Category

Health & Wellness

How do you say Xylitol? (And what is it?)

By | Featured, Grand Haven Blog Article, Grand Rapids Blog Article, Health & Wellness

How often do you grab a quick lunch and then finding yourself reaching for a stick of gum? Gum has the ability to cover all sorts of lunch time taboos. Spinach in your teeth? Gum will floss it away. Onions on your sandwich? A minty gum will eradicate (or mask) your bad breath. Chewing gum, by design, can be good for your mouth so long as you stick to sugar-free and non-acidic brands. Before you reach for your favorite bubble-making brand at the store, consider this:

Xylitol (pronounced zy-li-tawl) is a sugar alcohol much like what is used in popular low-calorie sweeteners like Stevia or Truvia. The amazing attribute of this alcohol is that it fights tooth decay by balancing the pH (acid) levels in your mouth and prevents bacteria from sticking to your teeth. Xylitol has a naturally minty and sweet flavor, so it is common in dental products, such as floss and toothpaste, as well as gum. Xylitol gum is a popular product that has come on the market in recent years. While levels of Xylitol are contained in some popular brands like Trident, other products contain 100% Xylitol and have benefits like being free of Aspartame and other harsh additives.

Next time you reach for that post-lunch stick of gum, make it one that will help keep your smile healthy!

 

Tricks and Treats for Kids’ Healthy Teeth

By | Featured, For Kids, Fun Stuff, Grand Haven Blog Article, Grand Rapids Blog Article, Health & Wellness

Eating healthy foods has a positive impact on just about every area of our kids’ lives. From focus in school to performance in athletics making healthy food choices has major benefits, including fostering healthy teeth.

Some foods, however, which are positioned as “healthy” can have a negative impact on teeth. While sports drinks help to rehydrate kids during or after activities, they also bathe teeth in sugars and acids much like soda and other sugar soft drinks. Dried fruit is another common snack provided to kids to offer a boost of energy. While dried fruits are a great source of carbohydrates and fiber, they’re also full of simple sugars and due to their sticky composition can get caught in the crevices of kids’ teeth.

High fiber fruits and veggies act as natural teeth cleaners by scrubbing away food particles left from less healthy snacks, as well as providing minerals and increasing saliva production which neutralizes the acid in your mouth. Eating healthy snack items such as apples, celery, or carrots at the end of their lunch will help kids to keep their smiles clean and healthy.

Looking for the best solution? Water is always best for keeping kids hydrated and it has no bad side effects. Fresh fruits and veggies, cheese, and other natural, no-sugar-added snacks will provide kids a healthy boost of energy while helping to keep their smiles bright and healthy.

 

Things to consider when choosing a dentist

By | Featured, Grand Haven Blog Article, Grand Rapids Blog Article, Health & Wellness

Many things impact our decisions when it comes to decisions on care providers. Reputation, location, and insurance are just some of the practical considerations. While those things are important, they are not indicators that we will have a positive experience with a physician, dentist, or any other care provider we entrust our health and wellbeing to. Here a few less conventional, but perhaps more important, things to consider…

 

  1. Am I comfortable with this person and their team?
    Open communication…and an open mouth are key elements of a good dental checkup. Your dentist and his/her team should be someone you’re comfortable sharing concerns with and being in close proximity to. If you can’t relax, chances are you will not reap the full benefit of your cleaning or your dentist’s expertise on any issues you may be experiencing.

 

  1. Is the office clean, comfortable and equipped with the latest technology?
    A clean, sterile, and comfortable environment are important things to look for. Not only do these matters speak to the dentist’s investment in his/her work, they’re indicators of excellence. Equipment in disrepair or a dirty lobby can and should be unsettling. Most importantly, from teeth whitening to the ability to mold a crown in-house, the technology behind dentistry is quickly developing. Does your practice stay ahead of the curve and offer you the latest advancements?

 

  1. What is the dentist’s approach to care?
    A cavity does not heal over time nor does a broken tooth mend itself. Does your dentist take a proactive approach to care? Catching issues early and caring for teeth in proactive fashion saves time, money, and discomfort. Be wary if you dentist suggests “keeping an eye on something” rather than treating it.

 

  1. Do your kids dread the dentist?
    They shouldn’t. The first dental checkups your children have should be fun, educational, and set a trajectory for life-long dental care. Choosing a dentist who uses terminology that kids understand and engages with them is important.

 

  1. What happens when care becomes more complex?
    Its important to learn how advanced/specialty care and orthodontic procedures are addressed with your dentist’s office. Having a strong referral base or in-house specialist capabilities are the assets of a great dental practice that has oversight and concern for your family’s total care. When something goes wrong, you want to rely on an expert opinion – not Google.

