Posts for: October, 2017

By Mazhar M. Butt, D.M.D.
October 24, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: thumb sucking  
MonitoringYourChildsThumbSuckingCouldHelpAvoidFutureBiteProblems

Although distressing to many parents, infants and toddlers sucking their thumb is a common if not universal habit. Most children phase out of it by around age 4, usually with no ill effects. But thumb-sucking continuing into late childhood could prove problematic for a child’s bite.

Thumb sucking is related to how young children swallow. All babies are born with what is called an infantile swallowing pattern, in which they thrust their tongues forward while swallowing to ensure their lips seal around a breast or bottle nipple when they nurse. Thumb-sucking mimics this action, which most experts believe serves as a source of comfort when they’re not nursing.

Around 3 or 4, their swallowing transitions to a permanent adult swallowing pattern: the tip of the tongue now positions itself against the back of the top front teeth (you can notice it yourself when you swallow). This is also when thumb sucking normally fades.

If a child, however, has problems transitioning to an adult pattern, they may continue to thrust their tongue forward and/or prolong their thumb-sucking habit. Either can put undue pressure on the front teeth causing them to move and develop too far forward. This can create what’s known as an open bite: a slight gap still remains between the upper and lower teeth when the jaws are shut rather than the normal overlapping of the upper teeth over the lower.

While we can orthodontically treat an open bite, we can minimize the extent of any treatments if we detect the problem early and intervene with therapies to correct an abnormal swallowing pattern or prolonged thumb sucking. For the former we can assist a child in performing certain exercises that help retrain oral and facial muscles to encourage a proper swallowing pattern. This may also help diminish thumb sucking, but we may in addition need to use positive reinforcement techniques to further discourage the habit.

To stay ahead of possible problems with thumb sucking or the swallowing pattern you should begin regularly taking them to the dentist around their first birthday. It’s also a good idea to have an orthodontic evaluation around age 6 for any emerging bite problems. Taking these positive steps could help you avoid undue concern over this common habit.

If you would like more information on managing your child’s thumb-sucking habit, 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 Mazhar M. Butt, D.M.D.
October 09, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: bad breath  
BadBreathinChildren

Even the sweetest children don’t always have sweet-smelling breath. If your child has persistent bad breath, it may be for one of the following reasons:

POOR ORAL HYGIENE HABITS. Bad breath often results from bacteria on the teeth and tongue that is not effectively removed during brushing and flossing.

  • Tip: To encourage thorough cleaning as children are developing their oral hygiene habits, try handheld flossers that are colorful and easy to use, sing or play music to make brushing time fun, or try an electric toothbrush with a timer or a tooth-brushing app that keeps kids brushing for a full two minutes.

PLAQUE BUILDUP, TOOTH DECAY AND GUM DISEASE: Plaque, a sticky bacterial biofilm, can build up on tooth surfaces, between the teeth and under the gum line and can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. These conditions may result in bad breath.

  • Tip: Stay on top of your child’s oral hygiene at home, and keep up with regular dental visits for professional cleanings and checkups.

POST-NASAL DRIP: This common cause of foul-smelling breath in children results when excessive mucus is produced and drips down the back of the throat.

  • Tip: Schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician to determine and treat the cause.

MOUTH BREATHING. Breathing through the mouth instead of the nose can cause a dry mouth. This can lead to increased oral bacteria, which can cause bad breath. If children breathe through the mouth all the time, not just because of a temporary cold or allergies, your child is at greater risk for tooth decay and gum disease.

  • Tip: If your child is a chronic mouth breather, schedule a dental visit so we can check for any adverse effects on dental health. Note that over time, habitual mouth breathing may lead to poor alignment of the teeth. An ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist can treat problems with tonsils, adenoids and sinuses — common causes of mouth breathing.

FOREIGN OBJECT IN THE NOSE. It wouldn’t be the first time a child has stuck a pea or other small object up their nose â?? or their sibling’s nose — only to find that it won’t come back out. A foreign body in the nasal passage can cause infection and lead to bad breath.

  • Tip: Don’t try to remove the object at home, as part of it may remain in the nasal passage. A medical professional will have the right equipment to dislodge the object more comfortably.

MEDICATION. Children who take antibiotics for a long time may develop a fungal infection (thrush) in the mouth. Other medications can cause bad breath due to the way they break down in the body.

  • Tip: Call your pharmacist if you have a question about medications and bad breath.

MEDICAL CONDITION. Infections of the throat, sinus or tonsils can cause bad breath, as can more serious health conditions.

