Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Use Caution During the Holidays and Festivities

Recently, Dr. Oz discussed the number of heart attacks and emergencies during the holidays due to rich foods, excess, unhealthy eating habits and stress. All of these things can contribute to unfortunate outcomes during festivities with family and friends. Many people disregard symptoms and their first instinct is to wait to address their ailments, until after the holidays. This is not recommended, especially if you are in significant pain. Pain is the body's response to alert you that there is a problem. For example, many people who think they have indigestion may actually be experiencing heart problems that need to be addressed, immediately. Do not take your pain too lightly.

The same applies to oral pain. The holidays are a time to indulge. It is hard to turn down the home-baked goods, sweets, candy, fudge, cookies, fruit cakes and beverages that contain a lot of sugar. Most likely, your teeth will be under attack more than usual during the season, because of the foods we eat. So, make sure to brush, floss and drink a lot of water to neutralize the acids that are going to war on your teeth and gums.

If you should develop a serious tooth ache or experience some other painful oral issue, then call your dentist office to be seen. Do not wait, because more than likely, it will only get worse.

Even during the holidays, your dental office should have a dentist on call to listen to your symptoms, prescribe something if necessary, and help expedite your oral emergency.

Have a happy and safe holiday season and treat your teeth with tender-loving care for best outcomes.

Monday, November 21, 2011

National Association of Dental Plans Reveal: Positive Correlation Between Affordable Dental Care and Well Being

In the last decade, the dental and medical communities have made stronger correlations between oral health and overall health and well-being. There are many studies and articles that point out the many reasons why oral hygiene and regular dental exams are necessary to maintain well-being.

The risks are great for those who neglect their teeth and gums, such as heart disease, diabetes and a number of other illnesses that lead to systemic health problems.

Their efforts have increased consumer awareness, and while many consumers claim to understand the relationship between healthy dental habits and their general health, those with access to affordable dental care and benefits are 28% more likely to institute healthy practices and schedule visits to manage their dental health as revealed in a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP). The 28% rated their oral health as very good to excellent.

According to the NADP survey: people without dental benefit plans were 2.5 times less likely to visit the dentist than those consumers who did have access to coverage of some sort. More revealing was the fact that 48% of those without dental plans who had periodontal disease, which can be linked to heart disease and other ailments, had not received treatment, regardless of the potential health risks.

The NADP Consumer Survey received more than 6,000 consumer responses regarding dental benefits, behaviors and attitudes.

NADP Executive Director, Evelyn F. Ireland, responded to the results with this statement:

"Our survey found that people with dental benefits were more likely to have a regular dentist, visit the dentist more frequently, and receive dental treatment than those without. This included children's dental visits – when parents don't have dental benefits, the number of kids seeing a dentist twice a year drops by over 20%."

American Dental Plan provides affordable dental plans and benefits for individuals and families. Our plan is comprehensive and does not have many of the restrictions and pre-authorized requirements of a traditional dental insurance provider.

American Dental Plan also allows members the flexibility and freedom to visit a specialist within the network without obtaining a referral from a general dentist. Members can visit any dentist or specialist within our network of 650 providers in Arizona for dental care and certain endodontics, cosmetic procedures and orthodontics.

Why take the risk with your smile and your health when you can access affordable dental benefits and care when you can be one of the 28% who have the best ratings.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The High Tech of Teeth Straightening – The Evolution of Orthodontics

Crooked teeth are bummer, straight up! Aside from being targeted for teasing – over-crowded teeth also trap food and make them harder to clean every day and during hygienist visits.

I never met a person with an over-bit or an under-bite who did not want to correct the problem. Not only was it aesthetically uncomfortable, it can make for some physical discomforts as well or lead to Temporomandibular Joint Disorder or TMJ syndrome.

Back in my days of youth, if you wanted to straighten out the oral problems, you had to have your cranium confined in captivity by a contraption for a decent part of your teen years. If you were lucky, your entire mouth was just bound and wired by metal brackets and rubber bands caging your chompers, and making eating a major event during a hunger-crazed growth spurt. Ah yes, the joys of head-gear and being called “brace-face” are not as common these days.

Traditional braces still exist, and they are widely used for certain cases, but there are significant new advances and the industry that evolved and streamlined smile artistry.

I have been involved with dentistry for 20 years and I am amazed at how it has been transformed and modernized.

Contemporary technologies deliver precise aesthetic results allowing for detailed, customized design. Dentists and orthodontists can now utilize innovative and sophisticated 3D imaging and CT scanning, hardware devices, software diagnostics, computers, tools and appliances at their disposal, making braces more attractive, comfortable and convenient for teens and adults who need and desire smile symmetry.

