What we expose ourselves to

These days we can never be too careful with our bodies and what we expose ourselves to. More often than not I have patients who will decline dental X-rays because of the myth of how much radiation they actually produce. It is not my practice, nor any member of my staff to unnecessarily expose patients to radiation. The recommended amount of X-rays truly depends on your age, oral and physical health, and your risk for disease, thus the reason a health history update is asked for at each visit to the office. For instance, children require dental X-rays more often than adults as their mouths continue to grow and develop and their mouths are more susceptible to tooth decay. Even though adult's mouths stop developing at a certain point that does not mean that the mouth stops changing. X-rays are important for adults as well to monitor new decay and any wear and tear that comes with (gasp) age, eating habits, previous dental work or trauma.

Dental X-Rays are safe, but they do require very low levels of radiation exposure. There are certain types of images in very specific instances that do emit a much high dose of radiation, but Cone Beam images are rare and if your dentist or doctor suggests one, it would be for a very good reason. The lead jackets provided protects your vital organs and your thyroid from the low levels of radiation delivered though routine dental X-rays. The background radiation of a set of dental X-rays is 1 day. Background radiation is natural radiation that we are all exposed to on a daily basis and can be found in soil, rocks, buildings, the sun, air and water. The radiation you are exposed to on a 4 hour passenger airline flight is the same as 1 set of dental X-rays. For this and more information about dental x-rays please visit http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/x/x-rays

What some healthier options are to hand out – from a dentist who truly loves Halloween

With Halloween just around the corner, you may be asking yourself what some healthier options are to hand out - from a dentist who truly loves Halloween. Of course we need to give out items that won't get your house egged or teepee'd at the end of the evening. Let's face it; nobody wants to be that guy. What fun is Halloween without an endless supply of perfectly portioned chocolate bars and suckers galore? As a dentist I feel inclined to tell you to pass out tooth brushes or apples, but to keep the holiday light and fun let's review some other options and keep you under the radar.

Certain candies should always be avoided; caramels, suckers, super sour candies or anything containing a lot of acid and sticky chewy bubble gum. These types of candies have a tendency to get stuck in the grooves of your teeth and are harder to remove with regular brushing. Better choices would include pretzels, milk chocolate, dark chocolate and sugar free gum. As a parent, I do not forbid my children to have all sorts of candies, but I do limit their intake and make sure they are brushing and flossing for at least 2 minutes twice per day.

Here are a few tips straight from the American Dental Associations "Mouth Healthy" site to help your children stay on top of their hygiene year round: Drink more fluoridated water, it can help prevent tooth decay; avoid sucking on candy for long periods of time, the amount of time the sugar stays in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay; eat Halloween candy shortly after mealtime, the saliva your mouth produces while eating and help rinse away those extra food particles. For this and more tips please visit http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/h/halloween-tips

Lastly, if you want to incentivize your kids to make a little mad money and not run the risk of getting cavities - I offer $1.00 for every pound of candy that is brought into my office. All the candy brought to the office and bought off your kids will be sent overseas to our soldiers who need a little extra as the holidays approach.

Are your dentures on the loose?

This is an important topic for me because I feel very passionately about what some generations have endured with dental appliances that are not up to current standards. When I see a patient wearing dentures that are loose, ill fitting, and uncomfortable I am continually baffled by what we will internally rationalize to make something "work". So many patients have the mindset that dentures are not supposed to act and feel like real teeth, and I am not going to blow smoke - nothing will act and feel like your natural teeth, however, dentures can in fact be comfortable, attractive, and most importantly work for your needs. Dentures are not meant to last forever. Whether you have natural teeth or not our mouths are constantly changing. It is a lifelong process. Are your dentures on the loose? It may be time to look into some new options to help you feel better about eating, speaking and functioning on a daily basis.

Believe it or not, 27.27% of seniors over age 65 have no remaining teeth. There are so many people in our community that live day in and day out without the ability to properly chew food, or speak with confidence. The bone in the body acts like muscle. When muscles are exercised, they grow strong. When bone is stimulated, it also becomes stronger. Bone of the jaw can only be stimulated by a tooth or by an implant. The connections between a tooth, or an implant preserve the size and shape of the bone. Bone needs the stimulation of the tooth roots to maintain its form, density, and strength. Studies have proven that the normal chewing forces that are transmitted from the teeth to the bone of the jaw are what preserves the bone and keeps it strong.

With the technology as advanced as it is today, new options for denture replacement can range anywhere from single tooth replacement to full arch restoration; standard removable dentures to implant retained hybrids. My office offers every option and I love nothing more than being able to change patients well being by restoring their smile.

