[Editor’s Note: This article is part three of a three part series on dental care products. Don’t miss part one and part two!]
Some age-old dental care products attain the status of classics: the toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash, for instance. Others, your dentist has to beg you to use. Dental floss gets top mention there.
And then there are specialty dental care products. Teeth whitening products, products for denture wearers, and those for emergencies all fall into this final, catchall group.
Most folks want white, vibrant teeth. However, expert teeth whitening can be costly. Having your teeth whitened by a dentist is always the safe way to go. For a more affordable choice, home teeth whitening products can help.
Along with whitening toothpastes, mouthwashes, and rinses, home teeth whitening products that use trays or strips, or that you paint-on, are available. Unlike the toothpastes and rinses, trays and strips keep their key ingredients in contact with teeth longer, so the results can be far more dramatic.
- What these products do: Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are the key ingredients used in most tooth whitening products. In each case, the peroxide gently bubbles away on tooth surfaces to scrub away the stains.
- Why they’re important: If getting whiter teeth at home is your goal, dentists generally agree using trays or strips delivers the most dazzling results.
- Who should use them: Using these products is generally a personal decision. Be sure to make it, if possible, with the advice of your dentist.
Just like people with real teeth, denture wearers must brush their dentures every day. Brushing dentures should be a daily part of denture care because it helps to remove food debris and stop plaque buildup on the surface. It also prevents dentures from getting permanent stains and helps the wearer’s mouth stay healthy.
Some denture wearers use hand soap or mild dish washing liquid to clean their dentures. Both are acceptable. However, you should avoid using powdered household cleansers as they may be too abrasive. Also, do not use bleach, as this could whiten the pink parts of dentures.
- What denture care products do: Special toothbrushes, toothpastes, and other products are available for cleaning dentures.
- Why they’re important: Denture care products are milder than the products used on natural teeth in order to avoid damage to dentures.
- Who should use them: Only denture wearers or their caregivers should use these products. Do not use denture care products to clean natural teeth.
Emergency Dental Care Products
Those of us who work in the insurance industry love Benjamin Franklin. After all, he was one of the early proponents of insurance. And when he said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” we think he hit the nail right on the head.
There are a number of specialty emergency dental care products available. Several retailers even offer a dental emergency first-aid kit. These generally contain most of what you’re likely to need for a dental emergency when there’s no dentist available.
- What they’re for: Depending on the type of dental emergency you have, several retailers offer dental repair kits with items to relieve tooth pain, hold loose fillings and crowns in place, or transport a knocked out tooth. The contents typically include things like tweezers, cotton, antimicrobial wipes, ibuprofen, and gauze.
- Why they’re important: These items will come in handy in the case of lost fillings, loose caps or crowns, teeth that have become dislodged, or a persistent toothache due to a cavity
- Who should use them: Everyone wants to be prepared, but it’s not always necessary to buy a specialty kit.
If you don’t want to go to the expense of buying a dedicated dental emergency first-aid kit, perhaps check your regular first aid kit and see what types of additions would make it work for dental emergencies as well. To get an idea of the types of things to include, read our blog about loose teeth and other dental emergencies.
To learn more about dental care products, read part one and part two of our dental care products overview.
[Editor’s Note: This article is part two of a three part series on dental care products. You can also read part one and part three.]
Toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash. It’s been a while since these three basics were the only oral hygiene choices for consumers. Today, we have far more dental care product choices to consider.
The question is, with all the oral hygiene products available today, how do you decide which ones to use regularly, which to try, and which to leave to the experts? It helps of you know what they’re all for, why they’re important, and who should be using them.
With that in mind, and assuming you’ve already read the first blog in this three-part series, let’s continue our overview of dental care products.
Levi Spear Parmly, the “apostle of dental hygiene,” gets the credit for inventing dental floss around 1819. For Parmly, flossing was the most essential part of oral care. Today many, if not most, dentists tend to agree.
In 1882, commercially produced, unwaxed silk floss first became available to the public. Dentists have been trying to get people to use it ever since.
- What it does: Dentists regularly recommend dental floss to help remove plaque from teeth and prevent it from building up between teeth.
