Community Corner: Summer 2017 Edition

At Future of Dentistry, we’re fortunate to have amazing patients, staff and community.

A great example is Zach Hertrich, who graduated from high school and will be attending UNH in the fall. Zack also became an Eagle Scout, which takes a great deal of hard work and dedication to achieve. We’re so proud of Zach for all his accomplishments. He is a longtime FOD patient and his mom is Sue Hertrich, our “front desk guru.” He’s pictured below with his dad, Mark Hertrich.

zach hertrich
Zach and his dad!

Our community has some amazing nonprofits and organizations. This summer, we welcomed two wonderful patients who won whitening services at local fundraisers. Kris G. and Katelyn M. are both sporting whiter, brighter smiles and they supported the community at the same time.

Kris won his whitening prize at the “Blossoms at the Beebe” auction, which benefits Wakefield’s Beebe Library and the town’s Chamber of Commerce. Katelyn won hers in a raffle at the “Miss Pink Pageant,” which celebrates and supports breast cancer survivors. Thank you to these organizations for partnering with Future of Dentistry!fourth of july wakefield ma

In Wakefield, the Fourth of July is always a great reminder of the strength of community when we work together. The Independence Day Committee does a fantastic job of organizing a memorable parade every year. We love seeing the kids carrying a “Sponsor-Future of Dentistry” sign in the parade! The West Side Social Club is also part of Wakefield’s Fourth of July tradition, and we’re proud to support their efforts. The activities they coordinate make the Fourth special for the whole family!

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Gum Loss: It’s Not As Inevitable As You Think

Gradual change can be difficult to notice. Changes along our gumline fall into this category, especially given that erosion occurs in small increments. How much erosion is normal, and what causes it? Let’s take a look.woman good but shows gums_cropped

Most patients believe gum recession is a natural part of aging. That’s certainly true among otherwise healthy mouths, but in many cases, it’s preventable. The biggest offenders:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Over-vigorous or improper brushing
  • Aggressive flossing
  • Exposure to acids in sports and energy drinks
  • Tobacco use
  • The frequent use of whitening products

Each item on this list causes gum loss, and each can be prevented. Poor oral hygiene is a key culprit behind periodontal disease, which is a frequent cause of gum recession. If you grind your teeth at night, we can help you with a mouth guard. If you’re over-enthusiastic about brushing or flossing, your hygienist can offer guidance for proper technique.

If you smoke, drink energy drinks frequently, or use tobacco products, cut back or stop altogether. As is so often the case, the things that are bad for your oral health are also bad for your overall health. And lastly, if you’re abusing whitening strips, your teeth are probably super-white already. If not, talk to our staff about whether you’re a candidate for longer-lasting whitening methods.

How can you tell if your gums are eroding? The most proactive step you can take is to visit your dentist. In fact, if you’re going regularly, the team at Future of Dentistry has already been monitoring your recession. We regularly measure the recession of your gums and the depths of your gum pockets.

The first symptom of gum recession is usually tooth sensitivity, so be on the lookout for this tell-tale sign. Reduce or eliminate the bad habits, and ask your dentist how you’re doing in terms of gum care.

There are certainly ways to address gum recession that’s already occurred, including gum surgery. If recession is due to periodontal disease, our team uses special techniques and tools to improve and maintain your smile. But the best solution is prevention.

The Best Defense: Protecting Young Athletes

For many families, this time of year is focused on sports. Summer athletic camps are increasingly popular, and parents often have to start preparing early for fall activities. You may already be thinking about replacing equipment, registrations, and scheduling – whether you like it or not!Inside Spread_Page1A

When you’re planning for student athletics, please keep mouth guards in mind. Athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer a dental injury when not wearing a mouth guard.

Unfortunately, athletic injuries aren’t just a remote possibility. More than 5 million teeth are knocked out each year through sports. Serious results – such as nerve damage, jaw fracture or tooth loss – cause the patient a great deal of pain. There is good news too: There are ways to help kids play safe and stay safe.

Studies show that custom-fitted mouth guards protect better against concussions/mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). They also offer the best protection against damage to teeth, jaws, lips, tongue, gums and soft tissues of the mouth.

