Monday, December 22, 2014

Is there a new way to help with sensitive teeth?

            Many people suffer from sensitivity on there teeth when eating or drinking something hot or cold. If there are no cavities or other issues, we would typically recommend trying to use sensitivity toothpaste twice each day. However, we found many people do not prefer the sensitivity toothpaste over their normal toothpaste. With compliance lacking, the sensitivity would often persist. But recently Crest rolled out a new product aimed to alleviate tooth sensitivity for up to 1 month per application.
            The Crest Sensi-Stop Strips are placed over the teeth and the gums for only 10 minutes, and this can help with sensitivity for up to a full month.
  • Advantages over sensitivity toothpaste:
    • Immediate relief in 10 minutes vs. days/weeks with toothpaste
    • As little as 1 time per month vs. 2 times per day
    • Lasts for up to 1 month vs. wearing off without consistent use
    • Delivery aimed to specific areas vs. being diluted through the mouth.
The strips use potassium oxalate gel to relieve the sensitivity, which is a common ingredient for treating historically sensitive teeth. The Crest Sensi-Stop Strips have found a way to harness that ingredient into the strip in a way that allows you to effectively deliver it to the problematic area.
            So what are the drawbacks or limitations of the strips? The first would be limited research when compared to the historical success of the sensitivity toothpaste. If you are having success with sensitivity toothpaste, I would suggest you continue with what is currently working. I would also recommend you consult with you dentist before using the strips to make sure there are no other underlying areas of concern or tooth decay. Otherwise the strips may mask an area of sensitivity that needs to be treated differently.
            The new Crest Sensi-Stop Strips look like they could be very helpful for a lot of people with sensitive teeth. If you are thinking about using these, I still strongly recommend you discuss the potential pros and cons of your situation with your dentist.

For more information, visit us at

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How Important are Oral Cancer Exams?

            During each dental appointment, the dentist and the dental hygienist make an extra effort to screen for any signs of oral cancer. Oral cancer is a disease that occurs in the mouth or the throat. It can be found inside the lips and cheeks, the salivary glands, the gums, the tongue, the roof of the mouth, the floor of the mouth and the bone.
            When performing an oral cancer screening, some of the signs and symptoms we examine for are:
·        Patches of red, white, or a mixture of the two that are new or changing
·        Sores on the lip that do not resolve within 14 days
·        Unexplainable sores or bleeding in the mouth
You should also consult your dentist or physician if you have pain or difficulty swallowing, an abnormal lump in your neck, or an earache that does not go away.
            As we try to help limit the threat of oral cancer now and in the future, we need to be aware of potential risk factors that may increase your likelihood of developing an issue. Tobacco use is the most commonly known factor, but few people that the abuse of alcohol and/or exposure to ultraviolet light are also known to be a risk factors. There are also several studies that suggest a diet that is very low in fruits and vegetables may be linked in an increase risk in cancer.
            So how can we best diagnose the signs and symptoms of oral cancer? Some have easily identifiable symptoms or clinical presentations that cause us to seek immediate medical or dental attention. However, others types of oral cancer can reach a more advanced stage without manifesting as obvious signs to the patient or even the dentist. This is why it is so important to maintain regular dental check ups and x-rays. Early diagnosis is the best defense.
            When an area of the mouth is identified as suspicious, we may choose to monitor the area with photographs, measurements and return visit to see if anything has changed. If are area is deemed potentially more serious, we may recommend you see a specialist for an exam and possible biopsy. And if you have a history of prolonged tobacco use or other risk factors, we will use extra caution and make sure you see the necessary specialist as quickly as possible.
            If you have other questions regarding oral cancer or how we perform our examinations, please feel free to contact us or check our website for more information at

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Should I get a Dental Implant or a Dental Bridge?

            When faced with the question of how to best replace a missing tooth, the first two options discussed are a dental implant or a dental bridge. Each individual situation is unique, and our goal is to assist in making the best possible decision for your dental health.
            In the majority of cases, when replacing a single tooth in the front or the back, a dental implant is the standard of care. It is the closest we can get to restoring the feel and function of a natural tooth. Unlike a dental bridge, an implant allows you to brush and floss the area the same way you would a natural tooth. Even though gum disease around the implant can develop if proper care is not used, cavities can not exist on a dental implant or crown. Since there is no remaining natural tooth structure, there is no place for traditional tooth decay to attack.
Another major advantage of the dental implant is it does not require drilling or invasive work on the adjacent teeth. The entire procedure is isolated to one specific tooth. A bridge requires substantial work on at least two other teeth to work properly. Subsequently, if these adjacent teeth develop a cavity in the future, the entire bridge may need to be removed to treat the growing tooth decay.
When discussing the advantages of a dental bridge, we always talk about the original time commitment of the procedure. Dental implants can take up to 6-10 months to fully restore, but sometimes only one month is needed to complete a new bridge. Because of the time involved and the materials used, a bridge is often less expensive and can be more appealing to patients from a financial standpoint. However, depending upon the location of the bridge of the patient’s history, a bridge may end up costing the patient more in the long run if it needs to eventually be replaced.
Since each individual circumstance is different, the safest approach is to consult your dentist about your situation. Dental implants have become the standard of care in many cases when replacing missing or lost teeth, but dental bridges still have a very viable place in the modern dental practice.

For more information on dental implants or dental bridges, check our website at

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc

(513) 860-3660

Monday, December 1, 2014

In-Office Dental Savings Plan vs. Dental Insurance

            While the Affordable Care Act mostly effects the regulations concerning medical insurance, it has affected dental insurance indirectly. With rising health care costs for employers, many have cut back on their dental benefits they offer employees. In an effort to encourage good dental health while offsetting dental insurance limitations, we have instituted am ‘in-house’ dental savings plan. It is designed for patients who have very limited options through their employer or no longer have dental insurance.

