Lukin Family Dentistry Blog

Posts for: May, 2020


Millions of people wear some form of removable oral appliance. The range is pretty extensive, from orthodontic clear aligners and retainers to full or partial dentures. But while they may vary in purpose, they all require the same thing: regular cleaning and maintenance.

And there's a right way to care for them, and a wrong way. The right way ensures you'll get the most out of your appliance—the wrong way might drastically curtail their longevity. Here, then, are 4 things you should and shouldn't do to keep your appliance in tip top condition.

Clean it properly. Only use cleaning agents appropriate for an oral appliance's materials. That means avoiding the use of toothpaste—the abrasives in it won't harm tooth enamel, but they can scratch some appliance materials. Instead, use dish detergent, hand soap or a recommended cleaner with a little warm water. Also, use a different brush than your regular toothbrush.

Avoid hot water and bleach. Hot or boiling water and bleach kill bacteria, but they will also damage your appliance. Hot water can warp an appliance's soft plastic and alter its fit. Bleach can blanch plastic meant to mimic gum tissue, making them less attractive; even worse, it can break down appliance materials and make them less durable.

Protect your appliance. When you take out your appliance, be sure to store it high out of reach of curious pets or young children. And while cleaning dentures in particular, place a small towel in the sink—if they slip accidentally from your hand, there's less chance of damage if they fall on a soft towel rather than a hard sink basin.

Don't wear dentures 24/7. Dentures can accumulate bacterial plaque just like your teeth. This can increase your risk of an oral infection, as well as create unpleasant mouth odors. To minimize this, take your dentures out at night while you sleep. And be sure you're cleaning them daily by hand, soaking them in an appropriate solution or with an ultrasonic cleaner.

Your oral appliance helps keep your dental health and function going. Help your appliance continue to do that for the long haul by taking proper care of it.

If you would like more information on how best to maintain your oral appliance, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “10 Tips for Cleaning Your Oral Appliance.”


National Physical Fitness & Sports Month in May, sponsored by the President's Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition, is a fitting time to encourage us to play sports. Many of us already feel the Spring itch to get out there and get involved. Unfortunately, an increase in sports or exercise activities also means an increase in potential physical injury risks, including to the face and mouth.

Although COVID-19 protective measures are delaying group sports, there's hope that many leagues will be able to salvage at least part of their season. If so, you should know what to do to keep yourself or a family member safe from oral and dental injuries.

First and foremost, wear a sports mouthguard, a plastic device worn in the mouth to reduce hard impacts from other players or sports equipment. A custom-fitted guard made by a dentist offers the best level of protection and the most comfortable fit.

But even though wearing a mouthguard significantly lowers the chances of mouth injuries, they can still occur. It's a good idea, then, to know what to do in the event of an oral injury.

Soft tissues. If the lips, cheeks, gums or tongue are cut or bruised, first carefully clean the wound of dirt or debris (be sure to check debris for any tooth pieces). If the wound bleeds, place some clean cotton gauze against it until it stops. If the wound is deep, the person may need stitches and possible antibiotic treatments or a tetanus shot. When in doubt, visit the ER.

Jaws. A hard blow could move the lower jaw out of its socket, or even fracture either jaw. Either type of injury, often accompanied by pain, swelling or deformity, requires medical attention. Treating a dislocation is usually a relatively simple procedure performed by a doctor, but fractures often involve a more extensive, long-term treatment.

Teeth. If a tooth is injured, try to collect and clean off any tooth pieces you can find, and call us immediately. If a tooth is knocked out, pick it up by the crown end, clean it off, and place it back into the empty socket. Have the person gently but firmly clench down on it and call the office or go to the ER as quickly as possible. Prompt attention is also needed for teeth moved out of alignment by a hard blow.

Playing sports has obvious physical, mental and social benefits. Don't let an oral injury rob you or a family member of those benefits. Take precautions and know what to do during a dental emergency.

If you would like more information about, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “An Introduction to Sports Injuries & Dentistry” and “Dental Injuries: Field-Side Pocket Guide.”

May 12, 2020
Category: Cosmetic Dentistry
Tags: Dental Stains  

Is your smile as bright as it once was? If you're like many people, the answer is no. You drink coffee daily and enjoy several dark fruits and veggies. Now you're tired of your dental stains. At Lukin Family Dentistry, our dentists offer effective teeth whitening in their Sugar Land, TX, office. Dr. Stephen Lukin and Dr. Mark Lukin understand how a sparkling smile improves self-confidence.

