Smoke? Lecture-Free Ways To Keep Your Smile Healthy

If you smoke, the last thing you probably want to hear is a lecture on why you should quit. Chances are, you know a number of reasons why. We understand that smoking is addictive and not easy to quit. As a matter of fact, it’s very difficult.

The Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that “more people in the United States are addicted to nicotine than to any other drug. Research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol.”

The majority of smokers who try to quit do so without assistance, though only 3 – 6% of attempts to quit without assistance are successful. So, whether you plan to quit or are content with your habit, we want your smile to stay in good condition. And, it can with proper care and regular check-ups.

First, let’s deal with a dire issue. Because smoking (as well as smokeless tobacco) is responsible for nearly 90% of oral cancers (lips, mouth and throat), it is paramount that you have an annual oral cancer exam. We do these as part of your six-month cleaning and exam appointments.

Oral cancer has one of the worst survival rates of all cancers because symptoms rarely emerge until it is at rampant stages. Before symptoms are obvious to you, we may be able to detect signs of oral cancer visually and by touch.

Smoking is drying to oral tissues, which creates an environment where oral bacteria are able to actively thrive and reproduce. Periodontal (gum disease) begins with persistent bad breath, tender gums and gums that bleed easily when brushing.

As gum disease progresses, pus pockets form at the base of teeth. Teeth loosen as oral bacteria attack the bone and tissues that support tooth roots. Eventually, these teeth will require removal.

The bacteria of periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, some cancers and impotency. This occurs because the potent bacteria can enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened gum tissues, causing inflammatory triggers elsewhere in the body.

Smoking also gives you an increased risk of bad breath, increased plaque and stained teeth. By keeping oral bacteria in your mouth under control, you can avoid the treatment time and expense for gum disease, cavities and whitening. (Our Zoom WhiteninZoom_Logo copyg system works wonders for our smoking patients, by the way!)

Be aware that smokers have longer healing times following extractions, gum treatment and oral surgery. When healing takes longer, there is a higher risk of bacteria settling into incised tissues. It is a fact that smokers have a higher risk of implant failure.

The best way to avoid many of the problems mentioned above is to keep oral bacteria under control. How do you do that?

First, be very committed to your at-home oral hygiene routine. Brush twice a day for at least two minutes each time. Use a fluoridated toothpaste and soft to medium bristle tooth brush.

Brush your tongue after your teeth. This dislodges a vast amount of bacteria from the tongue. Be sure to get to the back area of the tongue, where most bacteria are embedded. Gently run the brush over the roof of the mouth, under the tongue and inside of the cheeks before rinsing.

If you use a mouthwash, check the label to make sure yours contains no alcohol. Alcohol dries out oral tissues, which makes bacterial growth easier. And, to combat dry mouth, consider using a mouthwash especially formulated to replenish oral moisture. These are available over-the-counter at most drug stores. Be consistent in using these products.

Floss daily. I can’t stress this enough. If flossing seems awkward, ask our hygienists to help you with your technique. We have a flossing video on our web site you may want to check out:

You may want to try one of the water or electronic flossers now available. There are also floss holders that make the process easier for some people. Just be sure to avoid ‘popping’ the floss between the teeth onto tender gum tissues. This can cut into the gums, leaving them vulnerable to oral bacteria.

Be sure to keep your 6-month check-ups. These cleanings and exams remove buildup that can occur between visits and help you avoid problems before they occur or catch others while still small.

Drink lots of water — not coffee, tea, colas, sports drinks or energy drinks — most contain caffeine, which is very drying to the mouth.

Limit sugar and carbohydrates. These are oral bacteria super boosters. Instead, opt for crunchy fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and cheese.

We don’t lecture our patients. It is our job to help patients have the very best smile they can regardless of our own preferences and opinions. If you smoke, we care just as much about your smile as our patients who do not. Know that we are here for you regardless of your needs or goals.

If you’re past due for a dental check-up and cleaning, call 586-739-2155. Let’s get you in so you can have a clean slate with your renewed commitment to a healthy smile!


