The Health Questionnaire - an absolute necessity

Posted by Dr. Edward Magida | Filed under , ,

"I'm only hear for a check up, why do I need to do that?" This is a question we hear in the office several times per month. The next question is usually... "why do you need to know what drugs I'm taking?" For some unknown reason, people think that their teeth are totally independent from the rest of their bodies and there is no connection between oral health and the health of the rest of the body.

Whenever a new patient enters our practice, it is necessary to obtain certain information about any drugs they are taking or are allergic to. Also, any diseases or conditions the person has, or has had , is important for your dentist to know. We do not ask the questions just because we are nosey, we do it because there are dental procedures that are affected by certain things going on in the body. There are also certain conditions that can be exacerbated by dental treatment.

"Why do you need to know if I have a heart murmur, all I want is an exam and to get my teeth cleaned? I don't get my doctor's permission every time I take a shower and clean myself, so why is it so important for you to know all about me when all I want is clean teeth?" It might not seem important, but the simple act of cleaning a persons teeth could put them in a potentally life threatening situation. Luckily it does not happen very often, but if a person has a certain type of a heart murmur, there is a chance, albeit very small, that an infection could start around their heart valve after any type of dental treatment. If the dentist knew ahead of time, all that is needed is to have the patient premedicate with antibiotics before any dental treatment Popping a few pills is certainly much less of a headache than destroying a heart valve.

Other important things that the dentist needs to know are if the are any artificial joints or other parts in the body. Allergies to drugs need to be known for the obvious reason. We need to know which drugs a person can or can't take if the occasion should arise. A woman needs to mention if she is taking birth control pills because certain antibiotics make them less effective and other forms of contraception might be needed on an interim basis to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

For existing patients, a health questionnaire needs to be updated at least once a year. A person might have recently found out about a heart problem they have and needs to share this information with the dental team. Even something as seemingly innocent as having to take aspirin daily to help prevent a heart attack should be told to the dentist so that appropriate measures can be taken if needed. For instance, we all know that aspirin thins the blood and this makes people tend to bleed easier and longer. If such a patient had a tooth extracted, I might put in a stitch to help control the bleeding, just for added insurance that the area will heal properly.

So when you are asked to update your health records, please do not think we are prying into your personal life. We just want to make your visit to the dental office as comfortable and easy as possible.

Easy solutions to a common problem

Posted by Dr. Edward Magida | Filed under , , , ,

Do you find your co-workers offering you mints or gum all the time? Do meetings end up with you alone at one end of the table? Don't fret, you could be one of the millions of people who have bad breath. Many people don't even know they are offensive to others because most times you cannot smell your own breath.

If you were to believe all the commercials, then all you would need to do would be to use this mouthwash or that and your problems would be solved. Or would it be? Bad breath is a condition that cannot be cured - only controlled. Most breath care products don't really control the problem. They only temporarily cover things up. After about 15-20 minutes the problem starts to come back because the cause of the problem has not been addressed.

The cause of bad breath is bacteria. The oral cavity harbors millions and millions of odor causing bacteria. As the bacteria digest the foods that pass through our mouths, they give off a gas, methyl mercaptan that contains sulfur. Sulfur is the compound that gives rotten eggs their awful smell. It is this sulfur-containing gas which causes a person's breath to smell bad.

So what is a person to do? Trying to eliminate the bacteria from your mouth is impossible. The bacteria recolonize within hours. Most of the mouthwashes that are available have alcohol in them. Alcohol is a good drying agent, but not the best at killing off the bugs in your mouth. In fact, as the alcohol dries out your mouth, the bacteria tend to proliferate on the dried out oral tissues.

Good oral hygiene is a must when you want to beat bad breath. Brushing 2-3 times daily as well as flossing are needed to control bacteria and the plaque they produce. One largely overlooked area of oral hygiene is the tongue. The top of the tongue, especially towards the back, has many ridges and grooves on it. The bacteria in your mouth thrive in these grooves. What also tends to happen on your tongue is that a coating develops on it. The coating is made up of food debris, bacterial plaque, and bits and pieces of dead tissue from the inside of your mouth. If you clean off the top of your tongue on a daily basis, then most of the gas-producing bacteria will be eliminated for most of the day. There are products called tongue scrapers that will help you do this.

