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

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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A Dental Consultation In The Most Unlikely Of Places

February 2nd, 2015 by | No Comments »



mens room sign, michael sinkin, dentist in mens room

Being a dentist (especially one who enjoys it so much), I am never hesitant to offer advice when it is sought out. Since my credit card has the post nominal initials D.D.S., I often find myself completing a purchase when a curious cashier asks me about a specific dental problem that he or she is dealing with. I am always happy to share some insight, offer guidance, and provide reassurance  (although I should be mindful of the growing line of impatient people waiting to check out.)

Truth be told, I do enjoy the opportunity to “educate” the curious and the receptive. I’m not one to impose my unsolicited opinions on someone who obviously would benefit from my expertise. Spotting someone’s “dental dystopia” comes easy to me; whether it’s a cosmetic deficiency  or a clear health issue,  but there are boundaries of propriety outside of the dental office. Because discretion is the better part of valor.

I recently had an interesting encounter with a perfect stranger who received a rather detailed dental consultation in the most unlikely of places: The restroom of a restaurant. So, here’s how it went down:

Every year for the past 20 years, my office celebrates the holidays with dinner and a Broadway show. This year eight of us dined at the Great White Way’s venerable Sardi’s restaurant before seeing “A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder.”  We have become a familiar sight at Sardi’s, so when we arrive dressed for the holidays, adorned with festive hats (including my decoratively-ornamented chapeau replete with blinking lights) we do not go unnoticed.

Then the festivities begin, with drinks-a-flowing, games-a-playing, and laughter arising. This time a gentleman from a nearby table remarked that was the luckiest man in the restaurant. Of course! Seven lovely ladies surrounded me, and although they weren’t leaping, they were laughing, smiling and celebrating.

So after a time I made my way to the little boy’s room. I’m not going illustrate the details of how a men’s room is typically laid out. Suffice it to say that I found myself standing near (but not next to) the man who had been observing our table.  “So what’s the occasion?” he asked. My answer: “I’m a dentist and this is our annual Christmas/Hanukkah party,” I replied. Next I heard: “You’re a dentist!” uttered by a gent at the sink. “I need an implant!”

And so the office was open for consultations!

As I washed my hands, this man proceeded to tell me that he had lost a front tooth and was currently wearing a flipper (a removable denture to replace a missing tooth). He was only too happy to take it out of his mouth and show his gap-toothed smile to me. I took a closer look as I was drying my hands and told him that he was a perfect candidate for a dental implant, but that he may need a bone graft to optimize aesthetics (he has a broad high smile which displays all of his teeth and the surrounding gums.)

Pause for Educational Moment: When a front tooth needs to be replaced or restored, the dentist must be sure to evaluate the local environment: gum height, thickness and color, amount of tooth displayed upon smiling, position and condition of the neighboring teeth and more. We have all seen people whose front teeth look fake because of a black line at the top of the gum, or who have spaces between the teeth that look like black triangles, or who have mismatched color, shape, etc. These are all conditions that can be avoided with proper evaluation to ensure a beautiful natural looking tooth or tooth replacement and smile.

Back to the Restroom: Dave (my new gap-toothed buddy) was fascinated by my explanation. I used a paper towel to sketch pictures of implants and teeth and specifically, his condition. I’m not sure how much time had elapsed, but suddenly I heard my name called from outside the restroom door. My staff had sent out a search party! I invited Dave downstairs to meet my people, which he did, where open arms and laughter enveloped him. Dave took our office number and address. Maybe he’ll call, maybe he won’t, but he certainly left the restaurant knowing that his trip to the restroom was a most fortuitous pit stop.

Being a comprehensive dentist goes well beyond being a good clinician, one must be observant, responsive, a good communicator, and an educator. Patients are people and they are best served when they are given the chance to fully understand and own their treatment needs.

