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



Posts for: December, 2017


Laying out goals for the New Year is a great way to inspire yourself to make positive changes that can improve your health. For example, many habits—both good and bad—affect the health of your teeth and gums. Here’s a list of risky habits to kick, and mouth-healthy habits to adopt:

Habits That Risk Oral Health

Smoking. As if oral cancer weren’t enough to worry about, smoking also promotes gum disease and tooth loss. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, smokers have double the risk of gum disease compared to nonsmokers. And according to the Academy of General Dentistry, smokers are about twice as likely to lose their teeth as nonsmokers. For help quitting, visit

Snacking. Nibbling all day can create the perfect conditions for tooth decay—especially if your snacks contain sugar and other carbohydrates. Sticky snacks like cookies, crackers, chips and candy bars that cling to teeth tend to remain in the mouth and attract decay-causing oral bacteria. The acid these bacteria produce can penetrate the enamel of your teeth, causing cavities.

Soft Drinks. Speaking of tooth-eroding acid, soft drinks have plenty of it. And this includes both regular and diet varieties of soda, sweetened iced tea, sports drinks and so-called energy drinks. The healthiest drink for your teeth is water!

Mouth-Healthy Habits

Brushing. You probably brush your teeth every day already, but are you doing it correctly? To get the most benefit from this healthy habit, brush twice each day for a full two minutes each time. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush with toothpaste that contains fluoride, and don’t scrub too harshly!

Flossing. Yes, it’s worth the effort! If you don’t floss, you’ll miss cleaning about 40% of your tooth surfaces. A toothbrush just can’t reach in between teeth, where decay-causing dental plaque can hide. If you find dental floss difficult to work with, try using disposable floss holders.

Regular Dental Checkups. Keep up a regular schedule of professional teeth cleanings and exams! This allows us to remove any hardened dental plaque (tartar) that has built up on your teeth, screen you for oral cancer, and treat minor dental problems before they become major ones. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to review your at-home oral hygiene.

If you have any questions about how to improve your oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “10 Tips for Daily Oral Care at Home” and “10 Tips to Help You Stop Smoking.”

By Luker Dental Care
December 19, 2017
Category: Oral Health

Have you visited the dentist for a checkup this year? When life gets busy, it's easy to forget about making appointments for dental care. preventative dentistryUnfortunately, skipping checkups can affect your oral health. Springfield, IL, dentist Dr. John Luker of Luker Dental Care explains why preventive care is so important.

Problems aren't always obvious

You might think that you would feel pain if you have a cavity, but that isn't always the case. In fact, cavities don't always cause pain unless they're fairly large. When you visit our Springfield office every six months, small cavities can be detected and filled before they can do too much damage to your teeth.

Dr. Luker will also look for other signs of trouble, such as cracks in teeth. Cracks are dangerous because they weaken teeth and allow bacteria to penetrate your tooth enamel. Once a tooth becomes weak, it's much more likely to break one day when you bite into your favorite food. If we do find a crack during your exam, we may recommend covering it with a crown to help you avoid tooth decay or an emergency visit to the dentist due to a fractured tooth.

You can't remove tartar at home

Two substances that coat your teeth can cause problems: plaque and tartar. Plaque is a transparent bacterial film that is responsible for cavities. Brushing and flossing removes the film, although it may be difficult to remove plaque completely if your teeth overlap.

Tartar, a grayish-brown deposit, forms when plaque remains on your teeth for about two weeks or longer. Unlike plaque, tartar can't be removed with a toothbrush or dental floss. The longer tartar remains, the greater your chance of developing gum disease. Luckily, our office has the dental instruments needed to get rid of hard tartar. Every dental checkup includes a thorough cleaning to remove both plaque and tartar.

Checkups help protect your health

Dentists don't just look for signs of cavities and other tooth-related conditions during regular exams. In addition to conducting an oral cancer screening, Dr. Luker will look for changes in your mouth or gums that can indicate a general health problem. For example, enamel erosion may occur if acid reflux causes stomach acids to flow back into your esophagus and mouth, while very pale gums may be a sign of anemia.

Protect your smile with regular dental exams. Call Springfield, IL, dentist Dr. John Luker of Luker Dental Care at (217) 546-8330 to schedule your appointment.


A toothache means you have tooth decay, right? Not necessarily — your pain could be signaling a number of potential causes. Determining where, how much and how often it hurts will help us find out the cause and apply the appropriate treatment.

A single symptom, for example, can mean many things. A twinge of tooth pain as you consume hot or cold foods might indicate localized tooth decay easily repaired by a filling. But it could also mean the tooth's root surface has been exposed as a result of periodontal (gum) disease — aggressive plaque removal and maybe even gum surgery might be necessary. Or it could be a sign of inner pulp decay: in this case you'll likely need a root canal treatment to save the tooth.

Pulp decay can also announce itself with a very sharp and constant pain radiating from one or more teeth. You shouldn't hesitate to see us for an examination — even if the pain goes away. Pain cessation most likely means the nerves in the pulp have died. The infection, however, still exists, so you'll still probably need a root canal treatment.

If you notice severe, continuous pain and pressure around a tooth, particularly about the gums, you may have a localized, inflamed area of infection called an abscess. An abscess can be the result of gum disease, but it might also stem from a foreign body like a popcorn husk, getting stuck below the gums. We'll need to conduct a complete dental examination to determine the cause and how to treat it.

Finally, a sharp pain when you bite down could mean many things such as a loose filling or a fractured (cracked) tooth. The latter especially requires immediate attention to save the tooth.

These are just a few of the possible causes behind mouth or facial pain. Although all of them are serious, a few are true dental emergencies and can't wait if we're going to save a tooth. The sooner you see us, the sooner we can help relieve the pain, minimize any damage and avert disaster.

If you would like more information on treating tooth pain, 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 “Tooth Pain? Don't Wait!