For the Holidays, Pull a Tooth or Save a Life

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

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

 

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

Ryan suffers from amelogenesis imperfecta, a hereditary disease in which there is imperfect formation of enamel, resulting in a brownish coloration and fragile teeth. These teeth are weak and tend to decay easily. Unfortunately, Ryan and other members of his family have this condition. All of his teeth were decayed; some were too decayed to be saved, others needed root canal treatment, and also periodontal treatment before we could create a fabulous smile for him with porcelain veneers.  Ryan is thrilled and is getting ready to have his lower arch restored.

 

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I’m sure you never thought there could be a connection between Welch’s Grape Juice and Dentistry but here it is! The founder of Welch’s is Thomas B. Welch who graduated from the New York Central Medical College in Syracuse in 1852.  He practiced medicine for three years before entering into a dental apprenticeship under the tutelage of Dr. Foster, a practicing dentist in upstate New York.  Dr. Welch then moved to Minnesota where he practiced dentistry for a year before settling in New Jersey.  He had a thriving career in dentistry with offices in Vineland, NJ and Philadelphia, PA.  He also founded the Welsh’s Dental Supply Co. in Philadelphia.

 

Dr. Welch had early hoped to become a minister and had joined the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion, which opposed the use of alcohol.  The alcoholic wine used in communion presented a challenge to Welch.  By 1859 he had perfected a juice pasteurization process in his kitchen, and he began selling the unfermented, alcohol-free product to churches as “Dr. Welch’s Unfermented Wine.” Dr. Welch failed to develop a following for the product until several years later when he got the idea to market the alcohol-free drink beyond the church.  He brought Welch’s Grape Juice to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where he offered free samples of the drink he called  a “health tonic with medicinal uses.”   Welch’s Grape Juice was a hit and its popularity has continued to grow. So there you have it: Welch’s Grape Juice and Dentistry!