Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is this coming Monday, and while many think Memorial Day is just a 3-day weekend with cookouts, pool parties, and trips to the lake, we here at Paul A. Griffin, DDS, PA, choose to remember it as a day to honor all the indescribably brave and selfless men and women who have served and protected our country. We commemorate those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. No words could ever adequately convey our gratitude, but we thank each and every one of you from the bottom of our hearts.

No matter how you choose to spend this day, we hope that you always remember the true meaning of the day and take a moment to remember those who’ve lost their lives in an effort to preserve our freedom.

 

The office will be closed for Memorial Day on Monday May 29, 2017, but you can always leave us a message at 972-242-2155, or you can use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page.

Oral Malignant Melanoma & Melanoma Awareness Month

MelanomaOral Malignant Melanoma & Melanoma Awareness Month

May is Melanoma Awareness Month, and you are probably wondering why we are talking about Melanoma Awareness Month on our dental blog? Well, melanoma, which is the most dangerous and deadly form of skin cancer, can also occur in the mouth.

What Is Melanoma?

Malignant melanoma is a type of skin cancer that begins when melanocytes, which are the cells that produce darker pigments in the skin, mutate and become cancerous. There are several factors that may increase the risk of getting melanoma, including having fair skin and light eyes, numerous moles, a family history of melanoma, and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun and/or tanning beds. Exposure to UV light is thought to be the cause of most melanomas on the skin.

Even though melanoma accounts for less than 1% of skin cancer cases, it accounts for the majority of skin cancer deaths. An estimated 87,110 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017. An estimated 9,730 people will die of malignant melanoma in 2017.

Oral Malignant Melanoma

While malignant melanoma mainly occurs on the skin, it can develop in the oral cavity. Oral malignant melanomas are extremely rare, accounting for only 0.2-8% of all melanoma cancers found on the body, and less than 1% of all cancers found in the mouth. The most common locations oral melanoma are found are the palate (roof of the mouth) and maxillary gingiva (gum tissue on the upper part of the mouth).

Unlike most cases of melanoma of the skin, oral melanoma is not considered to be caused by UV exposure. Additionally, there are no obvious identified risk factors, such as poor oral hygiene, alcohol consumption, smoking, or even family history.

Although oral malignant melanomas are rare, they tend to be more aggressive than melanoma found on the skin and often prove to be fatal.

Signs of Oral Malignant Melanoma

Oral malignant melanomas do not usually have symptoms in the early stages. They may appear as a dark spot or patch on the gum tissue. The color of the spots can vary from dark brown to blue-black, however white, red and lesions the color of the oral tissue have been seen. The lesions may be flat or elevated.

Pain, bleeding, and ulceration are rarely seen until late in the disease, which by that point prognosis and survival rate is very poor.

Diagnosis of oral melanoma is often difficult due to the absence of symptoms in the early stages and they can be confused with a number of asymptomatic, benign, pigmented lesions.

This is why getting yearly oral cancer screenings with Dr. Griffin, is so important. Any suspicious, pigmented lesion of the oral cavity for which no direct cause can be found requires further examination and possibly biopsy. Even though oral malignant melanoma is very rare you can never be too careful.

 

If you have spot you would like Dr. Griffin to look at, please call our office at 972-242-2155. Early and detailed examinations for oral malignant melanoma are critical for improving the survival rate.

Seasonal Allergies Can Affect Your Oral Health

Seasonal Allergies Can Affect Your Oral Health

AllergiesSpring has sprung! And, that means the temperatures are getting warmer and the April showers are bringing May flowers. All is good! Except that is, for seasonal allergies that come along with all those May flowers this time of year. From itchy eyes, to alternating runny/stuffy noses, and uncontrollable sneezing, many allergy sufferers across Texas know the pains of this seasonal dilemma. But, did you know seasonal allergies can also affect oral health? We, here at Paul Griffin, DDS, want to make sure you know how your teeth and mouth can be affected by seasonal allergies.

