America’s Most Notorious Dentist?

  I just read a great article at DrBicuspid.com  about John Henry “Doc” Holliday, “America’s most notorious dentist”.  “Wyatt Earp’s brother Virgil described Doc Holliday as ‘gentlemanly, a good dentist, a friendly man’ and a ‘slender, sickly fellow.'” Written by Daniel Demers, the article takes us through Doc Holliday’s life starting with his cleft lip birth in Griffin, GA in 1851.  His father was a physician and served as an officer in the Confederate Army.  His mother died of tuberculosis a year after the war ended, when he was 15.  In addition to his upper Southern class education, he was schooled in the use of firearms by his father, and learned to play cards from a young servant named Sophie Wilson. He became a dentist when he was 20 years old and continued to hone his shooting and card playing skills.  At 23, he was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis, which led him to travel to drier climates.  He moved from Texas (where he picked up drinking whiskey “as a palliative for his disease”) to Colorado to Wyoming to Dakota Territory then back to Texas, where he met both Wyatt Earp and the love of his life, “Big Nose” Kate Harony.  All along the way, he practiced dentistry, supplemented his income gambling, and got into a few skirmishes.   Doc and Kate moved to Kansas to New Mexico and then to Tombstone, Arizona, on Wyatt Earp’s invitation.  “Wyatt Earp sent a letter to Doc stating that Tombstone was very lively and that Doc could do well there as there was no dentist there.”  In 1881, “Holliday’s days in Tombstone culminated in the legendary gunfight at the...

Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin Endorses Fluoridation

Yesterday, our surgeon general officially endorsed community water fluoridation.  According to the American Dental Association, “Every surgeon general for the past 50 years has endorsed community water fluoridation of community water supplies as a safe and effective weapon in the war against tooth decay.” Dr. Regina Benjamin was quoted as saying, “Fluoridation’s effectiveness in preventing tooth decay is not limited to children, but extends throughout life, resulting in fewer and less severe cavities.” She further noted, “each generation born since the implementation of water fluoridation has enjoyed better dental health than the generation that preceded it.” We realize that there are many people who opposed community water fluoridation for a variety of reasons.  But if you look at the entire body of scientific evidence, the overwhelming majority of it supports  fluoridation as safe and effective.  According to Dr. Benjamin, water fluoridation is “one of the most effective choices communities can make to prevent health problems while actually improving the oral health of their citizens.” Dr. Steve Roseville Family...

Artificial Joints- Do I Need To Take Antibiotics Before Dental Treatment?

Many people with prosthetic hips and knee joints have been taking antibiotics before dental treatment on the advice of their Orthopedic Surgeons.  They were afraid that the bacteria in the mouth could get into the bloodstream and infect the artificial joints, which could lead to having to replace the joint.  Some people were told to premedicate with antibiotics before dental visits for two years after their joint surgery.  Others were told they must do it for the rest of their lives.  If dental work leads to infected prosthetic joints, then it would surely be wise to take antibiotics before dental visits.  But does it? The American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) completed a systemic review of the literature last month and came up with the following recommendations: 1- “The practitioner might consider discontinuing the practice of routinely prescribing prophylactic antibiotics for patients with hip and knee prosthetic joint implants undergoing dental procedures.” 2- “We are unable to recommend for or against the use of topical oral antimicrobials in patients with prosthetic joint implants or other orthopaedic implants undergoing dental procedures.” 3- “In the absence of reliable evidence linking poor oral health to prosthetic joint infection, it is the opinion of the work group that patients with prosthetic joint implants or other orthopaedic implants maintain appropriate oral hygiene.” HUH?  What does this all mean?  Here’s my interpretation: 1- There is no evidence that dental treatment causes joint infections, but they’d like to see more studies done before they stick their necks out and actually say it doesn’t.  So, doctors might not want to give patients antibiotics before...

Happy National Tooth Fairy Day!!!

August 22 is National Tooth Fairy Day.  (Apparently, so is February 28.)  And it would seem our fabled colleague has a rather long history. According to Spear Education– “Centuries ago in Europe, the tradition of “hiding” a child’s primary tooth that fell out began. Some of the earliest practices included burying a tooth in the garden, known as tooth gardens, to prevent an “evil witch” from stealing it and casting a spell on the child…  Over time, the tradition in America went through many phases. For instance, up until the late 1800s, many people believed that swallowing the tooth was the best way of preventing evil from getting ahold of it. Some people even believed that if an animal swallowed the tooth, the new tooth growing in would resemble the tooth from that particular animal. A common belief during this time was to force a mouse or rat to eat the tooth to ensure the teeth growing in would be sharp and strong.” The Straight Dope writes, “The tooth fairy as we now know her didn’t make an appearance until the early 1900s, as a generalized “good fairy” with a professional specialization.  The child loses a baby tooth, which is put under the pillow at night, and the tooth fairy exchanges it for a present, usually money but sometimes candy. Exchanges of this sort are common in many rites of passage (like an exchange of rings at a wedding, say). The tooth fairy grew slowly in popularity over the next few decades. The Tooth Fairy, a three-act playlet for children by Esther Watkins Arnold, was published in 1927. Lee Rogow’s...

How To Save Money At The Dentist

Let’s face it, dentistry is not cheap.   While you’re likely to spend far more on cars than you do on your teeth and mouth during your lifetime, it takes more than pocket change to get your teeth fixed.  So how can you save money at the dentist? First and most importantly, an ounce of prevention is worth way more than a pound of cure.   Here’s how to prevent the two most common diseases in the world (tooth decay and gum disease). The bottom line is this: Don’t feed the sugar bugs between meals! Floss daily, especially at the gumline When you come in to see the dentist, consider spending a little on preventive measures to save a lot in the long run. Examples include:- sealants to seal off the grooves where sugar bugs hide and most decay occurs fluoride treatments to harden the teeth- gels and foam are good; varnish is better splints (aka- nightguards) to prevent “occlusal disease”, which occurs when clenching and grinding your teeth at night causing cracked/broken teeth, worn/failed dental restorations, sensitive teeth and TMJ problems If you already have lots of decay or gum disease, remember the four goals of dentistry, which are listed somewhat in order of priority: Remove/manage dental disease- tooth decay, gum disease, occlusal disease Replace what’s missing Preserve what’s left Cosmetic dentistry Make sure to treat dental disease early.  All dental disease is progressive!   The longer you wait, the worse (and more expensive) it gets.  Here’s what can happen when you wait to fix your teeth. When it comes to fixing your teeth, you will usually have...

Returning To The Dental Fold…

“Yamamoto and Lee is a family dental office dedicated to providing top quality dentistry and overall service to our patients.” (from our mission statement) We take our mission very seriously and always do our best to live up to it.  Yet despite our best efforts, we know we will never please everyone.  So when a patient leaves our practice, we like to find out why they’re leaving so that we can hopefully learn from our mistakes and improve our service.  But then, some of them come back! We understand that there are many reasons why people leave a dental office to go see another dentist.  What we fail to realize is that people don’t always leave because they are unsatisfied.  Sometimes people leave because their insurance changed and they now have a list of dentists they must see if they want their dental work to be covered by insurance.  Or sometimes they leave because finances are tight, and they think they can save money by going to a dentist with lower fees (and there’s always someone with lower fees).  One returning patient this past week said that even though his insurance changed, he’d rather come here and pay out of pocket because the dentist he saw under his plan tried to get him to agree to treatment which wasn’t covered, and it would have cost him more than what we had recommended.  Another returning patient came back because the “cheaper” dentist wanted to replace all his fillings and do full mouth deep cleanings, which we didn’t think he needed.  (In my next post, I will discuss the best way...