Monday, April 30, 2012

 May is the month we celebrate the women who dedicate their lives to taking care of us, whether they are a mother, a grandmother, or someone else who has made a meaningful impact. Making sure that other people live healthy lives can be stressful and time-consuming, and this leads a lot of women to put their own health on the back burner.

Dr. Kifer wants to change this pattern by inspiring all women to get the health care they may have been neglecting, and treat themselves as well as they treat those around them. We are encouraging everyone to celebrate National Women’s Health Week from May 13th-19th this year.

Studies show that in times of need mothers are quick to cut things out of their own lives rather than have their children sacrifice. In one survey 72% of women said they gave up on the quality of clothing they wear, while the same number said they made no changes to that of their children. We need to make sure that these cuts are not extending to health-related issues.

Dental visits are one great way to check up on overall health. Fixing issues that come up in a visit can save a woman you love from deadly conditions such as COPD, pneumonia, a stroke, or even a heart attack.  Dr. Kifer checks for signs of diabetes, high blood pressure, oral cancer, and many other life-threatening disorders as part of regular twice-yearly appointments.

This month, encourage a woman you love to put themselves first. Buy them a massage or give them a foot rub when they come home. Tell them to take it easy one night while you make dinner and do the dishes. Better yet, make sure they are getting all of the health care they need and deserve. Are they on schedule for their twice-yearly check-ups with Dr. Kifer?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A new study which points to a correlation between dental x-rays and meningioma was released this week.   We feel it is important to acknowledge and address this study, and keep our patients informed, so that they can make the best decisions regarding their treatment.   Reading some of the headlines can be pretty scary, if you don’t have all the information available.   A Google search for “dental x-rays” turned up results such as “Are Dental X-rays Causing Brain Tumors” and “Yearly Dental X-rays Raise Brain Tumor Risk”.   Let’s examine these claims more closely. 

  •      One of the key points to recognize is that this study pertains to “past” x-rays.  It is important to note that modern x-rays utilize much lower doses of radiation, due to advances in technology and increased film speeds.   Our office uses digital x-rays, which use significantly less radiation: as much as 80% less.


  •             The specific type of tumor mentioned is usually benign, rarely cancerous.   There are also studies that seem to indicate that genetics play a role.    Symptoms include changes in vision, headaches that worsen over time, hearing or memory loss, seizures and weakness in extremities.

  •     The study relies on a patient’s memory.  Many of our patients are surprised to learn that it has been over a year since we last took any x-rays.  They “could just swear” that they had x-rays at their last visit.  Be honest, can you remember what dental x-rays you had taken 5 years ago? 10 years? How about 20-60 years ago?   That’s how far back this study is asking patients to remember.  American Dental Association’s media spokesperson, Dr. Matthew Messina, says one of the weaknesses of the study is that people’s memories about their x-rays are unclear.  It is difficult to pin down, especially without the x-rays.

  •             Finally, the difference between “linked to” and “causes”.   The study suggests that there is a correlation between the amount of past x-rays and meningioma; it does not suggest that dental x-rays actually cause the tumors.  Even with the flaws, the study does not make the claim that dental x-rays cause cancer, as some of the headlines seem to suggest. 

In our office, we like to look at risk factors: your gums and bone, your bite, and your teeth themselves.  Some of our patients are at an increased risk in one or more areas, and may need to have diagnostic x-rays more frequently.  Those patients would include: 
  •             Children, depending on age, are more likely to develop cavities.  We are also monitoring growth and development during their developmental years.  Teenagers need to be monitored for wisdom teeth. 
  •      Patients with extensive existing restorations (crowns and/or fillings)- there is an increased risk for decay to develop under these restorations, where they can’t be seen with the naked eye. 
  •             Patients who have a high sugar intake are at an increased risk for developing cavities.
  •             Patients with periodontal disease may need more frequent x-rays to monitor bone levels.
  •             Patients with dry mouth, whether due to medications or illness.  Saliva helps to maintain a stable pH in the mouth.  When there is reduced saliva, the pH decreases, which contributes to cavity development. 

For more information on x-rays, please visit the American Dental Association’s website:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

April is National Cancer Control Month

You may have heard in the news of Michael Douglas’s battle with throat cancer, but he is not alone in this fight: every hour 3 more people are diagnosed with oral cancer. What may be even more alarming is that today more than 16 people will die from some form of this disease, a trend which has been consistent for 40 years.

April is National Cancer Control Month, a time dedicated to creating awareness in the hopes of preventing the disease. For Dr. Kifer, it is a chance to educate people on risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use and human papillomavirus (HPV).

This frightening connection to HPV is rarely acknowledged, but we now know that it can lead to oral cancer, bringing the disease to a younger population than ever before. Even worse, standard sexually transmitted infection (STI) tests do not screen for HPV, and people often don’t even know they have it until something worse develops. Your dentist may be the only one who can help you with early detection of oral cancer.

“Regular checkups at your dental office and self-evaluations are both essential. Be aware of any bumps, discoloration of tissue (such as white or red areas) or changes to the mouth, throat, tongue and lips,” explains Dr. Kifer, “Using these practices we can all help lower the risks and prevent oral cancer, which is why JaNetta, Billie and I screen for oral cancer at each hygiene appointment.”

For more information about National Cancer Control Month, or to book your appointment, please contact us at 479-521-2002.