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oral piercings = broken teeth…or worse!

Sooner or later, it’s probably going to happen. If you’ve got a tongue stud or a lip piercing, you’re going to break a tooth. Or maybe something worse.

Really, I don’t like being the square who tells you that your pierced tongue is a problem. I’d love to tell you that there’s no risk to your teeth and gums. But I’d be lying. It’s not that every single tongue or lip piercing is going to break a tooth, but you increase your risk significantly by doing it. Just like drinking a lot of pop increases your risk for cavities. In fact, oral piercings increase your risk of several dental problems.

"Doc, I'm terrified of needles!"

If you’ve ever been around someone with a new piercing, you’ll find that people play with them. It’s a new and different feeling and it’s your tongue’s job to make sure it checks everything out in your mouth. So you’ll clack that thing against your teeth. Or you’ll push it up against the roof of your mouth. You’re going to mess around with it. Worse than that is the fact that you have these two weighted masses (one on the top, one on the bottom) on either side of your tongue that can affect your tongue’s proprioception. Proprioception is a very fancy word that describes the way your nervous system just knows where it’s parts are. The reason that you can touch your nose with your eyes closed is because you have proprioceptive nerve cells that describe to your brain where your finger is compared to your nose. It’s like the body’s GPS system for it’s parts. Adding a tongue stud throws these proprioceptive nerves off the same way holding a barbell in your hand would throw off that little “touch your nose with your finger” exercise. The likely result is that you’re going to accidentally bite that thing or whack it against a tooth. Do this enough times and you’ll probably break a tooth.

an odd place for a tooth to break

I recently saw a patient who had a broken tooth that was sensitive. I see a lot of broken teeth, but this one was broken in an odd place. So I asked him if there was a great story…and there was. His answer, “I used to have a tongue piercing. It broke that tooth, so I took it out the day I broke it.” So, there you have it. He decreased his risk of another broken tooth by taking it out!

There are little strings that attach your lower lip to your jawbone. Look in a mirror while you pull your lower lip forward and you’ll see them. These things are called frena (singular: frenum). Some folks have a frenum attachment that’s pretty close to the gum line of their lower front teeth. If you add a lip piercing, you can get a pretty consistent tug on these frena. And sometimes, the gum tissue starts to recede around those front teeth.

It's all fun and games until your gum starts receding

This kind of aggressive recession actually causes you to lose the bone that supports those teeth. What can happen then? You could lose those teeth. Often the procedures needed just to hang onto those teeth (gum grafts and other reconstructive procedures) can be expensive and unpredictable. So again, having this kind of a piercing isn’t a guarantee that you’ll have these problems, but it increases your risk of problems significantly.

Finally, the piercing procedures themselves have a great risk of infection. I’ve been told that the people that do piercings take great care to make sure that they use clean and sterile instruments and I have no reason not to believe them. But even the cleanest and best procedures done by folks with high levels of training are at risk for infection. Most people wouldn’t choose to have surgery on their lip or tongue without a good reason. But oral piercings are essentially surgery, or at least the healing that you must do is the same. All surgeries have risk of infection, and piercings are no different. Worse than that, someone who’s gone through the decision to have a piercing and the procedure itself isn’t likely to take it out. Even if it’s the problem causing an infection!

"I didn't sign up for an infected tongue!"

What can I say? I’m a buzz kill. Oral piercings increase your risk of broken teeth, gum problems and infection. You shouldn’t do it. But if you do, realize that there are problems, sometimes expensive problems, that you may have to deal with! On the other hand, I want you to know that if you have a problem with a piercing, I’m happy to help. I’ve treated many people with complications from piercings and I can help if you’ve had a “piercing induced problem.” You can easily request an appointment on the website or call us at (989) 799-9133. We’re here for all of our patients…even those with piercings!

