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Flossing: Do You Know How Old This Dental Routine Is? Part 1

Hello!  Are you among those who have wondered who penned some of the ideas currently being touted by dental professionals for good oral hygiene?  Has the thought that some of those dental hygiene recommendations that your dental professional encourages you to include in your daily oral hygiene routine seem “out there”?  Well, to be truthful, I have had these thoughts but today, I would like to talk a little bit about some of the history of flossing your teeth your teeth.  

First, a little background

I recently read an article that piqued my interest.  I love getting into the history of things and why they are as they are.  This has always helped me to learn and to incorporate what I learn into my life repertoire of life experiences.  So, since inquiring minds need to know, into it I dove and this is what I found out about flossing and its history.  It seems that approximately  2.8 to 1.5 million years ago, during the Pleistocene period of human development, a species of the tribe Hominini lived.  Fossils of these early people were uncovered by Louis and Mary Leakey in the early 1960’s at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania.  At that time, the speculation held that these fossils were from a new species whom they called them Homo habilis (meaning “handy man”).  It was speculated that this slightly larger-brained species of early man was responsible for creating the thousands of stone tools that were also found at Olduvai Gorge.

Dental Microwear-texture Analysis Reveals Diet

Part of the evaluation of these fossils included dental microwear-texture analysis that was performed to determine a number of things, one of which was that their diet did not consist of primarily rough-textured foods.  This texture analysis seemed to point to the fact that their diet consisted of a foods that placed them somewhere between various species utilizing tough-textured foods and leaf-textured foods.  In this analysis, they lookedv at the percentages of the tooth surface structure that contained “pits”,  which is defined as the frequency and depth of dental damage that results from the consumption of certain foods across the species.  This is a widely used and accepted measurement for reliability.

Fossils of Neanderthals

The Leakey’s findings were collaborated by some other researchers who examined the Cova Forada Neanderthal fossil  with the belief that these species of homids did in fact utilize toothpicks made of various materials to ease the pain of periodontal disease.  These fossils and findings are believed to be the earliest evidences found that document cases of palliative care in the primitive treatment of dental disease! Marina Lozano, co-author of the study as well as a professor at the Universitat Autoonoma de Barcelona says, “this disease usually causes bloody and inflamed gums, so the systemic use of toothpicks could mitigate sore gums.  However, in the case of Cova Forada, the toothpick was not only used as a primitive method of dental hygiene, but it is associated with a dental disease and with the clear intention to alleviate the pain, and that makes it unique”.

Next time, we will conclude this discussion on the ancient history of flossing.  But, in the meantime, remember to brush and floss your teeth at least twice daily and keep up with those vitally important dental evaluations and treatments.  Dr. Scharf wants to be your Periodontist on Long Island so call him at (631)661-6633 or visit him online at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

 

Snacking Tips To Keep Your Child’s Smile Healthy

GOOD NUTRITION IS ESSENTIAL for a child’s healthy growth and development. It’s also important for their dental health! A good diet can help your child build strong, healthy teeth, while poor eating habits puts your child at a higher risk of tooth decay.

You may understand how important nutritious meals are, but one thing some parents struggle with is snack time. Here are our best tips on how to make sure your child’s snack time is tooth-friendly!

Not All Snacks Are Created Equal

Stay away from starchy, sticky or sugary foods during snack time, like dried fruit, crackers, chips and cookies. These types of snacks can stick to the teeth for long periods of time, potentially causing cavities. For snack time it’s best to opt for fruits, vegetables, nuts, yogurt and cheese.

If You Indulge, Do It During Mealtime

Don’t worry, we don’t expect you or your child to never eat sweets or starches. There is a better time to eat them than at snack time, however, and that is during meals! That’s because it’s not just important what you eat, but when you eat. At mealtime, there is an increased amount of saliva in the mouth that can help wash away those starches or sugary treats, counteract acid-producing bacteria and remineralize teeth.

Watch Out For Added Sugars

Almost all foods have some type of sugar in them. Naturally occurring sugars–like those found in milk and vegetables–are less worrisome, since these choices are healthy overall. What you want to keep an eye out for when choosing snacks are added sugars.

