What to Ask Your Dental Hygienist

In a recent Smile Sarasota Blog post, we discussed what to ask Dr. Still on your first visit to our office. You will also be meeting one of our awesome hygienists, Claire or Ann at your first visit and we thought you might want to think about what to ask them as well. Here are a few suggestions along with numerous links to help you:

  • What should my recare checkup and maintenance schedule be?
  • How often and why do you ‘measure my gums‘ and what do those numbers mean? LINK
  • Should my gums bleed when I brush my teeth or get my teeth cleaned?
  • There are so many toothpastes to choose from; how do I know which one to use?
  • Which is better, a manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush?
  • Is there is special way I should be brushing?
  • Why is flossing so important?
  • What causes cavities?
  • What is the best way to make my teeth whiter?
  • What is gum disease and what can be done about it?
  • How often do you take checkup dental X-rays? after I have had my full series at my first exam?

So…bring your list of questions for Claire and Ann…and never hesitate to ask anyone on our Team…Smile Sarasota is here for you!

 

Sources and Credits: Colgate.com, Best Health Magazine

Be Kissable!

You know the signs. The tingling starts and then the burning. We are not talking about falling in love! Oh no! It’s a cold sore on your lip. Also known as fever blisters, they are uncomfortable and they can really ruin your smile…and you can forget about being kissed! When you feel one coming on, you want to get rid of it ASAP.

Studies tell us that 90% of Americans will suffer from at least one cold sore in their lifetime. Cold sores are painful, unsightly and infectious. Unfortunately, cold sores are a fact of life for many. While those who suffer multiple and chronic outbreaks will need to come in and see Dr. Still, we have found some at-home treatments that may decrease healing time. They may not eliminate cold sores completely, but these methods can make an outbreak much more comfortable and dramatically decrease healing time.

  • Pure vanilla extract has anti-inflammatory properties that can aid in the healing of a cold sore. When you feel a cold sore coming on, soak a cotton ball in vanilla extract. Then, hold the cotton ball to the area of concern for two minutes four times a day until the cold sore disappears.
  • Wear a lip product with SPF – Direct sunlight can trigger an outbreak of cold sores, so make sure you’re always wearing sunscreen for your skin and lips and keep in it your purse, desk or pocket.
  • Use a Topical L-Lysine Product – This is an amino acid that can be taken orally or applied directly to the skin in order to decrease the occurrence, control the severity and accelerate the healing process of cold sores.
  • Propolis, also known as synthetic beeswax, is available as a 3% ointment. When applied early and often, it may shorten the duration of the breakout.
  • Rhubarb and sage – A cream combining rhubarb and sage may be about as effective as acyclovir (Zovirax) cream.
  • Try to reduce stress – If your cold sores are triggered by stress, you might want to try relaxation techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises and meditation.
  • Ice the cold sore with an ice pack or ice cube – We know that ice controls pain and inflammation, especially when dealing with sports injuries. However, the age-old technique can also be effective for cold sore relief. The cold works to slow down blood flow to the cold sore area, therefore reducing pain and swelling.
  • Replace your toothbrush – Toothbrushes can retain traces of the virus that causes cold sores. This means that if you don’t replace your toothbrush after a cold sore pops up, your current cold sore will likely last longer and you are at risk of more frequent outbreaks in the future. For that reason, Smile Sarasota recommends the Philips Sonicare Ultrasonic Toothbrush thanks to its easy-to-change heads. As an added benefit, the electric toothbrush removes up to two times more plaque than a manual version.

Cold sores generally clear up without treatment in two to four weeks. If yours does not, Dr. Still can recommend several types of prescription antiviral drugs may speed the healing process. These medications include: Acyclovir (Xerese, Zovirax), Valacyclovir (Valtrex), Famciclovir (Famvir) Penciclovir (Denavir). Some of these products are packaged as pills to be swallowed and others are creams to be applied to the sores several times a day. In general, the pills work better than the creams.

If you have any questions about cold sores or any other oral discomfort, call Smile Sarasota and we will always be glad to help! We want your smile to be beautiful and…kissable!

 

 

 

Sources and Credits: Mayo Clinic, Webmd

There Are No Dumb Questions!

As a new patient coming in to our Smile Sarasota dental practice and meeting Dr. Still for the first time, you may have questions but once you arrive, they may fly out of your head.  It’s a good idea to make a list of your questions and concerns prior to your first visit and that will help make the experience a lot better and ease your mind. Here are some common questions and Dr. Still and our awesome team are always glad to take the time to answer them for you! We have provided some links to some of our previous Blogs that will be useful, so take a look at those too.

“The ability to ask the right question is more than half the battle of finding the answer.”
Thomas. J Watson

  • What can I expect during my comprehensive exam on the first visit?
  • What’s my oral health situation right now and what can I do to improve my oral health?
  • Will the staff review the cost of procedures before treatment is done?
  • How are instruments sterilized?
  • Can you do a crown in one day?
  • I am apprehensive about dental work…What can I do?
  • I’m interested in changing the shape of my teeth. What options are available?
  • What causes cavities?
  • What is the best way to get my teeth whiter?
  • How safe are dental X-rays?
  • Is it safe to have silver (amalgam) fillings, or should I have them replaced with the tooth-colored ones?
  • Will you explain what’s involved with the procedures recommended?

So…bring your list of questions and never hesitate to ask! We will be posting another Blog about what to ask our Hygienists also, so stay tuned. Smile Sarasota is here for you!

 

Sources and Credits: Colgate.com, Best Health Magazine

 

Icky Oral Hygiene Facts

Dr. Still’s goal for our patients at Smile Sarasota is healthy teeth and gums for life. And we also like to keep you informed about the best ways to stay healthy and not just your teeth and gums, but your whole body. So here’s a wake-up call. There are some really icky facts that you need to know and we’re sorry if we gross you out, but some things just need to be said!

  • Ninety percent of bad breath comes from bacteria living on the tongue. So don’t forget to clean your tongue next time you’re brushing your teeth.
  • You will produce approximately 20,000 liters (5,283 gallons) of saliva in your lifetime. Probably more if you drool in your sleep.
  • It’s pretty easy for an infectious pathogen to transfer to your mouth when you’re simply handling everyday household items and then touching your lips. Everything you can physically touch is basically covered in disease.
  • Look around you. If you see 10 people, one of them might use their own hair to floss (7% of Americans do this, apparently). A pack of floss costs, like, what? $3, tops?
  • At any given time, 10–50 billion bacteria are in your mouth. That’s about up to seven times Earth’s population..
  • If you kiss your sweetie for 10 seconds, you’re exchanging up to 80 million bacteria. That’s why dental hygiene should super important!
  • When you flush the toilet, (Warning: you may not want to watch the linked video!) it can create an aerosol plume that shoots waste into the air up to 15 feet. In other words, move your toothbrush or cover it…but wait:
  • Toothbrush holders get so gross that scientists have literally found a new kind of bacterium related to E. coli inside them. Maybe throw that bad boy in the dishwasher regularly.

Your mouth is basically designed to be disgusting, and brushing alone won’t solve it. While your toothbrush only reaches 25%, you need to floss, scrape your tongue. And be sure come in regularly for your checkups at Smile Sarasota!

 

Sources and Credits:  Listerine.com, Webmd

If it Ain’t Broke…It’s Cracked!

During your checkup or new patient exam at Smile Sarasota, Dr. Still may inform you that he is ‘watching’ some visible cracks in your teeth. Do not confuse this with a broken tooth, which is very obvious and needs immediate attention to restore you to normal chewing and cosmetic function. But cracks in your teeth can be signs of things to come. Problems relating to cracked teeth are the third leading cause of tooth loss, just behind decay and gum disease.

So what are the symptoms of a cracked tooth? The tooth may hurt sometimes when you bite or chew and the sensitivity or pain can be mild or intense. It may last a brief time or a long time. It may be painful only when you eat certain foods or when you bite in a specific way. You will not feel a constant ache, as you would if you had a cavity or abscess. The tooth may be more sensitive to cold temperatures. Many patients with ‘cracked tooth syndrome’ have had the symptoms for months. Cracked tooth syndrome is one of the most difficult dental problems to diagnose because the pain is not predictable.

A cracked tooth does not come on quickly. By the time Dr. Still sees these cracks during your examination, they are hopefully superficial, however, some can travel deep into the structure of the tooth and affect the pulp or the structures that hold the tooth to the jaw bone. And many cracks cannot be seen. Deep, hidden cracks can still undermine even the best crown or filling. Some teeth have cracks that are too small to show up on X-rays and sometimes the cracks are under the gum.

Cracked tooth syndrome is most common in lower back teeth because these teeth absorb most of the forces of chewing. Some people grind or clench their teeth and these people may be more likely to have cracked tooth syndrome. Teeth with large fillings may be more likely to crack and teeth that have undergone root canal treatment are weaker than other teeth and also may be more likely to crack. This is why a crown is almost always recommended following a root canal.

The treatment for cracked tooth syndrome is not always successful and does not always relieve the symptoms. Dr. Still will talk with you about what might happen. The treatment can depend on where the crack is and how deep or large it is. In some people, a crown will fix the problem. In others, root canal treatment solves the problem. Some cracks affect the root of the tooth in the jaw and there is no way to fix this type of crack. If your tooth has to be removed, Dr. Still can replace it with an implant or a bridge. Some patients continue to have occasional symptoms after treatment or they may need to have the tooth taken out. It’s a very frustrating syndrome for both you, the patient, and for Dr. Still.

So…when Dr. Still informs you that he has made a note in your chart about watching some cracks in your teeth or noting symptoms you may have that suggest cracks, it most likely means that he will recommend further treatment down the road so don’t be surprised! If you are having any symptoms mentioned above or have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Still or anyone on our Smile Sarasota Team!

 

 

 

Sources and Credits: Columbia University, Colgate, American Association of Endodontics

Ice Cream! Yay!

 

ice creamIf you are having major restorative dentistry at Smile Sarasota such as multiple crowns or are having implants, oral surgery or periodontal surgery in conjunction with restorative dentistry, it’s a good idea to give your teeth a bit of a break while you are healing. For this reason, cold soups, smoothies, jello/puddings, and cold drinks should be your main dietary intake. You will receive detailed instructions directly from the Oral Surgeon or the Periodontal Surgeon, so be sure to follow them! The good news it that this healing period is temporary!

After undergoing dental surgery or during major dental restoration, some of our Smile Sarasota patients may find it difficult to eat or enjoy their food during the healing period. This reluctance to sit down at meal times, plus an inability to consume normal, solid food, is especially true after dental surgery such as extractions and implants. It’s not difficult to see why: too much chewing, slurping or sucking can aggravate the treated area, resulting in discomfort and even pain. It also can potentially re-open the area, causing bleeding or infection that will delay healing or cause problems with the surgery if the area is disturbed too much. However, despite any fears or lack of appetite, it’s vital that you continue to eat, as nutrients provide energy and facilitate your healing process on the road to recovery.

Many patients ask Dr. Still, “What types of food are best?” “What sort of foods should be avoided?” In general, the rule of thumb is: no spicy foods, chips, popcorn, sticky food or candy, acidic juices, or carbonated drinks. But on a positive note, we thought it would be helpful to provide a series of menu suggestions that are tasty and nutritious!

Here are some ideas about what to eat to help you get through this healing period:

Vegetables:

  • Soups (smooth rather than chunky) – virtually any combination of vegetables can be made into a soup, or buy ready made ones!
  • Mashed avocado/guacamole
  • Fresh spinach, kale or other greens, cooked very soft
  • Sweet potatoes, baked until very soft
  • Soft-cooked or mashed carrots, squash, pumpkin
  • Cauliflower and broccoli, cooked very soft
  • Vegetable curry, cooked very soft (serve with boiled rice)
  • Vegetable juice (such as tomato juice)

Fruits:

  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Mashed bananas
  • Baked apples
  • Baked bananas
  • Applesauce

Meat, fish, eggs, beans and other protein foods:

  • Soup with soft meats
  • Moist, tender meat or poultry that is ground, shredded, finely chopped or blended with vegetables or potatoes, using a food processor
  • Soft-cooked fish
  • Fisherman’s pie
  • Shepherd’s pie
  • Chili
  • Dhal or well-cooked lentils
  • Crab cakes
  • Scrambled egg or poached egg
  • Beans (mashed if necessary)
  • Baked Beans
  • Tofu or Minced tofu

Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta:

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Pasta or noodles (not al dente!)
  • Cooked rice, risotto
  • Cooked cereal, porridge (with or without mashed fruit)
  • Cold cereal which has been left to soak in milk or soy milk until soft
  • Bread that has been softened in soup
  • Soft bread rolls
  • Muffins, pancakes, waffles

 

Milk and dairy foods:

  • Milkshakes, milk drinks
  • Yogurt
  • Yogurt drinks
  • Yogurt with soft fruits
  • Ice cream! (without crunchy bits)
  • Cottage cheese, ricotta cheese
  • Cheese in sauces or melted in other dishes

Desserts and sweets:

  • Custard
  • More Ice cream!!
  • Soft moist cake or pie – moisten in milk, coffee or other liquid if necessary
  • Jelly

If you have any questions about what is involved with any dental procedure, Smile Sarasota is here to answer them!

 

 

Sources and Credits: The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), dentalfearcentral.org

Why are my Gums Bleeding?

Some of our Smile Sarasota patients in our dental practice mention to Dr. Still that they are concerned about bleeding gums. While some people experience this from time to time, it is definitely something that needs to be addressed. Bleeding gums are never a normal condition (not even when you have your teeth cleaned) and the cause needs to be investigated as the condition can be serious. There are lots of different reasons and each has a different way of being treated. Here are some of the more common reasons for bleeding gums:

  • Brushing too vigorously, improperly or using a toothbrush that is too hard
  • Gingivitis – a mild form of Periodontal disease with redness and swelling
  • Periodontal disease – infection of the gums and supporting tissues
  • Misaligned teeth – teeth that are crowded or overlapped are very difficult to clean around
  • Medications – blood pressure meds, anti-seizure drugs and  immunosuppressant drugs are examples
  • Flossing improperly
  • Pregnancy and hormones
  • Chemotherapy
  • Poor diet
  • Smoking and use of tobacco products
  • Stress
  • Family history of gum disease

While proper brushing and flossing can solve some of the bleeding issues, others are more serious need a closer examination so that Dr. Still can determine the exact cause and recommend the right treatment for your individual issue. Call Smile Sarasota today and set up a consultation with Dr. Still, or chat with either of our hygienists for answers to your questions. We are here to help you have healthy teeth and gums for life!

Dental Health at Every Age

Smile Sarasota treats dental patients in Sarasota of most any age- we have patients who range in age from about 10 to over 100. While most of our demographic is young adult to seniors, it’s important to have good dental care right from the beginning. Here are some eye-opening facts and tips about dental health at every age:

Babies and Toddlers

  • 62% of children will have cavities by age 5
  • 40% of children have tooth decay by kindergarten

This age group should see a Pedodontist (children’s dentist) by age 2 and have checkups every 6 months

Children and Teenagers

  • 78% of Americans have had at least one cavity by age 17
  • 16% of children ages  6-19 have untreated cavities
  • 27% of children and adolescents have at least one dental sealant

Children and teenagers should see a dentist regularly and receive supplemental fluoride to strengthen teeth and have dental sealants. applied to deep groves to help prevent decay. Cutting soda from once a day to once a week eventually can cut 35 lbs of sugar per year!

Adults

  • 25% of adults say their smile is the one facial feature they would change  to boost their self-esteem
  • 78% of adults perceive people with yellow teeth or crooked teeth  to be unsuccessful

Ask us about tooth whitening, orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry – you will be surprised at the difference this can make!

Seniors

  • Nearly 33% of seniors have not been to the dentist for 5 years or more and have untreated tooth decay and gum disease which can lead to severe health conditions.
  • The average age of most people diagnosed with mouth cancers is 62.

Regardless of your age, schedule regular visits with Dr. still and be sure to brush and floss every day! For more information about proper dental health, visit SmileSarasota.com today!

 

Reasons You’ve Avoided the Dentist

  1. Pain – No question about it, pain is a very real reason some people avoid the dentist! However, at Smile Sarasota, we have two of the best hygienists around! Both are described as very gentle comfortable and not to mention fun! People at our office who have had major treatment have said they didn’t even know Dr. Still gave them an injection!
  2. Long Wait – Let’s face it, no one likes to be kept waiting. Our office consistently runs on time.
  3. Staff – Are you tired of going to the dentist and getting a different dentist or hygienist EVERY time you go? Not as Smile Sarasota. You will get Dr. Still every time. Do you prefer to see Ann? Or Claire? We can arrange that. You are free to choose your hygienist. And you will see the same one every time.
  4. Insurance – Have you ever been told a dental office takes your insurance only to find out in the end they don’t? Though we are a fee for service office, we will do a complimentary benefits check for you prior to you even coming in. No surprises here! We will submit your claim to your insurance company and do all of the follow-up work to endure you receive your reimbursement as soon as possible. You do not have to do ANY of the legwork!
  5. Money – No we are not the cheapest dentist in town. We are not the cheapest dentist in town because we do not perform cheap dentistry. Dr. Still believes prevention is the key! Don’t wait until something hurts to come in. At that point, treatment options become more involved and costly.

If you have reasons for avoiding the dentist, we understand! Don’t avoid us! Call Smile Sarasota now for a consultation with Dr. Still and he will ease your mind.

 

 

Sleeping with a Motorcycle

Many of our patients at our Smile Sarasota dental practice mention to Dr. Still that they may have a snoring problem and ask if he can help. Do you snore? If so, you’re in good company. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that 30 to 50 percent of the U.S. population snores at some point. To get relief, many patients talk to their primary care physician. But did you know that you can also talk to Dr. Still? You may not know that your dentist is often the earliest professionals to diagnose sleep disorders.

Snoring occurs when there is an obstruction in your airway during sleep. The American Dental Association explains that this obstruction can be caused by the tongue or soft tissues in the mouth. When tissues in the top of the airway hit each other, the vibration that results creates a loud noise. The loud noise may occur with short pauses in between. This could be an indicator of sleep apnea. When a patient has obstructive sleep apnea, breathing actually stops for brief moments, and this process can result in damaging effects on the body, such as atherosclerosis and other serious cardiovascular problems. Sleep apnea and the tendency to snore at night can also be the cause of daytime sleepiness and daily fatigue. We will discuss this in a future Smile Sarasota Blog.

So how can Dr. Still help me? If you or your partner notices an on-going problem at night, tell Dr. Still. There are several tests that he can arrange to diagnose the issue. One of these tests is called a “sleep study”. He will refer to to a sleep specialist and during the evaluation, your sleeping patterns will be analyzed and your vital signs are monitored over the course of a night.

But there are other remedies Dr. Still may suggest first. The National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging recommend these strategies to reduce snoring at night:

  • Lose weight. Too much weight can cause changes to the structures around your airway.
  • Consume little or no alcohol at night. Alcohol can change the quality of your sleep.
  • Reduce or eliminate the use of sedatives. Talk to your doctor about alternatives.
  • Don’t sleep on your back. Try side sleeping with a supportive pillow.

With the support of Dr. Still at Smile Sarasota, you should be able to get to the root of your snoring issue and sleep more soundly at night. Even if a dental issue isn’t the cause of snoring, snoring can result in dry mouth. As snore sufferers are trying to breathe, the mouth is also struggling to produce enough saliva. Dry mouth can accelerate tooth decay, mouth sores, bad breath, and gum disease. Contact Smile Sarasota if you are concerned about snoring – we can help!

 

Sources and Credits: Colgate.com, The National Sleep Foundation, The American Dental Association, WebMD, The National Institutes of Health, The National Institute on Aging

Brush or Soak?

If you’re one of the many denture wearers in the Sarasota, Florida area, you may wonder what the best way is to clean your dentures. Dr. Adam Still at Smile Sarasota realizes you’ve probably seen your parents or grandparents soak their dentures in a glass of water. The truth is that this is still one of the best ways to clean them!

Brushing is fine but there it more to it. To the naked eye, the acrylic surface of a denture appears solid and unbroken, but under a microscope, tiny holes are revealed. So what does this mean? It means that a quick brushing every day may not be enough to thoroughly clean the denture. Even a very thorough brushing may not be sufficient to reach bacteria harbored in microscopic crevices. A denture brush and foaming toothpaste simply may not penetrate the many hiding places that microbes find in a denture surface.

Denture wearers understand that keeping their dentures clean is important to ensure they will last a long time, won’t stain and will remain odor-free. Removing the dentures at night allows your gums to “rest” and that is a good practice to get into.

Here are some good tips on cleaning your dentures:

  • Remove your dentures at night, rinse them off and then put them into a clean cup of water to soak. Consider adding a denture cleaning tablet to the water to help clean them overnight. Dentures do not need to be brushed.
  • Rinse your dentures off before you put them back into your mouth the following morning. You can swish your mouth with mouthwash if you’re craving a minty fresh feeling. Remember to use a non-alcoholic mouthwash as alcohol will dry out your mouth.
  • If your dentures begin to show signs of staining, you will want to us to schedule a professional cleaning. Remember, too, that even denture wearers should have an annual dental check-up to assure your overall oral health and this includes an oral cancer exam.
  • In addition to your regular daily brushing, it’s necessary to use a deep-cleaning solution periodically to soak off food deposits from the denture. These solutions typically come in the form of effervescent tablets, which are specifically formulated to clean dentures.
  • Avoid using abrasive materials such as brushes with stiff bristles, whitening toothpastes or products containing bleach, according to Mayo Clinic, because these can damage the dentures. Also keep in mind that hot or boiling water can warp your dentures, and soaking items that have metal fittings in any solution containing chlorine can cause the metal to tarnish. After soaking, check the inside of the denture for any remaining food particles, and brush or scrub using a soft-bristled toothbrush whose shape is conducive to denture care.

Not sure if you want to wear dentures? There are alternatives! Plan to make an appointment with Dr. Still  to explore dental implants to address missing teeth and have all of your denture and dental implant questions answered.

 

 

 

Sources and credits: Colgate, Mayo Clinic, RDH Magazine

Those Silly (Important) Numbers

We recently had a potential new patient call our Smile Sarasota office and asked if periodontal probing was part of our new patient exam and cleaning. When we told her we absolutely will do this and always have, she stated she “didn’t believe in all this gum probing stuff ” and that this must just be a “Florida thing”. It’s interesting that some people still believe that losing all your teeth is just a part of aging and are OK with letting gum disease be the cause for it. This is such a fallacy! And probing has been a part of dentistry for quite some time – Smile Sarasota has discussed this in detail in a previous Blog. WE DO NOT WANT YOU TO LOSE YOUR TEETH!

For decades, probing clinical pocket depth and attachment level have been recognized as the dentist’s most important tools in diagnosing periodontal health and disease. A periodontal probe is an instrument in dentistry commonly used in the dental armamentarium. It is usually long, thin, and blunted at the end. The primary purpose of a periodontal probe is to measure pocket depths around a tooth in order to establish the state of health of the gums and supporting tissues…in other words, the foundation that holds your teeth in the jaw.

There are markings inscribed onto the head of the instrument for accuracy and readability. Typically, when we probe around each tooth with the periodontal probe, we want to get numbers like one, two or three millimeters…these numbers indicate health. However when the number is higher than three mm, then this means that there is a problem. We classify problems with the foundation (that hold the teeth in) as mild, moderate or severe depending on how deep the probe goes. If the probing depth is greater than 3mm, then we hope that it is because the gums are swollen. The reason being that the problem of swollen gums can be reversed quite easily by stepping up with your brushing and flossing…particularly the flossing (see blog on proper oral hygiene techniques). If your gums bleed while flossing, just keep flossing and massaging them, even if they hurt. By continuing to work on your gums they will eventually tighten up and stop bleeding and the pocket measurements will reduce. But if the probing measurements (greater than 3 mm) are due to actual bone loss and not swollen gums, then we will be able to see the bone loss on x rays. In addition to this, the tooth may be loose. If there is less bone holding onto the root of the tooth, then the tooth will be loose and eventually be lost without treatment. This is exactly what we want to help you prevent!

Call Smile Sarasota and Dr. Adam Still will be happy to review your periodontal health, answer your questions and help you keep your teeth and gums healthy for life!

 

 

Sources and Credits: wikipedia.com, rdhmag.com,ncbi.nlm.hih.gov

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All About Teeth – Part 3 -Geriatric Dental Concerns

Smile Sarasota has many elderly patients – it’s a function of the Sarasota demographic. This presents unique challenges for us to provide great dental care and education for this population. It is estimated that 71 million Americans, approximately 20 percent of the population, will be 65 years or older by 2030.1 An increasing number of older persons have some or all of their teeth intact because of improvements in oral health care, such as water fluoridation, advanced dental technology, and better oral hygiene.  However, this population is at risk of chronic diseases of the mouth, including dental infections, decay, gum disease, tooth loss, benign and oral cancer. Increasing evidence has linked oral health and general health, suggesting a relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, rheumatologic diseases, and wound healing.

According to the American Dental Association, a fifth of people age 75 and older haven’t seen a dentist in the past five years. Even for patients eager for care, paying for it can be a problem. Medicare, which covers medical care for people 65 and older, doesn’t include routine dental care, and many seniors lose coverage through other insurance plans when they retire. Smile Sarasota is sensitive to all these needs and we provide for them, such as offering Care Credit to assist payment for dental treatment.

This fact sometimes comes as a surprise: as we get older, we enter a second round of cavity prone years. One common cause of cavities in older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. However, it is a side-effect in more than 500 medications, including those for allergies or asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, anxiety or depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. This is just one reason why it’s so important to tell Dr. Still about any medications that you’re taking. He can make recommendations to help relieve your dry mouth symptoms and prevent cavities.

Also, many older adults have gum, or periodontal disease, caused by the bacteria in plaque, which irritate the gums, making them swollen, red and more likely to bleed. One reason gum disease is so widespread among adults is that it’s often a painless condition until the advanced stage. If left untreated, gums can begin to pull away from the teeth and form deepened spaces called pockets where food particles and more plaque may collect. Advanced gum disease can eventually destroy the gums, bone and ligaments supporting the teeth leading to tooth loss. The good news is that with regular dental visits gum disease can be treated or prevented entirely.

Mouth Cancer is another concerning issue. According to the American Cancer Society, there are about 35,000 cases of mouth, throat and tongue cancer diagnosed each year. The average age of most people diagnosed with these cancers is 62. During dental visits, Dr. Still will check for any signs of oral cancer.

Many older patients need to take an antibiotic before dental treatment. Are you one of them? If you have a heart condition or artificial joint, be sure to tell Dr. Still. You may think it’s not relevant. After all, what do your heart and joints have to do with your teeth? But, there are conditions with a high risk of infection and an antibiotic is recommended prior to some dental procedures. Smile Sarasota follows recommendations that have been developed by the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in cooperation with the American Dental Association.

Here are three simple tips for seniors (and those of all ages) to help maintain healthy teeth and gums for life:

  • Brush at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste
  • Floss at least once a day
  • Visit Smile Sarasota on a regular schedule for cleaning and an oral exam

These steps can prevent many problems, but tasks that once seemed so simple can become very challenging. If your loved one is having difficulty with brushing and flossing, talk with Dr. Still or our hygienists who can provide helpful tips or a different approach. For those who wear dentures, pay close attention to their eating habits. If they’re having difficulty eating or are not eating as much as usual, denture problems could be the cause. Smile Sarasota is here to help…call us with any questions, anytime!

 

 

 

Sources and Credits: ada.org, The Washington Post, aafp.org, webmd.com

EXPIRED!?

Dr. Still often has to prescribe medication for our Smile Sarasota patients for pain and infections, as well as antibiotic pre-medication for those who have artificial heart valves or artificial joints.. It’s important to know about the effectiveness of these drugs if they are close to expiration or have expired. To do that, our patients need to know what ‘expired’ really means.

Drug manufacturers are required to stamp an expiration date on their products. On over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, the expiration date is often printed on the label or carton under “EXP” or stamped without ink into the bottom of a bottle, carton, or the crimp of a tube. But what does the expiration date mean? Is a medicine still safe to take after its expiration date? Will it cause harm or just not work after its expiration date? Neither fully explains what the expiration date means. Actually, it’s the date up until which the drug manufacturer can guarantee that the medicine is fully potent and safe to take based on scientifically-sound product testing. It is usually expressed by month and year. The product can legally be used or dispensed until the last day of the stated month and year.

