study. Early-stage mouth cancers are not easily detectable by visual inspection and may be overlooked.
The oral cancer scanner provides dentists a new evaluation tool that can lead to a significant reduction in cancer deaths. An estimated 8,100 people will die from mouth cancer this year. This new dentistry tool has shown remarkable merit as a reliable dental health device. By providing an accurate diagnosis, it has become a crucial weapon in the fight against oral cancer.
By Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO