Spring Lake Dental Group

Dental X-rays


Author: Dr. Rima Solanki, DMD

X-rays, also known as radiographs, are an essential part of any dental care treatment plan. They are diagnostic, but they can also be preventative, by helping your dentist diagnose potential oral care issues in mouth before they become a major problem. An x-ray is a type of energy that passes through soft tissues and is absorbed by dense tissue. Teeth and bone are very dense, so they absorb x-rays, while x-rays pass more easily through gums and cheeks. These x-rays allow dentists to find cavities, look at the teeth roots, check the health of the bony area around the tooth, determine the gum health, see the status of developing teeth for children and to monitor good teeth health through prevention.

Dental x-rays are safe; however, they do require very low levels of radiation exposure, which makes the risk of potentially harmful effects very small. Dental x-ray tools and techniques are designed to limit the body’s exposure to radiation and every precaution is taken to ensure that
radiation exposure is As Low As Reasonable Achievable (the ALARA principle). A leaded apron minimizes exposure to the abdomen and may be used when it will not interfere with acquisition of the dental radiograph. Also, a leaded thyroid collar can protect the thyroid from radiation, and should also be used whenever possible.

If you are pregnant, make sure to tell your dentist. During your pregnancy, you may need to have
x-rays taken if dental emergency presents. Use of the leaded apron and thyroid collar will
protect you and your fetus from radiation exposure. Dental x-rays do not need to be delayed if
you are trying to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.

Geriatric Population

Author: Kimberly N. Powell, DDS, MS

Poor oral health and poor general health coincide. A compromised oral cavity can negatively affect diabetes control and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. As the population ages, there is an increase in the prevalence of certain health conditions and oral maladies. Oral disease can significantly impact the quality of life for older adults, including pain, difficulty with mastication affecting the diet, and reduced socialization as a result of an altered appearance (Colgate Oral Health Network). To help prevent tooth loss, caries, periodontal disease, and the associated discomfort in the geriatric population, we must be aggressive in our care. Whether at home alone, with a caregiver, or in assisted living, it is necessary that proper oral hygiene procedures (i.e.brushing, flossing, rinsing) are being performed by the patient or caregiver, that routine appointments with dental professionals are attended, that it’s identified whether a manual or electric toothbrush is best due to patient’s dexterity, that caries and non-restorable teeth are being treated, that if needed prosthetics are fabricated to aid in maintaining proper nutrition, that caregivers are attentive to changes in the mouth. Prevention is important, but when the condition presents itself, intervention is imperative.

Give Kids A Smile

Author: Dr. Alison Vitelli, DMD

February is the National Children’s Dental Health month, and we are extremely excited to be part of Give Kids a Smile (GKAS). For many years, we have hosted GKAS. On February 11th, Spring Lake Dental Group, together with the American Dental Association (ADA) is going to be a part of this event which is hosted annually all over the country.

The main goal of GKAS is to reach out to our community and provide dental care to children 18 years or younger, who don’t have dental insurance or the means of receiving it otherwise. It touches our hearts and fills our lives of great reward to see the smiling face of a kid who is now out of discomfort or receiving their very first dental cleaning! And this is why we do what we do. At, Spring Lake Dental Group, we are here to help you achieve a better and healthier smile. When we see the joyful smile of a kid who received dental treatment and is now out of pain, it is one of the many rewarding experiences we treasure!

Make sure you mark your calendar and refer your friends to our office! You can find more information on our Facebook page or you can call the office at 910-497-3200. We look forward to seeing you!


Oral Bone Loss-Just for The Old?

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

I come from a generation of adults that may have looked at tooth loss as a process involved with aging. Losing teeth through the actions of progressive bone loss was viewed as a physiologic process. The older you got, eventually teeth were going to fall out.

We now know that tooth loss through periodontal disease is a pathologic process. It is caused by bacterial plaque producing pathogens and the bodys reaction to these pathogens that causes progressive bone loss and subsequent tooth loss. Removing this bacterial plaque and teaching you how to remove it is what your hygienist does for you.

