Don't Dental Delay!

I'm Dr. Michelle, owner and operator of Jax Speeches Family Dentistry with my awesome partner, Dr. Liz Alfuente. I also am blessed to have an amazing team, including three of the best hygienists in all of North-East Florida. And I'll be honest with you, I'm not the only one that says that, our patients on a regular basis tell us how grateful they are that they have such awesome care, not just from me and Dr. Liz, but also from our incredible hygienists. Hygienists are really important team members right now. They're also on the front lines with the COVID virus, communicating with patients, learning about the latest, greatest technology. And although the COVID viruses is a pandemic that's causing everyone in our communities to be anxious, I will say that in the healthcare environment, as long as you can take a deep breath as a healthcare provider and take a step back, it actually has caused us to step up our game.

It's caused us to improve patient care in a lot of ways, it is a stark reminder about personal protection equipment that protects us. It protects our communities and it protects your families. So if there's any silver lining or blessing about the COVID virus, I would say that one of them is that it keeps us thinking about safety, which is really important. So let's see if our slides, oh look at this, our slideshow works too. So as I said before, many people have been avoiding dentistry even before the COVID virus. There certainly are concerns when you're considering coming to the office even just for basic care. One of those is safety concerns. The other one is financial concerns. The problem with delaying dentistry is that the consequences of delaying dentistry are very detrimental to your overall care.

So the best thing you can really do for your overall care is to at least do preventative care. And that's one of the things that we've been encouraging our patients to do. If you do nothing else, at least come back in, especially because it's been at least three or four months and have your basic care. Come and see the hygienist, talk to the hygienist about your concerns. I would say one of the other blessings that we have seen with all of this is that we have a lot more open communication with our patients. They're coming in. They're saying that they're happy to see us and they're happy to be doing something that is "normal" but they're also nervous. And dentistry makes people nervous anyway. So what they're saying is that they're nervous, but they're communicating specifically about what makes them nervous. And we're able to explain to them all the different protocols that we have a place.

We are able to talk to them about our new elevated levels of safety, and that makes people feel a lot more comfortable. We also know that a general lack of wellness is something that's a concern when we're in the middle of a pandemic. When we have concerns about our wellness, we want to make sure that we are as healthy as we can be. And one of the ways that you can be super healthy is to have a healthy mouth. So we're doing a lot of discussions about that. We all know that the COVID virus is an inflammatory disease, and we know that inflammation isn't good for our body. So general inflammation reduction can be done by getting your mouth healthier. When you don't have inflammation in your mouth, then you're able to fight off health challenges similar to the COVID virus and other things.

One of the things that we've learned is that chronic disease comes from inflammation and dental disease is an inflammatory disease. So we have to keep our mouth healthy and keep the health of our mouth in order. We also know that gum disease and gum inflammation leads to cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease. So we want to make sure that as we get past and work through our concerns about going to healthcare providers because we're worried we're going to catch the COVID virus. We have to keep in mind our overall health. And I know that we've been talking to patients a lot about how they've done during the shutdown, how did they do while they were in isolation and most people are expressing, and I'm going to be completely honest. I have an honest share right now during the shutdown I lost track of.

And so were a lot of our patients and even girlfriends that I've talked to, you lose track of your routine, you're inside, you're afraid to go to the grocery store so you're not eating right. You used to go to the gym and now you're not, which is in my case. And so I just stopped working out. I just wasn't necessarily eating as well as I should have. And so we want to take a step back, take a deep breath and realize that no matter what comes across our path, not just the COVID virus, but any sort of health challenges, the healthier that we are, the more likely that we are to feel good to handle the stress well, to feel good about ourselves and to have that overall healthy attitude and healthy body to deal with whatever challenges there are.

So I really encourage all of you. What I've been doing is working with, sometimes it takes a stark change. So I did a 30-day healthy living challenge that I do three or four times a year. At this very same time, I am doing an 80-day exercise challenge. I'm working with the dietician. I'm going to see my functional medicine person every two weeks. I need to get my teeth cleaned, which I have overdue for because of the break. We didn't have any hygienists. And now our hygienists are super busy. So we've all got to get back to our regular routines, whatever that means. I love talking about overall wellness with people. So if you're listening to me and you want to send us a Facebook message, or at the end, my email address will come back up. I am happy to share healthy living initiatives, no matter what kind of part of your health it is.

