Posts for: April, 2018

By Mazhar M. Butt, D.M.D.
April 25, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures

Magician Michael Grandinetti mystifies and astonishes audiences with his sleight of hand and mastery of illusion. But when he initially steps onto the stage, it’s his smile that grabs the attention. “The first thing… that an audience notices is your smile; it’s what really connects you as a person to them,” Michael told an interviewer.

He attributes his audience-pleasing smile to several years of orthodontic treatment as a teenager to straighten misaligned teeth, plus a lifetime of good oral care. “I’m so thankful that I did it,” he said about wearing orthodontic braces. “It was so beneficial. And… looking at the path I’ve chosen, it was life-changing.”

Orthodontics — the dental subspecialty focused on treating malocclusions (literally “bad bites”) — can indeed make life-changing improvements. Properly positioned teeth are integral to the aesthetics of any smile, and a smile that’s pleasing to look at boosts confidence and self-esteem and makes a terrific first impression. Studies have even linked having an attractive smile with greater professional success.

There can also be functional benefits such as improved biting/chewing and speech, and reduced strain on jaw muscles and joints. Additionally, well-aligned teeth are easier to clean and less likely to trap food particles that can lead to decay.

The Science Behind the Magic

There are more options than ever for correcting bites, but all capitalize on the fact that teeth are suspended in individual jawbone sockets by elastic periodontal ligaments that enable them to move. Orthodontic appliances (commonly called braces or clear aligners) place light, controlled forces on teeth in a calculated fashion to move them into their new desired alignment.

The “gold standard” in orthodontic treatment remains the orthodontic band for posterior (back) teeth and the bonded bracket for front teeth. Thin, flexible wires threaded through the brackets create the light forces needed for repositioning. Traditionally the brackets have been made of metal, but for those concerned about the aesthetics, they can also be made out of a clear material. Lingual braces, which are bonded to the back of teeth instead of the front, are another less visible option. The most discrete appliance is the removable clear aligner, which consists of a progression of custom-made clear trays that reposition teeth incrementally.

How’s that for a disappearing act?!

If you would like more information about orthodontic treatment please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about the subject by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Magic of Orthodontics.”

By Mazhar M. Butt, D.M.D.
April 23, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures

"Your child has a cavity" are words no parent wants to hear. Fortunately, sealants can help your son or daughter avoid tooth decay. Our sealantsCarbondale, IL, dentist, Dr. Mazhar Butt, shares a few benefits of sealants that will help you decide if they're the right option for your child.

Sealants protect pre-molars and molars

Pre-molars and molars, the teeth at the back of the mouth used for chewing, are particularly prone to cavities. These teeth contain tiny grooves and pits that make it easy to grind and shred food into a small, easily digestible mass.

Although brushing removes plaque from most tooth surfaces, toothbrush bristles can't reach pits and grooves. As a result, pre-molars and molars become susceptible to tooth decay. Adding a layer of plastic-based sealants to these teeth fills in the depressions and prevents plaque from damaging your child's teeth.

Newly erupted permanent teeth are fragile

Your child's molars and pre-molars are a little weak when they first break through the gums. Acids created from the combination of plaque and sugary foods can quickly eat through your child's fragile tooth enamel, creating cavities. Sealants protect weak teeth and help your child avoid cavities in his or her permanent teeth.

Sealants are inexpensive

Sealants are much less expensive than fillings and are usually covered by dental insurance for children. Adults can benefit from sealants too, although insurance probably won't cover them.

Sealants last a long time

Sealants protect your child from cavities for a few years. During your child's regular visits to our Carbondale office, we'll check the sealants to ensure that they're still intact. If they wear away, a problem that can occur if your child grinds or clenches his or teeth, we can reapply the sealants as needed.

Sealants protect your child's oral health

Tooth decay can increase the risk that your child may one day need a crown or root canal therapy. Sealants prevent decay from occurring and help your child avoid more extensive dental work.

Would you like protect your child's smile with sealants? Call our Carbondale, IL, dentist, Dr. Mazhar Butt, at (618) 457-2123 to schedule your son or daughter's appointment.

By Mazhar M. Butt, D.M.D.
April 15, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth decay  

The classic movie Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder, still brings back sweet memories of childhood to people everywhere. Recently, the news broke that a remake of the beloved 1971 film is in now development in Hollywood. But at a reunion of the original cast members a few years ago, child star Denise Nickerson revealed that her role as gum-chewing Violet Beauregard caused a problem: she ended up with 13 cavities as a result of having to chew gum constantly during the filming!

It should come as no surprise that indulging in sugary treats can lead to cavities: The sugar in your diet feeds harmful bacteria that can cause tooth decay and other dental problems. Yet lots of kids (not to mention the child inside many adults) still crave the satisfaction that gum, candy and other sweets can bring. Is there any way to enjoy sweet treats and minimize the consequences to your oral health?

First, let’s point out that there are lots of healthy alternatives to sugary snacks. Fresh vegetables, fruits and cheeses are delicious options that are far healthier for you and your kids. Presenting a variety of appealing choices—like colorful cut-up carrots, bite-sized cheese bits and luscious-looking fruits and berries can make it easier (and more fun) to eat healthy foods. And getting kids off the sugar habit is a great way to help them avoid many health problems in the future.

For those who enjoy chewing gum, sugarless gum is a good option. In fact, chewing sugarless gum increases the flow of healthful saliva in the mouth, which can help neutralize the bacteria-produced acids that cause cavities. Gums that have the ADA (American Dental Association) Seal of Acceptance have passed clinical tests for safety and effectiveness.

But if you do allow sugary snacks, there are still a few ways to minimize the potential damage. Restrict the consumption of sweets to around mealtimes, so the mouth isn’t constantly inundated with sugar. Drink plenty of water to encourage saliva flow, and avoid sugary and acidic beverages like soda (even diet soda) and “sports” or “energy” drinks. Brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and floss once a day. And don’t forget to visit our office regularly for routine checkups and cleanings. It’s the best way to get a “golden ticket” to good oral health.

If you would like more information about sugar, cavities and oral health, please call our office to arrange a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Nutrition & Oral Health” and “The Bitter Truth About Sugar.”