Happy New Year!!! Tips for Caregivers on excellent oral hygiene…

Caregivers are responsible for the oral and overall health of those they care for.  As a caregiver, many questions may come to mind regarding your responsibilities for one’s oral health:


How should I go about caring for someone’s mouth and teeth?  What type of dental hygiene routine is best for my loved-one, friend or patient?  What is the proper way to brush and floss teeth?  How often should my dependant see his/her Professional Dental Team?  What types of oral health products should I use that will allow me to provide the best oral care I can?  How do I clean false teeth?


Our goal is to help answer these questions and to provide information that you can use to improve your overall practices for excellent dental health, whether it be your own or someone else’s.


When the question of how to provide care for someone else’s oral health comes to mind, try to think of how you would care for your own mouth.  Brushing your teeth twice a day (morning/night) and flossing once a day, should come to mind…  When brushing, be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste that contains fluoride.  Fluoride helps strengthen the outer layer of the teeth to prevent cavities.  You shouldn’t use a medium or hard-bristled toothbrush because the rigid bristles can damage the gums and cause them to recede.  When the toothbrush bristles become ‘wilted or frayed’ in appearance, it’s time to change to a new one.  A good rule of thumb is to replace your toothbrush every three months, or whenever you’ve been sick.  Changing your toothbrush after you’ve been sick is extremely important—the bristles can harbor bacteria and prolong your illness.  Always use a light, but firm pressure when brushing.  For instance, imagine that you are brushing a ripe tomato and don’t want to bruise it.  These use and maintenance tips also apply to those who use electric toothbrushes.


It can be more difficult flossing someone else’s then than flossing your own, but the principles are the same.  To properly floss, take a piece of floss approximately           18-inches long and wrap it around your middle fingers.  Use your index fingers and thumbs to guide the floss between the teeth.  Once the floss is in between two adjacent teeth, be sure to adapt the floss to each tooth, forming the floss into a ‘C’ shape.  Gently slide the floss below the gumline, adapt to the adjacent tooth and do the same.  There are several flossers or floss picks on the market that can help assist with this motion.  The concept remains the same…you must adapt the floss to each tooth!



Ideally, everyone should see their dentist every six months and in some cases, more frequently.  Your dentist and dental hygienist work together at these visits to assess the health of your gums and teeth.  The dental team will determine the proper visit interval to ensure that an excellent level of health is maintained in your mouth.  Aside from assessing the health of your mouth and having a professional cleaning, the doctor will also perform an oral cancer screening at your regular visit.  The members of your dental team are the only health care professionals that look into your mouth on a regular basis.  It is imperative for them to establish a baseline of what your mouth looks like and record the presence of any abnormalities.  Regular oral cancer screens ensure your mouth is examined for cancer on a consistent basis and the necessary precautions and/or treatments are performed in the event an abnormality is found.



The following are important points when caring for those with false teeth or dentures:  Make sure the dentures are taken out every night before sleeping.  Your gums need to breathe!  Keeping the dentures in place all day and night can cause the gum tissue to become red and irritated.  Irritated gum tissue can cause discomfort when wearing the dentures.  Constant wearing of dentures can also cause oral infections.  When cleaning dentures, be sure to brush them as you would your own teeth.  Use a denture brush or a soft-bristled toothbrush and denture cleaner—you may also use an antibacterial soap or a mild dishwashing liquid.  When the dentures are out of the mouth, they can be soaked in a denture cleanser or water, to help avoid drying and potentially losing their form.  Before replacing the dentures in the mouth, gently brush the gums and tongue to stimulate circulation and remove any plaque debris that may be present.



Remember that your Professional Dental Team is here to help you.  If you need any assistance or have any questions about caring for your loved ones, don’t hesitate to contact them.  As a caregiver, be sure to remember what is necessary to care for one’s oral health: brushing twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, daily flossing, eating well-balanced meals, and visiting your Dentist regularly.


