Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How does diabetes affect your oral health?

            There are of 29 million people in the United States that are living with diabetes, and an estimated 8 million more that have it and do not know it. Both type 1 and type 2 result in high blood sugar, which can affect the eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other parts of the body. But it is also important to understand the role diabetes can have on your oral health.

If left untreated, diabetes may take a toll on your mouth. Here are a few ways it may affect you:
  • You have less saliva, causing dry mouth.
  • Saliva protects your teeth and helps to prevent decay. Lack of adequate saliva makes you vulnerable to cavities.
  • Your gums may become inflamed and bleed more than usual. This is called gingivitis.
  • You may experience problems tasting food.
  • There may be delayed wound healing. If you have an ulceration or trauma to your gums, it may take longer to heal than usual.
  • You could become more susceptible to infections inside your mouth (viral, bacterial, or fungal).
  • For children with diabetes, there is a chance the teeth may erupt earlier than usual.

It is believed that 1 in 5 cases of total tooth loss are related to diabetes. The best way to fight back is to maintain regular dental visits and come up with an action plan with your dentist. It may include:
  • More frequent visits than every 6 months
  • Using prescription strength toothpaste
  • More diligent homecare
  • Using new or different tools to keep your teeth and gums clean.

Even though there are ways for us to help maintain good oral health, your physician will remain the first line of defense against diabetes. Continue to use the necessary medications, eat healthier, and stay active.

For more information, visit www.dentistwestchester.com.
Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Tips to Help Prepare Children for a Dental Visit

Encourage age appropriate habits at home:
  • 6 and under: Even if your child wants to do the brushing by themselves, they frequently lack the dexterity needed to properly clean the teeth. Try to help them as much as you can and focus on getting every surface of the tooth.
  • Age 7-12: At this point your child likely knows what to do, but now it is a matter of execution. Continue to encourage good habits, but be ready to help if you are not seeing results.
  • Ages 12-18: Your children are becoming more independent and have access to different food and drinks that may negatively affect their teeth. They need to be reminded to keep up with home care and maintain regular visits. Otherwise minor problems can become major.

Time of the day:
  • It is important to avoid scheduling during a normal nap time. It can result in a negative experience that can stick with them for a long time.
  • For older children, try to avoid more elaborate dental work right after school because kids tend to be mentally or physically tired. It can make the appointment very difficult for them.

Make one child the ‘model’:
  • Try to schedule the older or more cooperative child first, and have the other watch to see how well it goes. This creates positive energy for the next child.

Hungry patient is not a happy patient:
  • It is good to make sure your child is not hungry when they visit the dentist. It is just one more thing that can make them grouchy or uncooperative. But if they eat too much, it may contribute to a gag reflex. Don’t worry if they do have some difficulty with gagging, it will frequently decrease as they grow older.

Stay calm if your child is not cooperating:
  • We are familiar with situations where children do not cooperate at first. Allow us to try to break things down into small steps and help where needed. Sometimes it is beneficial to be a silent observer so we can take control of the appointment. But the occasional encouragement from you can also be helpful.
  • If you are worried you won’t handle watching your child have the dental work done, sometimes grandparents can be great helpers.
  • If your child is unable to handle the anxiety, there are always other options and people to see that specialize in these situations.

For more information, visit www.dentistwestchester.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Braces at Any Age

            There has been a definitive shift on how we view braces or orthodontics. Many kids now look forward to when they will get their braces and show them off proudly when they do. It used to be much more unusual to see adults with braces. Now it is more common and adults understand the value and being confident with their smile.
            Because it is no longer viewed as odd for adults to get braces, more and more people are taking the plunge each year. Adults are closing in on the 50-50 mark of newly installed braces when compared to children, and even baby boomers are getting in on the action. Whether it is to improve their stock in the dating scene or the job market, people are beginning to understand the value of their smile.
            Some people have been hiding their smile for years and training themselves how to hide their teeth when they laugh, talk, or smile. It used to take longer, be more uncomfortable, more noticeable, and less socially acceptable. Improvements in technology and techniques have decreased those barriers. There are clear aligners (Invisalign) and tooth colored brackets that make braces less conspicuous. Even some insurance companies are beginning to add coverage for adult orthodontics.
            Are there any risks to getting braces as an adult? There are definitely risks if you do not maintain good oral hygiene or home care. You can stain the teeth, get cavities, or develop gum disease if you do not properly maintain during orthodontics. However, these issues are typically less common than in adolescents because adults understand the value of their treatment and are more likely to ‘protect their investment.’
            If you are unhappy with your smile, I encourage you to ask your dentist about different options in aligning your teeth. You may find you there are orthodontic solutions you never even considered.

For more information, visit www.dentistwestchester.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Is it better to bleach my teeth at home or at the dentist?

