Links Between Poor Oral Health & Pancreatic Cancer

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A recent article in The Wall Street Journal detailing a strong link between poor oral health and pancreatic cancer raises concerns for those patients who don't have equal access to dental care. Moreover, new proposals by the American Dental Association would greatly restrict the ability of many veteran dentists to serve patients who are most in need of care. A newly formed non-profit, TEAM 1500, is organizing a protest against the ADA on behalf of patients and their family dentists.

some early research suggests that treating gum disease may lower risk for heart and other problems associated with poor oral health.

A recent column in The Wall Street Journal noted a strong link between poor oral health and deadly pancreatic cancer.

The Trust for Equal Access Medicine (TEAM 1500) is urging all dental professionals to read the story and in light of its powerful implications take proactive steps to ensure that the most needy dental patients are not turned away.

In particular, TEAM 1500 is concerned about the impact of new guidelines recently proposed by the American Dental Association (ADA). If approved, in the view of TEAM 1500, the ADA proposals would instantly disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of fearful and anxious patients from obtaining the vital oral health care they require.

Moreover, in the long run, millions of current and prospective dental patients would specifically avoid going to the dentist because of the ADA's proposed guidelines, TEAM 1500 believes.

The Wall Street Journal story, titled "Poor Oral Health Is Linked To Deadly Pancreatic Cancer" (Tuesday, January 23, Page D1), cited a study of 51,000 men. Those with a history of gum disease were at 64% higher risk for pancreatic cancer versus those who had good oral health, the newspaper noted.

Moreover, reporter Tara Parker-Pope also wrote that "some early research suggests that treating gum disease may lower risk for heart and other problems associated with poor oral health."

"The Journal article is particularly relevant in light of the ADA's new and misguided efforts that for many would effectively restrict public access to their family dentists," says Dean Rotbart, director of TEAM 1500, a newly formed non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring equal access to health care for all Americans.

"You'd think armed with the type of evidence noted in the WSJ article, the ADA would be racking its brains trying to figure out how to drive people to their neighborhood dentists," Rotbart adds. "Instead, the ADA is throwing up roadblocks like rice at a wedding."

Rotbart and TEAM 1500 are strongly critical of new ADA proposals that would require dentists to make a significant leap in the amount of training the ADA recommends they receive before they can provide their anxious and fearful patients with a widely utilized form of safe and proven anesthesia known as oral conscious sedation, or OCS. More than one million adults -- most of whom would not otherwise visit a dentist due to their anxiety and fear -- have been treated safely and effectively with OCS for nearly two decades.

Because the new guidelines would require dentists -- even those who have been providing oral conscious sedation for years -- to obtain significantly more training, TEAM 1500 forecasts thousands upon thousands of dentists will stop offering OCS to their patients if the ADA guidelines are approved. In turn, TEAM 1500 believes, hundreds of thousands of patients will quit regular dental visits, putting them at high risk for oral and overall health trauma.

"I think we all must realize that what is at issue here in not merely the teeth, comfort and smiles of dental patients," Rotbart says. "In a very real sense, we are fighting to save their lives."

TEAM 1500 requests that dentists who don't want to lose their right to administer safe, effective oral conscious sedation write a letter saying as much and mail it to:

ADA Protest

c/o TEAM 1500

P.O. Box 3714

Beverly Hills, CA 90212

All letters should be postmarked no later than February 9, 2007. For more information on TEAM 1500, visit its web site at http://www.team1500.org.

Dental patients who wish to protest may also send their letters to the address above.

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DEAN ROTBART
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