Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Intraoral Camera: See What Your Dentist Sees

I have heard people complain about the dentist in a way that makes a comparison to an auto mechanic: they can't see what is going on and they are afraid the dentist is just making up stuff to pad the bill.

Well, if your dentist has an intraoral camera, you can see just what is happening inside your mouth. The dentist can use it to show you problem areas in your mouth that you otherwise might not be able to see. The addition of this visual aid in the explanation of your diagnosis and treatment gives you added confidence in the dentist. You can also see before and after photos of the improvements in your mouth.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Your Dentist Can Treat TMD

Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD, results from problems with the jaw and its surrounding muscles. TMD can have causes such as stress, injury, and grinding of the teeth (bruxism). Some of the symptoms of TMD (often also called TMJ) are unusual clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing the mouth, headaches, and ear pain when chewing.

A dentist can determine if you have TMD or not. If you do, the dentists can suggest treatment options. Some common treatments include stretching exercises, mouth protectors, or dental treatments that may fix an uneven bite.  

Your dentist can also give you tips about how to deal with your TMD issues in your daily life.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All Our Dentists Are Thoroughly Screened

I read a news story today about a dentist in New York who was arrested for practicing dentistry without a license - in his kitchen. Granted, the practicing in the kitchen part probably should have been a red flag in this situation, but perhaps some people are desperate and don't know where to turn.

At 1-800-DENTIST, our dentists are thoroughly screened before we allow them to join. We routinely monitor the licenses of our dentists to make sure they stay in good standing. If you'd like to find a dentist who has been screened and approved - and who won't treat you in the kitchen - call us today.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Can Bacteria Slide Off Your Teeth?

The accumulation of bacteria on your teeth causes the formation of plaque, which leads to tooth decay. We've talked about how proper brushing and flossing can reduce the amount of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth.

Researchers at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York have studied a new tooth-polishing technology that may allow teeth to be too "slippery" for bad bacteria to build up on teeth. This allows the bacteria to be removed more easily.  The study findings were published in the October issue of the Journal of Dental Research.

New technology or not, you should visit the dentist regularly. Ask about slippery teeth...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sensitivity to Cold

Where do you live?  Is it cold?  You only need to go outside or turn on The Weather Channel to see that snow and ice are visiting many of us. Does the cold bother your teeth?

Many people have tooth sensitivity to cold stimuli like breathing in cold air or drinking a cold beverage.  Tooth sensitivity can have a variety of causes, including brushing too hard, receding gums, or chipped or broken teeth. If you feel that zing, I'm sure you'll want to take action to try to prevent it from happening again.

There are things you can do to try to reduce your tooth sensitivity. You can use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste for sensitive teeth. You can also use toothpaste or a mouth rinse that contains fluoride.

Of course, the best first step is to see the dentist to discuss your sensitivity issues (for your teeth, anyway).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why Is Dentistry So Expensive?

Many people are shocked by the cost of dentistry, especially if they need extensive work done. There are many reasons why it costs so much. First, dental school is expensive. The tuition alone for USC Dental School, for example, is $65,000 per year, and that's for three years. And before your first meal or your first book.

The dental office also requires much more equipment than the average medical office. X-ray machines, special chairs, a variety of handpieces, and then water, vacuum (for suction), electricity, computer cables and sometimes nitrous oxide all have to be set up for each room and each chair. The cabinetry is very involved, and then each dentist's office requires a lab and a sterilization area. And that's just a basic office. Many offices have a variety of new technologies to make your dental experience go better and faster and to improve the quality of the dentistry done.

But most of all, the goal of dentistry is to restore your mouth to its optimum level, which means straight, healthy teeth and gums. Dentists deal with a combination of both extremely soft tissue (gums) and the hardest bone in the body, tooth enamel. Imagine how challenging that is. And they need to be very precise in how they repair teeth, dealing in fractions of a millimeter, so that there will be no openings that allow the tooth to decay below the crown, for example.

Think of how much teeth have to endure. The jaw muscles are extremely powerful, and put tremendous pressure on the teeth from multiple angles. This means whatever a dentist does has to be stong and last a long time. There are few things in life that you could repair that would last twenty years or longer, but dentists do that kind of work every day.

Lastly, dentistry seems expensive because even if you have dental insurance, it doesn't really cover much most of the time. It's designed to cover basic care, and the insurance companies are very slow to add new treatments and procedures that they will cover, even if they are found to improve the patient's health. So many times the patient is the one making up the difference in cost in order to get the kind of dentistry that lasts.

