Is painful cavity treatment a thing of the past?

Is painful cavity treatment a thing of the past?

We love new technology, especially when it helps our patients feel comfortable at our office. It looks like there might be some exciting changes on the horizon regarding the way we treat cavities! There is a new product called Silver Diamine Fluoride that might help patients avoid the drill in the unfortunate event that they get a cavity.

Silver Diamine Fluoride is an antimicrobial liquid that can be brushed onto teeth directly over a cavity. This is a painless treatment that shows evidence of stopping tooth decay. In all honestly, this is not a recent discovery, in fact Silver Diamine Fluoride has been used as a method for treating oral health issues in other parts of the world for many years. For example, in Japan there are records of cavity treatment using this technology for several decades.

While we may feel a little envious knowing that SDF has been used in other countries for many years, we are thankful that the method has been thoroughly vetted before entering the United States market for use in dentist offices across the nation.

The first step in making Silver Diamine Fluoride available all across the nation was having it cleared for use by the Food and Drug administration. Though it has not been made fully available, it is making progress. For example, it is now permitted for use in people over the age of 21 to aid in teeth desensitization. Evidently it is very effective for this use in addition to healing cavities in all ages. It is our hope that in the near future, Silver Diamine Fluoride will be free for use on all ages for cavity prevention and for halting the progression of preexisting cavities.

The main benefit of using Silver Diamine Fluoride as an alternative to traditional methods of treating cavities is that it is completely pain free! We may be able to say goodbye to using the drill and injections for such common oral health issue as cavities. This will certainly make the visit to our office a lot more fun!

The one downside of SDF, is the fact that it is not always the most aesthetically pleasing alternative. When the SDF touches the cavity decay of the tooth, it turns the brown decay into a blackish color. Of course, if a cavity is small and not on the front of a tooth, this isn’t a large deterrent to treatment.

Overall, this could alter the dentistry industry in significant ways by making treatment more efficient, painless, faster, and less expensive. That is what we call a win-win.

What your Smile Says About You

What your Smile Says About you

Our smile is one of the first things we use to communicate with others when we have a conversation or meet someone for the first time. How we choose to present our smile to others can say a lot about our personality, health, and how we want others to see us. While clothes and other accessories may depict our style or what’s currently trending, our smile and the shine of our teeth give others a peek into our eating habits, genetics, and how comfortable we are with ourselves. Living in a society where we pride ourselves on the condition of how straight or bright our teeth are can be make looking at someone’s smile an interesting starting point in knowing the not-so-obvious traits a person has.

In terms of personality, how we smile in a social setting can tell us a lot about the people we surround ourselves with. A person who doesn’t show their teeth in a photograph may tell you that that person is shy or reserved compared to a person who shows all of their teeth and has a wide smile on their face, which most of the time, we interpret as confidence and expressing happiness.

Let’s go back and compare today to the 19th and early 20th century when it was customary not to smile in photographs. Everyone appeared to be somber, even children. It was hypothesized that because cameras where a new and developing technology, the exposure time to capture an image took as long as one minute and expressions couldn’t be held for the duration it took to capture a picture. A second theory as to why people didn’t smile in their photographs was due to the fact that they did not have good dental hygiene and, thus, were self-conscious about their smile.

As the decades went by, smirks began to sneak in and eventually smiling was an acceptable form of appearing in a photograph that lead us to where we are today. As dental hygiene methods improved, as well as quicker exposure times for camera technology, people began to show their pearly whites.

The color and shape of someone’s teeth are unique to the individual and it is natural for teeth to have a yellow tinge of color to them. However, modern dentistry has helped us improve the appearance of our teeth and now many people opt to have bright, white teeth and love to show them off in selfies. In fact, the Teeth Whitening Industry in 2015 made over $11 billion with an additional $1.4 billion spent on teeth whitening products according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

Our teeth are often considered as a part of ourselves that we present to others. It is important to keep them in shape and take care of them just like any other part of our body. By scheduling routine maintenance and dental cleanings every six months and with proper daily brushing and flossing, you will keep those teeth white, bright, and camera ready well into your golden years.

