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Dentist Blog

Posts for: May, 2016

MasterIllusionistBenefitsfromtheMagicofOrthodontics

Magician Michael Grandinetti mystifies and astonishes audiences with his sleight of hand and mastery of illusion. But when he initially steps onto the stage, it’s his smile that grabs the attention. “The first thing… that an audience notices is your smile; it’s what really connects you as a person to them,” Michael told an interviewer.

He attributes his audience-pleasing smile to several years of orthodontic treatment as a teenager to straighten misaligned teeth, plus a lifetime of good oral care. “I’m so thankful that I did it,” he said about wearing orthodontic braces. “It was so beneficial. And… looking at the path I’ve chosen, it was life-changing.”

Orthodontics — the dental subspecialty focused on treating malocclusions (literally “bad bites”) — can indeed make life-changing improvements. Properly positioned teeth are integral to the aesthetics of any smile, and a smile that’s pleasing to look at boosts confidence and self-esteem and makes a terrific first impression. Studies have even linked having an attractive smile with greater professional success.

There can also be functional benefits such as improved biting/chewing and speech, and reduced strain on jaw muscles and joints. Additionally, well-aligned teeth are easier to clean and less likely to trap food particles that can lead to decay.

The Science Behind the Magic

There are more options than ever for correcting bites, but all capitalize on the fact that teeth are suspended in individual jawbone sockets by elastic periodontal ligaments that enable them to move. Orthodontic appliances (commonly called braces or clear aligners) place light, controlled forces on teeth in a calculated fashion to move them into their new desired alignment.

The “gold standard” in orthodontic treatment remains the orthodontic band for posterior (back) teeth and the bonded bracket for front teeth. Thin, flexible wires threaded through the brackets create the light forces needed for repositioning. Traditionally the brackets have been made of metal, but for those concerned about the aesthetics, they can also be made out of a clear material. Lingual braces, which are bonded to the back of teeth instead of the front, are another less visible option. The most discrete appliance is the removable clear aligner, which consists of a progression of custom-made clear trays that reposition teeth incrementally.

How’s that for a disappearing act?!

If you would like more information about orthodontic treatment please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about the subject by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Magic of Orthodontics.”


Whether you're a member of the wedding party or a guest, you'll want to look your best for the 2016 wedding season. Professional teeth teeth whiteningwhitening is an excellent way to quickly brighten and whiten your smile. Kona, HI dentist, Dr. Garrett B.K. Oka, shares some information about professional whitening.

Professional teeth whitening is quick and easy

After just one one-hour teeth whitening session, you'll see a significant difference in your teeth. If you use an over-the-counter teeth whitening kit, it may take weeks to notice a change.

Professional whitening offers better results

The hydrogen peroxide gel that your Kona dentist uses to whiten your teeth is stronger than the products used in drugstore kits, but still gentle. You can expect to see a three- to eight-shade difference in your teeth after whitening. Professional whitening results also lasts longer. While over-the-counter products brighten your teeth for weeks or months, depending on the product, professional results can last several years. You can keep your teeth looking white by avoiding or limiting foods and beverages that stain teeth, such as coffee, tea, wine, berries, popsicles and sports drinks.

Professional teeth whitening is safer

Your dentist will apply a protective barrier to your roots and gums before proceeding with your whitening session. He'll also use retractors to hold them away from your teeth, reducing the risk of irritation or sensitivity. If drugstore products don't fit well, your teeth and gums can be damaged or irritated by the whitening agent.

Professional whitening offers flexibility

If you prefer to whiten your teeth at home, your dentist can give you an at-home whitening kit. He'll make molds of your teeth to ensure that the trays fit well and give you whitening gel to add to the trays. The whitening trays can also be used to touch up your teeth from time to time after your initial whitening session.

Want your smile to look extra bright in those wedding photos? Call your Kona, HI dentist, Dr. Garrett B.K. Oka, at (808) 329-0889 to schedule a professional teeth whitening treatment. Transform your smile with teeth whitening!


AChildsDamagedToothmayrequireaDifferentApproachthananAdults

A traditional root canal procedure can be a “life-saver” for a decayed or injured tooth. But while it’s usually the best course for a damaged adult tooth, variations of the procedure are advisable for a new permanent tooth in a child or young adolescent.

This is because the inner pulp, the focus of the treatment, plays an important role in a young tooth’s development. When it first erupts a tooth’s dentin layer, the living tissue that makes up most of the body and roots of the tooth, hasn’t fully formed. The pulp increases the dentin layer over time in conjunction with jaw development.

Because a full root canal treatment removes all of the pulp tissue, it could interrupt any remaining dentin development in a young tooth. This could lead to poorly-formed roots and a less healthy tooth. For an immature permanent tooth, then, we would use variations of a root canal treatment depending on the nature and extent of the injury, the patient’s overall health and medications they may be taking.

Our main objective is to expose or remove as little of the pulp tissue as possible when treating the tooth. If the pulp hasn’t been exposed by the decay or injury, we may only need to remove the softened decayed or injured dentin while leaving harder dentin nearer the pulp intact. If, however, the pulp has become partially exposed by disease or injury, we would then perform a pulpotomy in which we remove only the exposed tissue and then place calcium hydroxide or mineral trioxide aggregate (MTA) to stimulate dentin growth that will eventually patch the exposure site.

In cases where decay or injury has rendered an immature tooth’s pulp tissue unsalvageable, we may use a procedure known as apexification that seals off the open, cylindrical root end of the tooth. This will allow bone-like tissue to grow around the root to serve as added support for the tooth. Although it can save a tooth in the short run, the tooth’s long-term survival chances may be lower.

By using these and other techniques we may be able to save your child’s immature tooth. At the very least, such a technique could postpone replacing the tooth until a more opportune time in adulthood.

If you would like more information on treating damaged teeth in children, 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 “Saving New Permanent Teeth after Injury.”




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