Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Nail Biting - Much Worse Than A Bad Habit

Are you a nail biter? Do you know someone who is? If so, this is something you may want to pay attention to!! Nail biting is actually considered by some psychologists and physicians to be a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD). Here are some fast facts about nail biting that you may not know:
  • It is estimated that as many as 40% of teens and 30% of adults may be compulsive nail biters.
  • It is considered to be a nervous disorder, and even an indication of anxiety and passive aggression.
  • It is (in some cases) also hereditary!
  • Thumb sucking and lip biting fall into the same catagory.
The effects of nail biting on the teeth and gums is a serious issue. Long term, it can weaken the structure of your teeth and cause them to loosen, chip or crack. It can also cause misalignment. Bacteria lives under your fingernails, and it is introduced into your mouth when you bite your nails, carrying the possibility of viruses like E-Coli, influenza, the common cold and other diseases that we can't even pronounce... Think about it...whatever you've touched recently may still be lurking around under your nails. Ugh! In addition to that, constant nail biting can cause permanent damage to your nails and nailbed. There are topical applications that have proven useful for kids who are nail biters, but it isn't really effective for teens and adults. Therapy is useful, but expensive. For most, it is a very hard habit to break but have can be done!
Ladies, you may benefit most from this remedy...switch to acrylic nails and manicures that include polish and artwork! I have personally known people who have successfully grown out their nails by doing this. It works!

As always, Keep Smiling!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Are Dentist Online Reviews Really Accurate?

Tonight, while monitoring the 24 phone line, I received a call from a member who wanted to inform me that he was not going to renew his plan. I assume, by the annoyance in his voice, that he was just hoping to voice his concern to the voicemail system instead of me. So I asked him why he was choosing to not continue with our plan and the response I got seem to set me back a little. He said "ALL of the dentist on your plan suck, I looked all of them up online and everyone of them had nothing but bad reviews" and then proceeded to tell me how we should take the time to check out our dentists before we just put them on the plan. Trying to avoid sounding defensive, I explained our credentialing procedures to him and how we visit our dentists every 4-6 weeks, but he didn't care. In fact, I was informed that I should "Actually do some research online and look them up, because that's what everyone else does" and the hung up on me. Now, I am not writing this blog to complain about an annoyed customer who bothered me at 1:00am. I am writing this blog address the issue of online reviews. Now, I am nowhere near naive to believe that this particular person actually went and looked up all  300+ dentists on the plan and checked for online reviews, but apparently the few that he did look at had nothing but bad reviews and that was enough for him to classify that all dentist on our plan..."suck". (Side note.. the dentist on our plan are the same ones that take all of the major insurances too).

So this leads me to the question.. Are dentist online reviews really accurate? I have no doubt that the legitimate reviews whether negative or positive is a true indication of how that a customer feels. However, the majority of the reviews out there on all of the major sites are very one sided, mostly negative and most likely posted at the time that their emotions are running high. Furthermore, if/when the situation is resolved, the review is rarely removed or updated to reflect the positive outcome.
Let me give you an example. I read this review on Yelp! that was posted by a patient, for a dentist that is in our network. The patient is not a member of our plan. The review, verbatim, went something like this:

(1 STAR) "I went to Dr _____ today. I waited 20 minutes to be seen. Then they wanted to shoot all of these xrays. I just had xrays taken a year ago. Then the dentist looked in my mouth for less then 5 minutes and told me I have 4 cavities. I brush my teeth 3x per day. I don't have cavities. Don't go to this guy, he is just trying to rip you off".

Now, if I judged by just reading this review I would probably never step foot in this dentist's office. However, I happen to know this dentist personally and I know a few things about dentistry. So my interpretation of this review goes like this:

A 15-20 minute wait in a dental office is pretty standard. If the xrays are a year old, then yes they are going to want to shoot more. A lot can happen to your mouth in 1 year. The dentist really doesn't need to take more that 5 minutes to examine your mouth because with the advancement in xray technology, he can see more on the screen and plus he knows what he is looking for. Lastly, I don't care if you brush your teeth 6x per day, cavities happen. Furthermore, there is not a lot of money in fillings, so I doubt he was trying to rip you off.

Online reviews are not always what they seem. The power of the internet and the ability to post any inane thought about a business for any reason with no recourse from the company is an unfair advantage to consumer and one that can hurt a business. Restaurants have closed because of reviews that were posted by people who couldn't correctly boil an egg, yet they are expert enough to review about the lack of seasoning in their spaghetti. At Savon, we once had daughter a former member tag us in a tweet saying "Don't get this plan, they are very rude and unprofessional". Now the actual story goes, that this young lady called the office, yelled, screamed and cursed at one of our team members and was not given the refund that she wanted for a plan that wasn't even hers. In return, we get the negative review for this young lady's rudeness. Was it fair to us? No it wasn't. In the interest of professionalism we declined to respond to her tweet.

