My Blog

Posts for: January, 2014

By Dr. Elizabeth Fleming
January 20, 2014
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Do worries about the economy or your work, stress you out?  Do you wake with headaches, sore jaw muscles, or sensitive teeth? Have you noticed chips in your enamel or broken teeth, fillings or crowns?

You may be experiencing a behavior that is called bruxism.  Bruxism is an oral parafunctional activity, which includes clenching and grinding of the teeth in a horizontal direction, using forces that are damaging to the teeth and muscles. Bruxism is considered the most common sleep disorder.

As a dentist, I look for damage to the teeth that may be caused by bruxism.  Often my patients are unaware of this behavior, unless informed by their sleeping partners.  Some common signs in bruxers may include:

  • Headaches
  • Notched teeth
  • Chipped teeth or restorations
  • Pain in teeth, muscles or jaw joints
  • Mobility of teeth
  • Broken crowns or fractured teeth
  • Recession of gums

Causes of bruxism include stress, anxiety, worry, depression, bite problems such as uneven bite, medical conditions and some medications.  Bruxism can be further complicated if it includes a disorder such as sleep apnea. In these patients a sleep study is needed for full treatment of the disorders.

Treatments for bruxism vary from conservative methods such as a protective hard acrylic night guard appliance or bite adjustments that help to equilibrate the minor bite discrepancies, to complete orthodontics, repair of broken teeth with crowns, or full mouth rehabilitation to recreate the most stable bite,  lost due to the parafunctional habit of bruxism.

If you feel you might be suffering with these symptoms, make an appointment for an evaluation today.

Dr. Elizabeth J Fleming & the staff at Desert Ridge Smiles  20950 N. Tatum Blvd Ste. 280 Phoenix, AZ 85050                   480-860-4300

By Dr. Elizabeth Fleming
January 20, 2014
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Have you ever wanted to do something that would stretch your capabilities, but would empower you once completed?  I did just that when I was able to hike the Grand Canyon, with some experienced hiker friends of mine!

Now I have done day hikes around Arizona my whole life, but the last time I camped was probably in Girl Scouts, many, many years ago. This hike would involve backpacking, hiking and camping in a tent for 3 nights in the bottom of the Canyon. There would be no showers or makeup.  Could I do it?

The plans for the trip began over a year ago.  We were given a list of needed items, and I slowly acquired the items on the list.  REI became my go-to location for my hiking needs.  My husband became my hiking buddy for the many training hikes before the BIG hike, though he was not going with me on the Grand Canyon hike.  There were 6 of us going:  2 experienced GC hikers and 4 of us newbie GC hikers.  I knew a few of this group vaguely from dental seminars, but felt slightly out of my comfort zone, having no close friends hiking with me.  But I had always wanted to hike the Grand Canyon and figured this was as good a time as any to go!  What an opportunity to experience this hike with people who had done it many times before and were willing to put up with beginners!

The government shutdown almost derailed our plans when they closed the National Parks, but the Grand Canyon was reopened in time for our late October hike, thank goodness!  David and Yoko Madow were super organized in their planning of this trip.  Not only was I physically prepared, but I also felt mentally prepared and totally confident due to their comprehensive organization and planning.

On the first day, we hiked down the South Kaibab trail 7 hours to get to Bright Angel Campground, near Phantom Ranch. Hiking 5000 feet down, carrying a 35 pound backpack was hard on my feet.  My hiking boots that had been great on flat desert terrain at home, were not so comfortable for the long downhill stretches in the canyon.  I couldn’t wait to get my boots off that first day!  And I had no problem sleeping in my cozy 2 person tent with Barb!  When the sun goes down in the canyon, it gets really dark!  I think we went to sleep by 8 pm, worn out from the hiking.

The next day we hiked 13 miles to Ribbon Falls and back.  I love taking landscape photographs, my favorites being sunsets and waterfalls.  The Grand Canyon did not disappoint!  At Ribbon Falls, you are able to hike up behind the waterfalls.  It is a special place.


Behind the waterfall

To hike out from Bright Angel Campground, we went on Bright Angel Trail through Indian Gardens to the South Rim.  This segment took us 9 hours. There were a lot of switchbacks on this trail, but it was manageable with taking breaks as often as needed.  My biggest injury was to my feet…blisters and bruised toe-nails.  Our Grand Canyon hiking team all made it down and back out, thanks to great planning by the Madows and careful coaching along the way.  When we were close to the Bright Angel Trailhead at the top of the South Rim, I felt emotional.  Any doubts about my ability to make it had been erased.  The beauty of the canyon was captured in my photos.  I came, I saw, I conquered… and I emerged a better person because of it!


Yoko and David Madow, Lee Buzard, Barbara Vugteveen, Elizabeth Fleming and Glenn Ulick: The fabulous CG Hiking Team!

The icing on the cake was when the National Geographic Grand Canyon Visitor’s Center posted one of my pictures as their photo of the week, and asked me to share my experience on their website!  Talk about being on cloud 9!!!

Have you ever had an experience like this?  Share it with us!

Elizabeth J Fleming, DDS and the staff at Desert Ridge Smiles

By Dr. Elizabeth Fleming
January 15, 2014
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Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which insulin is not regulating glucose properly.  It is one of the most common chronic illnesses, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), and as of January 2011, 26 million Americans have diabetes and 79 million are considered pre-diabetic.