- Why it’s important: Just as Parmly suspected two hundred years ago, plaque build-up between teeth is the leading cause of dental diseases such as dental caries and gingivitis. Today, we know: regular flossing can eliminate up to 80% of plaque, according to the American Dental Association.
- Who should use it: As soon children’s teeth begin touching one another, dentists recommend using dental floss once a day, either before or after brushing.
In an effort to make flossing easier, products such as floss picks have been introduced. While these work a little differently than floss and fingers, they may be a good alternative in some situations. Talk with your dentist about whether they’ll work for you.
Sometimes called a water pick, a water flosser or irrigator is a dental cleaning device. You use it to spray a thin stream of water between your teeth and at the gum line.
- What it does: Water flossers remove particles of food and plaque to help prevent tooth decay.
- Why it’s important: According to Waterpik, the leading maker of water flossers, they “are clinically proven through published independent and university studies to improve your gum health, remove plaque and bacteria, and reach areas that you can’t get to with a toothbrush or string floss.”
- Who should use it: Anyone can benefit from using a water flosser. However, you shouldn’t use them as a substitute for regular brushing and flossing.
Are you one of those people who just love relaxing into the dentist’s chair for a deep, intense dental cleaning? If so, you may have considered buying a dental pick or scaler for use at home. You may want to think again.
What they do: Dental picks or scalers are the long metal tools with twisty, pointed ends that dentists and dental hygienists use to scrape away plaque, tartar, and stains.
- Why they’re important: you just can’t remove all plaque, tartar, and stains using only products made for consumers. Dental picks are tools designed for use by trained professionals in specific situations. When used correctly by a pro, they are highly beneficial to your oral health.
- Who should use them: Please, leave picks and scalers to the dental pros. Unlike nylon toothbrush bristles or silk dental floss, this method can harm your teeth because it is far too abrasive for regular use. It can be dangerous for at-home use, as well. After all, one little slip and you could end up with a bloody gum, or worse.
Who doesn’t love a good massage? Well, sometimes your gums need a nice massage, too. For that, a gum stimulator may be your best friend.
- What it does: Gum stimulation promotes blood flow to the gums, which helps keeps them young and healthy.
- Why it’s important: When used together with proper brushing and flossing, gum stimulation helps prevent periodontal disease.
- Who should use it: While it’s good for anyone to stimulate their gums from time to time, dentists typically recommend gum stimulators to help promote healthier gums for people who have receding gums or other gum diseases.
More to Come: The Dental Care Products Overview Continues
Part one of this series featured the tried and true dental care products we all know — toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Next up: teeth whitening, denture care, and some emergency dental care products that you might want to keep handy around your home.
To learn more, read part one and part three of our dental care products overview.
[Editor’s Note: This article is part one of a three part series. You can also read part two and part three.]
The variety of choices we have for dental care products has grown rapidly in the past one hundred years. Some time-tested tools have achieved classic status. The toothbrush and toothpaste come immediately to mind. But the list hardly ends there.
Today, we have electric toothbrushes, water flossers, gum stimulators, whitening products, and denture preparations.
In this three part series we’re going to dig into the details about dental care products.
Part one of our dental care products tour will look at toothbrushes, toothpaste, and mouthwash.
The history of the toothbrush goes all the way back to at least 5000 years before the current era (BCE), according to Thomas P. Connelly, D.D.S. It all started, he says, with the index finger, which people eventually replaced with “chewing sticks,” a name for the twigs that people simply chewed on. These were first used in ancient Babylonia around 3500-3000 BCE.
Now, flash forward all the way to the 1930s. That’s when the toothbrush, as we know it, finally arrived on the scene thanks to the invention of nylon, which quickly found its way into toothbrushes in the form of bristles.
What it does: Toothbrushes help scrape away food particles and plaque, the film that forms on teeth after eating, which is the primary cause of tooth decay.
Why it’s important: Aside from the fact that chewing on twigs is kind of gross, a sturdy, modern toothbrush is the first and best way to keep your teeth clean and healthy.
Who should use it: Only people who want to keep their teeth.
