Saturday, October 31, 2015

The high horse of being a dentist........

Today is one of my favorite days, while also being a day I dread every year.  It's Halloween. I like the decorations, I like the idea that is a one night of celebrating, and most people like to celebrate it. There is no gift-giving, but there is the treat-giving at your front door.  Now that my own son and daughter are older, I look forward to seeing the kids come to my door all dressed in their costumes. I like to direct them to my kitchen door, not my front door, because it has an old-fashioned ringer on it that you have to turn and they get a big kick out of that. But after they ring the door, and the thrill of yelling out ,"Trick or Treat!!" is over, I look at those young faces of expectation, and I am at a standstill. They want a treat.  I want to give them a treat. But every day I battle the problems caused by sugar.  With every cavity I have to drill out, I look at it and say to myself - how did this get here? Really?  In this day and age of healthy living, drinking water, eating organic.......people still get addicted to sugar.  And I am about to contribute to this addiction by handing out candy????  I can't do it.  I just can't do it.

Months ago, I started trying to get banks, stores, dry cleaners, gas stations in my town to eliminate the darned candy basket at the counter.  I don't know if you see this where you live, but for some reason in my town, which prides itself on being fit and healthy, there is a basket of candy in just about every public place you go.  I would stand at the counter, look at the clerk, and ask, "Would you consider getting rid of that candy basket?". The answers I got in return ranged from ,"No", to "We just can't do that" to "Why??".  When I gave a short answer about how unhealthy it is, how kids see it and that causes a bigger problem with an argument with the parent they are with, and how addictive sugar becomes, I then finally get to the point of saying," You know, the problem really sits with the fact you are giving it to them, you aren't selling it and the kids see it as a treat or gift, and it isn't a treat at all. It is like you are giving them a little bit of poison.  Why don't you just put out a basket of cigarettes and see how that is perceived??".  Oh, that went over well. Not.  I was told to get off my high horse!!!   The high horse of being a dentist.

So, back to the day of Halloween. This year would be different.  I was ready.  The kids were at the door.  The Trick or Treat chant began. I opened the door.  There were those young faces, waiting, looking, expecting a treat.  I reached for my bowl.  Their faces lite up with surprise.  In the bowl, all a glow, with yellow, orange, green, blue and red circles, were glow bracelets.  They absolutely loved them!  They ran from my doorstep, out into the darkness, lighting up the night, and I felt good. Good that I created smiles, without use of sugar.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Are you ready, once again, for football???

Are you once again, ready for some football???

It's that time of year again. Well-groomed fields, crisp fall days, crowds cheering in the stands, and yes, football.  This year I am looking at the season with a bit of a tainted view.

As a dentist and healthcare professional, I read more and more evidence of the consequences of participation in high-impact sports on the player's long term health. How many NFL players are emerging with dementia, memory-loss,  and other neuropsychological and neurophysiological complications.  How can we as a society cheer on sports that are harmful to the players? Football isn't the only sport guilty of this situation, but this is the sport I am focusing on here. How can parents encourage their kids, or at the very least, allow them, to participate in this? How can they stop them?
If I am watching a game myself, am I condoning this sport? 

Besides these physical concerns, of late there are other concerns with the football world. Just a few days ago, Ray Rice, a professional football player with the Baltimore Ravens, was indefinitely suspended  from his team due to evidence of him committing domestic violence. A few months ago, Aaron Hernandez , former member of the New England Patriots, was indicted on murder charges. These are sports figures young players look up to and idolize. Really? What is this football culture that entices young players, makes them want to play, draws them in to become life-long fans of even the worst teams?

By now you may have figured out that I am an accidental sports fan. I never followed any sport, until I became a mother to my son. From before the time he could talk, he was mesmerized by many sports. I learned all about baseball, hockey, golf, and yes, football, from him.  (I still don't have all the details of football down, but I keep trying.) From my son's participation in all these sports, I learned how sports draw people together. If you are a spectator, it gives you something to cheer for, something to feel you are a part of, something to distract yourself from the pressures of work, politics, and the economy. If you are lucky enough to be able to play the sport, and be on a team, that is even more meaningful because you are part of something bigger than yourself. You learn about teamwork, cooperation, mutual respect, defeat and achievement. Sports can be a powerful instrument.