Tooth Pain

Have you ever experienced a toothache, in your upper teeth, from out of nowhere and thought it was a little peculiar? Turns out, it may not be a toothache at all, but instead symptoms of your seasonal allergies that are acting up. Your body’s immune reaction to the allergens in your system causes mucus to build up in the sinus cavities, which in turn, causes congestion, pressure and pain. When the maxillary sinuses, which are located just above the roots of the upper molars, are affected it can cause the molars, and sometimes premolars, to be sensitive to cold, biting or chewing, and sometimes even cause a throbbing sensation.

Dry Mouth

As if the pain and discomfort from your clogged sinuses and aching teeth weren’t enough, many allergy sufferers tend to suffer from dry mouth, as well. Allergies themselves, along with allergy medications, decongestants, and oral inhalers you use can make your mouth become extremely dry. This can really affect your oral health because saliva, which is full of antibacterial enzymes, is known to help prevent decay, and keep your breath and mouth from smelling and feeling like an old shoe. When your mouth becomes dry, you put yourself at risk for bad breath, tooth decay (cavities), gingivitis, and periodontitis.

If you suffer from dry mouth, drink plenty of water to keep your oral tissues moist, and alleviate dryness. Chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol is recommended to encourage saliva production and xylitol is proven to help reduce cavities. There are also oral rinses and other solutions that may alleviate symptoms.

Mouth Breathing

A stuffy nose due to allergy congestion can result in breathing through the mouth causing dry mouth. Air against oral tissue dries up saliva, this lack of saliva causes to the gingival, or gum, tissue to become dry which can lead to swelling, gum sensitivity, and tooth decay. Research indicates that mouth breathing can actually change the shape of your face and alter your appearance. This is especially true for children because they are still growing. When breathing through the mouth, the tongue rests on floor of the mouth, causing cheek muscles to relax onto the upper teeth. This long-term pressure can lead to crooked teeth, dental overbites, as well as palate malformations.

So how do you know if that toothache is an actual infection or if it’s just your allergies playing tricks on you? Give us a call, at 972-242-2155, or, use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page, and we can schedule you an appointment. Dr. Griffin and his team can help get you fixed up no matter if it’s allergies or a more serious issue.

April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April Is Oral Cancer Awareness MonthOral Cancer and Baseball

It’s April!! And, anyone who is a sports fan knows what that means, Major League Baseball is back!! But, did you know April is also Oral Cancer Awareness Month?  And, since baseball and tobacco have such a synonymous relationship, raising awareness of oral cancer during April makes sense.

Baseball and Tobacco

The longtime relationship between baseball and tobacco started in the 19th century, when both tobacco and baseball became wildly popular. Players chewed tobacco because they found it kept their mouths moist on the dry dusty fields and the tobacco spit helped soften the leather of their gloves. And, players have been tucking tobacco between their gums and cheeks ever since. It’s a ritual that has long permeated the game, and a dangerous one at that.

This dangerous ritual has definitely had some devastating effects on some of baseball’s greatest players. The Sultan of Swat, the Great Bambino, and one the greatest baseball players in history, Babe Ruth, died at age 53 of throat cancer, after decades of dipping and chewing. Bill Tuttle, American League outfielder, died after a 5 year battle with oral cancer. Before his death, Tuttle waged a campaign against the use of chewing tobacco after the cancer left him disfigured. Brett Butler, former Major League center fielder, became a passionate advocate against tobacco after he was diagnosed with tonsil cancer in 1996. Former Major League pitching great, Curt Schilling attributed his oral cancer to three decades of chewing tobacco. And, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died at age 54, after a lengthy fight with salivary gland cancer. Gwynn attributed his cancer to longtime smokeless tobacco use.