With electricity came a whole flood of inventions that just as quickly disappeared or never even saw the light of day. We’re thinking, for example, of Thomas Edison’s epic fail, the electric pen, which, rather than push ink, poked holes. (Seriously, you can look it up.) The electric toothbrush, on the other hand, is here to stay.
What it does: Just what a manual toothbrush does, but with far less manual work on your part.
Why it’s important: According to Consumer Reports, it might not be all that important. “In the past, Consumer Reports has said electric and manual toothbrushes are equally effective as long as you brush teeth thoroughly for 2 minutes, twice a day. An electric toothbrush may help, however, if you have arthritis or a dexterity problem that makes thorough brushing difficult.”
Who should use it: Anyone who is able to use a manual toothbrush should be able to use an electric one. Kids, of course, may need a little help at first. And if arthritis or another problem affects your ability to use a manual toothbrush, an electric brush may be just what you need.
When did toothpaste make it’s first appearance, you ask? According to Dr. Connelly, “ancient Egyptians were making a ‘tooth powder’ as far back as 5000 BC.” This tooth powder, he says was the first toothpaste. It “consisted of ash from ox hooves, myrrh, eggshell fragments and pumice,” he notes. Tasty.
What it does: Like soap, toothpaste lubricates and traps dirt – food particles, plaque, and other germs, in this case – so they can be rinsed away more easily, leaving the teeth clean, or at least cleaner than before.
Why it’s important: While brushing goes a long way toward getting teeth clean, brushing with toothpaste can be an even more effective combination. Dentists recommend you use toothpaste with fluoride.
Who should use it: Just about everyone. Talk with your dentist about the right type for you and your family members.
How did there get to be so many rinses to choose from? And how can you narrow it down to make the best choice?
Well, it may help to know that there are three basic categories of mouthwash: antiseptic rinses, mouthwashes that contain fluoride, and ones that offer cosmetic benefits.
What they do: The antiseptic type is intended to help fight tooth decay. It attacks plaque, the film of bacteria that would otherwise build up on the surface of your teeth. Mouthwashes with fluoride also help fight tooth decay. However, they work by making the enamel surfaces of your teeth resist plaque better. Finally, the cosmetic mouthwashes do little more than mask bad breath, though they may taste or feel refreshing as well.
Why it’s important: Using a dental rinse may be very important in some cases, and it may not be recommended at all in other situations.
Who should use it: Depending on a person’s situation and whom you ask, the question whether to use a daily mouthwash or oral rinse may have different answers.
Unlike toothbrush and toothpaste, there is some leeway for when and if to use mouthwash as part of a dental hygiene routine. So, it’s important to discuss mouthwash use with your dentist.
The Dental Care Products Overview as Just Begun
Today, many dental care products vie for our attention. We’re all pretty familiar with the top 3 covered in this post. However, do you know what all those other products are for, why they’re important, or who should be using them?
To learn more, read part two and part three of our dental care product overview.
In your efforts to save money and also keep your current dentist, have you ever had a conversation like the following:
You: Hi, I just have a quick question. Do you accept Delta Dental insurance plans…?
Your dentist’s receptionist: Yes we do.
You: Okay, thanks!
Millions of people have that exact same conversation, about Delta Dental or any number of plans. Like you, they probably think it means they’re going to be able to keep their current dentist and also pay the lowest rates.
However, if that’s your goal, you need to ask a different question.
The Question You Should Really Be Asking
So, if you want to keep your dentist and save money on dental care, what’s the question you should really be asking? And whom should you ask?
The best way to learn if you can keep your dentist and pay less is to ask both your dentist and the plan carrier or provider. And the question to ask is this: Is the dentist under contract as part of the specific dental insurance plan’s preferred provider network?
We need to pay close attention to many details when it comes to insurance products. Dental insurance is no different. Some of the most common issues we hear from people have to do with the difference between in and out of network dental. How do the costs compare? Can I keep my own dentist?
And why not? Most people love their dentists. We want to do whatever it takes to remain with them if possible. So, for instance, folks will shop for dental insurance and, before buying a plan, call to ask if their dentist “accepts” the plan.
Alert: This is when paying close attention to the details can make a big difference.