I have enjoyed expanding my role as an educator through my dental blog. I am both heartened and humbled by the numerous responses and inquiries that I have received (which I sometimes respond to from the bathroom).

michael sinkin


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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I Am The Dentist Who Had A Toothache

January 6th, 2015 by | 2 Comments »

cracker jack, toothache from cracker jack


It could happen just like that (snap of the fingers). You’re going about your business when for no apparent reason you notice a dull vague awareness that something is amiss in your mouth. Nothing severe or earth shattering, but something definitely there. Your curious tongue investigates the area only to come up empty. You get distracted with the events of the day and the fleeting sensation disappears and becomes a non-event (wishful thinking?). Time passes. Maybe a few minutes, a couple of hours, maybe even several days. Then suddenly, in a New York minute, you have a bona fide really bad toothache. And to make matters worse, it’s Saturday night!

Sounds a bit dramatic or a bit contrived?

Well, my friends, it’s not. Because the you in the aforementioned vignette is really me! That’s right. It was just a couple of weeks ago that I enjoyed my first toothache. And if ever the phrase “doctor heal thyself” applied, it was in this rather novel moment of need.

I am the dentist who had a toothache…a really bad one!

So here’s my dental tale of woe. Several months ago, I broke a tooth that had a large silver filling placed during my wayward youth of candy, gum and Cracker Jack. I called upon a dental buddy of mine  (Dr. D. T.) who then restored my tooth with a porcelain onlay. I actually thought a crown would have been the better option, but who was I to dictate treatment? I was just the patient. Well, time passed and my tooth just never quite felt 100%. I went back to see my friend, Dr. D. T., (who by his own request shall remain anonymous) and he adjusted my bite. Things seemed to settle down then. That is, until the Saturday before Thanksgiving!
Initially my symptoms were mild enough that a couple of Advil gave me relief. But as the hours passed, I found myself reaching for more Advil more frequently. I proceeded to self-diagnose as I prodded and tapped my tooth with my finger and opposing teeth. I remember commenting to my wife that it seemed ironic for me to have a toothache the same night that we were meeting friends (who are also my patients) for dinner.

Eating was an adventure.

By the time the main course was served, I couldn’t bring my teeth together without eliciting pain. In fact, just chewing rice on the other side of my mouth proved to be an exercise of dental acrobatics as I took great effort not to bring my upper teeth into contact with my lower teeth. Things went from bad to worse as the meal went on.

At some point during dinner, I had a real eye-opener when completing a deep yawn (I was visiting with some boring friends) my teeth snapped together. Ouch!!! By this time we had not even reached dessert! I knew I was developing a dental abscess and that I needed root canal and needed it soon. (Although things don’t seem quite so urgent when you’ve had a couple of martinis and a glass or two of wine!)

When I got home, I started taking antibiotics and adjusted my nightguard (yes, I grind my teeth) to keep pressure off my tooth. Thoughts of going to my office the next morning (Sunday) to administer a little dental first aid did cross my mind (and no, I was not going to perform root canal on myself!) but I was able to keep the discomfort to a manageable level throughout the night. Monday I met with a dentist in my building who started root canal therapy and relieved me of my pain.

I really did eat a lot of candy!

Now, this was not my first root canal and probably won’t be my last (I really did eat a lot of candy when I was a kid). But hopefully, I will not again have the unpleasant experience of a toothache. When my root canal treatment is completed (one more visit), I will revisit Dr. D.T. and have him make the crown that I told him I needed in the first place.

For the record, it was not Dr. D.T.’s choice of a porcelain onlay that caused my toothache. My dental pulp/nerve degenerated as a result of repeated trauma including the large filling placed so many years ago, and the subsequent fracture and injury it incurred. But, had a crown been made in the first place, I could have had a simple bonded filling placed to seal the root canal access instead of sitting for another 1½-hour appointment. (And don’t think I won’t point this out to him.)

Fortunately, I possess the knowledge to understand what I was feeling and why. Being on the receiving end of such a dental misadventure was enlightening, and pain aside, somewhat amusing. But were I not a dentist, it could have been a very harrowing experience. As many of you know, I have written numerous blogs about a variety of dental topics including how to cope with various tooth-related mishaps and emergencies. In turn, I’ve received literally hundreds of comments from total strangers seeking what has often been real-time advice for their current dental crises. The fact that I have been able to offer some practical insights and helpful guidance to people in need gives me great satisfaction.