I know that some of you out there have talked to me about sleep apnea and sleep in the past. And I think it's important that we all get back to looking at all of that. The more we take charge of our health, the better that we're going to feel, and the less stress we're going to feel about what's going on in our world right now. Our office has really never been safer when it comes to our overall infectious control. I did a little recording about exactly what we're doing. So that might answer some of your questions. I know that the air cleaning, air quality stuff that we have on the floor and also on our HEB AC units is something that is pretty routine right now in dentistry. So I'm sure no matter what dentist you go to, they're doing similar stuff. I'm happy to answer any questions about that.

We are also obviously wearing a lot of additional PPE, which is very visual. So when you come in and you're getting your teeth taken care of, you'll notice that we have face shields and masks and just things that we're wearing that are different than what we used to. We use all kinds of different things on surfaces. We were also, I was just communicating the other day with our cleaning crew that comes in at night and they have different things that they're doing. We're having our restrooms handled in a different way. So, anytime you have questions about those things, any questions that you have, if you're seeing a different provider that you want to ask me, please feel free to reach out to me either on Facebook messenger or email. I am open and I've been communicating with a lot of colleagues because the great thing about the dentist community, especially the one that I'm in is we communicate with each other as colleagues a lot.

So I have a lot of information about what dentists are doing as a whole. And so I'm happy to talk to you all about that too. And in terms of open communication, the other cool thing that we do have available, which a lot of people haven't really taken advantage of, but I would love to see people doing that in the future is that if there's a little thing holding you back, or there's something that's keeping you from coming in the dental office, I would love to just communicate about it. So we'd love to have you schedule a telehealth visit, which you can schedule on our website. I just put that up there. So in the same area on our website where it says same-day emergencies, right below that, you can request an electronic consultation and those consultations come in all different forms.

So if you just click on that link, it's really easy to schedule a time just to chat. Again, I'm also happy to just chat on messenger or to talk electronically via email. I really just love sharing information. I love to help people with wellness and so I want to do anything I can to work past people's barriers with that. Now, a lot of people talk about teledentistry, right? I obviously can't drill on your tooth electronically. So people ask me all the time. Well, what does that even mean? And for me, it just means communication. Again, we have all these barriers and concerns, the best way to work through those barriers is to meet, communicate about what's holding you back from coming in and taking that step towards getting your mouth healthy, which is a step towards wellness. And so if we can do that electronically to begin with, a lot of times that gets that person past their barrier which is awesome.

Cause you can't be healthy without a healthy mouth. So during our time, COVID, we went through a period of six weeks where all we could do was see dental emergencies and essential dental care. The problem with that is that we were seeing people at the end-stage. So we were really always seeing people that had tooth pain and we were really only seeing people that had severe bleeding gums. And quite frankly, the difficult thing to me about that is that I feel that all day dental care is essential. If we don't stay ahead of dental care, then you just create situations where people are headed towards tooth loss and or they're in a lot of pain. Also, we know now that dental infections and abscesses lead to things like acute heart attacks and really serious systemic issues. So I really don't like emergency or "essential dental period",

I don't like the term and I don't like treating people that way because dentistry as a whole is very essential, especially because the unfortunate news about dentistry is that sometimes an extreme thing, like an abscess, which is an infectious situation in your skull and it's connected to your bloodstream is completely asymptomatic. And one thing that the COVID viruses taught us is that serious diseases can in fact be completely asymptomatic. And that really does hold true for dentistry. So what I will say is that the problem with prolonging and eliminating and not seeing the dentist on a regular basis is that you can have very serious issues going on in your mouth and not really know about it at all, unless you have x-rays taken or when you have that tiny twinge or that tiniest of tiny awareness, it's important to immediately communicate that with us, immediately come in for a visit so that we can check it because a tiny little signal that something is going on usually is connected to something serious.

So that's the reason why people ask us all the time. Why do you take x-rays every year when everything feels fine? And what I will tell you is that those images are often a lifesaver. I had a patient this past week who was just getting a screening because he had some surgery coming up and we found a very large, really serious infection in his jaw and he had no idea that he had it. Really, the only reason that we found it was because he was smart enough or proactive enough or whatever word you want to use for it to know that it was important to be sure that he didn't have any dental issues or unknown infections before he had his surgery. So it was like a piece of good news, bad news thing, but it was a great example of an asymptomatic disease that could have caused serious problems had we not discovered it.

