5 Top Dentists Give Tips on Oral Health

Some of our Top Dentists answer questions about how your gums can indicate your overall health, how to stay calm for a root canal and more.

Dr. Tara Plansky.

Photo by Frank Veronsky

Dr. Tara Plansky
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Newton and Randolph

In Practice:
18 years

Partners: Dr. Edward Rosenbaum, Dr. Michael Singer and Dr. Steve Kim

Associates: Dr. Gregg Jacob, Dr. Amy Tanchyk, Dr. Brian Klein, Dr. Jay Kim, Dr. Jonathan Friedman and Dr. Jessica Wollenberg

Favorite pursuits after office hours: I like to spend time with my two girls watching their sports and activities. I also enjoy outdoor activities of my own, as well as volunteering in community-service projects, school activities and leading the Girl Scouts. Cooking is a passion.

How has modern technology changed your practice?: Cone Beam CT technology has changed the way we practice. Besides enabling us to treat our patients in the least invasive way possible, we are able to ensure that our patients can benefit from the newest technologies, such as the All-on-4 treatment plan, which enables patients to have a full implant-supported dental fixed prosthesis in one day. It’s rewarding to be able to help patients get rid of their dentures or failing dentition and get back to a fully functioning dentition and smile.

Dr. David Caggiano.

Photo by Frank Veronsky

Dr. David Caggiano

Office: Parsippany

In Practice:
14 years (originally as general dentist)

Favorite pursuits after office hours: My most enjoyable time is spent with my family (my wife of 11 years Salma, daughter Charlotte and son Liam). I also enjoy exercising and playing ice hockey and golf.

How can parents of young children minimize the need for or severity of orthodontic treatment?: Developmental behaviors can have a profound impact on your teeth and bite. Research shows that breast-fed babies have less misalignment of their bite than kids who used a bottle for a prolonged period of time. Also, if your child breathes through his mouth frequently, this may lead to misalignment of teeth and a change in facial structure. Bad habits such as thumb sucking and harmful tongue thrusts can also be detrimental to the development of a good bite. All of these things are easiest to correct at a younger age. That is why the American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children to see an orthodontist by age eight.

Dr. Bruce W. Small and his daughter, Kaitlin C. Small.

Photo by Frank Veronsky

Dr. Bruce W. Small
General Dentist

Office: Lawrenceville

In practice: 42 years

Associate: Kaitlin C. Small (his daughter, above)

Favorite pursuits after office hours: Playing golf and collecting and running O-gauge trains.

What are the biggest mistakes patients make when it comes to dental care?: Not taking their dentist’s advice. One of the most common examples is patients refusing x-rays when suggested. Radiation comes from the sun, riding in a jet plane, and of course, from medical and dental x-ray machines. The new digital x-ray units that most dentists now have emit up to 80 percent less radiation then the older type. Dentists recommend x-rays in order to see all parts of the tooth not visible otherwise. When small cavities or infections are seen, they can be treated much more easily when they are small. If not detected, they may lead to root canals or extraction.

Dr. Jin Hahn.

Photo by Frank Veronsky

Dr. Jin Hahn

Offices: Ridgewood and Westwood

In practice: 26 years

Partners: Dr. Dennis Pawlak (senior partner) and Dr. Jeffrey Chen

Associate: Dr. Benjamin Porras

Favorite pursuits after office hours: I love spending time with family and friends. I am actively involved in mind-body studies. I am a certified yoga instructor. I like to travel and experience different cultures.

How do you calm patients’ concern about root canal?: I ease patients’ anxiety with a simple explanation of modern technology, advanced research and material science addressing infection and the pain control associated with root-canal therapy. My entire team at Mid-County Endodontic group is trained to exercise patient empathy and compassion. Most patients feel comfortable and are well cared for from this simple approach. For the few who require more support, I am trained to work with relaxation techniques utilizing breath and visualization, which is simple and effective for a mild case of anxiety.

Dr. Wayne A. Aldredge.

Photo by Frank Veronsky

Dr. Wayne A. Aldredge

Office: Holmdel

In practice:  20 years

Associate: Dr. Eugenie Lee

Favorite pursuits after office hours: With two sons in high school lacrosse and soccer and various clubs, my wife and I spend our off hours at their games and events. I spend any additional time hiking, mountain biking and gardening.

How can the gums serve as an indicator of whole-body health?: Multiple studies have shown that the presence of bacteria that cause gum inflammation, bleeding and gum-tissue loss can also indicate other serious medical concerns. Patients with periodontal disease might have or be at risk of developing diabetes, heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s, depression, arthritis, even certain cancers. There’s evidence that this works both ways: Systemic bacteria may affect the gums, oral bacteria may impact the body. The good news is that periodontal disease is easy for us to diagnose and treat. A comprehensive periodontal exam makes a positive difference in overall health now and in the future.

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