  • Tip: If your child’s breath is unpleasant for an extended period of time, get it checked out by a health professional.

If you are concerned about your child’s breath, schedule a visit. We are happy to remind your child of proper brushing techniques and check for other problems that need to be addressed.

For more on young children’s oral health, read “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health” and “Why See a Pediatric Dentist?


By Mazhar M. Butt, D.M.D.
October 02, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

A dental crown offers the ideal solution when a damaged tooth affects your smile. Our Carbondale, IL, dentist, Dr. Mazhar Butt, discusses dental crownsthe advantages of dental crowns.

How can a crown help me?

Crowns offer two important benefits. They protect damaged or fragile teeth from fracturing and restore teeth that have already fractured. Hollow crowns slip over teeth and are constructed of porcelain or porcelain fused to metal. Both of these materials look like tooth enamel and are strong enough to endure years of biting and chewing.g

How do crowns protect damaged teeth?

As tough as teeth are, they aren't indestructible. They can break, chip or crack if you experience a blow to the face, use your teeth as a tool to open a bottle, or bite into a hard nut. Teeth can become more brittle and subject to cracking or breaking as you age. Brittle teeth also tend to run in some families.

Dental procedures used to restore teeth, such as root canal therapy and large fillings, can also weaken them and make them more susceptible to damage. Topping a damaged tooth with a crown offers these benefits:

  • Restoration: After you receive a crown, you can once again use the tooth to chew.
  • Appearance: Crowns cover cracks, chips, discolorations and the exposed sections of broken teeth. You'll feel like smiling again when you see how much better your tooth looks with the addition of a crown.
  • No Further Damage: Even the tiniest crack can increase the chance that your tooth will break under pressure eventually. Crowns absorb strong forces generated by chewing, protecting your teeth.
  • Lower Cavity Risk: Cracks and chips in teeth create convenient pathways for bacteria to enter your teeth. Crowns seal and protect teeth.

What happens when I receive a crown?

Before you receive your crown, all sides of your tooth must be filed down. Reducing the size of the tooth ensures a comfortable fit for your crown. After your tooth is reduced in our Carbondale office, we'll make an impression of your mouth, which will be used to create your crown in a dental laboratory. Crowns usually require two dental appointments spaced about two weeks apart. The first appointment involves sizing the tooth, making an impression and covering the tooth with a temporary crown. During the second appointment, you'll receive your permanent crown.

Do you have a damaged tooth? Call our Carbondale, IL, dentist, Dr. Butt, at (618) 457-2123 to schedule an appointment to discuss dental crowns.


By Mazhar M. Butt, D.M.D.
October 01, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease   plaque  
TheSecrettoPreventingGumDisease-ControlBacterialPlaque

Here’s a sobering statistic: you have a 50/50 chance over your lifetime for developing periodontal (gum) disease. And it’s much more serious than irritated gums: if not treated aggressively you could experience bone loss, which can not only lead to tooth loss but actually increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Initially, you may not notice any symptoms unless you know what to look for: mainly red and puffy gums that frequently bleed during brushing and flossing. As the infection advances into the underlying support structures that hold teeth in place you may also notice receding gums (moving away from your teeth causing them to look longer), pus around the gums or lingering bad breath or taste. And one or more loose teeth are a definite sign the supporting structures have weakened severely.

So, how does gum disease happen? It starts with bacteria. Your mouth contains millions of these and other microorganisms, most of which are friendly and even beneficial. Unfortunately, a fraction of them can infect and harm tissues like the gums and underlying bone. Your mouth’s defenses can normally handle them if their numbers remain low. But a bacterial population explosion can quickly overwhelm those defenses.

Bacteria are like any other life form: they need a secure environment and food. Disease-causing bacteria establish the former by utilizing proteins and other components of saliva to form a sticky biofilm on teeth known as plaque. Within the safe haven of dental plaque bacteria quickly multiply and form a complex and concentrated ecosystem feeding on remnant food particles, especially sugar and other carbohydrates.

The key to gum disease prevention (as well as treatment) is to deprive bacteria of their home and food source by removing plaque and its more hardened form calculus (tartar). You can manage plaque buildup by brushing and flossing daily, seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings to remove any remaining hard-to-reach plaque and calculus, and eating a nutritious diet with fewer sweets or other carbohydrate-rich snacks.

You can further lower your disease risk by avoiding smoking and other tobacco products and moderating your consumption of alcohol. And be sure to see your dentist as soon as possible if you notice any signs of infection with your gums. Taking these steps can help you avoid gum disease’s destructiveness and help preserve a healthy and attractive smile.

If you would like more information on gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.