Did you find this post helpful? Silly? Earth shaking? I’d love to hear about it! You can share any Mead Family Dental post with a “Like” on Facebook, a “+1″ on Google+ or you can even “Tweet” it with Twitter! All you need to do is hover over the heart shaped button next to the title of the post. Or you can leave a comment by clicking on the balloon shaped icon next to the title.

If you’re looking for a dentist in Saginaw, we’re always happy to accept new patients! You can request an appointment online or call the office at (989) 799-9133. And, as always, you can email me at alan@meadfamilydental.com. I always answer my own emails!

 

The Boring Dental Patient

Are you one of those people?

You know the ones.  They’ve never had a cavity in their life.  They have beautiful straight teeth but have never been further than the dental hygienist’s chair.  They’ve never experienced the drooly feeling of a numb lip or been subjected to their dentist’s cheesy jokes (yeah, it’s not just me.)

If you are one of those people, then good for you!  No one aspires to be an “interesting case” for their dentist.  Rest assured that this Saginaw dentist loves all kinds of patients…interesting or boring.

So what’s the difference between a “boring” patient and an “interesting” patient?  Can patients that have had a lot of dental needs learn something from those that haven’t?  Probably.  Let’s look a little closer.

 

In general, the “boring” patient has reduced risk factors compared to those who need a lot of work.  These risk factors can include hereditary factors, dietary factors, anatomic factors and personal habits.  There isn’t necessarily a single reason that will make or break you for risk of dental problems.  It’s almost always a combination.

  • You almost always get your oral bacteria (mouth bugs) from your mom.  Or whoever your primary caregiver was at the time you first had teeth.  If they suffered from a lot of cavities and gum disease, you probably inherited some pretty tough mouth bugs.
  • The grooves on your back teeth (and some front teeth) can be deep or shallow.  This is determined by genes.  People with deeper grooves are at much greater risk to develop groove cavities.
  • If you have reduced saliva flow, you’re much more likely to have dental problems.  Reduced saliva flow can come from age (older folks seem to have reduced saliva flow), some illnesses and particularly from certain medications.  There could be some genetic factors involved with your natural level of saliva flow, too.
  • If you grind your teeth, you’re much more likely to have dental problems.  Most tooth grinding takes place while you sleep and is not under your voluntary control.  Most everyone has some amount of night time grinding but actual tooth damage depends on how hard and how often you grind your teeth.  Your level of stress, size of your jaw and chewing muscles could have a lot to do with this.
  • Your diet can have a lot to do with how much dental trouble you experience.  If you eat a lot of sugary foods or drink a lot of sugary beverages (pop and juice come to mind) the mouth bugs that you have can turn that into acid, which can cause cavities.  If you eat a lot of acidic foods (citrus or pop, for instance) this can cause the enamel on teeth to dissolve!  Some cultures eat food with a lot of abrasive materials in them (Central/South American and Middle Eastern cultures come to mind) which can also cause tooth troubles.
  • I’m definitely not taking anything away from those who work hard at taking care of their teeth!  If you brush correctly and often, you’re much less likely to have cavities.  If you’re a regular flosser (and not just the day before your cleaning!) it’s going to show up in healthy gums and less cavities.  How well you take care of your teeth definitely matters!

LookMomNoCavities1.jpg.w300h286 The good news is, we have control over at least a few of these factors.  You can’t really control where you get your mouth bugs, but there are things we can do to change them.  You can’t control if you have deep grooves on your back teeth, but closing them up early and aggresively can reduce the troubles you experience.  Even though we can’t really prevent tooth grinding, we can make an appliance to keep the damage to your teeth at a minimum.  Diet and how you take care of your teeth is 100% under your control!

So to the boring dental patient I say “kudos to you!”  The rest of us aspire to be like you and you help us understand what we can do to reduce our own dental problems!

But does that mean that you don’t really need to come to the dentist?

Ummmm.  No.  Sorry about that.

In the next entry I’m going to explain why you still need to come to the see us even though you have perfect teeth with no cavities.