            More and more people are concerned with having white teeth and are worried about their teeth staining. Some are worried about coffee or red wine staining their teeth, and others are simply looking for a touch up. An initial question is whether they should try over the counter or professional whitening? Should they bleach at home over a longer period of time or try to do it in one appointment at the dentist? Below we will talk about the pros and cons of each strategy.
            A newer trend in teeth whitening is Zoom. It appeared on the market and generated a lot of buzz about same day bleaching. There are certainly a number of cases where it worked out really well and there was no post-op sensitivity, but we have found the in-office bleaching techniques are less predictable and are more likely to lead to sensitivity. The bleach concentration is significantly higher for Zoom, which leads to a higher chance of discomfort. The in-office procedure limits us because it leaves little to no opportunity to customize the bleaching process to each person. It also forces you to remain seated with you mouth open for a long period of time which can cause some jaw discomfort. The bottom line is while it can be effective, we feel there are more challenges and limitations with the in-office procedure.
            The professionally made ‘take-home’ bleaching trays are our typical recommendation. It gives us a chance to design a specific plan to your routine and comfort. We are able to choose the concentrations and intervals of bleaching to achieve good results while limiting sensitivity. If your teeth do not get sensitive and you have time to wear the trays, you could bleach as frequently as four times per day. This helps you achieve the results you are looking for in a shorter period of time. But if your teeth become sensitive, we can scale back the frequency, duration, and strength of the bleach used.
            You may also find bleaching kiosks at the mall or other shopping areas that are not run by certified dental professionals. I would recommend against using these stations to bleach your teeth. Even if you are able to achieve some results, there are still risks to bleaching your teeth that they are not capable of diagnosing or treating properly. Error on the safe side and 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 people, 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 www.dentistwestchester.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS

Friday, November 13, 2015

Can teeth erode?

                There are two ways your teeth can be worn away: abrasion/attrition and erosion. Abrasion/attrition is from physical trauma or grinding. Erosion is from outside substances or chemicals. Both can be damaging and cause serious long term dental issues. So what can you do to protect against these factors?

        Early detection is essential. Maintain regular dental visits
        Chewable and effervescent formulations should be avoided, especially when experiencing dry mouth
        Use a soft toothbrush and low abrasion fluoridated toothpaste
        Delay brushing for at least 1 hour after consuming acidic foods like citrus fruits
        If you’re using any acidic medications or lozenges, try to avoid holding them in the mouth for extended periods of time.
        When possible, try tablets over liquid medications
        If you have dry mouth, continue to drink lots of water to counteract problems
        Use toothpastes like Pronamel to help strengthen and protect your teeth if you’re at risk for dental erosion

Other ways we can wear our teeth:

        Abrasion is loss of tooth structure due to mechanical action of a foreign element, such as a hard bristle toothbrush or a lip piercing.
o   You can protect yourself from abrasion is to identify the issue and eliminate the habit or problem.
·         Attrition is loss of tooth structure from mechanical forces of opposing teeth.
o   Typically this is treated by some type of mouth guard. In some cases it can be helped by stress reduction, behavior modification, or treating interferences causing the tissue to grind.
·         Abfraction is loss of tooth structure on the side of the tooth that is caused from occlusal (biting) forces.
o   A night guard is usually recommended to protect the teeth from more destructive forces
o   In some cases the worn areas on the side of the tooth will need to be restored with filling material to strengthen and protect the tooth
If you are ever unsure if your teeth are beginning to wear or if you are not sure whether something may cause a problem, be sure to consult your dentist to be safe.

For more information visit www.dentistwestchester.com.

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

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Can Trendy Diets Negatively Impact Oral Health?

            It seems like every year there is a new diet trend that Hollywood stars swear by. We see the results on TV or in a magazine and we think that we have to try it. But it is important to consider how these diets can affect your overall health and the health of your teeth and gums. So before you start trying the latest diet trend, there are a few facts to consider.
            Some of the common diets involve ‘liquid cleanses’ that are designed to help you lose weight and rid the body of unwanted toxins. But it is important to consider what you are ingesting with these cleanses. If they involve lots of citrus fruits or drinks, the teeth can be negatively affected. The constant barrage of acid can wear the enamel and expose the underlying dentin. Dentin is not as durable or as strong as enamel and the teeth can continue to wear even faster than before. Not only does this weaken the tooth but it can cause sensitivity and possibly result in the need for a root canal. Toothpastes like Pronamel can help protect your teeth from the acid, but it will not work with 100% efficacy. I recommend discussing these diets and the possible side effects with your dentist before beginning a ‘juice cleanse.’ Each individual is different and you should know the pros and cons before you begin.
            But can other diets actually help your teeth and gums? There are some studies that suggest there is a connection to healthier teeth and gums to people with vegan diets. However, at the time the article was published the actual cause and effect relationship was not known. It is possible it has to do with the foods you eat or it is a result of someone just being more health conscious in general.
            While I am very supportive of finding ways to stay healthy and stay at a healthy weight, it is important to look at all the pros and cons of different diets or workout plans. You should always talk with your doctor and/or dentist before trying anything that you are unsure about.

For more information, please visit www.dentistwestchester.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Your Child’s Teeth: Helpful tips for parents

  • Why are baby teeth so important?
    • They help your child speak and chew normally. They also help hold spaces for the subsequent adult teeth.

  • When should they have all of their baby teeth?
    • Most children will have all of their baby teeth by the age of three

  • Should I be worried about the spacing in my child’s teeth?
    • Spaces between baby teeth are normal.

  • How much toothpaste should my child use?
    • Use a soft bristled, child sized toothbrush and use a grain of rice sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

  • When should I begin flossing my child’s teeth?
    • As soon as they have two teeth that touch.

