Myant partners with Canadian expert for dentistry PPE innovation

Myant Inc., a world leader in Textile Computing, has announced a partnership with Dr Natalie Archer DDS, a recognized Canadian dental expert, to collaboratively develop a new line of personal protective equipment (PPE) designed to address the extreme risks that dental professionals face as they reopen their practices to serve their communities.

The types of PPE under development include both washable textile masks intended for support staff in dental practices, and washable textile-based respirators that meet NIOSH N95 standards for dental professionals who work in critical proximity to patients.

Risks for dental professionals

Social distancing is one of the basic ways to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, with health officials advising people to maintain distancing of two metres with others. With governments progressively reopening their economies and allowing businesses to begin serving their communities again, the challenge of maintaining two metre distancing will become a potential source of danger for both front-line workers and for those that they serve.

“This is especially true for people working in the dental industry whose work environment is literally at the potential source of infection: the mouths and noses of their patients,” Myant said in an article on its website. “An analysis conducted by Visual Capitalist, leveraging data from the Occupational Information Network, suggests that dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and dental administrative staff are among the professions and support staff at the highest risk of exposure to coronavirus. Their work requires close proximity / physical contact with others, and they are routinely exposed to potential sources of infectious diseases.”

“The public health risk is magnified when you consider the volume of patients coming in and out of a dental practice,” Myant adds. “Consider the contact tracing challenge if a single asymptomatic dental hygienist tests positive for COVID-19. That dental hygienist may work in a practice with two dentists, a billing coordinator, a receptionist, and perhaps three other dental hygienists who each see 100 patients a week (with each patient coming with a loved one in the waiting room). It is clear that dental professionals will need to be among the most vigilant in our communities when it comes to the adoption of effective PPE in order to protect themselves and society from a potential second-wave of the virus.”

Partnership to drive innovation in dental PPE

Recognizing this challenge Myant, the textile innovator that pivoted to innovation in PPE as a response to COVID-19, has partnered with one of Canada’s pre-eminent dental experts to design a line of PPE geared specifically to meet the challenges that dentists, other dental professionals and their staff will face, in the Post-COVID normal. Dr. Natalie Archer DDS was the youngest dentist ever elected to serve on the Board of the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario and served as the governing body’s Vice President between 2011 and 2012. As a recognized and trusted subject matter expert on dentistry-related topics, she is regularly asked to speak to the public in the Canadian media. Dr. Archer will be working closely with the Myant team, advising on the design and the certification process for a new line of PPE for dental professionals currently under development.

Reflecting on her motivations, Dr. Archer told Myant: “Dental professionals feel a tremendous responsibility to get back to serving their communities, but as both members and servants of the community, we must be safe and responsible for both patients and the people that treat them. Like other dental professionals, I am concerned about maintaining levels of PPE.”

“With disposable PPE I feel there will always be a concern of running out, the expense, uncertain quality, not to mention environmental concerns because of all of the waste. Also, there is a real problem with the discomfort that currently available PPE poses for dental professionals who typically work long shifts and whose work is physical. I am excited to be innovating with the team at Myant to address the real world clinical problems that we are facing now in dentistry by producing PPE that is protective, comfortable, and reusable, which will help all of us stay safe and allow us to do our jobs.”

The PPE for dental professionals will be designed and manufactured at Myant’s Toronto-based, 80,000 square foot facility which has the current capacity to produce 340,000 units of PPE a month. Plans are underway to expand that capacity to produce over one million units per month as communities across Canada and the United States start looking for ways to re-open in a safe and responsible manner.

 “This new development highlights the agility with which Myant is able to operate, rapidly integrating the domain expertise of our partners to unlock the potential behind our core textile design and commercialization capabilities,” said Myant Executive Vice President Ilaria Varoli. “Textiles are everywhere in our daily lives and we look forward to working with partners like Dr. Archer to make life better, easier, and safer for all people.”

Ilaria Varoli, EVP, Myant Inc.(c) Myant.Ilaria Varoli, EVP, Myant Inc.(c) Myant.

Further information

To stay up to date on Myant’s dental PPE developments, join the Myant PPE Dental Mailing List.