What are some of the benefits of our dental savings plan?
  • No yearly maximum
  • No deductibles
  • No claim filing
  • No pre-existing condition limitation
  • No waiting period

What is covered under the dental savings plan?
  • Semi-annual dental cleaning
  • Annual dental x-rays
  • Semi-annual dental exams
  • Fluoride applications for children of the appropriate age
  • Percentage off all dental procedures, including cosmetic procedures.

How do you know if you are a good candidate for the dental savings plan?

            The value of this plan depends on your oral health. If you are generally healthy and typically only require professional cleanings and exams each year, this plan could offer significant savings over other options. These plans have been recommended for seniors by Forbes Magazine who have retired since it is likely less expensive than dental insurance plans not subsidized by an employer. This could also be a good option for single people or those with very young children and tend to be in good dental health.

            Please feel free to contact us with questions regarding our dental savings plan and whether or not it would be a good fit for you or someone you know. You can also visit us at for more details.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Can we Diagnose Cavities without X-Rays?

            We are always looking for new and improved ways to keep your teeth healthy and maintain a preventative and minimally invasive approach. To identify cavities as early as possible, we typically recommend bite wing x-rays (x-rays between the teeth) once per year. However, x-rays are not always 100% conclusive and we want to make sure we offer the best possible treatment for each individual. To help with our diagnostic abilities, we have added a new tool to our repertoire: the CariVu.
            The CariVu is an intra-oral device that uses a highly concentrated light to illuminate decalcified areas between the teeth. We are then able to save the images to the computer and use them as comparative references each time. Just like x-rays, they are not always 100% conclusive, but they are an excellent adjunct to our clinical exam and bite wing x-rays. But unlike x-rays, the CariVu is radiation free.
            So why don’t we do away with x-rays and simply use the CariVu only for our exams. There are a couple of important reasons:
  1. Bite wing x-rays are still the standard of care in diagnosing cavities in between the teeth because of their proven history.
  2. CariVu does not show the health of the area surrounding the teeth and cannot diagnose tooth, gum and bone infections.
As you can imagine, the more information we have on the historical health of your teeth, the better recommendations we can make. And just like the pictures we take of the teeth, there is no additional charge for us to use this device. We just added it to our armamentarium to better treat each person we see.
            When we recommend a treatment plan for you, we want to make sure it is individually catered to your health and needs. But in order to do that, we need the maximum amount of relevant information. The CariVu is another instrument we will use to help you stay healthy and smiling for a long time.

For more information, visit us at

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How Do Drug Addictions Affect Your Teeth?

October 23rd through October 31st is National Red Ribbon Week, which aims to raise awareness to the dangers of illegal drugs. I don’t claim to have the answers on how to keep people off of drugs, but I would like to take a look at how some drugs can affect your oral health and your teeth. Below we will briefly discuss the dental concerns that substances like heroin and crystal meth can create.
The first issue that can arise for those with substance abuse problems is a lack of proper oral hygiene and homecare. Unfortunately, the addiction can become so devastating that people will forget to brush or floss for days at a time. Their only priorities revolve around their addiction, and oral health takes a back seat. If problems do develop and pain is associated with their teeth or mouth, they will then self medicate with more drugs to feel better. It is a brutal cycle and can have destructive long term effects on their teeth and gums.
Substances like crystal meth and heroin often lead tooth decay resulting from dry mouth and an increased affinity towards sweets. Methamphetamines can cause the salivary glands to stop functioning properly, and our saliva is a key component in fighting tooth decay. Substances like heroin also cause users to crave sweets and sugary drinks. The sugary substances, combined with a lack of homecare, often increase the propensity of developing large cavities and serious gum disease. These factors often result in the condition commonly referred to as ‘meth mouth.’
Drug addictions can be debilitating to both the user and their families, and dental concerns are just one of the many issues they may face. We will always try to help work through these dental issues for anyone in need, but we encourage you to find the proper help for those affected by substance abuse problems.

For more information, visit

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Is Red Wine Good for your Teeth?

            We have heard in the past that red wine can be good for heart health. Some research has shown that reservatrol, a chemical found in red wine, can be potentially beneficial for those with heart disease. However, the amount of reservatrol needed was so large that obtaining its desired benefits through red wine was nearly impossible. There is a new study from universities in Madrid and Zurich that suggests drinking wine could lead to stronger teeth, healthier gums, and fewer cavities. They believe there are compounds found in red wine that could have an antimicrobial effect that kills damaging bacteria. But before you start drinking too much, let’s take a closer look at some of the potential implications.
            The first concern I have with being reliant on red wine to help your teeth stay healthy is how little data there is to support it. A few studies over only a few years can be very short sighted and miss some of the long term effects. At this point, instead of thinking red wine is good for your teeth, I would feel more comfortable saying red wine isn’t bad for your teeth.
            Red wine, along with a few other beverages like coffee and tea, can lead to staining or darkening of your teeth. However, this staining does not put you at higher risk for tooth decay. Sometimes we are able to clean all of the stains during a routine dental exam and cleaning, but over time it may more permanently stain the teeth. Using whitening toothpaste may help limit the stains, but professional teeth bleaching can help keep the teeth white.
            At this point, it is a little too soon to say that drinking red wine will lead to fewer trips to the dentist. While there are some potential positive effects, I would still recommend doing all of the usual home care methods of brushing, flossing and rinsing to limit your trips to the dentist.

For more information, visit us at

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Do your Eating Habits Affect the Health of your Teeth?

