Root Canal Awareness Week

The Simple Truth About a Root Canal

Root CanalWhoops! I missed it too! Root Canal Awareness Week was March 27 to April 2 and indeed, this week celebrated its 10th anniversary according to the American Association of Endodontists. With all of the days and weeks devoted to the myriad of causes and issues that occupy our consciousness these days, I’m really not that surprised to see a week devoted to root canal treatment.

The reason I decided to write about it, however, comes from the fact that so many people fear it and associate it with pain. I am reminded of this fact constantly by patients and there were several recently that made comments to this effect.

The simple truth, however, reveals a much different story. Root canal treatment (or endodontic therapy as we dentists call it) is actually a painless procedure when done properly. I believe that people’s fear of it stem from the fact that toothache pain is one of the major symptoms necessitating root canal treatment. In other words, the close association of tooth pain and endodontic treatment confuse many people into believing that they are interchangeable, when in reality, root canal treatment is what is needed to eliminate the pain of an infected tooth!

If you have any questions regarding this tooth saving therapy don’t hesitate ask us the next time you visit or in the meantime, you can contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA.

CariVu – A new view at tooth decay

We are pleased to be introducing CariVu™ to our practice. CariVu is a new fiber optic trans-illumination technology from Dexis that will help us with better and earlier diagnosis of tooth decay (caries), between your teeth. Earlier detection of course, leads to more conservative and less expensive treatment options.

carivuThe CariVu technology is painless, and allows us to produce Images that are radiation free. The technology works by bathing the tooth in safe, near-infrared light which makes the tooth’s enamel appear transparent, while porous lesions trap and absorb the light. Images read like familiar X-ray images.

This new technology, in conjunction with your periodic exam, x-rays and hygiene visit will help to improve your overall dental health.

Please ask us about CariVu or any of oral health issue the next time you are in the office or in the meantime, you can contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA.

Onlay vs. Dental Crown: Which is Better for Your Teeth?

dental_crownsCrowns and onlays are laboratory fabricated restorations that are made to restore and protect teeth that can’t be fixed with fillings, either because there was too much decay or there is too much tooth structure missing. Simply put, fillings have limitations. They just “ fill in” that part of the tooth that Is missing, but they don’t necessarily strengthen or protect the teeth from the forces generated during chewing.

In cases where there has been extensive loss of tooth structure, we often recommend a crown or an onlay, the difference being that an onlay covers just the biting surface of the tooth while the margins of a crown extend all the way to the gum line. Obviously, the crown is a more extensive restoration and involves the removal of more tooth structure. Onlays are typically preferred where the damage to the tooth is more minimal and restoration doesn’t require the removal of as much tooth structure for retention.

Both crowns and onlays can be made of different materials including gold, porcelain fused to various metals and a whole host of tooth colored ceramic materials, depending on the competing needs for strength and esthetics. The goal, of course, is to restore the normal anatomy and esthetics of the tooth so that it can function properly in the mouth.

Either restoration can last for many years if cared for properly. That means practicing excellent oral hygiene and regular visits to the dental office to prevent problems such as tooth decay and gum disease, which can threaten the longevity of any dental restoration.

So, which is best? It just depends on your individual situation. We’ll help you make that decision if the necessity arises. It’s a little like going to the ice cream store- chocolate, vanilla, etc. It’s not that one’s right and the other wrong. You’re still getting your ice cream!

If you have questions, please ask us about any of these issues the next time you are in the office or in the meantime, you can contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA.

12 Things That Can Harm Your Teeth

HealthySmilesBlogHaving healthy teeth is not only important to your overall appearance but your oral health contributes to your overall well being. Here are 12 things you can avoid to maintain and/or achieve better oral health.

  1. Sugary Foods and Drinks
    Food and drinks that are sugary promote an environment that is conducive to the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease.
  1. Lack of Water
    A dry mouth is the worst environment for decay, allowing the bacteria to multiply and preventing saliva from buffering the acids they make.
  1. Nail Biting
    Habits like nail biting can cause excessive wear and chipping of the front teeth.
  1. Heavy Brushing
    Using anything other than a soft toothbrush will cause erosion and unnecessary wear of the teeth.
  2.  Acidic Foods and Beverages
    Acidic foods and beverages dissolve tooth structure and also promote an environment that promotes the harmful bacteria in the oral cavity.
  1. Neglecting Baby Teeth
    Primary teeth are essential to maintaining the space and relationships needed to ensure proper development and eruption of the permanent teeth.
  1. Using Your Teeth as Tools
    Using your teeth to open bobby pins, beer bottles or to bite string, etc. can chip teeth and cause excessive wear.
  1. Thumb Sucking
    Prolonged thumb sucking beyond the age of 4 can result in a narrow arch form, protrusion of the permanent front teeth and orthodontic problems in general.
  1. Smoking
    Smoking not only is related to oral cancer, but constricts peripheral blood vessels and contributes to periodontal disease.
  1. Chewing Ice
    Chewing ice leads to cold sensitivity and cracked teeth.
  1. Grinding
    Grinding (or bruxism) causes excessive wear, fractured teeth and contributes to jaw joint problems.
  1. Failure to Wear Athletic Guards
    Engaging in contact sports while not wearing the appropriate athletic mouth guard can lead to quite severe traumatic injuries to the teeth including tooth loss.