How the product is stored is important. As you might expect, temperature, humidity, proper sealing can all affect the stability of products. Expiration date testing by manufacturers is done under prescribed conditions. Expiration dates are typically conservative to make sure you get what you paid for—a fully potent and safe medicine.

For prescription medicines there is another date to be aware of, called the “beyond use date.” This is the date that pharmacists are required to place on prescription container labels when dispensing medications. This is different from the expiration date the manufacturer must use. Beyond-use dates are shorter because the manufacturer’s original container has been opened in the repackaging process and it’s often packaged in other than the original container, exposing the medicine to ambient atmospheric conditions. The beyond use date is not later than the expiration date on the manufacturer’s container or one year from the date the drug is dispensed, whichever is earlier.

The effectiveness of a medicine may decrease over time, but studies have shown for most medications that much of the original potency still remains years after the expiration date. Excluding certain prescription medicines such as nitroglycerin, insulin, and liquid antibiotics, most medicines stored under reasonable conditions retain at least 70% to 80% of their original potency for at least 1 to 2 years after the expiration date, even after the container has been opened. So, if you have a headache one night, and you reach for your bottle of ibuprofen and find that it expired last year, chances are high that the medicine still has retained most of its potency.

It is still advisable though to replace medicines that have expired or reached their beyond use date to be sure you are using the most up-to-date product, with proper potency, and with the most up-to-date instructions for use. Since you last purchased the product, new dosing instructions or warnings may have been advised by FDA, the strength may have changed to reduce the risk of errors, a new dosing device may be available to help measure doses more accurately, the product may be packaged in a new container more child-resistant than an older version of the drug, and so on.

So, clean out your medicine supplies regularly, and replace any medicines that are more than a year or two beyond its expiration date. But…before you toss them, read our Blog about HOW to dispose of medications!

 

 

Sources and Credits: FDA.gov, drugs.com

 

Just Don’t Do It!

This is a subject that we have discussed in the past and felt it was time for a reminder! There are a hundred different things that we do every day which can harm our teeth. While some of these things are unavoidable, many can be prevented. For example, using the teeth to open bottles, jars, and packing is a common habit. We are probably all guilty of it, because it’s more convenient than getting up and finding some scissors. However, this is a good example of a habit that is damaging to teeth, and should be avoided. In addition to daily brushing and flossing, one of the best things you can do to keep you teeth healthy is to educate yourself on foods and habits that damage your teeth. Here are a few things to be aware of:

  • Using the Wrong Toothpaste: A mistake in this area can wear your teeth down for years without you having the slightest idea it’s happening. Ask Dr. Still or one of our hygienists to recommend the best toothpaste for your individual needs.
  • Chewing on Anything Other Than Food: This includes ice! Sometimes we develop the habit of chewing on pencils, pens and pen caps when we’re bored or focusing intently on some task at work.
  • Constant Snacking: This habit causes your enamel to be in constant interaction with acids from food, which can wear away at your teeth. Even worse is snacking on sweet or starchy foods like mints, candy, throat lozenges or pretzels.
  • Guzzling Fruit Juice: We know it’s hard to believe, but fruit juice packs nearly as much sugar as soda. Stick with water (either carbonated or flat).
  • Drinking Sports Drinks Instead of Water for Hydration: Popular drinks in this category are high in acid as well, which eat away at tooth enamel.
  • Opening Packages with Your Teeth: Teeth are meant for eating and smiling! Any other use can be unhealthy; your teeth are not knives, and they’re not scissors either. Although it may seem convenient in the short term, opening potato chip bags, bobby pins, or even bottle caps with your teeth can cause teeth to chip or fracture. To save your teeth, reach for the proper tools for such tasks instead.
  • Grinding Your Teeth: Check with your dentist since they’re able to tell by looking for signs of wear on your teeth. Then, ask them about mouth guards or splints to protect your teeth. Read more here about grinding your teeth on our Smile Sarasota Blog.
  • Getting Pierced: Other than the fact that tongue and lip piercings can harbor bacteria that can lead to an infection, those little shiny objects also cause a lot of damage to your teeth.
  • Not using a mouth guard: Mouth guards protect against the loss of teeth and damage to the jaw. There’s really no excuse for not wearing one if you’re involved in a contact sport. An estimated 5 million teeth are knocked out every year through sports. According to the American Dental Association, mouth guards prevent 200,000 sports-related mouth injuries every year.
  • Excessive Bleachers: If you’re experiencing excessive gum and tooth sensitivity, you may want to take a break and speak with Dr. Still before continuing. Read more here about teeth whitening.

If you have any questions whatsoever…call Smile Sarasota!!

 

Sources and Credits: American Dental Association, Colgate.com, Onhealth.com

The Nose Knows!

Smile Sarasota has discussed the sense of taste, but closely linked is the sense of smell! Although the human sense of smell is feeble compared to that of many animals, it is still very acute. Often overlooked in favor of cooler, sexier senses such as sight or touch, smell and taste are more complicated than many people might think and have a surprisingly sweeping impact on behavior, perception and overall health We can recognize thousands of different smells, and we are able to detect odors even in infinitesimal quantities. Your schnoz is one powerful protrusion. Whether it’s a big honker or a little button nose, if it is working correctly you can sense a skunk from only 0.000,000,000,000,071 of an ounce of offensive spray. Animals can trace even tinier trails. Male luna moths, for example, track females from 5 miles away.

So how does the sense of smell work? Take a deep breath. Air is sucked up into your nostrils over bony ridges, which add more surface area to your sniffer. The air travels over millions of olfactory receptor neurons that sit on a stamp-size sheet, the olfactory epithelium, on the roof of the nasal cavity.  Odor molecules in the air stimulate and inhibit the receptors. Each aroma sets off a signal made by the receptors that travels along the olfactory nerve to the olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb sits underneath the front of your brain. Signals from the bulb tell your brain what reeks.

Humans can recognize 10,000 different odors. However, no two people sense anything the same. Such nosiness is important for the survival of almost all creatures: to find food, avoid being eaten, and pick proper mates. It warns us about rotten milk, a burning house, or an unhappy skunk, and can turn our attention to attractive potential dates.

At the same time, experts say taste and smell do work together, in ways you might not realize, to produce some of the basic sensations of everyday life. The sensation of flavor is actually a combination of taste and smell,” said Tom Finger, a professor at the University of Colorado-Denver Medical School and chairman of the 2008 International Symposium on Olfaction and Taste, held last month in San Francisco. “If you hold your nose and start chewing a jelly bean taste is limited, but open your nose midway through chewing and then you suddenly recognize apple or watermelon.” That’s because as you chew, you’re forcing air through your nasal passages, carrying the smell of the food along with it. Without that interplay of taste and smell, you wouldn’t be able to grasp complex flavors, Finger said. Instead you’d be limited to the basic taste sensations picked up chemically by the tongue: salty, sour, sweet, bitter and umami — a savory sensation frequently associated with the additive MSG.

Because of this connection, losing your sense of smell can end up being devastating. Food no longer tastes as good, and these eaters miss many scent-related emotional connections as well. For instance, studies have shown that people, particularly women, can identify the specific smell of their romantic partners, Finger said. And, because scents are often more novel than, for instance, shapes or other things you might see, scent often gets intertwined with our memories of places and events. Such as…that ‘dental office smell’! Just so you know, Smile Sarasota make sure our office doesn’t smell that way! Stop by anytime and…sniff!

 

 

 

Sources and Credits: University of Colorado-Denver Medical School, Live Science, brainfacts.org, biomedcentral.com

Good work isn’t cheap, Cheap work isn’t good

It’s no secret that dental care can be expensive and this results in many patients avoiding dental visits altogether. There is, however, a trend where individuals choose to leave their home country to travel abroad to have work done on their teeth for a cheaper cost. Certainly, no country has a monopoly on good medical care however, it’s important to realize that there are pros and cons to this kind of traveling. So what are the concerns?

  • Dentist credentials and experience
    There is the worry that dentists abroad don’t have the same level of experience and training as they do in the United States, causing a higher risk of complications. People who seek cheap dental care in some foreign countries are falling victims to unsafe dental practices and under-qualified practitioners. In order to practice dentistry in the United States, a dentist has to have at least eight years of college and pass many rigorous tests to be licensed as well as continuing education thereafter. While the training and experience of the dentist is paramount, so is the environment in which he or she practices.
  • Sterilization
    One big concern is that patients travelling abroad for dental treatment will not be met with the same infection control, patient care and health and safety guidelines found here, where strategies are in place to protect the patient in the event of complications. For example, in many second and third world countries, root canal files are simply autoclaved and reused. Yet, even after being autoclaved, these used files can still contain infectious microorganisms and should be discarded. Dental instruments in the US are disposed or sterilized after use. Injection needles are never reused and surgery instruments are cleaned with heat-sterilization. In the United States, it is a requirement for dental practices to maintain a strict evident-based infection control to prevent the spread of infection and diseases. At Smile Sarasota, our autoclaves are tested and regulated and a strict record is kept. Overseas, these rules are often more relaxed, and sometimes a high standard of infection control is not practical because of the cost needed to maintain such standard, making it enviable for business due to the low standard of living. A foreign country may not have the same dental regulations as dentists do in the U.S. The Organization for the Safety and Asepsis Procedures (OSAP) says that “Countries differ in their standards for infection control and safety. The use of fresh gloves, sterile instruments and safe water is not standard practice in all countries.” Some areas of the world do not have clean drinking water readily accessible. That alone is scary, not to mention that fact that dentists and staff may not wear face masks and gloves, wash their hands or clean the work surfaces!
  • Quality of margins
    “I had a friend who had work done in Mexico and it looked really good! Just because it looks good doesn’t mean it IS good! There is the potentially serious problem if the veneer or crown is not fitted properly it may look good but could trap plaque and cause gum inflammation. And if the tooth is not drilled correctly there is a real risk of damaging the nerve. And often, the treatments recommended abroad are not appropriate, for example if the patient has a gum problem. Dr. Still would not advise veneers or crowns until that was treated. Otherwise the patient would end up with more problems and could even lose all their teeth. So some of the work might look good in the short term, patients were likely to have trouble in the future. It can be six months, 12 months after the treatment has been done, long after the patient has left the facilities and then things flare up.
  • Materials used
    In many countries, there are no governing bodies such as the American Dental Association to maintain the high quality of dental care provided by the practitioners. In order to provide cheap dentistry, many overseas dentists use low quality material to make their business viable. Good quality dental products are often not cheap; sometimes the cost of a single component can be more than the average monthly wage in those countries. Many of these materials have not undergone rigorous testing and research, and do not have proper long-term studies in their safety and effectiveness. Also, remember many dental treatments are hand-made and/or involve laboratory items that are hand-made too, whose materials and specifications have to meet very strict rules and regulations. At least if you buy cheap jewelry and it turns out to contain base metals instead like Nickel, Iron or Beryllium etc, you can easily remove it and throw it away if it irritates your skin or you get allergic to it, but when it is glued into your mouth, you will be exposed to its effects for years and it’s NOT so easily removed, is it? In some countries abroad they often use “cheaper” laboratory work which isn’t always subject to the US’s strict controls and high health standards. Some foreign-sourced crowns even contain not just cheap substitutes for gold and other precious metals, but even waste products or lead! So you before succumbing to foreign dentistry, ask yourself these questions: What kind of gold alloy is going to be used in that crown about to be cemented in your mouth? Will it cause metal poisoning down the road? Is it high in nickel content? Is it a high noble, noble, or base metal? Please be assured that ALL of Dr. Still’s laboratory work at Smile Sarasota, is made in the US under the strictest health guidelines and follow Dr. Still’s very demanding standards for quality, content and aesthetics
  • Lost in Translation
    Another challenge for the ‘dental tourist’ is difficulty in communication. Language barriers can make it harder to know exactly what to expect during and after a procedure, or whether any questions you ask are understood. This can lead to misunderstandings about treatment, or problems with your care. It may be difficult for foreign health care providers to access and comprehend a patient’s complete medical history; likewise, complete documentation of the treatment provided abroad is often lacking — which can create problems when you get back home. Patient confidentiality and privacy may also be compromised and this issue is handled differently from country to country.

So…don’t prioritize money over health! Traveling abroad to get cheaper treatment could mean that you’re prioritizing your budget over your health, and this could result in spending even more money repairing damage from treatment that has gone wrong. However, having a dentist like Dr. Still who has your interest in heart, who cares enough to make a difference in the longevity of his work, and having such a dentist to guide you in achieving your goal of a lifelong optimal health, is what good dentistry is all about.

 

 

Sources and Credits: askthedentist.com, who.int.com, wikpedia.org, deardoctor.com, OSAP.org

Short Days Ahead!

Winter is just around the corner…even in Sarasota, Florida – the Sunshine State! Time to break out the sweaters, (maybe!) and set the clocks back for Daylight Saving Time ending on Sunday, November 5th. While the days get shorter, let’s prepare for the unwanted side effects to our health. Luckily, we found great ways to combat them:

Shorter days mean less sunlight and vitamin D. Vitamin D, or the “sunshine” vitamin, is essential for healthy, strong bones—and teeth. Since you get less sunshine in the winter and your body makes less vitamin D on its own, try taking a multi-vitamin containing vitamin D. Many dairy products and juices are also fortified with vitamin D.

Waking up when it’s still dark. When your alarm clock goes off and it feels like the middle of the night, there’s a good chance you’ll be groggier in the morning. An easy fix is switching on a bright light to simulate sunlight. Yoga, exercise, and a high-protein breakfast can also jump-start your energy.

Combat the winter blues. Many people may feel gloomy in the winter, possible because reduced sunlight disrupts daily body rhythms. Here are a few tricks to keep spirits high:

  • Catch rays. Take advantage of any sunny days in the forecast and in Sarasota, there are LOTS of sunny days!
  • Get exercise. Swimsuits may seem a lifetime away, but don’t skip your normal routine.
  • Eat healthy. Skip refined, processed foods (the usual suspects: sugar, rice, white bread), which cause mood swings and zap energy.
  • And and always…take care of your teeth…schedule that teeth cleaning and check up here at Smile Sarasota!

Eventually, your body will adjust, and maybe you’ll even love waking up to watch the sunrise!

Don’t Flush It! Wait…What?

smile sarasota WHAT: National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
WHEN: Saturday, October 28, 2017 is 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
WHERE: Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, 2071 Ringling Blvd.

FOR OTHER LOCATIONS, CLICK HERE!

At Smile Sarasota, Dr. Still sometimes has to prescribe medications for our patients. These medications are usually for pain, infections or antibiotic pre-medication for patients with artificial joints or heart valves. Medicines play an important role in treating many conditions and diseases and when they are no longer needed it is important to dispose of them properly to help reduce harm from accidental exposure or intentional misuse. The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and medication. Below, are some options and special instructions for you to consider when disposing of expired, (stay tuned for a future Blog about what ‘expired’ means) unwanted, or unused medicines.

Transfer Unused Medicine to Authorized Collectors for Disposal:

  • Consumers and caregivers should remove expired, unwanted, or unused medicines from their home as quickly as possible to help reduce the chance that others may accidentally take or intentionally misuse the unneeded medicine. Medicine take-back programs are a good way to safely dispose of most types of unneeded medicines. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) periodically hosts National Prescription Drug Take-Back events where collection sites are set up in communities nationwide for safe disposal of prescription drugs.
  • Local law enforcement agencies may also sponsor medicine take-back programs in your community.
  • Likewise, consumers can contact their local waste management authorities to learn about medication disposal options and guidelines for their area.
  • Consumers can visit the DEA’s website for more information about drug disposal, National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day events and to locate a DEA-authorized collector in their area. Consumers may also call the DEA Office of Diversion Control’s Registration Call Center at 1-800-882-9539 to find an authorized collector in their community.

Disposal in Household Trash: 

If no medicine take-back programs or DEA-authorized collectors are convenient for you, and there are no specific disposal instructions on the label, such as flushing as described below, you can also follow these simple steps to dispose of most medicines in the household trash:

  • Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds;
  • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag
  • Throw the container in your household trash;
  • Scratch out all personal information on the prescription label of your empty pill bottle or empty medicine packaging to make it unreadable, then dispose of the container.

Flushing of Certain Medicines:

  • There is a small number of medicines that may be especially harmful and, in some cases, fatal with just one dose if they are used by someone other than the person for whom the medicine was prescribed. To prevent accidental ingestion of these potentially dangerous medicines by children, or pets, it is recommended that these medicines be disposed of quickly through a medicine take-back program or by transferring them to a DEA-authorized collector as described above. If these disposal options are not readily available, it is recommended that these medicines be flushed down the sink or toilet as soon as they are no longer needed.
  • This list from FDA tells you which medicines you should flush down the sink or toilet when they are no longer needed to help prevent danger to people and pets in the home. Flushing these medicines will get rid of them right away and help keep your family and pets safe: Medicines Recommended for Disposal by Flushing 

If you have any questions whatsoever about any medication prescribed by Dr. Still, always feel free to call Smile Sarasota. And when disposing of medications, be responsible and do it the right way!

The video below from Consumer Reports is a great resource as well:

Sources and Credits: Consumer Reports, fda.gov, deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/

All About Teeth Part 2 -Your Teeth & The Rest Of Your Body

Smile Sarasota is all about keeping your teeth and mouth healthy…as well as the rest of your body. It’s all connected unless you have been beheaded! Maintaining good oral health is crucial, because the health of your mouth has a strong connection with the health of your entire body. While harmless bacteria naturally forms in your from daily actions like eating, this bacteria needs to be managed with a proper oral hygiene routine.  Without daily brushing and flossing, these bacteria can grow and become harmful, potentially causing tooth decay or gum disease.

Your oral health may affect, be affected by or contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:

  • Endocarditis – For those with a weak immune system or a damaged heart valve, maintaining good oral health can help prevent the development of harmful bacteria that escape into your bloodstream and cause an infection somewhere else in your body, including the lining of your heart.
  • Cardiovascular disease – Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease and can involve severe, chronic inflammation.  While stemming from oral health, periodontitis has shown links to increases in the risk of heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke.
  • Pregnancy and birth – Suffering from gum disease while pregnant could possibly affect the health of the baby, since the harmful bacteria in your mouth could spread through the body.  Some cases of premature birth and low birth weight have been linked to bacteria related to gum disease.
  • Diabetes – Those with diabetes need to take special care when it comes to their oral health.  Diabetes reduces your body’s resistance to infection, meaning that oral infections will be more common if consistent oral hygiene efforts.
  • HIV/AIDS. Those who have HIV/AIDS commonly experience oral problems such as painful mucosal legions.
  • Osteoporosis – Those with osteoporosis are at an increased risk of experiencing periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Still to see determine what the best course of action would be for you to maintain good oral health.
  • Alzheimer’s disease – Good oral health has been connected to improved memory function, but the opposite is also true. Oral disease can actually be a contributing factor to early on setting Alzheimer’s.
  • Other conditions – Other conditions that may be linked to oral health include Sjogren’s syndrome — an immune system disorder — and eating disorders.

Be sure to tell Dr. Still if you’re taking any medications or have had any changes in your overall health — especially if you’ve had any recent illnesses or you have a chronic condition. We will ask you to fill out a Health History Update form yearly so we can be certain we are up-to-date on any health issue that may affect your dental care.

Common Dental Problems:

  • Tooth Decay – Caries, or tooth decay, is a preventable disease. While caries might not endanger your life, they may negatively impact your quality of life. When your teeth and gums are consistently exposed to large amounts of starches and sugars, acids may form that begin to eat away at tooth enamel. Carbohydrate-rich foods such as candy, cookies, soft drinks and even fruit juices leave deposits on your teeth. Those deposits bond with the bacteria that normally survive in your mouth and form plaque. The combination of deposits and plaque forms acids that can damage the mineral structure of teeth, with tooth decay resulting.
  • Sensitive Teeth- Your teeth expand and contract in reaction to changes in temperature. Hot and cold food and beverages can cause pain or irritation to people with sensitive teeth. Over time, tooth enamel can be worn down, gums may recede or teeth may develop microscopic cracks, exposing the interior of the tooth and irritating nerve endings. Just breathing cold air can be painful for those with extremely sensitive teeth.
  • Gum Disease- Gum, or periodontal, disease can cause inflammation, tooth loss and bone damage. Gum disease begins with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Gums in the early stage of disease, or gingivitis, can bleed easily and become red and swollen. As the disease progresses to periodontitis, teeth may fall out or need to be removed by a dentist. Gum disease is highly preventable and can usually be avoided by daily brushing and flossing. One indicator of gum disease is consistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.
  • Canker Sores- Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are small sores inside the mouth that often recur. Generally lasting one or two weeks, the duration of canker sores can be reduced by the use of antimicrobial mouthwashes or topical agents. The canker sore has a white or gray base surrounded by a red border.
  • Orthodontic Problems – A bite that does not meet properly (a malocclusion) can be inherited, or some types may be acquired. Some causes of malocclusion include missing or extra teeth, crowded teeth or misaligned jaws. Accidents or developmental issues, such as finger or thumb sucking over an extended period of time, may cause malocclusion.

If you have any concerns whatsoever about the health of your mouth or your healty, don’t hesitate to call Smile Sarasota – Dr. Still is happy to answer your questions!

 

Here is a great video that underscores the ‘Mouth-Body Connection’:

 

 

Sources and Credits: American Academy of Periodontology, Henry Schein, American Heart Association

All About Teeth – Part 1 – How Teeth Grow

In order to properly care for your teeth, it’s essential to understand how your teeth grow, what problems they can develop, and what role they play as a key part of your body.  This is Part 1 of a 3 part series…all about teeth!

Throughout your life, you will have two sets of teeth: primary (baby) teeth and secondary (permanent) teeth. After about 6-8 months, the primary teeth begin to appear, and are completely developed by around age 3.  It is recommended that a child’s first visit to the dentist is when they get their first tooth, or before they turn 1 year old.  Dr. Still will recommend a children’s dentist (a pedodontist) in Sarasota to check for any oral health issues with the teeth, gums, and jaw so they can be fixed if necessary. Smile Sarasota will begin to see your children around the age six and older.

Permanent teeth will begin to grow around age 6 and are usually completely developed sometime between ages 12 and 14, not including Wisdom teeth. It’s not until about age 17 and on that Wisdom teeth typically start coming in. Once the Wisdom teeth are completely developed, the total number of permanent teeth is brought to 32.  Unfortunately, few people have room for all 32 teeth, which is why wisdom teeth are usually removed and Dr. Still will refer you to an oral surgeon for this procedure.

Your permanent teeth are meant to last a lifetime, so it is critical that they are brushed and flossed routinely and stopping by Smile Sarasota to meet with our friendly and experienced dental team to make sure that you are in good oral health. Stay tuned for Part 2 about how your teeth and your overall health are related! Check out the video below about tooth eruption and also, Click here to learn more about the crazy world of teeth!

 

This is great video that details the tooth eruption process:

 

 

 

Healthy Gums and Teeth for Life!

smile sarasota healthy teethAt Smile Sarasota, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive and long-lasting treatment. Whether you are coming in for general care or a cosmetic dental treatment, following these oral hygiene tips from our experts will help you maintain a healthy smile:

Brushing: Brushing your teeth regularly is the best way to upkeep oral hygiene. In order to avoid accumulation of plaque, our Sarasota dentists recommend brushing four times a day:

  • In the morning after breakfast
  • After lunch or right after school
  • After dinner
  • At bedtime

For optimal hygiene, make sure to follow these brushing techniques:

  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles
  • Brush in small circular motions while holding the brush at an angle
  • Brush upward on lower teeth and downward on upper teeth
  • Don’t forget to brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth!
  • Always rinse your mouth thoroughly after brushing, and replace your toothbrush when it starts to fray. Remind your children to avoid swallowing toothpaste.

Smile Sarasota highly recommends the Sonicare electric toothbrush by Phillips Sonicare. It does a superior job of cleansing teeth without abrasion to sensitive gum tissue.

Flossing: Flossing daily, in addition to brushing, is important for maintaining oral hygiene. Flossing allows you to target the area between your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach. All you have to do is follow these easy steps:

  • Use about an 18″ length of floss
  • Tightly wrap the ends of the floss around your middle fingers
  • Slide the floss between all teeth to the gum line
  • Unwrap a clean new portion of the floss to use as you move down your teeth.
  • ​Floss at the end of the day before you go to bed. It is common for your gums to bleed slightly when you first start flossing. If the bleeding persists, make sure to let your dentist know on your next appointment.

We often recommend using Soft-Picks® by GUM® in addition to flossing to cleanse between the teeth and stimulate the gum tissue.

Dental Hygiene & Preventative Dentistry: Tooth decay develops progressively as sugars from our everyday diet interact with the naturally occurring bacteria in teeth. Good oral hygiene, regular checkups and preventative dentistry measures can help you avoid unhealthy teeth and costly treatments. Sealants and fluoride are two easy treatments.

  • Dental Sealants -Sealants are a resin material that shields areas of your teeth that are most susceptible to tooth decay. They are typically applied to back teeth, molars and premolars, and last for several years. Applying sealants is a quick and easy procedure. Ask our friendly staff members about them on your next visit.
  • Fluoride – Fluoride is a substance that keeps teeth strong and resistant to decay. Daily consumption of fluoride treated water can help lower the risk of cavities. Our dentists can help evaluate the level of fluoride in your drinking water and recommend fluoride supplements that fit your needs.

Contact Us With Any Questions! Our Smile Sarasota dental experts are always happy to answer any questions you may have regarding oral hygiene and the preventative dental procedures we have available. Don’t hesitate to contact us today! We look forward to helping you work towards a cleaner, brighter smile.

The Chicken or the Egg

dental physical healthDid you know that if you’re eating well but not taking care of your teeth, it can lead to bad health across the board? So…which comes first: Your bad dental health or your bad overall health? Are bad health issues causing bad dental health, or is bad dental health causing bad health issues? It can be both!

Of course you will see failing dental health if you stop taking good care of your teeth. But other harmful things will start  to happen. First, bad bacteria will start to accumulate. Having more bad than good bacteria in your mouth will wreak havoc. Plaque will build up, teeth will start to decay, bad breath will develop, and your gums will become red and bleed. That’s when toxins and pathogens start sneaking into the body. What diseases and conditions can develop?

  • Cardiovascular disease — Bacteria can cause inflammation and infection that lead to heart disease, clogged arteries and strokes.
  • Endocarditis — When bacteria gets into the bloodstream, it can attach itself to damaged areas of the heart. This can cause an infection of the endocardium, which is the inner lining of your heart.
  • Diabetic complications — It can be harder to control your blood sugar when your gum tissue is inflamed from periodontitis (severe gum disease).
  • Respiratory infections, such as pneumonia

Taking care of your teeth is SO important. It’s also important to eat nutritious food, but you have to have good dental health so you can properly chew and consume your food. If you didn’t develop good brushing habits as a child, it’s not too late to start. Call Smile Sarasota today to have an exam and cleaning and keep your body healthy…all of it!

Chemotherapy and Your Dental Health

Sadly, approximately 4 out of 10 of people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime. If you or a loved one are diagnosed with cancer, there are some things you should know about how cancer treatment can affect dental health and certain types of dental treatment. In this Blog, we will discuss chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy drugs are one of the most common treatments for many different types of cancer. And while those drugs kill cancer cells, they also can harm normal cells.  Mouth tissue is especially susceptible, and many cancer patients develop problems with their teeth, gums, and the salivary glands.

So what are the side effect of chemotherapy for your oral health? Everyone is different, and there are many different chemotherapy drugs, so not everyone will have the same side effects.  One of the most common changes resulting from chemotherapy is a decrease in the amount of saliva produced, leading to dry mouth. Dry mouth can be very uncomfortable and in very severe cases can contribute to mouth sores and very rapidly progressing tooth decay. Sucking on ice chips, chewing gum, or using a prescription saliva substitute may be helpful. Other possible side effects include pain in the mouth and gums, burning or swelling of the tongue, infections, prolonged bleeding, and a loss of or a change in taste.

It is very important to tell Dr. Still if you have ever received any sort of chemotherapy, as it can affect how well you heal or contribute to excessive bleeding following dental surgeries like extractions or implants. It might also be necessary to put off some of these types of procedures to decrease your chance of having complications.

Before a patient starts chemotherapy, their medical doctor will usually require that they visit their dentist. This can help prevent problems later on, as pre-existing dental problems are usually to blame. Not all side-effects can be avoided, but starting treatment with a healthy mouth will help keep the treatment schedule on track.

