Category Archives: dentistry

Activities to Get Kids Excited About Dental Health

4 Activities to Get Kids Excited About Dental Health

Once you see that your child is beginning to grow some teeth, it is also time to think about his or her dental health. Some kids, however, may find taking care of their teeth to be a bit difficult or too much work. Sometimes, making them brush their teeth is a struggle that parents face. That is why it is important to teach them to care about dental health as early as possible.

The best place to teach your children about the importance of dental health is at home. As the first tooth starts to grow, you can start encouraging your kids to have healthy dental habits.

Get your kids excited about taking good care of their teeth with these fun activities.

1. Let your toddler choose his own toothbrush and toothpaste.

For years, various companies have manufactured toothbrushes and toothpaste that have cartoon characters on them. There are also toothbrushes that have lights on them. The lights turn on when you start and turns off after a full recommended 2-minute brushing. These products, which are made to keep your teeth clean and healthy, are designed to be appealing to kids.

The next time you head to the grocery store, ask your kid to choose the toothbrush that has his favorite character on them. Then let him choose his own toothpaste in his favorite flavor. This way, he will always look forward to brushing his teeth.

After every meal, make it a habit to brush your teeth with your kid. Set an example, and tell him why it is important to brush your teeth after you eat. Let him see how you do it and guide him as he brushes his teeth.

2. Make an “I brushed my teeth” chart.

Design a chart that lets your kid put a star beside his name every time he finishes brushing his teeth. Put this chart on the bathroom wall where he can see it while he brushes his teeth.

With this activity, kids tend to get too excited that they do the brushing very quickly just to be able to put a star on the chart. So, make sure that a parent is present while your kid brushes to make sure that he or she is brushing his or her teeth thoroughly. You can add more fun by giving a prize (hint: no candies!) once he or she reaches a certain number of stars.

3. Do an experiment at home!

No, we are not telling you to use harmful chemicals and start boiling liquids. This experiment is easy to do, and is harmless for you and your kids.

Put each of 4 hard-boiled eggs into separate cups. Fill each cup (completely submerging the eggs) with different liquids: soda, vinegar, fruit juice and water. Leave the setup overnight. The following morning, make observations with your kids.

Tell them that the egg shell is pretty much like our teeth. Anything that we drink or eat will also affect our dental health as digestion starts in the mouth. It is important to add a detail to the egg submerged in soda. The egg will completely change in color. Try brushing it off with toothpaste, so kids can see how important toothpaste is.

4. Encourage them to be more conscious with the food that they eat.

Cut out different pictures of food (healthy and unhealthy) from magazines. Ask your kids to put each picture of food into one of these two groups: Healthy and Unhealthy Food. Guide them as they do the groupings. If you need some health, check out our guide about food that is bad for your teeth.

Once your kid is done, review the pictures and ask them why he or she thinks it is healthy or unhealthy, then validate their answer. Gather all the pictures of healthy food and put them inside a bag. Label the bag “Happy Teeth” and tell them that the food inside the bag, does not only make our body healthy, it also keeps our teeth happy.

Place the pictures of the unhealthy food into another bag and label it “Sad Teeth” and tell them how eating sweets make our teeth sad. This activity will help your kids identify the foods that are bad for their teeth. It will also show them how to take care of their general health through the food that they eat.

It is important to have your kids visit their dentist at least once a year. For more information on how to get your kids excited about dental health, visit us at SmilesNY. If you have any questions about Invisalign or pediatric dentistry, call today.  

5 Concerns You Should Definitely Mention to Your Dentist

5 Concerns You Should Definitely Mention to Your Dentist

You would be hard-pressed to find someone who actually enjoys going to the dentist. In fact, many people fear going. Unfortunately, it is vital that you get a cleaning twice a year to prevent any dental health issues. When attending these cleanings, it is important to mention to your dentist any health-related information that you think may be good for him or her to know. However, there are several things that you may not realize need to be addressed to your dentist. Here is a list of five that you should always mention.

Headaches

            Many of us suffer from headaches regularly. However, many of us do not realize that these aches can be a symptom of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), an infected tooth or a cavity. If you are consistently having headaches and are not sure as to what is the cause, you should discuss it with your dentist.

Weak and tingling feelings in arms and legs

            This may seem like a weird symptom to mention to your dentist. However, similar to headaches, weak and tingling feelings in limbs is a symptom of TMJ. This feeling in your fingers and toes could also signal diabetic neuropathy. Because this is closely related to gum disease, it is crucial to mention to your dentist. Furthermore, overusing denture adhesives can result in nerve damage. If this is something you use and are dealing with these symptoms, you may need to discuss another option with your dentist.