According to the American Dental Association, added sugar consumption should be limited to less than 10 percent of total energy intake, ideally less than five percent. To put things in perspective, one can of soda is equivalent to three times the daily recommended sugar intake of a child!

Choose Beverages Wisely

On that note, we’d like to advise parents to choose their children’s beverages wisely. Soda and juice may be your child’s preferred drinks, but milk and water are much healthier choices. Good sources of calcium, like milk, aid in building strong teeth and bones and water helps to wash away food particles that may be clinging to teeth, thus protecting against decay.

Sip All Day, Get Decay

Whether your child is drinking milk, juice or soda, don’t let them sip it throughout the day. Constant consumption of either food or drink is harmful for teeth, because not only are you feeding yourself, you’re also feeding the cavity-causing bacteria that reside in your mouth. Limit snacking to once or twice a day and have your child sip on water. If they drink anything that contains sugar, have them drink it during mealtimes or all at once.

Your Family’s Health Is Our Priority

If you have any tips or healthy snack ideas that your kids love, leave it in the comments below! At our practice, we care about the health of your whole family. Proper nutrition, especially at snack time, will ensure healthy smiles for you and your children for a lifetime!

Thank you for being part of our practice family!

How Can You Save on Your Healthcare Costs?

Hello again to all of my faithful followers!  Are you like most of us concerned with living expenses and the never-ending task of balancing your budget?  If that is you, the topic of our discussion today of controlling healthcare costs may be of interest to you.  If this topic interests you, then I invite you to follow along with me today as I pass along some information I recently read about how control your healthcare costs.

A Recent Study Data Released

I recently read an article on a study, published in The American Journal of Presentive Medicine (AJPM) that reported some interesting  and eye-opening data on healthcare costs nationwide.  What they reported  I considered to be good news for everyone especially since the publishing of this data meant that the scientific community supported it.   Sometimes that support is hard to come by!  This research was conducted by United Concordia Dental and Highmark, Inc by renown researcher Marjorie Jeffcoat, D.M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) School of Dental Medicine in an attempt to help employers and their employees save money and, ultimately, stay healthier.

The Study Itself

The research analyzed  data collected over a five year period in order to study the correlation between good oral health and good overall health.  Claim information that was provided by Highmark, Inc and United Concordia was used to evaluate over 330,000 people from 2005 to 2009.  These participants had both Highmark medical insurance and United Concordia Dental coverage as well as gum disease with at least one of the following medical conditions: type 2 diabetes, cerebral vascular disease, coronary artery disease with or without pregnancy.

The Research Findings Reported

Here are some of the interesting things found in this research.  When appropriate treatment of gum disease was provided, they found  statistically reduced annual medical costs of 40.2 percent or $2,840 annually for participants with diabetes; they found 40.9 percent or $5,681 reduced annual costs for those participants with cerebral vascular disease; 10.7 percent or $1,090 reduced annual costs for those having coronary artery disease and 73.7 percent or $2,433 reduction for those participants who became pregnant.  They also found that hospital admissions were significantly reduced 39.4 percent for those with type 2 diabetes, 21.2 percent for those with cerebral vascular disease (stroke) and 28.6 percent for those with coronary artery disease (heart)!

Your Takeway

Per Dr. Jeffcoat, “…this study shows reduced hospitalizations and health care costs are possible when individuals with gum disease and at least one chronic condition, or who are pregnant receive treatment for their gum disease….”  For you, this means that having routine dental examinations and treatment for each and every member of your family can save hundreds of dollars annually in health care costs as well as keep them healthy so they can avoid or postpone those chronic health condtions mentioned above.  So call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him at http://drscharf.com.  He  wants to be your Periodontist on Long Island and he wants to explain to you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

 

 

 

How To Help Prepare Your Child For The Dentist

THERE’S NOTHING BETTER than seeing a child’s smile light up a room. While parents understand the importance of keeping that smile healthy by regularly visiting the dentist, some children are a bit apprehensive about making that visit.
There Are Many Potential Causes For A Child’s Dental Anxiety

There may be several reasons why your little one isn’t too excited about visiting the dentist. It could be fear of the unknown, or maybe a friend or a sibling has told them a scary story about what happens during a dental visit. A parent’s own apprehension about visiting the dentist can even influence their child’s opinion about their upcoming dental exam.

