My Blog

Posts for: September, 2011

By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
September 25, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures

In a recent online poll conducted by Dear Doctor, the premier oral healthcare resource for consumers, 77% of those polled planned on visiting their dentist prior to their wedding. For some, this includes a thorough cleaning to remove stains and freshen both their smile and breath. However, a growing number of brides, grooms, and parents of the couple are seeking cosmetic dentistry or more specifically, a smile makeover, to transform their smile for their special day as well as their future.

If this describes your situation, take the first step towards the smile you have always wanted. To create your ideal smile, we will first meet with you to get to know you better and hear your concerns, goals, expectations and wedding day timeline. Bringing in photos or magazine images of smiles that you consider beautiful will help to ensure that we understand what you find attractive, as beauty can vary greatly from individual to individual. During this initial consultation, you will also learn about your smile makeover treatment options and what you could expect immediately prior, during and following each option.

Some subtle improvements we may consider are teeth whitening and bonding. Both of these options can take place in just a few office visits and produce very attractive results. Porcelain veneers and crowns can provide you with longer-term results that can last from 10 to 20 years. However, because they typically require 1 to 4 months advance notice, it is important to see us as soon as possible to ensure you have enough time before your special day. Another procedure that can play a dramatic role in your smile makeover is periodontal plastic surgery to improve and alter your gum tissues and their relationship to your teeth. For example, the appearance of “short” teeth can be corrected by lengthening them during a surgical procedure that has minor discomfort yet results in a life-long change.

Want to learn more?

Contact us today to discuss your smile makeover questions or to schedule an appointment. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor article, “Planning Your Wedding Day Smile.”


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
September 18, 2011
Category: Oral Health

If you see blood when you brush or floss your teeth, it generally indicates a problem with your oral health. You may think you are brushing too hard, but this is not usually why gums bleed. The usual culprit is dental plaque.

Plaque is the sticky, whitish film of bacteria that forms on your teeth every day. If you brush regularly, you probably remove most of it — but some may remain behind and accumulate where your teeth meet your gums, particularly between your teeth. As the bacteria build up, along with by-products of their metabolism (the chemical reactions that maintain their lives), they cause inflammation, called gingivitis, in the adjacent gums.

Bleeding gums are an early symptom of gingivitis. Continuing contact with plaque at the gum line can cause your gum tissue to separate from nearby teeth, creating pockets in which the inflammation becomes even worse. The process leads to periodontal disease (“peri” – meaning around, “odont” – tooth). The increasing infection can eat away the bone that anchors the teeth, leading to possible tooth loss. Periodontal disease is not an uncommon problem. About 90% of the population has bleeding gums at some time or another, and approximately 10% go on to develop periodontal disease.

When you lose bone around your teeth, the gums separate from the tooth and “pockets” form between your teeth and gums. The inflammation and infection may continue within the pockets even if your gums have stopped bleeding when you brush. That's why it is important to have regular dental exams — to check up on and stop periodontal disease before it has a chance to cause serious damage.

There may also be other reasons for bleeding gums that have to do with your general state of health. Women who have elevated levels of hormones caused by birth control pills or pregnancy may experience an increased response to plaque that makes their gums bleed more easily. Increased bleeding in your gums can also be caused by some diseases or as a side effect of some medications.

The most important way to prevent bleeding gums is to learn proper brushing and flossing techniques so that you effectively remove plaque from your teeth on a daily basis. If you are not sure you are using the right techniques, make an appointment and have us demonstrate at your next dental visit.

With all the best intentions, some plaque may remain. Plaque that is allowed to stay on your teeth hardens into a substance called tartar or calculus. This must be removed periodically with a professional cleaning by me or by our hygienist.

With not too much effort, you can ensure that your teeth are clean and plaque free, and your healthy gums no longer bleed.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about bleeding gums. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bleeding Gums.”


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
September 11, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures

Creating a dental crown that looks good and wears well is not an easy achievement. It is the result of good communication you, the patient, have with us, your dental professionals, and that we have with the dental lab that manufactures the crown. In addition, it reflects the quality of work done by us and by the lab technician.

What is a dental crown?
A crown is a dental restoration that surrounds the remains of a damaged tooth or is attached to a dental implant so that it resembles a natural tooth as it extends above the gum line. The choice of materials and appearance of the crown depend upon many factors. One is the location of the crown. If it is in the back part of your jaw, strength and wear will be a major factor. If it is in the front, a life-like appearance will be important.

What goes into making a good-looking and functional crown?
Options for crown materials include porcelain, gold, porcelain fused to metal (called PFM) and some newer materials such as “pressed-ceramic” restorations and computer-milled-ceramics.

You as the patient can have a say in choosing the crown's color and appearance. Before it is cemented into its final position, make sure you are happy with the feel and appearance of your new crown.

Gold is often chosen for crowns on back teeth because of its superior wear qualities. Gold crowns have been known to last more than 50 years. They also cause minimal wear to the teeth that they touch on the opposing jaw.

Crowns made of porcelain (a glass-like substance fired in an oven at a high temperature) look good but may be too brittle to stand the wear and forces given to back teeth. Like glass, they can fracture under pressure. But because of their lifelike appearance they make a good choice for visible front teeth.

PFM (porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns) are a good combination of the best of gold and porcelain, but they sometimes lose the stains applied to make them look natural, and occasionally they fracture away from the metal.

A provisional crown can help you make sure you are getting a crown with the qualities you want. With the provisional crown all the details are worked out ahead of time, and you get a chance to try them out to make sure the crown looks good and that you can eat and talk normally. After you give your approval on the provisional crown, the final crown will be made to match it, in longer-lasting and better quality components.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about crowns and other dental restorations. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Gold or Porcelain Crowns.”


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
September 04, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures

We have noticed that there are two types of patients when it comes to enhancing a person's smile. One type, which we'll call the “Perfect Minded” patient, expects teeth that are completely regular in their arrangement and of maximum whiteness and brightness, often beyond the range of traditional guides for tooth color. They are looking for a perfect “Hollywood” smile. The other, the “Natural Minded” patient, is looking for a more natural look. This person expects a general sense of regularity and alignment of teeth with definite brightness, but not so much that the teeth are noticeable before and above other facial features. Which type are you?

The “Perfect Minded” Patient
While you expect maximum regularity and alignment of teeth along with maximum whiteness and brightness, the “perfect minded” patient requires a smile completely symmetrical (balanced from one side to the other). If we drew a vertical line down the center of your face (midline), it would fall directly between your front teeth and your smile would look just the same on each side of the line. You also expect your smile to be horizontally symmetric, so that it matches the curvature of your lower lip and the gum lines match from side to side.

The “Natural Minded” Patient
You are looking for a more subtle, natural look produced by including some minor irregularities in your look. Like the “Perfect Minded” individual, you still expect your teeth to be generally regular and well aligned but you also want to have some minor asymmetries (not matching) as you move farther back along your jaw to make your teeth look real. Your preference in tooth color is not a super shade of white, but for a tooth color that looks very natural for your facial skin and hair color.

There is no right or wrong here. What is important is to be sure to communicate your expectations to us before embarking on a program of smile redesign.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about Smile Design. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Great Expectations — Perceptions in Smile Design.”