Corporate Dentistry: Beware Before You Go

How comfortable are you being seen as money to a dental office and not as a person?

Honestly, until yesterday, I was biased with my own jaded perspective on corporate dentistry from my experiences, which mostly have been negative. Here’s what happened:

I went into an art gallery and began talking to the gallerist. She said she had a broken tooth and needed an implant. Well, of course, a conversation ensued about dentistry. I asked her who she was seeing and she mentioned the name (which I will omit), and I replied, “That’s a corporation you know.” Her response amazed me, “Fine with me! I love the dentist and their technology. As long as they do a good job.” I impulsively said, “They tend to over-diagnose, over-treat…….,” but she was still smiling so I stopped myself, regrouped and said, “If you can afford it and you’re happy, that’s all that matters.”

However, I suppressed my biggest pet peeve; a corporate dental office is motivated by profit first and foremost. The gallerist didn’t seem phased by my hinting, but if a corporation meddling in your mouth matters to you, read on.

Corporate Dental Offices Tend to Over Diagnose

My first introduction to corporate dentistry was when the first one moved to town. A teen and his mom came for a second opinion to the dental office I was working at with a huge treatment plan from this corporation. First, the dentist saw him, made his treatment plan, then, I saw him for a cleaning. With both treatment plans in front of me, I did my own exam, and I concurred with the dentist I worked for with one exception.

The corporation had overdiagnosed by several thousand dollars and I felt horrible for this low-income family. This quickly spread through the office as we were all shocked. A few years went by and several more corporations crept up, and several more patients came in for second opinions, and I’d say 7 times out of 10 the corporate treatment plans over diagnosed. Ironically, corporate offices piqued my curiosity as I wanted to learn more about them, and wasn’t opposed to working in one sometime so I could find out.

I have now had two experiences working in corporate dental offices, one national, and one regional. They both started with a morning huddle like I had never known before. The discussions didn’t go something like this, “Mrs. Cantu lost her husband last week and she has a toothache,” but more like this, “Mrs. Cantu has a bridge 5 years old and is now eligible with her insurance, so let’s treatment plan that. Our goal today is $15,000.” Brutal, yes. And it goes on and on. Look, people need dental work, and you would think legitimate treatment planning would meet any dentist’s financial goals, but you certainly wouldn’t want to be a patient during a corporation’s slow month!

See my blog, Corporate Dental Offices; How to Navigate

Dental Staff is Too Complicit with Financial Goals

It’s also disturbing to witness the office staff swayed and altered by the financial demands. They’re not selling vacuum cleaners folks, they’re using your teeth, your mouth, your health, to meet their goals. It’s extremely uncomfortable for me to start the morning seeing patient’s names on the schedule accompanied by dollar signs; from the moment patients enter the waiting room, it is not their person who is seen, but how much money will be received from them.

Corporate pressures change employees and frightens me to be around co-workers who so easily can negate their integrity as healthcare providers. It’s not my scene. I don’t want to be told what products I have to push on patients, let alone, lying about the urgency of treatment. I have to believe if I’m uncomfortable working in a corporation, you might be uncomfortable as patient under corporate dental care.

Mouth Breathing During Cold Winter Nights

Mouth breathing can be unhealthy for you oral health. Learn all the ways to sleep comfortably in the winter and wake up with a moist mouth.

It has been a cold winter in Santa Fe as reflected in most of the country this year. Everyone’s heat is cranked up and this can affect your breathing at night. Whether you’re sick or not, even fighting viruses can cause nose breathing to turn into mouth breathing. If you’re mouth breathing during cold winter nights more than ever, you’re not alone. I’m sure it’s uncomfortable to wake up with a dry mouth and the bad breath that accompanies it.

As a hygienist, I notice patients in the winter with redder gums with an increase of inflammation and bleeding, even when the patient’s home care is unchanged without a visible increase in plaque.

Mouth breathing can be a reoccurring issue for some people but the symptoms can increase in the winter. There are many reasons for mouth breathing and it’s important to know what’s causing yours because it’s not the optimal way to breath. Nose breathing, while asleep, is how the body best takes in oxygen and converts it to nitric oxide without disturbing the oral mucosa, saliva, and bacteria balance, let alone the vehicle to deep belly breaths during the day for whole body health. There are many negative dental consequences to chronic mouth breathing and dry mouth which will be discussed in later blogs.

