Bacteria: The bad, the gross and the preventable

Last time we talked about bad bacteria in our mouths. Let’s talk about that a little more.

We all have bacteria in our mouths some are good and some are bad. We begin to have dental problems when we allow the bad bacteria to get out of control.

Bad bacteria are the cause of all the dental conditions you never want to hear coming out of your dentist’s mouth. Plaque, calculus, gingivitis, gum disease (periodontitis), cavities, pulpitis (irritation of the area where the blood vessels and nerves of the tooth are located), infection, or abscess. These conditions are treatable, but they are also PREVENTABLE.

I know all of these conditions make you think Ugggggghhhhh, because they sound gross or painful, and that is because they are gross and can be very painful. But just think, you can stop this from ever happening  by brushing twice daily, flossing once a day and using the right mouthwash.

Get more tips for great oral care from our friends at Colgate.

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Why come to the dentist office? We’ll tell you.

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We have been introducing you to our dentists and now we would like to introduce and welcome you to our offices – which are open to anyone seeking dental health.

What does oral health mean? It means limiting or controlling the bad bacteria we all have in our mouths. You – the patient – play the most important role in limiting this bacteria, but we are here to support you in this fight.

There are things we can do in our office that you cannot do at home like:

  • Take X-rays to see what is going on between your teeth
  • Take important bone measurements
  • Diagnose areas that need treatment
  • Fill cavities
  • Perform specialized cleanings

What you can do at home is the most important thing. That means brush two times a day, floss one time daily, and use a mouthwash that kills bacteria and contains fluoride. Most people brush daily but do not floss.

As our dental director, Dr. LaJuan Mountain always says:

“Brushing but not flossing is just like showering, but not washing your armpits. You have to floss to clean in between your teeth because it can be the smelliest part of your mouth if left untouched.”

So it is important that you do your job at home and you see a dentist on a regular basis to allow them to do their job – which is helping you get or keep your dental health.

Meet the staff: Dr. Terrence Walker

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Dr. Terrence Walker joined Family First Health in August 2015 – seeing patients at our George Street and Hanover centers. He remembers exactly the month when it puts it into context that it was around the time he injured his Achilles tendon playing basketball and needed surgery. Since then, he’s hung up his basketball shorts.

He received his Bachelor of Science from Hampton University. He received his Doctorate of Dental Surgery from Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry. After doing a residency in Tennessee, teaching back at his dental school and doing another residency in Connecticut, Walker decided it was time to come home to York.

Walker was born and raised here, going to St. Patrick’s, York Catholic and York Suburban for school. It was at Suburban where he discovered his love of dentistry. A high school teacher told them to choose an occupation, shadow someone and do a report. The teacher suggested they choose something they were strong in – and for Walker that was science and art. So Walker decided to shadow his own dentist – Dr. Charles Stein in East York. From there, he knew he wanted to be a dentist.

His favorite part of being a dentist is interacting with patients. “Everyone’s different,” he said. And he works to “connect with patients as people.” It’s been fun along the way when patients come in and say they know his grandparents or aunt. “It’s cool to see how small the unit is,” he said.

When he’s not working in York or Hanover, Walker loves to travel. Mostly, he goes to Atlanta to see his fiancee (they’re getting married this October). The two met while doing their residencies in Tennessee. They’ll be doing their first big trip together after the wedding, when they head to Aruba for the honeymoon.

He loves comedy – too many comedians to pick, though Chris Tucker and Larry the Cable Guy come to mind (he blames living in the South). When it comes to sports – it’s Penn State football, the Philadelphia Eagles and North Carolina Tar Heels basketball. But he’s a giant Penn State fan.

His favorite food is anything Italian – mainly lasagna and pizza. And then it comes to his favorite dental procedures, he admits it’s got to be the restorative and aesthetic work. There’s just something about seeing the immediate turnaround on a patient’s smile and how that makes them feel.

Meet the staff: Dentist Maria Fletcher

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Maria Fletcher was pretty much destined to become a dentist – a fourth generation one, actually. Third generation female dentist, even.

