Dr. Todd M. Britten and the team at Britten Periodontics & Implant Dentistry is gearing up for their 3rd annual Free Dental Day for Veterans. The event is scheduled for November 3rd, 2017.
“We all know someone who has served or is currently serving in the military. We have heard stories, we have seen families living apart during deployments, we have seen veterans with disabilities both physical and emotional, we have seen families devastated by the loss of loved ones. Veterans make the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” said Dr. Todd Britten. “Many of us ask ourselves, ‘What can we do?’, ‘How can we make a difference?’”
Dr. Britten said that is exactly what he asked himself in 2015. He and his team were brainstorming idea for how they could use their skill set to pay it forward to others in the Clearwater community. “Both of my grandfathers served in World War II and I remember hearing stories both from them and my grandmothers about what life was like during those times. The sacrifices made by veterans and their families are truly astounding. I was aware that dental coverage for veterans was very hard to attain, so we hit the ground running trying to deliver periodontal care to as many veterans as we could.”
Jennifer Daly, a surgical assistant at the practice served in the Airforce, “I am very proud of my service to my country and I am even more proud of this dental work that we are doing for my fellow veterans.”
The inaugural year the Clearwater, FL based periodontal practice provided over $10,000 worth of comprehensive dental treatment to a group of veterans, the following year over $15,000, “As word has gotten out, we have had an incredible response from the community and even were able to get the skilled and compassionate restorative dentists at Clearwater Dental Associates, Dr. Jim Hayslett, Dr. Keith Kiskadden and Dr. Matt Burton on board to help out with our event.” Stated Britten. “Having the Dentists and staff at CDA involved enables us to provide more comprehensive care to our veterans. Being a periodontist, my specialty is really the surrounding structures of the teeth; roots, gum and bone. My job is to help with the foundation. Having the restorative specialists at CDA involved helps us to treat the whole mouth and really deliver comprehensive care to these veterans.”
For Britten and his team this event is something they look forward to all year long. They even keep in touch with many of the veterans. “What I’ve enjoyed the most about this event over the past two years is the friends that we have made. My respect for servicemen and women has simply increased. Hearing their stories and getting to be a part of their health journey has been a very rewarding experience.”
This sentiment was mirrored by everyone on Britten’s team, “This is such a feel good event. I really enjoy getting to know all of the veterans. Their stories will bring tears to your eyes, and we are all so grateful to be able to pay it forward,” stated Ellen Byrd, a registered dental hygienist who has been in charge of scheduling and planning the event. “We have been working closely with the Community Dental Clinic, the Homeless Emergency Project, and social workers from local V.A. Branches.
Britten Periodontics and Implant Dentistry is currently doing initial exams on veterans to get them scheduled for treatment. “If you know of any veteran in serious need of dental care, please get in touch with their office right away, as these spaces are filling up quickly,” Ellen Byrd said. To reach them, you can call 727-586-2681, visit their website at http://www.brittenperio.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Britten Periodontics & Implant Dentistry is a periodontal practice offering patients personalized dental care in implant dentistry in Clearwater, Florida. Dr. Todd Britten received his Bachelor of Science & Doctorate of Dental Surgery from University of Florida, a Master’s Degree and Certificate in Periodontology and Implant Dentistry; and completed extensive training at the Institute of Advanced Laser Dentistry. He is one of the only board-certified periodontists in Pinellas County. He is a member of the American Academy of Periodontology, American Dental Association, Florida Association of Periodontists, Upper Pinellas County Dental Association, Hillsborough County Dental Association, Hillsborough County Dental Research Association and Florida West Coast Dental Association.
Dr. Britten is highly concerned about his patients who smoke. The likelihood of developing advanced periodontal disease or gum disease can be up to six times higher in smokers. Periodontal disease is an extremely serious condition affecting not only the gums, but also the membranes and ligaments and bone supporting the teeth.
Many studies on smoking and periodontal disease have concluded that smokers have:
- Deeper probing depths and a larger number of deep pockets in the gums.
- More attachment loss including more gingival recession
- More alveolar boneloss & tooth loss
- Less gingivitis and less bleeding on probing
One of the major problems with smoking is that it tends to mask the damage being caused to teeth and gums. This damage can be difficult to detect, producing very few early warning signs of advanced periodontal disease. For years it was thought that nicotine being a vasoconstrictor was causing less blood flow to the gums, causing less infection-fighting white blood cells to reach the area. Newer studies are showing that smoking appears to have a long-term affect the inflammatory lesions, or diseased gums of smokers, which have less blood vessels in them than in non-smokers.
- More teeth with furcation involvement (where the bone levels have been destroyed below the area where the roots of the teeth meet, leaving this area exposed, making it prone to further destruction as well as decay.
- Additionally, nicotine affects saliva, causing it to become thicker so it is less able to wash away acid created after eating. As a result heavy smokers can be more likely to suffer from tooth decay than non-smokers, even though they may practice good oral hygiene.
Smoking has a profound effect on the immune and inflammatory system. Smokers have more infection-fighting cells in their body, but fewer of these helpful cells make it into the gingival pocket. Studies also show that these good cells have a decreased ability to accomplish their function, which is to destroy harmful periodontal bacteria. Adhesion molecules are being found within smoker’s tissues, in the white blood cells, in the inflammatory lesions, and even in the supporting gingival tissues. Studies have shown impairment in defensive functions of other defensive blood cells, even those using smokeless tobacco due to the high concentrations of nicotine.
Smoking also impairs the healing of dental implants and even in the healing from all other aspects of periodontal treatment including non-surgical treatments (including scaling and root planing or “deep cleaning”), surgical treatment, bone grafting and tissue grafting. Studies have shown that tobacco smoke and nicotine affect blood vessels in the gums, healthy bone-building cells, connective tissue matrix, the jaw bone and even the root surface itself. Tooth root surfaces in smokers have actually been shown to be contaminated by products of smoking such as nicotine, cotinine, acrolein and acetaldehyde, which may inhibit the gum tissue from healing around the roots of teeth as they should. Smoking has been shown to affect human bone, and is a risk factor for osteoporosis, which is also a risk factor for periodontal disease.
As a periodontist, Dr. Britten is a specialist in treating advanced periodontal disease and is able to provide patients with the very latest techniques and treatments to help slow down this condition. Where teeth are lost then one option is to replace them with dental implants, but smoking is not advisable during this treatment because it does slow down healing.
If you do currently smoke and value your smile, it’s worth thinking about quitting.
Please contact our Clearwater office at 727-586-2681 or visit our website at http://www.brittenperio.com for more information.