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Sugar vs. Teeth: The Latest Oral Hygiene News

Posted by on Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

“Teach them while they’re young.” That’s a valuable mantra when promoting good oral hygiene. Before any child has their first visit to the dentist, they should already be on a regular brushing routine. This practice should be inspired by Mom and Dad as part of the daily rituals that keep those young bodies fit and healthy. However, more work is needed in between those brushings to ensure that teeth stay strong and healthy. That is a lesson not just for the kids, but for the adults as well. As a dentist, you are well aware of the correlation between sugar intake and tooth decay. This insightful information is valuable to pass onto your patients both young and old.

Kids staying active

Help kids keep their healthy smiles.
Image Source: flickr user: Tommy Wong

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Leader of the Pack: Periodontal Treatments That Get the Job Done

Posted by on Thursday, April 10th, 2014

We don’t have to be doing extensive tissue grafting or laser-assisted perio surgeries to see our share of patients requiring periodontal treatment. In fact, the majority of our periodontal cases are in some form of routine maintenance and aren’t at the advanced stages requiring such invasive procedures. I have seen a number of techniques and philosophies with regard to effectively managing deep pockets in our periodontal patients, and I was curious to know which have the most consistent results. This is what I found…

Patient Instruction

Giving our a patients a mirror to see when we instruct them is a great way to get them involved in their oral health.
Image Source: cdeworld.com

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No Butts About It: Talking to Our Patients About Smoking and Their Oral Health

Posted by on Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

There are an estimated 42.1 million smokers in America, and they are all aware of the associated risks. Often when we try to discuss the oral health implications of smoking, patients either become defensive, or they completely shut down altogether. I think this is mainly due to the fact that unlike 30 years ago, everywhere you turn someone is telling a smoker how bad it is for them, as if they were not already acutely aware. So is it even possible to talk to our patients about the effects smoking has with regard to their dental health? I believe it is possible if we approach the subject from a purely clinical aspect.

Smoker

How can we best communicate with our patients who smoke?
Image source: Meddygarnet via Flickr’s Creative Commons

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Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease: Treating Self-Diagnosing Patients

Posted by on Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Just about every time a commercial for toothpaste or mouthwash comes on the television, our patients hear the word “gingivitis.” Unfortunately, they don’t teach our patients what gingivitis really is, or how it can lead to periodontal disease. The direct marketing tactics of these toothpaste and mouthwash commercials often mislead people into feeling they have enough information to diagnose themselves – no need to see a dentist!

In conjunction with that false sense of security, these ads also lead people to believe that once they have diagnosed themselves, all they need is that miracle product to cure what ails them. While gingivitis is reversible and less detrimental than full blown periodontal disease, it is definitely the calm before the storm, and no single product is going to stop it. I think understanding the marketing techniques of dental products, and the mentality they create, definitely needs to be taken into consideration when we address periodontal issues with our patients. A closer look will reveal why it is sometimes difficult to get patients to understand their diagnosis and accept treatment.

Misleading Marketing

A Colgate ad claiming 9 out of 10 dentists recommend their product was recently banned as misleading advertising.
Image Source: Statistically-speaking.blogspot.com

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The Benefits of Preserving Baby Teeth: Encouraging Dental Treatment for Children

Posted by on Monday, March 10th, 2014

“They’re just baby teeth – pull ‘em out!”

We have heard our patients say this phrase more times than we can count. When it comes to explaining dentistry to our patients, trying to stress the importance of teeth that will ultimately fall out can be a daunting task. Often we find that patients are reluctant to hear our case, and understandably so. Fillings, stainless steel crowns, or a pulpotomy all cost money for what is perceived to be a short-term investment. Unfortunately there are some parents we will never be able to convince, but there are a couple of ways we can talk to our patients’ parents that may get a few of them down off the fence and on board with our message.

Stainless steel crowns for pediatric dentistry

Stainless steel crowns are not just unattractive, but avoidable when good oral hygiene is enforced with children.
Image Source: epic-dental.com

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It’s Dental Genetics: How Much of Our Oral Health Is Inherited?

Posted by on Monday, March 3rd, 2014

There are few things more frustrating in the dental field than trying to explain to patients when a dental problem is genetic, and when the only thing they inherited is poor dental hygiene. Chances are, like me, you have heard everything come down the rail, from “My mom was in dentures by thirty, so my teeth are bad as well,” to “periodontal disease runs in my family.” Very often it can be a slippery slope when educating patients on exactly what it is they inherited and what they are passing down to their children. While there are many physical characteristics to teeth that are without question due to our genetics, for the most part, pathology that leads to tooth loss is due to home care. Let’s look at a couple of issues that are genetic vs. what was more likely poor instruction.

