It seems like you can’t open a magazine or watch a health segment on the news these days without hearing about the amazing benefits of probiotics. Probiotics are microorganisms that when ingested have a variety of health benefits to the human or animal who consumes them. Probiotics are currently available at most stores in the form of supplements and are also found as an ingredient in certain food products like yogurt, cheese, pickles and even kombucha, all which offer natural and added probiotic benefits. But though probiotics are currently only ingested orally, very few are designed to benefit the mouth specifically.
Probiotics work via a process called competitive inhibition that essentially balances the good bacteria with the bad, by allowing the good bacteria to flourish, and leaving the bad bacteria to starve and die off. The good bacteria then become the new sheriff in town and help maintain order in the affected area, whether that be your digestive system or your mouth.
If you or your children have little white spots on your teeth, you may be wondering what they are and if they’re dangerous. Those little spots are called hypomineralization, and while they all appear in the same form, they don’t all come from the same place or pose the same risk. But don’t panic! They’re usually not dangerous and are often correctable with proper care.
A few years ago, it seemed like you couldn’t go anywhere or read anything without hearing about "oil pulling"- the trend of swishing coconut oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes- supposedly to help purge toxins from your mouth and whiten your teeth. The trend seemed to die down for a while, but it’s starting to come back again thanks to social media sites like Instagram, which are chock-full of photos celebrities and beauty bloggers with perfect, gleaming smiles- many of whom credit those smiles to oil pulling. But is oil pulling really the miracle whitener it claims to be- and more importantly, is it safe? Here’s everything you need to know about this resurging trend.
What was once referred to as simply a bad habit, nail biting or onychophagy is now classified as an oral compulsive habit – that is, a repeated movement of the mouth along the lines of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD. Nail biting is most commonly found in teenagers- with an estimated 45% of all teens biting their nails at one point or another. Thankfully, this dangerous habit generally stops after adolescence, but plenty of adults continue to bite their nails long after adolescence. While it’s not known exactly what causes people to start biting their nails, it is believed that nail biting begins during times of emotional distress as a coping mechanism, and either stops on its own or continues into adulthood. But while we know nail biting is terrible for your nails, did you also know that nail biting is bad for your teeth, too?
You may have heard the term ‘neuromuscular dentistry’ used around the practice before, or read about neuromuscular dentistry here on our blog. Neuromuscular dentistry is dentistry with a purpose, and that purpose is to realign the teeth, joints, muscles, and bones of the jaw to an optimal position. By doing this, we can reduce or cure the symptoms of TMJ disorder, eliminating the chronic pain experienced by many TMJ sufferers. Similar to neuromuscular dentistry is the field of neuromuscular orthodontics. Neuromuscular orthodontics work to relax the positioning of the muscles of the upper and lower jaws, which in turn allows for optimal shaping and positioning of each jaw. This translates to greater comfort for the patient, and better, longer lasting results following orthodontic treatment.
While in many ways, neuromuscular orthodontics is quite similar to traditional orthodontics, it also differs in some major ways. While both branches of orthodontics use similar appliances and have the same end goal in mind (to straighten the teeth and perfect the smile) how they get there is what sets them apart. In regular orthodontics, more emphasis is placed on improvising as the treatment progresses, with only a general idea of how to get there. With neuromuscular orthodontics, we focus more on crafting a precise treatment plan that maps out exactly what we want to do for treatment, and exactly what we want the outcome to be.
Neuromuscular orthodontics is better for the patient because it not only maps out a perfectly tailored treatment plan, but it focuses on the best way to achieve the patient’s optimal tooth positioning. With traditional orthodontics, the goal is a beautiful smile – but it often seems like there should be a disclaimer that says ‘a beautiful smile at any cost’- with that cost usually being a great deal of pain. On the other hand, neuromuscular orthodontics works with your body to not just create a beautiful smile, but to position the teeth in such a way that the patient won’t experience the discomfort that is often experienced in traditional orthodontics. This pain comes from forcing the teeth and jaw into an unnatural positon, but with neuromuscular orthodontics, it’s not an issue because we’ve already relaxed the muscles of the upper and lower jaw prior to the orthodontic appliances being placed. This also means your body will be less likely to resist the treatment, which translates to a greater level of comfort before, during, and after treatment. This also means you’ll not only be less likely to suffer from TMJ symptoms, but your orthodontic treatment results will last longer, because that tension in your joints, muscles, and bones won’t be fighting the new positioning and trying to put the teeth and palate back to their original position.
But neuromuscular orthodontics isn’t just for adults- it can benefit anyone, especially children. Children are generally easier to treat with orthodontic procedures because in most cases, the chronic problems associated with a misaligned bite have not yet had time to manifest. But neuromuscular orthodontics is still extremely beneficial to children, because their mouths are still growing. Neuromuscular orthodontics takes this growth into account when developing a treatment plan. Using neuromuscular dentistry, we can actually predict and then ‘map out’ the mouth’s future growth. From there, we can design treatment plan that will estimate where we can expect space, movement, and expansion of the patient’s teeth and jaw. This translates to a higher rate of success, because we can align the teeth in such a way that their alignment will not be affected by future growth. With neuromuscular orthodontics, we are essentially "directing the growth" of the teeth in a way that suits the optimal alignment of the mouth- and allowing for the body to influence the development and growth of the bony structures- even in adult patients. If you’re interested in learning more about how neuromuscular orthodontics can benefit you or your family, give Dr. Lederman’s office a call at 516-882-1764.
You may have heard the term "biomimetic" before, but what you may not know is how it relates to dentistry- or why we are so passionate about using a biomimetic dentistry approach with our patients. The word biomimetic literally means ‘imitating (mimesis) life (bios).’ In dentistry, biomimetic dentistry means we take a minimally invasive approach to dental care- an approach which strives to keep as much of the natural tooth intact as possible. We do this by using specialized techniques, tools, and advanced materials to repair damaged teeth- instead of just cutting away the damaged area and hoping whatever we stick to the tooth stays in place and looks realistic. The ultimate goal of our practice, and of biomimetic dentistry as a whole, is to "help our patients keep their teeth for a lifetime... In a condition that’s beautiful and that’s functional."
What makes biomimetic dentistry different is kind of like that old metaphor about optimism versus pessimism, where you are asked whether you see the glass half full or half empty. Traditional methods of dentistry historically have taken a more pessimistic approach, giving little thought to the remaining structure of the tooth, and instead focusing on the repaired section. When you pay more attention to the restoration, it’s a lot like seeing the glass as half empty, because you are not focused on the healthy portion of the tooth. With biomimetic dentistry, we aim to repair the damage to the tooth, not to simply replace the damaged areas, as this essentially creates more damage to the tooth in the process. This is like seeing the glass half-full because we understand the importance of preserving the natural tooth.
In addition to your teeth looking better with biomimetic dentistry, biomimetic dentistry offers two things that many traditional procedures cannot: comfort and predictability. Because biomimetic procedures are minimally invasive, they are naturally less painful than traditional dentistry procedures. Not only that, but most patients experience less tooth sensitivity after the procedure, as well. As for predictability, with biomimetic dentistry, there are no surprises. You already know what your tooth looks like, so restoring that tooth creates no change in the look or feel of your natural tooth. Best of all, because the tooth is repaired, you can feel confident that the health of your teeth is protected- and that you will keep your natural teeth for the rest of your life.
So, given what we know about biomimetic dentistry, why don’t more practices apply biomimetic dentistry principles to their practice? The biomimetic approach is not as easy as traditional dentistry. Biomimetic dentistry requires a lot of skill, patience, and training. It requires the dentist and their staff to look at dentistry under a completely different lens than they were probably initially trained to do. Hopefully, in the future, this will change, and biomimetic dentistry will someday become the standard of care in all practices. But until then, finding a practice which follows the principles of biomimetic care and maintains their focus on the health of the existing tooth instead of the damaged portions of the tooth can be an integral part of enjoying the strength and beauty of your natural teeth for the rest of your life.
If you’d like to learn more about how Dr. Lederman and the biomimetic approach to dentistry can benefit the holistic health of your teeth, give us a call at 516-882-1764 for an appointment.
For patients who have lost teeth due to oral infections like periodontitis, a new spin on dental implants could help prevent similar infections from occurring in the future. Researchers at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium have developed a dental implant with a built-in reservoir that can be filled with antimicrobial drugs to fight or prevent oral infection. We spoke to Dr. Gary Lederman of Bellmore, NY about this exciting new dental technology.