And now, having been through my own dental emergency, it only underscores how reassuring and valuable a little bit of caring knowledge can be.

Dr. Sinkin

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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Considering Dental Implants? What You Need To Know

December 26th, 2014 by | No Comments »

man smiling hoodie

A little-known piece of dental trivia is that implant dentistry is the second oldest discipline of dentistry with oral surgery (tooth extraction) being the oldest. Logic dictates that tooth loss must precede tooth replacement, but what is surprising is that surgical implantation of an artificial tooth dates back thousands of years. More than 4,000 years ago, the Chinese carved bamboo sticks into pegs and drove them into the bone as a way to permanently replace a missing tooth (ouch!!). 2,000 years ago, Egyptians implanted pegs made of precious metals like gold and silver into the jaw as a tooth replacement. The ancient Incas’ version of dental implants utilized seashells that were carved into tooth-like shapes and tapped into the bone.

Fortunately over the ensuing millennia, dentistry and surgical techniques have evolved into a more refined (and humane) discipline in which the willing implant recipient need not be held down and restrained while someone hammers a poor excuse of a tooth into his or her jaw.

Modern implant dentistry, as we know it today, is based on the research of an orthopedic surgeon named Dr. P.I. Branemark, who in 1952 discovered that titanium is able to fuse with healing bone in a process he termed osseointegration. Branemark’s discovery of osseointegration and his work with dental implants revolutionized dentistry making it possible to permanently replace anything from a single missing tooth to an entire complement of teeth. Ok. History lesson is over.


So What is a Dental Implant?

dental implant

A dental implant is a cylindrical or tapered post generally made of commercially pure titanium or titanium alloy that is designed to replace the root of a tooth. People often refer to an implant as a post, but this is confusing because the term post is not implant specific. Posts are also used to restore natural teeth that have had root canal treatment, as in a post and core, which helps supports a crown.

The simplest application of a dental implant is to replace a single missing tooth. In traditional dentistry, the two teeth on either side of the space (once occupied by a tooth) are prepared (cut down) for crowns and the replacement tooth is then attached to them. This is called a three-unit bridge. Implant dentistry is an alternative to “cutting down” two otherwise healthy teeth. A dental implant is surgically placed where the root of the missing tooth once resided. After a prescribed period of healing, the implant is restored with a crown.

I know this can get confusing so, let me break it down to the basics. The crown of the tooth is what you see when you smile and what you chew with when you eat. An implant is a root replacement and serves as the supporting foundation for the crown. The abutment is what connects the crown to the implant. If a person is missing multiple teeth or even all of their teeth, implants can be strategically placed to support a permanent bridge (like the one I described above) or even help support and stabilize removable dentures that would otherwise move around when one eats or speaks.

Dental implants offer many restorative options to the edentulous (meaning “missing teeth”) or partially edentulous patient.


Choosing Dental Implants

There are upwards of 100 dental implant manufacturers in the world offering a wide range in quality and design. In the year 2000, there were over 1,300 implant designs and 1,500 abutments in a variety of materials, shapes, sizes, and surfaces. There are five grades of titanium used to manufacture dental implants with Grade 5 being the strongest and Grade 1 being the weakest.

Which implant is the best is not such a simple question to answer. There are many factors to consider including the reputation of the manufacturer as well as practitioner preference, but careful consideration must be utilized. There are many fine implants available, but there are also many that do not offer the same quality control that the “leaders” in the field do. Interesting aside, I have noticed advertisements in the local papers for implant services that quote fees that are “cheaper” than the actual cost of the implants that I use in my practice (Nobel Biocare). While cost of care is of course a consideration, the cost of failure is even greater. Educate yourself and ask questions before proceeding.


Implant dentistry….we’ve come a long way from bamboo pegs!


