John Dodes – The Tooth About Dentistry

September 05, 2011

John Dodes is a dentist with a special interest in dentistry and pseudoscience. He is one of the founding fellows of the Institute for Science in Medicine, a former President and Chairperson of the National Council Against Health Fraud, and a member of the Health Fraud Advisory Council. He is also a member of the American Council on Science and Health, and the Dental Consultant to

John has written about alternative therapies and myths about dentistry for Skeptical Inquirer magazine and many other publications. He is the author of the books The Whole Tooth and Healthy Teeth – A User’s Manual. In this interview with Karen Stollznow, John talks about evidence-based dentistry and the inadequate teaching of the scientific method to students of dentistry. He reveals some of the hazardous practices of “Holistic Dentistry”, and the integrative use of chiropractic, kinesiology and homeopathy.

John clears up some classic dental myths and misconceptions—is the fluoridation of our water supplies safe? Are we being poisoned by our amalgam fillings? He also discusses some paranormal dental claims; that psychic dentists can fix cavities, and that God can turn fillings into gold.

Lastly, John explains how to avoid dangerous practitioners and treatments and provides advice for consumers to make the best choices about dental healthcare.

This is point of inquiry for Monday, September 5th, 2011. 

Welcome to Point of Inquiry. I’m Karen Stollznow. 

Point of inquiry is the radio show and podcast of the Center for Inquiry head think tank Advancing Reason, Science and Secular Values in Public Affairs. And at the grassroots. My guest this week is John Dodes, a dentist with a special interest in dentistry, in pseudo science. John is one of the founding fellows of the Institute for Science in Medicine, a former president and chairperson of the National Council Against Health Fraud and a member of the Health Fraud Advisory Council. He’s also a member of the American Council on Science and Health and the dental consultant to Quackwatch dot org. John has written about alternative therapies and myths about the industry for skeptical Inquirer magazine and many other publications. He’s also the author of the books, The Whole Truth and Healthy Teeth A User’s Manual. 

John, welcome to Point of Inquiry. 

Good to be here. 

Thank you. And my first question is, how did you become interested in skepticism about dentistry? 

Well, you know, I think it started because I started college, I went to Rutgers as a physics major. And so we actually did testing and experimenting. And I saw that when I was in dental school, there wasn’t much of that. But I didn’t think much about that. I just wanted to go through dental school. And then when I started practicing, they were giving a course on temporal mandibular disorders, which maybe we’ll discuss later. 

And it was being given by a chiropractor. And it just didn’t seem possible that by pulling someone’s leg, you could affect their jaw. 

So I complained to the dental society and they kind of laughed at me and told me I didn’t know what I was talking about and that that was censorship. And I didn’t think censorship was wrong. For science, I mean, we don’t teach that the earth is flat. I guess that could be considered censorship. I thought that we should teach the best information. We have, not just any information, but they were right. 

I didn’t know a tremendous amount about chiropractic and about all the other things. So I set out to learn about it. And since the Dental Society was an interested, I started writing articles to protect the public and getting articles printed in the lay press. 

And you’ve said that courses in reflexology and acupuncture are quite common. Dental schools fish, especially at the post graduate level. So I’m wondering how familiar a dentists and dental students with the scientific method and evidence based industry. 

Unfortunately, not very familiar at all. In fact, our whole education system in the United States is not very good. We don’t teach students to think for themselves. You know, we just teach them to memorize. 

You get up and you spout back what the professor said to you and you don’t think about it. And in fact, if you ask a question why, you can get in big trouble. So you quickly learn to keep your mouth close. 

Isn’t that what learning is all about? They’re asking why. 

Yeah. It’s it’s a problem in a lot of graduate education, in an undergraduate education as well. Students are not allowed to question the current thinking about things or ask how someone came to a conclusion about something. What makes something a fact? And this is all from elementary school, right through college and into graduate school. And it happens with physicians and dentists. But, of course, in those cases, it’s more easily remedied if dentists and physicians were doing experiments, were in the laboratory, were actually testing some of the things and learning about statistics. They would be much better in much better shape to evaluate all the data that comes in in a deluge every day into their office. 

