Happy Halloween time everyone! How many of you are having visions of piles of sugary treats of all types right now. Let me share my thoughts with you. I envision many different types of chocolate treats which include chocolate bars, chocolate with peanut butter hidden inside, chocolate with caramel, chocolate covered fruit, the list is endless, and that makes me happy. (I like chocolate, can you tell?) There are also the hard candies, such as Jawbreakers, Red Hots (cinnamon flavored goodness), Jolly Ranchers, and Lemonheads. I cannot forget the soft taffy-like candies: Skittles, Laffy Taffy, gumdrops, jelly beans, and gummy-anything. There is also the old Halloween favorite, a black or orange wrapped unidentifiable candy (?). Did any of you envision fruit or veggies when you read, “Give me something good to eat”? Me neither, but if you did I think you may be in the minority.
As a dental professional, a parent, and someone who doesn’t want to be a party pooper, I enjoy Halloween. I enjoy watching the variety of costumes from both young and old trick-or-treaters. My favorites are the little kiddos that come to the door dressed as pirates, monsters, or your pick of princesses. I will also admit that I enjoy the candy; especially the hard candies (Lemonheads and Red Hots-I have not told my dentist about this.). My disclaimer is this: You should suck on the hard candy, not crunch it. I have a couple of crowns to prove it.
I have a childhood Halloween memory which resembles a scene from the Charlie Brown Halloween special. There is a bright moon outside to lighten our way through the neighborhood. My friends and I are running from house to house, costumes flying behind us as we try to get to as many houses as we can before quitting time. “Trick or Treat,” we scream and hold our bags open, politely waiting for the sound of candy to drop to the bottom of our bags. “Thank you” and then we were off to another house. Our pirating for candy for the evening was almost complete when we stumbled upon the dentist’s house. Once again, “Trick or Treat” and “Thank You, Mister,” then back to the van to check our booty for the evening by the dim interior light of the van.
“A toothbrush?!? What is this?” We were all thinking the same thought at the same time. It was the equivalent to Charlie Brown’s disappointment when he says, “I got a rock.” Yes, it was a toothbrush and yes we were disappointed but that dentist was on to something. I can have candy but I also needed to brush afterwards. Ta-Da! It seems so simple now. Eat candy, and then brush away anything that sticks to my teeth. How easy is that? That man had a secret weapon against cavities and he gave each of us one of our own. He was a super hero against decay!
Now, I am far too old to be out on the Trick or Treat trail, but if you have kids, you may be out there. Be safe and remember that you too can be a super hero against tooth decay. Simply give a toothbrush or help your kids brush to help save teeth.
Happy Halloween from Count Porkula and our office!
What price are you willing to place on your children’s teeth?
We invest in our kids. There are the usual things: clothes, food, and school. We equip them with all kinds of technology which includes cell phones and computers, but investing in their teeth seems to be another story. I was surprised to read an article that highlighted an issue that our children are not receiving preventive care for their teeth. I was flabbergasted at the number of children missing out on care which could prevent bigger problems for them in the future.
Let me throw out some numbers for you to process, by way of a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC:
Approximately 23% of children aged 2-11 years have at least one primary tooth with untreated decay and 20% of adolescents aged 12-19 year have at least one permanent tooth with untreated decay.*
Untreated decay=cavity. When we use the word cavity, people seem to feel that it is not a big deal. “Oh it’s JUST a cavity. It’s not hurting.” But cavities left untreated will continue to get bigger and bigger until the decayed portion eats away at tooth structure, can cause pain, broken teeth, and worse, infection.
A systematic review of randomized controlled trials found that dental sealants reduce decay in permanent molars by 81% approximately 2 years after placement and continue to be effective up to 4.5 years after placement. *
81% reduction in decay/cavities by placing a sealant on the chewing surface of the tooth! Prevention is what we believe, teach, and preach here at the office. It is so important to protect tooth structure. Yet for some reason parents are not taking advantage of this simple procedure. How can parents leave without scheduling an appointment to place sealants on their kiddo’s teeth? The main reason I hear repeatedly is THE COST. A study by the CDC addressed several issues which could help explain the lack of preventative care for children. Let’s see if you agree that these could be obstacles to healthcare:
Lack of dental insurance,
If dental insurance is available, the out-of-pocket costs compared to medical expenses were more expensive.