  • Teething tips:
    • Gently rub your child’s gums with a clean wet piece of gauze, your finger, or a small cool spoon.
    • Use a clean, chilled teeth ring and don’t dip in sugar or other foods. This can cause tooth decay.
    • Talk to you pediatrician or dentist if they are still uncomfortable
    • Do not use topical gels or creams with anesthetics (Orajel or Baby Orajel) to help with sore gums in young kids. In a small number of children they have caused serious reactions.

  • Prevent Tooth Decay in Baby Teeth
    • Clean their teeth two times per day, every day
    • If they use a pacifier, do not dip in sugar or honey.
    • Do not put pacifiers or spoons in your mouth to clean them before giving them to your children. Decay causing bacteria can be passed to your child.
    • Do not let them sip sugary drinks regularly. Limit these to mealtimes.
    • Do not put infants to bed with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juices, or any liquids with sugar.
    • Avoid sugary snacks and try healthy snacks.

For more information, visit www.dentistwestchester.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Can yoga and other stress releases decrease stress induced teeth grinding?

            Bruxism (clenching and/or grinding of the teeth) affects millions of Americans. Some people are aware they grind their teeth and some have no idea. Regardless, bruxism can lead to severe wear on the teeth or problems with the TMJ (temporomandibular joint). Typically we recommend a custom made appliance to help protect the teeth, the joint, and even alleviate any pain associated with bruxism. But are their other holistic approaches we can try to help reduce the bruxism? Some studies suggest there is a chance.
            There are different theories and causes for why we grind our teeth. One of the more common associations is stress. Some stress is unavoidable and sometimes it comes and goes. From a dental point of view, I cannot help treat your stress. However, I can help treat the symptoms and protect your teeth and jaw. But there are other medical professionals that may be able to treat the stress. There are specialists you can work with that can help you manage stress. If that does not work there may be some medications available. If you are interested in this route, I would suggest talking with your physician first.
            Some recent studies have also suggested yoga and other forms of exercise can help reduce stress. There are times when your life is so busy and full of unavoidable stresses that there will never be a complete escape. Putting time aside to exercise can help you let go for a little or even give you the time to organize your thoughts. By managing your stress, you may also reduce the amount you clench or grind your teeth.
            At this time there is no way to predict whether or not this strategy will work for you. But if you grind your teeth and you don’t have a consistent exercise routine it doesn’t hurt to try. If it doesn’t work we can always make you an appliance to help protect your teeth.

For more information, visit www.dentistwestchester.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Why are sealants so important for my child?

Why do your kids need sealants?
            Around age 6 your child will begin to see the eruption of their first adult molar teeth. Once they get closer to 12, their next round of molars will come in. Because these teeth have so many pits, fissures and grooves, they are especially susceptible to cavities. To combat the start of tooth decay, we recommend placing sealants as soon as the teeth erupt and your child is able to tolerate the procedure.
Purpose of a sealant:
            A sealant is a white plastic coating that is placed on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to help stop tooth decay. The material is closely related to traditionally filling material but is designed to flow into the deepest pits and fissures of the tooth.

Placing the sealant:
            A sealant is a preventative procedure and is not invasive. We first need to clean and dry the surface of the tooth. Any debris or saliva can inhibit the bond of the sealant to the tooth. We then place a conditioning solution on the tooth for around 30 seconds before thoroughly rinsing and drying the area. The sealant material is then brushed into the necessary parts of the tooth before becoming hardened with a special light.

How long should a sealant last?
            Some adults will still find sealants on their back teeth 10 or 15 years after their original placement. And if they are still there, there is no reason to remove them. However, due to a variety of factors, many sealants will need to be replaced every 2-5 years. A lot depends on the anatomy of the tooth and the habits of the child. We usually recommend having sealants on the molars at least until the age of 14 or 15. It has been shown to reduce the potential of tooth decay by over 70% vs. kids without sealants. 

Do other teeth need sealants besides the molars?
            Depending on the formation of the teeth or a high propensity toward developing cavities, we may recommend fillings on other teeth. Bicuspids and upper front teeth will often be sealed due to their unique anatomy.

For more information, visit us at www.dentistwestchester.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

What is oral cancer?

What is Oral Cancer?

            Oral cancer can be particularly dangerous because it can go undetected in its early states. This can make dentists the first line of defense in the fight against oral cancer.  As the sixth most common cancer, it account for almost 5% of all cases. Over 40,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer each year and results in over 8,000 deaths. If oropharyngeal cancer is included, the number increases to over 15,000 per year.

What are the risk factors?
            Risk factors include tobacco use, alcohol use, sun exposure of the lips, previous head and neck cancer diagnosis, and HPV. HPV can cause cancer in the back of the throat, on the base of the tongue, and the tonsils. It is estimated around 80 million Americans are infected wit HPV, but it is possible that vaccines could help prevent oropharyngeal cancer.
What are the warning signs?

            Oral cancer is usually painless in the beginning stages but it can become painful as it progresses. You should see your dentist immediately if you find areas of your mouth that don’t heal after 2 weeks. There are many different presentations, so it is better to be cautious.

How do dentists screen for cancer?

