Who and Why Some People Get Cavities

Posted in Dental News   Written by Mark Freeman, DDS On May 21st, 2015
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Unless you’re a dentist, chances are you don’t give that much thought to cavities. Along with chickenpox and ear infections, it’s a health issue we tend to associate with the Dora the Explorer set. So the results of a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may leave you open-mouthed: One in four of us is walking around with an untreated cavity, and nearly all adults will suffer from tooth decay at some point in their lives.

“We tend to associate cavities with early childhood, but adults actually have the same rate of tooth decay as kids,” says Bruce Dye, DDS, dental epidemiology officer at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, who helped to conduct the survey. “It can affect you at any time during your lifespan.”

Considering that tooth care has been programmed into our brains for practically forever — brush twice a day for two minutes, floss daily, and visit the dentist every six months — why are so many adults orally challenged? We get to the root of the problem and reveal surprising ways to keep your pearly whites in peak condition.

Certain populations are more cavity-prone

According to the CDC report, some ethnic groups have higher rates of untreated tooth decay than others. It’s more prevalent among African-Americans (46 percent) and Hispanics (36 percent), than Caucasians (22 percent) and Asians (17 percent). What’s causing the disparity?

“That’s the billion-dollar question,” Dye tells Yahoo Health. “We’ve been trying to tease out the source of the difference, but it’s a complex issue.” He explains that there are three overarching factors that contribute to oral health: biology, social conditions, and behavior.

In terms of biology, some people were blessed with genes that give their chiclets a better chance to shine, like bulletproof enamel, bacteria-bashing saliva, and a robust immune system. And according to the American Academy of Periodontology, it’s possible that certain clusters of the population are genetically susceptible to oral disease.

“A new study found that a small percentage of African-Americans are missing a variant form of salivary protein that wards off cavity-causing bacteria,” David Silverstrom, DDS, at the Silverstrom Group, tells Yahoo Health. (That being said, stellar oral care can help you overcome a less-than-ideal gene pool. And even strong DNA won’t totally protect you if you neglect your chompers.)

Then there’s the social element. “Lower socioeconomic groups tend to have greater levels of untreated cavities,” pediatric dentist Jonathan Shenkin, DDS, vice president and spokesperson for the American Dental Association, tells Yahoo Health. “And access to health care plays a major role.” Medicaid coverage varies greatly from state to state, with some states offering no dental benefits, or only limited benefits for emergency care. What’s more, even if a patient has decent coverage, he or she may not have access to transportation to get to the dentist’s office in the first place.

Finally, lifestyle contributes to the quality of your pearly whites. Research has found that disadvantaged social groups are more likely to smoke (which dramatically increases the risk of gum disease and tooth loss) and to consume diets high in added sugar, creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. “In addition, there may be a lack of education about proper tooth care among people in poverty or near-poverty,” says Shenkin.

Sneaky habits can sabotage your smile

Cultural background aside, you may be wondering why cavities persistently pop up in some oral hygiene devotees, while, on the other hand, a slacker who does the bare minimum may still maintain a gorgeous grill.

Related: 7 Terrible Foods for Your Teeth (That Aren’t Candy)

Here’s the deal: The idea of “soft teeth” is a myth. However, genes do play a role in how cavity-prone your teeth are. “Certain DNA strands lay down teeth that are better able to absorb fluoride and create a hard enamel surface,” Dye explains. Plus, some people are born with particularly bountiful saliva, which provides a moist environment for healthy bacteria to thrive, bathes your ivories in essential minerals like calcium and phosphates, and neutralizes your mouth’s pH. (Too much acid eats away at enamel.) Having a naturally hardy immune response makes you better at fighting infections of any kind, from the flu to gum disease. Finally, the shape of your mouth has an impact: “Crowding makes it more difficult to floss and remove bacteria,” Shenkin points out.