If You Are Afraid Of Going To The Dentist, Read This.

Let’s face it. Most adults have a fear of something. Some have a fear of snakes, or heights, or flying. Some people are afraid of closed-in spaces and others have a fear of dogs. I’ve known people who are terrified of water and others who shudder at the sight of a spider.

Fear is not a bad thing, necessarily. It’s our brain’s way of steering us away from something that doesn’t feel right. Yet, for adults who have fear or anxiety associated with dental visits, it’s not unusual for its originating source to be from a traumatic dental visit in the past.

Having a painful or frightening experience at a dental office can easily embed itself in one’s subconscious and can follow many adults for years.  Just the mere thought of going to a dentist can triggers increased heart rate, sweating or crying for some (which includes both men and women).

Proudly, I have developed a reputation for a gentle touch and giving (in my patients’ words) ‘painless injections.’ I also find that going slow and at a pace the patient finds comfortable helps them to relax and feel that trust level that is so important to a good dental relationship.

I’m especially sensitive to helping all patients develop a sense of trust. They trust that I NEVER want them to be uncomfortable. However, for patients who suffer with deep-rooted fears associated with dentistry, we see no reason to withhold methods to enhance relaxation and even induce a sleep-like state when needed or desired.

Many fearful patients opt for Oral Sedation. This is in pill form and taken just prior to arriving at our office. Once here, patients are fully relaxed. As the pill takes full effect, we seat you in a comfortable treatment chair and cover you with a warm blanket. Some patients doze off and on but are able to respond to questions.

For some patients, I.V. Sedation is the preferred option, giving a ‘twilight sleep’ state. I.V. Sedation is administered in-the-vein and is a deeper level of sedation than Oral Sedation. Although this is a more reassuring option for those wanting a sleep state, the recovery period is longer than what Oral Sedation requires.

Both medications erase most or all memory of the procedure afterward. And, with both, numbing the areas being treated is delayed until the patient is fully ‘under.’ In both, you are also monitored by a trained staff member throughout treatment to ensure your safety and comfort.

Our office is committed to providing you with the highest level of skills and technology in every procedure. Creating a comfortable experience throughout each visit is a commitment I try to uphold in every aspect of care.

Our commitment to comfort goes beyond me. It extends to everyone involved in your care.. from the friendly faces who greet you to the clinical team who tend to your smile, we want every visit to be a positive experience.

We believe everyone deserves a healthy, confident smile. While we are sensitive to the needs of all our patients, we are especially attentive to those with dental fear.  If that is you, or someone you know, begin by calling toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to speak with one of our friendly staff members. You’ll be offered a no-cost, no obligation consultation appointment so we can privately discuss your needs.

Beautiful Smiles Have Natural Appearance

I remember a dear female relative whom I’ll refer to as Bess. Bess was rather meticulous about her appearance. Her attire was always color-coordinated and she wore matching jewelry with every outfit. She was one of those ladies who always had “every hair in place.” Yet, the thing that always stood out the most – to everyone – was her drawn-on eyebrows.

Although from a good distance away, I imagine that her eyebrows looked, for the most part, like eyebrows. Yet, the closer you got, the more obvious it became that Bess’ eyebrows were ‘fakes.’ Unfortunately, this seemed to be the feature that stood out the most and in a not-so-flattering way.

When any of our facial features fails to look natural, it also fails to complement our overall facial appearance. And, it tends to be the feature that gets noticed most. Since your smile is one of your most prominent facial features, it makes sense that something unnatural in appearance would stand out a great deal.

When a dentist applies modern techniques, materials and technology to smile enhancements, the word “natural” should describe the look, feel and function. This is accomplished through advanced training that help to correctly size, shade and shape your restorations (such as porcelain veneers, crowns, and crown-&-bridge combinations) so that they truly complement your facial features. For example, by slightly elongating teeth, we can make a wide face appear more slender.

