Oral Health Group

It Must Be That Time of Year!

August 1, 2011
by Blake Nicolucci, BSc, DDS

It seems that every year, when it’s time to write an editorial for the August Implant issue of Oral Health, my head seems to be swimming with … not so much the Good – but the Bad and the Ugly. I start by trying to write something implant-related, but my head is swimming with news about natural disasters that have affected so many people in the world.

Last year I wrote about Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, followed by the oil spill off the coast. This disaster is still in its ‘clean-up’ stages. This year, already, we’ve had an earthquake in Japan (magnitude 8.9 on the Richter scale – with the follow up of other eminent shock waves), triggering a tsunami with a 30- foot wave. Later in the day, the tsunami hit Hawaii and many small islands in the Pacific. It also had an impact on land at great distances from its origin such as Alaska, Canada, the Western United States, and as far south as South America. Although the power of the tsunami had been slowly reduced, it still had a sizable impact on many of the states and countries just mentioned. This tsunami knocked out power and all backup systems that secured a nuclear power generating facility. The lack of power caused the major nuclear facility to melt down, explode, and send massive amounts of radioactive particles into the air, and the heavy water used as a coolant for the reactors escaped into the adjacent oceans and water ways.


Wait, I’m not finished yet!! There was an oil spill in the Central United States, and also one in Alberta.

Exxon Mobile had a broken pipeline in Laurel, Montana that spewed tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River. It then travelled downstream in the Yellowstone River, into the Missouri River, which flows into the state of Montana. This all got dangerously close to the Yellowstone National Park. In northern Alberta near the Peace River watershed, a major oil spill dumped 4.5 million liters of oil into the Peace River. This was considered a very large spill for the province, and actually the second one to have taken place in the same week. Of course the public weren’t notified of the spill until they had started the cleanup operation. This is the worst oil spill Alberta has had in the past 35 years.

Enough talk of the oil disasters. Do you want to talk water?

The American Society of Engineers diverted water from the Mississippi River (which flowed into Lake Michigan) by reversing the flow of water from Lake Michigan into the Mississippi. This reverse flow has been an asset to the US by increasing the depth of water in the river systems, allowing more shipping in their canals. This has exacerbated another bad event this year. There was a massive amount of rain in the central plains, accompanied by the massive snow melt this spring. You guessed it! There was tremendous flooding in Montana, Iowa and Wisconsin. The banks of the rivers, the dikes and flood gates were pushed to their maximums. Many cities, towns and villages were completely submerged – some up to a week and more. Where the Souris River returns into Manitoba from the U.S., there was overflowing of its banks. This caused an evacuation of people in many small towns and villages in Alberta. This also impacted the small towns and villages along the river in North Dakota. I guess you would call this a kind of ‘controlled devastation’!

Where water is needed, there is not a drop to be found. Forest fires have been raging in California, Arizona, Nevada and Texas. More than 700 square miles of Arizona, more than 4,300 square miles of Texas, and most of the forests and parks just east of Monterey have been swallowed up by forest fires this spring. This was due to the very dry weather conditions this spring, and the Global Warming trend (that everyone insists is not happening but may happen in the future). Great Slave Lake in Alberta was not an exception to disaster. As you know, there was a devastating wild fire that demolished many of the local homes and businesses. An estimated 40% of the town was destroyed by fire, but luckily, there were no injuries or deaths to the residents. There was so much devastation that it prompted the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to visit the area to offer encouragement on their Canadian tour.

It’s too bad that some of the extreme precipitation that has fallen in the central plains couldn’t be used to help with the arid conditions existing in our continent.

Now, I’m not a pessimist, but I’m hoping that next year I can get back on track and start discussing something more on topic. I’m hoping that by writing about these atrocities of nature that maybe we will all take a minute to thank our lucky stars.
In the face of such world disasters, we can and should be proud of the advancements and successes of Canadian Dentistry. We have made such important advances against the ravages of dental disease. It still exists, but it has been tremendously contained.

When it comes time to correct the ravages of uncontrolled dental disease, dental implants have given us a wonderful tool for tooth replacement, with a success rate approaching 98%. We practice in a wonderful profession – let us celebrate our good fortune!OH