Health Talk With Dr. Gross

Adjusting to Life With Invisalign® – Week 2

Invisalign Lower Aligner - Blue background

Continuing to chronicle my Invisalign journey from a dentist’s perspective, this week we discuss how I’m adjusting to life with Invisalign®

Week 2

Well, I just finished my second week, and it was a lot less eventful than my first.

Learning to place my aligners correctly

I learned how to set the aligners in my mouth without grabbing my lips or cheeks!

The lower set was more of an issue for me as the bottom lip always seemed to wrap forward and get caught in the aligner as I was snapping it into place.
At the same time, the back of the lower aligner would get close to my cheek on both sides. If I wasn’t careful, I would catch my lip and both cheeks at the same time creating a trifecta of sores.

Pro Tip! Using my fingers

I learned to use my fingers to hold back the lips and cheeks and still allow the aligner to seat in to place on my teeth. I needed all of my fingers to multitask.

Being a dentist, this was second nature to me. However, I see how my patients would fight and struggle to learn some of these skills. Some of them never learn those skills and tricks and come in with sores throughout their mouths.

I resolved to make an effort to teach some of these tricks and hacks when I notice sores that are present. Sharing my knowledge of holding back the lips while placing the aligners would really be a nice thing. I’m sure that my patients will appreciate it.

Inspecting the Invisalign® attachments

While I was placing an aligner, I decided to examine the attachments a little closer. One of my lower teeth, the lower right cuspid (eye tooth) had two attachments.
Remember the attachments are the little projections that are bonded to the teeth to help the aligners grip the teeth better and ultimately move the teeth properly.

The attachments are made of tooth-colored filling material and are relatively invisible. At least they are challenging to see.

Great! One of my Invisalign® attachments were missing

So when I looked a little closer, I noticed that only one of the projections was there. That tooth was missing the second attachment. I will assume that it was there and fell off.

The Importance of having two attachments

Whatever the reason the second attachment on that tooth was important. The cuspids have long roots and are difficult to move. This is probably why the Invisalign software that generated the plan placed two attachments. The better the grip, the more predictable the movement.

So I had to go back and have the second attachment replaced on the tooth. This wasn’t a big deal, except for the fact that the device that was used to holding my lips out of the way was really cutting into my upper lip.

After a reasonable amount of time grimacing and wincing, we decided that adding a cotton roll under my lip would help.
This reinforced to me that all retractors are not created equally.
I knew that from my end. Now I know it from the patients’ end as well.

Chronicling how I’m adjusting to life with Invisalign®

I just switched to the third aligner. I’ll see what develops this week.
In the meantime, I’ll just continue chronicling how I’m adjusting to life with Invisalign®.

Stay tuned for my thoughts on week 3 of this Invisalign Patient Experience – Through the Eyes of a Dentist!

 

Jeffrey Gross, DDSFAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

For any questions about Invisalign®  or any of the other dental procedures performed at The Healthy Smile Dental Center please call Megan at 440.951.7856

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The Invisalign Patient Experience – Through the Eyes of a Dentist

Invisalign Patient Experience

From The Doctor Chair to The Dental Chair – A Unique Perspective

As a dental practitioner administering Invisalign in my practice for nearly 20 years, I know it can be a terrific orthodontic approach to predictably straightening your teeth.
However, I never knew firsthand what an Invisalign patient experience was until now.
Now, as an Invisalign patient myself, I have the unique perspective of knowing what an Invisalign treatment entails from both sides of the equation.
I’m hoping this blog series will help give unique insight and perspective to anyone contemplating this procedure for themselves.

Welcome to The Invisalign Patient Experience – Through the Eyes of a Dentist!

Why Don’t You Practice What You Preach?

When I was in my last year of school, I listened to a physiology lecture from a practicing physician. He was morbidly obese and smoked during the address.
I kept on thinking and wondering. Why wasn’t he picking up and listening to what he was saying?
He knew that his lifestyle was heading him down the road to some serious health problems.
Why didn’t he take his own advice?

Well, some years later, I asked myself the same question.

I had developed a tooth issue which was the result of crowded teeth.
It was more than a tooth issue. It had ramifications to the gum and bone structure around my teeth.

Sure, I am a great brusher and flosser, and disease was less of an issue with me than with other non-dental people.

That being said, I was still beating up certain teeth. I knew that they would begin to chip and crack. The excessive wear was already there. I wanted to stop this.

Crowded lower front teeth

crowded teeth overhead shotI advise my patients all the time about crowded lower front teeth and what happens. I recommend fixing the issue before it becomes a severe problem. I needed to address this in my own mouth.

I finally made time for myself and began orthodontic treatment with Invisalign. As I mentioned earlier, I have used Invisalign treatment in my office for close to 20 years. Now I am on the other end of the treatment so to speak.

I now have aligners (that’s what those plastic things that move your teeth are called) on my top and bottom teeth.

I started to feel what it was like to be sitting in the dental chair, not in the doctor chair.

