Spring Lake Dental Group

What, When, How to Eat

Stay away from the cookies, candies, sweet tea! This has been a persistent thought amongst many to prevent cavities. It has been reported that it’s the frequency of exposure to any carbohydrate that can cause tooth decay. Oral bacteria that causes decay does not discriminate from the source of the carb, it could be candy or bread. It has also been reported that one should limit carb-centric snacking and snacking throughout the day even on healthy foods like dairy, whole grains, and fruit. To help control caries and erosion risks, limiting snacking, having brief mealtimes, rinsing with water after meals, using straws with sweetened and acidic drinks, and chewing sugar-free gum can help. Watching what you eat, when you eat, and how often you eat are very important. We encourage brushing twice a day, flossing, and using a mouth rinse to ensure that 100% of the oral cavity is clean, but “you can brush five times a day, and it will still be tough to compete with that constant bathing of your mouth in carbs”-Amr Moursi, DDS, PhD.

Information in this article relating to nutrition was obtained from AGD Impact, May 2022, vol. 50, no. 5

Honoring Our Military

Author: Dr. David Dickerhoff, DDS, MAGD, FOCOI

I was watching the evening news the other night and noticed that our Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense were sitting down with President Zelensky of Ukraine in order to shore up relations between our two countries. They cut to a side story where these dignitaries were visiting with troops from the 82d Airborne Division while they were deployed in support of Ukraine in their war against the Russian invasion. As we get ready to enter into the month of May and the observation of Memorial Day, I marveled at the fact that soldiers from my hometown were serving so far away from their home and loved ones. I was sitting down to dinner once again in the safety of my home and eating dinner with my loved ones while these soldiers were in the field and facing constant danger.

The commitment that Spring Lake Dental Group makes to accept military insurance as well as military retiree insurance has never wavered in the 25 years of our existence. We feel it is a huge privilege to take care of military members, their families and retirees and their families. We also work with the Veteran’s Administration to treat veterans with their oral health needs.

I can tell you that I have whole departments staffed with multiple team members that are tasked to understand and work with military and veteran insurance programs.  This is a huge undertaking that is not without its frustrations and difficulties. But we remain committed to our core philosophy of supporting those who serve us.  I have had retired military Colonels who have left my practice because they felt that working for the compensation that military insurance gives them does not measure up to what they could make in a fee for service practice. While I agree with their premise, I wonder how they view their position based upon the fact that military service gave them their education and training as well as a nice retirement paycheck for the rest of their life. I served my country for 14 years before leaving the service. But I was able to achieve two residencies as well as work under the mentorship of some amazing dentists during my tours. It is a great country that we live in and I hope that during this year’s Memorial Day celebrations, you will think about the sacrifices made by service members, past and present.

Oral HPV Cancer

Dr. Andrew from {PRACTICE_NAME}The month of April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Even reading the word cancer can cause anxiety for many people, but some basic knowledge about prevention and early detection can greatly reduce your risk of developing oral cancer. While there are many different causes of oral cancer, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a major cause that is readily preventable.

            According to the American Dental Association (ADA), HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States with 14 million cases being diagnosed each year. There are over 40 different types (strains) of this virus, and it can affect many parts of the body, including the mouth. Most cases of oral HPV are cleared by the body’s immune system within one to two years, but some individuals can develop chronic infection which most commonly leads to oral warts, but can also progress to oral cancer in some patients over time. Oral HPV account for 9,000 cases of oral cancer every year, and is thought to be the underlying cause of 70% of oral cancers seen in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

            When oral HPV does cause cancer, it is usually is found in the back of the throat, making it challenging to see on your own. Patients may report having a combination of the following symptoms: a sore throat that does not go away, hoarseness of voice, pain with swallowing, white or red patches, or unintentional weight loss. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see your dentist right away. If your dentist suspects you may have oral cancer, they will refer you to a specialist who will confirm the diagnosis with a biopsy and then discuss further treatment options.

            While no disease is completely preventible, there are many steps you can take to reduce the risk of acquiring oral HPV. One of the simplest and most effective measures is the HPV vaccine. The CDC recommends that all boys and girls receive two doses of the HPV vaccine between ages 11 and 12. While no vaccine is perfect, the HPV vaccine is thought to be over 80% effective at preventing oral HPV infection. You can talk to your child’s physician or pediatrician for more information about the HPV vaccine and how to get vaccinated.

            Unfortunately, vaccination does not treat HPV infections that are already present and cannot treat oral cancer that has already developed because of an HPV infection. Your health care providers at Spring Lake Dental Group perform routine oral cancer screenings at hygiene appointments, but if you notice anything unusual please speak up and let your provider know!