Glucose is what all cells use for energy production, including cells in the brain.  When insulin action is a problem, it triggers inflammation.  In the dental world, we see this as periodontal disease.  By controlling periodontal disease, a diabetic’s blood sugar control is also enhanced.

Diabetics are more prone to infections due to a weaker immune system.  Some ways to help repair the immune system include:

  • quitting smoking
  • eating a proper, well-balanced diet
  • brushing 2x/day, flossing 1x/day
  • exercising
  • weight loss

We monitor a patient’s risk for developing periodontal disease by reviewing peridontal probe scores, bleeding or inflammation points and medications at every hygiene maintenance visit.  Our goal is to keep inflammatory processes in the mouth to a minimum, by continually improving our patient’s oral health.

Complications of diabetes include: fatigue, dehydration, infection, eye disease, hearing loss, kidney disease, nerve damage in the hands and feet, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and gum and periodontal disease.

Diabetes can be managed by proper education-changing diet and nutrition, monitoring blood sugar regularly, exercising to lose weight, becoming healthier by quitting smoking, and monitoring your periodontal health at your dentist.  Remember: Good Oral Health Leads to Good Overall Health!

Elizabeth Fleming, DDS and Staff at Desert Ridge Smiles

20950 N Tatum Blvd Ste 280  Phx, AZ  85050 480-860-4300

By Dr. Elizabeth Fleming
January 15, 2014
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In Arizona, many cities have been adding fluoride to the water supply for years, resulting in a marked decrease in children with decayed teeth.  Coming in  September 2012, the Phoenix City Council will reassess fluoridation in the water system.

Is water fluoridation a good thing or a bad thing?  Let’s look at the facts:

*  Fluoride is a mineral, not a medication, and is added at a therapeutic level depending on the natural content of fluoride in the water. Phoenix has added .7 to 1.2 mg/L to the city water.

* The CDC (Center for Disease Control & Prevention) recognizes community water fluoridation as one of ten great health achievements of the 20th century, by protecting teeth from decay.

* Reports in 2011 found Fluoride did not cause bone cancer, and was not found to be carcinogenic by the California Office of Environmental Health Assessment’s Cancer Identification Committee.

* Reputable organizations such as the American Dental Association, The World Health Organization, American Medical Association and many others recognize the health benefits of preventing decay by community water fluoridation.

* According to the April 2000 Journal of Dental Research, half of children between the ages of 5 and 17 have not had a cavity in their permanent teeth, due to the use of fluoride.

As a practicing dentist, I have seen children with the ill effects of being raised in non-fluoridated communities  and have also seen young adults with NO decay, as a result of fluoride exposure.  The only people I have seen with fluorosis due to too much fluoride exposure were kids from Mexico where many things are unregulated, and who lived in rural areas where well water with high fluoride content was the main water source.

I believe that taking fluoride out of the city water would be a mistake, especially for the children, who need extra fluoride protection during the formative years.  Water fluoridation has been effective at reducing cavities in both children and adults.  We have come this far in cavity prevention.  Why reverse this now?  Show your support to the Phoenix City Council for keeping water fluoridation in the City of Phoenix water, on September 11, 2012.

Elizabeth Fleming, DDS and the staff at Desert Ridge Smiles

20950 N Tatum Blvd Ste 280 Phoenix, AZ  85050  480-860-4300

By Dr. Elizabeth Fleming
January 15, 2014
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Somewhere back in your early religious training, you may have been taught about Guardian Angels.  A guardian angel is an angel assigned to protect and guide a particular person or group.  Your angel may be in your conscious mind, helping you to make those tough decisions, or helping to guide you through a dangerous situation.  There is an element of hope and wonder in this belief of guardian angels, and in my recent experiences, I have validated that I have a guardian angel looking out for me.

There are chance encounters with people who come into your life, be it employees, lecturers, teachers or friends.  There may be a lesson to be learned from these people, which will help to guide you through your life.  I believe your guardian angel causes these encounters, but it is your responsibility to gain the knowledge presented to you, to help you on your path in life.

These past few years of economic upheaval have been difficult for many people, including myself.  I have seen many of my advisors and friends make decisions that have proven to be irreparable.  In some cases, trusting my guardian angel became a better decision than following my advisor, whose information was tainted due to the previous poor decisions they had made, from which they were trying to recover. 

Lately, I have had the feeling of being lucky.  Contacts of people from the past were instrumental in finding the perfect caregivers for my mom.  I won video editing software during my quest to make dental videos for my social media influence.  Being a member of the Council on Dental Education for the AZ state meeting has allowed contacts from influential dental speakers all over the world.  Are these chance encounters?  Maybe, but I think not!

This is an altruistic society.  Look out for #1, which is YOU!  Listen to advisors, get plenty of advice, but also listen and learn from the people who are in your life currently. They may be there for a reason, planted by your Guardian Angel.  Life lessons can happen all the time.  Make sure you are open enough to experience this guidance your Guardian Angel may be providing for you!  May you feel lucky, too!

Elizabeth J. Fleming, DDS and the staff at Desert Ridge Smiles 20950 N. Tatum Blvd.  Ste. 280  Phoenix, AZ  85050 480-860-4300