The Amazing Bioactive Glass Filling

The Amazing Bioactive Glass Filling

It’s about that time of year when your kids are going to unload pillowcases full of candy. Even if you’re not tempted (kudos to you, you’re doing better than most of us), it probably reminds you of the sweet sticky memories of your own Halloween’s past. Maybe all that sugar led to a cavity of your own, or maybe you had a filling pulled out by a tootsie roll. Whatever the case may be, the fact of the matter is: candy can cause cavities.

Shocking I know, but cavity-havers can breathe a small sigh of relief. Scientists in London have developed new dental material for their fillings, Bioactive Glass. This new material not only blocks decay development, but it can repair any decay that may start to grow. Fillings made with bioactive glass have been proven to make fillings last not only as well as traditional materials, but also for a lot longer.

Eventually all fillings will fail. It’s the nature of things. Bioactive glass has been shown to slow secondary tooth decay and provide minerals that could replace those that have been lost. The antimicrobial effect of bioactive glass is proving to be great for the mouth’s ecosystem. The glass releases ions such as those that are from calcium and phosphate that usually have a toxic effect on oral bacteria, but actually are neutralizing the local acidic environment. The bioactive glass composites release fluoride as well as calcium and phosphate, the needed materials for tooth minerals. Compounds such as silicon oxide, phosphorus oxide, and calcium oxide are the compounds that land the glass its ‘bioactive’ surname. These oxides interact with the body, unlike polymer and other modern tooth fillings.

Even though technology keeps improving our mouths at an astonishing rate, good ol’ oral hygiene habits go a long way. So whoever’s eating the candy this month, (yeah, we know you are too) be sure your little ones are brushing all that gunk off of their teeth. Don’t forget to floss! If you notice a post trick-or-treat toothache, be sure you schedule an appointment with me so we can get you all taken care of.

How gum disease is related to pancreatic cancer

How gum disease is related to pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer that can develop in the human body. Responsible for over 40,000 deaths a year, 95% of people diagnosed die within the first 5 years. More and more doctors are turning to the mouth as an early detection tool for these kinds of cancers and diseases.

A certain kind of bacteria that causes periodontal disease has also been linked to patients that have pancreatic cancer. Looking at oral samples, researchers have found connections between Porphyromonas gingivalis. In this study the prevalence of this bacteria was accompanied by an overall 59% greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Those who carried Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans were 50% more likely. Both types of bacteria cause periodontitis which is a serious gum disease.
The microbiome of the mouth is a really fascinating place to do bacterium studies. With over 700 different kinds of species of bacteria, there’s a lot of variation. Five previous studies show that those who suffer from gum disease – bleeding, or swollen gums, and those who have missing teeth associated with gum disease are also linked to have an increased likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer.

It seemed odd at first but the statistics don’t lie. Looking at what general inflammation means and how that’s important in relation to cancer is important to help with an early diagnosis. An early diagnosis with a cancer as aggressive as pancreatic could mean the difference between life or death with most patients.
Your dentist could be the first line of defense in knowing what’s going on with the rest of your body, so it’s important to make sure you’re regularly seeing them and taking care of your oral health. Anything that raises a red flag to me, I’m sure to notify my patients. I’m always thinking of their health collectively.

A Nasal Spray to Numb Teeth?

A Nasal Spray to Numb Teeth?

Is there anything more uncomfortable than getting a shot in your gums? Even if the numbing relief soon follows, the thought alone is enough to set most people’s teeth on edge. Unfortunately, it’s been one of the necessary evils in dental work, that is, unless of course you have Superman’s pain tolerance. However, fret no more, because a new nasal spray anesthetic will take all that pain away without the need of invasive needles.

Kovanaze has been approved by the US Food and Drug administration as a ‘nasal spray anesthetic’ and will soon be available for clinical use. Basically dentists, like myself, can now spray the nose to numb the upper teeth. Since so many procedures require a numbing of the gumline to perform, Kovanaze will be easier to administrate and safe for almost everyone.

