Dr. Sinkin's Blog: The Dental And The Incidental

Do Wisdom Teeth HAVE To Be Extracted? New Research:

September 22nd, 2015 by | No Comments »

do wisdom teeth have to be extracted, college

“To treat or not to treat?” That is the question.

As another August came to an end, thousands of recent high school graduates were making ready to begin the next phase of their formal education: college. And while students and proud parents alike were preparing for this milestone with shopping sprees to department stores, electronics stores (for the requisite laptop, printer and other accoutrements), Bed, Bath and Beyond (don’t forget bedsheets, towels, laundry bag and shower caddy); another errand that is part of this coming of age ritual is a trip to the dentist and an evaluation of the soon-to-be-freshman’s wisdom teeth.

Wisdom teeth generally begin to erupt around the age of seventeen, but the process of eruption can be very gradual over several years. In fact, for many people the wisdom teeth don’t develop at all. They happen to be the most frequently missing teeth in the human dentition.

The college years, ages 18-22, are primetime for wisdom teeth problems and hence, the pre-baccalaureate conversation about Dick or Jane’s wisdom teeth (and no, there isn’t dog named Spot in this tale or if you prefer: tail).

Recent trends in both clinical practice and research over the past decade suggest that wisdom teeth need not be, and perhaps should not be, extracted merely because they are impacted or poorly aligned. This is a dramatic departure from routine removal for some 20-30 years when malposed or partially erupted wisdom teeth were viewed almost as if they were “white tumors” and they had to come out. In fact, a recent study in the British Dental Journal as well as the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence question the heretofore-unquestioned practice of extracting asymptomatic wisdom teeth.

Certainly, there are potential problems associated with aberrant wisdom teeth such as infection, cysts, damage to the adjacent teeth, pain, and even the rare neoplasm or tumor. But, third molar surgery is not without the risks associated with any surgical intervention (pain, swelling and infection to name a few). Plus, in rare occasions nerve damage is possible (lower wisdom teeth) or sinus damage (upper wisdom teeth).

As a general dentist I am usually the first go-to person with regards to wisdom teeth evaluation. More frequently than not I am able to make my treatment recommendation based upon clinical examination and evaluation of diagnostic x-rays. When appropriate, I will make a referral to my oral surgeon colleagues for their input and expertise as often two heads are better than one when making a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Sometimes more advanced diagnostic imaging such as a CT-scan is warranted. This helps to me to visualize the tooth, its position in three dimensions and its proximity to vital structures such as the mandibular nerve.

Each patient must be carefully evaluated on an individual basis. While younger people tolerate wisdom tooth extractions more easily, this fact alone does not warrant automatic removal.

Sometimes, however, it makes sense to remove the tooth before the roots are fully formed which makes for both a simpler surgical procedure while also avoiding nearby vital structures like nerves and sinuses.

Coronoectomy or the removal of just the crown portion of the tooth while leaving the deeply impacted roots alone is a somewhat novel surgical approach that involves thinking “out of the box” treatment planning. It eliminates the “problem” of a malposed wisdom tooth and its threat to the adjacent second molar while minimizing the potential morbidity of more complicated and invasive surgery. My close working relationships with talented specialists is an essential resource for optimal patient care; even when the extent of that care may be the decision not to care at all.

Proper evaluation of wisdom teeth is essential to maintaining and safeguarding optimal oral health. Diagnostic imaging, be it x-rays or cone beam scans (dental cat scans) are a crucial part of thorough work-up.

I will never forget my patient Tim. When I first met Tim he was a healthy 40-year old with a full complement of completely erupted and properly-aligned wisdom teeth. One day he arrived at the office with swelling in his jaw. Conventional dental x-rays could not “reach” far enough back in his jaw to see the source of his problem. (By the way, this is a common problem when taking X-rays of wisdom teeth in a small mouth because the X-ray sensor can cause a gag reflex and even dig into the delicate tissues of the mouth.)

I referred Tim to an oral surgeon, who upon taking a panoramic x-ray and a C-T Scan, discovered an impacted wisdom tooth with what turned out to be an associated dental tumor (Odotontogenic Keratocyst, if you must know). Not only did the wisdom tooth, extra tooth and tumor need to be removed, the procedure needed to be done in a hospital (in this case, Sloan-Kettering in NYC).

Tim is fine now, but i shudder to think what might have been if his condition was not discovered. The tumor was literally eating his jaw bone. While his situation is indeed rare, it underscores the importance of a thorough evaluation of your wisdom teeth, even if they are not bothering you.

Remember, an ounce of prevention…

To all of you college students: Good Luck! Remember to brush your teeth and don’t let your books get in the way of your education. For those of you not pursuing a college education, remember that college may not be the be all and end all to a successful happy life, and it won’t spare you from those potentially pesky wisdom teeth.