After treatment starts, it’s important to carefully monitor your mouth for sores and come in for regular cleanings and checkups so that Dr. Still can continue to monitor your teeth and gums.  We will always request a written clearance from your Oncologist before doing any dental treatment. To keep your mouth moist (the most common problem), be sure to stay well hydrated.

In summary:

  • Oral complications are common in cancer patients, especially those with head and neck cancer.
  • Preventing and controlling oral complications can help you continue cancer treatment and have a better quality of life.
  • Patients receiving treatments that affect the head and neck should have their care planned by a team of doctors and specialists.

If you have any questions about the effects of chemotherapy on your oral health, call Smile Sarasota and ​schedule an appointment with Dr. Still so that he can guide you through the best treatment to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible during your treatment.

Sources and Credits: cancer.gov, cancer.net

An Apple a Day

  • July 11th is “Eat a Red Apple Day”! You’ve probably heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But did you know they are also good for your teeth? What about all those other foods that go CRUNCH? So…let’s discuss the best and worst crisp and crunchy foods for your teeth.

The Bad Guys:

  • Snack Foods: Crunchy snack foods like chips, crackers and pretzels can be really bad for your mouth. Why? The particles of these foods can easily get stuck in your teeth. Then, when the carbohydrates they contain convert to sugar, they can erode the enamel on your teeth.
  • Hard Candies: We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again – hard candies are one of the worst things for your mouth. They typically stay in your mouth longer which gives the sugars extra time to wreak havoc on enamel. Also, the sugar in these types of candies can stick to teeth and cause decay.

The Good Guys:

  • Fruits: It’s a workout for your mouth to chew crunchy fruits like apples and pears, but there’s a payoff in the end! All that crunching can clear away plaque and bacteria. Bonus: they’re also full of healthy fiber.
  • Raw veggies: Crunchy veggies like carrots and celery are great because they stimulate saliva flow – a natural defense against cavities and gum disease. Plus, they contain beta-carotene, which your body needs to make vitamin A – an essential nutrient for building strong teeth.

Now when you want something with a crunch, don’t forget to give your teeth a healthy boost too!

 

Sources & Credits: livescience.com, symptomfind.com

Time to Quit Smoking?

May 31st  is WORLD “NO TOBACCO DAY”

If you use tobacco, there are many reasons to try to quit today. Not only does smoking cause multiple forms of cancer, it can also cause bad breath, discolored teeth, increase plaque and tartar buildup on teeth, and raise the risk of gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer. World No Tobacco Day, created by the World Health Organization, is held every May 31st. In support of World No Tobacco Day, Smile Sarasota is offering a few tips for people thinking about quitting.

  • Ask for support: Tell friends and family that you’re trying to quit and ask them to give you encouragement, especially when you have the urge to light up. Joining a support group or talking to a counselor or therapist can also help.
  • Find new ways to relax: People often use tobacco as a way to relieve stress and relax. When you’re trying to quit, make sure to find new ways to unwind, like exercising, getting a massage, taking a bubble bath, picking up a hobby, or meditating.
  • Avoid your tobacco triggers: Tobacco use can become a part of your daily routine, which can be hard to break. If you smoke when you drink alcohol, avoid drinking when you’re trying to quit. Similarly, if you smoke with your morning coffee, try switching to tea.
  • Clear tobacco out of your life: Once you’ve decided to quit, deep clean your house, car, clothes, and anything that could retain the smell of smoke. Also, throw away lighters, ashtrays, and any other memorabilia of your smoking past.

Quitting tobacco can be a daunting task, but the right support and plan can make it that much more manageable.

Sources: WebMD, who.int, CDC.gov

White or Silver?

One controversy in dentistry over the last decade deals with the choice of using an amalgam (silver) or a white filling for cavities. Over the past few years, the popularity of white filling materials have increased tremendously. The white filling material is tooth colored so it blends in with your tooth and it can also be used for cosmetic improvements (Usually called cosmetic bonding) of the smile by changing the color of the teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth. Composites bond to the tooth to support the remaining tooth structure, which helps to prevent breakage and insulate the tooth from excessive temperature changes.

The dental amalgam (‘silver’) filling material has been used for 150 years and has a good track record. But there has been a controversy dealing with the safety of the filling material. Dental amalgam is a mixture of mercury, silver, tin and copper. Mercury, which makes up about 50 percent of the compound, is used to bind the metals together and to provide a strong, hard, durable filling. While extremely toxic, when the mercury is combined with other materials in dental amalgam, its chemical nature changes so it can’t be released into your mouth in significant amounts. While the FDA maintains that amalgam fillings are within current safety limits, there is still a major controversy about the safety of the toxic metals used to make up the amalgam.  A few years ago, the FDA upgraded them from low risk to a moderate risk treatment due to published research on the health effects of mercury in our fillings. At Smile Sarasota, we take a conservative approach to amalgam removal. If the mercury-silver amalgam filling is decayed or compromised, we will replace it with a composite resin filling. We have not used amalgam at Smile Sarasota for many years. We dispose of the removed amalgam filling in our amalgam separator to prevent the mercury from entering Sarasota’s sewage and water-supply.

Composite resin fillings are the most popular type of filling used in a modern dental practice. They are tooth-colored fillings that replicate the natural appearance of healthy enamel, making them a more life-like cavity treatment. They form a chemical bond with the tooth for a more reliable fit. They don’t have the same risks as mercury-silver amalgam fillings and are more attractive than metal fillings. Because composite resin fillings are so versatile, we recommend them for most types of cavities.

What are the advantages of composites? Aesthetics is the main advantage, since we can blend shades to create a color nearly identical to that of the actual tooth. Composites bond to the tooth to support the remaining tooth structure, which helps to prevent breakage and insulate the tooth from excessive temperature changes. Composites often allow usto prepare a cavity much smaller than can be achieved with gold, porcelain or silver amalgam fillings. Making a smaller filling is very important to the strength of a tooth and for increasing the amount of time a filling will wear. Composites work very well with laser prepared cavities.  Composite bonding on the front teeth can be made very beautiful and natural looking. Composites can be used to seal a tooth in young people to prevent the most common pit and fissure decay. Composites can many times be repaired instead of having to remove the whole filling if part of it has failed.

What are the disadvantages? Composites are technique sensitive and intolerant of any moisture when being placed. It is sometimes impossible to keep a cavity dry to place a composite. Also, the shade of the composite can change slightly if the patient drinks tea, coffee or other staining foods. Composites tend to wear out sooner than silver fillings in larger cavities, although they hold up as well in small cavities.

How long will a composite last? Studies have shown that composites last 7-10 years, which is comparable to silver fillings except in very large restorations, where silver fillings last longer than composites. We now believe there is no advantage, (and indeed there is a distinct disadvantage), in using dental silver amalgam for reasons of durability.

Why has Smile Sarasota elected not to use dental amalgam? Smile Sarasota has considered all information very carefully and we have concluded that with the advances of composite restoration and now the addition of CEREC in office porcelain restorations that there is no need for us to use dental amalgams in our dental practice.  If you have any questions about the best procedures for you, call us today to set up a consultation and Dr. Still will be happy to answer your questions!

Sources and Credits: American Dental Association, Federal Drug Administration, WebMD, Academy of General Dentistry

A Blood Pressure Surprise

smile sarasota dentist blood pressureThere have been many times that patients new to Smile Sarasota were surprised when we asked them to extend their arms so we could take their blood pressure. Surprised looks were then followed with questions such as “Why is this necessary?” or “I’ve been going to the dentist at least every six months since I was a child and have never had my blood pressure taken in a dental office.”

So, why does Smile Sarasota take your blood pressure? We are a dental office not a medical office. The reason we take your blood pressure is simple – it’s because blood pressure is related to your health and we are health professionals. Your mouth is not a separate entity! Your oral health is directly related to your overall health and we have an obligation as part of your healthcare team to do our best for you. There are many reasons why Dr. Still and our staff take blood pressure readings of most of our adult patients at every appointment. Here are the main reasons:

  • Your blood pressure reading tells us a lot about your overall health.
  • Taking a blood pressure reading at your first visit, which is most often a complete exam gives us a base line of your blood pressure.
  • If you already have cardiovascular disease and taking medications, the readings lets us know how controlled your condition is, how it is affected during different times of day, and how our office and our dental procedures affect your blood pressure.
  • There are some medications we may prescribe or give you that may affect your blood pressure. This is one of the reasons we update your medical history yearly.
  • Some patients visit us more often than their medical doctor. Taking your blood pressure can help diagnose an unknown hypertension or cardiovascular condition. Often, Dr. Still will communicate this information to your family doctor, to help with your overall health.

Your blood pressure measurement provides important information to Dr. Still, your physician and you. In addition, any situation that causes stress can increase blood pressure — even undergoing dental work. If your blood pressure is already high, it could result in a dangerous situation, and in a worst-case scenario, prompt a heart attack or stroke. Even if you are taking medication for hypertension, your blood pressure should be monitored. If your blood pressure reading is higher than normal, Dr. Still will likely refer you to a physician for further testing. A diabetes screening may also be recommended if your blood pressure is high. If it’s extremely high, we will postpone your dental treatment until you have seen your physician..

Sources and Credits: RDH Magazine, DearDoctor.com, heart.org  

Root Canals and New Crowns

When Dr. Still places a dental crown on a tooth, it is always his hope that this will be the last procedure that the tooth will need for a very long time. Unfortunately, since crowns are not placed on perfect teeth but instead on those teeth that have been seriously compromised by fracture, breakage or the presence of tooth decay, complications can occur. In many cases, it’s possible that the same traumatic event that has caused the need for crown placement has also damaged or compromised the tooth’s nerve tissue (pulp). If so, root canal treatment will ultimately be required.

Relative to the time the crown is  placed, the need for root canal may or may not become apparent right away. Teeth that are newly repaired with a crown are usually sensitive at first, most likely to cold and this can last for a few days or a few weeks. If this sensitivity does not go away, or the tooth becomes sensitive to hot or is aching spontaneously, it’s time to come in so Dr. Still can make a diagnosis to refer you to an endodontist, (a dentist who specializes in treating the tooth nerve tissue) for an evaluation. (Read more here about Dental Specialists and why they are important.)

Various scenarios can take place that ultimately lead to a tooth’s need for root canal treatment. Usually, it is inflammation triggered by trauma. Any type of incident that causes tooth trauma (such as a blow that has fractured a tooth) can have a detrimental affect on the health of a tooth’s nerve tissue (dental pulp). When a tooth receives mechanical insult, its nerve tissue (just like any other type of soft body tissue) responds with tissue swelling. So how does this relate to crowned teeth? Tooth breakage, fracture or the presence of a large amount of tooth decay can also be events that cause enough damage to a tooth that dental crown placement is required. So, yes, there is a relationship between crown placement and the need for root canal therapy. But it’s not that one has caused the other but instead that the precipitating event has caused a need for both.

Should Dr. Still have anticipated  your tooth’s need for root canal treatment and mention it beforehand? In his defense, it’s really impossible for him to be all-knowing. However, he always tells a patient that it can be a possibility, especially if the decay he removes when preparing the tooth for a crown is very close to the nerve. There is a statistic that 5% to 7% of teeth that receive crown restorations end up needing root canal treatment.  That means that 93% or more don’t need root canal.  The reason that this happens sometimes is that crowns in most cases are placed on teeth that are filled heavily in the first place.  They have a history of being filled and refilled.  All this treatment traumatizes the nerve inside the tooth which can eventually die.  This leads to the necessity of doing root canal treatment.

But wait! You are probably wondering what will happen to your new crown when a root canal is done. Don’t worry! The endodontist will make a very small hole in the top of the crown and he works through a magnifying microscope to do the procedure. Once the tooth settles down, Dr. Still will repair that tiny hole in your crown.

 

Click here for a great link to more information about root canals

What’s So Special About Dental Specialists?

Smile Sarasota and Dr. Adam Still have always been there for you for your general dental needs such as teeth cleaning, crowns, cosmetic dentistry, etc., but is he always the best one to turn to? Would you know if you should be seeing a specialist? Don’t worry…Dr. Still will know!

Most of you are used to being referred to medical specialists by your primary care doctor, so what is a dental specialist?. All dentists in the United States are doctors and go through a lengthy education and degree program in order to become a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD). (Dr. Still is a DMD) These degrees are essentially the same, but universities vary the title. Doctors who decide to focus their skills in a particular area and obtain additional certifications after they become a DDS or DMD are known as specialists. At the present time, the American Dental Association (ADA) recognizes a number of specialties such as:

  • Endodontics
  • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
  • Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics

Why might you need a dental specialist? Dr. Still often refers our patients to specialists when they need a level of care that can’t be provided in our office. For example, children who aren’t prepared to sit still in the chair will often be referred to a pediatric dentist. We will also send patients to an endodontist (root canal specialist) for treatment of teeth because they have infection (abscess) of the nerve of the tooth or the tooth is broken at the gumline and the nerve is exposed. In general, there are three huge benefits to seeing specialists for treatment.

  • The Specialist has Additional Training: Specialists have to go through additional schooling, which generally amounts to a two-year residency program. On top of this, all dentists have continuing education requirements. This means that they have to keep taking classes for as long as they’re licensed, in order to remain in good standing. Because general dentists work in all aspects of dentistry, they can go their whole lives without ever refining their skills in a specialty area.
  • The specialist performs the same treatments all day, every day. It probably goes without saying, but the more often a person does something, the better he is at doing it. Perhaps the most compelling research in this area involves dental implants. While there is no specialty dedicated to dental implants, it’s far more common for prosthodontists, oral surgeons, and periodontists to handle dental implant cases, especially the more complex ones.
  • The specialist invests in procedure-specific materials and equipment. For example, the endodontist we refer to has an operating microscope to perform root canal procedures and the oral surgeons we refer to have CT scanning equipment used when placing implants and other procedures. The same is true across all specialties and it makes a difference in the quality of care provided.

All these things mean that the specialist is primed to not only do a better job, but also to do it more efficiently, so Dr. Still may refer you elsewhere when he knows your needs are beyond his skills. All dentists, whether generalists or specialists, have a primary responsibility to hold their patients’ best interests at heart, which means treating to the standard of care set by the profession. General dentists such as Dr. Still are the primary oral health ‘gatekeepers’. They generally see people first, evaluate their oral and dental health needs, and then treat or refer for specialty care depending on the conditions they assess and diagnose. We have great relationships and work very closely with the specialists we refer to. We receive constant updates and reports on your care. We have confidence, trust, and feel comfortable referring tour patients to them for treatment.

Seeing a dental specialist does not mean that you have a new dentist…most of your work will still be done by Dr. Still. If you are looking for the best general dentist in Sarasota, please give our office a call to schedule an appointment.

Fast, Painless & Live Saving

APRIL IS ORAL CANCER MONTH – But Dr. Still checks for it at every dental exam!

During your next checkup at Smile Sarasota, you may want to pay attention the oral cancer screening Dr. Still does to see if you are at risk of developing oral cancer. Oral cancer screenings are designed to try to catch the early signs of oral cancer before they progress to a more advanced stage.

Oral cancer screenings are important because oral cancer can be successfully treated if caught early enough. Approximately 84% of oral cancer cases can be detected early by a dental health professional.  When Dr. Still does an oral cancer screening, he looks for any discoloration or mouth sores in your mouth. They he feels the tissues around your mouth for lumps or abnormalities. If he detects any form of abnormality in your mouth, they will send a sample of it to a lab for further testing.

What are the risk factors for oral cancer? Here are some key risk factors for oral cancer to help you determine if you are at risk:

  • Age (People over 40 are more at risk)
  • Smoking or tobacco use
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Gender (Men are more susceptible than women)
  • An unhealthy diet
  • Prologued sun exposure

Although it is proven that people who have been diagnosed with oral cancer usually have at least one of these risk factors, there is a growing rate of people that are diagnosed with oral cancer who have no risk factors at all. Therefore, if you don’t have any of the factors above, oral cancer screenings are still important in maintaining your overall health. When Dr. Still does an oral cancer screening, he look s for the following symptoms:

  • Red or white patches in your mouth
  • Spots that continuously bleed or don’t heal
  • A lump or a hard spot in your mouth
  • Numbness or pain when you bite down on your teeth

The best way to prevent oral cancer is through regular oral cancer screenings during your checkups. Dr. Still  won’t be able to fully diagnose you during the exam, but if he suspects something, he will refer you to an oral surgeon who will send a sample of your tissue to a lab to determine if it is cancer. Once the oral surgeon receives the lab results confirming oral cancer, they can start to treat the cancer before it progresses. Oral cancer screening can’t detect all mouth cancers. However, screening for oral cancer may help find cancers early — when cure is more likely.

 

Sources and Credits: Mayo Clinic, Oral Cancer Foundation

Another Headache? Dang!

Many people suffer with headaches for years without getting to the root cause of their problem. Up to 1 in 4 people may have some symptoms. Both men and women are equally affected, although women tend to ask for treatment more often than men. If you find yourself constantly popping painkillers to get through the day, it might be worth a trip to see a medical professional – but it may not be the person you think. Did you know that in many cases, frequent, or even constant headache pain can be treated more effectively by your dentist, instead of by your GP? Headaches are strange beasts. Their cause is often elusive, and they can range from mildly irritating to unrelentingly painful. Since frequent headaches can interfere with your quality of life, if you experience pain that remains after treatment from a physician, you might wish to see your dentist. After all, you may be suffering from what is called a “dental headache.”

Talking with Dr. Still, along with your family physician can be a great start when dealing with chronic headaches, because dental issues frequently contribute to head pain. In fact, the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain estimates that 80% of headaches are caused by muscle tension, which often originates in the jaws.

So what do tension headaches feel like? A tension headache can originate on one side of your head or can pervade your entire skull. Typically, tension headaches feel like a dull, throbbing ache inside your head. Some patients at our Smile Sarasota office report that they feel as though a metal band has been wrapped around their head and is causing significant pressure. Several common symptoms suggest that tension headaches may be caused by dental issues:

  • Feeling as though your head or scalp is painful to the merest touch
  • Experiencing a dull or throbbing pain behind the eyes
  • Clicking or popping sounds in your jaw joints
  • Grinding teeth or clenching the jaws, particularly in times of anxiety or during the night
  • Feeling as though your jaw muscles are sore when you wake up from sleep

What are the origins of headaches? Several dozen muscles control your facial expressions, jaw movements, and motions such as swallowing. When these muscles are contracted for long periods of time, tension builds up within the muscle and can lead to headaches. This may happen if you clench or grind your teeth at night, your bite is misaligned, or you have muscle imbalances in the jaw or neck.

Fortunately, a visit to Smile Sarasota can be a way to alleviate your headaches, including a nightguard, also called a biteguard, which resemble a sports mouthguard, may also be helpful if you frequently grind your teeth or clench your jaws during sleep. Nightguards distribute the tension from your clenched jaws and reduce the possibility of dental damage.

Physical therapy and relaxation. Correcting the posture of your shoulders, neck, and head may alleviate muscle tension associated with headaches

 

Sources and Credits: American Academy of Craniofacial Pain, Patient Connect 365, Dentalhealth.org

Take Care of Your Toothbrush!

As you reach for your toothbrush each morning, you may not realize what’s hanging out on its bristles. Viruses and bacteria from an infected person’s mouth can live for weeks on a toothbrush surface, and continue to cause illness. So when is the last time you gave your toothbrush any serious thought? Sure, you use it every day (hopefully more than once), and you know that with a dollop of toothpaste it waxes up your pearly whites nicely, not to mention preventing bacteria, plaque, and inflammation.

But what are the things you should never do with your toothbrush? Here’s a brush-up on five toothbrush no-nos, from Smile Sarasota.

  1. Gross Alert! If you have your toothbrush too close to the toilet, you’re brushing your teeth with what’s in your toilet. Flushing spreads all kinds of stuff into the air. In other words, keep your toothbrush stored as far from the toilet as possible.
  2. The average toothbrush harbors ten million microbes. Many families keep their toothbrushes jammed together in a cup holder on the bathroom sink, but this can lead to cross-contamination. Family members’ toothbrushes should be kept an inch apart. Don’t worry; they won’t take it personally.
  3. Don’t delay replacing your toothbrush. It’s best to purchase a new one every three to four months, but by all means get one sooner if the bristles are broken down because of your frequent and vigorous brushing. If you have a cold or the flu, replace your toothbrush after you recover. Treat electric or power ultrasonic models the same way you handle an old-fashioned one.
  4. Store it properly. After use, don’t pop that wet toothbrush back into your medicine cabinet, drawer, or bathroom cup and forget about it. Store it upright, in a rack or cup, where it can dry out. Look for a cover that lets air circulate and prevents mold, but isn’t completely sealed. The lack of air can foster bacteria. Store your toothbrush out of the reach of toddlers. The last thing you want is for your toothbrush to be chewed like a pacifier, dipped in toilet water, or used to probe the tile grout.
  5. Sharing – um…NO! Your parents probably taught you the importance of sharing back when you were, well, dipping their improperly stored toothbrushes in toilet water. But here’s the thing: As important as sharing is, there are some things you just don’t share, and your toothbrush is one of them.

If you have any questions about toothbrush care, give Smile Sarasota a call and any one of our fabulous team members can help!

 

 

 

Sources and Credits: American Dental Association, Colgate, WebMD, University of Florida School of Dentistry

Choosing the Right Toothpaste

Choosing the right toothpaste can be a bit of a challenging task, especially if you’re unsure of what to look for. When strolling down the aisles of your local pharmacy or grocery store, you’ll be overwhelmed with the enormous variety of toothpaste options available. From whitening to anti-cavity to tartar control and everything in between, it all probably sounds great. But which type of toothpaste is right for you? The fact of the matter is this: Everyone’s teeth are different and thus require varying forms of dental care. Rather than making a blind guess as to which toothpaste is the best for you, Smile Sarasota is here to help you find the right toothpaste for your unique needs to ensure your mouth stays as healthy as possible.

First, a little bit about toothpaste: Toothpaste’s main function is to provide abrasive agents that remove food and bacteria from your teeth. Calcium carbonate is the most common abrasive ingredient in toothpaste, though some brands may use a different ingredient in its place. Most toothpastes include flavoring. Some brands add saccharin (sugar) to make toothpaste taste better. Available flavors vary widely and include mint (most common), cinnamon, citrus and even bubblegum. Toothpaste is also available without added flavoring or with natural flavoring for those who want to avoid artificial additives. Detergents are added to many brands of toothpaste to create cleaning foam. Sodium lauryl sulfate is a common detergent found in toothpaste. Fluoride is added to most toothpastes. It’s a mineral that prevents tooth decay by making tooth enamel stronger and provides minerals to parts of teeth that have started to decay. Moisturizers and thickeners. Toothpaste must be thick enough to spread on your toothbrush and must be kept moist inside the tube. So how do you decide? Here are a few guidelines:

Dentist Recommended Toothpaste: When shopping for toothpaste, Dr. Still recommends finding a brand that contains fluoride to fight cavities, as well as triclosan to kill bacteria if you frequently face gum issues or bad breath. You may also want to avoid artificial colors or flavors, and if you suffer from canker sores, avoid SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate).

Whitening Toothpaste: Although plenty of toothpastes on the market tout their whitening abilities, labeling can be somewhat deceptive. Most toothpastes aren’t strong enough to whiten. For those seeking a more reliable method for whitening teeth, Smile Sarasota offers Opalescence take home gel and custom trays, and Sinsational Smile in-office whitening treatment.

Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth: Tooth sensitivity is a fairly common problem amongst adults — in fact, roughly 40 million Americans experience the condition at some point in their lives. That being said, if this is an issue you regularly face, it’s important to find a toothpaste for sensitive teeth that won’t further irritate your teeth or gums. Dr. Still recommends Sensodyne Pronamel for those with sensitive teeth.

Otherwise, as long as you choose a toothpaste that has been approved by the ADA (American Dental Association), you can’t go wrong. Smile Sarasota almost always has samples at the front desk of the toothpastes we recommend. And of course feel free to call us or ask one of our fabulous hygienists!

 

Sources and Credits: American Dental Association, Colgate, WebMD

Pizza Pizza! Watch Out!

It’s happened to the best of us at one time or another: We know that we should probably wait for that hot pizza to cool down before taking a bite but you’re hungry and it smells so good. You take out that first piece, dripping with cheese, take a big bit and…yow! The result is searing pain from a burned tongue, a burned mouth, and sometimes even burned gums. Now you have ‘pizza palate’. Other hot foods and liquids also can burn the roof (palate) of your mouth. These types of burns have come to be called “pizza palate” because they are most commonly caused by pizza.

These burns usually are minor and heal within a few days but the roof of your mouth will be tender. In some cases, it will blister. The affected area probably will feel raw and slightly swollen. These types of burns usually heal in three to seven days, depending on how severe they are.

The damage is done – the too-hot food has been consumed, and your burned mouth is in pain. Now what? Step one is to get something cool in your mouth to relieve the pain. Suck on an ice cube or a frozen Popsicle to help alleviate the burning sensation. It’s a good idea to coat your burned tongue or mouth with something soothing that provides another layer of relief. Milk is an excellent choice because of its coating action.

Warm salt water rinses after meals will help keep the area clean. To make the rinse, dissolve 1/8 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water. Over-the-counter topical anesthetics may relieve pain from eating in severe cases.

If the soreness and blistering persist beyond seven days, call Dr. Still. The prognosis is excellent, if wounds are cared for properly. The condition should improve within a week, often sooner. Meanwhile, stick to soft foods and cool liquids. Avoid hard, crusty foods that can further irritate your mouth. And stay away from hot pizza!

ACHOO!

Our hygienist Ann, in her ‘protective garb’

“Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst” Huh?? Try: ACHOO! Cold and flu season will come and go and hopefully you got a flu shot. But sneezing is here to stay. We all do it, though some of us are more disruptively loud than others. It’s a reflex we simply can’t control. But other than the most obvious causes — fresh ground pepper, anyone? — how much do we really know about what our sneezes mean? Here are a few fun facts you probably didn’t know about sneezing.

  • Your sneezes travel up to 100 miles per hour. At least, according to some. The brave “MythBusters” guys actually timed theirs, clocking those sneezes between 30 and 35 miles per hour.
  • Their germ-ridden spray can land pretty far away. Some guess you’ll spread in a five-foot radius, others have wagered mucus lands as far as 30 feet away. At that rate, there’s practically no escaping those germs!
  • We sneeze to give our noses a reboot. In 2012, researchers figured out why, precisely, we sneeze, and what’s supposed to happen when we do. ScienceDaily reported: Much like a temperamental computer, our noses require a “reboot” when overwhelmed, and this biological reboot is triggered by the pressure force of a sneeze. When a sneeze works properly, it resets the environment within nasal passages so “bad” particles breathed in through the nose can be trapped. The sneeze is accomplished by biochemical signals that regulate the beating of cilia (microscopic hairs) on the cells that line our nasal cavities.
  • Sunlight causes many people to sneeze. Feather, pepper, colds, flus and pesky allergies aren’t the only reasons we let a sneeze rip. Theories abound to other causes, but one in particular has been scientifically studied: bright light. About one in four people sneeze in sunlight, a reaction called a photic sneeze reflex, LiveScience reported. Scientists don’t entirely understand why this happens, but expect that the message the brain receives to shrink the pupils in the presence of bright light may cross paths with the message the brain receives to sneeze.
  • It’s quite normal to sneeze in twos or threes. Those “bad” particles trapped in the nasal passages and expelled by sneezes aren’t exactly sprinting to the exit. It often takes more than one attempt to kick those irritants out, which can lead to multiple sneezes in a row, Everyday Health reported.
  • Your eyes close involuntarily. Despite the panic it instills if you happen to be driving when you feel a sneeze coming on, there’s not much you can do to keep your peepers open.Part of the message the brain receives in the lead-up to a sneeze is to close those eyes. It’s an involuntary reflex similar to the way your knee reacts when your doctor taps on it with that teeny-tiny hammer, NBC News reported. A sneeze can’t, however, pop your eye out, like some tall tales would have you believe.
  • Despite the persistent urban legend, your heart does not skip a beat when you sneeze. What may happen, according to the New York Times, is that the heart rate naturally slows — just a tad. This is due to both the deep breath most people take before sneezing and the stimulation of the vagus nerve that occurs during a sneeze. Most people don’t even notice any change, and “the effect is minimal,” the Times reported.
  • A sneeze is better out than in. First, an important distinction: There’s the type of stifling that occurs when you feel like you might need to sneeze, and then there’s the type of stifling where the sneeze is already halfway out of your face. In the latter case, stop trying to stuff that sneeze back in. While rare, it can lead to injuries, including broken blood vessels in the eyes, weakened blood vessels in the brain, ruptured ear drums or problems with the diaphragm.

