Posts for: December, 2013

By John G. Rutland & Kenneth L. Vandervoort, Jr Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
December 30, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: smoking   oral health  
QuittingtheSmokingHabitCouldVastlyImproveYourDentalHealth

Even after decades of health warnings, approximately 45 million Americans smoke cigarettes. Although three-quarters will attempt to quit at some time in their life, most won’t be successful because smoking is both pleasurable and highly addictive.

Still, it’s in your best health interest to quit, and not just for your general health. Besides bad breath, reduced taste perception and dry mouth, smokers also face higher risk for tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

Quitting is difficult because of the addictive nature of nicotine, one of tobacco’s main ingredients. Nicotine causes the brain to release dopamine, a chemical that regulates our sense of pleasure and reward. In time, this effect transcends the physical sensation — smokers soon rearrange their social, work and family life to accommodate it. For those attempting to quit, the physical and emotional effects of withdrawal are daunting.

Yet, there are a number of effective quitting strategies. Smoking is a behavior you’ve learned and reinforced over time that you must now “unlearn.” You should begin by analyzing your own particular smoking habit — when you smoke, what prompts you to smoke, what activities do you associate with smoking, etc.

Most people will find an abrupt halt to cigarette smoking all but impossible. Instead, gradually reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke each day over several weeks; a weekly 20% reduction over the previous week is a good norm. As you reduce to just a few cigarettes, you’ll be forced to choose when to smoke those “precious” few. You can also use “brand fading,” in which you switch week by week to brands with increasingly lower amounts of nicotine.

You should also attempt to replace the smoking habit with more positive habits. Keep your hands busy holding items like pencils, straws or stress balls. Snack on healthy foods, chew sugarless gum with Xylitol, and drink plenty of water. You might also join a support group of other smokers trying to quit so you don’t have to face the habit alone.

It may take several weeks to break the smoking habit. The results, though, are worth it — you may extend not only your life but the life of your teeth too.

If you would like more information on how to stop smoking, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Strategies to Stop Smoking.”


By John G. Rutland & Kenneth L. Vandervoort, Jr Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
December 27, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: celebrity smiles  
WhatOralApplianceDoesOlivaNewton-JohnUsetoProtectHerteeth

Though it's been a while since Olivia Newton-John sang her way into our hearts in the movie Grease, her smile is as radiant as ever. Today, Olivia is still singing, acting and busy with new ventures such as authoring a cookbook and raising money for the cancer center that bears her name in Melbourne, Australia. Whichever part of the world Olivia finds herself in, she protects that beautiful smile with an oral appliance that many find beneficial.

“I wear a nightguard to prevent wear on my teeth, custom-made by my dentist,” Olivia recently told Dear Doctor magazine. “I love it!”

Olivia's device, also referred to as a bite (occlusal) guard, is designed for people who clench or grind their teeth at night, or during stressful periods. Made of thin, wear-resistant plastic, it is custom-made to fit exactly over your top teeth. This allows the bottom teeth to slide gently across the top teeth without biting into them. Not only does this prevent excessive tooth wear, it also helps relax the muscles of the jaw.

Grinding or “bruxing,” as it's also called, can affect virtually any part of the oral system: the jaw joints or muscles, resulting in spasm and pain; the teeth themselves, resulting in wear, fractures or looseness; it can even cause an aching in the ears, head, neck or back.

If you are a teeth-grinder, you might not even know it unless a sleeping partner hears it or your dentist notices signs of wear. These habits are called “parafunctional” (para – outside, function – normal), meaning the biting forces it generates are well outside the normal range — sometimes as much as 10 times normal. So it's no wonder that damage to teeth can occur if they are not protected.

If you have any questions about grinding habits or nightguards, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. If you would like to read Dear Doctor's entire interview with Olivia Newton-John, please see “Olivia Newton-John.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Stress & Tooth Habits.”


By John G. Rutland & Kenneth L. Vandervoort, Jr Family & Cosmetic Dentistry
December 12, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: orthodontics   tads  
TADsContributetoGreaterPrecisionDuringOrthodonticTreatment

The field of orthodontics continues to progress with new and innovative techniques. One such innovation is known as a TAD — Temporary Anchorage Device. Best described as “mini-implants,” TADs provide orthodontists with more precise control over the movement and positioning of certain teeth that could reduce treatment time.

Braces, the most common form of orthodontic device, are small brackets affixed to the outside of the teeth. We thread small flexible wires through the brackets which in turn apply gentle pressure to the teeth. This puts pressure on the periodontal ligament, an elastic tissue that holds the teeth in place to the jawbone. The ligament has small fibers that insert into the teeth and are held there by a substance called cementum. The pressure on the ligament causes it to form new bone, ligament and cementum as it moves into the new desired position.

Of course, each orthodontic case is different. The best outcome for some patients is to move only certain teeth, while minimizing movement on others. This involves a concept in orthodontics known as “anchorage,” a planned circumstance where certain teeth or groups of teeth are immobilized (or “anchored”) to prevent movement.

TADs do just that — they are, in effect, mini-screws or implants temporarily placed in the jaw bone to inhibit movement of a specific tooth or group of teeth, while not interfering with the movement of the misaligned teeth. These tiny devices are typically installed using only local anesthesia to numb the general location of their placement, and then removed when orthodontic treatment is completed.

TADs are part of an overall strategy to correct poor bite and teeth misalignment in the most precise and efficient way possible. They require planning, sometimes through consultation with different dental disciplines, to assure that their placement won’t damage nerves, sinuses or other vital structures. Their use, though, could help shorten treatment time with braces, and help contribute to the best possible outcome — a new smile.

If you would like more information on transitional mini implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “What are TADs?