More Smiles Dental Spa Dentistry Blog | James A. Moreau, Jr., D.D.S.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Diagnosing Health Problems in the Dental Office

Since I posted yesterday about the "Today Show" quiz on health, and particularly the connection between dental health and your overall health picture, I wanted to share at least one instance in our office that may have proved life-saving for one young man. The story happened years ago but is fresh on my mind because the young man, who is now a grown man, recently called Dr. Moreau from some distant state to thank him and tell him how much he appreciates what Dr. Moreau did for him.

It was easily a dozen years ago. A young teenage boy came in for his regular check-up visit. During the course of the exam, Dr. Moreau noticed an unusual change in the soft tissues inside his mouth. It was subtle, but Dr. Moreau strongly recommended that he and his parents schedule an appointment right away with a physician to follow-up and determine if there was a systemic cause for what he saw. I don't remember back then that there was as much focus as there is now on a connection between dental health and overall health. But Dr. Moreau recognized that this was something that needed to be checked out; he knew that something was definitely wrong, and he could not identify a dental cause.

The family took Dr. Moreau's recommendation seriously and began a series of tests to flush out any underlying disorders. Sure enough, the diagnosis came back leukemia. At the time, this young teenage boy's life was totally disrupted by the disease and treatments that he had to submit to. He was angry, understandably, and at least some of the anger was directed at Dr. Moreau for having started him down this nasty path.

As I said earlier, though, the young man was diagnosed early, underwent necessary treatment, survived, and lives a happy and fulfilled life today. What a joy it was recently to get his phone call, to know that he's doing well, and that he's grateful to Dr. Moreau for encouraging him toward early diagnosis, which may have well saved his life.

In our office, we do not want to ever minimize the importance of periodic exams and professional cleanings. When we are looking in a patient's mouth, we know that a patient's life could depend on our thoroughness, our up-to-date training, the continuing education courses we complete, the journals we read, and the details to which we attend. The exam should never be cursory; there is too much responsibility to be dismissive or purfunctory.

And, you share that responsibility as well. You are responsible for your own health and making sure that you do not neglect the overall picture. It is vitally important that you get the care you need in a timely and regular schedule. Life is too precious for neglect.


posted by MoreSmiles at 11:19 AM 0 comments

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Who Writes This Blog?

As a matter of disclosure, I just want to state here that this blog is maintained and mostly written by me, Julie Moreau. I am my husband's Practice Administrator and have worked at his side (or somewhere in the office) for 23 years. During that time, I have attended nearly every dental continuing education symposium known to man. I've read the journals for practice administration, hygiene, perio, implants, cosmetics, ADA, LDA, JADA, AACD and every other set of dental initials. I've sat at the feet of nearly all the dental "gurus" since 1984. And I've worked in virtually every single role within the dental practice, except the dentist himself or the hygienists. And it doesn't hurt that I have my own background (pre-dentistry) in health care communications, marketing and news writing.

Am I bragging? No, I'm just sharing so that anyone reading this will understand my perspective on the topics I write about. In most cases, I've been there, done that, heard the lecture, observed the patient, whatever.

Do I exaggerate? Perhaps. But not much.

So, to paraphrase the legalese: the opinions you read on this blog may not necessarily be the opinions of the doctor and should not be construed to be medical or dental advice. The posts are my own words and thoughts, unless otherwise credited to Dr. Moreau or another team member. My intentions are always good, and I invite your feedback.


posted by MoreSmiles at 8:41 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Today Show" Quiz on How Well Do You Know Your Body

Science has shown that there is a direct link between health conditions in the mouth and overall health of the entire body. It is said that the mouth is the mirror of your health and reflects the conditions present throughout the body.

In particular, symptoms of gum disease (periodontitis) can serve as an indicator for heart disease, diabetes, low birth-weight babies and other health problems. Since people more routinely visit their dentists office (every six months!) than, say, a general practitioner or family doctor, it is perhaps more likely that early signs and symptoms may be detected during a dental visit.

That's why one of only 14 questions included on a "Today Show" quiz this morning related to a person's dental health. The quiz is designed to draw attention to important things people should know about their body in order to stay well as they age; it's called "How Well Do You Know Your Body?" Note Question #5:

5. Gum disease increases risk for what health problem?
Heart attacks.
Tooth loss.
Pre-term birth.
All of the above.

I'll just go ahead and tell you that the correct answer is "all of the above." The quiz is worthwhile and may help save your life by increasing your awareness of what to look for now and how to take better care of yourself in the future. And, regular visits to your dental office (that's us :-) can help you stay on top of things.

Here's a link if you'd like to take the quiz:

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posted by MoreSmiles at 8:03 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Aging Teeth Can Be Restored to Your Youth

When I saw this photo in a magazine, it jumped out at me as an example of how teeth can age a person's appearance. This is a father and son. The similarities are quite obvious, as are the years that separate the two generations. The son appears as a younger version of the same man. Both are very attractive and distinguished looking gentlemen. But, what I noticed most with my dentally-discerning eye was how much more striking - and younger - the dad would look if his teeth weren't so aged. Notice how his teeth are much shorter from the wear over the years. And it's hard to overlook the missing tooth towards the back of his smile. A person of any generation need not allow their teeth to age them. With veneers, whitening, and tooth-replacement options like implants or bridges, this smile could be restored to the youth and vibrance of decades past.

