Are you the type of person who gets excited or nervous before your dentist appointment with Dr. Brunacini, Dr. Karagiorgos, or Dr. Smith? Although it’s completely normal to have a few butterflies before you sit in the exam chair, you should be excited that you’re not sitting in a dental office in 1720–you might not have had any teeth when you left! At FDA, we are committed to patient comfort no matter the century. But what was it like being a patient of dentists 100, 200, or even 300 years ago? Let’s take a look!
1720: Fake Smiles
The 1700’s saw the first professionals trained in the treatment of teeth. However, a combination of disease, high-sugar diets, and very few fresh fruits and vegetables meant most people suffered from slow and painful tooth decay and loss. Because of this, 18th century dentists were focused on tooth extraction and not tooth preservation.
The tools used for extracting teeth were not elegant–and anesthetic technology had yet to be invented. Forceps, pliers, hot coals, and string were all common tools of the dental trade. In fact, specially-trained dentists only serviced the wealthy; middle and lower class folks frequently visited their local blacksmith if they had a toothache.
With tooth loss running rampant, false teeth were extremely common. Ivory and porcelain were popular materials for making a set of false teeth– but nothing could beat genuine human teeth! It was common practice to pay people (especially children and teenagers) for their teeth. Although it seems incredible now, during a time when poverty was common, a penny for an incisor or molar was a tempting offer for many people!
1820: Comfortably Numb
Three important scientific discoveries during the 19th century propelled dentistry towards the science and practice of preserving smiles.
American dentist Horace Wells first applied the anesthetic effects of nitrous oxide in a tooth extraction, leading to more comfortable dental visits and pioneering other anesthetic techniques.
A few states away, Charles Goodyear was experimenting with techniques to make a flexible rubber, which he called Vulcanite. Dentist Thomas W. Evans took Goodyear’s vulcanite and created a rubberized denture–a much more cost effective option compared to ivory or porcelain. Dr. Evans eventually created a set of vulcanite dentures for Mr. Goodyear.
Last but certainly not least, 19th century microbiologist Dr. Willoughby D. Miller was the first dentist to suggest that bacteria in the mouth was to blame for tooth decay. So began the never-ending fight against cavities!
1920: Setting the Standard
The 19th century laid the groundwork for the modern practice of dentistry, and the 20th century continued to build on that foundation.
The use of x-ray technology on teeth affirmed dentistry’s commitment to tooth preservation. Dr. Frederick McKay devoted his dental practice to the study of fluoride’s effects on enamel health–ultimately leading to the fluoridation of city water across the United States.
Dental schools took definite shape in the 20th century; the American Dental Association started the practice of formal licensure for clinics and practice; modern dental tools such as tarter scrapers and removers were invented and standardized across the practice.
2020: Helping Hands
As you can see, the 21st century is the best place to be when it comes to dental care. The largest shift from the 20th to the 21st century was the introduction of dental hygienists as integral members of the dental practice.
We are grateful for our incredible team of hygienists, they help us provide you with the best oral health care. We’re also happy that all of our dentists are kind, talented, and trained medical professionals–not blacksmiths with pliers and a spare moment! We pride ourselves on providing not just great dentistry, but compassionate and stress-free oral health care!
We look forward to seeing you at your next 21st century dentist appointment. Be sure to read through our COVID Protocol page to make sure that you’re prepared for your appointment!
Fluoride and flavors and flip-caps oh my! If you’re staring down the selection of toothpastes and wishing there was a Yellow Brick Road leading to the perfect one, you’re not alone. Luckily, your friends at Falmouth Dental Arts are here to help!
First and foremost, as you’re examining the tube of toothpaste, keep your eye out for two key details: the ADA seal of approval and fluoride content. The American Dental Association tests the safety and effectiveness of toothpastes on the market, and gives its seal to those pastes which pass the test with flying colors. Varieties without the ADA seal either have not been tested, or have not passed the ADA tests. Either way, choosing a product without the seal is a gamble for your teeth. Take the safe bet, and look for the ADA seal.