And this is what the study found,
In 2009, the total dental expenses for U.S. children aged 5-7 years were approximately $20 billion (5), accounting for 17.7% of all health-care expenses among this age group (6). Approximately 40% of dental costs were paid out of pocket (5), compared with 17% for medical care (6). Approximately one fourth of U.S. children do not have dental insurance (private or public) (7). The types of services covered by dental insurance vary widely by plan, but typically have higher copayments and lower annual limits than services covered by medical insurance (8). *
In relation to cost, preventive care is usually less costly than restorative treatment. Or another way to put that is, fluoride varnish and sealants placed on teeth will be less expensive than a filling, root canal, or crown. An added bonus to not having to pay for the more expensive restorative procedures is that tooth structure was saved! Plus, another child did not have to have to have an injection or feel anxious about having “work” done on them. There is also less time spent away from school and school activities. Those are all good things to keep in mind when “preventive care” is presented at the recall appointment.
If you have children and have questions about preventive care such as sealants, fluoride varnish, or rinses, call our office or your dental provider and get as much information as possible about those important services.
As you may have noticed, I tend to use my own dental experiences in writing this blog. Write what you know about, right? Well, this morning while enjoying my morning tea, one thought that popped to mind was that it was time to touch up my whitening. I’m sure for most of you that would not be the thought that breaks up that beautiful moment when your first caffeine hit of the day takes place. So why is touching up my whitening such a big deal? Mainly because I want to put my best smile forward from the moment I step into my office. I think of myself as a reflection of what is possible for everyone-a happy, healthy smile.
I will admit that I work really hard and have made a real investment in my keeping my teeth healthy. I do the daily flossing thing, well, except on the weekends. My toothbrush of choice is a Sonicare, because I find that it delivers what I paid for it to do-removes the plaque and stain from my teeth. The tongue scraper I have is used every time I brush my teeth, which is at least twice a day. My daily investment of time pays off when I put my lipstick on and smile in the mirror. Or when I see my dentist for my recall and evaluation. But what about the financial investment? Just like you, I have invested many $$ over time for my healthy smile and I haven’t regretted one cent of it.
Since I use myself as a demo on this blog, I have had a chance to REALLY see my investment in pictures. I have a couple of crowns to protect my fractured teeth from the massive chewing forces I put on them when I chew gum and eat Lemonheads (Shhh, don’t tell my dentist). I have several fillings-more than several, really-I have lots of fillings throughout my mouth. I have even paid to wear braces for a few years, which I paid for out-of-pocket, because my dental insurance did not have orthodontic coverage for someone my age. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the Waterpik I used while in my braces to ensure I didn’t get areas of discolored decalcification after those braces came off.
All that said, I can remember a time when I would not smile because I was embarrassed of my smile. I would hold my hand over my mouth when I smiled or laughed. Sad, huh? For many years I tried to hide the one thing that universally is a sign of happiness-a smile. This shame was due in part to the dentist that degraded me as a child because of my inadequate brushing habits. He did not take the time to ask how I was brushing then correct my behavior. He didn’t even ask if anyone was helping me to brush. He did let me know, in no uncertain terms, that he was very disappointed in my mouth. I was a little older the first time I went to a dentist, so this little kid at the time was appalled! His chairside manner was atrocious! I felt so bad about myself and not just about how dirty my teeth were at the time. This embarrassment carried over to my adulthood.
I’m so glad that we have such a wide variety of dental professionals to choose from today. We don’t have to endure the bad treatment from our dental teams as I did back then (in the old days). I am willing to investment in myself, both time and money, to avoid the pain and humiliation I felt all those years ago. I understand the fears and concerns our patients have when they walk into our office. BELIEVE ME, I understand and want to help others get to a place where they are able to enjoy a happy, healthy smile.
Gone are the days when it takes weeks to get a single crown, or cap, as some of you may call them, done at the dental office. Your fear of having “real work” done can now be taken care of with one visit. Surely you can stand to be with us for a couple of hours, right? And I think that one visit is better than two for most people. Let me explain how we are able to do that for you in our office.
During this short time together, I will introduce you to the heavyweight in our office. This machine works with great determination to help our team fight decay and provides protection for fractured and weaken teeth. Today we will get to see how CEREC works for you.
