Gary L. Berman,DMD., Sebastian R. Lombardi,DDS 720 Main St. Wilimantic, Ct  860-423-5518

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Posts for: October, 2013

TreatingThumbSuckingNowCouldReduceOrthodonticTreatmentLater

One of the most common parental concerns is the habit of many children, even late into childhood, to suck their thumbs or fingers. Many parents have asked us, “Could this affect their teeth?”

The answer, unfortunately, is yes — thumb sucking can contribute to a malocclusion (bad bite) that could eventually require orthodontic treatment. Before making any assumptions, however, we need to understand the bigger picture.

To begin with, infants have a different swallowing mechanism than adults and older children. When you as an adult swallow, you'll notice the tip of your tongue positions itself just above the back of the top front teeth. An infant, however, will thrust their tongue between their upper and lower jaw as they swallow (also known as an infantile swallowing pattern or primary tongue thrust). The infant normally begins changing to an adult swallowing pattern when their primary (baby) teeth begin to erupt.

However, if a child's swallowing transition is slower than normal and the tongue rests between the jaws for a longer duration, it can inhibit the full eruption of teeth, believed to be the main cause of an open bite (a gap between the upper and lower teeth when the jaws are shut). The thumb during sucking resting between the teeth can have the same effect.

Thumb sucking may not necessarily lead to a malocclusion — for example, an abnormally developing jawbone could be the culprit. If prolonged thumb sucking does become a concern, however, there are steps we can take to reduce the impact of the habit. We can install a thin metal “tongue crib” behind the upper and lower incisors that will not only discourage thumb sucking, but also help retrain the tongue not to rest between the upper and lower teeth. There are also exercise routines known as orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT) that can retrain specific muscles in the mouth to encourage more normal chewing and swallowing patterns.

These steps may not prevent future orthodontic treatment, but they could reduce its extent. The key is regular dental checkups and consultation to ensure your child's teeth and bite are developing normally.

If you would like more information on the effects of chronic thumb sucking on the mouth, 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 “How Thumb Sucking Affects the Bite.”


By Gary L Berman, DMD, PC
October 18, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Untagged
JaneFondaChoosesNewTeethOveraNewCar

Not long ago, Jane Fonda gave a British interviewer a clue as to how she manages to look so young at her advanced age. During the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, the septuagenarian actress and fitness guru said to a journalist from the London-based Daily Mail, “See these teeth? They cost $55,000. It was teeth or a new car — and I opted for the teeth.”

We think she made the right choice — though she might have overpaid just a tad. Most people don't have that kind of cash to spend on either a car or new teeth. But luckily, you can get either for a lot less — particularly the teeth!

The truth is, at a reasonable cost, cosmetic dentistry really can make you look a lot younger while giving your self-esteem a tremendous boost. It's an investment in both your emotional and oral health as we will never implement a smile makeover without first making sure we've addressed any underlying dental disease. Best of all, it doesn't have to cost anywhere near what you'd pay for the latest-model Jaguar, the price tag of Fonda's smile notwithstanding. Here is a list of the more common cosmetic dental techniques used to enhance a person's smile:

  • Whitening — a peroxide-based bleach is applied directly to the teeth to remove minor staining and discoloration.
  • Bonding — an acrylic material is applied to a tooth, colored and shaped to match the person's other teeth. Primarily used for chipped, broken or decayed teeth.
  • Enamel Shaping — the removal of very tiny amounts of enamel, the tooth's outer layer, for a more pleasing tooth shape.
  • Veneers — a thin shell of custom-designed tooth-colored material, usually porcelain, affixed to the front surface of the teeth.
  • Crowns and Bridgework — a technique that covers heavily damaged teeth or replaces missing teeth by capping them, or using capped teeth to support one or more false teeth.
  • Dental Implants — a small titanium post is surgically implanted in the jawbone to replace the root-part of a missing tooth. A lifelike crown is attached to the implant above the gum line and is the only part of the whole tooth restoration that is visible in the mouth.
  • Gum Contouring — a minor surgical procedure altering the position of the gum tissue to improve the look and regularity of the gum line around the teeth.

If you'd like more information on cosmetic dentistry, please contact us or schedule an appointment. To learn more, please read the Dear Doctor magazine articles, “Beautiful Smiles by Design” and “The impact of a Smile Makeover.”


By Gary L Berman, DMD, PC
October 04, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
MaintainingyourDentalImplants

Once you receive your dental implants, you can have peace-of-mind in knowing that you have chosen a successful tooth replacement option, with long-term success rates of well over 95%. Your implant will look, feel and function just like the natural teeth that it has replaced.

However, despite the natural appearance, when you visit us for a regular cleaning, you may notice that we are using special instruments to clean around the implant. Cleaning around implants differs from the maintenance of your natural teeth for two reasons:

  1. Your implants attach to the surrounding bone and gums in a very different way from your natural teeth.
  2. The materials that comprise your implants are very different than those that make up your natural teeth.

Cleaning implants is just as important as cleaning natural teeth, because both depend on healthy surrounding tissues for support. Just as bacterial biofilm (plaque) collects on your natural teeth, it can also collect on your implant. That is why it is very important to brush and floss thoroughly on a daily basis at home. Without daily biofilm removal, the gums surrounding your implant can become infected, leading to bone loss and eventually loss of the implant.

Your regular dental cleanings will also play an important role in keeping dental implants infection-free, and we will select the right instruments for a professional cleaning. We will ensure that these instruments will not damage the crown, abutment, or the implant itself. If implants are scratched, they can attract and harbor bacteria. That's why the instruments we use, called scalers and curettes, are most often made of plastics and resins. Natural teeth don't scratch in the same way, and therefore metal instruments need to be used to clean them.

A number of power instruments have nylon or plastic sheaths or tips to minimize implant damage. They clean by using high-frequency vibration, which may be necessary if large quantities of debris have accumulated on your implant. We use these on a low power setting with a lot of water irrigation, and sometimes antibacterial solutions, to clean and flush material.

When it comes to keeping your implants infection-free, keep in mind that the most successful formula will be consistent oral hygiene at home mixed with regular dental cleanings.

If you would like more information about maintaining your dental implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implant Maintenance.”