Posts for: January, 2017

By Mazhar M. Butt, D.M.D.
January 18, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: orthodontics   retainers  
ARetainerHelpsYouKeepYourNewSmileAfterBraces

Moving your teeth to a more functional and attractive alignment is a big undertaking. You can invest months — even years — and a lot of expense to correct a bad bite. But all that effort could be for nothing if your teeth return to their original positions.

The very aspect of dental physiology that makes orthodontics possible can work against you in reverse. Your teeth are not actually rigidly fixed in the bone: they're held in place by an elastic gum tissue known as the periodontal ligament. The ligament lies between the tooth and the bone and attaches to both with tiny fibers.

While this mechanism holds the teeth firmly in place, it also allows the teeth to move in response to changes in the mouth. As we age, for example, and the teeth wear, the ligament allows movement of the teeth to accommodate for the loss of tooth surface that might have been created by the wear.

When we employ braces we're changing the mouth environment by applying pressure to the teeth in a certain direction. The teeth move in response to this pressure. But when the pressure is no longer there after removing the braces or other orthodontic devices, the ligament mechanism may then respond with a kind of “muscle memory” to pull the teeth back to where they were before.

To prevent this, we need to help the teeth maintain their new position, at least until they've become firmly set. We do this with an oral appliance known as a retainer. Just as its name implies it helps the teeth “retain” their new position.

We require most patients to initially wear their retainer around the clock. After a while we can scale back to just a few hours a day, usually at nighttime. Younger patients may only need to wear a retainer for eighteen months or so. Adults, though, may need to wear one for much longer or in some cases permanently to maintain their new bite.

Although having to wear a retainer can be tedious at times, it's a crucial part of your orthodontic treatment. By wearing one you'll have a better chance of permanently keeping your new smile.

If you would like more information on caring for your teeth after braces, 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 “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers.”


Fillings offer an important way to protect your oral health, but they're not the only important dental treatment. Dr. Mazhar Butt, your dental restorationsCarbondale, IL dentist, shares information on several dental services that can improve the health or appearance of your teeth, including teeth whitening, crowns and veneers.

Procedures that repair and restore teeth

Repairing and restoring damaged or decayed teeth is a crucial aspect of protecting your smile. Your Carbondale dentist uses these dental procedures to improve the appearance and function of teeth.

  • Fillings: Fillings are one of the most common dental procedures and one of the most important. After the decayed part of your tooth is removed, a filling restores and seals the tooth. Tooth-colored composite resin fillings are commonly used to fill teeth.
  • Bonding: Bonding offers an effective, inexpensive way to repair chips and cracks, and can also lengthen teeth that have been worn down by grinding. The putty-like composite resin is applied to your teeth and then hardened with a curing light.
  • Crowns: Crowns stabilize and protect fragile, damaged or broken teeth. These hollow restorations slip over teeth and are often used if you have a cracked or fractured tooth, or if a root canal procedure has been performed. Crowns are also an integral part of bridges that replace missing teeth.

Procedures that improve the appearance of your smile

Some of the same procedures that are used to restore teeth can also improve their appearance, such as:

  • Bonding: Bonding is used to close gaps between teeth, cover discolorations or change the shape of teeth.
  • Crowns: In addition to protecting your teeth, crowns can also be used to lengthen or short teeth, and cover imperfections, discolorations and oddly shaped teeth.
  • Teeth Whitening: Professional teeth whitening can lighten your teeth by an average of three to eight shades in just one office visit. If you prefer to whiten at home, take-home kits are available.
  • Veneers: Thin veneers cover the front surfaces of teeth only. They're a good choice if you want to hide chips, pits, discolorations or other imperfections, such as slightly gapped teeth.

Could you benefit from one of these dental procedures? Call Dr. Mazhar Butt, your Carbondale, IL dentist at (618) 457-2123 to find out which one is right for you.


By Mazhar M. Butt, D.M.D.
January 03, 2017
Category: Oral Health
ExpertAdviceVivicaAFoxonKissingandOralhealth

Is having good oral hygiene important to kissing? Who's better to answer that question than Vivica A. Fox? Among her other achievements, the versatile actress won the “Best Kiss” honor at the MTV Movie Awards, for a memorable scene with Will Smith in the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day. When Dear Doctor magazine asked her, Ms. Fox said that proper oral hygiene was indeed essential. Actually, she said:

"Ooooh, yes, yes, yes, Honey, 'cause Baby, if you kiss somebody with a dragon mouth, my God, it's the worst experience ever as an actor to try to act like you enjoy it!"

And even if you're not on stage, it's no fun to kiss someone whose oral hygiene isn't what it should be. So what's the best way to step up your game? Here's how Vivica does it:

“I visit my dentist every three months and get my teeth cleaned, I floss, I brush, I just spent two hundred bucks on an electronic toothbrush — I'm into dental hygiene for sure.”

Well, we might add that you don't need to spend tons of money on a toothbrush — after all, it's not the brush that keeps your mouth healthy, but the hand that holds it. And not everyone needs to come in as often every three months. But her tips are generally right on.

For proper at-home oral care, nothing beats brushing twice a day for two minutes each time, and flossing once a day. Brushing removes the sticky, bacteria-laden plaque that clings to your teeth and causes tooth decay and gum disease — not to mention malodorous breath. Don't forget to brush your tongue as well — it can also harbor those bad-breath bacteria.

While brushing is effective, it can't reach the tiny spaces in between teeth and under gums where plaque bacteria can hide. But floss can: That's what makes it so important to getting your mouth really clean.

Finally, regular professional checkups and cleanings are an essential part of good oral hygiene. Why? Because even the most dutiful brushing and flossing can't remove the hardened coating called tartar that eventually forms on tooth surfaces. Only a trained health care provider with the right dental tools can! And when you come in for a routine office visit, you'll also get a thorough checkup that can detect tooth decay, gum disease, and other threats to your oral health.

Bad breath isn't just a turn-off for kissing — It can indicate a possible problem in your mouth. So listen to what award-winning kisser Vivica Fox says: Paying attention to your oral hygiene can really pay off! For more information, contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can read the entire interview with Vivica A. Fox in Dear Doctor's latest issue.