Great American Smokeout Nov. 17th…Can You Handle It?

Woman breaking cigaretteNovember 17th is the Great American Smokeout, an annual event to help smokers quit and raise awareness of health issues caused by smoking, The American Cancer Society has tools on their website to help you quit, including a smoking cost calculator and desktop widgets. They also sponsor rallies, luncheons, and other functions, and have helped pass anti-smoking legislation to help prevent deaths from secondhand smoke. Most of us are aware that smoking poses serious hazards to our lungs – but it’s also hard on your teeth. Some of the dental woes caused by using tobacco – even smokeless varieties – include:

Dry Mouth: Also called xerostomia, dry mouth makes bad breath worse and leaves your mouth more prone to infection and cavities, since saliva helps remineralize teeth. It also slows healing time after surgery, extractions, and implants.

Slower Healing: The heat from smoking dries out your mouth and irritates your soft tissues. The chemicals in tobacco smoke impair your body’s healing processes on a cellular level. Nicotine constricts blood vessels and impairs the production of red and white blood cells. Hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide inhibit oxygen transport and increase platelets’ stickiness, making them more prone to creating interior plaques and clots.

Gum Disease: Smokers are more prone to periodontal disease. Left untreated, periodontitis leads to loss of bone mass and, eventually, teeth. Swollen, red, tender gums that bleed during brushing or flossing are an indicator of gum disease. Periodontitis has been linked to increased risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, pregnancy complications, and cancer. 80% of Americans have periodontal disease, and many may not know it until irreversible damage has already occurred.

Cancer: Oral cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of the disease, and it affects about 37,000 Americans each year. Using tobacco and alcohol are the main preventable risk factors. Early detection is essential for a good prognosis – if detected in stage I, 90% of patients will still be alive in five years. Unfortunately, about two-thirds of cases are caught in stages II or III, where survival becomes more uncertain. Screening for oral cancer takes as little as five minutes.

Talk to Dr. Kobak about quitting today. Be honest – about 22% of smokers admit they lie to their dentist about lighting up. Call our Syosset office today at 516-433-2211 to schedule your oral cancer screening during your next appointment.

Mo-vember, the Mustachio Mania Month for Men’s Health

Have you heard of Movember – the mustache-growing charity event that happens during this month every year? Movember is designed to raise funds for, and awareness of, prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. Participants pledge to grow a mustache for the whole month and to educate those around them on prostate cancer and good health practices. These mustachioed males have raised millions of dollars for cancer research and hope to keep going strong in 2011. Can’t join them in hirsute harmony? Take the time to educate yourself about what you can do to have better health practices. Eat healthy, exercise, drinks lots of water, and take care of your teeth. Good oral health is essential to good overall health, and dental problems can lead to problems elsewhere.

Battle of the Sexes: Men’s vs. Women’s Oral Health

Men tend to have poorer oral health than women; they are less likely to brush their teeth and more likely to have periodontal disease. Periodontitis increases your risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke. It can also complicate health conditions like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Periodontal disease causes progressive bone loss; if it is not treated, damage to teeth and jaws become irreversible. Swollen, tender, or bleeding gums are a sign of gingivitis, the earliest stage of the disease. If caught early, gingivitis is treatable. (more…)

Do You Know These Diabetics?

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

A glucometer measures blood sugar.

Diabetes is a serious condition in which the body does not produce insulin, and insulin breaks down sugar. The disease comes in many forms. Type 1 is usually diagnosed during childhood. Type 2 is often diagnosed later in life and is the result of the body not producing enough insulin or cells just ignore insulin. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy.

More people have diabetes than you might think. Do you know these diabetics?

  • Halle Barry (Actress)
  • James Brown (Singer)
  • Johnny Cash (Singer)
  • Carol Channing (Actress)
  • Dick Clark (American Bandstand)
  • Ty Cobb (Detroit Tigers)
  • Syd Barret (Pink Floyd)
  • Aretha Franklin (Singer)
  • Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead)
  • Joe Gibbs (Washington Redskins)
  • Jackie Gleason (Actor)
  • Ernest Hemingway (Author)
  • Ray Krock (Founded McDonalds)
  • Ann Rice (Author)
  • Carroll O’Connor (Actor)
  • Mary Tyler Moore (Actress)
  • Elizabeth Taylor (Actress)
  • Anwar Sadat (Prince of Egypt)
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber (Composer)
  • HG Wells (Author)

And many, many more across all age groups, ethnicities, professions, and locales. Research suggests that 8.3% of the US population suffers from some form of diabetes. While nearly 19 million people know they have diabetes, another 7 million are undiagnosed, and 79 million have pre-diabetes. (more…)

Celebrity Dental Work Gone Wrong

You may consider having cosmetic treatments on your teeth to get a perfect smile. However, if not done properly, some dental work can make your teeth look worse. Some of your favorite stars have had smile makeovers gone badly.

