Must-Have Annual Medical Exams

Sunshine On My Shoulder

Studies have shown that five to 10 minutes of sunshine per day can boost vitamin D levels. Vitamin D plays an important role in heart and skeletal health and can ward off osteoporosis.  



Three Must-Have Annual Medical Exams: Skin, Dental and Eye

So often we’re preoccupied with the daily business of living that we neglect the basic checkups that keep us healthy. Between the kids, and the job, and the house and the groceries — who has the time? To stress the importance of these exams, The Doctors send comedienne Vikki Kelleher on a marathon doctor’s visit — three different doctors in one day!


Beauty is Skin Deep

Renowned dermatologist Dr. Harold Lancer performs a head-to-toe skin exam on Vikki. 


“I check for lumps, bumps, cysts — anything that shouldn’t be there,” Dr. Lancer explains. He gives Vikki a clean bill of health and reminds her to come back next year.


The doctor stresses the importance of yearly skin exams and explains that moles and birthmarks present from birth can transform from harmless to harmful over time; it’s critical to track and chart their changes. He notes that cosmetic skin care is not a substitute for a skin exam. Rather, skin care should be considered a daily habit, just like brushing your teeth or taking a shower.


Dr. Lisa adds, “The skin is an organ, so you have to look at it that way and take care of it.”

Problem Moles are Indicated By:

Color variation

Irregular border

Muddled skin print


Something to Smile About

Want more Dr. Bill Dorfman?

Cosmetic dentist Dr. Bill Dorfman shares essential dental tips HERE.

Cosmetic dentist Dr. Bill Dorfman says an annual dental exam is comprised of three essential components:   


1. Periodontal probing: A test that measures the bone around the teeth.

2. Oral cancer screening: A device called a VELscope shines a green fluorescent light within the mouth to detect unhealthy or abnormal tissue.

3. Digital X-rays: The advantages to using digital x-rays instead of traditional ones are:

*90 percent less radiation

*No harmful chemicals that pollute the environment

*The ability to magnify the images up to 300 times their original size.

In the course of the exam, Dr. Bill discovers that Vikki is developing an abscess, or infection, where she had a root canal several years ago. The dentist underscores how serious these infections can be. “People have actually died from abscessed teeth!” he exclaims.


Vikki admits that she didn’t feel a thing.


“That’s the best time to go: before it hurts,” the dentist assures. “We’ll find the things when they’re small, and then we’ll fix it.”



Don’t Forget to Brush!

The dentist says that the Philips Sonicare is his electric toothbrush of choice, adding that electric toothbrushes are able to remove more plaque than a manual brush and reduces gingivitis. “I use it, I love it, I give it to all my patients!” he enthuses.  



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Seeing Is Believing

Vikki admits that she hasn’t visited the eye doctor since she had Lasik surgery six years ago. “I just thought -- that's it. You get your eyes fixed and you’re done!” She jokes, “Unless you stop being able to see the cars in front of you, you don’t need the eye doctor.”


Ophthalmologist Dr. Brian Boxer-Wachler says the reason everyone needs to see the eye doctor, regardless of whether they’ve had Lasik surgery or not, is to detect problems that could cause a permanent loss of vision: cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. “Sometimes you can lose your vision very subtly,” he warns, “So it’s important to have it checked once a year.”


Cataracts occur when the lens in the eye starts to cloud over. The lens is comprised of protein and water, and as people age, the proteins can clump together to create a cloudy formation. “Cataracts are easy to fix when caught early,” Dr. Boxer-Wachler says. “It’s a 10-minute procedure.”


Glaucoma, a disease that damages the optic nerve, can cause blindness. “It can rob you of your peripheral vision,” Dr. Boxler-Wachler explains, “and that can be very serious.”


However, the leading cause of blindness in the United States is macular degeneration, which is a deterioration of a portion of the retina. “That can steal your central vision,” Dr. Boxer-Wachler says.


“Prevention is the key when it comes to eye exams,” Dr. Travis concludes, “and dental and skin exams!”



Getting Your Fussy Toddler to Sleep

Desiree from Portland, Oregon, sends in a home video asking Dr. Jim for help with her fussy toddler. She says that her 14-month-old son, Dominick, has started throwing temper tantrums when she tries to put him down for naps or bedtime. 


Dr. Jim explains that Dominick is probably getting tired sooner than Desiree realizes. He suggests changing her son’s sleep patterns by putting him down earlier and creating a fun bedtime routine.  


Tonsil Rocks

Shannon from Gainesville, Florida, e-mails The Doctors to ask about white stones that fly out of her mouth when she sneezes or coughs. She writes that she had a severe case of tonsillitis a year ago that left her with crater-like indentations on her tonsils. Dr. Ordon explains that the tonsils are lymph tissues and part of our immune system. 


He posits that Shannon most likely has “tonsil rocks,” which are calcified stones that have developed from mucous and bacteria trapped in the craters, or crypts, in her tonsils. He instructs Shannon to clean the crypts by gargling with salt water and use water picks to flush out the calcifications. “If it becomes a chronic problem,” he says, “that’s another indication to actually have your tonsils removed.” 


Nose Spread

When women are pregnant, nearly everything gets bigger! But after having two children in the last 16 months, Valerie from Thornton, Colorado, has noticed that her nose has gotten bigger as well. She calls to ask Dr. Lisa if this phenomenon is normal and whether she can expect her nose to go back to its normal size. The OB/ GYN explains that breasts, feet, fingers and noses all tend to grow during pregnancy, due in part to the increased levels of hormones pulsing through the body. The vascularity in the nose increases as well, so many women experience nasal congestion during pregnancy. “It may not go all the way back to normal,” Dr. Lisa tells Valerie. “You’ll just have to wait and see.”


Healthy Heart Tip

To maintain a healthy heart, doctors recommend that adults consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, which is approximately one teaspoon of salt a day! Lowering salt intake can help to lower blood pressure as well.


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OAD 1/15/09