Common myths concerning your mouth

By | Featured, Grand Haven Blog Article, Grand Rapids Blog Article, Health & Wellness

Myth #1: Putting Aspirin on your tooth will reduce pain.
Aspirin need to enter the bloodstream to be effective. Placing an aspirin on an aching tooth will not help resolve the pain—in fact, it may add to your pain by producing a chemical burn on your mouth from the acid!

Myth #2: Brushing your teeth after you eat is a good habit.
It is best to let at least 30 minutes pass between eating and brushing teeth. This allows the acid from foods you eat to neutralize in your mouth. Brushing can actually accelerate acid’s attack on your tooth enamel.

Myth #3: Don’t brush bleeding gums!
Although brushing may be the immediate cause of bleeding, it is ultimately more brushing and cleaning of your teeth that will resolve the issue. Bleeding gums is most often caused by tarter below the gum line. An improved cleaning regimen (flossing, mouthwash, brushing) will help remove the plaque and tarter that are causing the bleeding.

Myth #4: Whitening teeth damages tooth enamel.
Your tooth enamel is the hardest tissue in your body and is comprised of “tubules” that can only be seen under magnification. Whitening treatments flow through the tubules to the layer of tissue beneath the enamel called the “dentin.” It is on this dentin layer that the whitening magic happens.

Appointment Confirmations

By | Community Events, Featured, For Kids, Fun Stuff, Health & Wellness, Uncategorized

Smile has a new appointment reminder and confirmation system!

While this system will be more user friendly and provide more flexibility for our patients, new systems always require a bit of adjustment and patience.  Because the upgrade required a new software provider, email confirmations will start with a “welcome email”.  Please watch for this email in your inbox or junk mail.

If you are used to seeing confirmations and are no longer receiving them by email or text, please let us know!

 

 

 

 

Battling Bad Breath

By | Health & Wellness

Bad breath is a sensitive issue.  And if you are reading this, you either are embarrassed by your own bad breath or someone close to you suffers from bad breath.

In most cases, the bacteria that reside in the mouth cause unpleasant odors. Bacteria in your mouth change food particles and dead cells in the mouth.  It is part of the digestion process.  However, if those extra food particles and cells don’t get properly removed from the mouth they smell (and not in a good way). They especially like to reside on back and top of your tongue.

Food.  Foods that collect between teeth, around gums and on the tongue leave an odor.  And foods like onion and garlic contain odor-causing compounds that end up in the bloodstream, are transferred to the lungs and are exhaled.  For foods like these mints, mouthwash or gum only temporarily mask mouth odor.

Tobacco.  Tobacco products cause bad breath, stain teeth and irritate tissues. Irritated tissues increase the risk of gum disease, which also traps bacteria and worsens bad breath.

Diet.  Dieters can experience breath odor as the body breaks down its reserve of fat and protein for energy, releasing ketones in the breath.  In this case, this is a small short term price to pay for a healthier body overall!

Dry Mouth.  Dry mouth is a condition that can cause bad breath.  Under normal conditions, saliva cleanses the mouth and washes away those bacteria particles. But if saliva decreases, these particles and bacteria remain in the mouth.  Dry mouth can be caused by medications, salivary gland problems and by those who breath out of their mouths consistently.  Dry mouth also increases the risk for tooth decay and gum inflammation.

Disease.  Although less frequent, chronic bad breath could be a warning sign of a medical disorder such as a gum disease, or other medical disorders such as respiratory infections, diabetes, liver or kidney ailments, reflux or some cancers.

If you, or someone you care about, is experiencing recurring or long term bad breath, it is best to consult your dentist.  If necessary, your dentist may refer you to your physician.

 

Understanding Dental Insurance

By | Health & Wellness

At Smile Dental Partners, our Treatment Coordinators specialize in helping you reach your goals by estimating any investment you may have in your treatment.  We reduce surprises in your portion of payment by using the most comprehensive dental insurance software available to keep your insurance information up to date and creating financial treatment plans.

Insurance has become more complicated in recent years, and dental insurance is no exception.  There are thousands of different dental plans, and each policy has distinct benefits and rules of coverage that were determined by both the insurance company and your employer.

Policies can change your benefits and rules of coverage at any time.  Insurance companies do not notify dental offices of your changes.  While we attempt update our information about your policies on an annual basis, we may only become aware of changes upon filing a claim on your behalf or if you tell us of any changes to your coverage.

