Friday, January 23, 2015

Don't Trust Television!

This shouldn't be a new concept to anyone.  All television programming has biases, hidden motivations, and agendas.  In addition often with news shows or talk-shows, misinformation is spread (either through accidental ignorance or through purposeful means to help influence ratings).

I just watched a 10 minute clip of a television talk-show that features several medical 'professionals' who give 'health advice' to the in-studio audience and to us viewers.  Today they had a woman on, probably in her 30's, who claimed to be losing her teeth due to grinding them tightly.  The narrative on the show was that the woman drank too many sugary, fizzy drinks over the years, and would grind her teeth during so-called 'stressful periods of her life,' which subsequently led to the breakdown or loss of her teeth.

As a dentist I will arrive at my assessment of the situation shortly, but first I want to put myself in the shoes of the average viewing member of the audience:  'Holy smokes, this lady's consumption of soda-pop and grinding her teeth at night caused the teeth to become rotten and snap out of her mouth?  Good heavens!  I occasionally drink soda-pop, and when I experience stress in my life sometimes I grind or clench my teeth!  Let me look in the mirror to see how close my teeth are to snapping off!'  At this point the viewer might run to the bathroom and look at his or her teeth, carefully examining them, wondering when the inevitable breaking and snapping might begin!  Maybe the viewer calls up their dentist to set up an appointment to have treatment rendered immediately!  After-all, the woman in the show was given a custom-made night-guard to protect her against grinding her teeth!

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the far more likely cause of her current dental problems:  recreational drug abuse, namely (but not limited to) methamphetamines.  There is even a dental condition named for this particular abuse:  Meth Mouth. 


But wait, this was never mentioned in the television program!  That is correct... it was not.  However let me describe the woman's mouth a bit more carefully.  1) This woman had multiple missing teeth which had been previously extracted.  2) When you are a chronic bruxor (ie. tooth grinder), the chewing surfaces become smooth or have even-edges with each other (through attrition), and often you may even see notched-areas along the gumline on the facial surfaces of the teeth (abfraction).  Her remaining teeth had neither the chewing wear pattern nor the abfraction.  3) She did however have rampant tooth decay in all of her remaining upper teeth.  Horrible, horrible decay!
Now let’s be logical here folks:  Millions of Americans consume carbonated beverages every day... without developing decay.  Millions of Americans grind their teeth... without them 'snapping off.'   Soda-pop is not a healthful food product, and grinding your teeth can be uncomfortable for the jaw-muscles and lead to tooth-wear, but the combination of the two does not automatically lead to 'rampant dental caries' (ie. decay).

Let's go back to the woman saying she experienced periods of her life that were 'stressful.'  Perhaps what she meant was, "I was suffering from CHRONIC ILLEGAL DRUG ABUSE!"  The behavior of methamphetamine abusers includes:  1) Craving and consuming very sugary food products and drinks.  2) Teeth grinding.  The meth will also dry out your mouth, making for an environment that the decay-causing germs thrive in!  Together with the fuel from the sugar, it is no surprise that the germs are able to act so aggressively in these people!

I cannot for the life of me guess why the show wouldn't at least comment on this potential cause for her problem.  I mean, if she never touched drugs, couldn't the show say, "…And she never took drugs!"  But nope!!!

In my opinion it is grossly irresponsible for this television show to mislead their viewers with scare-tactics, in order to create a buzz and drum-up ratings.  After-all, the show had real-time Twitter comments from viewers expressing shock and awe at the woman’s poor dental health.  If my suspicions about this woman’s problems are correct, then it is also irresponsible of the 'professionals' in this show to gloss over the actual etiology of her current condition (giving her a night-guard to wear), instead of a referral to a substance abuse rehabilitation facility.

Turn off your television folks, especially these kinds of garbage 'advice' shows.  Ask yourself if these ‘professional’ hosts were so adept at rendering fantastic medical or dental care, why aren't they out there working on patients instead of being a talking-head on a TV show?  Oh snap!