But there are also hidden triggers. Bottled water guzzlers are missing out on the benefits of fluorinated municipal drinking water. (The same is true if you grew up sipping unfluorinated water, such as well water.) Snorers have dry mouths, an environment in which cavity-creating bacteria thrive. Teeth grinders wear down their enamel, making them more vulnerable to decay. Frequent snackers are exposed to a near-constant stream of sugar throughout the day.

On that note, you might also be unwittingly consuming cavity bombs. “Acidic foods like citrus and soda lowers the pH levels in your mouth, causing demineralization,” says Dye. If you consume sugary beverages (yes, that includes juice!) he suggests alternating with water to restore a healthy pH balance.

“And anything sticky gets caught in your teeth and lingers longer in your mouth,” adds Shenkin. That includes even healthy choices like dried fruit and nut butters. His fix: Chew sugar-free gum after meals to stimulate saliva flow, which will help clear away sugars.

Related: What to Avoid for Better Teeth — and Breath

Cutting corners might cost you more

Even people lucky enough to score dental benefits through work are starting to feel the financial costs. “Employers are covering less and less — in fact, there has been no increase in the maximum billable amounts in the last 30 years,” says Shenkin. “There are fewer in-network dentists to choose from, and out-of-pocket costs are rising. As a result, we’re seeing a dramatic drop in dental visits among adults with private insurance.”

But skimping on oral care until a toothache hits can backfire, big-time. “A cavity is like an iceberg,” explains Shenkin. “If you wait until you see a hole or feel pain to go to the dentist, it’s a sign that you probably have an enormous cavity brewing underneath.”

That’s right: There are rarely any noticeable signs or symptoms when decay first sets in, meaning that waiting to self-diagnose is risky. “That’s why we take X-rays,” says Shenkin. “You can’t view small cavities with the naked eye, but in an X-ray, they appear as dark triangles on the surface of the tooth.”

These tiny pits can often be easily treated with a program that promotes remineralization, such as avoiding sweet drinks and using toothpaste with a high fluoride concentration to strengthen your enamel and prevent the crater from reaching the inner layer of your tooth, or dentin. (Once it penetrates the dentin, game over — the drill comes out.) It can be hard to wrap your head around handing over a hefty sum for a cleaning when you feel totally fine, but “just because nothing hurts, that doesn’t necessarily mean things are good,” Shenkin says.

What if you do nada? If you’re lucky, your untreated cavity might remain stable, staying the same size year after year. Or it might get serious fast, triggering an infection that could potentially lead to hospitalization. “It’s similar to ignoring a rattling sound in your car,” says Shenkin. “Disregarding the problem will require much more expensive work in the long run.”

And it’s not only your teeth that are in danger. “Oral health impacts your overall well-being — when in balance, the complex community of billions of bacteria in your mouth actually protect and support your body’s ability to live,” says Silverstrom. “However, when disturbed, it produces bad bacteria that lead to gum disease and cause a decrease in our immune response. If you don’t take care of your teeth, you could get cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or Alzheimer’s.”

Best to play it safe, and put your money where your mouth is.

This article was found on Facebook:  Yahoo Health

Good Luck Nick !

Posted in Fun at the Office   Written by Mark Freeman, DDS On June 1st, 2014

Nick and His Proud Mom

It is a sad day for us at the offices of Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates.  For today is Nick’s last day at the front desk.  Nick Eads has been with us for nearly 3 years now, and although we knew his employment was only temporary at the time, the last 3 years have seemed to gone by much too fast.  Some of you may not have had contact with Nick.  That is because he usually comes in after lunch and works the closing shift as an Assistant Office Manager.  At the time we hired him, Nick was a studying business at VCU and was able to arrange his classes so that he could work afternoons and evenings.  Nick caught on to the computer system very fast, and learned the ins-and-outs of handling insurance questions and scheduling patients.

20th Birthday !

