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DENTAL IMPLANTS: Big prices, big promises ... big problems! Regulation and reform urgently needed.



 

 

 

The sad, PAINFUL TRUTH 

about DENTAL IMPLANTS!


DENTAL IMPLANT PROCEDURES
are not HEALTH CARE; they are blindly profit-driven human mutilation! Lawmakers, policymakers, take notice, get a backbone, and prohibit these dangerous, invasive, falsely advertised ("Teeth in one day," yeah, right) procedures - or pay upwards of $50,000 to become a circus freak on a soup diet for years to come, and see how you like it!

DENTAL IMPLANTS: CASH COW ($6.4 BILLION PROJECTED REVENUE FOR 2018*), HEALTH SCAM! Don't pay thousands to be a "test dummy" for these selfish, unproven, dangerous procedures!

DENTAL IMPLANTS, being offered by virtually every licensed dentist in the country (and, conceivably, even some who are unlicensed), should be illegal except in cases of catastrophic accident or illness. At the very least dental implant procedures should be limited to installation by oral surgeons only - and even then, only those with additional, special training in the procedures and the myriad of serious potential complications involved. Even oral surgeons should be held to strict standards regarding minimum staffing and specialized equipment for implant procedures. These complex procedures cannot be safely and effectively done in small, squalid "general practitioner" surroundings by dentists who "went to a seminar" or "read a trade magazine article about it."

Allowing inadequately trained general dentists in minimally equipped, understaffed dental clinics (there are even mobile dental clinics - run from large vans - doing the work) to perform these risky, invasive implant procedures is as absurd as allowing general practitioners to perform open-heart surgery on an out-patient basis. What's next? Dental implants at the mall? Dental implant "salons" at the Big Box stores? Hey, Mom can get her nails done while Dad starts his dental implants procedure "nightmare" at the booth next door! Don't laugh - under current law it could happen!

I have permanent nerve damage because a Las Vegas dentist (who claimed to have "more than 20 years of experience with dental implants") "experimented" with these dental implant procedures on me in 2010 and BOTCHED the job . . . big time. There is no effective treatment (not implant removal, not bone reduction, not fancy-sounding laser beam treatment (total quackery in this application, as if burning the surrounding flesh would magically make the severed nerve endings mend themselves - but, hey, "anything for a buck," right, guys?). Bottom line: there is no cure for nerve damage received during faulty dental implant procedures. Good job, Doc!

The first of three implants was drilled so deep it pierced my mandibular nerve; I wish I could return the favor ... with a rusty railroad spike! The other two were so high, there was no clearance for the necessary abutments, and they had to be removed as well (X-rays taken the next day confirm all this). So much for those "over 20 years of implant experience" the dentist claimed to have! My implant placements looked as though they were done by a blind day laborer!

Indeed, many years later, a month after signing up with a big-name dental implant clinic (remember, according to the commercials, all this is done in one day), just before it was time to put me under the anesthesia, the doctor said something to the effect of "... hope everything goes okay," (with regard to not hitting any nerves) finishing the sentence with "we're flying blind here." That's the extent of the "super science" involved in dental implant surgery, folks: "Fingers crossed ... we're flying blind here." Sounds more like high school science lab to me, with the patients as paying guinea pigs.

Don't be hypnotized by colorful Web graphics and videos in dental waiting rooms, using the most beautiful artists' renderings of colorful, even layers of tissue, bone and nerves, depicting the bad teeth flying out and dental implants "floating gracefully up and over and into the gums." The only thing missing from those cartoons is Goofy dressed up like a dentist: "Ga-yuck, ga-yuck," (translation: "ca-chiiing!"). Pure shtick.

Truth be told, the symptoms only get worse: the drooling, the spitting, the lisping, the tongue and cheek and lip biting and lack of muscle control while eating (I basically have to eat with my face stuck in a bowl - like an animal - I think there's food stuck to that side of my face, and nothing's there, or I have food stuck to my face and can't feel it), above and beyond the constant feelings alternating between numbness and electrical charges - all horrible and permanent symptoms.