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Adding Milk To Tea Prevents Teeth Staining – Here’s Why:

September 1st, 2015 by | 2 Comments »

girl drinking tea


Tea is the cause of more teeth staining than any other beverage, including coffee. And black tea, the most widely consumed type in the world, is the worst offender of all!

It’s no sin to need that cuppa first thing in the morning, but the downside is the residual dark staining that it can leave behind. Tea (and coffee) contains chromagens. Chromagens are intensely pigmented molecules and are the reason that these seemingly indispensable beverages have their beautiful dark color. Because chromagens have a particular affinity for tooth enamel it makes them prime smile-tainters and teeth-stainers.

Why Adding Milk To Tea Prevents Teeth Staining – The Facts:

A recent study reported in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene found that that by adding milk to tea you can reduce its staining impact. That’s great news for tea lovers. But why is tea such a culprit?

If you thought chromagens were bad, meet tannins!

Tea, unlike coffee, also contains tannins. Tannins are a kind of chromagen and are largely responsible for tea’s distinct flavor and lovely color. However, tannins make teeth enamel much more susceptible to staining. In effect, tea presents a double-whammy to your pearly whites!

But don’t freak out. You can still enjoy your cups of soothing tea without ruining your smile. Here are my recommendations:
The Tea Drinker’s Guide To Teeth-Friendly Tea Consumption:

    1. Add Some Milk to your Tea. Milk contains a protein called casein, which binds with tannins and decreases dental discoloration. (I guess the Brits knew what they were doing all along!)


    1. Be mindful of the Tannin Levels. Most teas contain some tannin including green tea, white tea and herbal tea (decaffeinated, too!). But it is black tea that has the highest levels.


    1. Swish With Plain Water: When you finish sipping your tea it’s a good idea to swish your mouth with plain water. This washes away much of the residual tannins lingering on your tooth enamel.


    1. Be Scientific: When steeping your tea, keep this piece of scientific trivia in mind:During the first two minutes of immersion in boiling water tea leaves release the majority of their caffeine. Between 2 and 5 minutes the tannins are drawn out of the leaves.So, if you are looking for a pick-me-up, drink your tea after two minutes for maximum stimulation and minimum tannins. If you are looking to relax, empty your cup after two minutes, and then re-steep your tea bag. But beware of the tannins (see helpful hints 2. and 3.)


    1. Beware of Herbal Teas: Many herbal teas are derived from fruit. Most popular are lemons, raspberries, and black currants, which are delicious but tend to be very acidic. These teas can actually dissolve tooth enamel and weaken your teeth them, too. Rinsing with water after consuming can help neutralize this “acid attack”.Note: Don’t brush your teeth for at least 30 minutes after drinking an acidic beverage, lest you abrade away the softened tooth structure. (Also, when you add a slice of lemon to any tea you are also increasing its acidity.)


    1. Don’t Swish Your Tea! Avoid swishing tea in your mouth. Try to minimize the tannin-to-tooth contact as much as possible. When drinking iced tea, use a straw.


    1. Switch: If you are an avid tea drinker here’s one last caveat to keep in mind: the trifecta of rich color, high tannin content, and high acidity maximizes tea’s staining potential. Alternatives, such as chamomile, are a tooth-friendly choice.


As you can see, while tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, it’s not the most conducive to a white, bright smile. If you drink tea all day, try to cut down or replace a few cups with an alternative.

And as the study indicates, when you do sit down to enjoy that cozy cup of tea, splash in a little milk to protect your smile. And if your teeth are already stained, think about an in-office teeth whitening treatment. We do tons of these every week and our patients are in love with the results: The Best Teeth Whitening In New York City.

Here are some other articles about this new information about tea with milk and your teeth: http://greatideas.people.com/2015/08/20/milk-tea-teeth-whitener-study/

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How Blogging Transformed Me Into A TV Star in the UK

August 25th, 2015 by | No Comments »

Michael Sinkin, Dentist, Blog

It’s difficult to remember a time when the internet wasn’t part of the everyday fabric of our collective lives. The Yellow Pages, let alone the regular white pages phone directory and countless other hard copy publications are a thing of the past.  Social media, Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, and LinkedIn are now as ubiquitous as the personal computers, macs, smartphones, tablets etc. that are used to access such outlets of connectivity and instant information.

It was about seven years ago that I first collaborated with Betsy Kent, now a dear friend, but then a professional marketing strategist and early social media expert whose help I needed to create a website and establish an internet presence. It was during this process that she first suggested that I write a blog.

“A blog?” I said incredulously. “What could I possibly write about?”