With Halloween right around the corner, it seems like we are constantly snacking on sweets both at home and at work. Our first concern may be packing on a few extra pounds, but all of this snacking can put you at a higher risk for tooth decay. Hopefully we can share a few helpful hints to reduce the possibility of developing cavities during this time and throughout the year.
Plaque is a term we use to refer to a sticky film of bacteria that adheres to your teeth. It forms as a result of different bacteria attaching to your teeth after eating or drinking.  If you do not properly clean all surfaces of your teeth, the plaque bacteria use the sugar we ingest to make acid. This acid attacks the enamel for up to 20 minutes after consuming sugar filled food or drinks. So if you eat or drink throughout the day over the course of a few weeks or months, your teeth are exposed to acid attacks over and over. These repeated attacks often result in tooth decay and the need for intervention by the dentist.
So how can you reduce your risk of tooth decay? Below are a few easy things to remember that can limit the possibility of developing cavities:

1. Limit sugary snacks and drinks between meals. This includes energy drinks and sports drinks.
2. When you do have sugary snacks and drinks, try to have them with your meals and not throughout the day or during snacking.
3. Chewing sugar free gum or gum with xylitol for 20 minutes after meals has been shown to reduce tooth decay. This doesn’t mean you can substitute gum for your normal brushing.
4. Drinking tap water throughout the day can help prevent tooth decay because it contains fluoride and can help rinse away any sugary drinks.
5. See your dentist regularly. They can help personalize a plan to limit your risk of decay. And if you do develop a cavity, they can help find in early.

For more answers or tips on good oral health, visit us at

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Basics of Dental Implants

            In most cases where a tooth is lost, a dental implant is the best choice and the standard of care. Even though the initial investment is substantial, in most cases it will save you money and time in the long run when compared to other options. Below we will run through the basics of dental implants to help you gain a better understanding of what may be involved.

What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a metal post, typically titanium, which substitutes for a tooth’s root. It is placed in the jaw bone and allowed proper time to heal to become sturdy. Following healing (3-6 months depending upon a number of factors) a crown can be fabricated to be attached to the implant to mimic the natural tooth. This can be done to replace a single tooth, support a bridge, or even stabilize a denture.

Who can receive dental implants?
Dental implants are a viable option for patients of all ages who have lost teeth due to tooth decay, gum disease, or trauma. People with dentures are also candidates if they need more support to hold their denture. However, the placement of a dental implant is a surgical procedure and you must be in good general health to allow for proper healing. There must also be adequate jaw bone at the site for the implant, but there are procedures available to improve the quality of bone if needed.

What are some limiting factors that may exclude you from receiving dental implants?
If you have a history of bruxism (clenching and grinding), diabetes, smoking or leukemia there is a higher failure rate of implants. While there is still debate on the subject, a history of taking bisphosphonates over an extended period of time limits your chances receiving dental implants.

How do I care for my dental implant?
The main reason implants fail is poor oral hygiene. While an implant cannot get a cavity because there is no natural tooth structure, an implant can fail if the area is not properly cleaned. Like all other teeth, it is essential to brush and floss the area if you want to protect the implant and implant crown.

For more information, visit us at

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Limitations of Dental Insurance

            When I began my dental career over 34 years ago, the maximum benefit for a dental insurance policy was at $1000 per year. The fee at that time for a dental crown was $225. This means an individual could get two professional examinations and cleanings per year, covered at 100%, and still have the remaining benefits to cover 6 dental crowns covered at 50% if you needed.
            In the beginning of 2014, the fee for a crown was over $1100. The amazing fact is that the average insurance maximum benefit is still only $1000! If a patient receives their two examinations and cleanings, their remaining benefit would cover only one crown, if covered at 50%.
Any amount that is covered is a definitely a huge benefit, and it means that much less has to come directly out of your pocket. However, it is clear that dental insurance has become much more limited. While we work hard to maximize your benefits if treatment is needed, our goal is to recommend and provide the best available treatment for each patient independent of any insurance limitations.
If you ever have any questions about what the benefits or limitations of your own insurance may be, or you would like some help in choosing a new type of insurance, please feel free to call us with any questions. We will do our best to help you find the coverage which best suits yours and families needs.

For more information, visit
Lawrence R. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

How Important is it that I Floss?

            It is common knowledge that everyone should brush their teeth in order to maintain good oral health. For whatever reason, flossing your teeth daily does not hold the same level of importance with the every person. But by flossing just once a day, you can decrease your risk of gum disease, improve your overall health, and increase the odds of achieving and maintaining good oral health.

            A toothbrush and toothpaste can clean the most of the tooth’s surface area, but only flossing can clean in between the teeth where the toothbrush can’t reach. Dental floss will help to remove debris, plaque and bacteria that remain on the teeth and gums. Not only does its reduce the risk of tooth decay, but removal of this additional debris can also aid in controlling bad breath.

            Flossing should only take you between two and three minutes to complete and should be done at least once daily. Ideally I would recommend flossing right before bed, but any way you can incorporate it into your daily routine should work. The idea is to find a time that is convenient for you so you won’t forget.

            There are a wide variety of flosses available, and for the most part they do a similar job in removing debris and plaque. Wide floss (dental tape) works really well in cleaning large spaces and under bridges, while waxed floss works well between tight contacts. The pre-threaded flossers or floss holders can help when flossing someone else’s teeth or if you have difficulty reaching any spots in your own mouth.  And if you have children, they should begin flossing as soon as they two or more teeth that touch.

            While water picks are a good adjunct to help clean the teeth, they are not effective enough to replace flossing. They help to remove food from difficult areas and around braces, but they do not remove the plaque that remains in between the teeth. When in doubt regarding what type of floss to use in your particular case, be sure to contact your dentist or dental hygienist.