So this year, as I drove over to Stamford High School, to meet this year's varsity football team, I put all my negative thoughts about football behind me. I can't do much about the ill-behaved professional athletes, except ignore them and the media frenzy they create, but I can do something about the possible trauma that can come from playing this sport. I continue to make custom-fitted mouthguards for the team, as I have done for the past several years. I feel it is my way of trying to keep them safe.



As I met the players, I was again impressed with their polite and grateful behavior, and I was even more struck with their fun-loving attitude, true sense of camaraderie, and love of this game.

So who is KEYSTONE? They are the great company that makes the mouthguard material, and donated all of the material needed to supply this team with their custom-fitted mouthguards.
So here's to you, Stamford Knights, and to a safe and successful season!  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

52 DAYS UNTIL.........


I put together this list from my own experience.

As I said in my very first blog, I am out to change how people perceive THE DENTIST and dentistry.

So in a bold step forward in this direction, I am holding our very first day of charity. Yes, I am attacking reasons #1 -4 above.  My office will be open for one Saturday in May and we are not charging anyone for that day. Totally free.  No questions asked.  We aren’t going to ask anyone to prove their need. We aren’t here that day to be a government agency, we are here to do dentistry.  My hygienist most generously donated her day, and one of my receptionists is doing the same. We will be doing cleanings, examinations, fluoride treatments, sealants and fillings.  If anything more than that is required, we will talk about it, but on that day, that will be the limit.    

As for the other reasons listed above, we aren’t yelling at anyone about flossing, brushing or the like. That’s not our style. We will try our best, with lots of types of anesthetics, to not be painful. We have pastes that are NOT flavored mint – there is berry, cherry, vanilla. And we even have ways of dealing with gaggers.  Believe me, after almost 30 years of doing this, we have dealt with many people who label themselves as gaggers, and we have ways of helping them out too.

About the last two reasons – I will forever try to change that! Come on – give it a try, and here is your chance.

I will be reporting back on how our day goes.  It is MAY 3, 2014.  52 days to go. We will be ready – are you?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Toothpaste Terrorism - The Traveler's Solution

Toothpaste tubes have now joined the ranks of water bottles, hand lotion, facial cream, hand sanitizer - you know, the things that are highly suspect going through airport security. The items that may not make it with you onto the airplane. Items that we think of as our personal belongings, but send up a red flag as potential security threats.

As recently as yesterday, CNN reported that Homeland Security was advising airlines with direct flights serving Russia to be aware of the possibility that explosive materials could be concealed in toothpaste tubes. ( This is directly concerning the Olympics which are beginning in Sochi, Russia. Those athletes, fans, media people  - they all need to brush, don't they?

It is hard enough convincing my patients to continue their oral hygiene practices while traveling, but this really makes things complicated. (Although I have to say that just this week a patient of mine told me that he was climbing a mountain in New Zealand, and he did not bring his toothbrush and paste but did bring dental floss!  Good for him) I understand that the threat is the idea that an explosive can be put into the toothpaste tube itself.  Really?  That has to be one giant size tube of dentifrice! What will become of oral hygiene? Will we become a society too afraid to travel with toothpaste?  

A few ideas came to mind.  I want people to still brush when they travel. Well, back in the day, one of the best dentifrices used was old fashioned baking soda.  Although this would eliminate the suspicious toothpaste tube, unless you took an entire box of baking soda with you, carrying a small container of the white powder is also highly suspicious. So that would not be a good alternative at all.

You could purchase toothpaste when you get to your destination. But I doubt many people would take the time to do that, and there probably would be a run on toothpaste, causing the prices to soar.

But there is a alternative.  It is cost effective, does not involve a tube, is not even a paste.  It is toothpaste tablets.  I was able to try these last year at a dental convention.  You chew a tablet, brush, and rinse. They taste great, and are reminiscent of that candy in the 1980's - PopRocks. They effervesce in your mouth. You can buy them online, Archtek Toothpaste Tablets.  

