Pickin’ and Grinnin’

Smile Sarasota constantly reminds you to make sure you clean between your teeth and there are plenty of people who would much rather use a toothpick than dental floss! And guess what? The toothpick has been around longer than mankind. The skulls of Neanderthals, as well as Homo sapiens, have shown clear signs of having teeth that were picked with a tool, according to anthropologists. Since ancient times, men of note have used toothpicks. For centuries, the upper classes used elegant toothpicks often made of gold, silver or ivory and inlaid with precious stones. The tool became so popular that a body of etiquette grew up around its use. The permanent crafted toothpick also became a notable dowry item.

And did you know that toothpicks predate the toothbrush? The Roman Emperor Nero was known to appear at banquets with a silver toothpick between his lips and he evidently believed in oral hygiene. In Europe, toothbrushes made from boar- or horse-hair had been introduced from China, but toothpicks remained the tool of choice until brushing became more common in the 19th century. Ordinary people used sharpened sticks or goose quills, whilst the more well-to-do used luxury toothpicks stylized in precious metals or set with gems. In Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing, the main character, Benedick, offers to find Don Pedro “a tooth-picker from the furthest inch of Asia.”

In those early periods of our history, various types of soft and hard wood were used as a tool for oral hygiene, soft grass to floss and chewing of sticks until one end of it became soft and perfect for brushing teeth. These kind of chewed sticks were found many times in the areas where our prehistoric ancestors lived. As for the toothpicks, they were created from any number of available materials – wood, bone, ivory, shells, bird claws, walrus whiskers and many others. The arrival of metal age brought a revolution in toothpick use and creation. Even the earliest age of bronze metalwork in Northern Italy and East Alps produced small and slim bronze toothpicks. This tradition of metal toothpicks continued through the ages, and high profile citizens of Roman Empire liked to use pieces made from silver and bronze. Famous Roman Emperor Nero was famous for his public use of silver toothpicks on some festive occasions. After the fall of Roman Empire, other nations continued to refine and create toothpicks from many materials that they found around them. Norse Vikings used wooden toothpicks, others used frontal teeth of lizard attached to small sticks, and some countries like Japan produced very strict rules and rituals regarding the use of toothpicks.

Fashion of 17th century Europe nobility brought the rise of very extravagant gem encrusted metal toothpicks, accompanied with simpler and more easily manufactured porcupine quills and simple wooden sticks. The largest toothpick manufactory in the United States was founded by Charles Forster of Boston, who created a market for disposable toothpicks by having Harvard students eat at local restaurants, then loudly demand a toothpick after finishing their meals. The factory he founded, Forsters, Inc., manufactured toothpicks in Strong, Maine, where Forster found the kind of wood he deemed best for toothpick making. There, it took about ten people and a lot of computer-driven machinery to put out an average of 20 million toothpicks daily. The factory closed in 2003.

People have found far more elaborate uses for toothpicks than picking the teeth, however. A man named Joe King used 110,000 toothpicks to build a 23-foot-high likeness of the Eiffel Tower. Wayne Kusy of Evanston, Illinois, used 193,000 toothpicks to create a 16-foot-long replica of the British luxury liner Lusitania. Every year hundreds of billion toothpicks are used by the people around the world, most notably around 200 billion annually just in China, where use of toothpicks represent important after-meal ritual.

While Dr. Still prefers dental floss to toothpicks, history has shown us that toothpicks have been a part of human culture far longer and used more diligently!

 

Sources and Credits: Eatingutensils.net, The Smithsonian Museum, Pit Rivers Museum, Arizona State University, Bennion, E 1986 Antique Dental Instruments, London: Sotheby’s Publ.; Foley, GPH 1972 Foley’s Footnotes: A Treasury of Dentistry, Wallingford, PA: Washington Square East Publ; Petroski, H 2007 The Toothpick: Technology and Culture, New York, NY: Random House.

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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Does your smile say it all?

George Washington was born on February 22nd and of all the United States presidents, he was known to have the most discussion about his teeth. They were so awful teeth, he did not smile. Does your smile say it all? Most people think so. In a recent survey, 92.4% of North Americans agreed that an attractive smile is an important social asset, and 74% thought that an unattractive smile hurts a person’s chances of career success. But only half of us were satisfied with our smile! Without a doubt, your smile is one of your most powerful possessions.

