Spring Lake Dental Group

Dental Stem Cell Research

Author: Kimberly N. Powell, DDS, MS

This month the Academy of General Dentistry published an article about dental stem cell banking. Stem cells are biological unspecialized cells that have the capability to become “tissue- or organ-specific cells with special functions” National Institutes of Health (NIH). Let’s say that a stem cell is a piece of thread that can become a shirt, dress, boot, or purse by signaling it to do so. In the article, it is noted that stems cells found in the umbilical cord and teeth, especially baby teeth, are easy to obtain. In baby teeth, the best tissue is from extracted teeth, not from loose teeth or ones that have shed on their own because of minimal nerve tissue remaining. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, type I diabetes, bone regrowth, tissue growth after a heart attack, and tooth regeneration can possibly be managed by dental stem cells. Although research is ongoing and the process of dental stem cell banking is fairly new, there are tooth banking companies available with varying fees. The procedure consists of the dentist extracting the tooth, storing it according to the dental bank’s recommendation, and overnighting the package to the bank by the dentist or patient. There, the stem cells will be extracted from the pulp, grown, and frozen. The future health of anyone is unpredictable but to have a resource now that considers this uncertainty is invaluable. Research into successfully signaling dental stem cells into specialized tissue continues and it must if it is to be a potential source of future therapies.

Pregnancy and Dentistry

Author: Dr. Alison Vitelli, DMD

As with many events, pregnancy is a beautiful and big change in any woman’s life. It can bring along significant hormone changes and fluctuations that alter the whole body and sometimes we don’t think that pregnancy will affect the mouth, but yes, it surely does.

Since pregnancy brings so many changes, we always ask that our expecting mothers have their initial obstetric evaluation in order for us to provide an even more accurate and comprehensive oral evaluation. Sometimes we notice an increase of bleeding gums that will usually resolve after delivery. Due to this, we might recommend an additional cleaning during the pregnancy so we can closely follow any changes. Of course, it is also our responsibility to take excellent care of our pregnant patients since we are taking care of mom and baby at the same time. We like to advise our pregnant mothers to have elective dental treatment done after delivery. But in some cases, the patient is in pain, and we can’t wait that long. Pain surely causes distress to both mother and baby due hyperactivity of the endocrine system causing release of several adrenal hormones involved in the pain response. And of course, we would like to get rid of the pain as soon as possible. Ideally this would be done during the second trimester, which would be the safest period to perform dental treatment.

Each one of our patients is unique and we strive to provide the best treatment according to specific needs and circumstances. If you are pregnant and in need of a cleaning, please call us today to schedule your pregnancy check-up!

Dental Insurance Changes for Retirees- How Does It Affect You?

Author: Dr. David Dickerhoff, DDS, MAGD, FOCOI

This December, retirees and their families will experience their dental insurance coverage changing. Each retiree family that is enrolled must choose which plan they wish to participate in. Our patients of record are interested as to whether Spring Lake Dental Group will be an in network provider for these plans.

Well, that’s a good question.

Insurance plans are run by companies that are looking to make a profit; they bid with the federal government to be able to provide these services. In my opinion, our government is not doing the best job at negotiating with these companies. The covered services have been consistently shrinking and the amount of reimbursement makes it difficult to meet my overhead in running the practice. I know, I know, you don’t particularly care about my cost of doing business and just want a great service at a good price provided by a caring team of professionals.

Our relationship with our retirees and their families has been a cherished relationship over the past 22 years and philosophically we value greatly the privilege of taking care of these patriots. We have always done the utmost to provide state of the art care with an eye on always using techniques and materials that are top of the line. But it’s getting harder and harder to do that and there comes a time where being a businessman and being a philosophical patriot is challenged. My personal philosophy makes me push this decision to the furthest degree where I continue to provide care for our long time patients of record. We value this relationship and I hope that you have grown to value the benefit of having a long term stable relationship with one care provider.

