Sunday, December 21, 2008

New E-Book: Keep Your Body Healthy . . . Brush Your Teeth

If I were to ask you how to keep your body healthy, you would most likely answer "diet and exercise," "live a healthy lifestyle," or "don't smoke."

Yet, if I told you that your number one tool for preventing disease is right in your bathroom, you might start laughing.

It's true -- your toothbrush, that light-weight, colorful piece of plastic, is your secret weapon in prolonging your life and keeping your body healthy.

It's only been recently that researchers have discovered that gum disease (also known as periodontal disease), can lead to all sorts of complications, including miscarriages and low-birth weight babies, pneumonia in the elderly, diabetes, and even heart disease.

It stands to reason that our oral health affects our physical health: our mouths are full of bacteria -- bacteria that don't stay put in our months!

In Keep Your Body Healthy . . . Brush Your Teeth!, you'll learn how periodontal disease affects your whole body health and how you can ensure your mouth -- and by extension, your body -- is happy and healthy for years to come.

This is a free e-book -- absolutely no registration required. Simply click the link to download your copy, forward to friends, or post on your blog.

I'm very passionate about educating my patients and the public about oral health and am very happy to provide information about periodontal disease in an easy-to-read, fun e-book that explains the disease, why everyone needs to be aware of it, and how to prevent it (hint: go brush your teeth!).

I welcome your feedback!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

AOL Has Great Info About Oral Health

You can find a great slide show on AOL Health about what your mouth is telling you regarding your overall health. The slide show includes information about dry mouth, jaw pain, and missing teeth.

In addition, AOL Health includes information about healthy snacks for teeth (of course, you already knew that eating apples is good for you!) and the top teeth stainers.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Visited My Alma Mater -- Manhattanville

Last week I had the pleasure of being a guest at my alma mater, Manhattanville College. The Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society invited me to lecture on success and goal setting.

I found the experience quite inspirational. I loved meeting the students, three of whom were seniors applying to medical or dental school.

We talked about the importance of not only setting goals, but writing them down, too. Afterward, we all had dinner. A great time by all!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Myth Busters: The Facts About Teeth Whitening

Here at the Boston dental office, we receive lots of calls regarding teeth whitening. People have many questions . . . which concerns me because of all the procedures a dentist, periodontist, or oral surgeon can perform on you, teeth whitening is the absolute safest.

Because I firmly believe in educating people about the dentistry options available, here are the myths and the facts about teeth whitening (in no particular order).

Myth: The blue light is a laser.

Fact: The blue light is a metal halide UV light, not a laser. Dentists and those offering teeth whitening at the mall use this light to help break down the hydrogen peroxide. As it breaks down, oxygen is released into the air. The peroxide molecules then oxidize the pigmented compounds trapped in the tooth's enamel into colorless by-products -- thus producing a lighening effect on the teeth.

Myth: Professional whitening is more effective than Crest White Strips.

Fact: Both types of treatment work equally well. The benefit of having your teeth professionally whitened is two-fold: you have a dentist ensuring you're a good candidate for teeth whitening, and professional whitening is faster (45 minutes versus weeks of at-home treatments).

Myth: Teeth whitening hurts.

Fact: Gums and teeth can be very sensitive to the hydrogen peroxide. Most tooth whitening procedures increase teeth sensitivity for twenty-four hours until the teeth become remineralized by saliva. When you use OTC white strips on daily basis, however, your teeth are sensitive to the strips' 6% hydrogen peroxide for the entire month. Ouch!

Myth: You will achieve a movie star smile -- whiter than white.

Fact: Whether you have your teeth professionally whitened or use OTC strips, your teeth will never become so white that you glow like the stars in the TV show Friends. Our teeth are not naturally white -- they are either a shade of yellow, brown or gray. Coffee, wine and tea do not really darken teeth, they just create an extrinsic stain which is polished off easily. However, you still have the same color teeth. Teeth also become more yellow as we age as the enamel thins and the dentin, which is yellow, thickens.

Myth: The whitening goes away after a short period of time.

Fact: You can maintain your new smile for about 18 months. If you use OTC white strips a few nights every month, the whiteness may last a little longer. You can have your teeth whitened more than once.

Myth: Anyone can get their teeth whitened.

Fact: If your front teeth have been capped or you have crowns, teeth whitening will not work for you. A crown, which is a synthetic material, cannot be whitened. I also advise that pregnant and lactacting women hold off on getting their teeth whitened until a later date.

Myth: Only dentists can perform teeth whitening procedures.

Fact: You can now get your teeth whitened at special kiosks at the mall and even at gyms! However, the technicians who perform the procedure are not dentists -- or even medical experts, which is why the procedure often costs much less than what you would get a dental office. Teeth whitening techs are not allowed to put their fingers in your mouth and must use "trays" that you insert into your mouth yourself.

If you do have your teeth whitened outside of a dental office, make sure the tech changes gloves between each procedure, that the area is clean and well-lit, and that the company doing the whitening isn't marketing "laser whitening"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

GMA Wakes Up and Smells the Coffee re: Oral Cancer

Well, it's refreshing to see that the mainstream media is *finally* covering the link between oral sex and throat cancer -- something I have been talking about for over a year now.

In fact, we've been trying to get the attention of the Today Show for MONTHS, only to be ignored for (pardon the pun) sexier topics.

You can view the very informative Good Morning America video with Diane Sawyer here.

You can also read my blog postings on this topic -- as well as view the demonstration on how easy it is to screen for oral cancer -- posted below.

All of this goes to show, if you want UP TO DATE information about your oral health, check the Dr. Helaine Smith Successful Smiles blog, first.

