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  • Rootless Fears: Root Canal Therapy Gets a Bad Rap
    May 11, 2022

    Root Canal Therapy

    “Worse Than a Root Canal”

    If you’ve lived long enough, you’ve likely heard someone compare the pain they’ve felt to the pain of a root canal. Before many people are likely old enough to even need a root canal, they’ve already formed an opinion about this treatment as something excruciating and to be avoided at all costs. While we do recommend avoiding the need for root canal therapy altogether, we can attest that this treatment in no way deserves its bad reputation, and we’d like to take a moment on this National Root Canal Appreciation Day to dispel those misconceptions.

    Just What Is a Root Canal?

    What most people refer to as a root canal is an endodontic treatment in which the infected pulp and nerve in the root of a tooth are removed, the root canal is cleaned out, the space is filled, and the tooth is sealed and crowned to restore the tooth to healthy function. Because this treatment preserves your natural tooth structure and bite, it’s much preferred to extraction whenever possible. Despite the bad publicity around the treatment, it functions to immediately alleviate tooth pain caused by rampant infection and often abscess at the tooth’s root. This helpful graphic shows the series of steps the dentist or an endodontist will take in preserving a tooth using root canal therapy.

    What Causes a Patient to Need Root Canal Therapy?

    There are numerous factors that can play into the kind of deep infection of a tooth that requires endodontic treatment. Oftentimes it is highly preventable tooth decay that makes its way to the pulp and roots of a tooth. In other cases, a patient has had multiple procedures done on a tooth that over time have led to the susceptibility of that tooth’s core to infection. Sometimes a chip, crack, or other injury to a tooth can lead to deep infection. There are even cases when a tooth has no visible signs of damage or decay, but a trauma has lead to pulp damage that necessitates root canal therapy.

    What Are the Signs I Need Root Canal Therapy?

    With regular dental visits, your hygienists and dentist will often be able to head off instances of deep infection and hopefully address the issue before root canal therapy is needed. But there are times when an infection flares up quite suddenly, and it’s good to know the warning signs so you can alert our office right away. Here are some of the most common conditions associated with infection of a tooth’s pulp and roots:

    • Cracked or chipped tooth
    • Sharp, severe pain when chewing or biting down
    • Tender and/or swollen gums
    • Abnormal bulging or formation of pimples on the gums
    • Darkening or decay of the gums
    • Keen tooth sensitivity to hot or cold

    While none of these conditions is a certain indication that root canal therapy is needed, you should always alert us to them right away: Acting quickly can help to avoid further damage, infection, and the need for more extensive (and expensive) endodontic treatment.

    Seriously, Will It Hurt?

    If you had root canal treatment before modern techniques and anesthetics, it might’ve lived up to its reputation as a painful procedure. Today, however, most patients who undergo the treatment describe it as being relatively painless. We take great care to ensure our patients are fully numb and remain fully numb when a root canal (or any procedure) is performed. Progressing deliberately and skillfully and seeking constant feedback, your provider will keep you as free from pain as any other dental treatment. Many patients claim that root canal therapy was much more comfortable for them than fillings.

    How Much Does Root Canal Therapy Cost?

    The cost of root canal treatment will vary a good deal depending on the level of infection, the complexity of the case, and the tooth in need of repair. For example, molars are generally more difficult to treat, and the cost therefore tends to more. Broadly speaking, root canal is a much more cost-effective treatment than tooth extraction and replacement, since a bridge or implant will be called for to replace an infected tooth that’s extracted. Everyone’s situation is different, but our office will always be completely transparent and up-front when it comes to costs. For a little perspective, though: As of 2021, the average cost for root canal therapy for a front tooth was around $900, the average cost for a bicuspid was around $1,000, and the average cost for a molar was about $1,600.


  • Restoring Your Smile to Health
    February 2, 2022

    Full-Mouth Rehabilitation

    There comes a time for many people when traditional methods of tooth restoration are no longer viable. The impairment of the natural teeth has crossed a threshold where fillings are impossible or imprudent. In these cases, many people choose dentures, usually due to their comparatively low cost. For others, a welcome alternative to dentures is full-mouth rehabilitation (sometimes called full-mouth restoration or full-mouth reconstruction), which in the broadest sense is using multiple advanced restorative techniques to rebuild your natural, healthy smile. Neighborhood Smiles is proud to offer this service to our Belleville and Madison-area communities.

    Who Are Candidates for Full-Mouth Rehabilitation?

    Our office stands by its commitment to never try to “upsell” or strong-arm patients into treatments. We never want anyone to feel that they’re being railroaded when it comes to any procedure, especially one that involves a significant investment of time and money. That’s part of the reason why we created this blog article: We want our patients to be informed of every option and to have a clear understanding of the treatments we might recommend for them. Transparency and clear communication are central to how we do dentistry, and candidates for full-mouth rehabilitation can rest assured that from your first consultation to the very last appointment, you will know what’s going on with your treatment plan in terms of services provided and the costs they entail. In the end, whether our patients choose dentures or full-mouth rehabilitation (or some other treatment option), we will always provide them with the same personalized care and everything they need to make the best decision for themselves.

