Cosmetic Dentist - Schoolcraft
529 N Grand St
Schoolcraft, MI 49087
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Posts for: September, 2014

By David E. Habecker DDS
September 29, 2014
Category: Oral Health
KeepYourGumsinthePink

Being “in the pink” is a good thing; it means you're healthy. Being “in the red” is not so good; it means your health is questionable (financially, anyway). Though they weren't coined for dentistry per se, these colorful expressions are helpful reminders when it comes to taking care of your gums: Pink is their natural, healthy color; that's what you want to see every time you look in the mirror. Red is generally a warning that something's amiss.

If your gums, or “gingiva,” appear slightly swollen and reddened at the margins and/or they bleed when lightly prodded by brushing or flossing, it's likely that you have gingivitis. This is an immune response to the buildup of bacterial plaque (biofilm) at your gum line. It is also an early red flag for periodontal disease (peri – around, odont – tooth), a degenerative process that affects not only the gums, but the periodontal ligament that attaches each tooth in its bony socket, and the underlying supporting bone.

Attentive home dental hygiene practices prevent most plaque buildup from occurring. Brushing correctly at the gum line is a good start. But even a deftly handled brush can't reach everywhere, so it's important to use dental floss or specially designed mini-brushes to get in between teeth and other hard-to-reach areas. Our office can instruct you on optimal home care techniques. We also encourage you to visit at regular intervals for professional cleanings so you are assured of addressing anything home care might miss.

In the absence of good oral hygiene, dental plaque can build and become increasingly difficult to remove as it calcifies, becoming tartar. It becomes a breeding ground for disease-causing microbes that normally wouldn't have the chance to gain a foothold. When caught early, gingivitis can be treated before any harm is done. Sometimes a thorough professional cleaning is sufficient. If the problem is ignored, however, the disease will most certainly progress to destruction of the surrounding, supporting tissues — the periodontal ligament and the underlying bone. If this happens, tooth loss could eventually result.

That said, there can be other causes for bleeding gums. These include:

  • Brushing too rigorously or using a toothbrush with bristles that are too firm
  • Side effect of a medication
  • In women, elevated hormone levels (e.g., birth control pills or pregnancy)
  • A systemic (bodily) disease

Whatever the reason, red is not normal when it comes to your gums. The sooner you discover the underlying reason(s) for inflammation or bleeding and take appropriate action, you and your smile will be back in the pink and you'll have no reason to be blue!

If you would like more information about preventing or treating bleeding gums, 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 “Bleeding Gums.”


By David E. Habecker DDS
September 26, 2014
Category: Oral Health
CavityPreventionforBabyFromDay1

Even before your infant's first tooth emerges, you can take steps to reduce the risk for cavities!

Cavities occur when decay-causing bacteria living in the mouth digest carbohydrates (sugars) introduced into the mouth via food and beverages. This produces acid, which can eat through the protective enamel surface of teeth and attack the more vulnerable dentin below. Infants aren't born with decay-promoting bacteria; however, they can acquire them from their caregiver(s) through close contact, for example:

  • Kissing on the mouth
  • Sharing food
  • Sharing eating utensils (e.g., a spoon or glass)
  • Cleaning off a pacifier by mouth

Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease! It can start as soon as the first tooth erupts — which generally happens around age 6 to 9 months but can be as early as 3 months or as late as 1 year. Besides being potentially painful, severe tooth decay may cause your child to lose the affected primary (baby) tooth before it's due to fall out on its own. That, in turn, can raise the risk of orthodontic problems because primary teeth maintain space for permanent teeth, which also use them as their guide for coming in properly.

It's important to clean your child's teeth regularly once they appear and to refrain from certain feeding activities that have been linked with early tooth decay. For example, use of a sleep-time bottle containing a liquid with natural or added sugars, such as formula or juice, can result in a pattern of severe decay once referred to as “baby bottle tooth decay.” These days, the term early childhood caries (ECC) is more commonly used to also encompass decay linked to continuous sippy-cup use, at-will breast-feeding throughout the night, use of a sweetened pacifier, or routine use of sugar-based oral medicines to treat chronic illness.

We recommend that you schedule a dental visit for your baby upon eruption of his or her first tooth or by age 1. This first visit can include risk assessment for decay, hands-on instruction on teeth cleaning, nutritional/feeding guidance, fluoride recommendations, and even identification of underlying conditions that should be monitored. Your child's smile is a sight to behold; starting early improves the odds of keeping it that way!

If you would like more information about infant dental care, 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 “Age One Dental Visit.”


By David E. Habecker DDS
September 18, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: orthodontics  
RemovingCertainTeethcanBenefitOrthodonticTreatment

Not only can orthodontic treatment transform your smile, it can also restore function to your teeth and mouth that will improve both your oral and general health. But any treatment to straighten misaligned teeth requires careful planning. Depending on the exact nature of your misalignment, there may be some additional steps we would need to perform before undertaking orthodontic treatment.

