Ervolino: Dentistry Is so Much Better Than It Used to Be — so Are My Teeth

I kept putting off the dentist, but he gave me something to smile about.
(Photo: Bill Ervolino/NorthJersey.com)

My niece suffered for days last week after having four wisdom teeth removed.

“Four? All at once?” I asked.

“Yes,” her mother replied. “That’s how they’re doing it now.”

Ouch.

My wisdom teeth came out, two at a time, back in the Golden Age of Dentistry. (And yes, that was the 1970s, also known as the Golden Age of Disco.)

Did I have any problems with my procedures? Not that I recall. But that doesn’t mean two at a time is better than four.

Like my niece, I also went to the dentist last week, for the first time in two years.

I’m always behind when it comes to doctor checkups and dental exams. I also miss trains. Nine years ago, I missed a flight from Detroit to Newark.

I’m never late for dinner, though. I love to eat. Maybe that’s why my teeth are constantly struggling to stay bright, sturdy and in my mouth.

Anyway, my dentist’s receptionist called two weeks ago to say I was overdue for a cleaning.

Ugh.

I hate cleanings.

Not that they’re painful or anything. It’s just that when I know one is coming up, I go into overdrive at home.

For days, I brush my teeth 12 times a day. And I floss constantly. And I gargle and spit and gargle and spit and gargle and spit.

Warm water. Listerine. Coconut oil.

“Hey Bill, it’s Steve! What are you doing tonight?”

“Gargling and spitting. You?”

I do all this for the four or five days before my appointment and the hygienist still manages to find a pound of broccoli back there.

It’s annoying.

And, naturally, it makes me suspicious. Was that really in my molars? Or did she plant it there, like those magicians who pull quarters out of your ears?

Then, once the cleaning is done, she brings up X-rays.

More aggravation.

“Would you rather come back for them?” she asks.

“No, no,” I mutter. “Let’s get them over with.”

I should note that X-rays are a lot less annoying than they used to be.

The old machines were so big and clunky, during the Big Clunky Golden Age of Dentistry.

And they were scary.

“Are you sure this thing is safe?” I’d ask the hygienist, as she moved it to the side of my face.

“Of course it’s safe,” she’d reply, before pulling a switch and then dashing off to some lead-lined bunker in the basement.

The machine made an ominous noise. (It really didn’t sound like anything else.) And you had to wear this 10-pound thing on your chest — the dental equivalent of a bullet-proof vest.

Then, when it was all over with, you’d have to lie there, uncomfortably, while the dentist looked over the results.

He’d hold up the X-rays, knit his brows, make “hmm” noises and never let you see what he was looking at.

“Hmm. Hmm … ”

“What do you see? More than three cavities?”

“Hmm … ”

“More than five?”

“Hmm … ”

“Can I look?”

“No.”

Despite all my brushing and flossing and gargling and spitting, I always seemed to get cavities.

Why?

Bad genes? Maybe. By the time my parents were in their 40s, they were being fitted for false teeth.

(In my father’s case, the teeth were fine, but the gums weren’t.)

I never liked getting fillings. But that was before I had my first root canal. After that, fillings were like birthday parties.

My most memorable afternoon in the chair was 14 years ago. In fact, I can tell you the exact date: Aug. 14, 2003.

Shortly after 4:10 p.m.

My dentist had given me some Novocaine, but it didn’t quite take hold. I was staring at the ceiling, listening to the Muzak and as soon as he began to drill, I leaped out of the chair.

“I think you need another shot,” he said, shoving a second hypodermic into my mouth, just as the Northeast Blackout of 2003 began.

Within seconds, the overhead lights began blinking, the Muzak went on and off and then, suddenly, power went out across North Jersey, New York State, Baltimore, Cleveland and Ontario.

Dude! This was like Novocaine from the ‘60s!

I drove home with my swollen mouth and sat on my stoop for a couple of hours. (I even met some new neighbors, who couldn’t understand a word I said.)

Bill Ervolino (Photo: Anne-Marie Caruso/NorthJersey.com)

I’ve had a million fillings through the years. And a few years ago, all of those black fillings were replaced with white ones. So, naturally, I was shocked last week when my dentist said, “No cavities!”

HUH???

“You’re kidding,” I said.

“Nope,” he replied, eventually attributing my lack of cavities to “all that aluminum siding you have in there.”

Most of it acquired, I might add, during the Big Clunky Golden and Aluminum Siding Age of Dentistry.

Email: ervolino@northjersey.com

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A Word from Our Sponsors: Kaleigh Fulmer, Dds Joins Fulmer Dentistry

Dr. Kaleigh Fulmer DDS

Note: Fulmer Dentistry is a westofthei.com sponsor. This is a paid announcement. — DH

Jim Fulmer, DDS has announced the hiring of his daughter, Kaleigh Fulmer, DDS, as a full-service dentist to continue the tradition of outstanding dental care at his Kenosha and Paddock Lake offices.