    That said, there are several reasons why people seek out full-mouth rehabilitation. Here are the most common:

    • Decay of teeth – Many candidates for full-mouth rehabilitation have experienced extensive tooth decay, sometimes through poor dental hygiene habits and diet, but sometimes as a result of things like medications or genetic/hereditary factors.


    • Wearing down of teeth – Many of our full-mouth candidates have suffered from an erosion of their tooth enamel because of persistent grinding, acid reflux, or simply years of use.


    • Damage or trauma to the teeth – Accidents, sports injuries, or other impacts to the teeth will often bring about the need for an overhaul of the bite and smile.


    • Persistent problems with the jaw and/or tooth alignment – Often full-mouth rehabilitation is sought out when there’s a misalignment of the jaw and/or teeth, which can lead to tooth damage, ongoing headaches, and muscle pain.


    While there are other reasons for seeking out full-mouth rehabilitation, candidates most commonly have one of these four issues.

    What’s the Process for Full-Mouth Rehabilitation?

    No two patients will ever have exactly the same experience with full-mouth rehabilitation. At our office, a central guiding principle is providing personalized care, whatever the service being provided. We want to know you and your thoughts well before we begin on any treatment plan. But every patient who decides to embark on full-mouth rehabilitation can expect similar things from the overall experience.

    • Consultation with the dentist – You’ll start off by being scheduled for an appointment to meet with the providing doctor to discuss your situation, conduct a thorough examination of your teeth and oral health, answer any questions you might have, and begin the steps for a treatment plan going forward. There are situations where you might meet with the dentist only to discuss the full-mouth treatment and then return for the thorough examination at a second appointment.
    • X-rays and impressions of your teeth – To carry out any full-mouth rehabilitation treatment plan, you will need to have current X-rays, along with a 3D scan and/or impressions taken of your bite.
    • Initial photographs – We’ll also take photos of your teeth at this time — not only do we love to be able to show you the wonderful before-and-after imagery at the end of the treatment, the photos will help guide things like alignment of the teeth and coloring of any crowns.
    • Finalized treatment plan – Once our dentist has all the information needed on the condition of your teeth, the health of your gums and bone structure, the alignment of your jaw, and the appearance of your smile from an aesthetic standpoint, a step-by-step treatment plan will be created to guide the rest of the process. As alluded to above, no two treatment plans will ever be the same, and they will factor in your specific needs and desires for the final outcome. Costs and time commitments will be made clear, and any further questions will be answered.
    • Rehabilitative procedures – These procedures will obviously vary from patient to patient, depending on their specific needs. Some patients undergoing full-mouth rehabilitation might only need two or three from the following list, where others will require many or all of the services. All of these procedures will have been discussed with the patient ahead of time and integrated into the unique treatment plan.
      • Teeth cleaning/periodontal care – The first procedure most full-mouth patients will undergo ensures that natural teeth and gums are as healthy as possible before moving forward.
      • Crown lengthening – In order for crowns (or possibly bridges) to be placed on those teeth that need them, healthy tooth structure may have to be exposed.
      • Gum contouring – In addition to crown lengthening, patients’ gums may need to be shaped to present their most symmetrical and healthiest looking smile.
      • Orthodontics – Our dentist may recommend Invisalign® or other orthodontic treatments to help address bite issues and move the patient’s teeth into the optimal position for restoration.
      • Bone grafting – If patients opt for dental implants to replace damaged or missing teeth, bone grafts are sometimes required to provide enough stability and structure for the implant to be anchored properly.
      • Dental implant placement – Using 3D imagery of the patient’s mouth and jaw, our dentist will create a guide and anchor into the bone a titanium implant that will later receive a ceramic crown or potentially anchor a bridge restoration.
      • Crown preparation – In order for any crowns to be placed on a patient’s natural teeth, existing tooth structure will have to be reduced and shaped to receive the crowns.
      • Temporary crown placement – Once the natural teeth needing crowns have been prepared, temporary crowns will be placed to ensure proper fit and bite alignment. These temporary restorations will give the patient time to grow accustomed to their new teeth and will be worn until our lab finishes crafting the permanent ceramic crowns.
      • Placement of permanent crowns or other restorations – Once we have back from the lab the patient’s final crowns (or potentially their bridges, veneers, inlays, or overlays), the dentist will remove any temporaries and permanently cement the final restorations to the existing teeth.
    • Final photographs – Once patients have completed the entire full-mouth treatment plan, we take photos of the final result. We use these for our own documentation and education purposes, and we may also — with patients’ permission — share them publicly on our website. The before-and-after imagery (like the photos included in this blog) are an excellent way to educate and help prospective full-mouth patients make decisions about moving forward with the treatment.

    How Long Does Full-Mouth Rehabilitation Take?

    The duration of the entire process of full-mouth rehabilitation will vary a great deal from person to person based on dental needs, desired outcomes, and other factors like age and budget. There are some patients who complete the entire rehabilitation within two months. Other patients may choose to address different needs over the course of a year or more. Some of the procedures in the process require built-in waiting time. For example, if a bone graft is needed, the healing time can be up to four months before an implant can safely be placed. If orthodontic treatment is needed to move the teeth into proper position, the waiting time could be six months to a year. Whatever your particular dental needs, you can rest assured that you will know how long the process will take when you go over your individualized treatment plan with the dentist.