            Until proven otherwise, the most effective way to screen for oral cancer is a clinical evaluation. We look for irregular lumps or tissue changes on the neck, head, cheeks and oral cavity. We also use pictures and detailed notes to track any progression. While there are different rinses available, most oral pathologists do not believe they are predictable enough to use with any regularity.

How is oral cancer treated?

            Treatment of oral cancer may include surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy. You physician will be the one to determine the appropriate course.

How can I prevent oral cancer?

            Abstain from using all forms of tobacco, avoid excessive sun exposure, and excessive alcohol consumption. The CDC recommends that all preteen boys and girls be vaccinated for HPV. The success of treatment is closely tied to early detection, so you should maintain regular visits to your dentist.

For more information, visit us at www.dentistwestchester.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Why Doesn’t My Dental Insurance Pay for This?

What are UCR (usual, customary, and reasonable) charges?
            UCR charges are the maximum allowable amounts that a particular insurance plan will cover. Even though it sounds like the standard rate for dental care, it is not. The insurance companies can set whatever amount they want for the UCR charges and it may stay the same amount for many years despite inflation. The important thing to remember is if your dental bill is higher than the UCR, it doesn’t mean your dentist has charged too much!

Annual Maximums
            This is the largest number your dental plan will pay during the year. It is important to remember that it is your employer that decides the maximum levels of payment in its contract with the insurance company. After you have reached the maximum, you are responsible to pay any costs above and beyond that number. Unfortunately, many maximums have stayed the same despite inflation and rising costs.

Coordination of Benefits or Non-duplication of Benefits
            This applies to people with more than one dental plan. But even though you have two or more benefit plans, there is still no guarantee all of the plans will pay for your services. In fact, there are times when none of the plans will pay for what is recommended. Be sure to check each plan for details.

Plan Frequency Limitations
            Some dental plans will limit how many times they will pay for a certain treatment. For example, your insurance may only pay for 2 professional cleanings per year. However, there may be times where 3 or 4 cleanings are recommended to maintain good oral health. We recommend making your decisions based on what is best for your health, not just what is covered.

Not Dentally Necessary
            Some plans may state they will only cover procedures they feel are medically or dentally necessary. But just because your insurance company doesn’t see the value, doesn’t mean the treatment is not necessary.

While we certainly understand the value of dental insurance, we will continue to make our diagnosis and treatment plans in accordance with what we believe is best for your dental health.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What is different between regular and mini dental implants?

            Mini dental implants have recently become an option to help anchor complete and partial dentures. Some dentists like the idea that they can be less invasive and are less likely to get close to nerves or vessels. Patients like mini implants because they cost less than traditional implants. We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each type and why we should remain cautious about where mini implants are being used.
            In our practice, we have been successfully using traditional dental implants for around 25 years. When properly maintained with regular check ups and good home care, dental implants have proved be one of the most successful practices in dentistry. Decades of research have shown how and why implants succeed, and their consistency has helped us to gain confidence in using them. However, mini implants are relatively new. We don’t have the same scientific backing of the mini implants yet. Until research shows otherwise, I believe traditional dental implants are a more predictable option in replacing teeth and supporting dentures.
            The question remains: If mini implants are less expensive, is it worth the risk? The difference in price can definitely be short term benefit, but they are less likely to last as long as traditional implants. There is a concern that mini implants do not have enough length and width to support the biting forces needed to function over the long haul. If the mini implants need to be replaced multiple times over the course of 1 traditional dental implant, then you would have been better served both financially and physically to go with a regular implant.
            At this point, there are very few situations when I would recommend the use of mini 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 www.dentistwestchester.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Back to School Dental Care Advice for Parents:

            With school starting again and all of the hustle and bustle to get ready each morning, it can be easy for routine dental care to be forgotten. We want to offer just a few tips to help keep your kids teeth healthy even with a hectic schedule.
  • Have them brush their teeth before breakfast. Ideally I would like to see them brush after they finish eating, but any way to find time to keep brushing in the routine is a good time. Brushing before breakfast can help save time.
  • Choosing fruits, vegetables, and water over fruit snacks and juice boxes. When we sip on sugary juices or slowly eat sugary snacks, there is a prolonged exposure of the sugar on the teeth. Chances are your child will not be brushing their teeth after lunch which means there is more time for the sugar to attack the teeth.
  • Sports mouth guards.  Football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, field hockey and host of other sports involve the potential for trauma to the face and teeth. Over the counter guards can be effective, but a custom fitted guard offers a little more protection and is more likely to be properly used.
  • Include dental exam and cleaning in your back to school checklist. When school is back in session, life tends to get even busier. Between sports and other after school activities, it can be difficult to find time to see the dentist. Appointments before and after work are the first to fill up, and if you want to avoid taking your child out of school we recommend scheduling in advance.
  • Avoid sugary snacks and energy drinks while studying. Many kids, especially when they get older, have a tendency to snack on candy when they are studying for exams. And if they get tired, they may try some energy drinks to stay alert. Be sure to warn them of the potential harm if used too frequently. Too often we find a spike in cavities when students go away to college and let their home care slip. 

Hopefully a few small changes can go a long way in keeping your kids teeth healthy.

For more information, visit www.dentistwestchester.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Should I Whiten my Teeth with Oil Pulling?

