Archive for December, 2011

The Good Samaritan

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

At this is the time of year for good cheer, good stories and good will, I’d like to share a anecdote that is all three.  Earlier this year, one of our patients was walking home to her apartment after a quick trip to the drug store.   She walks everywhere — everyday.  In fact, she once told me that the reason she picked her apartment complex was because its location allowed her to walk easily to the store, to restaurants, and to our office.  You see, she does not drive.

On this particular afternoon, while walking on the sidewalk along Cox Road, she suddenly lost her footing and fell, face first, onto the pavement.  Shaken, she laid there for a moment.  To her horror, she realized that her teeth had been badly damaged and that she was bleeding profusely.

Frantically, she tried to wave down passing vehicles for over ten minutes.  “Person after person kept driving by without even stopping or showing concern.”  she said.  “I was terrified because even though my mind wanted to, my body could not get off the ground.”

Out of nowhere, she heard a young man’s voice  “I think you need help.”

Carefully , he maneuvered to help her up.  She knew she was dead weight in his arms, and she could feel him struggle to get her off the ground. The boy, Vince,  seemed to be around nineteen years old, give or take a few years, but he quickly understood the severity of her injuries.  He helped her into the passenger side of his car.  Inconvenienced drivers blew their horns at the young man who had dared to stop his vehicle in the right lane.

Our patient hazarded a glance at herself in the side-view mirror.  Looking back at her she saw “what looked like a Halloween mask with missing teeth.  My face and neck were black and blue.  I looked like a very scared senior citizen.”

“Take me to Dr. Freeman’s.”  They were  less than a mile from our office.  Without hesitation, Vince  followed her directions straight to our door.  He helped her from his car and into our office.   When they came through the door, both now splattered with red spots, Vince looked a little rattled.  “I found her on the ground,”  he said.  “She said to bring her here.”

Our Patient was rushed to the back and put into the first open chair we had.  Two Doctors and three assistants worked for most of the afternoon to repair the damage that the fall had caused.  She had several broken teeth.  Her central incisors where knocked sideways and  one tooth was pushed upward into the bone.  Her upper lip was lacerated, and she was bleeding profusely.

Her teeth were repositioned, stabilized with orthodontic wire, and bonding material.   Her wounds were treated.

While  we were  in the back, the young man quietly disappeared from the waiting room, leaving  his name and address.

“Vince was so kind and considerate.” she recalled,  “I could not have made it without him.   In the car, he told me he was a first-year college student and was going to visit his girlfriend when he saw me on the sidewalk.  I thanked Vince for all his help and called him the next day to thank him again.  He was indeed my hero, and I shall never forget him.”

The next day, after things settled down, I felt that the young man should be rewarded for his heroic gesture.  We wrote a thank you note  from our office and sent him a gift certificate to a local restaurant as a reward.  We never heard from Vince, but several weeks later I received a card from his mother.  This is what it said:

Four months and several appointments later, the woman was her own perky self again.  She is back to her walking, making her trips to the store.  We never saw Vincent again, but it warms my heart to know there are people like him out there.    I thank him for his concern for a person in distress, his willingness to help and the inspiration he provided to us all.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a hopeful New Year.

Dr. Mark Freeman

Gum Disease Has Links All Over The Body

Friday, December 9th, 2011

There has been a lot of coverage in the news lately about the  “mouth-body connection”–perhaps you’ve heard about the evidence that links the health of your teeth to your overall wellbeing.   In the last ten years,  periodontal (gum) disease has been linked to heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

No on is immune.  Unlike other factors, Periodontal Disease seems to effect coronary health in both men and women equally.  Gum disease in women has been associated with a higher risk of pre-term birth and under weight babies.  These dangers have been well reported in the press.

Did you know, however, about the correlation between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, and even certain cancers?

While rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and gum disease are both systemic inflammatory diseases, it is interesting to note that patients with RA are eight times more likely to suffer from gum disease than those without RA.

