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Browsing 7 posts in toothaches.

Bigfoot seeks Saginaw dentist for second opinion

Note the swollen jaw and poor attitude towards preventive dentistry

Sasquatch sitings in central Michigan are rare. Particularly in the Saginaw Valley. Saginaw hasn’t had any reported sitings of the ape-like cryptid since 1937. However, that’s not to say they aren’t around. As recently as 1977 they’ve been reported in the thumb, so I never doubted that they were around.

I’ve always taken a special interest in sasquatches due to their love of sweets. Anyone with even a passing interest in cryptozoology knows that a bigfoot won’t pass up a chance to gorge on honey or other sugary treats. So it’s no wonder they suffer from toothaches. The team here at Mead Family Dental have let it be known that we’re happy to see any creatures suffering with toothaches, and apparently word gets around.

"They're closed?"

On December 13, 2011 we found what we’re pretty sure is a sasquatch print. We figure that the poor ‘squatch had a toothache and caught us on a Thursday afternoon after we’d left for the week. Since most sasquatches don’t have smartphones (poor reception in the wooded and mountainous areas they inhabit) he wasn’t able to call the emergency number at (989) 488-7665. I feel bad about that. I hope this poor bigfoot knows that we’re happy to see him and take care of any of his dental needs if he’ll just drop us a line. Maybe he’d prefer to make an appointment online. I’m not sure.

We went ahead an made a cast of his footprint. We’ve got plenty of dental stone and we wanted to let people know about sasquatches and their dental problems. So, we’ll have the cast of this poor suffering bigfoot available to look at all April long. Drop by to take a look. I think you’ll be impressed.

Unfortunately, we haven’t heard from him yeti.

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!

 

‘Twas the Week Before Christmas

Christmas-stories-twas-the-night-before-christmas-8 ‘Twas the week before Christmas with plans winding down.

Not a dentist was working, it seemed, in our town.

The stockings were hung, filled with presents and more,

when Johnny first noticed a new canker sore.

It was sore under his tongue and it hurt when he talked.

A glass of cold orange juice made him sit up and squawk!

He complained to his wife when she asked “what’s the matter?”

After screaming and dropping his glass, which then shattered.

The timing was awful with Christmas Eve the next day.

How would he manage? Christmas was looking quite gray.

She picked up the phone since she knew who to call.

And she dialed Dr. Mead with no worries at all.

Kathy picked up the phone with her usual cheer,

and let Johnny’s wife know “of course we are here!” Continue Reading…

“No offense, but I hate dentists.”

Steve_martin_dentist

I hear this line at least once a week.  Really.  “No offense, but I hate dentists.”  How could I take offense at that?

My usual reply: “Perfect!  I hate patients, too.  Open wide.”

I know, I’m making light of the way a lot of people feel about the dentist office.  Perhaps I shouldn’t, but I’ve found that approaching patients with a sense of humor is usually helpful.

So why would a patient “hate the dentist?”  Some associate the dentist with pain.  If you’ve ever had an abscessed tooth, who could blame you?  Others may have had a bad experience in the dental office that has been hard to forget.  Some people really don’t like the way that anesthetic makes them feel.

Finally, dental care is expensive.  Anything that costs money that you would rather spend in some other way is expensive. Have you ever had someone trying to sell you a new roof or a dry basement try to explain to you how inexpensive their product is?  Dentistry is kind of the same way.  If you came into my office and said, “doc, I’ve got a bunch of money in my pocket that I don’t know what to do with so I thought I’d have a root canal” you’d be the first patient that ever said that to me.

The-dentist

Any of these concerns is 100% legitimate.  So my job is to try to make you hate us less.  I have a few suggestions that might make coming to the dentist a little easier:

  • Don’t wait until something is broken or something hurts.  By the time it breaks or hurts it’s going to cost more to fix (if it can be fixed) and has more potential to hurt.  Regular visits for checkups when you’re not having troubles make it a lot easier to catch small problems before they become big problems.
  • Dentistry has come a long way!  The way it used to be and the way it is now is a LOT different.  The needles are smaller, our numbing agents are better and our understanding of pain control is much improved!  If you haven’t had work done for awhile I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.  I can’t guarantee that there will be absolutely no discomfort but we’re able to keep pain down to an absolute minimum.
  • Tell us!  If you had a previous bad dental experience that information is really important.  If you tell us what happened to you before, we’ll make sure we don’t do it again.  For instance, I’ve had a patient tell me that her biggest problem with dentistry in the past was a feeling of claustrophobia because she was leaned back too far.  This is an easy problem to fix but we don’t know if you don’t tell us!
  • Mead’s rule.  There is never a time when we’re working on you that we can’t stop. In my office, the patient is in charge.  If you need me to stop, for any reason, I will.  Just raise your hand or let me know in some way.  Even if it’s just to rest your jaw or take a deep breath.  There’s nothing so important during dental work that we can’t give you a break.  Even if you aren’t in control of anything else in your life…you’re in control when you’re here!