Smokeless Tobacco and Oral Cancer

Smokeless tobacco contains 28 carcinogens and there is a definitive link between the use of tobacco products and the development of oral cancer. According to Oral Cancer Foundation, approximately 49,750 people in the US will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2017. This includes those cancers that occur in the mouth itself, in the very back of the mouth known as the oropharynx, and on the exterior lip of the mouth.

One of the most troubling aspects of the disease is the survival rate. The survival rate of oral cancers are much lower than that of more well-known cancers, like breast or cervical cancer, or Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A major reason for those discouraging odds is that oral cancer generally isn’t found until it has reached a later stage of development. As a result, it’s harder to treat successfully. Therefore, early diagnosis of oral cancer is very important — and why it’s vital to become aware of possible warning signs of the disease.

Warning signs of oral cancers include:

  • A sore that won’t heal
  • White, red, or off-color patches
  • An unexplained lump
  • Prolonged sore throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Restricted movement of the tongue or jaw
  • A feeling of something in the throat
  • Numbness of the tongue or other areas of the mouth

Fortunately, dentists are trained to recognize the early signs of oral cancer, and Dr. Griffin can often identify possible signs of the disease in its initial stages. We perform oral cancer screenings at routine dental exams, but you can also come in for an examination any time you have a concern. The good news is that recent advances in diagnosing oral cancer offer the hope that more people will get appropriate, timely treatment for this potentially deadly disease.

If you have questions about oral cancer, please contact us by calling (972) 242-2155 for a consultation. Or, you can use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page.

March Madness: Basketball Can Take a Toll on Teeth

March Madness: Basketball Can Take a Toll on Teeth

March Madness March Madness is upon us! 2017 marks the 79th annual NCAA Playoff Basketball tournament. March Madness is a phenomenon that grips our country from the second week of March through the first week of April. March Madness is the moniker that is given to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments. These tournaments determine the National Champions of college basketball.

When it comes to March Madness, there will be Cinderella stories that will live on in the hearts of fans, players and coaches for years to come. There will be upsets, like SMU losing to underdog USC in the first round of the tournament, or you losing in your office pool bracket the very first day. But, there is one upset a basketball player doesn’t want, and that is a dental injury.

As any basketball player or fan can tell you, the game has grown more physical and contact-heavy. Basketball players are five times more likely to sustain injuries to the mouth and face than football players, so it’s especially important to provide mouth protection on the hardwood. Mouthguards should be a routine part of a basketball player’s protective gear.

Whether you’re player yourself or the parent of a budding NCAA player, there are several options for mouthguard protection.

Types of Mouthguards

Stock mouthguards. These type of mouth guards are preformed, inexpensive and can be found at most sporting goods stores. They cannot be custom fit, so they are bulky and make talking and breathing difficult. Dentists typically don’t recommend them because of their limited protection.

Boil and bite mouthguards. Available at most sporting goods stores, these offer a slightly better fit than a stock mouth guard, but they can still bulky and uncomfortable. They can be softened in boiling water and then placed in the mouth and shaped around the teeth using finger and tongue pressure.

Custom-fit mouthguards. When it comes to injury prevention, a custom-fit mouthguard is your best option. This type of mouthguard is made by taking an impression of your teeth, by your dentist, and sending the models to a dental lab to fabricate the mouthguard. It offers the best protection, fit and comfort level because it is specifically made for your one-of-a-kind teeth and bite.

 

Don’t let a dental injury get you sidelined. Protect your teeth this spring during March Madness by calling Paul A. Griffin, DDS, PA, at 972-242-2155, and see what we can to do to help you play a smarter game of basketball. You can also use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of his page.

World Oral Health Day

March 20th is World Oral Health Day

World Oral Health DayWorld Oral Health Day is celebrated globally every year on March 20 to promote the importance of good oral health throughout life. Organized by the FDI World Dental Federation, World Oral Health Day was launched in 2013 to raise awareness of maintaining good oral health and its significance in safeguarding general health and well-being. This is done through an international awareness campaign created and launched by the FDI, adapted and promoted locally by national dental associations in more than 140 countries worldwide.

