Diablo Valley Endodontic Specialists

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Oral Cancer Awareness

oral-cancer-awareness-ribbonApril is oral cancer awareness month.  Oral cancer affects over 40,00 Americans each year. Survival rates for oral cancer are worse than most cancers, not because of the disease itself, but because it often escapes early detection.

Dr Tittle and Dr Jensen do oral cancer screenings as part of the endodontic evaluation when you visit our office.  In addition to seeing your general dentist regularly for checkups and exams, you can help with early detection by telling your dentist if you, or a loved one, develops any of these symptoms.

  • A sore or lesion in the mouth that does not heal within two weeks.
  • A lump or thickening in the cheek.A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth.
  • A sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in the throat.
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
  • Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue.
  • Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth.
  • Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable.
  • Chronic hoarseness.

These symptoms can also be signs of less serious problems, but as with most diseases, early diagnosis can make the difference.

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Root Canal Awareness Week

ImageWhen patients hear that they “need a root canal,” most dental professionals will agree the news is met with great anxiety and fear. An American Association of Endodontists (AAE) survey revealed that patients who’ve experienced root canal treatment are six times more likely to describe it as painless than those who haven’t had the treatment.

Root canal treatment saves more than 17 million natural teeth each year, making it more hero than villain. In fact, research shows that saving natural teeth has extensive health implications. A December 2005 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that tooth loss was associated with a greater risk of heart disease, with those who had lost the most teeth at the greatest risk.

This remained the case even when other risk factors such as smoking, alcohol and obesity were taken into account. Another study, published in the November 2006 Journal of Dental Research, found a relationship between endodontic disease–which root canals treat–and coronary heart disease.

All dentists share responsibility for educating patients about treatment options, particularly those that can save natural teeth. Explaining how root canal treatment eliminates pain, helps patients keep their natural teeth for a lifetime, and how an endodontist contributes value to the dental team is part of this education.

In another AAE study, general dentists from around the country listed endodontists as one of their most trusted and reliable sources of information about endodontic treatment. With at least two additional years of advanced training in the specialty beyond dental school, endodontists have turned even the most complex procedures into routine treatment.

Advanced training and new technologies have allowed endodontists to revolutionize root canal treatment. Endodontists have transformed a procedure that once was completed with the naked eye and standard dental instruments, into a truly microsurgical process.

For more information about Root Canal Awareness Week please visit www.rootcanalspecialists.org.

Diablo Valley Endodontic Specialists were the first in our area to have the on-site ability to take 3-D images of patients’ teeth. Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) allows us to identify and treat disease and anatomy not detectable with traditional x-rays, resulting in more thorough and precise treatment. Since 1995 we have provided unsurpassed treatment to patients and unparalleled service to our partner dentists. To learn more please visit www.diablovalleyendo.com/.

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Mobile Apps for Dentists

“There’s an app for that.” As of 2012, there exists over 550,000 apps for smartphones and tablets. While we think of Angry Birds, Google Maps, and Facebook we often forget that there are thousands of business and productivity apps that help us streamline our own workplace. Below are a few of the popular apps to help you and your patients.

ePocrates Rx — ePocrates Rx is a free mobile clinical Imagereference library, which includes a drug guide, formulary information, and drug interaction checker. This product also includes free continual updates and medical news. The product is also available in versions that include information on disease diagnosis, including images, diagnostic tests, insurance codes, alternative medicines, and a medical dictionary for prices ranging from $99 to $199 per year. ePocrates Rx is a great clinical reference for quickly accessing information regarding drugs, adult and pediatric dosage information, interactions, and contraindications. The information is always current and accessible instantly. http://www.epocrates.com/mobile/iphone/rx

Lexi-Dental Complete — Lexi-Comp’s Lexi-Dental Complete app is a full library of dental resources, which includes drug/herb/food information and effects, over 5,000 color images of numerous dental procedures and conditions, patient resources, information on laboratory and diagnostic procedures, a dental office emergency handbook, natural product information, Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, and numerous other resources to make diagnoses quicker and figure Imageout treatment methods more easily. The application can be downloaded for free with a 30-day free trial. An annual subscription costs $285.

One caveat, however: each subscription works on one device only. http://webstore.lexi.com/Lexi-DENTAL-COMPLETE

iRomexis comes from Planmeca and serves as a handy way of examiningImage and sharing both 2D and 3D images from Planmeca X-Ray systems. The iRomexis app makes it easy to view images for patient consultations and collaboration with other dental professionals.

The app works in conjunction with the Planmeca Romexis desktop software and gives immediate access to rich, detailed images to help you with your patients. If your practice already uses Planmeca products, you should check out the app. http://www.planmeca.com/en/dental_software/planmeca_iromexis_mobile

MedsImagecape — Medscape from WebMD is the No. 1 downloaded free medical app in 2010. The app includes information on drugs, OTCs, and herbals, drug interactions, diseases and conditions, procedures and protocols, along with expert panel tips. Download from the App store on your iPhone or iPad.

Dental Care HD is more for patients, especially those with kids. The app has a fun design and is intended to introduce people to basic tips and tricks on brushing, flossing, and overall dental health and hygiene.Image

Besides the basics, this app touches on topics like tooth whitening products and nutrition for good oral health. The app’s layout and presentation are set up so that it works for all ages. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dental-care-hd-beauty/id486378401?mt=8

Dental Care HD costs $0.99 in the App Store and works on both the iPhone and iPad.

DDS GP — DDS GP is an app that was developed to assist dental professionals in presenting diagnoses and treatment plans to patients to help them gain a complete understanding of required and proposed treatment. The application’s library contains a series of presentations that span all topics in dentistry. The app allows for drawing, as well as customizing plans for individual patients. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dds-gp/id386704683?mt=8

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I feel treatment planning decisions often are the most challenging part of our job. They require our knowledge and experience and often compassion.   The concepts of patient autonomy and beneficence are the foundation for making the right decisions with an individual. There are some teeth that clearly should be saved and some that clearly should not.  The ones in between require us to be astute clinicians and insightful observers of our patients.

I had been out of dental school about six months and was doing part of my oral surgery rotation at the VA hospital in Long Beach.  A veteran was presented who had three overdenture abutments on his lower jaw.  (An overdenture abutment is a small stub of a tooth that can help support a denture.)   One tooth had become infected and needed to be removed.   I advised him of the situation and the procedure went very smoothly.  When I turned back around to speak with him, there was a tear rolling down his cheek. This surprised me.  I said to him “I’m sorry.  Did that hurt? Are you okay?”   He looked down at the ground and said, “Oh I’m fine but it’s just not every day you lose a third of your teeth.”

That stub of a root may have had an insignificant contribution to his chewing efficiency, but it was a big part of his emotional attachment to his teeth. That day was quite a lesson for me. There is something more than a periodontal ligament attaching us to our teeth.   Since that day I have always made an effort to include the emotional component in treatment planning.   For us to do our best in respecting patient autonomy beneficence as part of informed consent we must include this discussion too.  It’s amazing to me sometimes where this goes.   I love that my job is all about retaining what was naturally there and keeping the person whole.