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Archive for October 14th, 2012

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A number of Utah oral and maxillofacial surgeons have begun a dentistry turf war with a fellow dentist, Heath Hendrickson, over the extraction of wisdom teeth. The surgeons have sponsored a website ( and a billboard on I-15 in Utah County, Utah (I will endeavor to get a photo of the billboard tomorrow).

The oral surgeons who are listed below have a beef with general dentist, Health Hendrickson, who refers to himself as Dr. Wisdom Teeth. Board MembersBut, what is the FLAP?

Dr. Hendrickson is a licensed, undisciplined Utah dentist who extracts wisdom teeth.

There seems to be more to the story.

Here is Dr. Hendrickson’s website at

Dr Wisdom Teeth websiteMy experience in these dental turf wars is money, money and more money.

Do the oral surgeons resent the fact that as a general dentist, Dr. Hendrickson is invading their lucrative turf of extracting wisdom teeth – and at a reduced fee to boot?

Or, is there a public safety concern?

Yet, the Utah Board that regulates dentistry has never disciplined Dr. Hendrickson.

Here are the Utah records:

Heath Hendrickson Provo Dental Licenseand

Heath Hendrickson Heber City Dental License

Even the Utah Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons has jumped into the act seemingly denigrating general dentists in order to protect their own dental turf. Here is more:

Why an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Should Manage Your Wisdom Teeth

Dentists learn to remove teeth in dental school the same way physicians learn how to cast a broken bone in medical school.  However as with broken bones, the difficulty, complexity and risk of the procedure varies; often requiring specialty training in order to provide the most effective, safe, and comfortable treatment.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are dental specialists who receive 4 to 6 years of additional medical and surgical training beyond dental school in order to specialize in surgical procedures related to teeth, jaw, and face and to administer general anesthesia. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons focus on:

  •             Wisdom tooth removal
  •             Complicated tooth removal
  •             Dental implants
  •             Reconstructive jaw surgery
  •             Facial skeletal reconstruction
  •             Management of impacted teeth
  •             TMJ disorders
  •             Facial trauma
  •             Facial cosmetic surgery
  •             Oral and maxillofacial pathology (diseases of the mouth, face and jaws)
  •             Sleep apnea
  •             General anesthesia

Dentists may perform any treatment they believe necessary that falls within scope of the state’s dental practice act, including tooth removal. Many dentists are able to perform straightforward tooth removal without difficulty. However, occasions may arise when removal of an impacted or erupted tooth is difficult or complicated. It is in the patient’s best interest to have these procedures performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon with proper training, as this ensures the best outcome for the patient.

If a dentist without appropriate training performs difficult or complicated tooth removal, patients may have increased risk of infection, dry socket, nerve injury, a lengthy and unpleasant procedure, and possibly additional surgery needed to produce complete healing. (Some dental practices limit their procedures to tooth removal only and patients may not be aware that the practitioner is not a formally trained oral and maxillofacial surgeon. The Utah Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons understands  “Wisdom Teeth Only” and “Simply Wisdomteeth” to be examples of this type of practice.) If complications occur during tooth removal, the patient is often referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. In such cases, the patient has often experienced considerable stress and discomfort that likely would have been avoided if a properly trained oral and maxillofacial surgeon had been consulted originally. In most cases, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon can perform complicated or difficult tooth removal in a few minutes. A properly trained oral and maxillofacial surgeon typically can provide an anesthetic and remove four impacted wisdom teeth in 30 minutes or less.

I will try to interview some of the parties involved during the next few days.

I have a feeling this turf war is going to get uglier.

Stay tuned…..


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Child Abuse and Neglect

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Perhaps, according to a new study in the the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Although all 50 states require dentists to report signs of child abuse in their patients, some research suggests that few dentists are reporting these cases, according to a report published in the October issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA).

In addition to violating the ethical standards upheld by the American Dental Association (ADA) and other professional groups, dentists who fail to report suspected abuse face civil and criminal penalties and, in some states, the loss of their licenses.

Dentists can play an especially important role in detecting abuse because many abuse injuries are to the head and neck, the researchers note. Chipped or fractured teeth and strangle marks are among the most common signs of abuse. “When kids get abused, it’s common for them to go to the dentist because of injury to the mouth,” first author David R. Katner, JD, told Medscape Medical News.

Previous research suggests that many dentists are not fulfilling their obligation to report these injuries, said Katner, a professor of clinical law at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He cited a 1995 JADA study in which researchers showed that dentists made less than 1% of all reports in states that track cases by the reporter’s profession.

Katner said he spoke to leaders at several dental schools and found a lack of awareness of the issue.

Well, it is not that simple, especially if you are in private practice.

If a child or teenager presents in your office with obvious facial and/or dental trauma and the parents say they fell. What are you going to do?

You treat the injury and are not going to ask 20 questions of either the child or the parents. There is NO time.

When a child presents with rampant caries who needs extensive treatment, does the dentist pick up the phone and call Child Protective Services? Probably not.

In all of my years of private practice, I may have been tempted to call the authorities on maybe a few occasions. But, I did not.


If I was wrong, I was afraid the family would sue me, despite the California State immunity that is given to dentists.

And, when I worked in public health dentistry, I saw many children and teenagers with destroyed dentitions. Did I call the County? No, I treated their dental disease as best I could and tried to educate the patients and the parents.

So, despite this study, it is easier to blame and then threaten the dentist than actually help the abused child.


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