Study Debunks Oral Sex Myth -- Maybe

STDs Affect One in Four Teenage Girls

Connection Between Throat Cancer and Oral Sex

And, don't forget to download my e-book, "Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex," which you can find in the margin to the right.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dentists are More Than Tooth Plumbers

I'm very pleased to announce my first post with the Website. A relatively new site, is geared toward professionals in the dental industry.

Take a peek at my first post, "Let's Be More Than Just Tooth Plumbers" and let me know if you agree -- or disagree -- that dentists should be "mouth physicians" and not just "drill and fill" specialists.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What the Candidates’ Smiles Say About Their Personalities

While watching the recent debates, I found myself analyzing the presidential candidates and their smiles and concluded that their smiles give clues into their personalities – and possibly their governing style.

John McCain’s yellow teeth and a gold crown on his upper right molar show his age. He probably got that gold crown in the Navy because few dentists do those anymore.

In addition, he has old amalgam or silver fillings in the posterior teeth – and the bluish black color of the fillings shines through, making his smile and his teeth look worn and very old.

Like John McCain, Joe Biden also has a smile that shows his age. It appears that Biden may have a denture for his mandibular or lower teeth. In addition, his maxillary or upper teeth appear to be a rehab of older crowns. The combination of old and new dental work isn’t well integrated. His upper teeth are dull due to old porcelain crowns and his mandibular teeth are very flat – they look like a denture or an even an older rehab of crowns.

The fact that John McCain has not whitened his teeth – which could be done quite easily while on a ride on the Straight Talk Express – or replaced those black fillings with tooth-color fillings says a lot.

He’s not concerned with looking his age or with how other people view him. It could be he views teeth whitening as ‘too Hollywood’ – a perception that goes against his ‘maverick’ personality.

Biden, on the other hand, would benefit from having wider maxillary teeth and less taper, which would offset his long face, and give him a more powerful smile. Right now his smile is too flashy – and this is because the new work on his upper teeth doesn’t reflect the light well. Hence, his smile may not look sincere to some people and thus he may not come across as trustworthy. And, because his lower teeth are flat, I would hazard a guess he grinds his teeth due to stress.

Because they are younger and benefited from regular dental care as children and teens, both Barack Obama and Sarah Palin have beautiful, youthful smiles. Obama’s teeth have retained their enamel and natural shape – an indication he doesn’t suffer from teeth grinding, even with the stress of the Presidential race.

Obama’s teeth are simply gorgeous naturally – and they add significantly to his star power.

Palin, on the other hand, had orthodontic treatment as a teen but her right central tooth is shorter than her left tooth. Thus, she doesn’t have symmetry between her front two teeth – a problem that is easily rectified with cosmetic dentistry.

She may have decided against cosmetic dentistry because she’s not as concerned with how she looks – the same as her running mate, John McCain. She’s an outdoor type who keeps busy and active – fixing a minor imperfection is not on her list of priorities. However, her teeth are oval shaped and very pretty and they perfectly match her heart-shaped face.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Getting Your Teeth Whitened at the Mall -- Good or Bad?

Fox News in Boston ran a great segment Sunday night about those teeth whitening kiosks you find at the mall. (Reporter Maria Stephanos blogged about why they were running the story back in September.)

As far as educating consumers, the Fox team did a great job. Teeth whitening at the mall is different than what you get “chairside” from dental professional. The technicians at the mall kiosks are able to perform the procedure in about 15 minutes using soft trays coated with peroxide.

The difference between this procedure and something like the Zoom! teeth whitening procedure is that the dentist puts the peroxide solution on your teeth and monitors the procedure –- whereas at the kiosk you put the trays into your mouth yourself. This way, the technician cannot be cited for practicing dentistry without a license. And, the price at the kiosk is pretty good -- $129 versus $300 or $400 for a visit to the dentist.

The other difference is that the percentage of peroxide in the Zoom! gel is very high, much higher than what you get with many of the tray and OTC products.

As this news segment showed, teeth whitening is a very simple and safe procedure. Whitening is safe for everyone, including pregnant woman and children. The gel is a strong concentration of hydrogen peroxide, which is extremely safe; however, it can cause temporary gum irritation if it’s placed on the gum tissue.

Isolation of the tissue and lips is important, which is one reason why you want to see an experienced professional. Additionally a dental office is available for questions and guidance.

We’ve done a lot of teeth whitening in my office over the last ten years, during which time I’ve evolved with the technology and trends. I used a laser initially and now we use a UV light.

We live in a world that wants results immediately and a Zoom! procedure done in 90 minutes seems to fit my patients’ busy lifestyles. I am more than happy to provide this service, but if you are diligent and want to spend a month using the over the counter Crest White strips, you will get the same result. I give my patients this information, but most want the fast results that Zoom! provides.

Once you whiten your teeth, you have to maintain them using at home trays or white strips. If you don’t touch up your teeth about once a month within 19 months of the initial whitening, your teeth will rebound close to their original shade.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Blame the Dentist or The Victim?

According to an Associated Press story hitting the local media, “the state attorney general's office has sued three former dental offices in the state whose workers allegedly persuaded low-income patients to get expensive and often unnecessary dental work they could not afford.”

I had three people tell me that the promo to the evening’s local news was about dentists scamming patients.

Of course, I was interested in finding out more. Since I was working – not scamming patients – I couldn’t see the story on TV and had to search for it online after I had finished with patients.

As a dental professional, I do not defend this action at all. I am sure the charges are serious if the AG’s office is involved.

However, the sensationalist promo made it seem as if all dental healthcare professionals are crooks. I resent this. And more important, did the dentists being charged hold a gun to these patient’s heads and make them take out a loan? Were these people taken advantage of – in much the same way as those who have lost their homes to foreclosure? Or, are they just as responsible as the dentists?

