Social Media and Whitening

I recently had a patient who confessed that, at his wife’s urging, he bought a Social Media Promotion (such as Groupon or Living Social) for teeth whitening.  He went to another office and had a whitening procedure and was disappointed at the results.

Today, you can get your teeth whitened while on a cruise, while waiting for your car to be repaired and at hair salons.  It seems everyone wants white teeth and there are plenty of people ready to take their money.

I love white teeth and appreciate their value.  Do you go to a discount or even unlicensed place to get it?

Good idea?

I think not.

Like so many other things, the 80/20 rule applies.   80% of the time there will be few or no issues at all (it just might not work).   It’s the 20% that I’m worried about and there’s no way for a layperson to know if they’re going to be in the 80% or 20%.   Why take a 1 in 5 chance that something’s going to go wrong?

While whitening seems innocuous, it is not and has to be done carefully and after a thorough evaluation.  Plus, there’s an ideal time to do it, most often, a week or 2 after your dental cleaning.  That’s right…not immediately afterwards as you might think.

Here is a list of potential issues that can arise from improperly done whitening.

  1. Burnt gum tissues.  Your gums can actually be burned if the solutions are not properly controlled.
  2. Unevenly colored teeth.  Teeth that have certain discolorations may whiten at different rates, resulting in a less than esthetic result.  I’ve seen some spots even stand out and become more un-esthetic with improper whitening.
  3. Failure to whiten.   Not all teeth whiten the same way and there are many different techniques that can be used.  There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution.
  4. Fillings or caps that now stand out.  Fillings and caps do not respond to whitening.   If the adjacent, natural teeth are whitened, they may stand out and the caps/crowns may then need to be replaced to achieve a cosmetic result.  That’s $$$’s!

So, be safe and have your regular dentist evaluate your mouth and discuss the options for whitening or smile-enhancement.  Don’t mess around with your smile; it’s too important an asset.


To your health and wellness,



10 items you should have to deal with a dental emergency

  1. Hand sanitizer:  Before putting your hand in your own mouth, sanitize them!
  2. Aspirin/Ibuprofen:  These are both pain relievers and anti-inflammatory.   It’s better, if you’re able to use these than Tylenol for dental pain and/or swelling.
  3. A Broad Spectrum Antibiotic such as Amoxicillin, Cephalosporin or Azithromycin (Z-pack).  These should be reserved for swelling and or fever and ideally, a healthcare professional should be contacted prior to taking any antibiotic.
  4. Temporary cement or filling material:  There are several such kits available in drug stores.   Please avoid using denture adhesives as a cement.   They don’t work well and they can actually promote decay.  Never use industrial-type glue to cement a cap or crown.
  5. Orthodontic wax or gum:  These can be used to cover a sharp edge so you don’t irritate your tongue.  It can even be placed in a hole, where a filling might have come out.  You can even use candle wax as a short-term fix.
  6. Orabase/ Zilactin.   This is an ‘oral bandage’.   It’s a paste that, when put on top of a sore, covers it.   I’d opt for the one with a numbing agent in it.   It can help give you relief during eating, if you put it on prior to a meal.
  7. Floss and an interproximal cleaning device.  Of course you should be flossing every day but when you get something stuck between your teeth, it can become a real problem.   Sometimes floss isn’t effective and something like a ‘stimudent’ or proxi-brush may be needed to dislodge the obstruction.
  8. Topical Anesthetic.   Available in drug stores, Anbesol and others can be helpful for temporary relief from gum pain and denture-related sores and irritations.  These might not help a toothache but Eugenol, oil of cloves might.
  9. Gauze or tea bags.   These can be helpful in stopping bleeding.   They help put pressure on the area and tea has ‘tannins’ that help promote clotting.
  10. Crazy Glue:  I’m not a fan of people trying to repair their own prostheses.   More problems can result than it’s worth.   But, if a front tooth comes off a denture, ‘Crazy’ glue might be appropriate for a short-term, cosmetic fix.   You just don’t want to walk around with a tooth glued to your finger or your forehead so be careful and trust most repairs to a professional.

Who Am I?

No, I’m not Jean Valjean, though I am eagerly looking forward to the Movie.

I’m Michael Goldberg and I ask this question of myself every morning.  I ask it of myself because I want to put things into perspective. It’s something I started doing relatively recently and it’s helped me be at peace.   It’s helped me maintain balance in my life. It’s helps me cope with stress because I control who I am. Some might say it’s contributed to whatever success I might have or the productivity I enjoy.

So, who am I?

*I’m a human being. I’m a part of a greater whole, a resident of this planet. As such, I have a connection to every other human being.