For consumers interested in purchasing non-dental PPE, please visit www.myantppe.ca.

For B2B inquiries about Myant’s non-dental PPE, please contact us at .

This content was originally published here.

ADA president shares the story of dentistry, policy on opioids

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Socially Distanced Dentistry – Oral Health Group

Dentistry is a very socially interactive profession. COVID-19 has changed our abilities to interact completely. Never in our wildest dreams would any of us ever predicted to be in this circumstance today. It would be impossible to predict exactly how this will impact dentistry, but one thing we know for sure is that it will change us.

In our world of dentistry, we have several “touch points” throughout the day to interact and care for one another. This is our profession; this is what we thrive on. This is who we are and are proud to be. Today, and certainly not forever, this is all gone. We need to, as integral members of the regulated healthcare professions, rise up and maintain contact through social distance for the sake of our patients, our teams, our businesses and our own mental health. This is critical and it is doable.

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There are several ways in which we may engage in meaningful interaction with one another. Regular contact with our team members is vital to giving our lives purpose and a sense of normalcy. The time on our hands provides us with a wonderful opportunity to be educated as a team, to evaluate our systems and ensure we are following current guidelines. This opportunity is a gift and something we rarely have time for in our busy clinical schedules.

Our websites and social media channels can be ways in which we remain in contact with our patients. Posting information that will help them sustain their oral health at home in the absence of regular care is so important. For instance, April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Teach your patients how to check their mouth at home for the early signs of oral cancer through the “Check Your Mouth” website: checkyourmouth.org. Light heartedness is also a gift we may give at this time. It is not frivolous or foolish to maintain a sense of humour at a time when we feel fearful; it is a necessity.

Keeping in contact with our team members through online meeting platforms such as ZOOM provides us with connection. We must guard our emotional and mental health at this time. We may be unaware as to how self-isolation may be affecting a team member and in particular one who lives alone or is isolating with a partner in a difficult relationship. We must give one another hope and a strong sense of a future.

We also need to consider our patients such as the one who may be experiencing a dental issue. These concerns can be daunting and may just be the tipping point. As a dental professional we often know the exact etiology the moment we glance inside the oral cavity or hear the symptoms described. So how do we maintain social distance and yet alleviate the anxiety our dental patients may be experiencing?

The answer is one word: Teledentistry. Telemedicine and Teledentistry will be the future. COVID-19 has just advanced these two platforms ahead of their anticipated debut. The future is NOW. Case in point, my husband was contacted by his dermatologist and informed that the practice would be closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Permission has been provided to share this story as it had such a profound impact. A request was then received to send in any photos of areas that were of concern via email. He has a history of basal cell carcinoma and was on a six-month recall for ongoing assessments. The photos were captured with TELScope, an intraoral telehealth examination device and accompanying.

Refer to Figure 1 to view one of the photos submitted. A call was set up the next day, the dermatologist had reviewed the images and confirmed that there were no areas he had any concern over. A follow up appointment was scheduled a few months later when predictably the COVID-19 pandemic would have resolved. The result: my husband’s concerns were diminished and put to rest and he felt connectivity with the practice. There also is the strong result of sustaining a passive revenue stream amidst this crisis.

Fig. 1

Dentistry is in the same situation. Do we sit by and allow dental practices to slowly dissolve or do we look for innovative ways with the use of advances in technology to sustain ourselves? Do we subject our dental patients to overcrowded emergency treatment rooms? Do we continue to overburden frontline medical healthcare professionals with oral health issues that dentistry is better equipped to handle? The question is real, and the answer is your choice.

Teledentistry is the practice of dentistry and dental care at a distance. Dentists who practice within the platform of Teledentistry must adhere to the same Standards of Practice and the professional, legal and ethical obligations that apply to oral health care. The storage of patient information must continue to possess privacy and security settings in accordance with the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004. Strong encryption must be used where personal health information is stored and/or transmitted.