Diabetes and Oral Health



In the US alone, there are currently around 30 million people living with diabetes and another 86 million with pre-diabetes.  Diabetes is a metabolic disease that causes a person to have high blood sugar, for a long period of time.  People that have diabetes can suffer from a wide variety of health issues and we are learning more and more about the relationship between diabetes and having a healthy mouth.


As diabetes progresses, so does the likelihood of an individual developing chronic periodontitis or disease of the gum tissues.  If a patient that has diabetes develops periodontitis or gum disease, it’s likely the both conditions will worsen if both are not treated and kept under control.  There is huge amount research currently being done regarding uncontrolled diabetes and its interference with glucose (sugar) regulation in the body.  Interference with glucose regulation makes the diabetic condition worse; leading to other medical conditions.  Diabetic patients commonly have swollen and inflamed gums and can notice a bad taste in their mouth. When our gums become inflamed, our inflammatory response sends mediators into the blood stream which cause a negative effect on glucose regulation, therefore worsening the diabetic condition.


By properly treating periodontal disease, sugar levels have a much better chance of returning to a more normal state and improving overall health. Home care for a diabetic should be strict and consist of brushing twice a day, flossing once a day and seeing a dentist twice a year. In some cases, diabetics may need to see a dentist more often.  Please contact your dental team at Norman Dental if you have any questions or concerns about how diabetes can affect your overall health.

Summertime Recipes

August is a great time for entertaining and grilling!  Our team has put together our favorite summer recipes!



Vickie’s Watermelon Margarita

½ cup white sugar
½ water
3 strips orange zest
2 cups cubed seeded watermelon
¾ cup white tequila
¼ cup lime juice
Salt or sugar for rimming glasses
1 lime, cut into wedges (optional)
2 cups crushed ice, or as needed


  1. Bring ½ cup sugar, water, and orange zest in a small saucepan to boil, stirring constantly. Simmer until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.  Remove simple syrup from heat and allow to cool completely.
  2. Place watermelon in a blender or food processor. Pulse until pureed.
  3. Stir watermelon puree into a large pitcher with simple syrup, tequila, and lime juice.
  4. Place a small amount of salt or sugar into saucer. Rub edge of margarita glasses with a lime wedge to moisten. Lightly dip the rim of the glass into the saucer to rim the glass; tap off excess salt or sugar.
  5. Fill rimmed glasses with crushed ice; pour margarita mixture into glasses and garnish with lime wedges to serve. Enjoy!


jalapeno roll ups

Katie’s Jalapeno Roll Ups

2 – 8oz. pkg. cream cheese (room temperature)
1 jar dried beef, chopped
2-3 tbsp. diced jalapenos (more if you like it hot)
1 pkg. larger flour tortilla shells


  1. Mix by hand, all ingredients except the shells.
  2. Spread out evenly on as many tortillas as it takes.
  3. Roll up like jelly rolls or cinnamon rolls.
  4. Place rolls in large plastic container, side by side, making sure paper towels are in the bottom and on top of rolls to collect moisture. Secure lid on and place in fridge overnight so flavors can develop.
  5. When ready to serve, take out and slice in 1” thick slices, eating the end pieces as you go, since they usually aren’t full of filling and not presentable for serving. Arrange on platter, standing up, but leaning on each other at a 45° angle…Enjoy!!


rotel dip

 Stacie’s Sausage Rotel Dip

1 lb. sausage
2 – 8oz. pkgs. cream cheese
1 – 10oz. can Rotel, with liquid drained out


  1. Brown sausage in skillet; drain excess grease.
  2. Add cream cheese and cook over medium heat until melted.
  3. Add Rotel and mix well.
  4. Serve warm with chips.



