Could A Dental Checkup Save Your Life?

dental-checkup-300Most everyone knows that going to see your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings can help save your smile — but did you ever stop to think that it just might save your life?

That’s what recently happened to 11-year-old Journee Woodard of Edmond, Oklahoma. The young girl was having a routine teeth cleaning when hygienist Rachel Stroble noticed something unusual: The whites of her eyes (her sclera) had a distinctly yellow tint. Dr. Michael Chandler, Journee’s dentist, confirmed the hygienist’s suspicions, and advised her mom to take her for further testing. The tests revealed that Journee had a tumor covering parts of her pancreas, gallbladder and liver; it could have ruptured at any moment, with devastating consequences.

The tumor was removed three days later in a 9-hour operation, and Journee is now recovering. As for her dentist, Dr. Chandler told reporters that he and his staff were just doing their jobs thoroughly. “It’s hard to feel like I’m a hero,” he said (though others might disagree).

Is this a one-in-a-million case? Maybe — yet for many people, a family dentist may be the health care professional who is seen more often than any other. That can put dentists in the unique position of being able to closely monitor not only a person’s oral health, but also their overall health.

There are several reasons why that’s so. One is that most systemic diseases (such as diabetes, leukemia, and heart disease, for example) can have oral manifestations — that is, symptoms that show up in the mouth. If your dentist notices something unusual, further testing may be recommended. Dentists also regularly screen for diseases specific to the mouth — such as oral cancer, which has a much better chance of being cured when it is caught at an early stage.

But beyond checking for particular diseases, dentists often notice other things that may indicate a health issue. For example, if you complain of dry mouth or snoring, and appear fatigued in the dental chair, your dentist may suspect undiagnosed sleep apnea: a potentially serious condition. Many other signs — such as yellowed eyes, a pounding heart rate, or shortness of breath — can indicate potential problems.

Of course, we’re not even mentioning the main reason for regular dental checkups — keeping your smile healthy and bright; for many people that’s reason enough. How does Journee’s mom feel about keeping dental appointments? “I will never miss another dentist appointment,” she told reporters. “I will never reschedule.”

If you would like more information about routine dental checkups, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Dental Hygiene Visit” and “Good Oral Health Leads to Better Health Overall.”

Commonly Used Orthodontic Treatments

braces(2)There are several different types of braces that you can choose from.

Unless you are one of the rare people who was born with perfectly straight teeth than you are probably looking for a way to fix your crooked, misaligned or overcrowded smile. While orthodontic treatment has often been a right of passage for children, there are thousands of adults who’ve also opted for braces to straighten their smiles. Anyone can opt for braces no matter their age and we have a variety of orthodontics to choose from:

Traditional metal braces: These are the braces you probably recognize or picture when people talk about orthodontics; however, dental technology has evolved over the decades and now these modern-day brackets are smaller and less obvious than they once were. The wires are also sleeker and thinner, so you don’t have to feel like you have a mouth full of metal. While they are more noticeable than other braces they are also more cost-effective.

Ceramic braces: These braces still have the same brackets and wires of traditional braces; however, these braces are made from clear or tooth-colored ceramic so they blend in more with your smile. These braces can often move teeth faster than other clear braces like Invisalign; however the brackets can stain more easily than their metal counterparts (so be sure to adopt good oral hygiene!).

Lingual braces: Lingual braces look just like traditional metal braces except they are cemented to the back of your teeth instead of the front. The most obvious benefit is that your braces are nearly invisible to those around you; however, they aren’t always ideal for patients who need serious dental corrections. Plus they can be a challenge to properly clean and may require more diligent oral care.

Clear braces: You’ve probably seen the commercial for Invisalign on TV. These clear, removable aligners are custom-made to fit over your mouth like a mouthguard. Each aligner is worn for about two weeks and gradually shifts your teeth. It’s ideal for patients looking to hide their braces and it also allows the wearer to eat and drink whatever he wants since they are removable; however, just like lingual braces these clear aligners will not work for severe cases. Invisalign is also only appropriate for teenagers and adults, not children.

If you are interested in getting a straighter smile, we would be happy to examine your teeth and talk to you about your options. It’s never too late to get the smile you want.

Plan to Keep Your New Hygiene Habit on Track

floss-containerThe most important thing you can do for your dental health is to develop a daily habit of removing plaque, the bacterial film that builds up on your teeth and the leading cause of tooth decay and gum disease. You know you need to do better — but as with other daily habits that require discipline, it can be a challenge.

One way to make it easier is to develop a plan — a step-by-step process you can use to keep your hygiene habits on track. Here’s a suggested template for such a plan.

Step 1: Partner with us for hygiene training. As with other habits, going at it alone can be daunting. As your dental office, we have the knowledge and experience to advise you on the right toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and other products to use, and to train you on the best techniques for brushing and flossing.

Step 2: Develop an evaluation system. It helps to know if your hygiene efforts are effective. You can evaluate for yourself how well you’re doing by running your tongue across your teeth (does it feel smooth?), rubbing floss against the sides of your teeth (does it make a squeaky sound?), or looking for signs of bleeding or bad odor. We can also perform tests, such as using disclosing solution dyes to reveal plaque or regular dental exams to identify any indications of disease or decay.

Step 3: Maintain the change in your behavior. The biggest obstacle for sticking with a new habit is discouragement — if you don’t eventually see progress you can easily give up. Our regular interaction with you and your own evaluations will provide valuable insight as to how you’re progressing. These tangible indications build confidence and help you cement your new habit into place.

Every new habit starts with a burst of enthusiasm. To become permanent, however, it must continue on once the “newness” wears off. By developing a plan like the one described above, you’ll be more apt to continue practicing your new hygiene habit until it becomes a permanent part of your daily life. The dividends can be healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime.

If you would like more information on an oral hygiene plan, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Hygiene Behavior.”

Welcome to Our Blog

Welcome to the Blog of DeLaura Dental

Whether you are an existing patient or searching for a dentist in the Romeo, MI area, we’re excited you are here. With the dental industry advancing, we recognize the importance of keeping our patients and visitors up to date with all of the new and exciting things taking place in our practice.

As we move forward with our blog, we hope to promote dental awareness as a vital part of your healthy lifestyle. Here you will find a variety of articles and topics including dental news, advancements in dental technology and treatments, practical oral health advice and updates from our practice.

We hope you find our blog to be helpful, engaging and informational to ensure your best dental health. 

As always, feel free to contact our DeLaura Dental office with any dental questions or concerns.

— DeLaura Dental