Fatigue

            Fatigue is a common symptom many of us deal with daily. While there are many different causes of excessive fatigue, sleep apnea is a major one. If this is the case for you, your dentist can work with you to determine the right treatment for your sleep apnea. Also, fatigue is a symptom of mercury poisoning, which can be result of metal fillings.

Pregnancy

            Women who are pregnant have many different doctor appointments to keep up with that going to the dentist may slide through. Try not to let this be the case. If you are pregnant, you should work with your dentist to ensure you maintain good oral health. Similar to the health of the rest of your body, a healthy mouth makes for a healthier baby. Furthermore, women who have gum disease while pregnant can result in more complications.

Your toothcare

            This may seem like an obvious one. However, most patients do not get a dentist’s opinion on what products are best for their mouth. There are so many different options out on the market today and all advertise different things. Phrases like “fluoride-free” or “silica blend” can oftentimes be confusing. Furthermore, each patient’s specific needs are different depending on their health history. Ask your dentist which toothbrush and toothpaste he or she recommends for your teeth. Also, inquire if there are any other issues you should be addressing when practicing oral hygiene.

            Maintaining dental health is vital to sustaining your overall health. SmilesNY is here to answer any questions or concerns you may have. Call us at 888-353-7165 to make your appointment today.

Sensitive Teeth? These 5 Tips Are for You

Sensitive Teeth? These 5 Tips Are for You

                If you have sensitive teeth then you know that it can be quite the hassle. Eating cold foods and drinking cold drinks are often incredibly painful for those with sensitive teeth issues. Tooth sensitivity can be the result of several factors. Gum recession, consuming acidic foods and drinks, teeth grinding and brushing too hard are all causes of sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity can also occur after a dental treatment, like whitening, cleanings or root canals, as well as from root nerve damage. Fortunately, there are several ways to combat tooth sensitivity. To prevent any unwanted pain, check out our top five tips below.

Use the right toothpaste

                Perhaps the best way to fight against tooth sensitivity is with a toothpaste designed for those with sensitive teeth. Many popular brands like Colgate, Crest, Sensodyne and Arm & Hammer all sell these toothpastes. When making a purchase, make sure that potassium nitrate is among the ingredients. This ingredient works to fight tooth sensitivity and prevent pain by blocking the tiny tubules that are in the dentin. Following up your toothbrushing routine with a mouthwash that has stannous fluoride will help the desensitization process.

Brush with the right tools

                How you brush your teeth and the brush you use make a big difference with tooth sensitivity. Make sure that you are utilizing a toothbrush that is soft-bristled and ensure you are brushing gently. Brushing aggressively with medium or hard bristles will accelerate receding gums, which will in turn expose teeth and destroy enamel.

Steer clear of acidic foods and drinks

                Foods high in acidic nature, like coffee, tea and citrus fruits, work against sensitive teeth by dissolving enamel. Avoiding these kinds of foods and drinks is ideal. If this is not possible, attempt to limit your exposure to them. Also, use a straw to consume these beverages as it will minimize the contact with them.

Wear protection

                If you are a teeth grinder at night, chances are you suffer from tooth sensitivity. Grinding teeth can dissolve enamel, which in turn makes teeth more sensitive. If this is the case, we suggest coming in and getting a customized mouth guard fit for your mouth. This will help to prevent any destroying of enamel during the night.

If you are not sure if you grind your teeth, look out for the symptoms: serious headaches and severe jaw pain are both big signs that you may grind your teeth.

Stay close with your dentist

                If tooth sensitivity is an issue for you then visiting your dentist is a good idea. He or she can determine exactly where the sensitivity is deriving from and can then apply an in-office desensitizer. This painted-on barrier, like a fluoride varnish, will work to decrease the sensitivity levels. Your dentist may recognize another issue that could be contributing to the sensitivity and will then be able to treat it.

If sensitivity continues to occur, call us today at 1-888-353-7165 to make an appointment to see Dr. Roth or Dr. Chase.

The Surprising Things You Should Check for Mouth Cancer

The Surprising Things You Should Check for Mouth Cancer

Around 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, and it will cause around 10,000 deaths. Oftentimes, when someone is diagnosed with cancer, it is after exhibiting certain symptoms. For mouth cancer, there are several symptoms to look out for.