But most people associate this disease entity (periodontal disease) with older adults and the elderly. But did you know that there are forms of this disease that affect the young, adolescents and young adults?

Aggressive periodontitis is a disease entity that is characterized by progressive bone loss usually associated with the permanent first molars (six year molars) and anterior incisors (front teeth). Patient demographics show that it typically affects the young adolescent population. It is thought that the hormones associated with adolescence are a potential food source for the overgrowth of specific bacteria that are especially harmful for healthy bone growth. While the young adult may outgrowthis disease, the attachment apparatus of the tooth to the bone and the bone levels may be irreversibly affected. The mechanism for this destruction is thought to be associated with a particular immune system defect in the at risk patient, a neutrophil cell chemotaxis defect. Neutrophils are immune system cells tasked with protecting us from bacterial invasion. When these cells have a chemotactic defect, they do not recognize bacteria significantly enough to perform this protection role.

While this is a very insidious disease that potentially can cause a lot of destruction, early detection and treatment can bring about a good prognosis. This aggressive periodontitis responds favorably to bacterial plaque control, antibiotic therapy and oral chemotherapeutics (specific mouthwashes and locally placed antibiotic medications).

The key to successful treatment is early detection and aggressive therapy until the patient is through their adolescent period. Having an experienced and stable hygiene staff at Spring Lake Dental Group helps our dentists to detect and treat this disease. Regular checkups with full mouth probing and radiographs are an essential part of maintaining great oral health. Dont let your regular checkups lapse. You have been prescribed a recall period that fits your particular risk factors, whatever they may be. We, at Spring Lake Dental Group love knowing that we are never treating a stranger.

3 Healthy Mouth Habits for 2019

Author: Dr. Rima Solanki, DMD

2019 is here and it’s time to share our favorite mouth healthy habits that will help you achieve the best oral health in the new year.

  1. Establish and Maintain a Proper Oral Health Routine: Remember to brush your teeth twice per day, for two minutes at a time and floss twice per day. This will prevent leaving food debris on teeth and subsequently preventing cavities. It is important to have a proper oral health routine to keep a mouth clean and to prevent a lot of oral health ailments.
  2. Drink More Water: Water is a fantastic tool in the fight against bad bacteria and tooth decay. Water is not acidic, and does not harm teeth at all. In fact, it improves saliva production, which naturally cleans teeth of debris and restores the mouth back to a healthy PH balance. Specially for children, if they must have juice or a sweeter drink, water it down so that they aren’t consuming too much sugar at one time.
  3. Replace Worn out Toothbrushes: It can be difficult to know when to replace old toothbrush with a new one.  A good rule of thumb to follow is to replace your toothbrush after 3 months of use. However, there are some signs that indicate it’s time for a change. If toothbrush bristles are frayed, or pluming outward, then it’s time for a new toothbrush. If you recently had an illness, then it’s best to replace their toothbrush to prevent the spread of unhealthy bacteria.

What Is A Routine Dental Cleaning? A Dental Hygienist’s Perspective

Author: Shannon Sutton, RDH

Every 6 months you visit the dentist for your dental cleaning. You chat with the hygienist, go over health history and see the dentist to check and make sure there are no cavities. It all seems pretty routine but there is a lot that goes on during your appointment that you may not be aware of. Let’s break down the routine cleaning appointment and look at the different steps that occur.

First, we go over your medical history. You may not be aware but some medications and health conditions affect your teeth, gums and overall dental health and vice versa. There are side effects to medications that can cause dry mouth, altered taste, gingival swelling and so many more problems. Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, nutritional deficiencies and conditions such as acid reflux can cause issues with your gums and teeth also. Dental hygienists mentally note these issues for later.

Second, radiographs might be taken. We can note early demineralization of teeth and cavities from these radiographs but they are also used to detect bone loss around teeth and abnormalities in tooth structure and in the bone. Dental hygienists use these radiographs to tell if periodontal disease has begun to destroy the bone in between teeth and detect calculus, also known as tartar, which is a hard build up that harbors bacteria and irritates your gums.