Most toothpastes contain fluoride, a chemical compound with a variety of uses. In the dental realm, fluoride protects your teeth from decay by reinforcing your enamel. Fluoride has been used as an active ingredient in toothpaste for over a century, and has been introduced into a majority of city water supplies to improve oral health in the community. In recent years, fluoride has become a bit of a hot topic because it is toxic when ingested in large doses. Additionally, high levels of fluoride can lead to fluorosis: a discoloring of the teeth. However, because over-the-counter pastes contain such trace amounts of fluoride that fluorosis and toxicity are not of concern, Falmouth Dental Arts recommends fluoridated toothpastes.
Dr. Karagiorgos states that “adding fluoride to our water supply has been statistically significant to help to improve oral health in at-risk communities. However, at Falmouth Dental Arts, we believe in a patient’s freedom to choose what goes into their bodies, and whether fluoride is right for them as an individual.”
“Proper oral health maintenance including brushing with any sort of paste, is the best method of reducing the risk of dental decay. Fluoride is not a nutrient, and our bodies have no need for it metabolically. It is very good at doing is killing the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Using it appropriately, in small topical doses such as those found in ADA approved toothpastes and mouthwashes can help to prevent decay, and also to reverse small amounts of acid damage. Acid damage can occur from cavity causing bacteria, acid erosion from reflux or consuming acidic foods.”
Beyond the ADA seal and fluoride content, your selection of toothpaste is entirely up to you! As you narrow down your choice, here are a few additional factors to consider:
1. Sensitivity: most toothpaste brands have a line specifically designed to address tooth and gum sensitivity. Some brands are entirely devoted to helping soothe sensitive teeth. Either way, most over-the-counter sensitivity pastes deliver on their promises to pacify any pain. If your sensitive teeth aren’t responding to an OTC sensitive-specific paste, talk to Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos about prescription strength options.
2. Whitening: Who doesn’t want a brighter, whiter smile? Many toothpastes claiming to possess whitening powers typically do address basic surface stains. However, the different ingredients in whitening toothpastes can cause dental sensitivity over time. Additionally, any sort of abrasive ingredient advertised to whiten your teeth (such as activated charcoal, natural exfoliants, or microbeads) can erode your tooth enamel. Avoid abrasive materials in your toothpaste, and always keep smart brushing techniques in mind. If you’re looking for more intensive whitening, talk to Dr. Brunacini about in-office and at-home options at your next appointment!
3. Options for Kids: For brand new brushers, look for a training toothpaste which does not contain fluoride. When your child understands that toothpaste should be spit out and not swallowed, you can make the switch to a fluoride paste. Fun toothpaste flavors can be helpful if you’re trying to make brushing fun–which goes for children and adults alike!
At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do for your teeth is to brush them properly twice a day! What you use to brush helps or hurts your effectiveness as a brusher, so you do want to choose your tools and pastes with care. Look for a toothpaste stamped with the American Dental Association’s seal of approval. Feel free to choose a toothpaste with a fun flavor and ingredients to address sensitivity or whitening concerns–just avoid any ingredients that might erode your tooth enamel.
If you have questions about proper brushing techniques, or want to have Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos put their stamp of approval on your toothpaste–just ask them at your next dental exam and cleaning! If you have any questions, or to schedule your appointment, please call our office at 207.781.5900
If you’re wondering how to introduce the concept of the dentist and oral hygiene to your kids, a smile-centric storytime may be the perfect answer! The staff at Falmouth Dental Arts has you covered with this list of their five favorite books to help inspire children to healthy dental habits.
1. The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss is a storytime standby and with good reason! His jaunty rhymes and imaginative illustrations make every book an engaging adventure for audiences. The Tooth Book is no exception, as we tour the world, searching high and low, observing that EVERYONE has teeth! Readers learn how fun, different, and useful everyone’s teeth are–from walruses to acrobats. We also see different dental issues that we may encounter when we neglect our teeth. Dr. Seuss encourages his readers to take special care of their smile!