Did find this post helpful? Awe inspiring? Annoying? I’d love to hear about it! You can share any Mead Family Dental post with a “Like” on Facebook, a “+1″ on Google+ or you can even “Tweet” it with Twitter! All you need to do is hover over the heart shaped button next to the title of the post. Or you can leave a comment by clicking on the balloon shaped icon next to the title.

If you’re looking for a dentist in Saginaw, we’re always happy to accept new patients! You can request an appointment online or call the office at (989) 799-9133. And, as always, you can email me at alan@meadfamilydental.com. I always answer my own emails!

 

(originally posted on March 31, 2011)

Bad rebounds

It’s basketball season. So we’re seeing a lot of fans. MSU fans, U of M fans, Pistons fans and a whole lot of different high school basketball team fans. Those fans LOVE rebounds! Those aren’t the rebounds that I’m talking about.

Quite a few of our patients 50 and older are taking some kind of anticoagulant medication.  Aspirin, Coumadin, Plavix or even the newest ones like Exanta are used to prevent the buildup of plaques in the arteries of the heart. And they work. They cause the blood to be less “sticky,” which can help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and embolism in those with artery blockage. The side effects are that they can cause bruising and extended bleeding from wounds. Some dental treatments, particularly surgeries like tooth removal, can cause mild to moderate bleeding. Since bleeding is the first step in wound healing, this is O.K.

In the past, those taking anticoagulant medications were sometimes told to stop taking them 2-3 days prior to a tooth extraction. It was a gray area. Some docs said 2 weeks, some docs said a couple days and some docs said “don’t worry about it.” A lot of patients have been taking these medications for awhile and what they remember is that they stopped taking them for an extraction.

More recent research has described the “Plavix rebound.” It happens when someone discontinues anticoagulant therapy suddenly. Like 2 days before an extraction. This rebound effect puts the patient at significantly higher risk of stroke, heart attack and embolism for the NEXT 90 DAYS! Although most of the current research is with Plavix, the same effect has been known for quite some time with older anticoagulants.

So let’s say you’re on an anticoagulant and you need a tooth removed. My experience has been that in most cases we can remove the tooth and control any bleeding in the office without taking you off your medication. We have a lot of techniques including more minimally invasive surgical techniques as well as wound closure techniques that make postoperative bleeding a non-issue. If you or your doctor have concerns about wound healing I’m happy to discuss it with your doctor. But my guess is that now the risk of “rebound” is much greater than the risk of postop bleeding.

So here’s the deal: DON’T STOP TAKING YOUR ANTICOAGULANT MEDICATION WITHOUT TALKING TO YOUR DENTIST AND YOUR DOCTOR. Even if you stopped it in the past.

Did find this post helpful? Awe inspiring? Annoying? I’d love to hear about it! You can share any Mead Family Dental post with a “Like” on Facebook, a “+1″ on Google+ or you can even “Tweet” it with Twitter! All you need to do is hover over the heart shaped button next to the title of the post. Or you can leave a comment by clicking on the balloon shaped icon next to the title.

If you’re looking for a dentist in Saginaw, we’re always happy to accept new patients! You can request an appointment online or call the office at (989) 799-9133. And, as always, you can email me at alan@meadfamilydental.com. I always answer my own emails!

no symptoms ≠ no problems

"Jokey smurf thought nothing of the filling that fell out last week. He wasn't as Jokey when his cheek swelled up."

“It didn’t hurt, Doc. So I didn’t come in…”

I hear this from patients. A lot!

Many dental problems actually don’t hurt. A couple examples:

  • gum disease: Usually doesn’t hurt, even with advanced loss of bone around the tooth. Teeth can often become loose with little to no pain.
  • early tooth decay: Painless. Tooth decay can often advance almost all the way to the nerve of the tooth with little or no pain
  • broken teeth: a relatively common problem called “cracked tooth syndrome” actually hurts before the tooth breaks, but feels better once the tooth actually breaks!

