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.

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.

5 Tips for Coping with Dental Anxiety

5 Tips for Coping with Dental Anxiety

If even the thought of going to the dentist quickens your heartbeat and makes you break out into a sweat, you are not the only one! Many people share this fear, and in fact, coping with dental anxiety is so common, there’s actually a term for it — dentophobia. We’re not making that up!

Unlike other fears, however, such as being afraid of spiders, you can’t simply avoid going to the dentist like you can run away when you spot a web. Doing so would be detrimental to your oral and overall health. So what do you do? Well, while you might not be able to escape the need for dental care, there are ways to cope with the anxiety that comes with it. 

If you struggle with dental anxiety, follow these tips to ensure a stress-free visit to your dentist:

#1: Ditch Dental Anxiety by Being Upfront

The best way to deal with your fears is to share them with your dental team. There’s truly no need to be embarrassed. Like we said, you are not the first person to stress out over taking a seat in a dentist’s chair!

Have an upfront conversation about your anxiety from the get-go and explain any past bad experiences that may haunt you. A good dental team will understand and accommodate you to help ease your concerns. Whether it’s talking you through the steps being taken, letting you take timeouts if necessary, or periodically asking if you’re doing okay, good communication with your dental team will allow you to feel more informed and in control, and in turn, more comfortable.

#2: Distract Yourself from Dental Anxiety

Sometimes dentist offices offer built-in distractions, from TVs to magazines to calming pictures on the ceiling. However, if these are not enough to preoccupy your mind, ask if you can bring your own dental distractions along. Wear headphones to listen to your favorite tunes, podcast or audiobook. Or, bring a tablet to watch a movie, level up, or keep your binge streak alive by streaming that latest series you love. 

#3: Cope with Dental Fears Using Calming Techniques

Just as with other anxieties, practicing relaxation techniques can help you sit back and, well, relax. Try squeezing a stress ball, concentrating on breathing slowly and relaxing your muscles from head-to-toe, visualizing your happy place, or repeating a calming mantra, like “I love having fresh breath and a healthy smile”. Okay, maybe that’s not the phrase you’d choose, but you get the idea. 

#4: Ask About Sedation to Stop Dental Stress 

During your upfront conversation, be sure to ask if there are sedation options that your dentist may recommend to ease your anxiety and help you relax. Nitrous oxide (a.k.a. laughing gas) is a common go-to choice that can help beyond just making you giggle! Your dentist may also prescribe an oral sedative to take prior to your visit, or use local anesthesia for a stress-free procedure. 

#5: Nix Dental Anxiety with Proper Nutrition

Believe it or not, what you ingest before your appointment can make a big difference in how you feel! Here’s the key: avoid high-sugar foods and caffeinated drinks beforehand which can increase anxiety levels. Instead, stick to options high in protein since these actually have a calming effect. Oh, and don’t forget to brush your teeth after your meal. Sorry, couldn’t help but get that in there!

 

It’s important not to let dental anxiety get in the way of your good health. Yes, trips to the dentist aren’t exactly fun, but they are necessary, so be sure to use these coping tips to help you stay calm, cool, and collected next time you schedule a visit

Rest assured, at Weber, Mountford, and Ruskowsk, we understand how you feel and are here to make sure your dental visit is as pleasant and stress-free as possible. If you’re worried about coming in for your appointment, reach out to our team. We’ll help you through the process and do whatever we can to keep you comfortable and relaxed. We are here for you!

Plaque vs. Tartar: What’s the Difference?

Plaque vs. Tartar: What’s the Difference?

Plaque and tartar go together like Batman and Robin, but this pairing isn’t exactly on the side of the good guys! In fact, plaque and tartar can wreak havoc on your dental health, which is why it’s good to know the difference between the two, as well as the signs and risks of each. Here’s everything you need to know about fighting this dynamic duo of dental doom.

Plaque vs. Tartar: The Breakdown

What is Plaque? 

Guess what? We all have to deal with plaque. That’s because plaque is a sticky, clear film that naturally builds up on teeth throughout the day as you eat and drink, especially if what you’re consuming contains sugar. Add saliva to the mix and harmful bacteria forms, releasing acid that enjoys hanging out along your gum line and causing damage and disease. If that isn’t reason enough to make sure you brush and floss daily, here’s the kicker: the longer plaque sticks around on your teeth, the greater chance it will harden and turn into, you guessed it — tartar!