Global sponsors and supporters of World Oral Health Day include, Henry Schein, Philips, Unilever and the Wrigley Oral Healthcare Program. Which offer the global dental profession a chance to take action in a worldwide effort to reduce tooth decay and organize programming and events under a single unifying message.

This year’s theme is “Live Mouth Smart”, which empowers people to take control of their oral health – throughout life – so they can enjoy a healthy, functional mouth from childhood into old age.

There are many ways you can Live Mouth Smart and make sure you have set yourself up for a healthy future.

Adopt good oral hygiene habits from early in life and have regular dental check-ups. This helps you maintain optimal oral health into old age and ensures you live not only a longer life, but also one free from the physical pain and often emotional suffering caused by oral disease.

Safeguard your oral health, which has a positive impact on your general health and well-being, helping you live a better quality of life into old age.

Avoid risk factors such as tobacco, harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets – especially those rich in sugar – which helps protect your oral health and prevent other conditions such as heart disease and stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.

Understand good oral health is much more than a nice smile and oral disease can impact every aspect of your life – including your ability to perform basic functions.

Get involved with World Oral Health Day activities on 20 March, and demonstrate your commitment to protect your own and your family’s oral health.

For more information visit worldoralhealthday.com.

 

How Does Dental Insurance Work?

How Does Dental Insurance Work?Insurance

How does dental insurance work? It doesn’t. Just kidding. Dental insurance does work, it just doesn’t work the same way as health insurance, which most people assume it does. When most people think about health insurance, they think first about covering costs of treatment for serious medical conditions or accidents. But, dental insurance is a completely different animal.

“Dental insurance” is not really insurance, it’s more like a benefit. Most dental plans are chosen and by employers to save you some money on your dental care, but it does not relate at all to your personal dental needs or “catastrophic” dental needs.

That being said let’s look at a little history of dental insurance.

Dental insurance was first introduced in 1954 and gained popularity in the 60’s. By the 70’s, many employers offered dental insurance plans. These plans typically covered 100% of preventive care, 80% of minor dental work, or basic dental work, such as fillings and simple extractions, and 50% of major work such as crowns and bridges.

The annual maximum annual coverage of dental plans in the 70’s was $1000. Back then, $1,000 bought a lot of dental care. Today, the average cap on dental plans is…wait for it… $1,000. Um what? Yep, you read that right — most plans still offer $1,000, some plans offer $1500, and the rare plan offers more, but the average is still $1000. So in over 40 years, dental maximums have not gone up. Based on the Consumer Price Index, $1000 in 1970 would now be around $6258. Yes, you read that right. What you could have bought in 1970 for $1000 would cost you over $6000 today.

Let’s take a look at how most dental insurance plans work these days.

First, you have a deductible, which is typically $25 or $50. This is applied and paid by you when you have your first appointment for dental treatment like a filling or crown. Most plans do not apply this deductible toward your exams and cleanings, therefore no money is due from you during these types of appointments, unless your plan does not cover certain procedures such as fluoride for adults.

Then, you have your reimbursement levels, or the percentages of what your dental plan will cover. Most plans are typically grouped into three categories:

  • Type 1 (Preventative/Diagnostic) 100% coverage – exams, x-rays and cleanings, fluoride and sealants for kids up to a certain age.
  • Type 2 (Basic restorative) 80% coverage – fillings, root canals, extractions, periodontal procedures.
  • Type 3 (Major restorative) 50% coverage – crowns, dentures, bridge work.

The coinsurance would be the percentage of the covered dental expense you pay, after the deductible has been met. So, if your plan covers 80% of a procedure your coinsurance would be 20%.

Next, is the annual maximum benefit. Most plans have a maximum of $1000.00 – $1500.00. Once you have reached that maximum, dental insurance will not pay for any more treatment that may be needed for the year. Which leaves you paying out of pocket.