Next, we begin our intraoral exam. In this step, we evaluate teeth, prior restorations, gum health, and overall oral condition. Dental hygienists note color of gums, depth of pockets around teeth, points of bleeding gums, salivary flow, visible plaque and calculus along with areas of recession and gum defects. All of this occurs before the dental cleaning and may only take a few minutes but is all being done possibly without you even realizing.

During the dental prophylaxis, or cleaning, we remove any hard calculus and soft plaque deposits that may have accumulated on your teeth over the last 6 months. This helps to reduce the bacteria count in your mouth. Dental hygienists focus on reducing harmful bacteria in your mouth and restore overall health. We also give you tips on how to better clean these areas at home. One of our main concerns is to give you the ability to care for your mouth to PREVENT dental diseases. Lessening the bacterial load also helps your overall health. Some oral bacteria have now been associated with several serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, atherosclerosis, erectile dysfunction, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and several more. So when we give you advice about what to do to help with your oral health know that it could also help with your overall health as well. During this step we also do an oral cancer screening by visually looking at the entire inside of the mouth including the tongue, lips, roof of mouth, throat and cheeks.

When the dentist comes in, we are able to give him or her a detailed amount of information to help diagnose any possible problems. We follow up with a fluoride treatment that helps to remineralize teeth that acids in our diet have begun to break down.

There is a lot that goes into your routine cleaning and all of our dental hygienists at Spring Lake Dental Group are highly skilled in all of these aspects of oral care. Schedule your 6 month check-up with us now!

Pain Management

Author: Kimberly N. Powell, DDS, MS

According to the National Institute of Health, the wide spread use and misuse of opioid pain relievers has risen at an alarming rate, giving way to a nation-wide crisis. As of 2015 drug overdose has become the leading cause of accidental death in the United States (Viola, COHN). Since opioid analgesics may increase the risk of adverse effects, such as central nervous system depression, respiratory depression and gastrointestinal upset; combination analgesic containing non-opioid ingredients such as acetaminophen and NSAIDs are attractive alternatives as reported by Thomas Viola, Colgate Oral Health Network (COHN). A combination of acetaminophen and ibuprofen appeared to produce significantly better analgesics efficacy compared with the same drugs taken separately for acute post-operative dental pain in adolescents and adults (Viola, COHN). The same article reported that a single-tablet combination of ibuprofen 200 mg/acetaminophen 500 mg provided highly effective analgesia that was comparable with, or superior to, other combination analgesics currently indicated for strong pain. Although these medications do not require a prescription, one must not take more than the maximum recommended daily dose, schedule, and duration as indicated on the bottle/carton, 3000 mg acetaminophen, 1200-2400 mg ibuprofen. An adverse reaction to acetaminophen use is drug-induced hepatotoxicity due to an acute or chronic overdose (Viola, COHN). Communication with your dental provide is necessary to address your concerns before initiating drug therapy. In light of the misuse of prescribed opioids, evaluating each case individually, opioids maybe considered the last option to manage dental pain.

Hammer and Nail

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

Have you ever heard the saying, “if you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail”?

I fear that some of the technology that has inserted itself into our profession might be driving some of the decision making in recommendations for treatment. Our technology has become so expensive to both purchase as well as to maintain, that getting a return on your investment drives some of our marketing and influences our recommendations to our patients.  This is a dangerous temptation and has been one of the reasons that corporate dentistry has become so big in the profession. Recent graduates from dental school are saddled with significant debt in the repayment of their school loans and do not want to go into further debt as they establish their practices. Often, committing to these high cost technology driven improvements is done at a time in their business growth life where a return on the investment is paramount in the mind of the business owner, whether it be a dentist or a corporate entity.

In the 23 years that Spring Lake Dental Group has been in existence, my thought process of when to invest in new technology has relied solely on being able to meet the needs of my patients.  Reinvesting profits back into the business allows us to stay current but having state of the art technology is not the engine that drives the bus.

