Heather's Blog

Bad Breath!


Did you know that you have Volatile Sulfuric Compounds in your mouth and they cause bad breath? Yuck! What to do, what to do. Well, get a checkup and a cleaning from your nifty dental professionals. Floss. Brush. And you may consider oral irrigation! There are all kinds of devices available now. Shower floss, portable water pik, air floss etc. Brush, floss and flush out the bad guys! Make it a "sweet breath" summer.

Electric Brushes DOOOO Work!


In answer to your questions; YES electric brushes are better than manual! Here's the good news: there's one to fit every budget!

The vibration in power brushes not only removes plaque more thoroughly, it literally breaks the cell walls open and kills the bugs. How cool is that!

My favorite is the ultrasonic, rechargeable models. They range from $30 on up. However, if it's just not fitting with your economy right now, go ahead and get the battery operated and save up for the rechargeable unit you want.

Don't forget to floss along with that tooth brushing.

Your Time is Important, My Time is Too!


I'm writing at this time today because a patient didn't show up for a previously scheduled appointment! This is frustrating for a number of reasons. First of all, my doctor is now paying me to sit here and blog. Not great for him!

Also, my patient is now what I call out of the loop. It is going to be challenging for the front office to get a hold of this person and reschedule him. We may not see him again for years and that's not great for him or his oral health.

One of the things I've noticed in the dental business, this may apply elsewhere too, is that people sometimes forget to respect our time. We believe every patient's time is of value and work really hard to be run on schedule and accommodate them whenever we can. We just want the same thing back. Confirm or reschedule in a timely manner and we'll all be happy! You'll stay in the loop and I'll get those patients in that have been waiting for an appointment.

Heartburn is a BIG deal!


I saw a patient today and he said he sometimes has a sour taste in his mouth and has had some late night stomach upset. Well, the doctor and I didn't see anything going on that could cause the sour taste or any stomach problems. We recommended he see his physician and there is more than one reason why.

GIRD (gastro-intestinal reflux disorder), acid reflux, or just plain old heartburn can be a serious problem. Stomach acid is a bad as it sounds: it literally is acid.

It can eat away at your esophagus and the regurgitation that can happen at night may cause choking, gagging and possible aspiration. That means you could inhale acid and food particles: yuck! That's not just gross, you could die!

The acid also eats away at your teeth, causes bad breath, and erodes oral tissue. Any time we put our gums and the tissue lining in our mouths under stress, we can cause changes that may lead to oral cancers. None of this is good news.

Please see your doctor if you have any heartburn symptoms such as sour mouth, regurgitation, chest burning, and gas. It's important to have it diagnosed and then treated. Also work with your dental team to make sure you aren't compromising your enamel. We can recommend many remineralizing pastes and rinses to see you through this problem.

Oral Health Equals Overall Health


I cleaned an 80 year old ladies teeth today. She is in amazing health. She has always visited the dentist and hygienist regularly and taken care of her mouth. Works out three days and week and visits with family and friends regularly. Guess what else? Great Gums!

This is something I see over and over again in private practice. Older patients that are living life to the fullest with all their mental faculties intact generally have great oral health! They also have all, or almost all of their own teeth.

So, did you fall out of favor with your gene pool and don't think you can maintain your mouth into old age? Oh no, that's not true! Floss, brush, see your dental professionals at least twice a year. Follow their advice and treatment plans.

Do all this and you too can be kickin' it at 80 with great gums and your teeth!

Soft Enamel? Probably not!


I had a patient tell me that her previous dentist told her she had "soft" teeth. We don't really say that in dentistry and I have to say it is a frustrating term.

Enamel is enamel and is the hardest substance in the body. It can be affected by fever during development and there are some conditions where the enamel doesn't form properly because of a dental disease. These are very rare circumstances.

If you think you have soft enamel and that's why you get cavities, let's take a little test. Do you eat or drink sugar daily? Do you skip brushing and flossing? Do you eat sugary snacks or candy before bedtime? If you answered yes to any one of these questions, this may be the problem.

Let's go through the steps to healthy teeth and gums. Brush 2 times daily for at least 2 minutes (use a timer, it's longer than you think) with a fluoridated dentifrice. (That's toothpaste to you) Floss 1 time daily and it doesn't matter when or if it accompanies brushing. Avoid sugar. How? Read the labels of absolutely everything! High fructose corn syrup is sugar. When you must have sugar, brush afterwards or rinse vigorously with water if you can't brush.

Finally, see your dental professionals twice a year and ask them how you are doing with your oral hygiene. They will definitely let you know and even sometimes show you!

Brush, Brush, Brush and Floss, Floss, Floss

How do you know floss is working?


OK, brace yourselves, this is going to be gross. I've had lots of people say lots of things about dental floss and I would like to share them with you.

