SEBASTIAN - Dr. Harold Brooks of Sebastian Dental Spa is so concerned with the high cost of dental care, he’ll even point you to a less expensive alternative to save you money.
When speaking with Dr. Brooks about my own dental issues recently, I expected him to suggest the most expensive options and then work down from there. To the contrary, he started by discussing the least expensive options.
“I can’t believe how much people pay for dentistry,” Dr. Brooks said. “But if you don’t keep the mouth in good shape and take care of things, it’s going to cost you more and more over time. That’s why wellness is so important.”
There in a nutshell is my takeaway from talking with Dr. Brooks: reduce the enormous cost of dental care by focusing on maintaining a healthy mouth all the time.
In the Air Force in the 1970s, Dr. Brooks became a periodontal specialist, an expert in gum disease. He spent most of his early career focused on gum surgeries, until he concluded that he’d rather do more to prevent the need for surgery by helping patients avoid gum disease. The key to that is a clean, bacteria-free mouth.
“If you just get rid of the infected tissue but don’t kill the bacteria, they come back and infect the tissue again, no matter how much the patient flossed or brushed,” Dr. Brooks explained. “I’m a big proponent of getting rid of the bacteria. I like the Water Pik, it’s better than flossing if you have gum disease. I have my patients put any non-alcohol mouthwash they like in the Water Pik. Alcohol does not kill a lot of the bacteria. It only kills the easy ones. We want to kill the bad ones. You have to get them off your tongue too.”
“Bacteria from the mouth can cause heart disease, infections in joints, some cancers, stillborn babies, and Alzheimer’s. Bacteria from dogs’ mouths can be deadly, as two people in Wisconsin found out last month.”
In line with his goal of saving patients money while achieving the healthiest mouth, Dr. Brooks is a big proponent of Hydrogen Peroxide.
“For gum disease, I have almost everyone use Hydrogen Peroxide. Gum surgery is very expensive. Hydrogen Peroxide is very cheap. Nothing kills bacteria better than Hydrogen Peroxide, and nobody is allergic to it. Unlike alcohol-based mouthwash, Hydrogen Peroxide kills all bacteria, and kills all viruses. Hydrogen Peroxide is great for killing bacteria that causes gum disease and tooth decay. There is no good bacteria in the mouth.”
Dr. Brooks recommends the three percent Hydrogen Peroxide that you can buy in a store, not the 30 percent commercial Hydrogen Peroxide, which he said is too strong.
“We have a tool called an Air Flosser by Braun that you use with Hydrogen Peroxide. Putting Hydrogen Peroxide in the Water Pik dilutes it too much, so use a capful of any non-alcohol mouthwash in the Water Pik, and Hydrogen Peroxide if you use the Air Flosser.”
“A small number of people have sensitivity after long use of Hydrogen Peroxide, where the gums become red instead of a beautiful pink-white. In those cases we take them off Hydrogen Peroxide and put them on something like ACT.”
“We also have little trays that force the Hydrogen Peroxide into the pockets, which we only use on people who have a really bad bacteria problem. It keeps the bacteria low. All this wellness and cleanliness helps avoid surgery. We want good, healthy tissue.”
Another tip Dr. Brooks offers to save money is to understand and maximize your insurance benefits. “If you do have any insurance at all, make sure to use it to the maximum for that particular year. And don’t be afraid to ask if the dental practice can help you manage the costs.”
“Dentists can sometimes cut the cost, and I can spread the cost over a year. And sometimes we can figure out just what is most necessary, and leave the rest alone. But the trouble with doing just the worst is that all of a sudden the others that weren’t so bad become worse the next year, and you never get ahead.”
“I also am not shy about telling people to consider less expensive options like a community health clinic. I’m busy enough that I don’t need to convince everyone to come to me.”
Consistent with his belief in low cost, safe health care, Dr. Brooks is a proponent of marijuana. He speaks passionately and knowledgably about many potential health benefits from marijuana, including dental care.
“Marijuana has been used forever, since biblical times,” Dr. Brooks said. “It’s been around for ages, and is very safe. Tens of thousands of people die from the use of opioids and alcohol.”
Dr. Brooks says marijuana could relieve both the anxiety many people have regarding dental work, and the pain.
“Dentists should be allowed to give marijuana to patients. Many drug prescriptions are given by dentists for toothaches and during extractions. Dentists give out a lot of prescriptions for opiates. Five percent of people get addicted after only three pills.”
“A lot of people are anxious about dental work. Instead of giving valium for that, we should be able to give a prescription for marijuana. It is much better than valium. With opiates, you need more each time. With marijuana, the amount that is good for you basically stays the amount that’s good for you, forever. It’s great for sleeping, and for making people relax. And it’s great for pain.”
Dr. Brooks strongly believes that Florida should allow more uses of marijuana, especially medical uses. “Even though it’s great for anxiety and dental pain, I’m not allowed to write those prescriptions. I have invested in marijuana companies, but I’m not allowed to prescribe it.”
Sebastian Dental Spa has a warm, family-oriented atmosphere, in part because much of the staff is family of Dr. Brooks.
“Both of my sisters work with me,” Dr. Brooks said. “One is a hygienist. My niece is a hygienist, and my lab technician is my hygienist’s husband. Most of them have been working with me for years.”
“And everybody loves my new associate, Dr. Latoya Joseph. She’s very kind, a wonderful person.”
As we concluded our conversation, Dr. Brooks offered these parting words: “The secret to happiness and good dentistry is always learning. I read a lot, go to a lot of seminars, I’m always learning. Learning keeps you going.”
Sebastian Dental Spa is located at 7766 Bay St., Ste 11, Sebastian. For more information or to make an appointment, call (772) 228-8682 or visit www.sebastiandentalspa.net.