8 Things Your Dentist Wishes Their Patients Knew

8 Things Your Dentist Wishes Their Patients Knew

As you’ve laid back in the chair, opened your jaw wide, and watched the dentist peer into your mouth, have you ever wondered what they might be thinking about? You’re not the only one. 

Lucky for you, we’re using this article to let you in on a few secrets. Here’s a list we’ve compiled of 8 things that your dentist wishes their patients knew!

1. Your Dentist Can Tell When You Only Floss Before Appointments

Regular flossing is an important aspect of good oral health and hygiene, but for many people, it’s something that only comes to mind the day before or the day of their dental appointment — and your dentist can tell. From inflamed, bleeding gums to spots of tooth decay, there are a few key indicators that show your dentist you might not be a regular flosser.  

The truth is, your gum tissue’s health depends on consistent, ongoing care. It’s important to learn the correct flossing technique, then commit to a daily routine. 

2. Your Dentist Cares About More Than Your Teeth

Sure, your dentist will work to keep your smile looking great — but that’s only one of the many services they provide. From detecting gum disease and oral cancer to correcting complex jaw problems, your dentist is an expert in all things oral health. 

Simply put, your dentist cares about a lot more than just your teeth, and you should too!

3. Healthy Teeth Are More Important Than Beautiful Teeth

In many cases, a beautiful white smile indicates a healthy smile — but in some cases, that’s not true. Some whitening products can actually harm your tooth enamel, leading to an unhealthy oral environment where bacteria can grow and cause decay or disease. While there are many whitening treatments that are safe to use, it’s best to run them past your dentist before trying them. 

4. There Is a Right Way to Use Toothpaste

Most people think of toothpaste like soap, where you quickly scrub some on, then rinse it away with water. In reality, toothpaste is more like a lotion; the longer it stays on your teeth, the more effective it is. 

That said, you should take your time while brushing. And afterward, you can spit out the foam, but you should allow the toothpaste to sit on your teeth for about 30 minutes before rinsing. 

5. You Shouldn’t Wait Until Something Hurts to Visit Your Dentist

Many oral problems don’t cause pain until they’re serious. And, by then, it may be too late to treat them as effectively as possible. It’s important to call your dentist for an appointment as soon as you notice something may be off. 

Better yet, by staying up-to-date on regularly scheduled dental appointments, you allow your dentist to pick up on problems early. This gives them greater opportunity for proper treatment. 

6. Babies Need to Visit the Dentist Too

As soon as your child’s first teeth start to come in, it’s time for you to make an appointment for a visit to the dentist. This is usually before or around their first birthday. 

Bacteria can start to build up early, so it’s important that you get your baby’s oral health off to a good start. And when you start to build healthy habits early, they tend to carry on for a lifetime. 

7. Don’t Let Embarrassment Keep You From Visiting Your Dentist

If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while or you’re ashamed of your current oral health or hygiene, you’re not alone. There are many people who don’t visit the dentist regularly, and there are many people who have dental problems. 

The most important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t be embarrassed to call or visit us. We’re here to help. We’re experienced, caring professionals who work to resolve issues and get your mouth back on a healthy track, free of judgment. 

8. Your Dentist Genuinely Enjoys Cleaning Teeth

Day-in and day-out, we clean patients’ teeth — and we enjoy it! It may not seem like the most glamorous job to many, but we truly love what we do. By understanding the impact of oral health on overall health, we take pride in and get great reward from doing what we can to keep your mouth fresh, clean, and healthy. 

Dentists care a lot about their patients’ oral health, and they work hard to form a relationship of trust with every visit. At West Michigan Dentistry, our staff is here to answer your questions and help you work toward your health goals. To schedule your next appointment, give us a call today.

What Toothpaste Ingredients Do for Your Teeth

What Toothpaste Ingredients Do for Your Teeth

You wake up every morning, head to the bathroom, squeeze a dollop of toothpaste on your toothbrush, and start scrubbing away — but have you ever wondered what exactly is in your toothpaste? 

Toothpaste has many ingredients that make it an effective solution for fighting against plaque and tartar buildup. Below, we’ll give you an overview of some of the most common (and important) ingredients, as well as how to get the best results from them. 

What Ingredients Are in Toothpaste?

Toothpastes can have many ingredients, depending on each brand’s unique formula. However, there are five common ingredients that most cavity-fighting toothpastes share. Let’s take a closer look at them below. 

Fluoride

Fluoride is the #1 cavity-fighting toothpaste ingredient. It’s a mineral that strengthens the enamel on your teeth, which helps to prevent decay. While you can still find toothpastes that don’t contain fluoride, they aren’t the best choice for your oral health. All tubes of toothpaste with an American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance contain fluoride. 