Looks pretty straight forward doesn’t it? But hold on, many plans have exceptions especially with dental insurance. Here are some possible exceptions that dental plans may have:

WAITING PERIODS: Woops! You have to wait 6 months from your effective date on the group dental plan for Type 2 services to be covered!

MISSING TOOTH CLAUSE: If the tooth was missing prior to your effective date with the group plan, too bad. They are not going to pay to replace it with a bridge or implant.

FREQUENCYS: The group plan allows certain services at certain intervals. Cleanings every 6 month plus 1 day.  (I’m not kidding, have your cleaning 1 day too soon and you insurance won’t cover it.) Full sets of x-rays are usually limited to every 3-5 years. That means if you switch dentists you want to have those x-rays sent over before you arrive.

And finally,

DOWNGRADES: Most plans have “downgrades”, meaning the insurance may approve a procedure, but pay for a less expensive procedure (Example: You have a tooth colored filling on a back tooth. Your insurance pays what it would pay for silver, leaving you with the difference in cost).

So, that’s basically how dental insurance works. As you can see it can be easy and confusing at the same time, and, not a whole lot hasn’t really changed with dental plans in over 40 years!

 

If you have any questions about your dental insurance please feel free to call us here at 972-242-2155. Or you can use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” link at the top of this page.

 

Astronaut, Senator, & Almost a Dentist

Sen. John Glenn Almost Pursued Dentistry

Dentist

Group portrait of Dr. Homer & Margaret Castor, John, Annie, David & Lyn Glenn, and Tommy & Jane Hosey, circa 1950.

The ADA News reports that in an interview before his death, Sen. John Glenn, who in 1962 became the first American to orbit the Earth, said he came close to becoming a dentist. Dr. Patrick M. Lloyd, dean of Ohio State University College of Dentistry, spoke to Sen. Glenn and his wife, Anne Castor Glenn, “to reflect on the life and career of Mrs. Glenn’s father, Dr. Homer W. Castor, a 1919 graduate of OSU’s dental school.” The article notes that “Sen. Glenn, an astronaut with a decorated military career and who served as Ohio’s U.S. senator from 1974-99, revealed that he almost followed Dr. Castor’s footsteps in practicing dentistry.” Sen. Glenn died on Dec. 8, 2016 at the age of 95.

To view the full interview of Sen. Glenn and Mrs. Glenn, visit dentistry.osu.edu/journal/story/storytelling.

 

If you or your family need to schedule your next appointments with Dr. Griffin, please call us, at 972-242-2155. Or, you can use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page.

 

Kovanaze Is Here!

Kovanaze Is Here!

Kovanaze, the much anticipated, “needleless” local anesthetic, for the use on upper front teeth, is now on the market, and Dr. Griffin is now offering it as an alternative to traditional injections for the upper front teeth and palate. Kovanaze

Kovanaze is the first product of its kind that allows for dental anesthesia to be administered through the nose without the use of a needle.

Kovanaze contains a vasoconstrictor and local anesthetic combination (oxymetazoline hydrochloride and tetracaine hydrochloride) which is administered intranasally. It is indicated for regional anesthesia when performing restorative procedures on the upper, front 8, teeth in adults and children who weigh 88 lbs. or more, though the company plans to investigate its use with children, as well as for other procedures.

So, if you’ve been putting off dental work you need because you’d rather stay away from needles, it’s time to stop worrying. Call us today to schedule your next appointment, at 972-242-2155. Or, you can use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page.

 

Super Bowl Recipes That Are Good For Your Teeth

Super Bowl Recipes That Are Good For Your Teeth

Are You Ready for Some Football?! Getting together with friends to watch the Super Bowl is an American tradition. Super Bowl parties are full of fun, football, and food. But, not all those Super Bowl snacks are good for your teeth, or your waistline. We have found a few tasty game day recipes that are healthy for your teeth and the rest of the body. Of course, these are snacks aren’t perfect, but these recipe ideas can help make game day just a bit more tooth-conscious!