Whatever the case may be, we want to help you prepare your child for his or her upcoming visit and help relieve some of that stress!

Try These Tips To Help Prepare For Their Next Visit!

Start early. The AAPD recommends children see the dentist by their first birthday or whenever teeth appear. Not only is this important to ensure their teeth and gums are healthy, it will help them grow used to seeing the dentist on a regular basis.

Visit a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists receive extra training beyond dental school to help them become experts at treating children and helping them feel comfortable during their appointment. Pediatric offices are also kid-friendly and provide lots of accommodations to ensure your child’s visit is as pleasant as possible.

Explain what will happen during their visit. Fear of the unknown can be a significant contributor to stress leading up to a child’s dental visit. When you explain the basics of what will happen during their visit, they’ll know what to expect when they arrive at the dentist’s office.

Stress Can Affect Your Child’s Oral Health

Not only will decreased stress make their appointment more enjoyable, but lower overall stress will help their oral health too!

Studies have shown that children who experience greater levels of stress than their peers tend to develop a greater number of dental cariesHigh levels of stress increase the amount of salivary cortisols and cavity-forming bacteria in the mouth, making it more difficult for them to ward off cavities.

Stress can come from any number of sources in a child’s life. It may be the result of a big move or it could be caused by pressures at school such as difficult classwork or trouble with friends. Whatever the source, if you notice your child seems stressed, there are plenty of ways to help such as:

  • Spend quality time with your child daily
  • Ensure they get enough sleep and eat a healthy diet
  • Talk with your child about what may be causing their stress
  • Schedule wellness visits with the doctor and follow-up visits to the dentist and let them know what they can expect at these visits

We Can Help Your Child Have An Enjoyable Visit

As your child continues to grow, we want to ensure they develop a happy, healthy smile. We strive to help them feel comfortable during their visit so they can develop good oral health habits for a lifetime. If you have any questions about how you can prepare your child for their next appointment, let us know! We’d love to help you prepare them for the most enjoyable visit possible.

Thank you for being a part of our practice family.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Why Is My Mouth Dry?

SALIVA IS ESSENTIAL not only for our oral health, but for our overall comfort. We all experience a dry mouth every once in awhile and know how bothersome it can be. But what does it mean? And what should we do if it persists?

Saliva Has An Important Role In Our Oral Health

Our bodies are constantly producing saliva to provide our mouths with moisture–we generate two to four pints of saliva a day! Saliva aids in digestion and allows us to taste and process food. It also protects our mouths by washing away food debris and strengthening our teeth against cavities!

Dry Mouth Can Be Caused By A Number Of Things

Dry mouth occurs when salivary glands are not working properly resulting in an inadequate flow of saliva. It can leave us feeling thirsty and hoarse and our mouths sticky and uncomfortable. We may have problems speaking or trouble tasting and swallowing. It also causes bad breath. Needless to say, not having enough saliva is no fun!

Our mouths may get dry occasionally due to nervousness or stress. More serious and persistent cases of dry mouth, however, are the result of a number of other things, such as:

  • Certain medications like antihistamines, painkillers, decongestants, diuretics, among others.
  • Lifestyle choices such as smoking or chewing tobacco.
  • Illnesses including Sjögren’s syndrome, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, to name a few.
  • Medical treatments that can damage salivary glands, such as radiation and chemotherapy.
  • Dehydration and conditions that cause dehydration such as fever, excessive sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, blood loss and burns.

 

Talk To Us About Dry Mouth

More than just discomfort, having a dry mouth raises your risk of tooth decay, gum disease and infection and should therefore be taken care of as soon as possible. Depending on the cause of your dry mouth, we can help determine the best course of treatment. In the meantime, try some at-home remedies such as chewing on sugarless gum or sucking on sugar-free candy. And as always, drink plenty of water!