And so why do you think courses like chiropractic, dentistry, why are they taught at dental schools? 

Well, I’ve always felt become jaded, but greed and gullibility go hand in hand. There’s big money to be made in these things. And so if you can treat somebody and get paid for it, why not do it? 

And I’d like to ask you a couple of about a couple of classic and new dental myths and misconceptions. And I thought we’d start with the big one, and that’s fluoridation. Many people fear that we’re being poisoned by our governments with the addition of fluoride to our water supply. So what are the facts here? 

Well, the fact is that fluoride is absolutely safe. That is one thing it does is it prevents decay. 

There’s two reasons that people are against fluoride. One is what you mentioned, that people are afraid of anything. They’re afraid of that it could be poison. The other reason is that there are people who don’t believe that government has any right to do anything, that that’s an invasion of privacy. So water shouldn’t be chlorinated. It shouldn’t be purified. People should be getting typhus, fever and and all types of serious waterborne diseases because the government has no business doing that. You should have to do it yourself. I think that is a small percentage of the people, although there was a senator who said exactly that the government has no business doing anything with people’s water, isn’t it? 

Yeah, it’s pretty frightening. Right. 

The other reason is that there’s money to be made in frightening the public about conventional medicine and dentistry. The people who are against fluoridation typically are selling products to stop decay. 

So. Again, I see greed underlying a lot of pseudoscience and quackery. 

So to reiterate, there has been more research on fluoride than any other essential element. It is an essential element. You couldn’t live without fluoride, any fluoride when given in the proper dosage, which is one part per million. Does one thing, it stops about 60 percent of tooth decay. And it does that at about a quest of about 50 cents per person per year, which saves on average the American Dental Association feels about 75 dollars in dental fees. So it’s probably see, Edward Koop said it’s the most important up public medicine product ever done. 

And it’s been around for a while, hasn’t it, the practice? 

Absolutely. Fluoridation really became studied intensely in the 1940s when in New York State, actually when Kingston in Newberg, two cities that were very close to each other, had the same population and the same demographics and they fluoridated Newberg and they didn’t fluoridate Kingston and they studied it for 10 years. And the only difference they found after 10 years were the kids in Newberg had 60 percent fewer cavities. 

And so if we have all of this good hard evidence that saw fluoridation is a positive thing for our society, then how do we overcome these conspiracy theorists and the lingering message, which is that we’re being poisoned? 

You know, it’s a very tough thing. It’s a very tough thing. You know, there are still people, Karen, who believe that the earth is flat and that we haven’t gone to the moon, that those moon landings were done in a Hollywood studio. There’s a lot of conspiracy theater theories. There’s a lot of people who doubt everything and you can’t get across to them. Unfortunately, there are people in government who don’t have the ability to think. I was once on a radio interview with a US with a congresswoman who doesn’t believe that fluoride is good, that silver fillings are safe, and you could not convince these people of it. It’s almost a religious belief that they have in this. And I think what we need is more legislators who have some type of scientific background. Most of the people in our Congresses are lawyers and they certainly don’t have any science. They just believe in argument. 

And you just touched upon silver fillings, and that was the other big myth that I wanted to raise amalgam filling. So there’s another poison myth that dentists are poisoning their patients or are amalgam fillings. 

Safe amalgam fillings are absolutely safe. 

This goes back to the idea that is that a silver filling is silver amalgam filling. That’s what dentists call them. It’s really a mix of mercury, about 50 percent mercury and then an alloy of silver, 10 copper and zinc. And when those things are combined, the mercury is held very tightly. In fact, up to 10, 15 years ago, we didn’t think any mercury could come out because we didn’t have instruments sensitive, sensitive enough to detect it. But now we can detect one part in a billion. 

