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Oral Health Tips: Travel Edition

April 17th, 2019

When you leave on a trip, you probably double-check that evrything’s ready: your clothes are packed, your ticket is handy, and your passport waits patiently on top of your bag or in a special pocket.

The same level of preparedness should apply with regard to caring for your oral health when you’re about to leave home for a while. Whether you’re jumping in the car for a weekend camping trip or flying halfway across the globe for a longer stint, the tips below will help you keep your teeth healthy whil you’re away.

Prepare Ahead of Time

The key to maintaining good oral hygiene during travel is preparation. Schedule a regular dental appointment so your teeth are freshly cleaned and ready before you leave. This can identify potential issues that might cause problems while you’re away.

If you have any items on a dental “to-do” list, such as wisdom tooth removal, replacement of a filling, or orthodontic adjustment, it’s a good idea to get those procedures completed before your trip.

En Route

If you’re stuck on a long flight or trekking far into the woods, you might find yourself where there’s no sink or even a toothbrush at hand. We speak for everyone when we say that nothing is worse than a mouth that feels, shall we say, less than fresh.

A lemon wedge or Granny Smith apple slice can help freshen up your breath when you’re in need of a quick fix. Rinsing your mouth thoroughly with water can help to wash away bacteria that causes cavities and reduce that gritty sensation. If you’ve got toothpaste, put a dot on your finger or a damp washcloth to serve as a makeshift toothbrush.

Nowadays, travel-sized dental products are available at most grocery stores and pharmacies. You can find travel toothbrushes, mini mouthwashes, and pocket-sized floss to slip into your travel bag.

Colgate makes disposable mini-toothbrushes called Wisps that can help you freshen up when you may not have access to a regular toothbrush. Packing a few extra dental supplies may also be a good idea in case one gets damaged or lost.

At Your Destination

Traveling abroad can expose you to unfamiliar conditions. Some countries have compromised water sources that will make you extremely ill if ingested, even from the tiny amount of water with which you wet your toothbrush.

Minimize that risk and keep bottles of water on hand instead for rinsing your mouth and toothbrush. If your toothbrush comes in contact with contaminated water, swapping it out for a new one is the safest option.

Storing your toothbrush properly is necessary to prevent bacteria from growing on it. Place your brush in a Ziploc bag when you’re on the go and allow it to breathe once you get to a temporary destination.

Traveling near or far should be an enjoyable experience. Dental issues shouldn’t be a source of worry on your vacation. As long as you’re prepared and take precautions, your teeth can stay healthy even when they’re out of the country!

Of course, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact our Princeton, NJ office.

The Benefits of Radiographs

April 16th, 2019

Maintaining proper oral hygiene is beneficial to overall health. Depending on the frequency of an individual's professional periodontal cleaning program, a periodic (semi-annual) oral evaluation may or may not be needed. During the evaluation, a visual exam of the soft tissues (gums, cheek mucosa, tongue) and hard tissues (teeth) is performed.

The visual exam allows your dentist and hygienist to be able to see the exposed portions of your teeth; however, not all surfaces of the teeth are visible to the naked eye. A patient's susceptibility for developing dental decay ("cavities") is a parameter we use to determine the frequency which we recommend radiographs ("x-rays") be taken. While some patients consent to radiographs as part of his/her periodic evaluation, others often vocalize his/her objection(s) to this service.

Our responsibility to our patients is to provide comprehensive care including providing the proper recommendation(s) based on each individual's needs. With information available to us at the click of a button, patients have the ability to research the facts and myths associated with practically any medical procedure.  To help you make an informed decision as to what is best for YOUR dental health, we want you to understand both the PROs (benefits) and CONs (risks) associated with dental radiographs.

Benefits

If you were to page through family albums (or now-a-days through digital photo albums), you will likely remember the memory associated with each picture and also see how you have progressed through the years. Radiographs, like photographs, allow us to capture moments in time and analyze any changes that may have occurred within your dental structures.

When appropriate, routine radiographs permit the dental staff to have the ability to: (Colgate)

  • Diagnose dental decay between teeth
  • Diagnose dental decay under existing restorations
  • Diagnose dental decay on root surfaces
  • Diagnose bone loss
  • Visualize tooth development
  • Visualize developmental abnormalities
  • Visualize dental abscesses or cysts
  • Provide early diagnosis of issues allowing for preservation of tooth and bone structure

Risks

In order to create an image of your teeth, an individual must be exposed to a low-dose of radiation.  After the dental professional places the sensor in your mouth and positions the x-ray tube, he/she will then push the trigger button to allow the x-rays to be released. During this brief interval (≤0.2s), an audible beep is heard alerting all in the nearby vicinity that x-rays are passing through a patient's cheek, teeth, gums, and jaw bone in order to reach the sensor and create the image.

