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Each holiday season, Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for the New York Times, writes a guide of “gifts with meaning.” These are gifts of charitable giving, rather than gifts that will “just clog a chest of drawers.”  His title of December 2: “For the Holidays, Pull a Tooth or Save a Life” and subtitle “Pull a tooth!” caught my attention. In the article, he describes an organization called “Remote Area Medical”, an aid group that holds health fairs for people needing help.

 

He writes that he was in Virginia when he watched a 30-year-old man have 18 teeth pulled. And adds “for those who have suffered an agonizing toothache for months or years, a dentist makes a life-changing difference – and since the doctors, dentists and nurses donate their time, it’s very cost-effective.” Some uninsured families camped out for days for the opportunity to see a doctor or dentist and showed gratitude to Stan Brock, the founder of the organization.

 

Yes, dentists can make a “life-changing difference.”  Changing people’s lives is what draws me to dentistry every single day.  Look at my before and after photos and testimonials and you will see what I mean! Happy Holidays and remember charitable giving.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/02/opinion/sunday/kristof-annual-gift-guide.html?ribbon-ad-idx=10&rref=opinion&module=Ribbon&version=context&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Opinion&pgtype=article&_r=0

Election day was last week, November 7. Directly afterwards, The Portland Press Herald reported that false teeth were left behind in a polling booth during the election. A city clerk in Maine was looking for the owner of the set of dentures left in the auditorium that serves as a polling place. Once found, the dentures were placed in a plastic bag and left in the city clerk’s office in Portland City Hall, waiting for the owner to show up.  Hopefully by now someone has arrived to claim the dentures. I haven’t been able to find out.

A few things do stand out. One, the clerk should be told to never place the dentures in a plastic bag – too easy to inadvertently throw out. Two, it looks like a single denture, not a set (as stated). Third, the owner may be too embarrassed to make a claim.  I can see how someone can leave behind an upper denture (as this is) – it may have been uncomfortable and so taken out.

But the media found this story so astonishing that Rachel Maddow had a story about it on her show and technicians could be heard laughing in the background.  See the youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljmhqS8s8A8.  Sorry, but not a laughing matter. Wearing dentures is not something to make fun of. 

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Linda wanted a sparkling, white smile. She had old fillings that had turned brown and yellow with decay at the margins. Some of her teeth had broken, others were infected. Her teeth were worn from years of use.  A combination of modern dental techniques gave her the smile she had dreamed about! She looks fabulous and feels great.

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My 13 month old great nephew Cohen wants to be a dentist. Here he is practicing at the Denver Children’s Museum. Maybe someday he will take over my dental practice!

 

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Long time friends and patients Yvette and Eric made a trip to Vermont this month and brought back a gift for me. It is a lovely hand crafted artwork of a dentist (female of course!) taking care of a patient.  The item is functional too – as it holds business cards and pens.  I have placed it on our countertop for everyone to see.  I am overwhelmed that they thought of me when they saw this work of art and brought it back as a gift – beautifully gift wrapped also.  I will cherish it always – just as I cherish our friendship.

 

 

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This lovely young woman had old composite bonding on her front teeth. The bonding was discolored, the gums were inflamed and she had an uneven gumline.  She had some periodontal work to align her gums and we then placed porcelain veneers to give her a beautiful, natural looking smile.

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Before

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After

 

President Eisenhower (Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II and President from 1953-1956) had a teeth problem! He was a bruxer – a serious grinder of his teeth. This leads to tooth breakage and loose teeth. In the President’s case, he broke his front tooth and had a crown placed. It subsequently fell out and was recemented. Here is a photo of Eisenhower with the tooth stub, missing crown. The second photo is more typical of his published photos – notice how he doesn’t show his teeth!

 

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As the population in Suffolk County ages, we are seeing more and more older people in our practice. Many are taking medications that affect their oral health. Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a common side effect of many commonly prescribed drugs. A recent article in the New York Times asked “What is it about so many medications that causes dryness, especially in the mouth?” Drugs that can cause dry mouth include the benzodiazepines, antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, some blood sugar reducing oral medications, respiratory agents, quinine, drugs that treat high blood pressure, especially calcium channel blockers and diuretics, drugs that treat excess urine flow, some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opioids, glucosamine supplements, and the magnesium hydroxide in milk of magnesia.  The effect may be amplified if a person is taking more than one of the above medications.

