Spring Lake Dental Group

To Our Patients…

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

I watch television daily as the pandemic develops, just as many of you do.  As this crisis has unfolded, I have developed a new respect for the people who are charged with the protection of our health and welfare.

Based upon the Governor’s stay at home order and social distancing edicts as well as the North Carolina’s Dental Society recommendation that we treat only emergency patients, I have closed our doors to patient care and am prepared to evaluate this situation on a daily basis.  It is not taken lightly that I have a strong and moral obligation to continue to care for all of our patients at Spring Lake Dental Group. Each inquiry into our office will be evaluated on its individual merits and triaged appropriately. But I assure you that I will be manning our office with a skeleton staff during the tenure of this viral outbreak.  If you have pain or infection and need quality of life to be re-established, call us at 910-497-3200 or our after hours number at 910-489-0402.

I will constantly urge you to take the Governor’s request for quarantine seriously.  The best way for us to combat this outbreak is not to let it spread throughout our community.

On a lighter note, I assure you that we miss our daily contact with our patients.  We are using this downtime to update our computers and their software. We are cleaning, organizing and cleaning some more. Our prayer is that we all come through this crisis being happy, healthy and still financially viable.

Stay safe and know that you are on our minds constantly! 


The Coronavirus and Spring Lake Dental Group

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

Just like our patients, we are watching the information flow come out for public consumption about the recent pandemic that is affecting our country.  Though we see all that is being posted, we do not rely upon the internet to make decisions about how we are going to deal with this crisis. We view ourselves as scientists and practice the oral medical arts with evidence based recommendations. The challenge here is that the newly mutated virus has sprung upon an unsuspecting public with such virulence and transmissibility that the scientific information about its epidemiology is slow to comeNonetheless, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are the experts that we rely upon for our most dependable information. As of this writing, the coronavirus situation in the United States remains in a state of rapid flux. Recommendations are therefore predicated upon information that arises daily. But here is what we know at this early stage of disease progression

COVID19, the disease caused by SARSCOV2, is now known to be highly contagious with a rapid velocity of transmission. The disease appears to have a fatality rate that is lower than its predecessors, SARS COV1 and MERSCOC2. The most at risk populations appear to be the elderly and those with underlying comorbidities, though the statistics are ever-changing. In 80% of cases, the symptoms of COVID19 are mild. In 15% of cases, development of progressive respiratory symptoms may necessitate hospitalization. In 5% of cases, patients become critically ill and require intensive care unit support. Overall, fatality is estimated to be around 2%

Dr. Leslie Fang, a Harvard Medical School Professor states that although vaccines have been developed in the United States and China, it will likely take too long for the vaccines to be deployed during this epidemic because of the need for safety testing and clinical trials. Clinical trials with antiviral agents such as remdessivir, chloroquine and others are in place and will hopefully help with development of effective therapeutic agents.” 

The staff at Spring Lake Dental Group has viewed recent webinars and held classroom instruction related to learning more about the virus, we have developed strategies concerning patient treatment during this time. Some of our attention will be paid to administrative controls, engineering controls, environmental hygiene, correct work practices, personal protective equipment and strict adherence to standard, contact and airborne precautions

No additional unproductive paperwork will be required of our patients. We dont care if youve traveling to at risk countries or had a boat cruise or airplane journey in your recent past. The virus is here and universal precautions are needed and being reinforced. Our practice is not, and will not, experience any shortage of disease prevention materials. Our staff has been trained and is dedicated to sustaining the health of our patient population even if they are experiencing flulike symptoms. Many expertshave stated that any dental work can be postponed as elective and that there is no such thing as a dental emergency

We have made the decision to close the office to non-emergent appointments. However, our staff does not ascribe to his theory and is prepared to assist our patients should they experience pain or infection

I hope you notice the increased state of personal and patient protection that we are demonstrating at SLDG. As more information presents itself about this outbreak, we may be adjusting our response to it. But it will be based on the best information and will be keeping the health of our staff and patients uppermost in its concern.

Standard Practice

Author: Dr. Alison Vitelli, DMD

My topic for this month was going to be a different one however, I feel it is our responsibility as your dental health care provider to reassure our commitment to your care during this time. I do not want to sound repetitive among all the overwhelming information and concern going around with the Coronavirus (COVID-19), so my interest is to tell you about the safety protocols that we practice daily at Spring Lake Dental Group.

It is a great relief to know that at Spring Lake Dental Group we have always practiced universal safety precautions, hand-washing, and confidentiality as our standard way of keeping our patients safe. From the clinical care side, some of these precautions include washing our hands in between each patient, every time we reenter the operatory; wearing our personal protective equipment (PPE), which include eye protection, gloves, mask (which never leaves the patient’s room and is discarded when treatment is over). Also, our scrubs or treatment jackets are washed in the clinic, following all the standard recommendations from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  Each operatory is disinfected between each patient using medical grade disinfecting agents and the use of physical barriers on contact surfaces.  As you may have been aware, the recent research recommendation to control or prevent the spread of the COVID-19 are included in our standard safety protocols.