The local Boston media does not run many stories on advances in dental medicine – of which there are many. Lord knows I’ve spent a good few years sending out press releases and other information in the attempt to educate consumers – only to be met with dead silence.

However, let those who are less fortunate get taken advantage of, and the media is quick to do a story.

People, I admit it, there are bad dentists, doctors, plastic surgeons, etc. out there. You simply *cannot* assume that just because someone has a framed diploma hanging on the wall that he or she is competent. You *have* to ask questions including:

What types of continuing education classes have you taken? (Don’t be afraid to ask for evidence of this ongoing training in the form of certifications.)

How long have you been practicing? How many hours have you put in?

Are you certified by any of the leading industry associations, such as the American Medical Association or the American Dental Association?

What other doctors do you work with? Can you give me their contact information? (You want to see who is in the doctor's network.)

In addition, ask for five references -- including references from people who had work done two or three years ago – and call *all* of them. If someone is having any problems with the outcome of the procedure, it will show up after the first year.

You'll also want to ask around to see if anyone in your circle of friends or co-workers has heard of the doctor or dentist.

Unfortunately, it does behoove consumers to protect themselves. To paraphrase Bill O’Reilly, no one is looking out for you. You have to do it yourself.

Monday, September 29, 2008

"Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex!" Featured in Forbes Article

When I attend dental conferences, much of the talk is on social media and online marketing. Many of my dental colleagues are just waking up to the power of marketing yourself on the Web.

Over two and half years ago, I read an article about search engine optimization. I knew nothing about SEO, but I did know I wasn't getting the traffic I knew I could get. So I hired an SEO marketing specialist and in the last two years have ended up developing YouTube videos, redesigning my Web site, starting an e-newsletter, and writing articles plus another e-book, which is in progress.

The cost has more than paid for itself -- which you can read about in this Forbes article, Try These Innovative Marketing Techniques by Maureen Farrell.

In it, Ms. Farrell talks about tactics small businesses can use to market themselves -- and one of them is using an e-book to spread your message, which is what I did with my Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex! e-book.

More importantly, however, I've become quite knowledgeable about online marketing and now read books, such as David Meerman Scott's The New Rules of Marketing and PR, and articles I find in Investors Business Daily and other publications.

Becoming knowledgeable about online marketing has also had an unexpected result: when I attend dental conferences now, I often know more than the presenters touting their marketing expertise -- much of which is dated. And, I've found that many dentists still carry a misunderstanding about the Web and SEO and are hesitant to embrace social media.

So, for you dentists out there reading this, here is my advice: learn about Web marketing and social media from marketing experts who work with many types of companies, not the "experts" in the dental industry. Take some chances, spend some money, and develop a name for yourself online. Yes, it does take time and effort, but the result is definitely worth it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Boost Your Oral Health I.Q. in Ten Minutes or Less!

Looking to brush up on the basics of oral hygiene and boost your overall health at the same time? AOL Health has put together a quick slide show, What Your Mouth is Telling You, that covers the essentials of dental health in a fun format:

Bad breath could be a sign that you overdid it on the shrimp scampi – or it could be a red flag for something more serious, from an abscessed tooth to diabetes.

When you brush and floss as instructed by your dentist, you’re helping to keep your heart healthy as well (but you knew that if you read this blog!).

Jaw pain can be the result of a tooth infection, stress-related tooth grinding – or it could be a warning sign for coronary artery disease. The ache could also signal the onset of cluster headaches.

"What Your Mouth is Telling You" also includes a section called “Chew Wisely,” which provides everything you need to know about choosing foods that will benefit your mouth and teeth, and delivers a few surprises along the way. Sure, we all know that apples are good for our teeth. But raisins, cheese and parsley?

Be sure to check it out!

Monday, September 15, 2008

The LA Times Agrees with Me About Halloween Candy

Last year I wrote a blog post about letting kids enjoy their Halloween candy.

The idea is really not that far-fetched -- as evidenced by the LA Times and their most recent Health article, "It's the candy season so let the kids indulge."

The Times and the dentist they quote, Dr. Mark Helpin, both agree with the assertion I made last year in a similar release I sent out to the local media.

The reason it's ok for kids to eat candy, as I stated in the release, is because 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, but letting your child eat candy as a special treat will not do any harm - except to their waistlines if they over-indulge.

I'm glad Halloween is approaching -- even though I'm a dentist, I love to eat candy!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Our Dental Team Celebrates Success

This time last year it was myself and Mary, my office manager, in our Boston cosmetic dentistry office.

It used to be very quiet . . . but not anymore! That's because we had lots of changes in the last year, including:

>> Hiring Dr. Carlos Abboud, one of the premier periodontal specialists in the U.S.

>> Opening a new family dental practice in Dedham.

>> Hiring hygienists to help with routine cleanings in the Boston office. We also hired an RN, who started last week, to oversee IV sedation with Dr. Abboud, who uses this technique when performing periodontal and cosmetic surgery for our patients.

Having Dr. Abboud means we are now a full-service cosmetic dentistry practice that can perform full mouth reconstructive and periodontal plastic surgery procedures, including bone grafting, gum grafting, mini dental implants, and gum enhancement.

Due to all these exciting changes, we now have fourteen employees! Wow! Some days I can't believe it.

To celebrate our success, we spent one evening last week at F1 Boston racing go karts. My good friend of many years, Frank, beat all of us. Dr. Abboud ran a close second.

