My Blog

Posts for: August, 2011

By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
August 28, 2011
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   fluoride  

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) calls fluoridation of drinking water one of the ten most important public health measures of the 20th century, along with such measures as vaccination and motor-vehicle safety.

A fluoride concentration of about one milligram per liter (1 mg/L), or 1 part per million (1ppm), in the water supply is associated with substantially fewer cavities. This concentration of fluoride (equivalent to a grain of salt in a gallon of water) has been found to have no negative health effects.

The connection between fluoride and oral health was confirmed in the first half of the 20th century, and by 1955 the first clinically proven fluoride toothpaste was launched. Fluoride-containing toothpastes are common today, along with other fluoride-containing products.

Protective Effects of Fluoride
Ongoing studies have shown that fluoride has both a systemic (through the body) effect and a local effect at the tooth surfaces. Tooth decay takes place as part of a kind of active war between de-mineralization and re-mineralization, in which acids produced by bacteria in plaque (a biofilm in your mouth) soften and dissolve the minerals (de-mineralization) in the tooth's surface. At the same time, the saliva bathing the tooth acts to re-harden the tooth's surface by adding minerals back (re-mineralization). If fluoride is present in the biofilm and in the saliva, it protects against de-mineralization.

The fluoride you drink in your water is deposited in your bones. Bone is an active living substance that is constantly broken down and rebuilt as a normal body process. As this happens the fluoride is released into the blood, from which it can enter the saliva and act on the tooth surface. The fluoride in toothpastes and products like rinses is delivered directly to the tooth surface. Fluorides can also be eaten in foods with high fluoride content such as teas, dry infant cereals and processed chicken, fish and seafood products.

Problems with Over-use
Eating or swallowing too much fluoride can contribute to a discoloration of teeth called dental fluorosis, which varies in appearance from small white striations to stained pitting and severe brown mottling of the enamel. To avoid this effect, monitor children's tooth brushing to make sure they use only a small amount of fluoride toothpaste and do not swallow it.

Adding fluoride to water has been controversial because some people believe that it may cause other harmful effects. However, most health experts believe that fluoridated water carries no significant health risks and significantly contributes to public health by preventing tooth decay.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about fluoride. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Fluoride & Fluoridation in Dentistry.”


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
August 21, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures

Your smile is one of the first things people notice, but if your pearly whites have lost their luster, chances are you might be hesitant to show them. As we age, our teeth naturally darken, and certain substances can leave teeth stained or discolored, making you appear older. One easy way to turn back the clock is to have your teeth whitened; a safe, painless, and non-invasive way of achieving a young, healthy-looking smile.

Causes of Tooth Discoloration: Exposure to high-levels of fluoride and taking tetracycline antibiotics during childhood can stain the teeth's structure. Smoking cigarettes and using chewing tobacco can also cause tooth discoloration, as well as foods containing tannins such as red wine, coffee and tea. In addition, poor brushing techniques and not flossing regularly cause bacteria to build on teeth resulting in yellow stains.

The Whitening Process: Our office can help you to achieve a brighter smile using either an in-office procedure or an at-home whitening kit. We can help determine the best treatment for your budget, time frame and individual needs. If you choose to have professional whitening done in our office, we will utilize a prescription strength gel sometimes even activated by a concentrated light source. This procedure offers immediate and long-lasting results in less than an hour. After a single treatment, teeth are typically six to ten shades lighter and with proper maintenance, can last five years or longer.

At-Home Results: For those seeking more gradual results, another option is to use custom-fit trays, which our office will make for you to use at home to whiten your teeth. This is generally less expensive, and is very effective at lightening teeth several shades, although it may take a week or longer to see optimal results.

Choosing the Best Procedure: For some people, teeth whitening may not offer adequate results. If you have thin enamel, chipped, uneven or crooked teeth, we may recommend applying porcelain veneers to restore your damaged teeth. Veneers are bonded to the front of teeth to give your smile a straighter, more uniform appearance.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have regarding teeth whitening. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Whitening: Brighter, Lighter, Whiter.”


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
August 14, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures

The goal of restorative dentistry is to return the teeth to full form (shape) and function. For years, a key tool for achieving this goal has been through the use of metal amalgams (silver looking dental fillings). However, this technique does have some disadvantages. One is the fact that they can involve removal of healthy tooth structure to retain them. Too much “undercutting” can undermine and weaken a tooth resulting in less resistance to biting forces possibly leading to fatigue fractures and cracked tooth syndrome. Another approach is call “biomimetic” which literally means mimicking life. This approach to dentistry is made possible through the structured use of tooth-like materials such as composite resins. Scientific studies and clinical experience have validated their use as both safe and predictable.

By mimicking life, we rely upon our delicate balance of artistry, experience and expertise to provide you with properly restored teeth that function and wear normally, while appearing indistinguishable from natural teeth. Dental composite are now the most commonly used materials for tooth-colored adhesive restorations and have properties similar to a natural tooth's enamel and dentin. They consist of resin which are plastic and fillers made of silica (a form of glass). The fillers give the composites wear resistance and translucency (see through properties). However, most of the properties of enamel are also mimicked quite well by dental porcelains. Porcelains are a form of ceramic, that are formed by the action of heat. Dental porcelains come in all colors and shades so we can easily and perfectly match the color of virtually any natural tooth. As for longevity, porcelain is typically your best option because it is the closest option in mimicking a natural tooth.

To learn more on this subject, you can continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth Colored Fillings.” Or contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your specific questions.


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
August 07, 2011
Category: Oral Health

One question we are most often asked by parents of athletes or those who participate in physical sports is, “Do mouthguards really work?” And when we respond, “yes,” a common follow-up question is, “Is there any scientific evidence to support this claim?” Based on this scenario, we feel it is important to provide you with some interesting and evidence-based facts on this topic.

The first reported use of mouthguards was in the sport of boxing. And because participants and bystanders in the 1920s quickly witnessed their effectiveness even back then, the trend's popularity grew to the point that boxing became the first professional sport to require them. However, other sports soon started following this lead — especially those high-contact sports. The American Dental Association (ADA) started mandating the use of mouthguards for football in 1962 and the US National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) currently requires mouthguards for football, ice hockey, lacrosse and field hockey. The ADA has since expanded their recommendations to now include 29 different sports and exercise activities. So now that you know more about the professional organizations pushing the use of mouthguards, let's get back to the second question, “What's the evidence?”

There have been numerous studies over the years regarding the properties of mouthguards, and more specifically their shock absorbing capabilities. Other studies have been based upon their protective abilities due to their stiffness, hardness and strength. This research has enabled us to vastly improve upon the effectiveness of mouthguards. For example, years ago latex rubber was a popular material used to create mouthguards. However, today we use products such as ethylene vinyl acetate or polyurethane because they are far superior in durability and flexibility. And impact studies have shown that the chances of fracturing teeth is dramatically reduced when wearing one of these mouthguards...especially when compared to individuals wearing no mouthguard at all. In fact, research has revealed that by not wearing a mouthguard during physical sports or exercise, individuals are 60 times more likely to experience an injury to the mouth and/or teeth.

To learn more about the importance of protective mouthguards, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about mouthguards.