1030 Country Club Drive, Suite F
Moraga, CA 94556

Robot Dental Assistants? We’re Not So Sure

Robotics have changed the workplace significantly in recent decades, and it’s a trend that’s expected to continue and intensify. Getting its most visible start in the automotive sector, robotics slowly spread through the manufacturing industries, and there is always a lot of speculation about what sector will be the next to be transformed.

A recent report has some people suggesting the next affected industry may just be dentistry. According to the Centre Daily Times, Dr. Eddie Kotary of Penn State College has become the first general dentist in the world to have a robotic dental assistant in his office. Dubbed “Yomi,” the device is an FDA-approved robot used during dental implantation procedures, the creation of Miami company Neocis.

But keep in mind, the robot doesn’t do the whole job; it actually serves as a guide for a human dentist. That tells me that despite its sophistication, it should be regarded as merely another tool in the dentist’s arsenal. And an expensive tool at that: Dr. Kotary estimates the technology cost him “about as much as a house.”

Once you fully consider these cost constraints, and add to them the buying public’s innate discomfort with robots, the prospects for widespread use of this technology seem to dim. After all, there have been robot hairdressers since at least 2011, and cutting someone’s hair isn’t nearly as complicated–or intimate–as most dental work.

When it comes to dentistry, it seems clear that the human touch is critical. And while the tools will certainly get better as time passes, there’s one thing that isn’t going to change: people are always going to want to be cared for by people. And here at our Moraga dental offices, we’re happy to be here to do just that.

Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you here soon!


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Don’t Wait: Parents Aren’t Taking Kids For First Dental Visit Early Enough

Most parents know how important it is for kids to see a pediatrician often. Likewise, they know it’s important for kids to see a dentist regularly. But according to a recent study, many people are waiting too long to bring their kids to the dentist for the first time. It’s no small matter, and can lead to bad things for our kids’ teeth and overall health.

In a survey of 790 parents of children aged zero to 5 years old, parents were asked at what age they felt children should be taken to the dentist for the first time. 48 percent opined that children should start seeing the dentist at roughly 2 or 3. Approximately 17 percent felt kids should wait until around 4 years of age for their first dental visit. Most worryingly, only 35 percent of parents got it right: parents should take kids to the dentist by age 1.

Apparently, a lot of this has to do with where parents are getting their information about proper dental care. The study showed less than 50 percent of the parents surveyed received advice from their pediatrician about their kids’ dental care. Instead, they often tended to draw on personal experience, or rely on the advice of friends and family.

Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend children see the dentist for the first time sometime around their first birthday. There are some parents who follow this advice, but the majority fail to do so. Of course, baby teeth aren’t meant to last forever, but neglect can result in painful and unnecessary problems for toddlers. And good habits need to be formed early, so kids can know what to do once they have developed permanent teeth.

So if you’re a new parent, make your appointment now, and take a proactive step for your child’s health. See you soon!

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D.I.Y. Dentistry: Don’t Even Think About It

As Americans, we are a nation of do-it-yourselfers. And the tighter the economy gets, the more pronounced this tendency becomes. It makes perfect sense, after all. Why pay someone else to change your oil when you can just roll up your sleeves and do it yourself?

Unfortunately, this tendency can go too far. In recent years, we’ve seen an alarming number of cases of people performing ‘self-dentistry.’ And we’re not talking about overflossing here: the pressing need for care has forced patients to attempt to fill cavities, even perform multiple tooth extractions–with often tragic results.

Scott Lothamer DDS moragadental.com

A RAM clinic underway in Southern Virginia.

In a recent interview with the Nation, Caleb (last name withheld) described his decision to forego professional care as a practical one; he doesn’t feel he should have to spend thousands of dollars to have his teeth worked on. But Caleb has paid the price: using a pair of hog-ring pliers, he once crushed a tooth he was attempting to remove, leaving a jagged, painful stump jutting from his jaw. This he resolved with the help of a hammer and chisel.

About a third of Americans struggle to pay for basic dental care. Unfortunately, our system treats the teeth as if they exist separately from the rest of the body (though an infection that begins in the mouth can, and often does, spread quickly through the bloodstream). You can’t go to the emergency room to get your teeth fixed, so dental problems among the poor are typically neglected until they become intolerable. Desperation sets in, and out come the pliers.

If this sounds like a bad idea, it is–very bad. Each year, countless people suffer irreparable damage to their teeth because they take their dental care into their own hands. We can’t be emphatic enough about this: dental work is not the realm of amateurs. Outside of regular brushing and flossing, dental issues should be handled by a trained and licensed professional. The consequences can be sobering: In a case that received a great deal of publicity, a 12-year-old Maryland boy named Deamonte Driver actually died from an infected tooth – a tooth that would have cost $80 to pull.

Likewise, teeth whitening is a procedure that should generally be left to your dentist. Recently, there have been numerous reports of a whitening product being sold online that contains 4 percent hydrogen peroxide, far above the 0.1 percent limit allowed in over-the-counter products. Called Beautiful Cold Light Teeth Whitening Kit, the product, though illegal, is still available on some e-commerce platforms. Concentrations of hydrogen peroxide this high are likely to cause corrosion of the teeth and other ill effects, and should be carefully avoided.

Of course, there are those citizens who can’t get the care they need because of the cost. This is a persistent and difficult problem, but fortunately there are some solutions on the horizon.

Just one example: the nonprofit organization Remote Area Medical (RAM), headed by Stan Brock, runs weekend clinics in medically underserved areas from Texas and California to Florida and New York. Supported by doctors and dentists that volunteer their time, RAM provides basic medical, dental, and vision care—even veterinary services. They do this free of charge, and the response has been overwhelming. They treated over 30,000 people in 2016, and the numbers are only growing. To find out more, visit http://ramusa.org/

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The Solution For Healthy Teeth? It May Be Inside A Wine Grape

When it comes to dietary supplements, there are a handful that have become associated with preventive dental health. Calcium, Vitamin D, Omega 3s, CoQ10: today, all of these are championed by nutritionists as natural ways to safeguard your teeth and gums.

Now, according to experts at the University of Illinois Chicago College of Dentistry, we have another ally in the war against tooth decay, and it isn’t what you might expect. Turns out, the source is wine grapes–or more specifically, the extract from the seeds of red wine grapes.

According to Ana Bedran-Russo, the extract (a byproduct of the winemaking industry) helps to increase the strength of dentin, the tissue which lies just beneath the tooth’s external enamel. The Associate Professor of Restorative Dentistry at UIC, Bedran-Russo is the lead author of a brand new study on the topic.

The implications of the study are highly promising. By improving the health of dentin, grape seed extract has been shown to increase the longevity of composite resin fillings, which typically last only five to seven years. “We want to reinforce the interface, which will make the resin bond better to the dentin,” the professor explains.

Antioxidants And Gum Disease

Similarly, in 2008 French researchers found that grape seed extracts also contain powerful antioxidants which help fight the bacteria responsible for gum disease, including two types of bacteria that lie at the root of periodontal problems: Porphyromonas gingivalis and Fusobacterium nucleatum.

Gum disease is pernicious, and the primary cause of tooth loss among adults, so these findings are a welcome addition to our arsenal in this fight. Once again nutrition and prevention emerge as prime factors in oral health, reminding us that good habits always lead to positive results.

Remember to schedule your next checkup or cleaning soon, and we look forward to seeing you in our Moraga dental offices!

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