Our patients don’t understand the different between essential and non-essential dentistry. An area of pain or the finding of an abnormal oral lesion can be very stressful to our patients. Figures 2 and 3 were obtained using Throat Scope, an all-in-one illuminated tongue depressor as a retraction tool and the TELScope app. The photos provide an example of areas of concern that our dental patients may have in the absence of regular dental care. We understand the nature of this type of complaint and through a visual assessment can make recommendations that will alleviate the anxiety.

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

It is time to move this along through regulations and mitigate the damage that will ensue post Pandemic. A time to be proactive not reactive. A time to pivot before it is too late. A COVID world is a different world for all of us and a post-COVID world will be altogether different again. Dental patients will have heightened fears surrounding infection control and will need to be reassured. Many may prefer to go the route of Teledentistry first before scheduling an appointment that is not a dental emergency.

There are several things I hope we have learned when we all emerge from this. The first is that our basic needs are just that: basic. Our real superheroes in life are not our professional athletes and celebrities; they are our frontline workers that sacrificed in order for us to be as safe as possible and alive today. Beauty is not purchased or added on, it comes from within. Lastly, there is one thing to place at the forefront of all our actions: kindness. Stay well. Stay safe and stay home.

Disclaimer: A registrant is advised to consult with their respective regulatory body as to the legal and ethical considerations for using Teledentistry. Members are to contact their respective dental associations for questions/clarification regarding procedure codes under their Suggested Fee Guide.

About the Author

Jo-Anne Jones, President, RDH Connection Inc. is a successful entrepreneur and international, award winning speaker. Jo-Anne has been selected as one of DPR’s Top 25 Women in Dentistry and is a returning 2017 Dentistry Today CE Leader for the 7th consecutive year. Jo-Anne is president of an educational and clinical training company and a sought after writer for leading dental journals and publications across the U.S., Canada, and the UK. Her frank and open style of lecturing complemented by the provision of clinical resources has earned many loyal followers. She may be contacted at jjones@jo-annejones.com

This content was originally published here.

Dentists say mandating COVID-19 tests for patients before procedures will ‘shut down’ dentistry

(Creative Commons photo by Allan Foster)

When Gov. Mike Dunleavy and state health officials said elective health care procedures could restart in a phased approach, many of Alaska’s dentists were hoping to take non-emergency patients again.

But they said a state mandate largely prevents that from happening. 

State officials said they want to work with the dentists, but point to federal guidelines that dentists are at very high risk of being exposed to the virus.

Find more stories about coronavirus and the economy in Alaska.

The mandate said patients must have a negative result of a test for the coronavirus within 48 hours of a procedure that generates aerosols — tiny, floating airborne particles that can carry the virus. Aerosols are produced by many dental tools, from drills to the ultrasonic scalers used to remove plaque.

Dr. David Nielson is the president of the Alaska Board of Dental Examiners, which licenses dentists. In a meeting with the state, he told state Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink that it’s a challenge for patients to get test results within 48 hours of an appointment.

“Basically, what that means is, in your view, dentistry is just shut down indefinitely,” Nielson told Zink.

“That’s not true. That’s not what I feel at all,” Zink said.

“Well, that’s what it says to most of us,” Nielson said.

Nielson said dentists can ensure that patients are safe without testing for the virus.

“We do believe that waiting for the availability of testing to ramp up to the levels that would be necessary will jeopardize the oral health of the public,” he said.  

Nielson also said dentists are already taking steps to practice safely and could start taking more patients if they didn’t have to follow the testing mandate. 

“Based on everything that we’re doing with all our, you know, really, really intense screening protocols and all the different PPE requirements and stuff like that, that we’re basically good to go, as long as we do all of the things that we’ve already recommended,” he said.

Zink said Alaska is among the first states to reopen non-urgent health care. She says the state’s testing capacity is increasing, and that other groups affected by the mandate are working to have patients tested. 

“We are seeing numerous groups, including surgeons, stand up ways to be able to get testing available,” she said. 

The state mandate is less restrictive than what’s currently recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC said all non-urgent dental appointments should be postponed. The CDC is revising the recommendation, but it’s not clear when there will be new recommendations. 

The dental board would like to replace the mandate with guidelines that require that every patient be screened, including answering questions about their travel, symptoms and contacts before an appointment, as well as to be checked for whether they have a fever before an appointment. 