One common need is space to help relieve overcrowding. To make room for tooth movement, often a tooth may need to be removed if the crowding is excessive. The most likely candidates are the first bicuspids, teeth located between the cuspids (or eyeteeth, located in line under the eyes) and the second premolar located in front of the molar teeth. The removal of these first premolars won't have a great effect on future form or function. Under the gentle pressure exerted by the braces, neighboring teeth will move and fill in the open space. Today's orthodontist goes to great lengths to avoid removing any teeth; in severe overcrowding, though, this is an acceptable way to create needed space.

Damaged teeth in need of replacement may also be removed before orthodontics and certainly more desirable — if any tooth needed to be removed, you would always choose a damaged tooth first. The object is to first preserve the underlying bone and close the space to avoid replacing that tooth or, if not possible, maintain the correct amount of space for any future restoration.

As living tissue, bone constantly reshapes in response to its environment. If it no longer senses a tooth (or the forces exerted by a tooth when biting or chewing), the bone will slowly disappear through a process known as bone resorption. To counteract this process, we may graft material (like processed donor bone) into the socket to encourage and maintain bone growth. This creates a platform for future tooth replacements like implants or bridgework after orthodontic treatment.

After orthodontics, it may also be necessary to install some type of “placeholder” (temporary bridgework or partial denture) in the area of missing teeth. Keeping the teeth from migrating into the space will improve the chances that any permanent restoration like an implant or fixed bridgework will look natural — as if it belonged there the entire time.

A complete dental examination will indicate whether any teeth need to be removed before undergoing orthodontic treatment. If necessary, taking this strategic step will help ensure we achieve the best result — a winning smile.

If you would like more information on tooth removal and other options to enhance orthodontics, 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 Removal for Orthodontic Reasons.”


By David E. Habecker DDS
September 10, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral piercings  
OralPiercingCanLeadtoProblemsWithYourTeethandGums

Although sometimes controversial, body piercing has exploded in popularity, especially among young people. Aside from the social debate about such practices, there are health risks to consider. Oral piercings, in particular — especially of the tongue — could have an adverse effect on your dental health.

The trouble begins with the piercing procedure itself. The tongue is composed of a number of muscle groups that given its wide range of function require a lot of energy. To supply this energy the tongue has a large network of blood vessels; during a piercing it's not uncommon for profuse bleeding to occur. The tongue also contains a lot of nerve fibers — a piercing may result not only in severe pain, but in possible nerve damage too.

The tongue bolt, the most common tongue piercing, can cause a lot of damage in the mouth during wear, such as tooth chipping and increased sensitivity. It can also interfere with oral hygiene and contribute to the growth of tooth decay and gum disease. And, as with any cut or abrasion to soft tissue, piercings increase the risk of infection.

There are also issues if and when you decide to give up the tongue bolt — fortunately, though, not to the same degree as during wear. Cuts to the tongue tend to heal quickly, so the piercing hole may fill in spontaneously. In some circumstances, however, a surgical procedure (similar to one performed on large ear piercings) may be required to repair the piercing hole.

For the long-term sake of your oral health, we would advise against having your tongue or lips pierced. And, if you already have a piercing, please consider giving it up — in the long run you'll be doing your teeth, gums and other tissues in your mouth a favor.

If you would like more information on oral piercing and its effects, 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 to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health.”


By David E. Habecker DDS
September 02, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: dentures  
DIYDentureRepair-DontTryThisatHome

At first glance, you might think at-home denture repair belongs in the same category as Do-It-Yourself brain surgery and cloning your pet in the kitchen sink. But the fact is, you can actually buy a variety of DIY denture repair kits on line, send for them through the mail, even pick them up at some drug stores;you can even watch a youtube video on how to do your own denture repair. So if you’re feeling like Mr. (or Ms.) Fix-it, should you give it a whirl?

Absolutely not! (Do we even have to say this?) Repairing dentures is strictly a job for professionals — and here’s why:

First off, dentures are custom-fabricated products that have to fit perfectly in order to work the way they should. They are subject to extreme biting forces, yet balance evenly on the alveolar ridges — the bony parts of the upper and lower jaw that formerly held the natural teeth. In order to ensure their quality, fit and durability, dentures are made by experienced technicians in a carefully controlled laboratory setting, and fitted by dentists who specialize in this field. So just ask yourself: What are the chances you’re going to get it right on your first try?

What’s more, the potential problems aren’t just that DIY-repaired dentures won’t feel as comfortable or work as well. Sharp edges or protruding parts could damage your gums, make them sore or sensitive, or even lacerate the soft tissues. And even if these problems don’t become apparent immediately, they may lead to worse troubles over time. Dentures that don’t fit properly can cause you to become more susceptible to oral infections, such as cheilitis and stomatitis. They may also lead to nutritional problems, since you’re likely to have difficulty eating anything but soft, processed foods.

Finally, the kits themselves just don’t offer the same quality products you’d find in a professional lab. That means whatever repairs you’re able to make aren’t likely to last very long. Plus, they contain all sorts of substances that not only smell nasty, but can quickly bond your fingers to the kitchen counter — or to the broken dentures. (Imagine trying to explain that at the emergency room…)

So do yourself a favor: If your dentures need repair, don’t try and do it yourself. Bring them in to our office — it’s the best thing for your dentures… and your health.

If you would like more information about dentures or denture repair, please call our office to schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Loose Dentures” and “Removable Full Dentures.”