Here, We Practice Safety First!

This morning, I read an article about an Oklahoma City dentist who has potentially put over 7,000 patients at risk for Hepatitis B and C as well as HIV. This is shocking, especially since the majority of dentists abide by very strict guidelines in the prevention of exposure to any and all risk factors.

Although the patients (all since 2007) were told by the Tulsa Health Department, “It should be noted that transmission in this type of occupational setting is rare,” I find this so upsetting. This sends an alarm of worry out to people, many who are already frightened of dental visits.

Please know that we take every precaution in our heat sterilization process, which exceeds standards set forth by OSHA and the CDC. Additionally, our staff members are all trained to provide patient care that keeps you safe at all times, regardless of your procedure.

Occasionally, a bad apple shows up in the bunch. This Oklahoma dentist is now, fortunately, out of practice for good. However, you can rest assured that your safety and comfort is a top priority in our office. Always has been, always will be.

To discuss our sterilization processes, mention it when scheduling your next appointment. We are always happy to keep our patients informed and up-to-date on the many ways we provide an exceptional experience at every visit.

Want A New Smile? Start By Laughing In A Mirror!

These days, I don’t have lots of photos of me, mostly because I’m the one taking the pictures! However, when I see myself in a photo, it is usually with the well-rehearsed smile I’ve been using in poses most of my adult life. Yet, when I’m with friends and family, I smile bigger and laugh freely, showing more of my smile than what appears in most images.

When we have patients who want to change the appearance of their smile, many focus on the front 4 or 6 teeth. Some of these patients have, for example, shared a funny story with me and smiled and laughed with several side teeth easily visible along with some bottom teeth as well.

In our office, we take photos of each patient’s smile at different angles so they can clearly view what others see before making final esthetic treatment decisions. This helps them to determine the number of teeth they want included in treatment as well as decisions surrounding shade, shape and considerations with gum recontouring.

If you’re considering smile enhancements, take a look at your smile in the mirror. You’ll see what others see by holding a hand mirror up to a wall mirror for a close up view. Check out your smile at several angles and watch your smile as you laugh. What catches your eye as not flattering?

An attractive smile can improve your appearance AND enhance self-confidence so you find yourself smiling more often! In turn, this projects you to others as an upbeat, positive person! To smile your best smile, call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles and ask for a free consultation. During this time, we’ll discuss what will work best and the procedures involved. Keep in mind that many smile makeovers can be completed in just one or two appointments!

Calculate Overall Savings Of Dental Implants.

The upfront costs of dental implants are typically the only obstacle for some patients who want to replace missing teeth. Although the long term cost efficiency of dental implants makes them a better option than other tooth replacement alternatives, dental implants do have a failure rate. Here are tips to help you enjoy a successful outcome and an excellent investment:

Select Your Dentist Carefully: Dental implants must be selected and placed properly, and then carefully maintained (at home and through regular dental check-ups). The success rate of dental implants is over 95%, although smokers have a failure rate 2.5 times higher than that of non-smokers. Experienced implant dentists have around a 99% success rate, which is why it’s important to ask about the implant training and success rate of your doctor.

Longevity: A dental implant that has been selected, placed and maintained properly should last for a lifetime. A bridge will need replacement in an average of 10 years on average. Dentures will also need replacing or modification in about ten years because bone loss changes the fit of the denture. This is caused by the absence of tooth roots in the jaw and pressure of dentures. Looking at a 20 year period, your bridge or denture costs have now doubled, whereas the dental implants are worry-free.

Protecting Oral Health: In order to support a bridge, healthy natural teeth have to be cut down to serve as anchors for the bridge. This creates more susceptibility for tooth decay. Because it can be more difficult to clean around bridges, the accumulation of plaque increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Jaw bone loss is also a problem with removable dentures, which can lead to an aged appearance far beyond one’s actual years. Dental implants function the same as natural teeth without special care or requiring the support of adjacent teeth. The additional costs of treating decay or gum disease caused by a partial or full removable denture must be factored in when calculating the long term cost efficiency compared to the one-time expense of dental implants.

Enhancing Overall Health & Confidence: Dental implants give a natural look and feel while restoring a dependable, comfortable bite and chewing function. Trying to eat with removable dentures is often over-shadowed with fears of embarrassment. Those who wear removable dentures also have a tendency to select soft food that dissolve easily and quickly in the mouth. Thus, they often deprive themselves of fiber and protein-rich foods and satisfying, vitamin-packed fruits and vegetables.

Bottom Line: Initially, dental implants typically cost more than other dental restorations but are the clear winners when it comes to the investment. Because dental implants prevent bone loss, enhance dental (and overall) health and keep replacement teeth more secure for a lifetime, the long-term benefits far outweigh the initial expense. Dental implants can also enhance your quality of life and actually lower the costs to maintain a healthy mouth over the course of your lifetime.

To discuss the issues surrounding any tooth replacement option, as well as financial plans, call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to schedule a Free Consultation.

The Frightening Reality of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth and most commonly involves the lips or the tongue. It may also occur on the gums, roof of the mouth, under the tongue or lining of cheeks.

If the cancer is found early, before it can spread to other tissues, the survival rate is 90%. However, more than half of oral cancers have spread by the time the cancer is found, most spreading to the throat or neck.

Oral cancer tends to spread quickly. Treating oral cancer early, when tumors are small, may require surgical removal only. For larger tumors, surgery may be combined with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Surgery is not commonly done if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the neck.