Sharing my Invisalign patient experience and perspective

So I thought that I would share some of those experiences, feelings, and issues that my patients have.
This time it is coming from a dentist perspective, and I hope to share what is going on and how I cope with those issues.
I hope that this may help some of you who are also going through orthodontic treatment.
For those of you contemplating this treatment, it will give you a glimpse into what lies ahead and how to successfully navigate the path.

Week 1

An appointment for Invisalign® attachments

I have just completed my first week of therapy. Let me tell you how it went for me.
It began last Monday with an appointment in which these little plastic projections were applied to my teeth.
These buttons are designed so the clear plastic aligners effect movement of the teeth.
The size and position of the attachments will control the movements and potentially their timing too.

I sat in the chair and had plastic retractors placed to hold my lips and cheeks away from my teeth.

The technician looked at my teeth and remarked as to how clean my teeth were. I rolled my eyes and thought, “what were you expecting.” Fortunately, I did not verbalize my thoughts.

Applying the Invisalign® attachments

The teeth that had the projections (officially called attachments) were cleaned. They were then dried and bonded in preparation for the attachments.
All of this was done with the cheek retractors in my mouth and cotton stuffed all over to prevent contamination of the teeth with my saliva.
The attachments were connected to the teeth, and I was given my first set of aligners. They snapped into place and really felt weird.

Two facts about wearing the Invisalign® aligners

Invisalign AlignerI knew two essential facts about wearing the aligners.

  1. First of all; wear them all the time except for eating and cleaning of the teeth.
    This should be 22-23 hours a day. They only work when you wear them. Night time wearing alone will not work.
  2. The second fact is never to put them down unless they are in some type of case. The Invisalign aligners are clear and easily lost.

Okay so far so good.

Eating with Invisalign® attachments

A few hours later, I wanted to eat something.

I needed to get these plastic things off of my teeth.

I washed my hands and put my fingers in my mouth trying to find an edge to lift them up.
It is really much easier at first when I am in the dentist role and trying to remove them.
I tried this way and that way until I finally found a spot to start pulling it off. I knew what it felt like to lift an aligner out of the mouth, so I pulled without uneasiness, and it came out.

I spent some time going through the discovery exercise on the other aligner with success.
I ran my tongue over my teeth, and the attachments felt like I found something stuck on my teeth.
I didn’t like that feeling as it was very strange to me.

I then began lunch.

Accidentally biting my lips and cheeks

As I started to chew, my lower left attachment pushed out my lip ever so slightly. This was just enough for me to catch my lip with my upper teeth and bite myself.
I did this once and then again.
I was forced to chew more slowly and deliberately.
This is probably not a bad thing in and of itself.

Of course, once you bite yourself and your lip or cheek swells just a little bit causes you to bite yourself some more.

I can’t tell you how many thousands of times that I have said that to my patients. Now it was more than words. It was a reality to me. I just needed to be more careful.

Putting the aligners back in

Okay, lunch is over.
Time to floss and brush and put the aligners back in.

Firstly I put in the upper set, and that was easy. Just line up the aligner with upper front teeth and snap into place.

The lower set was more of a challenge.
Just when I got it into position and pushed down firmly, my lip folded in and I nailed by the lip.
Ouch!
Of course, now I had a cut and was ready for a mouth sore to develop. Usually, trauma to the lips will result in a sore that takes a few days to heal.
I think that I just discovered a new diet.
Beat yourself up so that eating goes from a pleasure to a negative experience.

The crowning blow came from the inside edge of my lower aligner. I developed a canker sore (a small mouth sore) on the underside of my tongue. So now, not only was eating a pain(literally), so was the simple act of speaking. Every time my tongue moved it sent waves of pain through me.
How many more months do I have to do this?

Stay tuned for my thoughts on week 2 of this Invisalign Patient Experience – Through the Eyes of a Dentist!

 

Jeffrey Gross, DDSFAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

For any questions about Invisalign®  or any of the other dental procedures performed at The Healthy Smile Dental Center please call Megan at 440.951.7856

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Reduce Added Sugars For Good Oral Health

Reduce Added Sugars

In our last blog post, we discussed five ways to improve your oral health in the coming year. One suggestion was to eliminate one junk food daily. Expounding on that theme, let’s discuss the problem of added sugars and ways to reduce our intake of them.

I Am Addicted To Sugar. What Can I Do?

This question came up at a perfect time. A study just came out showing that sugar-sweetened beverage consumption declined for both children and adults in the United States between 2003 and 2014, according to the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

Despite that reduction, teenagers and young adults still consumed more than the recommended limit for added sugars set by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines indicate that we should consume less than 10% of our calories from added sugars. Unfortunately, very few of us meet these guidelines.

Added sugars are the real problem

The fact is, sugars are not inherently bad, as they are found in fruits and many healthful foods.
The problem occurs when manufacturers add sugar to a product. You’d be surprised, but it’s not just junk foods, candies, etc. that are the usual suspects. Unfortunately, you can find products with added sugars in many ordinary foods you wouldn’t even think of! Make sure you check the product nutrition labels! It’s your first line of defense!

