To begin my blog, I thought it would be a perfect way for Doylestown to get to know me by introducing myself to new patients and having current patients learn more about me.
My daughter Lauren, who is 10 years old, asked if she could “conduct an interview,” and I thought what a great idea. Of course she was very excited. So this is how it went, told by a 10 year old.
Q: Dad, Why did you become a dentist?
A: I knew I wanted to become a dentist since I was 12 years old, almost your age. My best friend’s Dad was my childhood dentist. I watched him work with his hands, and I saw the positive reaction he had from his patients; he made people feel better about their teeth and their smile. I talked with him a lot about dentistry, why he liked it, and what he told me was it’s a challenging and rewarding job. I will always remember him saying, “It makes me happy to see people proud of their smile and staying healthy.”
Q: How long have you been a dentist?
A: 28 years, a long time before you were born.
Q: Where did you go to school?
A: First, I went to Penn State University and I studied biology. Biology is the study of anything to do with life or living things such as land animals, ocean animals, and people; how living things grow and how they function in our world. My studies at Penn State helped prepare me for dental school. I then went on to the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Dental Medicine for four years. University of Pennsylvania is in the city of Philadelphia. Maybe we could visit my school sometime.
A: L – Yes, I would love that Dad!!
Q: What do you do at your job?
A: I am specially trained to care for teeth. Like your teacher at school, I educate my patients, not on how to do math or spelling, but on how to take care of their teeth and gums, keeping them healthy.
I tell my patients they can keep their their teeth strong and gums healthy if they:
- Brush your teeth and gums. Brush with a soft bristled toothbrush and in a circular motion. If you brush too hard, you can damage your teeth and gums. A circular motion is gentler. Kids, like you, can use a regular children’s tooth brush or an electric toothbrush. An electric toothbrush helps you brush in a circular motion. I recommend brushing for 2 minutes twice a day to make sure your teeth are really clean.
- Get regular check-ups and dental cleanings.
- Floss once a day. Flossing involves using a piece of waxy string called dental floss to get in between your teeth and remove food particles that your brush can’t reach.
- Get fluoride treatments. Fluoride is a natural mineral that makes your teeth strong and helps prevent decay/cavities. Sometimes, the water we drink has fluoride in it and sometimes it doesn’t. To make sure you are getting the fluoride I need to put it on children’s teeth, like toothpaste.
- Learn the importance of eating nutritious foods, limiting sweets, sugary juices, and frequent snacks.
Every 6 months a patient should go to a dentist for a check-up and have her teeth cleaned and flossed; also get fluoride treatments until 16. If patients do not take care of their teeth, they will build up a plaque. Plaque causes teeth to decay or break down, and the result is what we call a cavity. When patients come into my office with cavities, then the other part of my job is to fix their teeth.
Q: I want to ask you how you fix your patients’ teeth, but what are plaque and decay?
A: Plaque is a clear, sticky, slimy layer that coats your teeth. Plaque contains something we call bacteria or germs. If you have too much bacteria in your mouth, it may cause tooth decay. We need bacteria along with saliva or spit that is in our mouths for our teeth to stay healthy. It helps digest and break down foods for our body to use as energy. If you have too much bacteria or plaque in your mouth, this may cause a cavity.
When you eat foods that have carbohydrates/sugars, such as breads, cereals, milk, soda, fruits, cakes, or candy and you do not brush your teeth and take care of them, plaque will stick to your teeth and may cause your teeth become weak and break. This is what I was talking about earlier, this is a cavity. A cavity is a hole that can grow bigger and deeper with time.
Decay may also cause infections. Tooth infections are serious and are caused by a great deal of decay. Most often a person has pain and knows something is wrong, if they have an infection. I may take an x-ray to decide where the problem is, and then give them medication or what we call antibiotics, to make the infection go away. Then I repair their damaged tooth. This is why it is important to take care of your teeth!
Q: I must have had this “decay” because you fixed my tooth. What did you do again DAD?
A: You had a small amount of decay under your tooth. I removed it and filled the hole with a special silver material. The result is a filling. It was a baby tooth, so we are keeping it healthy until you lose it and then you will get an adult tooth.
Q: Ok what would you do if someone broke a tooth?
A: Well, that would depend on how much of a tooth was broken or missing. If a lot of the tooth was broken, I would make a crown. A crown is an artificial or fake tooth that covers or ‘caps’ the broken tooth and helps to keep its normal shape and size, it protects the tooth from breaking further.
Q: Well, if you have to take out a tooth and the person doesn’t have a tooth, what do you do because the person might not look good with missing teeth?
A: If I extract or pull a tooth, I can fix her smile several different ways; one of these is a bridge. A dental bridge is similar to a bridge over water; a structure that connects two pieces of land, allowing people to cross over the water to the other side. A dental bridge will use the teeth next to the missing tooth to connect, allowing the false tooth or crown to stay in permanently.
Q: Yes DAD, that is hard to understand, but you do sound like you help a lot of people look normal when they have teeth problems, right?
A: Yes, there are so many different ways you can help people have a healthy, natural smile, even though they may have a few dental problems. I always try to save a person’s tooth. Most problems are fixable, there is always a way.
Q: Sometimes when I visit you at work, I see you use tools. What do you do with these?
A: I use my tools to clean teeth and fix teeth. For cleanings, I use an ultrasonic cleaner and then a hand held scraper. The ultrasonic tool, which is a tool that you plug into the wall and vibrates, cleans faster, and water comes out of this tool to help get rid of the plaque. Then the hand held scraper helps with very small areas that I may have missed. There are different size scrapers depending on the size of the teeth and where they are in your mouth. Then, I use an electric tooth polisher to smooth and polish teeth. This tool helps your smile look nice, while preventing plaque build-up between dental cleanings.
If a patient comes into my office with a problem, I may use many different types of tools, depending on what the problem is and how I need to repair the tooth. Dental mirrors, dental drills, dental forceps, which are like tweezers, are some examples.
Q: Why do people have bad breath?
A: Bad breath is called halitosis. Halitosis is a combination of a lot of bacteria that has an odor and food left in your mouth and between your teeth. Sometimes if you have cavities, gum problems, fake teeth (dentures) that you don’t clean, you can have bad breath. So you know what that means, right? Make sure you brush twice a day and floss once a day especially before bed time, visit your dentist twice a year for cleanings and check-ups, and eat a healthy diet. Some examples of nutritious foods are carrots, celery or apple slices. These food help get rid of that bad bacteria that can destroy your teeth. If you do eat foods that have a lot of sugar like candy or gum with sugar, make sure you brush after eating.
Q: Sometimes patients call the house, and you go in to work on a Saturday or Sunday, right? I remember when you went into the office on a holiday.
A: Yes, I have patient emergencies, people who are in pain and need help as soon as possible. They may have sensitivity to hot/cold in their mouth or swelling or puffiness to their face. They call me at our house, and I go to the office to help them get rid of their pain. This is what I talked about earlier; a patient may need an x-ray to find which area of the mouth or which tooth is the problem, and I diagnosis, or decide the problem. Then I will repair the tooth.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: My job lets me meet and get to know a lot of wonderful people. I enjoy that. I like to educate people about their dental health, and at the same time I am able to help people keep their body healthy.
L– I think you are the best dentist and Dad! I love you.