 Sharon and Dr. Charles Norman’s Black Bean & Corn Salsa

2 – 15½ oz. cans Black Beans, rinsed and drained
2 large Tomatoes, seeded and chipped
½ cup “Medium” Salsa (any brand)
2 tbsp. fresh Cilantro or Parsley (optional)
1 tsp. Salt
1 tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1 – 14½ oz. can Yellow Corn, rinsed and drained
3 Green Onions, sliced
Juice of 1 Fresh Lime
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ tsp. Pepper
1 Avocado, cut into chunks


With the exception of the avocado, combine all ingredients in a glass bowl: black beans, tomatoes, medium salsa, cilantro, salt, red wine vinegar, yellow corn, green onions, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, and pepper.  Toss, cover and refrigerate.  Just prior to serving, add avocado and gently toss mixture.  May be served with corn chips, or as a chilled salad.  Tastes best when prepared the day ahead.



 Lisa’s Onion-Roasted Potatoes

1 envelope Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion Soup Mix
4 medium all-purpose potatoes, cut into large chunks (about 2 lbs.)
1/3 cup olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Combine all ingredients into a Ziplock bag to mix.  Place in a 13 x 9 baking or roasting pan.
  2. Bake, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender and golden brown, about 35 minutes.

orzo salad

Mandy’s Summertime Orzo and Chicken

¾ cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” pieces
1 medium cucumber, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet coated with cooking spray, cook chicken over medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until no longer pink.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cucumber, onion, parsley and chicken mixture. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper.  Pour over chicken mixture; toss to coat.  Serve warm or cold.  Just before serving, sprinkle with cheese.


Zora’s Tomato Zucchini Casserole

 1½ cups grated Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. driel basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 medium zucchinis, thinly sliced
5 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
¼ cup butter
2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
¾ cup fine bread crumbs


  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly butter a 9 x 9-inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine Cheddar, Parmesan, oregano, basil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
  3. Arrange half of the zucchini slices in the pan. Sprinkle ¼ of the cheese and herb mixture on top. Arrange half of the tomatoes, and top with another ¼ of the cheese mixture.  Repeat layers.
  4. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in onions, and cook until soft and translucent.  Stir in breadcrumbs; cook until they have absorbed the butter.  Sprinkle on top of casserole.
  5. Cover loosely with foil, and bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake until the top is crusty and the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.



  Chandler & Dr. Matt Norman’s BBQ Wings

Chicken Wings (whole portion, not just drumstick)
Chicken Spice Rub (Your choice)
Olive Oil
BBQ Sauce (Your choice, standard Kraft BBQ Sauce is good)
Red Pepper Flakes
Apple Cider Vinegar


  1. Rub the chicken wings with olive oil and the spice rub in a bowl. Once they are coated, place the wings in a ziploc bag for at least 4  No more than overnight.
  2. Set your grill on low heat and place the wings all in the same direction and same side.  Cook for 10 minutes and flip.
  3. Mix BBQ sauce, vinegar and red pepper to the desired thickness (thinner is better, so add more vinegar).  Place on a burner and let simmer while the wings cook.
  4. Continue to flip the wings every 10 minutes for a total of 50 minutes. Then dip each of the wings into your sauce and grill for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Place on a platter and enjoy with a good cornbread and slaw!



Michelle’s Margarita Cupcakes


  • One Box White or Vanilla Cake Mix
  • 1 1/3 Cups Premade Margarita Mix (the kind with tequila already included)
  • 2 TBSP Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 1½ TBSP Lime Zest

Tequila Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon water (may need slightly more)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Tequila (if you want to skip the tequila, just replace it with water and a few drops of lime juice)

Lime Frosting

  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese – softened
  • 1 Cup Butter – softened
  • 5 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 3 TBSP Lime Juice
  • Green Food Coloring (optional)


  • ½ cup crystal sugar sprinkles
  • ¼ – ½ tsp salt – mix the sugar and salt together

Cupcake Directions

  1. Preheat oven as directed on cake mix. Prepare your cupcake pan with liners.

2. Combine cake mix, margarita mix, egg whites, oil and lime zest, stirring until well mixed. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for two minutes.