The truth is, dentists may accept any number of dental plans. But that doesn’t mean they are in the plans’ preferred provider groups. Being a preferred provider makes a dentist part of a plan’s official network of dentists. That’s where the term “in network” comes from. And being in network or in a plan’s preferred provider pool is the real key to helping you save money.
Why all this confusion over network dental insurance?
Dentists want to keep you and your teeth healthy. However, they tend to leave the money saving part to you and your insurance provider. After all, that’s why you have a dental plan – to help you pay. Of course, dentists are running a business, as well, and contracting to be included in various carriers’ preferred provider pools is one of the ways they attract new patients and keep established ones happy.
…being in network or in a plan’s preferred provider pool is the real key to helping you save money.
Getting into the network requires your dentist to sign a contract with the plan provider. They agree to charge the plan’s lower rates for their dental work. Your dentist cannot be a part of every provider’s network. Like you, they have to choose carefully which plans to sign contracts with based on many, sometimes conflicting, considerations.
When you ask the dentist or her receptionist if they “accept” a dental plan, they answer you in an honest and efficient way. They don’t waste time probing to see whether you really understand the question you’ve asked. But the truth is, you haven’t really asked whether using a certain plan will help you remain under their care and also save some money on dental work. That is not the question they hear.
Until they’ve signed a contract to join the plan’s preferred provider network, they may in fact accept the plan but still have every right to charge higher rates than an in-network dentist would charge for the work they do. And when they do, you, not the plan, will have to pay the difference in cost.
Shop Your Dental Options Like a Pro
It’s a classic case of the heart vs. the head or emotions vs. logic. No one wants to pay more than needed for dental care. And no one wants to leave the dentist they’ve grown to know and trust just to save a few dollars.
So remember, the question to ask is this: Is the dentist under contract as part of the specific dental insurance plan’s preferred provider network? Be sure you ask your dentist and the plan’s carrier.
It’s a clear and unambiguous question. A simple yes or no will do. And, with confirmation of “in network” status from both your dentist and the plan carrier, you’ll be free to move forward with your dental work with confidence and then get on with something a little more interesting.
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Children are at risk to injure their teeth, or suffer dental trauma, at just about any time. This includes damage to teeth as well as surrounding areas. While eating, playing, or taking part in other daily activities, kids can fracture, chip, loosen, or even knock out their permanent teeth. Fights are among the most common causes of kids’ dental trauma. The upper front teeth are the most likely to be damaged.
Not all types call for expert urgent care. You may not even notice mild trauma until a child sees the dentist for a regular exam. However, when a child fractures, displaces, or loses a tooth, there can be major negative effects.
The possible effects are not just aesthetic or functional, either. They can also be psychological, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
In addition, according to Today’s Dentistry, the result of dental trauma may not be clear for some time. Hidden consequences may persist, and the true effects may be hard to guess until some time goes by. That’s because some types of impact can force teeth into the nearby bone and affect the supply of blood to the tooth. Over time, this can cause the tooth to fail.
The possible effects are not just aesthetic or functional, either. They can also be psychological…
So, for most dental injuries, it’s important to see a dentist soon or even right away for an expert diagnosis and treatment. However, the steps you should take in a dental emergency will depend on the type of trauma your child has suffered.
Tooth Extrusion: Loosened or Displaced Teeth and Kids
The signs and symptoms of tooth extrusion include loose, dislodged, or displaced teeth. Kids end up with this type of dental trauma frequently just by being kids. Rough play or an accident are the most common causes.
You may be able to save an extruded tooth if it is not broken and blood and nerve vessels are still attached. To save the tooth, do not remove it from the socket. Have your child carefully keep it in their mouth.
The Dental Advancements Saving Patients Thousands on Treatment
You may give them an over-the-counter pain reliever or a cold pack to help them deal with the pain, if needed. Then, head for your dentist’s office or the nearest emergency room right away.
Tooth Avulsion: Knocked Out Teeth and Kids
Baby teeth are not re-implanted. However, if your child’s loses a permanent or adult tooth due to trauma, take these steps to help the tooth survive.