 

The drying mechanism of the involved drugs is not fully understood. Some drugs may suppress the action of receptors on nerve cells in various glands, including the salivary glands, that produce fluids. The drying effect can also involve other mucus membranes, like around the eyes and in the digestive system.  Dryness in the mouth can lead to decay and periodontal disease. When I observe dry mouth, I discuss the importance of hydration, meticulous home care and regular dental visits.

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To relieve your dry mouth:

Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free hard candies to stimulate the flow of saliva.
Limit your caffeine intake because caffeine can make your mouth drier.
Don’t use mouthwashes that contain alcohol because they can be drying.
Stop all tobacco use if you smoke or chew tobacco.
Sip water regularly.
Try over-the-counter saliva substitutes — look for products containing xylitol, such as Mouth Kote or Oasis Moisturizing Mouth Spray, or Biotene Oral Balance.
Try a mouthwash designed for dry mouth — especially one that contains xylitol, such as Biotene Dry Mouth Oral Rinse or ACT Total Care Dry Mouth Mouthwash, which also offer protection against tooth decay.
Avoid using over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants because they can make your symptoms worse.
Breathe through your nose, not your mouth.
Add moisture to the air at night with a room humidifier
Avoid sugary or acidic foods and drinks because they increase your risk of tooth decay.
Brush with a fluoride toothpaste
Use a fluoride rinse or brush-on fluoride gel before bedtime. Occasionally a custom-fit fluoride applicator (which we can make for you) can make this more effective.
Visit our office at least twice yearly to detect and treat tooth decay or other dental problems.

Sharon’s dentures were old – 15 years to be exact – and were worn out.  The teeth were worn and yellow. She was having difficulty chewing and the dentures were loose. We made her a new set of dentures – this took no more than three weeks.  She was thrilled. No adhesives needed.  She was comfortable and she looked great. New teeth took several years off of her age. Note how her lip has filled out, wrinkles diminished.  She can eat again! She was so happy that she decided to add two implants to her lower arch. We attached Locator abutments, creating an overdenture. The attachments on the denture snap into the abutments and create a snug fit.  Now this lower denture was a struggle to remove.

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Old denture, teeth worn flat, stained yellow.

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New upper denture and lower overdenture – lifelike teeth, bright color

This is absolutely my favorite transformation. Rita had smoked for many years – not good for teeth and gums. What happens is that the bone resorbs, leaving long and loose teeth. Eventually these teeth fall out. The process can be delayed or halted with proper dental and periodontal treatment but, like so many people, Rita was afraid of having dental treatment. She also had a serious gag reflex. She was very happy to learn about us and about the care that we take with our patients and their dental health. She was very unhappy with her smile,  with her displaced and missing teeth. She would not smile – and Rita was a beautiful woman. Her teeth were beyond repair, and she was afraid to wear a denture because of her gag reflex.

 

Upper and lower hybrid implant bridges were the best solution to give her a beautiful smile without the embarrassment of removable dentures. The hybrid implant bridge is screwed into bone supported implants and functions like natural teeth. We call it a hybrid because the dentist can remove it, but the patient cannot. Some people call it “teeth-in-a-day” because the teeth are removed, implants are placed and the hybrid can be seated immediately. Sometimes we will seat the hybrid the following day for better cosmetics. This is a temporary hybrid – once the implants are integrated into the bone in approximately three months, we take impressions and measurements for a final hybrid. We give the temporary hybrid to the patient as a spare in case a repair is needed. All-around a wonderful service. Rita did beautifully; the result is spectacular. What you see in her photos below is the temporary hybrid. The final one will look even better! She is thrilled to have teeth again. Read what she says on our testimonials page at https://drterryshapiro.com/testimonials/.

 

Look what we can do in a day to change your smile!

 

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Thursday: Loose and displaced teeth

 

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Friday: Temporary screw retained upper and lower hybrid bridges