And no matter what you'll be doing twenty years from now, I guarantee you'll be eating. And you'll no doubt want to do it with your own teeth. So if it seems expensive, think about the other things that you spend money on. Do they give you a twenty year value? Will you still be using them every day during those 20 years? So in the end, taking care of your teeth is an extremely good value. It may seem expensive, but for the use you get out of your teeth, and the lasting quality of good dentistry, it's probably more than worth the money. In, fact, I think it's one of the best investments you can make.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dental Health and General Surgery

Occasionally we get calls to 1-800-DENTIST from people who are looking for a dentist because they need to get some other type of surgery. Very often if you need a hip replacement, or heart surgery, or many other types of surgery, even cosmetic, the surgeon will not begin surgery if you have some sort of dental infection.

The reason for this is simple: the surgeon knows that your body is already fighting an infection, meaning your immune system is already somewhat compromised, and surgery always poses a further risk of infection and always makes a greater demand on your immune system. The doctor simply wants you to be as healthy as possible and reduce the risk of complications.

This is just one more example of the connection between your overall health and your dental health.  It's unfortunate that health care creates a disconnect between your mouth and your body, and doesn't cover your teeth, but that's the reality. 

Too many people discover too late that the source of many of their health problems is what's going on with their teeth--they have gum disease, or an abscess, and this is affecting their health in ways they don't recognize.  What more proof would you need than a surgeon unwilling to operate on you?

Don't let it get this far, or anywhere near this.  Find a dentist you love, see him or her regularly, and stay truly healthy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Core Values That Drive Our Company

Many people think that 1-800-DENTIST is simply a listing service for dentists Actually, it is much more. For example, we put our dentists through a detailed screening process, and operate a live call center 24 hours a day.

But what is most unique about our company are the core values that guide the business. These core values were created by the employees, and they act as "rules of the road" for every aspect of our operation. There are twelve of them, and they are:

1. Make everyone feel safe, valued and important
2. Listen closely
3. Be remarkably helpful
4. Integrity trumps profits
5. Learn, teach, and embrace change
6. Be contagiously positive
7. Be unique, playful and memorable
8. Walk our talk
9. Be compassionate, openminded and grateful
10. Balance life and work, and be present in both
11. Do more with less
12. Have a positive impact on the world

These have become part of the lexicon of our business, and they also affect people's personal lives. An employee told me today that she used one of the core values to guide her in a situation the night before where two people were about to get in a fight in a bar. She said she decided to be "Contagiously Positive" and talked to the two men, showed them how positive she could be and that their dispute was silly, and they calmed down and ended up all having a drink together and enjoying the evening.

The bouncers in the club came up to her and asked her how she did it, and said, "I was just being contagiously positive. You should try it sometime. It works!" And they agreed. Nobody's teeth got knocked out, so we didn't generate any new business, but it can't always be about making money!

The Dentist Can Detect Oral Cancer Early

Here is a link to an article published in the Journal of Prosthodontics.  A prosthodontist is a dental specialist who focuses on replacing missing teeth and restoring damaged teeth.

The article mentions that your dentist is trained to do oral cancer screening. Those over 40 who use tobacco and drink alcohol are at the highest risk for developing oral cancer.

Read more about it here.    Find a great dentist here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Children and Dentistry

I learned recently that the number one reason a child is brought to the emergency room is for a dental problem.  What's worse, many times that child has never been to a dentist.  It is critical to a child's overall health to see a dentist starting as early as three years old, or younger.

Many people believe that since the first set of teeth will fall out anyway, there is no reason to see a dentist.  This is absolutely not true.  If a child's baby teeth are not healthy, then the second set of teeth will not come in properly and problems with enamel density and other issues will plague the child for the rest of his life.

The state of California now mandates that all children must see a dentist before entering the first grade.  I hope all states adopt this law, but more importantly I hope parents start taking their children at a younger age.  Imagine being a child with a toothache in school, trying to learn.  I can barely tie my shoes when I have tooth pain.

Keeping kids healthy means keeping their mouth and their teeth healthy.  Find a dentist that makes your child feel comfortable, so that they can begin a life of proper dental care.  Like most things, starting early is the key.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Focus on Your Teeth

Our call center is open 24 hours a day to help you find a dentist. As you can imagine, we have heard it all. Today, one of our callers said she wanted her tooth distracted. So we sent her a blinking toothbrush. I hope that did the trick. If you don't want your teeth to be distracted, extracted, redacted or compacted, contact us today to find a great dentist. 

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Ultrasonic Teeth Cleaning

I had my teeth cleaned last Saturday (after six months, which is too long for me) and the hygienist used an ultrasonic cleaning device, or scaler, to clean the plaque. It vibrates quite a bit and makes you think she's using a drill until you see it and realize it's just a vibrating piece of metal.

