Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Debate About Fluoride Continues

Last week, Ruscombe Green posted a lenghty blog entry about fluoride.

The anti-fluoride brigade believes fluoride causes all sorts of things, namely flourois, or staining of the teeth. Other people think fluoride causes cancer, but no link has been discovered. (However, you can get throat cancer from something far less innocent than fluoride.)

As a dentist, I think fluoride is great -- in fact, I grew up in NY, a state that adds fluoride to its water. Yes, some kids do get stained teeth from too much fluoride; however, no fluoride means decayed teeth.

If fluoride isn't in the water, you have to give it to your child in pill form every night -- unless you're willing to have your child develop a mouthful of cavities. It's simply easier to add it to the water.

What do you think? Should fluoride be banned from public water systems?

Follow Up to Dental Tourism Post

Philip Boyle, of RevaHealth.com, recently emailed me about my dental tourism podcast.

In his email Philip writes:

I agree entirely that before anyone travels they need to exercise proper due diligence in respect of the dentist and clinic they choose. At RevaHealth.com, we're aiming to provide people with as much information as possible on the topic, as well as an easy way to contact any number of clinics. We're also getting patients who have travelled to provide reviews of their experience that are available for all to see.

We currently deal primarily in the European market, which has standardized ethics codes and freedom of movement for work for dentists within the member countries. People can be fairly sure that the baseline quality of care will be the same between the different member states.

Obviously some dentists and clinics are going to be better than others, and as such it is up to the person looking to travel to do their homework in that regard, but having this common baseline does remove a certain amount of the fear/uncertainty/doubt that an EU resident travelling to another EU country might have.

Be sure to check out RevaHealth.com, a resource site for anyone looking for a medical professional anywhere in the world. It's full of great information, including a dental tourism guide and a dental savings calculator.

And thanks for listening, Philip!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Fear and Anxiety When Visiting the Dentist

A person searching the Internet found my site and wrote in via email:

I have read your comments about new dental technologies and how they can reduce fear and anxiety when at the dentist. I was just enquiring about what are your views about the interior environment (interior space) and its impact on the patients fear and anxiety. Do you feel that this plays a role in dentistry?

As an LVI-trained dentist, I firmly believe that the interior of my office and its decor help reduce patients' fear and anxiety.

We have been trained since childhood to associate certain smells, sounds, and even colors with medical offices. When you walk into a dental office, you often smell antisceptic. Some dentists will make an effort to "warm up" their lobbies with furnishings and curtains, but the lobby is still often dark or lacks natural light.

The treatment rooms themselves can be pretty dreary as dentists getting on in years don't want to make the investment in new colors, treatment chairs and even new dental technologies.

All of this is one reason I've made a real effort to design my office to not look or smell like a dental office. When you step into the lobby, the first thing you notice is the abundance of natural light, waterfall, and seasonal decorations.

The entire office, including the treatment room, is immaculate, warm, and inviting. When you visit my dental spa, I want you feel comfortable and relaxed -- as if you're stepping into your own home.

In fact, you can take a tour of my office without leaving your home -- just click on the following link which will open a virtual or 360 degree tour of my office.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Can a Robot Feel Your Dental Pain?

A Yahoo News story today featured a new Japanese robot that will mumble "ouch" when a dental student touches a nerve.

Things have come a long way from working on a typodont! It was a set of plastic teeth attached to a pole that we would attach to our bench and practice on. It was very awkward and the teeth never had the same consistency as real enamel or dentin.

The robot is a great teaching aid for dental students to simulate a real patient from the beginning of their training. Incorporating robots and better simulation aided with computers is the way to better train dentists. This is just beginning of technology being incorporated in education. Kudos to the Japanese!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Connection Between Throat Cancer and Oral Sex

One thing many people don't realize is that dentists check for more than cavities during a regular check-up.

They also check for signs of cancer, including cancers of the tongue, jaw, lips, and throat. In fact, according to the Mouth Cancer Foundation:

Oral and pharyngeal cancer is the sixth most common malignancy reported worldwide and one with high mortality ratios among all malignancies.

Even worse, people also don't understand the connection between oral sex and one's oral health. Many people mistakenly believe oral sex is "safe" sex because one can't get pregnant or because the risk of transfering a sexually transmitted disease is lowered.