If you have any more questions about flossing or gum disease, visit us at for more answers.

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

At What Age do I Begin Taking My Kids to the Dentist?

            New or expecting parents often inquire about what age their children should begin seeing the dentist. In a perfect world, we would begin seeing children for visits after their first teeth begin erupting. Unfortunately, very few would be willing to cooperate at that age. Our hope is to become their ‘dental home’ at an early age and start developing a sense of familiarity and a positive relationship. We more frequently recommend their first visit around the age of 2-3 or when all of their primary (baby) teeth have erupted.
            There are a number of different goals we have for your child’s first dental visit. On top of the typical dental exam where we check the teeth and surrounding tissues, our goal is to educate the parents on how they can help maintain good oral health for their children. Among other things, we will discuss how much fluoride they need, what kinds of toothpaste to use, what habits may lead to cavities, and how you can assist each day in cleaning their teeth.
            It is important to remember that each child develops at a different rate and the eruption timing of teeth may vary. For most, the lower central incisors appear within 6-10 months, followed shortly by the upper central incisors. The final primary (baby) teeth to erupt are usually the upper second molars anywhere from 25-33 months. During the time the teeth are coming in, your child may experience sore or tender gums. You can rub their gums with clean wet gauze or even your finger. A chilled teething ring can also work, but you definitely do not want to dip it in sugar, syrup or other foods. If your child still remains uncomfortable, we recommend consulting your pediatrician.

            For more information of children’s dental health, check out our website at

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Should Expecting Mothers Visit the Dentist?

            In the past, many dentists were hesitant to treat pregnant patients. As a result many women did not receive timely dental care they needed. However, dental treatment during pregnancy is typically beneficial and there is now a shift towards continuing routine dental care during pregnancy.
            You obviously want to make all the right decisions during your pregnancy, and it is normal to question what dental services should be performed when you’re expecting. Dr. Howard Minkoff, the chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, believes that dental X-rays, antibiotics, and local anesthesia are not contraindicated in treatment of pregnant patients. And since 2006, a few state dental organizations have issued guidelines saying that dental care is safe and effective at any stage of pregnancy. This includes diagnostic X-rays, cavity restorations and root canals. This is definitely a shift from what was thought in the past.
            When pregnant, the risk for gingivitis (gum inflammation) is typically a little higher because of a change in hormones. If not properly treated, the gum disease can lead to dental infections and even tooth loss. Just as importantly, there is evidence that a mother with active tooth decay can spread the cavity causing bacteria to hear child and perpetuate poor oral health.
            Finally, we worry that dental pain may cause pregnant women to self-medicate incorrectly. While physicians recommend acetaminophen over ibuprofen for pain control, an overdose of acetaminophen can negatively affect the liver and thus endanger the fetus. There are already enough challenges during pregnancy, and having to deal with dental pain is one more issue that can hopefully be avoided.
            As the shift towards more routine dental care during pregnancy continues, we understand that patients may still continue to have concerns. When in doubt, or if you have a history of other conditions, we will always error on the side of caution and consult with your physician. But we believe that keeping your mouth healthy will help aid in a safe pregnancy for you and your family.

For more questions and answers, check out our FAQ section at 

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Is My Child Old Enough to Bleach Their Teeth?

            More than ever before, dentists and dental professionals are confronted with questions about teeth bleaching for children and young adults. While opinions may differ, we would like to help educate the parents and the patients of their options when it comes to bleaching their teeth.
            Many parents are concerned with whether or not teeth bleaching effects the strength of the tooth enamel in any way. The active ingredients for bleaching in the United States are typically carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, and neither will weaken the enamel or increase the risk of cavities. However, improper use or too high of concentrations can lead to tooth sensitivity and irritation of the gums. This can be very difficult to predict, but to reduce the risk of these situations; we always recommend consulting with a dental professional before beginning any type of bleaching regiment.
            In younger patients, the nerve inside the tooth is larger and more susceptible to sensitivity. The nerve, or pulp chamber, is typically larger during the teenage years and gradually shrinks as we age. There is no evidence that shows irreversible long-term damage to the pulp chamber when proper bleaching techniques are used, but teenagers have the highest risk of developing sensitivity during and after use of teeth bleaching products.
            So how do you know when or if it is OK for your kid to start using over-the-counter or doctor prescribed teeth bleaching products? Your safest play is to check with your dentist first. They can help with the decision using x-rays and by knowing the particular person’s clinical history. Based on the individual circumstances and knowing the desired results, a personalized plan and timeline can be developed that will reduce the likelihood of tooth sensitivity and gum irritation for the patient.

For more information, visit us at  

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Is Fluoride in Tap Water a Good Idea?

            The Cincinnati Enquirer recently released an article discussing how a Cincinnati charter is reopening a debate on water fluoridation. The article says “A task force revising the Cincinnati city charter uncovered a forgotten provision that may give Cincinnatians a unique voting right to remove the chemical from their water supply.” I am not too familiar with the political system or how this may turn out, but I strongly believe that fluoridation of the water will greatly improve the health of you and your family’s teeth.
            While some may argue against fluoridation for various reasons, there is no arguing against the efficacy or fluoride in the drinking water. The Enquirer goes on to say, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes fluoridation as one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century due to its ability to prevent tooth decay.” Not only is this safe and effective, but it actually saves you money. A lifetime supply of fluoridated water ends up costing less than just one dental filling.
             So what are the arguments against fluoridation of drinking water? Too much of anything can be bad, and too much fluoride during the formative years can actually damage the teeth. But the amount of fluoride required far exceeds anything that could be found in drinking water. There is also a movement to live more natural or holistic and fluoride is another chemical that is added to the system. However, to prevent tooth decay, only one part per million of fluoride is needed. This equates to roughly 1 drop of fluoride per 10 gallons of water.
            From an oral health and an overall health standpoint, keeping fluoride in the water is a great idea. Just a tiny bit can go a long way in limiting tooth decay and in turn prevent infections and abscesses in the mouth.

