Category Archives: Blog

Rubber Dam – An Important Dental Tool

Not every dentist uses a rubber dam when performing dental procedures on patients. Not all patients understand what rubber dams are or why they are used. In fact, I had a patient in the office yesterday who recently transferred from another office.  She had no idea what I was doing when I started preparing the rubber dam for placement in her mouth. I hope that by the time you finish reading this blog post, you understand why I think they are an important tool in our office.

Rubber Dam Description

A patient with a rubber dam isolating their teeth

A rubber dam applied over a patient’s mouth

This photo shows a patient with a rubber dam in place. We take a 5×5 or 6×6 sheet of latex or nitrile (non-latex) material and place it over the tooth or teeth to be worked on. Holes are punched in the material.  We then use floss to work the material in between each tooth to be worked on. A clamp is placed on the most rear tooth to hold the material down, and a napkin is then placed between dam and the skin. As you can see in the photo, we then attach the edges of the dam to a metal frame to hold it in place.

Why Don’t All Dentists Use Rubber Dams?

Dentists are trained (not very well I might add) how to use rubber dams in dental school. Like many others, when I first graduated from dental school, I thought they were too cumbersome and time-consuming to use on a regular basis.

When I started participating in my first study club, however, the mentor of our club showed us younger dentists how to properly place a rubber dam.  Finally, I understood that they can be placed efficiently and effectively. From that point, I began using rubber dams consistently with my patients.

Why Should Rubber Dams Be Used?

If I am placing a small filling towards the front of the mouth, I may not use a rubber dam. However, any time I am working on a tooth towards the back of the mouth, I use a rubber dam. I use it to isolate the quadrant of the mouth that I am working on. In my opinion, the main advantages to using a dental dam are:

  • Visibility – I see nothing but the section of the teeth I am working on.
  • It creates a clean, dry field for me to do my work.
  • There is no contamination of the field with saliva. This is particularly important with tooth colored fillings, which are technique sensitive.  Saliva can compromise the bonding process of the composite material to the remaining tooth.
  • The patient does not swallow any old fillings (if we are removing old restorations) or water from the hand pieces.
  • It protects the soft tissue of the tongue and cheeks and keeps them out of the way.
  • When performing root canals, the rubber dam provides protection to the cheeks and tongue from the rinse we use (usually bleach) when cleaning out the tooth canals.
  • Small files are used during root canals. A rubber dams ensures that a dropped file does not enter a patient’s throat.

Rubber dams do require some additional time to place. However, when I look at time spent to do this and weigh it against the increased protection for my patients, patient safety wins.  Furthermore, when I consider the ability it gives me to do better work, it’s pretty clear.  The benefits of using rubber dams far outweigh any disadvantages.

 

Fluoride Helps Prevent Cavities

Benefits of Fluoride

Today’s Gazette Telegraph includes an editorial from the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Titled “Fluoride’s Benefits are Settled,” the article brings up an important point about dental health. Decades of scientific research shows fluoride helps prevent cavities and is safe in the amounts usually present in drinking water.

ADA Position On Fluoridated Water

From the American Dental Association (ADA) website: “More than 70 years of scientific research has consistently shown that an optimal level of fluoride in community water is safe and effective in preventing tooth decay by at least 25% in both children and adults. Simply by drinking water, Americans can benefit from fluoride’s cavity protection whether they are at home, work or school. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named community water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”

The ADA website also provides interesting information regarding fluoridated water.  The optimal level of fluoride in the water is 0.7mg/L . By comparison, this equates to 1 inch in 23 miles, or 1 minute in 1000 days, or 1cent in $14,000. A small amount of fluoride packs a big punch in terms of preventing cavities.  This is why you see the ADA supporting the use of fluoridated water.

Naturally Occurring Fluoridated Water

Fluoride is naturally present in Colorado Springs’ water supply. In the past, several areas of town had too much fluoride present their water supplies, causing fluorosis, a condition characterized by white spots or a brown stain on teeth. This brochure from Colorado Springs Utilities notes that currently, all water in the City meets EPA standards regarding safe amounts.

Personal Experience Shows Fluoride Helps Prevent Cavities

I see the benefits of fluoridated water every week when kids come into our office with no cavities.  Furthermore, my opinion about the benefits of drinking fluoridated water was reinforced on mission trips we took to the Dominican Republic and Kenya. In the Dominican Republic, we saw water without fluoride and kids with easy access to sugar cane. Sadly, and predictably, we saw rampant decay of their teeth. In Kenya, an area which has naturally occurring fluoride in the water, we saw significantly less decay when we treated kids. While the diet there did play a part in their dental health, it also shows that fluoride helps prevent cavities.

Should You Brush Your Teeth? Yes, But….

Should you brush your teeth?

As a practicing dentist of 30 years, the answer from me is a definite yes. But, that comes with some qualifications in terms of scientific data, brushing that is actually harmful to your teeth, and other things besides brushing that can help you maintain healthy teeth.

I receive regular emails from the American Dental Association (ADA), including one that “compiles news stories from a wide range of sources” to keep dentists up-to-date on what seems to be of interest to the general public. Today’s email included a link to a Reader’s Digest article with this interesting title: “This is the Most Efficient Way to Keep Your Teeth Clean – Without Brushing Them.”

Reader’s Digest Article

I would encourage you to read the article because it contains interesting information about good dental care for you and your family. It is not a surprise that this article claims the best way to keep your teeth healthy is to avoid eating sugar. It explains why this is the case, but also goes further and gives information about foods that can promote healthy teeth.