            Oil pulling is an old remedy that started in India and has been all the rage due to news coverage and social media websites. It requires swishing edible oil (coconut, sesame, or olive) for at least 20 minutes before. The idea is swish until the oil looks white, which allegedly shows that bacteria have been removed from your mouth. While it may eventually prove effective in some cases, most dentals are hesitant to get behind the practice of oil pulling until further legitimate research can be properly done.
            At first glance, the removal of bacteria from your mouth sounds ideal. However, there are numerous types of bacteria in the oral cavity we all need to maintain good oral health. If the oil pulling does remove all of the bacteria from the mouth, it could actually do more harm than good if the normal make up of bacteria is altered. This could potentially lead to a higher risk of infections or cavities by changing the way our mouth defends itself.  Until more studies have been completed, many dentals will likely remain skeptical.
            Oil pulling requires 20 minutes of swishing, which is a long time to keep anything in your mouth and actively swish. To achieve whiter teeth and better oral health you desire, I would advise just spending that extra time with a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouth rinse.  It is my belief that those home care tools will yield the best long term results. And if whitening your teeth is a concern, most dental professionals agree than professional teeth bleaching will be the safest, most predictable, and most effective way to brighten your smile.
            Whether or not you decide to try oil pulling is your own decision. But be sure to let us know if you are so we can document your home care. And even if you are diligent in using oil pulling, I would recommend you don’t use it to replace the more traditional homecare methods of brushing, flossing and using mouth rinse.

Please visit us at www.brownandkupper.com with any other questions.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

US seniors face lack of dental benefits:

            The Associated Press has reported that up to 60% of Americans have dental benefits, which is the highest level in decades. But according to Oral Health America, the nation’s older population may be getting left behind. Almost 70% of senior citizens are without dental coverage. We will discuss why many seniors are without dental benefits and what options are available.
            One major reason for the lack of dental coverage is that Medicare does not include dental. After retiring, many rely on Medicare for their healthcare needs but cannot afford private dental insurance. When employed, companies help to offset the cost of dental insurance. But after retirement, more and more employers are cutting dental benefits do to rising healthcare costs. As a result, many seniors are faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to allocate more of their fixed income towards dental experiences.
            So what are your options if you want to keep up with your dental health but you no longer have subsidized dental insurance? The first option would be to purchase your own policy through one of the dental benefit providers. The obvious advantage is you will have some coverage to offset any necessary dental needs or procedures. However, I would urge you to be very careful about the plan you decide to buy because there are a number of options out there that drastically limit your covered procedures or providers. Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns so we can help you find a plan that works for you based on your needs and dental history.
            Another option that is now available is our ‘In-Office Savings Plan.’ This annual fee covers your semi-annual cleaning and annual x-rays at a discounted rate. It also includes a discount off any procedures performed here without a yearly maximum. This allows you to stay with the same dental team you know and trust while receiving discounted rates. We chose to offer this because we believe in the value of continuing your care with people you trust, and not being dictated where to go based on what a dental plan may offer.
            With so many changes happening in health care, it can be very confusing to know what the right plan is for you. Feel free to ask us during your next visit or call with any questions or concerns.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Is it necessary to have 2 dental cleanings per year?

            If you have a history of cavities or stains on your teeth, it is clear why you need to visit the dentist on a regularly. But for those who seldom have cavities or don’t accumulate a lot stain, you may wonder why we insist on cleanings and exams every six months. Even while there is 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 sooner a cavity is found, the easier it is to treat. This means decreased chance of sensitivity because it is less invasive on your tooth. And it goes without saying that smaller fillings take less time than larger and more challenging fillings. This means you spend less time at the dentist and more time keeping up with your busy schedule.
            Many cavities and dental problems don’t exhibit painful signs or symptoms until considerable damage is done. Our goal is to identify problems early and treat them before it causes any discomfort. A dental exam every six months and bitewing x-rays every year are critical in finding developing problems are otherwise unnoticeable. The absence of pain does not mean absence of dental problems.
            Tarter (calculus) is a hardened colony of bacteria that forms and adheres to the teeth. Once it has solidified on the teeth, brushing and flossing isn’t enough to remove the hard deposits. Dental hygienists have specialized instruments to remove the calculus and allow your teeth and gums to return to health. We don’t typically recommend our patients use hard or sharp ‘tools’ at home to remove the tarter in an effort to avoid cleaning appointments. It is very difficult to remove all of the calculus and you will likely leave some underneath the gums. If left without treating, this can lead to more serious infections and long term problems.
            Keeping up with semi-annual visits to the dentist is essential in maintaining your oral health by diagnosing and treating problems early. Remaining diligent with you schedule will end up saving you time and money and hopefully keep your mouth pain free.