Zink noted a problem with relying on screening. 

“It’s increasingly challenging to identify COVID patients,” she said. “This is an incredibly sneaky disease that appears to be most contagious in the presymptomatic or early symptomatic people with symptoms that can look almost like anything else.”

The draft framework proposed by the dental board also differs from CDC recommendations on personal protective equipment. The CDC recommends both an N95 respirator and either goggles or a full face shield. The framework said that if goggles or face shields aren’t available, dentists should understand there is a higher risk for infection and should use their professional judgment. 

Dentists working to start seeing more patients say they already take precautions against infectious diseases. 

Dr. Paul Anderson of Timbercrest Dental in Delta Junction said it would be challenging to have timely tests done for patients who live far from an urban center. 

Anderson said dentists have been working to prevent the spread of infectious diseases since at least HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. 

“We’ve been following these protocols, and it just seems odd to me that all of a sudden the government feels that it’s necessary to add all of these additional regulations,” he said. 

Anderson said screening patients — including checking their temperatures — is a significant safety measure dentists can take.

Zink said the state is open to working with the dental board to revise the mandate, or to issue a new mandate specific to dentistry. It’s not clear if the issue can be resolved before Monday, when the state will begin allowing elective procedures under the mandate. 

This content was originally published here.

‘A medical necessity:’ With dentistry services limited during pandemic, at-home preventive care is key

MILWAUKEE — While dentists may be closed for preventive care, don’t put your toothbrushes down. Doctors say keeping your oral health is more important than ever for adults and children alike.

The spread of the coronavirus put an abrupt stop to our normal routine. Preventive visits to dentist offices were delayed, but unfortunately, that’s also when a lot of problems are detected.

Dr. Kevin Donly

“We’ve only been able to provide emergency care,” Dr. Kevin Donly, president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, said. “Oral health is actually a medical necessity.”

Because oral health is critical to overall health, Donly maintaining your child’s oral care routine is essential to preventing dental emergencies during the pandemic. Those emergencies are categorized in three ways.

“Trauma, where a kid bumps their tooth, falls down and cracks their tooth,” Donly said. “Second, infection. We’ve seen kids with facial cellulitis, this can be detrimental to their overall health, we really need to see those kids right away.

“The other one is pain. Sometimes they have really deep cavities that cause a lot of pain and they need to see the pediatric dentist right away and get care.”

Donly says with some offices reopening soon, new protocols will be taken to ensure everyone’s safety.

“First of all you, will be contacted a day before your appointment for a prescreening call,” said Donly. “They will ask about a child’s health, are they feeling well? Are they running a fever?”

There will be spaces in waiting rooms due to social distancing, and dental assistants, hygienists and dentists will all be wearing gowns, masks and face shields, Donly said.

Prevention is key with regular cleanings delayed. When it comes to prevention, Donly recommends brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste a couple of times a day, try to keep sugary drinks and snacks away, and check your kids’ teeth on a daily basis.

This content was originally published here.

Lorain County Health & Dentistry celebrates 5-year anniversary of optometry service

Lorain County Health & Dentistry is celebrating the five-year anniversary of its optometry service.

The health center opened its first vision clinic in October 2013 at 1205 Broadway in Lorain, and has since expanded services, adding a second site at 260 S. Main in Oberlin, according to a news release.

Since opening, Health & Dentistry has logged more than 20,000 optometry visits, the release said.

“The decision to open a vision clinic five years ago, was based on our patients’ input, and an understanding of local need,” Stephanie Wiersma, CEO of the Lorain County Health & Dentistry, said in the release. “Our uninsured patients, in particular, had difficulty finding an affordable optometrist and affordable prescription eye glasses. We decided we could do something about that.”

Effective planning as well as support from Lorain Lions, Lions Clubs of Ohio District 13B and Lions International made the optometry service possible, the release said.

A service organization committed to protecting sight and preventing blindness, Lions Clubs raised significant funds to enable Health & Dentistry to purchase computerized and other eye testing equipment, the release said.