This is why Future of Dentistry introduced a program to raise awareness about the importance of custom-fitted guards, and why we’re working to make them accessible to every student-athlete.

Our mission was inspired in part by Anthony Fabiano, a Wakefield native who’s now in the NFL, and his family. Please reach out if you’d like to learn more about our program, using the contact information at the top of this page.

Safety First

With custom-fitted guards, our team creates an impression of your teeth. It’s a quick, painless process for the patient.mouth guard youth sports

A guard is then designed for the unique contours and position of the patient’s teeth and gums. The result is a guard that’s more effective because it’s personalized. It’s also created from durable materials, and tends to be more comfortable for the wearer.

Many parents purchase generic-fit and “boil-and-bite” mouth guards from sporting goods stores. These products are certainly better than none at all, but they don’t protect the teeth, jaw and mouth as well as custom-fitted, professional guards.

Scientific research indicates that professionally-fitted guards offer the best defense against concussions. One recent study focused on high school football. It showed that players wearing over-the-counter mouth guards were more than twice as likely to suffer MTBI/concussions than those wearing custom-made, properly fitted guards.

From the NFL to Pop Warner, there’s an effort underway to educate people about the dangers of concussions. It’s become clear that concussions cause far more damage to the brain than we realized. These injuries can’t simply be shrugged off, and prevention is essential.

Mouth guards are also beneficial to adult athletes, whether you’re a “Weekend Warrior” in a competitive league or you occasionally play pickup games.

Fact and Fiction

Even when wearing a helmet, there are risks. Think of how jarring an impact can be when you fall, collide with a player, or are hit by a ball. You may suddenly bite down at a bad angle. When this happens, you could chip a tooth, suffer trauma to the jaw, or bite your tongue or inner cheeks. Customized mouth guards help minimize these internal risks. They pick up where the helmet leaves off.

We often associate mouth guards with football, hockey and lacrosse, but in fact, they benefit participants in almost any sport or activity.

It’s all too common for a baseball to go astray or a young skateboarder to “wipe out.” Usually these are minor incidents, but mouth guards reduce the risk of serious injury. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons recommends mouth guards for a variety of sports, including soccer, horseback riding and gymnastics.

Basketball is another good example. You may not think mouth guards are needed for youth hoops, but they’re important in any sport where players jump or run. Just ask the NBA player who refused to wear one and lost four teeth starting in college.

It may seem odd for children to wear mouth guards for non-contact sports, but remember that most safety measures seemed strange when they were first introduced – from seat belts to bicycle helmets.

There’s also a misconception that only older players need guards. However, children are most susceptible to sports-related oral injury between ages 7 and 11, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

One day, mouth guards may be required for all youth sports. Until then, it’s up to all of us to safeguard our children’s health and wellbeing.

First Tooth Traditions

At Future of Dentistry, we feel like our patients are part of our family. This was especially true on Thursday when we welcomed a new (and very cute!) patient.

abigail first visit
Abigail’s first dental visit was a little ahead of schedule!

Adorable Abigail is the granddaughter of Darlene, our lead dental assistant, but this wasn’t a social visit. Abigail was spending time with her Aunt Allyson, and auntie noticed something different about the baby’s gums.

It seemed unlikely to be a tooth, since Abigail is just 5 months old, and baby teeth usually emerge later. Of course, Allyson knew just where to go to find out!

Thanks to Abigail and her family, we learned a new expression: “Whoever finds the first tooth buys the first pair of walking shoes.”

This is actually an OLD saying, and it means that if you’re the first person to notice a baby’s first tooth, it’s your job to get them shoes! The phrase is a throwback from the old days when shoes were expensive, although some people still say it today as a first-tooth tradition.

Abigail’s aunt handled the situation perfectly. We usually recommend bringing children in by age 2 for their first appointment with the dentist, but if you’re not sure about something, it’s a good idea to contact us and set up a short visit. (There’s no charge for this consultation.)

