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Posts for: October, 2012

GumDiseaseampDiabetesTwoDiseasesWithACommonEnemymdashYou

Both diabetes and gum (periodontal) disease are chronic inflammatory diseases that have negative consequences for millions of people worldwide. But before we continue, let's define these two diseases:

Periodontal disease is a condition in which biofilms of dental bacterial plaque stick to teeth near the gum lines causing the gum tissues to become inflamed and infected. If not treated properly and in an early stage, it can cause severe damage to the bone that supports the teeth, resulting in tooth loss. It occurs in the absence of good oral hygiene which includes ineffective daily brushing and flossing and neglecting to see your dentist.

Diabetes is a chronic condition in which blood glucose (sugar) levels become excessive. Glucose is the body's main source of sugar for energy. The hormone insulin, among other mechanisms, normally controls glucose. Prolonged elevated blood sugar levels are harmful and ultimately can even be life threatening if left untreated. With type 1 diabetes, insulin injections (shots) are required to maintain the proper blood sugar levels because the body no longer produces its own blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is generally less severe and can usually be treated with a combination of diet and medication.

And while both of these diseases share the same common enemy, you, there is scientific evidence revealing links between the two. Diabetes increases the risk factor for developing periodontitis, and conversely, periodontal disease makes it more difficult for diabetics to control blood glucose levels.

Want To Learn More?

Learn more about these two diseases and their relationship by reading, “Diabetes & Periodontal Disease.” Or if you have diabetes but haven't had a dental exam and cleaning in a long time, contact us today to schedule a consultation. You can also use this consultation to discuss any questions or concerns you have about your oral health and its relationship to your diabetes.


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
October 19, 2012
Category: Oral Health
TakeOurQuizAreYouAtRiskForToothDecay

Dental caries (tooth decay) is similar to the pesky bumblebee that invades your lovely summer barbecue. You can find temporary solace from this intruder by eliminating that very first bee that you see, but if you are situated in an area that is close to the bee's nest, it won't be long before the next bee buzzes along. This is similar to tooth decay. Having one cavity-laden tooth drilled and filled is really just a temporary fix. The underlying conditions that led to tooth decay in the first place need to be addressed in order for your risk of future infection to decrease.

Researcher Dr. John Featherstone created the concept of the Caries Balance in 2002, in which he explained that tooth decay and overall dental health are dependent upon a proper balance of disease-causing and health-promoting factors. Discovering what the fundamental problem really is (and getting as far away from that hornet's nest as possible) can help both determine and curb your risk for future tooth decay.

Here's the issue in a nutshell: Susceptible teeth, in the presence of acid producing bacteria when fed by sugar from your diet, basically, will create all the conditions necessary to cause tooth decay.

To determine your risk for tooth decay, see how many times you answer “Yes” to the following questions:

  1. Do you brush your teeth twice a day to reduce bacterial plaque sticking to the teeth?
  2. Do you use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen the teeth against acid attack?
  3. Do you use a fluoride mouthrinse?
  4. Do you floss daily?

Every affirmative answer decreases your risk of getting cavities, but even doing all of this may not be enough!

Now, how many times can you answer “Yes” to these questions?:

  1. Do you smoke? Smoking causes mouth dryness, and creates a host of other health problems.
  2. Do you snack frequently between meals? One sugary snack and your mouth is acidic for the next hour. One snack per hour and your mouth is acidic all day.
  3. Do you frequently have acid reflux or heartburn? Reflux creates extreme acidity in the mouth and directly erodes tooth enamel.
  4. Do you drink soda, sports drinks, or acidic beverages frequently? These beverages are very acidic.
  5. Is your mouth frequently dry? Do you take any medications that cause mouth dryness? Saliva is nature's own defense against acidity and helps neutralize acid in the mouth.
  6. Have you had frequent cavities in the past and/or have you had any crowns or fillings in the past three months? The best indicator of future disease is past disease!

Every affirmative answer increases your risk of getting cavities!

Now that you are a little more knowledgeable about your personal risk for tooth decay, make an appointment with us to discuss the preventative measures that can give you some control over the future condition of your teeth. Ignoring the risks and then ending up with a mouth full of rotting teeth when you knew better could really sting a little!

To learn even more about the delicate balance between the disease causing and protective factors related to tooth decay, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay: How To Assess Your Risk.”


