People Are Losing Teeth; a poem by Cari Griffo

This poem represents my frustration for patients who can’t afford dental treatment due to our health care system.

I wrote this poem over twenty years ago but it still holds true to my frustration in witnessing patients inability to afford dental treatment. As I perform throughout the years, I increase the cost of a root canal from the original $800 to the current price.

Even in countries with universal health care, there are only five countries in the world which offer full dental coverage. As we discover more every day the link of periodontal disease to other diseases in our body it is difficult to understand how oral health can be compartmentalized as a separate entity from overall health. See my blog, New Study; Gingivitis Causes Alzheimer’s.

Oral health is whole body health. I look forward to the day where oral health is inclusive in general health and accessibility to treatment is a right for all.

People are Losing Teeth a poem by Cari Griffo

The Up-Sell Of Adult Fluoride Varnish

Find out of you really need a fluoride treatment every time you get your teeth cleaned.

There are offices, many of which are corporations, which insist on their hygienists applying fluoride varnish after every cleaning, no matter the patient’s age or need. These offices pressure the practice of fluoride varnish as a routine service, conforming the practitioner into a non-discretionary employee, which can be very intimidating to uninformed patients. Many of you have experienced the offering of fluoride varnish and have submitted due to the discomfort level of your questioning it. There are dental offices banking on your allowing them to do a fluoride varnish application, and they remember you as an easy patient who allows them to perform whatever services are suggested.

Sounds harsh, but it’s true. Fluoride varnish is touted by sales reps and dental consultation companies as a quick and easy add on to increase sales. The typical varnish costs a dental office about .50-.65 cents a dose and only takes the hygienist less than two minutes to apply. Your charge is anywhere from $25-$40 and it comes right out of your pocket because insurance companies don’t cover adult fluoride treatments. Then, if a hygienist is really good at upselling, especially when bonuses are attached to daily production, they may even try to sell you a prescription strength fluoride paste to take home, regardless of the last time you had a cavity.

You are Profit in the Chair, Not a Person in the Chair

My skin is crawling writing this because I have experienced the type of dental office where you are profit in the chair, not a person in the chair. Needless to say, I didn’t last long, however, I gained enough insight to pass information on to you. It is very rare for an adult to need a fluoride application for the purpose of decay prevention. If an adult is experiencing decay, it’s crucial to explore the reasons, and then apply far more reaching solutions than a fluoride varnish. Your daily dental habits at home are far more effective in prevention than anything performed at a dental office. I must repeat: There is nothing more important than what you yourself can manage at home to maintain your oral health.

If an adult is experiencing decay, fluoride is not the answer. Addressing the cause of the decay is the answer whether it be dry mouth or a health issue, all of which have alternatives to fluoride for treatment. Remember, things like fluoride varnish and prescription take-home pastes have high amounts of fluoride which can be absorbed into your bloodstream and distributed throughout your entire body without it ever exiting completely as waste.

Besides decay, generalized teeth sensitivity could be an argument for a fluoride varnish treatment, but oh the irony. It would be negligent to not discuss the causes of sensitivity, as sometimes it’s the fluoride toothpaste filled with chemicals which make teeth sensitive, see my blog The Truthpaste of Toothpaste. Generalized sensitivity is usually from the deprivation of healthy mineral absorption of the teeth or if mouth PH is too acidic, which a fluoride varnish treatment will completely breeze right over.

The offices I’ve worked at have been using MI Paste for years as an alternative to take-home fluoride pastes which are used for decay prevention and sensitivity. They do make one, MI Paste Plus with fluoride, but I don’t choose that one as the fluoride is superfluous to the active ingredient of Recaldent which remineralizes tooth enamel as well as prevents decay. The Recaldent is made from milk peptides and bonds to the calcium and phosphate (naturally occurring in saliva) ingredients to bind them to the enamel. The paste also neutralizes acids to restore mouth PH. MI Paste cannot be used for anyone with a milk protein allergy but it’s a great alternative to fluoride, although, it must be purchased through a dental office.

If you are truly diagnosed with new adult decay, forgo the fluoride varnish treatment, and instead, save your money to purchase some MI Paste. However, I am not one hundred percent in love with MI Paste, as it contains chemicals such as the preservative benzoate, which many people can be sensitive to.

You can be completely independent in preventing and remineralizing adult decay by using pastes with the bioidentical minerals of nano-hydroxyapatite, of which many countries such as Japan and Europe are way ahead of us. Nano-hydroxyapatite is a crystalline calcium phosphate derived from bone and is almost identical to the hydroxyapatite of our teeth. It directly replaces lost minerals and restores enamel to its original form without any toxic or harmful side effects as it’s in itself edible. Unlike fluoride, while these pastes strengthen your teeth, they also create a uniform color of translucent white making them healthy looking as well. If you are using a nano-hydroxyapatite toothpaste at home, you most certainly can forgo a fluoride varnish treatment at the dental office.

