As teeth chatter in the arriving cold weather, we see more smiles as people prepare for the Holiday season. It doesn't seem to matter what your religion ( or lack thereof ) is, almost everyone seems to get into the joy of celebrating at this time of the year. Although we live in turbulent times, that doesn't seem to stop most of us from expressing gratitude and joy.
Want a brighter smile? Call us. Want to prevent teeth from shattering due to the chattering? Call us. Want to make a New Years resolution revolving around better health? Make an appointment with us and we can help you include your oral health with the bigger plan. I and our team can help you in many important ways. So with that, I've done my job of promoting dental health and services -- on to more fun stuff!
One of the things I'm most grateful for is that over 40 years ago I decided that I wanted to be a dentist. As a result of that decision, off I went to college and dental school because just like Hermey the Elf, I knew that's what I wanted to do. While lots of things turned out differently than I expected, I'm still joy-filled and delighted that I made that choice way back then. I, and the wonderful team I work with get to help people every day. What an honor and a privilege that you have placed your trust us, and then you even thank us when we've done for you what we really love doing!
So what fills your heart with joy? I hope you'll pause in the midst of this busy and crazy time of the year to consider that question. Then, when you've come up with some answers, do MORE of it! Maybe even LOTS more of it! Partly because you deserve it, but perhaps even more than that, I notice that when people I'm around are filled with joy, everyone around them is more joyful as well. What a great way to give gifts that don't even cost a dime.
Smiles are free! Hugs are free! Kindness is almost always free! Maybe many of us want to receive something material for Christmas, especially kids, but usually a lot less is expected than what is received. I remember as a kid often having more fun playing with the boxes that the gifts came in than the gifts themselves. Spending time with people who maybe don't have family near them might be the best gift you give OR receive all year long. I know that when I've done that, I almost always walk away feeling better than when I arrived.
The ‘Santa Spirit really IS alive! Probably the greatest gift was given by Santa, or any of us, is to really listen to each other. (Something I'm still working at learning....)
As many of you know, we have a box in our office collecting for Toys for Tots. Yes, buying something to put in that box costs some money, but I also believe it helps some kids feel a little love and joy that maybe they wouldnt have felt otherwise. That can bring joy as well to those of us who contribute. Thanks to Bryce Parks and all of the volunteers who help him make that happen every year in Dubuque and they are gifts to so many!
So PLEASE have a joy-filled holiday, no matter what your spiritual beliefs are. I only hope part of your belief system includes Peace on Earth and Good Will to all Men, Women, and Children! I hope everyone reading this has many reasons to smile this season, and a blessed 2018!
Getting kids ready to return to school always seems to be a challenge. Wrapping up summer activities, getting school supplies and clothes purchased, and rearranging everyone’s schedules is often difficult, to say the least!
And then, if you have a child entering kindergarten or 9th grade, there’s also the dental screening exam that may have escaped your parental radar. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I find it fairly easy to keep track of things that I do every week or every month…or even every year. But when I only need to do it twice in a ten-year span, I have a tough time remembering when I’m supposed to do it.
Since I’m a dentist, I could propose a solution to have the screening required every year so it would be easier to keep track of, but I doubt if many parents, let alone the school systems across the state, would be pleased with that solution!
Instead, let me simply stress the importance of these two examinations. For many of you parents, who bring your children to us twice a year, getting these forms filled out is easy. It may be as simple as calling us and asking us to fill out the form and send it to you. You may find when you are in that we’ll remind you that the forms need to be filled out, and since we stock the forms, we’ll simply do it for your children as part of their regularly scheduled visit when we’re already monitoring their oral health, the growth, and development of their jaws and eruption of their teeth, etc.
But for some other parents, for many, many reasons, you haven’t gotten your children in to see us as regularly as would be helpful for them and as you might have wished. At least for you, the state requirement for having these forms filled out, helps ensure that your children are getting some care, and at fairly important intervals.
While every child grows at a different rate, these two ages allow me and our hygienists an opportunity to monitor the eruption of the child’s teeth and their oral health and development. Beyond that, it’s a chance to determine if there is any decay or oral disease present that we can deal with before it becomes painful for the child.
Cavities are the most common childhood infection and certainly one of, if not the most frequent, causes of time lost from school due to pain or serious infection causing swelling, etc. By detecting cavities before they are causing active problems, I can treat them early and fairly easily for your children. That’s FAR better than having to treat a problem when the area is already infected and painful – especially for your child! The other thing these exams allow for is to evaluate your children for sealants – coatings on their molars that help prevent cavities from happening. That’s a GREAT deal for the kids!
