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What I learned from Brett…

"I can skip flossing 2 days each year. Sweet."

Last week I saw my friend Brett Kessler give a lecture. He’s a dentist in Denver, Colorado and among other things, he’s an expert on the treatment of patients who suffer from “meth mouth” due to their use of methamphetamine.

At one point in his lecture he mentions that bringing this person back to a healthy dental condition is a shared responsibility of the dentist and patient.

The dentist is responsible to understand the patient’s dental health, to diagnose dental problems and to perform excellent dentistry. The patient is responsible to take care of their mouth, to let the dental office know if they’re having problems and to come back for recalls so the dentist and dental team can see how they’re doing.

I thought to myself, “these rules aren’t just for those with meth mouth! This goes for every healthy dentist/patient relationship.”

Brett went on to say, “I won’t take responsibility for a patient’s dental work or dental health who isn’t taking care of their mouth.”

Dr. Brett Kessler

All I can say is..he’s got a point.

Many of my patients are only in my office a couple times in a year. We’re cleaning most patients’ teeth and getting a look 2 days out of 365. If you’re having some work done, it might be a few more than that. But what about those other 360+ days out of the year?

I guess I could come to your house a few times a day to brush and floss for you, but honestly, I think you’d get sick of seeing me. Also, you really can’t afford me. So instead of having me be your personal dental preventive steward, I’d refer you to some posts that I’ve written on taking care of your mouth.

Come see us a few times per year. We’ll give you a new toothbrush and some floss. We’ll show you how use them. You can count on us to be your biggest dental cheerleaders!

But you’ve got to do your part.

Just ask Dr. Kessler!

What did you think of  this post? Would you like to share it with friends? You can click on the heart shaped icon next to the title of this post and automatically share it on Facebook, Twitter or Google+! Or you can leave a comment by clicking the “ballon” shaped button next to the title. Or send me an email at alan@meadfamilydental.com. I always answer my own email and I appreciate your input! If your looking for an improvement in your smile in Saginaw, MI I’d like to help!

athletic mouth guard season

"Where's your mouth guard?"

When most people think of summer in Michigan they picture sunny days spent at the lake, outdoor concerts and the smell of recently cut grass. Michigan summers are the reward for the punishment that is Michigan winter.

When I think of Michigan summers I think of getting hit in the face with a softball. Or maybe getting an elbow in the incisor while playing basketball. And summer always leads to fall football season, which sometimes leads to broken teeth. I know, I’m kind of weird. But summer is definitely the season of dental sports trauma.

Sports trauma is one of those things that athletes don’t want to think about. I routinely talk to high school aged kids that play sports and almost none of them use a protective mouth guard unless they are required. Most athletes will never experience an “orofacial injury” while playing sports. The problem is that if it happens, it’s really bad news. According to the National Youth Sports Foundation for the Prevention of Athletic Injuries:

  • Tooth and other dental injuries are the most common type of head and neck injury sustained during participation in sports.
  • A tooth knocked out (complete avulsion) while playing sports is likely to cost $20,000 or more to replace over a lifetime
  • Fixing a tooth or teeth that are broken but not lost during sports will likely create expensive problems that will need to be dealt with over the athlete’s life.

Am I using scare tactics? You betcha! I have treated patients who have needed extensive dental work to fix problems that could have been prevented. They all wish that they had been wearing a mouth guard when they got nailed with that baseball!
I know what you’re thinking. Wearing a mouth guard sucks. They’re bulky and annoying. They make you drool. They look silly. I would agree with you if you’re talking about the store bought “boil and bite” mouth guards. They’re awful. A custom made, lab fabricated dental mouth guard that is appropriately trimmed and adjusted is a whole different story.

"I've got one for every outfit!"

We have mouth guards made in a lab. We use a super accurate impression material to make a model of your teeth and then have a lab fabricate a mouthguard of ideal thickness. A thicker mouth guard offers more protection, but that needs to be weighed against comfort. If it’s not comfortable, you won’t wear it. Since different sports require different levels of protection, we can make a mouth guard in varying thicknesses depending on whether you’re boxing or playing tennis. Whatever sport you play, we’ve got you covered. More importantly, we can get all different colors and styles, add straps for football and even fit patients in braces!

The bottom line is that you should be wearing a mouth guard if you’re playing sports. Most athletes are pretty sure it couldn’t happen to them. I know a few that used to think that. They wear mouth guards now!

Did you like this post? Would you like to share it with friends? You can click on the heart shaped icon next to the title of this post and automatically share it on Facebook, Twitter or Google+! Or you can leave a comment by clicking the “ballon” shaped button next to the title. Or send me an email at alan@meadfamilydental.com. I’m happy to answer any questions and appreciate your input! If you are looking for a mouth guard (or even a new dentist!) in Saginaw, MI I’d like to help!

Warning Labels for Pop

You’ve probably seen it in the news. The FDA will require graphic new warning labels on cigarettes starting in September of 2012.

The labels will be large, covering a large part of the pack of cigarettes. They’ll also be pretty gory. You can see all of the new designs at the FDA’s website.

Some are pretty sure they’ll help reduce smoking. Others are a bit skeptical.

I don’t think that these labels are actually meant to educate smokers about the health risks of cigarettes. Everyone knows that cigarettes are horrible for you in many different ways. What the gruesome photos are meant to do is remind you that you’re making a poor decision right at the time you’re making the decision (when you’re going for a cigarette). Will it help? I’m not sure,but I expect the new regulation will trigger a boom in cigarette case sales.

Dentistry’s version of “everyone knows it’s bad for you but does it anyway” is pop. Or soda for those of you in the northeast. Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Sun Drop. All that stuff is a double whammy for teeth. The acid in it causes the pH in your mouth to drop, which makes cavities. The sugar in it causes the bugs in your mouth to create acid, which lowers your mouth’s pH, which makes cavities.

Just like cigarettes, there’s no redeeming value to pop, except that people like to drink it.

So why not require a label on each and every soda can that reminds the drinker that they’re making a terrible choice every time they choose to have a pop?

I suggest this:

or perhaps…

Admit it. You might put down the Mountain Dew if you saw this.

Groovy!

Have you ever felt your back teeth with your tongue?  They’re kind of lumpy.  And between each of these lumps are grooves.  These grooves, called “developmental grooves,” can be shallow but are often deep in lots many teeth.  By deep I mean, uncleanable with your tooth brush.  People with deep grooves are at greater risk for cavities by no fault of their own. Even worse, these deep grooves are areas of the tooth that haven’t completely formed, which communicate with the deeper, softer parts of the tooth. They can become like giant highways for acid producing bacteria!

So what can you do?  I often recommend a restoration that I like to call a “groovectomy.”  We “remove the groove” in an effort to reduce the patient’s risk for cavities.

I was taught in dental school that grooves sometimes hold stain but don’t always need to be treated.  Experience has made me more skeptical.  This stained groove was “talking to me.”  Suspicious groove
Do you have deep grooves or shallow grooves?  Make an appointment to see us and we’ll let you know!

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