By Stephen P. Lukin, D.D.S.
October 11, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
IsItTimeForASmileMakeover

Our office can design a customized smile for you. We will want to know what you really want changed and we will listen to your ideas, look at pictures of the kind of smile you had when you were younger, and even create computerized pictures of what you think you'd like to look like. And then, with all the modern techniques at our disposal, we'll put together a blueprint, a plan to give you the smile you want.

We will start with a smile analysis to determine your facial balance, which indicates how all of the elements of your smile currently relate to each other. These elements include much more than just the teeth, such as the shape of your face, skin color, eye color, lip form, and smile dimensions to name a few.

A detailed periodontal evaluation, which includes bone and gum tissues — the supporting structures of the teeth — will determine whether the foundations of your teeth and bite are healthy. Similar to the way you would ensure that the foundation of a house is intact before you renovate, we will make sure that your periodontal tissues are healthy and sound before we begin a smile makeover.

Modern restorative dental techniques include teeth whitening, enamel reshaping, gum contouring, porcelain veneers and crowns, or a combination of several of these procedures. In some cases, orthodontic treatment (braces) or clear aligners may be necessary to ensure that the teeth are in the best position for both the aesthetics and function of your new smile.

We will inform you of all the possible paths that can lead to the final desired outcome, and will discuss all the benefits, alternatives, and risks together with the time it will take and the finances involved. Bottom line — we'll find a way to get you what you want and need, a new smile, with improved function as well as appearance. We'll also provide instruction on all that you need to know and do to keep your new smile healthy and to maintain your investment for years into the future.

So, if you have been unhappy with your smile and would like to revamp it, call our office to learn about how a smile redesign could help boost your self-image. To find out more about the details involved in a smile makeover and to view some before and after photos, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Beautiful Smiles By Design.”


HowMuchDoYouReallyKnowAboutKeepingYourChildrensTeethHealthy

Expectant mothers expect to deal with tooth-related milestones in their child's early years, such as teething and even the eventual shedding of those baby teeth to the Tooth Fairy. But there are many facets of children's oral health that may not be as well known. For example, did you know that using sugary fluids in your baby's bottle too frequently could promote constant acid production in your child's mouth leading to early childhood decay? Did you know that parents and caregivers who have decay transmit the bacteria that cause decay to their children?

Baby or primary teeth serve as guides for permanent teeth and, therefore, their health sets the stage for the health and proper function of their permanent successors. A comprehensive examination during a child's first visit can help uncover any underlying conditions that might be indicative of future problems, like tooth decay that can start as early as the age of six months when their first teeth appear. So the “Age One Visit” is the right time for a first dental visit.

What else do you know or want to know? Take our short quiz to help your child. The answers are listed at the bottom of this article.

The Quiz

  1. Mounting evidence suggests that a child's oral health is most closely tied to which relative?
    1. Mother
    2. Father
    3. Brother
    4. Sister
  2. Parents should bring their children to see a pediatric dentist:
    1. Once they turn two?
    2. Before they start kindergarten?
    3. Preferably before their first birthday?
    4. When they start to lose their baby teeth?
  3. Tooth decay that occurs in infants and young children is referred to as what?
    1. Primary tooth decay
    2. Early Childhood Caries
    3. Diapers to Decay Disease
    4. Pediatric Dental Caries Syndrome
  4. To help diminish the likelihood that your baby/infant will develop a cavity, you should:
    1. Restrict the amount of sugary fluids your child drinks to mealtimes
    2. Maintain proper oral hygiene to reduce harmful bacteria
    3. Use fluoride to make the teeth more resistant to acid attack
    4. All of the above
  5. Infants are most susceptible to tooth decay when:
    1. Breast feeding
    2. Drinking milk from a bottle during meal times
    3. Sucking on a pacifier that has been dipped in jam
    4. Sleeping on their sides

The Answers

1) a = mother 2) c = before their first birthday 3) b = early childhood caries 4) d = all of the above 5) c = sucking on a pacifier that has been dipped in jam

Your baby's first visit to the dentist will cover a lot of ground, including diagnosis, prevention, education, and treatment as we help start him or her on the path to long-lasting oral and dental health. Call our office to schedule an appointment now. You can also learn more about pediatric tooth decay by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Age One Dental Visit — Why It's Important For Your Baby.”