    How Much Does Full-Mouth Rehabilitation Cost?

    This question is at the front of most patients’ minds when they schedule their initial consultation. And, as you can guess from what you’ve already read, the answer is dependent upon each individual’s dental needs and desired outcomes. Cost is also determined by what types of treatment are chosen: A patient who chooses dental bridges to replace missing or damaged teeth will pay less than a patient who chooses dental implants for the same replacement. A patient may choose veneers or inlays/overlays over crowns. One thing is certain and consistent: At Neighborhood Smiles, you will never be surprised by costs. We will talk you through every step of the process in your treatment plan, alerting you to the various prices of different procedures, explaining how much of the treatment may be picked up by insurance, and helping you to make the best decision for your individual circumstances. Because of the variety factors and potential services involved, it’s difficult to give an average cost for full-mouth rehabilitation. On the lowest end, a patient is looking at a cost of about $15,000. For more extensive work, the cost can run in the $30,000 to $45,000 range. That is, without question, a great deal of money to spend on one’s teeth; but for those who have chosen to go through the process, having their natural smile restored to health is well worth the investment.

    Where Can I Learn More About Full-Mouth Rehabilitation?

    The best resource we can provide is our team, which has a great deal of experience working with patients on their full-mouth treatment plans. For more information on how the process works or questions related to your specific situation, please give our office a call at (608) 424-3222. We look forward to speaking with you and helping you on your way to a fully restored smile! Below are a few more before-and-after photos of full-mouth rehabilitation patients, along with additional web resources on this subject.



  • Avoid a Dental Nightmare This Halloween
    October 28, 2021

    Tricks for Enjoying Your Halloween Treats

    The Halloween season provides more opportunities for candy consumption than any other. As dental professionals, we consider ourselves candy experts (both because we know the effects it has on oral health but also because we’re secretly some of the biggest sweet tooths around). While we can’t in good conscience tell you to never eat candy (especially around Halloween), we would like to share some important information that will help you to keep your teeth in the best health possible while enjoying some of the season’s delicious treats. The best way to keep your mouth healthy and still get your candy fix is to eat the right kind of candy in moderation and maintain a great oral hygiene routine. Here’s how.

    Not All Candies Are Created Equal

    Every different brand of sweet deliciousness has plenty of faithful followers. Whether it be Snickers™, M&M’s™, Skittles™, Starburst™, Laffy Taffy™, or any of the others, we all have a special candy that’s too good to share. Unfortunately, the candies that make your teeth happy might not be the same ones your stomach craves. Ultimately, soft and/or sugar free candy does the least harm to your teeth.

    Why Candy Can Be Harmful to Your Teeth

    You’ve probably heard all your life that candy is bad for your teeth, but have you ever wondered what it is that makes it so bad? Our dental professionals break it down for you:

    1. Sugar. Sugar. Sugar. Bacteria are the root cause of nearly every dental problem, and they thrive on the abundance of sugar that candy provides. All food causes some buildup on your teeth. After eating and drinking, little bits of food are left behind in your mouth. Out of all the food we eat, sugar does the worst damage to your teeth. Even healthy foods like milk, bread, and produce contain some natural sugar, but these foods also contain necessary vitamins and nutrients. Eaten in healthy amounts, your body has no problem breaking down the natural sugars with the other food bits on your teeth. The problems begin when you eat food that has more sugar than nutritional value. Without proper nutrition, your body may be unable to fight the bacteria and decay excessive sugar consumption causes in your mouth. The American Heart Association recommends you have no more than 9.5 teaspoons of sugar per day. However, in the U.S. the average adult consumes 22 teaspoons, and the average child consumes 32 teaspoons…every single day! You can imagine how much higher those numbers are when a stockpile of Halloween candy is around.
    2. Consistency. Candy comes in all shapes and sizes, but because of the common ingredients, candy sticks to your teeth, allowing more plaque to form in more vulnerable areas. Plaque begins to form within 20 minutes of eating. It is this plaque that damages your tooth enamel: bacteria in your mouth changes the food you eat into acid, eating away at the tooth and forming a cavity. Sticky candies provide the ideal opportunities for these harmful bacteria to thrive, and they make it harder to you to remove them through regular hygiene methods like rinsing and brushing.
    3. Addictiveness. Candy is designed to override our better judgment and be so irresistible that we eat way too much of it. And it works! Our brains are predisposed to give positive feedback to sugar intake, which can make many sweets as addictive as any other chemical. There have been a number of published studies in recent years that address the addictiveness of sugar. These studies have purported that sugar is just as addictive as drugs like cocaine and heroin. The authors of these studies cite experiments showing that lab rats are just as – and sometimes more – prone to choose sugary treats like Oreos over injections of drugs like morphine when given the choice. This is a direct result of the connection between sugar and dopamine, the pleasure and reward chemical produced by our brains. Might not be a pleasant thought, but good to keep in mind when you’re reaching for that fifth candy bar from your kid’s trick-or-treat bag!

    The American Dental Association gives us a good summary of the harm that candy poses: When bacteria are left unchecked, they form the sticky, filmy substance we know as plaque. As the plaque sits on your teeth it produces a harmful acid that eats away at them, destroying tooth mineral. Once enough damage has been done, the structural integrity of the tooth is compromised and a cavity forms. Eating too much candy speeds this process up and paves the way for more damage.