In fact, in a study found in the May 10, 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers noted that people who had one to five oral sex partners doubled their risk for throat cancer.

Those who had more than five increased their risk by 250%.

Even more disturbing, the researchers believe oral sex transmits the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the same virus that causes cervical cancer in women.

According to a new CDC study, 1 in 4 U.S. women ages 14 - 59 have HPV.

With HPV rates so high, it behooves all sexually active men and women to wear condoms, even when performing oral sex.

And, should you or your partner exhibit any type of sore or lump anywhere in the mouth or on the tongue that doesn't heal within three weeks, contact your dentist or medical professional immediately.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Magnolia Bark Extract Helps Fight Tooth Decay

Magnolia-flavored toothpaste, mints, and chewing gum might become on store shelves someday. According to research cited in the November 2007 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, mints laced with magnolia bark extract kill 20 times more bacteria than regular mints. The extract could help fight tooth decay and bad breath.

Currently Colgate toothpaste has an ingredient Tricolsan that acts as a bactericidal agent. There has been significant research by Colgate-Palmolive company for years that proves their toothpaste is effective in controlling oral inflammation due to bacteria. Colgate set the standard for toothpaste to be more than just a way to freshen breath.

Up until its release over ten years ago, no toothpaste had an effect on oral health as Colgate Total does. Last year Crest finally came out with Crest ProHealth. These two toothpaste's are the only products that really make a difference with regard to oral health.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Successful Smiles Podcast: The Facts About Dental Tourism

Dr. Helaine Smith's Successful Smiles \ healthcast #5

In this episode of Successful Smiles, I cover the facts about dental tourism -- the new trend of seeking low cost dental work outside the U.S. The podcast covers the following:

  • The benefits of going outside the U.S.

  • How dental care in other countries differs from U.S. dental care

  • Tips for evaluating a non-U.S. dentist and his/her practice

  • Other resources you can find online
Links mentioned in this episode:
Send any questions about dental health, or suggestions for future podcasts, to helainesmithdmd@aol.com.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Let Your Kids Enjoy Their Halloween Candy

Every year at this time you see a number of dentists who promote that they are accepting candy from kids in exchange for a gift or toy of some sort.

Candy, which has sugar as one of its main ingredients, is supposed to cause cavities. Technically, this is not accurate -- and here's why. Lactic acid is produced when chewing food. This acid decreases the pH of the mouth, creating an acidic environment, which can leave the teeth vulnerable to cavities. However, studies have shown that as long as children and adults practice good oral hygiene, which includes brushing twice a day, eating candy isn't a problem.

What is a problem is nursing a sugary soft drink or sucking on hard candy all day. Coating the teeth in sugar for extended periods of time will cause cavities.

So enjoy your candy. Personally, I prefer candy corn!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Can bottled water cause cavities?

Fluoridated water has had an enormous impact on reducing tooth decay.

Children do receive fluoride from other sources, such as tooth paste, and when they have their dental check ups. Cooking with tap water, for example, and using it for baking and other food preparations also gives some benefit to children.

If the family chooses to use only bottled water, however, then a dentist should determine if the child needs a fluoride supplement. This is usually given in a chewable pill.

Caries, or tooth decay, is a complex disease process. Although fluoride in drinking water provides great protection against tooth decay, it is not a guarantee of preventing cavities. I would rather see children drink water bottled or tap water than fruite juices -- which can lead to tooth decay.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Cosmetic Dentists Don't Have Advanced Training -- Bah!

In a recent press release issued by The Wealthy Dentist, Jim Du Molin writes:

Some dentists and dental specialists are highly critical of doctors who call themselves "cosmetic dentists." (In fact, the term "cosmetic dentist" is not recognized as a dental specialty by the ADA. Some states even prohibit use of the term in dental advertising.) "These individuals have NO advanced specialty training," complained a New York orthodontist. "I believe they reflect poorly on the profession," said a Florida prosthodontist. "Frequently the treatment they provide is about instant gratification and not in the long-term interest of the patient."

Pardon me, but I disagree.

If you go to any advanced cosmetic training like Larry Rosenthal or the gold standard of continuing educational institiues such as the Las Vegas Institute, you learn how to properly treat and diagnose cases. Contrast this with dental school, where students never learn the principles of cosmetic dentistry.

Dentists who say cosmetic dentists don't have advanced training have no clue what they're talking about.