Betsy suggested that I just be myself and find my voice. So after some thought and a lot of procrastination, I began to muse about The Dental and the Incidental which became, in fact, the name of my blog. On my blog I dispense useful information about a broad range of topics in dentistry, especially first aid advice for common dental mishaps. I share entertaining vignettes about life both in and out of the office, and sometimes share personal insights gained from the many inspiring people I have come to know in my over 30 years of practice.

Over the years, I have posted 125 blog posts (actually, I write them and Betsy’s team posts them along with the accompanying artwork and photographs). Betsy is quite the marketing guru and has literally put me on the internet map. It blows my mind that literally hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world have read my postings and that my website is visited by thousands (no exaggeration) of new visitors each month.

What follows is Betsy’s account of what recently happened to me as a result of her guidance and expertise. All I can say is,

How cool is this?”

Sometimes a content marketing strategy gets some pretty unexpected results. But when a blog post gets a New York City dentist into a Google commercial on TV in the U.K., well, it’s something pretty rare.

About five years ago I took on a new client, Dr. Michael Sinkin. Dr. Sinkin is a dentist in New York City…and he had a problem. His patient base was getting older and older and he had to find a cost-effective way to attract younger people to his practice.

When I recommended to Dr. Sinkin that a good strategy might be to start a blog, he looked at me with astonishment. He couldn’t begin to guess what he would blog about, why anyone would read his blogs, or imagine how blogging would have an impact on his practice.

Since starting his blog, Dr. Sinkin’s website has experienced an increase of 500% in visits. But the important thing is this is: 30% of the new patients walking in the door found him directly through his blogs.

OK, so that’s all great, but how did Dr. Sinkin get into a Google ad in the UK?

A few months ago, out of the blue, I was contacted by an advertising agency in Amsterdam in regard to Dr. Sinkin’s blog. The agency had been hired by Google to create a campaign for the mobile app, Ask Google and they wanted permission to use one of his blog posts in an ad.

Dr. Sinkin has a great sense of humor. In between penning blogs such as 7 Home Remedies for Toothache and What To Do If Your Tooth Cracks Or You Lose A Crown (which by the way have been read together over 150,000 times) he often drops in something a little lighter. An example of this is 7 Ways To Stop Brain Freeze, published in 2012, which is what the ad agency was interested in.

It went like this: the agency in Amsterdam searched for an article about brain freeze. Dr. Sinkin’s blog post came up on Google at the top of the list. (If you’ve ever wondered if blogs improve a company’s visibility, wonder no more!). They decided that it was perfect for the ad. And we said yes.

So, beginning a few weeks ago and for the next 6 months, Dr. Sinkin’s blog will be on the TV screens of millions of people across the UK. And strangely enough, his office has received quite a number of appointment requests from Brits who will be visiting New York City in the near future.

OK, maybe Dr. Sinkin isn’t really a star, but…this is still pretty cool, right?

To Dr. Sinkin from Betsy: it’s been a pleasure to be your guru, Dr. Sinkin. First New York, next THE WORLD!


Betsy Kent is the president of Be Visible. She can be reached here: betsy@bevisibleassoc.com.


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“It was twenty years ago today….

August 4th, 2015 by | 4 Comments »


…. Sgt. Pepper taught his band to play.”

And since that story has already been told (far more than twenty years ago and told so much more brilliantly than I could ever) I have another tale to tell.

It was August 1, 1995, exactly two decades ago to the day, that I embarked on a life-altering professional mid-life course correction that took me from an 11-year partnership in a dental practice in Forest Hills, Queens, to a fresh start in a new (and my current) dental home at 30 East 40th Street. It was what I would describe as a professional do-over (reminiscent of playing sports with your friends when an errant call or controversial play led to a call for a do-over and the point was replayed and the game continued with little fanfare.

Well my do-over was a bit more complicated. I couldn’t just replay the point. I was 38 years old, had two small children (one that was just diagnosed with a learning disability requiring costly private school intervention). Add that to the fact that I had a mortgage payment and it seemed to be crazy to make such a dramatic change fraught with uncertainty and financial risk. And not to mention some marital strain associated with taking a leap of faith with no safety net or guarantee of a soft landing. In truth, my wife Ann was incredibly supportive, yet, at the same time, scared.

But I was desperate to make a change (unhappiness is a heavy burden to carry around your neck day-in and day-out). I was determined to realign my personal and professional priorities for the sake of my own well being of as well as that of my family.

And I was scared.

practice I left was at one time my dental Shangri-La. I joined the group during my clinical infancy (1984, to be precise) and it was an to be mentored in state of the art techniques by some very talented dentists, who seemed the perfect fit for this highly motivated mentee (that be me!). And for a long while, all was beautiful. It was wonderful experience and many lifelong friendships were born during my time there. But alas, things changed over the years that made my remaining a partner untenable. I had to make a move in face of certain upheaval.