Before humans learned to talk, our smiles could literally mean the difference between life and death. Researchers believe that our smiles developed as a means of avoiding aggression. For instance, if your lips were pulled back to reveal all your front teeth, this would mean you were ready for a fight. But we learned to stretch our lips sideways, and thereby partially cover our teeth to indicate a peaceful, non-aggressive greeting … and guess what? The smile was born! Keeping a beautiful smile is another thing…historically and today.

Throughout most of George Washington’s life he had problems of continuing deterioration of his teeth.  This caused him a lot of pain, and none of the dentists he went to knew what to do besides take them out. Slowly but surely all of Washington’s teeth were extracted. Finally, George had to have false teeth made. They were made out of hippopotamus ivory and cow’s tooth, carved by hand, and held in his mouth with metal springs. These false teeth were a little large for his mouth, creating a peculiar expression, which is exhibited in many of his portraits

Those were innocent, if dangerous, times. Today, for police officers (and poker players) there are few things worse than a cool liar with a fake smile. Today’s cosmetic dentistry allows us to give you a beautiful, natural smile. A thorough evaluation at our Smile Sarasota office can help you decide which type of aesthetic treatment is best for you. Whatever course of cosmetic treatment you choose, the results will give you something to smile about every time you look in the mirror!

At our office, we’re cosmetic smile experts, and we can certainly help to make your smile the best it can possibly be – for you and your self-esteem. Or even for your next poker game! Give us a call today and set up a consultation with Dr. Still!

Hanging by a Thread

Your Health is Hanging by a Thread – The Story of Dental Floss

When you think about New Orleans, you probably do not think of dental floss. New Orleans is the birthplace of a wonderful marvel of modern dentistry – dental floss! The exact date of the first use of dental floss is unknown but researchers found evidence that floss existed in prehistoric times. Grooves from floss and toothpicks have been found in the mouths of prehistoric humans. It is suggested that horse hair was used as floss and twigs were used as toothpicks to dislodge anything from the teeth. (More about toothpicks in another post!) Here is the evolution of dental floss, beginning in 1815:

  • 1815: American dentist, Dr. Levi Spear Parmly introduces the idea of using waxed silken thread as floss. Later in his career, he published a book, A Practical Guide to the Management of Teeth, which emphasized the importance of brushing and flossing daily.
  • 1882: Unwaxed silk floss is mass-produced by the Codman and Shurleft Company.
  • 1898: The first dental floss patent is granted to Johnson & Johnson.
  • 1940s: Due to rising costs of silk during World War II and its tendency to shred, nylon replaces silk as the main material in floss. This development is credited to Dr. Charles Bass, who is also known for making floss and essential part of daily oral hygiene.
  • 1980s: The first interdental brush is invented as an alternative to flossing.
  • Today: Floss has evolved a lot over time. Today we are seeing the use of Gore-Tex in some varieties, and the addition of spongy floss and soft floss for sensitive gums. Floss picks have also become quite popular and simplify the process of flossing posterior teeth and flossing around braces.
The early innovators had no idea how important flossing on a regular basis really is not only to tooth health but also to your overall health. You hear over and over again from Dr. Still and our hygienists that flossing is just as important as brushing, but studies suggest that a very large number of people may brush their teeth but still forgo flossing. Bad, bad, bad!

The reason flossing is so important to tooth health is that while brushing may clean the surfaces of teeth, a tooth brush cannot reach the tight spaces between the teeth where bits of food and bacteria build up. This bacteria and its by-products turn into a sticky substance called plaque in as soon as 26 hours, which then hardens into tartar, a dental calculus, which is mineralized onto the teeth and very difficult to remove.

After your teeth have tartar, it only gets worse from there. Not flossing will lead you through a downward spiral of the breakdown of your tooth enamel; horrible breath due to tooth decay and cavities…and gingivitis. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and depicts red and swollen gums. As the tarter and bacteria increase between the teeth and under the gums, periodontitis or severe gum disease then occurs. It causes bone and tooth loss and is also characterized by extreme gum inflammation.

Not flossing your teeth can break your heart…literally. Through the mouth, harmful bacteria that flourish there have a direct path to your circulatory system. This bacteria causes heart disease, respiratory illnesses and even diabetes. Since the leading cause of death in America is heart disease, and more and more Americans are getting diabetes as each year goes by, making sure to floss is not only great dental advice, it is also great advice for living well. It only takes a few minutes each day and can help achieve better overall health to live a higher quality of life. Call Smile Sarasota if you have any questions! If you have any questions about flossing, our fabulous Smile Sarasota hygienists will be happy to answer them!