Many patients would ask if Nick was my son, and the answer to that question is “NO”!  But he is very close to the Freeman family.  In fact, Nick and my son John were born on the same day and have known each other for over 20 years.  Nick played baseball at Atlee Little League and was a great influence on my son’s love for snowboarding, helping to make several family trips to Massanutten possible over the years.  When I needed an afternoon person at the front desk, Christie and I were discussing it over dinner.  I remember saying, “You will probably think I am crazy, but something is telling me to offer the job to Nick!”  Well I am glad I did.

Nick relaxing at home with friends.

Nick added something to the office.  His polite mannerisms and diligent work ethic helped the transition at the front desk go smoothly when Kim left to have her baby.  And in a dental office, it is always nice to have another male employee in the mix!  Recently, Nick graduated from VCU, and in this tough economy he was given 2 job offers!  I was not surprised.  Today he will be leaving us to join the Virginia Lottery.  We will all miss Nick very much, but we wish him the best on his new adventure.  I know if he keeps working as hard for the Lottery as he has for us that he will advance fast over the years.  Good Luck Nick . . . You will always have your friends on the dental team!





Who Makes You Smile?
Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates
3290 Church Road
Henrico, VA  23233



The Effects Yoga Can Have on Your Body

Posted in Patient Stories   Written by Mark Freeman, DDS On May 29th, 2014
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Recently, a long-time patient of ours and a good friend, Mr. Don Carter became a certified Yoga Instructor.  For years now, Mr. Carter has been telling me about all the wonderful things Yoga has done for his body’s fitness of the years.  He had gotten such wonderful results from doing Yoga that he took the time to become an instructor.  Don holds classes at both 4025 Yoga and within the workout programs at Cool Springs Church.

Yoga helps to influence the body through chain reactions.  The first step is helping to reduce stress.  Yoga can reduce anxiety by calming the sympathetic nervous system.  People who practice yoga regularly are better at regulating stress and having increased focus.  This in turn helps to reduce the cravings for junk food which is more calorie-dense.

Yoga has been shown to lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that makes your midsection a magnet for belly fat.  The activity of yoga has been shown to decrease symptoms of depression and research shows that happier people tend to be more active in all walks of their life.  Studies have also shown that people who practice yoga regularly improve their overall sleep quality.  Sleep deprivation has been linked to weight gain and decreased levels of the hunger-suppressing hormone leptin, which makes it harder to resist high-calorie foods.  This is yet another way Yoga can help you control your diet!

People who do Yoga tend to be more mindful of their body.  They slow down and pay attention to how their body reacts to different things occurring in their lives.  They pay attention to the smaller details of their hygiene, and in the case of our office, this might mean more detail and time with their oral health care by taking the time to brush and floss correctly.

So if you have ever had an interest in Yoga, this may be a good time to try a class.  You can find Mr. Don Carter at http://www.4025yoga.com/ or try any of the other facilities for better health and well-being.

Who Makes You Smile?
Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates
3290 Church Road
Henrico, VA  23233




Courtney Shultz: Celebrating 20 Years

Posted in Uncategorized   Written by Mark Freeman, DDS On February 6th, 2014
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This February, 2014, our Hygienist Courtney Shultz will be celebrating a milestone at our office.  Courtney has been with our office for 20 years.  It is hard for me to believe.  I can still remember Courtney starting with us when our office was across the street from where we are now.  In those days, our office was small, and Courtney and I sometimes had to flip-flop between rooms to accommodate an emergency and keep the schedule on track.  She has always been a team player and a great supporter of my ideals when it comes to running a dental office.  We both firmly believe that the patient’s care and how they are treated by the staff is of utmost importance.

When I hired Courtney, our office was only 4 years old and growing.  It was a time of transition.  At that point, I had been doing the cleanings on all our patients but the need for my time to be concentrated more on restorations and emergencies was making our schedule squeaky tight.  I needed to find someone with the same values and goals as I had when it came to patient care.  Courtney was not the first Hygienist we tried at our office, but from the moment I interviewed her, I wanted her on our team.  You could tell that she was an honest, caring person.  Over the years, we have been through a lot together, but Courtney’s core never changes.  I believe all her co-workers and her patients love her for that.