Optometry services available at the two Health & Dentistry vision clinics include comprehensive eye exams, diabetic eye testing, glaucoma screening and eye glass prescription and dispensing, according to the release.

Lorain County Health & Dentistry is a Federally Qualified Health Center designated by the Health Resources & Services Administration, and the largest safety-net provider of primary and preventive health care in Lorain County. It is one of more than 50 Federally Qualified Health Center organizations in Ohio, and the only one in Lorain County, according to the release.

November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, and diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of blindness and loss of vision, according to the release. Protecting eyesight and preventing eye disease is possible with regular check-ups. 

To schedule an eye exam or other health service, call 440-240-1655.

This content was originally published here.

Septic Tank Teeth (abridged) – International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine

Root canals are dead bodies (and, as such, should be buried six feet below Earth’s surface)!

By R.S. Carlson, DDS

Let us get clear about the issue, really.

Some will argue that the “gangrene of the tooth” is limited to the soft tissue within the tooth’s pulp chamber, gangrenous pulpitis; that the hard exoskeleton of the dental organ—Odonton—has no relationship to being alive, and, therefore, could not be considered gangrenous.

But there is a corpse in the attic.

Goldman DDS, et al, does this in his attacks regarding the safety of “gangrene of the dental organ—the human tooth” without a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of tissue physiology, biology, chemo-electro-magnetic homeostasis, and the compelling dependent interrelationship of these specific layers of the dental organ (tooth and supporting structures including proximal alveolar bone of its jaw segment) starting from the inward to the outward with:

The following schematic diagrams will illustrate the fundamentals of fluid flow to the outside and begin to transmit that the circulatory system is essential for the oral-dental health of the human being.

The migration of electrolytes—the flow of all kinds of fluids from deeper tissues within—beginning with the apical alveolar bone and intimately connected radicular bone outward through all the tissue layers previously mentioned above, 2) through 8), is well documented. Lamaras, Leonora, and Steinmann have documented this beyond argument. One may offer without evidence to the contrary that “teeth sweat,” just as the human skin sweats, eyes tear, toxic gas vapors come out of the lungs, and waste products from metabolism are excreted in the form of gas, urine, and fecal matter.

Everything from the inside of the human body flows to the outside for life to live. This is true with the Odontons, also. Gangrene in a little fingertip includes the nail. Gangrene of the fingertip bone and soft tissue, including the nail, is treated by surgical resection of the entire fingertip, including the nail. The hand surgeon does not reattach the nail to the dead bone and soft tissue. What we do in dental surgery is reattach the nail to a little fingertip by doing a root canal.

It is a grave misperception, pardon the pun, to be informed that a root canal (root cadaver) is a normal and healthy way to retain a “devital tooth”—dead tooth. In an early January 1968 morning lecture at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, we students were told to “never refer to a gangrenous tooth as being dead. Say it is ‘devital.’ You’ll get better acceptance of root canal therapy in your dental practice.”

How true this was – until I began to question the practice of root canal therapy myself. After a year of intense investigation into the other side of the issue we so blithely accepted as students, I concluded in 1981 that this practice was physiologically and biologically unacceptable.

So what do I suggest instead of root canal therapy in my practice to save the dental organ, the tooth? Simply, extract or remove dead and dying tissues form the mouth and jaws. “If it is dead, it should be out of your head!

Logic will offer that dentistry is the only profession that advocates the practice of leaving gangrenous tissue in the human body. The definition of gangrene is: the death of tissue due to loss of blood supply. The reason a tooth dies is due to lack of blood supply.

When the tooth dies, it is a dead body, or organ, in one’s mouth. No amount of medication or scrapping inside the tooth will make it sterile or save it. Asks your doctor about this: Ask, “After you treat me, will the root canal tooth be sterile and will it remain so?” It is like being half alive or half pregnant. What can your dentist say?: “Oh, it’s half sterile”? It is or it isn’t!

When there is gangrene in any part of the body, the good surgeon will remove that from your main body. If he does not and knew about it, he is subject to legal action, for this is ethically and morally bad practice.