Since your sinuses are connected to your mouth, it only makes sense that an anesthetic could be administered nasally. By restricting the blood vessels around this cavity, it makes a successful solution and effective anesthetic. The pain that travels through these nerves can be centralized to reduce discomfort during dental procedures.

Nobody likes needles. My patients get nervous about needles and even most dentists get nervous about administering them. They’re uncomfortable and a little scary, especially when working with kids. We’re excited about this option in my office. Alleviating discomfort on any level is important to us and a nasal spray would certainly help take away a little of the anxiety that comes with most procedures.

Knowing there’s a safe, comfortable way to better treat my patients is always top priority in my book. Using top of the line products like this will ensure that my patients are happy and content sitting in my chair.

Marijuana and Gum Disease, What’s Really Happening.

Marijuana and Gum Disease, What’s Really Happening.

As more and more information gets released about medical marijuana uses, one of the less than appealing aspects about its users, is the increased likelihood they’ll develop periodontal disease. A strong correlation between heavy users of the herb, and the increased incidences of gum disease (especially in young adults), has been noticed by researchers, doctors, and dentists alike. So before you light up, consider the harms associated with heavy smoking.

Since it’s recent, State-specific legalization, studies can, and will, be coming to more concrete conclusions about the positive, and negative, aspects of marijuana use. Those prescribed the herb are usually looking for safer ways to alleviate various pains and discomforts, without the side effects of pharmaceuticals. But like any medication, this, of course, is not without its respective challenges.

The mouth’s ecosystem is a series of routinely healing the attacks our environment takes on it. Foods, drinks, brushing and flossing habits, all greatly affect overall mouth care. Drinks and food eat away at enamel and create plaque. That, in it of itself, is already a difficult repair to naturally reverse itself. This is why we need to brush, floss and visit the dentist, because without those things we’re prone to disease and our health is adversely affected.

Anytime you introduce smoking to your habits, your mouth has an even more difficult time recovering. The hot smoke held in your mouth wreaks havoc on your gums that normal maintenance doesn’t help fully recover from. Studies show that with time, the mouth repairs itself quite well. Those who quit smoking in their late 20s had almost no signs of oral health problems in their 30s. But if you’re smoking every day, the mouth doesn’t have time or resources to properly heal itself.

The most common issue with marijuana use, is the dry mouth it causes with most users. There are a lot of medications and habits that contribute to dry mouth, but the effects of it are all the same. Dry mouth leads to less saliva production which helps keep the bacteria in the mouth balanced. ‘Cottonmouth’ can lead to periodontal disease for simply allowing the acid in the mouth to get out of control.

Some studies have found that the actual chemical THC found in marijuana can’t be completely broken down by the mouth and can lead to gum disease. As marijuana usage increases each year with its movements towards legalization, new and more comprehensive studies of side effects can be completed.

I recommend, if you are a smoker of any kind, that your visits to me are well maintained. I’m always invested in the health of my patients and being in dentistry as long as I have, you learn that the mouth can tell you a lot of secrets about a person’s health. Don’t be embarrassed about confiding your habits in me, together we can better monitor your health and figure out what’s working for you and not working for you.
The times maybe changing, but I’m not going anywhere. So be sure you’re checking in with me on a regular basis.

Soda – Kryptonite for your Teeth

Soda – Kryptonite for your Teeth

Almost no one reaches for a glass of milk or water anymore, instead our convenience stores are lined with refrigerated soft drinks and sports drinks. We start our mornings with coffee or juice and end our evenings with wine or beers. While these things are okay in moderation, they may be doing more harm than good to our teeth.
These drinks cause suffering to the consumer by altering the natural PH balance in your mouth. An overall mouth PH balance less than 4.0 is considered to be corrosive to teeth, and make them more prone to decay. Most sodas have a PH of 2.37 – 3.4. Gatorade and Powerade have a PH balance in the high 2s, things like Vitaminwater are doing a little better, at around 3.2 and orange juice is at 3.8.

