To Floss or Not to Floss? That is the Question!

dental flossRecently the Associated Press (AP) published an article entitled “Medical Benefits of Dental Floss Unproven”. This was a very interesting and well researched piece of journalism. It seems that the research in favor of flossing is not as solid as one would have hoped. This may in part be due to the fact that dental floss has been used in one way or another for over 100 years. It’s not surprising that research criteria were not as strict a century ago as they are today. It’s also disappointing though, that even the more recent studies involving flossing are not as rigorous as modern science requires.

That being said, it will remain my recommendation to continue daily flossing as it is my personal belief that proper use of floss not only prevents periodontal disease (the number one cause of tooth loss in adults), but also helps prevent tooth decay between the teeth. Let’s face it, no matter how well you brush, you can’t get a toothbrush in between your teeth to remove bacterial laden plaque. That I can prove!

I can remember my 10th grade history teacher proving that pigs can fly through the use of logic! Common sense however tells us that this is not the case. I suggest that we apply the same common sense to the question of flossing. For now…at least until additional research is done. After all, floss is cheap enough and only takes a minute or two to do.

Until I’m convinced otherwise, I’ll stand by my current recommendations:

  1. You don’t have to floss every day- just the days you eat!
  2. You don’t have to floss all your teeth- just the ones you want to keep!

I’d be more than happy to discuss any of your thoughts regarding flossing the next time you are in the office. In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding flossing, don’t hesitate to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence H. Stone, DDS, any time at 215-230-7667.

4 Dental Lessons to Learn From Your Car

Car Maintenance Checklist_Dr. Larry Stone

Now that it’s summertime and our thoughts turn to vacations and road trips, a recent post on the American Dental Association’s website for consumers caught my attention. It discussed how Americans tend to take care of their cars pretty faithfully, and yet, we don’t often perform the same routine maintenance on our teeth.

The following lessons from MouthHealthy.org draw from ways we maintain and preserve our cars to make them dependable. Getting oil changes, stopping for gas and going through the car wash are the things we do without a second thought to keep our car in tip-top shape. The same should be true of our teeth. Prevention is certainly the best medicine when it comes to taking care of the things you depend on most. Be sure you are getting the most mileage out of your mouth by using these strategies in your dental care routine.

Watch What Gets In Your Grill
A grill on a car keeps harmful things from getting under the hood. Think of your own grill, your mouth, as a filter system for your entire body. Everybody’s mouth is full of germs—some good, some bad. The bad ones can cause cavities and gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss. Severe gum disease is also associated with other medical problems, like diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Keep Your Fuel Tank Full
You wouldn’t put just anything in your fuel tank, so be aware of what you’re putting in your mouth. Keep your engine running with a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables.

Practice Preventative Maintenance
Your car won’t get very far without fresh oil and proper tire pressure. Your teeth also need regular care. Daily brushing and flossing are the best ways to keep your mouth healthy.

Get a Tune Up
Taking your car in for a tune up can extend the life of your vehicle and catch small repairs before they turn into big fixes. Regular visits to your dentist and good dental habits can prevent many dental diseases and will keep you smiling for years to come.

Be sure to ask us at your next visit how you can best keep tune up your mouth. You can contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA to discuss any concerns you may have and to schedule an appointment. We look forward to serving you.

Dental Check-ups = Prevention

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Sometimes I feel like a broken record, constantly reminding people of how important it is to see their dentist for regular dental check-ups. Two recent experiences though remind me of how important it really is to “hold the line”.

A month or so ago I helped to deliver over a million dollars in donated dental services to more than 2,000 needy people in the Allentown area in one weekend! This event, called a MOM (Mission of Mercy)-n-PA Event, was staffed by over 400 volunteer dentists, dental hygienists and assistants. Many of the patients receiving care had not seen a dentist in years, and believe me, it showed. Most people were having hopeless and infected teeth removed – a result of years of neglect. It’s just sad that so much of this could have been so easily prevented.

The second case actually occurred in my own practice. A patient who visits me infrequently came to have her teeth cleaned. I hadn’t seen her in the office in over a year. Decay had started without her knowledge under a large filling in one of her back molar teeth. Now, instead of an inexpensive repair, the tooth needs to be restored with a crown and may even need root canal therapy.

There are lessons to be learned in all of this: An ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure, especially at today’s prices! People also have to take responsibility for their own circumstances to the extent that they can. I can tell people to brush and floss, Even show them how to do it, but I can’t make them do it.

As your dentist, my goal is to help you achieve optimal dental oral health. Whenever you have questions about any dental care product, feel free to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA with any questions or concerns or to schedule your next visit so we can talk more about this. Remember, brushing two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily are important ways to take care of your dental health.

Halloween and the Surprising Truth about Cavities

Halloweenblog

Yes, it’s that time of year again – Halloween – now second only to the Christmas holiday in the amount of money and attention we pay to it as a culture. Halloween – that time of year when children across the country dream of dressing up as their favorite character and scouring the neighborhood for as much candy as they can carry. And for parents – it’s a time for enjoying the festivities but in the back of their minds – the worry of “sugared up” hyperactive kids bouncing off the walls and the inevitable tooth decay and dental bills from all of that sugar.