But the best evidence that. 

That I can give to the public, although I’ve written a paper on this, which was published in the journal The American Dental Association. But the best evidence I give the public is that general dentists like myself who drill out fillings all the time because we’re taking out old fillings and doing crowns, are putting in new fillings and things like that. Dentists like myself have between five and fifteen times the body burden of mercury. Yet dentists like myself have no higher incidence of any disease. 

And in fact, general dentists live a little bit longer than the general population. And Karen, that’s not because of mercury is because of income. Unfortunately, in the United States, your long Chevy is tied to your income. 

And I think some people choose to have their amalgam fillings placed for replaced for esthetic reasons as well. 

Yes. And the white fillings, which we call composite fillings, are much prettier, but they don’t last as long with my own family, my own children, they have silver fillings because I want to do them once. The average silver filling lasts about 20 years and the average plastic white filling lasts about 10 years. Now they have improved. They used to last much less than that. The other problem with white fillings is it’s much more technically difficult. So if you don’t go to a really, really good dentist. 

They’re not going to do a very good white filling, a silver filling is technically easy, it’s very forgiving. A little moisture doesn’t bother it. A little moisture with a white filling and it’s shot. It just doesn’t work. And of course, the mouth is wet. It’s hard to keep it dry. 

So silver fillings have a lot of advantages. The only disadvantage of a silver filling is it’s not pretty. 

But you know what I tell patients? I said anybody who’s close enough to see your fillings isn’t interested in your teeth. 

Very true. Well, I hope that those are that clears up a lot of things for people with you responding to those two myths. And I wanted to move on to some dental folk medicine as well. Once I had a toothache and a friend recommended that I chew on cloves. And I’m wondering if dental folk medicine is still popular in countries like the United States and Australia. 

I don’t think so, but, you know, clothes, oil of clothes has been used for hundreds of years and it does sedate the nerve of the tooth then to still use oil of clothes, which is called Yujin, all very often in a very deep filling because it does sedate the nerve. So that might be something good to do. But most of the folk medicine that I’ve heard is injurious. For instance, you have a toothache, put an aspirin on the gum alongside the tooth. Well, of course, an aspirin is a salicylic acid. It’ll burn your gum. Not a good thing if you have pain, swallow the aspirin. Don’t put it on the tooth. 

And the other. Negative thing is to put whiskey on your children’s gums when they’re teething. 

You haven’t heard that. You should not be exposed to whiskey. I don’t. I don’t think that’s a good idea. 

You know, actually, in the United States, in 1986 was the first food and drug law and the food and drug law was passed because of two things. 

One was Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle, which told about the horrors of the meatpacking industry. And the other was a magazine called Collier’s, which had an exposé about teething medicines and teething medicines were almost all made up of opium. 

Children were becoming addicted. 

And so because of that, the federal government in 1986 passed the first federal food and drug law, which stated that you had to put on a medicine what was in it. It didn’t have to be proven safe or effective, but at least the parents could see these teething drops had cocaine or opium in them and wouldn’t give them to their children. 

And what about those people who say, oh, baby teeth don’t matter? They fall out anyway. 

They’re 100 percent wrong. The baby teeth are deciduous teeth, as dentists call them. The primary teeth do several things. First of all, they help the jaws to develop. They maintain space for the permanent teeth. They help the child develop speech. 

That’s clear. So they’re extraordinarily important. 

And you touched upon opium just then. You’ve written in the past about dental quackery. And it seems like there is a long history of that with patent medicines and strange devices. Keith, tell us a bit about the history of dental quackery. 

Well, quackery goes way back. You know, it goes back to probably Roman times. 

A number of years ago, probably about 20 years ago, there was a skeleton unearthed in Europe of a Roman soldier. And it had a green front tooth. Now, to give you some background on this. In olden days, it was thought the tooth decay was caused by tooth worms then because if you had a huge cavity and someone went into that tooth and pulled something out, the nerve can look very much like a worm. 

