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How to Become Dentally Self Sufficient


Simple, Easy Techniques to keep you out of the dental office
.                  December, 2009


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Money by the Mouthful by Dr. Robert O. Nara
by Dr. Robert O. Nara







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New Solutions to Old Problems

Dominic Bosco / Prevention Magazine

Drilling may be on the way out
-at least out of your family's life-
if you heed the words of these dentists


PREVENTION has been talking to some dentists, and we have some good news and some bad news. We're going to give you the good news first.

The terror of the dentist's office, that buzzing nemesis that sends a chill through your very marrow even before it actually starts making its way there in person - the dentist's drill - may soon be little more than a relic. Whereas the fearful drill is now actually a part of the dentist's chair itself, in years to come the dentist may have to roll the monster out of the closet and wipe the dust off before putting it to occasional use.

 Sound like a PREVENTION editor's typewriter dream? (We don't smoke pipes around here.) Actually, the fact that yopu could think of such a thing as a dream bears out what one of the dentists we talked to said. Robert O. Nara, D.D.S., from Houghton, Michigan,* told us, "People almost universally believe the untruth that dental disease is inevitable. The dental profession itself views disease as something to be supressed but not effectively prevented." And when Dr. Nara says prevention, he's not talking about the TV commercial's brand of prevention.

 "On TV you see this kid coming home from the dentist's office bragging that he only had one cavity this time. Then the commercial recommends that you see your dentist twice a year. Well, figure it out: If the kid has 'only' one cavity at every checkup, and he goes twice a year from age six to 21, by the time he's 21 he'll have had 32 teeth filled! That's prevention?

 That's not preventing anything. It's just superficially controlling it a bit," he maintains.

O.K., so prevention is something you expect to be talked about in this magazine. Preventing dental disease is, of course, the sure way of keeping the drill out of your mouth. But there's more good news: "Doctors, dentists and other people have no trouble understanding other physical healing processes. Broken bones knit, cut tissues heal, hair and fingernails grow back after being cut. The body restores itself naturally. Why can't the sae thing happen with teeth?

That's quite a question and Dr. Nara wouldn't have asked it unless he had a good answer. Apparently, the same thing can happen to teeth.


How Does A Tooth Heal?


Dr. Nara told us just how much healing could be expected from a tooth: "It ranges from some little pinpoint cavities here and there all the way to a tooth that's rotted right off at the gum line, you're not going to grow a whole new crown on it. The little ones will heal, remineralize up to about two millimeters deep. What will happen in a tooth that is severely decayed is that the stump will firm up. Instead of being soft and mushy, it develops a leathery consistency. A healed tooth will remain resistant to decay as long as the oral conditions are beneficial."

Erling Johansen, D.M.D., Ph.D., a dental researcher at the University of Rochester, also told PREVENTION that teeth can heal themselves. "The extent of remineralization depends on the location of the cavity. If the cavity is in an area where the saliva has access to it - and if you have sufficient saliva - that cavity can be hardened. The cavity won't progress any further. If the person decides he or she wants it filled for aesthetic reasons, you can just touch it up a bit. The drilling is much simpler, then."

Well, that's the good news: Your trips to the dentist don't have to make you feel that enough oil to solve the energy crisis has been discovered somewhere in your jaw. But we did say there was some bad news, too. Here it is: There's no miraculous treatment or pill newly discovered that's going to prevent dental disease that's already there. There's no magic here - other than the magic of your body's natural healing powers.

Fortunately, there's more good news than bad. After we got the good news and the bad news from the dentists we talked to, we didn't let them get off that easy. we asked them how we could all make that good news part of our dental future.



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