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Grand Rapids, MI 49525

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Posts for: May, 2019

By North Park Family Dental
May 30, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
SpiceUpYourTeeth

As a member of the best-selling pop group Spice Girls, Mel C (AKA Sporty Spice) enjoyed her share of musical superstardom. At the band’s peak in the Nineties, the young singer’s signature look featured baggy sweatpants, an assortment of tattoos, a nose stud and a gold-capped incisor, front and center in her mouth. Today, Melanie Chisholm is still singing — but now she’s a mom, an amateur triathlete… and that gold tooth is just a memory. Not only that, her smile looks more evenly spaced and whiter than it did when she was referred to as the “tomboy” of the group.

What happened? In our view, it all boils down to changing tastes — plus a little bit of help from dental professionals. As the “wannabe” singer proves, there’s no single standard when it comes to making your teeth look their best. Your own look is unique to you — and your smile can reflect that individuality.

For example, crowns (caps) are substantial coverings that may be placed on teeth when they are being restored. They are available in three types: gold, all-porcelain, or porcelain-fused-to-metal. The latter two are tooth-colored, while the gold is — well, shiny like gold bling. Which one is right for you? In many cases, it’s your choice.

Likewise, dental veneers — wafer-thin shells that can correct cosmetic issues by covering the surface of your teeth — can be made in a variety of shades. Their hues may range from natural ivory to Hollywood white, and everything in between. What’s the best color for you? Only you can say.

Some people opt for a “smile makeover” that uses small irregularities in the spacing and color of teeth to create a more “natural” look. Other folks want a perfectly even, brilliant white smile that dazzles the eye. Still others are looking to match or restore the smile they once had — perhaps even re-creating a signature gap between the teeth. As long as there are no other dental issues involved, the choice is yours.

So if you’re unhappy with your smile — or if you feel it doesn’t reflect the person you “wannabe” — why not talk to us about a smile makeover? Just call our office to schedule a consultation. You can learn more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Beautiful Smiles by Design” and “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”


By North Park Family Dental
May 28, 2019
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  

Discover the best strategies for preventing and treating gum disease.

Gum disease is one of the most common oral disorders to affect US adults, and it’s the leading cause of tooth loss. Unfortunately, many people may have gum disease and not even know it. By maintaining good oral health and visiting our Grand Rapids, MI, dentist Dr. Robert Dame every six months for checkups, you can ensure that your gums remain healthy and happy.

Preventing Gum Disease

Our Grand Rapids, MI, general dentist promotes preventive dentistry, which provides patients with the proper care they need in order to prevent issues from happening in the first place. Keeping your gums healthy doesn’t have to be challenging. Here are some simple measures you can take to reduce your risk for gum disease:

  • Quit smoking or avoid smoking
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Limit sugar intake
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Brush your teeth twice a day (in the morning and at night before bed)
  • Make sure you are brushing your teeth, and along the gumline, for 2-3 minutes
  • Floss every day
  • Visit your dentist every six months for cleanings and checkups

It’s also important to be aware that hormonal fluctuations or taking certain medications can also increase your risk for developing gum disease. Patients taking antidepressants, heart medications, and oral contraception, as well as women who are pregnant or going through menopause, may want to consider visiting their dentist more regularly for checkups.

Treating Gum Disease

While it isn’t always possible to tell whether you have gum disease or not, it is vital that you schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible if you notice:

  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
  • Swollen, red, and inflamed gums
  • Tender or painful gums
  • Receding gums (teeth will appear longer than usual)
  • Gums that are pulling away from the teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Sudden or increased tooth sensitivity
  • Chronic and unexplained bad breath

These could all be warning signs of gum disease, so the sooner you seek a diagnosis from a dental professional the better. During the early stages of gum disease, known as gingivitis, the inflammation is minor enough that it can actually be reversed with the proper treatment and lifestyle modifications.

However, if you do have full-blown periodontal disease, one of the most common treatment options for managing symptoms, improving the appearance of your gums and preventing complications such as tooth loss is a simple procedure known as scaling and root planing.

