Illustrations by Aaron Leighton
Dealing with a cavity’s painful enough—finding a dental professional you can trust shouldn’t add to your misery. So to find the top pros, topDentists research group polled area dentists, asking, “If you had a patient in need of a dentist, which dentist would you refer them to?” The result: approximately 300 outstanding dentists, as chosen by their peers.
MAKING GIRAFFES GRIN
You won’t find a dentist sizing up a giraffe’s teeth for Invisalign at the Saint Louis Zoo. But that doesn’t mean animals’ pearly whites don’t get plenty of attention. Every day, zookeepers assess the condition of animals’ teeth during feedings. Because animals at the zoo have access to dental care, unlike those in the wild, vets are able to protect them from the results of poor dental health, such as cardiac disease, liver problems, and infection. “It allows for our older animals to outlive the life span of their teeth,” says Dr. Luis Padilla, director of animal health.
Still, dental dilemmas can crop up, with carnivores and primates sometimes suffering fractures from biting bones and older animals developing periodontal diseases. When oral procedures are required, animals are put under anesthesia, with their airways protected, because as Padilla says, “You can’t really ask them to swallow.”
You might think all toothbrushes are created equal. But as a recent NPR segment titled “The Quest For the Perfect Toothbrush” revealed, the humble toothbrush is evolving all the time. A dental hygienist in Houston, for instance, recently introduced a brush head positioned at a 45-degree angle, to make correct brushing technique foolproof.
In the meantime, one musician-turned-dentist from Ohio invented a toothbrush specially designed for travelers. Inside the handle are dry toothpaste pellets, which can be set on the brush head—just add water, and you’re ready to brush. And in England, Colgate recently unveiled a smarter toothbrush, one with sensors that help identify the brush’s location in the mouth and adjust its speed accordingly.
MORE TO RESTORE
Dentists are continually studying how to better combat dental diseases and restore patients’ smiles. To that end, Chicago-based dentist Dr. Alan Boghosian will visit St. Louis on April 26 as a part of the Greater St. Louis Dental Society’s Seminar Series. An associate professor of clinical otolaryngology–dental surgery at Northwestern University, Boghosian shared a few new restorative techniques with SLM.
One increasingly popular element used in restorative dentistry, he says, is titanium. “If you drill a hole in bone and put a piece of titanium in there, bone cells think of titanium as their next-door-neighbor cells,” says Boghosian. “Now, surgeons are using biomimetic materials that trick the body into thinking it’s regular bone.” Dentists are also using amorphous calcium phosphate to help protect tooth enamel’s smoothness and strength—and it’s now being introduced in products like toothpaste and gum.
Articles by Brittany Ruess