Throughout the course of our lives, we are exposed to many types of radiation (some harmful and some non-harmful). In fact, during almost every second of any given day, most people are exposed to some form of electromagnetic radiation. If you have four bitewing radiographs taken during your dental check-up, that is equivalent to the same amount of radiation (~0.005mSv) (ADA) encountered during a one to two hour airplane flight (FAQ, ARPANSA, ACSH); also approximately the same daily cumulative amount of low-level, "non-harmful" background radiation (FAQ) (that emitted from the sun, television, radio, computer, cell phone, etc...).  Science has shown that dental radiographs typically account for <3% of an individual’s overall radiation exposure for medical imaging purposes. (ADA, FDA)

Every human has a distinct genetic make-up, so we strive to utilize radiographs on an as needed basis to help ensure proper maintenance of YOUR oral health. While patients have the right to opt out of having dental radiographs taken, keep in mind that the potential infections not visible to the naked eye could be causing more harm to your health than the cumulative effects of check-up radiographs. Thus, for individuals susceptible to cavities and bone loss we suggest more frequent imaging to help assess the status of the disease process. Individuals affected by dry mouth (due to medications or medical issues that cause decreased saliva), we suggest more frequent imaging to help diagnose and minimize the effects of root decay.

References

“Benefits of X-Rays Outweigh Risks.” Oral Health and Dental Care, www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/procedures/x-rays/ada-07-x-ray-safety.

Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Medical X-Ray Imaging - The Selection of Patients for Dental Radiographic Examinations.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, 7 Mar. 2018, www.fda.gov/radiation-emittingproducts/radiationemittingproductsandprocedures/medicalimaging/medicalx-rays/ucm116504.htm.

Dinerstein, Chuck. “Cosmic Radiation, Flight Attendants and Flying the Friendly Skies.” American Council on Science and Health, 25 June 2018, www.acsh.org/news/2018/06/25/cosmic-radiation-flight-attendants-and-flying-friendly-skies-13117.

“Flying and Health: Cosmic Radiation Exposure for Casual Flyers and Aircrew.” ARPANSA, ARPANSA, 10 Jan. 2019, www.arpansa.gov.au/understanding-radiation/radiation-sources/more-radiation-sources/flying-and-health.

“Oral Health Topics - X-Rays.” Electronic Health Records, 21 June 2018, www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/x-rays.

“X-Ray Risk.” XrayRisk.com: FAQ, 28 Jan. 2018, www.xrayrisk.com/faq.php#q20.

April at Princeton Restorative & Implant Dentistry

April 11th, 2019

Easter, Earth Day, baseball season, it must be April! If you’ve visited us lately, you probably noticed we’ve got beautiful arrangements of spring flowers throughout the office to celebrate the new season.  We asked our dental assistant, Anne, to tell us about what she’s looking forward to most and how she’ll be celebrating this month’s happenings.

For Anne, Easter is a transitional time of phenomenal renewal. It’s when the Earth reawakens from her slumber and explodes with new life. Easter also means an influx of egg-shaped treats across all grocery stores and drugstores. Anne loves chocolate malted eggs and sugar dioramas. And if you ask the rest of the team, we won’t say no to cookies, cake, and candy no matter the occasion!

With baseball back in action, Anne is ready to root for the Yankees. Her family is devoted to the Yankees and always enjoys spring training. Anne is also looking forward to planting her spring flowers. This is a special tradition as planting new seeds symbolize new growth, starting new projects, and coming forth with new ideas. Anne fully plans on taking advantage of the longer days to be outside and appreciate her health and physical well being.

Like the rest of our team, Anne is passionate about Earth Day and spreading the word about recycling as well as purchasing biodegradable products whenever possible. She believes it’s important to do what we can to save our beautiful Earth and keep our roadsides clean. By picking up trash when we see it and being more conscious of how we dispose of our own trash, Anne believes we can start making a difference.

Last but certainly not least, Anne has recently been blessed with the birth of her new granddaughter! This new tiny bundle of joy has brought so much warmth, light, and love to her family.

We hope you’re all having a great month so far and hope to see you in the office soon. If you see Anne next time you’re in the office, don’t hesitate to say hello!

Mall Whitening: Why You Shouldn’t

April 10th, 2019

A shopping mall is a great place to get lots of errands done in one trip. Department stores, clothing boutiques, specialty shops? So many tempting options all in one place. But teeth whitening? Maybe not.

Dental office whitening provides you with the whitest possible teeth in the safest possible manner. Your teeth will be checked first for any conditions that might make whitening a bad idea, such as tooth decay, weakened enamel, or gum disease. Dr. Stephen Hudis will make sure your gums and mouth are protected. A gel with a higher concentration of bleaching agents than those available over-the-counter will be applied, and your whitening progress will be monitored. You can also ask about having a custom-fitted tray made for at use at home with professional whitening gel.

What is different about mall bleaching?

  • No dental exam will be provided beforehand. If you have dental issues, the whitening process might cause further problems such as tooth sensitivity or gum inflammation.
  • The amount of peroxide in the bleaching agents can vary from place to place. You might end up with something equivalent to home whitening strips, or you might be exposed to solutions that should only be available in a dentist’s office.
  • Finally, in many areas, mall whitening is actually illegal because it is considered the practice of dentistry without a license. Mall kiosks skirt this problem by having customers insert the trays full of gel themselves—a practice that does not take the place of professional training, licensing, and regulation.

A mall kiosk is a convenient place to select a new phone. Or try an unusual hair care product. Or purchase the latest in fad toys. But when it comes to your dental health, it’s worth a special trip to our Princeton, NJ office if you want the safest, most effective whitening.