If we try to cut back on the junk foods, such as limiting ourselves to one less “junk food a day”, we will make progress. Adding fruits will help feed our sugar addiction.

Try reducing added sugars from our diets

The real challenge is identifying and reducing added sugars from our diets. Keeping added sugars under their 10% limit is a process that takes months to get a grip on but is achievable.

Not only will this improve our general health, but it will also help our dental health as well. Remember cavities are caused by bacteria feeding on sugar in our diets. Less sugar translates into fewer cavities.

Taking supplements to aid oral health

CoQ10 to help oral health

The question always comes up regarding taking pills to help our oral health.
Supplements are not one of my favorite things to ingest, as the industry, unlike medicines, have no regulation or supervision.

Despite this fact let’s talk about a couple of compounds which may help with our mouths.

Grape seed extract

Grape seed extract comes naturally loaded with Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
We are not sure, but for whatever reason, this compound will inhibit the formation of what we call “plaque”.
Plaque is the cause of gum disease and cavities. Plaque is essentially a commune of bacteria. These all feed off of sugar and produce destructive acid.
Prevent the plaque and reduce the cavities. Prevent the plaque and prevent gum disease.

Co-enzyme Q10

Another supplement that has many general health benefits is CoQ10 which is short of Co-enzyme Q10.
This nutrient that is made in your body will help us fight infections and other insults by improving our immune system. Poor diet and age can affect its levels.
Japanese dentists are very fond of CoQ10, and many recommend dosages of 60 mg daily as a preventive measure for gum disease. It also has benefits when applied topically to gum tissue. As with many supplements, research may be scarce, and claims abound. That being said, these dosages appear to be safe with the benefits outweighing any risks.

Use proper diet and nutrition for good oral health

These and other therapies in medicine are based on the concept that response to disease attach can be controlled or improved with proper diet and nutrition.
Eating a diet that is primarily plant-based with a reduction or elimination of inflammatory agents such as sugar will help our health in general, and our mouth in particular.

If nutrition and quality of life enthuse you, give me a call and let’s share some thoughts. My passion is good health for you and your family.

Don’t forget that My “Better Than Insurance” program is still in effect until the end of the month.

I am looking forward to hearing from you and can be reached at 440.951.7856 to discuss nutrition or my money saving program with you.

 

Jeffrey Gross, DDSFAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

 

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Gum Disease: The Real Problem of Being ‘Long in the Tooth’

"long in the tooth" walrus - dental condition

You look a bit ‘long in the tooth’!

Typically, If you describe someone as being ‘long in the tooth’, you are saying derisively or humorously that they are old or aging.

However, there may be more at stake than hurt feelings.

Clinically speaking, having an unusually long tooth or teeth can be symptomatic of a much bigger problem. Gum disease.

My Tooth Became Really Big. Can You Help Me?

I saw this new patient last week, and she was correct. When you looked at her, all that you saw was one tooth. I don’t mean that one tooth was all that was present. She has many teeth that show when she smiles and talks. What I am referring to is one tooth that stands out more prominently than all of those around it. She was literally ‘long in the tooth’.

How did it stand out? First of all, it was much longer than the teeth on either side. It was her cuspid, or “eye tooth” as people commonly refer to it. The tooth is a large tooth, to begin with, but this was even larger and more prominent than we usually see.

The tooth was also pushed forward. When a front tooth is pushed forward, two things can result. First of all, the tooth may bite on the lower lip and therefore feel strange. It also causes a protrusion of the upper lip.

To top off these calls to attention by the tooth, the color of this tooth was whiter than the rest.

Gum Disease Spreading to the Bone

I recently wrote about shorter teeth.
Shorter teeth come as the result of years and decades of wear of the biting surface as we get older.
I also mentioned some teeth could do just the opposite. They appear to get longer as the gum and bone shrink a little away from the tooth.

My new patient was not an example of either scenario. Her tooth got much “longer” because of gum disease.

Gum disease starts in the gums and then spreads to the bone. This condition is a bacterial infection that will destroy the bone in which the tooth rests. If the disease damages all of the bone, then the tooth will become loose.
If you are lucky enough, you won’t experience any pain, and one day, the tooth will fall out of your head.
More likely than not, you will have swelling and discomfort requiring help from a professional to either save the tooth or remove it, depending on the severity of the situation.

A Good Analogy

Once the bone is attacked and slowly is destroyed, the tooth loses its primary stability.
Let me give you an analogy.
Think of a post implanted in the ground.
If the earth is covering a good portion of the post, then the post remains stable.
If the ground erodes away from the post and more post is above the surface than in the earth, instability will appear. The post will become movable, and if pressure is applied, it will no longer stand perfectly straight. It will start to lean to one side or the other.

The same thing happens to a tooth with gum disease, and this is what I saw in the mouth in question. Fortunately for her, the bone destruction did not extend significantly to the adjacent teeth.  I recommended removing the tooth and replacing it.