No paste, no problem. Get some tablets and keep them in your travel bag.  Brush, floss and be safe!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The X Factor

               There is an X factor in the dental world, and it has nothing to do with Simon Cowell or Britney Spears. What would you think of something that tastes as sweet as sugar, is all natural, and is good for your teeth?  I would think it is unbelievable, but it is true, and this magic X factor for your mouth is called Xylitol.


                 Xylitol is a naturally occurring carbohydrate, that looks and tastes just like regular table sugar. It is a natural sweetener that can be extracted from any woody fibrous plant material. Mostly it is extracted from corn cobs, and also from less environmentally sustainable sources such as hardwood. Pure xylitol is a white crystalline substance that looks and tastes like sugar.

      Believe it or not, regular use of xylitol in oral care has shown remarkable effectiveness. Xylitol's five-carbon structure keeps it from being metabolized by bacteria, most importantly the bacteria that causes decay in teeth, Streptococcus mutans.  By using 100% xylitol products throughout the day, bacteria is prevented from creating the acids that damage the teeth and plaque is prevented  from gaining hold on tooth surfaces. I like to think of it like this – if this bad bacteria isn’t being fed by the Xylitol, because it can’t metabolize it, then the bacteria isn’t strong enough to cause trouble, like create cavities.

      So how should you use this Xylitol, and where do you get it?  The best thing is to expose your mouth to it a few times in a day.  Lately I have found it becoming more available in things like chewing gum . My favorite is Icebreakers Ice Cubes - lots of flavors, all with Xylitol.

         Mentos Up2You is another gum with Xylitol.


           Now I haven't seen these products promote that they inhibit tooth decay, but that's OK.  I am telling you if you chew a piece for 5-10 minutes a few times a day , you are doing something good for yourself.
               There are other ways you can get Xylitol. Just look at the ingredients and make sure Xylitol is the main sweetener. More and more grocery stores are selling toothpastes, gum and mouth rinse with xylitol, and you can buy an entire bag of it near the sugar too.  I am not sure about cooking with it, but you can add it to a drink.

            Another added benefit of combating this Strep mutans with Xylitol is cleaner teeth, which means whiter teeth.  Some professional tooth whitening products are adding Xylitol to them to increase their effectiveness.

             One side note - although the chewing of the gum with Xylitol is good for your teeth, be careful how long you chew it!  Too much gum chewing can cause soreness in the TMJ area, which leads us to an entirely different oral problem.

            So you see,  sweet things aren't all bad - especially if it is the X factor!  


Monday, February 4, 2013

A Bright Smile Is Always In Style


When I started this blog, as you can go back and read, my mission was to change the perception of The Dentist, and dentistry , one smile at a time.  I am thrilled to report that there have been over 1000 views of this blog, which hopefully means that is over 1000 smiles. Now I have been given an incredible opportunity in this quest to create smiles.

For those of you who have only read my words, now you will get to hear my voice!  In addition, you will get to see my own smile.  I will be on television.

I have joined a company called Go Smile, and I will be talking about their tooth whitening products on television. Go Smile is a tooth whitening company that sells their products  directly to the consumer. I put much thought and consideration into this venture. I read their research, reviewed their patents, but what really convinced me that this was a good idea was when I tested their products on myself.  Besides being a dentist, I am a scientist and researcher, and an inventor. My dental passion, if there is such a term, is tooth color. Call me a geek, but I have spent years, in my free time (when I had no free time) examining the complexity of tooth shade, and how to measure it. Through my own research, I patented a computerized camera system that breaks down the color of a tooth, pixel by pixel.

The beauty of this is that I measure tooth color before and after a whitening process and see how well it worked with real data, not just a look see and guess that those teeth appear to have gotten brighter. I get a report with numbers, bars and graphs, and every time I see a tooth in that much detail, I am thrilled!  Really.  So you see, if I say something really works to change a tooth color, I am not relying on my eye’s color perception. I am measuring it. I am reading the report. And I can say with a very high degree of certainty, this Go Smile stuff works.