Additionally, it is kindly advised that if you are experiencing respiratory distress symptoms, fever or malaise, you should stay home, rest and recover.  Steps as simple as staying hydrated, eating well, getting a full nights rest and keeping stress at a minimum are so important to help your immune system work properly and fight undesired microorganisms.  Spring Lake Dental Group looks after your health and we are understanding of the difficult situation our nation and our world is going through. Please keep us informed, stay healthy and safe.

Attached are online references in case you would like to look more into safety guidelines and the epidemiology of the COVID-19.




Get It From The Tap!

Author: Kimberly N. Powell, DDS, MS, FAGD

This year’s National Children’s Dental Health Month campaign slogan is “Fluoride in water prevents cavities! Get it from the tap!” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) named community water fluoridation (along with vaccinations and infectious disease control) one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), throughout more than 70 years of research and practical experience, scientific evidence has consistently indicated that fluoridation of community water supplies is safe. Fluoride is a mineral present at varied concentrations in all water sources including rainwater and the oceans, and community water fluoridation is the controlled adjustment of fluoride to optimal levels to prevent tooth decay (ADA). Water that has been fortified with fluoride is similar to fortifying salt with iodine, milk with vitamin D and orange juice with vitamin C- none of which are medications (ADA).

How does fluoride help? Tooth decay begins when the outer layer of a tooth loses some of its minerals due to acid produced by bacteria found in dental plaque breaking down the sugars that we eat (ADA). Fluoride protects teeth by helping to prevent the loss of these minerals and by restoring them with a fluoride-containing mineral that is more resistant to acid attacks (ADA). It is worthy to note that it is more than the dental community that supports this program as the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization also support community water fluoridation (ADA). Considering it is a public service initiative, water fluoridation benefits every socioeconomic group, from the underserved to the 1%, and provides equality in this aspect among the groups. Drinking fluoridated tap water can help prevent costly dental treatment; the cost of a lifetime of water fluoridation for one person is less than the cost of one filling (ADA). It is necessary to note that all public water is not the same. Some populations live in areas where there is suboptimal to no fluoridation and some where the public water may not be safe to drink. Your local Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) can provide information regarding your home and county’s water fluoridation levels and safety. Although fluoride is obtained from sources other than public water, like toothpaste and rinses, fluoride supplements may be prescribed if fluoridation levels are substandard, the child is deemed to be a high caries risk, and is age 6 months to 16 years old. If you have any questions, please contact your SLDG dentist with your concerns. Prevention is our goal!

National Children’s Dental Health Month

Author: Dr. Alison Vitelli, DMD

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, as developed by the American Dental Association (ADA). We, at Spring Lake Dental Group, want to provide you with some information that will allow you to take better care of your child’s dental health. Caring for oral health begins as early as birth, and it gets modified as the little ones grow.  Given all the changes children go through during their younger years, it is of extreme importance that they are being seen on a regular basis to monitor and address any issues that may arise, as well as to receive preventive care. During these visits, we evaluate, diagnose and treat the presence of tooth decay, growth and development, dental habits, dental trauma and oral hygiene, and provide treatment according to their current needs.  Habits, such as pacifier, nail biting, thumb sucking, among others, can cause abnormal positioning of the teeth and shaping of the jaw, as well as how top and bottom arches of teeth relate to each other.  Inadequate oral hygiene and improper diet habits lead to increased risk of caries (cavities), halitosis (bad breath), and even fungal infection in infants. These are just a few of the many things we evaluate with every one of our pediatric patients.  Every child is unique and we strive to provide you with the appropriate information and best care for your family.

Honoring Black History Month

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

February is Black History Month and I wanted to add a couple of my personal thoughts about observing this commemoration this year. Dr. King and I share the same birthday on January 15th and I have taken an interest in his history and background. My experience in going through grade school was in the 1960’s and so all of the tumultuous events that took place during that decade have left a mark on me as I have grown to be more reflective in my older years. My experience in grade school was to receive a certain Eurocentric spin to human history. Teachers lectured us on the basic “facts” that the Americas were discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492 by sailing for Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand from Spain. You can imagine my surprise to later learn that the Americas had been inhabited by native folk for many centuries. Thus, you may be able to appreciate some of the insight I have gained over the decades as I realize that this Eurocentric perspective may not be shared by some of my fellow Americans who have a heritage centered in the African continent. This brings me back to Black History Month. Our town and local government are wrestling with the issues associated with the construction of a Civil War Museum and the message that that museum will portray to visitors. I do not claim to have any insight to what the planners and historians have in mind for this particular project, but I will try to make the argument that the project should move forward. I, like many of my generation, have a thirst for knowledge about history and heritage to which we have not been made familiar. Having highly educated consultants on the project that have the ability in internalize the events of the 19th century and put them forward in a responsible way that can only have a positive effect on those that visit the museum. The Airborne and Special Operations Museum in downtown Fayetteville is currently upgrading its facilities to speak to a current generation that wants their information presented in a more interactive way. This museum is a great source of pride for me as a veteran and an American. I have taken my family on ‘educational’ vacations where we visited Civil War sights and battlefields in an attempt to give them a better insight into our American heritage. We have many of these incredible museums to the north and to the south of Fayetteville. Putting Fayetteville on the map for families that are investigating these issues would not only help our financial situation, but would elevate our reputation as a leader in American service. We do house America’s Guard of Honor, the 82d Airborne Division. Fayetteville has been for the past century at the tip of the spear. We are proud of our support of our military members, their families and our veterans. Having a world class museum that evokes memories of how we dealt with the issues of slavery and state’s rights can only be a positive thing (even if you just weigh the educational value alone.) Many people, like me, would honor Black History Month by educating myself in the issues that have never been a part of my formal education as a youth. I urge you to stay involved in the conversation that is taking place among our civic leaders.