And the way they treated this, they would go in with some type of barbed instrument and pull out that tooth worm, which in reality was the nerve, the nerve of the tooth, and then they’d stick a gold wire in there, which is kind of interesting because it’s kind of pseudo root canal. 

We do something very similar today, but we don’t use wires. Well, this poor soldier probably was the first incidence of quackery. He probably thought he was getting a gold wire. 

But when they excavated to him and took out the tooth, they found that some guy had put a brass wire in which discomfort he had probably been sheeted back in Roman times. 


In more modern times. One of the first imports from England when the United States was first founded were all types of patent medicines, and one of the big purveyors of patent medicines was Benjamin Franklin and his wife. They sold a lot of patent medicines, but of course, people really didn’t know any better than once. Pasteur and Coke learned about the germ theory of disease. Then things changed. But there are still all you have to do is turn on your TV and you’ll see loads of ads for herbal remedies, natural remedies or magnets, all types of pseudo scientific things which make these purveyors of this stuff millions and millions of dollars. 

And this story goes back about a decade. But when I was just doing some research for this topic, I was reading about the claims by revivalists in Canada and also in the United States that God had transformed fillings and crowns to gold. 

Well, you know, there was actually a revivalists who came to New York State and I with those exact claims and I called up the dental society. And although they didn’t send anybody the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of claims of the paranormal, which is now CSI, but in those days was psychopomp, sent some people to investigate. 

And you know this again, faith over reality. People wanted to believe so much that their fillings, those old silver fillings were changing to gold. But, you know, these revivalists always get out of town real quick before people can find out that it hasn’t happened. 

And I read about one dentist in England who’d misled his patients, telling them that he didn’t want to dasht their faith in a miracle. So he lied to them basically and said, yes, God has turned your crowns to gold. So it’s not a very responsible thing to do. 

Yeah, it really is. You know, there was a big story in New York a number of years ago, in fact, across the whole nation, there was a dentist who was. 

An absolute pseudo scientist, and he believe that every disease was caused by diet. And he convinced the patient of his who was diabetic to stop taking insulin and the patient died. But that’s not the story. The dentist then convinced the patient’s wife that he could bring him back to life. And they kept this body mummified in the person’s house with the man’s two children for nine years. 

I’ve never heard of that one before. That’s tragic. 

It really is The Post’s headlines where my daddy is a mommy, you know. 

And the dentist actually was found guilty of child abuse because giving them a decaying body in the house was considered child abuse. And I found out that years later he had his license renewed and was practicing in the state of Texas. 

Incredible. Like Peter Popoff. They just keep coming back. 

They keep coming back. It’s very hard to keep these people down. 

And up ahead of another claim that parents plaints bugging devices in their children’s teeth so they can track them. Have you heard of that one? 

I haven’t. But, you know, I once was asked by Martin Gardner to investigate whether or not teeth could actually get radio signals. And the answer was they could not. 

But you’re not surprised by anything anymore? 

No, I really not. Although I am disheartened by a lot of the things that I see. I’m disheartened by the fact that when I go to a dental convention, they still have booths where people are hawking things that are unscientific and should not be pushed on to the public. And it’s depressing because the Dental Society, the American Dental Association, has a big push for evidence based dentistry. But in the real world, that’s not getting much play. It’s getting play in the journal, but not in practice. 

So I’ve been hearing a lot about holistic dentistry and I’m wondering if these people are actually qualified dentists who are doing alternative medicine or if they’re alternative therapies. 

Well, you know, I hate this whole term holistic dentistry. I consider myself a holistic dentist. I take a health history. I question my patients about what medications they’re on. I check under their tongue in the back of their throat to see if they have oral cancer or I check their thyroid gland to see if it’s smooth. I look at their face. I see if they have bloodshot eyes, I’m checking them over. But nowadays, people who call themselves holistic dentists often are. 