The simple way CEREC technology works is this: CAD/CAM technology
1. Scan the teeth
2. Dentist prepares and shapes the tooth for the crown
3. Scan again
4. Design the crown
5. Make the crown
6. Fit the crown
7. Finish the crown
For those of you looking for an in-depth, informative video I will share a link, http://
. This video is technical in nature and if you’re into that I want to provide the information. If you can handle five minutes or so, the video is very explanatory.
I think the process is AWESOME!! You don’t need to have impressions taken which is great because I don’t think I have ever heard anyone request an impression. You know, the goopy stuff that can be messy and well, goopy. Plus the impression material doesn’t really have a taste, unless you call ABC (Already Been Chewed) Gum a flavor. And no temporary crown to deal with. I especially like that part. Why wouldn’t you want to save yourself some time and money, by missing less work, by having your crowns completed in one visit.
I have been really satisfied with these types of crowns and the technology. I must admit that I was a skeptic when the whole CEREC “fad” began. But I have had a chance to witness the technology improve over time as well as the strength of the material improve. I have a couple of these types of restorations in my mouth, and my biggest worry has been for them to fracture-because I grind and clench my teeth. The material has proven to be strong enough to withstand my chewing forces and I have given them a workout, believe me! They also are very life-like, wouldn’t you agree?
I encourage you to get to know this technology and all it has to offer in dentistry. Questions are encouraged and if I don’t know the answer, I will seek and find because
I wish I could keep my excitement at bay, but it’s difficult to not put on my super duper big smile: )) and sing, “Oh, it’s Friday! Oh, yes it’s Fri…day!!”
We have had a productive week taking care of our patients. Decay has been destroyed, fractures removed, plaque and stain polished away, and no signs of oral cancer this week. Our goal is that our patients will notice less pain, enjoy better tasting food, and for some….nicer breath.
Over the weekend remember that your time in our office, no matter how comfortable, can be determined by your home care. Spend some time on the teeth you want to keep. Be friendly and brush the plaque off them, they should not be wearing sweaters. Floss between your teeth to keep the touchy parts healthy and flossing will also help keep those gums from bleeding. If you haven’t tried it yet and you are feeling adventurous, try a tongue scraper. You breath will thank you.
Have a great weekend and remember to KEEP BRUSHING!
Let me introduce you to one of the secret weapons we have in our arsenal of cavity-fighting weapons. This little warrior uses a laser beam to detect cavities at the most conservative level. A laser beam is used to detect changes happening before we can feel or see those changes happening. This little helper is designed to detect slight changes in the tooth structure. This little laser, used in conjunction with digital x-rays, often proves to be superior to the older method of using the “pointy poker” to find soft spots in the teeth. And it can be done without you, the patient, feeling the laser working. No pain, now that is a plus!
Folks, meet DIAGNOdent.
We have been using this tool for fighting cavities in our office for many years and the technology has been around since 2005. Along with our digital x-rays, we are better able to help our patients maintain a healthy mouth. The technology available to help you maintain your healthy smile keeps getting better and better.
What does it mean to you to have a cavity-fighter such as DIAGNOdent in your corner? It could mean less tooth pain and problems because we are able to detect and treat cavities before they become large and bothersome. As you may or may not know, cavities do not go away by themselves. We can’t brush them away. We can’t give them away or even wish them away. The only way to get rid of a cavity, or the decayed part of the tooth, is to remove it. We have to physically remove the area which has decayed and replace the open hole with a filling material. Another plus with earlier detection of decay means that you will spend less time and money at the dental office. It’s a win-win situation and we like win-win, are you with me?
The DIAGNOdent uses a laser to detect differences in healthy and unhealthy tooth by measuring degrees of fluorescence in your tooth structure. These readings are recorded in the chart and monitored.
00-10 Healthy Tooth Structure
11-20 Outer Enamel Changes (The enamel is the hard outer protective covering of your tooth.)
21-30 Inner Enamel Changes
30+ Dentin Changes (Dentin is softer than enamel and decay often moves more quickly when it burrows this deep into the tooth.)
The goal in our office is to keep your smile healthy and be able to do provide pain-free dentistry. Part of the whole picture is being able to educate our patients so that they are able to help decide how to keep themselves healthy and happy. A smile is a universal sign of happiness and we are so lucky to be able to help people keep their teeth and to be able to smile. Know that when you come in to see Dr. Alspaugh and the rest of the team, we will work to provide you the best dental experience by using up-to-date technology to help fight disease in your mouth.