But we dentists get a bye. “Well,” we say, “it is only a tooth, and how could that hurt you?” Ask the many who have suffered that route of treatment. They will tell you.
When an animal dies or when we die, where do we put the body? We put it into the ground for sanitation purposes, for civilized society demands this. And this is where all dead teeth should be put, too.

The vibrations of a root cadaver are those of a dead human body. The chemicals given off by dead bodies are cadaverine and putracene, to name but two, and many kinds of bacteria, viruses, molds, and fungi. These leach out of the continuously decaying, decomposing, tooth structure into your blood stream. We knew this 100 years ago, and microbiologists and other scientists are now revisiting this truth – that every part of your body is connected to every other part; 80 trillion cells, all connected.

So where should you put your root canal teeth?

Most certainly in the ground, but only after you separate your human body from the dead body in your mouth, your root cadavers. These you see here are routine pictures of dead teeth:

Dead RC tooth with black gangrene

This dead tooth shows abscess and black.

Two RC teeth are black with abscess.

RC teeth with moth eaten root

Black RC tooth with abscess attached

RC with absecss attached to root

Marble bone about root tips of RCs abscess

Shadows about root tips are abscess

The pathological tissues such as granuloma, cysts, abscesses, marked acute/chronic inflammation, and necrotic bone, to name a few, are the drainage field of the septic tooth. Nature attempts to prevent toxic dissemination throughout the full biome thus insuring its health, hopefully.

A septic tank analogy is valid here in that the dead tooth or dental implant is a reservoir for corrupt matter and their liquids and gases, leaking out into the underlying bone, lymphatic, blood vascular, neurological tissues—apical tissues.

After removal of a gangrenous tooth, a root canal tooth or implant—both septic conditions, what should you do?

Replace the missing tooth, if you can.

Many dental doctors today will advise that you should do a dental implant or traditional fixed bridge to replace your missing tooth. They have no alternatives to avoid leaving you with whittled down teeth looking like pegs or a very invasive, potentially damaging bone/jaw procedure of implant surgery where a hole is drilled into your bone through your gums and a screw post inserted. After 4 to 6 months of healing, if all goes well, the screw post will be topped off with a crown of some kind.

My advice is to avoid implants, flippers, or traditional bridges that require the mutilation of the support teeth. Focus on replacement with the Carlson Bridge® “Winged Pontic” tooth replacement system. In this regard, we simply attach a prefabricated tooth, a “Winged Pontic,” to the good support teeth on either side of the space.

To learn more about some of the problems associated with dental implants, see Dr. Carlson’s article “Actinomycotic Oral Infection (Modern Dental Implants and Root Canals)” in the Biological Dentistry Journal.

Dr. RS Carlson graduated from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in 1969 and completed Post Graduate training in pediatric dentistry with Strong-Carter Dental Clinic, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1970—71. He is a founder of Kokua Kalihi Valley Dental Clinic in 1973 and volunteered from 1973 to 1980, serving low-income families and immigrant populations from the South Pacific Islands and Asia. He has maintained a private practice in Honolulu since 1971, emphasizing Bio-Logical Dentistry. He can be reached at (808) 735-0282, ddscarlson@hawaiiantel.net or carlsonbiologicaldentistry.com. Disclosure: Dr. Carlson is the inventor of the Carlson Bridge® “Winged Pontic” tooth replacement system, a noninvasive approach to replacing missing teeth, with patents issued in November 1999 and October 2001.

This content was originally published here.

How to get bargain dentistry and a vacation to boot | The Seattle Times

“Do you want numbing gel?” the dental technician asked me as she prepared to plunge into my mouth.

In the entire history of dentistry, from caveman days to now, who has ever said no to more painkiller? Smear that gel around like spackle! She did. And then ground and scraped. And scraped and ground, for a full hour and a half.

Ninety minutes later, I was writhing in a different kind of pain. The office assistant handed me a bill for $930. That was $900 for root planing and $30 for the numbing gel. I had to bite my gel-numbed tongue to avoid asking why they stopped there. “Sir, would you prefer we do this while you lie on the floor or would you prefer the Chair Package?” “Care for our Adequate Lighting Option?”

