Thursday, February 22, 2018

2-22 Dental Day

Happy February 22! Today marks the first 2-22 Dental Day. I created it to celebrate the two-two-two dental hygiene rule: Brush two times a day for two minutes and have a dental check-up two times a year. The mouth and it's health is so important and taking care of it can really pay off.

There are other dental themed days and months in the United States. November is National Dental Hygiene Month and February is National Children's Dental Health Month. On the first Friday of February, called Give Kids a Smile Day, many dentist and dental professionals donate their time and services to kids needing dental care. April marks National Facial Protection Month to promote the use of mouth guards and sports safety.

It is estimated that over 80%-90% of adults have dental issues so there is room for improvement. Each February 22nd can be a reminder to everyone to care for their mouths and teeth. The mouth is such an important part of the body but is often neglected. 2-22 Dental Day is a day to celebrate the importance of having a healthy mouth. Brushing twice daily for two minutes and getting regular dental check-ups two times a year along with daily flossing, can prevent cavities, save time and money and contribute to overall health. It’s such a simple way to treat oneself to good health.

Please visit my 2-22 Dental Day FaceBook page, too. It contains some fun and interesting information. I hope you enjoy it.

(FYI: 2-22 Dental Day is not sponsored by or associated with any organization or agency nor does it sell or promote or endorse any product. The 2-22 Dental Day logo, media, and content were created by Yvonne M. for educational, informational, and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be a replacement for, or diagnosis of, any dental or medical condition. Persons needing medical or dental help should consult their personal health care providers.)

Friday, January 26, 2018

Mind your mouth

So many people are struggle with alcohol and drug abuse. Poor mental health and risky behaviors can be devastating to the body and lead to poor physical health, including poor oral health.

Depression and stress can cause people to grind their teeth to the point of fracture. Eating disorders, like bulimia and anorexia nervosa, where the person throws up frequently, can cause tooth erosion, problems with the tongue, and difficulty swallowing . 

Tobacco use leads to stained teeth and eventually causes tooth loss because the gums and jaw bone have been affected. Pot users experience dry mouth and greenish-black staining on the teeth. Because marijuana burns at a hotter temperature than tobacco, pot smokers subject the tissue of their mouths to a high degree of heat. Research has now shown that e-cigarettes and vape are also damaging to the health, whether or not they contain nicotine (however, there may be merit to using e-cigs for to quit smoking tobacco.)

Alcohol abuse dries out the tissues of the mouth and can damage the salivary glands as well. Habitual use of alcohol and tobacco are known to put people at risk for oral cancers. Drinkers who also smoke are at a seventy-times higher risk of developing cancer versus those who use either tobacco or alcohol alone. 

People who use cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin, experience a multitude of dental health problems including stained and decayed teeth, loose teeth, dry mouth, inflammation of the mouth and gums, and sinus problems.

Drug and alcohol abuse affect every part of a person’s overall health but there are many ways to get help. If you are struggling with an addiction or feeling overwhelmed, please speak with someone today. You can’t keep your body healthy if your mind is hurting.

January 22 - 28 is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. For resource and other information visit:

This blog is not intended to treat or cure any disease. If you need medical or dental treatment, please seek the help of a doctor or dentist.

Take time to smell the floss

Many people who feel they take great care of their teeth still aren’t flossing or aren’t flossing every day. Not flossing between the teeth can result in cavities between the teeth and for those who already have fillings or caps, decay that returns.

Not flossing is like taking a shower and washing your face, but not washing your hair or ears. Just like your body would not feel properly cleaned, your teeth aren’t cleaned thoroughly if they aren’t flossed.

I have recently started asking my patients to up their flossing game. The suggestion I am now making may sound like an odd one, but it comes from the dental health presentations that I have given to tens of thousands of students of all ages:

Floss your teeth, then take the string or the floss pick and smell it. It will stink. There is nothing like that smell. 

If you find that you have smelly breath or a bad taste in your mouth even though you brush faithfully, you will now understand why and this practice will encourage you to continue to floss. 
Smell the floss - ym'18

If you haven’t flossed in a while, your gums will bleed and that can be very disturbing. Keep flossing. The bleeding will subside and eventually stop. The smell of those plaque germs on the floss, however, will be there every time reminding you to get those sticky, stinky germs out of your mouth. So my advice is take time to smell the floss. Your reward is healthy teeth and a beautiful smile.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Devious Devices

Snooping through your pre-teen or teen’s backpack and find nothing that alarms you?

Flash drive? photo: YM

But maybe you should take a second look. That slender tube that looks like a stylus pen or that ordinary looking flash drive may actually be an electronic device used for smoking or vaping.

E-cigarette and vape delivery systems are devious devices. Google the words vape, e-cigs, or juuling and you will find products and delivery systems that look cool and sophisticated. You have discovered the new world of smoking. Many of the liquids, crystals, and pods used with these devices have the addictive chemical nicotine contained in tobacco although the presence or absence of nicotine does not make these products any safer for anyone to use.

E-cigarette and vaping devices have also removed the telltale signs of a very unhealthy habit: the smell and the staining of the teeth.

