Gum health. Cropped shot of a young woman showing healthy gums

Receding Gums: Symptoms, Consequences, and Remedies

By | Featured, Health & Wellness

We all have different teeth sizes, different gum colors, and some even have what we affectionately call “gummy smiles.” Our gums are important for keeping our teeth healthy and holding them in place. But when your smile starts to appear toothier looking, this may be indicative of receding gums.

How do receding gums start?

Gingival recession (receding gums or “long in the tooth”) refers to the progressive loss of gum tissue. When your gums pull away from your teeth, it leaves more of the tooth exposed, including the roots. It is a gradual process, commonly occurring in adults over 40 years of age. It can begin earlier, though, based on your family history, dental routine, hormonal changes in women, and smoking habits.

Signs of gum recession include:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Bleeding after brushing or flossing
  • Teeth appearing longer or exposed tooth roots
  • Tender or painful gums
  • Sensitive and/or loose teeth

Healthy Gums vs. Receding Gums


What are the consequences of gum recession?

When gums begin to recede, bacteria can gather in between the exposed teeth and the gums. If left untreated, this causes the tooth to become loose and susceptible to decay, and even gum disease. Additionally, the longer the recession is allowed to progress, the more cosmetic compromise (such as the growing of gaps between your teeth) it can cause.

Will receding gums heal and how are they treated?

Daily brushing and flossing paired with regular dental checkups and cleanings are the best ways to stay on top of your oral health. They allow your dentist to monitor your gum health. If your dentist recommends seeking treatment for gum recession, they may indicate one of the following procedures depending on the severity:

  • Brushing correction – Aggressive or over-brushing can damage the enamel and your gums. Using a soft brush and a proper, gentle brushing technique helps protect your gum tissue.
  • Treating existing conditions – Fixing crooked teeth, teeth grinding, and a misaligned bite can help reduce the wear on your gums.
  • Treating teeth grinding – Bitesplints/biteguards can help prevent more gum recession and damage to the teeth.
  • Treating gum disease – This procedure goes below the gum line to clean hard-to-reach spots to remove buildup and reduce gum inflammation.

Are receding gums reversible? No, gums cannot grow back but the gum line can be restored with proper action. If you think your gums are receding, schedule an appointment with your dentist.

Smile-Now Hiring

Join the Smile team!

By | Featured, News & Announcements

You’ve heard it said that an organization is only as good as its people. That’s exactly how we feel at Smile Dental Partners. We work hard to provide a culture that is connected, supportive, and fulfilling for the entire Smile team.

Smile is a multi-specialty dental practice with 5 West Michigan locations. Our passion is to reimagine dentistry and how people experience it. Our unique, integrated approach combines adult dentistry, pediatric dentistry, and orthodontics under one roof to conveniently meet the needs of the entire family from birth through adulthood.

Below are links to all our current job postings with additional information about each position and how to apply.

Clinical Positions

Smile Cascade is looking for a Registered Dental Hygienist.
Smile North Muskegon is looking for a Registered Dental Hygienist.
Smile Grand Haven is looking for a Registered Dental Hygienist.

Non-Clinical Positions

Non-clinical positions at Smile include our business offices, call center, billing department, and management.

Smile Cascade is looking for a Practice Lead.
Smile Grand Haven is looking for a Practice Lead.
Smile Grand Haven is looking for a Treatment Coordinator.




A man with toothache, periodontal disease in wisdom teeth

Teeth Grinding: Causes, Consequences, & Treatments

By | Featured, Health & Wellness

Much like chalk scraping on a chalkboard, something is jarring when you hear teeth grinding. The crunching, gnashing, squeaking noises. Gives you goosebumps thinking about it, huh? Often, though, those who grind their teeth do so unknowingly. Whether clenching during the day or at night, grinding your teeth can cause painful issues.

So, what’s teeth grinding?

Bruxism is the technical term for chronic grinding, clenching, or gnashing of teeth. And it’s common in both adults and children. Often, though, the teeth-grinding behavior with children is outgrown and doesn’t lead to long-term damage.

Bruxism can occur when you’re awake or asleep. If it happens during the day, it is usually tied to feeling anxious, angry, or stressed. Nighttime grinding is sometimes related to sleep apnea and acid reflux. Also, smoking, excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol, and illicit drugs can increase teeth grinding.

What are the symptoms of teeth grinding?