What they’re doing is they’re selling a thing called wellness is what they get paid for treating when there’s nothing wrong with the patient. So I think these types of terms have been so prostituted and so changed that they don’t have much meaning anymore. 

And so are they’re actually alternative therapies out there who don’t have any qualifications in dentistry that are practicing industry. 

Very few. Most of the quackery is being done by licensed dentists. It’s very hard if you don’t know how to do dentistry to do it. You know, it’s one thing if you if you’re an unlicensed, uneducated person who says I can cure the common cold, but it’s hard to drill a tooth and it’s expensive, you’ve got to buy all this equipment. Enquist tens of thousands of dollars. So most people who don’t have a dental license aren’t going to go to the trouble of buying a dental chair and x ray and all of his other paraphernalia, you know? 

So most of the quackery that I’ve seen, in fact, all the quackery that I’ve seen has been done by dentists, by licensed dentists who went to dental school and graduated and read it. 

It is really depressing. And I think they’re going gonna be a lot of people who are wanting to be a patient of yours from now on ends. 

Well, thank God. After 40 years of practice, I have a pretty good practice and pretty full practice. 

And, you know, you can make a you can make a very good living being honest. 

And there are certainly excellent dentists out there. But I was very disheartened, again, to read the Reader’s Digest piece that you gave to me in preparation for this interview where you you were a part of a board that saw basically diagnosed a patient who was a journalist, who then went around and visited a number of dentists across the country and received inconsistent diagnoses and was quoted sometimes tens of thousands of dollars for unnecessary treatment. 

Yeah, and even more frightening was the fact that myself and the other mental members of the panel who evaluated the reporter saw that he needed at most two crowns and many of the dentists who said he needed 10 crowns or 20 crowns missed the two teeth. 

That really were very ironic. 

And then, of course, the dental society got very upset. I got a lot of hate mail and there were a lot of nasty things written about me accusing me of being a tool of insurance companies, although I don’t know what that has to do with anything. 

I’m not. I don’t. 

But, you know, there was really a smear campaign against myself and the other dentists who were up who were on the panel and against the reporter. And most of the essays in the Dental Society newspapers said, well, there’s an art and a science to dentistry and there is the science is the diagnosis. We don’t want art in diagnosis. You don’t want the dentist to think to himself. 

Let me get the muse of Diet Soda City up. What’s wrong with you? Art comes in actually doing the things with your hands. 

You know, there is an amount of manual dexterity that’s necessary. That’s where the art comes in. Not in the diagnosis. 

Absolutely. Well said. And I’m wondering if we could discuss a couple of these unproven and potentially dangerous yet popular practices that are out there today. I was reading about dental kinesiology. How common is that? And what is that? 

Well, let’s first discuss what it is. General physiology was invented by a chiropractor. He said that every muscle in the body is connected to an internal Oregon. So you can test the health of your internal organs by testing the strength of a muscle. So, for instance, if your gallbladder is not working right, maybe your big toe is weak. Of course, this is fallacious. It has no basis in anatomy, in biology, in physiology and pathology. But a lot of dentists adopted this, and the way they adopted it were several ways. One way was to tell the way the teeth should come together. So by putting a piece of plastic between the teeth and having a patient stick one of their arms out straight and pushing down on the arm. They determined what your proper bite would be. Now, as bizarre as this thing sounds, some dentists actually did tests to see if opening the mouth or closing the mouth and putting plastic between teeth could change your arm strength. And they found it did not. But that hasn’t prevented dentists from doing this. I took a course just a few years ago at the Greater New York dental meeting, which is the largest meeting of dentists in the world. And, of course, was being given on this. And the person who was teaching it said he actually never grine adjust the crown in a patient’s mouth. He puts the crown and the patient’s left hand, puts the patient’s right hand out parallel to the floor and pushes down on it. And he can tell if the crown will fit properly by doing that. And I started laughing. I said, this is ridiculous. And the people in front of me turned around and said, you should have an open mind. 