Worse: This was just the beginning. The dentist said I needed at least four crowns — at about $1,500 each. While that’s about the average cost of crowns around our home in Maryland, according to our insurer, that would probably be about $5,000 more than our insurance would cover.

I was moaning about this to my brother-in-law who lives in Norway, and he said people there fly to Hungary for good, affordable dentistry. A little Googling about dental tourism had me sold. The savings from crossing the border can appear remarkable. Crowns that cost $1,500 would run just $300 to $600 apiece in Mexico or Costa Rica, I found. No wonder medical and dental tourism is a booming business. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis says Americans spent $2.6 billion on medical and dental tourism in 2018. That’s up from just $757 million in 2008. While there are no reliable counts of how many people leave the U.S. for discount foreign dentistry, officials in Costa Rica, a hub for dental tourism, estimate that tourists spent more than $200 million on implants, crowns, veneers and other tooth care there in 2017.

Of course, a cheap but bad dentist is no bargain. Traveling to a foreign country for discount dentistry certainly has additional hassles and risks. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that local standards of facilities and training may be lower than in the U.S. and that mistakes in translation or communication can result in mistreatment. Also of concern for anyone having major work done: Flying shortly after any kind of surgery heightens the risk of deadly blood clots.

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But putting off needed dental care also has risks. So, I was determined to try it.

First, to find that good and affordable overseas dentist. I opted for Costa Rica because I’d never been there, it had a good reputation for dental tourism, and I’d heard it was a great place to vacation. Why not offset the pain with a little pleasure? Googling for Costa Rican dentists returns almost 1.8 million results. To narrow my choices, I used a facilitator, or broker. I figured that was safer, since the dentists are beholden to him for repeat business.

While it’s difficult to suss out legitimate online reviews of anything anymore, I chose a broker who seemed to get real-sounding praise on sites like TripAdvisor. I sent him my X-rays and my American dentist’s treatment proposal. He distributed those to several Costa Rican dentists, who sent back bids. I chose one who passed my wife’s online investigation. The facilitator also handled travel, arranging for a hotel ($75 a night), airport pickup and transportation to the dentist’s office. He didn’t charge me for this service. He collects commissions from the dentist and hotel.

I arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica, on a Tuesday, and the next day a driver whisked me to the clinic, where I was reassured. I saw state-of-the-art equipment and learned that several of the dentists had trained at American dental schools. My dentist had done some training at Baylor College of Dentistry in Texas, now Texas A&M College of Dentistry. The staff was fluent in English.

After his examination ($80), the Costa Rican dentist announced he thought I needed five crowns. (I really should have flossed more.) The cost: $500 each. I said yes.

At home, a wise person would probably spread out this kind of ordeal. But the Costa Rican dentist was eager to get everything done right away, and my time was limited. So, for the next 6 1/2 hours they ground and they pierced and they grated and they chipped. That’s a lot of Novocain. And the conversation among staffers was in rapid Spanish, which Americans who don’t speak the language might find disconcerting.

It would take a few days to make the crowns, so my wife and I took a short flight to the Drake Bay area, where we snorkeled, swam and poked around the mangroves. My mouth was sore for about a day, but ibuprofen and a few refreshing “leche de pantera” nonalcoholic cocktails took care of that.

When I returned to San Jose for the final fitting, an interesting thing happened. One crown did not sit perfectly. The dentist explained that he could grind it down, but the best practice was to cast a new one. That, however, would take time, and he knew my schedule was tight. I appreciated his honesty, and it was nice to be given a choice. I opted to wait for the new crown, which he glued on the night before my flight home. It fit perfectly.

Total dental bill: $2,580, including anesthetics. Because our dental plan is a Preferred Provider Organization, Aetna says we can be reimbursed for some of this expense, but it is still working on that.

My wife’s and my airfare and a week in a San Jose hotel ran about $1,000. Throw in $500 for meals and incidentals, and the total cost of the dental trip/vacation came in under $4,100. People who live close to Mexico and can drive across the border to dental centers such as Los Algodones would have much lower costs.