In fact, by the time you have real pain with a tooth, it’s probably reached the point where the fix is more difficult and more expensive.

“O.K. Doc. I hear you. Tooth problems don’t always hurt. So, if it doesn’t hurt, how do I know I have a problem?”

That’s a good question. When a patient isn’t having any problems we would say that don’t have any symptoms. But they may have signs of trouble that they aren’t aware of.

 Symptom:  “a departure from normal function or feeling which is noticed by a patient, indicating the presence of disease or abnormality. A symptom is subjective, observed by the patient, and not measured.”

Sign: “A dental sign is an objective indication of some medical fact or characteristic that may be detected by a dentist during a dental examination…”

So, how does a patient know if there are any signs of problems? They need to go to the dentist. Regularly. Ideally they go to a dentist that they trust and that they’ve developed a relationship with over a period of time. A dentist uses symptoms (from the patient) as well as signs (collected by examination) to find problems. Ideally, problems are found when they’re very small and need minimal treatment. The best way to make sure problems are found early is by scheduling regular checkups with your dentist. Every six months is the minimum that I would recommend.

Some patients should be seen more often than every 6 months. Who are these patients?

  • Patients who have “unstable” periodontal disease: If there’s advanced bone loss and we’re not sure that we’ve arrested the disease process we’ll want you to come in more often. Every three months is preferred.
  • Patients with a high rate of decay: If you’ve had multiple cavities in the last year I’m going to want to check you pretty often. I’m also going to want to help monitor your diet (less pop, more xylitol gum) and probably will recommend fluoride varnish treatments every three months, or even more often.
  • Patients on a lot of medications: multiple medications often means a dry mouth. Dry mouth is a huge risk for tooth decay.
  • Patients with a history of head and neck radiation: radiation treatment for cancer can cause your salivary glands to produce much less saliva. This is a huge risk factor for tooth decay and these patients should be seen every 3 months or more often for preventive care.

“Aren’t you just trying to scare us into coming in more often?”

We go to any length to get you to make an appointment at Mead Family Dental

No. But if that’s what it takes, I’ll put on my Ghostface mask.

The bottom line is this…just because it doesn’t hurt doesn’t mean that everything is fine. You should be seeing your dentist at least every 6 months. Plus, you should make an appointment immediately if you have any of the following:

  • a broken tooth: Whether it hurts or not, this needs to be seen and treated. A broken tooth that doesn’t hurt is a time bomb waiting to ruin your weekend, your vacation or a good night’s sleep. Broken teeth seem to know about Murphy’s Law and usually become a problem when your dentist isn’t in the office.
  • a food catcher: Do you have a spot between your teeth where food always gets stuck? These “food traps” can and should be treated. This is a great place for a cavity to start.
  • lost crown or filling: As much as you’d like to believe (and so would I) that all dental work lasts forever…it doesn’t. A crown or filling that comes out is a none-to-suble hint that there’s a problem. This needs to be seen!
  • trauma: Did little Billy bump his tooth on the coffee table? Did Dad take a softball to the chin?  Teeth that have been bumped can sometimes act up. Even if everything feels O.K., you should have your dentist take a look.

Make sure to let your dentist know if you do have symptoms. A patient’s description of the problem is the first step in determining a diagnosis. If your dentist isn’t listening to your concerns and symptoms, speak up or find another dentist!

Did find this post helpful? Annoying? I’d love to hear about it! You can share any Mead Family Dental post with a “Like” on Facebook, a “+1″ on Google+ or you can even “Tweet” it with Twitter! All you need to do is hover over the heart shaped button next to the title of the post. Or you can leave a comment by clicking on the balloon shaped icon next to the title.

If you’re looking for a dentist in Saginaw, we’re always happy to accept new patients! You can request an appointment online or call the office at (989) 799-9133. And, as always, you can email me at alan@meadfamilydental.com. I always answer my own emails!

 

Like a gift card from a control freak

"I haven't been to the book store because I haven't had a gift card..."