    How Can I Enjoy Candy and Still Maintain Good Oral Health?

    Candy that is easily chewed and swallowed is best for your teeth. Hard, sticky candies stay on the teeth longer, do more harm, and can disrupt your dental work. It’s not uncommon at all for us to hear from patients who have lost a crown to a sticky treat. This Halloween, your best bet is to pick soft candies or chocolates that can be easily washed away with water (and on that note, don’t compound the problem by drinking sugary soft drinks). And above all, make sure to keep up at least twice-daily brushing and daily flossing throughout this candy-centric season. As mentioned, plaque begins to form in about 20 minutes after eating sugary food, so your best bet is the brush and floss your teeth within that window of time. At the very least, try to rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash shortly after eating candy.

    If you have any questions related to diet and oral health, please give us a call today or ask us at your next visit. And have a very safe and happy Halloween!


  • Your Teeth at Their Best & Brightest
    October 4, 2021

    Teeth Whitening


    There are three basic types of in-home whitening: toothpastes and mouthwashes, whitening strips, and gel trays. While whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes are the least expensive products on the market, they are also the least effective at creating noticeable change in the short-term. This is because they don’t have a significant amount of the active ingredients in most whitening products, which are hydrogen or carbamide peroxide. However, they are effective at removing surface stains. On the other hand, gel trays and whitening strips can produce some serious whitening in days or weeks.


    Whitening strips are made from a flexible plastic material called polyethylene. Each strip is coated with hydrogen and/or carbamide peroxide and an adhesive to keep the strips in place. Hydrogen peroxide oxidizes as it comes in contact with your teeth, which bleaches teeth, making the surface whiter. Carbamide peroxide works the exact same way but has an acid that breaks up stains as well. Treatment times vary from brand to brand, but the average whitening strip package comes with 28 strips, for two weeks of whitening (one per night per row of teeth). Usually, the directions instruct you to wear the strips for about half an hour before going to bed. Most people who try whitening strips notice a significant improvement in the whiteness of their teeth. However, they are not effective on tetracycline (antibiotic) or fluorosis (fluoride poisoning) stains, and they will not change the color of dental restorations.


    Although they are more expensive, professional whitening treatments are much more effective, safer, and can usually be done in one or two office visits. Apart from in-office professional whitening, there are currently many gel tray whitening products that can be purchased over the counter. All of these products essentially use trays that are filled with a bleaching agent that removes stains on the teeth. Whether it’s at home or in the dental office, the basic process is the same: The teeth bleaching gel contains an ingredient that opens the pores in the tooth which allows the active bleaching agent to seep through these holes in the enamel into the dentin of the tooth. The oxygen molecules from the bleaching gel contacts the discolored particles latched to the tooth, which causes them to break away and exposes the tooth’s natural color. In some cases, an LED light works with a whitening gel as a catalyst to speed up the whitening reaction. One advantage of professional whitening in the dental office setting is our team can create a custom tray that perfectly fits your tooth structure and ensures the greatest possible whitening effect.


    Regular dental care through brushing and flossing remains your best tool for maintaining a brighter smile, in addition to its benefits of protecting against tooth decay and gum disease. This is especially effective when paired with dental-friendly diet and lifestyle choices. Many people realize that a whiter smile can be maintained by avoiding excessive contact with candy, coffee, tea (black teas can stain teeth worse than coffee), soft drinks, wine (both red and white have staining effects), tomato-based sauces, certain berries, and tobacco products. What many people don’t realize is that there are some tooth-friendly foods out there that will actually help you maintain a bright, healthy smile and can even naturally whiten your teeth. Here are just a few:

    • Fruits such as apples and strawberries contain malic acid which removes surface stains from your teeth and whitens enamel. Strawberries are also beneficial in that they contain ellagitannins—antioxidants that are known to reduce stain-attracting bacteria and inflammation in your mouth. Additionally, apples—along with celery, carrots and pears—have a high water content. This increases production of saliva, which washes away stain-producing bacteria in the mouth.
    • Pineapple is the only food that naturally contains bromelain. Guess where else we can find bromelain? In stain-removing toothpaste! Bromelain is a compound that has anti-inflammatory and cleansing properties and is effective in removing surface stains from your teeth, resulting in a brighter smile.
    • Broccoli, seeds and nuts, and (yet again) apples, scrub your teeth and naturally remove bacteria and plaque. Eat these foods in the afternoons to clean and polish your teeth, giving them a brief midday brush. What’s more, broccoli is high in fiber and iron, resulting in a lower risk of inflammation in your mouth and greater protection against enamel-degrading acids produced by bacteria.
    • Cheese and milk are full of calcium, which we all know is very good for teeth and bones. Calcium, as well as other minerals and proteins found in dairy products, protect tooth enamel from erosion and decay. They also don’t stain your teeth like coffee, wine, or beets would.