The picture is of me holding the victory flag. It's been a wonderful year!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Small Business and YouTube a Perfect Match

As you can tell from some of my blog posts, I've been learning how to develop videos for YouTube in order to help educate consumers about dentistry and oral health.

I've learned a few things developing these videos -- lessons I was able to share with the Boston Herald's Women's Business news section.

In an article titled, "You can develop a video marketing campaign -- on a limited budget" I share six ideas to keep in mind when creating YouTube videos.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Demonstration of Comfort Control Syringe

A commentator on one of my YouTube videos asked that I create a video demonstrating the Comfort Control Syringe -- which is a tool I use to give painless dental injections.

So I did!

I enjoy making these videos, so if you'd like see something demonstrated or have a question about a dental procedure, please let me know.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sleep Apnea Hot Topic at IACA Conference

Sleep apnea was a hot topic at the IACA (International Association of Comprehensive Aesthetics) conference a couple of weeks ago.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is caused by a partial or complete blockage of the upper airway, which occurs during sleep.

People with untreated OSA frequently stop breathing while sleeping – sometimes hundreds of times a night – and often for a minute or more. Episodes usually end when the individual wakes up slightly, returning to normal breathing.

You can read more about it at my newsletter: Dentists on the Front Line of the Battle Against Obstructive Sleep Apnea

One of the new and interesting theories brought up at the conference is that bruxism -- or teeth grinding -- might be caused by sleep apnea. Because they have a dry mouth from snoring and the open posture of the mouth, people need to create saliva and mucous to lubricate the airway while they sleep. Hence, they grind their teeth.

Attending conferences is one way I try to keep abreast of new developments in dentistry. The IACA is a progressive and dynamic organization that is always on the cutting edge of clinical and technological advances in Aesthetic Dentistry, so I enjoy attending their conferences.

Of course, having the conference in Orlando was very nice, too. :-)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Demonstration of ViziLite Plus Oral Cancer Screening

Testing for oral cancer is as easy as rinsing your mouth with a special solution -- as this video I produced for YouTube shows.

The test allows dentists like myself to see cancer cells before they become apparent to the naked eye.

Edited to add: Be sure to check out my new Squidoo page for the ViziLite test!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

ViziLite Cancer Screening Test Comes Under Fire by Boston Globe

The Monday, July 28, 2008 Boston Globe featured an article about the new ViziLite oral cancer test. The main thrust of the article is that it's a waste of time and money.

You can read the full article here.

There is always someone who is willing to take the other side in a story in order to have their five minutes in the spotlight. It is not surprising the Globe did not have to look far to find a dentist not supporting a screening test that could save a life or prevent disfiguring surgery -- especially when you have many dentists who still think amalgam fillings are ok.

Oral cancer is rising due to the link to HPV. When oral cancer is detected early it can save your life. At this point there are only two oral cancer screening tests, ViziLite Plus and VELscope, which can detect malignant cells. The research shows that the tests do aid in early detection.

The ViziLite Plus test, which is what I use, is not a harmful test; the patient only needs to rinse with a vinegar tasting liquid and open their mouths. What other cancer screening test is that simple and pain free?

The Globe also goes on about the cost of the test, and quotes one dentist who charges $80 -- which, the Globe notes, insurance doesn't cover.

I charge $70 dollars and offer the test to high risk patients and those who want it. Each kit costs about $40 dollars, so $30 dollars is not a huge profit, as any dentist will tell you. I do not do the screening to make money.

Doctors are now saying that women don't need yearly mammograms, yet a woman I know was recently treated for breast cancer -- cancer which was found during her annual exam. Where would she be today if she had had to wait an additional year for her exam?

The dentists opposed to the oral cancer screening test lower themselves to the status of tooth plumbers instead of mouth physicians. It is my job as a dentist to educate people on maintaining their oral health -- which leads to whole body health -- not simply scrape plaque off their teeth.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The ADA Needs New Thinking With Regard To Amalgam Fillings

In an blog post, Tammy Davenport writes about the current stand-off between the ADA and the FDA regarding "silver" or amalgam fillings.

Silver fillings incorporate mercury, a toxic substance.

The amalgam issue gets me hot under the collar as some idiot dentists act like they are losing a best friend with amalgam. Their argument is lame.

Insurance companies want amalgam because it's cheap. Amalgam is a Civil War-era material. What else in medicine do we use from the 1800's? Nothing, as far as I know. That's why we have medical advances -- so we can offer patients new treatments that improve lives.

The alternative to mercury fillings is composite fillings, which are also called “tooth colored fillings,” or “bonded aesthetic fillings." Composites are technique-sensitive and are a much better alternative to amalgam fillings.

That's because composite fillings require less tooth to be removed during the procedure and once in place, strengthen the tooth, insulate better against hot and cold, and if they wear down, are easily repaired.

Refusing to give up amalgam fillings is akin to a surgeon saying, "All I'll do is amputate legs after a severe injury. Amputation is easy, and I do not want to learn microsurgery, which takes skill and is an investment."

If surgeons had that attitude there would be no advances in medicine.

And, I'm happy to state that in ten years of practice, I have not placed one amalgam filling. My patients are happy and the work they receive is superior -- since it's based on advanced training, modern medicine and new technologies.

Angie's List Poll Says 50% Afraid to Visit the Dentist

According to a news article on, a recent Angie's List poll found that 50 percent of their members were sometimes afraid of their dentist.

And, even if people are not happy with their dentists, they won't take the time to find a new one because it's too much of a hassle.

What I find remarkable is that despite educational efforts and the wealth of information available on the Internet, people are still afraid to visit the dentist.

On top of that, the dental industry has undergone rapid change. Gone are the days of "Civil War era" treatments. Dentists today have an array of tools and technologies that make dental treatments painless.