The smell of traditional cigarettes and of marijuana is very distinctive. E-devices eliminate or greatly reduce the odor and make it easier to avoid detection. (Been to a rock concert lately? Do you really think people have stopped smoking pot?) While this particular feature of electronic devices may be desirable for adults who want to smoke and don’t want to disturb others with their habits, the manufacturers of these products have put children in their crosshairs in marketing these enticing products.

Websites that sell vaping products have developed an ingenious system for weeding out minors - they ask that you click whether or not you're over the age of eighteen or twenty-one. Foolproof!

Vaping devices started being sold so quickly that they have just recently come under serious scrutiny and regulation by the federal government. Just because something does not look or smell like a traditional cigarette does not make it healthier. Breathing vapor into the mouth and lungs is bad for one’s health. Research is still limited, but it is certain to reveal the still undiscovered dangers of vaping.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Are you afraid of the dentist?

Fighting Dental Fear

Fear that affects one’s ability to seek or receive dental treatment has real consequences. Ignoring gingivitis, gum disease characterized by bleeding, puffy gums, can cause it to progress to periodontitis, advanced gum disease characterized by bone loss in the jaw and loose teeth. Cavities left untreated only get bigger. A sore in the mouth that does not heal may be a sign of oral cancer and ignoring it can be deadly. Neglecting the teeth during pregnancy can result in low birth weight.

Avoiding dental treatment also has financial consequences. A small cavity that could have been treated with fluoride or a filling may end up needing more extensive treatment like a root canal, crown, or other expensive restoration. These treatments also require multiple visits leading to more time off from work. A restored tooth is more likely to need future treatment versus a natural tooth.

Dental fear that prevents a person from getting treatment is recognized as a debilitating phobia called odontophobia. Fear of the dentist or of dental treatment may be related to a person’s tolerance for pain and is often an issue for people who have suffered from abuse. Estimates on the number of people affected by true dental phobia varies widely from 9% to over 30%, however, most people can testify to the fact that going to the dentist for treatment is no walk in the park. 
Dental Fear. (image:ym)

There are a variety of things that may cause dental fear. Some patients may be ashamed that they have waited so long to see the dentist. Aside from being afraid that something is seriously wrong, they fear “the lecture” they may get for not taking care of their teeth. 

Pain is a also common fear. While dentistry has come a long way, it still involves the administration of anesthetic with needles or other methods that can be scary for some people. 

Bad childhood experiences with dental treatment are a cause of fear, too.  People with dental fear have also cited feelings of loss of control during treatment and a general discomfort with the sights, sounds and even smells of a dental office. Some people feel uncomfortable with treatment because they have a strong gag reflex or report feeling like they may choke during dental procedures. 

Whatever the reason, dental fear is real and can be troubling for people. Still, dental treatment and regular dental check ups are absolutely necessary for health.

There are a number of ways to try to cope with dental fear:

Ask questions and discuss your fears with the dentist or dental hygienist. It’s not necessary to reveal your innermost secrets but being upfront about your dental fear will help guide them with your treatment. For example, if you fear the sight of needles, the tray can be covered or they can adjust their approach to keep the needle out of the line of your sight.

Find a dentist and dental hygienist you like and whose staff make you feel comfortable and welcome. 

A dental office’s environment is important. An environment suited to your personality can help you deal with the anxiety you feel when visiting the dentist. Perhaps you favor a soothing environment with soft music or prefer an office with lots of stimuli, like televisions mounted on the ceiling for patient viewing.

Set the mood with music.  Listening to music on headphones during treatment can be very helpful for people who are sensitive to noise.

Wearing sunglasses or goggles while receiving treatment can help with harsh lights.

It is important to set your appointment when you are least likely to be stressed. If rushing to an appointment after a day at work stresses you out, consider making early morning or weekend appointments instead. Dental office staff should be willing to work with you and help keep you on track for your appointments.

Resist the urge to cancel. It is important to keep your appointments since delaying treatment or not going for regular dental hygiene visits is only likely to worsen your dental issue.

Stress reducing methods like guided relaxation techniques and biofeedback, or other professional help like counseling or hypnosis, may help reduce anxiety in the dental setting as well. 

Do you have dental fear? Answer TRUE or FALSE to the questions below:

I hate going to the dentist
I had a bad childhood experience at the dental office
I don’t trust what my dental hygienist tells me
I don’t trust what my dentist tells me
I hate having my teeth cleaned
I frequently cancel appointments for no reason

If you answered TRUE to most of these questions you may have dental anxiety. Think about the reasons you don’t like to or want to go to the dentist and ways you can cope with them. If you are avoiding treatment because of your fear talk to your doctor or dentist to get the help you need.

One of the best ways to deal with dental issues is to not have them in the first place! It is worth the small effort it takes to brush and floss every day.

Sources:; Milgrom, P., Weinstein, P., Heaton, L.J. Treating Fearful Dental Patients: A Patient Management Handbook. 3rd ed. Dental Behavioral Resources.ComSeattle, WA2009;;; 1. Moore R, Birn H. [Phenomenon of dental fear] Tandlaegebladet. 1990;94:34–41. [PubMed]

This blog is not intended to treat or diagnose any illness or condition. Please see your medical or dental professional for treatment and care.