Please visit us at www.brownandkupper.com for more information.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Helping treat snoring and sleep apnea at the dentist

            More and more people are becoming aware that they suffer from sleep apnea. While snoring can be an indicator, there are also other symptoms your physician or dentist may worry about. Step one should be to consult with your physician to determine if you need a sleep study. Depending on the findings 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 you were unable to tolerate using it every night.
            When snoring is the only issue, there are some appliances we offer to reduce or eliminate the snoring. Fabricating a ‘snore guard’ is a non-invasive procedure that requires taking different impressions of the teeth with your jaw in a slightly altered position. This helps us to dictate how the appliance will fit your jaw to limit your snoring. By pulling the lower jaw forward we can help pull the tongue forward, open the airway, and help you and your significant other sleep better.
            If you are in search of an option to supplement or replace your CPAP machine, there are times when an oral appliance can be used. However, I believe it is important to consult with your physician before making an appliance to help with sleep apnea. Each case is different, and there are times when it may be appropriate for us to try an oral appliance. But there are times where it may not be a good idea. 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, adjustments will typically be necessary to achieve the best possible results. After the corrections have been made, we will recommend another sleep study to verify its effectiveness.
            If you suffer from snoring or sleep apnea and you are looking for a solution, please let us know about your concerns. We can help evaluate your situation and determine if there is an oral appliance may be a good option for you. However, I strongly discourage anyone from using over the counter products because of the potential harm that can be done to your jaw joint if not properly used.

For more information, visit www.brownandkupper.com

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Can a headache mean dental problems?

            Headaches can have a variety of origins: allergies, dehydration, head colds and a host of other reasons. But they can also be related to dental problems. Tooth decay, a bad bite, or night time clenching/grinding can lead to habitual headaches.
            Cavities and dental infections can trigger headaches and pain. Often times the headaches that are associated with dental problems stem from tension. The stress of a toothache can cause muscle strain to build up in the mouth and jaw. The headaches that originate from the teeth and the mouth are typically a duller pain that you can feel on one side, both sides, or all around.
            Another potential culprit of a headache could be a misaligned bite. If the chewing surfaces of the teeth don’t meet together correctly when the jaw shuts, it can place strain on the muscles and joints as they try to compensate. The muscles then have to work even harder and become more easily strained. And since we use our jaw so frequently with chewing, talking, swallowing and yawning, it is difficult to get the rest need to recover.
            It is also possible that pain felt in the teeth or jaw can radiate or refer pain to other parts of your head. It is related to the trigeminal nerve, which controls sensation in the face and other functions like biting and chewing. Pain from one branch of the nerve can cause other branches of the nerve to react. A problem that began in your mouth can eventually lead to pain in your head, behind the eyes, the temples or the forehead.
            We also see examples of headache pain resulting from clenching and grinding the teeth at night. This habit will overwork the jaw muscles and can lead to temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). They can be signaled by popping or clicking of the jaw and can lead to minor headaches and in some cases even result in migraines.
            With so many potential origins of your headaches, it is best to consult with your physician and your dentist to best treat any problems. There are a variety of different treatments to a properly help out with these issues, and they can help tailor the right plan for you.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

‘Smart’ Mouth Guards may soon be available

            Researchers from the University of Florida have developed a mouth guard that can determine if you’re grinding your teeth at night. It can also let your dentist know how you’re grinding your teeth so we can help treat the problem. There is another version that is currently being developed to help determine if you’re dehydrated or if you have sustained a concussion. These tools could be very helpful for dentists and physicians alike in treating many different issues.
            It is believed that at least 20% of the population suffers from bruxism (grinding or clenching the teeth). There could be a variety of causes, but it may result in damaged teeth, headaches, sore jaw, or insomnia. The challenge for dentists is determining the cause of any of these symptoms because there are different origins. Having access to an appliance that could help us know what is happening at night would be a huge advantage. We could more quickly and more effectively treat the issues or symptoms.
            The prototype that has been developed sends the information to a computer or phone via Bluetooth that can be easily accessed by the dentist or doctor. And while the implications in dentistry are obvious for the first version, there may also be some use for athletes. Early detection of concussions or dehydration can keep athletes at every level safer.
            Wearing a mouth guard and sleeping in your own bed is a lot easier than going to a sleep clinic for a full study. With increased ease of use and hopefully increased access with a ‘smart’ mouth guard, dentists may soon be able to know more about your night time clenching or grinding habits. The faster and more accurately we can diagnose these problems, the better and more predictably we can treat the cause without over treatment. We certainly hope this continues to develop and improve so we can put it to use in our office!

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


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Why is your blood pressure important at the dentist?

            When you become a new patient at our office, we ask about your dental and medical history. Dental history is important so we know what experiences and procedures you have had in the past. Medical history is important because there are number of ways it can impact your dental health and how we go about any treatment that is needed.
            If you need a dental procedure that requires local anesthesia, we need to make sure you are in good health. In most dental anesthetics, small amounts of epinephrine are added to help the numbness last longer. This means fewer injections and less trauma to the area. However, the trace amounts of epinephrine may increase your heart rate and blood pressure. For individuals with already elevated blood pressure, this can be potentially dangerous. That is why we encourage you to maintain regular physicals and why we ask about your medical history. When in doubt, we will consult with your physician before beginning treatment.
            In the past, there have been studies that link heart health and gum disease. While the conclusions are still a little unclear, we know that high blood pressure puts extra stress on your body. We also know that certain medications can cause dry mouth and change the pH of your saliva. This is turn can affect your ability to fight cavities. So if your physician has you taking blood pressure medication, we want to know so we can stay proactive and preventative with your dental care. This could mean extra instructions at home, different tooth pastes or rinses, or even more frequent dental cleanings and exams. Always be sure to let us know about any new medications you are taking.
            We are definitely interested in your dental and overall health. And in order for us to provide the best possible care, we need to make sure we know what is going on with your overall health. We are happy to work together with any of your other doctors to formulate the best possible care for your individual situation.

