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Small Changes, Big Consequences

Written by Dr. Adrian Buca, D.D.S.

Little facts can have huge implications in one’s life. Fourteen years ago my wife came home with a piece of paper. It was an application for a Green Card in the United States.

I didn’t have any intentions of immigrating to the States at the time. However, because all of her friends were filling out the application, and because at the time everybody was applying for the Green Card, we did it as well.

Usually each year there are 55,000 Green Cards allowed by the State Department and between 10 and 14 million applications worldwide.

I can’t say that I am a very lucky guy, I never won the lottery, and I don’t have any rich relatives to make me rich by their demise, so I promptly forgot about the application. There was a big surprise when, after 6 months or so, I received a letter home informing me that I was selected as a Green Card recipient. The rest is quite history, as we came here, and my life changed radically.

In dentistry as well, there are small changes which can lead to big consequences. Sometimes I am doing an exam on a patient, and I discover either an explosion of decay, or several cavities on locations where there shouldn’t be decay.

I go over the usual culprits – home oral hygiene, diet, etc, and sometimes things just don’t add up. So I need to think outside the box, i.e. mouth, and I start looking for causes far from the mouth.

HeartburnOne of the possible causes is GERD, the four letter word standing for Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease, which in summary means that the content of the stomach can go back in the esophagus, and from there in the mouth. It is also known as heartburn.

The problem is that the stomach content is very acidic, and in time will erode the teeth’s enamel, leading to a big number of cavities. A bigger problem is the fact that the same gastric content will erode the esophagus walls leading to ulcerations which can develop into cancer.

The condition can be treated most of the time by the primary care physician with various medications. So it is important to discuss with your doctor if you have heartburn.

However, for 10-15 percent of the population GERD doesn’t announce itself with the unpleasant heartburn, and can be found just by the dentist during your regular visits. Left untreated, a small condition can have a huge impact in your life, and its quality.

Remember how a small action did lead to a huge (beneficial) change in my life. Take a small step (see your dentist), and enjoy a happy life ever after.

Dr. Adrian Buca practices in Oakhurst, and he focuses on integrating the health of the mouth with the health of the whole body. For more information you can call (559) 683-6200 or visit

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