Guardian Rebuff on Risky Gum Health and Pseudo-science

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As Zoe Williams of the Guardian recently pointed out, smoking causes cancer and could lead to gum disease. What Zoe disputes are recent reports regarding the Swedish study. The study has shown a correlation between gum disease and premature death from cancer. The current issue however, is that health journalists have replaced the word correlation with causal.

The term ‘causal’ refers to a phenomenon being a consequence of one or more events or factors – the consequential or causal relationship. Correlations may be indicative of predictive relationships that involve dependence: i.e. the existence of a consequential phenomenon may depend on the presence of one or more events or factors. Where a correlation exists, such as gum disease resulting from cancer and leading to premature death, a causal relationship may also be present.

Putting causal and correlation aside, the role of dentists is to educate the public about possible risks that may be detrimental to health. Science increasingly reveals how the neglect of oral health may lead to overall ill health, such as heart disease. Therefore the need for preventative care is to improve the quality of life for many.

A person diagnosed with advanced oral cancer is an example, where early intervention may have allowed for successful treatments and a prolonged life. For those and their families affected, there is nothing pseudo about this. Diagnostic screening, early intervention in both dentistry and medicine are rooted in real science derived from the efforts of clinicians serving to treat and save lives, not erode public good.

Sharing scientific information – including limitations of study, benefits, risks, and costs – as pooled or collective resource, promotes inclusion and individual choice in improving oral health and wellbeing. The Williams ideology highlights how anxiety surrounding health risks separates and detracts from objective scientific presentation.

 

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