For more information, visit us at www.brownandkupper.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Shark Tank Contestant Launches Oral Health App

            Shark Tank is a show on ABC where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to millionaires to gain funding and support. Charles Michael Yim, who recently gained support on Shark Tank for his alcohol breathalyzer app, has recently launched an app called ‘Mint’ to detect the mouth’s bacteria and hydration levels. While we don’t know to what degree this will work, the potential is definitely intriguing.
            The goal of ‘Mint’ is not to actually clean the teeth, but to check on how well you have cleaned your teeth. The hope would be for consumers use this after they have finished brushing and flossing to detect how well they have done. Even without knowing the efficacy of the app, I am excited that there is potential technology that will help call attention to good oral hygiene and home care. If executed properly, this could become an adjunct to other tools and products used to take care of your teeth every day.
            One of the future goals would be to connect this app to an ‘e-brush’ and track how well you’re doing each day with your home care. The intention would be to become like a ‘FitBit’ or fitness tracker for your mouth. Making things like fitness and health easy to track has been shown to greatly increase awareness and make us more likely to follow through on our health goals. Hopefully ‘Mint’ can have a similar affect as other health applications.
            Even though we are still in the early stages of the ‘Mint’ app, it is definitely exciting to see the potential. Even if inventions like this show some solid results and applications, it is still important not to rely solely on a device when determining your oral health. Maintaining regular dental visits is essential in early detection of any issues.

Please visit us at www.brownandkupper.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

What are the benefits and risks of Invisalign (clear retainers)?

            As the technology improves and the demand to avoid traditional metal braces increases, Invisalign and similar products have become more popular. For adults, the thought of clear trays over wires seems much more appealing. So the advent of these clear retainers has really increased the number of people willing to embrace orthodontics. However, there are still some risks associated with using Invisalign and similar products that you should be aware of before beginning treatment.
            It is recommended you wear the clear retainers at all times unless eating or brushing your teeth. But it is just as important to remove your retainers while drinking sugary drinks. This includes soda, juices, sports drinks and energy drinks. The liquid can accumulate inside the trays, and the trays can prevent your saliva from washing the drink away. This prolonged exposure to the sugar can lead to cavities and decalcifications (white spots) on the teeth. It is important that you brush your teeth or rinse with water after drinking anything with sugar to avoid these risks.
            Another risk has to do with your level of compliance in wearing the trays. Because they are removable, the temptation exists to not wear them as often and there is also the risk of losing the trays. If they are not worn enough, it could slow or alter the movement of the teeth. This in turn could change the treatment plan, add time needed to complete treatment, or even make things more expensive. So if you are not fully committed to the clear aligners, I would advise sticking with the traditional braces.
            The advantages of Invisalign and other clear retainers are obvious. It is easier to eat, easier to clean your teeth, and they are less noticeable. But you need to be aware of the potential risks and how they make affect you with any existing habits you have. Be sure to discuss these options with you dentist or hygienist before moving forward.

For more information, visit www.brownandkupper.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Why do I have bad breath?

            Whether you call it bad breath or halitosis, no one wants to worry about their bad breath. Unfortunately, there can be a number of different causes. Our goal is to discuss some of the potential reasons and possible solutions in dealing with bad breath.
            The first potential reason for bad breath is obvious: food. Garlic, onions, and others tend to linger for longer periods of time. This may compound if we are not diligent about brushing and flossing daily. However, even when we don’t eat foods with a potent aroma, the bacteria can still stay around in your mouth after eating. The remaining bacteria produce compounds with an odor and the only solution to remove the bacteria is diligent home care.
            Dry mouth is another common cause of bad breath and we frequently see patients on new medications develop dry mouth. Saliva helps clean and protect the teeth and gums, so a decrease may lead to more bacteria, which then creates bad breath. Fortunately, there are different rinses, gels and toothpastes that can help with dry mouth. Sugar free gum and candy can also stimulate saliva flow.
            Persistent bad breath could be a sign of gum disease. If you improve your homecare and there is still no improvement, there may be issues hiding below the gums. A deeper cleaning (scaling and root planing) may be recommended to remove bacteria and tarter underneath the gums.
            If none of these options seem to cure to your bad breath, it is possible there is a more serious medical disorder. There can be 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 on a regular basis. You can work together to find solutions that work for your situation. In more difficult situations, your physician is a great resource in diagnosing any hidden medical problems.