Now patients can maximize their results in a shorter time and dentists can devise a more comprehensive treatment plan using the latest techniques and solutions, such as: Invisalign® - removable and virtually invisible braces that are a clear alternative to metal braces and ClearCorrect™ another option that allows dentists or orthodontists to straighten and align teeth using a series of clear, custom, removable aligners. The severity of your dental situation, bone structure and alignment will dictate the orthodontic treatment and use of metal braces or clear braces, but at least there are more options – and varying price tags.

Personally, I had the old-fashioned version of braces as an adolescent - and a newer, invisible version as an adult, and I can honestly say advanced technology solidified my smile more precisely, and permanently.

For many, the investment can be an issue, which is understandable. Most braces cost between five and eight thousand dollars, depending on the type of treatment. With some of the newer options, like Invisalign and ClearCorrect, it can cost as little as $2500. In today’s economy, that is like buying a used car, and some people may suffer from sticker shock, but the outcome will make all of the difference in the world.

American Dental Plan allows members to take advantage of the many great benefits and 20% - 40% savings on all their dental needs, including orthodontics. If you do not have insurance and you do need a treatment plan, call 602-265-6677 or enroll online.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Facts About Fluoride

Fluoride is useful to help protect the teeth and prevent tooth decay. Interestingly, many of us learn about how fluoride can help promote healthier teeth, before we ever take a chemistry class. From a young age, when we first visit the dentist, we are directed to brush with toothpaste containing fluoride and to rinse with mouthwash containing it as well. Beyond that, we just do as we are told, but here are some other facts that may interest you.

Fluoride is a compound containing the natural element, fluorine, which has many uses unrelated to oral hygeine. In chemistry, this compound is symbolized by the letter “F” in the periodic table.

Many dental products contain small amounts of fluoride as a preventative ingredient to ward off tooth decay. Fluoride actually protects the teeth to prevent the loss of important minerals and strengthens enamel. This occurs as a result of remineralisation. Without this mineral compound, teeth can become weak and develop decay and cavities. Fluoride also fights against acid attacks, which are common due to diet and foods that are high in acid and sugar. The presence of fluoride actually discourages acidic reactions, bacteria build up and agents that break down the healthy protective surface of the teeth. Fluoride when used in the right amount and in conjunction with a healthy diet and proper oral hygiene, equal better teeth.

Fluoride Sources – Where Is It Present?

Fluoride is not naturally present in water, however, many places add fluoride to public water supplies, which can be sufficient enough to give people a head start on healthier teeth. So if you are in a community that fluoridates their water supply, and if you drink tap water and use it to brush your teeth, chances are your teeth may be stronger and healthier. Some research indicates that fluoridation of public water systems can decrease cavities and decay by more than 50 percent.

Fluoride is also an active ingredient in many products, including toothpaste, mouthwash, treatments, varnishes and gels, sold over the counter and used in dental offices.

Recommended Doses of Fluoride

From an early age, children should use fluoridated toothpaste to brush twice a day. The recommended times to brush are after breakfast and before bedtime. The benefits of brushing increase when people brush twice a day, rather than once a day. Fluoride toothpaste is meant only to brush and not to be ingested.

Now, many dentist offices offer topical fluoride treatments as a preventative routine for children and young adults, to help protect the enamel and keep cavities from forming. These treatments are normally applied after six-month cleanings in the form of a gel or varnish that is administered and left on the teeth for a few minutes before rinsing. Ask your dentist if he or she offers fluoride treatments and the additional cost. This added measure may help protect your children’s teeth and lower future dental bills.

There is a downside to fluoride use. If one uses too much fluoride it can have a negative impact on the teeth, which causes a condition called fluorosis.

How Much is Too Much

Excessive fluoride use damages the enamel and forming cells, causing fluorosis. This condition is irreversible once the damage is done. Contrary to remineralisation with the use of fluoride, the opposite from too much fluoride is mineralization, a disorder which is from too much fluoride and over-mineralisation, leading to porosity and a permanent break down of the enamel’s matrix. This can be mostly true for children if their fluoride intake is not monitored. They are at greater risk for not rinsing, swallowing or ingesting fluoride or using too much toothpaste or mouthwash.

Ask your dentist about recommended fluoride use and treatments. In addition, if you feel there is a chance you or a family member may have fluorosis, ask about the available solutions for that condition.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dry Mouth May Be Your Medications, Not Dehydration

In our August Newsletter we discussed the importance “dry mouth” and indicators that could impact your dental and oral hygiene. Of course many of us experience “cotton mouth” and dehydration during summer months. Obviously the dry heat and hot temperatures imposed by desert living can exacerbate the condition.

