APRIL IS ORAL CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

During the month of April the dental community along with the Oral Cancer Foundation join in an effort to raise awareness of oral cancer to help fight this serious and often overlooked disease.

Facts about Oral Cancer

- Over 48,000 Americans will be diagnosed with OC this year alone
- Every hour of every day someone will die of OC in the U.S.
- More people die of OC than from cervical cancer or melanoma.
- Only onhalf of those diagnosed with OC will survive more than five years
- Oral Cancer is highly treatable in its early stages

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

- Smoking and smokeless tobacco use.
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Excessive exposure to sun (lip cancer)
- The HPV virus

Recognizing the Symptoms

- Sores in the mouth that bleed easily or do not heal
- A lump, thickening, swelling, rough spot, crust, or eroded area
- Numbness, pain or tenderness
- Red or white patches on the oral tissues
- A change in the way the teeth fit together when you bite
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue

Early Detection is the Key

When found early, oral cancer is highly treatable with an 80-90% survival rate. Self examination and regular examinations by your dentist are the best ways to insure early detection. At the Furey Dental Group we routinely perform a thoughrogh oral cancer screening at every dental exam.

Remember, prevention and early detection are the key. So, know the warning signs for oral cancer, reduce or eliminate risky behavior, periodically perform a self exam, and have you mouth examined regularly by your dentist to protect yourself against this potential killer.

High Tech Tooth Brushing

Tooth brushing has gone high tech with the introduction of the Oral-B PRO 5000 with Bluetooth technology.

The brush is designed to pair with an app that can be downloaded on any smart phone or device. The “smart brush” monitors your tooth brushing technique and provides feedback directly to your smart phone to help coach you to brush in a gentle and effective way using recommendations that can be programmed in by your dentist or hygienist at your dental visit. Sensors in the brush can determine if you are exerting too much pressure and provide visual feedback during brushing. The app can help develop optimal brushing technique by motivating you with helpful reminders, recommendations and rewards. It can also track your performance so you and your dental professional can monitor your oral care progress.

The Oral-B PRO 5000 with Bluetooth technology is worth a look for those who want to take their tooth brushing to the next level.

Ask Dr. Furey: New technology and its benefits

Q: I’m confused by all the advertising I see for dentists, especially when they talk about the latest and greatest state-of-the-art technology. Does more technology equal better dental care?

I completely understand your confusion, and I’ll do my best to clear things up. Regarding your question, the short answer is: It depends. Certainly, technology has helped revolutionize dentistry in a lot of way. New materials, techniques and devices have resulted in more effective, natural and comfortable dental care.

I consider certain newer technologies to be “must have” in a modern dental practice. These include digital radiography, resin-based bonding, computerized records/practice management systems, dental implants and lasers. Some technologies take time to perfect before I would consider incorporating them into our dental practice. CEREC single-visit teeth restoration, cone beam computed tomography, digital imaging systems and Invisalign orthodontic treatment are examples of technologies that have evolved to the point where they now deliver real practical value to patients.

In some instances, dental practices may invest in a new technology because they feel it gives them a competitive edge, and they may push its use to recover their expense. In their advertising, they may even make exaggerated claims about the benefits.

The good news is, most dentists are ethical and have their patients’ best interests at heart. However, consumers need to wary about claims that seem too good to be true. I view emerging technologies with a critical eye. I study unbiased, independent, peer-reviewed data, and I ask myself these questions:

• How will the technology benefit our patients?
• Will its use result in higher quality or more comfortable care?
• Does it promote greater efficiency, ease of care or more predictable results?
• Do the benefits justify the cost?
• Can we achieve the same results with an existing technology?
• Is this something I would want for my own dental care?

It’s hard for the average person to distinguish between hype and clinical reality. At Furey Dental Group, we place a high priority on building trusting relationships with our patients. This, I believe, provides the best assurance to patients that any new technology will be used appropriately and in their best interest.

Want to ask Dr. Furey a question about your oral health? Click here to send him an e-mail. Call us at  651-490-9011, or click here to request an appointment.