3. Spoon batter into your lined cupcake pan, filling each liner approximately 2/3 of the way full.

4. Bake according to package directions, typically about 18-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Combine powdered sugar, water and tequila and stir well to create your glaze. You may need slightly more water to thin out the glaze so that you can brush it on to your cupcakes. Once your cupcakes have been removed from the oven and cooled for approx 5-10 minutes, brush a layer of glaze over the top of each. Allow them to cool completely.


Combine butter and cream cheese in a bowl and mix with mixer until light and fluffy.

Add in your lime juice and green food coloring until desired shade is reached (remember it will lighten slightly when you add your powdered sugar).

Add in your powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until the desired consistency has been reached (could be slightly less or more than five cups).

Frost each cupcake as desired. You can pipe on a ring of frosting and sprinkle with sugar and salt mixture, then finish frosting your cupcake, or frost your entire cupcake and sprinkle the sugar and salt mixture on top.

Due to the cream cheese in the frosting, it’s best to store these in the refrigerator.

Prophy vs. Periodontal Maintenance

Prophy vs Perio Maintenance

Dr. Matthew Norman and Michelle Phillips, RDH

One of the most common questions that we are asked by our patients is, “what’s the difference between a prophy and a periodontal maintenance”?  We want to address that question in this edition of our blog.


When you have your comprehensive or new patient exam at Norman Dental, the doctor and your hygienist will perform a thorough evaluation of your gums to determine which type of cleaning best suits you.  The doctor or hygienist will measure a space between your gum and the tooth, which is known as a “pocket”.  A healthy pocket depth is 1-3 millimeters.  Areas that are observed to have pocket depths deeper than 3 millimeters may need to be cleaned more thoroughly than healthy areas.  Your dental team will also be looking for areas that bleed while taking these measurements, as a healthy pocket does not bleed.  Bleeding indicates the presence of inflammation, which is usually caused by bacteria located within the pocket.  Inflammation in the gum tissue can cause bone loss around the teeth.  This information is how your dental team determines whether a prophy or periodontal maintenance procedure best suits you.  We will discuss each procedure in more detail below.
A prophylaxis, or prophy, is a dental cleaning on a healthy mouth.  healthy tissueThe insurance code specifies this procedure to involve the scaling and polishing of all coronal surfaces (the crown of the tooth).  Therefore, no scaling or cleaning occurs below the gum tissue.  Scaling is followed up with polishing to remove the fine debris and stain from the teeth. A typical “prophy” patient comes every 6 months for their professional hygiene appointment.


A periodontal maintenance consists of a more involved “cleaning”.  The hygienist starts by using a Cavitron or ultrasonic scaler.  The ultrasonic scaler is designed to clean below the gums and to break away heavy calculus/tartar that accumulates on the root surface of the tooth.  Microscopic vibrations from the scaler loosen the hard deposits away from the tooth and the water flushes the debris away.  This process also forces oxygen into deeper pockets.  This is heunhealthy mouthlpful because much of the bacteria that causes periodontal disease is anaerobic, meaning it needs an environment without oxygen to survive and grow.  When the ultrasonic scaler introduces oxygen into the gum pockets, it kills the bacteria present.  Next, the teeth are hand scaled and polished to remove fine deposits below and above the gum line.  Finally, the hygienist will irrigate the deeper pockets with an antibiotic rinse to kill any residual bacteria present.  Typically, when you have been classified as a patient needing a periodontal maintenance procedure, your status usually never changes.  This is because bone loss around the teeth is irreversible, and the presence of bone loss causes the periodontal health to be compromised.  A typical “periodontal” patient comes every 3 or 4 months for their professional hygiene appointment.



Whether it is a standard prophy or a periodontal maintenance procedure that best suits your individual need, your Norman Dental team will work with you to endure your teeth and gums stay healthy for a long time to come!