Here in our Smile Sarasota dental office, we have escaped the flu​ thanks to our flu shots, but we have had patient cancellations due to illness. When you are not feeling well, we totally understand that you may want to cancel your dental appointment. But…if you are beyond the first few days of feeling puny and are up to it, we are glad to see you. Our team members are protected by all the barriers we wear – mask, gloves and disposable jackets, not to mention washing our hands constantly!

 

 

Sources:  Huffington Post, Myth Busters, Science Daily, Live Science, NBC News

The High Cost of Missing Teeth

Most people do not realize how not replacing a missing tooth can impact their life; they figure they will just take the cheap option of extraction and be done with it. Depending on your age, career path, and relationship status, the lifetime costs of a missing tooth can really add up if you’re not confident to smile, eat, or speak in front of other people. According to the American College of Prosthodontics, 178 million people in the United States are missing at least one tooth and more than 35 million people don’t have any teeth, at all. Tooth loss occurs due to a number of issues, including wear, cancer, injury, and gum disease. However, regardless of the reason you may have a missing tooth, the impact on your life is often significant, but do you know the cost of not replacing a missing tooth? In addition to the common concern about missing teeth making you appear older, there are other real issues and dangers present if you don’t replace missing teeth. Learning more about the long-term costs and risks of not replacing a missing tooth can help you understand why tooth replacement options are so important.

Bone Loss is One of the Risks of Not Replacing a Missing Tooth.
One of the most significant dangers related to not replacing a missing tooth is bone loss, also known as bone resorption. Bone loss occurs after a tooth is gone because the natural roots of the tooth are no longer embedded into the jawbone, leaving a void. Over time, the jawbone will begin to deteriorate. Unfortunately, bone resorption doesn’t only impact the one tooth that’s missing, it actually puts you at risk of losing neighboring teeth and will eventually impact your facial appearance. As time passes without replacing missing teeth, you may notice that your face shape will change gradually and your lips may appear asymmetrical and sunken. To top all this off, a missing tooth (or teeth) can also increase the chance you will develop gum disease in the area where the tooth once existed or even suffer from tooth decay in neighboring teeth.

Reduced Ability to Speak Clearly and Eat Certain Foods
The impact-of-not-replacing-a-missing-tooth. In addition to affecting your appearance, another serious risk of not replacing a missing tooth is the reduced ability to eat certain types of foods. Depending on which tooth or teeth are missing, it may become difficult to bite into and chew certain foods. In an attempt to avoid biting and chewing near the missing tooth, you’ll most likely begin overusing other teeth to compensate for the missing tooth or teeth. Overall, this can eventually lead to diminished health and poor nutrition. For example, a common side effect of missing teeth can be digestive issues as you begin to eat softer foods or don’t fully chew foods before swallowing. If certain teeth are missing, such as the ones in the front, it can also impact the way you speak and your ability to clearly pronounce certain words. You may develop a lisp or a change in how you pronounce certain words and sounds.

Reduced Self-Esteem
While the examples above are all tangible effects of a missing tooth, there are also a few intangible effects that a missing tooth can have. While you may not be able to see these effects on the outside, they are still present and can impact your life in significant ways. If a space from the missing tooth can be seen when you smile, eat, or speak, you may start to avoid smiling, eating, and speaking to people in public. This can have a significant impact on your social life, your job, and as a result, the amount of money you are able to earn at your job. If gum disease develops due to the missing tooth, you may begin to experience bad breath, as well.

Options for Replacing a Missing Tooth
Now that you know many of the potential risks and costs of not replacing a missing tooth, you may want to know what replacement options are available. There are several options to consider, including dentures, dental bridges, and – the most popular and long-lasting – dental implants.

Dental implants are sturdy, durable, and compared to the other options, much longer lasting. In addition to offering all those benefits, dental implants can also help to preserve your jawbone because the titanium post used for the implant will actually fuse with the jawbone over time. This helps to continue stimulating growth and minimizes the potential for bone loss. Dental implants will also help restore your confidence since they look and feel like real teeth after the installation process is complete.

There is no question that dealing with a missing tooth can be a stressful situation. However, if you speak with Dr. Still, you will quickly discover there are many replacement options available to help fit your lifestyle and budget. Also, getting to know the risks of not replacing a missing tooth can help you see why you shouldn’t wait to have a new tooth placed. There is no reason to allow your oral health to suffer when you can easily restore your oral health, and your beautiful smile.

If you’re in the Sarasota, Florida area call Smile Sarasota and Dr. Adam Still will give you all your options for replacing a missing tooth, achieving a healthy mouth and having an awesome smile!

Got Milk?

We are all aware of the infamous, “Got Milk?” campaign, but have you ever really wondered why the big push to drink milk? Most of us grew up having milk with meals, but for some reason many people stop drinking milk as adults and this is just wrong, especially from a dental health standpoint! Calcium is a key component for building strong bones, as you probably know, and milk products are loaded with it. In fact, just 1 cup of milk provides almost 300 milligrams of calcium. But that’s not all; dairy products keep your teeth as healthy as your bones throughout your life. So, is milk good for your teeth? The answer is a resounding yes, and here’s why.

Your teeth and bones store 99 percent of your body’s calcium, according to the National Institutes of Health. Because a baby’s teeth begin forming long before birth, expecting mothers should consume their “Recommended Dietary Allowance” of it: between 1000 and 1300 mg per day. This ensures the unborn baby receives enough calcium, phosphorus and other nutrients necessary for the proper development of their teeth and bones. From infancy through the teen years, however, milk and dairy products continue to be important for growth and development. And as you age, calcium is a vital mineral in preventing osteoporosis.

“Milk is one of the main sources of sugars in the diet,” says Ellie Phillips, DDS, a founding member of the nonprofit American Academy for Oral Systemic Health and author of Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye. Drinking milk can actually promote healthy teeth and bones. “The sugar in milk is lactose, which is the least damaging to teeth,” explains Dr. Phillips, and the calcium found in the beverage helps kids develop strong baby and adult teeth. In addition, Phillips says, studies have shown that when cavity-causing foods are eaten along with milk (cookies, anyone?), the milk can actually help protect teeth from damage. If you don’t drink milk, ask Dr. Still or our Claire and Ann, our hygienists, about toothpastes that can remineralize your teeth.

To prevent cavities and maintain good oral health, your diet — what you eat and how often you eat — are important factors. Changes in your mouth start the minute you eat certain foods. Bacteria in the mouth convert sugars and carbohydrates from the foods you eat to acids, and it’s the acids that begin to attack the enamel on teeth, starting the decay process. The more often you eat and snack, the more frequently you are exposing your teeth to the cycle of decay.

The best food choices for the health of your teeth include cheeses, chicken or other meats, nuts, and milk. These foods are thought to protect tooth enamel by providing the calcium and phosphorus needed to remineralize teeth (a natural process by which minerals are redeposited in tooth enamel after being removed by acids).

Other food choices include firm/crunchy fruits (for example, apples and pears) and vegetables. These foods have a high water content, which dilutes the effects of the sugars they contain, and stimulate the flow of saliva (which helps protect against decay by washing away food particles and buffering acid). Acidic foods, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and lemons, should be eaten as part of a larger meal to minimize the acid from them.

Other good beverage choices for dental health besides milk include water (especially fluoridated water) and unsweetened tea. Dr. Still recommends limiting your consumption of sugar-containing drinks, including soft drinks, lemonade, and coffee or tea with added sugar. Also, avoid day-long sipping of sugar-containing drinks — day-long sipping exposes your teeth to constant sugar and, in turn, constant decay-causing acids.

Sources: WebMD, Colgate, National Institute of Health

Why We Take Dental X-rays

A couple of years ago, we published a Blog about the benefits of digital X-ray vs. ‘the old fashioned way’ of taking X-rays.  In this Blog, we will discuss more about WHY we take X-rays.

Dental X-rays (radiographs) are images of your teeth that Dr. Still takes to evaluate your oral health. These X-rays are used with low levels of radiation to capture images of the interior of your teeth and gums. This can help him identify problems, like cavities, tooth decay, infections, abscesses, periodontal disease (bone loss) and impacted teeth. Dental X-rays may seem complex, but they’re actually very common tools that are just as important as your teeth cleanings.

Dental X-rays are typically performed yearly, or more often if Dr. Still is tracking the progress of a dental problem or treatment. If you’re a new patient to Smile Sarasota, we take a full series (18 digital images) so Dr. Still can get a clear picture of your dental health. This is especially important if you don’t have any X-rays from your previous dentist – if you do, we are glad to request and use them if they are of good quality and within the past two years. Typically, we take a full series every three years, and four checkup ‘bitewings’ once per year.

Patients will sometime say “I don’t need X-rays – nothing is bothering me”. Early tooth decay and periodontal disease do not tend to show many physical signs. Sometimes the tooth looks healthy, but we will be able to see from an x-ray whether you have any decay under the enamel or under a crown or old filling, any possible infections in the root, or any bone loss around the tooth. X-rays can also help our dental team to see in between your teeth or under the edge of your fillings. Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can help ward off painful conditions and save both time and money.

All health care providers are sensitive to patients’ concerns about radiation. By using state-of-the-art digital radiography technology and staying knowledgeable about recent advances, your dentist knows which techniques, procedures and x-ray films can minimize your exposure to radiation. The amount of radiation received from a dental x-ray is extremely small. We get more radiation from natural sources, including minerals in the soil, and from our general environment. With modern techniques and equipment, risks are kept as small as possible. Smile Sarasota has been using digital radiography for more than ten years.

Dental x-rays are an extremely valuable part of dental treatment and without them, Dr. Still would not be able to properly diagnose or treat dental disease. If you have any questions about dental X-rays, feel free to call us and anyone on our staff can assist!

 

Sources and Credits: ADA.org, Dentalhealth.org, webMD

Are You a Candidate for Dental Implants?

At Smile Sarasota, we utilize the most advanced dental technology and procedures in the industry to ensure that you and your family receive the quality dental care that you deserve. As a part of our comprehensive general and cosmetic dental services, we proudly offer dental implants to the families of Downtown Sarasota, The Rosemary District, St. Armand’s Circle, Longboat Key, and the surrounding areas.

What Are Dental Implants? Dental Implants are a natural looking, long lasting, comfortable and safe alternative to bridgework or dentures for those who have lost a tooth or even multiple teeth. The implant is attached to the bone of your jaw, functioning as an artificial “root” and allowing Dr. Still to secure a customized crown in place of the lost tooth.  The crown is made to look and feel like your original teeth, and it will feel completely natural when eating, talking, etc.  Thanks to the artificial root, you don’t have to worry about implants coming loose and becoming uncomfortable; you won’t have to take them out to soak; and you won’t worry about losing them, either.

Should You Get Dental Implants? If you’re missing teeth and you’re embarrassed to show your smile, dental implants can help make your smile complete again, giving you the boost in self confidence that you need!  Additionally, replacing missing back teeth restores proper chewing function. Since the implants are made to look and feel like your real teeth, no one will be able to notice, so it’ll be like you never lost teeth in the first place!

Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants, since factors such as pre-existing disease and bone loss can affect a patient’s ability to receive implants. Once you come in for your appointment with Dr. Still, he’ll be able to determine if you have good enough oral health to be eligible for implants. We also work closely with oral surgeons and periodontists to assist with our implant cases to give you the best possible results.

Stop hiding your smile when the perfect solution is out there. Dr. Still and his experienced dental team are ready to help you get your confident and radiant smile back!  Schedule your appointment with us to come in, meet our team, and work with us to create a personalized treatment plan just for you.  If you have any questions about dental implants or any of our other dental services, just give us a call at 941-957-3311 and we’ll happily provide you with all of the information you need.  We look forward you joining our family of happy, smiling patients!

Ow! My Tooth Hurts!

No matter how conscientious you are about your oral care routine, at some point in your life you will probably experience the discomfort of a toothache. Though a cavity is the most likely culprit, it is only one of several possible causes of toothaches. And treatment has come a long way since ‘Cocaine Toothache Drops’!

  • Tooth Sensitivity: If you are experiencing sharp pains when eating or drinking hot or cold foods, it could mean you have a cavity. It may also be a sign that you may have sensitive teeth, either from receding gums or from a thinning of your tooth enamel. If you have had deep decay and recently had crown or a very deep filling to remove the decay and repair the tooth, this can cause sensitivity. In this case, it’s not the fault of the crown or filling – when decay is very deep and close to the nerve, Dr. Still must remove the decay and this can sometimes lead to a root canal because the decay has inflamed and possibly infected the nerve. While you are waiting for a dental appointment to confirm the cause of your sensitive teeth, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth may help ease the symptoms.
  • Some Toothaches Are More Severe: If the pain you are experiencing is a sharp, stabbing pain when you bite down on your food, the cause of your toothache could be a cavity or a cracked tooth. If it’s a throbbing, incessant pain, on the other hand, you may have an abscessed tooth or an infection that should be taken care of as quickly as possible. Dr. Still will always work you in if you are in pain, so call right away.
  • It Might Not Even Be Your Teeth: One less common, but significant cause of tooth pain is a sinus infection. If only your upper teeth on both sides of your face are in pain, sinusitis could be the culprit. This sort of toothache is usually accompanied or preceded by nasal congestion and tenderness around your sinuses. If you suspect this is the cause of your tooth pain, you may wish to see your doctor. If your pain is more identifiable as jaw pain, it may be caused by temporomandibular disorders caused by a direct injury or trauma to the jaw, by tooth grinding (bruxism), or by arthritis or cancer affecting the jaw. If your wisdom teeth have not been removed, impacted molars could also be causing you jaw pain.
  • See Dr. Still to Be Sure: Toothaches are not always severe. Intermittent pain may seem like just an inconvenience and not worth an immediate call to the dental office, but waiting until the pain becomes worse is rarely the best option. Whatever the type and severity of your tooth pain, it is best to call your dentist and make an appointment. The causes of toothaches are not always clear, and a conclusive diagnosis as to the source of the pain and subsequent professional treatment is always the best course of action.
  • How is a Tooth Treated:  Still with take an X-ray of the offending tooth and can usually diagnose the cause right away. In most cases, you will be given an antibiotic and then be referred to a specialist – either an Endodontist who may have to do a root canal to save the tooth or sometimes if the infection is due to bone loss or a cracked tooth, it will lead to a referral to an Oral Surgeon, who will remove the tooth.
  • How Can Toothaches Be Prevented? Since most toothaches are the result of tooth decay, following good oral hygiene practices can prevent toothaches. Good oral hygiene practices consist of brushing regularly with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, flossing once daily, rinsing once or twice a day with an antiseptic mouthwash, and seeing Dr. Still at least twice a year for professional cleaning and exam.

 

 

Credits: Colgate.com, WebMD.com

Can Dr. Still Fix My Smile with Veneers?

Veneers, sometimes called porcelain veneers, are custom-made thin, semi-translucent “shells” bonded to your teeth. Veneers are customized from porcelain material and permanently bonded to your teeth. Veneers are a great alternative to otherwise more invasive dental procedures to improve the appearance of your smile.

Common problems that veneers are used for:

  • Spaces between the teeth
  • Broken or chipped teeth
  • Unsightly, stained or discolored teeth
  • Crooked or misshapen teeth

Porcelain veneers are a great aesthetic solution to your smile that may even help you avoid orthodontic treatment. Subtle changes to your smile can be achieved with veneers, and in most cases, veneer application is completed in only two office visits. Veneers can also be an excellent alternative to crowns in many situations. They provide a much more conservative approach to changing a tooth’s color, size or shape. Veneers can mask undesirable defects, such as teeth stained by tetracycline and damage due to an injury or as a result of a root-canal procedure. They are ideal for masking discolored fillings in front teeth. Patients with gaps between their front teeth or teeth that are chipped or worn may consider veneers.

Patients will need two or three appointments for the entire procedure: diagnosis and treatment planning, preparation and bonding. When you are ready to go, Dr. Still prepares the teeth for the veneers. The teeth are lightly buffed to allow for the small added thickness of the veneer. Usually, about half a millimeter of the tooth is removed.  A mold is taken of the teeth, which is sent to our laboratory technician for the fabrication of the veneers.

When your  veneers are ready, the Dr. Still places each veneer on the teeth to check their fit and get a sense of the shade or color. While the veneers are resting on your teeth, view the results, and pay particular attention to the color. At this point, the color of the veneers can still be adjusted with the shade of the cement to be used. The color cannot be altered after veneers are cemented. To apply the veneer, the tooth is cleansed with specific chemicals to achieve a bond. A special cement is sandwiched between the veneer and tooth and a light beam hardens the cement.

In some cases, Dr. Still can do a veneer chairside, using our CEREC CAD/CAM technology and can fabricate the veneer in one visit.

For about a week or two, you will go through a period of adjustment as you get used to your “new” teeth. Brush and floss as usual every day and enjoy your beautiful, new smile! Call Smile Sarasota today at 941-957-3311 for a consultation to see if you are a candidate for veneers!

 

Sources: knowyourteeth.com, webmd.com

Osteoporosis and Dental Health

Once per year, Smile Sarasota requests that you update your health history with our office. Not everyone is happy about having to do this yearly but there are very good reasons to do so! Click here to read our Blog on that topic.

One of the red flags on our health history form is osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bones and makes them more prone to fracture. Estimated to affect about 10 million Americans at present, it causes some 2 million fractures each year — and as our population ages, these numbers are expected to increase. Osteoporosis can affect any part of the body — including the jawbone that supports the teeth.

This may be of particular concern if you are considering certain dental procedures — for example, getting dental implants to replace missing teeth. Implants are today’s gold standard for tooth replacement, because they look and function so much like real teeth. But their success depends on a process known as osseointegration, by which they fuse to living bone in the jaw. For this to occur, that bone must be relatively healthy; yet osteoporosis — and certain medications used to treat it — may affect your oral health.

The living bone tissue in the body isn’t like the dry, white skeleton you may have seen in a doctor’s office or on TV. It is constantly being remodeled by two natural processes: resorption, in which the body removes and breaks down old, damaged bone; and bone formation, where the removed material is replaced by new, healthy bone. In an ideal situation, both processes happen at an equal rate; osteoporosis, however, tips the balance toward resorption, weakening the bone structure.

A class of drugs called bisphosphonates (whose brand names include Fosamax, Boniva, Reclast and Prolia) can inhibit resorption and help bring the two processes back into balance. But for reasons that aren’t fully understood, these medications sometimes have a different effect on the bones of the jaw. In rare cases, long-term bisphosphonate users experience osteonecrosis of the jaw, a condition in which isolated areas of jawbone lose their vitality and die. If you are a candidate for oral surgery, tooth extraction or implant placement, it’s important to consider the possible effect of bisphosphonate use before you have this type of procedure.

Over 90 percent of the people who suffer from bisphosphonate-associated osteonecrosis of the jaw received high doses of the medication intravenously — often for cancer treatment. Only a small percentage of those who take the drug orally are likely to develop this condition. So generally speaking, if you have osteoporosis or are at high risk of bone fractures, the benefit of taking these medications far outweighs the risk. But if you are about to begin therapy with high doses of bisphosphonates, it’s ideal to have a dental exam and resolve any oral disease before beginning the medication. Likewise, while you’re receiving the medication, it’s best to avoid invasive dental treatments if possible. However, since untreated oral disease may cause serious health problems, be sure to discuss the situation with all members of your medical team before making treatment decisions. Most people who take oral bisphosphonates for osteoporosis won’t have to postpone or avoid dental procedures, because they have little risk of developing osteonecrosis of the jaw. In the case of dental implant placement, the decision to proceed is made on an individual basis, after a thorough examination of the quality and quantity of tooth-supporting bone in the jaw. The presence of osteoporosis may influence the type of implants used, and the amount of healing time needed to complete the osseointegration process.

There are several ways you can help prevent osteoporosis. For a start, make sure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D. It also helps to decrease your caffeine and alcohol intake, and quit smoking. Weight-bearing exercise — physical activities that force you to work against gravity, like walking, jogging or weight training — can bring a host of benefits. And don’t forget your regular visits to the dental office. Your dental professionals don’t just help you to maintain good oral health — we encourage you to keep up your overall health as well.

No matter what dental procedures you are considering, it is vital to keep Dr. Still informed about any medical conditions you have, and any drugs you may be taking — both prescription and non-prescription.

Sharing Our Snowbirds

It’s that time of the year to say ‘WELCOME BACK’! Like many dental offices in Sarasota, Florida, Smile Sarasota sees our share of “Seasonals” or “Snowbirds” – patients who come down from up north to spend the winter here in Sarasota. They’re usually with us from November until May. Many of them have been patients of ours for many years and they are used to our office ‘sharing’ them with their northern dentist. This is obviously the best scenario – it means they continue regular, good care year-round between the two practices.

But often we get a call from a new Seasonal patient with emergency dental problems and they have not established with a dental office in Sarasota. Of course we immediately see them and treat their emergency, but more importantly, Dr. Still recommends that they establish here with our office by having a Comprehensive Exam so that their care is continuous throughout the year. Surprisingly, many are hesitant to do so because they fear they will ‘upset’ their northern dentist! We want you to know that the opposite is true. They are not ‘breaking up’ with their northern dentist – they need to know that their care is shared by the two offices so they can remain healthy throughout the year. Most dentists highly recommend to their older patients that they have cleanings and checkup at least 3 times per year and most should be seen four times per year. As we age, old fillings break, dry mouth is common and the rate of decay increases when root surfaces are exposed and crowns grow old and leak. Most of our Snowbirds see us twice in the winter season and their northern dentist twice to keep on top of these issues so that emergencies don’t occur.

It’s amazing how a person’s dental health can change so drastically in the six months they are away. Invariably, when we see a patient who’s just returned to Florida, they will sometimes say that they are doing “just fine.” But on further questioning, it may be a different story. Their ‘northern dentist’ had diagnosed them with a serious problem weeks ago, but they’d told him that nothing was going to keep them from getting back to Florida for the winter. We don’t blame them…who doesn’t want to be in a warm paradise when it’s freezing up north! But when they have a toothache or a broken tooth, paradise changes.

Obviously, these emergency surprises wreak havoc with patients’ lives. As the baby boomer generation ages, and as more seniors choose a seasonal lifestyle, Smile Sarasota ensures these patients’ continuity of care – whether they are seen in the north during the summer months or in the south during the winter. We always correspond with northern dentists about our mutual patients – we routinely share X-rays, chart notes and reports. When someone leaves our practice to head back north, we remind them that we will be glad to give them any information needed to continue their care.  If the person would rather not hand carry this summary, we can securely e-mail encrypted information it to their dentist up north.

It’s a wonderful group of individuals who live the seasonal life. Many remain young at heart and continue to have an adventurous spirit, sometimes despite multiple dental problems. It’s important that the dentists who care for them get to know each other. That’s the best way to enhance the care of our mutual patients. So if you need a great dentist in Sarasota while you are here for the winter…or just visiting for a few weeks, Smile Sarasota e will take good care of you and be happy to share you!

Gag Me!

Do you dread going to the dentist because you gag easily? Please know that you are not alone and we understand! For patients with a strong, involuntary gag reflex, nearly everything about dentistry is more challenging.  From taking x-rays, to restorative work like fillings and crowns, to having their teeth cleaned, a strong gag reflex can present a significant obstacle to both patient and dentist in the office.  Even the normally straightforward task of brushing their teeth at home can be difficult.

The gag reflex (also known as a laryngeal spasm) is an involuntary reflex contraction often evoked by touching the roof of the mouth, the back of the tongue, the area around the tonsils, or the back of the throat.  It is intended to prevent something from entering the throat except as part of normal swallowing and therefore helps prevent choking.  A gag reflex is a good safety mechanism for those with “average” reflexes, but what about people on the extreme ends?  Here are some things that may help:

  1. Be sure your nasal passages are clear and take a decongestant beforehand if needed.  Taking a simple over-the-counter Sudafed or Claritin-D one hour prior to an appointment can make a world of difference!
  2. Schedule your appointment appropriately!  Some of our patients report they gag easier in the morning.  If this is true, be sure to schedule your appointment in the late afternoon.
  3. Do something with your body during the appointment to take your mind off gagging.  Holding a squishy stress ball in each hand and alternating squeezes during the appointment is a great technique!  Another great option is to squeeze your left (or right) thumb if you feel a gag coming on.  Some patients like lifting both their ankles slightly off the dental chair and holding them for awhile before relaxing.

Having a strong gag reflex and being unprepared can be a nightmare at the dental office.  We hope that by utilizing the techniques above, you can minimize, or possibly eliminate your severe reflex and have a much more enjoyable dental experience.  As always, if you have any questions or would like to talk further with Smile Sarasota about this topic, please do not hesitate to speak to Dr. Still.

What Are You Smoking?

Needless to say, as a healthcare provider, Dr. Still encourages you not to smoke. If you have ever known anyone or seen anyone who has suffered with oral cancer, you will understand. And now there’s a new concern: E-Cigs. Chances are good that you’ve seen people “smoking” e-cigarettes: inhaling from cigarette-shaped devices, then puffing out clouds of odorless fog. E-cigarettes, also known as e-cigs or electronic nicotine delivery systems, have been on the market for about a decade and are surging in popularity.

But there’s widespread disagreement about their safety or any benefits they may have. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, have been on the market in the U.S. since 2008 and have gained wider use in recent years. Now, evidence is beginning to emerge on e-cigs’ short-term effects, and their positive and negative impact on people’s health.  E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid — usually containing nicotine mixed with the chemicals, and often flavorings ranging from bubble gum to watermelon — into a vapor that users can inhale. They deliver nicotine, a highly addictive drug, to the body without producing any smoke.

Because e-cigs are relatively new nicotine-delivery products, there are many unanswered questions about their safety and health impacts, including questions about their long-term use and effectiveness in helping traditional smokers to quit. What, exactly, is in an e-cigarette, and how do these chemicals affect the heart and lungs as well as a person’s overall health?

But what is known about E-Cigs? “There is no question that a puff on an e-cigarette is less dangerous than a puff on a conventional cigarette,” said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine and the director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco. Because e-cigarettes create a vapor rather than produce a tobacco smoke, they generally deliver less nicotine to users than cigarettes do, Glantz said. However, this doesn’t mean the devices always represent a safer step down from cigarettes. In fact, one of the most dangerous things about e-cigarettes is that they may keep people smoking conventional cigarettes longer, rather than encourage them to attempt to quit, he said. Although estimates vary, anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of e-cigarette users are “dual users,” meaning they continue to smoke regular cigarettes after they begin vaping, Glantz said.

Regardless of how the nicotine is delivered — whether through e-cigs or conventional cigarettes — it still has effects on the body. The drug is a cardiovascular stimulant, and can potentially worsen heart disease in people who already have severe heart conditions. However, it’s not known whether nicotine alone can cause heart disease in people who don’t have heart problems, said Dr. Michael Siegel, a tobacco researcher and professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. But there’s some evidence that e-cigarettes can have a substantial effect on blood vessels, and may increase people’s heart attack risk in that way, Glantz said. Nicotine also has effects on reproductive health, and exposure to nicotine during pregnancy, regardless of its delivery method, can harm the developing fetus and lead to babies born with low birth weights, he said.

In addition to the nicotine, e-cigs’ other chemicals may also affect health. Research on the vapors emitted and inhaled from e-cigarettes has shown they deliver particles small enough to reach deep into the lungs and that they are not the “harmless water vapor” that marketers may claim, Glantz told Live Science. Some of the chemicals found in e-liquids, can irritate the eyes and airways and are considered carcinogens, although it’s not yet clear how repeated exposure to them may cause cancer, he said.

But all in all, even if e-cigarettes involve some health risks, they are not more toxic than smoking cigarettes, and so anything that can get people away from tobacco is moving them in the right direction, Siegel said. He believes that vaping gives people a safer alternative because although users are still getting nicotine, they are getting lower levels of some of the toxic substances and carcinogens found in cigarette smoke, he said. Eventually, the goal is to get people off vaping and to quit completely, but people have to start somewhere, Siegel said.

What are the unknowns about E-cigs? Studies evaluating whether e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes have been inconclusive, according to a review of studies published in the journal Tobacco Control in May 2014. Moreover, the long-term health effects in people who get nicotine in a vaporized form over time are not known and because e-cigarettes have been on the market for only about 10 years, there have been no long-term studies of people who have used them for 30 to 40 years. Therefore, the full extent of e-cigs’ effects on heart and lung health, as well as their cancer-causing potential, over time is not known.