By understanding your own insurance, we can work as a team with you to provide the most accurate financial estimates.  Below is some insurance “lingo” that may help you understand your coverage:

Participating vs. Accepting:  This confuses most people.  If you call a dental office and ask is they “accept” your insurance, you are actually asking if they will bill your insurance company for you.  And the answer is almost always yes.  What you probably really want to know is if the dental office “participates” with your insurance?  This means that you will receive a discount for services covered by your plan, or the dentist office will “write off” a portion of the fee when applicable. Click here for our participating insurance companies.

Covered Services:    At what percentage are your cleanings, exams, fluorides, x-rays covered?  How often will the insurance pay for these services? Are there waiting periods before they will pay for your treatment?

Deductible:    This is an annual amount you are responsible for before insurance coverage begins.

Co-Payment: The percent split between insurance payment and your responsibility.

Pre-determination:   Some insurance requires permission for a procedure prior to receiving the service.  If these services are provided without pre-determination, the payment for services may be denied.  Pre-determination does NOT guarantee payment of your claim.

 

Benefit Limit:   An annual (for lifetime) limit that an insurance company will pay for your care.

 

Primary Insurance:   if you have more than one insurance policy covering you, the primary insurance is required to consider the claim for payment first.  For children whose parents both have insurance contracts, the primary insurance is determined by the month of each parent’s birthday (typically).

 

Secondary Insurance: A second insurance contract.  The secondary insurance contract may or may not cover costs that the primary insurance contract does not pay.

 

 

Pregnancy and Teeth

By | Health & Wellness

Do you believe pregnancy causes tooth decay?  This longstanding myth has been circulated for years.  It’s understandable.  Pregnant women experience hormonal changes which may cause some puffiness and bleeding of the gums.

In addition, it’s very easy for the pregnant woman and new mom to put off proper dental care and hygiene.  After all, is there anyone busier than a new mother?  But the delay in dental care may pose problems for the teeth, including decay.  And decay can be passed from mother to child through a kiss or the sharing of food or spoons.

Many pregnant mothers delay care because they are concerned about radiation from x-rays.  If your previously history indicates little decay, there is every reason to delay x-rays until after giving birth.  However, if you are experiencing a problem or are prone to decay, your dentist will discuss the pros and cons of x-rays with you.  Today, digital x-rays have greatly reduced radiation exposure, and further precautions can also be taken when x-rays are warranted.

The experts agree that proper rest, good nutrition, and excellent prenatal care help the new baby and mother.  Good dental care is a crucial part of the care you need as a mother-to-be.

6 Degrees of Treatment

By | Fun Stuff, Health & Wellness

When Kevin Bacon visits Smile Grand Haven, there are 6 degrees of treatment that can occur if he is diagnosed with decay:

The earlier the decay is found, the more simple and cost effective the treatment can be.  In the coming weeks, we will share with you what to expect with each treatment option.  But in the meantime, below are the basics:

The filling is the most basic treatment to restore a tooth.  A filling removes the decay and replaces it with a hard material.  It can be small or large depending on the amount and location of the decay on the tooth.

When a filling gets too big and there is not enough healthy tooth left to hold a filling, Kevin Bacon will need a crown.  A crown (sometimes called a cap) is a hat that looks like and fits over a tooth, after the decay has been removed.

If decay has reached the root of the tooth, a root canal is performed.  A root canal removes the infected root fluid (pulp) and replaces it with a substance to stabilize the tooth.  If Mr. Bacon requires a root canal, he will also require a crown to protect that remaining surface of the tooth that is exposed after the root canal.

If tooth decay is severe and the gums are also comprised (unable to hold the tooth in place) a root canal is not an option.  The tooth must be removed.  This is an extraction.

If Mr. Bacon looses a tooth, he has options with what he’d like to do with the remaining open space in his mouth.  He may choose an implant.   An implant is a fake tooth that is attached by a post that’s screwed into your jaw bone.

Lastly, if a majority of teeth are lost to decay, removable dentures (partial or full) are an option.

And, next time Kevin Bacon stops by the Smile offices, we will be sure to let you know!

 

Could stem cell research help your cavities?

By | Health & Wellness

Dentists have devised a treatment to regenerate rotten teeth that could substantially reduce the need for fillings in the future.

The therapy works by enhancing the natural ability of teeth to repair themselves through the activation of stem cells in the soft pulp at the centre.

Normally, this mechanism is limited to repairing small cracks and holes in dentine, the solid bulk of the tooth beneath the surface enamel. Now scientists have shown that the natural process can be enhanced using an Alzheimer’s drug, allowing the tooth’s own cells to rebuild cavities extending from the surface to the root.

Prof Paul Sharpe, who led the work at King’s College London, said: “Almost everyone on the planet has tooth decay at some time – it’s a massive volume of people being treated. We’ve deliberately tried to make something really simple, really quick and really cheap.”

Read the full article from The Guardian here.