“It’s in my blood,” she says with a laugh. “But Dad always encouraged us to do what we love. And I fell in love with doing it. I felt like it was my calling.”

Dr. Fletcher moved to York from Chicago, where she was born and raised. It was during her master’s program at Midwestern that she met her now husband. And he’s the one who brought her to York when he started his family medicine residency here at York Hospital.

How she ended up at Family First Health is actually a little bit because of him, too – and Dr. LaJuan Mountain’s mother’s fault. Fletcher’s husband was on rotation with Dr. Mountain’s mother who told him all about Family First Health. From there, she applied and said she came to learn all the great benefits to working here.

Her favorite part of being a dentist is getting to know new people and help them with their smiles. They are, of course, one of the first things you notice about a person.

When she’s not working, Dr. Fletcher and her husband like to visit his family in Dover and visit Rehoboth Beach. Her favorite hobby is geocaching, and says there are always a lot of places around to find it. Her dog, Lana – a half Pomeranian and half Chihuahua mix – often tags along to help find things.

When asked about her favorite things or a random fact about her, Dr. Fletcher could only say she loves it here!

Meet the staff: Alexander McKinley

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We want you to get to know your staff at Family First Health in and out of the doctor’s office. It’s a daunting task, but we’re starting with some of our newer providers.
Meet Alexander McKinley – one of our dentists working in the Hanover and Gettysburg centers.

McKinley is a graduate of the Temple University Dental School Class of 2015 and joined us here at Family First Health after graduation. He’s also recently engaged!

Why did he decide to pursue a career in dentistry? “I wanted to help people achieve their best oral health and alleviate any problems that may arise with their oral conditions,” he said.

And at Family First Health, he believes our “open and welcoming atmosphere” emphasizes “putting the needs and well-being of the patients ahead of profit margins.”

When he’s not here working on your teeth, Dr. McKinley likes to go on hikes, read books, learn new languages – he’s learning Spanish and Mandarin – and cook.

He’s a New York Giants and Philadelphia 76ers fan and when it comes to eating and drinking, his favorites are sriracha and egg sandwiches and unsweetened ice tea.

 

Saving children’s teeth – a team effort

They say it takes a village to raise a child. So why not use a village to help educate parents and children to the importance of oral health?

We already know it’s a problem. Tooth decay is the No. 1 chronic disease facing children in America. Nearly 1 in 4 children between the ages of 2-5 have had tooth decay. And two-thirds will have had a cavity by their teens.

And we know that there’s something you can do – by making a donation as small as $25, you’re getting toothbrushes into the hands of 10 kids. 

But what then? That’s the question that’s been plaguing experts and people invested in children’s dental care. And one that’s honestly been driving me a little bit nuts since I started seeing the work our Kids Against Cavities program does.

You’ve seen the numbers. You’ve been asked to help. But how do we break the cycle and bring about change? Continue reading

Let’s talk facts about children’s dental health

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LaJuan Mountain, our York dental director, was one of three dentists working on 93 children at VIDA Charter School in Gettysburg recently. Kids are screened for problems and notes are sent home with the goal of getting these kids into a dental home with routine, preventative care.

We’ve shown you our numbers – that out of 1,887 York County kids, our Kids Against Cavities staff found 2,351 cavities in 2015.

In our second Pre-K Counts visit of 2016, we screened 27 kids and found 87 cavities. In an hour and a half last week, we screened 93 kids at VIDA Charter School in Gettysburg.

We hope these numbers shock you. And then we ask you to help. With just the donation of $25, you can get 10 kids toothbrushes and toothpaste. 10 kids. Last week, I saw more than 10 kids who straight up told me they did not brush their teeth. Many said they didn’t have time. Maybe they just forget. One third grader told me her sister threw her toothbrush out and her parents hadn’t bought a new one.

They wouldn’t buy her a new toothbrush – something you could get at the dollar store. It’s something that just blows my mind because brushing my teeth twice a day is something my parents have always taught me. Many of the people I’ve talked to about our Kids Against Cavities program agree and are just as flabbergasted. And yet, grateful that it’s something we just grew up doing. We were taught it was important. Continue reading