teethThe definition of plaque is really very interesting as described by Wikipedia:

Dental plaque is a biofilm, usually a pale yellow that develops naturally on the teeth. Like any biofilm, dental plaque is formed by colonizing bacteria . . . It has been speculated that plaque forms part of the defense systems of the host by helping to prevent colonization of microorganisms that may be pathogenic.

It is not a huge leap to compare plaque to the Great Wall of China. The building of plaque never ceases and the Great Wall took centuries to build and it’s still not complete. The Great Wall was built to keep attackers out while at the same time keeping people in. The Great Wall of China can be seen from space; if you have a lot of plaque build-up, it can be seen pretty easily, too.

If we heed only Wikipedia’s definition above, one might wonder what is so bad about plaque.  The above definition is only a partial one and there are many more resources available online or at your local dental office that will point out the drawbacks of plaque. While building up its defenses the same material that protects erodes the enamel of the teeth.  Of course the erosion does not take place over night. And, neither will the “take down.”

Like the Great Wall, plaque is very formidable. Both will never be totally deconstructed however, the Great Wall is maintained and cleaned for its millions of visitors. Plaque helps protect against billions of visitors, too  (microorganisms). However, if you do not keep the plaque at bay (it occurs naturally, and can not be cleaned 100% away) it will destroy your teeth.

So, get into see your dentist, help them help you control plaque. Ask your dentist if the recommended twice-yearly cleaning is all you need, or, if there are other issues to deal with like periodontal disease or gingivitis.  Remember your dentist is the expert and they love helping people get the oral care they should have; it’s what they do!

 

Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Rob Boudon

634px-Dental_floss_(whole)The Cleaning of the Teeth (Part I)

She told me to open my mouth, she started the exam, and, she was in there for about 30 seconds,. Suddenly, she started crying (this is a dental story there might be some exaggeration for point). My dental hygienist said that my teeth were not very happy; in fact they were down right sad. I hadn’t been to the dentist for my recommended twice-yearly cleaning and I’m not the best flosser – in that I don’t really floss. The good news is that I don’t have periodontal disease, the bad news is if I don’t take care of my teeth now, I will.

I brush my teeth every day and use mouthwash with fluoride and, I don’t eat sweet stuff, so why can’t I just come in every five years and clean my teeth?  After all, that’s what I have done for the past forty years. She looked at me and said, “Listen, I have a really full schedule, I’m booked out for months, and I can’t force you to take care of your teeth. Other people get it, you don’t yet, call me when you do.”

And that was the last time I saw my dental hygienist. Not because I haven’t “gotten it” yet. I understood almost immediately, cleaning your teeth doesn’t just make them whiter; it actually keeps your gums healthy and free from gingivitis and periodontal disease. I haven’t seen my hygienist since then because she really was booked for months and I just couldn’t get in.

 

The Cleaning of the Teeth (Part II)

I finally made it in to see my hygienist and my gums are so much happier now. Of course it takes a bit of work on my part, learning to floss after 40 years of not flossing is like learning a new language.  I’d rather go to the dentist once a month for a monthly cleaning but personal responsibility is important. For now I will continue to keep my gums happy and therefore healthy by flossing and brushing every day. And, I will resign myself to the recommended twice-a-year cleaning. I hope my little story has impressed upon you the importance of regular cleanings. If I can do it after forty years of not doing it, then anyone can.*

*Two visits annually for a cleaning is normal. If you have periodontal disease, it will likely be recommended you visit your dentist and hygienist 3 to 4 times per year until the condition of your gums improve.

 

Image Used under Creative Commons license. Photo Credit: Dental floss (whole)

  • Perform oral hygiene at least four times daily, after each meal and before bedtime
  • Rinse and wipe oral cavity immediately after meals.
  • Brush and rinse dentures after meals.
  • Use only toothpaste with fluoride.
  • Keep water handy to moisten the mouth at all times.
  • Apply prescription-strength fluoride gel at bedtime as prescribed.
  • Rinse with a salt and baking soda solution four to six times daily.
  • Avoid citrus juices (orange, grapefruit, tomato).
  • Avoid liquids and foods with high sugar content.
  • Avoid rinses containing alcohol. Use moisturizer regularly on the lips.
  • Try salivary substitutes or artificial saliva preparations, which may relieve discomfort by temporarily wetting the mouth and replacing some of the constituents of saliva.
  • Use oral pilocarpine as prescribed.

Source: http://www.oncolink.org

My job is to visit dental offices where procedures are underway. I observe. That’s a big part of my job. I’m a trained observer. Then, I gather what I hear and see and put into a report virtually anyone can read and understand. I’m hired many times because the doctor wants to make changes and improvements.

You’d be amazed at what I see. Or, then again, maybe you wouldn’t be.

Let me give you an idea: Shag carpet from 1975. Stained floors and walls. Unkept restrooms. Red décor. Old furnishings that should have been retired years before. I could go on and on.