2. Sesame Street: Ready, Set, Brush!
Pull tabs and pop ups make this cardboard classic an extra-interactive read for kiddos. Simple rhymes and colorful illustrations of the familiar cast of Sesame Street characters will keep young audiences engaged as Elmo, Cookie Monster, and the Count show just how much fun brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist can be.
3. Clarabella’s Teeth by An Vrombaut
Beautiful, bold pastel illustrations introduce readers to Clarabella the Crocodile and her cast of alliterative animal friends. While the other animals race through their morning routine, Clarabella’s unique smile keeps her brushing her teeth forever! Although she misses out on the day’s activities, her friends surprise her with a custom toothbrush so that she can join in tomorrow’s fun.
4. ABC Dentist by Harriet Ziefert
The informative alphabet theme and fun, detailed pictures take readers through the ins and outs of the dental cleaning experience. Dental terms, techniques, and the anatomic structure of the mouth are explained from A-Z and parents may very well find themselves learning right alongside their kids!
5. Brush Your Teeth Please by Leslie McGuire
The well-mannered title isn’t the only thing to like about this straightforward story, perfect for very young children. Pop ups and pull tabs provide interactive instruction on different brushing techniques and the importance of flossing. Friendly animal smiles greet the reader on every page, while free-moving toothbrushes encourage kids to engage with the characters.
Your friends at Falmouth Dental Arts invite you to take one of these books for a spin, and add some extra smiles to storytime. You can post pictures of your kids reading these or their own favorite tooth-themed books by tagging our Facebook page @FalmouthDentalArts.
If you have any questions, or need to schedule your next appointment, please call our office 207.781.5900
Our office would like to welcome Dr. Antonios Karagiorgos, DMD, to our family at Falmouth Dental Arts. Dr. K earned his doctoral degree in dentistry from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. As an associate dentist, Dr. K has worked at Caring Hands of Maine in Ellsworth, at CS Maller, DMD, in Bar Harbor, and at Kennebec Valley Family Dentistry. In addition to general dentistry, Dr. K is experienced in providing I.V. sedation and has training in implant placement. He is licensed to practice dentistry in both Maine and Alaska.
In 2015, Dr. K was awarded the American Association of Oral Biologists Award. He has been a volunteer for Give Kids a Smile, a nonprofit that provides free oral health services for those in need, and Bridge Over Troubled Waters, a decades-old organization that supports homeless and high-risk youth. He is fluent in Greek and French and can converse in Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.
Dr. Brian Brunacini describes Dr. K as “a sincere and compassionate clinician who brings a comprehensive approach to dentistry.”
Dr. K will be seeing patients on Mondays from 8 AM to 5 PM with additional hours to follow in the future.
Americans have seen an overall improvement in their oral health ever since we started adding fluoride to our daily intake of water, but in other ways, fluoridation has led to a hidden problem, what we in the industry refer to as “hidden caries.” Our tooth enamel has become harder and more durable due to the fluoride we receive, but sometimes this causes tooth decay to travel below the surface, where it can go undetected and wreak havoc on a patient’s oral health and on our ability to diagnose the problem.
Our solution? The DIAGNOdent Laser. This tool allows dentists to see below the surface of a tooth in order to know exactly what the ‘root’ cause is. In the past, dentists had to occasionally guess and perform procedures without knowing if they were targeting the correct issue. With our DIAGNOdent laser, the guesswork is gone, allowing us to make the right diagnosis for your optimal dental health.
The laser emits a specific wavelength of light (655 nanometers to be exact) that targets the problem area. Healthy tooth material won’t react at all, but decaying material, even below the surface, will reflect a fluorescence that is measured by the laser. The higher the fluorescence, the more tooth decay there is.
If you’re experiencing dental problems and are unsure of the cause, it’s possible that we can detect the issue with the DIAGNOdent laser. Call our office at 207-781-5900 and tell us your story.