What is Tartar?

Because the struggle of plaque buildup is real, it’s common for tartar to accumulate over time. Tartar occurs when plaque remains on teeth too long, allowing it to trap minerals and calcify, thus tartar’s alter ego: calculus (and yes, it’s even more bothersome than the similarly named math class!).

If tartar, a.k.a. calculus, is left unaddressed, it can result in not only discoloration and cavities, but also tooth decay and gingivitis, among other serious dental problems like periodontitis, which can lead to cardiovascular disease.   

Spotting the Signs & Reducing the Risks 

Now that you know the difference between plaque vs. tartar, it’s time to learn what’s behind this terrible twosome and how to spot the warning signs before tooth trouble ensues.    

Signs of Plaque and Tartar:

  • Bad breath
  • Slimy, fuzzy feeling (plaque)
  • Yellowed appearance and roughness (tartar)
  • Gooey residue on floss
  • Bleeding or sore gums

Risk Factors of Plaque and Tartar:

Your Best Defense Against Plaque and Tartar

If plaque is inevitable and tartar is its trusty sidekick, what do you do to fend them off? Well, the good news is, it’s not all that complicated. You can reduce your risks of plaque and tartar buildup by simply following a healthy and diligent dental routine.

  • Brush twice daily – you might want to use a tartar-control toothpaste for extra fighting power.
  • Floss at least once each day – this is important to get to the spaces between teeth where plaque may set up camp, but a toothbrush can’t reach it.
  • Consider an electric toothbrush – this can provide greater scrubbing power to remove plaque more effectively.
  • Reduce your sugar intake – if you are craving something sweet, just be sure to brush soon after you indulge! 
  • Try opting for snacks with natural plaque-fighting abilities such as celery sticks, apples, or cheese.
  • Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings – these are recommended every 6 months.

Remember, if you don’t take plaque and tartar seriously, they can have serious consequences on your dental and overall health. To keep tartar and disease at bay, schedule your biannual dental cleanings with West Michigan Dentistry. You can count on us to keep your teeth safe!

How to Clean Your Toothbrush

How to Clean Your Toothbrush

How to Clean Your Toothbrush

Your toothbrush keeps your teeth clean, but how do you keep your toothbrush clean? Hint: it’s not just by rinsing it alone. 

Toothbrushes tend to be a favorite hangout for bacteria and germs, and a quick swipe beneath a running faucet is just not enough to keep that bacteria at bay. Know what that means? Your toothbrush isn’t as clean as you think when you put it in your mouth. Not a pleasant thought, we know, which is why we’ve put together these guidelines on how to clean your toothbrush, and how to keep it that way.

Tips for Keeping Your Toothbrush Clean 

Store Your Toothbrush Upright and Solo

You might think covering your toothbrush is a good way to protect it from gathering germs, but unless the cover offers plenty of air circulation, it will actually create an environment mold and bacteria love! Instead, store your toothbrush vertically in a holder or cup with the bristles up so they can dry properly. 

In addition, it’s important to keep your brush separated from others. If you store toothbrushes together, they can easily exchange microorganisms, and that’s not good! 

Never Borrow or Share Your Toothbrush

Your mouth harbors plenty of its own bacteria, don’t add someone else’s to the mix! Sharing a toothbrush is a great way to share germs as well, which not only increases the amount of bacteria in your mouth and on your brush, but also increases your chances of getting sick or contracting an infectious disease such as tooth decay

Clean Your Toothbrush Regularly

The only true way to keep germs at a minimum and say bye-bye to bacteria is to include cleaning your toothbrush in your daily routine. In other words, don’t just brush your teeth every day, clean your toothbrush daily too! Here’s how:

  • Rinse your toothbrush under hot water both before and after you brush.

 

  • When you get done brushing, put your toothbrush head-side down in a cup of antibacterial mouthwash or hydrogen peroxide and leave it there for 3-5 minutes. 

 

  • Another option? Head to the kitchen and boil some water, then dip your toothbrush in and hold it there for 2-3 minutes.

 

  • Don’t want to bother with boiling water? There’s another way to clean a toothbrush in the kitchen –  just put it in the dishwasher! Yep, what works for knives, forks, and spoons works for your toothbrush too. Just be sure to use a lower temperature to avoid damaging its plastic handle. 