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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Thanksgiving Reflections 2014

November 25th, 2014 by | 1 Comment »

thanksgiving, cornucopia

I rarely take the time to have a “formal” lunch (I tend to eat too much ) and instead I generally graze throughout the day (and eat too much). But once a year we close the office for two hours and enjoy each other’s company while dining on a veritable banquet of delectable dishes. So today is the Tuesday before Turkey Day and our office just had our annual Thanksgiving potluck luncheon (and of course, I ate too much). We were graced with Barbara’s presence (she’s now five months into retirement). It wouldn’t have been the same without her; not to mention her wonderful baked ham (of which I ate too much).

I am so fortunate to have a staff that is like a second family to me and it’s wonderful to feel the camaraderie and positive energy that we all share. I am so thankful to have somehow managed to assemble such a talented and compassionate team: Carmen, Sandy, Kimberly, Maira, Meryl, and Sandra. I really believe that we work some magic in this office and are able to provide our patients with excellent dental care in a truly caring way.

I am grateful for so many things: my children Ashley and Jonathan are thriving as independent young adults, my wife and I are enjoying the empty nest which means we are enjoying each other, and we are all healthy.

I truly feel blessed that after 32 years of dental practice, I LOVE WHAT I DO! Going back to school has been a thrilling experience and has instilled in me more passion and excitement than I could ever have imagined. In fact, I thought I was going to school to learn about and how to master implant surgery. What I have acquired along the way has stimulated my curiosity, renewed my energy, and reinvigorated my practice. The two-year program that I committed to ends this coming June, but that won’t stop me from growing. I am enrolling in a more advanced third year of implant study.

How lucky am I?

Yes, I am feeling very grateful for my general well-being and fulfillment and I would be remiss if I didn’t stand up and shout out a big THANK YOU TO ALL OF MY WONDERFUL PATIENTS who have given me the desire to be the best that I can be so that I can be my very best for you.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.




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Giving Is The Great Healer

November 20th, 2014 by | No Comments »

Being a weekend warrior of sorts has left me with my share of battle wounds, both literally and figuratively. Last winter’s escapades on the slopes left me with a torn medial collateral ligament of my right knee that necessitated nearly four months of physical therapy. Oh, those early morning treks through ice and snow to get to rehab three times a week were no joy ride but, one must do what one must do in order to get the parts working again. Fortunately, therapy was successful and I was back to my athletic pursuits in time for summer tennis fun.

Well, sometimes the left hand does know what the right hand is doing. I think that my left knee felt left out and neglected because around Labor Day I became increasingly aware of pain in (yep, you guessed it) my left knee. Diagnosis: Torn Meniscus (cartilage).

OK, OK…I need to get into a more regular exercise program, stretch more, eat less, and drop a few pounds (alright, more than a few), but that’s for another discussion!

Fast forward to this past Friday, which at the time of this writing was two days ago. I had arthroscopic surgery to repair or resect the torn cartilage. Thankfully, it went without a hitch. I arrived at the hospital at 5:30am. Surgery under general anesthesia was at 7:30. I was in the recovery room at 8:45, and home before 11. Recovery plans were to be a weekend couch potato and be back in the office on Monday (tomorrow) with a somewhat modified schedule. A good night sleep was part of the planned healing process.

But you know the old saying, “The best-laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.”

I woke up at 7:45am on Saturday to the sound of my phone ringing. A dear patient of mine called in acute distress. She’d been out for a morning run when mishap struck: she stumbled face-first onto the ground, shattered one tooth, broke two others, and knocked another loose and out of place. Not to mention an assortment of bruises and abrasions.  Another saying comes to mind, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night (nor knee surgery) stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Duty beckoned! I met her at my office at 9:30am. Actually, she and her husband picked me up and we drove down together. She had no idea that I had just had surgery (how could she?) but she quickly found out when  I climbed into the car with the aid of a cane. Over the course of 3 ½ hours, I repositioned her tooth, restored her shattered and broken teeth, stabilized the fractured bone supporting her teeth and never once thought about or felt any discomfort from my knee. I was so focused on the task at hand and reassuring my patient that all would be fine, that I completely forgot about my own condition.

