It has been estimated roughly 15 percent of Americans avoid seeing their dentist due to a common problem known as dental phobia. For those whose avoidance cannot be explained through anxiety, routine dental care may be neglected or placed at the bottom of a hefty list of priorities.
Suburban Life/Philadelphia Life sat down with Dr. Lantzy and his team to discuss frequently asked questions. Robert A. Lantzy, DMD, LLC has not only been providing the utmost in cosmetic restorations, but has remained committed to imparting the highest level of importance on health and wellness to avoid disease throughout the whole body, not just the mouth.
What are the particular health benefits for those who are consistently proactive about dental hygiene? How does this benefit them in both the present and for the future?
Dr. Lantzy: If you have a family history of cancer, stroke, MI or diabetes, it's very important to reduce oral inflammation that can affect other body parts and trigger systemic diseases. Family history definitely increases the need for being proactive. Our goal is to help you eliminate oral inflammation.
Marg Lantzy: When someone invests the time to be proactive with dental care, they offer themselves a healthier, happier future outlook.
On the other hand, aside from cavities and tooth decay, how can not keeping up with routine visits and dental hygiene negatively impact a person’s health?
RL: Gum health will suffer and once diseased, like diabetes, an inflammatory response is raised throughout the body. Your body will be in a constant state of fighting off inflammatory factors rather than being a healthy status quo system.
ML: When someone avoids routine visits and goes by the thought process of, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” they lose out in a number of ways: one, there will come a day when a crisis arises and they will want immediate pain relief. Sometimes the fix is not quick, nor simple enough. Secondly, people should know that oral disease is silent—by the time it hurts, there’s already significant damage and significant inflammatory response signaled out to the body. Herein lies our desire to prevent.
I notice there’s a mouth and body connection, and you’ve mentioned how inflammation is a causative trigger to systemic disease. How does inflammation arise and trickle down to systemic disease?
RL: Inflammation anywhere creates an imbalance to the body systems. Bleeding from oral inflammation will introduce these bad bacteria into the blood stream, which ultimately have access to your entire body. Those inflammatory factors can cause other weak areas to be affected, which can later start cancer, or create a clot causing a stroke and heart attack.
What are some aspects you feel patients neglect or disregard in their dental health?
ML: The surgeon general reports through the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), that at least 80 percent of Americans have gum disease. Since the mid 90's, oral bacteria was linked to heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, cancers, low birth weight babies and diabetes. This raises the importance of preventing gum disease. I don’t think people realize the importance of taking proactive steps to avoid future problems. Our society doesn’t help people maintain a healthy lifestyle either. For example, the super-sized mentality of fast food and sugary drinks leading to metabolic problems as well as rampant cavities. Surely flossing and brushing properly can save your smile after a sugar assault, but the body still takes quite a hit. At this point, we’re coaching patients towards not only a healthier smile, but a healthier lifestyle as well.
In regards to diet, how can diet positively or negatively impact a person’s dental health?
ML: Frequent sugary snacks create an acid response, lowering the PH in our saliva. As teeth bathe in the acidic saliva, the enamel is demineralized, which causes the start of decay. Medicines that cause a decrease in saliva, or “dry mouth” make the acid attack even more concentrated.
RL: Some patients are more susceptible than others. We coach on how to thoroughly clean off the teeth and gums, but the body, however, may suffer.
What do you believe some of the reasons are behind patients forgoing their routine visits?
Jen Aponte: As a registered dental hygienist, I see that fear gets the best of some patients. The way we approach our fearful patients, however, is that we take our time guiding and coaching our patients through procedures that they originally feel they won’t be able to get through. With patience and time, we are very successful at helping our patients overcome their fear of dentistry, and each appointment gets easier.
RL: Fear. Dentistry has had a bad reputation from early years, and we've gone from a profession reacting to emergencies to one of prevention. Cost is another perceived fear. Priority is the main factor. It’s not perceived as an important task if you’re busy and there’s no pain. How many people delay or don’t even get routine physicals unless symptoms bother them? Pain and bleeding is not normal. Bleeding is a warning signs that there’s something wrong.
When referring to cost, is this in reference to routine visit costs or major dental work?
ML: Cost may be a fear factor with someone who has been away from care. Perhaps they thought they've been fine, life's been busy, but now something is just not right. While major restoration is more costly to fix versus routine care, some will have the view that a fee is never cheap enough. Unfortunately, living a life with a sort of “patch up” mentality never solves the root cause of a problem. While short term fixes may provide relief, problems have a way of resurfacing. Our approach of a comprehensive exam starts the healing process...and our goal is to correct the cause, so that you have lasting results.
For those interested in major work, what are some options provided to patients in 2017?
ML: We review treatment and financial options before care takes place. Whatever your concerns are, we want you to feel comfortable before moving ahead. With a number of options available, patients do not need to worry about not having insurance. We have an In Office membership plan—our Loyalty Plan—because we believe in regular maintenance as your best means to stabilizing dental costs.
Are there any new innovations in dental technology patients should be looking out for in the next year or so?
ML: We've used saliva testing to find which bacteria are most harmful to know what therapy may be most successful for treating a periodontal patient adjunctively...and as salivary testing continues to progress, it will provide more insight.
RL: Materials continue to be more and more natural looking, have better bonding, and are stronger. Our practice has a lot of the newest technologies already, including digital cameras, digital x-rays for minimal radiation, CEREC to create crowns, onlays, veneers all in one visit. We are preferred provider for invisible orthodontics called Invisalign. We continue to integrate technologies that increase form, function, and comfort to our patients.
Robert Lantzy, DMD, LLC
11 Friends Lane, Suite 100
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life Magazine, April, 2017.
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