 

  • Invest in a UV sanitizer. Sure it’s a little on the pricey side, but it can absolutely be worth the investment when you consider this go-to bacteria buster is so reliable and effective, even hospitals use it!

 

Know When it’s Time to Replace Your Toothbrush 

Toothbrushes typically last 3-4 months, but you should reach for a new one sooner if your toothbrush is showing signs of wear and tear such as excessively frayed bristles. A toothbrush in such condition can’t do its job of cleaning your teeth very well, so it’s definitely time to trade it in for a fresh one. 

You should also replace your toothbrush if you’ve been ill, or if it’s been near the toothbrush of anyone else who’s been sick. Otherwise, you’re just keeping those germs around that are getting in your way of staying healthy.

Visit Your Dentist!

You know what they say: The best cure is prevention. Scheduling regular dental appointments not only keeps your teeth healthy and clean, but you get the added bonus of a new toothbrush every time! Now you know how to keep that brush in good condition, too, which in turn will keep your smile looking its best. 

Give Weber, Mountford, and Ruszkowski a call today to make your next dental cleaning appointment, and make sure your teeth stay not only clean, but also healthy, and strong.

Can Stress Make Your Teeth Hurt?

Can Stress Make Your Teeth Hurt?

Some days are just destined to be stressful. You wake up late, can’t find your keys, get stuck in traffic, have a hectic day at work, need to pick up the kids (but first stop by the store), get home just in time to make dinner…whew! No wonder you’re totally stressed out. Days like this that seem like a perpetual Monday can definitely take their toll, not only on your physical and mental health but also on your teeth. That’s right, stress can even make your teeth hurt!

Stress and Tooth Trouble

Headaches, irritability, and exhaustion are all typical signs of stress, but living a less-than-calm life can affect more than your mood, well-being, and energy level. Believe it or not, stress and tooth pain often go hand-in-hand. In fact, stress can negatively affect your teeth in multiple ways.

Bruxism

That stress-induced headache could very well stem from unconsciously clenching or grinding your teeth, a condition known as bruxism, which brings the term “the daily grind” to a whole new level. Grinding your teeth is a common response to stress and can occur during the day, though mostly at night while you are sleeping. This can result in a host of dental problems that if left unaddressed, will only add to your stress! Bruxism can damage crowns, wear away tooth enamel, and cause pain, lockjaw, tooth sensitivity, and more. It can even disrupt your sleep, making you even more tired and irritable. 

Eating Issues

If you’re feeling stressed and pressed for time, that can cause you to grab quick meals that aren’t necessarily nutritious and are often high in sugar — not your teeth’s best friend by any means. To make matters worse, eating on the run can lead to acid reflux which can damage teeth by eating away at enamel and increasing your risk of tooth decay. 

Gum Disease

Because stress can wreak havoc on your immune system, it can make you more susceptible to gum disease. Add in a tendency to neglect self-care when stressed — such as skipping dental appointments, brushing less, and forgetting to floss — and your chances of gum disease increase even more. Anxiously biting your nails transfers germs into your mouth as well, piling on to your likelihood of infection.    

Mouth Disorders

High anxiety can also lead to dry mouth, a condition that deprives your teeth of saliva’s oral health benefits like its ability to wash away harmful food particles stuck in your teeth and gums. Burning Mouth Syndrome is another condition that can be triggered by stress, resulting in gum and tooth pain. In addition, this disease is exacerbated by smoking and drinking — two habits often increased due to stress.   

Less Stress. Less Tooth Pain.

While we all get stressed out from time-to-time, it’s important to have strategies in place to reduce your stress levels as much as possible. Identify triggers and try to avoid them. Make sure to exercise regularly, eat a healthy, balanced diet, and take time to relax. Get plenty of sleep and use stress-relieving techniques like deep breathing and meditation. By reducing the stress in your life, you will reduce your risk of tooth pain and problems.

If you are experiencing stress-related tooth pain, it’s a good idea to visit your dentist. Contact Weber, Mountford, and Ruszkowski to book your next appointment online or by dialing 616-842-0822 today. There are plenty of things in life to get stressed out about, your teeth shouldn’t be one of them!