Ask Dr. Furey: Dental checkups and cleanings

Q: I recently read a newspaper article which seemed to say that regular dental visits may not be necessary. What’s the truth?
I read that article, too. Actually, the researchers said that a person’s frequency of regular dental care should be based on individual needs and risk factors. While I agree with this assessment, I see some issues with how the researchers reached their conclusion. In particular, they didn’t consider two important risk factors, oral hygiene and diet. At Furey Dental Group, we consider your individual needs and several risk factors when
recommending the frequency of your dental care.

Q: What are those risk factors?
Besides oral hygiene and diet, other risk factors include history of dental disease, certain anatomic factors, the condition of existing restorative work, specific systemic conditions such as diabetes, whether you smoke and excessive tooth wear or erosion. Newer studies show a possible link between dental disease and the presence of Interleukin 1, a blood marker for inflammation.

Q: Whatever happened to the “every six months” interval?
Years ago, the dental insurance industry set the six-month standard by agreeing to pay for two teeth cleanings per year. Every six months may still be appropriate for many people. However, it’s more important to base our recommendations on your individual needs and
risk factors.

Q: Why are regular dental visits so important?
In a word, prevention. Through regular dental care, we can more effectively manage the causes of dental disease, such as plaque accumulation. We also can identify dental disease at an earlier stage, minimizing the amount of treatment needed.

Q: How often do I need X-rays?
As with other aspects of your preventive dental care, the frequency of dental X-rays should be based on your individual needs and risk factors. Generally, we take decay detecting images every 12 to 36 months.

Q: What should I do if my dentist recommends teeth cleaning every six months, but I think my risk factors are low?
Discuss it with your dentist. There should be a specific reason for this recommendation. Ultimately, it’s your teeth and your decision as to how often you visit the dentist. If you
decide to extend the interval, do so with the understanding of the risks involved. An
informed decision with input from your dentist is usually the best way to go.

Want to ask Dr. Furey a question about your oral health? Click here to send him an e-mail. Call us at  651-490-9011, or click here to request an appointment.

Bruxism: a bad habit that can cause serious damage

by Dr. Michael Furey • Over the years, I’ve seen countless instances of oral health issues caused by bad habits. Certain habits, such as infrequent or improper tooth brushing, are entirely controllable, assuming the patient makes a commitment to change.

Other habits are not so easy to change. Often it’s because these habits occur involuntarily. Such is the case with bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding or teeth clenching.

Chronic bruxism affects an estimated 30% or more of the adult population. It can happen anytime during the day, but it is most prevalent during sleep. Unfortunately, bruxism comes with potentially serious consequences, including excessively worn or fractured teeth, jaw or facial pain (commonly called TMD, or temporomandibular dysfunction), recession of the gums and deterioration of the root surfaces (known as abfraction). In extreme cases, the teeth can wear down to the gum line.

While the cause is often unknown, it is believed that many individuals develop bruxism
over time as a result of their response to stress. Some studies suggest that bruxism originates in the central nervous system, and newer research indicates a correlation with
sleep disorders.

Early intervention is crucial

Whatever the cause of bruxism, early intervention is crucial. If it’s diagnosed and treated early enough, there may be no need to restore or repair damaged teeth. The problem is,
many people simply do not realize they’re “bruxers” until they experience pain and/or
extensive damage to their teeth.

Besides any needed restoration or repair work, the treatment of bruxism usually involves the use of a protective bite guard to wear during sleep. For bruxism that occurs during waking hours, individuals usually can find relief through behavior modification therapy.

If you suspect clenching or grinding of the teeth, please talk to your dentist as soon as
possible. As I stated earlier, the sooner you get help, the less likely you are to suffer
damage to your teeth.Contact Furey Dental Group with your concerns about bruxism or any other condition affecting your oral health. Call us at  651-490-9011, or click here to request an appointment.