As for the fact that this tooth was also whiter than the rest is because she had an old crown on the tooth. That crown matched her teeth years ago and was thus whiter.
No matter how I replace the tooth, I would correct the color and make it match its neighbors.

Building Bridges

So how did I plan on replacing the tooth after removal?
Our choices were either a single implant or a permanent bridge which can’t come out.

After an evaluation, I recommended a bridge for two main reasons.

1. The first reason centers on the fact that the bone loss was resulting in the bone moving upwards. If I placed an implant, the resultant tooth would be very long.

Remember that was one of her initial concerns. A permanent bridge would deal with this long tooth issue better.

2. Secondly, I would utilize my “Same Day-Immediate Bridge” technique that I developed. It allows me to remove a tooth and provide a replacement in usually less than an hour. We did that, and she left with a stunning and much-improved smile.

Taking Advantage of Our “Better Than Insurance” Program

Best of all, she took advantage of our “Better than Insurance” program that I mentioned in the last couple of columns. Rules do apply, but she met all of the criteria and saved 20% of the fee.
She looked terrific, and we saved her money! Another happy customer and a healthy smile!

Call Megan today at 440.951.7856 and find out about our “Better Than Insurance” initiative to save you money and preserve your smile for a lifetime.

 

Jeffrey Gross, DDS, FAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

 

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5 STEPS TO IMPROVE YOUR ORAL HEALTH IN 2018

Resolve to improve your oral health

As the new year approaches, we are all thinking of making resolutions to improve our lives and our health.
As a dentist committed to you and your family’s good health, I’d like to suggest resolving to improve your oral health in 2018.
However, a resolution without a plan is planning to fail.
Read on to make this year’s resolution a successful one.

Can You Make A Suggestion for Mouth Care Priorities for the New Year?

You bet I can!
Before I do, allow me a moment to wish a Happy New Year to everyone. I hope that this year will be filled with wonderful things for everyone.
Now let me get to our topic at hand.

Making a Fresh Start

There is no feeling better than that of making a fresh start. Our lives revolve around a yearly calendar. We get this fantastic opportunity to refresh and recharge ourselves mentally. I can not stress how important this is, to every one of us. As the time goes by, we rarely think of ourselves. The month of January allows us to reflect upon ourselves and look at how we can do things differently than in the past. The guiding motivation is not only “different,” but “better.” It is a well-known fact that memberships in health clubs explode in January. Unfortunately, few people maintain the enthusiasm and commitment as time goes on.

Today, let’s focus on making our goals real and attainable. Specifically, I am going to focus on techniques to improve our oral health. I have spoken at length in this column and face to face in the office about the impact of oral health on our general health. My suggestions will, therefore, have implications that go beyond the mouth. Its ramifications are endless.

One of the reasons that New Year’s Resolutions don’t work is that they are too broad and extensive. This translates into unrealistic goals and expectations. The key to success is to think of a small and incremental change that will impact you and your life. Once you have that thought, then make the change even more modest. Make it something that you can do immediately and simply. Okay, so let’s look at my list.

5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Oral Health.

1. Get a New Toothbrush.

This is so simple.
A builder once told me that “new” is always good. He is absolutely right about this concept.
It applies equally as well in the mouth. Toothbrushes are most efficient when the bristles are fresh. Over time, they do not clean as well. For the short term, our mouths do not feel as fresh with a worn brush. In the long run, they are not doing their job causing problems, and we are wasting our time.

2. Get Your Teeth Cleaned.

Now is a great time to set up a cleaning visit. We all overate during the holiday season and probably didn’t brush as well as we should. The timing is perfect to remove the tartar and stain from our teeth. Seeing freshly cleaned teeth is always a great motivator for oral health.

3. Select One Need and Take Care of It.

Sometimes we are overwhelmed by recommended procedures. It is merely easier to forget everything in the face of multiple needs. For example, you may need four fillings. Rather than just letting things go, pick one filling and get it taken care of.
If you follow that approach, it will be much easier and not be such a burden on you regarding time, effort and possibly finances.

4. Eliminate One Junk Food Daily.

Junk food, in general, and holiday treats specifically, all wreak havoc with our mouths. These sticky foods do not come off of our teeth naturally. It takes work to remove them from our tooth enamel. Usually, the time and place are inconvenient for efficient removal of sticky food products. I recommend that you stock up or carry a sweet fruit with you. It is loaded with fiber, great nutrients and really will satisfy your sweet tooth.

5. Spend Another 30 Seconds Brushing Your Teeth

We all spend too little time brushing. Once we have made an effort to go to a bathroom, haul out the toothbrush and turn on the sink water we have done all of the hard things. It is so easy to spend a little more time brushing and try to reach our goal of debris free teeth. Another half of a minute is time well spent.

In conclusion

These are all goals and techniques that are easy to do. Find one that you like and adopt it. It will stay with you and reward you in the future. If you have any question about my FIVE STEPS, please call me at 440.951.7856. I look forward to hearing from you.