My hope is that you can help me continue to be a positive force within the Spring Lake/Fayetteville/ Fort Bragg Community. Referrals are the life blood of any medical practice. Social media is how people find a dentist these days. Any assistance that you can provide by utilizing our website, leaving a review or to talk about our practice to your friends and coworkers would be greatly appreciated. And if there ever is a problem with the services that we have provided you or anyone that you have referred to us, I am always available by email [email protected] or my personal cell (910) 670-6421. I hope our future relationship continues to flourish. My service to our country had a great and amazing impact on me in a very positive vein. It matters to me that I remain personally fulfilled by continuing to provide care to our patriots and their families.

Fluoride: Toothpaste vs. Water

Author: Bonnie Lott, RDH

Fluoride is a naturally occuring element that is found in oceans and groundwater. For over 70 years it has been added to public water supplies at adjusted levels to prevent tooth decay, and is considered safe and effective, reducing decay in adults and children by at least 25%!

We ALL need fluoride to protect teeth, it’s not just for kids! Enamel is the outer layer of your teeth that is vulnerable to decay from acids in our diet. Anytime you consume carbohydrates, they are broken down by the naturally occuring bacteria in your mouth, and turned into acid. This acid will then start to break down the enamel until a cavity is formed. Brushing and flossing daily will help to control this process, but fluoride is needed topically (in toothpaste and mouthwash) to remineralize enamel. Topical fluoride is important for all ages, to protect the teeth we have. If your young child is still unable to spit out toothpaste, it is recommended to use fluoridated toothpaste, but only a small smear (the size of a grain of rice), reserving a “pea size drop” for older children.

What about teeth that are still forming in babies and young children? This is where water fluoridation comes in! Babies start to develop teeth in the womb as early as 6 weeks and future permanent teeth start to form as early as 20 weeks! Since babies recieve their nutrients from their mother, it is important for pregnant women and nursing mothers to drink plenty of fluoridated water in order to help baby form strong, healthy enamel for a lifetime. Children still forming teeth (usually until age 12-13) also need fluoride in their drinking water until all adult teeth are fully formed.

Buyer beware! If your main source of water comes from a bottle, beware! Did you know that most bottled water does not contain fluoride?! Although this may be fine for adults, children still need ingestible fluoride. Companies are required to label their products whenever things are added, and this includes fluoride. If you are unsure if your bottled water has fluoride, just read the label. Don’t purchase water for your children with a cute chartacter on the label thinking that it is fluoridated because it is marketed for children, always check to be sure.

Most areas have publicly fluoridated water, and simply drinking tap water is sufficient for developing enamel and use of daily toothpaste with fluoride for all ages to protect teeth. If you don’t like the taste of your public water and you use a filter, or a water dispenser on your fridge, be advised that both methods of filtration are perfectly fine and will not alter your fluoride content. Homes in rural areas sometimes receive water from a private well. Although fluoride does occur naturally, most areas do not have an optimal level and will need supplementing. If you are unsure if your tap water has fluoride, contact your local health department or water company. Spring Lake Dental Group in coordination with the state offering free water testing if you have well water! Ask any of our staff members and we can provide you with a test kit.

In review, remember, ingested fluoride in water is necessary for babies, children developing teeth, and pregnant or nursing mothers. Everyone else needs topical fluoride in toothpaste and mouthrinse, as well as a twice yearly professional application by your dentist or hygienist.


Author: Kimberly N. Powell, DDS, MS

Your hygienist will tell you to brush your teeth at least twice a day, in the morning and before bed, floss at least once a day, preferably before bed, and rinse. With braces, this routine will require more time. Although it can be an arduous task, it is of vital importance. Plaque and food retention greatly increases with braces. The patient must continue recare appointments with their hygienist, brush the front and back of the teeth, above and below the brackets, and use flossing aids like floss threaders. The goal is to maintain a healthy dentition with the new hardware. Lack of proper home care will cause gingival inflammation, caries initiation, malodor, additional dental treatment. It is a huge disappointment to spend months to years in braces and have to spend more time and money for restorative treatment after the braces are removed. So remember, be true to your teeth or they will be false to you.