Everything you wanted to know about veneers (but maybe didn’t know what to ask)

by Dr. Michael Furey • For many patients of Furey Dental Group, “dental veneers” is a mysterious term — so mysterious, in fact, it’s hard to know even which questions to ask! For this blog, I’ve put together a series of questions and answers about teeth veneers,based on what I’d want to know if I were a patient.

Q: What are dental veneers, and why are they used?
Dental veneers consist of thin layers of material, either porcelain or composite resin,
that are bonded to the front surfaces of the teeth. Many individuals with worn, dingy or
damaged teeth choose veneers to improve the appearance of their smile.

Q: Which type of dental veneer is the best?
In my opinion, the best type of veneer depends on the needs of each patient. Composite
resin veneers cost about half as much as porcelain veneers and can be placed in a single
visit. Porcelain veneers are more durable, and they reflect light more like natural teeth.
Within the porcelain category, there are several types of veneers, offering varying
degrees of durability and reflective qualities.

Q: What are the pros and cons of dental veneers?
Dental veneers offer the best way to correct aesthetic issues resulting from damaged or
defective tooth enamel. Veneers allow us to alter a number of factors that go into a smile,
such as color, size and shape. Dental veneers bond permanently to teeth, so they look
and feel natural, and they’re easy to maintain. Many types of veneers require little or no
preparation of the teeth.

At first glance, dental veneers may seem to be quite costly. However, when you consider
how durable they are, veneers turn out to be a pretty good value. Some people do not
achieve the natural results they expected with veneers because their dentist and/or lab
technician do not possess the highest level of skill and attention to detail.

Q: How long do dental veneers last?
With good care, porcelain veneers can last 20 to 30 years or more, while composite
veneers have a life expectancy of eight to 12 years. Veneer longevity tends to be reduced
among patients who engage in detrimental habits, such as clenching, grinding, chewing
on pencils or biting fingernails.

Q: What is involved with placing dental veneers?
At Furey Dental Group, we follow a meticulous, multi-step process that includes
a detailed analysis of your smile, a treatment mock-up, preparation of the teeth (if
required), impressions and bite records. With porcelain veneers, you’ll go home with
temporary, or provisional, veneers while the permanent veneers are being fabricated.
Finally, the permanent veneers are placed in your mouth for evaluation. If acceptable,
they’re bonded to your teeth. Composite veneers require only one treatment visit; you
leave with permanent veneers…no temporaries required.

Q: How do I care for my dental veneers?
You care for veneers just as you would for normal, healthy teeth: proper brushing and
flossing and regular dental checkups. If you clench or grind your teeth, you may need a
nighttime bite guard to help protect your veneers.

Q: Are there alternatives to dental veneers?
Yes. Alternatives include orthodontics (braces or Invisalign®), teeth whitening, composite
bonding, esthetic re-contouring or a combination of these. Some patients may be
interested in a new product called Snap-On Smile®, a one-piece set of acrylic veneers
that is snapped into place over your teeth and removed for cleaning. Snap-On Smile
is temporary in nature and is often used as a transition to a more extensive restoration.
However, it does provide an easy and immediate smile makeover.

To find out whether you may be a good candidate for dental veneers, call
Furey Dental Group at 651-490-9011, or click here to request a complimentary
consultation.

Our ‘candid camera’ really has people smiling!

The term “portrait studio,” makes most people think of a place that specializes in
photographs of families, babies, students and wedding parties.

At Furey Dental Group, we have a portrait studio. But, unlike a conventional portrait
studio, there’s only one “star” here: our patients’ smiles! Our portrait studio actually
serves some very serious purposes. Before I get into that, let’s take a quick look at the
history of photography in dentistry.

Dental photography in the ‘olden days’

For decades, dentists have used photography to document cases, educate patients and
colleagues, showcase treatment results and convey important details to laboratory
technicians and specialists.

Back in the 1980s, when we started using photography, the process was quite time
consuming and cumbersome. We would shoot a roll of film, send it in for processing and,
about a week later, receive the finished slides. Then we’d organize the slides and store
them in a filing cabinet. Viewing was done with hand-held viewers and slide projectors.