Here’s to a successful New Year’s resolution for a Healthy Smile!

Jeffrey Gross, DDS, FAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

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How to Avoid Tooth Problems During the Holiday Season

Tooth Problems During the Holiday Season

Tooth problems during the holidays

The subject of tooth problems during the holiday season seems to come up every year, and I address this issue in the office with my patients.

Whenever I respond to a question, it is vital for me to clarify the scope of the problem.

Christmas and New Years coincide with the influx of cold weather. Cold weather effects are enough by itself to cause my phone to ring off the hook. However, I hope to address that unique problem in another column.

Today, I want to focus on the overuse, abuse, and neglect
that our teeth get this time of the year.

I want to offer a few tips to reduce the need the for a call to me in the short run and help keep your mouth healthy in the long term.

I want to teach you how to avoid tooth problems during the holiday season.

The December sugar rush

too may christmas cookies can cause tooth decaySugar abounds in December. The closer we get to Christmas, the more the sugary treats flood into our lives.
Don’t worry; I am not going to preach avoidance of those treats.

Cookies, candies and special baked goods are all part of the festive atmosphere that is so much fun. Having said that, what can we do to limit the damage that these foods cause?

Sugar is the lifeline for cavity-causing bacteria

Remember, that sugar is the lifeline of the bacteria that attach to our teeth and gums. These bacteria congregate where sugar collects on the teeth and produce acid and other damaging waste products.
These chemicals eat away at our teeth and cause cavities.

Control your exposure

One key to minimizing the adverse effects of sugar is to control how much exposure we have to it. The frequency of exposure will determine how detrimental our sugar indulgences are for us.

Sitting in the office all day long and munching on a can of cookies and treats is the worst thing that you can do. It is far better to eat all that you want in a shorter interval than to graze this food all day long. The bugs in your mouth have a field day with this as they’re partaking of a non-stop buffet of sugar.

Nuts. The healthy holiday snack alternative!Holiday Nut Mix Tin

But you are going to tell me that part of the fun is eating all day long. Trust me; I get it. I would like to suggest that you break up the sugar gorging with other foods.
Nuts abound this time of year. Every store that I walk into has a display of “holiday nuts.” It would be a great idea to bring these into work. You can either bring them for your stash or contribute to the greater good.

Walnuts

Walnuts are a great resource to keep cholesterol in check and act as an anti-inflammatory component benefiting our entire body. They are also shown to help with moods. So many people have stress and family issues around the holidays that any help that we can find is a plus.

Chestnuts

Let’s not forget chestnuts. Remember Nat King Cole’s ‘The Christmas Song’! Chestnuts are lower in calories when compared to other nuts, an excellent source of fiber for your diet and rich in Vitamin C. Their hypoglycemic index is low which makes them perfect for people who struggle to maintain proper blood sugar levels.

Macadamia nuts and Pecans

What about nuts that are high in calories like macadamia nuts and pecans?

According to Michael Greger, M.D., one of the leading nutrition physicians today, nuts, in general, do not cause weight gain. This is true even though they are composed of fats and therefore loaded with calories.
He states that

“ Part of the trick seemed to be that nuts boost fat burning within the body. It could have something to do with the amino acid arginine or the phytonutrients found in nuts…”

Nuts and seeds are linked to lower heart disease and longer life. Personally, I snack on nuts and seeds every day. My patients know that I do not have a weight issue.

How to offset all that sugar!

Lastly, what can we do to help mitigate some of our overeating and indulgences? You all know where I am going with this. Let’s be extra diligent in our oral care at home.
Spend more time brushing, flossing or using a water-jet device. In fact, this would be a great time to buy an electric toothbrush for you and the family.
Oral hygiene can fix and erase some bad activities during the day and not give bacteria a foothold in our mouths.
Don’t let a tooth issue ruin your fun in the upcoming days.

Now that you know how to avoid tooth problems during the holiday season, practice proper prevention techniques to control the problems.

If you develop a problem, we are working and not taking any time off. Please call me at 440.951.7856 so that I make sure that
you enjoy every moment of the season.

Jeffrey Gross, DDS, FAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western
Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

 

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How Vitamin D Improves Your Oral Health

Vitamin D improves oral health

As the Fall and Winter months come upon us, let’s discuss how proper nutrition and specifically Vitamin D can help us achieve and maintain excellent oral health, even as the days grow shorter.

Is There A Pill That I Could Take To Improve My Teeth?

Would it only be that simple? In fact, I would keep it in my drawer next to my diet and exercise pill. However, let’s talk about some simple methods that may make a positive impact on our mouths.

It is somewhat amusing that this subject came up now, near the end of October. We are fast approaching our semi-annual activity of clock changing. This Saturday night we will move our clocks one hour backward as Daylight Saving Time is over for 2017.

(By the way, even though Daylight and Savings (with an “s” at the end) rolls beautifully off of our tongues, the correct term is Saving without the “s” at the end.)