Bookstore employee: “Hi, how can I help you?”

Customer: “Well, I haven’t been to the bookstore in a long time because I didn’t have a gift card. But my employer bought me a gift card, so I’d like to buy some books! I was thinking of getting the latest Stephen King novel.”

BE: “Oh, I’m sorry. Your gift card won’t allow hardcover fiction titles. They only allow for paperback. We do have several of his older titles in paperback, though.”

C: “Hmmm. O.K. Well, maybe I could try something in nonfiction. Maybe Freakonomics or The Tipping Point?”

BE: “Again, I’m really sorry. This gift card can only be used to buy boring nonfiction. Interesting nonfiction isn’t covered by your gift card.”

C: “Jeez. O.K. So, maybe I’ll just get this magazine then.”

BE: “That’s fine. Your total is $6.95.”

C: “Wait. Um. I’d like to use my gift card. Can I do that?”

BE: “Your gift card has a deductible. You can’t use it for purchases under $50. So, is that cash or credit?”

Dental “insurance” isn’t really like insurance at all. Insurance is meant to protect you against unpredictable calamity to yourself, your family and your stuff. For the most part, dental care is something that can be planned for and isn’t “calamity based.” A lot of dental care consists of regular maintenance which is distinctly different than a heart attack, a car accident or a flood…events that normally are covered by insurance.

Dental benefits are a lot like a gift card. Your dental benefits give you a certain amount of money to be used toward dental care in a given year. Most plans don’t allow you to carry over an unused amount to the next year, so it’s “use it or lose it.” The incentive to the patient is to use their “insurance” to the fullest.

So, if the insurance companies know that they’re obliged to give each subscriber $x/year when the premiums received are less than this amount, how can they make money? They have several strategies.

  • The insurance company knows that a certain number of people are not going to use the benefits that their employer paid for. Many people won’t see the dentist even if they have a “gift card” that will help pick up the bill. To the insurance company, this is free money.
  • Most insurances have strict control over what they will allow patients to use their benefits for. Some policies won’t allow you to use your dental benefits for tooth colored fillings. Some policies won’t allow x-rays each year. These limitations control costs by requiring the patient to pay more “out of pocket” for them if they decide they would like to have the service done.
  • Some insurances cover nothing on really valuable dental services. Dental implants are the best treatment for missing teeth that dentistry has to offer. Most dental insurances will not allow you to use your benefits for the surgical placement of an implant, even when they will allow you to spend your benefits on a less conservative treatment like a bridge or a partial.
  • Some insurances require that the patient pays a certain amount out of pocket before being allowed to use their dental benefits. This is called a deductible and is one more way to discourage subscribers from using their benefits.

So if dental benefits are like a gift card, the gift givers are control freaks! I’m not claiming that dental benefits have no value. People with little or no dental problems will do great using their dental benefits. But like a gift card, dental benefits may not cover all of what you want or need for dental care. The mistake that many patients make is to believe their dental needs are in some way related to how much money they have on their gift card. If you’ve got a gift card for $15 in the bookstore, you’ll be able to pick up a couple magazines, but you’ll probably have to kick in a little if you’re looking to pick up the latest John Grisham hardcover.

If you like this post, I’d love to hear about it! You can share any Mead Family Dental post with a “Like” on Facebook, a “+1″ on Google+ or you can even “Tweet” it with Twitter! All you need to do is hover over the heart shaped button next to the title of the post. Or you can leave a comment by clicking on the balloon shaped icon next to the title.

If you’re looking for a dentist in Saginaw, we’re always happy to accept new patients! You can request an appointment online or call the office at (989) 799-9133. And, as always, you can email me at alan@meadfamilydental.com. I always answer my own emails!