Before you see a dentist, be sure to do the following. Hold the tooth only by the top or crown, never by the roots. If it’s dirty, rinse it briefly in a dish filled with tap water. Do not scrub the tooth or detach tissue from it.
Then, if possible, gently insert the tooth into its socket and gently hold the tooth in place. It may not go all the way in, but you can have the child gently bite down on a small bit of gauze or a wet teabag to keep it in place, if needed.
Above all, be sure you do not allow the tooth to dry out. If it won’t go back into the socket, even partially, you can place it in milk or saliva. A warm mixture of ¼ teaspoon of salt to 1 quart of water can also be used to keep an avulsed tooth moist. If nothing else is available, have the child tuck the tooth into their cheek until you reach the dentist.
5 Reasons You Need Dental Insurance
Broken Teeth and Kids
If your child chips or breaks a tooth, call your dentist right away. Be sure to keep the pieces so you can take them to the dentist to be repaired.
Then, to clean the area, have your child rinse their mouth with warm water. Again, you may give the child an over-the-counter pain reliever or a cold pack to help them deal with any pain.
How to Help Prevent Dental Trauma in Children
Kids will be kids, and you can never protect them from every possible danger. However, if you know your kids will be taking part in rugged sports activities or other highly physical activities, wearing a fitted mouth guard can help to protect them from dental injuries.
You know you know someone who could use this information. So what are you waiting for?
Could a school dental care checklist help your kids do better this year? With summer vacations nearly at an end, thoughts are turning to the new school year ahead.
Parents are stocking up on back to school supplies and kids are trying on new shoes and clothes. The focus is on helping young learners put their best foot forward in the new school year.
What else can you do to ensure your child’s hungry mind can soak up all the learning that lies ahead? How about sending your kids off to school this year with bright smiles and the tools they need to build and benefit from strong oral health habits?
As the new school year begins, here are our top items to include on your back to school dental care checklist.
What to Include on Your Back to School Dental Care Checklist
There are a number of things you can include on your own school dental care checklist. Here are some you won’t want to miss:
1. The top item: a regular dental exam
Having a clean bill of oral health will help your child do their best in school. To keep teeth their healthiest, most dentists and health professionals agree you should take kids to the dentist twice a year for a regular exam.
Plan ahead to ensure your child gets in to see the dentist every 6 months. Like their report cards, your kids’ teeth are always subject to change. To ensure kids’ teeth stay their healthiest, nothing can replace routine teeth cleanings and exams done by a professional dental hygienist. Think of it as a crucial part of your family’s dental health regimen.
2. A strong daily dental care routine
Are you stocked up on toothpaste, floss, mouthwash? Research has proven that a regular daily routine can help prevent cavities and periodontal disease. Like pencils, paper, and crayons, these tools are essential for your child’s healthy growth.
Ask your dentist what toothpaste and rinse she recommends for her patients and the type of brush and floss you should be using. Then, plan ahead. Keep extra supplies on hand and make a note on your calendar to replace older toothbrushes or brush heads as the seasons change.
Then, brush up on your child’s oral health habits. After all, basic dental care begins with brushing. Using a proper brushing technique is the best protection against plaque, the bacteria that forms on teeth and gums after eating. Also, review the proper way to floss with your child. Flossing teeth is the best way to remove stubborn bacteria from between the teeth and gum line.
Need a full review? Check out our basic oral hygiene overview.
3. Lunch and snack foods that promote good health
It’s a well documented fact that oral health is directly related to overall health. As a result, the foods we eat can be as vital to oral health as regular brushing, flossing, and dental exams.
So, be sure your child eats healthy foods and snacks during the school day. With some organization and planning, you can ensure your child has delicious foods and snacks that support good oral health. A well-balanced diet is always the wisest choice, but vitamins A, C and D are generally known as key essential nutrients for oral health.
In addition, teeth rely on minerals for optimal health, and calcium is among the most important minerals for oral health. Like bones, which provide structural support for the body, calcium gives external structure to the teeth. Check out this article for more about choosing foods for dental nutrition.