For adults, alcohol can cause some serious damage to our teeth as well. Alcohol not only strips away at the enamel; it can also turn into sugar in your metabolism which settles onto your teeth. Alcohol also strips your body of water, leaving you dehydrated and with a dry mouth. A lack of saliva means that bacteria is more likely to grow out of control and we know what that means – more plaque buildup.

It’s near impossible to keep track of the PH levels of all the drinks you’re consuming throughout the day, but it is important to keep in the back of your mind that sugary drinks have real ramifications on the health of your teeth. When the sugar interacts with the natural bacteria in your mouth, acid is formed that latches onto the surface of the teeth. This creates plaque and plaque dissolves the tooth structures and can even leave holes, cavities, in the teeth.

For the parents out there, kids and teens are much more susceptible to decay and tooth erosion because the enamel isn’t quite developed. Teach them good brushing habits young and try to encourage as much water intake as possible so they learn to think twice about reaching for that soda first.

Enjoying the things we sip on is a wonderful facet to life, and like with anything, everything is okay in moderation. If you’re prone to dental disease, sugary drinks might be the culprit. There are some easy tricks to make sure that your mouth stays balanced and your teeth stay healthy.

You can use a straw to make sure the soda stays as far away from your teeth as possible. ‘Rinse’ or swish your mouth with water after drinking a soft drink so that the natural PH balance is restored more quickly and the sugar doesn’t have a chance to settle on the surface of your teeth. Never go to sleep without brushing your teeth and try to only keep water at your bedside to rehydrate. The longer sugar sits on your teeth, the more problems it leads to.

Also be sure you schedule checkups regularly with me so I can keep your teeth in tip top condition. I’ll be able to tell you if your diet is working for you just by looking at your teeth and you might hear me suggest to cut back on sugary and acidic drinks, but only because I’m looking out for you!

Medicare and Dentistry

Medicare and Dentistry

If you’re nearing 65 this year, or headed for blissful retirement, you’ve likely heard of your eligibility to start receiving Medicare benefits. This is great news in some aspects of coverage. Medicare is a great social program that helps build a safety net for injuries and diseases, whose treatment costs can get expensive. However, the list of benefits and services Medicare provides is limited, it won’t cover everything. There are a handful of very basic healthcare services you might be surprised aren’t covered by your new benefits plan. Being aware of the gaps in your coverage is necessary because what used to be considered a routine health care appointment, all of a sudden, might no longer be covered.

One of the biggest gaps in Medicare’s coverage is dental care. If you’re looking for a preventative cleaning or routine checkup – you’re looking to foot the bill for those expenses. Cavities fillings, oral surgeries, root canals and even dentures are not covered by Medicare’s senior plan. As people age, they grow increasingly susceptible to cavities. An increase in medications that increase dry mouth among patients come with an increased difficulty in maintaining good oral health. Dry mouth affects your teeth and gums which leads to a higher probability of gingivitis and cavities. Besides being just a nuisance to deal with, these symptoms can often be a warning sign for other greater health issues that might make someone sick, like, strokes, diabetes and pneumonia.

This makes a good oral hygiene system almost essential for any senior. Brushing, flossing, mouthwash every day. But even taking these careful measures might not be enough to stop the onset of dental problems. Routine trips to the dentist are just as important as an at-home-maintenance ritual but with Medicare not covering even these routine examinations, many seniors are finding themselves footing the whole bill for their dentist visit.
The only time Medicare will step in to cover a dental expense is a service that renders the patient hospitalized. In that case, the Medicare Part A plan will help cover some cost of the service. Beyond that, seniors are on their own with the expense.

This, is obviously, a huge inconvenience for anyone 65 or older. As we age, the teeth age too, making them, just like any other body part, more susceptible to problems and wear and tear. Most people will need dentures at a point in their life and without insurance coverage, the bottom line of that bill can get pricey.

We understand your frustration with this insurance policy. My passion since entering Dentistry has always been, bottom line, the love of helping people. If you find yourself in a sticky situation regarding your Medicare coverage, call our offices today and set up an appointment, we can talk about solutions and discuss different options available to get you the care you need and depend on.