And I said, your mind should be open, but not so open that your brains fall out. 

Exactly. If a deer descends like dangling a pendulum, all the housing doesn’t very street similar. 

And it’s also sounding like your ideology and saw reflexology a bit too soon to link the organs in the body to to various teeth. 

Well, reflexology is typically done on the feet. And I tell patients, if you go to your dentist and they’re taking your shoes off, find another dentist. 

Is the big things in dentistry today. The big areas of pseudoscience is mainly, mainly jaw joint problems, which used to be called TMJ. 

And you’re speaking with the Deptula join and now we call that temporal mandibular disorders TMD because to name a disease after a joint, it’s like saying I have ankle. 

So do I get this? Yeah. 

That dentists now call that temporal mandibular disorders. And there’s a group of people who believe that they can treat this by grinding teeth down and building it up. And no matter how much science you show them and there is a ton of science to show them that that’s not the way to do this. They persist because it’s a very, very profitable. 

That sounds very dangerous. It’s you know, you can destroy a mouth this way, you can destroy a mouth. 

I’ve had patients who have had all their teeth ground down for this, every tooth in their mouth, and they never feel that their teeth are coming together the same way again. 

It’s very disruptive of life and it’s unnecessary. In fact, the National Institute of Health had a big hearing on this. 

They had a meeting and their recommendations were that all of these types of facial pain should be treated with conservative reversible therapies. And so your listeners will know what those therapies are there when you’re have facial pain, that’s not due to a tooth. 

You should perhaps take some Advil, some ibuprofen, warm compresses, cold compresses, soft foods, no chewing and give it some time. 

There’s also some exercises that can be done in the dentist’s can teach you about these. Nothing invasive should be done. Teeth shouldn’t be ground down. Pieces of plastic shouldn’t be put between your teeth. 

That’s the way you treat that, and that’s the the recommendations of the National Institutes of Health. 

You just sounds like overkill, too, to investigate these other options. That seems really simple in comparison and much less expensive. 

So you can see that there is pressure to do the more expensive treatment. 

And I’ve wondered if homeopathy is used in the industry at all. 

It is. And there’s courses being given on that as well. And homoeopathy, you know, is a bizarre growth theory which flies in the face of everything we know about medicine and dentistry and physiology. 

The two tenants of homoeopathy are as like cures like. And that the more dilute something is, the more powerful it is. If you took an aspirin through it in the ocean and came back a year later and took a sip of ocean water to cure a headache, most homeopathic remedies don’t even have one molecule of active ingredient ingredient. 

So it flies in the face of what we know about pharmacology. Every drug has a dose response curve. The higher the dose, the stronger the response up to a level of toxicity. Not homeopathic remedies. The weaker the dose they claim, the stronger the medicine. 

And when you’ve got a toothache or you need root canal, do you absolutely know it? So I would think that people would be able to tell pretty quickly that these remedies aren’t working well. 

They use these remedies for many things other than root canals and toothaches. 

They use them to keep you healthy, to treat diseases that don’t exist. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had patients come in who have been diagnosed with nonexistent dental disease. And, of course, it’s very easy to cure a person who doesn’t have the disease placebo. 


But anyway, if you’re if you’re diagnosed with periodontal disease very often, you may not know that you have it. And so it’s very easy to tell a patient they have a disease such as periodontal disease and then give him some nostrum. Would you sell to them in an extraordinary profit to cure this disease that they don’t have anyway? 

And I wanted to ask you as well about biological dentistry. What’s that? Because it sounds very technical, sounds very convincing. 

This is a very scary thing. Dentists today call that Niko and I see, oh, neuralgia inducing capitation, you know, osteo necrosis. Originally, a bunch of dentists came up with the idea that facial pain, which we nowadays treat as temporal mandibular disorders because that’s a usually a muscular pain in the face. 

