We love our sugary treats, too!

It’s that time of year once again: Junk food season is upon us. We still have candy left from Halloween, and Thanksgiving  (with its pumpkin pie, ice cream and marshmallows that seem to find their way into everything) is fast approaching. For many people, Christmas follows suit, with sugar cookies and candy canes galore.

Here at Nevills Family Dentistry, we enjoy our treats as much as you do. I love Good ‘N Plenty candy and pumpkin pie. For Dr. Megan, it’s Hot Tamales and dark chocolate.  You don’t have to avoid treats during the holidays. But it is important to manage them for the sake of your oral health.  Here are some tips:

 Save treats for dessert – not for snacks

Sugar creates an acidic environment in your mouth that allows cavities to form. Reduce the amount of time your mouth is in that acidic state during the day by choosing a healthy snack instead of a sugary one. Save treats for after meals when you are eating anyway.

 Some treats are worse than others

Sticky and chewy treats that get stuck in your teeth are much worse than those that melt away. The chewy candy can remain in your mouth for days if not taken care of.

Sugar-free foods do provide some advantage

Consuming sugar-free or sugar-reduced foods really is better for your teeth than the full-fledged sugar versions. Every little bit helps!

It’s not just about candy

Many foods  have a surprising amount of sugar:  soda, bread, and even ketchup. Foods containing fructose, dextrose, and lactose all have the same acidic effects as the sugar in cookies and candy. Be an informed consumer and read food labels.

 Most importantly, brush and floss after meals!

Regardless of how you eat during the holidays, make sure that you are brushing and flossing regularly and after meals. It keeps your mouth out of that acidic state and prevents cavities.

 

The holidays are a great time to schedule a dental appointment for yourself and your kids when they are on vacation. Dr. Megan is offering free exams to new patients, so if you or someone you know is looking for great dental care from a friendly and fun team, call and make an appointment!  Enjoy your delicious, sugary treats,  brush and floss your teeth, and have a safe and wonderful holiday season from all of us at Nevills Family Dentistry!

Father and daughter dentists!

Our patients have been talking about it for months:  The arrival of Dr. Megan Nevills.  She graduated from dental school in May, got her license in June and began practicing dentistry with her dad at Nevills Family Dentistry. 

How is this new arrangement working out for father and daughter?  Check it out:

From Dr. Dave:

It’s been huge fun. Everyone has been anticipating this for a long time (it seems). It’s definitely a joy to have Megan here, to have another dentist to talk to, and to do some of the newer techniques she learned in dental school. I have noticed, however, how changes in routine things will affect a person. Like when patients come into the office, see Megan, get treated, and then leave without me even seeing them-What just happened there ! I’ve been practicing by myself for 30 years and am used to seeing everyone who walks into the building. I guess I’ll have to work through that little quandary.

Also, I have found myself pacing the hallway, listening to how she talks with patients, and thinking,” Wow, she’s so professional”. She shows diagrams, I draw pictures using stick figures.  I use words like “rebar” and “scaffolding” to describe a process.  She uses precise terms, like “post” and “core build up.”

Early on we had to decide how to address each other in the office. It’s a little strange calling the kid you coached in softball “doctor.”  She’s also got me wearing scrubs now.

Dr. Meg is doing really well.  She brings a lot of energy to the practice and patients really like her.  She’s so good with people – so caring and compassionate. And maybe I can finally go on a two-week vacation and know that my patients will be in the best of hands!

From Dr. Meg:

It’s great to be working here with my dad.  The best part for me is that I get to work in an environment where I am encouraged and supported. I may say some things differently and do some things a little differently, but our core values and the way we care about people are the same.

We value taking time with each of our patients and caring for each in a way that makes the most sense for them. We’re not about seeing as many patients as we can in an hour or using the latest, most expensive technique simply because it’s become available.

My dad is a good problem solver and takes the time to come up with something creative that works well. It takes a significant amount of skill to do that. He’s also open to trying new procedures. We recently did our first bone graft together – something I’d done quite a bit in dental school. It was fun.  I didn’t really have to teach him anything, of course. I just showed him a few things, and he had it.

I want to learn from a guy like that.  When it comes to choosing a mentor, I’d pick Dr. Dave out of a crowd – even if he wasn’t my dad!

Teeth Whitening: What’s Best?

If you are interested in getting whiter teeth for a brighter smile, you’ve probably noticed a confusing array of teeth whitening systems on the market.  Strips, trays, rinses, lasers… do they work?  Are they safe?

Most teeth whitening products use varying strengths of peroxide, which safely bleaches away stains.

When it comes to these products, an old adage applies:  You get what you pay for.  Many of the products you’ll find at the drug store will give you whiter teeth, and some of the newer ones give fairly good results. They are not nearly as effective as those available from your dentist, but I am fine with my patients using them – as long as they carefully follow all instructions.