Chronic teeth grinding can lead to tooth sensitivity as well as dental and physical health problems if left untreated. Excessive tooth grinding can put added force on the jaw joint or muscles, leading to temporomandibular joint (TMJ/TMD) disorders. This is a group of conditions affecting the joint or chewing muscles. Other causes and signs you grind your teeth include:

  • Headaches
  • Facial and jaw soreness
  • Earaches
  • Painful, misaligned, or loose teeth
  • Chipped or fractured teeth
  • Tooth erosion
  • Gum recession

How can you stop grinding your teeth?

During regular dental exams, we will check for signs of bruxism. We will ask about your general dental health, daily routine, sleep patterns, and medications as well as look for the typical signs of teeth grinding, such as:

  • Tender jaw muscles
  • Ground, broken, or other obvious teeth abnormalities
  • Damage to the bone (observed through an x-ray)
  • Gum recession or tooth erosion

Once these are brought to your attention, you may be able to break the habit. If the problem persists or is severe enough, there are several approaches to treat teeth grinding.

  • Nightguards – Made from soft plastic or rubber, nightguards fit over your teeth (generally the upper teeth) to protect your teeth and gums. These absorb rubbing/biting forces and are often worn during the night.
  • Bite splints – These thin, hard or soft acrylic bite guards hold your teeth together and work to position the teeth and jaws. They are prescribed to someone with a TMJ diagnosis.
  • Dental corrections – If enough damage has been caused to your teeth, you may need crowns to reshape the biting surfaces of your teeth.
  • Alignment correction – If teeth are misaligned, crowded, and/or uneven it can put more pressure on certain teeth. Orthodontic treatment can help with alignment to evenly distribute your bite.
  • Stress/anxiety management – If your teeth clenching is related to anxiety, advice from a licensed therapist or professional counselor may help.
  • Address sleep-related issues – A sleep specialist can conduct tests, such as a sleep study to assess for episodes of teeth grinding, and determine if you have sleep apnea or other sleep disorders.

If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth or are interested in learning more, we encourage you to talk with your Smile team.

Baby's First Dental Visit

When should your child first visit a Pediatric Dentist?

By | Featured, For Kids, Pediatric Dentistry

Surprisingly, tooth decay can occur beneath the gum line well before any baby teeth appear in your child’s mouth. In order to prevent this and other early-onset oral health issues, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents bring their children in to see a pediatric dentist within the first six months after the first tooth erupts, but no later than age one, whether or not teeth are visible. This is only a general guideline. If your infant appears to have excessive oral discomfort or unusual problems teething, a visit to a pediatric dentist is warranted.

Another benefit of bringing your child to a pediatric dentist early is to give them a positive experience with the dentist. When children are introduced to healthcare providers early—and in a non-emergency situation—it can help to establish a comfortable experience.

At Little Smiles, we encourage parents to schedule their child’s first visit at the time of their first tooth or first birthday, whichever comes first. The visit allows your child to meet the dentist, experience a “chair ride” in a child-sized dental chair, and choose a prize from the treasure chest. The visit also has benefits for parents who wish to learn about diet and hygiene that will prevent future cavities and promote a healthy smile.

The Little Smiles team provides an atmosphere for kids that is relaxed and fun, teaching them to enjoy their dentist appointments. The benefit for your child is a healthy, life-long relationship with healthcare providers. 


Importance of Orthodontics

The Importance of Orthodontics

By | Featured, Orthodontics

Before you dismiss your dentist’s recommendation to see an orthodontist, take a moment to consider the benefits. Today’s orthodontic services are widely used for children, teens, and adults alike, and can have important health benefits beyond a confident smile.

Here are just a few reasons why orthodontics are important.

It’s for everyone.

Braces used to be a right of passage for the American teenager. But today, there’s no age limit when it comes to orthodontics. Contrary to what many adults think, it’s not just for kids. And with the introduction of invisible aligners, more and more adults are choosing to invest in a more confident, healthy smile. Orthodontic treatment is important for kids as they grow, but it has oral health benefits that are equally important for many adults too. The bottom line: it’s never too late.

It impacts oral health.

Misaligned teeth can have a long-term impact on oral health. Crowded teeth are difficult to clean and can lead to tooth decay and even jaw problems. Since you’ll need your adult teeth for the rest of your life, it’s important to take good care of them. That includes correcting issues that can improve your smile for years to come. An orthodontist can help you maintain strong and healthy teeth.