After months of intense introspection, deliberation and groundwork, change, I did! In retrospect, it was truly a seminal moment in my life. Clarity of purpose, persistence, perseverance, hard work and good fortune transformed my do-over into a dream come true.

So here I am on this Saturday morning, August 1, 2015 (a mere eye-blink away from the same day 20 years ago), with my laptop and a cup of Joe, on Fire Island It’s a beautiful summer day and I’ve taken a consciously cognizant moment to pause, reflect and smell the roses. How lucky am I?

michael sinkin, ny dentist

Happy 20th Anniversary, Me.

Thank you all: my family, my office family, and my wonderful patients new and “old” for coming to the virtual anniversary celebration/party that I’m having in my mind. You have made the past twenty years a wonderful journey in my life.




You may also enjoy: I GRADUATED!

Michael Sinkin is a dentist in New York City. He loves being a dentist and is known for taking wonderful care of his patients and for a wicked sense of humor. The practice caters to New Yorkers and visitors to the city alike. To schedule an appointment, please click here.


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June 30th, 2015 by | 5 Comments »

nyu dental school implant program graduate, michael sinkin


Time really does fly when you’re having fun. At least that has been my experience these past two years.
In the seeming blink of an eye, I just completed the two-year implant program at NYU College of Dentistry. That’s right, I “graduated” with my class this past June 10th (which befittingly was also the 33rd anniversary of my graduation from dental school!).
Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Two years ago my serendipitous discovery of and enrollment in, the NYU Implant Program has proven to be a life-changing adventure. While many of my colleagues (who also have three decades of clinical practice under their belts) look forward to Wednesday as their day to hit the golf course (or some other recreational arena), for two years I hit the books, the classroom, and the clinic.
Complete with reading assignments, homework, quizzes and intense clinical training, I discovered that I was a most enthusiastic student. My wife laughed at me as I was using multicolored highlighters to underscore my 1,100-page textbook (which I read three times).
My fellow participants thought it was curious that someone old enough to be their father would exude so much excitement and energy about being in school. As for the faculty? Well, initially they didn’t quite know what to make of me (I am older than all but three of them) but I managed to make a distinct impression and I made my presence known. Being 6’4” had less to do with my “visibility” than did my perpetual grin. It was no secret that I was enjoying every moment of the program.
My enthusiasm carried over into my office. Excitement is contagious and my staff picked-up on the vibe. In fact, they were incredibly supportive of my endeavor and helped me hold down the fort despite the fact that I was out of the office every Wednesday.
Many of my wonderful patients helped me maintain my fervor by mirroring back the passion I projected. I literally had a parade of patients march through the NYU program and was able to place an unprecedented number of implants during my time there. The faculty encouraged me to start placing implants in my office instead. But, I resisted. I’ve been blessed with a thriving practice and there will always be patients who need care (knock on wood!) but my time at NYU was limited and I wanted to optimize my educational experience by maximizing the supervision and expertise of my mentors.
Note: The NYU program guarantees an assignment of at least four implant “cases.”  I literally placed scores of implants during my 2-year tenure!
I love being a dentist. Always have. And this 2-year odyssey of professional and personal growth has been a priceless gift. If the world of dental practice has been my playground, all I can say is that over the past 30+ years, I’ve enjoyed all of it: the sliding pond, the swings, the seesaw and the merry-go-round!  I have now discovered the monkey bars and am having the time of my life.
So, my program is now completed. But I am not. In September, I begin a separate third year program in which I will be studying even more advanced surgical techniques in both bone grafting and implant surgery. When completed, I hope to continue my tenure at NYU in the capacity of faculty member.
I have gained incredible insight and knowledge and look forward to giving back at least as much as I have gained as an experienced 59-year YOUNG dentist who has renewed passion and joy. I feel like kid in a candy store! That’s perhaps not the best metaphor for a dentist to use, but you know what I mean.

Michael Sinkin graduation party

My wonderful team pulled off a surprise celebration for my graduation. How lucky am I?

You may also enjoy: 4 Things That Can Mess Up Teeth Whitening
Michael Sinkin is a dentist in New York City. He loves being a dentist and is known throughout the city for taking wonderful care of his patients and for his wicked sense of humor. To contact Dr. Sinkin, link here



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4 Things That Can Mess Up Teeth Whitening

June 11th, 2015 by | No Comments »

 teeth whitening, michael sinkin
The effect that a more beautiful smile can have on a person’s self-image is overwhelmingly positive and transformational. I’ve seen it over and over again in my dental practice of over 30 years. And of all the ways to get a more beautiful smile, teeth whitening is the is the most requested. That’s not just in my practice but also in the entire country. In fact, in 2010, Americans spent more than 15 billion dollars whitening their teeth!