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posted by MoreSmiles at 8:37 AM 0 comments

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Miracle Worker? Mandeville Smiles On Us

I just have to pass along this story that our appointment and treatment coordinator, Cindi, just told me. Now bear in mind that every day is not all sunshine and roses at MoreSMILES. We do make the birds sing sometimes, but we have daily challenges, even frustrations, in the course of practicing dentistry. So, it's very reassuring to get a nice pat on the back every now and then.

Cindi went to the post office this morning, and when the postal clerk saw our logo on her uniform, she said, "MoreSmiles? Oh, you're the miracle workers." To which Cindi replied, "Excuse me??" The clerk explained that the last five customers she had waited on who had pretty smiles, she had commented on their nice smiles and they all told her that Dr. Moreau is their dentist. The clerk laughed and said that the next person she saw with a pretty smile, she told them, "I know who your dentist is...Dr. Moreau." She said the customer looked stunned and said, "Yes, as a matter of fact, he IS my dentist."

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posted by MoreSmiles at 10:41 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Silver Mercury Dental Fillings Scrutinized by FDA

After years and years of inaction by the Food and Drug Administration, an anti-amalgam consumer group, Moms Against Mercury has filed a class action suit against the FDA to force it to make a ruling regarding the safety, or lack thereof, of silver amalgam fillings that contain mercury.

Mercury in silver fillings has been a controversial issue as some consumers and patients assert that mercury in the mouth can have neurotoxic effects on humans and should be banned in dentistry. On the other hand, the American Dental Association and organized dentistry in general present that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to prove a connection between silver mercury fillings and health problems. This is true...but there are also no studies that have been able to prove it perfectly safe either.

Last week, the FDA responded to the lawsuit by issuing a warning that silver amalgam fillings may pose a risk to children and developing fetuses. On its web site, the FDA has dropped much of its reassuring language about dental amalgam. And it's added what amounts to a warning: "Dental amalgams contain mercury, which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetuses." It also stated that pregnant women and other mercury-sensitive people should discuss other options with their dentist. Many people believe this is the beginning of the end of silver fillings.

The FDA has also agreed to rule within one year on exactly how dental mercury fillings should be regulated and what kind of warnings patients should receive from their dentists. During this year, the FDA is open to comments from the public regarding the issue.

The lawsuit contends that while the FDA has taken a stand against other uses of mercury because of the danger it poses, it has dragged its feet for years in deciding to take a position as to the use of mercury in dentistry.

While modern dentistry provides excellent alternatives to amalgam, orrganized dentistry has pushed to continue mercury fillings as a less expensive option to ensure that people can afford to have the dental care they need. The alternative, tooth-colored composite fillings that do not contain mercury, are harder for a dentist to do, particularly on back teeth where it is more difficult to keep the tooth dry during the procedure. Eliminating amalgam as an option would require dentist who wish to continue practicing to purchase the composite materials, instruments and get the proper training on how to place them successfully. It's estimated that about 85% of dental offices in the U.S. still offer silver fillings.

At MoreSMILES, we left silver mercury fillings behind in 1996 and when we moved into our new facility in 2000, we esablished a mercury ( and latex ) free environment.

Again, while there are no studies to substantiate claims that mercury fillings have neurotoxic effects, there are also no studies to prove that they don't. If we can't put mercury in a river, why should it be legal to insert it in the human mouth ( even in the form of an unstable mixture - amalgam is 50% mercury ) ? By the way, in "Alice in Wonderland", mercury is what made the Mad Hatter mad. It was a common occupational injury of hatters since they used it to stiffen felt when shaping brims of hats.

With beautiful resin materials available since the '80s that blend aesthetically with natural tooth surface, there is really no reason to continue using, at least in our opinion, unsightly silver material that may or may not be harmful to the health of our patients and can cause teeth to crack as it expands and contracts with temperature changes inside the mouth.

Dr. Moreau used to joke that he never once had a patient thank him for putting a big silver filling in a tooth. To the contrary, natural-looking tooth-colored restorations done expertly with composite material have drawn compliments from our grateful patients.

We do not encourage patients who have old silver fillings in their mouth to aggressively have them replaced with composite filling material, but we have occasionally done this for patients who did have health concerns and wished to eliminate mercury fillings as a possible culprit.

IMHO, there is no really good reason for continuing to use silver mercury fillings.


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posted by MoreSmiles at 9:06 PM 0 comments

Sunday, June 01, 2008

What is an LVI smile?

There is a national advertising campaign on television and in magazines promoting the LVI smile and LVI dentists. Dr. Moreau is proud to be a part of this small group of about 800 dentists nationwide who were invited to participate in this campaign.

The LVI dentists are a select group of doctors who have completed post-doctorate education in functional aesthetics at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI). Their skill in cosmetic dentistry is supported by their understanding of proper occlusion (the way the teeth bite together) and healthy neuromuscular relationship between muscles, joints and jaws.

The Las Vegas Insititute was founded in the late '90s and has become world renowed as a premier center for advanced dental studies well beyond dental school. Dr. Bill Dickerson, the founder of LVI, created a program dedicated to cosmetic dentistry. His journey lead him to focus not only on the cosmetic aspects of smile restorations and recontruction, but on the functional aspects as well. This has become the hallmark of LVI dentistry--the skill, technique, and artistry of creating beautiful smiles, combined with proper function that will allow long-lasting, durable, comfortable and life-changing smiles.

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posted by MoreSmiles at 7:45 AM 0 comments

Disclaimer: Covington Cosmetic Dentist, Dr. Moreau, has provided this website for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide advice nor does the use of this site create a doctor-patient relationship. It is only to provide information on a qualified Cosmetic Dentist in Covington, Mandeville, Metairie, New Orleans, Slidell and the surrounding Louisiana areas.

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