We all left the office with a sense of relief, accomplishment and gratitude. Her gratitude for me being there for her in her time of need. My gratitude for being able to make a difference. As strange as it may sound, I feel that my own healing was promoted by my involvement in the healing of another.

“Doctor Heal Thyself” may just mean that in helping others, we help ourselves.

– Michael



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Teeth Sensitive To Cold? Here’s Why:

October 2nd, 2014 by | No Comments »

teeth sensitive to cold, ice cream


“Why are my teeth sensitive to cold?”

This is one of the most common conditions and complaints reported to me by patients. This is a rather ubiquitous problem shared by many people as evidenced by the plethora of dental products on the market catering to sensitive teeth, Sensodyne Toothpaste being the most readily recognized.

Cold sensitivity does not necessarily mean that you have a serious dental problem looming. But while the cause may be not be serious in nature, the noxious feeling brought on by something cold can be rather startling and severe. This is because the only sensation that the nerve of a tooth registers is pain. Regardless of the type of stimulus (hot, cold, sweet, etc.) if the dental nerve is agitated, it will hurt.

The intensity of cold sensitivity can run the spectrum from mild inconvenience to intense “stopped me in my tracks” pain. The purpose of this soliloquy on cold sensitivity is to identify the most common causes and offer some practical solutions.


8 Reasons That Teeth Are Sensitive To Cold

Plaque Build-Up And Gum Inflammation

Periodontal (gum) disease can be a cause of cold sensitivity whether in its earliest stages as Gingivitis, or more advanced. A build-up of bacterial plaque is not only potentially destructive to your gums and bone, which support your teeth; it is also an irritant, which can lower the threshold at which pain is perceived. In other words, the presence of bacterial plaque can actually make your teeth more sensitive.

I have seen more than a few patients with healthy mouths come into my office complaining of general cold sensitivity when all they need to resolve the issue is a gentle and thorough cleaning. Often times these are longstanding patients who are overdue for their periodic re-care visit. Additionally, the persistent presence of plaque can promote periodontal disease which can lead to gum recession.

Gum Recession

Receding or receded gums are common causes of cold sensitivity. When your gums are not firmly attached to a tooth, as in the case of gum disease, they can actually pull away from the tooth and creep down (or up if it’s an upper tooth) leaving exposed root surface. Unlike the normally exposed part of your tooth, the root does not have enamel protection and therefore is more reactive to temperature, especially cold.

Aggressive brushing with a hard-bristled toothbrush or excessive pressure when using an electric toothbrush can cause gum recession and the resultant cold sensitivity. As I have stated in previous postings, tooth brushing should be a gentle process that is confined to the tooth structure. Don’t scrub your gums, either. And always be mindful that you are not scouring bathroom tile! It is very easy to damage your gums and cause recession with improper brushing techniques. For tips on tooth brushing, link here: The Dos and Don’ts of Brushing Your Teeth.

Patients who have had periodontal surgery or orthodontic treatment may also have gum recession. Aside from proper brushing techniques, fluoride rinses (both over-the-counter and prescription strength) and desensitizing toothpaste can help decrease sensitivity over time.

Bruxism And Clenching

Grinding or clenching of one’s teeth are commonly referred to as parafunctional habits. Bruxing (grinding) and clenching teeth together can be a potentially destructive pattern of behavior in which tremendous forces are placed on your teeth. This can result in a loss of tooth structure on the biting surfaces (dentist’s call this occlusal wear) or near the gum-line (abfractures). As your tooth wears down, the sensitive dentin can be exposed, creating temperature sensitivity, especially to cold.

Because grinding and clenching can generate upwards of 500 lbs. per square inch of force, your teeth themselves can be so traumatized to make them more reactive to cold stimulus.