*I’m an American.  Through a quirk of fate, I am blessed to have been born in the greatest Country the World has ever known. I feel responsible for being a good citizen of this Country. I vote in every election, I write emails to the President and my Congressmen and I am not shy about debating issues with anyone. I think debate is good. I feel that respect means that I can like you even if we don’t share the same point of view. Sometimes I feel we’ve lost this definition. We can disagree about things and still coexist.

*I’m Jewish. I was born to Billie and Harvey, two people of Jewish descent, whose parents as well were of the same Jewish lineage.

  • In fact, we’ve traced our genes and found that we have specific genes that are nearly unique to a certain tribe of Jews called Kohanim or priests.  I knew that because it’s a patrilinear heritage and my father, grandfather and great grandfather were Kohanim too. It’s weird though, to have it confirmed by a genetic test.
  • Being Jewish, I feel a responsibility to that long and beautiful heritage.  I feel obligated to see the customs and more importantly, the “ethics of our fathers” continue.  I am proud that my grandchildren are being taught these so they too can perpetuate them.
  • I feel a special link to Israel as the ancestral homeland of all Jews.  And, though I appreciate that more recently, many Jews, my ancestors and I as well, lived elsewhere, I know that Israel holds a special place in the heart of most Jews.
  • As a Jew, whose descendants were killed in the Holocaust, pogroms and Crusades, I am acutely aware of the danger of sectarianism.   I strive every day to be inclusive and not exclusive.  You might believe in different things than I but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect you.  I really believe in the words of Thomas Jefferson that we all have inalienable rights.  That’s why I started off by saying that I’m a Human Being.  That always has to come first.  Everything else follows.

*I’m a son, husband, father and grandfather and nothing brings me as much daily pleasure as this definition. 40 years of being married to a wonderful, loving and caring woman who compliments me better than I could ever have designed is just another stroke of fate.  My children, Jason and Jaimie and their spouses who live nearby and whom I see all the time are wonderful people and excellent parents.  They’re now playing the role of parental supervisors, a role that I too played with my parents.  My Dad now lives in Florida and my in-laws in the Bronx. Laurie and I have that supervisory relationship with them too. It’s funny how things go full circle.

  • Now 60 years old, I am enjoying the perspective of age. It’s one of the reasons I love being a grandfather so much. Having all 4 grandchildren live so close is a blessing I am ever cognizant of and grateful for. Boy, am I lucky.

*I’m a friend.  Though I have many “friends” I really have one person who I trust with everything. I’m lucky that this friend is also my wife.  It’s why we can work together as we do. I love having a friend in such close proximity.

  • I love my other friends. Having some for nearly 50 years is a source of comfort and joy.  Being a friend of mine is difficult because I’m not as communicative as I could be. It’s something I’d like to improve.

*I love helping others. I do so in many ways, currently by practicing, teaching and writing about dentistry and through my efforts as President of American Friends Dental Volunteers for Israel.

*I love being a Dentist. I couldn’t imagine a profession for which I would be more ideally suited. I am blessed to be able to have a great group of people who trust me with their health.   It’s a trust I take very seriously and I never take it for granted.  It’s why I am always learning and looking to improve.  I want to be the best I can be and give the best I can give.

*In my role as President of AFDVI, I fulfill all of the “I am’s” in one enterprise. I help an organization that promotes health and international, non-sectarian cooperation while helping the underserved children of Jerusalem regardless of religion or ethnicity.

Who am I?  I’m Michael Goldberg and I’m a very lucky and happy person. If you’re reading this, you might already be part of my life and I thank you for that. Your involvement in my life has meant something special to me and I want you to know it. After all, you’re a fellow Human, the first and most important “I am”.

Who are you?  I’d like to know.


The Fiscal Cliff

It seems that again, Washington is in a state of gridlock.  Politics seem to be trumping good cents.  At risk is our economic future.

Personally, I refuse to participate in worrying about it.  We’re all in this together.

I do know one thing you can do to protect yourself.


Preventing the need for healthcare intervention is the most cost effective form of medicine and dentistry.

Learning about yourself and what you can do to regain and maintain your health is time much better spent than watching the goings on in Washington.   At least you have some control over that.


To your health and wellness,


Sandy Redux

I saw the movie “Lincoln” this weekend.   Wow, what acting.   More so, wow, what courage!   I can’t imagine what our Country would be like if it were not for the passing of the 13th Amendment.

My wife says I liked it because I’m a history buff.   I think I liked it because it made me proud to be an American.   Our leaders saw injustice and acted.

I cry at every Civil War battlefield I visit.   I weep at their mention. I cry at the loss of life.  I cry that the struggle to do ‘right’ cost so many so much.   I cry and yet am thankful and proud that the conclusion was the moral and right one.

Don’t we all want to be proud of America?  Would any of us try to justify slavery today?

It took a Civil War to change our culture.