We’re committed to you–our amazing patients!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Do You Love Your Gums? Part 4

Hello again to all of my faithful followers! I’m so glad you returned for the final segment of this vitally important topic. Today, we’re going to finish this series with some information about how the inflammation that we talked about in part 3 actually works to compromise your oral structures and the rest of your body. With an interest in educating you about gum disease to protect and preserve the good health of every member of your family as they age,  we are inviting you to follow along with us now as we conclude this discussion about why you should love your gums your gums.

The Basics About Inflammation

As you may recall from part 3 of this series, we talked about inflammation as being the source of the development and progression of gum disease.  Also as mentioned previously, irritants like plaque and various bacteria get under the gum line and the battle for your continued good health begins.   Using terms like “battle”, “assault” and “enemy” will emphasize the fact that there really is a conflict going on in your mouth.  That conflict is between the offending irritant and your body’s natural defense system, commonly known as your immune system.  The human immune system is designed to locate, contain and destroy  enemies that would destroy the peace of precious oral tissues if allowed to proliferate unchecked. It is absolutely essential that YOU win that war and not the external invaders!

All Supported by Research, Past and Ongoing

For those of you who don’t know, the fact that inflammation is at the root of many serious and major health conditions has been researched for decades and the research is ongoing.  The research community is linking more and more disease processes to chronic inflammation and establishing that link is the first step to healing and irradicating some of those serious health issues that rob us of time with our loved ones and quality of life as we age.

 

Inflammation Upsets the Balance

The human body is an amazingly designed machine and, as designed by the Creator, worked quite well to establish and maintain a high quality of life for our early ancestors.  There are many systems included in the design work together to promote growth and good health but they also work together to identify, contain and destroy invading enemies.  There is a delicate balance among these “operating systems” and when inflammation is chronic and becomes widespread that delicate balance gets upset.

Did you know that the inflammation that begins under the gum line in your mouth effects far more than just your smile as it progresses?  Did you also know that there are over 500 different bacteria that research has found in dental plaque? Some of these bacteria are good and play nicely with other good bacteria in the body but some are bad and wreak havoc anywhere and everywhere they go.  

So, How Does Damage Happen?

In the basic original design, bacteria existed for many purposes.  To go into any real discussion in this area is a science of and by itself, so just to keep it simple, we’ll just say that many types of bacteria flow through the body via the blood stream.  When the bad bacteria that started the inflammatory reactions move through the body, it begins to confound the various systems and causes them to perform in a different way than designed.  When chronic inflammation gets into the blood stream, things like elevated cholesterol begin the process of plaque creation.  This plaque in the blood stream attaches itself to the walls of your blood vessels and a narrowing of those blood vessels begins.  Now you have the beginnings of cardiovascular disease which can worsen to cause heart attacks, strokes, kidney problems and circulation issues.  Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes also are some pretty major recipients of the chronic inflammation that is coursing through your blood stream. This enemy inflammation can also cause arthritis and those associated problems to worsen and all of this happens AFTER you start losing boney structures in your mouth!  

Loose teeth, missing teeth, cavities, red and swollen gums, gum tenderness and “pink toothbrush” are all signs of advanced gum disease or periodontal disease and this needs professional attention sooner rather than later.  Call me, Dr. Scharf, at (631)661-6633 or visit me on the web at http://drscharf.com.  As your Periodontist in Long Island in Long Island, I can evaluate your oral health and then tell you how I can treat gum and periodontal disease  with a laser rather than a scalpel.

 

How Everyday Habits Affect Your Teeth

TOOTH ENAMEL HAS the pretty cool reputation of being the hardest substance in the human body. So it may come as a surprise to know that while enamel is super tough, it can also break quite easily! The truth is that our teeth are not invincible, and a lot of everyday habits can put our oral health at risk.
Watch Out For These Tooth-Damaging Habits

Many of these habits seem harmless, but over time they can do a lot of damage to that beautiful smile of yours!