But, whether you plan to use an over-the counter product available at most pharmacies or you have chosen to have teeth whitening performed in a dental office, unless your teeth and gums are in great shape, you’re probably not going to get that sparkling smile want so desperately. Here’s why:

1. Plaque Can Really Mess Up Teeth Whitening  If you have a buildup of plaque (it happens to everyone) the whitening process will not be very successful. Plaque is a sticky film that collects on the tooth surface and not only does it contribute to tooth decay and gum disease, it promotes the accumulation of bacteria and stains that discolor the teeth directly. Whitening your teeth while they are covered with plaque is akin to bathing with your clothes on. Sure you’ll be cleaner, as will be your clothes, but you won’t be clean.

Failure to remove the plaque on your teeth can result in uneven color instead of the uniform pearly whites you desire. As self-serving as this may sound, if you have not had your teeth cleaned recently by a dental hygienist or dentist, it should be your first step to a brighter, whiter smile.

2. Inflamed Gums Make The Process Uncomfortable  Whether you are teeth whitening at home or at your dentist’s office, you will experience some irritation from the beach in the solution (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide). Inflamed gums make the process much more uncomfortable, especially in the days afterward. Healthy gums are more resilient and less prone to bleach-induced gum irritation.

A word of caution: Too much of a good thing may not be good at all. Overuse of tooth whitening products, both in quantity and frequency, can really do a number on your gums. Bleaching is a process that is cumulative in effect…try to be patient.

3. Broken, Leaking Fillings or Cavities Make the Whole Experience Horrible  The bleach in teeth whitening solutions can create an extremely painful reaction if it comes into contact with deeply exposed tooth structure. What’s even worse is if you have an exposed, or nearly exposed, dental nerve. If you haven’t had a dental exam for a while, or if you suspect that you have a cavity (a recent toothache is a sure sign), I urge you to hold off on whitening until you are given the OK by a dentist.

4. Bonded Teeth and Tooth-Colored Fillings Don’t Get White  These tooth restorations do not respond to whitening and will not change color. That means that you can end up with a multi-colored mouth. Not what you had in mind, right? If you do have bonded teeth or tooth-colored fillings, you may need to have them replaced after bleaching is completed.

Ask your dentist first. Many people aren’t even aware of the presence of tooth colored fillings or bonding in their mouths.

More Tooth Whitening Tips
Several weeks before beginning the teeth whitening process start use desensitizing toothpaste such as Sensodyne or ProEnamel. And be sure to use only a soft toothbrush. This will help to avoid the dental sensitivity commonly experienced during and after.

So go ahead and get that sparkly white smile, but see your dentist first. (I know, I know. How many times does he have to repeat it?)

Clean and white…it’s a beautiful thing!


You may also enjoy: Willy – A Dog’s Life

Michael Sinkin is a dentist in New York City. He loves being a dentist and is known throughout the city for taking wonderful care of his patients and for his wicked sense of humor. To contact Dr. Sinkin, link here


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Willy – A Dog’s Life

May 28th, 2015 by | 17 Comments »

I can’t believe it’s been three years since we lost Willy. In honor of a great companion, I thought I’d post it again:

May 28th, 2012:

Last week, my golden retriever Willy turned 15½. Yeah I know, who counts half years? But when you’re an old dog (75-108 in human years) every month counts. Besides, aren’t babies’ ages counted in months until they turn two? And the truth of the matter is that someone just happened to ask me how old Willy was and I realized that it was his half birthday (it’s not like I circled May 22nd on the calendar).

Not surprisingly, what with Jonathan’s recent graduation from college, Ashley’s completion of her Masters in Occupational Therapy and entry into the workforce and our move into the city, I became nostalgic and cognizant of the fact that Willy has been an ever-present observer of the continuously unfolding story of Sinkin family life.

So, with all of our recent milestones, we couldn’t really ignore Willy’s 15 1/2 year old birthday. He had a steak dinner that night and I had the pleasure of taking him for innumerable walks thereafter (his digestive system doesn’t work like it use to). From the rambunctious young puppy that destroyed our kitchen and anything else he could sink his teeth into including shoes and cell phones to the mellow four legged “gentleman” that would allow children to sit on him and pull on his ears, Willy has been a part of our family for a long time.