Genetics

Orthodontic issues such as crowding are often genetic and can make keeping teeth clean more difficult.
Image Source: Pymble Orthodontics

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Is Anyone Really Flossing? Products and Tools to Encourage Flossing in Our Patients

Posted by on Friday, February 28th, 2014

Every day we repeat over and over to our patients about the importance of flossing. As dental professionals, we have to admit that we often don’t keep up with flossing as much as we advise our patients. The biggest reason most of us slack off in the flossing department is probably because it’s awkward. Wrapping floss around our fingers and trying to get those hard to reach places really is a chore. With the proliferation of oral hygiene supplies today, tools that facilitate flossing are everywhere. By introducing some of these products to our patients, we can show them flossing doesn’t have to be so difficult. It might even get some of us flossing more, as well!

Floss Handles

Floss Handles

Floss threader handles make flossing a piece of cake.
Image Source: Butler GUM

Floss handles have been around for a long time. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen very many practices that make them readily available to patients. They are inexpensive, easy to thread, and make flossing a breeze. The “Y” shaped plastic construction makes them ergonomic and simplifies reaching into those molar areas that require the most attention. This one tool is so simple to use, even my children can thread ‘em up and floss nightly. They are even perfect for our older patients who suffer from arthritis. As an adjunct to our hygiene instruction, providing floss threaders to our less diligent patients could lead to dramatic improvements in their home care.

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Choosing Your Toothpaste: What Are You Really Investing In?

Posted by on Thursday, February 27th, 2014

The aisle seems to go on forever. Over the last several years we have seen the market for toothpaste explode. Combine that with the endless assortment of toothbrushes and mouthwash, and it is no wonder that anyone would find themselves confused. We can find a toothpaste to accommodate our every need from whitening, fluoridated, desensitizing, and more. Commercial toothpaste itself is still a fairly new innovation in the grand scheme of dental hygiene. My grandmother still uses her own mixture of baking soda and peroxide. So what’s in a toothpaste? Is there a best toothpaste? And when is the cost of a toothpaste justifiable? Well, let’s take a look at some toothpastes out there and you be the judge.

Too Many Choices

A humorous – but true – look at product proliferation.
Image Source: selectica.com

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Let’s Talk About Fluoride: What’s All the Fuss?

Posted by on Thursday, February 20th, 2014

There are probably as many opinions on fluoride as there are people to argue them. If you work in the dental profession, you are more educated than anyone on the benefits of fluoride, but I have encountered several dental professionals that are completely unaware of the adverse effects of fluoride. Our patients, however, are often the ones who require the most education on the subject, so I feel it is imperative that we do our best to know both sides of the debate.

The Pros of Fluoride

Fluoride Varnish

Application of a fluoride varnish can strengthen teeth.
Image Source: newsarasotasmiles.com

The pros of fluoride are everywhere. So pervasive have the dental benefits of fluoride become that we can find it in tablet form, liquid form, in our toothpaste, and even in our public water supply. Those of us in the dental profession know that fluoride helps strengthen the enamel in our teeth. Stronger enamel equals less incidence of decay. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of children have benefited from the addition of fluoride both at home and in the dental office. In patients that present with tooth sensitivity, fluoride can play a major role in the reduction of sensitivity, especially when applied to exposed dentin at the root surface from either natural or mechanically induced recession. I personally feel that the benefits to fluoride have spoken for themselves over the last few decades, but can we have too much fluoride? Continue reading…

“Periodontal Disease? I Don’t Have That!” Tips for Treating Reluctant Patients

Posted by on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Periodontal Disease is insidious. In my 20 years as a dental professional, I can count on one hand the number of patients that came into our practice specifically seeking periodontal disease therapy. Not only do patients often deny this asymptomatic disease, but by the time they are ready to admit it, it’s often too late. Trying to recommend treatment for this stealthy affliction in its early stages can be one of the most frustrating endeavors of our dental careers. However, I have witnessed some amazing dental professionals approach this discussion with positive results that are worth sharing.

Periodontal Disease Illustrated

One of the common illustrations we use when educating patients on periodontal disease.
Image Source: Brian Gurinsky DDS, MS

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