Over the years, though, I’ve seen a number of ‘cosmetics gone wrong’ cases, such as in the repair of a gap between front teeth. I’ve seen where dentists widened the two teeth to meet, only to create a ‘bunny look’ for the patient. Yes, this probably gave the patient a lower treatment fee but simply replaced the the gap with an unbalanced smile that stood out in a different way, not an improved way.

Using the proper materials are important as well. I typically recommend porcelain restorations. Like natural teeth, these reflect light naturally and have a luminosity like that of real teeth. Too, the gum tissue that arches each tooth should also be at the same level as neighboring teeth. This gives an even smile line of teeth framed by balanced curves.

Actual Patient of Dr. Ban Barbat
Actual Patient of Dr. Ban Barbat

Just as important is the placement and alignment of the teeth. As a neuro-muscular dentist, I see patients who have endured years of headaches, migraines, dizziness, ear ringing, sore jaw joints and night-time clenching and/or grinding. Many have worn, chipped, or fractured teeth.

My advanced training and diagnostic technology allows me to hone in on what is contributing to an imbalance in bite alignment. Amazingly, just one or two improperly placed or designed crowns can lead to years of suffering.

There is always a cheaper way to do something. When it comes to cosmetic dentistry, however, a ‘good deal’ typically means short-cuts and compromises that DO show. In our office, we are dedicated to creating smiles that give the most natural and flattering look combined with proper function and exceptional longevity. Our goal is to have people compliment you on your smile because it is beautiful and looks like you were lucky enough to be born with it!

For a private, no cost consultation appointment, call 1-866-9-Smiles. During this time, I’ll make recommendations that can help you enjoy a smile that will bring out your personality in an attractive way. We can also have our financial coordinator meet with you to explain payment options, if you like.


Wobbly Denture? We Can Fix That – For Good!

When long-time denture wearers tell me about trying to eat, speak or laugh, they often use terms like “wobbly,” “rocking around in my mouth,” and “slippery.” Some even tell me they take their denture OUT in order to eat.

In this day and age, dentistry offers far better options than an ill-fitting denture when it comes to replacing teeth. This is because dentistry now does much more than merely ‘replace’ teeth. There is now an ideal way to restore the stability, security and dependability of natural teeth.

The key to having teeth that can bite and chew begins in the jaw bone. Why? Your upper and lower jaw bones are what once held your natural tooth roots. By having the jaws as the firm, sturdy foundation for your teeth, biting force and chewing stability are restored.

This is how Dental Implants work. They are implanted into your jaw to serve as replacement tooth roots. Your new teeth are then attached to the implants, giving you the look, feel and function of natural teeth.

Yet, it’s not just your ability to eat comfortably that you’ll reap as a benefit. Because you can resume eating a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber and vitamins and protein-laden meats, your overall health improves. You’ll be able to chew your food thoroughly and comfortable.

Eating with friends and family becomes a pleasure once again as well. Without the fear of embarrassing slips or clicks, accepting invitations that include food is no longer a concern. Research has shown that being socially involved is another bonus to your overall health.

In a recent study on the health benefits of social relationships, researchers found that social ties and involvement with family and friends contributed to increased survivor rates for breast cancer and heart surgery patients. A 2010 data analysis of nearly 150 studies showed that social connection doesn’t just help us survive health problems: the lack of it causes them.

Your smile is much more than a set of teeth, which of course dentures can mimic. It’s a part of your personality, appearance, digestive process, speech, confidence, self-esteem and kissability! Terms like “wobbly” and “slippery” should never describe something so valuable to your overall well-being.

If you’d like to discuss your options for replacing a denture, begin with a no charge, no obligation consultation. Call 1-866-9-Smiles to schedule a convenient time. During this, I can also have our financial coordinator discuss easy payment options that can break your fee into monthly payments that are manageable to most budgets.

If dental fear is an issue, please know that our office is known for placing a priority on comfort. We offer both oral and I.V. sedation and have an environment designed to relax and pamper you.

I look forward to meeting you!