My Blog

Posts for: August, 2012

By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
August 30, 2012
Category: Oral Health
LittleKnownFactsAboutBadBreath

More than 2,000 years ago, an ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, often called the father of Western medicine, devised a mouth rinse of herbs and wine to sweeten bad breath. This problem has been around a long time, and it is still a major problem for many people. According to some studies it is one of the three main reasons people seek dental treatment.

Here are some facts you may not know about bad breath:

  • Bad breath is sometimes called halitosis, which comes from the Latin halitus (exhalation) and the Greek osis (a condition or disease-causing process).
  • Chronic bad breath is usually caused by certain types of oral bacteria. These particular bacteria are present in about 25% of the population.
  • Bad breath has spawned a major industry in the United States. Americans spend nearly three billion dollars a year on gum, mints, and mouth rinses to sweeten their breath. About 60% of women and 50% of men say they use breath freshening products.
  • Diseases in the oral cavity such as tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease can often cause bad breath. If either of these diseases are your cause for bad breath, treatment would be necessary to eliminate this problem.
  • The tongue is the most common location for bad breath. Bacteria are relatively sheltered on the back of the tongue, where they live on remnants of food, dead skin cells and post-nasal drip. These bacteria can generate volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that are also found in decaying animal or vegetable matter. VSCs are known by an unpleasant rotten egg smell.
  • Bad breath can also be caused by dry mouth (xerostomia). This condition affects millions of people and can result from smoking, alcohol or coffee drinking, and it is sometimes a side effect of medications. Another cause may be mouth breathing.
  • Halitosis can also originate in other parts of the mouth besides the tongue. These include inter-dental (between teeth) and sub-gingival (under the gums) areas.
  • When people are starving (and sometimes when they are dieting to lose weight), their bodies begin burning their fats causing their breath to develop the smell of ketones — which smell like acetone, similar to nail polish remover. If people are not eating or drinking the coating on their tongue increases as well, making VSCs more prominent.

At our office, we want to fight bad breath or halitosis by making sure our patients understand how to clean their teeth, gums, the back of the tongue, and dentures.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about bad breath. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bad Breath: More than just embarrassing.”


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
August 23, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: sleep apnea   snoring  
HowYourDentistCanHelpYouGetaBetterNightsSleep

Scientists don't know much about sleep even though it has been extensively studied. We do know that several hours of deep, restful sleep per night are essential for a healthy life.

Many people remain tired and unrefreshed, even after a full night's sleep. About a third of them are affected by sleep related breathing disorders (SRBD). Dentists can play a significant role in helping patients overcome these disorders, which range from frequent snoring to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). If you think you may have such a disorder, read on.

Under normal conditions, your upper airway is open, allowing air to flow from your nose, through your throat, and into your lungs. If you suffer from SRBD, you experience frequent reductions in the flow of air to your lungs during sleep. You may not be aware of it, but sometimes your breathing may even stop for brief periods. These reductions happen when your tongue and other soft tissues in the back of your throat collapse backwards and block your upper airway or windpipe. You may briefly awaken as many as 50 times per night because of these breathing lapses. These brief awakenings, called micro-arousals, keep you from reaching the deep stages of sleep your body needs.

The resulting reduced oxygen flow to your heart and to your brain can cause serious damage. You will also be tired during the day and experience a lack of energy, even if you sleep for seven or eight hours per night. This constant drowsiness puts you at greater risk for accidents.

Because dentists generally see their patients at six-month or other regular intervals, we are in a good position to screen and refer patients with suspected SRBD to physicians for diagnosis and treatment. Dentists can also treat SRBD in a number of ways.

  • One of these is Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT), in which a device that looks something like an orthodontic retainer holds your lower jaw in a forward position relative to your upper jaw, preventing your tongue and soft tissue from collapsing into your airway.
  • Another consists of breathing equipment called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). The CPAP is a mask connected to a machine that pushes air into your lungs.
  • Other treatments include oral surgery or orthodontia. The goal of these techniques is to increase the volume of air passing through your upper airway by pushing your tongue forward.

Medical insurance usually covers the cost of much of these treatments.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about sleep disorders and their treatments. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sleep Disorders and Dentistry.”


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
August 14, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: wisdom teeth  
TheConsequencesofanImpactedWisdomTooth

Anytime you have a tooth that does not erupt (surface) correctly but rather stays submerged below the gum you have a problem. Sometimes this situation can cause significant pain, while other times it can be totally pain-free. When this occurs to a wisdom tooth (third molar), you have what is commonly referred to as an impacted wisdom tooth. This generally occurs when there is insufficient room in the mouth, and the wisdom tooth “impacts” or butts up against an adjacent tooth.

