They say the eyes are the window to the soul, but a perfect smile can allow you to have someone before hello. From Marliyn Monroe to Julia Roberts, our entertainment history books are full of glam grins. Getting one isn’t easy. It requires solid food choices, sound oral hygiene and a true teammate of a dentist. Dr. Karyn Halpern of Port Jefferson Smiles fits the bill. Dr. Halpern has nearly two decades of experience treating patients of all ages and dental anxiety levels from her North Shore office. And she understands the perfect smile requires a gentle, customized touch.
Tell me a bit about your background and how you got into dentistry.
I have always been very passionate about the field of dentistry. I decided I wanted to become a dentist when I was only 13 years old. I had braces and was inspired by my experience. I was so proud of my new smile after my orthodontic treatment was completed. I knew I wanted to be able to give the gift of a beautiful healthy smile to others.
Let’s face it, people aren’t exactly jumping for joy when it comes time to visit the dentist. How do you put them at ease?
Wait, they aren’t? <laughs> I know what you mean. We employ a lot of amenities to make our patient’s experience so comfortable that often patients fall asleep in the chair during treatment—snoring and everything. I use a very gentle anesthesia technique with a device known as “The Wand.” This small computer allows the administration of local anesthesia to be placed at a slow and steady rate so the patient does not feel discomfort from the injection. We also provide aromatherapy with essential oils, Tempurpedic neck pillows, Bose noise cancelling headphones and have nitrous oxide analgesia (a sedative) available for the really nervous patient.
What innovative practices are you implementing in your office?
We implement all of the absolute latest technology available in the field of dentistry in our office. We are well known for our ability to fabricate all ceramic crowns in only one visit—no messy impressions or temporary crowns that come loose. We use CAD/CAM technology to take digital pictures of your teeth and then design your new crown or ceramic filling using software programming. Then we mill your final restoration with our milling machines and you go home with the permanent restoration in two hours or less.
We also use sophisticated technology to place dental implants precisely and comfortably. To do this, we use our own digital 3D X-Ray machine and 3D printer to print surgical guides. The 3D printed guides are used to perform dental implant surgery that has been completely designed on a computer. This insures the position of the dental implant is placed according to the final tooth shape, size and position that we are replacing. Often this allows for a patient to have a dental implant placed without even needing any stitches.
What are some things people can do to keep their smiles bright in between cleanings?
We educate all of our patients on the importance of prevention through good home care practices. This includes brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time using the technique we teach called modified bass brushing (see video instruction above). Also flossing twice a day is very important to preventing cavities and gum disease.
What should people avoid or limit if they want a healthy smile?
Soda is horrible for our teeth! It is as almost as acidic as battery acid. Acid from soda combined with acid produced by sugar-eating bacteria can damage teeth and produce rampant decay.
Are there any foods that help strengthen or brighten your teeth?
Carrots, apples and cucumbers. Eating some raw carrots as a snack can help remove stains from your teeth with its abrasive surface. Chewing these vegetables can also disrupt dental plaque and help cleanse teeth. Also foods containing calcium, such as cheese, can help keep tooth enamel strong and healthy.
What’s one myth about dentistry you wish you could debunk forever? How about someone’s oral hygiene in general?
That if there is no visible problem and no discomfort with your teeth, you do not need to see a dentist. In fact, you should visit your dentist twice a year for an exam and a dental cleaning to make sure your teeth stay healthy. Many dental problems can be caught early and treated before they become serious. Often gum disease and small cavities do not cause any discomfort and are only diagnosed by routine examinations and dental X-rays.
Port Jefferson Smiles is located at 12 Roosevelt Ave., Port Jefferson Station. The phone number is 631-928-1300.