It builds confidence.

Many people are self-conscious about crooked teeth and bite alignment. Over time those feelings can erode their confidence and cause them to withdraw from some of life’s opportunities. Orthodontics is able to solve dental issues and provide a bright and healthy smile that can boost confidence and improve your self esteem.

Imagine the smile you’ve always wanted. Orthodontics can improve oral health and give you the confidence of a beautiful smile. 

And those benefits will last a lifetime.



What you need to know about Dental Insurance

By | Featured, Health & Wellness, Uncategorized

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 are 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 to 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 a list of participating insurance companies at Smile.

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?


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


The percent split between insurance payment and your responsibility.


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 (or 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.


Smile-Now Hiring

Smile is currently hiring for all positions

By | Featured, News & Announcements

Smile Dental Partners is West Michigan’s only multi-specialty practice. Our team of in-house specialists provide comprehensive dental care for adults, teens, and children at each of our four West Michigan locations (Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, North Muskegon, and South Holland).

We are actively looking to grow our team and welcome applications for the following positions:

DOCTORS  (please send resume to

  • General Dentists
  • Pediatric Dentists
  • Endodontists
  • Oral Surgeons
  • Orthodontists

CLINICAL TEAM  (please send resume to

  • Registered Dental Hygienists
  • Dental Assistants
  • Orthodontic Assistants


We invite you to join the Smile team!


How to remove plaque

How to remove plaque from teeth

By | Featured, Health & Wellness

Plaque is an invisible film of bacteria that sticks to your teeth. While brushing and flossing at home is a good way to safeguard oral health, it’s not enough to completely prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and other issues caused by plaque buildup. Hardened plaque (tartar) can only be removed during a teeth cleaning, which is why it’s important to see your dentist every 6 months.

Plaque loves to feed on the sugar left behind on your teeth after meals. For this reason, it’s important to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once daily. If you don’t floss, you could be leaving behind dental plaque hiding between teeth and along the gum line. The bacteria from plaque produce acids that destroy tooth enamel and gum tissue. In fact, plaque on teeth is one of the leading causes of cavities and gum disease.

It’s important to see your dentist every 6 months for a dental exam because it significantly reduces your risk of needing emergency dental care. While a small cavity can be treated with a filling, a tooth abscess will need an emergency root canal or even extraction. Only a dental professional can remove tartar from teeth. Tartar buildup increases your risk of cavities, gingivitis, and periodontal disease.

Many patients don’t brush their teeth long enough to remove plaque. Most dentists agree that it should take at least 2 minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Also, make sure that you’re not neglecting back teeth during your oral hygiene routine.

If you have questions or concerns, the Smile team will be more than happy to talk with you about the best way to take care of your smile at home.


Smile South Holland

Introducing: Smile South Holland

By | Featured, Holland Blog Article, News & Announcements

Smile Dental Partners is excited to introduce our newest West Michigan practice. Smile South Holland (formerly Comfortable Dental Solutions) is located at 205 W. 29th Street and provides comprehensive family dental care. 

Smile Dental Partners is West Michigan’s first and only multi-specialty dental practice. In addition to our new practice in South Holland, Smile has practices in Cascade, Grand Haven, and North Muskegon as well.

Dr. Dew and Dr. Stebbins—supported by Smile’s entire team of dentists—will care for existing patients as well as new patients. Smile looks forward to bringing our fresh and proactive approach to dental care to the Holland community.

We invite you to stop by and see our new home, or to call and schedule a visit. New patients welcome.



Halloween Candy Buyback

Results for 2019 Halloween Candy Buyback

By | Community Events, Featured, For Kids, Fun Stuff, Grand Haven Blog Article, North Muskegon Blog Article

Little Smiles’ 12th Annual Halloween Candy Buyback was a sweet success. A big thank you to all the kids (and grown ups) who brought in over 380 pounds of candy. This year we introduced the program at our new North Muskegon practice and invited the elementary schools in the area to participate in the school competition as well..

The winning school in the Grand Haven/Tri-Cities area was Peach Plains Elementary. The winning school in theGreater North Muskegon area was Central Elementary. Each school will receive an award, a check for $2 per pound of all the candy brought in by their students, and bragging rights for the year.

The candy collected is being donated to our Public Safety Departments along the lakeshore in appreciation for their service.

Halloween Candy Buyback