• 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










  • Why Would I Need A Dental Crown?
    November 8, 2020

    Why Would I Need A Dental Crown?

    Who Needs Dental Crowns?

    There are many people who can benefit from dental crowns, including those:

    • with teeth that have such extensive decay that fillings are not an option

    • with weakened teeth that need protection from breaking or cracking apart

    • with teeth that are already cracked

    • with teeth that are extremely worn down

    • who need to have a dental bridge held in place

    • who need to cover a dental implant

    • who want to cover or make a cosmetic improvement to their existing teeth

    Why Choose Dental Crowns?

    A properly fit and placed crown can last for decades, significantly longer than the average filling tends to last. Unlike fillings, a dental crown covers the entire tooth, protecting it against future tooth decay. Crowns are required for covering dental implants, and they are ideal in mirroring the exact color and shape of the teeth they’re replacing. Crowns can hold together cracked teeth and often prevent the necessity of extracting teeth. They can also be employed to close the gaps between teeth and correct minor problems with tooth positioning. Finally, dental crowns can cover stained or misshapen teeth, producing a much nicer smile and boosting one’s self-confidence.

    What Does a Dental Crown Procedure Involve?

    Tradition Dental Crowns

    With traditional dental crowns, a patient needs to come in for at least two separate visits, usually spaced out about two to three weeks. At the first appointment, the tooth to be crowned is examined and prepared. The dentist and his/her assistants will take X-rays of the tooth itself and the bone surrounding to check for the extent of decay or damage. In some cases, a root canal may have to be done before proceeding with a crown. The next step is to file down the top and sides of the tooth to accommodate the crown. If there is extensive decay and too much tooth has to be removed, the dentist will add a filling material to build up the remaining tooth structure. Once the shaping of the tooth structure is finished, an impression is made of that tooth (which will serve as the basis for the new crown), along with the tooth above or below to ensure that the patient’s bite is not affected. The dentist will send off the impressions to a dental lab and place a temporary crown over the tooth at the end of the first appointment — this will serve to protect the tooth during the 2-3 weeks it takes for the lab to create the permanent crown. At the second and final visit, the temporary crown is removed and the permanent crown is checked for fit and color. When these checks are finished, the permanent crown is cemented into place, sometimes with the aid of a local anesthetic.

    Same-Day Crowns

    The process for same-day crowns is the same as for traditional crowns, right up until the point when impressions are taken. With same-day crowns, there is no need for the use of traditional gel tray impressions: A 3D scanning wand is placed inside the patient’s mouth that maps the shape of the teeth and sends this information directly to a CAD/CAM milling machine that will create the permanent crown in under an hour.

    How to Arrange Your Own Dental Crown

    If you have concerns about decay or damage to a tooth and believe that a dental crown might be the best course, please call our office at (608) 424-3222 to set up your consultation with Dr. Yakowicz, or reserve your preferred appointment time online.






  • Brushing Your Teeth – Are You Doing It Wrong?
    June 27, 2018

    Brushing Your Teeth – Are You Doing It Wrong?

    Did you know that certain times of day might be better for brushing than others? While it’s always recommended to brush your teeth twice per day, and floss once per day, your timing is also important.

    If you love your pearly whites and want to keep them around as long as possible (because face it, life would be pretty difficult without your teeth), read more to improve your tooth brushing game.(more…)

  • What Happens in Your Mouth While You Sleep?
    June 13, 2018

    What Happens in Your Mouth While You Sleep?

    Ah, nighttime… the end of the day, the ceasing of work, and hopefully a good night’s sleep. But did you know things are still happening in your mouth all night long, even if you’re blissfully unaware of it? Dr. Yakowicz, Belleville dentist sheds some light on the world of your mouth and everything going on inside of it while you catch some zzz’s.(more…)

  • No Tradesies: Packing Mouth-Healthy Lunches for Kiddos
    May 27, 2018

    No Tradesies: Packing Mouth-Healthy Lunches for Kiddos

    Breakfast is always being touted as the most important meal of the day—and for good reason! It’s important for Belleville families to kickstart their day with nutrients that will help them power through school, work, socializing, sports, homework… does anyone else feel exhausted just thinking about it all?

    The right foods in your child’s lunch can help boost their energy and keep those brains, bodies, and mouths going all day! Alternatively, lunches full of sugary, sticky, acidic foods and beverages can accelerate tooth decay and cause your child to feel sluggish both physically and mentally.

    Dr. Yakowicz of Neighborhood Smiles loves to share ideas on what to include in your child’s lunch to keep their smile safe and their health optimal… and perhaps what to leave out and have as an occasional treat for good behavior.(more…)

  • Bacteria: The Good, the Bad & the Neutral
    May 13, 2018

    Bacteria: The Good, the Bad & the Neutral

    Living in a land of antibacterial gels, soaps, plastics, and even fabrics, it might surprise you to hear that tons of bacteria live in your mouth every day, and they aren’t all bad! In fact, some play an important role in keeping up your overall health. Some oral bacteria, however, can cause serious problems and must be fought with good oral hygiene. Dr. Yakowicz from Neighborhood Smiles in Belleville would like to help you understand the role bacteria play in your health and wellness.(more…)

  • The Smoking Gun: Tobacco & Oral Health
    April 27, 2018

    The Smoking Gun: Tobacco & Oral Health

    They say not everything natural is good for you. Nature has many poisons that humans have experimented with and learned the hard way to avoid. Tobacco is a popular plant that we’ve learned can really do a number on your health. Using tobacco is a personal and communal practice that can be really hard to avoid, even if you know it’s bad for you. Working with your doctor and dentist will be essential if you’re concerned about your health and want to stop using tobacco.(more…)

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