Open Contact Dental

Dentistry Through a Hygienist's Eyes

Toothpaste…$20 a tube? I’d rather spend it on candy!

There have been recent claims that a certain toothpaste costing $20 a tube is better at controlling plaque than the pastes that we regularly see on the shelves at our local pharmacies. It’s high price tag make people wonder if spending the money is worth it.

I have seen on social media people questioning why a toothpaste with that price point would not add fluoride to its list of ingredients.

In a study conducted in 2012 by the Center for Disease Control, 20% of children aged 5-11 having one untreated tooth with decay. Studies have shown that even since fluoride’s introduction in water and toothpastes, dental decay is still prevalent. Dental decay continues to be one of the most common diseases in children.

 

Isn’t it time for another idea?lollipops

Cavities are caused by acid attacks on your teeth. Reduce the acid; reduce decay. Xylitol shows promise at reducing decay. Xylitol is a natural sugar that cannot be digested by the Strep mutans bacteria in plaque. If the bacteria has no food source it cannot “poop” the acid to demineralize your teeth.

Xylitol has the ability to change an acidic pH to an alkaline one so your teeth have a chance to remineralize when they are not under the acid attack. It’s pretty awesome, too, because it comes in toothpaste, gums, candies and mints! Adding

MI paste with xylitol and you can add calcium and phosphate back into the demineralized enamel.

Fluoridated teeth cannot save you from frequent acid attacks. We need to limit our attacks by limiting what and how often we put foods and drinks into our mouths (even water can be acidic!) and allowing our teeth to rest from these attacks.

I’m not sure I would pay $20 for a tube of toothpaste but I do know I would spent $20 on a month’s worth supply of candy that help my teeth!

We all know that kids are not compliant when it comes to brushing twice a day but I know that they would use candy 5 times a day if I told them they could. Maybe this is the direction we need to go. Give kids candy (that doesn’t promote diabetes) and fight dental decay. That’s money well spent.


Average Hygienist?

I have always thought of myself as an average dental hygienist. I come to work and provide patients with care every hour of every day.

I begin by taking a blood pressure and a periodontal exam. The exam includes probe depth readings, measurement of recession, evaluation of furcation involvement and mobility. I look for signs of wear to access if there is the possibility of occlusal disease or a traumatic bite. I look for signs of sleep apnea. My oral cancer exam includes a visual exam and feeling of the tongue, lips, throat and neck. I test pH to assess whether or not the patient is at risk for decay because of acidic saliva and I also check to make sure the patient has adequate salivary flow. I review this data with my patient and then we proceed with any procedures scheduled or treatment plan new treatment with the dentist.

To me this is the average.

The more I learn from my new patients, when they say that they have never had such a thorough examination, the more I worry about what my colleagues are actually doing and why.

The “why” could be due a number of reasons. Time is the most prevalent reason. I have the luxury of a full hour with my patients. Many of my colleagues do not. Not having enough time can create an environment where something needs to be cut in order to stay on time.

I would not be able to pick one item to delete.

Data collection is important. How can we help our patients if they or we don’t know what their problems are? Not checking for abnormal lesions is not an option either. Maybe checking pH is over the top. But is it? Isn’t our profession one that is focused on prevention? This may cut into the bottom line of a practice and some are not as lucky as I to work with a dentist who would rather prevent disease than amputate a tooth. Maybe cutting out blood pressure would save me two minutes and the occasional lost appointment when I need to dismiss a patient to get them to the ER because their BP is in the stroke zone. I don’t know. This sounds kind of important to me.

I also wonder if other office’s exams aren’t as thorough because some dental hygienists work with other dental personnel who do not value the services we provide. Yes, we clean teeth but that is not the only service we provide. We have moral and ethical responsibilities to provide above average care to our patients and to use everything we have learned in school and throughout our careers to better the health of our patients.

There are times when I am not popular with other hygienists or even some of my patients who just want to polish or be polished and who want to scrape or be scraped. It hurts me when I am criticized for doing more than what is expected in their eyes.

I honestly do not think that I am an above average hygienist even when my new patients compliment us on the thoroughness of our exam. I aspire to be more than I am and my reach is high. Our patients deserve that.


Preventive Dentistry

Imagine going to the dental office and never hearing the whirling of a drill or never having to feel the sting of the anesthetic needle again. Imagine leaving the dental office without feeling numb and being able to go right back to work. It is possible.

The dental world is evolving faster than many providers can keep up with. Studies are done everyday that show prevention is here if we want to take part in it. Many dental providers are on the cutting edge and are providing preventive services to their patients. Is yours?

How many offices are providing you with oral hygiene instructions, saliva pH testing, nutritional counseling, periodontal (gum) therapy for gum disease or ozone therapy for cavity reversal? If your office doesn’t provide these services or is unfamiliar with them then it is time to move on.
Dentist Examining Little Boys Teeth
Patients need to play their part in prevention by allowing their dental providers to provide preventive care regardless of insurance reimbursement. Allowing us to provide you, our patients, with services that you deserve. That means saying ‘yes’ to x-rays, ‘yes’ to a gum exam and ‘yes’ to more frequent checkups. In the long run it will save you time and money.

For example, an early cavity can be treated with a $75 ozone treatment and a $175 sedative filling (if the cavity has eaten away at the tooth causing a hole) or you can get numb, amputate the tooth with a drill and place a $1250 onlay (ceramic lab fabricated filling). One involves about a half hour of time while the other is 2.5 hours at least. You can already see the cost benefit of the preventive procedure.

These services are out there for patients and, I’m sure, wanted by them, too. The key is to know that these services are available and educate yourself on the costs and time involved with all options of treatment.

A new age of dentistry is here.


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