So call us TODAY and get your child scheduled for an examination and any needed treatment. You’ll be glad you did when the rest of the school year goes along without any emergency dental visits, and it is certainly a good plan for preventing dental problems!
“Why do I need to go to the dentist every _____?” You can fill in the blank – I hear that blank space filled with words ranging from “6 months”, “year” to leaving it totally blank so the response is actually, “Why do I ever need to go to the dentist?” I think that’s a legitimate question, and I also believe that the answer varies tremendously based on the individual’s health and needs.
First, let me be clear: No one “needs” to go to the dentist. There I said it, and some of my colleagues may come after me for that statement. BUT (and you notice that word is in bold, capital letters), almost all people benefit from going, especially if they want to keep their mouths and the rest of their bodies in good health. While there are probably a few folks who could keep their teeth and stay dentally healthy without ever going to a dentist, the number of those people is very low.
What we really should be discussing are each individual’s desires. Good health, clean and shiny teeth, fresh breath, keeping natural teeth for a lifetime, or simply the ability to eat and enjoy a good meal? There are others who simply don’t seem to really care about these things. For them, there is a further issue – systemic health. If good overall health is important to you, so are regular visits to the dentist. Indeed, even if someone has false teeth, regular visits are important to allow for early detection of possible cancers and other systemic diseases.
Regular visits to the dentist are now considered important enough that some medical policies are paying for people with diabetes to see their dentist four times per year. Those companies do this because there is solid evidence that consistent dental care reduces the incidence of major medical problems! That’s truly a case of dental care potentially saving someone’s life.
So if you are one who wants to keep your mouth and the rest of you healthy and have a bright shiny smile, how often should you visit us? As a first premise, that’s a question to discuss with us -- ask us how often you would benefit from periodic visits. Then ask us for the reasoning behind that answer. Many of us were raised with the idea of seeing our dentist twice a year and brushing our teeth twice a day. I don’t know that either of those ideas is well supported by clinical evidence. There are simply too many other factors.
Consider these factors:
- Do you currently have a high decay rate? (For example, do you need fillings more than once per year?)
- Do you have a mouth full of old fillings and / or crowns? (This is a good clue to your historic susceptibility to dental disease.)
- Have you had or do you currently have some form of gum disease? If so, how severe is it, is there bone damage, and how easily do your gums bleed?
- What is your systemic health status?
- Do you have diabetes or other inflammatory-related diseases such as heart disease?
- If you have any of these diseases, how well controlled are they?
- Has your medical doctor recommended you see a dentist? (This might happen because you are going to have surgery soon or because your physician suspects you have active dental problems.)
- Are you pregnant? (If so, you being in good dental health is really important for the health of your baby.)
After all those factors are carefully weighed, what is the final answer? Most people do come for a visit two times a year. That may be as much because they have a dental benefit plan that pays for two visits a year as for any other reason. We have some clients in our practice that we plan to see about once a year, and sometimes that gets stretched out to once every eighteen months. I’m comfortable with that interval when they have a very low incidence of dental problems, are in good systemic health, and take consistently excellent care of their mouths. On the other end of that spectrum are the people who don’t take very good care of their mouths, whether they are systemically healthy or not. We want to see those people every three or four months, and sometimes as frequently as every two months. That allows us to help them maintain a better dental condition than they have been able to do for themselves.
We also have a few of our clients that are healthy, both dentally and systemically, and simply want to come in every two to three months because they want stains cleaned off their teeth. Some people really love how their mouth feels after having their teeth cleaned.
So talk with us and let us work it out together! Together, we can determine what is right for you!
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” or so the song goes. In general I agree with that song. There is something about Christmas that is truly magical – for me it is about “peace on earth,” and other loving feelings. Friends and family simply being together is what makes it so special for me.
Then there’s the other side of Christmas, what many refer to as the “commercialization” of Christmas. For me that translates into “what do I get for_____”, etc. That is the part I don’t particularly care for. Even when I know how much joy I’ve brought to someone I love with a special gift that they really appreciated.
So what if we all tried something new this year for Christmas giving: Give people you care about your SMILE! A true gift from the heart that can mean so much. (You can tell the difference, when it’s really from the heart, can’t you?) You don’t need to go to the mall and break the bank either, so it’s easy. The great thing about your smile is that it’s instantly available over and over again, and believe it or not, the more you use it, the more you’ll want to use it. It is renewable and can make you feel better too!
There’s actually been a fair amount of research done on smiling. Smiling is one of the few things I’ve seen researched that actually shows no negative side effects. The research has shown the following:
- When someone smiles at you it’s actually hard to not smile back – smiles are contagious!