They say things like "I don't believe in it". Well, that's interesting, because we have actually proved over and over that it works. So whether you want to believe it or not, it works.

They also say, "I don't have the time". This includes children. Apparently they've become much busier since I was a kid. It takes 2 minutes at the maximum to floss. If you don't have 2 minutes, I'm so sorry Mr. President, please go back to work.

They also say, "My hands won't fit in my mouth." This is the only valid reason I've seen so far. There are actually people around who are not able to floss. That is because their hands won't fit or they simply can't do it. The solution: floss picks, inter-dental brushes, soft picks, and floss aids. If you are not familiar with these terms, a simple Google search will set you right.

Now comes the gross part. How do I know that floss is actually doing something? Well, look and smell. Look at the floss after you pull it out of your mouth. Is there food, white cheesy stuff or something that you can't identify? It worked. Now, bring that floss up to your nose. Does it smell? That's bacteria folks and your floss just worked. Ewwwwww!

Have a nice day and Floss, Floss, Floss!

The Need to Reach Out


We have an extreme access to care issue in the United States. Lots of people don't have insurance, live far from a dentist, and simply don't have a way to get treatment. One of the great things about your dental hygienist, is that they reach out to those in need. Historically, we are great volunteers.

If you know of a school or a senior center that needs someone to provide oral health education; you can count on a dental hygienist to show up for you. We'll usually bring brushes, toothpaste and floss, too! Is there a health fair in your neighborhood? Look for the dental hygienists handing out information and goody bags.

We also organize sealant programs, provide cleanings to under-served and uninsured children and adults. In many states we can assess whether a patient needs to see a dentist and make great liaisons between the patient and doctor.

The next time you see your hygienist, don't forget to give them a hug and ask how you may be able to help out the next time theirs a volunteer opportunity. Giving back is fun and feels great!

Did you know this?


Did you know that your dentist and dental hygienist are licensed professionals? And did you know that as licensed professionals we have to maintain our license with continuing education? Well now you do!

Every state has different requirements and renewal periods, however, we all have to get continuing education to stay sharp and on top of our game. Dental professionals are some of the biggest information geeks out there! It is not unusual for us to exceed our educational requirements in a year just because we want to know!

Why do you care? Because, I want you to know that we care about you and want to be learning the newest and best information to take great care of you. By the way, we also have dental boards in all fifty states if you have any questions or concerns about your dental professionals.

We also have our own professional organizations. Not just the American Dental Association and the American Dental Hygienists' Association; but more specific associations related to specialties as well. Want to know more? Just ask us at your next visit! We love to talk about all of this interesting stuff!

Do you need to take antibiotics before you have your teeth cleaned?


This is a most excellent question and it's amazing how few people and doctors know the answer to this question. If you want to have a really complicated explanation you can check out the American Heart Association's guidelines at their website. They give a list of medical conditions that may require antibiotics before you have dental therapy.

If you want the simpler answer, here it is: Check with your doctor and/or surgeon before you make a dental appointment for any kind of therapy. If you have heart trouble, joint replacement or any metal in your body, immuno-compromised conditions or are just in poor health; please ask the doctor first before coming to see the dentist and hygienist. This will save you a wasted trip and unwanted aggravation.

We can't work on you if you need to be premedicated for dental treatment because we could make you seriously ill. Any manipulation of the gums will introduce bacteria into your blood stream and that bacteria will travel to areas of weakness in the body such as a leaky heart valve or a new hip or knee.

We want healthy, happy patients and you want to be healthy and happy too! Once again, check with your doctor and we'll all have a wonderful new year!

Let's Be Thankful


My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Lots of friends and family with plenty to eat! Cooking is my first hobby and eating is my second. So, let's be thankful for our teeth and tongue today because we are going to put them to good use.

I just wanted to spend a minute today to tell you how thankful I am for this great career where I get to help people with their oral and overall health. It's one thing that all of us have in common--teeth!

While you pull up to the table and give thanks, say a little thank you to your dental professionals. We love you and what we do. THANKS!

We Might Know What We're Doing


So, you've finally decided to trust someone enough to look into your mouth and maybe even get your teeth cleaned and some restorative work done. Now is the most important time in your decision making process. It's time to trust us.

If you have made it this far, there is a reason you are able to continue coming in the office and letting us do our job--so let us do it. We went to school to specialize in dentistry and hygiene. We know what we are talking about. We are here to help and solve as many problems as we are able.

Many times it feels like you know what is going on in your body and many times you are right. It is your body after all. However, there is a chance, especially if you haven't been to dental school, that you may be wrong. Listen carefully--you are not a wrong person. You just haven't made a correct dental diagnosis. It's ok, because no one expects you to do so.

