Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A visit with Dr. Curtis

Last Wednesday night, I had the fortune of visiting Dr. Don Curtis in Berkeley.

He's a respected professor at UCSF, and someone that I admire.
Along with an elite crew of instructors, he instilled in me the importance of rigorous instruction.
He's also a third generation prosthedontist.

When we were chatting, we didn't talk too much dentistry.
There were a couple of casts and some impressions that he wanted to show me.
However, I wasn't too impressed that he's an expert in his field.
I was impressed by how he cares for his patients and for future generations.

When I was waiting for him, a rather distraught lady came in.
She had been terminated from her position in a rather harsh way.
He gave her a sympathetic ear and his undivided time an hour after closing...and he'd do that for any of his patients in a heartbeat.

He's also a true treehugger.
He takes an hour to get to work by bike, BART, and bus although it's 20 minutes by car.

He lives out his convictions in each case that he restores.
Each case is meticulously recorded and built up to spec before it touches a patient.
We believe that it's not right figure out mistakes on the patient.

Dr. Curtis, I salute you!

-Dr. Goodtooth

ps. Opinions voiced are solely that of Mr. Goodtooth of California. These opinions do not represent the opinions of Dr. Goodtooth of Canada or other places. Dr. Goodtooth receives no financial or other benefits from Dr. Curtis. There is also no affiliation with Dr. Curtis aside from being a former student and a friend.

The problem with perfect

I have a problem... I tend to get hung up on perfect.

Generally, I count my procedures by seconds.
I will shave off ten seconds from a procedure by placing the floss 10 cm closer.
I'll agonize over stuff like materials and methods at weird hours.

Why is this a problem?

For the patient, it may take too long.
Precious extra minutes spent fettling a filling may result in a parking ticket.
They may not care that my margins are buttery smooth.
They may wonder why I insist on an extra X ray for a different angle.

For me, it takes a very real toll.
The hours spent perfecting my art dig into my social life.
Sleep is lost lusting after different Continued Ed courses.
Lastly (if I'm not careful), it can lead to quicker burnout and depression.

Dental school was a rigorous affair with lots of criticism.
They teach you that you're generally not good enough.
However, patients don't really care.

My resolution for 2010 is to stop being hung up on perfect.

I'll still do my best.
Every time.
All the time.

However, if the patient is happy with it, I'll try to let it pass.

-Dr. Goodtooth

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Random uses for floss

Some people can't be bothered to carry floss.

To them, I say "Bullocks."

Here are some uses for dental floss that I've personally tested:
  • Fixing a teddy bear
  • Fixing some pants
  • Sewing a button
  • Temporary ligature fix a broken umbrella
  • Thread pearls
  • Fishing line
  • Cut cheese/hard sausage/tofu
  • Tie gifts
  • Tie tomatoes to a stake
  • Fix a backpack
  • Tie hair
  • Hang Christmas ornaments
  • Tie/hide chords
  • Mobil
Other uses for floss (that I didn't try):
  • suture material (Not advised. Floss is non sterile, but better than nothing.)
  • ladders (don't do this at home)
  • snares
  • nets
  • clothesline
-Dr. Goodtooth

Any injury from doing stupid things with floss will the responsibility of the person doing it. While floss is amazingly strong, light, and inexpensive, it can also cause much damage if abused. Please not try to use floss to escape from prison, hang yourself (or others) or garrote unsuspecting people. Dental floss is meant for flossing-- and world peace while you're at it.

The power of floss

Flossing is the most hated thing we tell our patients to do.

But it can also save you a lot of money, pain, and disease.

Flossing prevents the most common cavity from forming:
  1. Food/plaque gets stuck between teeth, where the toothbrush won't reach.
  2. This feeds bacteria which secrete acid.
  3. This acid causes the cavity by eroding enamel.
  4. Once the bacterial breaks the enamel layer, much damage ensues.
  • Flossing removes prevents this from starting.
Flossing can also reduce your bacterial load:
  1. Plaque constantly reforms around teeth.
  2. This provides a haven for systemic bacteria to thrive.
  3. These bacteria recirculate to colonize other areas (scars, artificial implants, etc).
  • Flossing removes a haven for bacteria to thrive.
Flossing takes time and money to master.
It costs ~$3 (depending on the floss).
It takes minutes to do (after practice).

If you excuse me now, I feel somewhat guilty.
I'll be flossing in the back....

-Dr. Goodtooth

ps. Dr. Goodtooth does not receive floss for free. He pays for it, and for every patient. If you do have a free source, please email me and let him know.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

H1N1 and your toothbrush

H1N1 is a relatively new disease from Mexico.

It's hit the world by storm.
Garlic prices have increased.
Mass hysteria has hit parts of Asia.

But it's just a flu, (albeit a very nasty one).

Here's a tip: clean/replace your toothbrush regularly.

  • Your tooth brush is a haven for microbes. It's not sterile.
  • When you use the same (unclean) toothbrush, you expose yourself to reinfection.
  • Even if you're sick, you're increasing your microbial load through your toothbrush.
  • Microwave your toothbrush on high for 10 seconds.
  • Dunk your tooth brush in boiling water for 5 minutes.
  • Soak your tooth brush in an antimicrobial (Salt water, Listerine, Chlorhexidine).
  • Or you can simply buy another toothbrush.
-Dr. Goodtooth
(note: Dr. Goodtooth has no competing interest or stock in any toothbrush manufacturing company. He recommends using whatever toothbrush you feel like, as long as it's comfortable. More on toothbrushes on a later post).

Becoming Dr. Goodtooth

Hello, I'm Dr. Goodtooth.

I want to be as good as by patients think I am.
They sit in my chair. They tolerate the occasional unpleasantries that must be done.
Some go. Most stay.

My goal is to help them find their smile.

To get better, I've started a pilgrimage of sorts.
I'll be seeking out the best dentists, craftsman, and people.
Ultimately, I'd like to learn what makes one a master of their craft.

I'd be honored if you join me.

-Dr. Goodtooth