4. A properly fitted mouth guard
Regular dental exams, a strong daily routine, and the right foods to support oral health are powerful ways to safeguard your child’s oral health. However, now and then they could use some extra help. That’s why you should ensure your child wears a properly fitted mouth guard when needed.
Mouth guards help keep teeth safe while playing highly physical or contact sports. When a properly fitted mouth guard is used, it helps displace the force of a blow, which can significantly reduce the odds of injury to your child’s mouth and teeth. Mouth guards protect teeth by causing the energy from a blow to spread out so injuries such as chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage, or tooth loss can be reduced.
What other dental care items are you including on your back to school list?
If you follow our blog, then you know dentists can detect potentially serious conditions that affect your entire body simply by looking in your mouth. A new study suggests dentists may also be able to spot bullying.
Bullying has grown into a major problem that puts countless adolescents under heightened emotional stress. According to the New York Daily News, data collected in Brazil reveals that kids who are bullied are more likely to grind their teeth while they sleep.
A Strikingly Common Habit
Researchers looked at the oral health and academic experiences of over 300 children ages thirteen to fifteen.
This equates to 65% of students who were bullied and ground their teeth compared to 17% who were bullied but didn’t grind their teeth.
“Both children and adults tend to grind their teeth when suffering from stress,” says Dr. Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, “and bullying is a significant contributor here. Sleep bruxism can be particularly damaging as we are often unaware that we do it.”
What Causes Bruxism?
An abnormal bite can lead to bruxism, but it is usually attributed to stress, anxiety, and sleep disorders like sleep apnea.
In 2017, actor Demi Moore confessed to Jimmy Fallon that over the past two years, stress caused her to grind her two front teeth so hard that her dentist was forced to remove them. The two, shiny front teeth she sported on The Tonight Show were fake.
Symptoms of bruxism include worn down teeth, hypersensitive teeth and jaw aches. As Dr. Carter said, most sufferers of bruxism don’t know they grind their teeth until someone who sleeps in the same room hears them in the act.
While bruxism is usually experienced at night, some sufferers have been known to grind their teeth while doing chores or driving, reports the BBC.
A Vital Insight into a Child’s State of Mind
With this new evidence about the likely cause, UK charity the Oral Health Foundation is urging parents and school nurses to view these symptoms in children as signs of bullying or other emotionally debilitating problems.
“Bullying of any form is absolutely abhorrent and can have both a physical and psychological impact, and when experienced in childhood, can lead to trauma that might last throughout adulthood,” Dr. Carter said.
“Grinding teeth may not sound like a priority within the wider picture, but it could prove to give a vital insight into a child’s state of mind and could be an important sign for us to identify bullying at an earlier stage,” Dr. Carter added.
Grinding teeth may not sound like a priority within the wider picture, but it could… be an important sign for us to identify bullying at an earlier stage.
Dentists who detect bruxism may fit the patient with a plastic mouth guard to help protect the teeth. Arguably, the most effective way to break the habit, however, is relieving stress via exercise, meditation, or even psychological counseling.
The only way to know if you have bruxism or your symptoms are a cause for concern is by going to the dentist at least twice a year. The cost of preventing this and other oral health conditions will far outweigh the cost of repairing damage after it’s done.
Few if any dentists have Instagram accounts more popular than Dr. Nicholas Toscano, who boasts over 150,000 followers. Though he does have an affinity for shocking before-and-after photos from operations, Dr. Toscano’s tremendous following can largely be attributed to the countless photos of supermodels, or as he calls them, patients.
According to the New York Times, the 45-year-old from Jericho, New York is the official dentist for several major modeling agencies, making him responsible for the picture-perfect smiles of models such as Abigail Ratchford, Mara Tiegen, Jasmin Tookes, Romee Strijd and Cindy Guyer. It’s common for Dr. Toscano’s patients to post selfies with him right after treatment, sending his name and face out to their millions of followers, many of whom end up in his Manhattan office shortly after.
Being the go-to dentist for dozens of models means tending to the always-probable “emergency,” which often requires Dr. Toscano to rush back to his office at night to fix a broken tooth or perform a teeth bleaching before a fashion shoot. Dr. Toscano must also be extremely flexible to accommodate his patients’ unreliable schedules. The time or date of a shoot are always subject to change, forcing patients to cancel on him three or four consecutive times at the last minute.