Sometimes at our office, we hire a person and afterwards find out things that tell me we made the right decision.  Like puzzle pieces that fall together in our office family.  Courtney’s father is Dr. Bones, a much-loved pediatrician on the south-side of the James for many years, and he was my wife’s Doctor when she was a child.  Also, after being here for some time, we discovered that Courtney’s younger brother and my wife went to Trinity School together, and to complete the puzzle, it turned out that I went to Tucker High with Courtney’s sister-in-law!  Things like that sometimes make me feel that stronger forces bring people’s life paths together, and I am so glad that Courtney’s and my paths crossed.

Courtney’s husband Anthony is a great man, active in their church life, and like me, involved in a family owned business.  Like Courtney, he always has a kind word and a smile on his face.  I watched their two beautiful girls grow up before my eyes.  Meredith and Laura are as different as opposite sides of a coin, but both have become wonderful young women.  Meredith is now teaching elementary school in North Carolina, and Laura is currently studying to be a personal trainer.  This stems from both of the girls long ties with competitive swimming in the Richmond area.  Meredith swam all 4 years in college.  I remember when they were young and Courtney saying how she or Anthony had to be at the pool before sunrise for the girls to get their practices in before they went to school and came to work.  I know in some ways they miss those years.

How do you make Courtney smile?  Well, one way is to start singing “Maria” from West Side Story.  That is a inside office joke between her and I.  Years ago, I took the office to see West Side Story at the Landmark, and it all stems from that night.  Another thing that always gets Courtney is quotes from “A Christmas Story” during the holiday season.  She and our assistant Tori can quote scenes from that movie line-for-line.  It always makes me laugh to see how much expression they put into it.

A fun fact about Courtney:  did you know that she called in sick her very first day of work!  It’s true, but since then she has hardly ever missed a day that she has scheduled and is always on call if we need an extra hand with patients.  Courtney, from all of your friends and co-workers over the years, know that you are highly respected and loved.  Christie and I thank you for all the years you have dedicated to our office.  I also want to thank you for being a friend of mine and my family.  To me you will always be one of the people who lifted our office up, kept us going all these years, and helped to make us who we are today.  Congratulations . . . and Thank you.


Who Makes You Smile?
Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates
3290 Church Road
Henrico, VA  23233



Don’t Forget to Floss

Posted in Dental News   Written by Mark Freeman, DDS On October 17th, 2013
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Flossing is an integral part of your oral health regimen:  however, many people do not spend enough time flossing their teeth, or they do not floss at all.  By flossing just once a day, you can decrease your risk of gum disease and increase your chances of maintaining good oral health throughout your lifetime.

Brushing cleans the tops and sides of your teeth, but flossing cleans in between teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach.  Dental floss removes plaque and debris that adhere to teeth and gums.  it also helps to polish tooth surfaces and control bad breath.  You should floss your teeth for 2-3 minutes at least once a day.  The best time to floss is right before bed, but you can incorporate it into any part of your daily routine that’s convenient.

Take an 18 inch piece of floss and wrap the bulk of it lightly around your middle finger.  Wind the rest of the floss around your middle finger on the opposite hand, and use this finger to take up the floss as it becomes soiled or frayed.  Do not rub the floss from side to side.  Instead, create a “C” on the side of each tooth.  Make sure to floss below the gum line.  Flossing should not be painful, but you may experience some discomfort or bleeding when you first start.  These side effects should subside in a week or two as you continue to floss.  If it does not, please talk to one of our Hygienist or Doctors at your next visit.