For more information, visit us at

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Does Drinking Water and Staying Hydrated Improve Your Oral Health?

            Over half of out body is composed of water, so it should come as no surprise that staying hydrated can help you stay healthy. Along with everything else, it is vital in keeping your mouth, teeth and gums healthy. During the summer, dehydration can sneak up on you when you are outside enjoying the weather. So it is important to remember to drink lots of water to avoid dehydration, and as an added bonus it will promote good oral health. 
            Water helps to prevent bad breath. We know that one of the most common causes of bad breath is dehydration. When the rest of your body is short on water, you may not have enough saliva in your mouth. And when you run low on saliva, it gives bacteria that cause bad breath the opportunity to thrive and survive.
            Water also helps to prevent cavities. It can help cleanse the teeth of unwanted food remaining after a meal and is a very effective dental tool in assisting to clean your teeth when you don’t have a toothbrush or any other traditional instrument available.  Water will even improve the quality of your saliva. The saliva in your mouth is absolutely critical in your body’s ability to fight tooth decay. Any shortage of your saliva can increase your risk of developing cavities.
            It seems like a simple task to stay hydrated throughout the day, but when you are busy at work or keeping up with your family’s hectic schedule, it is easy to forget about yourself and your water consumption. Making an effort to drink more water will improve your overall health, your energy, and even keep your mouth and teeth much healthier.

If you have any other questions, visit

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Why Should I Use a Custom Fitting Sports Mouth Guard?

            With football, soccer, and other sports starting back up this month, it is a good time to review the importance of your children (or you) wearing mouth guards. Football is a high contact sport and it is logical that participants protect their teeth, gums, and jaw bone from injury. However, sports like soccer, basketball and volleyball can involve high impact collisions, but mouth guards are not yet required. Protecting your children with sports mouth guards lowers the threat of injury to their teeth, and new evidence is suggesting that it may even reduce the risk of concussions.
            A broken or chipped tooth that results from facial trauma can lead to much larger and more expensive issues. If the damage is small enough, a filling can be placed on the tooth to regain its original shape and color. More traumatic injuries may require root canals, crowns or even loss of the tooth. This can cost thousands of dollars and take months to properly fix. And no matter how big or how small, the repaired tooth will never be as strong as the original tooth. Having your dentist custom fit a mouth guard can greatly lower the chances of injuring your teeth without inhibiting your ability to compete. And compared to the over the counter guards, breathing can be markedly easier because you don’t have to worry about holding the guard against your teeth.
            While there is no definitive way to completely eliminate the risk of concussions in contact sports, there is some evidence that suggests a properly fitting mouth guard can help reduce the probability. The logic suggests that the mouth guard limits some of the forces applied to the head and neck during upward contact with the chin. There are no current studies that establish a direct correlation with complete certainty, but the absence of proof is not necessarily proof of absence. And anything we can do to reduce the risk of head injuries is always a good thing.
            Parents will do so many things to protect their kids, and we believe wearing a custom fitted sports mouth guard is an easy step in reinforcing their safety in nearly all sports. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns regarding mouth guards or the differences between custom fitted guards and over the counter mouth guards.

For more information of dental health and ways to help protect your children’s teeth, visit us at

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why College Students are at Risk of Cavities?

            Too often we see students return home after year or two away at college with a number of cavities in between their teeth. Many of them don’t have a history of getting tooth decay, so it can definitely be disconcerting. So what happened while they were away that created all of these cavities? Below we will discuss different things to avoid and what your child can do to remain cavity free.
            The most common cause of the increased decay rate is from an increase in sodas and sugary drinks. This includes regular and diet soda, energy drinks, and even sports drinks. It doesn’t typically cause any problems if we occasional enjoy any of these drinks, but instead it is the constant exposure to the sugar or acid on the teeth. Even diligent brushing twice per day can’t eliminate their harmful affect. It is important that students know when they are up later cramming for a test that these beverages can have long term affects. Like anything else, moderation is the key.
            Another common culprit for an increase in cavities are candies, mints, and fruit snacks. Many students will snack on these while studying and the constant exposure of sugar will lead to tooth decay. Once again, brushing cannot reach in between the teeth to completely eliminate the harmful affects of the snacks. I am not suggesting that all of these things need to be completely eliminated, but once again, used in moderation. After a snack or some candy, brushing would be ideal. However, I understand that not everyone is going to bring a toothbrush with them to the library. In those cases, I would recommend at least drinking water to help cleanse the teeth and brush when you return home.
            Hopefully a few minor changes can help limit the risk of cavities that college students face when heading off to school. It is important that they learn these lessons early, otherwise they may have to learn the hard way on summer or holiday breaks.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions about you or your child, or visit us at

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What Does the Term ‘UCR’ Really Mean?