First tooth parties
First tooth parties have become a popular tradition for many families! (Photo: Pinterest)

In this case, the doctor confirmed what the family suspected. Little Abigail is a bit ahead of the usual timeline, with a first tooth that has almost emerged.

Tooth Parties And Tooth Jewelry

A few members of the Future of Dentistry team grew up with the phrase “Whoever finds the first tooth buys the first pair of walking shoes,” but most of us had never even heard of it. What about YOU? Do you use this expression in your family, or have any fun first-tooth traditions?

The first tooth is always a rite of passage, but some families celebrate it in special ways. They might make pancakes (yes, pancakes!) when the first teeth appear. Maybe because the baby is old enough to chew food then, but only soft food?

Other people give a gift of silver, which is why a lot of silver-colored “first tooth keepsake boxes” are sold online. First tooth parties are also becoming very popular. The most unique tradition, though, is for when the first tooth falls out. Many moms are now using baby teeth to create jewelry!

Click here for Tips On Tranquil Teething, and please don’t hesitate to call us at 781-245-2299 if you have any questions about your little one’s pearly whites!

Are Clear Braces Right For You?

At Future of Dentistry, we’re winding down our $500 off special on Invisalign®. Before this offer expires, we thought we’d answer some of the frequently-asked-questions about this popular cosmetic treatment.blog_invisalign_graphic

5 Reasons Patients Choose Clear Braces

  1. Patients want straighter teeth and a smile they love, but they’re looking for a discreet solution.
  2. For many patients seeking a cosmetic solution, Invisalign® can be completed more quickly than metal braces.
  3. Patients don’t want to deal with the discomfort associated with traditional braces, or feel they’re too old for metal wires and brackets — whether they’re high school seniors or senior citizens!
  4. Oral hygiene is different with metal braces, and patients often worry they’ll have trouble maintaining their oral health. With Invisalign®, you can remove the aligners to allow you to brush and floss normally.
  5. At the end of your Invisalign®, we provide you with professional-grade whitening solution. Your final aligner can be used as a custom-fit whitening tray!

FAQs About Invisalign®

What is Invisalign, anyway? Invisalign® is a type of clear braces, which are sometimes called invisible braces. Our team fits the patient for a set of clear aligners, which are computer-generated. The aligners are similar to trays, and each set you receive moves you closer to a smile you’ll love.

Invisalign® is a popular brand with a proven track record for success. Our patients choose Invisalign® for a variety of reasons. Some have just one or two teeth they want straightened out, others want to smooth out the “crowded” look throughout their smile.

How often do I wear them? You’ll wear the aligners almost all the time, except during activities like eating or brushing your teeth. The more you wear them, the better the treatment works.

What’s the age range? Although younger children sometimes have clear braces, we recommend them for adults and older teens. As mentioned above, compliance is key.

Do regular braces work better? There are complex orthodontic cases that can’t be solved by clear braces. However, for most patients seeking a cosmetic solution, Invisalign® is an excellent fit. At Future of Dentistry, we’ll never recommend treatment that doesn’t meet the patient’s needs. That’s one of the reason we provide an initial consult at no charge — to help determine what you really need and the best way to accomplish it.

Invisalign Future of Dentistry staff
Some of Future of Dentistry’s team are also Invisalign® patients, including Dr. Strock and Katherine!

How much does it cost? It depends on the person — this may sound vague, but there’s a good reason for it! The positioning of teeth can vary widely from person to person, and each patient has different goals for their smile. The cost depends on how long the process takes, which can range between 6 and 24 months. (For most people, it’s 12-18 months.)

This is why we ask patients to come in for a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance for you to explain your smile goals to the dentist and learn more about the duration and pricing of your case.

Does it hurt? No! In fact, many people choose clear braces because they want to avoid the discomfort and friction associated with metal braces. Some of our own staff at Future of Dentistry are Invisalign® patients and they have no trouble with discomfort or speech!

More About The Special

In case you missed it, we’ve been offering $500 off Invisalign® to those who don’t have dental insurance coverage for orthodontic services. Many patients never look into clear braces because they assume it’s too expense. Either they don’t have insurance or they know their insurance won’t cover cosmetic treatment.

