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All dentists, hygienists and dental assistants are required to take regular continuing education in order to maintain a license. At Douglas Dental we take that requirement very seriously. We see the benefit of continuing education for gaining information on new techniques and finding “pearls” that can help us improve the patient experience and outcomes of treatment.

This fall has been full of continuing education for Douglas Dental. In September the Hygienists and I went to a course on periodontal disease and its connection to one’s overall health. The take-home message of this meeting was that periodontal disease has indeed been linked to other systemic health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.

The following week was the Des Moines District Dental Society annual meeting. This was an excellent meeting on medical emergencies in the dental office. Obviously, we hope we never need to utilize this knowledge, but it is always good to have a review in case an issue arises.

Last Friday I attended a course at the University of Iowa on Endodontics (root canals). The words “root canal” carries such a stigma and causes great anxiety to most patients. Thankfully technology now allows us to provide root canal treatment quickly and painlessly and with far better results than in the past.

Over the next few weeks I will be attending two different courses on dental implants. We have been restoring dental implants for many years, but the products are continually evolving to better serve us and the patient. This is one of the most exciting areas of dentistry right now.

Lastly, several of our office members will be participating in Iowa Mission of Mercy in October. This is a weekend of volunteer dental services provided to underserved individuals. It will take place in Des Moines at the Fairgrounds this year.

Flared bristles are a given that it ‘s time to change your brush and also means you are brushing too hard.

Indicator brushes will start to fade when it is time to change your brush. Even though we give you a “free” brush, be sure to change it every 3 months or sooner to get the optimal brushing you need. Some electric tooth brushes have indicators and should be monitored as well.

The American Dental Association recommends checking brushes frequently for wear and change more frequently if needed.  Check your children’s brushes as they can have a tendency to ‘chew’ on them as well.  If you have been ill change as soon as you feel better to lower the risk of re-infecting yourself with whatever ‘bug’ you may have had.

We gladly offer you a brush at each 6 month visit that is not meant to last you until your next check up.  Please contact us if you have any questions or comments.

When toothache pain strikes, most people’s first thought is to call a dentist. Unfortunately, there is an increasing trend for people to visit the Emergency Room (ER) for toothache pain. The American Dental Association recently reported in their newsletter that “The deterioration in private and public dental benefits coverage for adults has clearly created significant financial barriers to dental care – especially among young adults.”

More people visiting ER’s for their dental issues, rather than dental offices, puts a strain on the healthcare system that the Affordable Care Act cannot support. The Affordable Care Act does not mandate dental benefits for adults. ER’s cannot provide definitive dental treatment and are only able to provide medication for pain and infection. Regular exams along with timely treatment of decay and gum disease are the only ways to achieve dental health.

Most dental offices provide after-hours emergency contact numbers should such a situation arise. Douglas Dental makes every effort to be available for emergency situations and work with other providers if we are unavailable.

When we propose treatment for a patient, the most common questions we get are “Will it hurt?” and “Does my insurance cover that/How much will it cost?”

Well, in regards to the first question, we use all resources available to make all procedures comfortable. This includes topical/local anesthetics, Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and various other anxiety reducing methods.

The answer to the second question is often not as simple. Whether or not insurance covers any given procedure is dictated by individual plans. All insurance plans are different. Each plan has different yearly maximums, waiting periods, co-pays, etc. At Douglas Dental we make every effort to give our patients accurate estimates as to what we estimate insurance will cover on any given procedure. We are up front about our fees and the reality that insurance may not cover certain procedures.

Our goal is to assist, however possible, in making recommended and necessary treatment affordable. This includes accepting Care Credit, Credit/Debit Cards, and working with most major insurance companies. Jane in our front office is well qualified to answer insurance and billing questions should they arise.

Most people have experienced tooth sensitivity at some point in their lifetime. The causes of tooth sensitivity vary. One of the most common causes is recession of the gum tissue with root exposure. Gum recession can occur as a result of normal oral hygiene such as brushing. If the tissue is thin in certain areas, it will recede away from the tooth, resulting in exposure of the root surface. This can also occur as a result of gum disease. Either way, these areas can be very sensitive to temperature, sweets, etc.

There are several treatment options available for areas of sensitivity as a result of recession. Application of a desensitizer can be done, or the area can be bonded with tooth colored filling material to cover the area and eliminate sensitivity. Sensitivity protection toothpaste may also be recommended.

It is important to see your dentist if you are experiencing sensitivity issues. Some more serious issues such as decay or cracked tooth can cause sensitivity as well. The dentist will evaluate your particular situation and decide the best course of treatment.

