My Blog

Posts for: April, 2018

By Kathleen M. Geipe, DDS, PA
April 23, 2018
Category: Oral Health

It's no secret that many of Hollywood's brightest stars didn't start out with perfectly aligned, pearly-white teeth. And these days, plenty of celebs are willing to share their stories, showing how dentists help those megawatt smiles shine. In a recent interview with W magazine, Emma Stone, the stunning 28-year-old star of critically-acclaimed films like La La Land and Birdman, explained how orthodontic appliances helped her overcome problems caused by a harmful habit: persistent thumb sucking in childhood.

“I sucked my thumb until I was 11 years old,” she admitted, mischievously adding “It's still so soothing to do it.” Although it may have been comforting, the habit spelled trouble for her bite. “The roof of my mouth is so high-pitched that I had this huge overbite,” she said. “I got this gate when I was in second grade… I had braces, and then they put a gate.”

While her technical terminology isn't quite accurate, Stone is referring to a type of appliance worn in the mouth which dentists call a “tongue crib” or “thumb/finger appliance.” The purpose of these devices is to stop children from engaging in “parafunctional habits” — that is, behaviors like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, which are unrelated to the normal function of the mouth and can cause serious bite problems. (Other parafunctional habits include nail biting, pencil chewing and teeth grinding.)

When kids develop the habit of regularly pushing the tongue against the front teeth (tongue thrusting) or sucking on an object placed inside the mouth (thumb sucking), the behavior can cause the front teeth to be pushed out of alignment. When the top teeth move forward, the condition is commonly referred to as an overbite. In some cases a more serious situation called an “open bite” may develop, which can be difficult to correct. Here, the top and bottom front teeth do not meet or overlap when the mouth is closed; instead, a vertical gap is left in between.

Orthodontic appliances are often recommended to stop harmful oral habits from causing further misalignment. Most appliances are designed with a block (or gate) that prevents the tongue or finger from pushing on the teeth; this is what the actress mentioned. Normally, when the appliance is worn for a period of months it can be expected to modify the child's behavior. Once the habit has been broken, other appliances like traditional braces or clear aligners can be used to bring the teeth into better alignment.

But in Stone's case, things didn't go so smoothly. “I'd take the gate down and suck my thumb underneath the mouth appliance,” she admitted, “because I was totally ignoring the rule to not suck your thumb while you're trying to straighten out your teeth.” That rule-breaking ended up costing the aspiring star lots of time: she spent a total of 7 years wearing braces.

Fortunately, things worked out for the best for Emma Stone: She now has a brilliant smile and a stellar career — plus a shiny new Golden Globe award! Does your child have a thumb sucking problem or another harmful oral habit? For more information about how to correct it, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “How Thumb Sucking Affects the Bite.”

By Kathleen M. Geipe, DDS, PA
April 13, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: gum disease  

One of the most important revolutions in healthcare in recent decades is the increasing use of lasers. Now, laser technology is making a showing in dental care for the treatment of periodontal (gum) disease.

Lasers (an acronym for "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation") narrowly focus and amplify light within a small area. First developed in the early 1960s, laser technology rapidly advanced in the ensuing decades with more compact and precise devices that were eventually safe and effective for many types of medical procedures. Its remarkable features are now available for the primary focus of gum disease treatment—removing bacterial plaque.

Plaque is a thin, built-up film of bacteria and food particles on tooth and gum surfaces that serves as a haven for the bacteria that cause gum disease. The continuing presence of plaque and calculus (tartar) enables the infection to thrive and advance within the gum tissues, ultimately damaging them along with supporting bone. As the tissues weaken and bone volume diminishes, the teeth are at greater risk for loss.

It's necessary, therefore, first and foremost to remove all detectable plaque and calculus to stop the infection. This is traditionally done with special hand tools called scalers used to manually remove plaque, or with ultrasonic equipment that vibrates plaque loose to be flushed away with water. These procedures can take numerous sessions and may result in some minor post-procedural discomfort and bleeding during the cleaning.

But lasers specifically designed for plaque removal can minimize tissue damage and resulting discomfort. Because the particular laser light used reacts only with plaque and diseased tissue, it can remove them without disturbing nearby healthy tissue usually more efficiently than traditional scaling. Dentists who've used the technology frequently report less bleeding and higher patient satisfaction.

But before lasers for gum disease treatment are widely adopted, the procedure must undergo further scrutiny. Reports from dentists notwithstanding, not enough research studies have been performed to date that meet the necessary scientific criteria. But if the evidence so far from the field holds up, it's quite possible lasers will one day become a regular part of dental practice for treating gum disease.

If you would like more information on treating gum disease, 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 “Lasers Versus Traditional Cleanings for Treating Gum Disease.”

April 05, 2018
Category: Dental Procedures

Establishing good oral hygiene habits with your child early on in life can set the tone for their oral health into their adult years. However, sealantseven children with strong at-home oral care routines can get a cavity or two. You can add an additional layer of protection against teeth decay to your child’s teeth with sealants, a fast and effective dental procedure. Find out more about sealants and if they can help your child with Dr. Kathleen Geipe in Salisbury, MD.

What are sealants? 
Sealants are a super-thin coating of plastic placed onto the biting surface of the molars. Teeth have naturally-occurring grooves and pits which your toothbrush’s bristles simply cannot reach. These areas can easily trap food particles or bacteria and lead to cavities. Sealants fill these deep areas to expand the surface area of the tooth, making it easier to keep clean and helping to prevent cavities.

Can sealants help my child? 
Sealants can add an extra layer of protection against teeth decay to almost anyone’s teeth. Children can especially benefit from sealants since their freshly erupted baby teeth are more susceptible to cavities than adult teeth. However, adults can also benefit from sealants as added protection against decay.

How should my child care for their teeth daily? 
Everyone, no matter their age, can benefit from a strong at-home oral care routine alongside regular dental examinations and professional cleanings with their dentist every six months. An adequate oral care routine involves brushing the fronts and backs of the teeth thoroughly for at least two minutes twice a day. The routine should also involve flossing between each tooth and behind the last molar at least once a day. Flossing removes plaque and bacteria from the areas of the mouth which your toothbrush cannot reach, making it a crucial part of your oral care routine.

Sealants for Children in Salisbury, MD
Your child an almost certainly benefit from sealants. The procedure is fast and easy, lasting only a few minutes, and does not require any form of anesthesia. In fact, your dentist can administer sealants to your child’s teeth during their next routine examination.

For more information on dental sealants, please contact Dr. Geipe in Salisbury, MD. Call (410) 543-0599 to schedule your child’s appointment for sealants today!