February was National Children’s Dental Health Month which is a time when the dental profession focuses on the dental needs of children, particularly under-served or children at risk.  The highlight of the month is Give Kids A Smile Day (GKAS) when dentists and dental auxiliaries all over the country volunteer their time and talents to providing free dental care to kids in need.  This volunteer effort can be in the form of putting in time at a participating local community dental clinic or opening up their own facilities to provide dental services to kids for the day.  Give Kids A Smile Day is a joint effort of the American Dental Association,  State Dental Associations, and individual dentists and dental auxiliaries.

This year GKASD was February 5th and for the sixth strait year The Furey Dental Group participated by opening our clinic and providing dental care to kids from our surrounding communities who are currently not receiving regular dental care due to economic hardship and lack of dental insurance.  Give Kids A Smile Day is always a high energy day where we try to take care of as many kids as we can fit into the day but we always have a lot of fun with the kids and feel good at the end of a busy day knowing we have been able to do some good for the kids in our community who are often forgotten.  This year was no exception.  We provided care for 22 kids with services including exams, x-rays, cleaning, fluoride application, oral hygiene instruction, sealants, fillings, extractions, and root canal treatments.  In our clinic we provided over $7,700 in dental care for the day which was up from the $5,500 in services we provided last year.

Unfortunately there are still many kids who are not getting the care they need.   Give Kids A Smile Day is a great event but it really only scratches the surface of the need for care in these under-served population of kids.  As our federal and state government wrestles with ideas to reform our current health care system so that quality health care might become more accessible to more Americans we, in the dental profession, are continuing to try to do what we can to address the needs of the under-served with efforts such as GKASD.

We are proud and happy to be a part of GKASD.  The smiles on the faces of the kids and the appreciation we receive from the parents is our reward for one busy day of work.

“Mini” Implants – Are they right for you?

The most significant advancement in dental restorative care that I have seen in my 28 years of practice has, unquestionably, been the development of dental implants.  Dental implants have revolutionized the way we approach the replacement of missing teeth by offering alternatives to conventional removable dentures and fixed bridges.  Anchored permanently in the jaw bone, they offer the stability, function and esthetics that rival natural teeth.  With a success rate of over 95%, they have become the standard of care for the replacement of missing teeth, but relatively few people who could benefit from the placement of dental implants actually have them done due to the relatively high cost (typically $2000-$3000 per implant), frequent lack of insurance coverage, and the often times need for bone grafting procedures to allow adequate support for the implant in the jaw.  It has been estimated that almost 40% of the adult population in the U.S. could benefit from dental implants while only between 2-3% have taken advantage of the procedure.

With the introduction  of small diameter or “mini” implants, dental implants are now becoming accessable to more and more people.   Mini implants are similar to standard implants in the way they integrate to the bone but they are narrower, typically 1.7-2.4 mm in diameter compared to  3.75-6.0 mm for standard or wide body implants.  They are, therefore, easier to place, do not require as much bone so the need for bone grafting is often eliminated, and are generally 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of a conventional implant.   A significant advantadge of mini’s is that they can usually be put into function immediately where conventional implants often require a 3-4 months integration period before a crown or a prosthesis can be attached to them.

There are some limitations to mini implants.  Whereas conventional dental implants have proven themselves to be very successful in replacing anything from a single missing tooth anywhere in the mouth to replacing a whole arch of missing teeth in a broad range of bone conditions, mini implants are better suited for use in the stabilization of removable full and partial dentures and in the support of some short span fixed bridges.  Although they require less bone than a conventional implant, they do require a dense quality to the bone which may limit them in some areas of the mouth such as the posterior maxilla.  Placed in the appropriate sites, mini implants are proving to be just as predictable and secure as conventional implants.

Perhaps the strongest indication for the use of mini implants is in the stabilization and retention of removable dentures, especially lower dentures.  Millions of people suffer from the pain and embarrassment of dentures that don’t stay put during eating or talking because of inadequate bone support.  The placement of a few simple mini’s to support a “jumping” denture can be life changing.  With a simple, painless procedure involving less than an hour of time a denture wearer can regain a level of comfort, stability, function and confidence they never thought possible at just a fraction of the cost of conventional dental implants.

So if, like millions of others, you suffer with loose dentures or missing teeth but never thought you could afford the cost of dental implants or didn’t want to endure the surgical bone grafts needed to support implants, think again.  Mini implants may fit your needs perfectly.  Ask your dentist  or contact our office to find out if mini’s might be right for you.

