My Blog

Posts for: August, 2011

By Okabe Dental Arts
August 28, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures

When you begin a smile makeover in our office, you are embarking on an exciting partnership with my laboratory technician and me. You should be full of excitement and anticipation — if you have been dissatisfied with your current smile, and you have great expectations for the results of this project. You will really like what you see in your mirror.

Being completely satisfied with your new look depends upon successful communication — between you and me and also between my dental lab technician and me. As you might expect, your perceptions of how your teeth appear are different from a dentist's perceptions. My education leads me to think of factors that untrained individuals probably won't consider, such as crown (tooth) length, midlines (how the teeth line up with other facial features) and the distance from gum to lip.

It is helpful to be able to describe what you like and don't like about your current smile, and what changes you would like to see. Using visual aids is a good idea. Bring photos and magazine illustrations to show what you have in mind. (Remember that we cannot make you look exactly like a celebrity or anyone else. The pictures are guidelines.)

Things to think about:

  • The color, size, shape, alignment and spacing of your teeth.
  • How much of your teeth and gum tissues show when your lips are relaxed and when you smile.
  • Tooth color: bright “Hollywood” white or more natural looking off-white.

Your makeover is more likely to meet your expectations if you get an advanced view of the results. Computer imaging is one way to do this. Another is for us to make a mock-up of the proposed dental work in tooth-colored wax on models of your mouth.

Finally, a “Provisional Restoration” can be used as a test to make sure that what I envision is also what you, the patient, want to see. A provisional restoration, made from temporary materials, gives you a chance to test out the changes and make sure they work for you — that they not only look good, but they are also functional in terms of biting, chewing, speech, and gum health.

If the provisional restoration works, it is used as a blueprint to make durable and long lasting porcelains in the same design. We will take impressions of the provisional restoration and communicate the relevant information to a dental laboratory technician, who will make the final porcelain tooth replicas for your new smile.

Competent communication and a provisional restoration will put you on track to meet your expectations and obtain the most aesthetic and functional result in your Smile Makeover.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about Smile Makeovers. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Great Expectations — Perceptions in Smile Design.”


By Okabe Dental Arts
August 21, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures

If you don't like your smile when you look in the mirror, or feel self-conscious because your teeth are discolored, there are a variety of whitening procedures that can help you obtain the smile of your dreams.

Choosing the Right White: With strips, trays and toothpastes all claiming to be the best tooth whitening systems, it can be hard to choose how to whiten your teeth. Our office can help you decide the best approach based on your individual needs, time constraints and budget. Whiteners may not correct all types of discolorations.

Whitening in Our Office: This procedure is called chair-side or professional bleaching and may require more than one office visit. Each visit may take from 30 minutes to one hour. We use an in-office whitening gel that is professionally applied to your teeth and activated by a light source, giving you significantly whiter teeth in less than an hour. Typically, teeth with a yellowish hue respond best to whitening.

Whitening Your Teeth at Home: If you are an adult who practices good oral hygiene and doesn't suffer from periodontal disease, our office can help you decide whether an at-home whitening system, or having your teeth whitened in our office best meets your needs. If you decide to go with an at-home system, you will wear a custom-made whitening tray that looks like a thin, transparent night guard. You fill the tray with a mild whitening gel and need to wear the gel filled tray for a specified period of time each day (per our office's instructions). This procedure must be continued over a period of time that generally extends from 2-4 weeks.

Whitening Products Found in Stores: If you are considering over-the-counter whitening products we can also recommend products that will offer you the best results. Whitening toothpastes that have the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance contain special chemical or polishing agents that generally provide some stain removal effect.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss any questions that you may have regarding teeth whitening. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Whitening.”


For many children, thumb sucking is a great source of comfort. However, for some parents, it sets off potential red flags. See how much you really know about thumb sucking by taking our quick and easy true/false self test.

  1. Thumb or finger sucking is a totally normal behavior for babies and young children that should not cause any concerns for parents or caregivers.
    True or False
  2. One of the main reasons babies and young children suck their thumbs or fingers is that it provides a sense of security.
    True or False
  3. Sonograms have revealed that some babies actually begin sucking their fingers or thumbs in their mother's womb, before they are even born.
    True or False
  4. Recent research has shown that children using a pacifier after the age of four may cause long-term changes in the mouth.
    True or False
  5. Most children who suck their fingers or thumb tend to stop this habit on their own between the ages of two and four.
    True or False
  6. One of the biggest myths about thumb sucking is that it can cause buck teeth (the teeth tip outwards towards the lips).
    True or False
  7. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children stop using a pacifier and/or thumb or finger sucking by the age of three; however some recent studies suggest that this should stop as early as 18 months of age.
    True or False
  8. Breaking a pacifier habit is often much more difficult to break than a finger or thumb sucking habit.
    True or False
  9. Dipping a pacifier, finger or thumb in vinegar is a recommended way of stopping the habit.
    True or False
  10. For the most challenging cases, we may suggest that your child needs a mouth appliance that a blocks sucking habits.
    True or False

Answers: 1) False. While it is a totally natural habit, parents and caregivers should monitor thumb or finger sucking. 2) True. 3) True. 4) False. It is not age 4, but rather age 2. 5) True. 6) False. This is NOT a myth but rather a fact. 7) True. 8) False. It is easier. 9) True. 10) True.

If you are having trouble getting your child to stop using a pacifier, thumb or finger sucking habit, we are an excellent resource for working with you and your child to accomplish this goal. To learn more on this topic, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Thumb Sucking in Children.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions.


By Okabe Dental Arts
August 07, 2011
Category: Oral Health

One topic we are often asked about is finger or thumb sucking and/or pacifier use — a challenge that most parents or caregivers will likely face with at least one of their children. The first and perhaps most important thing to remember is that it is totally normal for babies and young children to suck their fingers, thumb or a pacifier. It only becomes a problem when it continues as the child ages or if you unnecessarily make it a problem.

For most children, the sucking instinct starts in the womb before birth. This fact is evident, as many expectant mothers are shown their child sucking fingers or a thumb during a mid or late-term sonogram. Once the child is born, the habit may continue because it provides the child with a sense of security. Other research indicates that some babies start sucking habits as a way to make contact with, test and learn about their new world outside the womb. It is interesting to note that most children typically tend to stop finger or thumb sucking habits on their own and without much intervention between the ages of two and four. However, for others it can continue much longer. And that is the scenario that parents and caregivers need to be aware of so that they can monitor sucking habits.

Children who suck their thumbs or a pacifier after the age of two have a higher risk of developing some long term negative effects from the habit. This includes but is not limited to upper jaw development issues and “buck” teeth (upper front teeth that protrude forward out of a natural position towards the lips). For this reason, some researchers feel that children should cease thumb or finger sucking and/or pacifier use by 18 months of age. However, the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents and caregivers encourage children to cease this habit by age three.

If you feel your child is at risk due to his/her age and habits, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for your child. After a thorough exam, we can work with you to create a strategy for helping your child overcome finger, thumb or pacifier habits. To learn more about this topic, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Thumb Sucking in Children.”