Author Topic: A New Year's message from my Dental Assistant Fiancé...  (Read 1758 times)

Offline Dylboz

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A New Year's message from my Dental Assistant Fiancé...
« on: January 10, 2010, 10:33:57 PM »
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Resolutions and prevention being the best medicine
As I was compiling my own new years resolutions I realized I should share something very important with you guys!

Preventative dentistry! I see a lot of posts about people needing dental work -after the fact- once a tooth hurts and/or is broken. When it gets to that point it's expensive, period!

I'll start with flossing, this is one I need to work on too!
Why is flossing SO IMPORTANT? Your gums are the backbone of your teeth. If gums are not healthy, those teeth have nothing to hang onto and even without cavities they really can get loose and need to come out. Yes, that's after it gets real bad, but patients come into my office almost every day who have gotten that bad. If you start now while things are still healthy believe me it pays off for a lifetime!! Bacteria is your mouth/teeth/gums worst enemy. No matter how well you brush or how awesome your toothbrush is, it simply cannot clean in-between your teeth. I cannot stress this fact enough: mouthwash is NOT a substitute to flossing!!! Also, when you are flossing (this is what works best for me) visualize. You need to get into/under your gumline and sweep all that bad stuff out. Your mouth is opposite the rest of your body, if your gums start bleeding that does not signal you to stop. Bleeding means you need to KEEP FLOSSING. You'll see vast improvement in the bloody areas very quickly once you start flossing daily. If you're only going to floss once a day (guilty) the most effective is to do so at night/before bed.

Now, even without insurance regular check-ups and cleanings really are much less than one tooth blowing out.
Consider that an exam/cleaning/xrays will cost you maybe $300 w/o ins (sometimes less! Shop around) But ONE TOOTH cracking or decay going into the nerve etc will cost you much more!
Here's a scenario:
Your tooth hurts, bad you need an emergency visit, no ins that's $60-$120 (at the GENERAL DENTIST)
Xrays taken $20-$30 (to see one tooth!)
What you find out is that the tooth is infected and needs a root canal, if the GD -can- do the root canal $300-$400 if he can't (and sometimes they really can't) it goes to the specialist, an endodontist where a root canal costs $1,000-$1,500 (I'm not kidding) And it doesn't stop there. After a root canal a tooth needs a crown*, crown without ins $650-$800. What if you decide not to keep the infected tooth? Well then there's still the cost of the emergency visit and xrays, then a fee of anywhere from $100-$500 to have it pulled (also depends on if the GD can do it or needs to send out to the oral surgeon)
(*Yes, once a root canal is done a tooth REALLY DOES need a crown!!! A root canal tooth no longer has a live nerve, which means no nutrients are being fed to the tooth, that makes it more susceptible to becoming brittle and breaking, wherein a lot of times the tooth will need to be pulled in the end throwing away that $1,500 spent on the root canal)

Going back to the exam/xrays/cleaning event, you could get by on one visit a year and it will help you immensely!! The cleanings will keep your gums healthy, and the xrays will catch decay when it's still small enough to be filled $200-$300 for a filling (remember the cost of a busted tooth!) Not only that it'll catch things like fractures with enough time for you to figure out where the funds will come from before it's a full blown emergency.

++even WITH insurance emergencies can get extremely costly!! So again, prevention is the key!!!++

Now, let's say you start/are seeing the dentist on a fairly regular basis. My patients think a lot of things are bogus schemes for making money. Here's the 2 biggest culprits: Grinding/clenching and fluoride.

Grinding/Clenching: this is REAL. Most people who clench and grind do so in their sleep and have no idea it's happening. Your jaw is a powerful beast! You can damage your chewing surface, you can bust off cups, you can fracture teeth right in half! (which puts you back into root canal territory, costs discussed above) Not only that new studies show that clenching your teeth causes recession in your gums. Recession is when the gums move away from the teeth. Remember the gums are the backbone of your teeth, and in relation to flossing, the more recession you have, the more powerless your floss becomes to removing that bacteria because your pockets get too deep (pockets being the flap of gum surrounding each tooth) Lastly, that same recession can cause some extreme sensitivity. Now, often times dentists will offer you up a night guard/occlusal guard. I'm not going to lie to you, we DO profit from these in the office. But it's not a scam! It is beyond beneficial to you (and me!) the patient. I'm also going to point out that you don't have to get the one they sell at the Dentist's office! Yes, it comes with bells and whistles, like being custom fit to your teeth and being rather comfortable compared to other things on the market, but it's function that matters most! You can certainly purchase an OTC item like the Dr's night guard. Heck, my dad just wears a boxing mouth guard. What matters is you protect your teeth from your jaw! If you know you clench or grind (or anyone ever told you that you do) DO seek protection.
-Keep in mind that once you start wearing it, diligence is key! Many times you will take it out while you're asleep, but don't give up! You pop that puppy in every night before you go to bed and eventually everyone will learn to get along.
-Also note, soreness in the jaw is to be expected once you start wearing protection. What's happening is that now the pressure is being met with resistance, you're working out/retraining your jaw muscles and they will be sore just like your body would after the gym!
-Lastly, if you're aware of your clenching/grinding, the protection does not have to be reserved for sleep. ANY TIME you know you clench/grind (at the gym, at work, in front of the computer, while at the grocery store, wherever!) You can pop that sucker in to protect everybody.

Fluoride: I know there's a lot of controversy over this topic. But you do not have to ingest it! Just apply it topically to your teeth and there are REAL benefits. My office sells RX strength fluoride gel for around $20 and for $20 you're buying yourself a TON of preventative benefits. Fluoride REALLY DOES curb tooth decay. I read a study that shows Fluoride combined with xyletol (the stuff found in Trident gum) together are damn near impenetrable to decay. I recommend this to you, your kids, your friends, your friends kids. Get some of that fluoride gel, and get yourself some trident. The stuff we sell is from Colgate, it's called "prevident" and a little bit goes a looooong way so that bottle can last!


TLDR:
1. EAT THE COST of regular exams and cleanings even if you don't have insurance because it will save you SO MUCH in the long run!
2. Flossing really is important!
3. Clenching and grinding is not a myth, and protecting yourself is easy!
4. Fluoride is not a toxic devil, there are actual proven benefits to its use!

I repost this here, from her LiveJournal account, because I think that this really is an important preparation and survival issue. People used to die from mouth sores, infected abscesses, etc. all the time. Archaeologists routinely dig up pharaohs and kings whose skulls are rotted out from terrible dental disease and infections. Oral health is integral to your general health. And, if like me, you have any heart issues, you need to be doubly aware and conscious of it. I've had a bunch of heart surgeries to correct congenital defects, and that makes me especially vulnerable to endocarditis and bacterial infection. The mouth is the most likely source of such an infection, so brushing, flossing and regular cleanings aren't just a cosmetic luxury, but an absolute necessity. When it comes to your teeth, an ounce of prevention is worth several tons of cure. Especially when there are no dentists available after the zombie apocalypse!