What you eat matters

Remember in the 1980's when fitness became all the rage? We tend to go in cycles of what we as a group consider popular or trendy. The fitness craze is back, and it is back with a vengeance. Everywhere I turn there are marathons, 5k's, fun runs, cross fit, hot yoga, Barre3 - I could go on and on. The cycle is the same with our diets; juicing, the raw food movement, the sudden popularity of kale and Brussels sprouts, 6 small meals a day, low carb, no carb, paleo diets. Regardless of trend the bottom line is always the same: What you eat matters. I fully embrace a healthy lifestyle, and as a dentist I am more aware of what I put into my mouth because I know the effects certain foods have on my oral health. I understand, and I want all of you to understand that your mouth is a huge component in your overall health.

Just to cover all the angles I will go ahead and state the obvious; sugar, sticky candy, lollipops, hard breads, and soda can be damaging to your teeth. Did you know that items such as fruits, certain coffee and tea, alcohol, sports drinks and flavored waters, nuts, even ice can lead to an unhealthy mouth? Fruits that are high in citric acid can cause erosion and irritate your gum tissue, causing sores. Coffee and tea, when you add all the good stuff can cause tooth decay; alcohol promotes dehydration and dry mouth which causes tooth decay as well. What you eat matters more than you know. While we all strive to live a little healthier - body, mind, soul and mouth, avoid excessive snacking. Not only is it dangerous to your waistline it is dangerous to your teeth as well - the more you snack the more food is collected in the little tiny crevices and remain hidden until your next brushing. When snacking, choose cheese, almonds, leafy greens, eggs, etc. Try to avoid sugar, even "sugar free" snacks. Most importantly, remember to brush and floss regularly - and come see me for your preventative needs.

Baby teeth, are they really THAT important????

There are a number of parents out there that think; they are just my kid's baby teeth, are they real THAT important???? I think we assume that since teeth aren't visible they aren't exposed to the same thing that adult teeth are. 20 baby teeth are already formed in the jaw at the time of birth and typically erupt before babies are 6 months old. When I see decay on baby teeth and I discuss those findings with Mom or Dad - you wouldn't believe how many of them say they would rather wait until their baby teeth fall out. Baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth. Teaching your children about good oral hygiene early can lead to healthy mouth habits that will preserve their smile for the rest of their lives. We are only given two sets of teeth - and once the permanent ones are gone, they are gone for good. The American Dental Association recommends that parents take children to the dentist no later than their first birthday and then at intervals recommended by their dentist.

Kid's mouths go through so much. First they have to deal with the awkward gaps that can form when teeth are missing. If a baby tooth comes out too soon, it can cause problems for the adult teeth trying to grow in. Drifting, spacing, crowding and crooked teeth can be a result of losing teeth before their time. That then results in a mouth full of metal to correct that. 2 years of metal - orthodontia has come such a long way but still. I went through orthodontics as an adult so I UNDERSTAND, trust me. As if it couldn't get any worse then come the wisdom teeth. Without regular dental care; cleanings, x-rays, sealants and fluoride - all preventative items - we are putting our kids at risk of making dentistry a horrible, dreaded thing.

I am not out to make braces or getting your wisdom teeth pulled a terrible thing, it really isn't. Ever heard the saying "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?" That is the bottom line; Baby teeth, are they really THAT important???? Yes.

What is periodontal disease?

A lot of patients seem shocked when Teresa or Kara has to deliver the news that maybe their dental hygiene hasn't been the best over the year and as a result of that the patient has developed periodontal disease. In truth, periodontal disease is not uncommon. What is periodontal disease? We old-timers used to refer to it as gingivitis. While gingivitis is an early indicator of periodontal disease, it is in fact periodontal disease. How many of us have gums that bleed when we floss or brush, tender gums, a change in our bite or teeth that seems subtle enough to ignore until it is too late. The mouth is filled with bacteria, countless bacteria. Plaque will build up in your mouth and on your teeth and left untreated can rapidly produce toxins and enzymes that cause inflammation and irritation to your gums. This will in turn cause damage to the healthy tissue and bone that supports your tooth.

There are many determining factors you can detect to see if you may have beginning or even advanced stages of periodontal disease. Ask yourself these simple questions.

  1. Do I smoke or chew tobacco?
  2. Do I have a systemic disease, such as diabetes?
  3. Am I on any steroids, cancer therapy drugs or blood pressure medication?
  4. Am I pregnant or on hormones?
  5. Are my gums red, swollen, tender and bleeding?

Believe it or not, these are ALL contributing factors to periodontal disease - not just lack of brushing for 2 minutes twice per day and flossing regularly. I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep up with your preventative dental care. The result of not properly treating even the mildest form of periodontal disease can be simple as a "deep cleaning" here in the office but can be as extreme as gum grafting surgery (yes, as in skin graft) or tooth loss. I am here to tell you this because although I know better as a dentist, sometimes it is MOST difficult for me to get my teeth cleaned. Put it to you this way, it is bad when you have to apologize to your hygienist for all the extra elbow grease she had to put into cleaning your teeth.