Today’s digital photography

Boy, have things changed since then! Today we use high-resolution digital photography,
which allows us to view our images immediately. In addition, we’ve invested in special
lighting and lenses that greatly enhance image quality.

Using Adobe Photoshop, we can add graphic elements to make the photos more
meaningful and useful. Because they’re digital, these images can be shared and archived
electronically (freeing up space in our file cabinets).

A diagnostic and treatment planning tool

What’s really impressive is how we’re using photography to benefit Furey Dental
patients! In short, photography has become an increasingly important diagnostic and
treatment planning tool. While we still rely on notes, models and X-rays, a series of
dental photographs provides vital information about how the teeth correlate to the lips
and face.

By manipulating photographs with imaging software, we can design smiles before ever
touching a tooth. These images also allow our patients to become more involved in the
smile design process. Together we can visualize the impact of a treatment plan on a
person’s smile, face and overall well being.

Photography may be used with a broad range of cosmetic dentistry, general dentistry and
orthodontic procedures, including crowns, veneers, dental implants and Invisalign® teeth
alignment.

Dental photography is part of our ongoing commitment to creating lifelong smiles.
For an appointment, including a tour of our portrait studio, call Furey Dental
Group at 651-490-9011

Invisalign®: the right orthodontic appliance for you?

Improper teeth alignment can interfere with a fabulous smile and good oral health. Do
any of the following apply to you?

  • Your upper and lower jaws seem to be misaligned, causing excessive wear of your teeth and increasing the risk of gum disease and bone loss.
  • Your teeth are overly crowded, which can result in dental decay and prevent normal functioning of the teeth.
  • Your teeth are abnormally spaced and/or very far apart; this is not only unattractive, but can cause certain periodontal diseases.
  • Your upper teeth overlap your lower teeth too much, possibly leading to oral health problems down the road.

These and other concerns share a common solution: Invisalign®, the revolutionary
approach to straightening teeth.

Easy, comfortable orthodontics

Not so many years ago, braces meant metal brackets and wires in your mouth. By contrast, Invisalign uses a computer-designed, custom-made series of virtually invisible
aligners (commonly known as “clear braces”) created specifically for your mouth.

Smooth and comfortable, these aligners slip easily over your teeth. They gradually and
gently shift your teeth into place, based on precise movements we plan for you. You
can remove the aligners for cleaning and eating, and you pop in a new set of aligners
approximately every two weeks until the treatment is complete. The icing on the cake:
Nobody has to know you’re wearing Invisalign!

Enhanced technology and treatment

At Furey Dental Group, we keep up with the latest innovations in Invisalign technology. For example, we now offer Invisalign Teen®, an orthodontic solution for patients who are still growing. Earlier this year, Invisalign introduced a new SmartTrack material. More flexible and with better “memory” than previous materials, SmartTrack results in an aligner that is more efficient at moving teeth, more comfortable to wear and easier to put in and take out of the mouth.

Our patients have expressed nothing but positive and enthusiastic feedback regarding their Invisalign experiences. “Really easy,” “Fantastic,” “I wish I had done this sooner,”
“Nobody even notices that I have them on” and “I love my new smile” are just some of
the comments we’ve received from our Invisalign patients.

To find out whether you may be a good candidate for treatment, call Furey Dental
Group at 651-490-9011, or click here to request a complimentary consultation. We’d
love to hear from you!

A lifetime of healthy smiles starts sooner than you may think

The eruption, or emergence, of a child’s first tooth represents the start of a lifetime of healthy, beautiful smiles. It also marks the beginning of a child’s risk for early childhood caries (ECC), otherwise known as cavities or tooth decay. Without proper intervention, ECC can spread quickly and lead to serious infection.

As a parent, you can help ensure that the smiles keep coming while reducing the risk of ECC. One of the most important preventive steps you can take is an infant dental examination.

‘Knee-to-knee’ infant dental examination

Children should undergo their first dental exam within six months of the first tooth erupting and no later than one year old, according to the American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Thereafter, exams should occur every six months or possibly more often if the child is at a high risk for ECC.

