What Your Dentist Wants You to Know
Secrets and tips from dentists around the country.
By Chris Woolston from Reader's Digest
1. A lot of patients are worried that dental X-rays can cause cancer, but if you’re outside for an hour, you’re exposed to more radiation than you’d get from a full set of dental X-rays. What I worry about is that if I don’t take an X-ray, I might miss something serious.
– Bryan Tervo, DDS
2. When someone meets you for the first time, the first thing they notice is eyes. Second is teeth, and third is hair. But people spend way more money on their hair than their teeth.
– Damian Dachowski, DMD, general dentist, Horsham, Pennsylvania
3. If your breath is bad, we won’t tell you unless you ask.
– Gary Herskovits, DDS
4. Patients come in with pictures of celebrities and say, “I want to look just like her.” I’m sitting there thinking, You can’t have a smile that looks like Angelina Jolie’s, because you don’t have a face that fits those teeth. It’s like when you get your hair color done—you can’t just put the same highlights or lowlights in everybody’s hair.
– Jay Grossman, DDS
5. For the past 20 years, we’ve been telling parents about baby bottle tooth decay and not to let a child go to sleep with a bottle. But I haven’t seen much of a change.
– Winifred J. Booker, DDS, pediatric dentist, Owings Mills, Maryland
6. If you want to reduce the bad bacteria in your mouth, you should be all over xylitol (a sugar substitute found in chewing gum). It changes the chemistry of your mouth. Six or seven pieces of xylitol gum every day will help keep cavities away.
– Chris Kammer, DDS
7. With any kind of mouth piercing, there’s a huge risk of infection if it’s not done in a really sterile environment. I’ve seen cases where we’ve had to cut out pieces of the tongue because the infection was so rampant. Even when things go well, virtually everyone I see with a tongue piercing has chipped front teeth. Don’t pierce your tongue.
– Jay Grossman, DDS, cosmetic dentist, Brentwood, California
8. People say something difficult is like pulling teeth. But pulling teeth is really fast and easy.
– Mark Mutschler, DDS, pediatric dentist, Oregon City, Oregon
9. When choosing a dentist, Check if the magazines in the waiting room are current. That shows attention to detail.
– Michael Alkon, DMD
10. People come in for an appointment without knowing what their insurance covers. They think we have a crystal ball that tells us everyone’s insurance information. We don’t. And we need to find out what’s covered before we can do anything.
– Damian Dachowski, DMD
11. Don’t eat a heavy garlic lunch before coming to see us—we’d appreciate that.
– Jennifer Jablow, DDS
12. If your hands bled when you washed them, you’d run to the doctor. But in the public’s mind, bleeding gums are okay. Unless you’re really whaling away with your brush, if your gums bleed even a little, that’s periodontal disease, period.
– Ron Schefdore, DMD, general dentist, Chicago, Illinois
13. People come to me with a mouthful of tooth decay and say, “I got my grandfather’s soft teeth.” I don’t even know what soft teeth are.
– Bryan Tervo, DDS, expert at JustAnswer.com
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