- When you smile, even if you don’t really mean it, it feels good to you, and it reduces your stress levels. Then, at least in my experience, the next time you smile it’s even more genuine and feels even better for you and the recipient.
- Smiling makes your immune system stronger, and that in turn helps you prevent illness.
- Smiling makes you appear more attractive and approachable. When you smile at others, you seem more welcoming, so people want to be with you.
- Smiling also makes you seem more trustworthy compared to people who aren’t smiling.
With a payoff like that, why not smile all the time? The response that I often get is, “I don’t like my smile”. As a dentist, I’m happy to tell people we can almost always help. Sometimes the treatment is really simple yet achieves amazing results, and sometimes it’s really complicated and may achieve a noticeable, but not ideal improvement. Dentistry now has so many tools to work with that improving smiles is usually highly predictable, and often far easier than many people expect. The options are many depending on how your smile might benefit: whitening, reshaping teeth, use of tooth-colored bonding, veneers to change tooth color and shape, implants to replace missing teeth, and orthodontics,
The best news of all – everyone likes to see a smile! As a dentist I get to see all sorts of “problems” that affect people’s smiles. Yet I can’t remember seeing anyone smile at me that I didn’t appreciate or, in special cases, get the message of joy coming from their heart. So if you don’t like your smile, make a resolution to improve it in the coming year. But please, in this time of celebration, don’t let that stop you from smiling. The grinch might try to steal Christmas, but don’t let anyone steal your smile!
Since Halloween is here and all of the stores are trying to encourage us to buy big bags of candy to hand out to all the trick or treaters, perhaps it is appropriate to discuss the idea of “good candy” and “bad candy”. To put it more accurately, if not grammatically, “better candy” and “worse candy” because believe me, there is NO “good candy” even if some of it tastes that way.... There’s a reason that most witches and Jack O Lanterns are missing teeth...
Why am I such a killjoy on the subject of candy? It’s estimated that the average person in the United States consumes about 130 pounds of sugar every year. That adds up to over 1/3 pound per day per person. If you put that into a pile of sugar cubes, it’s a pretty big pile! And we all know that there is LOTS of sugar in candy. So what? you might say. Well, first, ignore dental health. Our country is facing an epidemic of obesity – and lots of that excess fat is coming from sugar. The number of kids who are overweight is skyrocketing, and unfortunately, habits that start when we’re kids often carry over into our adult lives. Consider also the rapid increase in people who have diabetes and related health issues – there is strong evidence linking that increase to the increased consumption of sugar.
But since I’m a dentist, I’m not going to ignore dental health entirely. Every time we consume sugar, acid is produced in our mouths, and it only takes about 20 seconds. Then it remains in our mouths for about 30 MINUTES. Since most candy is consumed between meals, and often at a fairly leisurely pace, that can account for a lot of HOURS of acid exposure in our mouths. That’s what produces cavities. While that may be good for my business, it most definitely isn’t good for anyone’s health!
Having made what I believe is a convincing case AGAINST sugar and candy, I’m also a realist. I admit it, I eat sugar too, and I enjoy it. I simply work at picking how much and when I choose to eat it. There are definitely better and worse times and ways to consume it.
The best time to consume sugar (and believe me it is contained in an amazing number of foods and beverages – try reading the labels on everything you buy for a week) is with meals. If that was the only time you had any sugar in your diet, you’d probably be consuming far less than the average person, AND you’d be doing far less damage to your body and your teeth! So the “when” is fairly easy. If you do slip in a “treat” between meals, consume it quickly – that will reduce the amount of time your mouth is exposed to it, so you’ll be reducing the amount of damage that is done to your teeth.
Now, I hope the title of this article kept you reading to this point. So I’ll answer the question that you’ve probably been hoping for – what’s “good” candy? First, eat candy that moves through your mouth quickly. That means avoiding sticky items (sorry, but that means avoiding caramel apples!), or candy that is designed for you to suck on over a prolonged period. Items that are tart stimulate saliva flow, and that helps to reduce the damage that the sugar causes. Chocolate, some research has shown, is a good alternative. There are some positive aspects to chocolate that help make up for the negatives. That is especially true for dark chocolate – there’s actually some solid research that says dark chocolate is actually good for you (depending upon your other health concerns, of course). When all else fails, choose moderation – I find that’s almost always a good decision....
Oh, and please don’t forget to brush and clean between your teeth when you’re done eating – no matter what it is! It’s a great habit to get into!
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