You have to wonder, “Is the doctor really up-to-par on recent innovations and advancements in dentistry if they’re hesitant to keep things up?”

It’s a valid question.

On occasion, I also manage to accidentally overhear patients instructing the dentist or the hygienist when they think they should be seen. Usually the conversation goes like this, “I don’t want to have an exam two-times a year. My physician said once time is enough.”

Your physician? Huh? Since when did they spend 4 years and hundreds and hundreds of hours of ongoing continuing education specializing in oral health? Pretty sure, never.

That’s like a dentist giving you advice on cardiology and heart disease.

(I’m not even a dentist – just someone that has seen first-hand what can happen to someone that “skips” appointments or sets their own re-care schedule!)

Did you know oral cancer (cancer of the mouth) is normally only detected by dentists and hygienists?

That means since more than 50% of Americans don’t see the dentist, 50% of our country will never know they have or at high-risk of developing a severely painful and tough-to-treat disease.

And, pulling all your teeth probably isn’t the best solution. Sadly, sometimes, it’s the only one. Being “edentulous” or without teeth, poses its own unique set of undesirable health problems.

Here’s another one I’ve overhead more than once: “Periodontal disease? My teeth are fine. The bleeding stops by mid-morning. I don’t have any disease. That’s hogwash.”

According to the website, http://www.answers.com, 80% of Americans have gum disease (Periodontal Disease). If you know 10 people, chances are, 8 will have gum disease. EIGHT!

Bottom line: If you choose to skip your bi-annual exams, you put yourself at risk. If you choose to ignore regular cleanings or, for someone already “perio involved” (they have the disease) ignore your SRP visit (that means, perio scaling and root planing), you’re putting yourself further at-risk for bigger, body-wide or systemic problems.

For the price of a dinner out at Olive Garden, you can find out what kind of health your mouth is in. It’s likely the best investment you’ll ever make. Don’t ignore your oral health. It can be a silent killer.

Why the “silent killer?” According to the ADA: “It is possible to have periodontal disease and have no warning signs. That is one reason why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are very important.”

Call today. Don’t wait. Health has to be a top priority.

marilyn_monroe__kids_by_mustafasoydan-d2yfbd6If you haven’t been to the dentist lately, you really should go check one out. With all of the new technology that is now available and all of the advancements that are being done in dentistry, going to the dentist is almost like going to a spa.

Have you ever had a mouth that just didn’t feel right, no matter how many times you brushed or flossed? Like a body that is just a little bit out of whack sometimes – a day when you focus on your body is exactly the kind of day your mouth occasionally needs.

Of course you will not be able to take a mud bath at the dentist or have hot stones placed on you back. But, you can have lovely people taking care of your mouth, toys and activities for your kids, and most dentists now have Wi-Fi and music available not to mention healthy snacks and beverages.

This isn’t to say that if you need a root canal that you will not feel it. However, with Sedation Dentistry and other medications available, it will be more pleasant than not.

What’s more is when you take your children for their dental care, a pediatric dentist who specializes in children will do their best to make sure that your child and you are in the happiest place on earth that is not Disneyland and where oral health is focal point.

If you are unsure of which dentist to go to, look online; most dentists have pretty nice websites that introduce them, their team and their office.  Seriously, compare the dentist websites to the website of your local spa, I think you’ll notice several similarities.

So treat yourself and your family to a mouth day; visit your local dental office, even if you don’t have a dentist yet, and just check out the office. You’ll find that the bygone era of pain dentistry is all but gone. Most dentists go out of their way to insure that the entire family will be comfortable and have fun while they are at the dental office.

 

Image Used under Creative Commons license. Photo Credit: Marilyn_Monroe_Kids by mustafasoydan

The popularity of soft drinks increases year after year, due in part to their sweet taste, and in part to the aggressive advertising campaigns run by soda companies. The amount of soda consumed by the average American every year is staggering – over 50 gallons per person.

Soft drinks are a danger to oral health due to the high amounts of sugar and acids. Because of their liquid nature, gulping down soft drinks is equivalent to bathing teeth in a solution of acids and sugar. Over time, even the relatively mild acids in soft drinks can eat away and weaken tooth enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay and damage.

Another indirect effect of soda consumption is the reduced consumption of other, healthier drinks. The reduced consumption of milk has led to a deficiency in the intake of important vitamins and minerals. Calcium, in particular, is important to the maintenance of strong teeth and bones. Without a sufficient supply of calcium, the body cannot properly maintain the integrity of teeth – combined with the damaging effects of the sugar and acid in popular soft drinks, and it is easy to see why dentists are concerned.

Lowering or eliminating soft drink consumption entirely is not a very likely solution. Sodas are so prevalent in the American diet that elimination is simply unrealistic. Therefore, if you are concerned about the effect of soft drinks on your oral health, consider the following steps.

First, take a good look at your brushing and flossing habits. These are vital if you are to counteract the negaive effects of soft drinks.

Second, try to reduce your soft drink consumption as much as possible, and replace it with beneficial liquids such as milk or fluoridated water.