Good foods include those that are alkaline instead of acidic, which help keep the pH levels in your mouth at a higher level, which is healthier for your teeth. On the flip side, foods that are too acidic can cause lower pH levels, which doesn’t promote good oral health. You can click on the link in the Reader’s Digest article to see a list of “teeth healthy” foods and explanations as to why they are good for your teeth. The list of good foods in this article includes apples, herbal teas or unsweetened fruit juice, tofu, sweet potatoes, cheese, cucumbers, stevia, and carrots.

How To Brush Your Teeth

The other important point of this article touches on proper brushing technique, or how to brush your teeth. Some patients think the harder they brush or floss, the better. What they don’t know, though, is that flossing that is done too vigorously can harm your gums. They also don’t understand that brushing too hard can actually harm tooth enamel, especially when used with some toothpastes. Almost all toothpaste includes some type of abrasive material to help with the cleaning process. Teeth whitening toothpastes tend to include a lot of this material. If you use them (we typically don’t recommend) and brush too hard, it can really cause damage to both tooth enamel and gums.

In our practice, we can also tell that some patients don’t brush their teeth long enough. We encourage our patients to invest in electric tooth brushes as they are timed for the right amount of brushing and they also help avoid problems from brushing too hard because they alert you if too much pressure is being used. There are several good brands on the market, and different staff members use different ones, but we do sell one brand in our office, at our cost, for patients of record. The better your home care, the less likely you will need to see us for fillings or other restorative services. Prevention is key!

Magnification Glasses Support Quality Dentistry

Hygienists-Jane-and-LeeAnn-model-magnification-glasses

Dental Hygienists Jane and Lee Ann model magnification glasses

Magnification Glasses and Illumination

Several weeks ago on our Facebook page, we posted this picture of Jane and Lee Ann having a little fun at the office.  On a serious note, the picture also shows them wearing something that helps us to provide quality dental care for our patients, namely, magnification glasses.

As you know if you’ve visited our office, Lee Ann, Jane, Judy (our three hygienists) and I wear magnification glasses when working with patients.  These glasses are custom made for each of us and include the attached light you see in the picture.

In the Beginning

I started using magnification glasses in the early 1990’s.  When I first began using them, it was truly an eye opener (pardon the pun…).  I started with 2.5x magnification and quickly moved up to 4.5x magnification.  Why is magnification important?  Because magnification glasses allow me to better visualize the tooth or quadrant of teeth I am working on.  This ultimately results in, for example, a better filling or a better fitting crown.

Evolution of Magnification Glasses and Illumination

An important evolution in magnification glasses was the addition of an integrated headlamp (illumination).  Long time patients might remember when this started as a bulky incandescent light on a cable, strapped to my head.  This led to nice crease marks in my forehead and hairline by the end of the day!  With technological advancements, however, current glasses have small battery powered LED lights mounted right on the frame of the glasses.  These lights brighten the whole field of operation and are extremely beneficial to me and to our hygienists as it allows us to see in detail every part of the tooth/teeth we are working on.

Of the many technological advances occurring since I started practicing dentistry, and that have impacted and improved the quality of care I am able to provide, I would have to put light and magnification close to the top of the list.

Top Dentist Designation in May/June 2017 Colorado Springs Style Magazine

Dr. Albers holding the 2017 Colorado Springs Style Magazine which lists him as a top dentist

Dr. Albers Named a Top Dentist in Colorado Springs

Every year, Colorado Springs Style Magazine compiles a list of top dentists in Colorado Springs.  The magazine partners with the Colorado Springs Dental Society and a marketing firm to survey members of the dental society.  Dr. Albers is honored to be recognized as a 2017 Top Dentist, and he appreciates being recognized by his peers for the quality of his dental work.

Providing quality dental care to patients is important to Dr. Albers.  In addition to attending conferences and seminars, he spends many hours each year participating in three different study groups (see Dr. Albers’ philosophy and commitment to excellence).  Suffice it to say that study group participation helps Dr. Albers keep up with the latest techniques in dentistry.  Furthermore, study group members often work together on patients with complex dental problems.  These experiences positively impact the quality of care Dr. Albers provides for his own patients.

How Are Top Dentist Designations Compiled?

Although we’ve touched on the process for selection above, we’ve had people ask how Colorado Springs Style Magazine compiles its list of top dentists. Therefore, we thought we’d go straight to the source regarding the selection process.  The following excerpt describes how the magazine arrives at its designations:

Who conducted the survey?

Colorado Springs Style, working in conjunction with the Colorado Springs Dental Society and an independent public relations and marketing firm, conducted the survey.

Who was surveyed?

All active and licensed Colorado Springs dentists, who are members in good-standing with the Colorado Springs Dental Society, were eligible to participate.

What instructions were they given in order to complete the survey?

Voting was held online from March 1-15, 2017. Dentists who visited the site were instructed to vote by entering up to four names under general family dentistry and one each in all remaining categories. Those nominated reflect the doctors they would refer a friend or family member to, should the need arise.

Did specialists vote solely on their own specialty, and vice-versa for general dentists?

No, all dentists could vote across the board.

See Colorado Springs Style Magazine Top Dentists 2017

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Mark T. Albers, D.D.S.
2155 Hollowbrook Drive
Suite 20
Colorado Springs, CO
80918

(719) 634-8458

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