Click image to order remineralizing toothgel by CariFree

Obviously, if at your dental visit you have no decay, they really can’t intimidate you with their sales talk on fluoride varnish; with confidence you can say, “No thanks.” If you’re experiencing new decay, thank them for finding it but forgo the varnish, and let your hygienist know you’d rather spend the money on taking some MI Paste home. Better yet, you can be the one educating your fluoride convinced dental team when you tell them, “I’ll be using my nano-hydroxyapatite paste!” Say that three times.

*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.

Scoping Out The Best Dental Clinics In Mexico

It is crucial you know the reputation of the dental clinic you choose in Mexico.

In my blog, Dental Tourism In Mexico; I’m All For You Saving Money, I discuss the story that led me to become engaged in dental offices in Mexico. I highly recommend you spend the time needed to research dental offices in Mexico. Schedule your appointment only after you feel one hundred percent comfortable.

Follow These Tips To Find The Best Dental Clinics In Mexico

1.Know the reputation of the dental clinic through word of mouth from at least three patients or use a professional referral service (which do not charge fees) such as Beyond Borders Dental (BBD) or Dental Destinations. I personally can recommend BBD because of my first-hand involvement with them; they’re a family-owned business which spends quality time in the clinics they refer to and give individual attention to clients, yet have limited locations in Mexico. If you’re wanting more choices, Dental Destinations actually uses offices all over the world, including Mexico. I do have some contact with them and I’m under the impression they do site visits to the clinics they refer to but to what extent I don’t know. It’s up to you to pick the patients or the referral agency’s brains!!! Ask tons of questions, of which many are below.

2.Ask about the credentialing of the dentists. Many dentists are attached to universities and teach their trade or are well known in their field. Sometimes dental clinics at the border have several dentists working there and you will be surprised at how young many of them are. You may want to ask for a highly experienced dentist to treat you, more frequently referred to as the senior dentists. Also, know you will not find dental hygienists or assistants in Mexican clinics. Even though they have graduated from university, dentists do all the assisting and cleanings on their own.

3. Ask about the dental materials they use, for example the nobility of the metal in their crowns, or when appropriate,  what brand names they use, for example for implants. There are offices in Mexico that use the exact same Implant materials we use here in the US, such as Nobel Biocare or Straumann. You can ask them if they will be prepared to show you the official label from the company, which they usually adhere to your chart. The Mexican government puts a cap on the mark-up from manufacturers of medical, dental, and pharmaceutical companies to control the costs, but they are the same products used here.

4. You may also want to ask if they use digital x-rays, which they should!!! A modern office should be computerized and have email. You should be able to email them your U.S. treatment plans and digital x-rays, and they should do the same for you per your request.

5. It’s a very good sign when the clinic has an office manager that speaks English. They should be able to guide you through the entire process of crossing the border to their office or if they have a driver to pick you up, and all the necessities to make your visit a success. A reputable office will provide you with a staff member who can answer all of your questions and make you feel comfortable while you’re there. They should be able to explain the treatment plan and procedures with you as well.

6. Cleanliness is huge but you must not mistake it with simplicity. The offices I have experienced are extremely clean with the same autoclaves and sterilization techniques as the U.S.. You will see the same sterilization tubs of wipes you can find in operatories here. I have spent a lot of time in Mexico, and in general, from dental offices to restaurants, the bathrooms are some of the cleanest I have ever seen, anywhere, period. If the clinic is not clean, leave!!!

7. Ask about their warranties. Many offices guarantee their work and materials for 2-4 years.

8. Ask if the dental clinic can help process your dental insurance. It is a great sign if they are willing to help you and are advanced in doing so. Of course, you must first check with your insurance company about dental care coverage in Mexico.

The clinics in or near Mexico’s border towns are there to treat Americans, it is truly their intention. The dentists I have experienced in Mexico are authentic and genuine in their care for you and are much more heart centered than U.S. health care providers. They also tend to be more honest in their diagnosis, and in my experience, Mexican dentists can actually disagree with U.S. treatment plans which can be heavily over diagnosed, hence, turning work away. This saves you even more money!!

You may want to use caution in large border towns, such as Los Algodones, better known as “Molar City,” where the clinics are very competitive for your business. It’s extremely important you adhere to the above suggestions and I highly recommend a referral agency, as you could easily get swindled into an under-rated dental clinic in a place like Molar City. I hope this helps you to be the adventurer you are. Good luck!!