What’s New in the War on Cavities?

Researchers in a laboratoryDr. Kobak and the team at Syosset Dental are committed to delivering the best patient care and delivering the most up-to-date dental advice. Recently, we read about exciting emerging dental technology that could be available to patients in the next few years. Cavities could be wiped out completely if either of these products is approved.

How Do Cavities Form?

Tooth decay is the most common disease in the world, and the most widespread childhood disease in the United States. Dental caries, or cavities, are caused by a pesky bacterium called Streptococcus mutans. This cavity-causing critter lives on sugar and excretes lactic acid that erodes your enamel. Antimicrobial mouthwash destroys the bacteria, but it also kills many other kinds of bacteria that aren’t harmful. Broad-spectrum antibiotics can actually leave your body more vulnerable to infection, as well as creating drug-resistant strains that pose serious problems. Most mouthwashes on the market only protect you for 12 hours at most. Two different research teams have come up with different ways of potentially solving this problem.

Rinse Decay Away

Researchers at UCLA’s College of Dentistry recently concluded their first human trial of a new type of mouthwash. A specifically targeted anti-microbial peptide, or STAMP, finds and destroys S. mutans while leaving other, more beneficial bacteria to thrive. Volunteers were protected for four days after rinsing just once! Clinical trials are set to begin next March. This study marks the first use of STAMPs, and other STAMPs are being developed into a new generation of “smart” antibiotics.

Building Better Bacteria

A company called Oragenics tackled the problem from a different angle. They have created a genetically modified strain of S. mutans that doesn’t produce lactic acid. The new strain, called SMaRT, releases a compound that kills off the cavity-causing variety and allows SMaRT to take over. Oragenics hopes to eventually release a five-minute oral swab that can be applied at your dentist’s office to permanently protect you from cavities. Data from their clinical trial should be released by the end of the year.

Currently, fluoride is the only FDA-approved anti-cavity drug. Using fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash slows cavity formation, but can’t prevent it entirely. Either of these products could spell the end of S. mutans as we know it. Until they are approved, however, proper oral hygiene will keep decay at bay. Our DIAGNOdent laser helps us catch cavities before they become a big problem. Brush twice a day and use floss and mouthwash before bed. Rinse well with water after sugary or acidic foods and drinks. If you haven’t seen Dr. Kobak in the last six months, it’s time for your dental cleaning. Call Syosset Dental today at (516) 433-2211 to schedule your appointment.

Cosmetic Dentistry for a Brilliant Bridal Smile

Smiling brideA recent survey asked brides to list what they wished they had done differently for their wedding. Coming in at #2 was “I could’ve brightened my smile more.” Though it may not seem like you have time to see your dentist as you prepare for your wedding, you may be surprised at how easily Dr. Kobak can get you a smile worth treasuring.

Whiter, Brighter Smiles for You and Your Groom

Many brides would like to see their smile match their gown, but feel that whitening takes too long or is too messy. Some brides have tried over-the-counter whitening kits and were disappointed by lackluster results. Consumer whitening products can’t beat the power of the professionals. Dr. Kobak offers both at-home and in-office whitening, both of which fit easily into your busy schedule. If you choose our Zoom!® in-office procedure, it only takes 1 ½–2 hours to get the brighter smile you’ve been dreaming of. Our at-home whitening procedure takes just an hour a day for about a week, and you’ll be given gel and custom trays that let you touch up your smile whenever you wish.

Porcelain Veneers for Lasting Beauty

Whitening can’t fix stains caused by medications (tetracycline antibiotics and amoxicillin) or genetic factors. Crooked teeth and gaps can be glaringly obvious in high-quality wedding photos. For a more permanent solution to these problems, porcelain veneers are the answer. These wafer-thin custom ceramics are sometimes called “instant orthodontics” because they can correct the appearance of uneven or misaligned teeth in a single procedure. Veneers resist staining, so they’ll never need to be bleached. With proper care, your custom veneers will still be bright when you’re celebrating your 10-year anniversary.

Family Bonding

Plenty of grooms have chipped teeth from accidents in high school or college—football can be awfully rough on your smile. Composite dental bonding uses the same material as tooth-colored fillings to reshape chipped or serrated teeth, and can also fill in gaps between teeth. Dr. Kobak matches the bonding to the color of your teeth, so you may need to get them whitened before the procedure; once applied, bonding’s color cannot be changed.

Here at Syosset Dental, we want to give you and your groom beautiful smiles to start your new life together. Call our office today at 516-433-2211 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Kobak. Our Syosset office is convenient to New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, and the Long Island area.

Why Folk Wisdom Usually Isn’t So Wise

It seems like everyone around us, whether they’re a doctor or not, has health advice to give. We’re told to take huge doses of Vitamin C to prevent colds, cut all fat from our diets to get thin, and always brush our teeth right after meals. Do you know what all these have in common? They’re all wrong.

What’s So Bad About Brushing?

Brushing your teeth right after a meal actually does more harm than good. Once you’ve eaten sugars or starches, plaque-causing bacteria on your teeth start producing acid. Your saliva becomes acidic and your tooth enamel becomes soft and porous. It takes about an hour for your saliva to return to neutral and remineralize your teeth. Brushing while enamel is still weakened causes erosion and abrasion.

So Why do We Brush?

Toothbrush and toothpasteThe point of brushing your teeth isn’t to remove food, it’s to remove plaque. Rinsing with water and flossing are what removes food particles. You should brush before you eat breakfast, thereby preventing plaque from generating acid.   Brush about an hour before dinner; right when you get home from work is usually a good time. If you have coffee, soda, or tea close to bedtime, don’t – the caffeine will delay falling asleep, and the acid will soften your enamel just as saliva production begins to slow. Skip the caffeine and brush before bed. Remember to rinse your mouth with water after meals and acidic drinks.

Brushing also does more harm than good if it’s done too vigorously. You don’t need to apply much pressure to remove plaque, and you should be gently stimulating your gums as you go. Use a soft-bristled brush, and replace it every three to six months. You should brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time. The American Dental Hygienists’ Association provides an illustrated guide to proper brushing.

Flossing removes food particles and bacteria from between teeth. It’s actually more important to your oral health than brushing. There are different types of floss and flossers available, so find which one works best for you. It’s easy to find disposable picks, interdental water cleaners, spongy floss, and floss with rigid tips for getting between braces. This illustrated guide to flossing demonstrates proper technique.

Dr. Richard Kobak gives dental advice based on scientific evidence and new developments in dentistry. He also continues to further his education by staying up-to-date on dental news, technology, and best practices. The team at Syosset Dental is committed to delivering the best dental care and oral hygiene information available. Call our office today at 516-433-2211 to schedule your appointment.

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.


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.


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.