Your Clean Water Supply

The news has been filled with images of the recent flooding from hurricanes and the news about the impact of the storms on the clean water supply in some places. It also made me think about Flint Michigan, and their water crisis. All of it made me think about the importance of a clean water supply.bottled water crisis - pixabay cco free commercial use -82690 640

Did you ever think about the effect on your health when there is a lack of clean water? The oral health of many people suffers because they try to replace some of the water they usually consume with sugary soda and sport drinks. Drinking contaminated water is harmful to your general health and to oral health. The same bacteria and other elements (like lead) that are harmful or dangerous to your general health are also harmful to your teeth and gums. This makes the water unsafe to drink and unsafe to use for brushing teeth. Also, loss of treated water typically means loss of fluoridation.

A clean water crisis could limit the procedures some dentists could perform? Many of our tools and instruments use a large amount of water (drills, scalers, etc.). Many dentists today use a "closed system" source of water, meaning that we use distilled bottled water. These systems enable us to perform a full range of procedures safely. Many dentists use "city water" for non-surgical purposes and distilled water for surgery.

In a clean water crisis, your continuing oral health may depend upon the preventative care you give your teeth every day. Keep your teeth and gums healthy to protect oral health and general health. What can you do?


  • Brush and floss twice daily as recommended.
  • Use a fluoride enhanced toothpaste.
  • When your dentist offers fluoride varnish, rinse or supplements, accept them.
  • If you do find yourself in a clear water crisis, throw away the tooth brush before the contamination was discovered and replace it with a new one.
  • See your dentist regularly.

To your oral health!

Ask Me About the Anesthesia Wand

We have been using the Anesthesia Wand for a number of years. It is an ideal device for children and for anyone who has had a bad experience with dental work in the past. We have seen great success with the wand. Unfortunately, it is not appropriate for every dental procedure. When it can be used, it works wonderfully.  Anesthesia Wand - sm -IMG 2533 002


Think about the large metal syringes dentists typically use to inject numbing anesthesia to make it easier for patients to endure the pain of some procedures. That huge needle is intimidating, especially for children. At Complete Dental Care in Salem, Virginia, we never want any patient to be afraid or in pain. The Anesthesia Wand has a wonderful alternative for us.


The wand is a small tube that resembles a straight-shaft pen. On one end of the tube is a very small syringe. On the other end, the tube attaches to a device like a computer that is controlled with a foot pedal. The device notifies the dentist when the anesthesia is dripping into the syringe.


One advantage of using the anesthesia wand is that the anesthesia is delivered very, very slowly. This is ideal for children because the slow flow of the anesthetic eliminates pain and the burning that accompanies traditional syringe delivery.


A second advantage of the wand is its flexibility. It can be used to numb a single tooth or a large section of the gum. And, because it delivers a continuous drip of anesthetic, it is not necessary to pause the procedure to inject more anesthetic.


Use of the Anesthesia Wand is covered by insurance, just like the traditional metal syringe. The only additional cost is the purchase of the tips that are used on the wand. This cost is typically absorbed by the dentist.


Although the anesthesia wand was invented about 20 years ago, many dentists have not adopted it. The metal syringe remains appropriate for many of our patients. For children and adults who have experienced difficulties with the metal syringe, we find that it is often the best alternative to reduce fear, relax our patients, and prevent pain.


If you have had a bad experience with anesthesia or you are bringing your child or grandchild for a dental procedure, ask your dentist about the anesthesia wand. You’ll be glad you did.  

Eating Disorders and Your Teeth

Eating disorders are very damaging and dangerous to your health. Many people do not understand the eating-disorder-and-teeth - Caroline Wallacedamage that can be done to your teeth and jaw due to eating disorders. Some of the damage cannot be repaired. The National Eating Disorders Association reports that more than 10 million Americans suffer with an eating disorder.

Anorexia, due to the lack of proper nutrition, can cause or contribute to osteoporosis. This can cause the jaw and surrounding bones to become weak. This, in turn, often leads to loss of teeth. Typically, these teeth need to be removed. Due to the weakening and loss of bone, dental implants may not be an option in some cases. Implants must be anchored in the bone.