For more information, visit us at www.brownandkupper.com

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Preparing for Your Child’s First Visit to the Dentist

            It is truly amazing how many people we see each year that suffer from ‘odontophobia,’ or simply ‘fear of the dentist.’ There are grown men and women who would prefer to live in pain than see the dentist to have their tooth fixed. Frequently, this fear of the dentist arises from a negative experience at a young age. Below we will discuss a few ways to prepare your kids for a positive first experience at the dentist.
            We believe it is important that you discuss their first visit to the dentist as an exciting or positive experience. Kids pick up on how their parents feel about going to the dentist, and if it is presented in a positive light it can make a world of difference. If they have an older sibling that already does well, we have found it helpful for the younger child to observe how easy it was for their brother or sister.
            But at what age should they first visit the dentist? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children see a dentist when their first tooth comes in or by their first birthday. If you feel your son or daughter can handle that, it certainly is never a bad idea. However, many parents choose to wait until their child is around 2 or 3, close to the time all their baby teeth have erupted.
            It is also important to think about what time of the day may work best for your child. You may find they are more likely to do well early in the day or after an afternoon nap. You obviously know your kids better than we do, so it is important to think about what time of the day will contribute to a positive dental experience.
            Our goal is to make their first visit as easy and fun as possible. Each child is a little different and may require some different modifications of the traditional plan. But it is important you work with and communicate with your dentist to create an optimal environment for their first dental visit.

For more information, visit www.brownandkupper.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Staying Hydrated is Important for your Overall and Oral Health

            The average person is made up of around 60% water, and losing just 1.5% can put you near the tipping point of mild dehydration. Below we will discuss some of the ramifications of dehydration.

  • It gives you bad breath: When you’re busy at work or running errands, you can easily forget to drink water throughout the day. When you are dehydrated, you have decreased saliva flow. Your saliva has important antibacterial qualities, and a lack of saliva can allow the wrong type of bacteria to proliferate and cause bad breath.

  • It makes you crave sugar: When dehydrated, your body craves carbohydrates and sugars to replenish your glycogen and energy.

  • It can hurt your workout: 2% dehydration can cause a 10% decrease in performance.

  • Dehydration hurts your skin: The best way to hydrate your skin is from the inside out. And depending on your workouts or caffeine intake, you may need even more water than usual.

  • It can affect your ability to drive: New studies indicate that being dehydrated can affect your reaction time and even double the number of driving errors. So it may be worth a few restroom breaks to avoid accidents.

  • It makes you tired: When dehydrated your blood pressure drops, heart rate increases, and blood flow to the brain slows. All of these can make you tired.

  • It worsens your mood: When you’re dehydrated, the neurological effects can cause irritability.

  • It can give you the chills: Less blood flow to the extremities and the skin, which makes it more difficult to control your body temperature.

  • It can cause muscle cramps: When dehydrated, the body keeps fluid away from muscles and anything that isn’t vital.

  • It can cause headaches: It relates to chemical changes that result and less blood flow to smaller vessels in the brain.

  • It may constipate you: Proper water levels help your digestive tract function properly. Hydration may not cure constipation in all cases, but it will not hurt.

The bottom line is staying hydrated is essential to maintaining good overall health. Try to make a conscious effort to drink water throughout the day and it will hopefully make you feel better!

For more tips on good dental health, visit www.brownandkupper.com.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Monday, May 18, 2015

When and Why are Wisdom Teeth Removed?

            When children or young adults reach their teenage years to early twenties, their wisdom teeth (3rd molars) become more fully developed and may begin to erupt from the gums. The problem that many face is there isn’t adequate room for the teeth to fit. The resulting impacted wisdom teeth can cause problems with the jaw and adjacent teeth, which is why we typically recommend removal of all wisdom teeth at a young age.
             When the wisdom teeth do not have enough room to fully erupt, the gums can experience chronic pain. The tissue that partially covers the exposed tooth creates a trap for extra food and bacteria to gather and proliferate. The painful condition that results is called pericoronitis and can only be definitively treated through extraction of the wisdom teeth affected. If you only try to remove the extra tissue, it will usually return in the future and the same problem will persist.
            There is also a concern that impacted wisdom teeth can lead to problems with adjacent teeth. If the tooth erupts horizontally into the tooth in front, a deep pocket can be formed. This may become a bacteria trap and decay may start on the tooth or even the root. In some extreme cases, the tooth may be non-restorable and may also need to be removed. There was previously a thought that a sideways wisdom tooth could also cause crowding amongst the surrounding teeth. However, more recent studies have found that the presence of wisdom teeth do not push the other teeth together. We now know that may happen with or without the wisdom teeth.
            If wisdom teeth remain impacted in the jaw bone, you risk developing a cyst in the bone surrounding the tooth. Cysts can destroy bone, tooth roots, and even cause issues with nearby nerves. The larger the cyst becomes, the more invasive the surgery will be to remove the problem area and the greater the chances of other complications.
            So when is the best age to get wisdom teeth removed? We believe the earlier they are extracted, the better. At a younger age, the jaw bone isn’t as dense and the roots of the wisdom teeth are not fully formed. This decreases the odds of complications and makes the healing process a little faster. In many cases, we recommend seeing an oral surgeon for the extractions because of their expertise with wisdom teeth extractions and their familiarity with conscious sedation. These factors help make the experience as comfortable as possible.
            Like anything else, extenuating circumstances exist where there may be some different recommendations regarding how to treat the wisdom teeth. If other teeth have been lost or the orthodontist has created room the wisdom teeth, they may be retained. By consulting with the dentist, oral surgeon, and even the orthodontist, we can help find the best treatment for you or your children’s teeth.

For more information, please visit us at www.brownandkupper.com.

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

(513) 860-3660