Typically, oral cancer appears as a sore or growth inside the mouth, and the cancer does not subside. Cancer in the mouth includes cancer that resides in or on the lips, tongue, sinuses, throat, cheeks, floor of the mouth and hard and soft palate. If not diagnosed and treated immediately, oral cancer can be life threatening. Check out below for a list of the most common symptoms of oral cancer.

Sores within the mouth

            A major symptom of oral cancer is the development of lumps and rough spots throughout the mouth. This especially includes areas like the lips and gums. Other physical symptoms include white, red and speckled patches throughout the mouth. Unexplained bleeding is also a major symptom.

With mouth cancer, you may experience numbness and tenderness of the face, neck and mouth. Sores around the face, neck and mouth that are not healing within two weeks are also signs, especially if they bleed easily.

Pain in the throat

            Another major symptom of oral cancer is a constant feeling of soreness in the throat. It may feel as if something is caught in the back of your throat. As a result, you might experience a difficulty in chewing and swallowing. Speaking and moving the jaw is often uncomfortable. A change in voice can also occur.

Unexpected symptoms

            Other symptoms that can be experienced that may signal mouth cancer include a pain in the ears and dramatic weight loss. Movement of the teeth has also been reported. This could impact how dentures fit.

Who is at risk?

            The American Cancer Society reports that men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer than women. Men who are over 50 years old have the highest risk. During 2014, over 40,000 people were diagnosed with oral cancer in the United States.

While men over 50 are at the highest risk, other factors can put you at risk for mouth cancer. Smoking is the top factor for raising the risk of oral cancer. Those who smoke cigarettes, pipes and cigars are six times more likely to develop oral cancer than those who do not smoke.

Also, those who excessively consume alcohol are also about six times more at risk than those who do not drink. Other factors that raise risk of oral cancer include a family history and excessive exposure to the sun. Those who have contracted human papillomavirus (HPV) are at higher risk as well, as certain strains of HPV are etiologic risk factors for Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

Despite these factors, over 25% of those who are diagnosed with oral cancer are nonsmokers and only consume alcohol socially.

How to prevent

            The best way to prevent an oral cancer diagnosis is to steer clear of smoking and excessive alcohol usage. Consume a healthy, balanced diet and limit exposure to the sun.

Once a month, you should be conducting a self-exam on your lips, gums and roof of your mouth to search for any lumps or enlarged lymph nodes. Using a bright light, feel around your entire mouth as well as your neck and under your jaw. If anything feels odd or you are exhibiting any symptoms listed above, contact your dentist immediately.

To ensure a healthy mouth, you should be seeing your dentist at least twice a year for regular preventative checkups. It is recommended for those between 20 and 40 years old to have an oral cancer screening with a dentist every 3 years. For those who are over 40, these checks should be annually.

Call us at 1-888-353-7165 to book your oral cancer screening today.

Can Dentists Really Help Me Sleep?

Can Dentists Really Help Me Sleep?

As much as 40% of the American population snores, and around 16% of the US has a diagnosable form of obstructive sleep apnea. Between 50 and 70 million people in our country has a sleep disorder. Many people feel that they are not getting enough sleep, but what most people do not know is how visiting a dentist can help.

Worn-down enamel

Your mouth, neck, and jaw show indicators of how well or poorly you are sleeping. For example, worn-down enamel is a sign of stress or anxiety. This causes someone to grind or gnash their teeth at night. Another way a dentist helps is by looking at the shape of your jaw. Your jaw may indicate whether or not you are prone to having sleep apnea.

Snoring

Many people find snoring to be nothing more than annoying. While it may be irksome if your partner drones on at night, it has a deleterious effect on your sleep. Sleep apnea disrupts your rest. This has an impact on you not only while you sleep, but it decreases your brain’s executive functioning, limits your ability to pay attention, and impairs your memory. In general, a reduction in the quality of sleep also leads to a decline in general health.

How dentists can help

Dentists are equipped with a few means of improving your sleep. One of the least intrusive means is a mandibular advancement device. During your visit to the dentist, he or she takes a mold of your mouth, so the device is unique to you. Then he or she can show you how to put it in, and make it comfortable. This device will pull your jaw forward, which forces the tongue forward and clears your airway. When your airway is clear, the quality of sleep is greatly improved.

In addition, a dentist may prescribe you a continuous positive airway pressure machine, otherwise known as a CPAP. You place a mask over your head before you sleep, and the device establishes a pressure which is conducive to helping you sleep. This is considered one of the best ways to help you sleep if you have sleep apnea.