             For anyone that has dental insurance, chances are you have seen or are familiar with the phrase Usual and Customary Rate (UCR). Dental insurance companies like to use this term, but what does it mean for the average person and how was this number determined? Our goal is to help you better understand where these numbers come from and how it is applicable to you.
            The reality is there is no such thing as a ‘usual, customary, or reasonable fee.’ This is a hoax that has been created by the insurance companies to impose on dentistry. There is no single number that insurance has arrived upon, rather a range of fees based upon percentiles. Even if an insurance carrier found a way to track every single dentist’s fees in every single zip code, there is no way to place a value of the types of materials or the amount of time given to each procedure. Trying to assign a UCR to a dental procedure would be like assigning a UCR for a cheeseburger whether it is from a fast food restaurant or a high end restaurant. It doesn’t take into account the ingredients, the service, or the quality of preparation and execution.
            The other issue frequently encountered involves the percentage level of coverage your insurance allows. Again, the insurance companies determine their own definition of which fee percentile a procedure may fall into through their own independent research. After the percentages are determined, your employer is offered different options of which fee percentile to purchase. They may choose to only buy up to the 50th percentile, and thus your out of pocket costs at each visit may go up. Even though some fees may increase over time due to inflation, it is possible additional expense may be incurred if your dental insurance has been adjusted to cover a lower percentile.
            Dental insurance can be very confusing and there are always a lot of differing individual circumstances. We encourage you to call us with any questions you have regarding your current insurance or if you’re ever in the process of picking a new policy through your employer. Hopefully we can help you sort through some of the lingo.

For more information, visit

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Teeth Bleaching: Take Home vs. In Office

            More than ever before, people want to know if they can whiten their teeth and what is the best way to go about doing so. Should you try over the counter or professional whitening? Should you bleach at home over a longer period of time or try to do it in one appointment at the dentist? We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.

            A few years ago, Zoom! whitening came into the market and everyone was excited about same day bleaching. While there are definitely some success stories, I believe Zoom! and other in office bleaching techniques are less predictable and are more likely to lead to sensitivity. The concentration of bleach is much higher in these procedures, thus a higher chance of sensitivity. Also, the in office procedure provides us with little to no opportunity to customize the bleaching process to each person and forces you to remain seated with you mouth open for a long period of time. Bottom line, it can be effective but there are a lot more challenges and limiting factors.

            The professionally made ‘take-home’ bleaching trays are my personal favorite. This allows us to customize a specific plan to your daily schedule and comfort level. We can use different concentrations and different intervals to provide optimal results with limited sensitivity. If you don’t get sensitive teeth and have the time to wear the trays, you can bleach as often as 4 or 5 times each day. This can help you achieve the results you are looking for in a shorter period of time. However, if your teeth are more sensitive, we can help by scaling back how often, how long, and how strong how strong the bleach is that you use.

            Finally, you may run into bleaching kiosks at the mall or some other areas that are not run by certified dental professionals. I would be very wary of using these stations to bleach your teeth. While you may be able to achieve some results, there are still risks to bleaching your teeth that they may not be capable of diagnosing or treating. Just to be safe, definitely consult with your dentist or dental hygienist before any type of bleaching, including over the counter.

            Even though there are times where in office bleaching can be done for certain patients, usually our first recommendation is the take home bleaching. Talk with us about your goals and concerns with bleaching, and we can help create a plan to give you the best results for your situation.

For more information, please visit

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Is Your Insurance Company Trying to Decide the Treatment you need?

            If you have dental insurance, chances are you pay hundreds of dollars each year to cover your family for the basics and in case something goes wrong. So if the time comes along that a major procedure is warranted, shouldn’t your insurance provide some help in covering a procedure that will give you the best long term result? The answer should be yes, but you will be disappointed to learn that this is not always the case.

            A common example of dental insurance trying to dictate the treatment you need is when you want to replace missing tooth with a dental implant over a dental bridge. Dental implants are long lasting, cosmetic, functional, and are non-invasive to your other teeth. Over the course of your life, they typically result in the least amount of long term financial investment because they will last longer than a dental bridge. This also means the insurance company will have to contribute less over the long term.  But for whatever reason, many insurance companies will deny you coverage on the dental implant but will approve the dental bridge. Both procedures require a large financial commitment, and the difference in coverage is often the difference maker if you need your tooth replaced. Thus, the insurance company can push you towards one option over another.

            So what can we do if your insurance company denies coverage to a recommended procedure? In some cases, no matter what we do, the insurance company will simply not provide any coverage for certain procedures. But in other situations we can submit a new request for coverage along with a narrative explaining our rationale for the treatment needed. There are times when reason wins and coverage is granted, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way.

            Before signing up with an insurance carrier or package, I would recommend doing some detailed research on what procedures may be covered. If you are overwhelmed by all of this or confused, I encourage you to call us and we can help you sort through what plan may be best according to the needs and dental history of you and your family.

For more information, visit

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Can the Dentist Help with Snoring or Sleep Apnea?

           More and more people are being diagnosed and treated for sleep apnea than ever before. While snoring can be an indicator that you may be suffering from sleep apnea, there are also a number of other symptoms. The first step should be to consult with your physician to determine if you need to undergo a sleep study. Depending upon the findings of the study and the recommendations of your doctor, you may be eligible for an oral appliance to supplement or replace your CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine.
          If snoring is your only issue, there are a number of appliances we can offer to reduce or eliminate the issue. Making a ‘snore guard’ is a non-invasive procedure that requires us taking a number of different impressions of the teeth with your jaw in an altered position. This allows us to dictate how the appliance will fit your jaw to limit your snoring. By pulling the lower jaw forward the correct amount we can help open the airway and help you and your significant other sleep better.
         If you are in search of another option to supplement or replace your CPAP machine, there are times when an oral appliance can be used. However, I believe it is always a good idea that we consult with your physician before making an appliance to help with sleep apnea. Each case of sleep apnea is different, and there are times when it may be appropriate for us to try and there are times where it may not. But much like the snore guard, we can fabricate the appliance with a series of impressions with the lower jaw in an altered position. Once it has been made, we will make the necessary adjustments to achieve the best possible results and we may even recommend another sleep study to verify its effectiveness.

          If you suffer from snoring or sleep apnea and you are looking for a solution, we encourage you to discuss your concerns with us. We can help evaluate your situation and determine if there is an oral appliance that may help. However, I strongly discourage anyone from using over the counter products because of the potential harm that can be done to your jaw if not properly used.

