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Choosing the Wrong Doctor was a Painful Mistake

In March 2013, I came down with flu-like symptoms. I was weak, and my stomach was bloated and acidy. I thought it would pass, but instead it worsened. I called a colleague for a physician referral, but was directed to a different physician who, after an exam, said I needed a CAT scan costing several thousand dollars.

I asked, “No simple tests, no antibiotics, just go directly to the CAT scan?” I thoroughly researched symptoms, tests, and potential cures. An expensive CAT scan wasn’t mentioned. When I refused, he prescribed an antacid, but for only half the recommended dose. After I reported no improvement, the doctor once again told me I needed a CAT scan. Instead, I gave up on the physician at Penn Medicine and obtained antibiotics as suggested by the latest research—which worked.

The physician, one of hundreds at Penn Medicine, failed to properly diagnose my condition and caused a great deal of unnecessary suffering. As patient care is more and more driven by profit instead of medical science, finding a good, trustworthy doctor becomes more like winning the lottery. Penn Medicine provides the facilities and a certain reputation—but in the end, it is individual doctors who provide the care.

Does that mean all physicians at branded health centers are bad? Of course not. Penn Medicine and others have many fine clinicians and great facilities. But there are no guarantees. I was lucky. I understood what was going on. But unsuspecting patients are frequently talked into procedures they don’t need, or denied insurance benefits they’re entitled to.

The same things are happening in dentistry. Business minded people are bringing wholesale changes to dental care that aim for profit above all. Dental patients are having a harder time finding trustworthy dentists, while insurance companies invent new ways to deny claims. Both increase profits at the expense of patient care.

I was able to draw my own conclusions and obtain a more effective, much less expensive treatment. However, most people don’t have a background in dentistry. If you’re not a dental professional, you’ll need help to know where to look.

This website is full of information about what to look for—and what to look out for. Once you’ve done some reading, you can search for a dentist in your area who has agreed to our Code of Ethics. One of our most important tenets is that the dentists in our network won’t try to up-sell you. There will be no unnecessary, expensive procedures. A doctor living by the Opt-In Code of Ethics will only recommend services that will actually help you.

Every doctor-patient relationship should be based on mutual trust. Don’t be fooled by big brands and shiny buildings. They provide the facilities, but they don’t provide care. How you are actually cared for is the job of your doctor. Search the internet, talk to friends and relatives, and don’t be shuffled to someone you don’t know. And read our Code of Ethics before selecting a dentist.

The Health Effects of Too Much Sugar

how sugar can affect your healthAs pumpkins start to line people’s porches and children get excited about finding a great costume, it can be easy to forget just how much sugar most people eat during the Halloween season. Although the holiday is great fun for everyone, all of that sugar can be hard on children’s little bodies—and the treats you have at home can be hard on yours. Here are just a few of the serious health effects of eating too much sugar, and why you should curb your sugar intake throughout the year.

Less Brain Power

 

If you feel a little loopy after lunch, it’s not just your imagination. Eating excessive amounts of sugar has been shown to cause reduced performance in the hippocampus, leading to brain fog. Since this portion of the brain is crucial for creating new memories, people who eat high levels of sugar may struggle with remembering key facts and dates, or carrying on a conversation without losing focus. Some researchers even suspect that high sugar levels cause problems with gradual cognitive decline as people age, which is why they are researching the link between sugar intake and degenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dental Decay

Although you may assume that sugar causes dental decay, the real root of the problem lies in the bacteria that those sugars fuel. The human mouth is filled with over 25 different varieties of oral bacteria that consume simple sugars. As these bacteria grow and multiply, they produce acids that can eat away at your dental enamel, causing cavities.

In addition to contributing to dental decay, candies, such as those frequently eaten at Halloween and throughout the holidays, can be exceptionally hard on dental work. Caramel and taffy can pull out dental fillings, and hard candies like peppermints and root beer barrels can cause painful dental fractures.

Extended Hunger

When you eat lots of sugar, your body responds by triggering the pancreas to release extra insulin. The role of insulin is to help the cells of your body to metabolize blood sugar, turning the things that you eat into energy. Unfortunately, when you consume too much sugar, your blood is flooded with insulin, which blocks another crucial hormone called leptin. Since leptin is responsible for triggering the “full” sensation you get when you are satisfied, excessive sugar consumption can lead to you eating more and more food.