    Here are a few more everyday tips to help you keep your teeth looking their brightest:

    • If you are going to drink coffee, tea, or any other potentially teeth-staining beverage, limit how long they’re lingering in your mouth. It can be nice to really enjoy that first cup in the morning or to savor that great red wine you’re pairing with dinner, but swallowing quickly rather than sipping slowly can effectively mitigate the staining effects of these beverages.
    • Brushing your teeth right after coffee, tea, soda, or wine can actually do harm to your tooth enamel, which could’ve been weakened by the acids from these drinks. Try first rinsing your mouth with water – which will neutralize some of the acidity from those beverage – before going on to brush. The same thing applies after you eat an acidic meal: rinsing first is always a good idea.
    • Replace energy drinks – especially those containing sugars – with water for your workouts and activities.
    • When possible, go with a straw (consider getting a reusable one) in your potentially stain-causing beverage. The delivery method of the straw ensures that hardly any of the liquid will come in contact with your teeth, especially your front teeth.

    For more information on teeth whitening or to set up an appointment for a profession in-office or take-home whitening treatment, please call us at (608) 424-3222.


    The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

  • Get Wise About Wisdom Teeth
    September 29, 2021

    Potential Problems with Wisdom Teeth

    Wisdom teeth, the molars in the far back of your mouth, are nicknamed for the fact that they appear by the time you are finally mature (and presumably wise;). Whether or not these molars cause you problems is hard to predict, but if you’re experiencing some specific pain in your gums and jaw, you may be wondering if you have impacted wisdom teeth. At Neighborhood Smiles, we take care of wisdom teeth from all around the Belleville area. Let us tell you more about impacted wisdom teeth and what to do if you have them.

    What Are Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

    Your wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars you’ll get. They usually come in when you are between 17 and 21 years old, though some people’s wisdom teeth won’t come until much later, if at all. As with all teeth, wisdom teeth are expected to break through the gums and become totally visible when they emerge. However, in some situations, wisdom teeth stay deep in the jawbone or never break through your gums. In this case, the wisdom teeth are impacted.

    Have you ever tried to shove one last book onto an already-full bookshelf? When your last set of teeth comes into an already-full mouth, it’s a similar situation. There simply may not be enough room for them and they may stay impacted under the gums.

    Another reason a wisdom tooth may be impacted is if it grows in sideways or twisted and headed straight into another tooth.

    Impacted teeth can cause problems such as:
    • Pressure on teeth so your bite becomes misaligned
    • Pain and dysfunction in your mouth and jaw
    • Inflammation and extra plaque buildup on a partially impacted tooth (if some, but not all of the tooth breaks through the gum)

    Some dentists prefer to remove wisdom teeth early to avoid any problems altogether. Early removal also usually means easier recovery.

    Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

    Sometimes, wisdom teeth come in or stay impacted without a single hitch. However, if you are experiencing any of these problems, you may have impacted wisdom teeth that need to be treated:
    • Irritated, red, swollen gums in the far back of the mouth
    • Discomfort opening your mouth
    • Jaw pain keeping you up at night
    • Bad breath
    • Bad taste when biting down
    • Fever

    How to Treat Impacted Wisdom Teeth

    Our dentist will confirm whether or not you have impacted wisdom teeth by looking into your mouth and also taking X-rays. The teeth may not need to be removed or extracted, in which case you can take pain medicine and use some warm saltwater rinse to soothe your gums. If an impacted tooth is causing problems for the rest of your mouth or jaw, it’s likely the dentist will want to surgically remove it—this is called extraction. Wisdom tooth extraction can leave your mouth sore for a few days, so you may need to take time off work or school and eat only safe, soft foods.

    If you think you have impacted wisdom teeth, or if you have any other questions, Neighborhood Smiles in Belleville would love to see you soon! Call us today at (608) 424-3222 to be proactive about your oral health. Now that’s a wise decision.


  • Dental Veneers: What You Need to Know
    June 25, 2021

    Dental Veneers

    What Are Dental Veneers?

    Dental veneers are very thin shells of porcelain or composite resin that are permanently bonded to the front surface of teeth using dental cement to improve the appearance of one’s smile. These veneers are crafted in a dental laboratory using measurements and models provided to them by our dentist.

    Who Can Benefit from Dental Veneers?

    Many patients can benefit from dental veneers, including those who have chipped, stained, decayed, crooked, gapped, or otherwise blemished teeth. Sometimes, patients who elect other cosmetic or restorative procedures—such as Invisalign or full mouth rehabilitation—also opt for dental veneers to complete their smile transformations.

    How Are Dental Veneers Applied?

    The complete process for fitting dental veneers usually takes three or four visits to our office. The first appointment involves a consultation with our dentist, where the patient can explain his or her desires for the procedure, and our dentist will go over your medical and dental history, examine your teeth, and offer a full explanation of the procedure, including the benefits and drawbacks. The second appointment is where we take measurements and create models of the patient’s teeth that will be sent along to the dental lab that crafts the veneers. This visit will involve multiple X-rays, teeth impressions, and photographs of the teeth and smile. Temporary Veneers. Depending on several factors, the third appointment is usually to apply temporary veneers. After numbing the teeth, our dentist will remove a thin layer of the front of those teeth that will be receiving the veneers. Any transformation of the gums that needs to occur will likely be done at this visit. Once the temporary veneers are applied, tests will be done to ensure proper fit, bite, and comfort. At this point, additional impressions will likely be taken so that the permanent veneers are perfectly crafted. Normally, the temporary veneers are worn for about two weeks. During the final appointment, the temporary veneers are removed after the teeth have again been numbed. The patient’s natural teeth are then cleaned, dried, and prepared for the bonding of the permanent veneers. Once the permanent veneers are placed, they’ll be fitted, filed, and thoroughly tested for proper appearance and bite before the dentist permanently bonds them onto the natural teeth.