Nail Biting

We may refer to closely-matched sports games as “nail-biters,” but that doesn’t mean we should actually be biting our nails! Nail biting can cause teeth to chip or break as well as lead to enamel damage. The front teeth are often the first to suffer wear and tear from nail biting.

Due to the increased pressure on teeth during orthodontic treatment, biting your nails with braces can put you at greater risk for tooth resorption (a shortening of the tooth roots) or tooth loss. For the sake of teeth everywhere, let’s keep the term “nail-biter” as a manner of expression rather than a label for ourselves!

Using Your Teeth As A Tool

That darn packet of ketchup just won’t open! While your teeth may seem to be the perfect solution, using them as a tool will cause more harm than good. As strong as your teeth may be, they are not meant to be used as pliers or any other sort of tool. Doing so can lead to fractured or broken teeth and even tooth loss. As a side note, tooth damage puts you at greater risk of decay and cavities!

Gnawing On Pens And Pencils

You may be solving a difficult problem or simply thinking. Before you know it, the end of your pen or pencil is in your mouth. This oftentimes unconscious habit is an important one to be aware of. We don’t realize how much pressure we’re placing on our teeth when we bite down on something that isn’t food.

Chewing on your pen or pencil puts you at risk for broken teeth and even damage to existing dental work. Constant chewing on hard objects can compromise dental restorations such as fillings or crowns. When it comes to this bad habit, we say stay away!

Chewing Ice

Are you an ice chewer? Chewing on ice is another huge culprit behind chipped, cracked and fractured teeth. The cold can weaken teeth even further, leaving them more susceptible to breakage.Chewing ice cubes doesn’t just chip teeth, it chips away tooth enamel as well, causing serious damage over time. Even your blender needs special blades to crush ice! So next time you’re tempted, just remember your teeth aren’t equipped to crush ice cubes.

Do Your Chompers A Favor

Your teeth are made to chew food and nothing more. If you’ve got one of these bad habits, do your chompers a favor and work on quitting. If you have successfully broken one of these habits, tell us how in the comments below!

Our patients rock!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Do You Love Your Gums? Part 3

Welcome back for the next installment in this article series.  As you may recall from parts one and two, we have been discussing the fact that over 65 percent of American adults over the age of 30 years suffer from periodontal disease in its various stages and forms.  We have also been disucssing the fact that this malady has been growing at such an alarming rate that it has surpassed diabetes in prevalence in the U.S as well as world-wide.  Today, we’re going to continue this series with a discussion about what periodontal disease is and what you’ll notice in your mouth that will cause you to question what is going on. So, if you love your gums and wish to have good overall general health as you age, then follow along with me now.

What is Gum Disease?

Very simply defined, gum disease is any inflammation in the gum tissue. This is generally a chronic condition that begins with an irritant; i.e. plaque or some nasty bacteria.  Once the irritant gets established, the body’s natural immune system kicks in to fight the offender and the battle that ensues results in an inflammatory condition that usually festers and progresses beneath the gum line where you can’t see it. The battle that is being waged under the gum line can continue for years before signs and symptoms get bad enough to send you to your medical doctor.  He or she will then likely send you to a dental professional for evaluation and treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease

So, what signs do you see in your mouth to tell you there is something wrong?  How about the “pink toothbrush”?  You know, the one your mom probably told you as a child that it’s just your gums bleeding because you brushed too hard.  So you change to a softer toothbrush and consciously lighten up on your brushing approach … and still the “pink toothbrush”.  Do you really think that “pink toothbrush” is a pretty thing?

What about those swollen, puffy red gums?  Are they healthy?  Are they normal? Are they sensitive to hot and cold beverages and food yet?  If not, hang on because they will become sensitive to temperature extremes as well as to some food textures as your gum disease progresses.

Are you noticing loose teeth, or, perhaps you have already lost some teeth?  Is your mouth full of cavities, repaired or otherwise?  As gum disease worsens, these are the symptoms that will cause you to seek medical care and ultimately dental intervention.