What are the potential oral health side effects? The potential oral health effects of e-cigarettes has received very little attention, which is surprising considering the intimate relationship of tobacco smoke with several pathogenic processes in the oral cavity and also, the fact that e-cigarette aerosols will contact the oral tissues first when they are at their hottest and most concentrated. There are multiple user questionnaires/surveys that repeatedly detailed ‘mouth and throat dryness and irritation’ as one of the most common reported side effects of e-cigarette use.

With so many controversies and a lack of long-term studies, it is not surprising that as health care professionals, we are naturally cautious and that no definitive guidelines exist. More work needs to be done to understand the dynamics between smoking traditional cigarettes and also using e-cigarettes in people who are dual users. Future research also needs to look at whether using both traditional cigarettes and e-cigs interferes with the desire to quit, and whether using e-cigarettes is an effective strategy for quitting smoking compared with other methods, such as the nicotine patch and behavioral counseling. According to the American Lung Association, some manufacturers and retailers of e-cigarettes claim these products are healthier than normal cigarettes and can help you quit smoking. However, in the absence of scientific evidence to support those contentions, it’s best to avoid e-cigarettes until more research has been done. The FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid. It’s too soon to know what the long-term effects of inhaling the vapor may be. The bottom line from Smile Sarasota: Don’t smoke! And don’t chew tobacco!

 

Credits: Dentistry IQ, LiveScience.com, The Washington Post, Consumer Reports, Professor Stanton Glantz, OralHealth.com,  Dr. Michael Siegel-Boston University

Heart Day is September 29th!

September 21st is Heart Day and is part of an international campaign to spread awareness about heart disease and stroke prevention. This is the perfect day to quit smoking, get exercising and start eating healthy – all in the name of keeping your ticker in good working order, and improving the health and well being of people the world over.

The World Heart Federation have found that heart disease and strokes are the world’s leading cause of death, killing 17.1 million people every year – that’s more than victims of cancer, HIV and AIDS and malaria.

Overeating, lack of exercise, unhealthy diets and high blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels are all factors which can trigger heart disease and threaten our own lives, and those of loved ones. Heart Day was set up to drive home the message that heart problems can be prevented.

The aim is to improve health globally by encouraging people to make lifestyle changes and promoting education internationally about ways to be good to your heart. This lesson is becoming increasingly relevant as reports of obesity, poor diet and physical inactivity in children and young people become more and more common. So on Heart Day, Smile Sarasota urges you to get involved, eat your fruit and veggies and get outside; both you and your heart will feel the benefits.

Just the Facts, Dr. Still!

Smile Sarasota takes dentistry very seriously. But believe it or not, teeth can be fun! Here are some wild and crazy dental facts that will make you smile and improve your health as well.

  • Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body.
  • The average human produces 25,000 quarts of saliva in a lifetime. That is enough spit to fill 2 swimming pools!
  • People who drink 3 or more glasses of soda each day have 62% more tooth decay, fillings and tooth loss than others. Put down the pop and sports drinks and pick up some nice fresh water instead.
  • In 1994, a prison inmate in West Virginia braided dental floss into a rope, scaled the wall and escaped. We suggest that you stay out of prison and just use floss to floss!
  • You should replace your toothbrush at least every three months, and always after you have an episode of flu, cold or other viral infections. Notorious bacteria can implant themselves on the toothbrush bristles leading to re-infection.
  • Everyone has their own unique tooth print – just like fingerprints. Dental records are used for forensic identification.
  • According to a recent survey done by Time Magazine, 59% of Americans would rather have a dental appointment than be sitting next to someone talking on a cell phone. Maybe some of us should take a hint!
  • Over three out of four people in the United States suffer from some form of gum disease. It is the leading cause of tooth loss in people over age 35. The good news is, in most cases gum disease can be prevented or controlled! Do you have your next appointment with our hygienists scheduled?
  • The average woman smiles 62 times a day, while the average man – only 8. Come on guys, pick up the pace!

At Smile Sarasota, the office of Dr. Adam Still, we are here for you, and want to help you achieve the best smile and the best dental health possible. If you have any questions about your dental health or need to schedule an appointment, please give us a call today at 941-957-3311.

Love Your Teeth

Do you love your teeth? We mean, really love them. As in appreciate all that they do for you. As in being grateful that you have them, no matter how much trouble they may be giving you at the moment.

People who are most happy with their smiles have healthy, straight teeth that sparkle when they laugh. If nature didn’t bless you with attractive teeth, you are not alone. Most perfect smiles you come across were not always that way. They are the result of cosmetic dentistry performed by an experienced dentist.

Dr. Adam Still at Smile Sarasota provides the state-of-the-art procedures that deliver dazzling, flawless teeth for our cosmetic dentistry patients. We treat patients of all ages. You are never too young or too old to improve your smile; but it will definitely make you feel younger!

Do you love your teeth? If not, we urge you to take a few moments every now and then to really think about how great teeth are so that you’ll be sure to show them some real love by taking care of them in the way they deserve.

Read below why we love teeth (and you should, too):

  • A beautiful smile sends a message to the people who see it. It says you care about your appearance enough to take care of yourself. It doesn’t signal that you’re vain and obsessed with your looks. Instead, knowing that you take good care of your teeth allows you to beam a big smile when you meet friends and acquaintances. People are drawn to those with self-confidence. If your teeth are in poor condition you may not smile as much as you’d like, possibly keeping potential new friends at bay.
  • Your teeth can be an indication of your overall health. Unhealthy teeth and gums (which present themselves if you don’t practice proper oral hygiene) can lead to a whole host of bad health issues, including heart disease.
  • Your teeth and gums – so long as they’re healthy — allow you to eat just about any food you want, any time you want. Ask anyone who has lost one or more teeth, or who has major gum issues, and he or she will tell you that that ability to eat anything at any time is nothing to take for granted.
  • Unhealthy teeth and gums also mean you could suffer from painful swollen gums, mouth lesions/ulcers or dry mouth.
  • Loving your teeth means you visit your dentist at least two times a year for a professional cleaning and checkup. Oral cancer is a nasty disease and your dentist can discover the beginning stages of this disease during one of those visits, helping you get the treatment you need as soon as possible.

We urge you to show some appreciation and love to your teeth by taking care of them properly. It doesn’t take much effort or time (certainly not nearly the constant effort your teeth exert for you as they let eat and smile a beautiful smile). All you need to do is brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss at least once a day, visit Smile Sarasota at least three times a year, watch your sweets intake, and never smoke (or quit).

That’s pretty much all you need to do to show your teeth some love and reap the benefits of doing so.

Should You Floss?

SHOULD YOU FLOSS?? Smile Sarasota is very aware of the recent article published that discussed the recommendations regarding flossing, as well as the commentary in the Sarasota Herald Tribune. As with any topic, you need to make an informed decision and you may decide you don’t want to floss anymore.

But…at the very least, think about this: What about the food between your teeth? Those of us who have worked in a dental office for decades know that flossing DOES help get rid of food AND films of bacteria (biofilm) that gunk up the space between teeth, causing infections and, potentially, contributing to bigger health problems. Biofilms are live. If you look at it under a microscope, you have swimmers. ICK!! You have different types of bacteria that form, and the longer they stay, the more virulent they become. And that does not bode well for a person’s overall health. It may be that studies on flossing just haven’t followed subjects for long enough to notice long-term benefits.

Also not discussed is the fact that there are other ways to clean between your teeth, such as SoftPicks. Our advice: It’s insufficient evidence, not proof of ineffectiveness so…Keep Flossing, and…inform yourself! Below an article that may help put things in perspective:

Read Huffington Post Article

Bad Dental Habits

Smile Sarasota is always nagging you about brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups because they are vital to good oral health. Moreover, it’s important to care for your teeth properly. But sometimes we just do bad things just out of habit. Here are several bad habits that Dr. Still wants you to avoid that can lead to tooth damage and loss:

  • Over Brushing Your Teeth: Amazing as this may seem, there is a right and a wrong way to brush your teeth. Brushing too hard, too long (more than two minutes), or using a toothbrush with hard bristles can wear away the protective layer of enamel and expose your tooth root. Smile Sarasota highly recommends using a Sonicare electric brush to avoid ‘overdoing’ it.
  • Poor or Occasional Oral Hygiene Leads to Tooth Loss: Most people are aware of the need to brush, floss, and rinse daily. Even so, many still think they can get away with doing only half the job or doing it only half the time. To make sure you get the full health benefit experts recommend you brush and rinse at least twice a day and floss at least once. Flossing complements tooth brushing by removing the small particles that you can’t reach between your teeth. Rinsing after you brush helps remove the bacteria you’ve dislodged with brushing and flossing. While a good alcohol-free rinse provides added protection, even rinsing with water alone offers some benefit.
  • Putting the Wrong Things in Your Mouth: Your mouth and teeth are for chewing, speaking, and supporting your jaw and face. Using them as a bottle opener, scissors, pliers, or a nutcracker is potentially harmful. Even so, people routinely use their teeth as tools. Using your teeth improperly may lead to cracked, chipped, broken, and loose teeth. We have actually had patients tell us that they use paperclips or rubber bands to clean between their teeth! This can cause damage your gums and other soft tissue in your mouth. It’s vital to remember to use your teeth correctly in order to retain a healthy mouth and a beautiful smile.
  • Oral Piercings May Cause Problems: According to the American Dental Association, oral piercings may lead to problems including gum and tongue pain, swelling, and infection as well as cracked, broken, and missing teeth. Tongue and lip piercings also may cause sensitivity to metals, increase saliva flow resulting in drooling, and result in nerve damage. While piercings may be trendy, before you make the plunge talk with Dr. Still to ensure you make the best choice.
  • Tooth Grinding Can Lead to Tooth Damage: It really doesn’t matter what causes bruxism (tooth grinding), it’s all about taking steps to correct the problem before you cause damage to your teeth. Over time, tooth grinding can wear down your teeth and result in headaches, jaw aches, and tooth sensitivity. The damage occurs due to repeatedly clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth. The pressure can result in micro-fractures in your teeth. This weakens the enamel and causes damage to your dental work.

So don’t stick to old, improper habits – it just takes a few minor changes to keep your teeth and mouth healthy!

Wants vs. Needs

NEED- something you must have

WANT – something you would like to have

Over the past decade, Gallup polls have tracked Americans’ access to “basic necessities,” such as food, shelter, clean water, and healthcare. Gallup’s list of basic necessities includes 13 items, which can be grouped into three broad categories:

  • Food
  • Housing
  • HEALTH

Unless it’s a cosmetic situation, no one ever ‘wants’ dental treatment – no one ‘wants’ to come to the dentist (except maybe to our office because we are so great). Our job at here at Smile Sarasota is to assess your dental situation and tell you what you ‘need’ to achieve optimum dental health. So why do we put off NEEDED dentistry? Sometimes it’s a matter of finances, fear of dental treatment, or…it’s just not viewed as a priority. The first two we understand and can easily address if we know the situation. With regard to prioritizing, patients tend to want to separate their mouth from the rest of the body and this is just wrong! Here’s why:

Like many areas of the body, your mouth is teeming with bacteria — most of them harmless. Normally the body’s natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, can keep these bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.

In addition, certain medications — such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics and antidepressants — can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbial invasion or overgrowth that might lead to disease.

Studies also suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with periodontitis — a severe form of gum disease — might play a role in some diseases. In addition, certain diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.

If you have questions about treatment that has been recommended by Dr. Still, he is glad to see you for a no-charge consultation or speak with you over the phone. So don’t put off needed dentistry – it’s a matter of achieving and keeping maximum oral health and that is something you NEED to do!

 

Credit: Mayo Clinic

‘Same-Day Dentures’ is a Misnomer

You have probably seen the advertisements for ‘Same-Day Dentures’ at a very low cost. This can be confusing because patients think a dentist can literally extract teeth and deliver the denture the same day. While there are a few clinic settings where this is done, we do not recommend it. The more proper terminology is ‘Immediate Dentures’. And even the word ‘immediate’ is confusing because in reality, it takes a number of appointments and several months before you actually have the final denture. It is better to look at it as a ‘temporary denture’ that is placed immediately following extractions to aid in healing and aesthetics while you wait for the final dentures.

Here is why same-day/immediate denture terminology is not really correct. The creation of temporary dentures does only require one or two visits prior to tooth extractions, however, following that, there is a lot of follow-up. On the day of delivery, you will be seen by an oral surgeon for extraction of the appropriate teeth and he will deliver the temporary denture sent to him by our lab. Because they are made in advance of any surgery, you can’t tell exactly how your mouth will look after teeth are removed and the temporary denture is inserted.

More office visits are required during the first few months to watch for changes in the gums and in the mouth function. Also the original good fit and occlusion of the immediate denture will be lost as healing takes place. This is normal. Because of changes in the tissues after removal of the teeth, immediate dentures usually need to be re-fitted by a dentist within several (usually six) months. This involves additional expense. In some cases new dentures must be made.

In contrast, the molds for conventional/permanent dentures are made once the gum tissues have healed following any tooth extractions, which takes about six to eight weeks or sometimes, months. During this time, the gum tissues will shrink and so the fit of temporary dentures will change. Once you have healed, four to five visits may be necessary for the fabrication phase of the final denture, plus any adjustments. The fabrication phase consists of impressions, bite records, tooth selection and try-in of the teeth. In a very few cases, the temporary denture can become the final denture after a number of relines and re-fittings.

Like any other procedure, the insertion of immediate dentures does have limitations, of which you should be aware. There are some people for whom immediate dentures are not advisable because of their general health or specific oral problems. Dr. Still will go over all this with you at your consultation.

So if you are tempted to go the ‘Same-Day/Low Cost’ route, think again. Most people really don’t want discount work done on their body. Call Smile Sarasota today and Dr. Still will answer all your questions about dentures.

Hot Time Summer in the City!

Welcome to the sizzling dog days of Florida summer! Smile Sarasota is all about health – yours, your pets and that of our fragile environment. Here are some easy tips to both stay cool and save on electric bills!

  • Use Fans: Moving air accelerates sweat evaporation. A fan on a low setting that can keep a light breeze blowing across your room can work wonders. Make sure your ceiling fans are spinning in the right direction to move air around the room. Most fans are reversible: One direction pushes air down, creating a nice summer breeze; the other direction sucks air up, helping you distribute heat in winter. There’s normally a switch on the motor to change the fan’s direction. Is your fan turning in the right direction for summer. Stand beneath the running fan, and if you feel a cooling breeze, it’s turning correctly. If not, change directions, usually by flicking a switch on the fan’s base. Typically, it’s counterclockwise or left for summer and clockwise for winter, but the best method is to follow the steps above.  Note: Fans stop being effective when the heat index—the “feels like” temperature—reaches 99°F.
  • Use cooler light bulbs: An incandescent bulb is a “little heater,” radiating 90% of its energy as heat, says Maria Tikoff Vargas, brand manager for the Energy Star program at the EPA. “Since most homes have 30 to 35 light fixtures, your cooling system expends a lot of energy counteracting their effects,” she says. Replace them with Energy Star-qualified compact fluorescent bulbs, which emit 75% less heat. Also, realize that dishwashers, TVs, computers, and other appliances generate heat, says Vargas, so whenever possible, limit their use, and switch electronics like computers to sleep mode.
  • Turn on the tap! Speaking of water, it almost goes without saying to drink plenty of it. Hydration helps your body move blood to the surface more efficiently, and it allows you to sweat
  • Shield your windows. About 40% of your home’s heat comes in through windows, especially those facing east and west. To block it, curtains, shades, and blinds should closely fit windows and be a light, reflective color, While you could install Energy Star windows with a low-E coating, which deflects heat, an easier move is to buy a clear, heat-control window film from a home-improvement store and apply it to your standard windows.

And what about your pets?

Now is the time to also be concerned about keeping our PETS cool in this heat.

Here are some tips from the Humane Society on how to keep Fluffy cool:

  • Watch the humidity-“It’s important to remember that it’s not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity.  Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly.”
  • Limit exercise on hot days-Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating
  • Provide ample shade and water-Any time your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse.
  • Watch for signs of heatstroke-Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness. How to treat a pet suffering from heatstroke: Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over her. Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take her directly to a veterinarian.

Why Are Teeth Cleanings Necessary?

We need teeth cleanings for two very simple but important reasons:

  • To prevent diseases in the rest of the body like heart disease, dementia, and complications of diabetes (You may be surprised about that!)
  • To prevent tooth loss

The mouth is an area that’s completely different from the entire body, and it takes quite a beating. Because it’s such a unique environment, it requires special care. Teeth cleanings remove the buildup of plaque and tartar. This buildup is for the most part natural…kind of like how a boat picks up barnacles just by being in the ocean. But too much buildup leads to gum disease. The reason tartar needs to be removed is because your body sees it as a foreign invader. As with any other foreign invader, like a flu bug or an infection, your body “sends in the troops” using the immune system to fight off the infection. There is a battle in your mouth at all times, and the war is never over. Teeth cleanings level the playing field by keeping things in check.

Gum disease is when your body’s immune system is responding to this tartar buildup with inflamed and bleeding gums. The immune system response is successful at killing off invaders like infection and flu bugs, but at a cost: like a war, there are innocent bystanders that get slaughtered. As gum disease progresses, so does the destruction to your bone and tissues in your mouth. Your immune system is meant only to fight off infection for a short period of time — chronic activation of the immune system means it can get worn out and it won’t be as strong to fight off an illness. Chronic activation of the immune system can lead to diseases in the rest of your body. That’s why preventing gum disease reduces risk of stroke, heart disease, and dementia. At a certain stage, this damage is irreversible, so prevention is the best way to maintain overall health and keep beautiful teeth for a lifetime — and teeth cleanings are a critical piece of this prevention.

So what Is a teeth cleaning? A professional teeth cleaning is done by one of our hygienists – both Claire and Ann practice in the same fashion. They use tools to include an ultrasonic Cavitron, to remove tartar from your teeth — both above and below where the gum meets the tooth. They will explain what work is being done, why it’s being done, and why your teeth may be sensitive or why your gums are bleeding. Imagine when you’ve cut your hand — it swells up. The same thing happens to gums that are inflamed by the buildup of tartar, even more so than swelling in other parts of the body because gums have an incredibly rich blood supply.

Discuss this with Dr. Still and make sure to talk about your own status when it comes to gum disease. Part of the gum disease diagnosis involves the depth of the spaces (or pockets) around your teeth. Dr. Still takes initial measurements during your new patient Comprehensive Exam and Claire and Ann will measure this yearly thereafter. If you would like  copy of your pocket readings, ask Claire or Ann to print it out for you so you can easily see your problem areas and where you need to improve on your home-care.  Just as you want to know what your blood pressure is, you want to know what your pocket reading is and be aware of how it’s changing.

For more about your pocket readings and what the measurements mean, click below:

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT WHY YOUR HYGIENIST IS CALLING OUT ALL THOSE NUMBERS!

As part of your teeth cleaning appointment, Claire and Ann will give you instructions on proper brushing and flossing techniques. Follow-through after a teeth cleaning is everything, so use this opportunity to get a full demonstration of what you should be doing at home to keep your mouth disease-free and healthy. Along with proper home care, they will tell you that it is extremely important to have your teeth cleaned and checked at least 2-4 time per year.

Did You Take Your Antibiotic?

We say these words almost every day. Our team here at Smile Sarasota is responsible for reminding our patients to take their premedication antibiotic or asking them at the appointment if they remembered to take it. So who needs to it? And why is this important? Infective (Bacterial) Endocarditis.

Infective endocarditis is a scary sounding condition. It happens when bacteria get into the bloodstream and end up infecting the lining of the heart, a heart valve or even a blood vessel. It’s a very uncommon infection. People who have certain heart conditions are clearly at greater risk than the rest of the population. But the one thing everyone seems to know is that dental treatment is almost always the cause. We know this because the mouth is full of bacteria, and dentists and hygienists cause bleeding with their treatment. So bacteria is definitely going to enter the bloodstream if you have dental treatment and if you are at greater risk for infective endocarditis, you better be careful.

So what have we done for dental patients with these heart conditions or those who have artificial joints? We preventively treat them with antibiotics. A LOT of antibiotics. We used to give them doses of antibiotics days before and after dental treatment. But then later the guidelines dictated dropping the dosage down to an hour before and several hours after. And now, we just give it an hour before. The American Heart Association has continued to change its guidelines for premedication to the point where we only rarely premedicate patients with certain very serious heart conditions. For instance, we premedicate people who have had a previous case of infective endocarditis. Also folks with prosthetic heart valves and a few other rare congenital heart problems.

But the American Heart Association continued to evaluate the evidence for taking a large dose of antibiotics prior to dental treatment and found little to no proof that the antibiotics prevented infective endocarditis. The AHA did what so many doctors, dentists and patients are unwilling or unable to do. They evaluated the evidence and changed their recommendations! At Smile Sarasota, we follow the 2007 AHA guidelines for the patients that require premedication for a heart condition or a joint replacement. A few patients who have been premedicating for a long time, find the change disconcerting. They assume that what they’ve been doing all along was correct and that the new recommendations are putting them at risk. However, most of these patients are tickled at the idea of not dealing with this premedication regimen. We usually receive and confirm the premedication recommendation from the patient’s medical doctor. So if you have been taking antibiotics before all of your dental appointments, and have questions, check with your cardiologist or your orthopedic professional to see if there has been a change in your particular case. Dr. Still goes by the recommendations of your MD.

Click here for a handy Wallet Card with premedication guidelines! 

https://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm_307684.pdf

Are You Afraid of Going to the Dentist?

If you fear going to the dentist, you are not alone. Between 9% and 20% of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. Indeed, it is a universal phenomenon.

Dental phobia is a more serious condition than anxiety. It leaves people panic-stricken and terrified. People with dental phobia have an awareness that the fear is totally irrational, but are unable to do much about it. They exhibit classic avoidance behavior; that is, they will do everything possible to avoid going to the dentist. People with dental phobia usually go to the dentist only when forced to do so by extreme pain.

Other signs of dental phobia include:

  • Trouble sleeping the night before the dental exam
  • Feelings of nervousness that escalate while in the dental office reception room
  • Crying or feeling physically ill at the very thought of visiting the dentist
  • Intense uneasiness at the thought of, or actually when, objects are placed in your mouth during the dental treatment or suddenly feeling like it is difficult to breathe

Fortunately, there are ways to get people with dental anxiety and dental phobia to the dentist. What Causes Dental Phobia and Anxiety? There are many reasons why some people have dental phobia and anxiety. Some of the common reasons include:

  • Fear of pain. Fear of pain is a very common reason for avoiding the dentist. This fear usually stems from an early dental experience that was unpleasant or painful or from dental “horror” stories told by others. Thanks to the many advances in dentistry made over the years, most of today’s dental procedures are considerably less painful or even pain-free.
  • Fear of injections or fear the injection won’t work. Many people are terrified of needles, especially when inserted into their mouth. Beyond this fear, others fear that the anesthesia hasn’t yet taken effect or wasn’t a large enough dose to eliminate any pain before the dental procedure begins.
  • Fear of anesthetic side effects. Some people fear the potential side effects of anesthesia such as dizziness, feeling faint, or nausea. Others don’t like the numbness or “fat lip” associated with local anesthetics.
  • Feelings of helplessness and loss of control. It’s common for people to feel these emotions considering the situation — sitting in a dental chair with your mouth wide open, unable to see what’s going on.
  • Embarrassment and loss of personal space. Many people feel uncomfortable about the physical closeness of the dentist or hygienist to their face. Others may feel self-conscious about the appearance of their teeth or possible mouth odors.

The key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss your fears with Dr. Still. Once he knows what your fears are, he will be better able to work with you to determine the best ways to make you less anxious and more comfortable. Dr. Still WILL take your fear seriously!

If lack of control is one of your main stressors, actively participating in a discussion with Dr. Still about your treatment can ease your tension. Ask him to explain what’s happening at every stage of the procedure. This way you can mentally prepare for what’s to come. Another helpful strategy is to establish a signal — such as raising your hand — when you want him to immediately stop. Use this signal whenever you are uncomfortable, need to rinse your mouth, or simply need to catch your breath. If you need to get out of the chair to take a break, that is perfectly OK! In cases of extreme fear, ask Dr. Still about prescribing medication that will relax you for your visit.

Stupid Things People Do When They Don’t Have Dental Insurance

Patients come to our downtown Sarasota office every week and we listen to their stories. Often, dental insurance coverage, or lack thereof, is part of the story. But there are many things that prevent patients from seeking dental care:

  • Lack of money
  • Lack of time.
  • No awareness that there is a problem or a solution
  • Fear of the dentist.

These are all real barriers to dental care that affect millions of Americans. But there is another group of patients that we see, too, who don’t fall into this category.  They have the money and the means to seek care but they simply choose not to see a dentist without the benefit of dental insurance. Even when the dental insurance benefit it relatively negligible, which it often is when a patient has extensive needs, this becomes a barrier for many patients.

READ OUR BLOG FOR MORE ABOUT WHY DENTAL INSURANCE ISN’T REALLY INSURANCE

Here are some examples where this type of thinking results in a less than desirable outcome for the patient:

  • Don’t Go To The Dentist At All. Many people won’t go to the dentist if they don’t have insurance. If something breaks or hurts, they see the dentist, but if not, they don’t come. One reason this is dangerous is because typically when something is broken or hurting, the options are usually limited and more costly than preventative or simple dental procedures. A tooth with a big hole in it that needs extensive treatment now might have only needed a simple filling a year or so ago. Ignoring dental problems never makes them go away.
  • Don’t Get Their Teeth Cleaned Regularly.Having your teeth cleaned regularly can decrease your chances of getting gum disease or periodontal disease. Periodontal disease usually doesn’t start causing patients pain until teeth are loose and about to fall out. Obviously, at a time like this, preventative treatment is no longer an option.  Gum disease caused from extensive buildup on your teeth can cause foul mouth odors, stained teeth, and sore, bleeding gums and sometimes, serious health problems relating to heart disease and other medical issues. Having your teeth cleaned at least twice a year without dental insurance is not as cost prohibitive as many people think. Dr. Still routinely examines your teeth following your cleaning with our hygienist and can identify problems you may have before they become serious (and expensive).
  • Delay Care Until They Are Covered By Insurance. Sometimes patients come in and put off needed care until they obtain insurance. Imagine this situation: A patient just signed up for dental coverage with an employer, and they are in pain. They see a dentist and he gives them a plan, but the treatment coordinator informs them that they aren’t covered by the insurance company until a waiting period passes of 6 months. A surprising number of people will cope with the pain for 6 months! They’ll spend a lot of money on pain pills, topical anesthetic gels, and other useless drugstore dental items. They’ll miss work or not be productive at work because they are in pain. They won’t feel like spending time with family and friends because of the pain. They’ll lose money and time that they can’t get back. And most of the time, the insurance reimbursement is very little compared to the consequences of waiting. Does that make sense? No!
  • Shop for the Cheapest Dentist.  This is just stupid. Some patients may go to three or four different dentists looking for the cheapest price. In reality, most dental fees are generally in the same neighborhood for a good dentist in Sarasota. While no one can argue that the fees should be fair, finding a relationship with a dentist you trust and believe in is much more important than a few dollars here and there in the long run. You want to find someone that is going to be honest and take care of you. Would you shop around for the cheapest medical doctor? Probably not, so why look for the cheapest dentist when your oral health is as critical as the health of the rest of your body?
  • Accept the Least Expensive Treatment Plan To Save Money.  If a tooth has a major problem, extracting the tooth is always least expensive in the short term. If a patient is missing several teeth, doing nothing about it as opposed to getting implants or a prosthetic is obviously less expensive. But what about long term cost? What happens when you want to go back later and fix problems you once neglected? In the long term, dental problems that are ignored or are treated hastily can come back to haunt you later. Let’s say you have a toothache and you need a root canal. You don’t want to pay for a root canal and crown, so you have the tooth extracted. A few months later, you want to replace the tooth with a dental implant only to find that an implant and crown costs more than a root canal and crown. You decide not to do it. A few years pass, and you decide it’s finally time for the implant.  The only problem is, your teeth have shifted to the point where you’ll need orthodontics first before the implant can be placed. What started as a $300 problem is now a $9000 problem.
  • Go to the Emergency Room for Dental Pain.  This probably should have been number one since it costs US taxpayers millions and millions of dollars every year. Patients that don’t have dental insurance go to an emergency room for antibiotics and pain killers for a toothache. They never seek dental care and end up back there a month or so later in the same state or worse. Most emergency room facilities are not equipped for dental care. A physician or nurse cannot extract a tooth, only a dentist can. Because of the staff and facilities, an emergency room visit is much more expensive than a dental visit.  The cost of an emergency room visit can easily exceed two thousand dollars.  A LOT of dental care can be performed for this amount of money!
  • Ignore Financing Options.  The great news for many patients is that there are financing options available so that many people can afford the care they need. Smile Sarasota offers CareCredit which allows you to pay over time, (in most cases, interest-free for up to 12 months) and not feel the burden of a bill all at once.
  • Travel to Another Country to Save Money on Dentistry.  It goes without saying that there are risks involved in doing something like this. The US has very strict laws and standards governing the practice of dentistry, and they’re all in place for the protection of the patient. Obviously there are very skilled practitioners in other countries, and you may have even seen or heard about a good experience. As with anything, there’s also bad the experiences. Good dentists like Dr. Still stand behind their work. If you have treatment done and have follow up questions, concerns, or needs, you want your dentist nearby to be there to take care of anything that needs to be addressed. This can be impossible if your dentist is in another country. And Dr. Still can site numerous incidences of re-doing very poor dentistry that was done outside the US.
  • Perform Dentistry on Themselves. This is probably the worst. Most patients that claim to have pulled their own tooth have usually just pulled off a broken crown and have infected roots right below the surface. We have seen patients who used Superglue to re-cement a crown and invariably, the crown is not seated properly and we have to cut it off, which destroys it! This is never a good thing. Drug stores have filling materials and other short term fixes that aren’t meant to be long term dental solutions. This risk for irreversible trauma and infection is just too great to ever consider performing a dental procedure on yourself.