There are a variety of flosses available, and all of them do a similar job of removing plaque.  Wide floss, or dental tape, may be beneficial for those with a lot of bridge work or spacing between their teeth, while waxed floss may be easier to fit between tight teeth and restorations.  Unwaxed floss makes a squeaking sound to let you know when your teeth are clean.  Waxed floss does not fray as easily as unwaxed floss.

Another option is pre-threaded flossers or floss holders.  These are useful for those with limited dexterity, those just learning to floss, or caretakers who are flossing someone else’s teeth.  If you have children, you should start flossing their teeth as soon as they have two teeth contacting each other, and floss holders are very good for children to learn with.  If you have any additional questions about flossing or the type of floss best for you, please feel free to ask Dr. Freeman or Dr. Scott or any of our talented Hygiene Staff at your next cleaning!



Who Makes You Smile?
Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates
3290 Church Road
Henrico, VA  23233



Kid’s Healthy Mouths Campaign

Posted in Dental News   Written by Mark Freeman, DDS On September 19th, 2013
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On the one year anniversary of the Kid’s Healthy Mouths Campaign, the Partnership for Healthy Mouths announced the results of their study.  They demonstrated substantial progress in the effort to improve the oral health habits in the children involved.  The study shows that more parents are regularly monitoring and maintaining their child’s oral care and daily brushing.

Since the Kid’s Healthy Mouths Campaign was launched in August of 2012, it has received a warm response from the media, even being broadcasted in Spanish in some states.  $33 million dollars of free ad time/space was donated nation-wide by television, radio and print outlets.  The PSAs aim to reduce the prevalence of dental decay by motivating parents to promote good oral health habits with their children by reminding them to brush two minutes twice a day.  According to the study:

  • More than 77% of parents report that their children are brushing at least twice a day
  • 64% of parents reported having their children see a Dentist at least once in the last year
  • 60% of those who saw a Dentist reported that their children got a cavity free check-up

Dental Decay is currently the most common chronic childhood disease in the United States.  It affects 16.5 million children per year.  Decay disproportionately affects children of low-income households, which have nearly double the number of untreated cavities than the rest of the general public.

“We are extremely pleased with these results and with the overall impact of the campaign.  Many dental problems can be avoided through simple changes in routines, and we’re seeing now how receptive Americans are to this message.”  said Gary Price, Secretary of the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation.  “Through our collective efforts together . . . we have become the foremost voice on the issue of improving children’s oral health nationwide.”

Since the campaign launched, there have been more than 1.3 million visitors to the Web-Site 2min2x.org which offers a collection of free, two minute videos featuring notable characters from children’s television shows.  The campaign also offers parents oral health tips on their smart phones.  Parents can subscribe by texting “BRUSH” to 30364 or by visiting the homepage of 2min2x.org.



Who Makes You Smile?
Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates
3290 Church Road
Henrico, VA  23233








5 Amazingly Healthy Fast Foods

Posted in Medical Info   Written by Mark Freeman, DDS On September 9th, 2013
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They do exist!  Check out these fast food meals that take the guilt out of your lunch break.

In an ideal world, you would prep your nutritionally balanced lunch every day before work, but we are all busy busy people.  Time-strapped Americans eat out an average of 5 times a week.  Fast food does not have to be your nutritional downfall.  These 5 on-the-go options get the green light from doctors and nutritionist when it comes to “good for you” fast food.

1)  STARBUCKS:  the Protein Bistro Box contains a hard-boiled egg, cheese, bread, peanut butter, an apple, and grapes for only 380 calories.

2) McDONALD’S:  the Premium Southwest Salad (without chicken) is topped with tortilla strips, beans, cheese, and a light southwest dressing with lime.  This McSalad has only 290 calories.

3) CHIPOTLE2 Soft Corn Tortilla Tacos.  The best fillers are steak, lettuce, fajita vegetables, and green tomatillo salsa for only 292 calories.

4) 7-ELEVENCoconut Water and Almonds pair carbohydrates and protein for a sustained energy and 290 calories.