Kaleigh was indoctrinated into the quality dental care environment at an early age, having been a regular at Fulmer Dentistry throughout her childhood. A 2007 graduate of Tremper High School in Kenosha, Kaleigh received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. From there, she followed in her father’s footsteps and graduated magna cum laude with her Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the Marquette University School of Dentistry this spring.

“I am excited to be able to provide dental care for the entire family in a comfortable and friendly environment, building bonds that will last a lifetime (pun intended),” she said. “I believe that the foundation for excellent dentistry begins with trust and developing a strong patient-dentist relationship.”

She added that without that relationship “no dentist can deliver the highest quality dentistry and provide an excellent patient experience.”

Kaleigh said that as the daughter of a very successful dentist with an outstanding reputation it was a dream come true to go to work alongside her father and continue in his tradition of providing excellent dental services for Fulmer Dentistry patients.

Kaleigh also joins her father in her professional affiliations, including the Kenosha Dental Society, the Wisconsin Dental Association and the American Dental Association.

“It is my mission to listen to and understand each patient’s individual needs and concerns,” Kaleigh stated. “I will make sure they are aware of any and all treatment options.”

Dr. Jim said he was extremely proud to be the first dentist in Kenosha to have his daughter join in his practice and continue in the Fulmer tradition of providing outstanding dentistry to Kenosha County families. “Kaleigh has always been passionate about improving people’s lives. The fact that she has decided to do that through dentistry at Fulmer Dentistry could not make me any prouder.”

Like her father, Kaleigh puts a premium on continuing education. “Although I’ve learned from two of the best (Marquette Dental and my dad), I know it is important to never stop learning. I’m excited to network, to learn best practices from others in the industry, and to continually embrace and work with the latest trends in dental technology.”

To make an appointment with Dr. Kaleigh Fulmer, call the Fulmer Dentistry office in the Kenosha area at 262-324-1370 or Paddock Lake at 262-843-4643.

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Organized Dentistry: It’s All in the Family

Despite a successful dental practice and heavy involvement in organized dentistry, Dr. Bill Calnon never intended to raise two dentists. He simply wanted his sons to grow into thoughtful leaders who gave back to their communities and professions.

“I never pushed them to pursue dentistry,” Dr. Calnon said. “I wanted them to do whatever made them happy.”

The trio of dentists pose in a June 2017 photo. From left, Drs. Chris Calnon, Bill Calnon and Tim Calnon.

However, after a childhood of watching their father, Christopher and Timothy Calnon determined dentistry would be a great career for them too. And for the Calnon brothers, organized dentistry was not a foreign, opaque entity. The destinations of their childhood vacations often coincided with dental meetings their father was attending. It seems safe to assume not all kids would find the ADA’s House of Delegates interesting, but the Calnon boys did, as they watched their father rise to president of the ADA.

“It was amazing to see the inner workings of the Association,” Dr. Chris Calnon, now 35, said. “Everyone in that room wanted nothing but the best for their profession. It made me want to be a part of a group like that.”

Dr. Tim Calnon, now 29 and an orthodontist, was greatly involved with the American Student Dental Association while attending the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine. He currently serves on the board of the Monroe County Dental Society in Rochester, New York. Dr. Chris Calnon was president of the same county dental society two years ago and is now focusing on volunteering at the district and state level. Both men said their participation in organized dentistry was an easy decision.

“Our parents instilled in us that we have a responsibility to give back,” Dr. Tim Calnon said. “It’s vital to give back to the profession. We think it’s important to be at the table when big decisions are made.”

All three men said organized dentistry has enriched their life. Dr. Chris Calnon and Dr. Tim Calnon said some of their best friends are fellow dentists, while Dr. Bill Calnon said organized dentistry took his career to another level.

“I truly thrive on practicing dentistry, but I found I needed more than chairside involvement,” Dr. Bill Calnon said. “For me, organized dentistry provided a chance to influence my profession and broaden my role as a health care provider.”

To the surprise of no one, Dr. Bill Calnon is currently serving as the board president and interim executive director of the ADA Foundation. Over the years, his sons have marveled at his ability to be a good dentist, leader and father.

“I think sleep is the first thing to go,” Dr. Tim Calnon said.

Meanwhile, the Calnon brothers will continue to give back to the profession that has given their family so much. In fact, Dr. Chris Calnon is married to a dentist while Dr. Tim Calnon is engaged to one.

“As we were planning our wedding, the first thing I had to do was email the director of the New York State Dental Association,” Dr. Tim Calnon said. “I needed to see when their dental meeting would be, because I knew if my wedding was during it, my family would have a tough decision.”

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Professional Cosmetic Dentistry Greenwood Village

Professional Cosmetic Dentistry Greenwood Village

You should know that you always have options when it comes to fixing your smile. With a little bit of help from cosmetic dentistry Greenwood Village area, you will be able to have treatments such as teeth whitening, porcelain veneers, tooth bonding and more. All you have to do is find the right professional to help you and you will be on your way to a wonderful smile.

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