My point is this. There is a saying in life that goes like this: "You can't please everyone". Unfortunately, it is the ones that you can't please that will go write a review and bash you for it. That is the main reason why you see reviews that are generally negative. Even more so when it comes to a dentist office. I have never read a review that says "She cleaned my teeth really good". The majority of them are negative and more so if the dentist recommended work because then that patient is being told something that they do not want to hear.

Ladies and Gentleman, I STRONGLY advise everyone to check out the dental center that you want to go to. I am in no way trying to deter you from doing so. However, if your method for doing so is by looking at the 2 or 3 reviews that they have on yelp, then you are not getting enough information to make an educated decision. There are so many more places that you can check. The Arizona Board Of Dental Examiners, The Better Business Bureau, Health Grades and the American Dental Association just to name a few. Wherever you go to check them out, just make sure that you are giving them a fair chance.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Bad Breath Warning Signs

Do you suffer from chronic bad breath? If you do please don't ignore your bad breath, it could be a warning sign of illnesses such as:

  • Liver Disease - This can cause extremely bad breath, even after brushing. 
  • Dry Mouth - Dryness of the mouth can be caused by diabetes, leaving you thirsty no matter how much you have drank and can cause bad breath.
  • Mouth Sores - Besides the fact mouth sores are painful they can stink up your mouth. This is because the bacteria that are attacking your gums, tongue or cheek are also pumping out bad smelling compounds as a byproduct of their digestion. *If you notice these sores are not going away, this could be a sign of oral cancer.
  • Gingivitis - Bacteria from bad gums will migrate to other parts of the mouth, including the tongue which is the culprit of about 90% of bad breath.
If you are or know someone who is battling chronic bad breath let them know there may be some underlying illness and have them visit both their dentist and primary physician so they can get to the bottom of the problem.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Want Whiter Teeth?

Brush Less! Sounds crazy right? A recent study by the American Dental Association (ADA) showed many people believed you need to brush after every meal to keep your teeth white. The American Dental Association recommends you only brush twice a day. Why? When you brush your teeth after every meal or snack you are damaging the enamel on your teeth. 

If you feel the need to brush your teeth, try chewing on a piece of sugar free gum. Chewing gum helps increase saliva flow, which protects teeth.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Holiday Dental Emergencies: An Ounce of Prevention

Ok, so in reality, no one can actually plan for a toothache. It generally presents as a surprise; completely unplanned,  robbing us of a wonderful holiday experience or a weekend trip or even a couple of nights of good sleep.  The best thing is always prevention but in some cases, things happen and you find yourself in need of a dentist, pronto!  And worse,  it's 6PM on Christmas Eve.  I'm not going to lie, if that is the case then you are in a bit of a spot. Your option at that point is probably the ER.   But a little bit of advance planning can save you a lot of pain, both physical and financial.  Here are some of my best ideas for preventing those holiday dental emergencies.
  • Plan a cleaning and exam sometime in late November or December.  Chances are an exam will reveal any potential problems and you can ward them off with early treatment. 
  • Check with your dentist's office (just a quick phone call) and find out what their holiday hours will be.  You never know if you or a family member will have a dental emergency. 
  • Always call your dentist's office at the first sign of a problem.  Even if they are closed, they may be on call or have an answering service and if nothing else, he/she can get you an antibiotic if necessary.  If the dentist is unavailable, however, the ER may still be your only option.
  • If you have a problem tooth and it's been nagging you for weeks but you just haven't had the time to go to the is the time. Don't put it off.  Generally, the way they see it at the dentist's office is that "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on our part".  Not cool, but seriously, you should get it fixed ASAP!  
It happens.  Life, that is. Inasmuch as no one can plan for a toothache caused by the occasional loss of a filling or crown or a cracked tooth, prevention can go a long way toward not having your holiday ruined by tooth pain.  Take the extra time this season and get that exam you've been putting off!  You'll likely be glad you did.  

Keep smiling! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Can Sugar Free Things Still Damage Your Teeth?

You may think that since your soda's, energy drinks and candy bar's say "sugar -free" that they are automatically better for your teeth. Sorry to say but according to recent research, they can still damage your teeth.

Australian researchers tested 23 sugar free and sugar containing products such as sports drinks and so on. They found that even if they say sugar free, the acidic additives and low pH  levels still harm the teeth.

According to Eric Reynolds the CEO of the Oral Health Cooperative Research Center at Melbourne University said his colleagues and himself found most soft and sports drinks caused dental enamel to soften by 30-50 percent. Both by sugar free and sugar containing drinks and flavored mineral waters caused measurable loss of tooth surface.