If you have questions, please ask us about any of these issues the next time you are in the office or in the meantime, you can contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA.

We’re always here to help.

The Myth of Dental Insurance

Portrait of family keeping their hands one another at home

In my last blog I spoke of the inevitable changes that we will be seeing in dentistry. The dental insurance marketplace is one area that should be included in that discussion, if only because so little has changed, with the exception of how successful they have become in controlling the dental marketplace. I would estimate that 80% of our patients have some form of dental insurance, yet few really understand what this really means for them.

A quick look at the facts:

  1. “Insurance” is intended to help with catastrophic problems (i.e. The current flooding in the Mid-west, Hurricane Katrina, your home is destroyed in a fire, etc.)
  2. There is NO comparable “catastrophic” downside in dentistry!
  3. No dental insurance company has ever lost a nickel on a dental plan. There are so many deductibles , co-pays, and limitations that they can’t lose money! (Have you ever heard of a State Lottery or the Powerball Jackpot losing money?)
  4. In 1975 the annual maximum payout per person in dental plans was about $1,000. Today, 40 years later, it is still only about $1,000. The only thing that has increased are the premiums!
  5. In the average indemnity plan patients only see about 65 cents in return for every dollar in premium paid. The rest goes to the insurance company’s cost of doing business, salaries, profits, etc.
  6. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, not providing dental care. Providing dental care is only incidental to why they exist!

I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. We would be happy to discuss any concerns you have regarding dental insurance and I want you to know that we will do everything possible to maximize any benefits you may have coming to you. For those without dental coverage, I am happy to announce that we now offer our own “in-house” dental program to help control costs. Please ask us for details. If you have any questions in the meantime, you can contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA.

We’re always here to help.

Happy New Year! from Dr. Larry Stone

HappyNewYearAs we begin the New Year I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a healthy and successful 2016. No doubt it will be an interesting and exciting year, especially with a presidential election looming ahead.

The New Year always brings changes, and dentistry is no different in that regard. The familiar adage: “The only constant is change” applies to all. At the ADA meeting last October in Washington, DC, I attended a program entitled “The Future of Dentistry”. There are changes coming not only in how dentistry is delivered but in new materials and technologies as well.

As always, we will do our best to keep up with new developments and to keep you informed of the advancements in the science and art of dentistry that have been scientifically shown to produce positive results and good outcomes.

I look forward to seeing you in the New Year. If you have any questions in the meantime, you can contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA to discuss any concerns you may have about any issue in the field of dentistry.

How Long Should Your Teeth Last?

Portrait of family keeping their hands one another at home

Last week our local paper, The Intelligencer (Sunday, October 25,2015), ran a terrific article by Sarah H. Kagan, PhD, RN entitled “Getting Older Doesn’t Mean You Have to Lose Your Teeth”. Dr. Kagan is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing where she specializes in geriatric issues. Being married to a geriatric nursing specialist has also given me the opportunity to learn quite a bit about older folks. God willing, I may someday even become one myself!

Basically, Dr. Kagan espouses what I have been telling my patients for years – which is despite the fact that we humans only get 2 sets of teeth, “baby” or primary teeth and “adult” or permanent teeth, those permanent teeth should be just that…permanent! In other words, with the knowledge and technology available to us today, people should be able to keep their teeth for a lifetime.

Now the interesting question becomes: What constitutes a “lifetime”? The February/March issue of TIME Magazine featured an infant on the cover with the headline: “This Baby Could Live to be 142 Years Old”!

Do I think that even under the best of circumstances we could keep our adult teeth for 142 years, or even 400 years as Aubrey DeGrey has suggested – once we find a cure for cancer? NO, I don’t, even though tooth enamel is the 7th hardest naturally occurring substance known to man!

Given the fact that my father and grandfather both lost all their teeth and wound up wearing dentures, this is a concern to me. In fact, it used to give me nightmares! But no more, now that we have dental implants widely available. If for some reason, despite my meticulous home care, I should lose my teeth, I would get dental implants.

Just as people who need new hips or knees can get hip and knee replacements, most patients who lose teeth can have them comfortably replaced with dental implants.But for now, let’s take care of those pearly whites that God has blessed us with.