But they said it’s not caused by muscle pain or joint pain. It’s caused by cavities within the jaw bone. And those cavities are not detectable on an X-ray, although dentists detect cavities on x rays every day of the week. That’s what an x ray does. It detects cavities in the jaw bone or treated with antibiotics and dentistry, infections with antibiotics. But they said no. The way you do this is they knew where these cavities were. They could tell I don’t know how they could tell, but they could tell and they would drill out these cavities in the jaw bone impact stuff in and they give intravenous vitamin C and anything else to build up a fake. Well, after this was so hardily. 

People came out and said this was absolute terrible thing to do to patients, that this was a mutilation. They changed the whole theory. They kept the name. And instead of calling it a bone infection, they claimed that it was a lack of a blood supply to the bone. 

And, of course, this is ridiculous. This can’t happen in the jaws because, as you know, if you cut your face, there’s such an intense blood supply. 

The jaws have intense blood supplies. So there’s no way that there could be enough pressure. This cause a compression of the bone where you could not would not have a blood supply. 

But there is one pathologist who diagnoses about 99 percent of these cases. And if you sent your cat to this guy, he would diagnose this disease. 

He’s been sued many times. And what they do is they drill these holes. They pull teeth. They believe that every tooth with a root canal should be pulled. 

And I have seen one case of a patient. I had to fill out a medical form on this patient because he was involved in a lawsuit and he was a young guy who had 28 good teeth. They diagnosed him with this and they eventually pulled all 28 teeth because they said this Niko was spreading from tooth to tooth and the guy had pain. And as he had pain, they just kept pulling more and more teeth till he had no teeth at all. 

It’s horrifying. And again, this is something that’s practiced by dentists, practiced by dentists. 


That dentist tells one of your listeners that they have some type of capitated hole in their jawbone that needs to be drilled out. 

They should go to a different dentist. 

And it seems like there’s almost some kind of psychic element to that if they can’t detect these supposed cavitation in the jaw. But they know where they are. 

So is there any sort of psychic element to that? No. 

They have machines that they claim can do it in the machine, can’t do it. And they they look for things that anybody else would look in an X-ray and say, that’s perfectly normal bone. And they say, oh, that’s abnormal bone. So, you know, it’s it’s again, greed in go ability. They want to believe it. 

So they see it just like the people saw of silver fillings is gold fillings. 

And I’ve also heard of some claims of psychic dentistry. They seem to be more in the past where various psychics have fixed cavities and created new sets of teeth for elderly people and things like that. Are there any psychic dentists in the States today that you’re aware of? 

I have never heard of it of a licensed dentists who whose claims to be psychic, although that one dentist who said he could bring somebody back from the dead. 

I don’t know if he had a Jesus complex or what. He sounds to me just to be totally crazy. But it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that there was some dentists who who claim that they could psychically detect decay or cure it. 

And I’ve just got a couple more questions to ask you and then we’ll be finished. I’d sa also read about a fellow called Michael West and apparently is a dentist from Mississippi who claims to be an expert in bite marks. And I’ve read that his testimony has sent a dozen people to jail and to on death row. So do you know anything about this case? 

I do. You know, I’m not a forensic dentist and I don’t have a degree in oral pathology. 

That’s one of the specialties in dentistry, is oral pathology. And most forensic dentists are oral pathologists. 

It’s from what I’ve read and from what I know about teeth. It’s almost impossible to make a determination of guilt based on tooth marks. 

Skin is very soft, then pliable. And to try to put somebody in prison because of that, that whole thing has kind of died away because if someone bites you, they leave DNA. And DNA is a very good determinant of who bit you. 

Yes. So if marks are no longer use, because if somebody’s gonna bite you, they’re going to use the DNA, not the tooth marks. 

It’s like the big foot trucks of dentistry or something. 

But, you know, don’t forget, with this guy, Michael West, he was aligned with some other people who made a lot of money doing these types of things. 

You know, you get a lot of money as an expert witness. 

And just two more final questions. You were talking earlier about some cases where people have sued their dentists. What recourse is there if something happens to you if you are exposed to some type of dental? What can you do about it? 