The moral of the story: Don’t wait to seek good dental care! Call Smile Smile Sarasota today at 941-957-3311.​

The Nightly Grind – Why You May Need a Bite Guard

Early this year, we published a blog about teeth grinding and in this blog, we will discuss this topic further since it is so common. Many people clench or grind their teeth to the point of destructiveness. Most people are completely unaware that they do it, because often they do it while they sleep. Partially because patients don’t know they grind their teeth and also because the thought of wearing a night guard is pretty unappealing, we often get asked, “Do I really need a night guard?” Ask yourself if you have any of these symptoms, especially first thing in the morning:

  • Dull headache, migraine
  • Earache
  • Sore jaw
  • Tooth sensitivity to cold, heat or brushing
  • Sores or wounds on the inside of the cheeks
  • Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis)
  • Jaw pain
  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Dizziness

If so, you may be ‘bruxing’. Bruxism (pronounced BRUK-sizm) is the medical term for forceful clenching and/or grinding of your teeth. It is considered a major cause of tooth problems.
The action of grinding- where your upper and lower teeth move back and forth with great force against each other- causes your teeth to flatten. Allowed to persist, grinding causes temperature sensitivity, pain because the wear gets down to the nerve, cracks in the teeth, receding gums and eventually lost teeth. To fix these, patients will need crowns, bridges, veneers, implants, extractions, & root canals. Unfortunately, there really is no “cure” for bruxism and research has shown the most effective treatment to date to be night guards.

You will probably ask us why you should not get a night guard at your local pharmacy. Night guards that you can buy at the drug store are not custom fitted, they are either stock night guard or boil & bites. They are usually large, unattractive, poorly fitting and may even come out during the grinding. Dr. Still will take into account your specific situation. Depending on what your grinding pattern is, you may only need a smaller night guard that fits over just your six front teeth or you may need more full coverage. We will take impressions of your teeth so that our dental lab can make a night guard that is the exact match to your teeth.

So if you have noticed wear and tear on your teeth, are experiencing any symptoms that you suspect might be from grinding your teeth…or if your spouse has to wear earplugs at night because of the noise…don’t be surprised if Dr. Still tells you that you should be wearing a night guard. It may not be sexy, but it’s much sexier than missing teeth and painful jaws.

Why Does My New Patient Exam with Dr. Still Take So Long?

If you are new to our practice, you may be curious about what is involved with a New Patient Comprehensive Exam. This one hour exam is only done the very first time we see you as a patient in our practice. Thereafter, Dr. Still will do a shorter concise periodic exam at least two times per year following your teeth cleanings with our hygienists. The Comprehensive Exam must be done prior to your FIRST teeth cleaning and for more on that topic, read our previous Blog, I Only Want to Have My Teeth Cleaned!

The first thing we do at this visit is to take a full series of digital X-rays – this is done by one of our dental assistants and will allow Dr. Still to see between all of your teeth as well as the structures below the gum to screen for bone loss, infections, fractured roots and other issues not visible by the naked eye.

 

The Comprehensive Exam involves the following:

  • Extensive medical and dental history
  • Review of medications you may be taking
  • Blood pressure readings
  • Oral cancer screening of the mouth and neck
  • Periodontal exam and probing depths around all teeth to evaluate the health of the gums
  • Occlusal screening to determine bad bite, tooth wear, chewing problems, pain in joints and jaw areas, mouth opening abilities and checking for temporomandibular (TMJ) dysfunction
  • Checking for decay, tooth by tooth which is recorded in a detailed digital tooth chart, recording conditions of the teeth and mouth, existing work done on the teeth, decay, leakage, treatment needing to be done; positions of teeth and impactions.
  • If any dental issues are discovered, Dr. Still will give you a detailed, written treatment plan outlining his recommendations.

If you wish to schedule a cleaning the same day as your initial exam, this can be done. Our initial examination combined with a cleaning takes about 2 ½ hours due to its comprehensive nature and the fact that our philosophy is to get to know you so we can determine the type of dental treatment that is perfect for you.

To schedule and appointment or more information about your initial visit at Smile Sarasota, go to our New Patient Page.

Why You Need to Drink Water

We seem to carry bottled water everywhere we go these days. In fact, it has become the second most popular drink behind soft drinks. Why should you drink more water? It’s simple! Just look at some of the benefits:

  • Water helps you feel full- are you really hungry or are you just thirsty? Before reaching for that snack, try drinking a glass of water first–you may just be dehydrated!
  • Water has zero calories- if you choose water instead of a drink loaded with calories, you can easily cut several hundred empty calories from your diet each day.
  • Water can help regulate your metabolism and increase your energy levels.  Who doesn’t need more energy to make it through projects and exams?
  • If you aren’t used to drinking water throughout the day try adding sliced fruit to your water. Did you know you are saving calories each time you choose water over soda or juice? Calories add up! Drinking just one 150 calorie soda per day can add up to 15 extra pound per year, not to mention that it contributes to tooth decay!

Read more about why drinking plenty of water is important:
Six Reasons to Drink Water

One Dead Every Hour

APRIL IS ORAL CANCER MONTH 

Oral Cancer collectively kills nearly one person every hour of every day of the year. Of the people newly diagnosed with these cancers, 40 percent will not survive longer than five years. Moreover, many who do survive suffer long-term problems, such as severe facial disfigurement or difficulties with eating and speaking.

The death rate associated with oral and oropharyngeal cancers remains particularly high because the cancers routinely are discovered late in their development. Fortunately, when oral and oropharyngeal cancers are detected and treated early, mortality and treatment-related health problems are reduced.

Smile Sarasota wants to remind everyone that regular oral cancer screenings are the best method to detect oral cancer in its early stages. Dr. Still does this each time you visit our office for a cleaning and exam, and this is one of the biggest reasons we recommend that you come in AT LEAST twice per year for a cleaning and checkup.

Be mindful of symptoms:
Your mouth is one of your body’s most important early warning systems. In between dental visits, it is important for patients to be aware of the following signs and symptoms, and to see Dr. Still if they do not improve or disappear after two-three weeks:
• a sore, or soreness or irritation that doesn’t go away
• red or white patches, or pain, tenderness, or numbness in mouth or lips
• lumps, thickening tissues, rough spots, crusty or eroded areas
• difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue
• a change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth

When it comes to symptoms, keep this two-three week time period in mind, but always call your dentist right away if you have any immediate concerns.
Oral cancer may present with one or more of the following persistent (longer than two-three weeks) signs and symptoms:
• a painless lump or swelling felt in the neck
• sore throat, difficulty swallowing, or pain when swallowing
• swelling of the tonsillar areas at the back of the mouth

Be aware of the symptoms and risk factors of oral and oropharyngeal cancer. Early detection and treatment may well be the key to a complete recovery.If you have never had an oral cancer examination, there is no better time to schedule one than during Oral Cancer Awareness Month in April. Give Smile Sarasota a call today to schedule your checkup and oral cancer screening today!

What Are You Waiting For?

Dental Cleanings & Checkups…How Often?

Many times we have heard patients say that they prefer to ‘wait until something hurts or bothers them’ rather than scheduling regular cleaning and checkup visits. This is just wrong! Aside from the importance of catching dental disease before it causes infection or tooth loss, your mouth is an early warning system for health problems in the rest of the body. Sacrificing your teeth by seeing how far you can space out your visits until ‘something goes wrong’ is not the way to save money or prevent health problems. For example, periodontal disease is not just about your teeth – it is also associated with cardiovascular disease and healthy pregnancy. And one of the biggest prods we can give our patients is oral cancer. Most general MD’s don’t find oral cancer…Dr. Still looks in mouths all day long and has a handle on what is normal and what needs to be biopsied.

Then there’s the question about how often you should have cleanings and dental checkups. This is a question that has many variables and the answer should be based on the oral health as well as general health each individual patient. Our demographic is mostly patients 40 or older and with this age group, we see a lot of periodontal disease and general health issues that affect oral health, and for those reasons, most of our patients see us every three or four months even if their dental insurance only covers twice per year. Everyone has different needs, and an honest dentist like Dr. Still is the best person to help you determine what your needs are. Simply put, periodontal disease is the loss of bone and healthy tissue around teeth. Almost half of adults age 30 and older, about 65 million, have a form of chronic inflammatory gum disease that can ultimately lead to tooth loss. There is no cure for periodontal disease, but it can be managed and for those patients, a three month schedule is highly recommended.

There are many other factors that can impact oral health and the recommended frequency of dental cleanings and exams:

  • Side effects from medication / Dry Mouth – this can cause a huge change in the chemistry of the mouth which can lead to rampant decay.
  • Level of homecare by the patient – With patients who are prone to periodontal disease, plaque which gets left behind even by the most dutiful brushing and flossing, calcifies quickly into tartar.If a patient is not brushing correctly and flossing daily, whether due to being in a hurry while brushing and flossing or the inability to care for themselves, we recommend frequent cleanings and examinations to try to help maintain a healthier mouth.
  • Genetics – this is something we have no control over, but with the awareness that dental disease caused tooth loss in a family member, there is a need to be much more attentive to regular dental cleanings and exams.
  • Diet – a diet high in carbohydrates or acid can be a huge factor in the rate of decay.

Following your cleanings with our hygienists, Dr. Still does a periodic exam every six months and in addition to checking your teeth and gums, he always does an oral cancer exam, checks your tempromandibular (TMJ) joints & salivary glands. If you are on a three month schedule and wish to be examined by him every time, he is glad to do that. So…what are you waiting for?

Are You Scraping?

Have you ever heard of a tongue scraper?  A tongue scraper  (also called a tongue cleaner or tongue brush) is an oral hygiene device designed to clean off bacteria, food debris, fungi, and dead cells from the surface of your tongue.  The film that develops on your tongue while you sleep is a good indicator of what’s going on inside your body.  It can be clear, thick, white, yellow, brown, or even green.  The bacteria and fungi on the tongue are related to many common oral care and general health problems and can be a leading cause of bad breath for many.

Four Reasons to Scrape Your Tongue Every Day:

  1. Improves the breath: Removing the bacteria, food debris, fungi, and dead cells from the tongue significantly reduces the odor from the mouth.  You may have been told to use your toothbrush for this purpose, but brushing the tongue does NOT efficiently remove all of the film that develops on the tongue.  You will be blown away the first time you  do this by the amount of gunk that comes off of the tongue.
  2. Improves your ability to taste: Removing build-up from the surface of your tongue will better expose your taste buds.  This will lead to better enjoyment of the flavors of your food.  Ayurveda teaches that the better we enjoy and savor our food, the better our bodies digest and assimilate, leading to better over all health.  Also, Ayurveda teaches that blocked taste buds and tongue receptors interferes with our body’s ability to communicate with our brain about what types of foods we need to maintain our health, leading to false cravings.
  3. Avoid toxins being reabsorbed into your body: As you sleep, your body is detoxifying.  Much of the film on your tongue is toxins excreted from your body.  You don’t want to re-ingest that do you?  NO!  Scraping your tongue first thing in the morning will remove this sludge from your tongue and from your body, improving your over all health and improving your immune system.
  4. Improves dental health:By removing bacteria and toxins, you are also contributing to better dental health as well, leading to healthier teeth and gums.  The bacteria that you remove from your tongue are responsible for things like periodontal problems, plaque build-up, tooth decay, gum infections, gum recession, and even loss of teeth.

If you would like further information, call Smile Sarasota or ask either of our hygienists the next time you are in for a visit!

Embarrassed About a Missing Tooth?

Are you missing a tooth? This can be embarrassing, especially if it’s in or near the front of your mouth. A missing tooth can also affect your biting and chewing ability. We can help!! Consider a dental implant.

Single-tooth implants can be used in people who are missing one or more teeth. An implant is surgically placed in an opening that an oral surgeon makes in the jawbone. After the implant integrates (attaches) to your bone, it acts as a new “root” for the crown that will replace your missing tooth. A crown (cap), which is made to look like a natural tooth, is attached to the implant and fills the space left in the mouth by the missing tooth.

For this procedure to work, there must be enough bone in the jaw. The bone has to be strong enough to hold and support the implant. If there is not enough bone, it may need to be added with a procedure called bone augmentation or bone grafting, which is done by an oral surgeon. In addition, natural teeth and supporting tissues near where the implant will be placed must be in good health. After the implant attaches to your bone, it acts as a new “root” for the crown that will replace your missing tooth. A crown (cap), which is made to look like a natural tooth, is attached by Dr. Still to the implant and fills the space left in the mouth by the missing tooth.

There are many advantages to dental implants, including:

  • Improved appearance. Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth. And because they are designed to fuse with bone, they become permanent.
  • Improved speech.With poor-fitting dentures, the teeth can slip within the mouth causing you to mumble or slur your words. Dental implants allow you to speak without the worry that teeth might slip.
  • Dental implants function like your own teeth, allowing you to eat your favorite foods with confidence and without pain.
  • Improved self-esteem. Dental implants can give you back your smile and help you feel better about yourself.
  • Improved oral health.Dental implants don’t require reducing other teeth, as a tooth-supported bridge does. Because nearby teeth are not altered to support the implant, more of your own teeth are left intact, improving long-term oral health. Individual implants also allow easier access between teeth, improving oral hygiene.
  • Durability. Implants are very durable and will last many years. With good care, many implants last a lifetime.Success rates of dental implants vary, depending on where in the jaw the implants are placed but, in general, dental implants have a success rate of up to 98%. With proper care (see below), implants can last a lifetime. Call Smile Sarasota today and make an appointment with Dr. Still to see if you are a good candidate for dental implants!

Dog Breath?

It’s easy to improve your breath and keep your teeth and gums healthy at the same time. Try these simple steps to make your mouth feel fresh and clean.

  1. Brush and floss more often. 
    Plaque, the sticky buildup on your teeth, collects bacteria that cause bad breath.  Trapped food also adds to the problem. Brush your teeth at least two times each day, and floss at least once. If you’re concerned about your breath, do both a little more often. Don’t overdo things, though. If you brush too hard you can wear down your teeth, making them vulnerable to decay.
  2. Rinse your mouth out.
    Besides freshening your breath, a mouthwash adds extra protection by getting rid of bacteria. A fresh minty taste can make you feel good. But be sure the mouthwash you choose kills the germs that cause bad breath. Don’t just cover up the smell. Rinse daily with a good mouthwash and stop bad breath at its source.
    You can also help your breath if you swish your mouth with plain water after you eat. It can get rid of food particles that get stuck in your teeth.
  3. Scrape your tongue.
    The coating that normally forms on your tongue can be a host for smelly bacteria. To get rid of them, gently brush your tongue with your toothbrush. If your brush is too big to comfortably reach the back of your tongue, try a scraper. “They’re designed specifically to apply even pressure across the surface of the tongue area. This removes bacteria, food debris, and dead cells that brushing alone can’t  take care of. We have tong scrapers here in the office-ask for one!
  4. Avoid foods that sour your breath.
    Onions and garlic are big offenders. But brushing after you eat them doesn’t help.
    The substances that cause their bad smells make their way into your bloodstream and travel to your lungs, where you breathe them out, says dentist Richard Price, DMD, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association.The best way to stop the problem? Don’t eat them, or at least avoid them before you go to work or see friends.
  5. Kick the tobacco habit.
    Besides causing cancer, smoking can damage your gums, stain your teeth, and give you bad breath.
    Over-the-counter nicotine patches can help tame the urge. If you need a little help, make an appointment with your doctor to talk about quit-smoking programs or prescription medications that can help you give up tobacco for good.
  6. Skip after-dinner mints and chew gum instead.
    The bacteria in your mouth love sugar. They use it to make acid. This wears down your teeth and causes bad breath. Chew sugarless gum instead. Gum stimulates saliva, which is the mouth’s natural defense mechanism against plaque acids, which cause tooth decay and bad breath.
  7. Keep your gums healthy.
    Gum disease causes bad breath. Bacteria gather in pockets at the base of teeth, which creates an odor. If you have gum disease, your dentist may suggest you see a periodontist, who specializes in treating it.
  8. Moisten your mouth.
    You can get tooth decay and bad breath if you don’t make enough saliva. If your mouth is dry, drink plenty of water during the day. Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugar-free hard candy. Also try a humidifier at night to moisten the air in your house. We can also recommend products especially for extreme dry mouth.
  9. Make an appointment with Dr. Still
    If bad breath continues despite your best efforts, make an appointment with Dr. Still. He’ll check to see if your problems are related to a dental or medical condition.

Do Not Ignore Dry Mouth!

The human body is a miraculous thing. The mouth is a perfect illustration. Whenever you eat or drink something, digestion begins as you chew. Saliva not only helps you move things around in the mouth to process, it delivers an acid that starts the digestive process. This acid helps to break down what you swallow so other parts of the body can ‘take it from there.’

Saliva also does another important task. It continually rinses food particles from the mouth, helping to keep bacteria under control. However, saliva flow can be compromised by a number of factors. While many people realize that smoking, alcohol and caffeine consumption, and certain medications can dry out oral tissues by decreasing saliva, several factors may be surprising sources of dry mouth. Dry mouth is a descriptive term associated with insufficient saliva flow. When saliva is unable to efficiently cleanse the mouth, particles that remain can quickly develop into oral bacteria.

If you’re not producing enough saliva, you may notice these signs and symptoms all or most of the time:

  • Dryness in your mouth or throat
  • Saliva that seems thick and stringy
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty chewing, speaking and swallowing
  • A changed sense of taste
  • Problems wearing dentures
  • More frequent tooth decay
  • Gum irritation and gum disease
  • Lipstick sticking to the teeth.

 

Things you can do to ease your dry mouth symptoms are:

  • Drink small regular sips of cold, unsweetened drinks
  • Avoid things that dry the mouth, like hard dry crunchy food
  • Dunk dry or crispy food into liquids to make them softer
  • Increase the moisture in your foods, add broth, soup, gravy, cream, yogurt etc.
  • Make sure to steam your vegetables to soften them up
  • Take sips of liquid while eating your foods

But sipping water simply is not enough…it just is not enough to lubricate and protect your mouth the way saliva does. In the more severe cases, Dr. Still can prescribe a product called Biotene. It has a protein enzyme formula, and offers products in 3 areas you need to manage your dry mouth symptoms.

Dry mouth has numerous causes:

  • Medications
  • Aging
  • Cancer therapy
  • Nerve damage
  • Tobacco use
  • Methamphetamine use

Dry mouth can be a consequence of certain other health conditions, including the autoimmune disease Sjogren’s syndrome or HIV/AIDS. Stroke and Alzheimer’s disease may cause a perception of dry mouth, even though the salivary glands are functioning normally. Snoring and breathing with your mouth open also can contribute to dry mouth.

When to see Dr. Still:

If you’ve noticed persistent dry mouth signs and symptoms, make an appointment with Dr. Still. Your treatment depends on the cause of your dry mouth. If you have severe dry mouth, Dr. Still will confer with your MD and may:

  • Change medications that cause dry mouth. If your doctor believes medication to be the cause, he or she may adjust your dosage or switch you to another medication that doesn’t cause a dry mouth.
  • Recommend products to moisturize your mouth. These can include prescription or over-the-counter mouth rinses, artificial saliva or moisturizers to lubricate your mouth.
  • Prescribe medication that stimulates saliva. Your doctor may consider prescribing pilocarpine (Salagen) or cevimeline (Evoxac) to stimulate saliva production.
  • Protect your teeth. To prevent cavities, Dr. Still might recommend fluoride trays, which you fill with fluoride and wear over your teeth for a few minutes at night. He may also recommend weekly use of a chlorhexidine rinse to control cavities.

Dry mouth symptoms can vary greatly. Only a dentist or physician can truly evaluate your mouth for xerostomia. If you feel the symptoms, discuss them with your Dr. Still. Dental decay can develop quickly in a dry mouth that is otherwise healthy. If you have to sip water often and need liquids to swallow dry foods, call Dr. Still right away.  If you are experiencing dry mouth, call Smile Sarasota for regular check up to monitor ongoing oral problems.  With an early diagnosis and ongoing homecare management, you can avoid some of its damaging effects.

For further information, here’s a great educational video about dry mouth:

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Video about Dry Mouth

Health History Update AGAIN??!!

Why do we ask you to do yearly health history updates?

You may have wondered why our office has so many questions on our health history update sheet. And why does the dental staff insist on updating the medical history every time you visit the dental office?

Each of the questions asked on the medical history sheet have specific items that can easily have an effect on the delivery of dental treatment. The body is all connected. That medication you take for some other part of the body can be important for today’s filling or extraction or even cleaning plans.

It may be helpful to briefly discuss some of the more common items that show up on medical history forms.

  • Diabetes has become very common in this community. Diabetes might seem pretty disconnected from the teeth. Although diabetes doesn’t usually affect placing a filling very much, it has some real implications on the gums. People with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal problems. The gums become inflamed easier and stay that way more easily than on people without diabetes. This prompts a referral to a periodontist (bone and gum specialist) when problems might not be as severe as if a person did not have diabetes. If a person is getting a tooth extracted, healing often takes longer on a person with diabetes. This means the extraction should be done with an absolute minimum of time spent during the extraction and bony removal should be similarly minimized. Again, diabetes may signal referral to a specialist (oral surgeon) for a particular tooth that Dr. Still would normally extract himself if the patient did not have diabetes.
  • Many people have had a knee or hip replaced with an artificial joint. It is widely thought that entrance into the blood system of certain types of bacteria commonly found in the mouth can put these artificial joints at risk of failure in the first two years after they are placed. Because of this, antibiotics are usually prescribed for use an hour before the patient arrives for most dental procedures or a cleaning. It may seem like the knee is a long way from the teeth so there is no need to tell the dentist or dental hygienist about a new knee. However, the knee or hip came at considerable cost, usually after a rather long wait, and with a fair amount of uncomfortable physiotherapy. It would be an unnecessary shame for a new knee or hip to be lost and have to be replaced because the patient decided to not mention its replacement to the dentist. This can all be avoided by telling the Dr. Still about the new knee or hip on the medical history sheet.
  • Artificial Heart Valves can have a similar risk as the hip and knee replacements above, but can be much more serious
  • Allergies are always a concern, especially medication allergies. An allergy to aspirin makes a prescription for Naprosyn or Ibuprofen (which are in the same medication group as aspirin) impossible. An allergy to Penicillin makes prescription of a whole list of medications impossible. Metal allergies have to be checked out to see precisely which metals are involved in the allergy. A crown or a partial denture placed when a person has an allergy to one of the metals composing the alloy used will certainly be costly and uncomfortable, and could cause more serious problems.
  • Autoimmune problems (like lupus or other problems) can cause some unusual signs and symptoms in the mouth that can look like problems that normally require expensive treatment or a specialist visit. If Dr. Still knows you have an autoimmune disorder, it can change what the course of action is on some problems.

As you can see, treatment is complicated in many ways by a medical history that is not complete or is in some other way not accurate. Not knowing a medical history can cause unnecessary visits to the specialist and/or unnecessary risks to the patient. No one benefits if the dentist does not know the patient’s current medical status or medical history. If Dr. Still has a question on the medical history that seems strange, you might want to ask why an answer to that question is needed. From a professional standpoint, the dentist is regulated strictly by law regarding disclosure of any item on a medical history without your consent. Feel free to ask Dr. Still if you have a question or concern about a medical question he has asked you to answer, and please don’t bite the receptionist who asks that you complete it yearly!

The Artists Behind Your Dental Crown

After obtaining your dream smile at Smile Sarasota, much of the credit can easily be given—and rightfully so—to Dr. Still, who prepares your tooth and then places your crown. What most people may not realize is that behind the scenes is an equally talented artisan who created your crown. Good dental porcelain in the hands of a skilled dental laboratory technician can make for spectacular tooth imitations by mimicking tooth enamel perfectly. This is one of the reasons why long-lasting, great looking crowns and veneers are worth every penny. They require the expertise of a team to produce your desired results.

Dental laboratory technology is the art, science and technology of designing and manufacturing for replacements of natural teeth. Our dental laboratory technician communicates and collaborates with Dr. Still to plan, design and fabricate dental prostheses for individual patients. Another important aspect of great labs and technicians is the fact that they use only the best materials – if you see ads for offices who tout cheap crowns and bridges, count on the fact that the materials used are inferior and will not last. Dr. Still works exclusively with only two local laboratories and he has been with them for many years. These are not big, commercial labs, which means he works one-on-one with the same technician to achieve the very best results, both functionally and aesthetically, using superior materials.

A dental lab technician’s work is both a science and an art. Since each dental patient’s needs are different, the duties of a dental laboratory technician are comprehensive and varied. They work directly with Dr. Still by following detailed written instructions and using impressions (molds) of the patient’s teeth or oral soft tissues to create your crown. Did you know that it can take up to eight hours total to make one crown?!

As the “artist” who must design and fabricate many different dental appliances, our dental laboratory technician serves a unique role on our professional dental team. The technician works with wax and a variety of metals, creating complex structures that duplicate tooth form and color using acrylic resins and porcelain.By fabricating aesthetic dental prostheses that work well and by improving the patient’s smile, our dental laboratory technician influences not only patient’s physical and dental health but also improves his or her confidence and self-esteem.

In researching information for this blog, we came across a bit of a different twist on dental lab technicians. Gary Archer is famous for creating teeth to make our favorite Hollywood stars look…well…ugly in most cases! Think Austin PowersInterview With a Vampire

Check out this interview with Gary:

An Interview With Dental Lab Technician Gary Archer 

http://www.deardoctor.com/articles/creating-teeth-for-hollywood-movies/

Do You Grind Your Teeth?

DO YOU GRIND YOUR TEETH? You may not even be aware of it! Here are some of the signs and symptoms:teeth grinding

  • Tooth sensitivity as enamel is worn away exposing softer, darker-colored dentin.
  • Excess grinding of the back teeth can make teeth appear shorter.
  • Upper teeth become more angled, thin and translucent, putting them at risk of chipping.
  • Facial muscle pain which is exacerbated by chewing, talking or yawning.

It’s a bad habit that can cause headaches, jaw pain, earache, damage to teeth and in some cases even change the shape of your face. However if you are guilty of teeth grinding or clenching the chances are you won’t even be aware you’re doing it as most of us do it subconsciously during sleep.

Work-related stress is the most common reason, particularly for women. When we sleep any worries or concerns we have – even if only in our subconscious mind – can lead to clenching, nocturnal grinding and in some cases temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction (pain and dysfunction of the jaw muscles).

It can also cause headaches and mean that sleep is not as restful as it should be. This can take a toll on the patient’s health and wellbeing.”
It can also be inherited. Yet most people are not aware they do it until their dentist notices tooth wear or a partner complains about the noise.