It's rare that I find complete incompetence and lack of compassion in dental professionals. I'm not saying it doesn't exist. However, once you have chosen us and have decided to trust us, please do us the courtesy of just that. If you feel you need a second opinion on a diagnosis, the secure and competent dental professional will encourage you to do so.

Just remember, it's not your job to be the dentist or dental hygienist, that's up to us.

Tooth Value


It's always amazing to me when people don't just love to come and see us at the dental office. Of course, I place a lot of value on my teeth, your teeth, and everyone's teeth, because I work in dentistry. However, not all feel the way I do.

Here's the deal; you are going to want to have teeth for your whole life. Here's why: it's harmful to your body to have chronic dental infection. Your body is attached to your mouth and vice versa. Germs from the mouth can and do travel all over the body lodging in the brain, the heart, and even in your unborn baby's body.

You will also want your teeth to chew. It's the truth! You will want to eat until you don't need to anymore. Poor digestion and nutrient absorption can be caused by the inability to properly pulverize food. If you have sore teeth and gums or missing teeth; you won't be able to eat well.

Don't forget the cosmetics folks! Beautiful smile, sweet breath, light pink firm gums! You are going to want them all. So, if you haven't been to the dentist and hygienist in a while or ever, please, please, please schedule a check-up and plan to start taking care of those teeth! There are all kinds of methods to relax you enough to start and finish this process, just ask. We are here to serve you!

See you at the dental office!

Visiting The Specialist


Sometimes your general dentist will recommend you see a specialist to have a consultation about more extensive dental work. Patients often shy away from these suggestions for various reasons. The excuses are money, time, and inconvenience. However, there are great advantages to knowing what your options are before you make a misinformed decision.

I work for a prosthodontist. He is an amazing dentist who specializes in full mouth reconstruction, implant crowns, implant dentures, dentures, and partials. He is the specialist you want to see when you have some seriously challenging dental work ahead of you.

I have seen people have their mouths returned to them after visiting our office. We often have patients who have very limited function (can't eat), pain, and they just don't like their smile. Those challenges can be dealt with in many ways, but first you have to make the appointment to let the specialist give you all of your options. That will include how much time it will take, how much it will cost, if their is a realistic treatment for you, and any financing alternatives you may need.

Before you say no, get all of the facts. The most it will cost is a consultation fee and some of your time. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much better your quality of life may be when you decide to see the specialist.

But I Don't Have Dental Insurance


I hear this all the time. But I want to let you know you still have options. You can go to a local dental hygiene college or dental school. There are inexpensive options for radiographs, exams and dental cleanings that will enable you to get your teeth and gums taken care of without breaking the bank. You will have to give some of your time in exchange for the reduced fees. The great news is--you are helping someone receive their education while they and the very experienced instructors are helping you.

Also, you might want to ask how much your regular check-ups and exams cost. It may not be as expensive as you think. It's a great idea to keep current with your dental health because it is easier to afford a simple filling than a more expensive root canal and crown.

As always, it is important to be vigilant when it comes to your oral hygiene. What happens at home is just as important as what happens at the dental office.

I'm moving and need a new hygienist!


I had bad news last week when I found out a fairly new patient of mine is moving. Her husband has been promoted and the whole family is relocating. She's a great person and I'm hoping we'll keep in touch.

She and I immediately had a great rapport. She loved to cook, me too; had a great sense of humor, me too; loved to laugh and tell stories, me too. It's always the favorites that leave.

The good news is that I can help her find a new hygienist that will make her and her family happy. If you have to move, just ask for a great referral and we'll do our best to find one. You may not know this, but we have our ways!

I once worked with an amazing hygienist that started a website for hygienists by the name of www.amyrdh.com. It is a place where hygienists can do research and talk with one another about all aspects of the dental hygiene profession. There is a whole connection of "listers" (hygienists who can connect on the site) and we talk to one another about everything. I have had questions answered, found hygienists for new patients in my area and found new offices for patients moving to a new city.

Although we may be very sad to lose you, we will do our best to make sure you are taken care of by one of our outstanding colleagues.

Just here for the show!


I'd like to start my first blog with a little story.

I had a patient come in with an especially dirty mouth the other day. I decided it would be beneficial for both of us if I gave him an oral hygiene lesson. That means shorter and easier appointments for the both of us.

Well, when I gave him the mirror so that he could watch what I was doing, he asked me what it was for. I told him I was going to give him an oral hygiene lesson. He stated that he wasn't here for the show and that I should just "clean his teeth."

I didn't say anything. I just cleaned his teeth. I like to learn things every day of my life, and I learned a valuable lesson on that day. The patient should be able to direct his own treatment, and I should be able to assist him in doing that. What this gentleman failed to realize is that I am an educated professional that is there for his well being. It's not just a show. If you don't love hygiene and helping people, you won't last more than five years. I do love what I do and I do love helping people.

The next time you go to the dental office, remember that we are there for you.