At an early age, kids are (hopefully) taught the importance of good oral hygiene: Brush after every meal, floss, go easy on sweets and get regular checkups. As we grow older, the need for regular dental care becomes even greater. Today, technology is re-shaping the dental industry via new trends and procedures – but some tried-and-true methods will always be practical.
“Everything we do is geared toward living a healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Shannon Griffin, President of the Oklahoma Dental Association. “We must first have healthy teeth, so we can eat healthy foods to fuel our bodies. If we eat well and maintain good oral health, we will have a better quality of life.”
Brushing regularly is perhaps the most important rule of the day. But when it comes to brushing, should you use the traditional brush or switch to one of the newer battery-powered options?
“It all depends on your own personal preference,” Griffin says. “With the power brushes, most have a built-in timer, which I find useful. They will let you know after 30 seconds when it’s time to switch to a different region of the mouth, and they typically shut off after two minutes, which is the recommended brushing time.”
Flossing is important too, Griffin added, because it gets to areas where the brush simply cannot.
“The goal with flossing is to prevent bacteria,” she says. “If you brush but don’t floss, you are leaving bacteria in your mouth, which will either affect your teeth with decay or your gums with disease – so I can’t stress enough the importance of flossing.”
The use of fluoride has been around for decades, Griffin said, and is still a popular treatment. It has been used largely as a preventative measure and to stop cavities where there is rapid decay.
Some new cutting-edge trends are re-shaping dentistry, as well.
“One of the remarkable things about dentistry occurred not so long ago,” Griffin says. “The use of implants has led to a new way of life for many people. Most dental plans are now leaning toward coverage, and implants mean a person won’t have to rely on dentures.
“Another new emerging trend is one-day crowns,” she adds. “Typically, if a patient needs a crown, the tooth is prepped and a temporary crown is installed. Now, new technology is letting us install the permanent crown all in one day.”
A few years ago, the Oklahoma Dental Association began its “Mission of Mercy” program, an annual event providing free dental care to Oklahomans who otherwise may not be able to afford it.
“We hold the event for two days in a different region of the state each February,” Griffin says. “In 2020, we will visit Stillwater. It is on a first-come, first-served basis, and we offer fillings, cleaning, partials and other services – all at no cost to the patient. It’s so moving to see someone getting dental care while their child is asleep on the floor beside them, knowing they have sometimes stood in line all night to be seen by one of our doctors. Helping our fellow Oklahomans is what we are all about.”
2019 Mission of Mercy
Feb. 1-2, State Fair Park, OKC
The Oklahoma Dental Association’s two-day event providing free dental care was a success in 2019:
$1,512,266 Donated Dental Care
11,750 Procedures Performed
1,684 Patients Treated
$898 Per Patient Average
151 Dental Students
350 Dental Assistants
124 Endodontic Care
112 Partial Dentures
79 Porcelain Crowns
21 Pedo Crowns
Other Services Provided
198 Flu Shots
Smoking Cessation Resources
Dental Clinic Resources
Infant Crisis Services
okda.org or 405.848.8873