Aside from temperature sensitivity, bruxism and clenching can cause premature tooth loss, muscle tenderness and TMJ symptoms. Many people who clench or grind their teeth benefit from an occlusal nightguard, which protects the teeth from wear during sleep.


Tooth decay is one of the most common reasons that you may have a tooth that is sensitive to cold. In fact, cold sensitivity is one of the earliest symptoms of a cavity. Unlike the previous conditions, cold sensitivity due to a cavity is more localized and is restricted to the involved tooth. See your dentist!

Broken Teeth or Lost Fillings

For reasons similar to teeth that have cavities, if you have a tooth or teeth that are broken, cracked or if you have lost all or part of a filling, cold sensitivity can arise. Generally this heightened sensitivity is because part of your tooth’s structure is exposed. Sometimes, if a break is severe, the nerve can be exposed causing an actual toothache. Clearly in any of these situations, a visit to the dentist is warranted. Go!

Acidic Food and Beverages
Beware of the many beverages on the market promoted by their manufacturers to be healthy alternatives to other drinks, such as soda pop.  Many of these so-called vitamin waters, energy drinks, and sports drinks are highly acidic and if consumed in large quantities can cause your teeth’s structure to break down. Acidic drinks are caustic and can actually dissolve tooth structure much the same way acids from bacterial plaque cause cavities!

The problem lies in how often you consume the offending drinks and the amount of time they are allowed to linger in your mouth. It’s best not to swish a drink while consuming as it prolongs the acid attack on your teeth. Also, do not brush your teeth for at least 30 minutes after consumption because the “softened” enamel or dentin is more susceptible to abrasion. This also applies to foods such as citrus fruits, pickles and vinegar that also have low ph. values (acidic). For more on this issue, please see: Is your Favorite Beverage Eroding your Tooth Enamel?

Recent Dental Treatment

The placement of large restorations, fillings or crowns can also provoke sensitivity. Restorative dentistry is actually a kind of “bloodless surgery” but it’s surgery nonetheless. Vital tissue is cut, albeit with a dental drill and not a scalpel, and the nerve of your tooth can be traumatized and sensitized by it. It is not uncommon for a recently restored tooth to have cold sensitivity that can last for several days.

If the condition lingers beyond this time frame, you should revisit your dentist. Often a simple “bite adjustment” can resolve the issue, especially if the filling was a bit too high. But don’t wait. Delaying a needed refinement can prolong your recovery time. Sometimes a cleaning or scaling can lead to temporary cold sensitivity.

If you experience cold sensitivity after a routine cleaning at your dentist’s office, try to be patient. Plaque removal can sometimes expose root surfaces that were “protected” from the elements by the very plaque that needed to be removed.

Acute Pulpitis

Acute pulpitis is an inflammation of the dental nerve. Generally the symptoms of this condition are more severe than just slight cold sensitivity. Not only are the teeth especially responsive to cold, the pain lingers even after the stimulus is removed. The intensity of this condition often necessitates root canal therapy. If you are experiencing this…go to your dentist right now.


Cold sensitivity is often more of a quality of life issue than a progressive pathological process that will worsen over time. In other words, normally there is nothing seriously wrong. I use various treatment approaches including conservative over-the-counter remedies, fluoride prescriptions, desensitizing treatments, as well as more definitive dental procedures such as bonding or gum grafting (to name just two). The proper management of cold sensitivity depends on the cause, the severity and the duration.

If you experience cold sensitivity, speak to your dentist for advice. If you develop sudden cold sensitivity or any other type of severe sensitivity, make an appointment as soon as possible.


Dr. Michael Sinkin is a NYC dentist that has been in practice for over two decades. He truly cares about the experience his patients have and takes great pride in making them feel relaxed and comfortable during every visit. Come in for an appointment and experience a different kind of dental practice. To find out more about Dr. Sinkin, please click here.