Tips for Healthy Breathing instead of Mouth Breathing During Cold Winter Nights

  • Humidify – Whenever there is heat in your house, even radiant, the environment becomes dry which can dry out your nasal passages. I always recommend ultrasonic cold air humidifiers; it’s crucial you never use warm air as it can breed bacteria. You should be able to buy a good one for as little as $40. If your bedroom door is shut, you’ll be amazed by the humidity contained in the room.
  • Moisturize your Nasal Cavity – I love Xlear and have been using it since it first came to market. Years ago my dad was having allergies in Florida and I recommended Xlear to him to relieve his scratchy throat, which was a stretch since my dad is very mainstream and at the time he had to go to a health food shop to find it. But he did, and he was blown away. Xlear is a xylitol and saline nasal spray which moisturizes by leaving a slippery film, and in my dad’s case, the film discourages allergens from attaching to the nasal cavity as well as dripping down the throat to soothe it. It doesn’t have a medicinal taste and it’ll last a long time through the night. You can start out your day with it as well.
  • Moisturize your Mouth – Xylitol products, once again, are very moisturizing. You can find xylitol toothpaste and mouth rinse which is great to use before you go to bed. Normally, I’m not a big fan of mouth rinses because they kill good bacteria as well as bad, especially alcohol rinses because they’re extremely drying, see my blog Ordinary Mouthwash is Bad for Bad Breath. Xylitol is an exception as it moisterizes while maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria in your mouth. You may also want to try Xylimelts, xylitol tablets that attach to your cheek to stimulate saliva while you sleep.
  • Moisturize your Lips – Use natural lip balm products only with ingredients you can recognize such as beeswax and shea butter. Unfortunately, the popular brands such as Chapstick and Carmex are made of petroleum (mineral oil) which are actually drying. You will find with petroleum-based balms you are frequently reapplying them, however, the natural ones are much longer lasting and penetrate deeper into your lips.
  • Mouth Tape – Ultimately, taping your lips together is the best way to encourage nose breathing. It isn’t as bizarre as it seems as there are transparent tapes in the shape of lips with little breathing holes and gel. Even with mouth tape, It’s still important you impart moisture during winter nights.
  • Stay Hydrated – During the day, drink lots of water by taking small sips frequently throughout the entire day and continue throughout the evening. There are all kinds of products out there claiming to help with hydration and dry mouth but studies show nothing beats water intake. You should drink a minimum of half your weight in ounces, for example, if you weigh 150 lbs you should drink at least 75 ounces (a little over 9 glasses) of water per day. Depending on circumstances such as the heat outside and physical activity or exercise you need to increase your intake.
Click on image to purchase VicTsing Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier

Winter is a challenging time to feel energized and when you breathe through your nose you will notice a huge difference in your energy level. Try these moisturizing tips and your mouth will wake up much more comfortable in the morning.

*This blog contains affiliate links for products Ask My Hygienist carefully recommends based on professional experience or personal use. These suggestions are to assist you in your quest for better oral health, and in turn, you're assisting our blog with the small commission we receive from your purchase.

Toxic Dental Floss

Shocking to discover your favorite floss is coated in Teflon. Everyone knows how toxic Teflon is.

2019 has put flossing back in the news, but not about the controversy of, “To floss or not to floss?” The type of floss is what matters, “To use chemicals or not to use chemicals?” Who would guess you might be using toxic dental floss? My golden rule both professionally and personally is to always question products made with chemicals, especially those which can be ingested, inhaled, or absorbed, and to be aware of the environmental consequences.

Just as I kept my young daughter from the mainstream cereal aisles, I believe it’s just as important to caution patients from the mainstream dental product aisles. Like cereal, dental merchandise is boldly marketed, and like the empty calories in colorful cereal, the dental products could be void of therapeutic ingredients. Chemicals are cheap, they can make kid’s cereal really bright and exciting, and can make toothpaste give an aggressive sting in the mouth or can make floss glide in between teeth real easy, yet it is crucial to know their effect on the body. The internet is flooded with articles about floss coated with  polytetrafluoroethylene (PFC’S), better known as Teflon; here’s a good one, 

Teflon is Coated on Toxic Dental Floss

I have been recommending a natural wax coated floss for years, but honestly, mostly from intuition, and from my own philosophy, “If you can’t recognize the names of the first few ingredients of what you put in your mouth, let alone on your body, you should be leery.” However, this wasn’t always the case, as when I was younger I compartmentalized my thinking to my personal life, only to be a robot at work and follow the status quo of a dental professional.

I remember the day the sales rep introduced Glide floss to us, which was then owned by Gore, before Proctor and Gamble purchased it. He let us know the floss was coated with the waterproof Gore-Tex that was used in clothing and tents. Not one single thought was given to Gore-Tex as an edible, the entire staff thought Glide was the coolest floss on the planet, including me. This was way before we knew anything about Teflon and the dangers of our coated cookware, and we were completely unaware that Gore-Tex and Teflon were the same things. For years, from many different dental offices, I opened the dental supply drawer in my operatory, dropped a toothbrush, a Glide floss (as it predominated the professional market), and a sample size toothpaste, with a sticker if you were a good little boy or girl, into a plastic baggy. Now I say QUESTION WHAT GETS PUT INTO YOUR BAGGIE.

QUESTION THE CHEMICALS IN WELL MARKETED PRODUCTS for anything in your life. The mainstream aisles are getting better, with healthier alternatives, but it is still up to you, the consumer to scrutinize what you purchase. I am happy the news is out on floss coated with PFC’S and the harmful health issues that can arise from this chemical exposure. It is true, there are many sources of this chemical well beyond floss, but one thing you have control of is what you bring into your home. So, get rid of your Teflon pots and pans, and most certainly, get rid of your Gore-Tex coated floss. Unfortunately, there is no ingredient labeling requirement on dental floss, so it may not be obvious of the kind you are using. It is safest to use floss which clearly labels; “Natural wax from beeswax or vegetable sources.”

Click image to purchase this healthy floss

To learn more about cleaning your teeth in between, see my blog Flossing and Everything In Betweeen.

*This blog contains affiliate links for products Ask My Hygienist carefully recommends based on professional experience or personal use. These suggestions are to assist you in your quest for better oral health, and in turn, you're assisting our blog with the small commission we receive from your purchase.