In honor of Halloween, we thought it was appropriate to highlight a local business that can help save your teeth — no matter how much candy you or your kids will eat this week after trick or treating. We talked teeth with Dr. Robert Jenkins, a well-known dentist who has been a part of the dentistry world from the time he was a child to now — owning his own practice in West Seneca. 

What was it that made you decide on dentistry for a career?

I attended Niagara University for my undergrad studies and began my dental school pursuit in my sophomore year and graduated with a BS in biology. Throughout my entire life, I have always been interested in medicine/dentistry, and enjoyed working with my hands. The biggest influence on my career choice has been my father (Dr. Theodore Jenkins), who has been in practice for over 40 years now. He has thrived in dentistry and has become one of the most respected dentists in his specialty (prosthodontics). Observing his passion, dedication and hard work has had a significant impact and has helped shape my career. Something that immediately comes to mind is that every single night that I could remember while growing up, my father came home happy and enthusiastic about his day at work. I consider myself lucky that I can do the same. Important rules to live by include treating every patient like they are close family, know your limits (as a practitioner), know when to recommend a second opinion or refer procedure(s) to a good specialist, and always be honest with yourself, team and patients. 

What types of dental services do you offer?

Our dental team offers a wide range of services. These include regular preventive check-ups/cleanings, restorative dentistry (filling, crowns, bridges, Implants), dentures/partial dentures, same day denture/partial repair, root canals and cosmetic dentistry (tooth whitening, bonding and veneers).

Many people are nervous or even scared to go to the dentist. Tell us about the atmosphere of your office and what makes it different?

Yes, many people are very nervous in the dental office. For some patients, listening to music with ear phones helps; breathing exercises, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) sedation, or a prescription medication can be given. Also, we adapt to particular patient needs. For example, some people like to have everything explained in detail, others want to shut their eyes and go to sleep, and everything in between. Avoiding rushing patients in and out. Taking time to understand each unique expectation is key.

What are the top three things we can do to keep our teeth healthy?

It is critical that we brush our teeth at least twice a day; morning and night are the best times. Many people don’t brush for long enough and miss some areas. It’s a good idea to brush for at least one to two minutes (use a timer on your phone). For kids, sing the alphabet song two times (this will be approximately one minute). When I talk to patients about this, many admit that before they timed themselves, they would typically brush for less than 30 seconds. Seeing a hygienist/dentist at least every six months is also very important. To help stimulate saliva and reduce plaque and cavities, chewing “sugarless” gum (with xylitol) has been shown to help. Limiting sugary candy and snacks will help keep heathy teeth along with the rest of our bodies.

What foods or products present the biggest challenges to good dental health?

Problem food/products include, but are not limited to, smoking, chewing tobacco, sugary energy drinks, sticky candy, and chewing on hard items like pens or ice.

Are there any new trends in dentistry that you are excited about?

There are many exiting new trends in dentistry including digital impressions (avoiding traditional gooey impression material) and 3D printing (making crowns, bridges, partials, dentures). Implant dentistry has given us the ability to put teeth back almost anywhere, bone grafting technology has improved dramatically — allowing bone to basically be “re-grown” almost anywhere it’s needed, and lasers are being used more and more for many different procedures. On the business side of things, group practices are becoming more and more common. The large companies are also popping up here in Western New York, and they bring pros and cons.

Any last words of wisdom for those of us who want to keep our teeth as long as possible?

The information overload from the internet and media seems to be very confusing to patients. The best advice is to always get a second opinion. Mini implants are a great option when used under a denture or partial denture, but are very suspect when used under a single tooth (especially posterior or back tooth). Root canals are a great option when needed to save a tooth. Implants are not better than our own teeth. Implants can fail and require daily care (just like our teeth), so first try to save your own teeth when possible. For kids or adults who get cavities or have sensitive teeth, there is a prescription toothpaste called Prevident that works great to prevent both of these.  

If you are a West Seneca Chamber of Commerce member and would like to participate in the “Seven Questions With … ” business profile feature, please contact the Chamber at 674-4900.