The last piece of the oral hygiene puzzle is to use a mouthwash and toothpaste that contains Chlorine dioxide. There are several on the market. The key thing here is twofold. Because there is no alcohol, the mouth rinse will not dry out your mouth and cause bacteria to multiply at a faster rate. The chlorine dioxide is a compound that has been proven to remove the sulfur gases in your mouth for many hours. It is much more effective at controlling bad breath than any other product on the market.

To gauge the extent of the bad breath and also to measure the effectiveness of the treatment, there is an instrument called a halimeter. This instrument is extremely sensitive to sulfur molecules and measures them in parts per billion.

Many times an initial assessment i .

Most times treating bad breath simply requires changing the way a person performs oral hygiene procedures. The problem is easily solved.

A dental check up…It's not a pit stop

Posted by Dr. Edward Magida | Filed under , , ,

It is very interesting to me that for some people, setting up an appointment for dental treatment is synonymous with ordering a pizza. They want it quick and easy and many times don't really care about how good it is, since after all, it's only a pizza. Consider the person who had not seen the inside of a dental office for many years. I'll call him Mr. Jones.

Upon calling the office for an appointment, Jones explains that his last check-up and cleaning were done "awhile ago." He's calling because he would like to have his teeth cleaned as soon as possible. His teeth do not bother him, he says, except for the food that keeps getting stuck in a big hole in the back somewhere. Jones says he tries to keep up with brushing most days, and if it were not for the persistent nagging of his wife about his bad breath, he would not have called at all. He would have waited until something really started to bother him.

What is interesting about Jones is that he recently bought himself the sports car of his dreams. A real beauty. He washes it religiously every weekend, wouldn't think of putting anything less than premium gas into it and has the oil and filter changed every 3,000 miles without exception.

When it comes to his dental health, however, it's a different story; Jones thinks sporadic dental office visits ought to be sufficient. He wants someone to give a quick look-see, and then give a quick buff and shine to his teeth. These are the very teeth, which unlike his car, get used all day, everyday of his life. The teeth, that if lost, would be sorely missed.

The receptionist asks what type of cleaning Jones needs. Does he need a simple above the gum prophylaxis or polishing? Or, perhaps the two to four longer visits with the hygienist for quadrant scaling and root planing to take off the years of tartar deposits that have covered Jones teeth and gone below the gumline, now causing him periodontal disease.

Jones is taken back. He now has to stop and think about something he has never really thought about before. Unlike the careful thought he gives to the car that he probably will trade in for the latest model in several years, the question of his teeth is disconcerting.

The question about the kind of cleaning he needs will hopefully get him thinking about his teeth and their proper care. Unlike his car, his teeth are the only ones he will get. A change in attitude about them is called for.

When a patient comes in for hygiene or "recare" appointment as it is now called it is not like he is bringing his car into a quick-lube garage. A lot of thought and skill goes into the appointment.

Here are some of the services performed by the dentist; all good reasons for continued routine dental treatment.

Your dentist should:

  1. Review medical history and modify treatment as needed.
  2. Perform a blood pressure screening. Many times the dentist sees the patient more than the physician, so a problem might be detected sooner.
  3. Perform oral cancer screening.
  4. Screen for periodontal disease.
  5. Perform cavity and tumor detecting x-rays.
  6. Examine existing fillings and detect new cavities.
  7. Evaluate your bite and the consequences of missing or crossed teeth.
  8. Re-check fit of dentures.
  9. Remove tartar, plaque and stain.
  10. Provide fluoride treatment and other medicaments.
  11. Plan treatment for your present and future dental needs.
  12. Evaluate total dental needs and make referral to a specialist if needed.
  13. Talk to you about cutting edge dental technology and treatment available.

The old adage "floss only those teeth you want to keep" holds truth. So much is known today about dental disease and how to control or eliminate it. A person owes it to himself or herself to take care of his teeth properly. The next item you seek out the services of a dentist or hygienist, or you receive your reminder card that says it is time again for the dentist to see you, be assured the dentist is there to help. Use your dental professional as a resource. Ask questions about your mouth and problems that your are experiencing.

For dentists, a patient with a beautiful smile and a healthy mouth is what it's all about.

If your dentist doesn't answer your questions to your liking or doesn't seem to really care, it's time to find a new one. Healthy teeth are part of the equation for good quality of life. The dental profession is trying very hard to educate people that their teeth can very easily last a lifetime, if cared for properly.