When we sold our house in Ardsley, Willy moved with Ann and I to Yonkers and slept right next to us; he on the floor and we on a Murphy bed that was practically on the floor. My poor wife Ann was sandwiched between Willy’s heavy breathing and my snoring – quite the symphony! When we finally moved into the city, Willy became an urban dweller and luxuriated in the aromas that enveloped every curb, fire hydrant, and street in Manhattan. I knew our apartment was “home” when I woke up one morning last week to find Jonathan, just home from college, sleeping on the living room couch with Willy by his side. (To read about Willy’s first jaunt in Riverside Park, click here)

My most meaningful Willy moments are the countless hours we spend playing fetch on the beach at Fire Island. Me hurling a stick (which was more like a tree limb) way out into the surf and Willy attacking the waves, head bobbing up and down in the peaks and valleys of the rushing tide, swimming…swimming…onward…‘til he gets to his prize and then finally turns to the beach and body-surfs ashore. Over the last eight years, Willy has developed quite the reputation as the quintessential beach dog and has been known to draw quite an audience when displaying his prowess in the high seas (so maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but he was out there on red flag days). You’ve seen the movie Jaws. When Willy takes to the ocean, think Paws.

So, it’s Memorial Day Weekend 2012. We loaded up the car on Friday morning and headed out to Fire Island. Willy senses when we’re beach-bound. He gets all excited, tail wagging a mile-a-minute. No sign of his now severe arthritis or hip dysplasia, we get to the dock and he’s pulling on his leash to get to the ferry. We arrive at the house, drop off our stuff, grab a few sticks (always need a few extras because some invariably get washed away) and make a B-line to the ocean with our friends Elizabeth and Stella lagging behind.

Willy is galloping, albeit a bit unsteadily, up through the dunes to water’s edge. I launch the first stick (it was more like a gentle toss in the shallows). Willy retrieves it and prances about doing his little circle dance. I throw the stick again and again. Willy is in heaven. Two little children from the block watch Willy with glee. We continue our play for a good while and when Willy tires (something that never used to happen before my arm would begin to hurt from all that stick throwing), we return to the house. Will’s gait has slowed. Tail still wagging; we have to stop several times to rest. I give Willy a hot shower for two reasons: 1. It feels good. 2. Ann would kill me if he tracks in all that sand. Willy takes a drink and plops down tired yet content.

The next day, Willy is a bit lethargic. After all, he is 15 1/2 and is entitled to “feeling his age”. As the day moved on, Willy remained listless and I more than sensed that something was amiss. Except for the occasional walk and a few mouthfuls of chicken and steak, Willy slept all day. When Ann and I woke up Sunday morning, I knew Willy was gone. 15½ years old. He had his last hurrah in the place that he loved with his family nearby. We should all be so lucky.

Today is Monday, Memorial Day. I went to the beach this morning…alone. I threw one last stick in Willy’s memory.

I will miss my dog. I will miss my friend.

Willy’s final curtain call. Exit stage left.


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3 Foods To Avoid When Whitening Your Teeth

May 11th, 2015 by | No Comments »

beatiful smile african am woman
This past St. Patrick’s Day I read with amusement a human-interest story about someone whose teeth turned green after consuming copious amounts of green beer being served at a local Irish pub. Similarly, I recall a patient, who despite being given this list of foods to avoid when whitening your teeth, consumed red wine some hours after undergoing in-office tooth whitening. She appeared at my “doorstep” the next morning with purple-hued teeth!

And while I happen to fancy green and purple (along with blue and pink) these are not colors associated with beautiful teeth. In fact when I think of green in the context of teeth, it’s usually a piece of spinach caught between someone’s incisors…yuck.

White is the desired dental color. So much so that tooth whitening is the most frequently requested cosmetic dental procedure. Over 100 million Americans have whitened or bleached their teeth and as a country, we annually spend more than 1.4 billion dollars on over-the-counter whitening products in pursuit of a brighter smile.

Tooth whitening is a safe, noninvasive, and economical way to beautify one’s appearance when compared to other cosmetic dental procedures, such as porcelain veneers, bonding or crowns. But there are some basic dos and don’ts that must be recognized to realize to get the best possible results and minimize undesired outcomes, including a “rainbow” smile.

Before I enumerate what foods and beverages to avoid when undergoing tooth whitening this guideline applies to all techniques utilized to whiten teeth including in-office bleaching, dentist prescribed take-home trays, whitening strips, brush-on gels, and special toothpastes, etc.

Have you ever eaten Dorito Nacho Cheese Chips or Cheez Doodles? What do your fingers look like? Do you want to transfer that neon orange to your teeth? Or this: What color is your tongue after sucking on a lollypop or a cough drop? Do you want that color to transfer to your teeth? Of course not!

The rule of thumb is this: if the food in question will stain white linen, then it will stain your teeth, especially when they are in the more vulnerable transition of being whitened. Get the point?