The goal of this Saginaw dentist is to turn “haters” into “regulars.”  We do it by treating you like we’d want to be treated.  We’ll greet you with a smile.  You can pick whatever TV channel you might want to watchMaybe you’d prefer to surf on your laptop or iPad.  We’ll explain what we’re going to do before we do it and we’ll tell you how much it’s going to cost before we start anything.  You’re in charge and what you say goes.  I don’t know if we can change “I hate dentists” into “I love visiting my dentist” but we’re going to try!

Questions or comments about this blog?  Would you like to make an appointment?  Call the office at (989) 799-9133 or email me at alan@meadfamilydental.com.  I always answer my own email!

Sinusitis and toothaches

“My sinuses are really bothering me.  Man it sure is that time of year.”

I hear this from patients a lot.  Actually, I hear it all year round!  I’m not exactly sure what time of year is prime time for sinusitis, but since our seasons are constantly changing here in Michigan, this Saginaw dentist thinks that it’s typical 365 days a year.

What are your sinuses?

The sinuses are multiple air filled cavities that are connected to the inside of your nose.  They are lined with mucous membranes.

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinuses due to infection, allergies or some autoimmune problems.  The most typical symptoms of sinusitis are headache, drainage and occasionally toothaches.  Since these sinuses are “dead end” air spaces the inflammatory process allows pressure to build up.  If the sinuses aren’t able to drain this can cause serious pain.

Why do my teeth hurt when I have sinusitis or a sinus infection?

Sinus Your upper teeth, particularly the upper molars, are sitting right next to your sinuses.  It’s quite common for someone to present with a toothache when they’re having sinus troubles, even when it isn’t a tooth problem.  Often the toothache will be difficult to localize to one tooth.  The dentist needs to perform tests to determine the cause of the toothache.  When in doubt, I often treat the patient for an acute sinusitis and check back with them in a couple of days.  If it’s really a tooth problem, the sinusitis remedy won’t have helped very much.

It’s interesting to note that if you lose an upper tooth the sinuses can actually “grow into” the spot where your tooth used to be. Pneumotized This process is called “pneumatization.”  In cases where we want to try to place an implant to replace an upper tooth the surgeon has to push the membrane of the sinus up and replace it with bone.  This is called a sinus lift.

How do you treat sinusitis?

  • nasal irrigation with saline solution can be helpful
  • nasal spray decongestants can be used for short periods of time.  Using these more than a short amount of time can lead to rebound sinusitis
  • oral decongestants like Sudafed or others can be very helpful to reduce sinus pressure and NSAID’s like Ibuprofen can reduce inflammation to help with pain
  • occasionally antibiotics are indicated in chronic sinusitis due to bacterial infection

What doesn’t work?

Root canals.  Treating a tooth that’s actually referred pain from sinusitis with a root canal won’t help.  And worse, you get a root canal that you don’t need.  Get the right diagnosis!  Sinusitis has never been helped by a dental drill!

Sinusitis is common.  It is also miserable.  It’s important to get the right diagnosis, so ask your dentist or doctor good questions.  Better safe than sorry!

Do you have any good sinus stories?  Leave them in the comments section below.  I’d love to hear them. Do you have questions or comments about this website?  Feel free to email me at alan@meadfamilydental.com.  I answer my own email!

 

Murphy’s Law, toothaches and hot air balloons

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Murphy’s Law states that “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”  The dental corollary of Murphy’s Law (a.k.a. Murphy’s Law of Toothaches) is “if you’re going to have a dental emergency it will happen on the weekend or when you’re out of town or both.”

Last Friday I was working at the Midland office and had the opportunity to treat a patient with a toothache. Toothaches are incredibly common and the aforementioned Murphy’s Law of Toothaches was in full swing. The patient was visiting the area from Georgia* to participate in a yearly local hot air balloon event in Midland.  He was the “crew captain” and was in charge of setting the balloon up and tracking it from the ground.  And, as Murphy would have it, he had a terrible toothache.  Tyler* told me that he knew he had tooth troubles and had plans to get some work done in the upcoming year.

But then he took a trip to Michigan…and he didn’t realize Murphy had decided to come along for the ride.

Now I ask you…if you were a hot air balloon pilot would you want your crew chief distracted by a bad toothache?  I know I wouldn’t.

The story actually had a great ending.  We were able to diagnose and treat the offending tooth and Tyler was soon feeling 100% again.  In fact, he was feeling so good that he invited his dentist to go for a balloon ride later that weekend.  And I did.

What’s the moral of this story?

  • First, remember Murphy’s Law of Toothaches.  If you’ve got teeth that you know you need some work…just do it!
  • Second, if you do get in trouble on the road you can check out our Dental Referral Network to see if there are any recommended dentists close to where you’re travelling.  Otherwise call our emergency line at (989) 488-7665 and I’ll do my best to help you find help.
  • Finally, I’m happy to treat dental emergencies and I’ll never say “I told you so.”

Just remember when you’re planning your next trip or vacation to make sure you don’t accidentally invite Murphy along for the ride!

*names and places have been changed to protect the “toothachey.”