Anyway, my teeth feel incredibly clean now. She also gave me a fluoride rinse that I have to use every day for a month to strengthen my teeth so they won't be as sensitive to the cleaning. She told me that I should get my teeth cleaned every three months, and I believe her. She says bacteria start to do lots of nasty things once they've had three months to accumulate.

Also, my gums are receding. She thinks I brush too hard. But I use a Sonicare (ultrasonic being the theme here) and I think I just have recessionary gums. Especially in this economy. But the bacteria thing is true. Bacteria multiply exponentially, that is, they are doubling and doubling and doubling. Kind of like that math fact that if you took a penny and doubled it every day for a month you'd have over 5 million dollars (try it!)

In other words, if you don't get your teeth cleaned for a year instead of six months, you don't have twice as much bacteria accumulating, you have ten times or more. (Brushing keeps it from doubling every day, but it still accumulates.)

So that's it for me. Every three months from now on. It also goes a lot easier because she doesn't have to chisel hard plaque out. I'm ready for that. She also did a special test where she takes a sample of the bacteria around my gums and sends it to a lab to determine if I have harmful bacteria that could harm my heart, among other things. More about that in a later blog.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Speech Problems with Braces and Dentures

Many people who get dentures, braces such as Invisalign, and even veneers find that it affects their speech patterns, making them lisp or have trouble pronouncing words. Essentially what's happened is the inside architecture of their mouth has changed, and the tongue had completely adapted to the old architecture, and needs time to readapt.

If you experience a problem like this, and most people will with dentures, braces or a retainer, then here is a site that has a bunch of great tongue twisters that will retrain your tongue in a matter of a week or two. Pick ten or twenty of them and do them three times each, twice a day. You'll find yourself laughing and struggling at first, but these are used by actors all the time to refine their diction.

They are very clever, like "Six thick thistle sticks, six thick thistles stick," and even short, like "Unique New York." (Try that three times in a row!)  Click here for the site.

If you're hesitating on getting dentures or braces because you're worried about how it will affect your speech, my advice is find a dentist that you love and trust. That way you'll make sure you have the best fit, and I guarantee you'll be glad you made the changes in the long run.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Get Straighter Teeth in Less Time

Have you always wanted a straighter smile?  Did you not get braces because you didn't have the money or the time? Well, now you can get a break on the time aspect with an innovative technology called "speed braces."

Also referred to as "rapid orthodontics," speed braces can dramatically reduce the time needed to straighten your teeth. Conventional braces can take from 12 - 20 months of treatment. If your dentist determines you are a candidate, speed braces can do the job in just 6-9 months. 

You have many options to fix crooked teeth to get the smile you've always wanted. Studies show that this can give you more confidence and can actually improve your health. See your dentist to find out which option will work for you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Stem Cells in Baby Teeth

Stem cell research is a hot button these days. What are we willing to do to possibly cure diseases and save lives? This question has spawned much debate and argument.

Parents who want to prepare for the long-term possibilities have some options. There are companies that will store a baby's umbilical cord blood in case it is needed later in life for stem cells to battle a life-threatening illness.

Now, there are also companies that will store your child's baby teeth for possible future stem-cell use (with treatments that have yet to be developed).   In both cases there are initial fees and then continuing storage fees. 

I thought this might be an interesting fact for parents to know.  The next time you are there, ask if your dentist has heard of it. If you don't have a dentist yet, well, you know...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Dentist Can Help You Get a Good Night's Sleep

Regardless of whether you are the one doing it or the one being kept awake by it, snoring is no fun. It can also be bad for your health. Snoring can cause your blood pressure to rise and it may increase the risk of a stroke.

Did you know that your dentist can help with the snoring problem? Using an appliance such as Silent Nite, the dentist can help to decrease the vibrations that cause snoring. This is another one of the many ways that seeing the dentist regularly can increase your quality of life.

So, see your dentist and be on the way to a better night's rest. If someone's snoring is keeping you awake as you read this, remember, we can help you find a great dentist 24 hours a day.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Brushing Issues? Try Tooth Tissues

We all know the importance of proper tooth brushing between visits to the dentist. I have also written previously about the importance of dental care for babies and about the dental benefits of xylitol.

Many parents will tell you that it is a challenge to brush a baby's teeth.  There are struggles with the toothbrush, concerns about when to start using toothpaste and, also, which trick to use to try to make brushing a successful experience. 

I recently found out about a product designed to help with dental hygiene when brushing is an issue (or before the baby even has any teeth).  They are called Tooth Tissues. They were developed by two dentists who are also parents. The tissues contain xylitol and they are free of fluoride and sugar. They are also good to help adults get a clean mouth when brushing is a challenge.

Of course, any oral hygiene product should be used in addition to your regular visits to the dentist. You didn't think I'd forget that part, did you?