    How Long Do Dental Veneers Last?

    According to the American Dental Association, porcelain dental veneers can be expected to last at least ten years. They often last much longer: 20 years is not uncommon. This, of course, is dependent on patients’ behavior and care for their teeth. Composite resin veneers have an expected life of about five to seven years, again depending on care.

    Why Choose Dental Veneers?

    There are many reasons why patients choose dental veneers over crowns, dentures, or other dental services. Once of the biggest benefits of veneers is that they leave more of a patient’s natural tooth structure intact. Unlike crowns that involve significant filing away of the natural tooth to accept the crown or extraction with denture/bridge replacement, dental veneers usually only involve filing away a small layer at the front of the tooth. Veneers have the potential to be more aesthetically pleasing after time than other tooth replacement options, since there is less likelihood of veneers showing a gum margin. Additionally, teeth with veneers are less likely to experience movement or shifting than those repaired or replaced by other means. Finally, some patients choose dental veneers because of the savings in cost over other cosmetic or restorative services.

    How Much Do Dental Veneers Cost?

    The total cost of having dental veneers applied to one’s teeth is dependent on several factors, including how much work needs to be done to prepare the receiving teeth and gum tissue. The veneer material is also a factor, as porcelain is more expensive than compositive resin. Very generally speaking, porcelain dental veneers can range in cost from about $900 to about $2,500 per tooth. Composite resin veneers can range from about $500 to $1,500 per tooth. Our dentist will provide patients with a clear estimate of total cost at the consultation appointment.

    Where Can I Find More Information on Dental Veneers?

    Here are some helpful resources on dental veneers to help you make the most informed decision possible. You can also call our office at any time to discuss this treatment option with a member of our administrative team.

  • How to Brush Your Kids’ Teeth (the right way)
    February 17, 2021

    The Importance of Proper Teeth Brushing in Children


    February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Nearly every parent understands the importance of regular teeth brushing to maintain their little one’s dental health, but not all parents understand the best method for helping their kids brush or the best tools to use. While some parents prefer electric brushes over traditional ones (and there are many advantages of electric brushes), we recommend you at least demonstrate proper brushing with a manual toothbrush before moving on to an electric model. Be it manual or electric, we strongly recommend soft bristles in your kids’ brushes.

    Parents can begin using a soft children’s toothbrush with just water on babies as young as 1 year old; some dentists recommend regular brushing of teeth even before that (as soon as the teeth emerge) if the infant can handle it. Children’s low-fluoride toothpaste can then be introduced when your child reaches 18 months. We strongly recommend that you help brush your little one’s teeth at least twice a day — once in the morning and once before bed — to remove and prevent plaque buildup that leads to tooth decay and gum disease.

    Proper Brushing Technique

    The following diagram and instructions will help you to brush your child’s teeth in a consistently effective manner:

    1. Place a pea-sized drop of low-flouride toothpaste onto a soft-bristled children’s toothbrush. You don’t want to overdo it when it comes to the amount of paste you’re using: more isn’t better in this case.
    2. If your child is small, sit her in your lap, facing away from you. If your child is tall enough, you can stand behind him. Gently tilt the child’s head back against your body — this will allow you to see all the surfaces of the teeth.
    3. Angle the bristles of the toothbrush towards the gums at about 45 degrees. Gently move the brush in tight circles to clean the outer surfaces of the teeth and gums.
    4. Continuing the same circular motion, gently brush the inner surfaces of the teeth and gums.
    5. When it comes to the chewing surfaces of the teeth, use a gentle forward and backward motion.
    6. After you’ve finished brushing every surface of the teeth, encourage your child to thoroughly spit out the toothpaste.  It is not necessary to have your child rinse his mouth after this — the small amount of toothpaste still in the mouth will continue to protect against tooth decay.

    We recommend brushing for at least two minutes each session. Since cavities most frequently form in the back molars, most of that time should be spent addressing those molar surfaces. Your modeling of these actions will go a long way in helping them to establish life-long healthy dental habits. Along with a good diet, daily flossing, and regular visits to the dentist’s office, children will have all the tools they need to maintain a healthy smile throughout their lives.

    Concerning Facts Related to Children’s Dental Health

    Helping your children to brush properly has huge implications. These are just a few statistics (from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among other sites) and insights that support the need for proper brushing and overall good oral hygiene habits in children:

    • Almost 20% of kids over the age of two have cavities that have not been treated.
    • Tooth decay is found in about 20% of four- and five-year-olds; by age 17, over 85% of young people have some form of tooth decay.
    • Children are five times more likely to suffer from tooth decay than from asthma.
    • Across the world, kids miss more than 51 million school hours each year because of dental-related problems.
    • Poor dental hygiene can affect the self-esteem and school performance of children, making them less likely to smile or engage in conversation.
    • Poor dental hygiene in children can lead to poor nutrition and chronic sleep problems.