Third molars come in typically between the ages of 17 and 25, when a moderate amount of “wisdom” is supposedly achieved. Most people have four wisdom teeth; however, it is possible to have more or less. The key to not having issues generally depends upon one main factor: having adequate space for them to grow and erupt into proper position.

The most common consequence of having an impacted wisdom tooth is gum (periodontal) disease and damage to adjacent healthy teeth. This makes removing the impacted tooth so important. Another problem with impacted wisdom teeth is that they can affect other adjacent structures like gum, bone, nerves, blood vessels and sinuses. They can also become cystic, a condition in which the submerged tooth is surrounded by a closed sac or membrane that can cause possible infection and loss of bone.

We stress the importance of routine dental exams between the ages of 17 and 25 to catch problems with wisdom teeth before they start. The best time to remove a wisdom tooth is when it is not causing problems and the sooner and younger you are the better!

To learn more about the symptoms and treatment options of impacted wisdom teeth, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wisdom Teeth.” Or, you can contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions.


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
August 13, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
ASmileMakeoverCanHelpBoostSelf-Confidence

Projecting a healthy, radiant smile can help boost self-confidence and lead to increased comfort and success in both personal and career-oriented situations. Yet, many people are unhappy with their less-than-pearly whites, causing them to avoid social interaction and even lose out on opportunities because they are too self-conscious.

Your dissatisfaction with the appearance of your teeth may also be causing you to stifle one of nature's most endearing and intrinsic impulses, simply smiling!

For example, do you:

  • Avoid posing for pictures that require a smile?
  • Cover your mouth when speaking or laughing in public?
  • Avoid dating because you feel unattractive?
  • Feel that people think less of you because your smile is flawed?
  • Think your smile makes you look older than you are?

If you've answered yes to any of these questions, you are certainly not alone. A poll conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry found that, while a whopping 99.7% of respondents said they considered a good smile to be a highly important social asset, only 50% of those same respondents indicated that they were satisfied with their own smile. In addition, the Academy reported that people between the ages of 31 and 50 are most unhappy with their smile, are most concerned with making a good first impression through a strong smile, and most frequently seek out information on cosmetic dentistry.

The good news is that advances in cosmetic enhancement and restorative dentistry, including treatments like teeth whitening and the application of porcelain veneers to correct tooth crowding, make it possible for anyone to enhance or improve their smile and boost their self-image. And a complete “Smile Makeover” has been shown to positively impact the perception that others have with respect to attractiveness, popularity, and even wealth — all based on the quality of a person's smile.

Our office can work with you to determine just what it will take to improve your smile and self confidence from as little as a minor enhancement to a complete smile makeover — anything that would best match your idea of the perfect smile. To get started, give us a call.

To read about others who have regained their confidence after brightening and whitening their smiles through cosmetic dentistry, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
August 12, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
TheArtistBehindPorcelainVeneers

While we have gained recognition for our role in creating gorgeous smiles with porcelain veneers, the often overlooked or unknown key contributors in this process are the dental laboratory technicians. These behind-the-scenes artists are the trained professionals in the art of using dental porcelain to hand-craft veneers and crowns into near exact replicas of natural teeth in shine, opacity, translucence and shape.

Through the use of precise molds and excellent communication skills, we share detailed information with the laboratory technician to create veneers or crowns specifically for enhancing and improving your smile. In fact, communication must be so exact that it often demands correct lighting, cameras and computers to produce optimal results. This process also requires a variety of colors, shapes and translucency, created so that once we cement them into place, they appear as beautiful natural teeth. If your veneers are part of a smile restoration or makeover and you are getting them for several front teeth, the end results are typically brighter and whiter than your natural teeth. However, they must blend with surrounding teeth if those teeth are not also receiving veneers. So it is often recommended to have your natural teeth whitened before the veneers are replaced.

Good dental porcelains in the right hands can make for spectacular tooth imitations by mimicking tooth enamel perfectly. And now that you have these facts, you begin to understand all of the expertise, artistry, and the technology required by laboratory technicians to produce the most dazzling porcelain veneers.

To learn more about porcelain veneers, continue reading the Dear Doctor article, “Smile Design Enhanced With Porcelain Veneers.” Or if you are ready to see what cosmetic dentistry can do for you, contact us to schedule a consultation.