5) PANERA BREAD:  the Power Chicken Hummus Bowl is a delicious bowl of hummus topped with strips of quality, antibiotic-free chicken.  This lunch has 330 calories.

So the next time you need to grab a fast food lunch but are still trying to be good to you body, think about these 5 items for low calories and long lasting energy.



Who Makes You Smile?
Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates
3290 Church Road
Henrico, VA  23233



How to Enjoy Preventing Tooth Decay

Posted in Dental News, Uncategorized   Written by Mark Freeman, DDS On August 29th, 2013
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Enjoy a sweet treat without the worries of causing tooth decay.  This sweet, effective alternative sweetener is Xylitol.  Xylitol is a natural sweetener that is derived from plant fibers such as fruits, vegetables, birch trees and corn cobs.  Humans consume about 8 to 10 grams daily in our diet, and it is naturally synthesized in the liver, which is essential for the conversion of food to energy.  The beauty of xylitol is that it is non-fermentable by oral bacteria because it consists of a 5-carbon chain, and bacteria need a 6-carbon chain food source to metabolize, cell divide and colonize.  The sweetener xylitol tricks the bacteria into attempting to use it as a food source, but it cannot digest it and use it for energy.  The xylitol also encapsulates the existing bacteria and reduces their stickiness, thus reducing the cavities.

Think about what this means for dentistry.  Studies show that Xylitol effective in reducing oral bacteria and dental decay when using it on a daily therapeutic dose for 6 months, and it has a lasting effect for two years when discontinued.  The recommended exposure protocol for xyletol is five times daily, at a minimum of 1 gram per exposure.  Strive for five!  The exposure time is five minutes, with no rinsing or eating for 15 minutes to allow the oral bacteria to bathe and ingest the xylitol.

Xylitol products vary, so reading labels is important.  For example, if the label on the product lists other natural sugarless sweeteners such as sorbitol (which can still be digested by MS), the xylitol may loose its effectiveness due to the competition with the other sweeteners.  When reading product labels, make sure that xylitol is the first ingredient and that no other sweeteners are listed.

Xylitol addresses 4 areas of concern for dentist:

  1. Reduces Oral Bacteria
  2. Increases saliva flow
  3. Raises the pH of saliva (bacteria need an acidic environment to create decay)
  4. Remineralizes the enamel by helping with the uptake of calcium

Typically xylitol products include chewing gum, mints, candy, toothpaste, and mouthrinses.  Xylitol testing has found the sweetener to be completely safe for all ages, but exceeding 40 grams per day may cause a laxative effect until the body adjusts.  It is important to note that dogs and other pets cannot tolerate Xylitol, and it is recommended that you keep it away from all pets.


Who Makes You Smile?
Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates
3290 Church Road
Henrico, VA  23233


When Good Gums Go Bad

Posted in Dental News   Written by Mark Freeman, DDS On August 9th, 2013
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Periodontal Disease (also known as gum disease) doesn’t just cause yuck mouth.  Numerous studies have linked it to serious health conditions including heart disease, diabetes and stroke.  Not only does gum disease affect your mouth and cause tooth loss, but it also affects your body causing an inflammatory response that affects your health.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of all Americans 30 years old and older have some level of periodontal disease.

Periodontal Disease is an inflammation of the gums and bone structures that hold the teeth in place.  Bacteria in the mouth continually form a sticky substance known as plaque, which adheres to the teeth and gums.  If plaque is not removed daily by brushing and flossing, then the bacteria builds up along and under the gum line, creating a hard deposit called tartar.  The presence of tartar stimulates a chronic infection in the gums, which eventually can lead to tooth loss if untreated.  The first signs of periodontal disease typically occur as adults reach the age of 30.  This is a slow process with the earliest signs being gum bleeding when you brush or floss.  Healthy gum tissue is tight and pink, but infected gums will appear puffy and red.  As the disease progresses, other symptoms include bad breath, sensitive teeth, and receding gums.  Advanced periodontal disease will eventually lead to loose teeth, painful chewing, and tooth loss if the disease is not arrested.  To halt the progression of the disease requires extensive dental cleanings and regular hygiene recalls.