  • A Clearer Look at Clear Braces
    January 10, 2021

    Clear Braces

    What Are “Clear Braces” Systems Like Invisalign?

    Invisalign and other clear-aligner treatments are orthodontic devices that, like braces, help to straighten teeth and correct bite patterns over time. Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign employs transparent plastic trays (similar to athletic mouthguards) that fit snugly over the teeth.

    How Do They Work?

    The process begins with a checkup and consultation to determine if you’re a good candidate for Invisalign or similar clear aligner system. After you have been confirmed as a good candidate, the doctor will digitally scan your teeth and custom fit you for a series of clear, BPA-free plastic aligners. At the next appointment, you will receive your first batch of trays. Your doctor will ensure a proper fit, answer any questions you have, and let you know what to expect going forward. From there, you will have to wear your aligners between 20 and 22 hours per day. As you wear the trays and swap them out for a new set every two weeks, your teeth will gradually shift into the correct, straighter position over time. While aligners alone are sufficient in most cases, some patients might need to have raised “buttons” attached to the surface of teeth to help provide extra traction for teeth to shift. Throughout the treatment, you will have to return to the dentist’s office about once every six to eight weeks to have your progress evaluated and received the new sets of aligners you’ll be using until the following appointment.

    How Do I Care for My Teeth During Clear Aligner Treatment?

    As mentioned, your aligners need to be worn for at least 20 hours each day; really, the only times they should be removed are when you’re eating, drinking hot beverages (the heat can warp the shape of the trays), or brushing your teeth. Since the plastic aligners completely cover your teeth, it’s very important that you brush your teeth after each meal or snack to make sure that there isn’t any food trapped against them. Even after a clear aligner treatment is completed, most patients will have to continue to wear a nighttime retainer to maintain the results they’ve achieved.

    What Are the Advantages of Clear Aligners Versus Traditional Braces?

    In addition to the benefit of straighter teeth that all orthodontic devices can deliver, there are several significant advantages that clear aligners have over traditional braces:

    • Plastic aligners are a transparent orthodontic device that’s almost imperceptible.
    • Removable trays allow you to continue to eat all of your favorite foods during treatment.
    • Smooth plastic of aligners allows you to continue to be active in all the sports you love without worry of cuts and other injury to the inside of the mouth.
    • Aligners mean you’ll never have to deal with broken brackets or wires, so you can avoid emergency appointments altogether.
    • Removable trays allow you to keep brushing and flossing as you normally do throughout the treatment process.

    What Kinds of Tooth and Bite Issues Can Be Corrected with Clear Aligners?

    Beyond the normal straightening of crooked teeth, Invisalign and other clear aligners can help correct a number of issues:

    • Overbite
    • Underbite
    • Crossbite
    • Open bite
    • Gaps in the teeth
    • Overcrowding
    • Mix of baby & permanent teeth

    Until fairly recently, metal braces were almost always superior to clear aligners when it came to handling these orthodontic issues. However, Invisalign and other companies have continued to innovate and produce technology that now delivers results that are comparable to metal braces.

    How Long Do Clear Aligners Take to Straighten Teeth and Correct Bite Issues?

    The length of time required to completely achieve a person’s orthodontic goals with Invisalign or similar clear aligners is – as is the case with metal braces – going to vary a great deal depending on the particular issues being addressed. Some individuals’ teeth can be completely straightened in as short as six months. For certain issues, like overcrowding, the treatment can take 24 months or longer. As a fairly broad rule, most clear aligner treatments take between 9 and 18 months to complete.

    How Much Do Clear Aligner Treatments Cost?

    As with treatment time for clear braces, treatment cost will likewise vary considerably depending on your particular circumstances. The major factors affecting the cost to you include your oral health, how much orthodontic work needs to be done, where you live, and how much your insurance will cover. Without factoring in any coverage from insurance, you can expect to pay anywhere from about $3,500 to around $8,000 for Invisalign or a similar clear aligner treatment — the average cost a little over $5,000. Compare those numbers to the $3,000 to $7,000 most people pay for metal braces, with a similar average cost of $5,000.

    Where Can I Learn More?

    Here are some websites that contain a wealth of information about clear braces:  

  • The Skinny on Dental Implants
    December 13, 2020

    Dental Implants

    What are they?

    Generally speaking, dental implants are a type of permanent tooth replacement. Unlike other forms of tooth replacement like bridges or dentures, they are surgical devices that enter and interact with the bone of the jaw or the skull to support a dental prosthesis, often a dental crown. The dental implant itself specifically refers to the screw-like titanium component that is placed into the bone; this implant then connects to an abutment that sits within and holds a tooth-like porcelain crown.

    How are they placed in the mouth?