Foods To Avoid When Whitening Your Teeth

1. Avoid Foods With Color

  • Tomato Sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • Chili
  • Carrots
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Red Meat
  • Spinach
  • Dark Marinades
  • Popsicles
  • Chocolate (white chocolate is fine)
  • Bright-colored chewing gum
  • Cheez Doodles
  • Nacho Cheese Chips
  • Candies such as Hot Tamales and Red Hots


2. Avoid Dark Drinks And Sports Beverages

Again, if it will stain a white shirt, stay away. Remember my patient who drank red wine? Don’t worry, white wine is fine, as is vodka, gin and other clear or light beverages. But stay away from:

  • Coffee (if you must have your caffeine fix, drink iced coffee through a straw, but no swishing!)
  • Tea
  • Grape Drinks
  • Tomato Juice
  • Carrot Juice
  • Green Juice (sorry all of you kale juice enthusiasts)
  • Gatorade Type Drinks (red, green, blue or orange)
  • Colas


3. Avoid Acidic Foods And Beverages

Two of the most common side effects of tooth whitening are transient tooth sensitivity and gum irritation.  Acidic foods will further irritate the gums (can sting like the dickens!) and increase the sensitivity, especially to cold. Acids are an irritant, so stay away from them for about 48 hours following in-office bleaching and for a couple of hours following home bleaching.

  • Acidic foods (such as citrus fruit)
  • Vinegar
  • Most Sports Drinks
  • Vitamin Water


Teeth whitening can work wonders, even, dare I say, even small miracles to beautify your smile. Follow these simplified guidelines and you will get the best possible results.

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Is It Safe To Have Dental Work During Pregnancy?

March 26th, 2015 by | 1 Comment »

dental care during pregnancy


There seems to be a small baby boom taking place in my dental practice! Amazingly in the last ten days I have treated five moms-to-be. But pregnancy isn’t the only thing that these particular patients have in common. Each one of them (with the exception of a veteran in her fourth pregnancy) called my office before scheduling the appointment and asked the same question: “Is it safe to have dental work during pregnancy?”

From my humble perspective as both a father who observed up close and personal the two pregnancies that produced my own children, and from that of a dentist who has treated untold numbers of pregnant patients over the last three decades, pregnancy is truly one of life’s miracles. And during this extraordinary time of gestation, I have witnessed moms-to-be experience a heightened sense of responsibility that goes beyond self and often leads to an elevated health consciousness.

Routine prenatal care, nutritional awareness (eating for two), abstention from smoking, alcohol consumption, drug use (both pharmaceutical and recreational), and getting regular exercise are some of the most important measures and behavioral changes that most expectant mothers embrace to safeguard their baby’s health.

But what is often understated, and sometimes even misunderstood, is the importance of optimal dental health during pregnancy.

Preventive dental care, which includes routine examinations and cleanings, the treatment of any cavities, periodontal (gum) disease, and, if necessary, root canal, is not only safe during pregnancy, but strongly recommended. In August 2013, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published their official position that routine and preventive dental care, including the use of local anesthetic, is safe during pregnancy and is important for the health of the expectant mother as well as that of the unborn child.

While elective procedures such as tooth whitening, cosmetic procedures, and more involved and complicated procedures should be delayed until after the baby is born, basic dental care should not be avoided.


Novocaine During Pregnancy

Novocaine has not been used in dentistry for decades as more effective and better-formulated anesthetics became available but the term though still persists and is generally used as a euphemism for any local anesthetic.

The use of most local anesthetics is considered safe during pregnancy. Lidocaine is the most commonly used dental anesthetic today, and while it does pass through the placenta, it is not toxic to the developing baby. I use the minimum effective dose, but will not compromise on ensuring complete comfort for my patient. Pain, in and of itself, can induce a physiologic response that is best avoided, especially during pregnancy.

Many dentists use lidocaine combined with epinephrine (another word for adrenaline) but I tend avoid it for my pregnant patients. Epinephrine is not dangerous to use during pregnancy, but it sometimes can cause a transitory state of excitement including an accelerated heart rate that can be distressful.


Which Is The Best Trimester For Dental Work?

During the first trimester any dental treatment beyond cleanings and emergency care is best avoided. It is during this time that most of the organs and organ systems of the developing fetus are formed. However, after the first trimester the majority of formation is complete and the remainder of fetal development is devoted primarily to growth and maturation.

The safest time to receive dental treatment is during the second trimester. For pregnant women, my focus during this time is on controlling any active conditions such as decay (cavities) or gum disease. Thus I eliminate potential problems that could occur later in the pregnancy.

It is not dangerous to have dental work during the third trimester, but the increased size of the baby can make lying in the dental chair for any extended period of time very uncomfortable.