One of these tools is the Comfort Control Syringe -- which I talk about in the video below.

Other new techniques include one-visit crowns and sedation dentisty.

With CEREC dental crowns, a dentist can place a crown in one visit. With this new technology, you experiences significantly less invasive drilling, fewer injections, and a lot less time taken from your schedule.

With sedation dentistry, dentists have a number of options to help eliminate pain, including topical gels, improved local anesthetics, such as Septocaine, which provides profound numbing, and sedative drugs taken orally, such as Valium or Triazolam, which lower anxiety.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Funny Dentist Videos at YouTube

If you don't view visiting the dentist as something to laugh about, now is the time to change your opinion.

You can view a number of very funny dental video clips on YouTube. These are a fabulous collection of skits from TV shows, such as the Carol Burnett Show, as well as movies, such as Steve Martin's Little Shop of Horrors.

My favorite is the one of Tim Conway. Classic!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Oral Piercings and Grills Can Cause Dental Problems

Tammy Davenport, at Care, recently posted an article about the problems associated with oral piercings -- including those done in the tongue, lips, and cheeks. Some of the problems associated with oral piercings include:

  • Infection
  • Fractured or chipped teeth
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Scarring
  • Tooth loss
  • Gum damage
  • Loss of taste
  • Mouth sores

One thing not covered in the article? Dental grills.

According to the ADA, no study exists that shows potential problems with grills; however, no study exists that doesn't show long-term problems, either.

The ADA advises that grill wearers "be especially careful about brushing and flossing to prevent potential problems. Food and other debris may become trapped between the teeth and the grill allowing bacteria to collect and produce acids. The acids can cause tooth decay and harm gum tissue. Bacteria may also contribute to bad breath. There also is the potential for grills to irritate surrounding oral tissues and to wear the enamel away on the opposing teeth."

In addition, improperly applied grills can change one's "bite" as well as fracture teeth, so it's really important that a dental professional apply them.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Floss Your Teeth, Live Longer

As I've posted here frequently, not flossing leads to gum disease, which research has shown is linked to heart disease and diabetes.

According to an article in More magazine about habits that help you live longer, flossing regularly can add up two years to your life span.

According to the magazine, you can use that time to train for and run in a charity 10K or marathon.

Other habits include not skipping your workout, not eating like a typical American, and reducing stress.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Mercury Fillings Pose Risk to Pregnant Women

AOL News posted an article about how mercury fillings pose "health problems in pregnant women, children and fetuses according to the Food and Drug Administration after settling a related lawsuit."

*Finally* the FDA addresses this topic of mercury and the potential health risks.

Although I do not believe mercury is the cause of illnesses like some people do, I resent the ADA's (American Dental Association) support for amalgam (silver fillings) and how it perpetuates its use.

Amalgam is an antiquated material that breaks teeth when the mercury expands and contracts with temperature changes. It also stains teeth.

A technology from the Civil War era, amalgam handles very well in restoring many severely broken teeth, and it is cost effective, but many other *modern* materials exist that the ADA should support as vehemently.

Because of the ADA and its position, some dentists will not look at the advances in technology and materials; what they fail to realize is that amalgam fillings are an inferior treatment when compared to resin and tooth conserving porcelain restorations.

All the arguments for amalgam other than it is economic, are easily shot down with facts that support the other restorations and their ability to restore teeth soundly.

Perhaps if the dental school faculty themselves would learn to do composites properly, instead of bad mouthing them, they could teach the dental students 21st- century dentistry and the cycle would begin to break.

The ADA spends energy and money in defending the use of amalgam. Perhaps they could refocus their efforts on educating the public on the importance of regular dental appointments to check for oral cancer and periodontal health which is linked to heart disease and many other systemic diseases such as diabetes.

It also appears the insurance companies have their hand in this as they want to pay on the lowest reimbursed treatments -- which of course include amalgam. They do not want amalgam banned as it will cost them billions. Of course they want to pay out on a mercury-based fillings at compensation levels that have not increased that much from last century.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Old Dental Bridges are Bridges to Nowhere

According to a recent release by the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, aging dental bridges are "worthless" and need to be replaced with implants.

"For most patients, implants are a much better treatment alternative because they preserve the bone of the jaw, can be flossed easily, do not decay, and function just like natural teeth. Also, to get implants you don't have to sacrifice healthy teeth, which is required with bridgework," said Olivia Palmer, DMD of Charleston, SC, an associate fellow of AAID and diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology.

I agree with Palmer.

One of my biggest joys has been having patients come in to replace aging dental bridges -- and seeing their relief when I tell them they are perfect candidates for implants.

With implants, patients have a single unit restoration; more imporant, the arch is restored the way it was meant to be.

However, not all patients are candidates for implants. In the case of Sam, a patient with 15 congenital permanent teeth, bridges and implants gave him a beautiful new smile. (When the new window opens, scroll down to see the photos that show his breathtaking transformation.)

To determine whether you're a candidate for implants, see your dental professional. (If your dentists tells you he doesn't "do" implants or that a bridge is perfectly fine, find a new dentist.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Study Debunks Oral Sex Myth -- Maybe

WebMD recently posted the results of a new survey that shows teenagers are NOT engaging more in oral sex as a replacement for intercourse.

Quoting WebMD, who quotes Laura Lindberg, senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute,

There is a widespread belief that teens engage in nonvaginal forms of sex, especially oral sex, as a way to be sexually active while still claiming that technically, they are virgins. However, our research shows that this supposed substitution of oral sex for vaginal sex is largely a myth. There is no good evidence that teens who have not had intercourse engage in oral sex with a series of partners.