About 1 in 4 with oral cancer die because of delayed diagnosis and treatment complications. Approximately half of patients with oral cancer will live more than 5 years after diagnosis and treatment. Treatment can leave the survivor with disfigurement of the face and/or neck, speech problems, and difficulty chewing and swallowing.

Some oral cancers begin as a white sore or spot. While smoking and other tobacco use are linked to most cases of oral cancer, heavy alcohol use also increases its risk. Men over the age of 40 have a higher risk than women. Other risk factors are the HPV virus, poor oral hygiene, chronic irritation, or medications that weaken the immune system.

Early symptoms of oral cancer include a sore, lump, or ulcer in the mouth. You may also experience pain with swallowing, speech difficulties, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and weight loss.

If you have a sore in your mouth or lip or a lump in the neck that does not go away within 2 weeks, you should be seen in our office immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment of oral cancer greatly increases the chances of survival. Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles. If you do not have symptoms, be sure to maintain your 6-month exams and check-ups. Those appointments include an oral cancer screening so we can catch problems at the earliest stage.

For Patients Who Don’t Want Sedation

Occasionally, we have a Dental Implant patient who does not want to “be put to sleep” during treatment.

For most implant patients, we use Oral Sedation. Oral Sedation is in pill form, has a quick recovery, and has an amnesiac effect that eliminates most (or all) memory of the procedure afterward. Unlike the ‘twilight sleep’ of I.V. Sedation, Oral Sedation doesn’t leave a ‘spaced out’ feeling afterwards.

While the amnesiac effect is an appealing advantage of Oral Sedation, it is primarily used to help patients be more relaxed. Since many implant placement procedures require over an hour’s time in the treatment chair, sedation tends to eliminate after-treatment fatigue from muscle tension.

In addition to sedation, we apply numbing medications to the area being treated to create optimal comfort for patients. We never want a procedure to be painful at any time, regardless of whether sedation is included.

In our office, we treat patients with respect and a gentle touch. We are just as committed to the comfort of patients who do not want to be sedated as we are for those who do. Our goal is to help each person achieve a restored mouth that is healthy. If we can accommodate specific requests, such as treatment without sedation, then we will do what will provide the safest, most comfortable and successful outcome.

Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to request a free consultation to discuss your concerns.

Good Oral Health Enhances Overall Health

There will never be a substitute for regular tooth brushing and flossing to help avoid developing periodontal (gum) disease.  Combined with regular dental check-ups, having a thorough home care commitment is paramount in avoiding bacterial build-up. However, because people are more susceptible to oral issues, here are ways to bolster your time at the sink.

• Eat a well-balanced diet. Some foods can promote healthy teeth and gums, particularly those that contain Vitamin D, Omega-3 and Calcium. These have been shown to help in reducing the risk for periodontal disease.

• If you smoke, you should know … Smoking is very drying to tissues in the mouth, which increases your risk for periodontal disease. A dry mouth is a major contributor to developing periodontal disease!

• Stay in shape! Studies show that people who are at a healthy weight and are physically fit have a lower risk for periodontal disease than those who are sedentary.

• Keep stress levels low. Stress has been found to contribute to a number of health problems, including gum disease. Research shows that stress increases cortisol, which can intensify bacterial damage to the gums and bones that support teeth. Another study revealed that stressed out people are more likely to neglect their oral hygiene.

• Be committed to annual physicals. Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease. It has been associated with  diabetes, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and much more. Annual screening for systemic disease can enable you to have early treatment, and in turn, benefit your periodontal health.

Periodontal disease, if untreated, can lead to tooth loss and cause problems with other systems of the body. Because your periodontal health has been shown to correlate to overall health, keeping both your oral health and overall health in good condition will keep you smiling, from head to toe!

Responding To Dental Emergencies

Although appointment times are scheduled for patients during week days, it seems  mishaps occur in evenings or on weekends more often than not! Please know we are available for after-hours emergency needs. Call the office and the recording will direct you on how to reach me.

In the meantime, here are some tips for tending to the most common dental emergencies:

TOOTHACHE – Clean the area around the sore tooth thoroughly. Rinse the mouth thoroughly with warm, salt water or use dental floss to gently dislodge trapped food or debris. If the face is swollen, apply a cold compress. Take acetaminophen for pain but do not place aspirin on the gum or aching tooth.

CUT OR BITTEN TONGUE, LIP OR CHEEK – Apply cold compress to bruised areas. If there is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure with a clean gauze or cloth. If bleeding does not stop within 15 minutes or cannot be controlled by simple pressure, go to a hospital emergency room.

KNOCKED OUT PERMANENT TOOTH – Handle the tooth by the top portion rather than the root. Rinse the tooth, but do not clean or handle the tooth unnecessarily. Try to reinsert the tooth into the socket and hold the tooth in place by biting on a clean gauze or cloth. If you cannot reinsert the tooth, place the tooth in a cup of milk or water and notify us immediately. Time is a critical factor in saving a tooth.

BROKEN TOOTH – Rinse dirt from the injured area with warm water. Place cold compresses over the area of the injury. Save any broken tooth fragments and contact us immediately.

POSSIBLE BROKEN JAW – If a fractured jaw is suspected, use a tie, towel or handkerchief to tie underneath the chin and over the top of the head. This will help to keep the jaws from moving. Go to the nearest emergency room.

Your smile is important to us 24/7. Remember to wear a mouth guard for sports or outdoor activities to prevent or lessen the severity of dental emergencies. Call us toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to discuss having a custom-made mouth guard. These tend to be worn more often because of the comfortable fit.