Changing the clock, together with the advance of winter, creates a particular challenge for those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere. Winter is a fast approaching and the available hours of daylight are dwindling. More darkness is the theme of the day.

Many studies talk about depression in the winter as related to less sunshine. I am not going to focus on that in this column. I want to talk about one of the latest trends in medicine. The idea of Vitamin D levels and their role in our general health.

Vitamin D is a misnomer

The truth is, Vitamin D is a misnomer. In fact, it is a hormone, not a vitamin.
A vitamin is something that is part of our diet. If we don’t eat foods that contain a particular vitamin, we will be deficient in that vitamin and develop a disease. At one time beriberi was an incurable disease until it was found to come from a vitamin deficiency.
Vitamins are compounds that the body can not make on its own, but instead, relies on our diet to supply these essential chemicals.

Michael Holick, Ph.D., M.D., who is one of the leading authorities in the science of Vitamin D, explains the difference.
A hormone is something that the body makes if given the right ingredients. This hormone then goes to other parts of the body where it regulates many various functions. As such, Vitamin D is not a vitamin. It is a hormone.

Vitamin D production requires sunlight

Vitamin D manufacture relies on an outside source to start the process. That external source is sunlight. The ultraviolet B portion of sunlight initiates a mechanism to create pre-vitamin D3, which then turns into Vitamin D.

So Vitamin D is made in the skin with the addition of sunlight. We now understand why the levels of Vitamin D are so low in the winter. We are missing our precious sunshine.

How Vitamin D affects our oral health

An article from the Journal of the Tennessee Dental Association in 2011 tells us that Vitamin D deficiency “may place patients at risk for not only low bone density, (i.e., osteopenia and osteoporosis) but all infections and chronic inflammatory diseases”.
So not only does Vitamin D affect the strength of our bones around the teeth, but it also may protect the gums from developing periodontal disease.

I have seen many patients who don’t have the most excellent health habits, yet their gums are remarkably stable. I always referred to this as the hidden genetic protection that was present in those patients. It is also possible due to resistance to the disease process because of proper levels of Vitamin D.

More and more healthcare professionals are recommending taking Vitamin D supplements to aid in our low levels because of where we live. Many physicians that I speak with talk about 2000 IU of Vitamin D and go up to 4000 IU taken daily. Personally, I ingest 3000 IU on a daily basis.
Of course, the correct way to proceed is to get your Vitamin D levels checked and if low (which they probably will be in Northeast Ohio) take a supplement and recheck in 3 months to make sure that you are on the right path.

There is a pill to help improve our oral health!

So one pill that we can take to help our mouths is Vitamin D. This is not a substitute for outstanding oral care which includes proper brushing and flossing techniques. Reduction of candies and sweets (yes, Halloween is this week) is also very important.

Professional cleanings from our excellent hygiene staff and periodic exams to keep you on track are all crucial.

Call Megan today at 440.951.7856 and find out about our “Better Than Insurance” initiative to save you money and preserve your teeth for a lifetime.

 

Jeffrey Gross, DDS, FAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

 

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Why Dental Insurance is Typically a Bad Deal & What to do About it.

Dental Insurance policy denied

Why did I buy dental insurance if it doesn’t cover this procedure?

Have you ever needed a dental procedure done only to find out your insurance doesn’t cover it? In dismay and frustration you ask the obvious question – ‘ What’s the point of dental insurance if it doesn’t cover this necessary procedure?’ I have been asking my patients that question for decades. The answer goes to the heart of the insurance industry and revolves around why we buy insurance.

Insurance companies prey on the uncertainty

Insurance, whether life, disability or health care insurance all thrive due to the fear factor. We are all, and rightfully so, concerned about some unseen event which will alter our way of life. This event usually has a financial impact on our families and us.
Along comes the insurance company and offers us a solution to the problem. They say: “Give us some money, and we will take the uncertainty out of your future. You or your family will not have to worry about going down this road. We will take care of you.”

Insurance companies are like Vegas casinos

We must remember that insurance companies are big business. They have two items on the agenda.
First of all, they have to be there when you need them.
Secondly, they have to turn a profit like all businesses must do.
To reach these goals, they create products based on extensive data. Much like going to Las Vegas, you can never beat the house. Of course, someone will win on occasion, but this does not usually make a dent in the overall picture. As in Vegas, there are more losers than winners in the insurance gamble.

However, despite this knowledge, we still search for a product that will cover us. We believe the sales pitch and buy the product. Insurance companies take our money, and we rarely see results. This is all a function of numbers and what is being paid for a premium.

Dental Insurance policy deniedWays the insurance company avoid paying for your dental procedures

There are many ways for an insurance company to avoid paying for a dental procedure. Usually, it comes in the form of two clauses in the contract.