Nevertheless, what many patients do not realize, particularly if they do not read the fine print of prescribed medications, is that the very pharmaceuticals they ingest may be the cause “dry mouth” and have negative consequences on their oral diagnosis and dental visits.

According to a Drug Topics article in Modern Medicine Network this condition is raising awareness among dentists, and now “pharmacy and dental organizations are uniting to promote oral health and raise public awareness of dry mouth, a side effect commonly caused by taking prescription and over-the-counter medications.”

There are multiple issues that can occur, such as:

  • Decrease in saliva production, which is necessary to breaking down food, washing away excess particles in the mouth and maintaining proper oral health.
  • Patients who lack proper saliva production are at risk for developing xerostomia
  • Dry mouth contributes to cavities that are formed along the gum line
  • Over time, xerostomia can cause bad breath, erosion of enamel, decay and gingivitis.

The article released on August, 22, 2011 reveals an alliance between several associations to heighten professional and public awareness of this condition and the associated oral risks, which include

  • The American Pharmacists Association (APhA)
  • American Dental Association (ADA)
  • Academy of General Dentistry (AGD)
  • American Academy of Periodontology (AAP)

They are all collaborating to expand awareness of the impact of medications on dry mouth, a condition known to health professionals as xerostomia.

They proclaimed more than 500 medications can contribute to oral dryness and stated that nearly 50% of all Americans regularly take at least one prescription medication which produces “dry mouth” daily. In addition, more than 90% of these patients are adults over age 65.

Saliva is essential for maintaining oral health and studies show that “at least 25 million Americans have inadequate salivary flow or composition and lack the cleansing and protective functions saliva provides.”

The aligning dental and pharmacy organizations suggest that patients who experience dry mouth schedule dental exams to be evaluated and treated. They are also advised to alert their dentists of up-to-date prescribed medications with each visit to ensure proper care is provided to prevent dental damage and oral health risks.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Healthier Diets = Healthier Teeth and Smiles!

Even though our public schools and many private schools have made extra efforts to incorporate healthier snacks and beverages into their vending machines, it is still our responsibility, as parents, to ensure our kids and young adults maintain healthy eating habits. This not only benefits their health, but it benefits our wallets and purses when we take them to the dentist.

In our last post, we pointed out the “Modern Warfare” that takes place in our mouths, daily. Plaque is a big factor, but we also have to worry about the dreaded “acid attacks” caused by food and beverages that contain a lot of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. When these two worlds collide, and when plaque caused from bacteria meets the sugary content from foods, acid forms and attacks the teeth for 20 minutes or more, after it forms.

Over time, this process takes a toll on teeth and forms decay. Decay is the number one reason for most dental issues in young children, which is due to poor eating habits and bad dental hygiene. It starts when we are young and will continue until we change these habits. The natural wear on our teeth is hard enough to ward off with brushing and flossing, but bad diet is a big contributing factor for children and young adults ages 4-18.

So many of the things we eat and drink contain high levels of sugar, like: candy, desserts, cookies, energy drinks, sodas and soft-drinks, and even some items that are considered healthier, such as: juice and yogurt.

Unfortunately, many of the yummy snacks and drinks that our kids love to eat can cause early tooth decay.

As parents, we too may not have the healthiest eating habits. Sometimes, we may purchase grocery items that are not so good for us. Most kitchen cabinets, pantries and refrigerators are stocked with more sugary foods than necessary. When they are readily available, no doubt, they will be consumed by hungry people in a hurry. I

n addition, we may not have the time to prepare balanced meals, so our families may substitute with fast food and snacks that are less nutritious. And let’s face it, life is busy. We cannot always be there to monitor what our kids are eating and if they are brushing and flossing as often as they should.

Here is a great program for you to review featuring Arizona nutrition standards and guidelines, so you know what is being instituted to help schools and families: http://www.healthologyaz.com/health-components/nutrition-services.

The best way to help your kids understand the value of their health is to get them engaged. Here is another great get your children involved in understanding the importance of proper diet and choosing healthier foods http://www.choosemyplate.gov. This will be good for you, them, and your pocket-book in the future when you visit the dentist.

Here is a short list to post in a visible place to remind them daily:


* Brush twice a day – in the morning and at night. Your teeth will love you!
* Use fluoride toothpaste.
* Floss once a day to help your gums.
* Use mouth-guards when playing sports and rough activities.
* Drink more water and 2% milk and eat healthy snacks, like fruits, veggies and whole grain foods.