Monday, August 20, 2018

Make the commitment to yourself now!

Just like everything else in life, people procrastinate when it comes to their oral health, and the consequences can be worse than you might have imagined. There are situations in which we are forced to make hard decisions of whether or not to retain teeth that might be otherwise savable. In most cases, these terrible decisions involve oropharyngeal cancer. Approximately 52,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with this horrible and sometimes disfiguring cancer this year. Of those, approximately 20% will die of that cancer. Radiation treatment is one of the primary means of treating cancers of the head and neck, and the side effects can be very debilitating. As  dentists, there are several consequences of radiation treatment that we deal with. In most cases, the salivary glands are a casualty of radiation, which leads to greatly reduced saliva flow, dry mouth (xerostomia) and subsequent root decay and periodontal (gum) disease. The other major side effect is perhaps the worst of all. Radiation causes the bone of the jaws to be far less resilient when it comes to repairing itself following any type of trauma. Trauma includes oral surgery such as root canal treatments, implant placement, periodontal surgery, and tooth extraction. Even the rubbing of a denture on the gum tissue can cause major problems that can lead too a disease process known as osteoradionecrosis. This causes bone loss that can spread to encompass most or all of the bone in the upper or lower jaw. In order to prevent this, we generally extract unhealthy teeth prior to the radiation treatment that would otherwise be savable, because after the radiation treatment, a tooth requiring removal could cause osteonecrosis and the horrible consequences associated with it. For people who have kept up with their oral care prior to their cancer diagnosis, this is pretty much a non-issue. For those who have decay and/or gum disease, it means the loss of the teeth involved and difficulty ever replacing those teeth. Any oncologist will tell you that the overall health of a patient entering cancer treatment has a major impact on the success of that treatment and the quality of life afterwards. Do yourself a favor and do what it takes to keep your body and your mouth in a healthy state. We can't predict what the future holds for us, but going into that future as healthy as possible can only make it better. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

I'm just going to put this off for a while?

We all procrastinate in many facets of our lives, but doing it with your healthcare can have consequences. I can't tell you how many times patients have returned for treatment after months or even years, and it was either not possible to save a tooth or they had lost too much bone to replace a tooth without extensive bone grafting prior to implant placement. Bone is preserved as long at healthy teeth and implants are present. It tends to be lost when nothing is present. Your ability to smile confidently and chew efficiently all of the foods that you prefer are such an important part of your life, why would you want to compromise that because you think that there will be a more convenient time to address it? I can't tell you the number of times patients have told me that they wish they'd addressed something sooner. You only have one body, and your mouth is an integral part of that body. Make a commitment today to be the healthiest and happiest person that you can be. You'll thank yourself for it the rest of your life.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

It's all about the people.

You can't run a busy practice without great staff, and I'm fortunate to have the very best. Every time I see my physician, I'm reminded of how fortunate I am to have a staff that works hard, genuinely cares about the patients, and makes my life so much better. Eriko, Chenell, and Cornelia are wonderful people who make our practice special. Come in and see for yourself how wonderful it is to have people who care. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Badly needed time off!

My family and I just got back from a sorely needed vacation. Everyone needs a break from time to time, and, as busy as we've been, I definitely fall into that category. That being said, it's great to get back to may patients who really help to give my life purpose beyond my family. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Everybody needs a break

I'm just back from Breckenridge, my first vacation in two years. It's time off with my family that was sorely needed and certainly enjoyed. Everyone needs a chance to smell fresh air and get a break from the daily routine. That being said, I'm looking forward to seeing my patients again. I truly enjoy what I do, and wouldn't trade the relationships that I have with my patients for anything. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

What are you waiting for?

Every day you don't deal with an issue, dental or otherwise, is a day that you go without the benefits of the solution. Procrastination is the root cause of most of the treatment that I perform. Don't do that to yourself. Deal with your problems when they occur, save yourself time and money, and improve your quality of life. Treat mouth like it's the only one you have, because it is.

Friday, February 9, 2018

My roots are showing. Is this a problem?

Well, like all issues, it just depends on the circumstances. If you are a young adult with significant root exposure (more than 2mm), yes. If you are a middle aged or older person, and you've noticed more root showing recently, yes, this probably needs to be addressed. Keep in mind that gum recession is usually a slow process, but it can lead to tooth loss. The main treatment is a gum graft to cover exposed roots and provide thick, attached gum tissue that is resistant to further recession. If you even think that you may have a problem, it's best to get it checked by your dentist or periodontist. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Why are my gums receding?

There area a number of causes for gum recession and root exposure. Traumatic tooth brushing or using a hard tooth brush is one that's preventable. You should use a soft brush and make small circles with it as you go from tooth to tooth. Don't scrub with a sawing motion, and use light pressure. If you use an electric brush, don't push too hard. Most of the current models will either stop or a flashing red light will come on when you press too hard. Another cause of tooth recession is grinding and clenching your teeth. This is a hard habit to break, but a bite guard can help control the damage that this causes. Lastly, some people are just born with thin gums that are prone to recession. These are the people who most benefit from gum grafts. Generally, once a graft is done, the gums stabilize and further recession is minimized. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

"I'll just replace the tooth when I get insurance."

I hear this quite often, and it sometimes leads to a more expensive tooth replacement. Even if you have a bone graft at the time of a tooth removal, bone will tend to be lost over time. Often this necessitates another bone graft prior to implant placement. The best time to get an implant is at the time of the tooth removal if possible. The second best time is a few months after the tooth was removed and a bone graft placed. Too often when people put off tooth replacement, months turn into years, and the replacement becomes more complex than it had to be. An implant is an investment in yourself, why not enjoy the benefits of it for the maximum amount of time and possibly save money in the long run?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

"My gums have receded, and my dentist wants to cover my exposed roots with white fillings."

If there is decay on a root surface, it will need a filling to stop and prevent further decay. Placing white fillings over root surfaces for aesthetic reasons though is sometimes a bad idea. If the objection is gum recession, why not cover the exposed root with gum tissue? This is generally the best option, as it prevents further recession, reduces sensitivity, and looks more natural. Once a filling has been placed on a root surface, it is more difficult to get a gum graft to adhere. Before you get a root filling, see a periodontist for a consultation. He can tell you if there is a better alternative.