Learn more here about HOW to properly floss!

 

Sources and credits: speareducation.com

Paul Revere Was a Dentist!

Do you watch CSI, or Bones? They often rely on forensics to identify remains. Dr. Still is not a forensic dentist, but we thought this topic was very interesting! Throughout history, dental forensics has played an important role. As dental professionals, we continue to play a key role by keeping quality records on each patient. This is done by keeping records legible, accurate, and current, which of course, Smile Sarasota does. The role of forensic dentistry plays a major role in the identification of those individuals who cannot be identified visually or other means. The unique nature of our dental anatomy and the placement of custom restorations ensure accuracy when the techniques are correctly employed.

In addition, when  Dr. Still performs an comprehensive examination, he documents abnormalities even bruising or bite marks. This information will be significant to an investigation of crime or abuse. Those dental professionals interested in assisting with identification of human remains when a mass disaster occurs can do so either at the local, state or federal level. Therefore, all dental professionals do take part in one way or another in forensic dentistry.

Bundy was recaptured in February 1978 and eventually went on trial for the murders he committed in the Chi Omega house. The bite mark was the only piece of physical evidence that he left at the scene. Investigators took plaster casts of Bundy’s teeth, which showed that his teeth were unevenly aligned and that several of them were chipped. A forensic dentist was able to show that these casts matched with photographs of the bite mark from the body of Lisa Levy. This evidence was instrumental in his conviction; if Bundy hadn’t bitten Lisa Levy while assaulting her, he may not have been found guilty. The Bundy case is just one example of how our teeth can uniquely identify us.

Another famous foray into forensic dentistry was that of Paul Revere, who in addition to being a blacksmith was also a dentist. He helped identify Revolutionary War dead who had been buried on the battlefield by their teeth and dental work. Revere was able to identify Dr. Joseph Warren, the man who sent him on his famous ride, because he had made him a partial out of silver wire and pieces of hippo tusk.

Dentistry has much to offer law enforcement in the detection and solution of crime or in civil proceedings. Dental professionals have a major role to play in keeping accurate dental records and providing all necessary information so that legal authorities may recognize malpractice, negligence, fraud or abuse, and identify unknown humans.

 

 

Credits: How Stuff Works, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dentalcare.com

Part 2: Gum Recession – Why Your Hygienist is Counting Out Loud

In Part I of this Blog post, we discussed measuring pocket depth. Recession and pocketing are not the same. When measuring pockets or “probing”, a periodontal probe is placed down in-between the tooth and gums to determine where the attachment of gum starts and helps determine the general periodontal or gum health. Recession is the loss of gum tissue from around the tooth thus exposing the root. With gum recession, this exposed root makes the tooth more susceptible to decay and can cause the teeth to be sensitive. Every two years, your hygienist will use a periodontal probe to measure the distance between the crown of the tooth and the edge of the gum. If the measurements keep increasing, we will address steps to arrest the situation.

The most obvious symptom of gum recession is the visible shift of gum tissue down the root of the tooth, causing the yellow dentin to be exposed. Normally, the roots of your teeth are covered by gum tissue.

Many factors may cause the gums to recede. These include:

  • Badly positioned teeth
  • Gum inflammation and periodontal disease
  • Aggressive tooth brushing

Teeth with exposed roots can have several problems:

  • Sensitivity to changes in temperature
  • Food packing
  • Increased risk of decay
  • Unattractive appearance
  • Long teeth – “long in the tooth”
  • Spaces between teeth

Treatment for gum recession depends on the cause. If the gums become unattached from the tooth, it’s important to treat recession to maintain the tooth in the mouth.

  • If the cause is from brushing too hard, your hygienist will show you a better way to brush to help prevent new damage.
  • If the cause if periodontal disease, we may recommend periodontal therapy or “deep cleaning” to help gum tissue heal and hopefully reattach to the tooth.
  • If the recession is advanced, we may recommend a gum graft. A thin piece of skin usually taken from the roof of the mouth is attached where the gum has receded to arrest further migration of the gum tissue.

So when you hear Ann or Claire counting out loud and have any questions, they will be happy to explain!

Can You Save a Life?

What the heck are we doing to each other??!! Pictured is Bill Sullivan of the American Heart Association, with Dr. Still, Liz and Lori,  brushing up on the life saving skills of CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), use of an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) and the Heimlich Maneuver, now called the Abdominal Thrust, which could save someone from choking.