For more on how to take care of your teeth, visit my earlier post on four dental lessons you can learn from your car, or If you have any questions in the meantime, you can contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA to discuss any concerns you may have about this or any other issue in the field of dentistry.

Who’s Your Dentist?

Stone_dentistsign

I know I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but over the last few months I’ve had occasion to ask several people I’ve met who their dentist was. What I heard in response was the name of some corporate entity, usually beginning with the letter “A”. When I then said: “No, I don’t think you understand…Who is your dentist?”, I would get this puzzled look. They couldn’t tell me the name of their dentist because they didn’t know it. I guess they were just seen by whatever dentist was working there that day!

Dentistry as a profession is changing –no doubt. There are currently about 8,000 dentists in the U.S working in large group practices and many more in smaller multi-office groups. Groups are not necessarily a bad thing, but when corporate entities and franchises like Aspen Dental are dictating (contrary to State laws) how dentists can practice in their offices and forcing dentists to adhere to quotas (as recently happened in New York State), the best interests of patients are not being served.

A friend recently said to me that when a dentist doesn’t feel good enough about what he or she is doing to put his or her own name on the sign in front of the office, you probably don’t want to be going there. By the way, it’s against the law in Pennsylvania NOT to have your name on the sign in front of your office!

Buyer beware! Welcome to the age of consumerism!

Please feel free to discuss this issue with me at your next appointment! If you have any questions in the meantime, you can contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA to discuss any concerns you may have about this or any other issue in the field of dentistry.

What’s All The Buzz About E-cigarettes?

E-cigaretees_Drl Larry  Stone Blog

E-cigs are electrical devices that vaporize propylene glycol or polyethylene glycol-based liquid solutions into aerosol mists typically  containing various concentrations of nicotine. Having been marketed since 2007 or so, the use of e-cigs (vaping) has now exploded to a multi-billion dollar industry primarily targeted at young people and now heavily controlled by the tobacco industry. The three largest tobacco companies now control over 70% of the e-cig market.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the prevalence of use of e-cigs has increased nine-fold among high school students and now exceeds the use of cigarettes in that population. Having prevailed in federal court cases, the industry has succeeded in having e-cigs labeled as “tobacco products” instead of “ drug delivery devices” which makes it much easier to market these products, especially to young people. Because there are currently no product standards for e-cigarettes, they are almost entirely unregulated on the U.S. market!

There have been precious few studies evaluating the health consequences or long term effects of e-cigs, especially in young people. What the scientific community does know is that:

  1. The effects of nicotine on the developing brains of teenagers include altered development of the cerebral cortex and hippocampus.
  2. Smokers who use e-cigs are 59% less likely to quit smoking than those who do not use them.
  3. High levels of nicotine dosing via e-cigs may increase the risk of periodontal disease.
  4. The American Heart Association, The American Association for Cancer Research, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Forum of International Respiratory Societies and the American Association for Dental Research have all cautioned against the use of e-cigs.

So there you have it! Just don’t do it!

See you soon for your next appointment! If you have any questions in the meantime, you can contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA to discuss any concerns you may have regarding the use of e-cigarettes.

Are Dental X-Rays Safe

Dr.LarryStone_Dental Xrays

Most people are familiar with having dentals x-rays taken periodically at dental visits and recognize the benefits of a dental x-ray examination. Occasionally someone still asks me if these X-rays are “safe”. The short answer Is “yes”, but some explanation may be more helpful.

First, dental X-rays involve a fraction of the amount of radiation delivered versus a medical X-ray. Radiation delivered for a treatment purpose, such as targeting cancerous cells in the body (as opposed to X-rays taken for diagnostic purposes), deliver many times more radiation than is required in a dental exam. For example, the amount of radiation one receives for dental purposes is often compared to the amount a person would receive from the environment after spending a sunny day at the beach or after a plane flight at 39,000 feet.

Second, only a small part of the body is typically exposed to a dental X-ray, with the rest often protected by a lead lined shield.

Third, the American Dental Association has instituted a safety protocol referred to as ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Allowable),which offers guidance in minimizing the dosage of radiation needed in specific situations.

Fourth, Pennsylvania requires regular inspection and registration for all X-ray machines (including dental X-rays equipment) to guarantee the public’s safety.

And lastly, many scientific organizations have developed recommendations or regulations on the proper, safe and effective use of X-rays in dentistry, including the Center for Devices and Radiological Health of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the American Dental Association as I mentioned, the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, and the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements.

Therefore, as you can see, a lot of people are concerned with your safety with respect to the use of dental X-rays so that you can relax more and enjoy your visit!

See you soon at the office! If you have any questions in the meantime, you can contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA to discuss any concerns you may have regarding dental x-rays.