CEREC Before and After

Single Visit Dentistry

Single Visit Dentistry

There is a lot of talk in the media about "Crowns in a day." This term can be a little misleading - it usually takes somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 to 2 hours from start to completion therefore I prefer the phrase "Single Visit Dentistry." I have a jar sitting at the front desk when you first walk into my office full of purple blocks. About 15 times a day I hear patients asking my staff "What in the world are those?" The ladies will give them then rundown, "Those are CEREC crown blocks, Dr. Mike makes crowns for patients in one visit." More often than not, patients are incredibly excited to learn that their teeth can be restored with single visit dentistry using CEREC technology.

My new toy, at least it was new two years ago, has made such a profound change in the way I do dentistry. Not only that, but it really captures the trend of where dentistry is going. Let me explain...our CEREC machine and software allows us the flexibility to create a customized crown for our patients during a single visit. For the patient, in most cases, there are no temporaries to be made/worn, there are not multiple visits - everything is competed in a few short hours. The benefit for me is personally being able to shape the crown while the patient is in the chair to fit - dare I say perfectly.

The software we use for this procedure is revolutionary. Once I have prepared your tooth for the crown, we digitally scan your tooth. Once the scan is uploaded to the computer, we can manipulate the size, shape, and contours of the crown. This allows for a true custom fit every time. From there your crown is milled in office right before your very eyes. We stain and glaze the crown allowing us to find YOUR shade, sinter (think pottery kiln) the crown and viola, you are done!

It’s a privilege, not a drag to go to the dentist!

It’s a privilege, not a drag to go to the dentist! I am flying back home from a vacation with my wife where we had the opportunity to relax in beautiful Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Believe me when I tell you how truly blessed I feel to have been there. It never ceases to amaze me how comfortable we are made to feel, and how amazingly friendly the people are who take care of us while we were on vacation. I know they get paid to be friendly, but I believe that most of the people who work in vacation resorts are happy to have a steady income and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. It's difficult to imagine the intense poverty just outside the walls of the resorts, but you are surely reminded of it when traveling to and from your vacation destination.

I think that on occasion we should take a moment and count our blessings. Even though most of us do not jump up and down about a chance to visit the dentist, we need to remember that it's a privilege, not a drag to go to the dentist! At the start of my career I had the opportunity to travel to Piura, Peru and perform dentistry on the parishioners of a local catholic church. They waited outside all night just to get a spot in line for me to pull a tooth. The appreciation these people had for me being there was beyond anything I have ever experienced. I went there to give of my time and talents, not expecting anything in return. I ended up receiving so much more than I ever gave, my heart was full.

So the next time you feel the grumblings of "Oh, do I have to go to the dentist?" I would strongly recommend a Caribbean vacation. Peek over the wall of your resort and take a moment to reflect. The privileges we have are extraordinary, no matter how little they seem.

Parenting VS. Dentistry

Parenting VS. Dentistry

Parenting VS. Dentistry…

There is never a dull moment

when you have children.

Feel free to borrow any of my three kids if you need to test this theory yourself. There is rarely a dull moment when you are a dentist as well, believe it or not. There is a real struggle in Parenting Vs. Dentistry some days.

Real crying came wafting in from the backyard. I say “real crying” because as a parent you get to know the difference between real and….well, let’s just say exaggerated. Libby, my sweet angel of a daughter decided to shoot the fort with a bb gun. (That’s right, I let my kids play unsupervised in the backyard with a bb gun, and you can whip me later for that). As most of us adults know, bb’s have a way of shooting your eye out. Thank goodness Libby was crying out of two perfectly good eyes. The bad news was Libby would not open her mouth which was on lock down by both of her hands. After sufficient comforting, and suppression of building anger, I was able to witness the results of the misguided bb. Her front tooth was broken in half. Well, S#&%! Call the dentist! Wait…that’s me, I have to fix this! We promptly rushed to the office to get started on fixing her teeth.

Libby survived, but that’s not the end of the story.

Now, as a dentist, there were about a million things running through my mind. Of course I chose not to share this with my terrified daughter, who was acutely aware of needles. Through my mind was racing all of the things that I normally tell parents when they come in with a child who has injured a tooth. Watch for swelling, let me know if the child experiences any discomfort in the gums above the tooth, let us know if the tooth starts to turn gray. All of these are indications that the tooth I started to die and or has become infected. Well, I got Libby fixed up with a tooth colored filling, which I thought looked pretty darn good. Libby went back to school and resumed normal lifestyle of a bubbly young lady. About a year and a half later the phone call came. Libby was at school and her tooth started to hurt, not just hurt but really, really hurt. Libby was brought up to my office, where I lifted her upper lip and saw that she was smuggling a grape underneath her gums. No father wants to drain an abscess from their daughter but lucky me.

I don't need to go into the gory details of what happened next, or exactly how loud Libby vocalized her displeasure with the entire situation. There are days when even the best dentist just wants to be a parent - and believe me - I would have gladly turned in my dentist hat on that day. I am pleased to tell you all that Libby and I have both survived the ordeal with minimal emotional scarring. In the battle of Parenting VS. Dentistry, on that day – parenting won.