Category Archives: dentistry

Tips and tricks for better child dental care

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Most know that oral health care is vital at any age. But getting kids to brush can be quite the challenge.

Registered Hygenist Kori Lamberg from Bridges Community Health Care stopped by Sunrise 7 studio Thursday morning to give oral health care tips for parents.

Nothing beats routine. That’s according to Lamberg. She suggested for parents to make teeth brushing a part of the routine after breakfast and before bedtime. That allows the parent to set a good example for their kids.

Monkey see, monkey do. Parents can brush with their children, instilling the routine while completing their own care at the same time. Children can’t simply wet the toothbrush and say they brushed if a parent is watching in the same room.

One mistake to avoid is bribery. Lamberg says that it might make brushing a sweeter deal initially but in the longer run, it won’t work. Making oral care a non-negotiable part of a child’s everyday routine means less fussing when it comes time to brush and floss.

Finally parents should never ignore dental pain. “Rarely do children use dental pain as an excuse to stay home from school or get extra attention,” said Lamberg. Dental pain is serious and shouldn’t be ignored. Bring a child to your trusted dental office to check for any concerns.

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Dentist sees damage from sugar

As a dentist, Dr. Eli Mayes said he’s seen the impact of drugs or lack of care on teeth. However, it pales in comparison to what he witnessed practicing dentistry in Alaska.

“I’ve seen meth mouth here,” Mayes said. “I haven’t seen anything compared to what I saw up there from just sugar.”

Born and raised in Union, Mayes, who owns Eli Mayes Dental, and his family moved to La Grande when he was in the eighth grade. His father, Jerry, and mother, Suzy, have been involved in area education for years. Suzy is the principal at Central Elementary School, and Jerry retired from his position as principal of Hines Middle School earlier this year.

The educators’ son attended the University of Idaho, and then graduated from the University of Oregon before diving into graduate school at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry in Richmond, where he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree.

“Right out of dental school, you try to figure out what you’re going to do when you graduate,” Mayes said. “I had a friend tell me about Barrow, Alaska, which is the northernmost point in Alaska, 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle.”

So Mayes accepted a position to practice at a health center in the North Slope town of Barrow, where the medical facilities had living quarters for dentists. He and two other dentists also periodically took care of five other villages. Mayes was mainly responsible for villages such as Kaktovik and Point Lay, which he said was more than 100 miles from Barrow.

Getting from Barrow to the smaller villages required the use of a bush plane.

“It was rare when I went to Barter Island (where Kaktovik is) that I wouldn’t get stuck there,” Mayes said. “There would be a fog that always came in. The plan would be to visit the villages for seven to 10 days, but I’d (usually) be there for 14 days.”

An avid outdoorsman, Mayes said he enjoyed all the spoils the Last Frontier had to offer, highlighted by the sheer vastness of the Brooks Range, salmon fishing and hunting.

One aspect of village life that left Mayes in awe was the whale hunts to feed the villages.

The entire process involved countless aspects: ice-cutting to gain greater access to water, waiting for whales to come up and breathe and the boats’ method of funneling the whales to the hunters. Villagers believing whales would “present themselves” in the channels as a way of saying they were there to feed the Alaskans.

“It was just very religious and very intense,” Mayes said.

But besides the 24 hours of daylight in the summer, which wreaked havoc on Mayes’ schedule and sleep patterns, another aspect Mayes had to get used to was the sugar damage to teeth, especially in the village children.

While it’s common knowledge in the United States that soda is unhealthy, he said parents had no problem letting 2-year-olds drink it instead of water.

“We did a survey (of) the whole North Slope, (and) the average amount per day of pop drunk by each person was six (cans) a day,” Mayes said.

He said it was common to see people of all ages with black teeth or no teeth at all, having been eaten away to where there were just black nubs at the gumline.

“I had 2-year-olds with abscesses everywhere,” he said. “We had to strap (children) down, numb everything and take out all their teeth all the time. It was so common that parents would just drop them off — like no big deal, because that’s normal to have your child’s head strapped down, without general anesthesia, and have their teeth ripped out. That’s horrible.”

Mayes and the other dentists would travel to schools and brush children’s teeth, provide fluoride and apply sealants and do radio broadcasts touting dental hygiene. He said he did start to see a shift when children began telling their parents and grandparents that sugary drinks were bad for their teeth, but he knew it would take more generations for the practice to take hold.

Mayes was there for three years before he returned to Eastern Oregon to start a partnership with Dr. Patrick Nearing, Doctor of Dental Medicine, in 2010. The partnership came about because of a happenstance meeting two years prior with Nearing’s wife on the chairlift at Anthony Lakes while Mayes was visiting home from Alaska.

“Two years later (Nearing called and said), ‘Hey, Eli, I’m looking for an associate, and my wife told me you were a dentist from La Grande.’ I had looked at three or four dental practices in the Northwest, and I was either going to renew (in Alaska) or find a private practice,” Mayes said.

Tips for teeth care during the holiday season

According to Lizabeth Spoonts, associate clinical professor of dental hygiene at Texas Woman’s University, there are ways for your teeth to survive the sweets and snacks associated with season’s eatings.