Is what happened at Sandy Hook, Ct make you proud to be an American?

What can be done to change our culture of violence, guns and death?

President Obama rightly said; “our hearts are broken”.  What’s broken is more than our hearts.  A system that allows assault rifles to be in the hands of anyone other than soldiers or law enforcement officials is broken.

Courage is what Abraham Lincoln and our Congress had.   One can only hope that our leaders can summon up the same type of courage and conviction to move beyond partisan politics and deal with this latest tragedy so it can never happen again.

I grieve with Newtown as a parent, a grandparent, an American and a human being.


Can I wait?

I get asked that all the time.  The answer I usually give is: “WHY?

What are you waiting for?

Are things going to get better by themselves?

Is the money in your bank account earning a lot of interest?

Are you pessimistic about your life expectancy?

In general, waiting doesn’t pay.  This is your health not the stock market where if you wait the Bulls might regain control.

In your mouth, when you see something that needs repair or restoration, doing it quickly is the best strategy.

Joe was told that he needed a wisdom tooth removed when he was 25.   Having it taken out then would have been routine.   Healing would likely have been routine.  Joe wasn’t enamored of the idea of having surgery so he ignored the issue.   After all, it only bothered him once a year and after some antibiotics, the pain subsided within a day.

Now Joe’s in his 50’s.  The deterioration around the wisdom tooth has progressed to affect the second molar in front.  And, he now has more frequent pain because the food getting caught there has caused decay and bone loss.

Joe now needs 2 teeth removed because the bone loss between the teeth has compromised both.   Plus, because he’s losing a chewing tooth too, he’ll need an implant to replace it.  If he doesn’t and procrastinates yet again, he’ll risk his health, muscle imbalance and real headaches.

Joe is now faced with a more challenging surgery and an expenditure in the thousands of dollars.   When he was 25 he would have spent a few hundred!

Throwing the dice with your health isn’t a great strategy.

Look ahead.  Be smart.   Read the Book.

To your health and wellness,


How To Be A Great Patient

People NEVER ask me this and they really should.   I know what it takes to be a great doctor.   Do you know what it takes to be a great patient?

My experience is that great patients receive great care.  The staff is more attentive to their needs and the Doctors too are more ‘in to’ caring for them.   We’re all human and subject to human reactions.   People just like being around pleasant people.

If you’re going to have an ongoing relationship with any healthcare practice here are some things you might want to consider.

  • Be on time
  • Be nice to the staff.   They’re the ones who will get you appointments when you need them.
  • Do what is asked of you.  Fill out the forms, take your medications or make that additional appointment as you’re asked.
  • Live up to your obligations and pay for your services.   If you’ve received a service, you should pay for it in a timely manner.
  • Refer others.   Every thriving practice appreciates new clientele.   It’s the best way of telling your Doctor that he/she is doing a great job.  It tells them that you trust them.
  • Post positive on-line reviews.   Tell others how good your Doctor is.

There are many other tips in the book.

To your health and wellness,



It’s been the hallmark of my practice for over 35 years.  It has to be if I’m to give you the best advice and care.

I was asked this week by a potential new employee how we train to improve?

I must watch or read 5-7 online articles or videos a week.  I also routinely read 5-6 journals and attend lectures and seminars regularly.

New York State mandates a meager 40 hours of continuing education over 3 years for Dentists.   That’s not nearly enough to just stay afloat.  I must do that every 3-4 months!

I’m now preparing for a 5 hour lecture I’ll be giving in Israel in April.  The lecture is on the Oral-Systemic Practice.  It’s about a way of looking at people and not just teeth and gums.  It’s an integrative approach, one that was reinforced to me when I spent a weekend at the Cleveland Clinic this summer.

Here’s an example.  A patient came in with a sudden increase in cavities.  Rather than just focusing on the job of fixing them, I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out why this was happening?

I did figure it out.  She had GERD.  Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease is a very common problem.  I know this because the drugs used to treat the symptoms (heartburn) are among the most commonly prescribed and bought in pharmacies.

And, GERD also affects the mouth.  It causes the mouth to be very acidic, which leads to decay, demineralization and erosion, very commonly seen problems, at least in my Manhattan practice.

Acid affects more than your esophagus and mouth.  It affects your entire body in a negative way.  Being overly acidic is toxic to many of your body’s organs.  It causes deterioration, disease and aging.

Finding out the “why” takes time.  It requires a thorough oral history and exam. This isn’t what most insurance companies cover as it can often take an hour  to perform and so most insurance-focused dentists just don’t devote the time.

Which would you prefer?  A cursory examination that just uncovers “work” that has to be done or a thorough oral physical that uncovers why you’re having the problems and how you can prevent their recurrence?

I know which one I’d want.

To your health and wellness

Dr. Michael J. Goldberg