Southwest Jalapeño Greek Yogurt Dip

IngredientsHealthy Teeth Recipes

  • 2 whole fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded
  • 16 ounces of plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 (1 ounce) package dry Hidden Valley Ranch (or other brand) Fiesta Dip Mix
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

Place jalapeños, yogurt, ranch dressing mix, garlic powder, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour, or overnight, before serving.

This dip will complement any raw vegetable. Be sure to try it on bell peppers, carrots, and broccoli florets.

Why is it good for your teeth?

Raw veggies require lots of chewing, which stimulates the gums and also stimulates the salivary glands which helps dissolve the food and sugars in your mouth. The Greek yogurt gives your teeth a boost of calcium which also helps to keep your teeth strong. The dip is also low in fat and sugars, so it’s a double-win.

Dark Chocolate Greek Yogurt Fruit Dip

Healthy teeth recipesIngredients

  • 2 cups Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa (or cacao) powder
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Stir until it is an even dark color and all of the brown sugar granules have dissolved, about 3 minutes.

Serve with apples, strawberries, and other fresh fruit.

Why is it good for your teeth?

The Greek yogurt in the recipe is high in calcium and protein, which makes it a good pick for the strength and health of your teeth. The probiotics found in yogurt may also benefit your gums, because it may help to counter the growth of “unfriendly” bacteria in the mouth.

Cocoa beans contain tannins, polyphenols and flavonoids, which are strong antioxidants that can benefit your mouth and teeth. There are also recent studies emerging from the U.S., and abroad, that support the fact that chocolate is effective at fighting cavities, plaque, and tooth decay in the mouth. Scientists from Tulane, the University of New Orleans, and Louisiana State University’s School of Dentistry, discovered a compound in cocoa extract, theobromine, that helps harden tooth enamel. The extract, a white crystalline powder whose chemical makeup is similar to caffeine, helps harden teeth enamel, making users less susceptible to tooth decay.

Sun-dried Tomato Hummus

healthy teeth recipesIngredients

  • 2 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 jar (10 oz.) sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
  • 1 cup tahini paste
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoons sea salt, or more to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup sesame oil

Serve with carrots and cucumbers

Directions

Put chickpeas, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, tahini, tomato paste, some salt and smoked paprika in a food processor or blender and process until well combined and smooth. Drizzle in sesame oil adding more if you want a thinner consistency. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add more oil, lemon juice or tomato paste if needed. Serve with a drizzle of oil.

Why is it good for your teeth?

Protein rich chickpeas don’t contain any saturated fat or cholesterol, making hummus a good choice for your overall health. Chickpeas are also rich in folic acid, which keeps your mouth healthy by promoting cell growth throughout your body. Carrots also contain beta-carotene, which is used in vitamin-A production for strong teeth. Cucumbers are not only a healthy alternative to chips, but they are rich in vitamins B and C and have even been shown to help freshen breath and naturally whiten teeth!

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Fries

Ingredientshealthy teeth recipes

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons hot paprika
  • 2-3 medium zucchini, cut into thick matchsticks
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons seltzer water
  • Vegetable or olive oil spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray or oil. Put panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt and paprika in a shallow bowl and mix to combine. In a separate shallow bowl, whisk eggs with seltzer water. Dip each zucchini piece in egg then breadcrumb mixture and put on prepared baking sheet. Lightly spray the tops of the zucchini fries with the cooking spray. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until crispy on all sides. Remove from the oven and serve.

Why is it good for your teeth?

Zucchini is a good source of vitamin C and manganese, the nutrient that promotes calcium absorption, which of course is vital to healthy teeth.

We hope you enjoy these recipes and remember, regardless of what you choose to snack on during the Super Bowl, be sure to brush twice a day for two minutes each time! 

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment please feel free to call us at 972-242-2155, or, you can use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page.