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Summer’s End

September 11th, 2014 by | 1 Comment »

With the flip of a calendar page and the start of September, we say good-bye to yet another summer. I have already a perceived an amplified buzz both on city streets and below them-the crowds have returned to the subway platforms.  West End Avenue has a steady stream of school buses and the street corners are decorated with school-bound children, some of them clad in the required plaid dress or mandatory white shirt and khakis; others wearing clothing of their own choosing or of their mothers.

Yes, summer is over and autumn is on its way and along with this changeover comes a palpable increase in activity. People are returning to their offices fresh from summer vacation wearing their “game faces” (albeit tanned) and ties, knowing that it’s back to the grindstone. (That’s maybe not the best idiom to use in a dental blog.)

The summer of 2014 is over. But, what an eventful summer it has been in our office! It all started with Barbara’s retirement at the end of June. This, of course, was preceded by months of preparation and interviews. Barbara was instrumental in helping me find her successor. And while I knew that I could count on her to leave me and the office in good stead, I am both excited and relieved that what could have been a harrowing gut-wrenching (my gut) experience has been more like a well- orchestrated dance, admittedly with some missed beats and missteps along the way.

I am thrilled to have Sandra Rolon on board as my new office manager and look forward to an enthusiastic collaboration committed to improving our ability to offer quality care in our characteristically caring manner.

As an aside, Sandra is the “go to person” should you have any questions about the practice, etc.

This summer also saw the completion of my first year of studies at NYU College of Dentistry’s dental implant program. It was nothing short of fantastic. I have gained far more than I ever could have anticipated and far more than the knowledge and surgical skills that I have acquired. Strangely, this is the first time in my life as a student that I was sorry to see classes end. Classes start up again on September 10th…I’m so psyched.

Another big change that occurred this summer was assuming control of my entire office space. I now have more flexibility, more elbow room, and another room to hideout.

Thankfully, we had a very busy summer treating our patients while all this other stuff was going on. While it wasn’t a particularly hot summer, our new air-conditioning system worked like a charm and I feel that it’s far easier for my staff to wear sweaters than it is for me to turn up the thermostat.

In addition, FIOS has come to our building, so not only can you get WIFI, you can watch whatever you want during your visit (you can even control the remote)!








On a personal note, my wife and I celebrated summer’s end by  going on our first two-week vacation (alone!!!!) since 1986. Our last two-week vacation (with children) was fifteen years ago. No special occasion, just a deep sense that it was about time we indulged ourselves. (Besides, my skiing injury this winter dashed any plans for a winter getaway.)

We took a five-day gourmet bike tour through the Loire Valley in France. It’s really a brilliant concept: eat three meals a day (including an outrageous gourmet French dinner) totally guilt-free because you’re biking 35 miles per day. The countryside was magnificent with endless fields of sunflowers, vineyards and innumerable chateaux with otherworldly gardens. What was an unexpected and pleasant surprise was that Ann and I were the only ones on the tour (with the exception of our two guides)!

We then spent four days driving through the south of France. We ended up in Barcelona where we spent the rest of our trip. It was a very special and adventurous experience for both of us. It’s kind of nice to be able to hang out with your spouse 24/7 for fifteen days and truly enjoy each other’s company. Even after 32 years of marriage.

We also got our first three stamps in our new passports. Not that our expired passport had all that many more.

Summer is my favorite season. Summer vacations are simply the best. A vacation is an opportunity for a time out. It’s a chance to take a break from your day-to-day life, and experience something different. It’s also a chance to recharge the battery.

Surprisingly, two weeks eventually seemed like a long time to be away. By day twelve I was looking forward to my return home. Mind you, I wasn’t wishing my vacation was over…I was having a great time. I was just mindful and appreciative that while I was truly in the moment of being away and enjoying our time abroad, I enjoy my life back home.







So summer is over. I’m happy to be back in the office caring for my patients with my wonderful office staff. I am looking forward to working with my new office manager Sandra, and developing a close professional relationship with her for the betterment of my practice. And I can’t wait for school to begin (as an upperclassman no less).

It’s time to put on my game face….but then again, I never really took it off!



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© 2008 Dr. Michael Sinkin, D.D.S.