The Role of Specialists in General Dentistry

Author: Dr. Rima Solanki, DMD

Your general dentists at Spring Lake Dental group can, in most cases, perform some of the same procedures a specialist performs. However, there may be a time that your general dentist will refer you to a specialist. The reason could be the complexity of a procedure, the patient’s health, or because they feel your procedure warrants a provider with extra, specialized training.

But what about specialists? Who are they and what do they do exactly? A specialist is a general dentist who has completed additional post-graduate training. By completing extensive training in their chosen area, they focus primarily on performing these specific procedures. Types of specialists include: endodontists, pediatric specialists (also known as pedodontists), prosthodontists, oral surgeons, periodontists and orthodontists. 

To help with your decision, learn about the types of specialists and different services they perform.

Pediatric Specialists: Pediatric dentists focus on performing dentistry for infants, children, teens and children with special needs. These dentists deal particularly with the oral healthcare of children and provide care to those with comprehensive medical and dental care.

Orthodontists: Orthodontists can straighten crooked teeth with braces—but they also do much more. These dentists use a variety of oral appliances to help give you a better-looking and more functional smile.

Oral Surgeons: After finishing dental school, these specialists train alongside other medical residents in emergency medicine, surgery and anesthesiology. They are experts in all parts of the face, mouth and jaws.

Endodontists: The soft tissues found deep inside the tooth are the main focus of these specialists. When tooth pain is caused by a root canal problem, an endodontist can relieve the pain—and often save the tooth.

The soft tissues found deep inside the tooth are the main focus of these specialists. When tooth pain is caused by a root canal problem, an endodontist can relieve the pain—and often save the tooth.

Prosthodontists: Prosthodontists have a keen understanding of all the factors that go into making a pleasing smile. If you need replacement teeth, these experts can help ensure that you get top-notch results.

Periodontists: Your teeth are supported and sustained by healthy pink gum tissue… and that’s a periodontist’s area of expertise. These specialists treat gum disease, perform gum surgery—even place dental implants.

At Spring Lake Dental Group, we pride ourselves on being a multi-disciplinary practice. Whether you need a root canal, orthodontic  treatment or gum surgery, we have the provider that will suit your situation best!

Not Alone

Author: Kimberly N. Powell, DDS, MS

Dentistry is not a solo profession. There is an irreplaceable auxiliary and clinical staff that is necessary for the successful practice of dentistry. This staff includes front desk personnel, financial and marketing staff, dental hygienist, dental assistants, sterilization technician, sanitation team, compliance officers, and others. Each member provides a service that ensures the patient is greeted properly, informed of recommended treatment and cost of service, and treated and dismissed in a timely manner. Yes, the dentist performs the restorative treatment, extractions, implant placements, etc, but he or she can not do that alone. Capable and smart dental assistants transfer instruments, ensure a sterilized field is maintained when needed, and correctly dispose of biohazard material and disinfect the operatory between each patient. Our goal is to always put patients first, to treat them as a family member, and that propels every member in the dental practice to be aware of their responsibilities and execute these positions daily.

The Facts About Dental Bridges

Author: Dr. Rima Solanki, DMD

What are Dental Bridges and How Do They Work?

If you have recently lost your tooth due to an injury, decay, or natural cause, you may be wondering what your options are in order to restore your smile. A missing tooth can create an unsightly gap, but it can also cause teeth to shift. You could also experience pain when chewing, discomfort in your jaw, or other problems that are caused by a change to your bite. One of the most common solutions to this problem is having a dental bridge placed in your mouth. So what exactly does the process entail and how does a dental bridge work?

Dental Bridge Placement

Your dentist will numb the area of your mouth with local anesthetic by injecting medication directly into your gums. This is usually prefaced by the use of topical numbing jelly, placed on your gums to minimize the discomfort of the shot.

The first step in fabricating a dental bridge is taking imprints and measurements of your mouth. This ensures that your custom-made bridge will fit properly and feel comfortable. If needed, your dentist may place temporary crowns if your teeth are compromised, offering protection as you wait for the bridge to be created. During your procedure, any temporary crowns will be removed and the dentist will apply the cement that holds the bridge in place.

