My Blog

Posts for: November, 2017

By John Leitner DDS
November 20, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

If we could go back in time, we all probably have a few things we wish we could change. Recently, Dr. Travis Stork, emergency room physician and host of the syndicated TV show The Doctors, shared one of his do-over dreams with Dear Doctor magazine: “If I [could have] gone back and told myself as a teenager what to do, I would have worn a mouthguard, not only to protect my teeth but also to help potentially reduce risk of concussion.”

What prompted this wish? The fact that as a teenage basketball player, Stork received an elbow to the mouth that caused his two front teeth to be knocked out of place. The teeth were put back in position, but they soon became darker and began to hurt. Eventually, both were successfully restored with dental crowns. Still, it was a painful (and costly) injury — and one that could have been avoided.

You might not realize it, but when it comes to dental injuries, basketball ranks among the riskier sports. Yet it’s far from the only one. In fact, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), there are some two dozen others — including baseball, hockey, surfing and bicycling — that carry a heightened risk of dental injury. Whenever you’re playing those sports, the ADA recommends you wear a high-quality mouth guard.

Mouthguards have come a long way since they were introduced as protective equipment for boxers in the early 1900’s. Today, three different types are widely available: stock “off-the-shelf” types that come in just a few sizes; mouth-formed “boil-and-bite” types that you adapt to the general contours of your mouth; and custom-made high-quality mouthguards that are made just for you at the dental office.

Of all three types, the dentist-made mouthguards are consistently found to be the most comfortable and best-fitting, and the ones that offer your teeth the greatest protection. What’s more, recent studies suggest that custom-fabricated mouthguards can provide an additional defense against concussion — in fact, they are twice as effective as the other types. That’s why you’ll see more and more professional athletes (and plenty of amateurs as well) sporting custom-made mouthguards at games and practices.

“I would have saved myself a lot of dental heartache if I had worn a mouthguard,” noted Dr. Stork. So take his advice: Wear a mouthguard whenever you play sports — unless you’d like to meet him (or one of his medical colleagues) in a professional capacity…

If you would like more information about mouthguards, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards.”

November 16, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: jaw pain   tmj  

Why in the world does my jaw hurt so much? You may be asking yourself this question and wondering what you can do about the continual jaw paindiscomfort. Well, your Grand Haven, MI dentist, John Leitner DDS, can help. Dr. Leitner accurately can diagnose the source of your jaw pain and recommend treatment options to get you healthy and pain-free.

Sources of jaw pain

Medical News Today reports that millions of people suffer some degree of jaw joint pain. When linked to dental issues, the most common source of the discomfort is TMJ, or TMD, a disorder of the temporomandibular joints at the side of the head. Causing popping and clicking noises, headaches, ear and facial pain, inability to open and close the mouth, arthritis and more, temporomandibular joint dysfunction can be difficult to diagnose and manage.

Additional sources of jaw pain include misaligned dental bite, failing restorations (crowns and fillings), teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism), and even advanced tooth decay and gum disease. So when your jaw hurts, see your Grand Haven dentist right away for a complete oral examination. Painful jaw joints rarely get better by themselves.

Diagnosing and treating jaw pain

Dr. Leitner has worked with scores of patients who are experiencing jaw joint pain. He uses visual inspection, digital X-rays and the latest in dental technology to pinpoint the underlying causes.

For instance, he uses Tek Scan Occlusal Analysis to precisely view how a patient's teeth bite, or occlude, together. The information gathered by the T-Scan II apparatus tells Dr. Leitner how intense biting forces are and how they are distributed. Dr. Leitner likes to see a dental bite be properly balanced for optimal oral function and for bone, joint and dental longevity.

When he diagnoses temporomandubular joint dysfunction, Dr. Leitner may offer any number of treatment options. He strives to suit treatment to the patient's individual needs and preferences.

A care plan may include:

  • Custom-crafted acrylic mouth guards to alleviate bruxism
  • Restoration of worn tooth enamel with crowns or fillings as needed
  • Replacement of deteriorating restorations
  • Relaxation exercises to relieve tension on the jaw muscles
  • Referral for orthodontic care

Discover the source

And get some much deserved relief. If your jaw hurts, don't suffer. Contact your dentist, Dr. John Leitner in Grand Haven for a one-on-one consultation. His kind, compassionate manner, and astute diagnostic skills will help you feel better. Call today: (616) 842-2850.


It’s true — thumb sucking beyond age 4 can cause bite problems for permanent teeth. But prolonged thumb sucking is just one of a number of possible contributing factors for a bad bite (malocclusion). A dentist must identify all the factors involved when a bad bite is present — their involvement is essential for a successful treatment outcome.

A fairly benign habit for infants and toddlers, thumb sucking is related to an “infantile swallowing pattern” young children use by thrusting their tongues forward between the upper and lower teeth when they swallow. Around age 4, though, they usually transition to an adult swallowing pattern in which the tongue rests on the roof of the mouth just behind the front teeth. Thumb sucking stops for most children around the same time.

Thumb sucking beyond this age, though, can put increased pressure on incoming permanent teeth pushing them forward. This could lead to an “open bite” in which the upper and lower teeth don’t meet when the jaws are closed. The tongue may also continue to thrust forward when swallowing to seal the resulting gap, which further reinforces the open bite.

Before treating the bite with braces, we must first address the thumb sucking and improper tongue placement when swallowing — if either isn’t corrected the teeth could gradually revert to their previous positions after the braces come off. Besides behavioral incentives, we can also employ a thin metal appliance called a “tongue crib” placed behind the upper and lower incisors. A tongue crib discourages thumb sucking and makes it more difficult for the tongue to rest within the open bite gap when swallowing, which helps retrain it to a more normal position.

An open bite can also occur if the jaws develop with too much vertical growth. Like thumb sucking and improper tongue placement, abnormal jaw growth could ultimately cause orthodontic treatment to fail. In this case, though, surgery may be necessary to correct the jaw structure.

With all these possible variables, our first step needs to be a thorough orthodontic exam that identifies all the cause factors for your child’s specific malocclusion. Knowing if and how thumb sucking may have contributed to the poor bite will help us design a treatment strategy that’s successful.

If you would like more information on the causes of poor tooth position, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “How Thumb Sucking Affects the Bite.”