Chronic inflammation may also have a role in the correlation between periodontal and kidney disease.  Worldwide, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.   Adults who have suffered tooth loss are more likely to develop kidney disease than adults who have retained their teeth.  A patient who has lost teeth may have been exposed to chronic oral inflammation and may be susceptable to other inflammation as well.

Men with tooth loss and a history of gum disease are also reported to have an increased risk of developing certain cancers.  Research is ongoing, but associations have been noted between gum disease and kidney, pancreatic and haematological (blood) cancers.  It is possible that  the gum disease may just be a marker of a susceptible immune system.  However, severe gum disease has also been documented as a risk factor for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

Please check out our home page at  Under YOUR ORAL HEALTH, you can easily find more information on periodontal disease and the systemic problems with which it is linked.  (click HERE to go directly to the periodontal health page).  Keep up with your home care and your routine preventive visits, and at your next cleaning, talk about your periodontal health with one of our caring Hygienist or Doctors.   We will work to ensure your healthy body starts with a healthy smile.


Thank You, Penny, for 10 Great Years–and Many More to Come!

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Today marks a very special milestone. Ten years ago today Penny Willliams chose to join our office as a Dental Hygienist. We are humbled to think of all the people that Penny has helped over the last decade. Her commitment to her patients is extraordinary and her presence in the office is a delight to her co-workers. We asked her to share some thoughts about her 26 years in the field.

MFA: Penny, you have been a valued colleague for the last decade here in our offices.    Clearly, you feel a real sense of dedication for your work and your patients. What is your favorite part of your role as a Dental Hygienist?

PENNY:   The best part of my job here is the daily contact with our patients, who have now become my friends.  They make my life richer and my profession enjoyable.  Patient compliance comes much easier, I believe, because people know I genuinely care.  I take a personal interest in their families and daily life and they in mine. Ironically, I benefit as much as they do from these interactions.

MFA: Your career spans more than two and a half decades. How did you know that this was the career that would bring you such satisfaction? How did you choose this line of work?

PENNY: As a child growing up, I always wanted to be a writer, but as college approached I felt more and more drawn to the medical field.  I took a summer job as a dental assistant in a young practice and immediately loved every aspect of dentistry, especially dental hygiene. It was at the end of this summer that I decided to pursue this career.  I had had negative dental experiences as a child and I thought I might be able to make a difference by choosing this profession.

MFA: What changes have you seen during your career so far? How are things different now from when you started?
PENNY: Since graduation from MCV in 1986, my life has seen many changes both personally and professionally.  Technology has improved the delivery of dental care and has made for more pleasant dental visits.  The recent knowledge that our overall health can be affected  by our daily dental routine such as brushing and flossing has forced my profession to look beyond traditional dental care and take a more holistic view. Contributing to the complete health of my patients is now possible through dental hygiene instruction and care.

MFA: You had a sense of what you wanted when you started. What has surprised you most about the way that events have unfolded for you?

PENNY:   One of the greatest surprises in my 26 years as a dental hygienist is the profound effect that my patients have had on me as a person. I have come to realize that I need them as much as they need me and that they have taught me as much about life as I have them about dentistry. They validate my success in this wonderful profession and I am eternally grateful.

MFA: It is obvious that you are in the right profession and we are very grateful that you’ve chosen to work with us. What has your 10 years with our office meant to you?

PENNY:     Another unexpected gift in my professional life, especially in the last 10 years, is the bond formed with my work family. Just recently I have discovered how truly important these people are to me. We are all very different yet we come together every day with the same goal- to provide the best care we can for our patients.  The daily trials we encounter as a team have never deterred us from that goal and at the end of the day we are still the best dental team I know.  The individuals that make up this team have not only made me a better hygienist but a better person.  I am so grateful that 10 years ago today, there was a job opening for one lucky hygienist at the Office of Dr. Mark Freeman and Associates.

MFA: I’m not sure who was luckier–you or us. Thank you, Penny, for 10 great years and we look forward to the years to come.



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