            You can read more about oral HPV and additional steps you can take to protect you and your family from the ADA and the CDC at the links below: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/h/hpv-and-oral-cancer and https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/hpv/basic_info/hpv_oropharyngeal.htm.

Protect Your Skin and Lips

Author: Dr. Alison Vitelli, DMD, FAGD

Woman Smiling with Clear Braces onApril is Oral Cancer Awareness Month.  Also, time for better weather coming up and families getting ready to enjoy the wonderful outdoors. With spending more time outside we need to make sure we’re paying attention to taking care of our skin and lips. Prolonged exposure to sun rays can be a major source of radiation. This radiation compromises the natural defense mechanism of our bodies to keep us healthy. Constant exposure to the UV rays can make it hard for the body to keep accurate and correct cell replication. So, when outside always stay hydrated and protect your skin and lips. Wearing hats and sunscreen, as well as sunscreen lip balm, are good ways to stay protected. Some aggressive cancerous lesions start around the border of the lips and the tip of the nose. An example of a lesion caused by sun exposure would be blurring of the lip line or a persistent “scab” looking area mainly on nose and forehead. This is why at Spring Lake Dental Group, we perform an oral and extra-oral cancer screening where we check for any lesions that are not normal anatomy of the area, as well as changes in the normal appearance of the tissue of the head and neck. Always ask your dentist to check any areas you might be concerned about, that’s what we are here for!

Oral Cancer

According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), approximately 54,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer this year.  The AGD reports that the death rate of this cancer is particularly high, not because it is difficult o treat, but because it is often detected at a late or advanced stage.  The dentists at Spring Lake Dental Group provide routine oral cancer screenings for patients at their hygiene recare visits.  Risk factors for oral cancer include tobacco use, alcohol use, sun exposure (lips), previous head and neck cancer diagnosis and human papilloma virus (HPV) infection.  If you notice changes in your mouth such as sores that bleed easily or don’t heal, lumps, crusty or eroded areas, difficulty swallowing, chewing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue, please let us know.  We are here for you!

*Information in this article relating to oral cancer was obtained from the Academy of General Dentistry.

Stay Healthy

Author: Dr. David Dickerhoff, DDS, MAGD, FOCOI

A survey in Becker’s Dental Review (3/29/22, Hatton) reports that a March survey shows “two-thirds of dentists continue to require masks in their offices for patients and staff.” In the survey conducted by the American Dental Association, 67% of dentists said that they require patients to wear masks while in the waiting area. In addition, most dentists reported requiring masks for clinical and non-clinical staff, 70.1% and 62% respectively. Dimensions of Dental Hygiene (3/29,Machado) reports that “the percentage of practices requiring patient masking was higher in the 20 largest cities in the United States (75.2%) and lower in rural areas (51.3%).”

The CDC recently approved a second booster for patients over fifty, and/or the immunocompromised. For patients who have received either the two immunizations from Pfizer or Moderna and did not follow up with the booster (roughly 47% of immunized patients), the second booster is still recommended.  I have my yearly physical on April 6thand I plan to get my second booster at that time. I have been tested multiple times during the pandemic (too many to mention) and have never had a positive test. My college age son in Charleston came up positive after two Pfizer immunizations but no booster and quarantined with only mild symptoms.

Scientific data continues to show that these vaccines have shown remarkable efficacy with few side effects. I respect all citizen’s rights to decline immunization, but variants are still being investigated. The imposition of screening at our clinic and wearing masks is a mild intrusion on your personal rights. Pre-rinse anti-viral swishing is just another way we look to navigate our way through this pandemic while still looking out for your oral health. HEPA air filtration is another.

The end is in sight.Let’s continue to stay vigilant and stay healthy. The Presbytery of my church recently lifted mask requirements and we are starting to congregate again. I am optimistic about the future and hope that we all arrive there safely.

What Does It Take To Be A Dentist?

Author: Dr. Alison Vitelli, DMD, FAGD

Good question!  In my humble opinion, dentistry is one of the most beautiful and rewarding professions in the healthcare field. There are multiple aspects to the word d-en-tristy: combines the science of dental medicine, the engineering of three-dimensional thinking and the artistry required from our hands at work. When I think of this, it really brings a feeling of completeness to my profession. A lot of my patients have heard me say how much I love what I do, and that if I ever had the chance to pick another profession, I would be a dentist all over again.