So, yeah. So to think avoidance is important. The other thing is that a lot of times, the reason to come in every six to 12 months is to catch things when they're still manageable when they're still a relatively small noninvasive project. Tooth loss is really one of the primary things or the primary concern that we have when people delay treatment. One of the questions I get a lot now because implants and teeth in a day and all of those things seem like such a great solution or, okay, well, I'll just delay it until it hurts and then if it breaks and I have to pull it out, well, that's fine. I'll just get an implant, but just get an implant is a very unfortunate term. There’s a lot of talk about implants. Implants are amazing. I'm so happy and blessed that I'm in the era of dentistry where they have that as a solution, but really the best dental implant is your tooth.

So the tooth that you grew as a child is really the best dental implant. We can't really invent anything as humans to put into your mouth that’s the same as what God gave you and what you were born with. So it concerns me when people cavalierly talk about, oh, just take it out and we'll just put in a whole bunch of implants and we'll be good to go because it's really just not the same. Now, is it amazing? Yes. The technology is incredible. We're really blessed to have it. There are so many amazing skilled surgeons out there that save people's lives and their ability to chew every day including Dr. Strauss, who comes into our office and places our implants. But again, what we really want to do is avoid tooth loss, to begin with. That's always our ultimate goal. One thing to keep in mind too about infections is that when you have a dental infection and we prescribe you an antibiotic, or you get an antibiotic at the emergency room, and it seems like the pain goes away, the infection still hasn't gone away.

So one of the things I've been repeating, especially during this time of emergency dentistry, which we're doing a lot of, is that the only thing that cures a dental infection is dentistry. It is not really cured by the antibiotics itself. The antibiotics just tone it down so that you can function for a couple of days. When you tone down that infection, it makes the Novacane work better and it makes the procedure more comfortable. But as soon as you go off the antibiotics, if you haven't had the dentistry done, then the infection comes right back. Similar to if you have a splinter on your arm, if you rub some ointment on it, either temporarily, it's going to tone it down a little but until you pull the splinter out, which means until you pull the tooth and or you do the root canal, the infection is still there. And it's just going to flare right back up.

Now, if we are delaying dental care or we are managing our health in between dental cleanings, there are lots of great products out there, which I love to use. It's important to brush and floss. But one thing that we are finding is that straight traditional dentist dental care, which was two cleanings a year and brushing and flossing in between, really, it just isn't enough in order to maintain our teeth for a lifetime. We also need products and we also need a certain amount of chemical weapons in our armamentarium. And we have a couple of them that are just amazing. Now, when I say chemicals, I don't like chemicals. So I don't mean artificial chemicals. I mean a lot of really natural, holistic, amazing medicaments that work well that are not bad for you chemicals. And one of them is the CTX products.

It's a whole series of products. I like when you figure out what you need and you use the first round of these products that you actually come in the office and we take a look at your mouth, we do some bacterial testing and we figure out exactly what product is best for you, but then once we figure out what you need and we have you stabilized, you can have these auto shipped on Amazon. So what these are is calcium phosphate, and it actually recalls calcifies and heals the areas of your teeth that decalcify from your mouth being too acidic and your mouth can be too acidic for all different reasons. And it really just depends on what your diet is like, what your hygiene is like and then also genetically what you're prone to.

And so these products are amazing. We have lots of patients on them, including my own children who are very prone to decay for all different reasons which we're not going to get into on this particular webinar. But they love them. They're really easy to use. We also sometimes use these in trays, which I'll talk about in a minute, but the gel can be just used instead of toothpaste. And then the rinse is also part of the system. So very exciting system. It's saved a lot of our patients and my family a lot of heartaches, so super excited and happy about these products. And again, I have a lot of patients that have lapsed out of care, just like we have lapsed out of exercise and we have lapsed out of eating, right? Most of that is just a change in our day to day habits as a result of this pandemic.

Well, some people think, oh gosh, well, the only place I can get these prescription products, isn't my dental office. But these particular products can be just ordered on Amazon. And I would much rather, I don't care where people get them. I just want to make sure that you have them in your hands so that you can keep your mouth healthy. So if you're listening to me and you're on some sort of prescription fluoride product, if you are having trouble getting access to that, for whatever reason you can use these products too. Now, obviously, you want to check with your provider to make sure that it's appropriate for your particular situation cause like I just said a minute ago, we prescribed them particularly for you, depending on what your individual issues are. This is the type of thing that we can probably talk about, like in a telehealth visit a little bit and potentially prescribe these over the phone.