Remember cutting down on your sugar intake isn't always good for your teeth! Always check the list of  acidic ingredients on drinks before you buy! Knowing what to look for can end up saving your teeth and smile!

Click here to see Mr. Reynolds tips on how to protect your teeth!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Dental Patients: Don't Be Afraid To Ask Questions

Just about everyday I get a call from one of our members that has questions about the work that dentist recommended. It is not that they are necessarily questioning the work that has been advised, more times than not it is a case where the patient is confused as to what the dentist wants to do. More times that not my response is "Have you asked your dentist about this?". Surprisingly, the majority of the time the answer is "no". After a while, it started to make me wonder what the apprehension is to ask to the dentist, so I started to ask about it. Here are some of the reason that I have been given.

1. I don't want to offend the dentist.
2. I don't want to make the think I am questioning his ability.
3. I don't want to waste the dentist's time.
4. I was too embarrassed

These are just a few of the ones that I have heard. Whatever your reason is for not asking questions it is something that I would strongly advise that you overcome and just ask the questions. It is no different than when you are talking to your general doctor. When you are discussing whatever treatment that they want to do, I am willing to bet that the majority of you ask questions and explore options. It no different with dental work. The work that is being done to your mouth is important to your health and at times can be a rather large investment. Ultimately the decision of what treatment is performed is up to you and there is no better decision than and informed decision.

I am confident that I can speak for the dentist when I say that they prefer that you ask the questions. I have never heard of a dentist getting offended by it, nor have I heard of a dentist complaining that it is a waste of their time. You can ask for questions without questioning their ability and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Dentists do not expect you to know every term and everything thing involved in your treatment plan. Also, I have learned over the years that dentists themselves are more comfortable working on a patient that has a clear understanding of what is being done.

So again, don't be afraid to ask your dentists questions. They know better than anyone else what the actual condition of your dental health is.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

VIDEO BLOG: New Video From Santa!

Don't miss out on the great items that Santa left in his bag for you. You can ONLY see them at Check out this video where tells you all about it!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Could Diet Soda Be As Bad For Your Teeth As Sugary Soda?

The answer is yes!  In fact, diet sodas contain artificial chemicals and acids that can be bad for the body altogether, as well as your teeth.  We all know that sugary drinks such as soda and fruit blends can be harmful to the enamel on teeth, but studies have shown that diet soda and it's acidic additives such as phosphoric, tartaric and citric acids can be equally as harmful.

For prevention of tooth erosion, limit your intake of acidic beverages (these include soda, diet soda, fruit juices and citrus juices..) If you are going to drink them, it is best to do it with a meal, then rinse or brush shortly afterward. According to research, Tap Water (typically fluoridated) Root Beer, Coffee and Black Tea are among the better choices for acidic drinks..  Milk is also a good choice. The compounds in these drinks are less harmful than other, more acidic drinks. Also, the routine of brushing your teeth twice per day with an enamel strengthening toothpaste can help ward off erosion.

It's really all about moderation and common sense.  Obviously if you drink a dozen diet drinks in a day, or sip fruit drinks like lemonade and grapefruit juice all day, you're going to damage your teeth over time!  Just be smart about your choices and you'll keep that pearly smile for many years to come.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Member Question - Blood Thinners And My Dental Procedure?

Member's Question:
“I am in my 70's and I have been on blood thinners for a few years now.  I have been going to the same dentist for quite sometime and have only needed cleanings and minor fillings.  The last time I went in, he decided that I needed to have a tooth extracted but would not do it at this visit because of the blood thinners.  If they can do all of the other work, why can't they just pull the tooth?”

Savon's Answer:
You are taking blood thinning drugs (antiplatelet or anticoagulant) to maintain the consistency of blood and prevent blood clotting.  These make the blood thin enough to flow through fine vessels and this reduced consistency can be dangerous in case of deep wounds or surgeries.

For dental procedures that do not involve cutting — like fillings, whitening, or cleaning — it is relatively safer for you to continue using blood thinners than to give up the medication completely.  That’s because, there are a number of local measures (like using gauze) which can be applied to control bleeding.

Sometimes, patients using blood thinners need major dental surgery or procedure like implantation, extraction, or root canal.  As always, the benefits and potential risks of stopping the blood thinners must be analyzed and weighed.  Dentists might require conducting a series of blood tests to determine the consistency of the blood, and prescribe some pre-treatment medication to the patient.

Although it is very rare in dentistry to cause critical or life threatening complexities, it is important to inform the dentist about blood thinners before going for a dental procedure.  Not only about anticoagulant medications, but you should also discuss with the dentists about every medicine you are taking.  While people using anticoagulant medications can have dental work, dentists recommend patients to share their health record with them.

(the content of this blog was originally posted in our December 2015 newsletter in the article "Here's Your Answer")