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...

Makeovers - Maybe It's Time to Smile

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

The other night my wife was watching a reality TV show called "Extreme Makeovers". Don’t tell anyone but I was watching it also. This is a show where people start out as ugly ducklings and then are incredibly transformed into swans by the end of the show. This magic is done with the help of plastic surgery, fitness experts and cosmetic dentistry. This particular episode had a shy young woman named Amy who looked to be in her twenties. You could really tell that this woman had suffered in her youth from the teasing brought on by the way she looked. That problem about herself that bothered her the most was her teeth. She spent most of her life with oddly spaced, discolored ugly teeth. This problem affected her self confidence so much, that she rarely smiled or even spoke to anyone. Her cosmetic dentistry makeover consisted of porcelain veneers and teeth whitening. The porcelain veneers are thin shells of porcelain which are bonded to her existing teeth. The beauty of this procedure is that in one feel swoop, a dentist can correct color imperfections, size problems and also spacing issues. The veneers, being made of porcelain, appear perfectly lifelike and natural. They can lighten dark teeth, lengthen teeth shortened by the ravages of time, and straighten teeth for those people who might not have had the ability to get braces when they were younger.

This process was painless and the results were quickly seen. For her teeth that did not receive veneers, a bleaching process lightened them to match the veneers.
When Amy saw her teeth for the first time, she started sobbing. She just couldn’t believe the difference her teeth made in her overall appearance. Amy felt that just the improvement in her teeth alone would make a big change in her life. It gave her the boost in confidence she needed to get out and join the rest of the world. This young woman’s happiness was so evident and extreme, that my wife sat there with tears streaming down her face. My wife was amazed at the effect cosmetic dentistry had on this woman. I wasn’t surprised because I see it all the time. The advances in cosmetic dentistry have made it easier and more predictable than ever.

If you, or a family member or friend have been thinking about changing your appearance, consider improving your smile. Most people notice a nice smile on someone’s face above everything else. A nice smile will definitely improve a person’s self confidence. Who knows, this might also lead to a better job and a higher quality of life. Ask your dentist for an opinion about what can be done for you. You will be glad you did.