And then my favorite product of all time, which really has helped in terms of people taking control of their oral health especially during these challenging times at home is the pair of protection systems. This is a system where we scan your teeth. It takes about three to four minutes to do the scan. It's a very non-invasive, non-aerosol generating procedure. It's a camera that goes in your mouth. You do a 3D scan of your mouth. We send that off to the company and they make a very precision fit tray, which you can see in, on this slide. The reason the tray is so unique is that it doesn't allow the perio protect gel, which is really just hydrogen peroxide gel at 1.7%, it doesn't allow it to get out of the tray. So it creates a hyperbaric chamber. The reason that's amazing, well, first of all, we all know peroxide, because peroxide has been on the news a lot too. Asymptomatic disease and peroxide have been on the news a ton.

And so peroxide is an anti-viral and antibacterial that kills things. But the awesome thing about it being oxygenating and these trays creating a hyperbaric chamber is because bad bacteria in your mouth does not like oxygen. So it creates an environment where the good bacteria thrive and the bad bacteria is killed. It also makes your mouth, as you can see from these pictures, it makes your teeth stinking white, which people love. It gets rid of all mouth odor in three days, which is incredible. And it allows you to really control your oral health especially if even after you've talked to me, even after you emailed me, even after we met with a telehealth visit, if you're still anxious about coming in the office, this is one thing that we can use to help you in between those times or until you feel comfortable.

I've been using these trays for at least two years now and I am down to once a day. I am overdue for my cleaning, just like most of you listening. And so I, instead of using it once a day, I can step it up to twice a day. And then the other thing that's in the picture in front of you is a little dropper bottle. That dropper bottle has antibiotics in it. So I'm having some soreness on the upper left, I can add some drops of antibiotics. I have more control and so can you if you have these trays of my oral hygiene at home. Now, this does not mean that you can avoid having your teeth cleaned. What it means is you just, you have some more control at home when you can't come in for whatever reason. We have a lot of snowbirds in our community, we have people that travel a lot and life gets in the way. So if you get delayed by a month or so, then you just step up the amount that you use the gel, and it helps to keep you healthy in-between times. Also, like I was saying before, the one thing that we've learned during these times is that we can communicate. So, you can send me an email, you can send me a Facebook message, we can have a telehealth visit and you say to me, listen, this is what I'm facing, I have this surgery, I'm going to be unavailable for two months, It's urgent, I have to go ahead and have it, I'm going to delay my cleaning and then we can talk about the different regimes that you can do at home to manage that.

So that's the beauty of perio protect, super powerful. Now, if you are at home, you still don't want to come in and you have some other kinds of trays, like let's say you have some bleaching trays or something. We can also talk about, whether we feel like that particular type of tray that you have at home could be used until we can get you a perio protect tray. The beauty of 3D technology too is that if I have a scan of you or you live in a different part of the country and you're listening to this and your dentist has a scan, they may have that scan on file and even if we sent that scan off, cause you needed a crown or we sent it off because you needed orthodontic retainers, we can take that same scan, that same file that we have on file and send it to the perio protect company. And you can just come to pick up your trays. So that would allow you to have a visit that will help with your overall health without actually having to come in the office. We can ship you your trays if you're feeling that uncomfortable about coming in. So please give us a call again, touch base, email, whatever makes you comfortable about that, I would love, love, love, questions about that. And in closing, really the most important thing to me is that people get their mouths healthy. The reason for that is all the different things that we already talked about. Christine put pictures of my mouth and here, she makes me giggle. So that's actually a picture of me at the bottom. That was before my period trays and then after. And when I was saying that they make your teeth stinking white, if you look at the picture, what jumps out at you is that my front tooth is still super yellow and that's because I have a veneer on my front tooth. So when my teeth got bleached from the perio protect gel that I put in there every day, you can see how great it is at getting your teeth white and light. If you just look at my gums, they're pink instead of red and they just look tight, firm and healthy. So I always say my gums feel like skin, and I know that that's protecting me from heart disease. It's going to keep me young so I can spend time with my beautiful twin 12-year-old girls, because I don't have as much of a risk of cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's because that bacteria is not getting into my bloodstream so that's what I'm most passionate about and I'm passionate about it because I'm passionate about my own health for that reason.

So there we have it. This is me and this is my awesome practice with my partner, Dr. Liz Alfuente. Again, feel free to call us, feel free to email me, you can message all of us on our Facebook page and we're really just here to help, really to be advocates for you, advocates for your health and to share information with the community. If you hear this recording and you're a dentist and you have any questions about what we do and why we're so excited and focused on wellness, I'd be happy to share about that too.

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