 

 

The oil change: a dental analogy that just keeps on giving

It seems like I'm always a quart low

I really don’t know how a car works. I’m good with the fact that you need to put gas in it. I can even change a flat tire. But the part where you turn the key and it runs is just plain magic to me. I know, I should probably turn in my man card. I also know you’re supposed to change the oil every x number of miles (3000? 5000?). I spent a fair amount of time in oil change places recently. Both my car and my wife’s van were quite overdue for oil changes, so I finally got over to the oil change place to have it done.

It seems like the mechanic on duty always suggests a barrage of filter and fluid changes in addition to the oil change. The suggestions are always in flashing red letters on the computer monitor helpfully placed next to the driver’s side window. A harried mechanic always manages to bring an air filter over to the window that looks as if it was recently plucked from a sandstorm. It seems like there’s always something more that I should be doing to maintain my car and there’s no such thing as a 10 minute oil change. I go in wanting an oil change and come out with a radiator flush, new wiper blades and the guilt associated with telling the mechanic that I’m not going to have him clean my brake fluid reservoir. My quick $25 maintenance almost always turns into an hour or more costing $200!

Why do I feel taken advantage of? Why do I dread going to get my oil changed? There are a couple of reasons. First, I don’t like to feel stupid. I don’t know how cars work and the oil change places know this. I don’t really know if what they’re suggesting is necessary. Even when I do everything they ask, they always suggest more the next time. It’s a knowledge problem. They know more about the how a car works than I do so I have to trust that they’re being honest and that I really need the services that they’re suggesting. Of course, they’re both diagnosing the problems with my car and selling the “solution.”

"When was the last time you had your teeth cleaned?"

Secondly, I feel guilty when I’ve gone over my mileage. Life is hectic and sometimes I don’t get back before 3,000 miles have gone by. Of course there’s that sticker in my window that reminds me that I’m overdue every time I get in the car, too. On top of that, the oil change places say 3,000 miles, but the manufacturer says 5,000. So which is it?

All of this strikes me as a near perfect analogy to dental checkups. How are you supposed to feel when your dentist tells you that you need a filling but nothing even hurts? Why does it seem like they always want to take x-rays? And you just know that they’re going to give you a hard time about not flossing enough. It seems like every time you come in there’s something else you have to pay for and it’s awkward to constantly tell them “no!”

Dentist’s have more knowledge about teeth and dental problems than patients do. That’s why they’re dentists. So there can be a conflict. Dentists get paid to diagnose and fix problems, just like the oil change places. The difference is that dentists have a code of ethics that they are supposed to follow that means they always put the patient’s best interests first. Does that mean that dentists are always great at it? Not necessarily. But it’s something that most dentists I know aspire to.

Our office wants you to make great choices about your dental care. So we do some very specific things to make your dental office experience unlike a trip to the oil change place:

  • We take a lot of pictures: We’ve got all kinds of cameras (intraoral, extraoral and microscope mounted!) and we take photos for our records. A lot of times a photo can help a patient understand a diagnosis or a treatment better than just a spoken description.
  • We strive for informed consent: We try to explain (in words and pictures) our findings and suggest treatments to solve the problem. On top of that, we explain the consequences of not treating the finding. We’ll make sure you understand what the treatment entails and also what the treatment costs before you choose a treatment.
  • The patient can always say “no.”: This is a big deal. You’re in charge and you always have the final say. Sometimes we dentists get all wrapped up in all the cool stuff that we can do for a patient without making sure it’s what the patient wants to do!
  • We build relationships: Most of our patients have been with us for a long time and we’ve built up a level of trust. We always try to build this same kind of trust with new patients and we understand that this doesn’t happen overnight. Patients need to understand that we’ll be here when you’re ready!
  • we won’t scold you: Many new patients tell us at they’re embarrassed about their teeth and they know it’s been “too long.” We’re just glad you’re here now. Scolding you only makes you feel guilty and it doesn’t help anything. So we won’t.

"No cavities! We'll see you in six months!"

