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April 20–22Washington Convention Center

The Industry

dentistry and dental hygiene

The Attendees

4,234 professionals willing to stick their hands in other people’s mouths

The Issues

Fluoride scandal rocks dental world: Does a Harvard doctoral thesis clearly link fluoridated water to bone cancer in young males? Did a professor with toothpaste-industry ties downplay data? Did a peer-review snafu result in premature publication of research—which, conference panelists contended, involved fluoride levels way above the optimum recommendation? Will the controversy erode America’s faith in what has been hailed one of the 20th century’s top 10 public-health victories and lead to the erosion of tooth enamel nationwide?

“Lasers can rejuvenate your passion for serving the dental needs of your patients,” notes the “Laser Dentistry Is Here” session handout. Attendees had the chance to use a dental laser to practice procedures on pig mandibles.

“What Is Your Tongue Really Saying About You?”: This “Lunch and Learn” session revealed why white lesions and “black hairy tongue”—aka defective desquamation of the filiform papillae—might be clues that it’s time for a checkup. Pointing to a particularly defective desquamation on her laptop screen, the session leader remarked, “This patient probably is not feeling well.”—Rob Tierney