The article goes on to state that STDs are common and mentioned the link to oral cancer -- which is all well and good, but it's information most of us already know.

It also shouldn't surprise anyone that teens are having sex.

The real issue -- and one not brought up in the WebMD article or the survey -- is that we as a country are not doing a good job of communicating the facts of STDs.

The fact that one in four girls gets one proves it -- as does the fact that the U.S. has the highest rates of STDs *in the world.*

(Unbelievable if you ask me.)

Here locally a story ran in the Gloucester Times about the number of high school pregnancies spiking to three times the "normal" number.

According to the report, high school girls are intentionally becoming pregnant due to the influence of young Hollywood stars, such as Jamie Lynn Spears, doing so.

What this story confirms is that these young women, and many like them, do not use anything to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases.

Unfortunately, preaching abstinence is not going to work. Or, it should be followed up by education on the prevention and transmission of STDs.

It would be interesting to compare the rates of STDs in 15-year old girls from 20 years ago to see if anything has changed.

Friday, May 16, 2008

NBC's Brian Williams Does Not "Get" Importance of Oral Health

I watched the video below in stunned amazement.

NBC's Brian Williams received dental floss in response to an ongoing debate about the connection between Alzheimer's Disease and periodontal disease.

He sacrastically reports that this connection lacks any type of "medical underpinnings."

So NBC's healthcast reporter actually provides him with the information based on a study of 20,000 identical twins.

Williams response is more sarcasm -- causing TV news reporter Sue Simmons to fall off her chair in dramatic disgust.

What stunned me? Brian's reaction to medical evidence!

Like many people, he simply does not understand how your oral health affects your entire body!

Monday, May 12, 2008

New Drug Eliminates Effects of Local Anesthesia

Hate feeling like your lip or tongue is about five sizes too big once you've been subjected to anesthesia?

According to today's New York Times, Novalar Pharmaceuticals, a small drug company, has won FDA approval to market a new drug that dispels the effects of local anesthesia.

According to the Times article, the new drug, called OraVerse, "cut the median time it took for full sensation to return to the lips by about 75 to 85 minutes, or by more than half."

The drug seems easy to use -- after the dentist has completed a procedure, "he or she injects OraVerse into the same spot where the anesthetic had been injected."

This is just another way that dental technology is making dental dentists less stressful and more pain-free for patients!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

New Study Links Oral Bacteria and Preeclampsia

In a new study by the University of North Carolina, researchers have linked gum disease in pregnant women with preeclampsia -- a serious pregnancy complication that leads to high blood pressure, premature delivery, and even death of the mother and/or child.

According to lead investigator, Dr. Michael Ruma, speaking to Reuters Health, "Maternal periodontal (gum) disease clearly contributes to an increased risk of preeclampsia, and our results demonstrate that this risk is further increased in the presence of elevated systemic inflammation."

You can read the study abstract at the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Website (April 2008 issue).

If you're a woman and planning on getting pregnant or have recently become pregnant, I urge you to see your dental professional in order to determine if you have periodontal disease. According to my colleague, Dr. Abboud, a periodontal specialist, over 30% of those with the disease have a severe form of it.

You can also download my e-book, Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex, for more information about how your oral health affects your physical and sexual health.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Do You Squidoo?

Getting the hang of building an online presence takes a lot of time and effort, but it's definitely worth it.

In addition to this blog, YouTube videos, a free e-book, and a LinkedIn profile, I've recently developed a Squidoo page.

Check it and leave a message on my guest book!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cosmetic Dentistry Does NOT Make List of Dangerous Procedures

ABC News posted a list of 10 cosmetic procedures you should avoid, including lipodissolve, permanent filler injections and makeup -- and one that sounds absolutely dreadful -- leg lengthening surgery (ugh).

What didn't make the list? Any type of cosmetic dentistry procedure.

Of course, this doesn't mean that cosmetic dentistry is "safe." You can find all sorts of stories about botched procedures such as this one.

As with any medical procedure, you must perform due diligence to ensure the dental professional you choose is qualified and holds the right certifications and experience.

A few questions to ask:

When was the last time you took a continuing education course?

What certifications do you hold? (For example, I've been certified in conscious sedation dentistry.)

How long have you been practicing cosmetic dentistry?

Can you provide references?

For additional information, you can view my YouTube video on dental offices and infection control, and my newsletter article, "When You Need a Second Opinion."

The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry Websites also have lots of great information about how to choose the right cosmetic dentist as well as what various cosmetic procedures entail.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Boston Ranks #78 for Worst Teeth in the U.S.

Check out the list for the Cleanest and Dirtiest Teeth in the U.S.

Ranking at #100 -- and receiving an "F" grade is Lubbock, TX.

Boston, however, isn't far behind, coming in at #78 and receiving a "D" letter grade.

The city with the best teeth? Madison, WI.

Why do you think Bostonians have awful teeth? I think it's because Bostonians -- and most New Englanders in general -- view cosmetic dentistry as something for "vain" people.

Plus, treatment plans can get pricey and New Englanders are simply too thrifty to put out money for something "frivolous" like better teeth (even if it will improve their health).

That's my opinion anyway. What's yours?

Successful Smiles a Blog to Watch for Spring 2008

The Virtual Woman's Day blog recently posted a list of the top 96 women bloggers to watch for Spring 2008 -- and I'm honored to say that this blog made that list.

It's a fabulous list of women bloggers -- be sure to check them out. Here are links to five of them:

Back in Skinny Jeans with Stephanie Quilao

Woman Start Your Business Now with Amanda M. Gladden

Small Business Trends with Anita Campbell

The Stealth Networker Blog by Liz Lynch

The Expertise Marketplace by Suzanne Low

Monday, March 24, 2008

Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex! -- Free E-Book

When was the last time you thought about your teeth? That's like asking when you last thought about your femur or your elbow.