Which Medications Are Safe During Pregnancy?

Pain medication should be restricted to acetaminophen (Tylenol). Other pain medications such as aspirin and NSAIDS ibuprofen and naproxen) should be avoided. If a stronger medication that contains opioids (such as codeine) is necessary, I will only prescribe it after consultation with my patient’s obstetrician.

Antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin, cephalosprins, and clindamycin are generally considered safe to use during pregnancy. But tetracycline-related antibiotics are not recommended because they have been found to cause staining in the teeth of the developing baby.

What About X-Rays During Pregnancy?

While dental x-rays, especially digital, are considered safe during pregnancy when used with proper technique and lead aprons, most expectant mothers and dentists (including me) try to avoid them unless absolutely necessary.
Remember, it is not only safe to go to the dentist while pregnant, it is recommended. If you are nervous about it, you are not alone. Let your dentist and hygienist know about your good news (even if it isn’t public knowledge yet). They will give you sound advice on how to properly care for your teeth and gums during this particularly vulnerable time. If there are any pressing matters, your dentist most certainly will speak to your obstetrician for a consultation regarding your needs.

Congratulations and enjoy your pregnancy!


Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kit4na/8570833723/

Michael Sinkin is a dentist in New York City. He loves being a dentist and is known throughout the city for taking wonderful care of his patients and for his wicked sense of humor. To contact Dr. Sinkin, link here

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Why You Don’t Have A Valentine

February 12th, 2015 by | No Comments »

 you don't have a valentine

This week
 the calendar will roll around to February 14th –  Valentine’s Day. If you have a significant other or sweetheart, let this be a reminder that you have until Saturday to think of some romantic or playful expression of affection. Perhaps you are without a certain someone with whom to exchange Valentines (remember those corny little cards we gave out in elementary school?). If you’ve wondered why you don’t have a Valentine,  perhaps it’s a reflection of the appearance and health of your smile. So says a recent survey by DentalPlans.com.


Bad Breath One Of  Top Three “Date Breakers”

According to the survey, bad breath and other oral health issues are among the top three dating “deal breakers.” Of those polled, 50% indicated that chronic bad breath was a non-starter when it came to new relationships. (Jealous stalking exes and unemployment were the only two criteria that trumped halitosis.) Additionally, almost a third of the more than 1,000 people questioned indicated that a person’s smile was the single most important facial feature. What can be gleaned from the survey and instill hope in those looking for love is that a great smile and fresh breath can help you connect with your soul mate.

So what can you do to improve your smile and improve your chances in the game of love?


Check Your Gums

The first thing to do is to make sure your gums are pink and healthy. Nothing distracts more from a smile than inflamed and swollen gums. If your teeth are beautiful but your gums are diseased, your smile is ruined. Roses may be red, but not healthy gums.


Whiten Your Teeth

There are many things that can be done to improve the appearance of your teeth. Whitening or dental bleaching is sometimes all that is needed to perk up your smile. This is especially true for people who have nicely shaped teeth but that are yellow in color. Tooth whitening often results in amazing smiles and is very economical when compared to other cosmetic dental procedures.


Reposition Your Teeth

Some people have beautiful teeth that are poorly aligned. Crooked teeth, crowded teeth, widely spaced teeth, snaggletooth smiles, or narrow smiles all can be corrected orthodontically with traditional braces or Invisalign. Invisalign is a very popular treatment that uses a series of clear nearly invisible retainers to move teeth without unsightly metal braces. Proper tooth position that is harmonious with your lips and face can work like magic to create a beautiful smile.


Enhance Your Smile

Unlike the previous procedures, cosmetic dentistry involves the physical enhancement of the actual tooth or teeth. It is as much an art form as it is an exacting treatment discipline that can improve and enhance your appearance. From beautifying one single tooth to designing and creating a dazzling smile, cosmetic dentistry (sometimes referred to as aesthetic dentistry) utilizes a variety of techniques and materials such as bonding, porcelain veneers, ceramic crowns, porcelain crowns, porcelain onlays, and more. Many people find that cosmetic dentistry enhances their appearance more dramatically than plastic surgery.


So this Valentine’s Day, if you find yourself looking for love, perhaps “you are looking for love in all the wrong faces” and you need to look in the mirror and do a smile self-assessment. Then, call your dentist and schedule an appointment.


To see the survey, http://images.dentalplans.com/2015/infographics/infographic-BattleoftheSexes.pdf)


Michael Sinkin is a dentist in New York City. He loves being a dentist and is known throughout the city for taking wonderful care of his patients and for his wicked sense of humor. To contact Dr. Sinkin, link here






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© 2008 Dr. Michael Sinkin, D.D.S.