But if you think that it all begins with that first candy bar you couldn’t be more mistaken. The truth is that your child’s teeth are at risk long before their first exposure to sugar. Tooth decay is actually the result of a bacterial infection, specifically lactobacillus. Infants are born without these cavity-producing germs but typically are infected by their mothers before the age of two through sharing utensils and toothbrushes.

Once infected, children will be prone to decay for the rest of their lives! Sugars and other starchy carbohydrates contribute to the problem because they are the bacteria’s favorite food. Bacteria easily turn these foods into acids that eat away at the structure of the teeth by depleting calcium. Once the decay process destroys enough of the integrity of the tooth structure, it collapses, causing a cavity or hole in the tooth.

Bacteria do the most damage when they “colonize” on the surface of the tooth and form a transparent sticky film known as “plaque”. Plaque is actually a bio-film and concentrates the acids produced by the bacteria on the tooth surface. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimates that bio-films cause 80% of all human illnesses! It may also surprise you to know that at least 4 million preschoolers (about 40% of all 2-5 year olds) suffer from tooth decay making it the most common disease in children, affecting even more kids than asthma and diabetes!

In recent years tooth decay has been on the rise in part for the following reasons:

  • Some communities have opted to discontinue fluoridating their community water supplies. (Fluoride makes teeth more resistant to the acids produced by decay causing bacteria.) This is particularly surprising in light of the fact that the CDC has stated that community water fluoridation is one of the top ten public health advances in the last 100 years!
  • There has been an increase in the use of bottled water, which typically does not contain fluoride.
  • The prevalence of high fructose corn (HFC) syrup used as a sweetener in most of our processed foods including juices and sodas. HFC syrup can actually be more damaging to our teeth than other sugars! Sodas are particularly harmful because they are acidic to begin with and lower the pH of the saliva, making it even more acidic.
  • Many of us get our drinking water from wells that may not be naturally fluoridated.
  • Access to care in underserved areas of the country, and in some underserved populations, continues to be an issue in this country as well as a throughout the world.

So here is a list of my top 10 things you can do to improve the dental health of your children:

  1. Make sure your child has a dental check-up by the age of one as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and has regular visits thereafter.
  2. Use fluoride supplements if your local water is not fluoridated. Your dentist or pediatrician can supply you with appropriate prescriptions.
  3. Limit exposure to sugar and starchy carbohydrates, especially around the holidays. And remember, it’s not the total amount of sweets consumed, but the number of exposures to sweets throughout the day that matters most. I recall the mother of a childhood friend who took control of the Halloween stash and periodically doled it out to my friend over the next several months following the holiday!
  4. Set a good example. Take care of your own smile by practicing good oral hygiene, brushing and flossing regularly.
  5. Make sure your child brushes twice a day (after breakfast and before bed) for two minutes each time. Choose a child size toothbrush with soft bristles and replace it every 3-4 months.
  6. Consider using Xylitol products. Xylitol is an all-natural sugar substitute. It comes from beech trees and other natural plant sources and is “non-nutritive” to the bacteria that cause decay. It is also completely safe. (Studies have even shown that expectant mothers that chew Xylitol gum give birth to children who have healthier mouths!)
  7. Never allow infants to sleep or toddlers to walk around with milk or juice drinks. This produces what dentists call “baby bottle tooth decay”.
  8. Avoid toothpastes containing fluoride for children under the age of two; they tend to swallow it. Use water or a non-fluoridated toothpaste.
  9. For children ages 2-6 years old, use a pea-sized amount of a fluoride toothpaste, and make sure they spit it out after brushing. Any more than that is wasted.
  10. And remember – when in doubt, ask your dentist. With proper guidance, most children should be able to graduate high school today with no cavities!

There are many helpful references to this important topic, some of which have been used to develop this article. These include the ADA’s brochure: “Happiness is a Healthy Smile: A Message for Parents”, available through your local dentist, and Rebecca Feisenthal’s article in Parents Magazine: “The Surprising Truth About Cavities”, published in the October 2006 issue and available online at: http://www.parents.com/baby/health/baby-teeth/cavities/.

Other helpful websites where you can read more about this important topic include:
http://www.MouthHealthy.org (the ADA’s consumer site with a complete section on babies and kids)
www.choosemyplate.gov (for more information on healthy foods and drinks for your children)

Feel free to contact me or the staff at my office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA with any questionsor concerns on this important topic, or to schedule your next visit so we can talk more about this. In the meantime, have a safe and happy Halloween!

How’s your flossing technique?

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I remember the first time I learned how to floss properly. It was while working as an associate many years ago in Southampton with Dr. Norman Schenk, one of my early mentors. He was a great man. Kind to everyone, even under the most trying of circumstances. It was embarrassing because I had already been out of dental school for two years and didn’t know the correct flossing technique. In my defense however, I was never taught how to floss correctly, not even in dental school!

My philosophy today on flossing is really quite simple: You don’t have to floss everyday…only the days you eat! And you don’t have to floss all your teeth…only the ones you want to keep. Don’t waste your time with the rest!

If you’re not sure about what you are doing then please ask us. After all, you know we give “homework” here and we expect you to do it, and properly. So, if you haven’t been shown how, then shame on us. Any questions? Don’t hesitate to contact me or the office, Dr. Laurence Stone in Doylestown, PA, today to schedule your next appointment and we can talk more about this. See you soon!