Poor Oral Hygiene is the leading cause of periodontal disease, but genetics also play a big roll in this problem.  Other risk factors include smoking, diet, hormonal changes as we get older, diabetes, and certain medications.  The link between periodontal disease and diabetes is so strong that many insurance companies have begun to pay for an extra dental cleaning a year for their patients with diabetes.  For additional information on Periodontal Disease see our Web-Page at


Who Makes You Smile?
Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates
3290 Church Road
Henrico, VA  23233

CSI & Dentistry

Posted in Medical Info   Written by Mark Freeman, DDS On August 5th, 2013
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Have you ever watched one of the popular detective shows like CSI or Criminal Minds?  If you have, you have probably seen an episode where Dental Records were used to identify a body.  Forensic Dentistry has been around for a long time, but it has just been in the last 50 years that it has become a dental / medical specialty.  From the view of a private dental practice, like the office of Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates, record keeping is one of the most important parts of Forensic Dentistry.  At our office, every new patient is given an hour and a half first appointment (if possible with the patient’s schedule).  This extra time is used to collect data and develop a patient base line chart.  This chart includes a Full Mouth Series (FMX) of x-rays or a panorex.  Which one is taken is usually decided on by the Doctor or Hygienist based on the patient’s needs at that time.  Both films will show all of the patient’s teeth and bone levels, but the panorex shows more of the bone relationships with the jaw bone / sinus / and nasal passage.  These films are usually taken every 3-5 years to note changes in bone and dentition.  Between these times, Bite-wing x-rays will aid in indicating any changes which take place in the mouth, such as new restorations.

Also part of the first visit is the Existing Oral Conditions.  When charting or drawing the existing restoration, we are making note of what the patient already has in their mouth on that specific date.  Our charting acts as a marker of what the patient’s teeth physically look like at that time.  A complete charting is redone every 3-5 years, but in between those markings, a list of new restorations is also kept to indicate any work done post the first visit.  Dates, the materials used, the tooth numbers, and sides of the restoration are indicated on the Treatment List.  Along with Existing restorations, we also indicated missing teeth, impacted teeth, root exposure, and pocket depths/defects that the patient may have.  All of these things are specific for that individual and, therefore, can help identify a person much like a fingerprint.

Records should also include thing in or around the mouth such as scars, tattoos, and lesions noted during a comprehensive extra-oral examine.  This is part of what is called the Head And Neck Exam.  Small moles, freckles, and unusual markings may be measured and noted in your chart along with the color and shape of the lesion.  Other oddities such as root morphology and evidence of previous oral surgeries are also noted.  All of this creates a specific record and image of the patient’s oral condition in case needed by a Forensic Team.

When are records needed for identification?  It is unfortunate that some patients do not pass away at home surrounded by their family.  Some people die in fires, car accidents, or are not found for a long time and are hard to identify do to decomposition of the body.  Sometimes it is foul play, but other times it is just an unfortunate circumstance.  At this time, if the police and the Medical Examiner believe they know who the John Doe is, they can call for their dental records.  Like a finger print, the exact arrangement of teeth / fillings / and other oral markings can identify a body, and give the police a name to work with.  Knowing who the deceased is gives the family peace of mind to move forward with arrangements for the body.

I have been in practice 24 years as of September 2013, and in that time, we have only been involved with two (2) forensic identification cases.  Both of these men were long time patients of our practice, and although we were very sad that they passed, we were proud to be part of the process which identified them and brought closure to their family.   We are very dilagent about our record keeping.  Please know that this is why we need to take the time to keep YOUR records so up to date and accurate.


Who Makes You Smile?
Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates
3290 Church Road
Henrico, VA  23233





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