My Blog

Posts for: February, 2016

By One Dental Care - Kunio Chan, DMD, MAGD
February 25, 2016
Category: Oral Health

Sure, it’s big news when celebs tweet selfies from the dental office… if you’re still living in the 20th century. But in Hollywood today, it’s harder to say who hasn’t posted snaps of themselves in the dentist’s chair than who has. Yet the pictures recently uploaded to Twitter by Mark Salling, the actor and singer who regularly appears as Noah “Puck” Puckerman on the popular TV series Glee, made us sit up and take notice.

“Getting my chipped tooth fixed. Also, apparently, I’m a big grinder,” read the caption. The photo showed a set of upper front teeth with visible chips on the biting surface. What’s so special about this seemingly mundane tweet? It’s a great way of bringing attention to a relatively common, but often overlooked problem: teeth clenching and grinding, also called bruxism.

Although bruxism is a habit that affects scores of people, many don’t even realize they have it. That’s because the condition may only become active at night. When the teeth are unconsciously ground together, the forces they produce can wear down the enamel, cause chipping or damage to teeth or dental work (such as veneers or fillings), or even loosen a tooth! While it’s common in children under 11 years old, in adults it can be a cause for concern.

Sometimes, mouth pain, soreness and visible damage alert individuals to their grinding habits; other times, a dental professional will notice the evidence of bruxism during an exam or cleaning: tooth sensitivity and telltale wear and tear on the chewing surfaces. Either way, it’s time to act.

Bruxism is most often caused by stress, which can negatively impact the body in many ways. It may also result from bite problems, the overuse of stimulating substances (caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs), and as a side effect of certain medications. Sometimes, simply becoming aware of the habit can help a person get it under control. Common methods of stress reduction include exercise, meditation, a warm bath or a quiet period before bedtime; these can be tried while we monitor the situation to see if the problem is going away.

If stress reduction alone doesn’t do the trick, several other methods can be effective. When bruxism is caused by a minor bite problem, we can sometimes do a minor “bite adjustment” in the office. This involves removing a tiny bit of enamel from an individual tooth that is out of position, bringing it in line with the others. If it’s a more serious malocclusion, orthodontic appliances or other procedures may be recommended.

When grinding is severe enough to damage teeth or dental work, we may also recommend a custom-made night guard (occlusal guard), which you put in your mouth at bedtime. Comfortable and secure, this appliance prevents your teeth from being damaged by contacting each other, and protects your jaw joints from stresses due to excessive grinding forces.

Whether or not you have to smile for a living, teeth grinding can be a big problem. If you would like more information about this condition, call our office to schedule a consultation for a consultation.

By One Dental Care - Kunio Chan, DMD, MAGD
February 18, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures

If you wish you had straighter or more even teeth but dread the thought of traditional metal braces, Invisalign could be the answer you invisalignhave been looking for. Invisalign transforms your smile, straightening teeth and correcting bite. But how do you know if Invisalign is right for you? Your Billerica, MA dentist, Dr. Kunio Chan at One Dental Care, can help you determine if Invisalign is the best course of orthodontic treatment for you.

What is Invisalign? 
Invisalign straightens teeth with a series of clear plastic aligner trays. The trays, worn in succession one after another, are customized to fit your mouth, ensuring maximum comfort and wearability. The number of trays and length of treatment depends on your situation and the severity of your orthodontic issues. Tooth-colored bumps called attachments which affix to the teeth allow your dentist to pinpoint the pressure used to move the teeth, moving some more than others into their final positions.

What conditions can Invisalign treat? 
Invisalign benefits patients suffering from most orthodontic issues. However, some severe issues may require more aggressive treatment. Some of the conditions Invisalign repairs include:

  • underbite
  • overbite
  • crossbite
  • crooked teeth
  • overlapping teeth
  • overcrowding and under crowding (gaps)

How do I know Invisalign is right for my teeth? 
Billerica dentists recommend Invisalign for adults and teenagers over the age of 12, as children under 12 have teeth which are still growing. Invisalign should be worn 22 hours a day. This makes commitment to wearing your trays crucial to the outcome of your treatment. At-home care is also important to the Invisalign process as conditions like cavities or gum disease caused by poor hygiene complicate treatment.

How do I care for Invisalign? 
Invisalign is removable, making caring for your trays just as easy as caring for your natural teeth. Simply remove the trays to brush and eat and rinse them before putting them back in. The trays should be worn while sleeping and throughout the day. Every two weeks, a new tray replaces your current one, slowly moving teeth into their correct positions. Most patients see their orthodontist every six weeks for regular checkups to monitor their teeth’s progress.

For more information on Invisalign, please contact Dr. Kunio Chan, DMD, MAGD at One Dental Care in Billerica, MA. Call (978) 667-0691 to schedule your consultation for Invisalign today!

By One Dental Care - Kunio Chan, DMD, MAGD
February 10, 2016
Category: Oral Health

What do young saber tooth tigers, which have been extinct about 10,000 years, have in common with human kids today? At first glance, not a lot. Smilodon fatalis, the big cat of North America, reached adulthood at around age three and weighed up to 600 pounds. But these ice-age mammals are probably best known for their dagger-like canine teeth, which (as shown by many well-preserved skeletons) grew up to 7 inches long. And that’s where the comparison between kids and kitties gets interesting.

The toothy felines had primary (baby) teeth and adult teeth, which developed in a similar way to human dentition. The primary teeth came in first, persisted during the young cat’s development, and shared space in the mouth as the adult teeth were erupting (growing in) — with one big difference. According to a recent study reported in the academic journal PLOS ONE, those colossal canines grew at an astonishing rate: up to 6 millimeters per month! By comparison, human primary teeth emerge from the gums at around 0.7mm per month, while permanent teeth may grow up to 2mm per month.

It’s understandable why those tiger teeth developed so rapidly: Life in the Ice Age was hard, and predators needed every advantage just to stay alive. But while human baby teeth take longer to develop (and to go away), they, too, are vitally important. For one thing, the primary teeth let kids bite, chew, speak (and smile) properly, until they are replaced by adult teeth — a process that isn’t usually finished until a child reaches the age of 12-13. So those “baby” teeth allow kids to have good nutrition — and positive social interactions — for a significant part of childhood!

There’s another important thing primary teeth do before they’re gone: They help ensure that the succeeding teeth come in properly, by holding a space in the jaw that will later be filled by a permanent tooth. If baby teeth are lost prematurely, those spaces can close up, resulting in permanent teeth that emerge too close together, or in the wrong places. This condition, called malocclusion (bad bite), can usually be corrected by orthodontics. But it’s better to avoid the inconvenience (and cost) of braces, if possible.

That’s why it’s so important to take care of your child’s baby teeth. Even though they won’t be around forever, they have a vital role to play right now. So be sure proper attention is paid to your child’s oral hygiene: That means avoiding sugar, and remembering to brush and floss every day. And be sure to come in regularly for routine exams, cleanings, and needed care. It’s the best way to keep those little teeth from “going extinct” too soon!

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s baby teeth, please call our office to schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Importance of Baby Teeth” and “Early Loss of Baby Teeth.”