A.I. HAMILTON (SPRING 1978), GOOD NEWS FOR GOOD DENTISTRY, OPERATIVE DENTISTRY, VOL3(2), PP. 41
Good News for Good Dentistry
The announcement by Almore International, Inc, that Ferrier separators are again being manufactured is indeed good news. Almost two years have elapsed since S S White discontinued production of these useful instruments and consequently they have become exceedingly scarce. There is no good substitute for the Ferrier design of separator and their scarcity has caused concern among teachers that still advocate the use of cohesive gold as a restorative material and among dentists that provide restorations of cohesive gold as a service to patients.
The reason given for discontinuing manufacture of the separators was that the demand for them was
so small their production had become unprofitable. Manufacturers should not be expected to lose money on their products but neither should the production of a necessary instrument be discontinued merely because its manufacture becomes inconvenient or difficult, or because it cannot be produced in batches of a million.
If we look at the demand for separators we can see why it is small. They are durable instruments and one set is likely to serve a dentist throughout his entire career. Separators are purchased primarily by dental students and thus dental schools provide the principal market for the manufacturer. American dental schools alone admit annually almost 6 000 first year students. That the annual demand for separators is substantially less than this is a sad commentary on the state of education in restorative dentistry today.
The main use of the separator is in the placement of cohesive gold in approximal cavities. Cohesive gold is still the best material by far for the treatment of these lesions, especially in anterior teeth and if the lesions are small. Its durability greatly surpasses that of its closest competitor—the filled resin. A well-placed restoration of cohesive gold will usually last for the life of the tooth. In addition, cohesive gold will preserve the mesiodistal width of the crown, which, by preventing teeth from drifting together and so encroaching on interdental papilla and bone, helps to sustain the health of the gingiva.
All dental students should become proficient in the use of cohesive gold for the treatment of class 3 lesions. Few do—a condemnation of the present curriculum of many dental schools. Unfortunately many of those involved in establishing dental curricula are not well versed in the details or importance of restorative dentistry, which is by far the largest part of dental practice.
The availability of Ferrier separators eliminates one excuse for not teaching the technique of cohesive gold restorations. Let us hope that those responsible for the dental curriculum will rediscover the usefulness of cohesive gold in the treatment of dental caries and reinstate instruction in the use of this valuable therapeutic agent.
A IAN HAMIL TON
University of Washington
School of Dentistry SM-56
Seattle, WA 98195, USA