Bruxism can be responsible for a whole range of symptoms. It can cause tooth discoloration as enamel wears away and in extreme cases even alter the shape of the face as the teeth get shorter and the nose and chin get closer together. If you have porcelain crowns or veneers, continued grinding can actually fracture them.

Teeth grinding can lead to excessive use of the masseter muscles at the back angle of the lower jaw. Continued clenching can cause these muscles to bulk up which can give the face a wider appearance.

So what can be done about it? If the problem is stress related, relaxation techniques such as yoga or hypnosis can help some patients. Dental treatments include mouth guards or bite guards worn at night. They must be custom made and fitted by a Dr. Still. They will not necessarily eradicate the grinding problem completely, however they can preserve the longevity of the teeth.

Is it a Lemon?

There are five basic tastes that can be perceived by the human tongue. These are bitterness, sourness, saltiness, sweetness and savoriness. Bitter is the most sensitive among these tastes and is detected by the taste buds at the back of tongue and in the throat. Sour on the other hand is indicative of acidity and helps in its perception. The taste buds along the side of the tongue perceive sourness. Saltiness is also recognized by these buds. Check out the video linked below…apparently, this dog’s entire tongue is wary of the sourness of lemons!

 

 

Laugh it Up…It’s Good for You!

5 Reasons to have a Really Good Belly Laugh!

  1. Laughter boosts your immune system. According to studies, laughter helps to boost your immune system and may even increase the number of cancer-killing cells in your body. Doing something that feels good and is good for you? I’m in!
  1. Laughter release endorphins. Speaking of feeling good – when you laugh, you trigger a release of endorphins {those yummy feel-good chemicals}. These chemicals triggered by the brain, are the reason you feel so happy when you laugh – isn’t that the BEST feeling! The more you laugh, the better you’ll feel, so do it as often as you can!
  1. Laughter connects us with others. Think about how you feel when you’re laughing with someone. You feel connected, right? Even if you don’t know the person well, you feel bonded with him or her. – Forming connections has a positive impact on our lives — and laughter is a great way to connect.
  1. Laughter protects your heart. Apparently laughing has some healthy heart benefits. Laughing can lead to improved blood flow and cut down on high blood pressure. Heart troubles are unfortunately pretty common — which is why we should all start laughing more often to ward them off. Fact: One pioneer in laughter research, William Fry, claimed it took ten minutes on a rowing machine for his heart rate to reach the level it would after just one minute of hearty laughter. I’m sure it’s more fun too.
  1. Laughter keeps us present. When you’re laughing, you’re focused on whatever is funny in that moment. You’re not worried about the past or the future. You’re in the now. Though you might not realize it, laughter really is one of the best ways to stay present.

These are just a few of the benefits of having a good laugh. Ultimately laughter offers us a break from the hard parts of life – a chance to escape, but for a few moments. No matter how badly you feel, how broken your heart is, how tough things seem, laughter has the ability to pick you up and bring you a respite from unhappiness – and it’s free. It really is the best medicine. So…show those pearly whites and laugh it up!

Cavities and the Common Cold

It’s that time of the year again…everyone seems to be sneezing and coughing. Did you know that tooth decay is a common disorder, second only to the common cold? Tooth decay is a common cause of pain and tooth loss. Bacteria are normally found in your mouth. These bacteria change foods — especially sugar and starch — into acids. Bacteria, acid, food pieces, and saliva combine in the mouth to form a sticky substance called plaque which adheres to the teeth. It is most common on the back molars, just above the gum line on all teeth, and at the edges of fillings. Plaque that is not removed from the teeth turns into a substance called tartar or calculus. Plaque begins to build up on teeth within 20 minutes after eating. If it is not removed, tooth decay will begin.

Why does tooth decay occur? The acids in plaque damage the enamel covering your teeth, and create holes in the tooth (cavities). Cavities usually do not hurt, unless they grow very large and affect nerves or cause a tooth fracture. An untreated cavity can lead to a tooth abscess. Untreated tooth decay also destroys the inside of the tooth (pulp), which will require more extensive treatment, or worse case removal of the tooth. Carbohydrates (sugars and starches) increase the risk of tooth decay. Sticky foods are more harmful than non-sticky foods because they remain on the teeth. Frequent snacking increases the time that acids are in contact with the surface of the tooth.

Do cavities hurt? There may be no symptoms. If symptoms occur, they may include: tooth pain or achy feeling, particularly after sweet, hot, or cold foods and drinks, or you may see visible pits or holes in the teeth.

So how do you treat decay and how can it be prevented? Most cavities are discovered in the early stages during routine dental checkups. A dental exam may show that the surface of the tooth is soft, or the decay may be initially discovered by dental X-rays – many times, decay cannot be seen with the naked eye. This is one reason Dr. Still recommends yearly ‘bitewing’ check up X-Ray, and a full series every three years. Depending on the extent of the decay, it is treated by composite tooth-colored fillings or by full-coverage crowns. If the decay has extended into the nerve of the tooth, a root canal may be needed. If left untreated, the tooth can become severely infected, abscess and potentially need to be extracted.

This is why we recommend regular dental checkups at least three times per year, dental X-rays and good home care. Also, reducing the amount of sugar — especially sugary drinks and juices — can help prevent cavities. You may consider brushing your teeth or rinsing your mouth after eating sticky foods.

Teeth Don’t Die…You Kill Them!

You may think that as you get older, you’ll lose some of your teeth. You probably know older people who have bridges, dentures or implants to replace missing teeth. It may seem obvious that tooth loss is just another part of aging. It isn’t…neglect is usually the cause of lost teeth.

So what should you do to prevent lost teeth? Just as taking care of your body can keep you active, taking care of your teeth can ensure that you keep them. If your teeth and gums are healthy, there’s no reason for you to lose your teeth.

One of the keys to keeping teeth for a lifetime is to visit a dentist regularly. But many older people don’t. They grew up during a time when preventative dental care was not emphasized. Some may not realize how important it is. They may believe that toothaches, bleeding gums, loose teeth or mouth pain are just part of getting older. In fact, these can be signs of gum disease, or other problems.

Preventative dentistry – regular dental checkups and professional cleanings are important. During an exam, Dr. Still checks for tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer. Most of our patients visit Smile Sarasota three or four times per year in order to maintain healthy gums and teeth. A lack of dental visits can result in untreated tooth decay and gum disease. Both of these can lead to lost teeth. Missing teeth, toothache or mouth pain also can change how and what you eat. This means you may not get the nutrients you need to stay healthy.

Visiting the dentist is especially important for older people because they may have other medical conditions. These conditions can create dental problems. Hundreds of medicines can cause side effects in your mouth. Some of these, such as dry mouth, can increase the risk of tooth decay or other oral health problems. Saliva is a natural cavity-fighter. It neutralizes acids produced by bacteria that can cause tooth decay. Saliva helps wash away food and bacteria. It also contains minerals that strengthen teeth. Dry mouth reduces saliva. This makes you more vulnerable to cavities. Dr. Still can treat dry mouth and can prescribe fluoride rinses or gels to help keep teeth strong. Older people are more likely to get cavities for other reasons, too. Receding gums can allow acids to get to the roots of teeth and cause cavities. Older fillings can break down. This leaves teeth susceptible to decay.

So what if you have already lost all your teeth? People who have lost all of their teeth often think they don’t need to visit the dentist anymore. But most people without teeth have dentures. Regular dental visits will help to keep dentures in good condition and fitting properly, as well as checking for oral cancer. The bone under your gums changes over time. Dentures that fit fine at one visit may need to be replaced or altered at the next visit.

Oral cancer also affects older people, whether or not they have teeth. Each year, about 8,000 Americans die of oral cancer. More than half of these deaths are in people 65 or older. Smoking and alcohol use also increase the risk of oral cancer. If oral cancer is detected early, it can be treated successfully. Avoiding the dentist makes early detection less likely.

What Else Can You Do?

Brushing and flossing are as important as ever for older people. To keep teeth and gums healthy, brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Floss once a day. Some older people may have trouble handling a toothbrush or floss because of arthritis, a disability or an illness. Special toothbrushes and floss holders are available. They have been adapted to be easier to hold. Electric or sonic toothbrush s help. Just ask Dr. Still or one of our hygienists to help you find alternatives to make the job easier.

Do You Love Yellow Teeth?

Millions of people suffer from tooth discoloration to varying degrees. Even those who brush, floss, and visit the dentist regularly may find that food, environmental factors, and the passage of time will eventually take their toll on the natural radiance of their teeth. Fortunately, professional teeth whitening is an incredibly effective way to lighten or altogether eliminate stains and achieve a naturally white smile. There are many teeth whitening systems and products including whitening toothpastes, over-the-counter gels, rinses, strips, trays, and whitening products obtained from a dentist.

Find out if teeth whitening is right for you.

Teeth whitening is ideal for people who have healthy teeth and gums. Individuals with yellow tones to their teeth respond best. But this cosmetic procedure is not recommended for everyone. Results vary depending on your dental health and the treatment you choose. However, the vast majority of patients have been satisfied with the outcome of their whitening treatment. Side effects are rare and mild, and the treatment is convenient and non-invasive. Following a professional whitening regimen, you could enjoy a dramatically improved smile and a huge boost of self-confidence. Candidates for teeth whitening typically have mild to moderate discoloration, and they want to achieve a sparkling smile. However, there are certain factors that may preclude patients from being good candidates for treatment.
These include:

  • Patients with restorations on the front facing teeth (such as porcelain veneers, dental crowns, or dental bonding): Unlike natural teeth, restorative material does not respond to bleaching agents. Typically, if these patients do choose teeth whitening, they will also need replace their restorations. The new crowns or veneers will match the enhanced color of their smile.
  • Patients with intrinsic stains: Intrinsic stains are gray discolorations, white spots on the teeth, or discoloration that results from a “dead” tooth. These stains affect the underlying layers of the tooth. In general, teeth whitening is most effective on extrinsic stains (the yellow or brown stains) that affect the outer enamel.
  • Patients with extreme tooth sensitivity or worn enamel: Whitening may exacerbate these conditions.

When you are looking to lighten your smile, you have many options to choose from. Over-the-Counter Methods – This the cheapest form of whitening. These methods can include:

  • Toothpastes: These products strictly whiten and will not bleach your teeth. Whitening toothpastes have a mildly abrasive effect, and some can lighten teeth by up to one shade.
  • Gel: Whitening gel can offer comparable results to strips. The exact treatment regimen will depend on the type and strength of gel you choose.
  • Rinses: Whitening mouthwash contains small amounts of peroxide. You will use these rinses just as you would use a traditional anti-bacterial mouthwash. Many experts believe that whitening rinses are not as effective as other methods, since the peroxide is only in contact with your teeth for about 60 seconds.
  • Pre-made whitening trays: Store bought whitening trays often fit uncomfortably. Because they are not customized for your smile, the gel may ooze out and irritate your gum tissue. Dental professionals recommend dentist-provided trays instead.
  • Strips: Whitening strips are thin pieces of plastic coated in peroxide. You will attach the strips to the front of your teeth, and you will wear them about 30 minutes a day for two weeks. The results typically last around four months. Most experts and consumers agree that whitening strips are the most effective form of do-it-yourself whitening.

 At-Home Care

  • Dentist-prescribed whitening, such as Opalescence®, offers much more dramatic results than over-the-counter products and is an excellent investment in your smile. If you choose this method, you will receive custom-made whitening trays. They will fit comfortably in your mouth, and you will fill them with whitening gel. This gel will use a lower concentration of peroxide than in-office treatment. Therefore, the procedure will pose little risk for gum sensitivity, even without complete dentist supervision. You will wear the trays for 30 minutes to an hour every day,
  • In-Office Whitening– Although take-home whitening is quite effective, in-office care usually offers a less expensive alternative. We use Sinsational Smile® and a laser light to achieve optimal results. The high-power light will activate the gel, allowing the oxygen to penetrate your teeth more thoroughly. The whole process takes less than an hour and is combined with a take-home pen to apply at home for longer lasting results. Sinsational Smile® is recommended for patients who have had sensitivity to stronger bleaching products  and produces and less ‘dramatic’ result.

Results
Just as every patient’s smile is unique, the results of teeth whitening treatment will vary. Although most patients are pleased with the results, they are not 100 percent predictable. There are several factors which contribute to the overall outcome of teeth whitening treatment. The final color of a patient’s smile will depend on several factors.

These include:

  • The severity of the stains
  • The level of the tooth the stains reside on
  • Lifestyle and dietary habits
  • The type of teeth whitening system used
  • The number of treatments a patient undergoes
  • Whether the patient wears whitening trays as directed (in cases of at-home teeth whitening)

Additionally, whitening is not permanent – if you smoke, drink tea, coffee, red wine, etc., you will need to ‘touch-up’ occasionally. Touch-up kits can be purchased from our office. So…if you would like a whiter, brighter smile, call Smile Sarasota today!
Credits: The Doc Shop, WebMD

Your Smile…A Lasting Impression

One of the first thing people notice about you – one of the first things on which they base their lasting first impression, is your smile… your teeth. It has been speculated that your smile has more impact on the success of your personal and business relationships than any other part of your appearance … ANY other part of your appearance. That speculation was confirmed by a number of surveys. In one survey in which people were asked what it is they remember most about new people they meet, over 85% said they remember people with beautiful smiles. Over one-third said they were not likely to kiss someone, or set up a blind date for a friend, with a person who had bad looking teeth.

This means the more attractive your smile, the more likely it is that you’ll be noticed, sought out, liked, and remembered. It means that the more beautiful your smile, the more likely it is your spouse or significant other will be attracted to you. It also means the more compelling your smile, the more likely it is that you’ll get noticed and remembered on the job … potentially leading to more promotions. It means the more attractive your smile, the more confident you are likely to be and the better your self-image will be… which translates into a better life.

First and foremost, Dr. Still is a general dentist, taking great care of all those things that keep your smile healthy, But more and more, our Smile Sarasota patients are asking Dr. Still for a ‘cosmetic smile makeover’ and getting amazing results. Take a look at our Before and After Gallery and then give us a call for a consultation!

What’s the Deal with Privacy (HIPAA) Forms?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is the law enacted to protect your privacy, allow access to your dental records and designate who can speak on your behalf and to whom we may speak to regarding your dental care. This law was written for the consumer, not the provider.

Every time you see a new dentist or doctor or go to the hospital, you are given a form to sign stating you understand the office or institution adheres to HIPAA guidelines, along with a form allowing communication with other dental or medical professionals in regard to your health.

A very important aspect of the HIPAA law is the right for you to designate who can speak for you.  In order for anyone to speak on your behalf, a form must be filled out.  This includes if you have someone helping with your insurance issues or bills.  You have the right to designate as many people as you like and at Smile Sarasota we have a special place on our form for this designation. As funny as it may seem, we are not allowed to speak to your spouse or children about your dental treatment unless you designate them on this form.

Another important aspect of HIPAA is your right to have a copy of your dental or medical records. You cannot be denied a copy.  You can request all the records or only certain parts.  You can also designate what part of records can be sent to other medical professionals or institutions.  Since records in our office are completely digital, for your protection and privacy we use an encryption program when we are asked to send attachments which contain any private information.

Many institutions and providers might make you think the law was designed for their needs.  This is not the case.  It was enacted to protect  you, the consumer.  Maintaining patient confidentiality is a priority for us, and our office is strictly HIPAA Compliant. If you have questions about HIPAA, contact our privacy officer, Jaime Still.

Click below to learn more about The HIPAA Privacy Law:

Learn more about patient privacy

 

Why Floss is the Boss!

Dental Floss…It may look like a simple piece of string, but dental floss is so much more! It’s a proven ally in maintaining healthy teeth and gums and helps give your overall health a boost. Do you floss daily? What techniques help you get the most out of your flossing experience, without injury to your gums? Statistics reveal that only 50.5% of Americans follow the recommendation from the American Dental Association (ADA) to floss every day. Some 31 percent report flossing less than daily, and a whopping 18% say they never floss. Yikes!

Why You Should Floss:
Although brushing is an important part of cleaning your teeth, there are areas between your pearly whites that your toothbrush bristles simply can’t reach. Left to linger in these hidden areas, bacteria can flourish. This leads to the formation of plaque, tooth decay, and gum disease.

That’s why daily flossing is imperative. It does more than just remove food debris stuck between your teeth. It also removes the plaque that brushing left behind. If you really want to do what’s best for your smile, it’s time to put an end to excuses. Floss your teeth every day, not just before you visit Smile Sarasota! At Smile Sarasota, Dr. Still, along with our hygienists, Claire and Ann are glad to answer any questions you may have about flossing.

Don’t Drink That Acid!

Did you know that popular diet and sugared sodas are nearly as corrosive to dental enamel as battery acid? Prolonged exposure to soft drinks can lead to significant enamel loss, even though many people consider soft drinks to be harmless or just worry about their sugar content and the potential for putting on pounds.

The erosive potential of colas is 10 times that of fruit juices in just the first three minutes of drinking, one showed. Research, published in Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) Journal  of General Dentistry, reports that drinking any type of soft drink hurts teeth due to the citric acid and/or phosphoric acid in the beverages.

Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the human body. This semi-clear, hard, outer layer protects teeth from the daily wear and tear of biting and chewing, as well as temperature extremes from hot or cold foods and drinks. Enamel also guards against acids and chemicals that can damage teeth. When this shell erodes, your teeth are more likely to get cavities and decay. You may notice you react more to hot or cold foods, drinks, and sweets, since they can get through holes in your enamel to the nerves inside.

What about Energy drinks? Researchers at the University of Iowa’s College of Dentistry found that energy drinks and sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Red Bull, eroded the enamel more than soda and fruit juices.

We recommend the following to help protect tooth enamel:

  • Reduce the frequency of consumption of acidic foods and drinks
  • Avoid swishing acidic drinks
  • Drink the acidic beverage at once, instead of sipping it all day
  • Use a straw to avoid the teeth from being immersed in liquid
  • Substitute acidic beverages with water
  • Rinse mouth with water after drinking acidic beverage instead of brushing. The bristles of the toothbrush may damage the enamel.

Dentistry is Not a Commodity!

We are seeing an unfortunate trend in today’s dentistry.  We are a consumer driven society conditioned to “shop around” for the best deal.

When we want a new pair of shoes or a new TV, we tend to shop around for the best price on these items.  Why?  Because regardless of where we end up buying these items, they are, in the end, the same product.  The same is NOT true with dentistry. Unfortunately insurance companies have perpetuated this mindset.  They have conditioned their member to believe they have to “choose someone off the list” as if the consumer should really not have any say in the matter of where THEY feel the most comfortable.  We have many patients who have left their previous practice because of rude staff, insufficient explanation of why treatment is needed, “selling” the patient products and services they don’t need or want and basically being treated like cattle on a processing line.

Our patients have chosen us and placed trust in us as they know that health care is NOT a commodity.   Most of us would agree we would NEVER shop around for a cardiologist so why do we look for the $39.99 special in dentistry?  Depending on which dental office you go to, there are different levels of service provided, different skill sets of the dentist, different levels of care provided, different labs used, different technology and materials, varying time spent with each patient and a different overall patient experience.  Dentistry is both an art and a science combined with skill and judgement that only comes with specialized training.

At Smile Sarasota our patients tell us we’re like an extension of their own family.  Our staff is friendly, professional, prompt, courteous, and truly cares about YOUR needs.  Dr. Still is a perfectionist and is meticulous with his work.  He is caring and genuine and believes that building a lifelong relationships with someone you trust should be at the center of the patient experience.

The Truth About Second Opinions

sarasota dentist second opinionShould You Get a Second Opinion?

Getting a second opinion about a serious dental problem can be one of the most important decisions a person can make. In most cases, when a patient wants a second opinion, they have doubts about how best to treat their dental condition. In some situations, it is the dentist who requests a second opinion from a dental specialist in order to obtain additional information about a dental problem. Second opinions are important because they may confirm, refute or clarify the situation.

There are some instances when second opinions are not helpful. It is when the second opinion becomes a fourth, fifth, sixth opinion, or more. These are the patients that keep hearing the same thing from each dentist, but hope to hear something different. If they do finally hear what they want to hear from the seventh dentist, it may not be in their best interest. Patients should also understand that one does not have to consult another dentist just to have a cavity fixed.

So when should you get a second opinion? Choosing to have another dentist take a look to verify a certain diagnosis should only be done when major procedures are required. There are other scenarios which will reasonably warrant getting a second opinion. Being unsure with the necessity of the treatment as well as its cost is another ground for asking another professional. Always go with your instinct…If you think you should get a second opinion you probably should. If your dentist has recommended work that you are unsure of, getting a second opinion will educate you as well as help to assure, you are making the right choice when it comes to something as important as your health. The most valuable thing to remember is that you should always feel comfortable with your care, and treatment plan. A fresh outlook on your situation can only benefit you.

The differences in dentists can be attributed to their education, postgraduate work, diagnostic equipment and experiences, so seeking a second opinion can help a patient feel more confident they’re getting the treatment that’s best for them. “Dentistry is both an art and a science,” says Dr. Leslie Seldin, consumer advisor and spokesman for the American Dental Association.  “There are many acceptable ways to approach the same problem. There’s no book that says, ‘This is the way things should be done’”

Dr. Still will always recommend the ideal treatment for your particular situation and he will give you a detailed, written treatment plan. He is always happy to discuss any alternative treatments and to answer any questions you may have about his recommendations. So don’t hesitate to ask – his main concern is that you have a healthy mouth and a great smile!

Part 1: What are all those numbers my Hygienist calls out?

Periodontal Charting Software

Part 1: What are all those numbers my Hygienist calls out?

During your dental cleaning (prophylaxis) appointment, you will hear your hygienist calling out a series of 6 numbers per tooth. These measurements are usually done yearly. What she is doing is measuring, in millimeters (mm), the depth of the cuff of gum tissue around each tooth. This depth is the difference in height between the level of your gumline and the point at which the gum actually attaches to your tooth. 2-3 mm is considered healthy and anything over 5 mm usually indicates that the bone that supports your tooth has begun to be destroyed by disease. Here is a little more detail on what measuring the “pockets” mean:

  • 0 to 3 mm without bleeding: Congratulations! No issues!
  • 1 to 3 mm with bleeding: This is mild gingivitis which is the mildest form of gum disease. Usually a good prophylaxis with therapeutic scaling coupled with effective oral home-care is all that is recommended.
  • 4 to 5 mm without bleeding: The periodontal disease process is being maintained. Four visits per year with effective home-care is the recommended treatment.
  • 4 to 5 mm with bleeding:Early to moderate gum disease (Periodontitis) which may require periodontal therapy over several visits as well as effective home care and four visits per year.
  • 6mm and above: Advanced periodontal disease which means aggressive treatment to save your teeth. Periodontal Therapy appointments over several visits is the recommended treatment. Additionally, referral to a periodontist and surgery is almost always required to repair the damage done.Periodontal disease is not curable, therefore maintenance visits are recommended every 3 months thereafter, alternating with the Periodontist.

As noted, the presence of bleeding or pus when your periodontal numbers are being charted is a strong indicator of disease. Healthy gums do not bleed! The presence of gum disease leads to tooth loss and a greatly diminished quality of life. Gum disease is also implicated in serious health issues such as heart disease and strokes, diabetes, and respiratory problems. So, don’t put off you dental prophylaxis and checkups!  The earlier these problems are detected, the easier and more predictable the treatment is.

We will discuss the second set of numbers, which reflect gum recession, in an upcoming blog.

New Patients and Dental Emergencies

Our office welcomes new and existing patients with dental emergencies. Please contact Smile Sarasota at 941-957-3311 to arrange an appointment with Dr. Still. Listed below are some common problems and initial recommendations. Always seek professional help and call Dr. Still for definitive diagnosis and treatment.

Abscess or Swelling:
• Potentially serious infection associated with the tooth and gums
• Usually requires antibiotics therapy
• Rinse mouth with a mild saltwater solution (1/2 tsp of table salt in 8 oz. of water) several times a day
• Contact our office as soon as possible
• Seek immediate medical attention if the swelling becomes life threatening
Bleeding After An Extraction
• Apply direct pressure and bite on a water moistened gauze sponge for 30 minutes
• If bleeding persists gently rinse the mouth with ice cold water and reapply packing and bite on gauze.
• Another option is to bite on a wet tea bag for 30 minutes
• If bleeding persists, call Smile Sarasota or the oral surgery office that did the extraction
Broken Tooth or Chipped Tooth:
• Rinse mouth with warm water
• Save any pieces
• Apply cold compresses if any swelling and to relieve pain
• If the area is very sensitive, you can use a cotton swab to apply clove oil (available from a local drug store or supermarket)
• Contact our office
Cracked Tooth:
• Symptoms include pain on chewing, pain with cold air, or pain for no reason at all
• Commonly occurring dental problem
• Teeth crack when subjected to the stress of chewing hard foods, ice, or hard objects. Usually associated with large silver or white fillings
• Avoid using the offended tooth
• The majority of cracked teeth (9 out of 10) can be treated by placement of a crown (cap). Complex cracks may involve the need for a root canal or extraction
• Contact our office for evaluation
Jaw Possibly Broken
• Go to the hospital immediately
• Apply cold compresses to the affected area
Knocked Out Tooth
• Save the tooth and rinse off gently if dirty. Do not scrub.
• If possible place back in the mouth and into the socket. Hold in place.
• If not, place the tooth in milk
• Get to the dentist as soon as possible
Lost Filling
• If no pain or discomfort, call for an appointment
• If needed, rinse the affected area and place a temporary patch filling to the area (Dentemp or similar from area pharmacies)
• If nothing else is available, sugarless gum can be placed in the cavity
Lost Crown, Lost Cap or Temporary Crown
• Make an appointment and bring in the crown
• In the meantime, attempt to seat the crown over the tooth using over-the-counter dental cement (Dentemp), toothpaste, or even a thin coat of Vaseline or denture adhesive.
• Do not use super glue
• If unable to do so and the tooth remains sensitive then place a little clove oil (local drug stores or supermarket) with a cotton swab to the site
Objects Caught Between Teeth
• Try to remove with dental floss or an interdental cleaner
• Avoid cutting the gums
• If you cannot remove the object contact our office
Soft Tissue Injury
• Injuries to the lip, cheek, and tongue can occur
• Clean the area gently with a cloth and peroxide
• Apply direct pressure to the area
• Apply cold compresses to reduce swelling
• If the bleeding does not stop or the wound is deep seek immediate medical attention
Toothache
• Call our office to make an appointment
• Rinse mouth with warm water
• Use dental floss or interdental cleaner to remove any debris
• Never place aspirin or any other pain killer directly on the site
• Take an over-the-counter analgesic (Ibuprofen or Tylenol)
• Placing an ice pack over the affected area can help
• If you have lost a filling or crown, dip a cotton swab in clove oil (available in pharmacies and supermarkets) and place it on the affected part of the tooth. Topical anesthetics such as Anbesol can also be used, especially for gum pain.

We are here for all your dental emergencies and Smile Sarasota welcomes all new patients!

The Importance of Sunscreen

IT’S SUMMER…and there are many good reasons to use sunscreen on your skin and lips. The BEST reason is that you can stop by our Smile Sarasota office and we will give it to you! FREE! YES! Free sunscreen lotion and lip balm, so come on down and get yours! So…What are some of the reasons everyone should wear sunscreen?

1. The ozone layer is depleting and your body needs shielding from harmful rays.
2. It helps to prevent facial brown spots and skin discolorations.
3. It also helps to reduce the appearance of facial red veins and blotchiness. It slows down the development of wrinkled, premature aging skin.
4. Skin cancer rates are on the rise and sunscreen has been proven to decrease the development of skin cancer.

Lip cancer is the most common malignant lesion of the oral cavity, constituting 25-30% of all oral cavity cancer cases and is the second most common malignancy of the head and neck overall (after cutaneous malignancy). Unlike other sub-sites of the oral cavity, sun exposure is a well established risk factor for development of lip cancer. This helps explain why 90% of lip cancers occur on the lower lip, since it has a higher level of sun exposure compared to the upper lip which is shielded by the nose and is angled slightly downwards. So…PLEASE use sunscreen!

Life Can Be a Struggle – But Keep Trying!

“Whatever the struggle, continue the climb. It may be only one step to the summit.” Diane Westlake

Sometimes, struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were to go through our life without any obstacles, we would be crippled. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. Give every opportunity a chance, leave no room for regrets.

This cute English Bulldog in the video below believes in the struggle!

 

Continue the Climb!

Dental Cap or Dental Crown?

