Marathon Man

The New Yorker magazine is known for its cartoons, and I am always on the lookout for cartoons poking fun at dentists (a regular occurrence).  But it is not often that a dentist is the subject of a feature.  So imagine my surprise when I saw that the August 6 issue contained an essay by Mark Singer called “Marathon Man: A Michigan dentist’s improbable transformation.”

This fascinating essay is about a Michigan dentist named Kip Litton who has a history of cheating in marathons.  He was disqualified from several marathons and admitted that he invented another marathon.  He is apparently a person who is not who he says he is.  Singer treats Litton as a mystery marathon runner because no one has been able to determine how he was able to fake his winnings although it is certain that he did fake winnings many times.  Singer says Litton is “at the center of one of the strangest controversies in amateur sports history.”

The essay’s title “Marathon Man” comes from the 1976 film of that name and which features a sadistic Nazi dentist.  In the film the marathon runner played by Dustin Hoffman is the good guy who is tortured by the dentist.  Singer is having fun with his film allusion.

So does it matter that Litton is a dentist?  I have thought a lot about this and think that yes, it does matter.  If he is in fact unable to separate truth from fiction, if he is deceitful in one area of his life, then we need to question how truthful he is in his dental practice.  Can his patients trust him?  Is he psychologically stable? The state dental ethics committee needs to do an investigation.

Read more about Litton at

People ask me how I came to have such nice teeth (lots of brushing, flossing, good food and regular dental visits.  I also get asked who does my dental work (That’s a closely guarded secret.) But wouldn’t you know it – I recently developed a cavity – not supposed to happen to a dentist – Right?  Wrong! It happened and so badly that I required a root canal, post and core and crown.  I didn’t miss my regular dental visit but I delayed taking cavity-detecting xrays.  So do as I say – not as I do!  And I won’t let this happen to me again.

Remember the cold metal chain placed around the back of your neck before a dental procedure?  Well this chain that clips onto a patient’s paper bib to hold it in place has recently been under attack.

The dental chain can harbor potentially harmful germs.  A study at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry found that one out of 5 bib chains that they tested were contaminated with bacteria.  The bacteria stems from saliva and dental plaque.  Cross-contamination is the spreading of bacteria and viruses from one surface to another – for example from the patient’s mouth through aerosols in the air to the dental bib chain.

We haven’t used the dental chain for several years.  Instead we use a disposable bib holder – safer for the patient and more comfortable as well.

A street in the Bronx named for a dentist?  Yes, the Dr. Theodore Kazimiroff Boulevard was named for the dentist, naturalist, archaeologist and historian of the Bronx.  Since 1981 Dr. Kazimiroff’s name has been attached to the Boulevard for a few scenic blocks along the New York Botanical Garden.   Legend says that Dr. Kazmiroff once extracted a tooth of a lion at the Bronx Zoo.  He passed away in 1980.  His wife is still alive at 95.  But recently Mayor Bloomberg removed this honor and restored the older name of Southern Boulevard.  After family members complained, Dr. Kazimiroff’s name was retained as an honorary designation.  How nice that a dentist received this recognition – even if short lived!

I’ve been reading Life, the fascinating autobiography of the Rolling Stones guitarist, Keith Richards.  He gives a wonderfully chilling yet funny account of his early dental experiences in Great Britain.  Here is the quote in its entirety:

“I should have a badge for surviving the early National Service dentists.  The appointments were I think two a year – they had school inspections – and my mum had to drag me screaming to them.  She’d have to spend some hard-earned money to buy me something afterwards, because every time I went there was sheer hell.  No mercy.  ‘Shut up, kid.’  The red rubber apron, like an Edgar Allan Poe horror.  They had those very rickety machines in those days, ’49, ’50, belt-drive drills, electric-chair straps to hold you down.

“The dentist was an ex-army bloke. My teeth got ruined by it.  I developed a fear of going to the dentist with, by the mid-’70s, visible consequences – a mouthful of blackened teeth.  Gas is expensive, so you’d just get a whiff.  And also they got more for an extraction than for a filling.  So everything came out.  They would just yank it out, with the smallest whiff of gas, and you’d wake up halfway through an extraction; seeing that red rubber hose, that mask, you felt like you were a bomber pilot, except you had no bomber.  The red rubber mask and the man looming over you like Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man.  It was the only time I saw the devil, as I imagined.  I was dreaming, and I saw the three-pronged fork and he was laughing away, and I wake up and he’s going, ‘Stop squawking, boy.  I’ve got another twenty to do today.’  And all I got out of it was a dinky toy, a plastic gun.”  (Life, pages 28-29)

A terrific description of how it used to be, but thankfully is rare today.  Richards is a powerful writer.


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Keith Richards

It’s been a while since you visited the dentist.  So you call my East Setauket dental office and this is what you can expect!  Does a voice pick up our line and say: “hold please?” or “to speak to the receptionist press 1, to speak to the assistant press 2.”  No!  My receptionist, May Paone, answers the phone and with her friendly voice asks, “how can I help you?”  She will spend time learning about you and will schedule an appointment for you to see us within days.  If it’s an emergency we’ll see you as soon as you can get to the office, even after hours or weekends.

May will send you an email confirming the appointment. She will send a link to our website that has a link to mapquest to help you find the office and a link to patient forms for you to fill out in advance and email back to us.  She will let me know that a new patient has called and I will call you that evening to ask what I can do to help you.