The Alternate Benefit Clause

The first is called the Alternate Benefit Clause. This exception is very common and is found almost universally. It states that if there is a less expensive way to do a treatment, that is all that they will cover. Much like an adjuster on a car or house damage claim. The insurance company will adjust downwards the amount that you think that they should pay.
Remember, what I mentioned earlier that insurance companies need to turn a substantial profit to stay in business. One such way is to limit the amount that they pay for a claim. That limitation has a direct impact on you.
So, in a dental example, if you are missing teeth on both sides of your mouth and chose wisely to replace them, you will be limited in your choice of placement. The insurance company will only pay a portion (that’s another story) of a removable partial denture even if you desire, and your doctor recommends, something permanent and not removable.
So now you have dutifully paid your premium and get pennies on the dollar in return for these monies that you gave them. Sure sounds like Vegas to me.

The Missing Tooth Exclusion

The next clause that we see often is a called a ‘Missing Tooth Exclusion’. This paragraph in your policy says that if you are missing teeth before going with this insurance company, there are no funds to improve your health with their help. They will not pay at all for your replacement teeth. This is true even if you and your doctor choose an inexpensive treatment. So with this clause, not only do they downgrade your benefits, they go even a step further. They refuse to pay anything towards improving your health.

Almost all insurance companies will help you on cleanings and checkups. Only a handful will make a meaningful contribution to the real reason that you purchased dental insurance.

I met a new patient yesterday who finally made up her mind to restore her mouth to a state of health. Some of her teeth were broken, and a number of them were missing. Much to her surprise, because of the Alternate Benefit Clause and the Missing Tooth Exclusion, she had ZERO coverage for her needs. Just imagine her shock and amazement. Premiums paid but real benefits are not there.

How to get the best dental coverage for your money

So what does one do to cover the expense of needed dentistry?

First of all, find a dental office that understands your insurance products and can guide and advise you if you do decide to purchase dental insurance.

Better yet, I would suggest that you take the money that you would pay for premiums and put it in a separate bank account so that you do not touch it. You are creating your own fund to handle unforeseen dental expenses.

Lastly, find a dentist that you can work with financially. Payment plans and discounts make life easier and allow you to reach our goal of dental health.

The “Better Than Insurance” deal of the year

We are already in October. I want to help you reach your optimal dental health by the time the holidays roll around.

To that end, we are offering the following “Better Than Insurance” Deal of the Year.

Anyone who comes in and begins a newly diagnosed treatment from now until the end of the November will receive an unlimited 20% discount. No procedure will be excluded. Rules do apply.
Call Megan today at 440.951.7856 and schedule your appointment for the “Better Than Insurance” deal of the year.

 

Jeffrey Gross, DDS, FAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

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Tooth Size – The Long and the Short of it

 

Tooth Size The long and the short of it

Does it ever seem that your tooth size is longer or shorter than it was when you were younger? In this article, we explore the various reasons and causes of the changes in our tooth size.

Do our teeth get longer as we age?

There is an expression that I don’t hear that often anymore. The idiom is “long in the tooth.” This phrase is usually referring to someone getting older. It is based on the thought that teeth grow longer as we age.

Well, this is true when we are children and teens. As teeth start to come in or erupt, as we term it in dentistry, they appear to be growing.

They are not growing. In fact, when teeth are developing in the gums as children, they are adult size. As we get into our teen years, the teeth grow into the mouth. It appears that they are growing bigger, but in reality, they are just uncovering themselves from the gum tissue from which they were buried.

Less gum tissue = longer teeth

Teeth, for the most part, do not grow or move anymore once we reach our late teens. However, with time, gum tissues may shrink away from the tooth.
Sometimes, we become very hard brushers and wear away our gum tissue. Gum tissue is fragile right around the tooth and can be easily brushed away. Now we see more enamel than we saw previously.

Other times, due to gum disease, a shrinkage of gum tissue may occur. This reduction happens as bacteria destroy the underlying bone and there is nothing to support the gum tissue.

In any of these cases, we see more tooth enamel. Making it appear that our teeth are longer than before. This condition occurs because more tooth is exposed above the gum line than what we may have observed in previous years.

Okay, I get it. As we get older, and our gums shrink, our teeth “appear” to get longer than they were in our youth. That’s what the idiom, “long in the tooth” means.

Why Are My Teeth So Short?

But wait! As we age, many of us see our teeth shorten. This phenomenon isn’t supposed to happen, is it? Well if the gum does not shrink away from the tooth, then the pseudo-growing phenomenon will not occur. That explains lack of getting bigger, but where does the shortness come from?
Are the teeth shorter or do they just appear that way?
Does it fool us as the tooth growing act fools us?

Our teeth DO shrink!

In reality, the teeth get shorter. It is not an optical illusion. The more we chew, the more our teeth wear.

Teeth are the hardest tissue in the body. They are denser than bone. It needs to be this hard as it is the first tissue encountered during the eating process. It needs to be very dense as it tears and grinds at food.

Ah, there is the answer to your question. We use our teeth to grind.

With modern dental care and a better understanding of what causes disease, we can keep our teeth for many years longer than previous generations. Because of this, we grind more food for more years. Over time, our teeth slowly wear away. If we are missing teeth, then the remaining ones work harder, grind more and end up wearing away more. This is how we get short teeth.