So, the next time I get my oil changed and they recommend that I should have my bearings packed and antifreeze tested I’m going to follow my own advice. I’m going to ask them to explain what the bearings do. I’m going to ask them to show me my antifreeze and why they think it should be tested. And I’m going to make sure I understand (at least a little) what they’re suggesting and I’m going to ask them what the consequences are of not doing it.

If you like this post, I’d love to hear about it! You can share any Mead Family Dental post with a “Like” on Facebook, a “+1″ on Google+ or you can even “Tweet” it with Twitter! All you need to do is hover over the heart shaped button next to the title of the post. Or you can leave a comment by clicking on the balloon shaped icon next to the title.

If you’re looking for a dentist in Saginaw, we’re always happy to accept new patients! You can request an appointment online or call the office at (989) 799-9133. And, as always, you can email me at alan@meadfamilydental.com. I always answer my own emails!

 

 

 

Plaque vs. “biofilm” and the research that could change dentistry as we know it

a beautiful example of biofilm

You brush your teeth to get the plaque off of them, right? And if you remove the plaque then you won’t get cavities, right?

Um…kind of.

The model dentistry has been explaining to patients forever is that plaque causes cavities and that if you can just remove the plaque then you’ll have healthy teeth. Unfortunately, it’s really not that simple.

Unless you’ve just had your teeth cleaned, like 2 minutes ago, your teeth are actually covered in a biofilm. It happens if you brush three times a day and floss like a maniac or if you haven’t seen a toothbrush in years. Biofilms form on most any surface that’s wet. Slime on the hull of a boat, coated rocks in a stream and the plaque covered surface of teeth are all examples of a biofilm.

Biofilms are actually microscopic communities of bacteria and the slimy matrix they make to stick to surfaces. A biofilm will “mature” over time and then spread. The plaque that dentists and hygienists talk about is actually a biofilm that’s large enough to be seen with the naked eye. Dental plaque/biofilm is actually made up of many types of bacteria. Some of the bacteria (Streptococcus mutans, for instance) found in this biofilm are the bad guys that can eat sugar and turn it into acid which can then cause tooth decay. Other bacteria (Streptococcus sanguinis) found in the plaque are actually known to make the biofilm less hospitable to the acid loving bacteria. So it doesn’t necessarily follow that biofilm = cavities. Someone who does a good job of brushing and flossing will generally keep the size of the biofilm smaller and potentially makes the biofilm “healthier” by increasing the % of bugs that don’t produce acid.

less beautiful and more common biofilm

O.K. Doc…I’m following you. Not all plaque is bad plaque. So why can’t they get rid of the bad bugs and leave the good bugs? Well, I’m glad you asked! There was a preliminary study out of UCLA about a mouth rinse that can do just that! Since it’s a preliminary study that means that real clinical trials to prove efficacy haven’t been done. They have some promising results on a small group of patients treated with a mouth rinse that can supposedly target S mutans (the bad bugs) in the plaque. According to one article there will be clinical trials starting in 2012.

In the mean time, we need to fight those bugs the way we do now!

If you like this post, I’d love to hear about it! You can share any Mead Family Dental post with a “Like” on Facebook, a “+1″ on Google+ or you can even “Tweet” it with Twitter! All you need to do is hover over the heart shaped button next to the title of the post. Or you can leave a comment by clicking on the balloon shaped icon next to the title.

If you’re looking for a dentist in Saginaw, we’re always happy to accept new patients! You can request an appointment online or call the office at (989) 799-9133. And, as always, you can email me at alan@meadfamilydental.com. I always answer my own emails!

Two minute warning

I recently discussed beverage habits with a young woman who was in to have her teeth cleaned. We found several new cavities. How they looked and where I found them indicated to me that she has some dietary sugar problems. So I launched into my mind reader act.

“So, what kind of pop do you like to drink?”

She looked slightly impressed, but she seemed ready for my question.

“Well, I don’t drink much pop. I do drink a lot of Gatorade, though.”