It’s very difficult. First thing you have to find out if the dentist belongs to the local dental society, only 75 percent of American dentists belong to the American Dental Association. You don’t have to belong to the dental association. It’s really a Gilb for dentists. It’s there to protect dentists. But one of the positive things that the dental societies do have our peer review boards. So you can bring a dentist that they belong to the dental society to peer review. You could also get a lawyer and sue the dentist. If you can’t get a lawyer to do that, you can always report the dentists to the local state board of dentistry and to the attorney general of the state you live in. 

And at least there’ll be a record of complaints against this dentist. 

Well, I think prevention is the best cure, as they say so. What advice do you have for consumers to make the best choices about dental health care and to avoid dangerous practitioners and treatments? 

Well, this is important. It is important for people to know, what do you do if a dentist tells you you need a great deal of dentistry, get a second opinion or even a third opinion. 

And the best place to get a Wheatly objective opinion is that a dental school, because there’s no financial benefit to a dental student telling you that you need umpteen thousands of dollars worth of dentistry if you don’t because they’re not getting paid anyway. 

So a dental school is an ideal place to get a second opinion run from any dentist who claims that fillings are poison. This run from any dentists, who tells you that you have infected cavities in the jawbone that they have to do surgery to remove. Don’t believe that wearing a plastic appliance is going to in any way enhance your sports abilities, your strength, your endurance. They will not. And most importantly, check out your dentist. Is that dentists spending time with you? Dentistry is time intensive. Even a dentist like myself who’s been doing it for 40 years takes time. I cannot do a filling in 30 seconds. I can’t run from room to room if the dentist is not spending time with you. It seems to be a slap dab thing. Find another dentist. 

That’s fantastic advice, and I’ll be interested to see if any of our listeners come back, and I think you have any experiences like this, too, to share with us. But I’m really surprised at the amount of pseudoscience and industry. 

You know, I guess it’s surprising to someone who’s outside of the career, but it’s someone who’s been doing it for 40 years. You see this all the time. And it’s not surprising because our educational system is so deficient in teaching people how to think. If people knew how to think, they wouldn’t be doing some of the Kulp things and taking poisons and going to Jim Jones and believing that people were the Messiah. 

If people could think so, it shouldn’t surprise any of us that even in someone who goes through four years of college and four years of graduate school, that they could be susceptible to the same type of weak thinking process that leads other people to strange thoughts as well. 

Well, there’s a great deal of pseudoscience in many areas of healthcare, so I shouldn’t be surprised. 

Oh, absolutely. You know, the Christian Science practitioners are reimbursed by Medicare for praying for patients. I mean, this is bizarre. 

It’s strange. Some of the things that people get reimbursed for get paid for. Insurance companies are getting better at it. The Aetna Life Insurance and Dental Insurance will no longer pay for the diagnosis of cavitation or osteoporosis or Nico. 

Good, just written that off Guto. 

But of course, the dentist then read and they do, you know, creative coding and put it into something else. But they’re getting better at finding these people out. So there’s hope. 

I’ll definitely be trying to get in to see you for an appointment for an appointment next time I’m in. 

I’ll be with you. 

Thank you, John. It was brilliant to speak with you today. Thank you so much. 

Thank you. It was a pleasure. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of Point of Inquiry. You can find out more about John on the site, Science and Medicine, dot org and Quackwatch dot org. 

To participate in the online conversation about this show, please join our discussion forum at point of inquiry dot org. The views expressed on point of inquiry aren’t necessarily the views of the Center for Inquiry, nor its affiliated organizations. Questions and comments on today’s show can be sent to feedback at point of inquiry dot org. 

Point of inquiry is produced by Adam Isaac in Amherst, New York. The music is composed by Emmy Award winning Mike Whalen. Today’s show also featured contributions from Debbie Goddard. I’m your host, Karen Stollznow. 

Karen Stollznow