• 11Mar
    Categories: Uncategorized Comments Off on A Piece of Technology Whose Time May Not Have Come

    A Piece of Technology Whose Time May Not Have Come

    The dental drill in many offices, including our own, are air turbines. The only moving parts are in the head of the drill. The handle is merely a covering over metal tubing that feeds air into the turbine and water to cool the drill. The drill never overheats and is safe. If the cutting load is too heavy, the drill simply stalls as the torque on the drill cannot overcome the load

    A new technology that is becoming popular is the electric dental drill. The electric motor is small but extremely powerful. The drills are capable of providing enormous torque and cutting power. A cutting load that would simply stall an air turbine causes the electric turbine to simply work harder. This generates enormous heat as the motor labors. The problem is that, as dentists work, the handle of the drill often comes into prolonged contact with the lips or the cheek. There have been a number of incidents of patients suffering serious burns from the heat of the drills! As they are often anesthetized, patients are not aware that they are suffering injury until after their procedure is complete.

  • 11Mar
    Categories: Uncategorized Comments Off on Ear Infections-Pacifier Link

    Ear Infections-Pacifier Link

    A recent study by the Academy of General Dentistry has linked the prolonged use of pacifiers to increased incidence of inner ear infections. Many parents run back and forth to their pediatrician’s office battling recurring ear infections in their children. This has led to repeated use of antibiotics, placement of tubes in the ears and pain and suffering for children.

    Otitis media, the scientific term for acute middle ear infections, often develops when viruses or bacteria from an infection of the nose and throat travel along the Eustachian, or auditory tube to the middle ear. It has been shown that continued sucking on a pacifier can cause the auditory tubes to become abnormally open, which allows secretion from the throat to seep into the middle ear. This can lead to inner ear infections.

    It may be best to consider restricting the use of the pacifier to the baby’s first 10 months. Pacifiers come into contact with many microbes and may also be a conduit for bacteria and viruses to enter the child’s oral cavity.

    If your child is constantly battling middle ear infections, discontinuing the use of the pacifier may be an alternative to surgery or antibiotics to stop this problem.

  • 11Mar
    Categories: Uncategorized Comments Off on ADA Study Links Tooth Loss to Dementia

    ADA Study Links Tooth Loss to Dementia

    Tooth loss may predict the development of dementia late in life, according to research published in the October 2007 issue of the American Dental Association Journal. Researchers have long known that people with dementia are unlikely to have good oral hygiene and thus have poor oral health, but few studies have been done from the opposite direction.

    Scientists at the University of Kansas studied a population of cloistered nuns over a number of years. This allowed for strict control of a number of factors not usually possible in other populations. Over the years of the study, those nuns with fewer teeth had an increased risk of developing dementia.

    They noted that they could not determine whether the association is causal or casual but the statistical significance was very high.

  • 11Mar
    Categories: Uncategorized Comments Off on Periodontal Disease-Tongue Cancer Link

    Periodontal Disease-Tongue Cancer Link

    Scientists at the University of Buffalo’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute have discovered that the severity of bone loss from periodontal disease appears to have a direct correlation to cancer of the tongue. A study was done comparing bone loss in adult males with tongue cancer with men who did not have cancer. After eliminating the potential effects of age, smoking status and the number of teeth, men with chronic gum disease were 5.2 times more likely to have cancer fir every millimeter of bone that they lost. The results further showed that other conditions of the teeth, including root canals, fillings, crowns and decays have NO significant effect on the incidence of tongue cancer.

    Scientists hypothesize that the bacteria and viruses that live in the periodontal pockets could be toxic to the surrounding cells and produce changes that lead directly to oral cancer or could lead indirectly to cancer through causing chronic inflammation. Further research would be needed to confirm these findings but the message is clear. Overall health is affected by unchecked periodontal disease.

  • 11Mar
    Categories: Uncategorized Comments Off on George Washington’s Teeth

    George Washington’s Teeth

    This past fall, my family visited Mount Vernon and enjoyed seeing the new visitor’s center which contains an exhibit of what has been described as “The Most Famous Teeth in the World.” Although he never had wooden teeth, he did suffer from serious dental pain throughout his life.

    Washington lost his first tooth at the age of 24 and it was literally downhill from there. There were no dental anesthetics, any extractions were done “cold turkey” or with the aid of hard liquor. Dental care was in its infancy. Fillings were rarely done and gold was the only restorative material. Plastics and ceramics were not available. The first impression material, Plaster of Paris, would not be invented for another 50 years.

    Washington’s favorite dentist was Dr. John Greenwood. Dentist’s of those days did not graduated from a school, they learned by apprenticing themselves to another dentist. There was no licensing procedures and no examinations. When the student felt that he had learned enough, he set up practice. (I do mean “he”…the first female dentist was still over 100 years away.)

    George Washington was a wealthy man, and he spent lavishly on his teeth. He would try this powder and that nostrum but he had a sweet tooth and it was all for naught. By the time that he became President, Washington had no teeth. Dr. Greenwood did his best and made his famous patient a state of the art denture…18th century style.

    Dr Greenwood took thin sheets of lead that were flexible enough to be molded by hand to the jaws. Holes were drilled into the sheets and the teeth of an elk were wired into the denture with gold wire. The upper and lower dentures were held together with a hinge and small, powerful springs held the dentures open. Washington had to compress the dentures together to insert them into his mouth. The springs pushed the dentures into his jaws, holding them into place. To chew, he had to exert enough force to overcome the pressure of the springs before he could even chew. It’s no wonder that he had a stiff, wooden look to his face.

    One other thing that I have not researched but catches my interest. Washington was fond of his wine…Madeira being his favorite tipple. All wines are acidic and he was wearing dentures made with lead! The acid from the wine surely leached the lead out of the dentures. Is it possible that Washington suffered from lead poisoning? We will probably never know!

  • 11Mar
    Categories: Uncategorized Comments Off on Veloscope


    Three percent of cancers that are diagnosed each year in the United States are oral cancers. However, the cure rate for oral cancers have not improved proportionately to those for other types of cancer. Surgical treatments often lead to disfigurement and dramatic changes in quality of life. The earliest possible diagnosis is critical to successful treatment outcomes with the minimum side effects.

    At every examination, the hygienist and doctor perform examinations of the soft tissues that include inspection and palpation of the lips, cheek, tongue, floor of the mouth and the palate. This thorough check of the tissue is very useful at detecting abnormalities. Lately, many of our patients have noted that we have also been peering into their mouths with something that looks like a bright flashlight while requiring them to wear orange glasses!

    This instrument is called a Velscope. The Velscope is a product of years of research in the field of tissue fluorescence. The Velscope uses an intense ultraviolet light to “light up” the oral tissues while the clinician examines the mouth through a special green filter. Normal tissue fluoresces and glows brightly while abnormal tissue appears very dark when viewed through the filter. Essentially, the Velscope allows us to see into the tissue to spot abnormalities before they would become apparent to conventional examination.

    Our practice has always tried to be in the forefront of employing the latest technologies and, with the Velscope, we continue this commitment to bring potentially life-saving care to the Deerfield Valley.