It’s been such a busy year that we’ve only published once in 2014, with the introduction of our new associate joining our growing practice. So our New Year’s resolution for next year is to post more than once in 2015 – That shouldn’t be too difficult to beat =). We’ve got so many new things planned at our office, including upgrading our dental software to help make things run more efficiently and eventually leading to a paperless, more environmentally friendly practice. We’ll also be partnering once again with The Rotary Club of Uxbridge in March 2015 for BRUSHAMANIA, visiting at least 5 different schools in the Uxbridge township. It seems like clinical cases are a big interest to most of our readers, so we’ll share some more of those in the months ahead.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for our blog. Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 28,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
The only time I open the hood of my car is to refill my windshield wiper fluid. If something else requires work in there, I take it to the dealership. On occasion, during a routine oil change, the mechanic will come out to inform me of some other work that needs to be done, such as a wheel alignment or brake pad replacement. Of course, when this happens, I’m probably not the only one to start wondering if the mechanic is working in my best interests or those of his wallet. After he answers a few of my questions, I usually consent to the work and continue to wait. And as I’m waiting, I can’t help but think how similar my customer experience at the dealership is to how some patients might feel when visiting a dental office to have a cavity filled.
Just like at the mechanic’s shop, patients confer an implicit trust to their dentist when having a dental procedure performed. Unless you are able to watch everything that the dentist is doing, you have absolutely no idea what is being done in your mouth – especially if you are frozen and have no sensation in the area being worked on.
When I do fillings, or any procedure for that matter, I make it a habit of telling my patients everything that I do, before I do it. This approach tends to calm even the most anxious patients, because they know exactly what to expect and leaves little to the imagination. For those patients who grew up with The Learning Channel, I am always happy to provide them with a hand-mirror to observe everything that I’m doing (with the disclaimer that they should not try these things at home).
When time permits, I like to take pictures at different stages during certain procedures to help educate patients and to provide further evidence as to why the dental work needed to be done in the first place. It’s only natural for patients to question if they really need a filling especially if they are not having any problems with the tooth in question – just like when the mechanic tells me I need my brakes replaced. Pictures truly are better than a thousand words, and they never lie.
The picture above shows a tooth with what looks like a mere dark spot on the chewing surface. The patient reported no symptoms with this tooth. However, upon clinical examination with my instrument called an “explorer”, that dark spot was actually a tiny hole which felt “sticky” to the touch. Soft spots like these indicate tooth decay (AKA: a cavity).
I administered local anesthetic and after confirming the patient was sufficiently numb, we started to clean out the cavity as seen below.
The cavity is cleaned out with the dental drill until there are no more soft areas (decay) in the preparation. The tooth looks deceptively normal from the initial picture, which can dangerously mask the true depth of the cavity below the surface. Indeed, it’s quite possible for some to not feel symptoms from a cavity of this size. However, if the tooth decay is not treated and is allowed to enlarge, over time it will extend deeper and closer to the nerve of the tooth – at which point symptoms of pain with chewing, sensitivity to temperature and sweets may ensue. If the pain worsens to a throb or ache, that’s when a root canal may be needed whereby the nerve of the tooth is removed. It’s usually best to be proactive and deal with these small problems when they are easier to fix, as opposed to waiting until it becomes a true dental emergency.
It’s always nice to see pictures (Before, during, and after photos) of any work that you have done by a contractor on your home or mechanic on your car so that you fully understand what is happening and what you are paying for. Ask your dentist for the same!
As we say goodbye to 2011 and usher in a New Year, many people’s resolutions will include items with the goal of improving their general health (eg. Promise to exercise more often, eating healthier foods, etc…). Well, if your wish is to be healthier overall, an important area to focus on is your oral health. Research studies have shown that poor oral health can have negative effects on the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, and pregnancy. So let’s start the year off right by also focussing on oral health as it will improve general health as well! Here are a few suggestions to add to your New Year’s resolution:
1) Floss daily – This is probably one of the most neglected areas in personal oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth alone is not enough to remove all the plaque that builds up on the teeth over the course of a day, because the toothbrush bristles do not reach between the teeth and below the gumline. With a little bit of effort and practice, incorporating daily flossing into your routine will improve the health of gums and reduce inflammation in the mouth that is linked to the many diseases listed above. Indeed, there are many tools and cleaning aids in the market like stimudents, sulcabrushes, and flosspicks, but nothing is more effective to clean under the gumline than plain old waxed floss. This is one of the rare cases where ‘cheaper’ is actually ‘better’ – no need to buy expensive tools or cleaning aids when floss will do the job perfectly.
2) Minimize the sugars in your diet – This almost falls in line with the common “Eating healthier” resolution that most people add to their lists, but it’s more specific and has a direct impact on the health of your teeth (and again general health). Not only will reducing sugar intake help to decrease plaque buildup on teeth and therefore cavity formation, it also helps to prevent the development of Type II diabetes. For those with a sweet tooth, a good way to cut back on sugars is to buy foods with sugar subsititutes (such as aspartame). Since these sugar substitutes are not metabolized by bacteria in the mouth, they do not contribute to the formation of acid by-products that cause cavities. If you are used to adding honey to your tea or sugar to your coffee, try using a non-sugar sweetener such as Nutrasweet or Splenda. Your teeth will thank you!
3) Chew sugarless gum – With all of our busy schedules, it can be difficult to find the time to squeeze in afternoon brushing after lunch or a snack. So if you’re pressed for time, try getting into the habit of chewing sugarless gum (which often contains non-sugar sweeteners such as xylitol or mannitol) after a meal – it’s no substitute for brushing, but it’s better than nothing. The chewing action generates saliva flow which will help clean plaque and unwanted sugars from your last meal off the teeth (and freshens your breath!). Less plaque equates to healther gums and less chance of cavity formation.
4) Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride – One of the simplest ways to prevent cavities and strengthen teeth is to ensure your toothpaste has fluoride. Teeth that are exposed to fluoride will absorb and incorporate the element into it’s chemical structure, which actually makes the tooth more resistant to decay. Fluoride also has the potential to reverse (or remineralize) small cavities that are just starting. The next time you are buying a toothpaste, just look for the Canadian Dental Association’s (CDA) seal of recognition like the one below, and you can be assured it will have a safe concentration of fluoride.
5) Visit your dentist at least on an annual basis – It is important to have an examination performed by your dentist on a regular basis to ensure small problems are detected early. As with anything, small problems are usually easier to deal with than big problems. Your dentist will not only check for cavities and the health of your gums, but also screen for oral cancer which can be fatal if not caught early on.
If you are already doing these five simple things, then give yourself a pat on the back and keep up the good work! If you’re not, then what are you waiting for?
Wishing everyone a very Happy and Healthy New Year!
Thanks for visiting our newly designed website and welcome to the News section of www.uxbridgefamilydentistry.com! Take some time to peruse the site, as you will find a plethora of information about our office and the services we offer. We’ve also included a section of before and after pictures in our “Smile Gallery” for you to see different treatment options and their outcomes.
We are especially happy about this “News” section of the site, where we will be blogging up-to-date information about our practice, general themes in dentistry, clinical cases that you might find interesting, and a plethora of topics to pique your interest. If you have any specific interests or topics you would like us to talk about, please feel free to let us know by any of the following means: