Thursday, July 30, 2009

How Does a Belly Flop Cause Root Resorption? Dr. Okun Explains

It doesn’t. But a belly flop is a great analogy for one of the reasons that roots resorb.

When you drag your hands through the water in the swimming pool you can feel the water resist the movement. The faster you move your hands the more you feel the water holding you back. But you can also feel the water moving out of the way to let your hands move.

Now imagine slapping the top of the water, or doing a belly flop. As your hand, or your stomach, hits the water, the water does not move nicely out of the way. The surface water splashes, but what you notice more keenly is the stinging pain you feel on your hand or stomach. It hurts! You’ve hit the water so hard that the water acts like a solid concrete wall, and it feels like the water hit you back.

At Okun Orthodontics, we use braces to move teeth. As they push gently on the teeth, the teeth push gently on the bone that surrounds them. The bone in turn remodels, or moves out of the way, allowing the teeth to move. Sometimes, however, the bone doesn’t "move out of the way" fast enough. The root of the tooth ends up taking the brunt of the force instead. The root "gets hurt" and displays its "pain" by getting shorter. The loss of root length is called "root resorption". Unfortunately, the root never grows back.

Since long roots increase the longevity of a tooth, it is best to preserve the roots of your teeth by moving them slowly, and continuously, with your braces. To keep those forces continuous it is necessary to have your braces adjusted on a regular basis. (This is why you should schedule your orthodontic appointments at Okun Orthodontics approximately every three to six weeks.)

Now you know how the pain from a belly flop can represent the remodeling of the roots of your teeth. If you have any specific questions about root resorption, give Okun Orthodontics a call at 914-253-0722.

--Dr. Judith Okun

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sorting Seeds, from Dr. Judith Okun

I watched Curious George on PBS Kids this morning while washing the dishes. (I don’t get many channels with my roof top antenna.) George, the monkey who always gets into trouble while investigating his world, has mixed all the packages of vegetable seeds together in one jar, and now has to figure out a way to re-label them. He sorts them by size and color, and then compares them to the seeds in cut vegetables. When the Man with the Yellow Hat comes home each pile of vegetable seeds has a name, and each kind of vegetable can be planted in the special way that can help it grow.

Sorting by characteristics is something we all do to make sense of the world. Orthodontists like me compile characteristics in order to make a diagnosis. We sort our patients by characteristics such as facial type, whether the upper jaw and teeth are in the correct forward-to-back relationship to the lower jaw and teeth, and whether the teeth are crowded or have spaces between them. For example, if we have a patient at Okun Orthodontics who has a square jaw/short face, upper teeth and jaw too far forward for the lower jaw and teeth, and crowded teeth, we would give this patient’s bite the name "Class II division 2 crowded malocclusion." Since orthodontists treat many bites of this kind, we know how to use braces to make this patient’s teeth bite properly and look their best.

If you want to know how I would name your bite, please call to schedule a consultation appointment at Okun Orthodontics. At your first visit I will look at your face and teeth and list their characteristics. Then I will tell you what your bite is called and what the problems are that need to be fixed. I’ll tell you how I would recommend fixing them, how long I think it will take, and approximately what it costs to fix these problems. I’ll even work out a payment plan with you so that you can start fixing your bite problems, and have your best smile, as soon as possible.

--Dr. Judith Okun

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dr. Judith Okun Explains TMJ

So what exactly is TMJ?

"TMJ" is used to refer to problems associated with the jaw joint.
TMJ disorders are more common than you may realize in the United States. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that between 5 and 15 percent of people experience pain associated with TMJ. The initials TMJ actually stand for the TemporoMandibular Joint, which is where your lower jawbone and your skull connect. You have one joint on each side of your face, and you can experience pain in one without it being present in the other.

What are the symptoms of TMJ?

Signs to watch out for are pain and discomfort in your jaw. Sometimes the pain spreads and you can feel it around your ears and throughout your face. You will probably experience difficulty chewing and swallowing. Oftentimes the joint will lock causing difficulties opening or closing your mouth. The joint can also make a clicking noise when you move your mouth. Left untreated, TMJ can also cause headaches, difficulties making facial expressions, and even make it painful to apply cosmetics to your face.

What causes TMJ?

The TMJ is one of the most complicated joints in your body because it moves up and down as well as side to side. TMJ problems usually involve a genetic predisposition which can be exacerbated by jaw clenching, teeth grinding, arthritis, or some kind of trauma to the joint.

How do you treat TMJ?

At Okun Orthodontics, we start out by analyzing your symptoms and history to fully understand your condition and the potential causes. We will examine the joint and your range of motion to properly diagnose your condition. If you have TMJ, you are in good hands as we are equipped with the latest in technology at Okun Orthodontics. We can not only work with you to alleviate the causes of TMJ, but we can help you to minimize the stresses to the joint by fabricating a custom dental guard for you to wear on your teeth at night. Also, we often can eliminate the pain with electric stimulation in our office. This is the same technology used in sport’s medicine that enables athletes to have less pain and heal quickly.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hair, Smiles, and Self Image by Dr. Okun

This week marked the death of two great celebrities, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. They were both known for their stage presence and smiles. Farah was also known for her beautiful hair and Michael for his beautiful music.

It is ironic then, that Farrah died from cancer, whose cure also causes hair loss. Those close to her said that losing her hair was one of the most devastating parts of the whole cancer experience.

Dr. Okun is very aware of the importance of appearance to feeling good about oneself. This is why she enjoys her job of making beautiful smiles with braces! This is also why she and many of her patients have grown and cut their hair to donate for children and women who have lost their hair from illness. In fact, Dr. Okun’s daughter has donated her hair three times!

Dr. Okun donated her hair to Pantene. The opening phrase on the web site for Pantene Pro-V Beautiful lengths states “You have the power to help a woman during the greatest fight of her life.” With six ponytails Pantene and HairUWear can make a “beautiful, high quality, real hair wig…for a woman who has been affected by hair loss from cancer treatment, at no cost to her.”

The other organizations that Dr. Okun’s patients have supported have been Zichron Menachem (based in Israel but having donation centers in Jerusalem, London and New York), Wigs for Kids (in Rocky River, Ohio), and Locks of Love (in West Palm Beach, Florida). All of these organizations make wigs for children suffering from hair loss diseases, with the costs of these wigs covered by donations. The mission of these organizations is to “help kids look themselves” (as stated on the Wigs for Kids website.)

Zichron Menachem, the Israeli Association to Support Children with Cancer and their families, describes the needs for all kinds of hair to make custom wigs. “Each wig has to be tailor made for each specific child, to enable them to regain their former appearance. The wig is designed according to the exact size and shape of the child’s head, using hair that is as similar as possible to the child’s original hair. A boy whose hair was short and curly will need a short, curly wit. A girl who had long, straight ginger hair will need a long straight, ginger wig. Therefore, we need as many different types of hair as possible.”

Dr. Okun hopes that her example will continue to motivate her patients to donate their hair, and help make the difference in the self image of a child.