But, what did we have to go through to be a dentist?  Well, at least 8 long years of intense schooling is involved. Right after graduating high school, we have to complete an undergraduate degree or complete the minimum required credits for admission to dental school.  Most dentists have a degree in biology, natural sciences or chemistry, like me. 3 to 4 years after that, we have to take an admissions test called the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) and start the dental school application process and interviews. Nerve wracking, to say the least!  Now, after celebrating the acceptance to dental school, the real adventure is just about to begin. In order to receive our doctorate degree in dental medicine (DMD) or dental surgery (DDS), we have to go through 4 more years of intense schooling. The first 2 years are mostly didactic and a lot of laboratory work, dissecting the human anatomy, learning how to shape and carve teeth out of wax, use mannequins as our “patients” to learn how to use our handpieces and instruments, learn the intricacy of root canals and dentures, etc.  Before heading to 3 year, we have to take the first part of our written National Dental Boards, so we can be prepared to head to the clinical years to follow. Our last 2 years are mostly based on treating patients under the close supervision of a practicing dentist. Did I mention how nerve wracking this was? 

Finally, the 4 years of dental school are over. Now, second part of National Dental Boards and clinical state board are waiting for us before our graduation. After passing these, all licenses applications to practice dentistry have to be completed and processed. But, wait, it does not end there! Our profession is constantly advancing and science keeps taking us ahead in patient care, requiring us to stay up to date with continuing education.

I am more than happy and blessed to be a dentist and I would not change that for anything. Seeing the smiles of my patients after finishing a their treatment is one of the most amazing rewards anyone can have. I definitely have so much fun while I’m working and getting to talk to you when you come in! Can’t wait to see you next time!

Aging Population

Poor oral health and poor general health coincide. A compromised oral cavity can negatively affect diabetes control and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. As the population ages, there is an increase in the prevalence of certain health conditions and oral maladies. Oral disease can significantly impact the quality of life for older adults, including pain, difficulty with mastication affecting the diet, and reduced socialization as a result of an altered appearance (Colgate Oral Health Network). To help prevent tooth loss, caries, periodontal disease, and the associated discomfort in the geriatric population, we must be aggressive in our care. Whether at home alone, with a caregiver, or in assisted living, it is necessary that proper oral hygiene procedures (i.e.brushing, flossing, rinsing) are being performed by the patient or caregiver, that routine appointments with dental professionals are attended, that it’s identified whether a manual or electric toothbrush is best due to patient’s dexterity, that caries and non-restorable teeth are being treated, that if needed prosthetics are fabricated to aid in maintaining proper nutrition, that caregivers are attentive to changes in the mouth. Prevention is important, but when the condition presents itself, intervention is imperative.

Why Floss?

Dr. Alison Vitelli

Author: Dr. Alison Vitelli, DMD, FAGD

I know we stress the recommendation of flossing every day, but why? Every time we eat, plaque gets accumulated on the teeth surface allowing bacteria to damage the tooth structure, which leads to the formation of cavities. Cavities are not the only thing forming on the teeth, this plaque can harden and build up on the teeth and under the gums as calculus, or commonly known as tartar. If not removed, calculus leads to gums disease which extends from gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) to periodontal disease. This condition is defined as the loss of gum attachment and loss of bone support, eventually leading to tooth loss. 

The American Dental Association (ADA) reports that, unfortunately, about one third of the American population flosses every day. Another third, once a week and the last third does not floss at all. 

Different tools are available out on the market to help increase compliance of flossing. Traditional string floss is still the highly recommended options. But floss sticks, water flossers, and interproximal brushes are some of the main alternatives for removing plaque from in between the teeth. Most of these tools are best indicated as an extra step to better take care of your oral health. So next time you come to have your professional cleaning done, ask us about what extra tools would be indicated for you. For now, please don’t forget to floss, your teeth and gums will thank you!

Give Kids A Smile

Author: Dr. David Dickerhoff, DDS, MAGD, FOCOI

February is National Dental Health Month and one of the flagship programs run by the American Dental Association is an effort to assist underserved children throughout the nation with volunteer participation in Give Kids A Smile. Give Kids A Smile allows dentists see pediatric patients pro-bono within their private practices in an effort to raise awareness in oral health. Each year, about 6,500 dentists and 30,000 team members volunteer at local Give Kids A Smile events across the country to provide free oral health education, screenings, preventive and restorative treatment to about 300,000 children. This year, Give Kids A Smile celebrates its 20th anniversary and I am proud to say that Spring Lake Dental Group has participated every year since its inception. Giving back to our community has been central to our mission since we opened our doors in 1996. 

The shortcomings of the Give Kids A Smile program is that solving problems for our kids sometimes can not be achieved within the day that is allocated for screening and treatment. While we make every effort to perform preventive care such as dental cleanings, fluoride application, placing sealants and taking radiographs, some of our children require more extensive care. When this happens, our practice continues to see these children free of cost until their immediate care needs are met. We feel blessed here at Spring Lake Dental Care to be giving the care that we do. Giving back in this manner is certainly a labor of love.

Keep your ear to the ground, and if you have an uninsured child that may need dental care, call our office in January 2023 to schedule them an opening on our schedule!