    During an initial consultation, the dentist will examine the area to receive the implant and take a series of X-rays and/or 3D images to determine exactly where the implant will be placed. The dentist will then go over the various options for the treatment plan. The next appointment will consist of actually placing the titanium implant into the bone of the jaw or skull, frequently utilizing a guide. In most cases, the patient will only receive local anesthesia, similar to what is employed for fillings, extractions, or root canals. Typically, there’s no bleeding or stitches needed after the implant placement, and the pain and recovery time is also similar to other dental surgeries. When needed, dentists will provide patients with temporary teeth for the three or so months it will take until the permanent crown is placed on the implant. That three-month period provides time for osseointegration — the actual fusing of the patient’s bone with the titanium of the implant — to take place. Once the implant is fully fused with the bone, the dentist will attach the abutment just above the gum line, take impressions of the surrounding teeth to ensure the perfect fit for the new crown, and custom match the color. The final appointment will involve seating the new porcelain crown and checking for a perfect fit.

    How long does the procedure take?

    As suggested above, the entire process for replacing a tooth with an implant-supported crown takes several months, but the time spent in the dental chair is probably less than you’d expect: The initial consultation can be done within a half-hour to an hour appointment. The second appointment where the implant is actually placed can be done within an hour-long appointment. Impressions can be taken within a half-hour appointment, and the final seating of the crown can be done within an hour appointment.

    Who can benefit from them?

    Adults of all ages who are missing teeth can benefit from dental implants: those who have lost teeth due to injury, those who have lost teeth due to infection or decay, or those who were born missing teeth. The only groups who cannot take advantage of dental implants are children whose facial structure has not reached full maturity and those — often elderly individuals — who have experienced too much bone loss to support the device.

    Why are they preferable to other tooth replacements?

    When compared to tooth replacement options like bridges or dentures, dental implants offer several major advantages:

    • They are actually more cost-effective in the long term. Dental implants, when they are properly maintained, can last many decades. In comparison, bridges and dentures tend to only last from five to ten years, meaning continual replacement costs and costs of ongoing appointments to address their issues.

    • They are easily the most comfortable and most natural-looking replacement for one’s own teeth. Bridges and dentures can sometimes slip or dig into the gum tissue, leading to discomfort and the need for ongoing adjustments. Dental implants, on the other hand, feel and function just like any other natural tooth in the mouth.

    • They allow for the complete freedom to eat and speak as one normally would. Unlike bridges and dentures, dental implants allow people to enjoy all the foods they love and to speak without the fear of a dental device slipping or clicking.

    • They are the only tooth replacement option that actually promotes the growth and health of bone and prevents bone loss. When the bone of the jaw or skull fuses with the titanium of the implant, this strengthens the supporting bone and the teeth surrounding it.

    How much do they cost?

    This is the question on many people’s minds when it comes to dental implants. Yes, dental implants are considerably more expensive, up front, than dentures or bridges. However, studies show that their durability and functionality makes them a better buy in the long run. No two patients will pay exactly the same amount for a dental implant, but people can expect to pay around $3,000 to $5,000 for an implant with crown.

    How can I arrange for my own dental implant?

    If you’re in need of tooth replacement and think that a dental implant could be right for you, please call our office today at (608) 424-3222 to set up your consultation with Dr. Ryan Yakowicz.

    Where can I learn more?

    Here are some good resources related to dental implants:

  • What Is Periodontal Disease?
    November 19, 2020

    What Is Periodontal Disease?

    What Is It?

    Periodontal disease is another term for gum disease, and it refers to an infection of the tissue that surrounds and holds your teeth in place. There are two distinct stages to periodontal disease: The first stage, gingivitis, involves swelling and reddening of the gum tissue. The second, periodontitis, can mean the gums actually pulling away from teeth, bones deteriorating, and teeth loosening and potentially falling out.

    What Causes It?

    The simplest explanation for what causes periodontal disease is bacteria. The bacteria in the mouth, left unchecked, forms a film on the teeth called plaque that eventually hardens into tartar (calculus). This tartar spreads — sometimes below the gum line — and this infection causes inflammation and damage to teeth, gums, and bone.

    What Are Its Risk Factors?

    While bacteria is the main culprit behind periodontal disease, there are a number of behaviors or factors that can put a person at higher risk of it developing and progressing. Some of the leading risk factors are:

    • Smoking

    • Poor oral hygiene

    • Diabetes

    • Diseases that suppress the immune system

    • Medications that reduce saliva production

    • Hormonal changes in girls and women

    • Stress

    • Crooked teeth

    • Genetic predisposition

    What Are Its Warning Signs?

    Some of the most common and obvious signs of periodontal disease include:

    • Red/swollen gums

    • Tender/bleeding gums

    • Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth

    • Sensitive teeth

    • Pain when chewing

    • Changes to your bite

    • Pulling away of gum tissue from teeth

    • Loose teeth

    How Is It Treated?

    Once the dentist or hygienist has diagnosed the periodontal disease, the first thing for patients to keep in mind is that the success of any treatment option is going to depend on their willingness to keep up good oral hygiene habits at home. That said, the early stage of periodontal disease — gingivitis — can be treated with regular cleanings from your hygienist in concert with daily brushing and flossing. More advanced periodontal disease might require more aggressive treatment options, such as deep-cleaning of the roots below the gum surface, antibiotics or other medications taken orally or placed below the gums, and even oral surgery.

    Additional Facts About Periodontal Disease

    According to the CDC:

    • 47% of all adults over 30 have some form of periodontal disease

    • 70% of adults over 65 have the disease

    • Periodontal disease is more common in men (56%) than in women (38%)

    • 64% of current smokers have periodontal disease



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