Posts for: December, 2013

By James E. Mikula D.D.S., P.C.
December 30, 2013
Category: Oral Health
TreatingThumbSuckingNowCouldReduceOrthodonticTreatmentLater

One of the most common parental concerns is the habit of many children, even late into childhood, to suck their thumbs or fingers. Many parents have asked us, “Could this affect their teeth?”

The answer, unfortunately, is yes — thumb sucking can contribute to a malocclusion (bad bite) that could eventually require orthodontic treatment. Before making any assumptions, however, we need to understand the bigger picture.

To begin with, infants have a different swallowing mechanism than adults and older children. When you as an adult swallow, you'll notice the tip of your tongue positions itself just above the back of the top front teeth. An infant, however, will thrust their tongue between their upper and lower jaw as they swallow (also known as an infantile swallowing pattern or primary tongue thrust). The infant normally begins changing to an adult swallowing pattern when their primary (baby) teeth begin to erupt.

However, if a child's swallowing transition is slower than normal and the tongue rests between the jaws for a longer duration, it can inhibit the full eruption of teeth, believed to be the main cause of an open bite (a gap between the upper and lower teeth when the jaws are shut). The thumb during sucking resting between the teeth can have the same effect.

Thumb sucking may not necessarily lead to a malocclusion — for example, an abnormally developing jawbone could be the culprit. If prolonged thumb sucking does become a concern, however, there are steps we can take to reduce the impact of the habit. We can install a thin metal “tongue crib” behind the upper and lower incisors that will not only discourage thumb sucking, but also help retrain the tongue not to rest between the upper and lower teeth. There are also exercise routines known as orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT) that can retrain specific muscles in the mouth to encourage more normal chewing and swallowing patterns.

These steps may not prevent future orthodontic treatment, but they could reduce its extent. The key is regular dental checkups and consultation to ensure your child's teeth and bite are developing normally.

If you would like more information on the effects of chronic thumb sucking on the mouth, 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 “How Thumb Sucking Affects the Bite.”


By James E. Mikula D.D.S., P.C.
December 27, 2013
Category: Oral Health
TheScareThatMadeIronChefCatCoraBelieveinMouthguards

Cat Cora, philanthropist, author, chef, restaurateur and the first female chef on the Food Network's hit series Iron Chef America is a dynamo driven by a desire to change people's lives for the better. And she is no different when it comes to tackling her most challenging role: caring for the needs of her four active young sons. This includes monitoring the food they eat, their oral hygiene habits and protecting their teeth from injuries.

During an interview with Dear Doctor magazine, Cat describes a backyard accident in which one of her boys, Zoran, was accidentally knocked in the mouth by another child while jumping on the family's trampoline. While her son was not seriously injured, it did cause her to take proactive steps to avoid future injuries. She had her dentist make a custom-fitted mouthguard to protect his newly erupted adult teeth. He now wears the mouthguard while on the trampoline and when playing soccer.

If you and/or your children routinely participate in contact sports — boxing, football, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, water polo, rugby and basketball, for example — or other forms of vigorous physical activity, you too should consider getting a professionally made mouthguard. A properly fitted mouthguard can help prevent injuries to the jaws, lips and teeth. And unlike those cumbersome “boil and bite” mouthguards you can purchase at a drugstore, the ones we make will stay in place, making it easier for you to breathe and talk.

If you are still not convinced, consider these facts: According to the American Dental Association, an athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a mouthguard. And the US Centers for Disease Control reports that sports-related dental injuries account for more than 600,000 visits to the emergency room each year. Furthermore, people who do not have a knocked out tooth properly reserved or replanted may face a lifetime cost of $10,000 to $20,000 per tooth, according to the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety.

To learn more about mouthguards, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Mouthguards.” Or if you are interested in obtaining a mouthguard for yourself and/or your child, contact us today to schedule an appointment. And to read the entire interview with Cat Cora, please see the article “Cat Cora.”


By James E. Mikula D.D.S., P.C.
December 12, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   blood pressure  
MonitoringBloodPressureisImportantforBothYourGeneralandOralHealth

It’s time for your semi-annual visit to our office. As we prepare for your examination and teeth cleaning, we may also take a moment to check your blood pressure.

No, you’re not in the wrong office. The fact is, blood pressure screenings in dental offices are becoming more prevalent. The reason is twofold: as one of your healthcare providers, we may be able to identify a problem with your blood pressure that has previously gone unnoticed; and hypertension (chronic high blood pressure) and any drugs you may be taking for it can affect your dental health and how we provide treatment.

Hypertension, the medical term for high blood pressure, is usually regarded as any sustained pressure greater than 125/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). It’s been identified as a major cause of cardiovascular disease, a family of heart-related diseases that affect an astounding 80 million people in the United States. Chronic hypertension has gained a reputation as “the silent killer” — many people are unaware they have it and if left untreated can lead to more serious conditions such as stroke or heart attack. It’s also a symptom of diabetes, even in the absence of other symptoms.

As part of your healthcare team, we’re in a good position to screen for hypertension and other general health problems. At the same time, hypertension is an important factor in dental care, especially if you are on regulating medication. Many anti-hypertensive drugs have side effects, such as dry mouth, that can affect your oral health. Your pressure status and medications may also affect the types and dosages of local anesthetics we would use during procedures; many of these constrict blood vessels (known as vasoconstrictors), which can elevate blood pressure.

A simple blood pressure check could reveal a health problem you didn’t even know about. It also helps us provide you with better and safer dental care.

If you would like more information on the effects of high blood pressure on your dental health, 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 “Monitoring Blood Pressure.”




 



15875 Middlebelt Rd., Suite 100
Livonia, MI 48154
(734) 427-9871

[email protected]

 

Archive: