We spend a lot of time telling you when and how often to brush, as well as ways you can do it better. But we also ask ourselves and our staff the same question: How can we do our part better?
Anyone who grew up in the last century will remember what it used to be like — more frequent fillings, bigger x-ray machines, and noisier equipment. Not to mention those fluoride treatments that consisted of holding trays of goo in your mouth for hours. Okay, maybe more like 5 minutes, but it felt like forever.
Modern dentistry is progressing as fast as the rest of our society. While the basic principles remain the same, Drs. Meyer & Johns and our whole team of hygienists go out of their way to incorporate the latest techniques and technology into your treatment.
One of the greatest modern advances was the emergence of ceramic materials in dental work. From replacing the amalgam and metal fillings used for more than 100 years to the construction more-durable crowns and tooth replacements, these new composite materials do everything better. Recent progress includes refinements made to these materials, as well as advances in the tools and techniques used to apply them.
Our instruments and tools have gotten smaller along the way. Modern implant fasteners are far less invasive, allowing a more secure hold, less discomfort, and shorter recovery time. Likewise, technical advancements in our plaque removal tools allow our hygienists to provide a more thorough cleaning in less time.
On the Horizon
The forecast for dental advances includes further refinement of our processes and materials. Imaging technology will continue to improve, allowing earlier identification of problems, and more closely matching repairs to the original tooth shape. Other tech developments on the horizon will center around the application of existing technology to dental processes and procedures, including:
Expanded use of lasers for non-surgical and whitening procedures
3D printing of dental crowns and dentures
Advances in bio-coatings to protect teeth against bacteria
So it may be a while before we print out a tooth crown in our offices. But we are constantly looking for ways to apply new technology for a better dental experience to you and your family.
A few years ago we told you about our Missouri dental health rankings, which were not great. Unfortunately, our streak of unfavorable ratings has continued.
A recent report published by the United Health Foundation took a look at America’s Health Rankings. Missouri – the 18th-largest state – ranked 43rd out of 52. The study’s main focus was on overall health, including access to physicians, affordability of care, and the prevalence of chronic and/or preventable conditions. We rank in the bottom 20% of states in deaths caused by both cancer and cardiovascular disease. But there were numerous categories that Missouri scored poorly on that were specific to oral care.
The Show-Me State has the 9th-lowest number of dentists per capita, with just 48.5 per 100,000 residents. And despite our cautionary tales, Missouri has more active smokers –21%– than 40 other states. This last statistic can clearly be linked to our high cancer death rate, but what does the other data say about dental care?
Behind the Numbers
Some of the individual metrics point to more disturbing trends. There is an increasing lack of access to dental care for Missourians, mirroring statistics in the medical area healthcare industry. Another study by the Commonwealth Fund highlighted the number of Missouri adults who have gone without a dental visit in the past year. That number has increased steadily, outpacing the national average since 2014. The number of adults missing six or more teeth due to decay, infection, or gum disease also increased. Other studies have also shown our state lagging behind nearly all others in adequate dental care for adolescents.
Not Just About Mouth Health
We will point out (again!) how closely dental health is tied to overall health. Research proves that oral infections and periodontal (gum) disease are more closely associated with:
Cardiovascular diseases, including stroke and congestive heart failure
Low birth weight
Not coincidentally, Missouri scored poor ratings for all these conditions. Maybe it’s time we took a closer look at how overall health may be affecting your dental health and vice versa. If you have questions, just ask us at your next appointment. We can offer tips for making sure you (and your mouth) stay healthy!
You’ve been there — a late wake-up, rushing out the door, needing to put anything in your stomach to start the day. And the only thing available to eat that doesn’t require a plate or utensils is… Pizza. And so pizza is what you eat for breakfast.
Contrary to many opinions, that cold leftover slice isn’t really awful for you. As for your teeth, a good brushing is all that’s required to erase the evidence in your mouth… though it won’t help with your dietary guilt. And that’s true for most foods: as long as you remove excess food residue, what you eat for breakfast won’t harm your teeth.
Brushing Away OJ? Don’t.
A new school of thought has emerged that brushing before breakfast is as effective as brushing after. And provided that breakfast isn’t anything with excessive sugar (sweetened cereals, syrup, jelly/jam), this is true.
But according to the Mayo Clinic (via lifehacker.com), when you brush is even more important than what you eat for breakfast. However, the Mayo experts note that the exception to this rule is when consuming food or drink that contains high levels of acid, including fresh fruits and orange juice – both of which are breakfast staples. That’s because the naturally-occurring sugars and acid in these foods temporarily weaken the tooth enamel, and normal brushing can actually cause damage. For this reason, it is recommended that you either brush before breakfast, or wait at least 30 minutes after eating.
A Healthy Diet DOES Matter
However, there are many nutrition choices that really do matter to your mouth. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, several specific foods contribute to good dental and overall health. They recommend eating these:
Calcium-rich foods —including milk, yogurt and cheese, fortified soy products, canned salmon, almonds and dark leafy greens— help promote tooth and bone health.
Eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, nuts, and beans contain phosphorus, which is good for strong bones and tooth enamel.
For good gum health and immune functions, eat plenty of foods rich in Vitamin C, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, potatoes, and spinach.
Always remember that the best plan is to brush after eating if you can – Even if it means you have to rinse away acidic food residue with water before brushing. If you have more questions about making healthy food choices for your body AND mouth, ask Drs. Meyer or Johns at your next appointment.
A recent study ranked Missouri 30th in the nation for quality of dental health. “So what?” some of you will say. “That’s pretty close to average.” Sort of… it’s a 42nd percentile ranking, right on the lower-middle end of the bell curve.
But the study also highlighted other, more disturbing Missouri statistics. The black marks on our state report card included a tie ranking as one of the states with the lowest percentage of teenagers who had visited a dentist in the prior 12 months. We are also tied with Mississippi for the fourth-highest percentage of adult smokers.
By the Numbers
The study employed broad survey categories of Dental Habits & Care, and Oral Health. Within those, statistical responses to weighted survey questions determined overall state rankings. Areas that were measured and compared included:
Demographic info – Dentists per capita, percentage of adult smokers, etc.
Local Resources – water fluoridation and school-based dental programs
Symptoms & Effects – percentage of population that reported dry mouth, oral pain, sleeping problems or work absence due to oral conditions
In looking at the broader data, there were interesting trends that emerged. Minnesota had the top ranking, and the Upper Midwest was the highest-rated region, with those states occupying 7 of the Top 10 slots. The South was the poorest-faring region in the survey, with 8 states in the bottom 10 – including our neighbor Arkansas, which logged the 4th-worst overall rating.