No Stranger to Important Patients
How did Dr. Toscano obtain such clientele and learn to deal with their chaotic needs?
For thirteen years, he was the active-duty dentist for the US Navy. Patients included post and pre-mission SEAL teams as well as sitting presidents and prominent members of Congress.
Dr. Toscano realized he wanted to be a dentist while completing an orthodontics project for an eighth-grade science fair. His father was a Navy SEAL and his brother, Christopher, is a Navy lawyer, so Dr. Toscano attended Columbia University School of Dental Medicine on a Navy scholarship.
His responsibilities soon included performing facial reconstruction on injured soldiers, examining the teeth of Navy crews heading into lengthy submarine deployments, and making sure special forces officers had good oral health before missions.
A Lesson in Pressure
Dr. Toscano eventually served at the Washington Navy Yard and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he treated Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and a slew of politicians such as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
One of his busiest years was 2008, the height of the financial crisis and an extremely stressful time for politicians. Patients would grind their teeth during long legislative sessions, sometimes putting so much pressure on their teeth that they caused them to break.
Dr. Toscano explained that treating soldiers and politicians taught him not to let the stress of their lives pour into his own.
“Serving during a war, you put a lot in perspective, and that’s one reason many models and celebrity types come to me,” he told the New York Times. “Because I don’t get caught up in the New York nonsense and all the hubbub.”
From One Battlefield to Another
In 2009, Dr. Toscano left the military and opened his own practice, offering low rates for up-and-coming models from smaller agencies.
When asked about the difference between his previous and current clientele, Dr. Toscano suggested numerous similarities in terms of unexpected changes in schedule, abrupt treatments, and, of course, immense urgency and stress.
“It’s different, but it’s the same,” he said of soldiers and models.
It’s different, but it’s the same,” Toscano said of soldiers and models.
Both stages of his career also reminded Dr. Toscano of the importance of never judging his patients, whether it be by their lifestyle choices or small-talk.
His first piece of advice for treating politicians?
“Stay apolitical,” he said.
For a more complete list of Dr. Toscano’s patients, visit his office on Central Park South, where his patients’ work along with tributes from presidents and SEAL teams adorn the waiting room wall.
America’s opioid epidemic has killed more than 180,000 since 2000. Many of the victims became addicted after doctors prescribed drugs like Oxycontin and Percocet for them. These prescriptions, however, were likely not their first exposure to powerful painkillers.
According to the New York Times, most opioid prescriptions for people ages ten to nineteen are written by dentists and oral surgeons. This is largely due to the longstanding tradition of prescribing opioids after wisdom tooth removal, which is performed on millions of patients under the age of 25 every year. Almost every single patient who undergoes this procedure is prescribed opioids.
Research has proven that high school kids who are prescribed opioids are one-third more likely to abuse the drugs in the future.
“They don’t develop their addiction from that experience,” says psychiatrist and addiction specialist Dr. Andrew Kolodny. “But because of it, they’re no longer afraid of the drug and they like the effect. They’re getting their first taste of the drug from a doctor or dentist, and that increases the likelihood they would use it recreationally.”
Reducing Opioid Addiction
The first step towards reducing opioid addiction is prescribing “more cautiously,” according to Dr. Kolodny. An increasing amount of oral health professionals are heeding this advice by breaking the habit of automatically prescribing opioids after surgery.
Leading this initiative is Dr. Harold Tu, director of the division of oral and maxillofacial surgery at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. Last year, he successfully lobbied the school to implement a new, mandatory protocol that teaches students not to immediately turn to opioids when providing pain medication to clinical patients.
The first-line treatment now consists of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (or NSAIDs) and acetaminophen. Opioids are only prescribed if the patient is allergic to one of these two ingredients or is not experiencing sufficient pain relief.
So far, Tu told the Times, “we have not seen an increase in patient complaints or patients returning saying ‘the NSAIDs are not working; I need something stronger’.”