This state-of-the-art solution may be more attainable than you think! That’s why we introduced our $500-off special for current and new patients. The offer ends June 30, 2017. You don’t have to be seen by then — you only need to call 781-285-3525 or contact us here. There’s no charge for the consult, it’s just a great chance to see if Invisalign® is right for you!

‘Aging Out’ Of Insurance: Help For 20-Somethings

young adult graphicImagine you’re 25 and fairly new to the working world. You’re covered by your parents’ insurance — but only for a few more months. You don’t have benefits through your own job yet, and when you turn 26, you won’t be covered by a parent’s plan.

What now?

Too often, young adults let their dental care lapse at this point. They feel young and healthy, and the idea of acquiring insurance on their own is daunting.

Fast-forward a couple years, and that formerly healthy young patient now has a host of dental problems. There’s a good chance they’ve got a tooth or two that’s giving them pain, because they’ve stopped coming in for their biannual cleanings and checkups.

These young patients end up needing treatment that’s more costly and time-consuming than preventive care would’ve been. This is why dentists sometimes say, “dental care isn’t expensive — neglect is.”

It’s also why Future of Dentistry created a Membership Program. It’s designed exclusively for patients without dental insurance. Our Membership Program is simple, with a flat annual fee and no deductibles.

All three of our Membership plans cover essential preventive care, including:

  • 2+ cleanings/checkups
  • Diagnostic x-rays
  • Unlimited oral exams
  • Oral cancer screening
  • Intra-oral camera exam
  • Laser cavity detection
  • Emergency consultations
  • Cosmetic consultations

In addition, Members receive at least 15% off numerous services and treatment — ranging from fillings to whitening and beyond. Membership empowers many millennials to maintain a healthy, sparkling smile for years to come.

Our Membership Program isn’t the only solution for 20-somethings who don’t have their own benefits. Whatever you choose, please avoid the temptation to delay dental care. Studies show that poor oral health is linked to a worrisome number of systemic diseases and conditions. To be healthy overall, it’s simply essential to have a healthy mouth.

If “aging out of insurance” is an issue for you, or your child, please click here to learn more or call our office at 781-285-3525. We’d be happy to answer any questions.

A Fond Farewell For Our Intern!

This week is bittersweet for the team at Future of Dentistry. We’ll be saying goodbye to our intern, Maria, who has been with us since the year began. We’re sad to see her go, but we’re looking forward to seeing her shine as she continues her career!

Future of Dentistry Northeast Metro Tech
From L-R at Future of Dentistry: Lead Dental Assistant Darlene, Dr. Gerry Casazza, and Northeast Metro Tech intern Maria Manfra.

Maria is a dental assisting student at Northeast Metro Tech, the technical-vocational school in Wakefield.

“Maria has been a welcome addition to our office,” said Dr. Casazza. “With her enthusiasm and upbeat personality, it has been a pleasure having her as an intern.”

During her internship, Maria worked with three of our dentists as well as our dental assistants. She gained experience in a variety of areas, from assisting the dentists to preparing the rooms for patients.

“I learned a lot of hands-on skills,” she says.

Although she’d done some dental assisting through Northeast Metro Tech’s program, Maria feels she acquired valuable on-the-job knowledge at our office. For example, a big part of a dental assistant’s job is handing the doctor the proper instruments during treatment.

Sound easy? It’s not! Future of Dentistry performs a wide range of services, using a variety of techniques and equipment. A good assistant needs to anticipate what the doctors need and have it ready before they even ask. This challenge was part of Maria’s learning process during her internship.

Darlene, our lead assistant, acted as a mentor to Maria. “Maria always has a smile on her face,” said Darlene. “She is eager to learn and she’s always warm and welcoming with our patients — two qualities we value highly at Future of Dentistry.”

As a senior, Maria is planning to attend Middlesex Community College and become a full-time dental assistant. She recommends Northeast to other students considering a career in the dental field. She feels that her internship at Future of Dentistry provided a head-start on her career — and she had fun doing it.

“I loved all of it,” Maria said. “Everyone was so nice, and I like interacting with the patients.”