There is no difference whatsoever between dental caps and crowns. At Smile Sarasota, Dr. Still does both laboratory crowns and CEREC “Same Day” crowns, depending on the situation.

A crown is a restoration that covers, or “caps,” a tooth to restore it to its normal shape and size, strengthening and improving the appearance of a tooth. Crowns are necessary when a tooth is generally broken down and fillings won’t solve the problem.

If a tooth is cracked, a crown holds the tooth together to seal the cracks so the damage doesn’t get worse. Crowns are also used to restore a tooth when there isn’t enough of the tooth remaining to provide support for a large filling, attach a bridge, protect weak teeth from fracturing, restore fractured teeth or cover badly shaped or discolored teeth.

So…if you have a broken tooth, a broken cap (OR a broken crown), Dr. Adam Still at Smile Sarasota can help!

 

Source: The Academy of General Dentistry

Heads Up!

The human head weighs about twelve pounds. But as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds. That’s the burden that comes with staring at a smartphone — the way millions do for hours every day. Over time, researchers say, this poor posture, sometimes called “text neck,” can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, degeneration and even surgery.

Can’t grasp the significance of 60 pounds? Imagine carrying an 8-year-old around your neck several hours per day. Smartphone users spend an average of two to four hours per day hunched over, reading e-mails, sending texts or checking social media sites. That’s 700 to 1,400 hours per year people are putting stress on their spines, according to the research. So…head’s up for health!

To keep your teeth and gums healthy for life, call Smile Sarasota at 941-957-3311!

Preventive Dentistry vs. Neglect

Smile Sarasota tip: don’t wait until something hurts to call us!! Preventive dentistry is the practice of caring for one’s teeth to keep them healthy. This helps to avoid cavities, gum disease, oral cancer, enamel wear, and more. There are many forms of preventive dentistry, such as daily brushing and regular dental cleanings.

It is far more economic to prevent the problem and head off broken teeth and root canals! Call Smile Sarasota today to schedule your preventative dental checkup!

Do you use an ultrasonic toothbrush?

Do you use an ultrasonic toothbrush? If not, what are you waiting for? If you’ve been on fence about switching to an electric/ultrasonic toothbrush we’re here to help. Let’s to review the top benefits of using an ultrasonic  toothbrush:

  • An ultrasonic toothbrush keeps your teeth, gums, and tongue cleaner and healthier: An electric toothbrush’s rotating head features bristles which can reach further thanks to the combination of motion and equal pressure from the brush itself.
  • An ultrasonic  toothbrush makes for longer, more thorough teeth brushing: Most ultrasonic toothbrushes are set for equal time for each quadrant which ensures a better, longer brushing and a great, clean feeling.
  • An ultrasonic  toothbrush does the work for you: Although we mean well our manual brushing can often be too hard for our gums and our own good. An ultrasonic toothbrush not only times your brush but takes the guesswork out of teeth brushing too.
  • An ultrasonic toothbrush is a great way to fight gingivitis and gum disease: Electric toothbrush can find those hard to reach places that you miss with a manual toothbrush.
  • Using an ultrasonic  toothbrush can help you get rid of bad breath: An electric toothbrush and regular flossing can work together to get rid of bad breath by finding and eliminating the food between your teeth.

Where can you buy an ultrasonic  toothbrush? Most any pharmacy, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Amazon, etc. Here at Smile Sarasota, we recommend Philips Sonicare ultrasonic  toothbrushes but there are other choices that are great as well.

Do You Chew?

Do you chew gum? Chewing gum has been proven to increase brain function and overall cognitive thinking as well as suppress appetite. Now, there is an even better reason why we should all be chewing it. Research has been conducted and published that states that chewing gum can remove almost as much intra-oral bacteria as brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing regularly. . ..The gum does have to be sugarless or contain artificial sweeteners to work. Thankfully, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher, David Price in the photo is chewing gum and not tobacco! We’ll discuss tobacco in another post.

Here’s a great article on the history of chewing gum:

http://www.chewinggumfacts.com/chewing-gum-history/history-of-chewing-gum/
http://www.chewinggumfacts.com/chewing-gum-history/history-of-chewing-gum/

Why are my Teeth Sensitive?

Tooth sensitivity can be difficult to deal with, especially when something as simple as drinking water can aggravate it. Teeth sensitivity has many causes, so it’s important to know what could be causing your sensitivity. Read over the list below to figure out what may be causing your teeth sensitivity.

  • Brushing Too Hard: While brushing your teeth thoroughly is important for good oral health, brushing too hard can actually cause damage. Using too much force while brushing or using hard-bristled toothbrushes can wear down your enamel. When the enamel is removed, the nerves in your teeth become exposed, which causes your teeth to feel sensitive. Brush thoroughly, but gently to avoid experiencing sensitivity.
  • Eating the Wrong Foods: Eating a balanced diet isn’t just important for your overall health, it’s extremely important for your oral health as well. Consuming too much sugar will cause the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids that can erode your teeth. After a certain amount of exposure to these acids, your teeth will become sensitive as the nerves become exposed. Keeping sugar and acidic foods to a minimum will reduce the risk of your teeth becoming sensitive.
  • Grinding and Clenching Your Teeth: Many people unconsciously grind and clench their teeth, especially while they sleep. Grinding and clenching your teeth can wear down your enamel. Just like brushing too hard and eating harmful foods, grinding your teeth allows for access to your nerves, ultimately resulting in sensitivity. Wearing a protective night guard can help prevent you from grinding your teeth while you sleep.
  • Teeth Whitening: While whitening your teeth may give you a beautiful smile, it may be causing damage to your teeth. Numerous people experience tooth sensitivity while using whitening strips, so what gives? The harsh ingredients in whitening strips may be brightening your smile, but they are weakening your enamel. To avoid sensitivity, keep teeth whitening to a minimum.
  • Plaque Buildup: Plaque is constantly forming in your mouth, and if it’s not taken care of, it can lead to sensitive teeth. Plaque not only eats away at your teeth but also at your gums, causing sensitivity in both. To reduce plaque buildup, practice a good oral care routine that includes thorough brushing and flossing.
  • Cracked or Chipped Teeth: Cracked and chipped teeth can be rather painful and particularly sensitive. When a tooth is cracked or chipped, the sensitive layer of your tooth is exposed, causing you to feel pain and sensitivity. Schedule a visit with your dentist as soon as possible to address the problem before it gets worse.
  • Gum Disease: Gingivitis and periodontal disease can also cause tooth sensitivity. The gum line often recedes with gum disease, revealing the dentin in your teeth. Dentin is the tissue beneath tooth enamel that, when exposed, results in tooth sensitivity. Be sure to keep up with your oral care routine and see your dentist regularly to reduce your risk of developing gum disease.

Steps to Reduce Tooth Sensitivity

The good news is there are many ways to control sensitive teeth. You can:

  • Brush and floss regularly. Use proper brushing and flossing techniques to thoroughly clean all parts of your teeth and mouth.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Brush gently and carefully around the gum line so you don’t remove gum tissue.
  • Use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Several brands are available. Regular use should make teeth less sensitive. You may need to try several brands to find the product that works best for you. Another tip: Spread a thin layer on the exposed tooth roots with your finger or a Q-tip before you go to bed. Use a fluoridated toothpaste, not a tartar control one.
  • Watch what you eat. Avoid lots of highly acidic foods and drinks.
  • Use fluoridated dental products. Using a fluoridated mouth rinse daily can decrease sensitivity. Ask your dentist about products available for home use.
  • Don’t grind your teeth. Use a mouth guard at night
  • Come in to see usat least every 6 months (or sooner, depending on your condition)

If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, try following some of the suggestions listed above. Also, be sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Still to get to the root of your tooth sensitivity and find a solution.

Are Wisdom Teeth Wiser

So…how did wisdom teeth become known as such? It goes back to the 17thCentury and at that time, they were called “teeth of wisdom. Usually these four molars are the last teeth to develop and erupt much later that your other teeth, normally between age 17 and 25. Since they appear so late this was referred to as the ‘age of wisdom’. The correct terminology wisdom teeth is ‘third molars’. You may not know that they serve little purpose now.

Why? Our wisdom teeth are a throw-back to our earliest ancestors. Our diet once consisted of very dense, course food such as root, nuts and meat. The jaw had to work harder in order to chew which caused the jawbone to develop into a larger, longer bone. As mankind evolved, so did our eating habits.

We now eat a lot of cut, processed foods that are much easier to chew and we simply don’t need the help from those extra molars. Plus, our jaw has become much smaller and this make is difficult to accommodate the wisdom teeth. They become impacted (trapped behind the second molars) and this is why most of us have had our third molars removed.

Tooth Loss and Facial Changes

Yes, Smile Sarasota makes dentures, but our goal is to help you KEEP your teeth and not make dentures. Have you ever seen someone without their dentures in? Their facial structure collapses inward. This is not only due to tooth loss…it is due to bone loss.

This process starts even if there is only one tooth is missing. Forty to sixty percent of the bone is lost in the first few months to one year after a tooth is extracted! Then the jawbone quickly shrinks. This leads to an aged look long before it’s time. The answer: dental implants.

And yes, Smile Sarasota does implant crowns. Give us a call at 941-957-3311 to explore your options and keep that young face!

Well-Being and Dental Health

Sarasota, Florida is a great place to be and tops the list of U.S. major cities with the highest well-being. And…U.S. cities with highest well-being have good dental health! Another big difference: the state of their teeth. It turned out residents of the not-so-content cities were much less likely to have visited a dentist in the last 12 months.

Dan Witters, research director for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. “Good oral health makes a difference in well-being and that’s not something people would normally think about,” Witters said. “People in high well-being cities take good care of their teeth.”

Call Smile Sarasota, meet Dr. Adam Still and have healthy teeth and gums for life!

Read the article here:

Sarasota tops list of major U.S. cities with highest well-being – TODAY.com.

 

 

 

A White Teeth Diet

A tip for having white teeth: Go on a white-teeth diet!

If you’re downing red wine and black tea, or smoking cigarettes or cigars, expect the results to show up as not-so-pearly whites. Other culprits to blame for dingy teeth include colas, gravies, and dark juices. Bottom line: If it’s dark before you put it in your mouth, it will probably stain your teeth. Brush immediately after eating or drinking foods that stain teeth and use a good bleaching agent, either over-the-counter or give us a call to inquire about our Sinsational Smile in-office whitening process. For convenient teeth-cleaning action, eat an apple.

Read more from the source article below:
10 Tips for Whiter Teeth

http://www.rd.com/slideshows/10-tips-for-healthy-whiter-teeth/view-all/

Worth a Thousand Words

There is a lot of information needed for Dr. Still to perform a proper diagnosis. Depending on the reason for your visit to our office, we might make use of one of our favorite diagnostic tools: a digital intra-oral camera. Between a visual exam, x-rays, and sometimes study models for more involved cases, we use the intra-oral camera to diagnose many oral conditions. This technology allows us to see your mouth magnified 50 times, so anything wrong with your teeth or your mouth will be obvious,and can be viewed on a large, flat panel monitor. Simply put, the intra-oral camera allows us to see what an x-ray might not reflect such as micro cracks so small, even magnifying glasses could miss.

Whether it is swollen gums, a crown off, or a lost filling, we now can record all these photos as part of our assessment in just a few clicks and show in more detail the exact condition of your mouth. The intra-oral camera is an incredible tool which allows the doctor and the patient to visualize the condition hiding behind the dental terms. After all a picture is worth a thousand words!

What should you do if you break a tooth?

Chipping or breaking a tooth can be uncomfortable and worrisome. You should react quickly to avoid further damage to the tooth or any discomfort. After chipping or breaking a tooth, contacting us should be the first step. If the incident happens on the weekend or during the night, Dr. Still’s phone number is on our voicemail.

The following tips will help you reduce your discomfort and prepare you for this dental emergency:

  • Salt water rinses: If you are unable to go out and get an antiseptic like eugenol, swishing salt water in the mouth can help to dull the pain. Doing this several times a day creates similar effects to an antiseptic but not quite as potent.
  • Eat soft foods: The chipped tooth can be sensitive and subjecting it to hard food will be more uncomfortable. To avoid more discomfort eat soft or liquid foods and chew in areas of the mouth that are unaffected.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures: In addition to avoiding hard foods, staying away from extremely cold or hot foods is equally important. Chipped teeth are particularly sensitive to temperature. Room temperature and soft food are gentler on sensitive teeth.

Fixing the tooth:

  • Filling: Dr. Still can use a composite restoration to repair small breakages or chips. Fillings are available in tooth-colored porcelain and materials, making them seemingly invisible even if the chip is located in the front teeth. This type of repair is quick, easy and doesn’t typically require any numbing. Though not necessarily permanent, fillings are a good way to quickly repair a small fracture.
  • Crown: Dr. Still might recommend a larger restoration for more extensive chipping and breakage. A crown is a tooth-shaped topper placed over the broken tooth after the breakage has been reshaped and smoothed. We fabricate both laboratory crowns and the same-day CEREC crowns. Dr. Still will make the determination as to what is best for your situation.

Any type of chip or fracture to your teeth is considered a dental emergency. You should contact us as soon as you can! We are here Monday-Thursday for same-day emergency pain relief, and broken or lost crowns. We can help!

We Combine the Passion of Yesterday with the Technology of Today

So what does compassion mean when choosing a dental office? Compassion requires the ability to identify with a patient’s overall well-being. Relieving pain and suffering is a common attribute of dental practice. Acts of kindness and a sympathetic ear for the patient are all qualities of a caring, compassionate dentist.  We feel that the most important person should be you, the patient. We put you and your comfort at the top of our priority list. Dr. Still sees only one patient at a time, so you will never feel like a number at the bottom of a chart. At Smile Sarasota, compassion is part of the services offered…we care about you, your needs, and you can feel it from the moment of your first contact with our office.

So what does technology have to do with compassion? In the ‘Old Days’ of dentistry (about 15 years ago!) most dental offices were not digital. X-rays were taken and developed using the ‘wet’ method and diagnosing from them was not nearly as accurate as the images we are able to view in today’s modern office. We can enlarge and zoom in and see details like never before and share these views with the patient on large, overhead monitors so you, the patient, have a clear understanding of the treatment Dr. Still may recommend. We can find out more about your mouth and teeth now than ever before, usually without you feeling a thing.  Smile Sarasota is also pleased to offer another advanced dental technology to our patients: CEREC® is a revolutionary technology that eliminates the need of temporary crowns and multiple visits. At your next appointment, ask the Dr. Still if this technology is right for you! Through the use of this new technology, we can save more of the healthy tooth structure while creating beautiful, tooth-colored porcelain restorations that are durable and metal free.

Dr. Still’s motto is to always “do the right thing” for our patients. Most successful dentists and practices outline and follow a comprehensive, health-centered, ideal treatment approach for patient care. Patients will be able to make educated, well-informed decisions about their care. Dentistry is a wonderful profession that has the ability to vastly improve the quality of life, health, well-being, and self-esteem for our patients.

At Smile Sarasota, we make the care of our patients our first concern, and no, this is not always in case in some dental offices whose bottom line tends to be the first concern. Here’s a secret. Where you find great service, you’re likely to find superior quality. They go hand in hand. It’s all about dedication to excellence, and that dedication extends to all aspects. Go to a modern, high tech dentist like ours and find out for yourself what it’s like. You will be pleasantly surprised!

We see a lot of patients every day, and let’s face it, most of them do not really run to a dentist’s office as if they were going for a massage, or have their hair styled. After getting to know us here at Smile Sarasota, our patients leave, hugging us and looking forward to seeing us again. For those who have had extensive work, some actually say that they are going to miss seeing us once their treatment is over. Yes, you’ve read it right! And it is the most rewarding part of our job: putting smiles back on our patients’ faces. We can honestly say that beside the excellent dentistry we provide, hearing these beautiful kind words from our patients is one of our favorite parts of the treatment. We believe we have this effect on patients thanks to the great deal of compassion that comes with our treatments. Dr. Still and his dedicated staff bring the expertise to provide you with a refined, tech-savvy and compassionate experience.

I ONLY WANT TO HAVE MY TEETH CLEANED!

Many of our new patients here at Smile Sarasota ask “Why do I need to see the dentist for a comprehensive exam before I can have my teeth cleaned? I only want a cleaning!” Well, to be quite blunt…in the state of Florida, IT’S THE LAW! Here is the exact wording of that law:

Title XXXII REGULATION OF PROFESSIONS AND OCCUPATIONS
Chapter 466 DENTISTRY, DENTAL HYGIENE, AND DENTAL LABORATORIES

466.024 (2) 1. A dentist licensed under this chapter or a physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459 must give medical clearance before a dental hygienist removes calculus deposits, accretions, and stains from exposed surfaces of the teeth or from tooth surfaces within the gingival sulcus.

On a more practical level, we can only determine what type of cleaning a new dental patient needs with a comprehensive examination of the teeth and gums. We will also assess tooth structure and identify many other potential issues that may preclude a teeth cleaning. Also, the information we gain through your medical and dental histories along with the various assessments made along the route of learning about your oral and general health leads to preventive and treatment planning that will address your unique situation. Some of the things determined at your comprehensive exam are:

  • Do you have signs of Oral Cancer?
  • Do you have Gum Disease?
  • Do you have signs of broken teeth, broken fillings, or cavities?
  • Are your X-rays current?
  • What kind of teeth cleaning do you need?

If you wish to schedule a cleaning the same day as your initial exam, this can be done. Our initial examination combined with a cleaning takes about 2 ½ hours due to its comprehensive nature and the fact that our philosophy is to get to know you so we can determine the type of dental treatment that is perfect for you. You will become healthier both orally and in general. To schedule your comprehensive exam with Dr. Still and your first teeth cleaning appointment with one of our excellent hygienists, give us a call at 941-957-3311.

Are You Stressed?

Everybody feels stress and knows it intimately, but very few of us think about what stress actually is. Stress is a thought. That’s it. No more, no less. If that’s true, then we have complete control over stress, because it’s not something that happens to us but something that happens in us. And when things get out of control, which they do, simply make a gentle U-turn. It’s like a GPS for your soul. Your GPS doesn’t yell at you and call you stupid or judge you for taking a wrong turn. In the sweetest voice imaginable, the GPS reminds you to take the next possible U-turn. Each of us has to find out how to make our own U-turn. Here’s a few suggestions on making U-turns:

1. Move. The best way to burn off the stress hormones without having to change your thinking is to move and sweat. Run, dance, jump, ride, swim, stretch, or skip—do something vigorous and lively. Yoga is also fabulous, as it combines movement and breathing.

2. Breathe. Most of us hold our breath often or breathe swallow, anxious breaths. Deep, slow, full breaths have a profound affect on resetting the stress response, because the relaxation nerve (or vagus nerve and not the Las Vegas nerve) goes through your diaphragm and is activated with every deep breath. Take five deep breaths now, and observe how differently you feel after.

3. Sleep. Lack of sleep increases stress hormones. Get your eight hours no matter what. Take a nap if you missed your sleep. Prioritize sleep.

4. Think Differently. Practice the art of noticing stress, noticing how your thinking makes you stressed. Practice taking deep breaths and letting go of worry.

Protect Your Cosmetic Dentistry

Smile Sarasota does a lot of cosmetic dentistry. Cosmetic dentistry is a branch of medicine that is trending these days, and people are becoming more and more conscious of the fact that good oral health is important.

After you have gone through cosmetic dentistry treatment such as dental implants or cosmetic crowns or veneers you need to protect your teeth from hazards just as you would with natural teeth. Just because you have a crown it doesn’t mean it will never break! Crowns are just like your natural teeth. Restorative dental work can chip, break or go through discolorations, if you don’t take care properly of your teeth. The following are a few things you should know if you want to keep that beautiful smile for a long time to come:

  1. Porcelain (and natural teeth) can break extremely easily if you chew on popcorn daily, eat hard candies, chew ice.
  2. Don’t use toothpastes that contain abrasive ingredients such as baking soda. By using such toothpaste regularly, the beautiful shine of your teeth will fade, and they will look dull.
  3. Protect yourself from the harmful effects of teeth grinding at night. Make sure to wear a night guard, especially if you have problems with grinding your teeth at night.

Lessons from Geese

This holiday season, Smile Sarasota is grateful for the gift of work colleagues, friends and family that makes a difference in the world within such a rich network of people. As strange as it may sound, let’s compare this with geese! Think about a family of geese, and their strategies to ensure the survival and ultimate success of their entire flock. This is akin to friends, colleagues, and loved ones who circle back around, taking the lead when we tire, encouraging us forward, never once considering leaving us behind… knowing there will come a day when I will take my turn in the lead.

Nature ultimately makes no mistakes so enjoy the inherent lessons for all of us embedded in Mother Nature’s classroom. If you Google this phenomenon with geese you will find the following facts.  Perhaps you have seen this before, and if so, it’s worth the revisit.

Fact One:  As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an “uplift” for the other birds to follow.  By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.

Fact Two:  When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone.  It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

Fact Three:  When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the front position.

Fact Four: The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Fact Five:  When a goose is sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it.  They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again.  They then launch out to catch up with the flock or rejoin another formation.

 

Balancing Act

Life itself is a balancing act. Over-committed. Distracted. Stressed out. Stretched too thin. This is how many of us describe ourselves today. And not just during the Holidays! We aren’t born able to balance. We learn to sit up, to crawl, to walk. We learn to run, to ride a bike, perhaps to skate or ski. Part of the process is wobbling, falling over, picking ourselves up, and starting again.

We’re constantly negotiating between different pressures and demands – work, family, friends, volunteering. And we’re also seeking balance within ourselves: a balance between short-term gratification (that giant slab of chocolate cake) and long-term rewards (our health). It is too easy in all of our busy lives to try to finish the endless to-do list, to rush onto the next chore and forget to take a deep breath or enjoy our accomplishments.   The reality is in that in order to achieve some balance in your life you must work at it. Job success and fulfillment in your family and interpersonal relationships take some effort. Step with care and great tact, and remember… Life is a Great Balancing Act.

The guy in the video below has one kind of balance figured out!

Freedom of Choice

A while back, one of our hygienists asked the front desk here at Smile Sarasota to research the differences between several kinds of Crest toothpaste. We were amazed at the all the choices – there are 12, and this was just Crest! Retailers sell about 353 types and sizes of toothpaste. In 2010, 69 new kinds of toothpaste were introduced to consumers. (and this was 4 years ago!) Both of these figures actually represent a decrease from previous years, when more than 400 varieties of toothpaste lined store shelves and over 100 new products came out annually! Consider this list:

  • 85 different varieties and brands of crackers.
  • 285 varieties of cookies.
  • 165 varieties of “juice drinks”
  • 75 iced teas
  • 95 varieties of snacks (chips, pretzels, etc.)
  • 61 varieties of sun tan oil and sunblock
  • 80 different pain relievers
  • 360 types of shampoo, conditioner, gel, and mousse.
  • 90 different cold remedies and decongestants.
  • 230 soups, including 29 different chicken soups
  • 120 different pasta sauces
  • 175 different salad dressings and if none of them suited, 15 extra-virgin olive oils and 42 vinegars and make one’s own.
  • 275 varieties of cereal

At the time we were researching the toothpaste choices, we were asked by one of our patients to donate toothpaste and toothbrushes for a mission trip he was taking to Cuba, which we were happy to do. When he returned, he reported about the extreme poverty and the fact that the people of Cuba have no choices. “Grocery stores had a very poor variety and selection of products.” This got us thinking about freedom and about how many choices we have compared to other parts of the world.

In his book, The Paradox of Choice – Why More is LessBarry Schwartz states that in the United States, we live in a time and a place in which freedom and autonomy are valued above all else and in which expanded opportunities for “self-determination” are regarded as a sign of the psychological well-being of individuals and the moral well-being of the culture. And we take choice as the critical sign that we have freedom and autonomy. But he also states that having too many things to choose from often leads to the consumer feeling bewildered when facing the choice, and less satisfied even after making a decision. He cites studies that indicate people are less likely to buy a product when faced with too many choices. Beyond ‘choice paralysis’ caused by too many choices, an abundance of choice is also likely to produce worse decisions because people attempt to simplify the choice to a point where the simplification impedes their ability to make a good choice. Isn’t it strange that having too many choices can actually impede our freedom? Barry’s suggestion for alleviating the anxiety we feel from choices is to voluntarily limit the number of items you consider. The people in Cuba don’t have to worry about that.

Now for the big question: Which toothpaste should you be using? For what can be a confusing shopping decision, the answer, blessedly, is remarkably simple. Just make sure it has fluoride and has the American Dental Association seal. So long as it meets these criteria (and most toothpastes do), the best advice is to pick a toothpaste with a flavor and taste you like, simply because then you’ll be more likely to brush.

And…be thankful for FREEDOM!

It’s Not Really Dental Insurance

Hardly a day goes by that Smile Sarasota doesn’t have a call from a prospective new patient asking if we ‘accept assignment’ for their dental insurance. We do not. We are a ‘fee-for-service’ practice – our patients pay at the time of service and we are glad to file claims with the insurance reimbursement going directly to our patients. Often, the patient will appoint anyway, but some do not. Those who do not will eventually find out that dental insurance is not all that helpful.

Many patients think their dental insurance is health insurance.  Not unreasonable to assume, by the way, but completely wrong.  Dental insurance is really just a discount plan on some basic procedures. Also, in many ways it is the opposite of health insurance coverage, because the more catastrophic your need in health care, the better your coverage.  Not true at all with dental plans.

Your plan was chosen and designed by your employer to save you some money on your dental care, but it doesn’t relate at all to your personal dental needs.  It’s our job to tell you what you need to keep all your teeth, and keep them healthy, and most of the time there will be a cost to you. But it’s probably one of the best investments you can make in your health and the quality of your life.

Forty years ago, dental insurance benefits averaged $1,000 per year, which was the equivalent of around $8,000 today. Here is the kicker; the average insurance plan is still close to $1,000. Here are the facts and fiction of what everyone calls “dental insurance.”

Fiction: You have a major medical problem, which includes surgery and hospitalization. You expect your insurance to take care of the major expenses after the deductible, and it does. You would think dental insurance works the same way, but it doesn’t. Just calling it insurance is complete and total fiction.

Fact: People who think they have dental insurance really only have limited and restricted benefits that are controlled by an insurance company. A dental benefit is more like a coupon. It is only worth what the insurance company says its worth. It has nothing to do with what the dentist charges.

Fiction: To believe these two statements are true “My dental insurance will pay for it,” or “My dental insurance will pay 80 percent” is, in fact, fiction. They will pay a small portion of some procedures, up to the yearly limit, which is usually $1500 or less, minus the deductible.

Fact: In 1972, $1,000 was a lot of money. That year, you could buy a brand new Buick for $3,000. Crown fees were around $250 and the insurance company paid well. Basically, a patient could get two or three crowns a year on old broken down, filled teeth and in a few years, their mouth was fixed. Plus, the patient could get two cleanings a year and not even max out their insurance. It was a great deal for patients and dentists. If benefits kept up with inflation and raised the benefit ceiling each and every year with today’s benefit close to $8,000, people would still have a good deal. As it is, today’s crown price for one tooth will basically wipe out a year’s benefit.

Fact: Today’s dentistry is nothing like it was 40 years ago. If patients had problems, the choices were to pull, fill or crown. Today’s dentistry serves the patients with some of the most advanced, pain-free techniques in medicine. These procedures are not even covered by the dental benefit contract, or the procedures cost more than the paltry yearly benefit. Back then, there was no such thing as Managed Care. Today’s insurance companies want you to choose a dentist based on cost and assume that all doctors are equally talented, knowledgeable, caring, ethical, available and personable – and that just isn’t true. The dentist making the deal with the insurance company may take a cut up to 30 to 50 percent. In order for them to stay in business, they have to see more people, do more procedures and cut costs in some manner. And even though it is a managed care system, dental benefits still acts as a coupon and not insurance.

Fiction: The dentist and dental team should understand a person’s dental benefit, what it will cover, pay, etc.

Fact: The contract is between the employer, employee and insurance company. The dentist has no role to play whatsoever; they are simply caught in the middle. Dentists, as a whole, are great people who love to help others. They try very hard to accommodate by hiring extra staff just to handle the paperwork, phone calls, etc., that insurance companies require.

Most important: Never let an impersonal insurance company dictate your dental care. They couldn’t care less about your health, comfort, peace of mind or appearance. Be happy you have that coupon for some dollars off, but never expect them to rebuild your burned-down house.

Credits: Fred Joyal and Dr. Mac Lee