The ability to perform CPR and to know how to use an automatic external defibrillator can make a lifesaving difference when someone suffers a cardiac or breathing emergency.

If every American takes a class and gets their CPR certification, then thousands of deaths could be prevented each year. Do not hesitate to learn the skills that you can use to save a life. Would you rather stand by and watch the individual die or be able to save him/her from certain death? Our entire staff is certified.

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/

The Spit Bowl

Depending upon your age, you may remember sitting in the dental chair and to your left was a bowl that was used to spit in. (The correct name for this bowl is a cuspidor.) Ever wonder why most dental offices no longer use them? It’s pretty simple if you think about it…first, the running water. It ran and ran and ran all day long. While you may think this washed out bacteria and other gook, think again, and that thought may make you say ICK, hence the second reason dental offices no longer use the spit bowl. Ick.

At Smile Sarasota, it goes unsaid that we practice the latest sterilization techniques. But also, we are very conscious of not wasting resources and not polluting the environment. All our paper records are now digital and we no longer use paper charts. We confirm appointments electronically to help eliminate mailing postcard reminders and appointment cards.

We have been using digital X-rays for many years and this eliminated all the developing chemicals. We have not used amalgam (which contains mercury) for many, many years. We are switching to LED lights to save energy. And…we DO NOT use the spit bowl – this can save up to 500 gallons per day, per treatment room! Our office is committed to continuing our efforts to make a difference to our environment.

“We never know the worth of water until the well is dry”. Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

Dental Implants Are Not New!

We tend to think of dental implants as a modern marvel, and in their current form, they are. But what many people don’t realize is that the idea behind dental implants has been around for centuries. In fact, the very first dental implant is attributed to the Mayans and dates back to 600 AD. It only took us 1,400 years to develop a tooth replacement of a similar kind!

The most notable implant discovery came in 1931, when an archeologist in Honduras found the mandible of a Mayan woman thought to be in her twenties. The mandible contained three tooth-shaped seashells inserted into the sockets that once held teeth. At first, scientists believed the shells were inserted post-mortem, but in 1970, a curious dental academic discovered that bone had grown around the seashells, meaning they served as tooth replacements while the woman was alive.

Dental implants were not exclusive to South and Central America, though. Ancient Egyptian mummies have been unearthed with gold wires implanted in their jawbones. In the Middle East, skeletons have been found with ivory implants. Most recently, anthropologists discovered an iron implant in the jawbone of a Roman soldier.

The father of the modern dental implant, Swedish orthopedic surgeon Per-Ingvar Brånemark, made his implant discovery in the mid 1960’s. While researching bone healing, he discovered that bone tissue would fuse to the metal titanium. Over the next several years, he performed experiments and published studies, eventually commercializing implants in 1978. Today, millions of implants have been placed under his name, and even more implant companies have used his patent.

It’s hard to believe that implants in their modern form have only been around for just over 40 years. But with thousands of years in the making, it’s no wonder they have maintained a 95-98% success rate, making them popular with dentists and patients alike. If you have missing teeth, call us today for a consultation to learn more!

History of Flossing

We know all of you floss every day…right? Flossing & cleaning between the teeth has been going on a long time. Researchers have found dental floss and toothpick grooves in the teeth of prehistoric humans. Take a look at the timeline below to learn when floss was invented and how it became a popular oral hygiene tool.

Early 1800s
Dr. Levi Spear Parmly, an American dentist from New Orleans, is credited with its invention (or reinvention) of dental floss. At the time, a lot of people were not brushing their teeth because toothbrushes were too expensive. Concerned by the condition of his patients’ teeth, Dr. Parmly wrote about the importance of brushing with toothpaste and flossing (with waxed silken thread) in his book, A Practical Guide to the Management of Teeth.

1882
The Codman and Shurtleft Company began to mass-produce unwaxed silk floss.
1898
Johnson and Johnson was the first company to receive a patent for dental floss.
1940’s
It was during World War II that Dr. Charles Bass introduced nylon floss as a substitute for silk floss. Dr. Bass also is known for making flossing an important part of oral hygiene.
Today
There are many types of dental floss, including waxed or unwaxed and flavored varieties.

If you have any questions about flossing, our fabulous Hygienists here at Smile Sarasota can help!

From the Pennsylvania Dental Association