Abrasives

Abrasives are inactive ingredients that are common to many toothpastes. Although they don’t work to prevent cavities or gum disease, they play a critical role in removing food debris and surface stains from your teeth. 

Today’s toothpaste abrasives are usually in the form of calcium carbonate, hydrated aluminum oxides, and dehydrated silica gels. These ingredients have become more gentle over the years, but it’s important to keep in mind that scrubbing them too firmly against your teeth can result in damaged enamel and inflamed gum lines. 

Flavoring

Whether you’re a fan of classic mint or you prefer a sweeter bubblegum, you can find many toothpaste flavors on the market. The truth is, while fluoride and abrasives are great for cleaning your teeth, they don’t taste all that great. That’s why flavoring is needed. 

Toothpaste flavoring comes from sweetening agents like saccharin or sorbitol, which help toothpaste taste sweet without needing any sugar that can lead to tooth decay. 

Humectants

Humectants are ingredients that help maintain toothpaste’s smooth texture. They trap water in the formula to keep it from drying out and crumbling. The most common humectants used are sorbitol (also a flavoring agent), glycol, and glycerin. 

Detergents

Detergents are ingredients that make your toothpaste foam up when you start brushing. They ensure that your toothpaste is fully coating your teeth. Sodium lauryl sulfate is the most common detergent used in toothpaste. 

Which Toothpaste Formula Is Best for You? 

When you’re standing in the toothpaste aisle of your local drugstore or grocery store, your options can be a little overwhelming. The shelves are usually stocked with hundreds of different toothpaste brands, formulas, and flavors. While most of them share the five common ingredients listed above, there are a number of add-ins that can be included to treat special oral care needs, such as whitening for sensitive teeth. 

With that in mind, how do you choose which toothpaste formula is best for you? 

While you can start by looking for the five ingredients listed above, you’ll have the best luck asking your dentist for a personalized recommendation. Your dentist will know your specific oral health needs and which toothpaste will help them. 

How to Get the Full Effect of Your Toothpaste Ingredients

The ingredients in your toothpaste are important, but they can’t do all the work by themselves. There are also some actions you should take to ensure they’re giving you the best results. 

Spit, Don’t Rinse

Most people rinse their mouth with water once they’re done brushing their teeth. However, some of the latest research shows that rinsing actually washes away the protective coating our enamel gets from the fluoride in toothpaste. 

Instead of rinsing, you can better help your toothpaste work its magic by simply spitting out excess paste and saliva once you’re done brushing, then letting the fluoride coat your teeth for a while after. You should refrain from rinsing, drinking, or eating for a good 30 minutes after you’ve brushed. 

Maintain a Healthy Brushing Schedule and Technique

A proper brushing schedule and technique also help your toothpaste do its job well. It’s important to brush at least twice per day, for about two minutes each time. Brush gently (preferably with a soft-bristled toothbrush), covering the outer surfaces, inner surfaces, and chewing surfaces of your teeth completely. 

The right toothpaste and proper brushing are only the first steps to achieving a healthy smile. Step three is visiting your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups! Schedule your appointment with our team at West Michigan Dentistry for comprehensive oral care.

Can You Perform Dental Care at Home?

Can You Perform Dental Care at Home?

At-home dental care is nothing new. People have been taking routine care of their teeth for years. 

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many to take on more forms of dental care by themselves, so they don’t have to visit the dentist and risk getting sick. This idea of “DIY dentistry” has become increasingly popular — but is it safe? 

The short answer is: it depends on what you’re doing. Some at-home dental treatments are safe and beneficial to do at home, while others really, really aren’t. In this article, we’ll discuss the do’s and don’ts of at-home dental care. 

Dental Care You Can Do at Home

There are plenty of things you can do to keep your teeth healthy and clean at home. Most of them are preventative treatments. Here are some that are the most safe and beneficial for you:

Brushing and Flossing

Obviously, brushing and flossing your teeth is completely safe and (strongly recommended!) to do at home. You should complete each regularly — brushing at least twice per day for two minutes, and flossing at least once per day. Bonus points if you remember to change your toothbrush every 3-4 months! 

Teeth Whitening

At-home whitening treatments are usually sold over the counter at grocery and drug stores. They come in various forms, including toothpastes, rinses, and strips, but they all contain a mild peroxide solution that has whitening properties. 

These treatments are generally safe to use, and they’re a good place to start. Whitening strips are your best bet, as their results will usually last a couple of weeks without causing any damage to your enamel. However, a whitening treatment provided by your dentist is guaranteed to have better results. 