My experience is not unique. The 98% success rate cited by the implant industry sounds impressive, but that 2% failure comprises over 60,000 patients, all unfairly influenced by questionable marketing tactics, ambiguous competency standards, and subjective qualifications. Patients who experience pain, numbness, feelings of electric shock just under the skin, etc. (the collective term for which is "paraesthesia"), following implant procedures are immediately and continually told, as I was, that "it will go away - you'll be fine." And isn't is amazing that how, when pressed, they each had "one" patient with the same problem - "but it went away." Right. On one hand we're told, "this almost never happens," but then after the fact there are these supposed "professionals" who have performed "hundreds" of corrective procedures for anomalies involving dental implants. If complications are so rare, where did they get all this corrective experience? If injuries such as mine are so remote, why do they require the patients to sign a multi-page waiver prior to the procedures?

Dental implant clinics, promoted in the most deceptive manner: "Teeth in one day," with smiling models supposedly biting into an apple immediately after the implant procedure (truth be known, you'll probably be limited to a semi-liquid diet for a year or more), etc. (clearly a legal and ethical violation of informed-consent obligations), are the new physician-run "pill mills" and should be approached with the same regulatory zeal as the "pushers" running those types of grey-area drug clinics. And, similar to the "feel-good clinics" that exploit the law and human weakness for the sake of obscene profits, the time can't be far off - if it's not happening already - that we're going to see implant "pushers" migrating from state to state when things get too "hot" in a particular jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, until these types of injuries relating to dental implants happen to a U.S. Senator or someone in his or her family, it seems little will be done to change current rules and policies regarding who can do dental implant procedures, under what conditions, and how much hyperbole can be used to sell them.

Anyone who thinks this doesn't affect them, because they're not senior citizens (the principle target market for dental implants) is missing the collective, downhill implications here. Traditional dental treatment as we've known it for the last several decades is being eroded by the big-buck promise of dental implants. The mantra of "Save the teeth, if at all possible" has changed to "Let 'em rot - the implant replacements will pay for my new Porsche!" (Yes, folks, a full set of uppers and lowers is $50,000+!) A local periodontist actually has "Periodontist/Implantologist" on his signage and business cards. No surprise that he wasn't "able" to do anything for my gums but "check 'em again next month" ... and suggest some implants(!) for the affected area. Is anyone so dense that they don't see the conflict of interest involved there? We're looking at a system that encourages these people to do nothing - fraudulently and deceptively - so they have a shot at a bigger payday on down the road. 

The current, overly permissive and irresponsible, anything-for-a-buck policies and actions of the dental implant industry remind me of what Harry Markopolos (chief fraud investigator and whistleblower in the Bernie Madoff case) said in his book No One Would Listen: "The health-care industry makes Wall Street look honest."

Legislators, seriously, please do what you can to introduce legislation that will re-define and restrict these dangerous, unproven procedures, especially in the hands of under-trained, under-equipped, under-staffed general dentists (or simply deem implant procedures by general dentists as "illegal practice drift" under existing regulations), and limit the negative impact on public health that will continue to rise as the dental implant "cash cow" becomes more and more widespread. Your families and friends are out there and subject to this health scam, too.

THE UNDER-REGULATED DENTAL IMPLANT INDUSTRY, successful only because of false and misleading advertising, bait-and-switch marketing practices, and selective treatment protocols that short-change patients who are perceived to be "retarded" has unfairly and wrongly caused me years of pain and suffering. Implant industry leaders need to do the right thing and settle my pain-and-suffering claim for $30 million. When this gets the attention it truly merits from the courts and the appropriate policy makers (in damage awards as more cases come to light, and regulatory controls that will dilute this long-running gravy train are implemented and enforced) that amount will seem, in hindsight, like lunch money.

Ray Parker, Coalition for Dental Implant Reform

bongos@netzero.com

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*Dental Implants Facts and Figures, American Academy of Implant Dentistry

See also: "Why teeth implants may be the most painful (and costly) mistake of your life," Jane Feinman, DailyMail.com, February 17, 2014