Third, if you must drink sodas, use a straw when possible, to minimize contact with your teeth.

A timely visit to the dentist is always a key factor in maintaining good oral and dental health.

dental-insurance-end-of-year

 

Now is the time to plan for the completion of your dental treatment before the end of the year.  All insurance plans have a yearly maximum.  If you do not use this maximum amount, the benefits are lost forever.

If you have treatment to be completed or to be started, take advantage of your benefits this year.  We can use the maximum allowed for this year to begin or complete any treatment that needs to be done.  If we do not complete all of the treatment, then we can start with a new maximum next year.

 

Good planning will allow you to take advantage of the full benefits of your policy.  Please do not wait until the last few days of the year when our congested schedule will make it difficult to appoint a convenient time for you.

Our goal is to provide you with quality dental service.  If we can help you maximize your dental insurance coverage in the process, we know you will be very pleased.  In addition, we have a financial partner who can help you with any portion of your treatment that insurance does not cover.

Call (314) 858-5366 today for an appointment!

We appreciate your continued support,

Dr. Elliot Leon and the Soft Touch Dental Team

www.softtouchdental.net

www.facebook.com/softtouchdentalmo

 

*Take an additional 15% off when you call to schedule.

(Good until December 31, 2014)

 

100_1373Teeth wear down; they get abused by hard candies, sticky sugary snacks, and other items that can cause decay or cracks.

Many people are under the false assumption that only children get cavities. Unfortunately like all machines, when our body and mouth get on in age, they naturally will be in need of repairs. If you are one of those folks who think cavities are only something candy-eating children get, maybe it’s time for a dental check-up. If you do go in for a check-up and find you have cavities that need fillings, below are some helpful tips to consider.

There are two basic types of fillings: silver amalgam and tooth-colored composite resin. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Silver fillings are durable and can last up to 15 years. Some people however, don’t like the look of the dark silver fillings, while they may be more economical.

There are a few disadvantage of silver amalgam fillings: greater healthy parts of the tooth often have to be removed, the amalgam may create discoloration to the tooth, the amalgam material may lend itself to more frequent cracks and fractures, and silver amalgam fillings contain mercury, an element known to be unsafe to humans in certain concentrations. Some may also be allergic to the amount of mercury used in silver amalgam fillings.

Tooth-colored composites are the best choice for filling material from an esthetic view, as they most closely match the color of a tooth. These composites also chemically bond to the tooth and they are versatile. Often there is less of the existing tooth structure that needs to be removed in comparison to an amalgam filling. However, these composites are less durable than an amalgam filling. Also, the tooth-colored composites can more easily chip and are slightly less economical.

There are also ceramic and glass ionomer fillings available.  If you would like to learn more about cavities and fillings, contact your neighborhood dentist. They will be more than happy to give you the complete run down on fillings, if you need them and which would be best for you.

 

Image Used under Creative Commons license. Photo Credit: 100_1373.jpg

dentist“My teeth are fine, they don’t hurt. . .a lot!” “I don’t need to go the dentist.” “Besides, even if I had the time, I know I don’t have the money.” “And, if I had both the time and the money, why would I pay somebody to hurt me, I’m not like that.” “I’m not afraid I simply… my teeth don’t hurt!”

Twenty years ago the above statements wouldn’t be surprising to most dentists. They’ve heard them all. What is surprising is that even today these same statements reverberate in the halls of toothdom . Today, even with sedation dentistry, smaller more precise dental instruments, and anesthesia, people are still reluctant to go a dentist.  Of course some of that reluctance stems from the FOC factor (fear of cost).  Today there is very little reason not to see a dentist. Of all the above misgivings, the FOC factor is probably the biggest. But, oral health is not something that should be sidelined due to misgivings – it’s that important.

Let’s address the elephant on this page. Fear of cost is very real for a lot of folks, though this country has the best health care on the planet – it’s also the most expensive. However, FOC brings up multiple silver linings. First, consider the ROI (return on investment). If you can have healthy, comfortable, good-looking teeth – what is that worth? Also, in terms of real cost, getting dental work done is really not that expensive. Lastly, if you need a big dental procedure done you can finance it. P.S. if you have to choose whether to finance a new car or oral care – this article isn’t for you.

Now that the FOC elephant is put back in its cage, let’s talk about the other “reasons” people don’t go to the dentist. Pain! At this point in our history dental pain is all but imaginary. Have you been to a dental office recently? The dental tools are microscopic (not really but they are very small). Some dentists even use lasers.  If smaller instruments aren’t enough, there is always anesthetic and if that’s not enough there is sedation and music (most dentists have digital music you can listen to while work is being done on your teeth).

What will hurt is if you keep putting of regular dental visits until the pain is unbearable. Dentists are doctors and like any doctor, they need to be seen regularly.  Take care of your teeth, so that they can take care of you!

Image Used under Creative Commons license. Photo Credit: Head In Hands by Craig Dennis.