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  • David Silverberg

Dentist Q&A: Learning about cavities with Mo Taheri

Updated: Jan 4, 2022

Written By David Silverberg

, in action with a patient. Learning about dentistry straight from the source is always enlightening, which is why Muzeum Dental is launching a series of dentist Q&A profiles. We want to showcase some experienced dentists who share with us their views on the profession, from dealing with dental scrap and selling scrap dental gold to discussing the true source of cavities to what they find fulfilling about this line of work.

Read below our interview with Mo Taheri, an Ontario-based dentist and prosthodontist who works out of Georgian Mall Dental Group.

Muzeum Dental: When it comes to dental scrap, the fillings and inlays and bridges you take from patients that may have gold, silver, palladium in them, what have you done with scrap? Throw it out? Try to get some extra money with it?

Taheri: If it's gold, I'll always offer it to the patient.  They'll leave it with me about half the time. I've got a little box full of dental gold/etc.  At some point I'll send it off to a refiner. 

Muzeum Dental: We've heard of salespeople visiting dentists' office to try to get their scrap. What has your experience been like? Or what you heard from other dentists on how reputable these folks are?

Taheri: Honestly, I've had virtually no experience with them.  I usually run into them at dental shows or meetings. But they've never come to our office. I've heard that usually you can get a much better bang for you buck if you just send to a refiner instead of these intermediaries.

Muzeum Dental: What are some of the most common fillings material that you use? Why is that material preferred?

Taheri: The most common material used for fillings is composite resin.  It's preferred because it's repairable, esthetic, and functional if handled correctly.

Muzeum Dental: What do most people not know about how they get cavities? For example, I heard that not only sweets play a role but also the carbs we eat and how our mouth breaks down something like bread. Is that true?

Taheri: Most of the time it's much more involved than just dietary habits.  For instance, think of the decay process as being something like a see-saw. On one side you have the protective factors, and on the other side you have the decay-causing factors. Protective factors will be stuff like oral hygiene, saliva quality, and history of childhood fluoride.  On the other side, things like virulence of oral bacteria, poor diet, lack of saliva, genetics, etc. If both sides balance, then there is equilibrium and decay doesn't form.   If the balance favors the protective factor, then you can get remineralization/healing of small cavities.  If the balance favors the decay side, cavities actively form. What are some things that will impact this? Poor hygiene is a given.  But how about medications? Antidepressants and that whole class of medications has a huge impact on saliva production. That is, they reduce saliva dramatically.  That's one of the key protective factors against decay. So think of how many million people are at greater risk for dental decay because of the medication they are on. Furthermore, the research also shows what we call vertical transmission of decay.  If a parent has decay, there is a higher likelihood of their child having decay. I believe this is independent of socioeconomic factors, though those definitely play a role as well. It's a fairly complex situation that seems to get more complex as we study this stuff.

Muzeum Dental: On the more general side, what do you find fulfilling about being a dentist? What do you like about the profession?

Taheri: I love the academic side, the research and the pursuit of knowledge.  There are constantly new things being done and researched.   Sure, we do a lot of fillings and basic restoration of teeth. But complex dentistry is so fascinating because you’re basically rebuilding someone's smile.  There's something immensely fulfilling about taking someone who feels broken because they can't smile and fixing that.  I do a lot of aesthetic and cosmetic dentistry and I feel it is extremely challenging but also extremely rewarding.

Muzeum Dental: Also, what do you find challenging about being in this business?

Taheri: The most challenging thing is that dentistry is basically a hybrid medical/service industry.  We are at the beck and call of our patients. And people can be very challenging, especially when dealing with the fear many people have when it comes to dentistry. As Dr. Taheri advised, you want to bring your dental scrap to a trusted dental scrap refiner, such as Muzeum Dental. If you’re interested in learning more about the services we offer to dentists, find out more about our free kit or contact us anytime. David Silverberg

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