When you arrive at the office, you will be warmly greeted by name and will be escorted into my office – no waiting – we respect your time.  We will chat some more about your concerns.  I often will take close up photos of your teeth to help us see what we can do to help. Photos are a great education tool for the patient and for me.  I also have videos on implants, dentures, crowns and other procedures that help to explain what we can do.  We don’t charge for this consult.

If you decide to proceed, we explain that xrays and a comprehensive exam will be needed.  We will tell you ahead of time what the costs will be.  We take a full set of xrays so we can see each tooth and the surrounding bone.  The comprehensive exam includes an oral cancer screening and periodontal assessment.  Once we have collected the data, I develop alternative treatment plans depending on your desires, finances and health.  All of the options are thoroughly discussed with you so you know the choices and associated fees.We work to make the dentistry affordable, and we offer financing and credit.  I also continually review my fees and recognize that times are tight.We don’t want people to delay getting necessary dental work done.

Once you make a decision, we can schedule the necessary appointments.   I give you my cell phone number so I can always be reached.  If I am away, my answering service sends me a text message the instant you call, so I can call you right back or I can always be reached via email.  After every dental appointment in our office, May or I will call you to ask how you are feeling.  When treatment is complete, we schedule you for a checkup appointment so we can maintain your dental health.  We ask for input from you so we can modify our procedures to best serve our patients.

In my office you are not just a chart or tooth number.  You will not be asked to wait.  You will not be told it’s your fault.  You will not be told “wait and it will get better.” You will not be seen by a different person every time you come to the office.  You will see me – and May and Linda Gomez – who have been my teammates for over two years.  Our goal is to do our very best for you. This is why we are different.

Plaque and calculus can buildup on dentures if a patient has poor denture hygiene. This can be harmful to the oral tissues and can lead to oral Candida and other oral pathologies. Brushing the dentures removes plaque and food debris. Regular toothpaste is too abrasive for dentures so be sure to use a denture toothpaste. You should remove the dentures after eating and brush them with a denture brush and denture toothpaste over a sink filled with water or over a towel to protect the dentures from breaking if they should fall.

In addition to brushing them, dentures should be soaked daily to keep them clean. Soaking the dentures allows the denture cleaner to penetrate the denture and kill bacteria. To keep your dentures fresh-looking and odor-free be sure to brush and soak your dentures daily.

It’s a good idea to leave the dentures out of the mouth at night to rest the oral tissues and allow blood flow to return to normal. When dentures are out of the mouth, they should be soaked in a soaking solution or water to prevent them from drying out.

Denture wearers should visit the dentist for regular checkups at least once a year. Tissues under the dentures can change and the dentures can become ill-fitting and further damage the tissues.

A denture is not permanent. It will wear over time and will loosen as the ridge undergoes changes. Dentures should be replaced every 7 to 10 years. A reline might also be needed every 2 -3 years depending on the amount of ridge resorption.

Call our East Setauket dental office and we will be happy to evaluate your existing dentures for a reline or possible replacement.

The funniest tooth story I have ever heard concerns my friend Claude, who is a teacher.  One day he was speaking to a parent who had to leave because she had a dentist appointment.  “Who is your dentist?” Claude asked, and he was stunned at her reply.

It turns out that the dentist was a friend of Claude’s from high school.  Claude wanted to get in touch with this old friend (mind you, this was before email, facebook, or twitter) so he wrote a note to the dentist, rolled it into a ball and asked the parent to put it in her mouth and thus deliver it to the dentist.  When the dentist told her to “open, please,” he discovered the rolled up piece of paper in her mouth.  And thus the two old friends reconnected.

Recently a retired Vietnam Vet came to my Long Island dental office with a complaint that the four implants his dentist placed under his denture several months ago had either fallen out or were loose. The loose implants were very painful. This had been going on for months with no resolution offered by his dentist. I immediately sent the patient over to the periodontist to remove the loose implants. The patient then came back to my office and I added my special tissue conditioner to his old denture. What a relief! He was comfortable and able to function until I could finish making him a new denture.

I explained to the patient that he had a very good residual ridge, and I didn’t think he needed the implants. What he needed was a denture that fitted and functioned well. His old dentist had added the implants to his worn out and ill-fitting denture. What was the point of that? This patient was ill served, but lucky for him, he found my Suffolk County, Long Island Dental office – and I am making him the best dentures!download gangland dvdrip download blood diamond

Go for the second opinion. Don’t be embarrassed. People often call our Long Island dental office to ask for a second opinion. I am happy to talk to them, find out what their needs are and make suggestions. It’s your dental health and your pocketbook so you need to get as much information as you can, and you need to find a dental practitioner you can trust. Too many times people come to the office and have been told things that I think would not be in their best interest.

For example, a young woman came into my dental office last week and said that her front tooth had chipped and she was told she needed a crown. She was upset at the thought of putting a crown on her front tooth. I looked at the chip and told her that it should be repaired with a simple and undetectable tooth-colored composite bonding procedure. We took care of the chip and she was thrilled!

Another woman came into the office this week with a temporary bridge that had fallen out. She was told that one of the abutment teeth would have to be extracted and two implants placed. She was upset at losing another tooth. I took a look and recommended some gum work to save the tooth and placement of a permanent bridge. She was thrilled!

In both of these cases my recommendation was an alternative to what the patient didn’t want – the crown in the first case and extraction and implants in the second case. And my recommendation was considerably less expensive and a better service than what had been suggested at another dental office. So go for that second opinion. I’ll be happy to speak to you and recommend the treatment that’s right for you.madagascar free

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