Spoonts says cavities are caused by eating foods high in sugar or carbohydrates, which are consumed by the bacteria in our mouths. These bacteria produce acid that leads to caries, or cavities, in the teeth. She suggests some tips, based on the American Dental Association guidelines, for a cavities-free holiday:


Importance Of Dental Care During Pregnancy Discussed.

Pregnancy Magazine (11/23) discussed the importance of ensuring good oral health during pregnancy, stating that pregnancy may cause oral health changes, such as gingivitis and swollen areas between the teeth. The article encourages moms-to-be to “never skip a teeth cleaning” and practice good oral hygiene. offers additional information on pregnancy and oral health.

ADA, Federal Agencies, Dentists Still Encourage Flossing

In an op-ed in the New York Times (11/25, Holmes, Subscription Publication), Jamie Holmes, a fellow at New America, states that “would-be defenders of science” are criticizing expertise lately, as seen in the Associated Press report questioning the benefits of dental flossing due to the lack of strong evidence. Although the Department of Health and Human services, the American Dental Association, and others have “reaffirmed the importance of interdental cleaning,” Holmes states that many people now “mistakenly think that ‘science’ doesn’t support flossing.” According to Holmes, “misconceptions about the relation between scientific research, evidence and expertise” explain the confusion. Holmes adds that while some feel “only randomized controlled trials provide real knowledge,” in the case of flossing, “dentists know from a range of evidence, including clinical experience, that interdental cleaning is critical to oral health and that flossing, properly done, works.”

WebMD (11/22, Pagán) discussed the benefits of flossing, stating “many dentists and periodontists say the reason they recommend flossing isn’t because of research,” rather “it’s because of what they see in their patients.”

The ADA released a statement on the benefits of using interdental cleaners, and a Science in the News article titled “The Medical Benefit of Daily Flossing Called Into Question” discusses evidence about the impact of flossing on oral health. also provides resources for patients on flossing, including the correct flossing technique.

Everyday Health Lists Best And Worst Seasonal Foods For Dental Health

Everyday Health (10/1) stated “some seasonal fare can take a toll on the health of our teeth and gums,” listing “nine foods to either love or limit through the fall and winter holidays.” For example, the article advised limiting candy due to its high sugar content, adding that holiday favorites like candy canes or toffee are “sticky things that sit on the teeth,” says ADA spokesperson Dr. Matthew Messina. If indulging in seasonal sweets, the article advised brushing, flossing, and drinking plenty of water afterward. The article also stated it is unnecessary to completely avoid favorite seasonal foods and beverages to maintain oral health. “You can eat anything in moderation,” says Dr. Messina. “And make sure you brush twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist regularly.” provides additional information on foods that affect dental health.

Researchers Find Associations Between Gum Disease And Several Health Problems

The Washington Post (10/1, Levingston) reported that researchers are finding potential links “between gum or periodontal disease” and several different types of health problems. Although “experts are far from understanding what these links might mean,” the “links between gum disease and diabetes, at-risk pregnancy, heart disease and stroke have been so consistent that some insurers offer extra preventive periodontal care at little or no cost to people with those conditions.” The article pointed out that according to the CDC “nearly half of all Americans age 30 and older have some form of gum disease; in people 65 and older, 70 percent have some degree of periodontal disease.” The article noted, “Signs of gum disease include bleeding, red or swollen gums; areas where the gum seems separated from the teeth; bad breath; and loose teeth, which can cause changes in your bite, according to the American Dental Association.” also provides information for patients gum disease,heart disease and oral health, and diabetes and oral health.

Replacing Toothbrushes Every Three To Four Months Advised.

In a list of seven “easy cleaning tricks,” BuzzFeed (5/2) recommends replacing toothbrushes every three to four months. Mentioning that soaking a toothbrush in an antibacterial mouthrinse overnight may be an option for cleaning a toothbrush before it is time to replace it, the article notes the American Dental Association states that there is no clinical evidence this approach has a positive or negative effect on oral health.

Stop by SmilesNY for additional information on toothbrush care!

ADA Recommends Regularly Cleaning Mouthguards.

HealthDay (4/27, Kohnle) states that it is important to care for and clean mouthguards, noting the ADA provides several tips on mouthguard care. For example, the ADA recommends keeping mouthguards clean and dry between each use; regularly cleaning mouthguards with cool, soapy water followed by a thorough rinse; and bringing mouthguards to dental checkups for an evaluation.

Stop by our office today! SmilesNY provides additional information on mouthguards.

Dental Care During Pregnancy Advised.

The Orange County (CA) Register (4/11) advises proper dental care during pregnancy, providing tips to ensure oral health during and after pregnancy. For example, the article encourages having regular dental visits, coping with morning sickness to prevent stomach acids from eroding tooth enamel, eating a nutritious diet, maintaining proper daily dental hygiene, and avoiding introducing bacteria into a baby’s mouth. The article also recommends selecting dental products that have the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Additional information on pregnancy and teeth is available

Schedule your next dental visit with SmilesNY to speak to our professional dental team about more tips!