What Should You Expect After the Procedure?

During the procedure, you shouldn’t feel sharp pains because of the use of local anesthetic. However, you will have to keep your mouth open for up to several hours, so you may feel some discomfort or soreness in your jaw. Over-the-counter pain relievers will typically resolve the issue. You can also place an ice pack on the outside of your jaw.

Benefits of Dental Bridges

Dental bridges offer a number of benefits. This simple procedure provides an appealing cosmetic result that eliminates the space and creates a uniform, beautiful smile. When you have one or more missing teeth, you can also suffer from problems with biting and chewing. Replacing the teeth with bridges will eliminate any problems you might experience when you’re eating. Your speech can also be impacted by a missing tooth, so filling it in with a fake tooth will allow you to speak normally.

With the right treatment, a missing or damaged tooth doesn’t have to impact the look of your smile or the overall condition of your mouth. Dental bridges offer a number of advantages, so if your dentist recommends this treatment for your condition, it’s an excellent option.

National Non-Profit Day

Author: Dr. David Dickerhoff, DDS, MAGD, FOCOI

August 17th, 2018 is National Non-Profit Day! We, at Spring Lake Dental Group, are dedicated to doing our part in giving back. We have been so blessed to be able to support this community over the last 22 years, that we feel it is an honor and a responsibility to return the many blessings we have received. Examples of our commitment are support of the America Dental Association’s ‘Give Kids A Smile Day’ in February, Rebuilding America’s Warriors (www.raw.com), CARE Clinic, Better Health of Cumberland County, United Way Campaign, Dental Lifeline Network’s Donated Dental Services and the North Carolina Dental Society’s ‘Missions of Mercy’ project. Last week, from August 2-August 4th, members of Spring Lake Dental Group assembled at the Crown Coliseum and participated in the ‘Missions of Mercy’ project. The Mission treated over 755 patients with free dental services such as: extractions, biopsies, fillings, cleanings and prosthetics. The estimated value of treatment was $484,608.08! A very worthy endeavor. Over 500 volunteers made all this possible, but it points to the caring nature of dental professionals and we hope that you will brag on your dental office being leaders in the field of dental philanthropy. Good job everyone!

Amalgam vs. Composite

Author: Dr. Alison Vitelli, DMD

As was discussed in Dr. Dickerhoff’s previous blog, you have different options of restorative materials when getting a filling placed on a tooth. These could be tooth colored (composite) or silver fillings (amalgam). Both are proven to be great restorative materials, but they shouldn’t be just a simple choice of esthetics or cost but rather as which one would have a better longevity.

The physical and chemical properties of both materials are very different. The silver filling (amalgam) is a metal alloy that is retained on the tooth by basic mechanical retention design of the preparation, whereas the tooth colored filling (composite) rely on a bond with the tooth structure after a chemical process known as polymerization. This is activated when we “shine the light” on your tooth when placing the composites.

Composites require a dry environment for better results and lower recurrence of decay. As a general protocol, we would restore a tooth in the anterior area with a composite. The main reason is esthetics! I think we all will agree that we don’t want a dark filling on our front tooth but it is also easier to isolate the area and keep it dry as opposed to a molar. Therefore, we must use a dental dam or a lot of cotton isolation, so the area does not get contaminated by saliva or blood. It has been stated, if we encounter a cavity that is below the gumline it becomes a challenge to keep blood and fluids from leaking to the dry environment required for the chemical bond to form with the tooth. Amalgam would then be a preferred material for a case like this due to being more forgiving in an environment in contact with the gum. At a microscopic level, composites are more porous as opposed to amalgam which offers a smoother surface making it harder for bacteria to adhere.

The physical properties of a metal alloy such as amalgam (silver, tin and mercury) allows it to withstand the forces of the human bite a lot better than some of the composites. Technology has progressed to a point where the composites have been designed to have strength and flexibility values closer to that of tooth structure.

At Spring Lake Dental Group, we strive to provide you with the best treatment to every one of our patients. So next time you have an appointment, let us know your questions. We look forward to talking to you and to educate you about your options!