Equal or Better Relief with Ibuprofen Combined with Acetaminophen
The notion that ibuprofen combined with acetaminophen could ever treat pain as effectively as opioids might seem a bit farfetched until you consult a 2013 study that found the former treatment provides equal or better relief than the latter.*
Dr. Tu’s department is currently compiling results of the new protocol that will eventually be formally presented.
Minneapolis oral surgeon Dr. Angie Rake used to give young patients “10 to 15 Vicodin” only to hear their parents’ ask for more. She has since reduced her opioid prescriptions by about 60%, and now makes an effort to speak to parents about addiction. “Now I have parents thanking me for taking time to educate them,” Dr. Rake said. “And a lot of times they say, ‘We’re really going to try to avoid these.’ ”
Now I have parents thanking me for taking time to educate them. And a lot of times they say, ‘We’re really going to try to avoid these.’
Dr. Rake is a firm follower of Dr. Tu along with Dr. Douglas Fain, president of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. He recently conducted a survey that found that half of his members have reduced opioid prescriptions, suggesting they now prescribe just three to four days’ worth of the drugs.
In addition to the number of prescriptions written, Dr. Fain has reduced dosage levels at his Oletha, Kansas practice in an apparent attempt to show patients that opioids should not be taken lightly. “They’re here if you need them,” he says, but only for those in unbearable pain, and even they shouldn’t be given more than a few pills.
*Article Citation: JADA, Combining ibuprofen and acetaminophen for acute pain management after third-molar extractions, August 2013Volume 144, Issue 8, Pages 898–908.
Did you know going to the dentist every six months could help you achieve your goals in life? Here are 5 reasons why people who go to the dentist routinely are more successful:
1. They’re More Confident
Numerous studies have confirmed the link between confidence and good oral health. Americans reportedly believe people with straight teeth are 45% more likely to get a job and 58% more likely to have a high income.
A good smile does wonders for your self-esteem, making you feel like you were made for success. It’s much easier to visualize yourself in a job you like when you also like the smile you see in the mirror.
You’ve probably come across at least a few people who seem to have attained fame and wealth solely because of their smiles! It’s only natural to react positively to a perfect smile, which is why this attribute is so crucial in many industries, such as real estate, human resources or food service.
2. They’re More Disciplined
As any gym rat will tell you, the discipline you devote to your health reflects in your career. After all, it’s difficult to imagine people who are careful about their teeth being careless about their work.
People who have seen the results of a healthy routine carry this discipline into every other facet of life. They take care of their teeth every day no matter what, and same concept applies to getting their work done.
3. They’re Healthier
As the ancients said: healthy body, healthy mind. Healthy people feel better throughout the day and therefore have a higher productivity rate. Even if you don’t go to the gym every week, your chances for serious oral health conditions decrease significantly when you see your dentist every six months.
Some of these conditions include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, kidney disease, and pneumonia. Regular dental visits give you more time on Earth by eliminating oral bacteria and plaque that would otherwise spread throughout your body, wreaking havoc on everything from your heart to your brain.
4. They’re Less Likely to Smoke or Drink
Maintaining good oral health means staying away from habits that damage your teeth. This might be a hard pill to swallow but in addition to cigarettes, alcoholic beverages have been linked to several oral health problems.
Both can have adverse effects on your career, and not just because they may lead to a laundry list of potentially fatal diseases. Having to step outside for a cigarette multiple times throughout the day limits productivity, as does showing up to work hung over.
5. They Have Better Love Lives
Nothing improves confidence like a healthy love life, which is very difficult to achieve without a brilliant smile. In fact, a 2013 survey of approximately 5,000 single adults found that straight, white teeth was the first thing they look for when assessing a potential romantic partner.
This suggests that people with good oral health are more likely to find a spouse. Further research has proven that married people work harder and make more money.
Success Never Looked So Good!
In regards to career opportunities, visiting the dentist every six months can be viewed as “leveling the playing field,” or keeping yourself in the running for the jobs you want. The moment you start neglecting your oral health, your prospects for success begin to dwindle.
This is why it’s important to remember that even if you aren’t a salesman or Hollywood actor, your teeth helped you get to where you are today and will take you even higher as long as you continue to prioritize oral health.