Friday, August 28, 2009

Pain and Tooth Fractures are Linked to Grind of Recession

Although there is no official data, dentists are noticing an increase in the number of patients seeking repair for chipped and fractured teeth. All the evidence points to tooth grinding (a.k.a. bruxism), brought on as a result of stress. And the stress levels have increased with the recent economic Recession.

The body reacts to stress, real or perceived, with what is known as the "fight or flight" reaction. Since most of us do not burn off this stress- reduction- energy with extreme physical activity, we burn it off by clenching or grinding our teeth at night.

Clenching teeth can cause cold sensitivity and sometimes nerve trauma in the teeth (requiring root canal treatment to fix.) Grinding teeth can cause wear or chipping of the biting surfaces of the teeth; cracking or fracturing of the cusps (or bumps on the biting surface of the teeth); destruction of the bone that holds teeth in the mouth; shortening of the roots of the teeth; pain and spasm of the chewing, face, and neck muscles; pain or ringing of the ears, and jaw joint pain. The damage to the jaw joint and its muscles is often referred to as "TMJ".

What can we do for tooth grinding? We can’t stay up all night to make sure we aren’t rubbing our teeth together while we sleep. We can, however, cover the biting surface of our teeth with a hard plastic guard or splint at night. This way the wear- and- tear happens to the guard instead of to our teeth and their supporting structures. The guard splints the teeth together so that clenching forces are shared and do less damage to the nerves of the teeth. The guard also decreases the muscle forces needed to slide our teeth side to side, therefor decreasing the spasm of the chewing and face muscles, and decreasing the stress on the jaw joint. Many patients try over- the- counter night guards, but although they are cheap, they are not effective. At Okun Orthodontics we make custom night guards. The cost of a custom night guard is significantly less than the cost to repair the damage done by those patients who grind their teeth without protection.

It pays to prevent the pain and avoid the tooth fractures that are caused by the "grind of Recession." As the expression goes "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

--Dr. Judith Okun

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Another Heartwarming Patient Letter

July 23, 2009

Everyone in Dr. Okun’s office is loving and caring. Dr. Okun has always explained to me what the problems were with my teeth, and what she needs to do to fix them. She even explains step-by-step what she is doing, so that I don’t need to be nervous. My mother says that even after 9 years of college and a Masters in nursing, she is still amazed by the amount of knowledge you need to understand what is happening with the braces, and that Dr. Okun has explained everything so clearly. I never have any pain, and I never cry when I am here. When I walk out of the office I always smile; a lot! Lots of people love my braces and the colors. When I smile people are happy. It makes me feel good when they smile back at me.

My Grandmother and Aunt tell me a lot about my teeth; they say that my teeth have improved ever since I came to Dr. Okun. I tell lots of people at my church, White Plains Deliverance Center, about Dr. Okun, and I give them her business card. So many people love my smile.

My mother and I gave Dr. Okun’s card to the principal at Yonker’s Christian Academy. She was told that her ten year old daughter was too young to get orthodontic services, but we told her that she should see Dr. Okun to get another opinion.

Thank you Dr. Okun.
Courtney Scott

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Thank you to the best orthodontist." A Patient Letter to Dr. Judith Okun

Take a look at this wonderful letter we recently received from one of our patients:

So far, since I have been at the office I have had the best experience with everyone around me. Everyone feels like family in your office. When I come in, it is so warm and calm that I never feel nervous. Every time that I go in to the chair I never feel any pain because everyone is so nice. My mother feels the same way. She says that this is the only orthodontist she feels comfortable seeing, even though we had seen three orthodontists before, and my sister had already started treatment with one of them.

I work two days a week for my pediatrician Dr. Sukra. Her daughter is very nervous and scared about coming to the dentist, even if it is just for a cleaning. Every time I see Dr. Sukura’s daughter I tell her more and more about my experience at Dr. Okun’s office. Now I think she is considering coming to see Dr. Okun for braces.

Ever since I have been seeing Dr. Okun, people in my church, White Plains Deliverance Center, have commented that my teeth have never looked so straight, clean and pretty. Now that I have been at Dr. Okun’s office I always want to smile. Before, I never wanted to.

Every time I come to Dr. Okun’s office I am never nervous because I know I am in good hands.

Thank you Dr. Okun.
Kaitlin Scott

Thank you Kaitlin!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Tip Of The Iceberg, By Dr. Judith Okun

"The tip of the iceberg" is a great expression. The small amount of ice that you can see above the water often does not indicate how much ice is hidden beneath the water. I’ve heard this expression used to represent many things. The ENT (Ears, nose and throat) doctor often describes tonsils this way: the amount of tonsil she can see in her patients throat is small compared to the amount present when she goes to remove it. I like to think of the "tip of the iceberg" as the crowns of your teeth- the part that you can see in your mouth. Under the gums, buried in bone. is a much larger part of each tooth, called the roots.

The rate of tooth movement, or "how fast teeth can move", is directly related to the size of the roots. Teeth with smaller roots move faster than teeth with larger roots, or teeth with multiple roots. This is because the bone that surrounds the teeth must remodel, or "move out of the way" so that the roots can move. The bigger the root, the more bone it must displace. Since it takes time for the bone to remodel, it takes time for the teeth to move. Understanding this is key to understanding how braces work!

So the next time you are wondering why the braces take so long to make your teeth straight, just remember that the teeth you see in your smile are just the tip of the iceberg!

--Dr. Judith Okun