Unfortunately, these devices have an incredibly low adherence rate. This means that many patients do not use the CPAP as much as they should. CPAPs require electricity, and are not portable. The masks are often bulky, and as much as half of users stop using. This is not recommended. These devices are the best means of fighting moderate to severe sleep apnea.

There are additional disorders that dentists diagnose. Upper airway resistance syndrome, hypopnea, and bruxism are all noticed upon a visit to the dentist. Sleep apnea is one of the most common dental-related sleep disorders, but it is far from the only one.

To answer the question, yes. Dentists really can help you sleep. If you have any questions about how dentistry and sleep are related, contact us at (212) 752-6537.  The dentists at SmilesNY will use their decades of experience to assist you in any way they can.

What is Bruxism?

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is fairly common, as sleep bruxism affects as many as 10% of adults and 15% of children. Diurnal bruxism, otherwise known as awake bruxism, impacts as much as 50% of law enforcement officers and nearly 60% of IT professionals. We have already seen the two types of bruxism, nocturnal and awake, but we need to understand what this is on a deeper level.

The word bruxism comes from the Greek bryx which means ‘gnashing of the teeth.’ It was first coined by Bertrand Frohman in 1931, but there is evidence of the condition as far back as Biblical times. Displaying one’s teeth in a clinched fashion is a natural instinct, and is displayed in animals.

The biggest causes of bruxism are stress and anxiety.

This is true of both sleep bruxism and awake bruxism. If your family has a history of this disorder, you are more likely to have this condition. People who suffer from bruxism while they are awake may be aware of it, but eventually the behavior becomes automatic.

Bruxism rarely occurs alone.

If you grind your teeth while sleeping, this is usually taken as a sign of another sleep disorder, such as sleep talking, hypnagogic hallucinations, and REM sleep disorders. Nearly 80% of bruxism occurs in clusters.

This condition is then further divided into two more categories: primary and secondary. Primary bruxism is when grinding and gnashing of the teeth happens without another medical condition present. Secondary bruxism is when the grinding of teeth is associated with a medical or psychological condition is known, and one grinds their teeth as a symptom of the disorder.

Those who suffer from bruxism ought to know that this is a serious condition. The enamel of your teeth wears down at four times the normal rate. Grinding one’s teeth produces up to 250 pounds of force per square inch. This is enough pressure to crack a walnut, so it is easy to imagine what it can do to one’s teeth.

Additional consequences

There are additional results of prolonged bruxism. Teeth are often ground down, which leads to sensitivity to heat and cold. Gum recession is frequently seen when one has this disease. Loose teeth may need to be put back into their places. Muscles in the jaw tend to ache at all hours of the day, and numerous headaches have been reported by those who have this condition.

No cure for bruxism has been developed. One cannot treat the condition itself, but there are steps you can take to help alleviate its effects. Dental guards will help protect your teeth. Occlusal splints partially cover the teeth that are most affected, which helps protect them in the long run. As was mentioned before, stress is a common cause of this disease. Eliminating the stressor helps, as does having an effective means of dealing with stress.

If you have any questions about bruxism or any disorders related to dentistry, the experts at SmilesNY can help. We can use our years of experience to help make your smile glow. Call us today at (212) 752-6537.

How to Keep Braces Clean

How to Keep Your Braces Clean

We all know the general rules of brushing our teeth: at least twice a day for two minutes each. Growing up we are taught the importance of dental hygiene, but the tables tend to turn once we get braces. It is normal to worry if the general rules are enough to clean our teeth through braces. However, interestingly enough, not much changes once brackets are added into the equation.

Here are some great tips on how to maintain a fresh, clean smile while wearing braces.

  • Do a quick rinse with water before brushing. This allows for the release of any loose food particles within the brackets.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush—or even better, an electric one. Brushes that are V-shaped will allow for easier access in between brackets.
  • In order to avoid damaging the brackets and wires, it is required to brush a bit more gently than you would without braces.
  • Replace your toothbrush at least every three months. Braces can often result in more wear and tear on your toothbrush, so pay attention to make sure the bristles are never worn down from the brackets.
  • Don’t forget to brush ALL parts of your teeth: the front, side and back are all equally important.
  • Flossing is just as important, if not more so, when you have braces. Use a floss threader to get in between teeth and underneath the wires effortlessly. Even more efficient is the use of a water flosser, which uses high water pressure to clean between teeth and the gum line.
  • If possible, brush teeth after every meal. Food particles and plaque can easily get stuck onto brackets, which can be hard to remove without a proper brushing.
  • Finish up with a fluoride mouth rinse, which works to prevent cavities and stains.