That math shows that dental tourism for people who live far from the Mexican border makes economic sense only if you require significant expensive dentistry, like crowns, implants or veneers, costing more than about $5,000 in the U.S. But in return for the savings — and the cheap tropical vacation — you have to be comfortable traveling in a foreign country and willing to accept a little extra risk.

Generally, your local dentist will repair a loose crown he or she installed at no charge in the first year or two. If something goes wrong with my Costa Rican crowns, I’ll probably have to pay a local dentist about what it cost to do a crown to take care of that. But after more than six months, I’ve had no complaints.

I can only say that most guests at my San Jose hotel were there for the dentistry. Most were return customers. They had beautiful smiles.

And nice tans.

Kim Clark contributed to this report.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Visit Kaiser Health News at www.khn.org

This content was originally published here.

Support Birmingham at Magic City Dentistry’s food drive in December for a chance to win big

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Donate non-perishable items at the Vulcan statue at Magic City Dentistry for a chance to win big! Photo via Nathan Watson for BhamNow

Throughout December, Magic City Dentistry is hosting a food drive to support Alabamians through Community Food Bank of Central Alabama. Read on to see how you can win big while supporting your community.

Win Big By Supporting Alabamians

Magic City Dentistry
Next time you visit Magic City Dentistry, you might see Saban or another one of Bham’s dogs hanging out! Photo via Magic City Dentistry

“When we were developing this practice, we knew that we wanted to connect to this community that we love.  We are always looking for ways to do that.  Donating food during this time of year is a no brainer, is easy, and makes you feel good!”

Kristye Dixon, Practice Manager

If you’ve been here for a while, you know that Birmingham is essentially a small-town community in a big-city environment.

Being part of a small town means looking out for your neighbor, especially during the holiday season. So, Magic City Dentistry is collecting cans, dried food, and other non-perishable items to donate to the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama.

From now until December 31, bring in any nonperishable food item to their office at 2117 1st Avenue North, Birmingham, Alabama 35203

When you donate an item to the food drive, you will be entered to win in a drawing held on January 6th.  The winner will get to choose between either a Zoom In-office teeth whitening OR a teeth cleaning and check up!

Community Food Bank of Central Alabama

Food Bank
Donations to the Community Food Bank help kids just like these have full bellies. Photo via Community Food Bank of Central Alabama

Helping out your fellow Alabamians is as simple as picking up an extra can or two when you go grocery shopping. By supporting the Community Food Bank, you’re helping thousands of Alabamians get the food they need.

The Community Food Bank supplies millions of meals each year by donating to 230 food pantries, shelters and children’s programs. These donations serve 60,000-80,000 Alabamians each month.

What Should I Bring?

You can help cover Vulcan in cans by donating to Magic City Dentistry in December. Photo via Nathan Watson for BhamNow

Since high-protein foods help families create filling meals, seeking quality canned foods is better than just grabbing a random can from the shelf. But if you feel lost in the grocery store (like me), here’s a handy list of high-quality canned foods to bring to a drive:

  • Tuna, salmon, chicken and other meats
  • Beans
  • Soups and stews
  • Canned chili
  • Low-sodium vegetables
  • Pasta or rice
  • Canned or dried fruit
  • Cereal, oatmeal, or grits

Want to support the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama, but can’t make it out to Magic City Dentistry? Donate online.

Cover Vulcan in Canned Food

Sonia Summer’s design for Vulcans on Parade, displayed at Magic City Dentistry. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now.

When you walk into Magic City Dentistry, Sonia Summer’s design for Vulcans on Parade is the first thing you’ll notice.

During the food drive, all donations will be stored around Vulcan. Although there is a lot of space, how incredible would it be to completely cover Vulcan with donated food?

Address: 2117 1st Avenue North, Birmingham, Alabama 35203

So, next time you visit the grocery store, consider picking up an extra can or two. Then, bring them to Magic City Dentistry and help cover Vulcan. By donating to the food drive, you can win a Zoom teeth whitening or a teeth cleaning and checkup! Your donation will help an Alabama family stay full during the Holiday season.

Be sure to snap a pic with as you cover Magic City Dentistry’s Vulcan with canned food and tag @bhamnow!

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This content was originally published here.