Like breathing, teeth are an integral part of our bodies.

What many people don't understand -- or even consider -- is that the health of our teeth and mouths has a huge connection with our overall physical health -- and our sex lives!

In this new e-book, "Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex!" I explain the connection between your oral health and your sexual well-being -- a topic not too many people talk about.

"Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex!" is a free e-book -- absolutely no registration required. Simply click the link to download your copy.

You can find just about anything to do with sex on the Internet, but you won't find how taking care of your oral health can prolong your sexual health well into old age.

In "Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex!" I cover oral health and sexual issues from young adulthood through old age and include the latest research concerning teens and the rise of STDs and throat cancer; the connection between smoking pot and gum disease; and how gum disease is thought to negatively affect pregnant women and their unborn fetuses.

This is a topic I'm passionate about -- and I'm thrilled to offer this e-book and the information it contains to the general public.

Download your copy of "Healthy Mouth, Healthy Sex!", forward it to friends, and post it on your blog. It's great information everyone should have -- whether you're 18 years old or 65 years old.

UPDATE! I've moved the Successful Smiles blog over to my Website. Be sure to visit me there and let me know if you enjoyed my e-book.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dental Hygienists Lobby to Practice Independent of Dentists

Due to over zealous hygienist lobbying to law makers, and playing on the fact that the poor are not receiving dental care, the lobbying group for the Minnesota Dental Hygienists Assocation has been able to possibly move a step closer in enabling hygienists to practice dentistry independent of dentists -- according to the lastest news article, "'Super' Hygienist Threat to Dentists?"

Proponents of the proposal state it "provides access to oral care for millions of uninsured Americans, especially those in rural areas, inner cities, and suburbs."

Excuse me, but this proposal is really a major disservice to the poor -- who have a tough life to begin with.

Often the poor and uninsured suffer from complex medical issues which further impede them from working. They need the proper assessment of a trained dentist who has a doctorate degree and is able to properly assess their health history and how the dental treatment will be impacted by their current medical situation.

The poor are human beings with rights, and to think that having a less qualified person care for them is right . . . well, someone needs to look at the ethetics involved and their moral compass. Egos are in the way.

According the article linked above, the ADA has its reservations about the bill.

"In a recent statement the ADA urges, 'lawmakers to reject this legislation and work with the dental community on a more workable solution.'"

What is wrong with the ADA? Their statement was weak. This is not the answer and they need to have more incentives and programs in place that rotate new dentists into clinics that serve the poor. The Minnesota dental school cited in the article does not allow dental patients on government assistance to be patients. Why not? That would help allivate some of the problem.

Looking to Canada and other countries who have this model should be enough to prove it does not work.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

STDs Affect One in Four Teenage Girls

A study just released by the Centers for Disease Control states that 1 in 4 girls has a sexually transmitted disease.

According to the article in U.S. News and World report, the most common STDs are human papillomavirus (HPV) and chlamydia.

HPV, which has been long known to cause cervical cancer, is also thought to cause throat cancer and is transmitted via oral sex.

Oral cancer, or throat cancer, is a serious issue since 70% of oral cancers are diagnosed in the late states, III and IV, leading to a dismal five-year survival rate.

However, oral cancer is 90% curable if caught early.

If your dentist doesn't already offer it, ASK for -- no, DEMAND -- that he or she test for oral and throat cancer using many of the tools available, such as ViziLite.

Monday, March 3, 2008

New YouTube Video: Painless Injections

Do you not visit the dentist because just the thought of the needle scares you to death?

You're not alone.

In this new YouTube video, I discuss how I ease patients' fears by using the Comfort Control Syringe. It takes away the image of the big scary stainless needle and makes the injection almost painless.

In fact, when I use it, patients often don't realize they're receiving the injection. (This makes me very happy!)

Monday, February 25, 2008

"Dental Wii" for Designing False Teeth

An article in the Boston Globe talks about a new technology from SensAble Technologies that helps dental labs design partial sets of false teeth using 3D technology.

SensAble issued a release about the new technology at the Chicago Dental Society midwinter show last Friday.

Dentistry is quickly moving to 3D technologies -- yet many labs employ technicians who use non-digital techniques they've spent decades perfecting. According to SensAble, their new technology will help labs "ease into" digital restorations.

For dentists, it will decrease the number of chairside adjustments that have to be made to partial restorations that come from the lab.

3D technology is already in use in the dental office. In my office, for example, I'm able to develop crowns in one visit using Sirona's CEREC machine, which employs 3D technology.

You can view the CEREC machine via the virtual tour of my office. (Click on "treatment room" once you enter the virtual tour, and then click the "info" button at the bottom of the treatment room page.)

You can also learn more about how this machine is benefiting patients.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

View My New YouTube Video about Infection Control in the Dental Office

One thing that constantly amazes me is when friends or patients tell me their current or former dentist doesn't wear gloves when examining their mouths.

This is a direct OSHA violation!

Gloves, protective glasses, and a face mask are all designed to protect you -- the patient -- from infectious diseases.

In this new YouTube video, I discuss what you should look for in terms of infection control in the dental office.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Mike Huckabee a Perfect Candidate for Cosmetic Dentistry?

While watching Mike Huckabee on TV last night, I noticed with dismay that he is missing his left premolars and molars.

He also has yellow teeth and could use professional whitening.

His smile affects how he talks -- it's obvious he doesn't freely open his mouth and hides or tries to hide his teeth. Due to this, his smile does not match his pleasant personality.