For more information, visit

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Traditional Dental Implants vs. Mini Dental Implants

            In recent years, mini dental implants have gained some notoriety as an option to help anchor dentures. Some dentists like the idea because they are less invasive and are less likely to have complications with nerves and other surrounding structures in the jaw. Patients like the idea of mini implants because they are less expensive than traditional implants. I want to explain the advantages and disadvantages of each and why we should remain cautious about extent to which mini implants are being used.

            At Brown and Kupper DDS, we have been successfully using traditional dental implants for 25 years. When properly cared for, dental implants can be one of the most successful procedures in dentistry. Millions of dollars of research has shown how and why implants succeed, and the longevity of these studies helps support the validity of these findings. Because mini implants are relatively new, we do not have the benefit of these findings to support their long term efficacy. Until we know more, I believe traditional dental implants to be a safer decision in replacing teeth or supporting dentures.

            But if mini implants are less expensive, is it worth the risk? While they may be of short term benefit, they are less likely to last as long as traditional implants. The mini implants don’t have enough length and width to support the normal biting forces that we typically need to function. And if you have to replace them 2 or 3 times in the span of 1 traditional dental implant, you will end up spending much more than if you did the larger implant from the start.

            Right now, the only time I may recommend the use of mini implants would be in an effort to help stabilize a denture while traditional implants were healing and could not be used. This would allow for immediate use of a denture without disturbing the larger implants. Until more definitive data can support mini implants, we will continue to recommend traditional implants to support dentures and replace missing teeth.

For more information on dental implants, visit

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Friday, June 6, 2014

How Do We Check for Signs of Oral Cancer?

            Every time you are in our office for an exam, both the dentist and dental hygienist perform an oral cancer screening. Our goal is to understand you medical history, dental history, and any other risk factors you may have. Using this information we can help identify, treat, or refer you to the right person for any possible treatment.

            To identify any potential areas of concern, we look for colors or lesions that are out of the ordinary. They could be red, white, blue, black and just about everything in between. In most cases the key is to identify these areas, take pictures when necessary, and follow their progress. If these areas continue to change size, shape and color, we will likely recommend a specialist examine and biopsy the area. In more extreme situations where the appearance is more aggressive, we will immediately refer you to a specialist for a biopsy of the area.

            There is technology now available that uses a light or a rinse to look for potential cancerous areas. We currently do not use these tools because we have found they present a large number of ‘false-positive’ findings. This means it shows an overabundance of areas that may be pre-cancerous or cancerous and can lead to over treatment. Until this technology improves, we will continue to conduct our oral cancer screenings without the lights or rinses.

            So what should you look for at home and when do you need to come see us? When you notice something new and it does not go away in 10-14 days, I believe that is a good indication to have the area more closely examined. If you have any history of oral cancer, smoking, or smokeless tobacco it is even more important to see us whenever you are in doubt.

            Like many other types of cancer, oral cancer can go undetected for a long time if you do not maintain regular visits with your doctor or dentist. Even if you do your best to check at home for any irregularities, you should always consult with your dentist whenever in doubt.

For more information, visit us at

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Should I Try Oil Pulling to Whiten My Teeth?

            Oil pulling, which is an old folk remedy that originated in India, has been all the rage lately due to news coverage and social media sites. It involves swishing with an edible oil (coconut, sesame, or olive) for up to 20 minutes in your mouth before spitting it out. The goal is swish until the oil turns white, which allegedly shows that bacteria have been drawn out of your mouth. While it may eventually prove effective in some ways, dental professionals are still very hesitant to get behind the practice of oil pulling until more legitimate research can be completed.

            In theory, the removal of bacteria in your mouth sounds appealing. However, there are many different kinds of bacteria that live in the oral cavity that everyone needs to maintain good oral health. If the oil does actually remove all of the bacteria from the mouth, it could actually do more harm that good if the normal flora of bacteria is disrupted. This could lead increased risk to infections or cavities by changing the way our mouth usually defends itself.  Until more long term clinical studies have been performed, dental professionals will continue to remain skeptical.

            To effectively use the oil pulling technique, it requires 20 minutes of swishing, which is a long time to keep something in your mouth and actively swish. To achieve whiter teeth and better oral health, I would advise just spending a little extra time with the traditional toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouth rinse.  I believe that using those home care tools will yield the best long term results. And if whitening is your concern, most dental professionals agree than professional teeth bleaching will be the safest, most predictable and effective way to brighten your smile.

            Whether or not you decide to try oil pulling is ultimately your own decision. However, even if you are diligent in using this home remedy, I would strongly advise that you don’t use it to replace the more traditional homecare methods of brushing, flossing and using mouth rinse.

Please visit us at with any other questions.

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Why do I Need to See the Dentist at Least Twice Each Year?

            If you have a history of developing cavities or stains on your teeth, it is obvious why you need to visit the dentist on a regular basis. However, for those who seldom have cavities or don’t accumulate much stain on the teeth, you may wonder why we insist on seeing you every six months. While there are plenty of studies and vast amounts of data to support six months check-ups, the bottom line is we base our recommendations on early detection and preventative care.

            The earlier we find a cavity, the easier it is to treat. This means you are less likely to experience sensitivity following the filling because it is less invasive on your tooth. And with a smaller filling, your appointment time is shorter. This means you have to spend less time in a dental chair and more time keeping up with your busy schedule.

            Most cavities and other dental issues do not exhibit any painful signs or symptoms until significant damage is done. Our goal is to catch any problems early and treat them before it causes you discomfort. A clinical exam every six months and bitewing x-rays every year are critical in diagnosing developing problems that may not otherwise be noticeable. Absence of pain does not mean absence of dental problems.