Mouthwash

In many cases, mouthwashes can do more harm than good, and regular brushing and flossing is a better option. However, if you’re in a situation where you need a mouthwash, you can use one that doesn’t contain alcohol, or one that’s recommended or prescribed by your dentist. 

Dental Care You Shouldn’t Do at Home

If you have a dental problem that is more complicated than any of the preventative treatments listed above, it’s important that you visit your dentist. Trying to do them DIY-style at home can cause more serious problems. Some examples are listed below:

Fixing Cracked or Broken Dentures

If your dentures are cracked or broken, don’t try to repair them at home. There are a couple of denture repair kits available at grocery and drug stores, but they aren’t very effective. Also, some of them include harsh chemicals that you could ingest if used improperly. 

Fixing Chipped or Broken Teeth

If you’ve broken or chipped a tooth, you may revert to using dental wax to cover up the sharp edge — but that should only be a temporary solution until you can get in to see your dentist. Broken teeth can lead to serious infections if not taken care of quickly and effectively. 

You should also avoid filing the tooth’s sharp edge down with a nail filer or sandpaper. This can further damage your teeth and cause infection. 

Alleviating Recurrent Tooth Pain

Some spontaneous tooth pain is normal, depending on what you’ve eaten or if your teeth are shifting around. However, recurrent or constant tooth pain isn’t normal and requires attention. 

If you’ve had tooth pain that has lasted more than a couple of days, you shouldn’t try to alleviate it with over-the-counter pain topicals. They can result in chemical burns and mask the bigger issue. Instead, you should see a dentist as soon as possible. 

Extracting a Tooth

Unless you’re a child and one of your baby teeth is loose, you shouldn’t try to pull your own teeth. You could pull it incorrectly and cause serious damage to your teeth and gums. Many times, people who try to extract their own teeth snap them off at the gum line and leave a root tip that can easily get infected. 

Filling a Cavity

If you suspect you have a cavity, you should go to the dentist to get it fixed. While there are some at-home cavity fillers available at grocery and drug stores, they don’t work well. They don’t stay attached to your tooth for long, and they’re known to give people allergic reactions. Improperly filling a cavity can lead to more serious dental decay issues. 

While there are some forms of dental care you can safely do at home, for anything more serious it’s better to consult your dentist at West Michigan Dentistry first. We can help you choose which products are safe to use on your own, and which procedures are safer and more effective in the hands of a trained professional. Give us a call or schedule your appointment online today.

Dental Implants: What to Expect

Dental Implants: What to Expect

If you have a missing tooth, a dental implant may be a good option for you. While you’re considering your options, you may be wondering what dental implants are, and what to expect if you choose to get them. 

Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about dental implants so you can decide if they’re a good fit for you. 

What are Dental Implants?

A dental implant is a metal post, often made of titanium, that serves as a substitute for the root of your tooth. This post is anchored to your jaw, and is attached to a crown that serves as a substitute tooth. 

Since they are anchored directly to your jawbone, dental implants are extremely strong and durable. They’ll last a lifetime, and the attached crown will look just like a real tooth. 

Am I a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?

If you’re missing a tooth, you may be a good candidate for dental implants. But before going through with the procedure, there are a few things your dentist will check to make sure there aren’t any big health risks. They’ll get this information through X-rays, Computed Tomography (CT) scans, and medical evaluations. They’ll approve your procedure if:

  • You have healthy gums
  • You are old enough that your jawbone has stopped growing
  • You have enough jawbone to anchor the implants
  • You have no underlying health conditions that could put you at increased risk of infection

If you don’t meet all of that criteria, or if you have one of the following conditions, you may not be a good candidate for dental implants:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Smoking
  • Uncontrolled gum disease
  • Severe teeth grinding
  • Taking medications that suppress your immune system (e.g. steroids)

If you have any of those conditions, you won’t be immediately disregarded for a dental implant procedure, but your dentist will want to work closer with you to accommodate any associated risks. 

What Can I Expect When I Get Dental Implants?

Dental implants can be a great option for qualified candidates. But before you go ahead with the process, there are a few things you may want to know about the procedure, recovery time, and cost. 

What Happens During the Dental Implant Procedure?

The dental implant procedure involves surgery, which is usually broken down into three stages. These stages all occur at different times to allow for proper healing throughout the process. 

Stage 1: The implant is connected to the jaw and fused to the bone, a process called osseointegration. 

Stage 2: The metal post is connected to the implant and protrudes above the gum line. 

Stage 3: The dental crown is attached and cemented to the metal post. 

What Is the Recovery Time for Dental Implants?

The multi-stage dental implant procedure can take anywhere from 5-9 months to complete, depending on how quickly your mouth heals after each step. Since it involves surgery, there is always a risk of infection or nerve damage that could set the time back. However, with a trusted dentist, most people recover in the estimated time and never worry about their dental implants again. 