WHO Channel 13 here in Des Moines recently did a segment on dental decay. The basis of the story was that a patient had gone to a dentist and was told they needed 12 fillings. This person then obtained a second opinion and was told that no fillings were necessary. The segment was fairly well done in that they pointed out the importance of asking questions and even getting a second opinion. This relates not only to dentistry, but to any medically-related procedure.

First and foremost there needs to be a high level of trust between the patient and the healthcare provider. Our goal at Douglas Dental is to establish this trust early on. In a situation such as the one in the news piece, there needs to be very open conversation. One way we are able to help patients see problems we diagnose is with an intra-oral camera. This allows patients to see the tooth or teeth on a monitor and clearly see the problem that exists. We are also to show xrays on a monitor so patients can see things more clearly than on a small film.

Again, the take-home message of this is that if you do not feel comfortable with a diagnosis, there is nothing wrong with obtaining a second opinion.

Douglas Dental had some activities over this past weekend worth mentioning. Jane attended the Star of The North Dental Meeting in Minneapolis. Along with attending lecture classes, she spent considerable time on the exhibit floor checking out the latest and greatest dentistry has to offer. Some of the newest trends in dentistry are the use of Botox and Dermal fillers to aid in smile design. Lasers were also a hot topic.

Douglas Dental also sponsored a tent at a softball Tournament at Walker Johnson Park in Urbandale. This was a benefit for a great cause “Kids Living Brave”. This is a foundation that was created by a Johnston couple who has a son battling leukemia. Their aim is to help other families in similar situations cope with the challenges of a child undergoing cancer treatment.

My daily schedule is often unpredictable. Most days I have time to grab some lunch, but often just something at my desk between patients. If I do have time to get out of the office, I have found a new lunchtime favorite. Wasabi Chi is located just to the east of my office on Douglas, just past Merle Hay Road.

I have made several visits there for lunch. My usual is the Sashimi lunch special. It comes with soup and salad and a generous chef’s choice of sashimi. I’ve never been disappointed with the food and service is excellent.

In addition to lunches, we have done dinners with family or friends as well. My daughters were very surprised to learn they had eaten “squid” when we ordered the calamari. Now we can’t go without getting the calamari and shrimp wonton appetizers. The girls have broadened their horizons and have tried several types of sushi.

I would highly recommend Wasabi Chi whether it’s for a quick lunch getaway or nice evening meal.

Recently Dr. Oz had a segment on his show addressing the use of Dental Amalgam. Amalgam is a mix of metals that when combined are initially soft and pliable but after time, set and become very hard. The controversy with amalgam is that it contains mercury. This is the reason Dr. Oz recently looked into the issue.

The concern over mercury exposure is certainly understandable. Consideration must be given to whether or not there is any scientific basis as to whether amalgam is unsafe. To this point, the American Dental Association has repeatedly stated that dental amalgam is a safe restorative material.

At Douglas Dental we understand concerns that patients may have regarding the mercury content of amalgam. We also take scientific evidence into play when making treatment decisions. For that reason, when the need for a filling is diagnosed, options are always presented to the patient and they are allowed to decide. There are certain clinical situations where I continue to feel amalgam may be the best restorative option to give the tooth a good prognosis.

There have been some claims that removal of dental amalgams can alleviate certain medical conditions. I would strongly caution people against this practice. Certainly if there are problems with old fillings, removal and replacement is recommended. However, removal on the basis that certain conditions will be alleviated brings serious ethical questions.

Soda is now the most consumed beverage in the United States. The average American consumes over 40 gallons of soda per year. This staggering amount of soda intake has obvious health consequences ranging from obesity to osteoporosis.

From a dental perspective, the deleterious effects of high soda intake can be devastating. The acidic nature of soda and many energy drinks can destroy enamel. The high sugar content also contributes to decay as it is fuel for the bacteria that cause decay. Diet sodas are also very acidic and for that reason can be detrimental to enamel as well. The advantage of diet soda is that it obviously does not contain the sugar of regular soda. Diet soda has been linked many additional health problems.

Sipping on soda or other sugary drinks all day long is most detrimental. If you do drink soda, rinse with water after drinking.

At Douglas Dental we frequently see patients that have severe decay problems, often as a result of very high soda consumption. Our goal is to work with the patient to eliminate the soda intake. Along with this we can treat the decay and keep the patient on regular recall and provide additional tools such as fluoride supplementation to help prevent further decay.

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