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Posts for: October, 2011

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a sub-specialty of dentistry devoted to the study of growth and development of the teeth and jaws and treatment of improper bites (malocclusions).

What causes improper bites?

Malocclusions result from irregularities in the positioning of teeth, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both.

Why have orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment is carried out primarily to improve the alignment and function of your teeth and bite. It also results in improved oral health, easier maintenance, a better smile, and enhanced self-confidence and esteem.

What is the first step?

Schedule an appointment with our office for an orthodontic evaluation of your teeth and jaws and learn what options are best for you.

What do we need in order to plan your orthodontic treatment?

  • Molds (impressions) of your teeth to study your bite (study models).
  • “Articulated models” placing your study models in a machine that replicates jaw movement.
  • Specialized x-rays showing your teeth and how your jaws align.
  • Photographs of your smile and position of your teeth.
  • Computer imaging.

What are braces?

Orthodontic appliances, commonly known as braces, are small brackets that are placed on teeth, through which thin flexible wires are threaded. They are the parts that move the teeth.

How do they work?

The wires tend to straighten out to their undistorted forms moving the teeth with them. Since the tissues that attach the bone to the teeth are living, they are constantly changing and remodeling themselves. Harnessing these natural forces allows the movement of teeth. Light controlled forces acting through the wires cause new bone to be formed as the teeth move into new improved positions.

What are current options for orthodontic appliances?

  • Fixed appliances, traditionally known as braces, include brackets bonded to the teeth. These may be either metal or clear brackets, which are less visible but more susceptible to breakage.
  • Removable appliances, or clear aligners. These consist of a series of computer-generated clear plastic custom fitted trays that progressively move the teeth into better alignment.

Orthodontic treatment is an ingenious scientific discovery that has allowed the dental profession to precisely move teeth for better appearance as well as improved function. It harnesses the body's natural processes by which tissues normally remodel themselves to maintain a steady state, allowing your dental team to move your teeth into improved position for a lifetime of dental health and a great smile.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about orthodontics. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Magic of Orthodontics.”


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
October 23, 2011
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral cancer  

For many people, starting a chewing tobacco habit begins as something you do with “all the guys” to be cool and fit in. It often starts when playing sports such as baseball. And because it is smokeless tobacco, many people think it is harmless; thus they slowly start “dipping” more often until they are chewing tobacco throughout each day, every day.

The truth about chewing tobacco is that it isn't harmless. It is extremely dangerous and contains more than 30 chemicals known to cause cancer. It also contains nicotine, the highly addictive-forming drug found in cigarettes. Sure, it may not have the odorous (and dangerous) impact of cigarettes, cigars and pipes that can negatively impact others nearby, but it can destroy both your oral and general health and even kill you.

Steps You Can Take to Quit

Once a person decides to stop using chewing tobacco, it can be a difficult process and even more difficult to quit cold turkey. If the latter describes your situation, try a smoking cessation program or talk with your doctor about prescription medicines available to help you kick the habit. You may also find free counseling (via telephone) or other groups and organizations created to help people break free from their tobacco addiction. This is often a great way to start the quitting process.

Two of the most important steps you can take are to involve your physician and our office in your strategy to kick this habit. In addition to encouraging and supporting your decision, we can closely monitor your oral health during the process.


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
October 16, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures

Invitations, dresses, the cake, the photographer: there's so much to think about when planning your wedding. And remember to plan for one more thing, your smile. Your wedding photographs will record the magic of your wedding day forever, so you'll want your smile to look radiant. Bonus: you'll be providing for a lifetime of good oral health.

Start planning as far ahead as possible. We can help you select from the variety of treatments, therapies and procedures that can enhance your smile on that special day. Together, we'll assess your starting point, decide what needs to be changed, and create a plan of action. Remember that the bigger the changes you want to make, the longer they are likely to take.

Plan the indicated amount of time before your wedding for the following:

