Don't put your money where your mouth is....

Posted by Dr. Edward Magida | Filed under , ,

Throughout the years, people have always commented to me about how they "could never do what I do". They ask how I can have no problem placing my hands inside other peoples' mouths. I tell people that I really never thought of things in the same way they do. To me, it's never been an issue about where my hands go to do their job. That said, I have found, however, a practice that some people do with their hands that totally revolts me. It skeeves me every time I see it happen. Does it bother anyone else out there when they see people licking their fingers so that they can count things. You know what I mean, the checkout person at the supermarket who has to lick her finger to count out your change. The guy at the lottery machine who has to re-count all the Super 6 tickets you just bought for the office pool. Those guys, those saliva fingered, don't even realize what they're doing and how it grosses you out, guys. There is even a super finger licker type out there, even worse than the average person who hands you back wet bills as change. How about the guy who must stop and re-lick his finger for every piece of paper he counts. That's right, some people lick every 5-6 sheets or bills. The super licker licks his finger before each sheet is counted, a 1:1 lick: count ratio, if you will. I'm a dentist and I can't tell you how much this annoys me. Yuck!

Being a dentist, I tend to be very analytical about things so I decided to put some perspective and spin on the subject of my above mentioned pet peeve. There have been several studies done to determine the "cleanliness" of dollar bills that circulate through our society. Paper money is very commonly contaminated with all kinds of bacteria. This happens because of the large number of times a bill gets into the hands of different people. On a weekly basis it could be over a hundred.

When you put the greenbacks under a microscope you can find things even Freddy Kruger would find revolting. Staphylococcus aureus, which are germs found in the nose, as well as Klebsiella pneumoniae, both of which can cause pneumonia or blood infections. There are other less harmful strains of bacteria found also. For the most part, most people will probably not have a problem with the bills. The problem arises however when someone who is immune compromised comes in contact with "dirty money". 7% of paper money and 18% of coins were found to harbor traces of fecal bacteria, including E. coli and other strains. Your mother always told you to wash your hands after going to the bathroom, now you know why. Perhaps someone can tell the patrons in the mens' rooms along the New Jersey Turnpike these facts, if you know what I mean.

The real threat about paper money is that the US dollar is a global currency. It moves a lot around the world and this could possibly help to spread disease. It might be a theoretical problem, but it sounds interesting, especially in the era of drug-resistant bacteria moving from one place to another.

The real shocker about money, however, is not the bacteria on Abe Lincoln. It's cocaine. In large cities, upwards of 90% of the bills tested had traces of cocaine on them. This does not mean that most bills have been up someones nose in the past. Most of the contamination is passed from dollar to dollar by currency counting machines. As a dentist, I would always stress to you the importance of brushing your teeth for the obvious reasons. Now I giving you another reason, especially if you are one of the "finger lickers". There is an expression "put your money where your mouth is". I would think twice...

Burning Mouth Syndrome

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

Over the past several years, I have seen a handful of patients who report that their mouths burn. These people have what is called Burning Mouth Syndrome, which is a common problem that causes a person to have a burning sensation on their lips and tongue. Occasionally the pain can be felt anywhere in the mouth including down the throat. Usually there is not any sign of irritation in the persons' mouth. Its cause can be from a multitude of things. Menopause is one cause as are certain vitamin deficiencies such as iron, zinc, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine and cobalamin. Although it can happen to anyone, the condition usually happens to older females, over 65 years of age.

The main symptoms as stated before are a burning or scalding sensation anywhere in the oral cavity. Other symptoms can be dry mouth, and bitter or metallic tastes.

Patients report that the sensation happens spontaneously, and it usually intensifies throughout the day. It is not unusual for sufferers to have more than one cause attributed to the problem. Xerostomia (dry mouth), irritating dentures, oral thrush, allergies and acid reflux have all been implicated the ailment. Any medications that can cause dry mouth can be suspect, and there are many drugs that fall into this category. Cancer therapy treatments involving chemotherapy and radiation can also be a part of the cause. Research also points to psychological causes, such as depression and anxiety.

Your dentist can look for signs of dry mouth as well as thrush. He or she can review your medical history to see if you are now on any new medications which could be the culprit. If the cause seems to be dry mouth, the obvious treatment is to drink plenty of fluids. Also, a prescription for medicines that promote more salivary flow might be needed. If thrush is present than medications to treat this will be prescribed. Poorly fitting dentures should be adjusted or new dentures made to help prevent oral irritations. Occasionally your dentist might refer you to your family physician to decide if other tests, such as blood, allergy, liver or thyroid, to see if there are any abnormalities that can be detected.

If you or anyone you know is having this problem it would be wise to visit your dentist for an examination.