At Furey Dental Group, the initial visit involves a quick and simple “knee-to-knee” exam. The parent and I sit face to face and knee to knee, with the child in the parent’s lap and legs straddling the parent’s waist. The child is tipped back into my lap, giving me a good look inside the mouth, while the parent holds down the child’s hands. This brief exam allows me to check for cavities, plaque buildup, proper tooth eruption and condition of the gums.

Tips for preventing cavities in children

Following the exam, I discuss my findings and ECC risk factors with the parents, and I
review the following steps for preventing cavities in baby teeth:
Current and expectant moms should practice good oral hygiene, including dental exams and necessary treatment, to prevent the transmission of cavity germs to their infants.
Put only breast milk, formula or water in baby bottles, NEVER juice, soda or sweetened liquid.
Do not put a child to bed with a bottle containing anything but water.
Do not dip a child’s pacifier in anything sweet, and use only soap and rinse water to clean it — never your own mouth.
Limit sweet snacks in quantity, portion size and frequency.
Before teeth appear, use a clean, warm cloth to gently wipe the gums and inside of the baby’s mouth every day, especially after feedings and before bedtime.
With the first tooth’s appearance, brush the baby teeth twice a day using a soft, age-appropriate toothbrush and a smear of fluoridated toothpaste. Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children ages two to five years old, and perform or assist them with the tooth brushing.

During February, which is National Children’s Dental Health Month, I invite you
to bring your child (six months to three years old) to Furey Dental Group for a
complimentary infant dental exam. Call 651-490-9011 to schedule an exam, or
request an appointment by e-mail.

Stopping the ‘burn’ in your mouth

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic condition commonly known as heartburn. Caused by stomach acid regurgitation into the esophagus and mouth, GERD
is widely known for its effects on the digestive system. It can cause ulcers and erosion of
the esophageal lining, and it may increase the risk of esophageal cancer.

As a dentist, I also see the impact of GERD on the mouth and teeth. Symptoms range
from bad breath and a sour taste in the mouth to teeth sensitivity, dental erosion and
inflammation of the oral tissue.

About 25% of adult GERD patients experience dental erosion, which results from a
dissolution of the tooth enamel when exposed to gastric acid. (Tooth enamel dissolves
when the pH in the mouth drops below 5.2; gastric acid has a pH value of about 2.0.)

Dentists are often the first to diagnose GERD. Telltale signs include loss of tooth enamel,
especially on the inner surfaces of the upper front teeth and the biting surfaces of the back
teeth. Often we see cup-shaped craters on the biting surfaces of the back teeth.

Enamel loss can lead to teeth hypersensitivity and discoloration. It may also result in the
“hyper-eruption” of opposing teeth.

The first line of defense against GERD’s effects should be treating the underlying
disease. If you suspect GERD, seek medical treatment. Your physician may advise
you on managing controllable GERD risk factors, which include alcohol consumption,
obesity, sleep apnea and the use of certain drugs, such as certain pain relievers. Prilosec,
Tagamet, Nexium or another medication may be prescribed, as well.

Your dentist can provide additional counseling and treatment options. To reduce mouth
acidity and potentially reverse enamel erosion, you may be advised to rinse your teeth
with water, chew xylitol-sweetened gum, use fluoride pastes and rinses and avoid
consuming highly acidic foods and drinks.

To restore lost tooth enamel, your dentist may recommend a number of interventions:
orthodontic treatment (to relieve tooth crowding caused by hyper-eruption), reshaping
of the opposing teeth, crowns, onlays or veneer restorations, and/or using composites
or porcelain to build up the biting surfaces of the back teeth. Occasionally, root canal
therapy is required to treat damage to the tooth pulp or to prepare a tooth for aggressive
restorative treatment.

Because damage from GERD happens gradually, the sooner the underlying problem is
diagnosed and corrected, the less aggressive your treatment can be. Please call our office
at 651-490-9011 if you have any concerns about your oral health related to GERD.