Dentist Versus Polar Bear

Photo courtesy Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.

By Alison Majikes/Special to

My, what big teeth you have Boris…

A zoo dentist in Tacoma Washington faced, quite possibly, the biggest patient he has ever seen last week.

Boris the Polar Bear, a resident at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, underwent a procedure to remove three broken or decayed teeth in an operating room that not only included the dentist and his assistant, but also an entire support staff to make sure everything went smoothly.

According to an article by The Daily Mail UK, the zoo said Boris is one of the oldest polar bears in any North American zoo. At the ripe old age of 29, he has been living nearly twice as long as his relatives live in the wild.

The giant bear was born in Germany, but came to the U.S. in 2002 after U.S. animal welfare officials rescued him from a circus in Puerto Rico.

Along with his residency at the zoo, Boris must have gotten an excellent dental healthcare package to go along with it.

To read the full story about Boris, see more pictures and the team that worked with him.


A bit of inspiration for #National Toothache Day

If you’re torn between whether to celebrate National Toothache Day or not, take a little inspiration from Benco Dental Senior Graphic Designer Donna Shrader.

She suggested this vintage Sesame Street video featuring Wayne Brady and Elmo (once a frequent jam for she and her then-toddler son David) as the perfect treatment plan for this unique holiday.

Her logic: If a toothache is plaguing your day, use this memorable song to bolster your spirits and laugh a little until you arrive. If not, be sure to get between your teeth during cleaning to avoid gum disease and tooth decay –two of the top causes of toothaches.

PRO-SYS tapersThose hard-to-reach spaces can be within your grasp — PRO-SYS™ interdental brushes offer an option for those who don’t want to settle for an “incomplete clean.” Available in tapered or cylindrical shapes, these professionally designed, professionally recommended brushes are  great for back teeth and crowded teeth and ideal for cleaning between braces, crowns, bridges and implants


Techy the Tiger rocks NJ dental event for children

Photo courtesy Cumberland County Technical Education Center (CCTEC)

Children never able to receive dental treatment were welcomed with open arms for care. Mascots, face painting and light-hearted atmosphere aimed to make the 70 young patients feel at ease, according to a story at

In Deerfield Township N.J., the 13th annual “Give Kids a Smile” event was hosted Friday at the Cumberland County Technical Education Center, where dentists and dental assistants from all over Cumberland County gathered to give free dental care to children who otherwise may never have access to it.

Judy Zirkle, program director for the dental assisting program at CCTEC, told that  in addition to providing free dental care for children in need, it also gave CCTEC students in the dental assisting program an opportunity to train alongside real professionals in their field.

This was the 13th year CCTEC participated in the national event that began in 2002. The American Dental Association adopted Give Kids a Smile concept and established a national clinic day, where more than a million children are cared for and more than $100 million in dental care is provide yearly.

Children were also able to have their picture taken with the school’s mascot, Techy the Tiger, have their face painted, play games that simultaneously educated children in dental hygiene and all children received a teddy bear donated by the Hug a Bear Foundation.

Lastly, T-shirts and supplies for the event were donated by Benco Dental Supply Co., Pittston, Pennsylvania.

Should athletes rethink sugary drinks?

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers quarterback, shown, according to the Wall Street Journal, has been drinking soda after every game for seven years.

By Kelsi Matylewicz/ Social Media Intern, Benco Dental

Health experts have claimed that sugary energy drinks may have cost athletes medals at the 2012 Olympics; nagging mouth pain could have put them off their game, according to

The amount of energy that athletes need for training often means they have high-carbohydrate diets and regularly use sugary, acidic energy drinks.

It’s not just Olympians  — Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers quarterback, shown. According to the Wall Street Journal, he has been drinking soda after every game for seven years.

But intense training can lead to a dry mouth, which in turn may lead to oral health problems.

According to the Daily Mail, story, “The study found 18 percent of top sports men and women complained the state of their teeth had a negative impact on their ability to perform” and “nearly half (46.5 percent) reported they had not visited a dentist in the past year.”

French cyclist Pierre Rolland drank a soda while riding in the 2013 Tour de France.

French cyclist Pierre Rolland drank a soda while riding in the 2013 Tour de France.

Last month, a study published by German researchers, found the longer athletes exercised, the less saliva they produced and the more alkaline (alkaline saliva works to encourage the growth of plaque bacteria which causes tooth decay) it became.

The study found that for every extra hour of training each week, there was an increased risk of a person needing fillings, or having decayed or missing teeth.

As part of the study, a team of dentists at the University Heidelberg Hospital in Germany, examined the teeth of 35 triathletes and 35 non-athletes.

Commenting on the results of this new study, health experts at University College London said dentistry must be given the same priority as other sports sciences to help increase their ability at any sport event.

Olympic athlete promoting Coca-Cola.

Olympic athlete promoting Coca-Cola.

Professor Ian Needleman of the UCL Eastman Dental Institute said: ‘Oral health could be an easy win for athletes, as the oral conditions that can affect performance are all easily preventable.”

To read the full story:

Anesthesia-free laser procedures with no bleeding, no drilling? No kidding.


No vibration or loud noise with this laser.

“Often times, my preparations with Solea are completely drill-free, resulting in an entirely different experience for my patients,” said North Haven, CT, private practitioner David Fantarella, DMD, who has been using hard- and soft-tissue lasers since 2008.

Solea, by Convergent Dental, is the first CO2 laser system ever cleared by the FDA for hard and soft tissue ablation.

Fantarella, in an interview with Compendium magazine,  noted that the CO2 laser system can vaporize every tissue in the mouth—gingiva, bone, dentin, enamel, decayed dentin, and pulp—and can be used for Class 1 through 6 restorative procedures without the need for anesthetic.

According to the company, Solea dentists report that they perform over 95% of their Solea procedures without anesthesia, and over 98% of those patients report no pain, with 100% preferring Solea to a drill.

How can it offer drill-free, easy, precise, nearly noiseless and anesthesia-free performance (or your money back)?

Solea uses an oxygen-18 isotope and other modifications to emit 9.3 µm, matching the peak absorption of hydroxyapatite. Meaning the isotopic CO2 laser actually vaporizes enamel — versus erbium lasers that vaporize water and slowly chip enamel away — giving the power to work anywhere in the oral cavity, from any angle, with speed and ease. Decayed tissue and interproximal cutting won’t slow the process or compromise performance. For soft tissue it allows its user to feather into cuts with more speed, precision and less bleeding than ever imagined.

What’s the ROI?

According to Convergent Dental,  dentists are experiencing efficiency gains of 25% – 40%, enabling them to routinely perform six or more additional procedures per day.

The logic: Without anesthesia and bleeding, time is saved. It is possible to work in multiple quadrants in a single visit, fill cavities discovered during hygiene appointments (in the same day), and do soft tissue procedures that might have been referred out in past.

See Solea in action at Chicago Dental Society’s 150th Midwinter Meeting February 26-28.