Uses of LASER In Dentistry

Author: Dr. Rima Solanki, DMD

The name LASER is an acronym for “Light Amplification by The Stimulated Emission of Radiation”. It is literally a beam of light that has a single wavelength unlike daylight or white light which are a continuum of light with many wavelengths. In the dental field, the usage of LASER has become widely popular and it can be used for soft and hard tissue lesions. Soft tissue usage includes treating gum disease, reshaping of gum for esthetics, and doing biopsy of suspicious looking lesions or removing them. Hard tissue usage includes caries detection, removal of cavity and whitening of teeth. At Spring Lake Dental Group, we have been using LASER to uncover a buried implant, removal of ulcers, soft tissue biopsy or removal of cancerous or benign lesions, for gingival contouring and procedure called frenectomy. LASER usage allows for an easy healing and less post op complications. It is one of the best inventions in the medical field and it has lot in store for the future usage.

Treatment Planning

Author: Kimberly N. Powell, DDS, MS, FAGD

It is important that there is an uncomplicated patient-provider-business team relationship. Ease of communication amongst the group can be facilitated by a well-devised treatment plan. The treatment plan is an itemized list of recommended dental care and associated cost. It is formulated by reviewing the patient’s medical history and evaluating the oral cavity clinically and radiographically by the dentist and/or dental hygienist with the patient’s needs and desires considered. The patient, doctor, hygienist, and business team are then aware of what is recommended, how the work will be accomplished, sequence of treatment, and how much. Questions are encouraged; the more we know about where the patient wants to go and knowing what can and cannot be done, the better a personalized treatment plan will be. Sometimes an appointment can be longer than expected, but our goal is to provide all the information regarding the patient’s care so an informed decision can be made. This information may be provided via videos, study models, appliances, sample prosthesis, and/or pictures. We know that the conversation can be difficult especially when multiple extractions and complete dentures are proposed, but our hope is that the patient will be comforted knowing that all parties involved are knowledgable about what is happening and working together for the expected results.

Dental Sealants

Author: Dr. Alison Vitelli, DMD

I am a firm believer that preventative care is the best approach for keeping a healthy smile. This includes routine cleanings, use of fluoride varnish and sealants among others.  “What are sealants?” many of our patients ask or you might hear us say: “I recommend to bur and seal a molar”. What does that actually mean? Well, given the development of our teeth, most of them have pits, fissures or grooves on the chewing surface.  Most common teeth to have prominent fissures are our premolars and molars.  These areas can be very deep and narrow making it a trap for dental plaque and it is the most common surface of cavity formation.  The diameter of a single toothbrush bristle is too thick to be able to clean these fissures.  In order to prevent cavities in this instance, we recommend to placing a sealant on these pits and fissures so they are filled up to tooth level.  When we “bur” a tooth out, we take our high speed instrument into these fissures and clean them from debris, plaque and stains.  The main characteristic of a sealant is that it stays all at the enamel level.  This also means that the process of placing a sealant, even when it the tooth has to be cleaned out, is always quick and painless!  Anyone can benefit from a sealant, from our pediatric to our adult patients. For more information on sealants, talk to your hygienist at your next visit!

Flu Season

Author: Dr. Rima Solanki, DMD

Around this time of the year, most of us get sick with the flu or flu-like symptoms. These symptoms include fever, body aches, sore throat, cough, headaches, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea. Best way to help fight the flu is to get flu shot in the months of October and November. If you haven’t gotten one this year, it is still not late to get one. The other way we can help ourselves is by limiting contact with people who are sick and if we get sick, it is best to stay home until you are fever-free for 24 hours. Kids miss school days and adults miss work days. Being in the health care facility, we are constantly disinfecting all surface areas and washing our hands as much as possible in addition to being complaint with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). We will be happy to reschedule your appointment if you have the flu or flu-like symptoms!