Back in 2000, Spring Lake Dental Group invested in implant technology. We did this not because we wanted to market expensive, high end dentistry. But I envisioned the day when one of my patients would come in with a broken front tooth from trauma and had to have it extracted. What options could I offer my patient that would address their current crisis that would satisfy them both functionally and esthetically? I did not want us to become an implant practice, but I did want to have another effective tool to satisfy the demands of my patients.

This is the way that I look at a recent technology upgrade that we made, where we are able to scan digital impressions for production of milled out crowns onsite. The advantage of this technology is marketed as having the capability of providing same day crowns for your patients. Spring Lake Dental Group did not purchase this technology as a tool to produce more crowns or faster crowns.  But we watched this technology, initially developed by Siemens, until it got to the point that scientific data proved that crowns manufactured by this technology was equal to or superior to the crowns that we were producing through laboratory techniques.  Because we service a large military population and many soldiers come to our office stating that they are on orders to depart for their jobs and need a dental restoration quickly, we thought that this technology might fill a need for our patient population.  There are some patients as well that do not prefer to be in temporary restoration for a three week period of time while their case is in the lab.

The digital scanning technology is housed on two scanning workstations and is produced by PlanScan E4D utilizing Romexis software. The compatible milling unit and glazing oven are also owned by Spring Lake Dental Group and allow us to produce lithium disilicate (Emaxx) crowns from digital scans taken directly from our patient’s mouths. Done to our standards, these crowns are hard to differentiate from virgin teeth and have the capability to function without any special treatment other than what you would do for normal oral hygiene.

Since we have purchased this technology, you would think that we would be producing lots of Emaxx crowns, but that is not the case. Here’s where the saying at the start of this blog comes into play. Treatment planning this technique and this material is very patient specific. It is specific to their needs, desires, social and financial calendar. One size does not fit all.

If you are a patient of record with Spring Lake Dental Group, have a conversation with your providing dentist or hygienist about whether this technology is right for you.  We are always glad to discuss your specific situation and why this “hammer” may or may not be right for your “nail”.


Top 7 Dental Tips for the Holidays

Author: Dr. Rima Solanki, DMD

It can be difficult to maintain your regular routines over the holidays. Parties, traveling out of town to visit family and a less structured schedule can make it challenging to care for your teeth the way you normally would. When you add holiday dinners, drinks and sweets to the mix, your teeth may suffer more than usual. By following these 7 simple dental tips, you can still enjoy the holidays without compromising your white, bright smile or the health of your teeth and gums.

1. Never use your teeth to open presents, use proper tools for packages and bottles
2. Choose light colored or clear beverages to avoid teeth staining
3. Pack a to-go teeth cleaning kit for parties
4. Stick to you daily oral health routine
5. Avoid sticky, hard, chewy, gunny or sugary food
6. Chew sugar free gums with xylitol
7. Schedule your post holiday dental appointments at Spring Lake Dental Group


Author: Kimberly N. Powell, DDS, MS

The United States Department of Health and Human Services classified obesity as a disease in 2004. A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher falls within the obese range according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Obesity is a serious health condition that can increase the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, sleep apnea, and certain cancers. In dentistry, an obese patient may find the simplest activity uncomfortable. The dental chair may be constricting, so armrests are adjusted to increase comfort. The clinical dental staff are aware of the demands dentistry can pose on a patient during treatment. Recognizing this for the obese patient aids in customizing their dental visit by assisting them to sit up, offering frequent breaks as breathing can be challenging in the reclined position, transferring them in and out of the dental chair, and seating them in an operatory closest to the reception area to limit the distance the patient has to walk. It can be uncomfortable for anyone when personal space is invaded, even more in a dental setting. For the obese patient, this space is likely more compromised as inadvertent body contact can occur and be a cause of embarrassment. A discussion with the patient in the presence of the assistant is necessary to avoid misinterpretation of touching that occurs during normal dental procedures such as transferring of instruments, suctioning, etc. Recognizing the different health conditions of patients and knowing how to modify treatment for their benefit helps to provide superior care for the patient physically and emotionally.