  • Several months to three years: Orthodontics
    From minor movement using clear aligners to full braces to correct a bad bite, this treatment allows us to accurately and precisely move teeth for better appearance and function. The process can seem like magic.
  • Six months to a year: Dental Implants
    Implants are natural looking, functional stand-alone tooth replacement systems. They take planning and time. An implant consists of a root replacement that permanently joins to the bone and to which a crown is attached.
  • Two to four visits: Periodontal Plastic Surgery
    Consult with us to find out your needs. Today, surgical techniques can alter your gum tissues and their relationship to the teeth, improving the appearance of your smile.
  • Multiple visits over one to four months: Crowns and Bridges
    A crown or “cap” is generally required when a tooth has been ravaged by decay or trauma. A crown can also be used to improve tooth color and shape. Missing teeth can be replaced by bridges, which span the space created by a missing tooth. Bridges do require crowns on the adjacent teeth to which the bridge is attached.
  • At least three months: Veneers
    Porcelain veneers are bonded directly to the enamel to change the shape and color of darkened or unsightly teeth. Usually, a small amount of enamel must be removed to make room for the veneers and for them to work their magic.
  • At least two months ahead of your wedding day: Bonding
    You can replace anything from small chips on your front teeth to broken discolored old fillings with the latest tooth-colored bonding composite resin materials. These procedures, generally done in one visit, provide life-like restorations that become part of the teeth and look very natural.
  • Allow for one or two office appointments: Whitening
    A professional “in office” tooth bleaching procedure is quicker and more predictable than an “at-home” kit, which may brighten your smile by several shades, but requires months.
  • Schedule well ahead of your wedding date: Dental Cleanings
    Remove unwanted stains and freshen your breath, so you look and feel your best on the big day. You may need more than one cleaning, depending on how much stain and tartar there is and how long it has been since your last cleaning.

We can make sure that your wedding day smile makes you look and feel great, not just for those treasured photos, but for years to come. For many of these procedures, results can last a lifetime. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to prepare for your best wedding smile. For more information read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wedding Day Smiles.”


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
October 09, 2011
Category: Oral Health

It may alarm some people, but finger or thumb sucking is a completely normal activity for babies and young children. In fact, sonograms often reveal babies sucking a finger or thumb while still in the womb! However, if children are allowed to suck fingers, thumbs or pacifiers indefinitely, it can become problematic, with serious consequences particularly as they get older.

The list below contains important facts about thumb sucking and pacifiers that all parents of young infants should know.

  • The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents and caregivers encourage children to stop thumb sucking by age 3.
  • Recent studies have shown that pacifier use after the age of two may cause long-term changes in the mouth; thus these researchers recommend stopping pacifier use by 18 months.
  • If thumb and finger sucking habits do not stop soon enough, the upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or not come into the correct position in the mouth.
  • Most children who suck their thumbs or fingers tend to stop between the ages of 2 and 4.
  • For obvious reasons, a pacifier habit is often easier to break than a finger or thumb-sucking habit.
  • One tip for encouraging older children to stop this habit gradually is to use behavior modification with appropriate rewards given at pre-determined intervals to refrain from using a pacifier, or sucking fingers or a thumb.

Be sure to inform us if any of your children suck their fingers, thumb or a pacifier so that we can begin monitoring their development. Our general recommendation is that you schedule an appointment around your child's first birthday.


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
October 02, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures

Quiz: What Is Smile Design?

All cultures worldwide recognize a smile as positive nonverbal communication. Yet many people are insecure about the way their smile looks. Modern cosmetic dentistry can completely change your smile through a comprehensive technique called Smile Design.

Take the following quiz to find out how much you know about your smile and smile design.

  1. What is the basic reason we consider straight, healthy teeth to be attractive?
    1. An article in a beauty magazine.
    2. An instinctive understanding of health and survival.
    3. Our first grade teacher said so.
    4. A talk show on television.
  2. What must we take into account in designing an attractive, balanced smile?
    1. The shape of your face.
    2. Your skin color and complexion.
    3. The form of your lips.
    4. All of the above.
  3. As your dentist, we consider each of the following in evaluating your current smile except:
    1. Your marital status.
    2. The health of your bone and gum tissues.
    3. How your jaw joints function.
    4. The stability of your bite.
  4. What do we use to evaluate your smile?
    1. X-rays and photographs.
    2. Models of your teeth and gums.
    3. Photographs and computer graphics.
    4. All of the above.
  5. Bonding is one method that may be used to test or enhance your smile. It is used as:
    1. A way of making friends with your dentist.
    2. A way of training secret agents.
    3. A method of repairing chipped, broken or decayed teeth and testing changes before they are made permanent.
    4. None of the above.

Answers

  1. b. What we consider an attractive smile is rooted in instinctive understanding of health and survival. We value straight, white, healthy teeth — only a few centuries ago, a person with few or no teeth was likely to starve.
  2. d. All of these factors must be taken into consideration in order to design a smile that is in balance with your face.
  3. a. While satisfaction with your life partner may make you smile, our priority in smile design is to make sure that the basic structures of your teeth are healthy and function properly.
  4. d. All of the above are used in evaluating your current condition to design a new smile.
  5. c. In bonding, a composite resin tooth colored material is shaped and physically bonded to a tooth or teeth that are chipped, broken, or decayed to restore both aesthetics and function.

After careful analysis and planning, a variety of techniques can be used to redesign an attractive and healthy new smile, so you can feel confident about smiling and sharing it with the world. To learn more about Smile Design, read “Beautiful Smiles by Design.” Or contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.