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How do you choose the best dentist for you?

Finding someone who your trust to take care of your smile can be a daunting task, after all - it is only your smile. Doctors in general tend to abide by a strict code of principals, ethics and professional conduct; however that is not all that makes a good match. How do you choose the best dentist for you? The majority of the new patients that come to my office for the first time come on the personal recommendation from a trusted colleague, friend or family member. Asking a friend or family member is typically the go to when searching for something new and different. The American Dental Association has done everything they can to make alternate searching fast and easy. All American Dental Association Members have promised to follow the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct, which consists of five ethical principles: 1. Self-Governance 2. Do no harm 3. Do good 4. Fairness and 5. Truthfulness (for more information go to http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/e/Ethics-and-Dentistry).

Other things to consider when choosing a new dentist are if office is near your work or home, your schedules work together, there are options available for after-hours emergency care, you feel comfortable in the office, the office appears clean and orderly, the staff is friendly, etc. Now-a-days most of this information can be located online. If someone has had a bad experience, the internet will know about it. Most dental offices have professional WebPages that allow you to preview the office, fill out forms, and see pictures of the Doctor and other staff members - pre acquainting yourself with office before you even make an appointment. How do you choose the best dentist for you? Only you can answer what your personal expectations and needs are. For more resources or information on how you can find an ADA dentist in your area go to http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/find-a-dentist

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.

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.

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.