Insulin Resistance and Diabetes

If your body is constantly subjected to exceptionally high insulin levels, your cells stop knowing how to respond to the sugar spikes, and your body can become insulin resistant. Insulin resistance is tied to other issues including high blood pressure, fatigue, brain fog, hunger, and extra weight around your stomach area. Over time, the body can become so insulin resistant that it stops knowing how to metabolize sugar altogether, causing full blown diabetes.

Limiting Your Sugar Intake

Fortunately, you can ward off the health problems tied to consuming too much sugar by doing what you can to curb your sugar intake. Start by cutting your sugar levels by avoiding things like sweets, cakes, and candies. If you decide to indulge, enjoy a single slice of cake or a few pieces of candy and then stop. To avoid health problems tied to excessive sugar, men should consume no more than 37.5 grams per day, and women should keep their sugar intake under 25 grams of sugar per day. Read the back of nutrition labels and avoid foods that would max out your sugar allowance in a single sitting. Remember that beverages, including seemingly healthy drinks such as milk, can be high in sugar. For example, a single cup of 2% milk has a staggering 12 grams of sugar.

Visit With Your Family Doctor and Dentist

To learn more about how sugar may have already affected your health, take the time to make an appointment with your family doctor and dentist. If you need to find a dentist in your area, search for “dentist near me” or consult Opt-In Dental Advantage. We maintain networks of great dentists who are committed to practicing according to our code of ethics, so that you can keep your family safe and happy in the dentist’s chair. Find a dentist near you today!

How Can I Find the Best Dentists Near Me?

When you’re new to an area, it can be intimidating to find a dentist near you that will be the best choice for your entire family. Fortunately, by knowing what to look for, you can whittle down the possibilities in no time. Here are just a few tips for finding a great dental practice.

Use Online Search Tools

Find the best dentist near you

The Internet is packed with useful tools to help people to find different businesses, and finding a dentist is no different. Use your favorite search engine to do a quick search for “best dentists near me.” In addition to finding practice addresses, phone numbers, and photos in an instant, you can also find each dentist’s website so that you can explore their practice from the comfort of your own home. You can also go to a site specifically designed to help you find a dentist.

The American Dental Association

The American Dental Association maintains lists of registered dentists across the country. The website gives patients the option of either entering their own address to find dentists near their home, or searching for dentists based on their location, specialty, or last name.

The Opt-In Network

At Opt-In Dental Advantage, we are not only interested in giving you lists of dentists near you, but in connecting you with dentists who meet our standards of quality and ethics. While we may not be the deciding factor in your choice, we can give you a starting point in your search.

Check Qualifications

After you find one or more dental practices that you are interested in, take the time to check the dentists’ qualifications. Search online for your state’s dental licensee board, and look to see what kind of license your prospective dentist carries. For example, if you are looking for a periodontist who offers dental implants or might offer another type of in-office dental surgery, make sure that they carry an oral and maxillofacial surgery permit, not just a general dentistry license.

Also, look into the dentist’s educational background to see where they went to school, when they graduated, and whether or not they have kept up with continuing education. Check to see if they belong to any professional associations, such as the ADA, local dental associations, and state dental associations. These types of professional memberships help dentists to stay up-to-date on all of the latest dental research, which protects you as a patient.

Look for Patient Reviews

A good recommendation can help you to narrow down your search fast, which is why it is a good idea to look for patient reviews. Talk with friends and family members about who they use, why they use that dentist, and what they like about the office. Check the dentist’s web pages and social media pages to look for patient comments and reviews.

Look for reviews that seem to offer a fair, objective opinion, and keep in mind that people are more likely to comment when they are upset. If you read negative reviews, see whether or not the dentist or the patient directly commented on the negative feedback. A practice that communicates kindly and intelligently with patients will be easier to work with than a practice that ignores comments or handles them unprofessionally.

Get a First Impression

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to stop by different dental practices to get a good first impression. Pay attention to how you are greeted when you enter the room, and whether or not the practice seems eager to earn your business. Taking the time to talk with the actual staff members or the dentist can make finding the best practice for you much easier. While the ultimate choice of dentists will be up to you and your priorities, by following this guide, you will at least find a competent and well-regarded dentist–and that is always worth the effort.