Saving Lives Through Dentistry

Saving Lives Through Dentistry

Your dentist may be the best line of defense when oral cancer is in question. Whether or not you’re aware of it, part of your routine examination at your dentist’s office is a cancer check. When your dentist asks you to say “AHHHH”, he is looking into your throat for any abnormalities. Additionally, when you move your tongue around your dentist is looking for cancerous abnormalities around, under and on the sides of the tongue. Same goes for that nice neck massage you receive with cold gloved hands: checking for lumps in the passageways that could be indicative of a much more serious health issue.

Oral cancer screening is a routine examination performed at your dentist’s or doctor’s office. Screening for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions at least yearly keeps you informed of your health. An early diagnosis could be the difference of life and death, and you, as a patient, are probably not even aware that a screening is happening. If abnormal looking cells are found, then your dentist might order more tests to be done. Some argue the necessity of a screening but most dentists perform them routinely for your own benefit. Consequently, if your dentist is aware of risk factors that may increase your chance of oral cancer, they might screen more in-depth or more frequently.

As with any cancer, engaging in risky health habits increase your likelihood of contracting oral cancer. Tobacco use of any kind, which includes: cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, snuff, hookah, and many others – increase that risk exponentially. Heavy drinkers or alcohol abusers also suffer heightened risk of contracting cancer. Even a history of significant sun exposure plays a role in increasing the likelihood that you’ll contract lip or skin cancer which can migrate or show in other areas such as your mouth or throat.

A screening isn’t the best way to determine if you do or don’t have cancer but a second set of eyes from someone who cares about you might lead to finding abnormal cells. The findings of these abnormalities gives the patient leverage in their own health. If precancerous cells have been found, more tests are probably going to be the first thing recommended. As just a simple screening can’t detect all mouth cancers, anything that looks fishy will need to be reevaluated for clarity. There is no proof that routine examinations reduce the numbers of death caused by oral cancer. But if a diagnosis is made early enough then the patient has the option to start treatment earlier, where remission is most possible.

Some dentists use special tests in the addition to the oral exam to screen. Some of these practices include having the patient rinse their mouth with a special blue dye for an exam. Abnormal cells in your mouth may take up the dye and appear blue. Shining a bright light into your mouth during an exam is another practice. The light makes healthy tissues appear dark and makes abnormal tissues appear white. None of these procedures are uncomfortable in any way for the patient.

Since most of my patients are like extended family to me, I take the time to do cancer screens on each of them. Being privileged to look into the lives of the people I treat, sometimes I’m aware of habits they’ve picked up that pose a threat to their health. This is an area I’m passionate about and I love helping people dearly, so looking out for their best interest is in my best interest as well.

How Microscopic Dentistry Improves Results

How Microscopic Dentistry Improves Results

Using a microscope in dental procedures is a guaranteed way to achieve better and more accurate results. Cosmetic, root canals, crown procedures and fillings all serve to be improved by microscopic precision. This technique provides me with a feeling of thoroughness and professional enjoyment.
Most dental offices that do microsurgical endodontics use loupes that magnify at about 2.5-3 times the magnification. Our office uses a microscope that can magnify up to 16 times. This is to ensure the maximum possible accuracy when working on our patients.
Loupes are used to scrutinize and examine a patient’s oral cavity. In order to make improved diagnosis’s or allow for a better visualization of details, we can use a microscope. Looking at these details is important to many procedures. For example, I may want to determine how far a crack runs along the surface of a tooth. What is the risk of the tooth fracturing or having that crack extend into the nerve, thus needing a root canal. With a microscope a diagnosis can be made with a higher level of definiteness and the proper treatment can be provided or determined that no treatment is necessary
Studies have demonstrated a much higher success rate in procedures that utilize surgical operating microscopes. Even with all the positive attention garnered around using these tools, it still isn’t considered standard practice among dentists. These microscopes have a steep learning curve and require extensive practice and training to master. Yet, for me the ability to see at this higher level makes the daily grind much more enjoyable.