Posts for: January, 2013

By Arnold Cutler, D.D.S.
January 25, 2013
Category: Oral Health
SomeFactsAboutThumbSucking

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 Arnold Cutler, D.D.S.
January 15, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: wisdom teeth  
IsItWiseToHaveYourWisdomTeethRemoved

The third molars, called “wisdom teeth” because they usually become visible when a person is 17 to 25 — supposedly the time we achieve wisdom, may have adverse effects on adjacent teeth. Most adults have four wisdom teeth, although some people have more; and some, none at all. The wisest thing to do about wisdom teeth may be to have them removed if they are poorly positioned.

What is an impacted wisdom tooth?

If a wisdom tooth is pushing against gums, other soft tissues, or adjacent teeth at an awkward angle, it is referred to as “impacted.” Usually this occurs when there is not have enough room in the jaws for these last molars to fit next to their adjacent teeth. They can disrupt the gum tissue attachment of their neighboring teeth and the surrounding bone leading to periodontal disease and, ultimately, their loss.

In many cases, impacted teeth are painless, and those who have them have no warning of the problem. Thus it is important to have routine dental exams during the time when the third molars are coming in.

When should wisdom teeth be removed?

It is better to remove wisdom teeth early rather than waiting until periodontal (gum) disease has set in. As individuals age, keeping their wisdom teeth may lead to more serious problems. Periodontal defects tend to get worse in the presence of retained third molars. Furthermore, there is a higher incidence of postoperative symptoms in people over 25.

What are the pros and cons?

Removing impacted third molars can have a negative influence on the periodontal tissues of adjacent second molars. A number of techniques, such as scaling, root planing, and bacterial plaque control, can be used to minimize periodontal problems and promote healthy healing.

Surgical removal of wisdom teeth will involve some mild to moderate post-operative discomfort. Use of aspirin or ibuprofen for a few days after surgery will provide pain relief and control most swelling and symptoms. Antibiotics may be prescribed to ensure infection-free healing. It is important to keep the socket area clean by washing and rinsing with saline or antibacterial rinses. Careful surgery will promote good healing with minimal periodontal consequences to adjacent second molar teeth.

To decide whether your wisdom teeth should be removed, you will need an evaluation to assess the clinical health of the wisdom teeth, the neighboring teeth, and other vital structures. X-ray and digital imaging techniques play an important role in determining the exact position of the wisdom teeth in the jaw. A full assessment and consultation will include all the risks, benefits, likely consequences, and alternative treatment options. This will provide you with the wisdom you need to determine what is best for your wisdom teeth.

To learn more about wisdom teeth, read “To Be or Not to Be: What are the consequences of an impacted wisdom tooth?” Or contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.


By Arnold Cutler, D.D.S.
January 07, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
HowDoDentalImplantsHelpPreserveYourYouthfulAppearance

Modern dental implants not only help you maintain your normal chewing ability and speech patterns after you have lost a tooth or teeth — they also keep you looking younger. How do they do this? Read on.

Do lost teeth cause tooth-supporting bone to “melt” away? Yes. Of course, the bone does not actually melt. Bone is a living tissue, and under normal conditions it constantly dissolves and rebuilds. Stimulation by the small stresses from the contact of upper and lower teeth — something that normally happens hundreds of times each day — keeps these two forces in balance. When a tooth is missing, the bone that normally surrounds and supports the tooth (called alveolar bone) no longer receives the stimulation that causes it to rebuild, and it begins to diminish over time.

What happens if you don't replace missing teeth? The first year after a tooth is lost, the width of the bone that once surrounded the tooth decreases by 25 percent. Over the years, gradually increasing bone loss results in sunken cheeks and lips, making you look older. Gum tissue also decreases, affecting your ability to chew and speak.

What happens if you lose all your teeth? For people who have lost all their teeth, called edentulous, the effects are severe. After the alveolar bone is lost, the bone beneath it, called basal bone, also begins to be resorbed, eventually causing the lower part of the face to partially collapse.

Do partial or full dentures prevent bone loss? Unfortunately, just the contrary is true. A removable denture pressing on a person's gum increases bone loss because the pressures from biting are not transferred into the internal structure of the bone but instead are compressive, which damages the bone over time. This is why dentures begin to fit poorly after they have been worn for a while. This problem can be reduced by anchoring dentures with strategically placed dental implants.

What is a dental implant? A dental implant is a tooth-root replacement that is made of titanium. This metal is able to osseointegrate, or fuse with the bone. For a single tooth replacement, a crown that looks and functions like natural tooth is attached to the titanium implant. As mentioned above, implants can also be used to anchor dentures.

Does an implant prevent bone loss? Yes. When dental implants fuse to the jaw bone, they stabilize the bone. They also provide tooth-to-tooth stimulation that was formerly supplied by the natural tooth.

How long do dental implants last? Dental implants have been shown to last at least 10 years. For most people, implants will last the rest of their lives.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth loss and dental implants. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”


By Arnold Cutler, D.D.S.
January 05, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
WhatScientificStudiesRevealAboutSmileMakeovers

A generation ago, hearing the term, “smile makeover,” would most likely have resulted in questions and puzzled looks. However, through the power of both the media and celebrities, today it has become a common household term with over 70% of all inquiries coming from people in the 31 to 50 year old age group, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). While some people seek cosmetic dentistry purely to boost their self-esteem, others pursue it to improve first impressions during business and social interactions, as many studies have revealed that first impressions are the ones that typically last the longest.

The AACD study also revealed other interesting statistics that support why a smile makeover is a wise choice that can yield a life-changing return on your investment — you!

  • 99.7% of Americans believe a smile is an important social asset.
  • 74% feel an unattractive smile can hurt chances for career success.
  • 50% of all people polled were unsatisfied with their smile.

Another important study recently conducted by Beall Research & Training, Inc., an independent marketing research firm, used before and after photos of smile makeovers for polling purposes. The research found that people who have had a smile makeover are viewed by others as more attractive, intelligent, happy, successful in their career, friendly, interesting, kind, wealthy, and appealing to the opposite sex. This evidence clearly proves just how important a first impression can be as well as what it can silently communicate about you.

Want to learn more?

Contact us today to discuss your smile makeover questions or to schedule a consultation. We look forward to meeting with you to learn about your specific concerns and to show you what we can do for you. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor article, “The Impact Of A Smile Makeover.”




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