I do caution folks against using any product that is too acidic.  Acid scratches a tooth’s enamel and those scratches will pick up stains. A few things to keep in mind when purchasing these products:

  • Peroxide levels vary – the stronger the product, the better the results.
  • Most whitening strips only fit over the front s­­­­­ix or eight teeth, which may or may not be enough for you.
  • Over-the-counter tray systems touch all teeth, but one-size-fits-all trays tend to bleach unevenly and are often bulky and uncomfortable.

Studies have shown that the best results come from using a custom tray system, with a tray made to fit your teeth. This ensures that the fit is optimal and all teeth evenly bleached.  We use this system in our office.

We also use products that are much stronger than you than can buy over-the-counter.  A custom-made tray combined with stronger products give the most effective results.

What about heat or laser treatments? With these, peroxide is put onto the teeth and then some type of light or laser is directed at them to activate the peroxide.  Although immediately effective, I don’t do these types of treatments because they are costly and have short-term results.  Still, if you’ve got a special occasion coming up soon, this type of treatment might meet your immediate needs.

There are a couple of downsides to using teeth whitening products.  One is that they don’t work well for everyone.  Yellow/brown teeth tend to bleach well, but blue-ish/gray teeth typically do not. Also, bleaches only work on real teeth – they have no effect on crowns or implants.

Finally, some people find that the peroxide in these products irritates their gums.  I’m one of those people!  Using products every third day instead of every day may help you.

If you have questions about over-the-counter products, ask your dentist. Better yet, take the product that interests you to your next dentist appointment so you can decipher the label of ingredients together.

Are you safe at the dentist?

The news out of Oklahoma a few months ago  was beyond disturbing – it was shocking. More than 50 patients of a Tulsa dentist contracted serious illnesses because of unsterile practices at his dental office.

News reports revealed that, among other things, the Tulsa dentist apparently reused the same needles on different patients and used bleach instead of proper sterilizing methods for his dental tools.

Since then, media across the country have found and reported on patient complaints about sterilization.  This attention reminds us that:

1.)    Cases such as the Oklahoma dentist are extremely rare

2.)    Patients have every right to ask questions about dental practices

In our office, we’re happy to give interested patients a tour of our sterilization room, which includes:

  • A “dirty side” for recently used equipment and a “clean side” for sterilized equipment
  • An ultrasonic cleaner, which cleans by using ultrasound waves passed through a liquid cleaning solution.
  • The steam autoclave, which sterilizes the instruments with high pressure saturated steam at nearly 250 degrees.
  • Sterilized equipment waiting inside sterile bags for me or my staff to use while wearing medical gloves.

After each patient appointment, all metal instruments are sterilized.  And everything that is plastic, paper or gauze is thrown away.  This includes everything from the paper “bib” around your neck to the plastic suction tube your hygienist uses during a cleaning.

Also between patient visits, every chair, countertop, light and so on is disinfected with antibacterial wipes. Even the keyboard on my computer has a plastic covering that is replaced each time!

All of these are standard procedures to keep dental patients healthy and safe.  I’ve been a dentist for 30 year now and believe that the vast majority of dentists follow these practices.

Still, just as medical patients have become empowered to ask questions in a doctor’s office or at the hospital, dental patients should ask any questions they have.

If you have a concern, voice it.  Don’t feel odd about saying, “I’m concerned about sterilization.  What do you do in your office?”

You have every right to ask the question – and to get an answer that satisfies you.

 

 

Teaching a (slightly) old dog new tricks

My daughter, Megan, who will be our new dentist this summer, has already encouraged me to learn some new techniques.

A couple of years ago, for example, she said, “Dad, you’ve got to switch over to the new tools for doing root canals.” (Root canals, yikes!  But keep reading, it won’t hurt.)

I was good at the old technique, but got trained in the new one.  And she was right – switching over has made a huge difference. After 18 months, I’m still surprised at how easy root canals are to do now, and our patients are also pleased at how easy it is on them.

We now use flexible instruments instead of rigid hand files to clean out the tooth canal. These new tools are made of bendable metals. They easily go right through the canal, bending where it does. And the filling materials are now warm, and gently expand to fill the space.

We’re getting faster, better and more comfortable results, and we very seldom have to refer a patient to a specialist. In fact, 9 out of 10 patients have very little discomfort with the new technique. And typically, that 10th person has waited way too long to come in for help.

The very mention of “root canal” makes many people recoil in horror. But with the new technique, there’s nothing to fear.

Keeping Dental Care Affordable

Congress has reduced tax-deductible contributions to your flexible spending account (FSA) from a maximum of $5,000 last year, to only $2,500 this year.

During these difficult economic times, we want to make it more affordable for you to have the quality dental care that you and your family deserve.

That’s why, if the cost of your care exceeds the $2,500 limit, we can arrange affordable monthly payments using an automatic credit card charge or CareCredit.

Please also remember that we offer a 7% discount for cash or check payments on fees over $250 when paid in full on the day you receive service.

Please call our office to discuss these options for making treatment affordable for you.

If you have friends, family members, or colleagues who are looking for a family dentist, please send them our way! Patients the Beaverton, Hillsboro and Portland areas are part of our family, too!