The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Sometimes Teeth are the Least of Their Worries: Dentists, Dental Hygienists and Foot Pain

Posted by on Thursday, December 6th, 2012

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Like most people, going to the dentist isn’t my favorite past time. There are good things about it: reading trashy magazines you wouldn’t be caught dead buying at the supermarket, imagining the dental horrors awaiting the waiting room’s whiniest kids, and counting your lucky stars that you can afford to go to the dentist. Plus, every dentist I’ve ever been to has one of those giant custom fish tanks filled with colorful specimens—betas, cory cats, African butterflyfish, red crystal shrimp, and cherry barbs (I’m kind of a fish freak, by the way)—that make you forget, just for a single sweet second, that you’re about to have a mind-numbing root canal. But, cherry barbs aside, going to the dentist is a chore for most of us, and dentists know it. They do their best to be cheerful, supportive, kind, gentle, and honest. And their hygienists are some of the nicest, friendliest people I’ve ever met in my life. These people care for fearful patients every day in the name of oral health. They deserve some relief for their own pain.

Dental work is tiring. Dentists don’t typically sit as they probe around for cavities, install braces, or drill. Hygienists always stand as they scrape plaque, poke around with pointy torture tools, and spray water at back molars. And while most medical professionals wear comfortable shoes, they may not be taking any other steps to protect their feet. The last thing a dentist needs when he’s working on a patient’s delicate palate is a distracting corn or bunion. Here are some tips for dental professionals everywhere.

 

 

Inspect your feet. This is especially important for dentists with diabetes. Often large foot problems start very small. Check out your feet daily for signs of injury or illness. Look for redness, blisters, cuts, swelling, cracks, or color changes. Color changes in your feet or legs are particularly worrisome, since this can be a symptom of an underlying cardiovascular disorder. Use a mirror to inspect the bottoms of your feet too. Treat anything superficial with antibiotic cream and a bandage.

 

Get regular exercise. Exercise keeps muscles toned and improves balance and circulation.

There’s a fungus among us. If you notice yellowing or thickening of one or more toenails, you may have a fungal infection. It’s important to treat these right away since they can be very persistent, especially once they’ve become well established. Sometimes even our best efforts fail in the face of a tenacious fungus, but keeping feet clean, cool, and dry can prevent the critters from taking hold.

 

 

See a podiatrist for anything you can’t treat at home. This includes corns, persistent fungus, ingrown toenails, large painful calluses, nagging pain of any kind, and any structural abnormalities (bunions, heel pad or forefoot pad loss, swelling, hammer toes, or anything else that looks abnormal to you.) Try The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900).

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.