Hilary Duff: She often chipped her weak teeth on microphones, so the singer/actress decided to invest in a set of veneers. However, the first cosmetic treatment didn’t turn out as hoped. Her small facial features were not proportionate with her new veneers, so her teeth looked too big and too long. Her veneers were oversized and over-white, so they looked too unnatural. A few years later, she returned to her cosmetic dentist for a redo. Her teeth are now shorter, straighter, and look natural.

Regis Philbin: His teeth are straight, but unnaturally white. Dentists have agreed that his over-white smile is the result of veneers, not bleaching. The veneers may help in straightening his smile, but Philbin’s teeth jump out and are too blinding.

Lil’ Wayne: The rapper has admitted that he had a candy addiction as a child, so he covered his badly decayed teeth with a “grill.” He spent $150,000 to crown his teeth with gold and diamonds. However, the decay started to form under his grill and rotted his teeth. In 2010, his prison sentence was delayed because he underwent an eight-hour dental surgery, which included eight root canals and tooth implants.

Robert Pattinson: Twilight producers wanted to fix his teeth before his vampire role. The actor explained in an interview that they “shaved little gaps” on his teeth to begin fixing his smile. The actor refused to wear an Invisalign brace and his teeth were stuck like that. However, in recent years, the gaps between his teeth have decayed. Pattinson says he regrets letting the producers get ahold of his mouth, because it’s caused him so many problems.

Dr. Kobak has a lot of experience with cosmetic dental procedures to give you a beautiful smile. To create your superstar smile, contact Syosset Dental office in Syosset, NY at 516-433-2211.

Smile Makeover: Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise is a great actor with a great smile, but he’s had some major dental work to get his straight teeth. Dentists and orthodontics have made his smile makeover a mission possible.

As a young star, his teeth looked terrible. They were misaligned, with almost each tooth going a different direction. Some of his teeth were overlapping, and his enlarged front tooth was twisted.

During a trip to the orthodontist with one of his children, the star discovered that his jaw and teeth were out of alignment. At age 39, he decided to undergo orthodontic treatment to correct his bite. He wore clear braces, with only the connecting wire visible, and was able to remove them for movie roles. The braces were able to move his teeth into an even position, but he still has a small “fang” look from elongated top incisors. Once his teeth were straight, they were easier to take care of, and Tom enhanced his smile with whitening.

(more…)

What’s Causing Your Headache?

Constant headaches are painful, uncomfortable, and could be the result of a serious problem. If you have continuous head or jaw pain, you could have temporomandibular disorder, or TMJ.

What is TMJ?

Your temporomandibular joints connect your jaw to your skull’s temporal bone. These joints allow your mouth and jaw to move. When the TMJ joints become misaligned, it could cause pain, popping, or clicking in your jaw. TMJ is caused by a tightening of your muscles, creating headaches, jaw soreness, and neck pain.

(more…)

Stay Positive, Prevent Gum Disease

Life events affect your oral health. Emotional factors like trauma, stress, and illness can cause you to neglect your dental health habits and increase your risk of gum disease.

When the plaque on your teeth builds up, it can start to form under your gumline. The bacteria irritates your tissues and causes inflammation and infection in your gums and jawbones. Untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss or bone loss.

Studies have shown that the severity of gum disease increases with the amount of negative life events. Stress, anxiety, loneliness, and depression may cause you to change your daily habits. You may be too focused on other things to remember to brush and floss daily. You might also change your eating habits and consume anything that sounds good, healthy or not. In addition, some people may increase their use of alcohol, nicotine, or drugs to help clear their mind. These behaviors are worsening the condition of your teeth and gums.

Stress also increases the amount of cortisol in your bloodstream. This hormone influences your blood pressure, weight, and mood. Increased levels of cortisol can also cause more gum destruction.

If you’re stressed or suffering from a negative life event, try to relieve your stress through exercise. It’s also important to keep a balanced diet and get plenty of rest.

Dr. Kobak can catch and treat your gum disease at its earliest stages. During your appointment with Syosset Dental, make sure to tell us about any life-changing events or behaviors that may sacrifice your dental care. Contact our dental office in Syosset, NY at 516-433-2211 to schedule an appointment.

Don’t Let the Flu Catch You

It’s that time of year again – flu season! You don’t want the sniffles, coughs, or aches that come with the virus. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that about five to 20 percent of the population gets the flu, but more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from complications. Try these tips to prevent getting sick.

Wash Your Hands

The CDC says that about 80 percent of infectious diseases are spread by touch and physical contact. Flu germs can live on surfaces for hours, so if a sick person touches a doorknob or table, the object becomes infected. Other people come along and touch the same item, and then unknowingly touch their eyes, nose, or mouth, and they become sick, as well.

