When to Bring the Kids In

Here are two of the most frequent questions we are asked at Falmouth Dental Arts:

The first one is “Do you see children here?” and the answer is a resounding “YES! We love kids!”

The second is “When should I schedule my child’s first dental visit?” and the answer to that one is: “As soon as their insurance kicks in!”

Actually – that’s not true. We like to see kids usually by their 3rd birthday. Many times a child’s first dental visit involves just a quick peek at their teeth, wiping the teeth and gums with a piece of gauze and giving them a ride up and down in the dental chair. Of course everyone will tell them how good they are and how much fun it is to see the dentist – and that may be the most important part of the visit!
Studies have shown that many people avoid visiting the dentist purely out of fear – and we want to make sure that for the up and coming generation that is a thing of the past. With so many modern ways to make dentistry more comfortable, there simply is no reason to be afraid! But unfortunately, television shows and movies continue to depict things in a negative light. At Falmouth Dental Arts, it is our goal to let children (and adults!) know that dental health is a comfortable, important and even fun part of our overall well being.

Here are a few more easy and important tips to pass along to those with infants or older children:

• Never nurse a baby to sleep or allow them to go to sleep with a bottle. This can cause a very harmful and serious form of cavities. If a baby must go to sleep with a bottle, only water should be used.

• Use a small-headed soft bristle toothbrush with a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste to clean your child’s teeth. Do it twice a day, and always before bedtime.

• Even though they will eventually be lost, “baby teeth” are very important. Not only do they help children to speak and chew, they also set a straight path for the permanent teeth to erupt. If they are lost prematurely, the adult teeth can be compromised.

• Sealants are a fast, easy and effective way to prevent cavities. Be sure to ask us if your child is ready for them.

At Falmouth Dental Arts, we strive to provide the best and most comfortable treatment possible for patients of all ages. Should you have any questions about children’s dental care – or anything else – feel free to give us a call at 207-781-5900.

Your Best Friends Won’t Tell You (or Ewwww…..That Smell!!)

A common question we get in our dental office is – “What Causes Bad Breath?”

Many times the complaint is not from the offender but from a long suffering spouse or family member. There are many causes of bad breath (which we call “halitosis”) – some serious and some not. And while many people have decided to just hold their nose and live with it, the good news is diagnosing and treating bad breath is something that can easily be done.

Here is a list, in no particular order, of the reasons people may be slowly backing up during conversations:

Foods Containing Pungent Oils

Yes – garlic and onions are very healthy, but they also contain oils which may cause an unhealthy reaction to those around you. These odors come from the lungs, last up to 72 hours and can be tough to cover up. Mints, gum and rinses are your best bet – or make sure everyone around you has had the same yummy food as well!

Routine Illnesses
Colds, sore throats, coughs and sinus infections all cause yucky smelling mucus (or snot, depending on your age), to get trapped in our mouths, throats and noses, which causes foul breath until the illness is taken care of. Of course, if you have one of these highly contagious problems you shouldn’t be that close to someone anyway! If a sinus infection, sore throat, cough or cold doesn’t clear up in a few days to a week, you should probably see your physician to make sure things aren’t of a serious nature.

Dry Mouth
A dry mouth lets dead cells accumulate on your gums, tongue and cheeks. And while morning breath is a perfectly normal phenomenon due to lowered salivary activity at night – it shouldn’t last all day. Those who snore, mouth-breath, take certain medications, or even have lasted into middle age are prone to a dry mouth.

Smoking dries out your mouth (see above) and also, tobacco just plain stinks. If lung cancer and heart disease aren’t reason enough to give up the ciggies, maybe a constant foul mouth will help you make that life-saving decision.

Chronic Diseases or Conditions
Many serious diseases such as lung infections, kidney failure, diabetes, cancer, GERD, anorexia, bulimia and others can cause very specific types of halitosis. The good news is that these are on the rare side, but if anything along these lines is suspected, a referral to the appropriate practitioner is in order.

Poor Dental Hygiene and Gum Disease
Ahhh… this is our favorite! Not because we like people to have poor dental hygiene and gum disease, but because these are very common causes of bad breath and we can usually treat them quite easily. But please don’t wait too long! Gum disease, which usually starts with poor brushing and flossing habits as well as a lack of routine dental visits, can do much more than make your mouth stinky.

In just a short period of time, gum disease can advance and eat away at the gums and bone which hold your teeth in place. The result? Loose, unstable teeth which will eventually be lost if not treated. Catching gum disease early is great as treatment is typically conservative. Wait too long and it gets much more difficult and extensive.

Bad breath is not normal! Seeing your dentist and dental hygienist on a routine basis is your best bet for making sure your teeth and gums stay healthy, your smile stays bright, and your breath doesn’t cause others to run in the opposite direction.

If you have any questions about this or any other topic concerning you or someone you care about, please feel free to give us a call at 1-207-781-5900. Dr. Knock and Dr Vocal and their fantastic team are here to help you!

How Common is Oral Cancer and what is our office doing about it?

According to the American Cancer Society, men face twice the risk of developing oral cancer as women, and men who are over age 50 face the greatest risk. It’s estimated that over 35,000 people in the U.S. received a diagnosis of oral cancer in 2008.

It is also a deadly disease.  One North American dies of oral cancer every hour of every day. The disease claims over twice as many lives as cervical cancer.

What is our office doing about it?  We have introduced the VELscope.  The VELscope is a painless light system that is used to conduct more oral cancer exams than any other adjunctive device in the world.

A way to see what might otherwise be missed. The VELscope system is the first adjunctive device cleared by the FDA and Health Canada to help clinicians see cancerous and precancerous lesions that might not be visible to the naked eye. The VELscope is also the first device cleared to help surgeons determine the appropriate surgical margins if surgery is indicated. This is extremely important, as oral surgery often fails to remove 100% of the targeted tissue.

To learn more click on “Exceptional Services” then “Oral Cancer Screening” to learn more.

Next time you are in our office ask for the VELscope oral cancer screening.

Mini-Residency at Tufts Craniofacial Pain Center

Dr. Knock and myself visited Tufts Craniofacial Pain Center on the 1st of February. We saw patients there who have been treated effectively for headaches, migraines, sleep apnea and TMJ problems. They are one of the largest centers of its kind in the United States, they incorporate true multidisciplinary approaches to the treatment of complex pain problems. So many grateful patients are walking through their doors. It is great to experience it.

Cracked tooth video. See what happens when biting forces break a tooth.

Here is a great animation showing a cracked tooth.