My Blog

Posts for: April, 2012

By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
April 28, 2012
Category: Oral Health
TheFactsAboutThumbSucking

One topic we are often asked about is finger or thumb sucking and/or pacifier use — a challenge that most parents or caregivers will likely face with at least one of their children. The first and perhaps most important thing to remember is that it is totally normal for babies and young children to suck their fingers, thumb or a pacifier. It only becomes a problem when it continues as the child ages or if you unnecessarily make it a problem.

For most children, the sucking instinct starts in the womb before birth. This fact is evident, as many expectant mothers are shown their child sucking fingers or a thumb during a mid or late-term sonogram. Once the child is born, the habit may continue because it provides the child with a sense of security. Other research indicates that some babies start sucking habits as a way to make contact with, test and learn about their new world outside the womb. It is interesting to note that most children typically tend to stop finger or thumb sucking habits on their own and without much intervention between the ages of two and four. However, for others it can continue much longer. And that is the scenario that parents and caregivers need to be aware of so that they can monitor sucking habits.

Children who suck their thumbs or a pacifier after the age of two have a higher risk of developing some long term negative effects from the habit. This includes but is not limited to upper jaw development issues and “buck” teeth (upper front teeth that protrude forward out of a natural position towards the lips). For this reason, some researchers feel that children should cease thumb or finger sucking and/or pacifier use by 18 months of age. However, the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents and caregivers encourage children to cease this habit by age three.

If you feel your child is at risk due to his/her age and habits, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for your child. After a thorough exam, we can work with you to create a strategy for helping your child overcome finger, thumb or pacifier habits. To learn more about this topic, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Thumb Sucking in Children.”


WhatYouCanExpectWithTreatmentOfGumDisease

At some point in every person's life, they will experience bleeding gums or gingivitis, a mild inflammation of the gingiva (gums), which is the first stage of periodontal (gum) disease. For example, when was the last time you were brushing or flossing your teeth and noticed that your gums were bleeding or that when you spit and rinsed there was some blood? When this occurs, it is a sign that you have gum disease, as healthy gum tissues do not bleed. And no, it is highly unlikely that your bleeding is from brushing too hard. You would have to use extreme force to make healthy gum tissues bleed. However, this is exactly how most people discount or ignore this warning sign.

If this sounds like you or another member of your family, here's what you can expect when you see us for treatment. Depending on the severity of your periodontal disease, all of these treatment options may not be necessary.

Behavior change: We will collect a thorough medical history to obtain facts about your oral hygiene, eating and other personal habits such as alcohol and tobacco use to determine their impact on your periodontal disease. Proper brushing and flossing techniques are necessary for everyone, whether you have early or late stage gum disease; however, you must commit to a good daily oral health routine if you want to achieve success and thus keep you mouth and teeth healthy.

Calculus (tartar) removal: Cleaning is not just your responsibility. We'll clean and polish your teeth to remove calculus (tartar), the calcified deposits of bacterial products that become glued to the teeth and roots that you can’t remove. In fact, routine visits to see us for a thorough cleaning will help ensure that all the unhealthy calculus (tartar) is removed from your teeth.

Evaluation: Usually after three or four weeks, we will want to see you to evaluate your progress and to see the response of your gingival tissues to the treatment thus far. And depending on the severity of your gum disease, we may need another follow-up exam to decide the best maintenance and monitoring regimen necessary to keep your mouth healthy.

Occlusal or Bite Therapy: This treatment, if necessary, usually occurs once your gum tissues have been stabilized and the inflammation and infection have been controlled. It is during this phase that we will address loose teeth or teeth that have shifted or drifted in position.

Surgical Therapy: For more severe cases of gum disease, you may need periodontal plastic surgery to repair and regenerate gum and bone tissue and their attachment to the teeth. It may also be necessary to replace missing teeth with dental implants.

If you are ready to talk to us about the current state of your mouth (or the mouth of another member of your family), contact us today to schedule an appointment. The first step towards achieving optimal oral health could start with this simple call. Or, you can learn more by reading, “Understanding Gum Disease.”


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
April 12, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: crowns   dental implants  
DentalImplantsTheBestSolutionForMissingTeeth

If you have missing teeth, dental implants are the state-of-the-art tooth replacement system. They act as substitutes for natural tooth roots, stabilizing the bone with which they fuse and become integrated with. This protects the remaining bone and prevents its further loss, the natural occurrence after the natural teeth are lost. Done correctly, implants can offer a long-term solution to the problem of missing teeth.

Key factors assuring dental implant success are having an experienced dental team consisting of:

  1. A surgeon (periodontist or oral surgeon, or dentist trained in surgical techniques to place the implants)
  2. A dental technician who will design the crowns (tooth portion of the implant)
  3. A restorative dentist to place the crowns

The whole team is necessary to plan the process as well as carry out their individual roles. They will ensure that there is enough bone and that it is in the right place prior to treatment to allow for proper implant position, and that the implant/s are correctly placed, which is necessary to allow for natural aesthetics and proper function.

Replacing missing teeth is imperative to maintaining normal oral health and function. Dental implants will help support the entire structure of the face. If back teeth are lost, the vertical height of the lower face and mouth can begin to collapse, negatively impacting biting function and causing creasing and cracking of the lips and facial skin, resulting in a prematurely aged look.

Implants differ from bridgework in several ways, making them the most favorable option for tooth replacement in many cases. For starters, they do not affect adjacent teeth, nor do they decay like teeth, and they are less susceptible to gum disease. In the long-term, implants are a more cost-effective solution based on the fact that once they are placed, their life expectancy is longer than bridgework.

If you have missing teeth that have negatively affected your appearance, self-confidence, and ability to chew, call us today to talk about the possibility of replacing them with dental implants. To learn more about the use and capabilities of dental implants, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants: Evaluating Your Options For Replacing Missing Teeth.”


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
April 04, 2012
Category: Oral Health
FactsYouShouldKnowAboutToothWear

You may have noticed, as you get older, that the enamel of your teeth is looking worn in certain areas. Sometimes tooth wear takes the form of a minor chipping or fracturing at the incisal (cutting) edges of the teeth, or a loss of tooth material from the area near the gum line. In more severe cases, worn teeth look quite a bit smaller than they used to. Why does this happen?

Some wear with age is natural. But too much wear can interfere with your bite, expose more sensitive inner parts of the tooth to decay, and give you a more aged appearance.

There are things you can control that affect wear:

Your habits: Clenching or grinding habits, also called “bruxism,” is a major cause of tooth wear. The motion of teeth sliding over each other with forces that are beyond what's normal for biting or chewing causes a mechanical removal of tooth enamel. This can happen during sleep or periods of high stress. In either case there are therapies available, such as a thin, professionally made mouthguard that prevents your teeth from coming into contact with each other. Holding foreign objects, such as nails and bobby pins, between your teeth can also cause wear.

Your diet: Tooth enamel can be eroded (dissolved away) by acidic beverages, such as sodas, sports drinks and juices. Frequent snacking on sugary foods encourages the growth of oral bacteria that produce acid as a byproduct — also leaving your teeth vulnerable to tooth decay. Your saliva can buffer the effects of the acid in your mouth in about half an hour; if you consume these types of foods and beverages continually, there won't be enough time for this to work.

We can restore the appearance and function of worn teeth in a variety of ways. Porcelain crowns and veneers, for example, can re-establish the normal thickness and length of teeth while improving their color and giving you a more youthful appearance.

If you have any questions about tooth wear, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about tooth wear by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “How And Why Teeth Wear.”