Compare his smile to Mitt Romey's, which is perfectly white and straight -- and shall I say it -- glamorous.

What do you think? Should presidents have perfect (or close to perfect) smiles? Do the condition of people's teeth say something about them? If so, what?

Smoking Pot is Bad for Your Gums, Too.

American Medical News Today posted an article yesterday that pointed to a research study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that links smoking pot with gum disease.

"420" does not refer to the periodontal pocket readings you will have if you use cannibus. (The term "420" is slang and denotes lighting up a joint.)

Due to pot smoking your gum tissue, which should have pockets depths of 1-4 mm, often have 5mm or greater, according to the JAMA article. Smoking, whether it be pot or tobacco, is bad for your oral health and causes overall chronic systemic inflammation.

As I've posted before, periodontal disease has been linked to a whole host of other problems, including low birth weight babies, miscarriages, and heart disease.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Read My "New Rules" Article in the Boston Herald

I recently wrote an article, "Get Adventurous with 'New Rules' Online," for the Boston Herald's Women's Business News section.

In it I discuss how service professionals, such as dentists, need to use what author David Meerman Scott calls the "new rules of marketing and PR," namely blogs, podcasts and YouTube videos.

(David also has a free e-book you can download: The New Rules of Viral Marketing. Be sure to download and read it!)

Over 50% of new patients found me last year via the Internet -- due in part to what I recommend in my article: search engine optimization, this blog, and regular press releases.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Successful Smiles Podcast: Pregnancy and Oral Health

Dr. Helaine Smith's Successful Smiles \ healthcast #7

This is the second episode in a series that explores the connection between your oral health and sexual health.

In this episode, I discuss the connection between oral health and pregnancy.

Did you know that infections are thought to account for between 30 and 50 percent of all premature deliveries -- including gum infections such as gingivitis and periodontal disease?

And, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, pregnant women with periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to deliver their babies prematurely or deliver babies that are too small.

In this podcast you'll learn why:

  • It's important to have a dental exam before you get pregant and during the first trimester.

  • You should consider being tested for HPV and throat cancer.

  • Eating healthy foods is good for your baby -- and for your smile.

Send any questions about dental health, or suggestions for future podcasts, to

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Women Turn to the Internet for Health Information

In a press release dated January 22, 2008, comScore released results from a recent study which shows that:

. . . second only to consulting physicians, women turn most often to the Internet for health information. Eighty-five percent of women using the Internet have researched women’s health issues online while two out of three (63 percent) have used the Internet specifically to learn about birth control options.

I have seen this in my own practice. Women routinely search for dental information online -- everything from crowns to veneers -- and then call the office. It's one reason I continually add educational content, such as podcasts and newsletters, to my site -- as well as maintaining this blog.

As the comScore release points out, women are proactive consumers -- and it behooves healthcare providers to provide the information they're seeking.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Successful Smiles Podcast: Teens, Sex, and Oral Health

Dr. Helaine Smith's Successful Smiles \ healthcast #6

This episode of Successful Smiles is the first in a series that explores the connection between your oral health and physical health.

In this episode, I discuss oral health, sex, and teenagers. According to the American Dental Association, oral cancer strikes over 34,000 Americans annually, with over 25% dying of the disease, which claims more lives than melanoma and cervical cancer. The death rate for this cancer is relatively high due to the fact that the disease is not detected early enough.

Additionally, research has indicated a link between the human papilloma virus (HPV) and oral cancer. Researchers at John Hopkins compared patients who had oral cancer with those who did not. The study revealed that those patients who had one to five oral sex partners doubled their risk for throat cancer and those with more than five increased their risk by 250% -- and even more worrisome, increased their risk for the HPV-16 strain of virus by 750%. Over 70% of cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV Types 16 and 18.

The podcast covers the following:

  • The increase in STDs and how this increase is affecting young people between the ages of 15 and 24.

  • How to protect yourself from STDs.

  • The link between oral sex, HPV, and oral cancer.

  • Why you should get tested for throat cancer if you're sexually active and have one or more partners.

Send any questions about dental health, or suggestions for future podcasts, to

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New ADA Oral Longevity Brochure and DVD Available

The American Dental Association (ADA) started their OralLongevity initiative last September. The initiative is "designed to increase awareness about the need to enhance and preserve the oral health of older Americans."

For many older Americans, dental health becomes neglected as seniors lose their ability to drive or walk without help. Many end up in nursing homes or as shut-ins. However, dental care is just as imporant when you're 88 as it is when you're 38.

To address these issues, the ADA recently made available a brochure and DVD geared for dental professionals, seniors, and their care givers. According to the ADA Website, "the OralLongevity brochure and DVD includes searchable chapters on a variety of oral health topics, such as aging dentition, daily mouth care, nutrition, dry mouth and more."

Download the brochure and the DVD.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Relationship Between Oral and Physical Health

Scientific American published a special edition of their magazine. Titled, "Oral and Whole Body Health," the publication features articles on the relationship between one's oral and physical health.

To put it more simply, what happens in your mouth can and does affect the rest of your body.

To quote from one of the articles, "Researchers are discovering that out-of-control inflammation [gum disease] may prove to be the engine that drives an ever-growing list of greatly feared, chronic illnesses from clogged arteries and heart attacks to arthritis and cancer" -- and even low birth weight babies!

This topic is something I've become passionate about in recent years. Unfortunately, the fields of medicine and dentistry have always maintained their own "side of the fence," but as a dentist, it's always been a "duh" idea to me that your oral health affects your physical health.

I'll be posting more about this topic in the coming months. It's a hot topic and one everyone should know more about.