This condition is even more noticeable in the front of our mouths. Let me explain why this is so. The patient who asked me that question had their upper front teeth meet their lower front teeth. The teeth touched each other tip to tip. In dentistry, we call it “edge to edge.” Every time they chewed their food, not only did their back teeth grind, but their front teeth were grinding too.

Sounds great. After all, more teeth grinding is more efficient -right?  Wrong!

The problem stems from the fact that the front teeth are narrow-edged. They are designed to tear, not to crush. When we use them to grind, they wear away very quickly. Grinding with our incisors creates short teeth and a loss of healthy cosmetics.

We identified the problems. Any solutions?

How do we fix this issue? I will give you some answers in our next column. Until then, if things are starting to change in your mouth and just don’t look right, please give me a call and ask me a question. I will do my best to help you. You can reach me at 440.951.7856

 

Jeffrey Gross, DDS, FAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

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Nutrition and the Durability of Your Teeth

 

Woman with salad and fork in her mouth

As a dentist, my primary concern for my patients is for the general health and durability of your teeth. Since they get used on a daily basis masticating, the obvious question of their ability to withstand wear, pressure, or damage comes to mind.

How long should my teeth last?

That’s a great question. Those of you who are regular readers probably know the answer to that.
So let me put that aside for right now and ask you a question.

“How Long Will You Last”?

Not to be morbid, but of course, it is a legitimate question.
In the Global Burden of Disease 2015 Study, dietary factors were the biggest cause of mortality in the U.S. That’s right! In the richest and most prosperous country, the way we eat was the most significant cause of death!
In fact, according to a 2013 report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, an organization that has been around since 1969, increasing our consumption of fruits and vegetables could save more than 100,000 lives and $17 billion in health care costs each year from heart disease alone!

The foods that age us

Foods that age us are typically acidic. We in the United States can call these fun foods. They are fun and appealing because we have made them the main foods in our diet. Sugary foods and refined grains, processed foods, and red meat. All of these foods are showing up in association with many diseases.

The ‘Epidemic of Plenty’

Our biggest epidemic…the epidemic of plenty has resulted in too many people being too obese. In fact, the medical community has classified obesity as an ailment in and of itself.

Following along the same lines, heart disease and diabetes with their associated problems have changed happy and productive lives to a treadmill of doctor and hospital visits. Daily pills are the norm, not the exception.

Aging better is possiblegood food-good health-good life

We can’t stop aging, but we can control to an extent the quality of life as we age. We can see this addressed in many societies around the world who age much differently than we do.

Dr. Michael Gregor, a leading physician who emphasizes nutrition as the best medicine, echoes this sentiment.
He discusses and recommends plants and fruit to stave off many diseases.
Many plants have an antiplatelet effect on our system. Platelets cause the blood to become sticky and clot. Clots in our arteries cause heart attacks and strokes.
One of the reasons that many of my patients take a baby aspirin daily is to counteract this clotting effect. The aspirin reduces the platelet activity and makes the blood thinner.
Isn’t it amazing that plants will do this also, without any possible stomach issues as are those associated with aspirin?
Strawberries and other berries will lower activated platelets.
These activated platelets are loaded with inflammatory chemicals. So just by eating more fruits and vegetables we can potentially reduce or limit many debilitating disorders the ‘epidemic of plenty’ causes.

Your teeth should last a lifetime.

A plant-based diet can make sure of it.carrot-kale-walnuts-tomatoes-berries

Now we know the answer to our initial question. Your teeth should last your entire life. The reason is obvious. If we want to live a long and vital life, we need to have a diet that is plant-centric.

We need to be filling the majority of our plates with whole grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and berries. However, to consume these, we need strong, durable and healthy teeth.

First of all, a plant-based diet eliminates most foods that attack our teeth via their associated stickiness. Sticky foods attract a load of bacteria and the acid that they produce. That’s a fast track to dental cavities. It’s no secret that tooth decay is the number one thing that will compromise the durability of your teeth.
Non-inflammatory foods allow our bodies to have greater resistance to disease in general. Including such plant-based foods into your diet translates into healthy gums and strong supporting bone.

Proper tooth maintenance is required

Grinding and chewing these fiber-filled foods efficiently & correctly requires healthy teeth and gums. Therefore, if you break a tooth, you need to have it fixed. In the event a tooth is lost, you need to replace it. Our mouth can be a very efficient device if we take care of it correctly. Unfortunately, many people take care of other machines in their lives better than their mouths. Not only is this disastrous for our oral health, but it is also detrimental to our general health. Proper nutrition can ensure you enjoy both for many healthy years to come.

If it has been a while since you had your teeth checked and evaluated to ascertain their level of health, don’t
hesitate to call me. You can reach me at 440.951.7856.
Megan will answer the phone and point you in the right direction.

Jeffrey Gross, DDS, FAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western
Reserve School of Dental Medicine

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