Scaling and root planing is a very deep cleaning that involves removing plaque and tartar buildup from teeth, under the gums, and even the roots of the teeth to prevent inflammation.

Whether you suspect that you might have gum disease or it’s just time to schedule a cleaning, don’t hesitate to turn to the experts at North Park Family Dental in Grand Rapids, MI, for dental care.


Non-PrescriptionPainMedicationcanManageMostPost-ProcedureDiscomfort

The old stereotype with the words “pain” and “dental work” in the same sentence is no more. Using local or general anesthesia (or a combination of both) we can completely eliminate the vast majority of discomfort during dental procedures.

But how do you manage pain in the days after a procedure while your mouth is healing? The news is good here as well — most discomfort after dental work can be easily managed with a family of medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In most cases, you won't even need prescription strength.

You're probably already familiar with aspirin, ibuprofen and similar pain relievers for the occasional headache or muscle pain. These types of drugs work by blocking prostaglandins, which are released by injured tissues and cause inflammation. By reducing the inflammation, you also relieve pain.

Most healthcare providers prefer NSAIDs over steroids or opiates (like morphine), and only prescribe the latter when absolutely necessary. Unlike opiates in particular, NSAIDs won't impair consciousness and they're not habit-forming. And as a milder pain reliever, they have less impact on the body overall.

That doesn't mean, however, you don't have to be careful with them. These drugs have a tendency to thin blood and reduce its clotting ability (low-dose aspirin, in fact, is often used as a mild blood thinner for cardiovascular patients). Their use can contribute to bleeding that's difficult to stop. Excessive use of ibuprofen can also damage the kidneys.

That's why it's necessary to control the dosage and avoid long-term use of NSAIDs, unless advised by a physician. Most adults shouldn't take more than 2,400 milligrams a day of a NSAID and only during the few days of recuperation. There's no need to overdo it: a single 400-milligram dose of ibuprofen is safe and sufficient to control moderate to severe post-procedural pain for about five hours.

Our aim is to help you manage any pain after a procedure with the least amount of pain reliever strength necessary. That will ensure you'll navigate the short discomfort period after dental work safely and effectively.

If you would like more information on pain management after dental care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Treating Pain with Ibuprofen.”


By North Park Family Dental
May 10, 2019
Category: Dental Procedures
WecanFixaSmileMarredbyAbsentFrontTeeth

Most children's permanent teeth erupt on a fairly predictable schedule. Sometimes, though, one or more teeth might not develop as they should — or at all.

These absent teeth pose functional problems for chewing and hygiene, which can affect long-term dental health. But they can also have a disruptive effect on an otherwise attractive smile if the missing teeth are the upper lateral incisors in the most visible part of the smile.

You normally find this pair of teeth on either side of the upper central incisors (the two front-most teeth). On the other side of the lateral incisors are the canine or eye teeth, known for their pointed appearance. Without the lateral incisors, the canines tend to drift into the space next to the central incisors. This can produce an odd appearance even a layperson will notice: only four teeth where there should be six!

It's possible to correct this abnormality, but it will take time and expense. The first step is usually to move the teeth in the upper jaw with braces to their correct position. This puts teeth where they should be and also opens space between the canines and central incisors so we can eventually replace the missing teeth with dental implants.

But the key to all this is timing. It's usually appropriate to undertake tooth movement with braces during late childhood or adolescence. But implants shouldn't be installed until the person's jaw fully matures, usually in early adulthood. An implant placed before then could eventually become misaligned.

To accommodate the time between bite correction and implant placement, the patient can wear a retainer appliance that will keep the newly created space open. We can also attach artificial teeth to the retainer to camouflage the empty space.

It usually takes a team of a family dentist, an orthodontist and a surgeon to see this kind of “smile makeover” project through, possibly over several years. But the gains in better aesthetics and health are well worth the time and expense.

If you would like more information on replacing non-developing teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “When Permanent Teeth Don't Grow.”