Boom! There it was. Gatorade was her beverage of choice. I actually hear this a lot. Gatorade can’t be bad for your teeth! Gatorade is for athletes. Athletes are healthy. Plus, Gatorade isn’t fizzy, so there’s less acid, right? No problem.

Gatorade contains 14g of sugar per serving. Which is about half the amount of sugar in my traditional nemesis, Mountain Dew. However, it’s pH is listed between 2.2 and 3.1. Which is similar if not more acidic than Mountain Dew. So Gatorade has less sugar than pop, but is similarly acidic, even though it’s not fizzy.

I talked a bit longer to this patient. I told her that unless she wanted to see lots of me that she was going to need another plan.

She said, “O.K., I’ll just drink water.”

I asked, “do you like water?”

“Yeah.”

“So why do you drink Gatorade?”

“Well, it tastes better.”

“Here’s the deal. You can drink as much Gatorade as you want, but you have to limit it to 2 minutes a day.”

She looked at me, completely puzzled.

“I know,” I said. “It sounds silly. Having some sugars or acids in the diet is O.K., but you have to limit the amount of time your teeth are exposed to it. If you want to drink a bottle of Gatorade, I’ve got no problem with it. But you have to drink it in 2 minutes from start to finish. You need to set a timer.”

Kelly, my hygienist, jumped in and mentioned, “Gatorade ‘G2′ is sugar free, too. I don’t know about the acid content, but it doesn’t have any sugar.”

“So now you have a plan,” I said. “You get 2 minutes to have any sugary drinks you want. Then you need to chew some sugarless gum. For the rest of the day, you’ll look for sugar free options.”

“I think I can do that,” she said.

So there you have it. If you can change your diet in such a way, you can significantly reduce your risk for developing cavities. Do you need a 2 minute warning?

If you like this post, I’d love to hear about it! You can share any Mead Family Dental post with a “Like” on Facebook, a “+1″ on Google+ or you can even “Tweet” it with Twitter! All you need to do is hover over the heart shaped button next to the title of the post. Or you can leave a comment by clicking on the balloon shaped icon next to the title.

If you’re looking for a dentist in Saginaw, we’re always happy to accept new patients! You can request an appointment online or call the office at (989) 799-9133. And, as always, you can email me at alan@meadfamilydental.com. I always answer my own emails!

 

Happy Halloween! (scary teeth and candy eating tips)

Terrified of cavities!

We hope you have a fantastic Halloween! We have a warm place in our hearts for this scary holiday here at Mead Family Dental. Last year we featured Kathy as an undead pirate. I can hardly wait to see what she’s come up with this year!

As a dentist, Halloween makes me think of two things. Scary Halloween teeth and all that candy.

First…check out some of the very cool, very scary Halloween teeth I’ve found.

For those of you who prefer the horrifying monster look we have “minion fangs” found at www.halloween-mask.com.

 

 

“Dental Distortions” (www.dentaldistortions.com) provides several terrifying options for vampire fans.

For those who prefer their fangs on canine teeth you can choose the “nightslayer” option.

 

 

 

 

My personal preference has the fangs on the lateral incisors on the “nightbreed” model.

 

 

 

If you prefer a more demonic look I highly recommend the “Lucius” model.

 

 

 

 

And finally, no discerning trick or treater would want to miss a sweet halloween grill (from www.halloweencostumeworld.com).

 

 

Now, on a more serious note, let’s talk about candy. Halloween is a huge candy holiday. Americans buy 600 million pounds of candy each Halloween. That’s a lot of candy. And that’s some serious potential for tooth decay.

There are some things that parents can do to reduce the risks of decay for their trick or treaters. Here’s a few ideas:

It’s tough being a dentist on Halloween. But it’s my duty to spread the word about how we can reduce the risk of cavities for our little ghosts and goblins!

Did you like this post? Do you have any questions I could answer? Feel free to email me at alan@meadfamilydental.com or call us at the office at (989) 799-9133. This Saginaw dentist is always taking new patients and we’d love to be your Saginaw dental office!

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