            Tarter (calculus), the hard buildup on your teeth, is a collection of bacteria that has formed on your teeth. Once it has formed on and around your teeth, simple brushing and flossing will not be enough to remove these deposits. Our hygienists use specialized instruments to remove the calculus and allow your teeth and gums to remain healthy. We do not recommend that our patients use their own ‘tools’ at home to remove the deposits in an effort to avoid cleaning appointments. You will not be able to remove all of the calculus and will likely leave some underneath the gums. Left unchecked, this can lead to more serious infections.
            Frequent and consistent visits to the dentists are essential in maintaining your health and for diagnosing and treating problems early. Doing so will end up saving you time and money in the long run and will hopefully keep your teeth and gums pain free.

 Please visit us at for more information.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What is Your Bad Breath Telling You?

            It doesn’t matter if you call it bad breath or halitosis, worrying about your breath can make you feel anxious and uncomfortable. There are a number of different causes for bad breath, and we will talk about some of the potential reasons and the solutions in making you feel more comfortable in any setting.

            The first potential reason for bad breath is the most obvious: the foods we eat. Garlic, onions, and some others can linger for extended periods of time if we are not diligent about brushing and flossing daily. But even when we don’t eat foods that have a potent aroma, bacteria from any food can stay around in your mouth after eating. The bacteria that remain produce compounds that smell and the only solution to remove the bacteria is diligent home care.

            Dry mouth can also lead to bad breath and we commonly see patients on new medications develop dry mouth. Our saliva helps clean and protect our teeth and gums, and a decrease can lead to more leftover bacteria, which then creates bad breath. There are different rinses, gels and toothpastes that can help with dry mouth, and we also recommend sugar free gum and candy to stimulate saliva flow.

            Persistent bad breath could be a sign of gum disease if changes at home do not improve your issues. A deeper cleaning, referred to as root planning, may be recommended to remove bacteria and buildup that have grown underneath the gums.

            If none of the options above seem to be the answer to your bad breath, it is possible there is a more serious medical disorder. There are some systemic conditions, including diabetes, liver and kidney diseases that can produce symptoms related to bad breath.

            While there are a number of potential reasons for bad breath, an easy first step is to maintain excellent homecare and visit your dentist. You can work together to find solutions that work for your situation. And in more challenging situations, your physician is a great resource in diagnosing any hidden medical problems.

For more information, visit us at


Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dental Insurance Myths: What you need to know

            Trying to decipher the nuances of different dental insurance plans can be difficult. There a so many carriers and then there are different plans within those carriers that it can be overwhelming. Our goal today is to look at some of the common myths of dental insurance and what you actually need to know.

Myth: The insurance company will pay the fees that the dentist charges.

Fact: It has been the experience of many dentists that some insurance companies tell their customers that “fees are above the usual customary rate” instead of telling them that the “insurance benefits are low.” A good thing to remember is that you get back only what your employer puts in minus the profits of the insurance company.

Myth: The new alternative insurance plans are the same as the traditional plans.

Fact: The new plans referred to as PPO’s or DMO’s are simply discount plans. All these type of plans require the dentist to severely discount their fees nearly 50%. In order to take these plans and remain profitable business, the dentist must choose less expensive or faster options that may not provide the same long term results as when they are not restricted by the insurance company.

Myth: Once you reach your yearly deductible, everything else is free.

Fact: Dental insurance does not act the same way as medical insurance. It acts more like a coupon. It typically does not pay for the entire product or service and only pays a vague percentage. And once you have reached your yearly maximum, it no longer pays on anything.

Myth: The insurance will pay for the dental work because I need it.

Fact: Not all procedures that are needed will always be covered by your policy. When your company selects a plan, it is decided which procedures may or may not be covered. The lack of coverage by your insurance company does not mean it is not needed, it just means your plan has chosen not to cover the procedure.

            All of this can obviously be very confusing and even frustrating. If you have questions or concerns on which dental plan may be best for you and your family, please feel free to contact us and we can hopefully help you in deciding which one is best for you.

Brown and Kupper DDS, Inc.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mouthguards: An Athlete’s Best Friend

          Since April is ‘National Facial Protection Month,’ we thought it would be a good time to reiterate and review the importance of protecting the teeth and jaw bone while playing sports. Parents take so many measures to ensure the safety of their kids, but too often the use of a mouthguard is overlooked. Adding a properly fitting mouthguard into anyone’s sports armament can help protect limit to the teeth, lips, tongue, and face.

So what are some key elements to look for when choosing a mouthguard?

·         It has enough flex not to tear or break

·         Ideally it is custom fit by the dentist

·         It doesn’t restrict breathing or speech

·         It fits well and is comfortable (otherwise you or your child will not wear it)

How do you take care of your mouthguard?

·         Store in a container that lets air in and out

·         Rinse after each use or brush with a toothbrush and toothpaste

·         Avoid hot water or the sun which can distort the mouthguard

·         Check for excessive wear and replace when needed

How do I make sure the mouthguard remains effective?

·         Bring it to each dental appointment for the dentist to check

·         Do not cut or chew pieces off of the guard

·         Do not wear any retainers or appliances while wearing the guard

We also recommend children begin wearing mouthguards when they first begin playing competitive sports. This will likely make compliance with the mouthguards better as they get older. The guards can be customized to fit the mixed dentition of their teeth and they come in a wide variety of colors and designs that can make them become more excited to use the guards. But as they continue to lose baby teeth and gain adult teeth, be sure to frequently check the fit of the guards as the changing size and shape of their teeth and jaw can change the fit. And if it doesn’t fit properly it will certainly lose effectiveness.

For more information, go to

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.