Fortunately, the public is becoming more sophicated and knows that better options exist. They are leaving dentists who refuse to update their skills and continue to use decades old technology that they were taught in the 1950s in dental school. These dentists have lowered their care to nothing more than a tooth plumber status.

As this press release points out, politcs and conflict within the profession contiue. It is sad, but at least there are a many highly educated dentists who refuse to succumb to the problem.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Afraid of the Dentist? Don't Watch This Video.

First off, the patient was crazy to volunteer for a bony tooth extraction without first being sedated. And second, ALL types of orthopedic surgeries are brutal -- that's why doctors use sedation. Even I, a dentist, would request sedation if I had to have a wisdom tooth extracted.

And finally, from what I could see in this video, the extration proceeded as it should have -- it just would have been better if the patient had been sedated.

There is simply too much information on the Internet today and TV. Now you can watch colonoscopies and lasik eye surgeries. Pardon me, but seeing someone's cornea being cut is gross. I'm a doctor and I didn't want to think about what they were going to do to me when I had the procedure done.

When you visit the dentist, instead of going in with a treatment plan already in your head due to researching the Internet, let the dentist do his or her job.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Sugarless Gum Prevents Cavities is Old News

The fact that the ADA recently awarded Wrigley sugarless gum its seal of approval really isn't news.

Dentists have known about the cavity preventing properties of sugarless chewing gum for years -- simply because chewing sugarless gum helps return the mouth to a neutral PH after eating.

In fact, if you're a certain age, you grew up listening to TV commercials for Trident sugarless gum – their tagline was, '4 out of 5 dentists recommend Trident sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.'

Chewing gum after a meal is really a quick fix and shouldn't replace brushing and flossing twice a day and seeing a dentist regularly. In addition, for people
who have a high rate of decay, chewing sugarless gum will not help lower the rate at which cavities develop.

Why not? Well, because there's a whole science behind how cavities develop. The ADA really does consumers a disservice by dumbing it down to chewing gum.

In addition, people who chew gum excessively can develop a host of other problems including grinding down the teeth and jaw problems.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Successful Smiles Podcast: New Dental Technologies Eliminate Pain and Fear

Dr. Helaine Smith's Successful Smiles healthcast #4 | download

Did you know over 100 million North Americans are afraid to visit the dentist due to fear and anxiety? If you're one of these people, this podcast is for you.

In this episode of Successful Smiles, I cover the reasons why people are afraid to visit the dentist and how new techniques, such as sedation dentistry, and new technologies, such as one-visit crowns and tooth bonding materials, have made many dental procedures virtually pain-free.

Links mentioned in this episode:

* American Dental Association
* Apple iTunes
* Helaine Smith, DMD

Send any questions about dental health, or suggestions for future podcasts, to helainesmithdmd@aol.com.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Successful Smiles: What You Should Know About Veneers

Dr. Helaine Smith's Successful Smiles healthcast #3 download

In this episode of Successful Smiles, I cover the questions people should ask their dental professional when considering dental veneers (sometimes referred to as "teeth caps"). These questions include:

  • The types of veneers available
  • How the veneers are made

  • The difference between a general family dentist and a cosmetic specialist

  • The type of training a cosmetic specialist should have
Links mentioned in this episode:
Send any questions about dental health, or suggestions for future podcasts, to helainesmithdmd@aol.com.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Successful Smiles: FAQs About Cosmetic Dentistry

Dr. Helaine Smith's Successful Smiles healthcast #2 download

In this episode of Successful Smiles, I answer some of the questions patients frequently ask about cosmetic dentistry, including:

  • Am I vain for wanting a nicer smile?
  • Do cosmetic dentistry procedures really work or is it all hype?
  • Is cosmetic dentistry worth the time and the cost?
Links mentioned in this episode:
Send any questions about dental health, or suggestions for future podcasts, to helainesmithdmd@aol.com.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Successful Smiles: Bad Breath May Be an Indicator of Serious Health Issues

Dr. Helaine Smith's Successful Smiles healthcast #1 download

In this episode of Successful Smiles, I talk about bad breath including:

  • The causes of "normal" bad breath

  • How to treat bad breath

  • Why persistent bad breath can be an indicator of more serious health issues

Links mentioned in this episode:

Send any questions about dental health, or suggestions for future podcasts, to helainesmithdmd@aol.com.