So back to Go Smile.  It truly is effective. Now I don’t want to make this a commercial for all the products. You can go to their website and see it for yourself. However, you should know that the ampoules have a patented delivery system that is so easy, anyone would be skeptical, but again, it works. (No trays, no waiting, just rub it on your tooth and forget about it.) My teeth were white, at least on the standard measuring scale we use in dentistry, so when I started to use Go Smile, my staff laughed at me because they said my teeth couldn’t get any whiter.  Guess what? They did. My teeth are the whitest they have ever been in my life. They also have excellent toothpaste systems, which I love because it combines brushing your teeth with getting them white .

Now I will get to share this wonderful find with lots of people. My mission, again, is create more smiles, and this can do it. Anyone who has whiter teeth has reason to smile. Take it from me.  Over 25 years of dentistry, and I have loads of stories of people who whitened their teeth, and it gave them confidence, made them happier, and in some instances, changed their lives.  Some people did take it too far, and ended up with glowing teeth, but that wasn’t the usual case. Does anyone remember the Friends episode when Ross whitened his teeth for a date, only to end up with glow in the dark teeth?

You don’t have to get the Ross result. You can whiten your teeth safely and effectively, and hopefully the only thing your friends will say is that  you look good, did you go on vacation? Or you seem happier. You certainly don’t want them to say wow, you whitened your teeth, and you are glowing.

Now I will still maintain my private practice, and continue to see my patients. I can’t wait to hear how many more smiles come about because of this. And if you see me on television, it will be on QVC, because that is one of the ways you can get Go Smile products.

I will try to keep everyone up to speed on my QVC dates either on this blog or through my Facebook page. The first day you can catch me will be Feb 15 between 4-5pm EST.  People ask me if I am scared or nervous about it, but I tell them no.  Aside from the fact that I won’t be wearing my usual scrubs, I will be doing what I have been doing for the past 25 years- talking to people about their teeth, and encouraging them to smile!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

All I Want For Christmas is My 2 Front Teeth?

For dentists, this is one of the busiest times of the year in our offices. We are seeing patients who want to maximize their insurance benefits for the year which is drawing to a close. We are seeing patients who are already stressing out about the once-a-year relatives that will be visiting and grinding their teeth so much that their jaws hurt. There are also people who are enjoying the holiday treats that are so delicious, but can either break a tooth or pull a crown off because they are hard, sticky or both! (The particular sweet I am thinking of is a nougat type of candy.) Last, but not least, there are those holiday-related emergencies, like the time my brother, as a toddler, thought the Christmas tree ornament looked like a shiny golden apple and took a bite out of it! That was a mouth full of cuts and abrasions, and an oral disaster.

Now if you read this blog about two months ago, I suggested that one way to prepare for this Season of Sugar was to visit your dentist early to head off any dental problems or emergencies. Well, too late now for that.  But, I do have some ideas for how you can still prepare yourself to stay dentally safe and sound and maintain your oral health during this time of year.

1.      Prepare yourself a dental emergency kit!  This is simple to do by strolling down the  dental care aisle at your local pharmacy. This kit can include a few Q-tips, temporary filling material, and temporary dental cement. The product  I usually recommend for temporary fillings is called Dent Temp. I have had many patients use this with great success. The Q-tips could be used for pressing the material into a tooth if needed if a filling falls out. Both products have directions on them that are easy to follow.

2.      The best over the counter pain medication for tooth pain is Ibuprofen. If you do encounter a toothache, do not put an aspirin on the gum ( a common misconception). Try taking an appropriate dose of Ibuprofen. Also do not aggravate the sensitive tooth with very hot or very cold foods or drinks.

3.      Even with all the holiday preparations, parties, and busy schedules, be sure to stick to your daily oral hygiene routine. Include toothbrushes ,toothpaste and floss in the stocking stuffers! Many companies put out holiday edition product packaging that is so festive you don’t even have to wrap it. Be sure to include other extra dental things like a  bag of flossers, proxy brushes and toothpaste tube squeezers ( that squeeze all the paste to one end – they are great!)



We can all take a lesson from the children’s holiday movie “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”.
Remember the Abominable Snowman? He suffered from a terrible toothache and had to have Hermey the Elf pull his teeth. 

Don’t have an abominable holiday!  Take care of your teeth so that you can smile your way through the season and into the new year!

Happy Holidays everyone!