John D. Luker, DDS
997 Clocktower Drive
Springfield, Illinois 62704
(217) 546-8330



Posts for: February, 2017


Cavities can happen even before a baby has his first piece of candy. This was the difficult lesson actor David Ramsey of the TV shows Arrow and Dexter learned when his son DJ’s teeth were first emerging.

“His first teeth came in weak,” Ramsey recalled in a recent interview. “They had brown spots on them and they were brittle.” Those brown spots, he said, quickly turned into cavities. How did this happen?

Ramsey said DJ’s dentist suspected it had to do with the child’s feedings — not what he was being fed but how. DJ was often nursed to sleep, “so there were pools of breast milk that he could go to sleep with in his mouth,” Ramsey explained.

While breastfeeding offers an infant many health benefits, problems can occur when the natural sugars in breast milk are left in contact with teeth for long periods.  Sugar feeds decay-causing oral bacteria, and these bacteria in turn release tooth-eroding acids. The softer teeth of a young child are particularly vulnerable to these acids; the end result can be tooth decay.

This condition, technically known as “early child caries,” is referred to in laymen’s terms as “baby bottle tooth decay.” However, it can result from nighttime feedings by bottle or breast. The best way to prevent this problem is to avoid nursing babies to sleep at night once they reach the teething stage; a bottle-fed baby should not be allowed to fall asleep with anything but water in their bottle or “sippy cup.”

Here are some other basics of infant dental care that every parent should know:

  • Wipe your baby’s newly emerging teeth with a clean, moist washcloth after feedings.
  • Brush teeth that have completely grown in with a soft-bristled, child-size toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice.
  • Start regular dental checkups by the first birthday.

Fortunately, Ramsey reports that his son is doing very well after an extended period of professional dental treatments and parental vigilance.

“It took a number of months, but his teeth are much, much better,” he said. “Right now we’re still helping him and we’re still really on top of the teeth situation.”

If you would like more information on dental care for babies and toddlers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Age One Dental Visit” and “Dentistry & Oral Health for Children.”

They may be one of the oldest dental treatments on record, but crowns and bridges remain a dentist's go-to restoration for a reason. dental crowns, dental bridgesFrom cosmetic to general dentistry issues like stained, cracked or severely decayed teeth, crowns are the great dental multitaskers - they help to keep teeth strong and beautiful with one solution. Dr. John Luker, a dentist in Springfield, IL, recommends crown restorations for common dental problems like:

  • To save a tooth from potential extraction when most of the tooth is lost to cavities and severe tooth decay
  • To restore a broken or fractured tooth
  • To seal a tooth after a root canal treatment
  • To cover stains and discolorations that can't be removed with professional teeth whitening treatments
  • To replace a missing tooth as part of a dental bridge
  • To complete a dental implant

Dental Restorations in Springfield, IL

The teeth are subjected to consistent pressure and wear and tear on a daily basis, even with the best oral hygiene habits. This can take a toll on the both the cosmetic and functional aspects of a smile. Crowns can help make a faded, damaged and weak set of teeth look like new, without an investment in major dental work. When it comes to cosmetic smile enhancements, dentists focus on a few key factors: color, size, shape, spacing and alignment. A crown, which fits over a damaged tooth like a cap, or as part of a bridge to replace a missing tooth, is like getting a new set of teeth, without drastically altering or changing the look and feel of the natural tooth. Crowns are also used to strengthen damaged teeth weakened by trauma or infections.

Find a Dentist in Springfield, IL

Breaking, chipping, or losing a tooth or two may not always be preventable, but living with a damaged smile is optional. A simple crown restoration can help to improve your smile and manage the negative effects of living with tooth loss. For more information, contact Luker Dental Care by calling (217) 546-8330 to request an appointment with Dr. Luker today.

February 01, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: saliva  

For over a century now, health providers have depended on blood and urine samples to diagnose many forms of disease. Very soon, though, we may routinely use a different bodily fluid that's easier and cheaper to collect: saliva.

Secreted by six hundred or more glands in the mouth, saliva performs a number of important functions for digestion and overall oral health. Saliva lubricates the mouth to make food easier to swallow. Its enzymes begin the digestion process breaking down food even before we swallow. It also helps wash out food particles that could build up as plaque on the teeth and harbor disease-causing bacteria.

In terms of dental health, its greatest role is as a neutralizer of food acid. It's natural after we eat for the acid levels in the mouth to rise above normal. If acid remains in contact with enamel for an extended period of time it can soften the enamel's minerals and make it easier for them to erode. Within thirty minutes to an hour after eating, saliva neutralizes acid and restores the mouth's normal pH level. Saliva also contains calcium and phosphate materials, which helps restore some of the minerals the enamel may have lost from the acid contact.

But we're discovering saliva can do even more: we can now use it as an indicator for certain conditions in the body. Like blood or urine, saliva contains molecules that can serve as biological markers for different types of disease. By employing devices calibrated to detect these markers, we can use saliva to uncover cancer, diabetes or other systemic conditions.

As these particular devices are manufactured and become more available, the use of saliva for disease diagnosis will rise. In the future, you may not need a trip to the bathroom or wince at a needle stick — a swab of your saliva will do!

If you would like more information on saliva's role in your health, 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 “Saliva: How it is Used to Diagnose Disease.”