Bulimia and Purging create a different set of problems for oral health. Vomiting brings stomach acids into the mouth. The acids belong in the stomach, where they break down food so it can be digested. When these destructive acids enter the mouth, they cause corrosive damage to the enamel that covers the teeth. Erosion of tooth enamel often results in darkening of the teeth, changes in the shape and the length of the teeth, sensitivity, and loss of the tooth or teeth. In particular the edges of the teeth will become quite thin and chip or break.

It is important to remember that tooth enamel cannot be replaced. Unless aggressive dental treatment is sought to provide other means of protecting the teeth, those affected teeth will be lost.

The steps that can be taken in order to mitigate the damage from stomach acid are somewhat counterintuitive. Most of us assume that stomach acid should be removed from the mouth with immediate brushing. This is not the best response; brushing will add abrasion of the enamel to the damage from the stomach acid. Instead, rinse your mouth thoroughly with baking soda and water. This will help to mitigate the effects of the stomach acid. Then continue to brush twice daily.

If you have an eating disorder it is important to:

1.      Brush and floss carefully and thoroughly, as recommended by your dentist.

2.      See your dentist regularly.

3.      Discuss your eating disorder with your dentist. She may have other specific instructions. She will also be able to help you discuss appropriate treatments to maintain oral health. 

To your oral health!

What is Tooth Bonding

Bonding a tooth is a process that your dentist may use to repair or restore a tooth, or to enhance the appearance of the tooth. In bonding, a resin that is colored to match a tooth is applied to the tooth and hardened with a special ultraviolet or laser light. The light bonds the resin to the

Bonding is an inexpensive way to repair chipped, broken, dark or decayed teeth. It can also be used as a cosmetic procedure to improve the appearance of teeth by, for example, closing gaps between teeth or lengthening teeth. Bonding typically can be accomplished in a single visit to your dentist’s office. Other alternatives, such as crowns or veneers, must be sent to a lab where they are crafted for a perfect fit. This often requires one to two weeks waiting. Bonding is usually a simple procedure requiring no anesthesia. Sometimes, as when repairs are made to teeth roots to protect them when gums recede.

Teeth that are bonded are not as strong as a natural tooth. The bonding can be damaged by chewing gum, eating ice, or chewing fingernails. How long the bonding lasts is largely dependent upon good dental care and avoiding foods, etc. that could damage the bonding, and the amount of bonding done. The appearance of the bonding can be undermined by stains from coffee, tea or smoking.

Bonding, like any other dental procedure, should be thoroughly discussed with your dentist. You should also understand that bonding seldom lasts as long as crowns, veneers or amalgam fillings. Most dentists find that bonding lasts for about 10 years. Bonding can be maintained or repaired. Dental insurance will pay for bonding to fill a tooth or to protect it. Insurance will not pay for bonding for cosmetic purposes alone.

Bonding is frequently chosen because it is less expensive than other alternatives and because it can be accomplished I less time. Another factor that makes bonding attractive to many patients is the fact that it requires removal of the least tooth enamel.

The next time you need dental work, you might want to discuss bonding with your dentist.

To your beautiful smile! 

Being on Time

No doubt, VMI certainly isn't the school for everyone, however; I think there is a lot to be gleamed for all of us. Adherence to a strict schedule is not only expected, it's mandatory.

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 Timeliness is expected, no excuses. It had never occurred to me that one plans to be late. For those of us who for some reason or another typically have something interfere with their timeliness, VMI simply states, you need to plan to be early and then you should be on time. They state tardiness is a choice not to plan to be on time.

The rigor and learning with intention reminded me very much of dental school: something I would not like to repeat. VMI is proud to take young students and produce citizen soldiers and leaders. Dental school made dentists out of us in 4 years. I was raised with a lot to structure, rules and expectations. I do think this helped better prepare me for the challenges.

As a result of the structure, I may lack patience. Unfortunately, it seems almost standard now to wait in doctor's offices. Trying to respect everyone's time, nobody has anymore than anybody else, we do our best to stay on schedule. Our office tries to reserve plenty of time specifically for our patients' needs. We try to seat our patients and complete their treatment in a timely fashion. We do not intentionally double book appointments. That said, we are human and are not always perfect. Yet we hear constantly from our patients, praise about honoring appointment times.


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