Washing your hands often and thoroughly can prevent contamination and spreading. Use warm water and soap to scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. If a sink is not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will help disinfect the germs on your hands.

Cover Your Face

Flu germs are also spread through the air from coughing and sneezing. The infected germs get into the air and can be inhaled by other people. To prevent spreading the virus, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. It’s important to put your used tissues in a trash can, not on the floor or table. If a tissue is left out, it can contaminate the surface.

If you’re healthy, try to keep a distance from people who are sick.

Protect Your Body

When you’re sick, you probably feel like lying in bed all day. It’s good to make sure your body is fully rested, but also try to stay active to keep your immune system strong. Stay home as much as possible while you’re sick to avoid infecting others. Maintain a balanced diet to keep your body and mouth healthy. You should also drink plenty of water. Try to eliminate stress and keep your body relaxed so you can recover as quickly as possible. Also, don’t forget to keep practicing good oral hygiene behaviors to keep your teeth healthy. Keep brushing and flossing daily to get the harmful germs out of your mouth.

Don’t Share

Bacteria can easily be spread by sharing dishes, toothbrushes, and towels with other people. Sharing things that go in your mouth is never a good thing for oral health, but especially if you’re sick, so make sure the items you use won’t be picked up by someone else. Try using paper products, such as paper towels, to dispose of after you’re done. In addition, to protect your own future health, replace your toothbrush and towel after you’ve been ill to avoid being re-infected with the virus.

If you’ve had a cold or flu, please call Dr. Kobak at least 24 hours in advance to reschedule your appointment. The flu germs can live in your mouth for 24 hours before you start showing symptoms, and 24 hours after symptoms stop. After you’re fully recovered, you should schedule an appointment with Syosset Dental in Syosset, NY to make sure no infections are living in your mouth.

Stop Purging, Protect Your Teeth

Eating disorders are bad for your body, but they’re also bad for your teeth. Your peers and parents may not know if you have bulimia, a disorder in which a person purges after eating, but your dentist can tell.

For bulimics, binge eaters will make themselves vomit in the hopes of losing weight. If this is done often enough, acids will start to wear away your tooth enamel.

Vomiting brings up stomach acids through the mouth. When the acids touch your teeth, tooth enamel erodes. The destruction is mostly seen on the inside of the upper front teeth. When the enamel erodes, your teeth become weaker and thinner, and they are more susceptible to decay and sensitivity.

Bulimics are not the only ones who may suffer tooth damage. Pregnant women with excessive morning sickness can experience the same effects from vomiting. Enamel erosion can also occur if your diet includes too many acidic foods and beverages. The acid wears your teeth.

Excessive vomiting also causes other oral problems, like dehydration and dry mouth. Purging causes your body to lose water, and having a dry mouth increases your risk for cavities and gum disease.

If you purge often, rinse your mouth out afterwards. Also, make sure you are keeping up with good oral hygiene, to lessen the risk of serious tooth damage. Dr. Richard Kobak can make sure your teeth are healthy and recommend services to save your tooth enamel. Contact Syosset Dental in Syosset, NY at 516-433-2211 to set up an appointment.

DIAGNOdent Laser Technology Detects Cavities Early

It’s important to catch cavities at an early stage to reduce the amount of pain and dental work required later. Dr. Richard Kobak, a cosmetic and restorative dentist in Long Island, NY, uses the DIAGNOdent laser treatment to find tooth decay in its earliest stages.

What is DIAGNOdent?

The DIAGNOdent laser is used to inspect the surface of your teeth with great precision. First, Dr. Kobak will take benchmark reading from one of your healthiest teeth. He’ll then move the light from tooth to tooth to get a value between one and 100. If the laser finds a surface that reads differently than the healthy standard value, it will show the value on a screen. The level of enamel density corresponds to a number, so a higher number indicates softer tissue, which indicates demineralization (pre-decay) or a cavity. A beep occurs when the wand finds a potential problem area.

In addition to the classic system, the DIAGNOdent is also available as a mobile pen to detect a precise location.

How does the DIAGNOdent help me?

The tool can identify the smallest amount demineralization or of tooth decay. Found early, treatments will be simpler and minimally invasive. Fillings will be shallower, which means more of the tooth is preserved. Solving the problem and re-mineralizing the tooth at the start will also prevent the decay from spreading to other teeth, and eliminate the need for more serious restorative dental work like crowns, root canals, or extractions.

The DIAGNOdent is also accurate. Many cavities cannot be detected early enough on an x-ray. Dr. Kobak also won’t have to poke around your mouth at suspected areas. He will have an exact reading of the warning spots. Decay can also hide in grooves and gaps that are hard to examine. The laser device can detect those areas.

Using the DIAGNOdent system, we can examine your teeth accurately and thus offer very  conservative dentistry. Contact Syosset Dental office in Syosset, NY, at 516-433-2211 to schedule your appointment and DIAGNOdent screening.