Thursday, January 29, 2009

If a Picture is Worth 1,000 Words, How Much is a Video Worth?

There are things we know and things we don't know.  We all know the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words."  If you read this blog regularly, you know I have already used thousands of words to remind you to see your dentist regularly and take care of your teeth.

Now I am going to test the aforementioned adage by using a video to get my point across. I hope it works. There are things we know and things we don't know. Perhaps you didn't know what 28,000 teeth look like. Now you know.

Don't get so sucked into YouTube that you miss your next dental appointment.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chronic Bad Breath? See Your Dentist.

Bad breath (halitosis) is a common social problem. Many people cover their mouths when they speak, and people spend a fortune on mouthwash, gum and mints. It may be more efficient and less expensive to visit the dentist and tackle the problem at the source.

Of course, bad breath can be caused by a variety of things. Diet is a major factor, with temporary unpleasant odors being caused by the well-known work of onions and garlic. "Morning breath" is caused by the mouth being closed and dry during sleep, so you can't benefit from the cleaning effects of saliva. Symptoms from these causes can usually be handled by cleaning the mouth and tongue.

However, chronic bad breath can be a sign of a more serious problem. Periodontal disease or dental work that is in need of restoration can cause halitosis that is relatively constant. Gum, mints and mouthwashes will only mask it temporarily. The dentist can help you find the root of the problem.

Some dentists have a device called a Halimeter to measure bad breath. They also have products, such as BreathRx designed to help you fight bad breath at home. So visit the dentist, fix that bad breath and move your hand away from your mouth.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dental Fluorosis: Too Much Fluoride is a Bad Thing

Dental fluorosis is a condition that occurs when the body takes in more fluoride than it needs. It is most common in children whose teeth and gums are still developing (typically before age 7). The result is discoloration of the teeth. In a mild form, the teeth get white lines or patches.  In more extreme cases, the enamel can turn yellow or brown, and the teeth can become mottled.

Fluoride is readily available, so it is important to monitor fluoride intake. Fluoride can be ingested from sources such as tap water, toothpaste and vitamins. Make sure your children use small amounts of fluoride toothpaste and rinse thoroughly to avoid swallowing it.

As with any oral health issue, consult your dentist regarding prevention or treatment of dental fluorosis.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Early Detection of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer posts some big, scary numbers. It strikes approximately 35,000 people annually in the US, killing 7,500 of them (that's more than skin cancer).  I mentioned in a previous posting that dentists are trained to detect oral cancer.

There is also a device called a ViziLite that helps dentists detect oral cancer early, before white patches are visible.  A ViziLite exam may be covered by insurance.

Early detection and treatment can give the patient an 80% or better chance at survival.  That's the kind of number we like to see.  You can do a self-examination for oral cancer.  However, to get access to the latest technology and to have the best chance at early detection of oral cancer, see a dentist regularly as well.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mints That Can Prevent Cavities in Children

Saliva helps to clean your teeth.  It washes away food particles and it allows teeth to absorb minerals that help to strengthen enamel.

Scientists have developed a substance called CaviStat to help in the fight against cavities. CaviStat contains an amino acid that can duplicate the remineralization effects of saliva. Studies have shown it to be more effective than fluoride at preventing cavities in children.

And now some good news for your child's sweet tooth: CaviStat now comes in chewable mints called BasicMints.  A study of BasicMints showed reduced cavities in children who ate them after brushing with a fluoride toothpaste. The study was funded by Ortek Therapeutics, the company that has licensed CaviStat. Ortek is working on getting FDA approval for BasicMints.

Ask your dentist about them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugurate A New Dentist in Your Life

Today is Inauguration Day.  It is a day of change.  Out with the old and in with the new, etc. This is a good time to implement that New Year's Resolution you made to see a dentist regularly.  Or, if you didn't make one, make one now.

Following up on the "out with the old and in with the new," perhaps it is time to find a new dentist to replace the one you have disliked for the past eight years. If you don't like your dentist, you won't make an appointment.  If you don't make an appointment, your teeth will suffer.  If your teeth suffer, well, you see where this is going.... 

Come on, preserve, protect and defend your teeth and your overall health. Say it with me: I (state your name), do solemnly swear to call 1-800-DENTIST today.... 

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Exercising as a Resolution? Watch Those Sports Drinks.

Many people put "exercise"at the top of the list of New Year's Resolutions. It is great to take care of your body and improve your health.  However, don't let the pursuit of the perfect physique hurt your dental health.  Be careful what you drink when you exercise.

Studies have shown that sports drinks can do significant damage to the enamel on your teeth. They even rank above colas as a cause of tooth decay. The acids in the drinks can break down calcium, which helps to strengthen teeth and prevent gum disease.

So, as you are gritting your teeth to do that one last crunch, remember that plain old water won't hurt those teeth while it keeps you hydrated.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

If You Don't Like Needles, You Can Try Hypnosis

One thing that many people dislike about dentistry is the needle that is sometimes used to administer anesthesia for certain procedures. Perhaps they wouldn't mind as much if they got relaxed by a voice instead of an injection. Hypnosis could make this a reality.

Hypnosis for dentistry, which was first reported in Egypt thousands of years ago, is gaining popularity. Dentists from all over the United States come to the USC School of Dentistry to take classes that teach them how to use hypnosis in a dental practice. 

In addition to relaxation for dental procedures, the hypnosis can be used to affect behavior outside the dental office as well. Perhaps all patients will soon be flossing regularly.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Read This if You Take Osteoporosis Drugs

A new study has shown that use of drugs such as Fosamax, commonly used to treat osteoporosis, can lead to the death of bone tissue (osteonecrosis) in the jaw.  These drugs are known as bisphosphonates, and they are designed to reduce the activity of cells that cause loss of bone. 

The study was conducted at USC by Dr. Parish Sedghizadeh, assistant professor of clinical dentistry with the USC School of Dentistry. He hopes that more studies confirm this so more dentists and doctors will discuss it with their patients.

Be sure to ask your doctor and dentist about this, especially if you are having dental work done. 

Monday, January 5, 2009

Want to Express Yourself? You Can Decorate Your Retainer

You may have opted for low-key by going the invisible braces route. However, now, with the last step - the retainer - you can get a little bit creative. 

Many dentists and orthodontists now work with labs that allow you to choose from a variety of designs and artwork to adorn the acrylic portion of your retainer. Hopefully this will make putting the finishing touches on your new, wonderfully-straight smile a bit less arduous. 

Since the design can't be seen while you wear the retainer, don't expect hooting and hollering from people on the street.  This little piece of your smile is just for you.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A New Year = Reset Dental Insurance Limits

I saw this post on Twitter today: "have to go to the dentist this morning - like to get the deductible out of the way as early in the year as possible."  I think it is a good sentiment. If you have dental insurance, you might as well use it. We often get the "use it or lose it" messages about our insurance and/or FSA accounts toward the end of the year.  Why not get a jump on things by calling today to schedule your next dentist appointment?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Improved Oral Hygiene is a Good New Year's Resolution

Happy New Year. Have you made any resolutions? Most people do. Many resolutions involve getting in shape and improving your health. Focusing on your dental health and getting the smile you've always wanted can improve your life in many ways. You can become more confident in your appearance, which can make you happier, which can lead to health benefits.

The link between good oral health and your overall health has been demonstrated. Good oral hygiene will also help your general health. Whether it is for purely cosmetic reasons or for improved health reasons, seeing the dentist can be a great resolution.

Have a happy and healthy 2009!