Expert Interview: Dr. Douglas Young

A few weeks ago we interviewed Dr. Jennifer Salzar about the importance of dental health with our children, but it’s important to lead by example, right? That’s why we’re talking with Dr. Douglas Young, professor of dental practice at the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, about how to keep our mouths healthy and our teeth pearly white.

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Is every 6 months still the standard for visiting the dentist?

Unfortunately, many people base their visits to the dentist on what insurance will pay for. For a healthy patient, every six months is a reasonable minimum. However, many people misunderstand the difference between a cleaning schedule for periodontal disease (gum disease) versus a schedule for caries disease (cavities). These are two different diseases requiring two different treatment intervals. Based on current science, the recommended time between dental visits should be based on a patient’s future risk of disease, whether that be periodontal or caries disease. In other words, someone with active disease would need to be seen more frequently than a healthy person.

I’ve heard that poor dental care can increase your chances for diabetes, is this true?

Yes, this is true. There are many studies showing relationships between gum disease (periodontal disease) and systemic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, etc. Having a healthy mouth will improve your overall body health.

How do you feel about at home whitening kits? Are they safe? Can they be overused?

Home whitening kits are safe for the teeth; however one side effect of these kits is cold sensitivity. At home whitening kits can definitely be overused, and often are. Teeth will only get so white and we’re seeing patients that convince themselves they need whiter and whiter teeth. Some people call these patients “bleach-aholics.”

Is an electric toothbrush a luxury or a necessity in your opinion?

An electric toothbrush is not a necessity; however, it should be a viable option for patients to choose from because some studies have shown more thorough plaque removal with electric toothbrushing compared to manual brushing.

What are some common dental mistakes that people make?

A common dental mistake people make is only going to the dentist when they’re in pain or have a problem. Prevention and overall health is a more cost-effective strategy.

What types of food can cause the most damage to your teeth?

Acidic foods can severally damage tooth structure. In fact, a current trend in dentistry is to carefully check saliva and its ability to neutralize acid (there are products available now to help with neutralizing acid as well). Unfortunately even “good” foods (such as vegetables and fruit) can be acidic. The best advice is to eat a healthy diet and afterwards rinse the mouth or use a neutralizing agent recommended by your dentist or hygienist.
Examples of bad foods include sodas, coffee and even sport drinks. Sour candies are also very bad for teeth. Good foods include milk and cheddar cheese.

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How do you lead by example with your dental care?

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