Abiding by these brushing rules will help to maintain a clean smile. However, some foods should be avoided while wearing braces regardless of how often you brush your teeth.

Here’s a list of foods to stay away from until you are brace-free:

  • Crunchy, hard foods like popcorn, ice, nuts, raw vegetables and hard candies.
  • Sticky foods like caramel and gum.
  • Foods that require biting into like apples and corn on the cob.

If you are a chronic chewer and find yourself gnawing on pen caps or fingernails, now is the time to break that habit. It is important to realize that any harsh impact can easily damage the brackets. If you are an athlete, use a mouth guard in order to prevent any direct impact to your mouth.

The fear of ending up with small white squares once braces are removed is very common. However, it is important to steer clear of whitening products while wearing braces as it can deteriorate the cement on the brackets. It can also lead to uneven whitening, which will be visible post-braces.

Braces are a temporary stress for a permanent fix. However, dental hygiene is a lifelong task and must be taken as such. Semiannually cleanings are vital to a healthy mouth, along with daily care. Come in and see Dr. Roth or Dr. Chase at Smiles NY for your preventative care to get the lifelong smile you deserve.

what causes teeth yellowing

What Causes Teeth Yellowing

Aside from being unpleasant to look at, yellowing teeth can be a sign of more serious health conditions. It can be the cause of low self-confidence and can prevent people from flashing their teeth and smile.

Yellowing teeth is a common problem. However, knowing its root causes (no pun intended!) can help you adopt some lifestyle changes to prevent it.

Here are some of the usual causes of teeth yellowing:

  • Aging

As we age, it is inevitable that our teeth lose its natural coating called enamel, causing its gradual discoloration. As the teeth coating gets worn out, the natural yellow color of the dentin gets revealed. Moreover, your teeth accumulate tartar as you age which contributes to turning your teeth yellow.

  • Certain drinks like tea and coffee

Coffee, soda, tea, alcohol, wine and other drinks that are acidic are among the most common reasons why teeth turn to yellow. The acid and tannins in these drinks are the culprit. Although you probably cannot avoid drinking these beverages entirely, limiting your intake can definitely lessen the possibility of discoloration.

  • Tobacco

Cigarettes and other tobacco products are harmful to the enamel of our teeth. The nicotine and tar in tobacco are what causes teeth yellowing. Although nicotine in itself does not cause yellowing, its combination with oxygen causes teeth discoloration.

Another component of tobacco that yellows the teeth is tar. When it accumulates on the oral cavity, it contributes to the yellowing of your teeth.

  • Tooth damage

When your teeth decay because of damages such as breaking and cracking, the pulp tissue of your teeth turns to yellow.

  • Certain medicines

Certain medications like tetracycline and doxycycline can cause your teeth to yellow. These drugs can affect the structure of your teeth. Other medications such as chlorhexidine and other chemotherapy drugs can also cause teeth yellowing.

  • Excessive fluoride

Fluorosis results from the excessive consumption of fluoride especially at the time when teeth are still forming. One symptom of fluorosis is the yellowing of teeth. This condition is common among children and may be incurred through accumulated intake of water and other drinks that contain fluoride.

Although not a serious disease, fluorosis causes the teeth to be unpleasantly discolored. This can be treated through teeth whitening, veneers or crowns.

  • Poor dental hygiene

Certain dental practices such as brushing and flossing, when done wrong, may cause teeth yellowing. When you do not brush and floss your teeth regularly, plaque buildup happens. Brushing your teeth twice a day and visiting your dentist for regular cleaning can help prevent the formation of plaque.

  • Genetics

Some people are just born with natural yellow teeth. Genetics plays a big role in determining the appearance of your teeth. The enamel, the outer layer of your teeth, is what makes your teeth appear white. The thicker the enamel, the whiter your teeth appear.

The layer under the enamel is the dentin, which is naturally yellow in color. When you have a thin enamel, your dentin is more visible, which means that your teeth will appear more yellow.

Proper hygiene and teeth whitening are now available if you want to address your yellowing teeth. If you are in the NYC area, contact us today.

Tips and Tricks for Better Child Dental Care

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.

See full article on http://www.wsaw.com/content/news/The-Doctor-Is-In-Tips-and-tricks-for-better-child-dental-care-412549133.html

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.