What Do Dental Implants Cost?

Dental implants come at a relatively high cost — usually upwards of a couple thousand dollars. However, this cost can vary quite a bit, depending on your dentist’s and dental insurance provider’s rates. 

One thing to keep in mind: since dental implants are a relatively long, involved process, some insurance plans do not cover the cost. Check with your insurance plan ahead of time to be informed of any out-of-pocket costs you might have. 

If you think you’re a candidate for dental implants, schedule an appointment with West Michigan Dentistry. As experts in cosmetic dentistry, we specialize in helping our patients feel more confident in their smile.

4 Signs You Might Need Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

4 Signs You Might Need Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

Everyone’s experience with wisdom teeth is a little different. While most people’s wisdom teeth come in between ages 17 to 21, that can vary quite a bit. You may never get wisdom teeth, you may only need to get one or two removed, or you may need to get all four removed. 

Regardless, in order to prevent dental issues and discomfort, it’s important to keep an eye out for them. Below are some key indicators that you may need your wisdom teeth removed, along with some tips for what to expect during the extraction process. 

4 Signs You Might Need Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

Sometimes your dentist can catch your wisdom teeth coming in before you feel any related symptoms — but sometimes they come in quickly between appointments and can’t be caught ahead of time. In those cases, here are some things to watch out for:

1. They’re Impacted

“Impacted” wisdom teeth do not have space to push through your gums and come in correctly. The symptoms related to impacted wisdom teeth usually include:

  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Pain and swelling in the jaw
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Bad breath

In rare cases, impacted wisdom teeth don’t cause any symptoms. However, dentists usually catch them on X-rays and recommend removing them in order to prevent them from becoming a problem in the future. 

2. Your Other Teeth Are Growing Incorrectly

Before wisdom teeth grow in, most people have 28 teeth in their mouths. After wisdom teeth, this number can grow to 32 teeth, making your mouth overcrowded. 

When your mouth is overcrowded, it’s difficult to ensure your teeth develop properly and are straight. It can also cause you some pain and discomfort as your teeth shift.

3. You Have Pain In Your Mouth

When wisdom teeth come in, they can cause pain, discomfort, and swelling in your mouth. As a general rule, you should always schedule an appointment with your dentist if you’re experiencing pain. They’ll be able to determine if the cause of your pain is due to wisdom teeth or a different dental issue, and they’ll inform you of the best steps to take.

4. You Have Sinus Issues

Believe it or not, wisdom teeth can cause sinus problems. This occurs when wisdom teeth grow in the upper jaw because the roots develop and push up against your sinuses. If you experience chronic sinus pain, pressure, congestion, and/or headaches, your wisdom teeth could be the culprit. 

What To Do If You Think You Need Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned and suspect you may need to get your wisdom teeth removed, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Getting the issue diagnosed and cared for early will minimize your pain and discomfort.

What To Expect At and After Your Wisdom Teeth Procedure

Although they’re often dreaded, wisdom teeth extractions are actually pretty quick and pain-free using local or general anesthesia. The whole process only takes a maximum of a few hours, including the initial consultation appointment and the actual wisdom teeth procedure. When you wake up from your anesthesia, you’ll feel a bit tired (and possibly a little loopy!), so you should have a family member or friend accompany you to drive you home. 

After your extraction, you’ll spend a few days to a week resting and recovering at home. The recovery process is different for everyone. You may experience a little pain and swelling, but most are back to normal activities in a day or two. Others might need up to a week to recover. Either way, having your wisdom teeth removed includes a little bit of discomfort, but saves you a lot of discomfort in the long run. 

Some more tips for a successful wisdom teeth extraction recovery include:

    • Eat soft foods. Yogurt and ice cream are your friends! Avoid spicy, chewy, and crunchy foods.
    • Drink lots of water. This will help keep your mouth clean and free of infection. Avoid consuming hot or carbonated drinks. 
    • Rinse your mouth with a warm saltwater solution. Do this every few hours and after you eat. Some dentists may give you a syringe to help you get the solution to the extraction site. 
    • Avoid any activity that could damage the extraction site. Things like using a straw, exercising, and smoking could cause damage, delay healing, and open your wound up to infection. 
    • Manage your pain with medication prescribed by your dentist, over-the-counter pain medication like Tylenol, and ice packs.
    • If you experience extreme pain, swelling, bleeding, or fever, contact your dentist right away. 


Experiencing any of these symptoms? It might be time to see your dentist about getting your wisdom teeth removed. Give Weber, Mountford, and Ruszkowski a call to book your appointment today.