Healthy Gums Keep Joints Moving

Maintaining a healthy mouth has many health benefits, and researchers at Case Western Reserve University of Dental Medicine and the University of Cleveland have found one more – improved joint health.  In a May 2009 study, the researchers found that individuals who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, experienced reduced arthritic pain, a decreased number of swollen joints, and a lessened degree of morning stiffness after they received treatment for, and were subsequently cured of, their gum disease.  These findings strengthen the link between oral health and overall systemic health.

Thanks For The Recognition

We are honored to be named the “Best Place for Dental Care” by readers of the Lillie News in their Readers’ Choice Awards 2009.  This recognition is particularly gratifying as it represents the views of people right here in the community where we work and live and where many of the top dental practices in the Twin Cities are located.  Thanks to all those who voted and for your ongoing support throughout the year.

This award follows our recent recognition again as a “Top Dentist” by both Mpls/StPaul  (both general and cosmetic catagories) and Minnesota Monthly magazines in their yearly Top Dentists issues.  These  listings are the result of surveying people within the dental field and therefore represent the views of our dental colleagues and peers.  We have also, once again, been recognized as a “Top Dentist in America” by the Consumer Research Council of America.

We would like to express our sincere appreciation to all those who contributed to making The Furey Dental Group one of the most recognized dental practices in the Twin Cities.  I personally would like to acknowledge my dedicated team who is resposible for everything we have accomplished.  To me the award really means  “Top Dental Team“.

Candy and Gum to prevent decay?

It’s hard to grasp the idea that chewing gum and eating candy, which are typically considered “bad” for your teeth, can now be beneficial when Xylitol is the sweetener. This goes against conventional wisdom, but it’s true. Xylitol is the “good sugar” that now makes it possible to treat dental disease with candy and chewing gum.

We now know that chewing xylitol based gum four to five times a day, after meals and snacks, will reduce plaque biofilm accumulations. According to research, eating xylitol sweetened candies over a four day period with no oral hygiene leads to a 50% reduction in plaque. Recommending candy and gum as a first line approach to the prevention of decay and periodontitis rather that focusing on toothbrushing may seem like a stretch, but when you look at the evidence, you will likely get better results with xylitol than with brushing.

Caries (dental decay) research shows that the addition of xylitol several times each day can result in the reduction in the need for restorative care by 70% compared to controls. This level of caries reduction is also seen when mothers chew xylitol based gum which changes the oral flora they pass on to their children.

Just how xylitol works to accomplish these impressive clinical results is interesting. It has to do with the cell wall transport system of the bacteria in dental plaque and the chemical structure of xylitol. Xylitol is a 5 carbon sugar compare to the 6 carbon structure of most other sugars. This smaller structure allows the xylitol molecule to easily enter the outer cell membrane of the bacterium but is not allowed through the inner cell membrane because the cell does not recognize it as a nutrient source. The cell must therefore expend a considerable amount of valuable energy to pump the xylitol molecule back out of the cell. Repeating this pumping action over and over expends so much energy that the cell is essentially exhausted and does not have enough energy for normal metabolism which produces acids and plaque components. Further research may reveal that xylitol has other effects on cell metabolism that contribute to its effectiveness as a plaque reducer.

Who would have thought that gum or candy could be so good for our dental health?!

Welcome to our redesigned web site.

This is my first blog entry and I would like to take this opportunity to talk about my vision for this blog.  My hope is that you, the readers of this blog, will consider me as you would a close friend or trusted relative who happens to be a dentist.  Someone who will give you advice and information based on a genuine concern for your well being and over twenty seven years of experience, education and involvement in dentistry.  Not someone who is trying to promote himself or any particular products or services.  I hope that readers will find this blog informative, useful, relevant, interesting and maybe even a bit entertaining on occasion.  I will not shy away from controversy but will try to be fair and honest, even if not always unbiased.  I’m really looking forward to this blog because I actually love talking about dentistry and, as some of you already know, that has been something that has been a bit more difficult for me due to a vocal chord disorder (more on that in a future blog).  While I foresee this blog as being primarily focused on dentistry, I consider anything remotely related to be fair game.  New technologies and philosophies will be discussed as well as stories of actual people whose lives have been significantly impacted by dentistry.  Most of all I hope that this blog will be directed by you, the reader.  Please let me know if there are any particular topics you would like me to address or questions you would like answered.  Any and all comments are welcome.

Thank you for your attention and keep checking back.

Donated Dental Services

For our seventh straight year we are proud to be a volunteer provider for Minnesota Donated Dental Services (DDS).   Since 2003 419 Minnesota dentists along with almost 100 dental labs have provided $3,912,605 in donated dental care to people who are elderly, disabled, and/or medically at risk.  This past year in Minnesota 213 patients received $903,451 in dental care.

Nationally, DDS has enlisted the help of over 15,000 volunteer dentist and 3000 dental laboratories and have transformend the lives of thens of thousands of people who are