My Blog

Posts for: June, 2016

By Jeffrey A. Harris, D.D.S.
June 26, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: antibiotics  

The development of antibiotic drugs is widely considered one of the greatest medical achievements of the last century. Their widespread use has turned life-threatening diseases like cholera, strep throat or bacterial meningitis into manageable, treatable ones. It’s no exaggeration to say antibiotics changed the face of healthcare, including dentistry.

But this gleaming sword for fighting dangerous diseases has a double edge because our biological “enemies” can adapt to the microscopic attacks against them. This has created an ironic conundrum: as antibiotics have proliferated in both the amount and frequency used they’ve become less effective against ever-resistant organisms.

This unfortunate situation has been helped along by a widespread, misguided practice in the medical profession, created by a “better safe than sorry” philosophy, to use them to treat any illness. This has morphed in recent decades into using antibiotics as a preventive measure in those not even exhibiting signs of disease, which then evolved into using antibiotics as a feed additive for livestock. As a result, antibiotic drugs have made their way into the food chain to accelerate, in many people’s opinion, bacterial and viral resistance.

What can we do then as “super-bugs” are on the rise, like Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) which is resistant to the most common antibiotics?

Certainly, continuing research into creating new antibiotics that address resistance is vital. But it won’t be enough: we — both healthcare providers and patients — must also change our approach and attitude toward antibiotics. This means putting in place better prescription guidelines that reduce the application of antibiotics for only those conditions where it’s absolutely necessary. And, we must restrict their use as a preventive measure, particularly in regard to their use in livestock feed.

This will take a change in everyone’s mindset, our professional standards and guidelines, and perhaps our laws. Thankfully, many are seeing the looming danger, and change is already happening. But time is of the essence, and the future depends on it — not just for people today but also for tomorrow’s generations.

If you would like more information on prudent antibiotic use, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Antibiotics: Use and Abuse.”

Proper way to floss in Warrenton VirginiaMany people who are seeking a dental office in Warrenton, VA have questions about the proper way to floss.  Read below to get Dr Harris' rundown on how to use floss correctly.

Flossing is an essential component in oral hygiene regime. Everybody ought to floss in addition to your daily brushing of teeth. By flossing daily, you remove plaque between your teeth where the toothbrush alone is unable to reach. This habit is crucial as plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into tartar. Flossing also helps prevent cavities and gum disease. Bleeding is an excellent indicator (unless you are a smoker) of inflammation which is mainly caused by bacteria.

Floss that is commercially available comes in two forms:

(1) Nylon (multifilament) floss. This floss is made up of many strands of nylon fabric, making this stringy and possible to break apart.Nylon floss comes in waxed and unwaxed.

(2) PTFE (monofilament) floss. This floss can be made up of a single strand or thread and glides in between even the tightest of spaces.

Many people are flossing with the wrong technique and hence are not achieving the maximum results. Here we will look at the method that works best. 

Position the floss on the fingertips as much as possible, with enough floss between the two fingers to "saw" it back and forth roughly about 5-6mm (1/4").  Usually, we would wrap the ends of the floss around your index and middle fingers.

Do not exert much pressure downwards, instead, focus on the "sawing motion".  Hold the floss tightly around each tooth in a C shape; move the floss in a push-pull motion and up and down while at the same time applying pressure against the side of each tooth. This action will flatten and thin the floss so that it slides down between the teeth smoothly.  After that, rub the floss against both surfaces a few times and with the same sawing motion to remove the floss.  Be careful not to snap the floss up and down, as it makes it very hard and can damage the gums.  

Everyone is different but have common areas where the sides of teeth are concave and not convex:

- Mesial of 1st bicuspid (the side closest to the two front teeth)

- Your lower incisors

- Your Upper first molar

In these areas mentioned, you are better off using something like a Proxabrush or Gum Soft-Pik, or better still a Waterpik.  Those tools work very well for the elderly and those with decreased dexterity with their fingers. Modern tools like these will aid your flossing to be much more effective and efficient.

For starters, the dentist would recommend once a week going in between teeth with an unwaxed piece of floss and notice if your gums bleed. Once you get the hand of properly flossing your teeth, you can consider increasing the frequency to 2 or 3 times per day.

If you have additional questions about flossing or other dental concerns, please don't hesitate to contact your Warrenton dental office, Dr. Jeffrey Harris. 

By Jeffrey A. Harris, D.D.S.
June 11, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures

Via a recent Instagram post, pop diva Ariana Grande became the latest young celebrity to publicly acknowledge a dental milestone: having her wisdom teeth removed. The singer of hits such as “Break Free” and “Problem” posted an after-surgery picture of herself (wearing her signature cat-eye eyeliner), with a caption addressed to her teeth: “Peace out, final three wisdom teeth. It’s been real.”

With the post, Grande joined several other celebs (including Lily Allen, Paris Hilton and Emile Hirsch) who have shared their dental surgery experience with fans. Will "wisdom teeth removal" become a new trending topic on social media? We aren’t sure — but we can explain a bit about the procedure, and why many younger adults may need it.

Technically called the “third molars,” wisdom teeth usually begin to emerge from the gums between the ages of 17 and 25 — presumably, around the same time that a certain amount of wisdom emerges. Most people have four of these big molars, which are located all the way in the back of the mouth, on the left and right sides of the upper and lower jaws.

But when wisdom teeth begin to appear, there’s often a problem: Many people don’t have enough space in their jaws to accommodate them. When these molars lack sufficient space to fully erupt (emerge), they are said to be “impacted.” Impacted teeth can cause a number of serious problems: These may include pain, an increased potential for bacterial infections, periodontal disease, and even the formation of cysts (pockets of infection below the gum line), which can eventually lead to tooth and bone loss.

In most cases, the best treatment for impacted wisdom teeth is extraction (removal) of the problem teeth. Wisdom tooth extraction is a routine, in-office procedure that is usually performed under local anesthesia or “conscious sedation,” a type of anesthesia where the patient remains conscious (able to breathe normally and respond to stimuli), but is free from any pain or distress. Anti-anxiety medications may also be given, especially for those who are apprehensive about dental procedures.

So if you find you need your wisdom teeth extracted, don’t be afraid to “Break Free” like Ariana Grande did; whether you post the results on social media is entirely up to you. If you would like more information about wisdom tooth extraction, please call our office to schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Wisdom Teeth” and “Removing Wisdom Teeth.”