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!
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!
I hear this a lot from people when they want to reschedule their preventative recall appointments without the guilt.
“I need to move my appointment. It’s just a cleaning, right?”
Is the Taj Mahal just a building? Of course not! Was Monet just a painter? You could look at it that way, but his efforts made him an artist. Is Disney World just a theme park? No, of course not because it’s the happiest place on Earth. These are just a few examples of places and things that have taken effort to become what they are known for today.
Let’s look at what happens during a preventative hygiene recall dental appointment.
The steps may be different from here, but here we go.
One of the trained professionals, whether that be a dental assistant, hygienist, or dentist will review your medical history to be sure that any medical changes are noted. It is very important to keep your dental team informed as to what has been going on medically with you for the last 6 months. There may have been changes in your medication. Some people don’t understand how that could affect their dental health. Well, the changes in medication could cause changes in your mouth, such as dry mouth, which could leave you more prone to decay and gum disease. If you want the how and why a dry mouth is bad, add a comment. And what about surgeries? If you believe they don’t affect your mouth and your mouth can have an affect on those surgical areas, think again. If you have any type of joint replacement surgery, it is often recommended that you take an antibiotic before having dental treatment. This is to protect your heart from possible infection. You are an enclosed, all-inclusive, dynamic, one-of-a-kind machine and all parts affect the others.
Next you get to relax, lay back, and get ready to have someone taking care of you for the next hour or so. Bring headphones if you like to listen to music and if you are anxiety-prone be sure to ask for the nitrous oxide.
A thorough check of your mouth will begin. Each tooth is checked for decay (or cavities) and cracks, the pockets around your teeth are measured (have you been flossing or not?) and are there signs of cancer. CANCER-that is a big deal and it is a real reason to see the dentist regularly. If you participate in activities that put you at a higher risk for oral cancer, you really should see the dentist every 6 months.
We have all heard the risks-alcohol and tobacco use which includes smoking and smokeless tobacco. But there is a growing concern about the HPV or human papillomavirus. This is a virus that can cause warts and certain types of cancer. I am not an expert on this, but for more information and pictures visit www.oralcancerfoundation.com or search “HPV and oral cancer.” Again, I stress that if you have risk factors for oral cancer, stick to the 6 month recall visits to check for cancer during those visits. We as dental professionals are not here to judge your personal habits, but to do what we can to help you stay healthy.
The “cleaning” or dental prophylaxis time of the visit happens when the hygienist will begin to physically remove any debris, buildup, and stain from the teeth. If flossing is not one of your routine habits, this is the time when it will show. “She made my gums bleed.” Uh, no that is not true. The bacteria living and thriving in the pockets around your teeth are helping to make your gums bleed. BLEEDING=INFECTION The bacteria and their community are being disrupted and cleared away. A point to remember: The more time you spend at home on your maintaining your teeth and gums, the less time you will need to see your dentist’s chair. If you want to blame something for the bleeding, blame the bacteria. If you want to blame someone for the bleeding, name your bacteria. There are tons of other ways we could go with the cleaning portion, like discussing all the difficult-to-impossible to remove stains the hard-working hygienist has to break a wrist in trying to remove without the use of a chisel and also the debris left behind due to years of not having a cleaning, but I will keep those stories for another time. Cleaning is cleaning and when someone else is doing the cleaning, we have a tendency to diminish the efforts involved. If you want to limit the time our professionals are in your mouth, spend more time in your mouth at home.
Okay, next is to check the health of the teeth. “My teeth are fine, nothing hurts.” That may be true, but it is the underlying problems that we are trying to catch before they become BIG, PAINFUL problems. I would think this concept would be appreciated, but the cost of treatment often trumps our efforts to take care of small issues when they are small. Here is a simple formula for dental treatment: A filling will cost less than a crown. A crown will cost less than a root canal and crown. And they all tend to cost less than pulling a tooth and replacing with an implant and restoring the implant with a crown.
What other issues are addressed during the preventative recall and evaluation appointment? Well, the issue of bad breath does come up occasionally. What causes bad breath? It may indicate a deeper problem like a sinus infection or GERD, but bacteria is usually is the culprit. The bacteria can be in the bleeding pockets or they could be living and thriving in the cavity you have decided not take care of “until it bothers you.” While you are waiting for the tooth to hurt enough to cause you pain and suffering, the bacteria could be causing your breath to become, well kinda rank. The bacteria are working on breaking down the tooth structure causing the tooth to decay and breakdown. If you have ever gotten to savor the smell of a compost pile on a day when the temp is 98.6 degrees, then you may have an idea of what smells could be produced from that cavity in your mouth. I would never tell someone that their breath is baaaddddd, but I sure am thinking it as I put my head down and turn away. Would you like a mint?
Another home for bacteria is the tongue. How many people really scrape their tongues daily? I do, but I’ve seen too much stuff not to do that daily. I offer you a challenge. Take your fingernail (Gross, I know but hang with me.) and scrape it across your tongue…….What did you find? Would you like to share. I did not think so, but for those that want to share, please do so for the rest of us. That stuff, my friends, is a blanket of bacteria. Enough said.
Okay, so now your preventative recall and evaluation appointment is winding down. The fun is coming to an end. We have discussed your recent medical history, checked for oral cancer and gum disease, scraped the debris off the teeth, polished them to a bright & shiny state, and discussed the finding of any necessary dental treatment you need to schedule for next. Topical fluoride is an option, which I suggest taking when you can after having the teeth polished. Any questions you have thought about while lying there with your mouth open can and should be discussed before you leave they room. We definitely do not want you to leave unless you fully understand what has happened during your appointment and you have a chance to ask questions. Remember: Knowledge is power.
So I ask, is it “just a cleaning”? It doesn’t sound that way to me.