Next time, we’ll talk about how that inflammation eats away at the very foundations of your teeth and how the nasty bacteria that is responsible for that inflammation has a cause and effect relationship with other systems and vital organs in your body.  In the meantime, call your Periodontist in Long Island and get the oh so important comprehensive periodontal exam.  Dr. Scharf can be reached by phone at (631)661-6633 or on the web at http://drscharf.com.  Let him evaluate your oral health and then he can tell you how he can treat gum disease with a laser instead of a scalpel.

The Benefits Of Brushing With An Electric Toothbrush

BRUSHING TWICE A DAY is important to keeping your smile healthy, but what can switching from a manual to an electric toothbrush do for your oral health routine?

Electric Toothbrushes Provide Many Benefits

While a manual toothbrush can get the job done if used properly, an electric toothbrush provides benefits that go beyond simply scrubbing your teeth.

They clean teeth more thoroughly. When we brush by hand, we average about 300 strokes per minute. Electric toothbrushes can average thousands or even tens of thousands of strokes per minute depending on what technology they employ.

They’re easier for those with dexterity issues. Certain conditions–such as arthritis, limited mobility, or involuntary tremors–can make brushing with a manual toothbrush difficult. The larger handles of electric toothbrushes can be easier to hold, while the powered toothbrush head does all the cleaning for you.

They help ensure you’re brushing properly. Many electric toothbrushes feature built-in timers and pressure sensors. These features help ensure you’re not too brushing too hard and that you brush for a full two minutes.

They clean hard to reach spots around braces. Some electric toothbrushes even have special attachments made specifically for cleaning around brackets and orthodontic appliances.

Check out the video below to see how to properly use an electric toothbrush.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkdgyXHEboE

We Love Brightening Our Patients Smiles!

Electric toothbrushes aren’t just fancy gadgets—they can provide a host of significant benefits for your oral health. If you have questions about how an electric toothbrush can improve your brushing routine, call and make an appointment today! We love helping our patients achieve happy, healthy smiles.

Thank you for being part of our practice family.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Do You Love Your Gums? Part 2

Welcome back!  If you were with us last time, you will recall that we were discussing  periodontal disease and the fact that about 65 million Americans suffer from some stage of periodontal disease! Today, we’re going to continue this discussion into why it is important for you to love your gums.

Just a little review

Last time, we talked about the fact that periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is increasing among American adults aged 30 years and older at a rate that surpasses diabetes and many people who suffer from it don’t know it and have not been diagnosed yet.  This disease has been found to be linked with other serious and chronic health conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and even some cancers.

Disease commonly overlooked

Most people don’t realize how often periodontal disease and gum disease are overlooked and part of the reason for this are the facts that it is so common and rampant and not a well-discussed topic for most of us.  Stuart J. Froum, DDS, president of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), who is also a clinical professor and director of clinical research at New York University’s Department of Periodontics and Implant Dentistry, feels that the increasing number of Americans who suffer from periodontal disease in its various stages of development demonstrates how often the problem is overlooked.  He feels that the public needs more education in this area and, to help that along, the AAP has created the “Love the Gums You’re With” campaign.  It is felt that this campaign will help American adults understand the importance of prevention and how vital early diagnosis of periodontal disease can aid in the prevention or hold off on the development of some of those chronic diseases mentioned above.

Why is education is important

For those of you who are not familiar with periodontal disease, in our next segment, we will go into more detail about what it is and how it wreaks its havoc on our mouths and eventually our entire bodies.  But for now, it is important to note that peridontal disease usually doesn’t cause pain until it has progressed to an advanced stage.  By the time it reaches that advanced stage, it has already caused a good deal of damage and a good deal of tooth support has already been lost.  The goal of the AAP’s Love the Gums You’re With campaign is to increase the American pulic’s awareness of this malady and help consumers understand what peridontal disease is and what the end result is of it when it remains undiagnosed and untreated.

The good news is that it CAN be treated and sometimes reversed if it is diagnosed and treated soon enough. Your Periodontist in Long Island can help you with this process.  Call Dr. Scharf at (631)661-6633 or visit him on the web at http://drscharf.com and let him tell you how he can treat gum disease and periodontal disease with a laser rather than a scalpel.