Stains happen

While heredity is responsible for your basic tooth color, says LiveScience, extrinsic stains simply accumulate on tooth surfaces due to:

  • Cigarette smoke or chewing tobacco
  • Coffee, tea, wine (both red and white), sports drinks, cola
  • Plaque and tartar build-up
  • Dark foods, such as curry and soy sauce
  • Highly acidic foods, such as tomato sauce and chili

In fact, LiveScience explains that anything which can discolor your T-shirt can stain your teeth. Of course, improving your brushing and flossing at home helps to a degree. For many people, however, better oral hygiene habits don't suffice.

We will help your smile

Bring those disappointing stains to our Sugar Land office. Dr. Lukin will examine your teeth and gums, and if they are healthy (no active gum disease or decay), he can recommend teeth whitening.

You can choose from two options: in-office treatments or at-home whitening trays. Each employs a powerful form of hydrogen peroxide. Applied as a gel, the peroxide targets the organic stains, pulling them out of tooth enamel.

In the office, your dentist puts the gel on all tooth surfaces, lets it penetrate and rinses it away. This process takes about an hour.

If you decide on take-home whitening, you'll apply the gel with acrylic trays, wearing them for a specific amount of time daily for a week as Dr. Lukin instructs. When you're done, your teeth and gums will feel good and your smile whiter and brighter by up to eight shades of color.

Maintain that smile!

Continue your consistent at-home brushing and flossing. See your friends at Lukin Family Dentistry for a professional dental exam and hygienic cleaning every six months as the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends for all children, teens, and adults.

Also, consider:

  • Whitening touch-ups as needed
  • Using a whitening toothpaste or rinse as your dentist advises
  • Stopping all tobacco
  • Drinking your tea, coffee or cola with a straw
  • Drinking a lot of water
  • Limiting how often you consume dark foods, such as blueberries and dishes with soy sauce

Feel energized

A drab smile is a downer. Talk to us about ways to whiten your teeth and keep them bright. For more information, contact Dr. Mark Lukin or Dr. Stephen Lukin at Lukin Family Dentistry in Sugar Land, TX. Teeth whitening is one of our most popular cosmetic dentistry services. Phone today: (281) 265-9000.

By Mark Lukin
May 03, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: nerve pain  

Every year 150,000 people, mostly women over age 50, find out they have a painful condition called trigeminal neuralgia. For many it begins as an occasional twinge along the face that steadily worsens until the simple act of chewing or speaking, or even a light touch, sets off excruciating pain.

The source of the pain is the pair of trigeminal nerves that course along each side of the face. Each nerve has three separate branches that provide sensation to the upper, middle and lower areas of the face and jaw.

The problem arises when areas of the myelin sheath, a fatty, insulating covering on nerves, becomes damaged, often because of an artery or vein pressing against it. As a result, the nerve can become hypersensitive to stimuli and transmit pain at even the slightest trigger. It may also fail to stop transmitting even after the stimulation that caused it is over.

Although the condition may not always be curable, there are various ways to effectively manage it. The most conservative way is with medications that block the nerve from transmitting pain signals to the brain, coupled with drugs that help stabilize the nerve and decrease abnormal firing.

If medication isn't enough to relieve symptoms, there may be some benefit from more invasive treatments. One technique is to insert a thin needle into the nerve to selectively damage nerve fibers to prevent them from firing. Another microsurgical procedure attempts to relocate the nerve away from a blood vessel that may be compressing it.

The latter procedure has some higher risks such as facial numbness or decreased hearing, and is often better suited for younger patients. Older patients may benefit more from the needle insertion procedure previously mentioned or a directed beam of high-dose radiation to alter the nerve.

To learn the best options for you, you should first undergo a neurological exam to verify you have trigeminal neuralgia and to rule out other causes. From there, you and your doctor can decide the best course of treatment for your age and individual condition.

Trigeminal neuralgia can be an unpleasant experience. But there are tried and true ways to minimize its effect on your life.

If you would like more information on trigeminal neuralgia, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Trigeminal Neuralgia.”