Spring Lake Dental Group

Ross White!

Author: Kimberly N. Powell, DDS, MS

There was an episode of the NBC comedy, Friends, where Ross goes a little overboard in whitening his teeth.  The results were “glow in the dark” teeth! A beautiful smile with brilliantly white teeth is desired by a large number of the dental population.  This goal can be accomplished by several methods including bleaching trays, in-office express whitening, whitening strips, dental varnishes, rinses, and toothpastes.  Most people want their teeth brighter as quickly as possible. In-office procedures like Zoom use a gel applied to the teeth activated by a LED light to achieve this result, whitening teeth up to eight shades in one visit!  There are dental varnishes that can be applied to the teeth in office (patient can leave after application), stays on for 30 minutes and is brushed off, resulting in whiter teeth up to four shades! Although some find the whitening trays to be a little cumbersome, others prefer them.  The prescribed whitening gel is either expressed in a custom tray or already saturated in prefabricated ones and worn for up to an hour depending on concentration. There are also over-the-counter products that can achieve great results. Whitening strips produced by Crest, whitening toothpastes by Colgate, Crest, Sensodyne (to name a few), and even whitening rinses are some products that can produce the results you may want.  However, tooth sensitivity is a side effect that should definitely be considered before starting treatment. Also remembering to avoid excess beverages, food, products that can stain your teeth like red wine, coffee, juices, tobacco, etc. If there is an interest in dental whitening, consult your dental professional on the options that may be best for you. If you are interested in whitening your teeth, call us today at 910-497-3200 for more information!

“Be true to your teeth, or they will be false to you.”

Oral Cancer by the Numbers

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

This is the American Dental Association’s National Oral Cancer Awareness Month. My guess is that the following numbers are going to astound you. But here we go…

  • The number of NEW oral cancer cases in 2017: 49,670
  • The number of oral cancer related deaths in 2017: 9,700
  • The number of people diagnosed with oral cancer EACH year: 11.2% per 100,00
  • The median age of diagnosis: 63
  • The median age of death after diagnosis: 67
  • The percentage of all cancer cases that are oral cancer: 2.9%

Dentists are trained to know the normal dental and oral anatomy. We routinely screen for any anatomy abnormalities. Most oral cancers start out being asymptomatic and are usually, when pointed out, a new finding to patients. This speaks to the need for routine dental cleanings and examinations for all patients.

Spring Lake Dental Group is equipped with Polaris (intra-oral digital photography) that allows us to capture and follow any anatomic abnormalities. Most abnormalities usually occur from trauma related incidents but need to be treated and monitored.

We also use a computer-assisted analysis called OralCDx, which is an oral brush biopsy that gives us a statistical analysis as to whether a lesion needs to be further looked at through either incisional or excisional biopsy. This means taking a piece or all of the lesion and looking at it under a microscope to determine an exact diagnosis. We, at Spring Lake Dental Group, are trained and capable of using the latest biopsy techniques, including laser removal of a lesion in order to determine diagnosis.

Preventative care is the cornerstone of our practice. Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have regarding your oral health. Call us at 910-497-3200 or schedule your next visit!

Food That Fuels Your Body and Teeth!

Author: Dr. Rima Solanki, DMD

Water rules: Water, especially fluoridated water, is the best beverage for maintaining your oral health. That’s because fluoride helps to make teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that can cause cavities. As of 2012, nearly 75 percent of the U.S. population had access to fluoridated water, so drinking water from your own kitchen sink can help prevent dental problems.

If you can, choose dairy: Milk, and other dairy products such as cheese and yogurt, are low in sugar, which is a good thing for your dental health. Plus, they contain protein and are full of calcium, which can help to strengthen your teeth.

Lean proteins for the win: Phosphorus-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, milk and eggs help to strengthen your teeth and contain valuable protein.

Fruits and veggies pack an extra punch: Fruits and veggies are an important part of any balanced diet, and they are also good for your teeth. Since they are high in water and fiber, they help to balance the sugars they contain and help to clean your teeth. Chewing also helps to stimulate saliva production, which washes harmful acids and food particles away from your teeth.

Nourishing nuts: Nuts contain protein and minerals important for overall health. In addition, nuts that are low in carbohydrates don’t add to your risk of cavities. Why? Because tooth decay is caused by acid-producing bacteria that are activated by carbs. Another benefit is that chewing nuts stimulates saliva production, which can reduce your risk for tooth decay.


Need More Space!

Author: Kimberly N. Powell, DDS, MS

In an ideal oral site, there is enough clinical crown above the gingiva and bone to restore a tooth.  When situations are not ideal, crown lengthening is needed. Crown lengthening is a procedure that reduces the gingiva and/or bone height so more tooth structure is exposed to better support placement of a crown or restorative material and improve aesthetics.  The procedure can be performed on a single tooth or multiple teeth. During treatment, a small amount of gingiva is gently removed using a scalpel, laser, and/or electrosurgery unit. When the bone must be re-contoured, the gingiva is reflected and the bone is delicately removed using a dental handpiece and hand instruments.  The area is irrigated with saline followed by the placement of sutures and at times an intraoral bandage. As with any surgery, swelling, discomfort, and possible infection can be expected, but all can be managed with cold/warm compresses, pain medication, antimicrobial rinses, and antibiotics. The patient will return to their dentist for post-operative evaluations.  Crown lengthening provides an adequate environment for restoration of a compromised dentition.

“Be true to your teeth or they will be false to you.”

Oral Cancer Screening

Author: Dr. Alison Vitelli, DMD

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and it is our duty to assess and evaluate all areas in the mouth including soft tissue inside and outside of the mouth.  The mouth is a very tough environment and we put our mouths through a lot every day.  This is why it’s so important to pay attention to anything different that we see or feel in it!

The most usual lesion that we see in the mouth is trauma associated ones. Burns and biting are the most common.  These usually resolve in an average of 7 days but the specific amount of time to heal depends on how good the patient’s body healing capacity is and how severe the trauma was.  It will still be safe to say, that it will most than likely be all gone before 14 days.

This is a very important number I always tell my patients to keep in mind.  ANY lesion that lasts for MORE than 14 days, is one that we need to follow very closely.  Lesions in the mouth can have a big spectrum of appearance: red, white, patchy, raised, flat, regular or irregular borders, filled with fluid, etc.  So, if you find a lesion, always look for the characteristics of it and any changes you may notice such as size, texture, color and presence/absence of pain.

Sadly, no one is exempt from developing oral cancer, but certain habits can put our patients to a higher risk of developing malignancies in the head and neck region.  Some of these are chronic exposure to sun, smoking and use of smokeless tobacco.  The location of the lesion is an indicator of how aggressively we need to follow it up.  Most malignant lesions are found at the soft palate (area at the end of the roof of the mouth close to where the throat starts), lower lip (including the border of the lip) and sides of the tongue.

Now you know why we always look around your mouth and palpate around your neck.  We evaluate a lot more than just teeth! If you notice any of the symptoms listed above or are in need of an oral cancer screening, call us at 910-497-3200!


The Advantages of Single Tooth Implants

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

Implant placement and restoration is quickly becoming the standard of care for most patients requiring replacement of a single tooth.  But implant placement and restoration is not routinely taught to undergraduate dental students and most clinicians choose to either refer this service outside their offices or seek out post-graduate training that teaches them the skills they need to treatment plan, place and restore these restorations.  Some clinicians place but do not restore implants.  Others just restore these restorations that have been placed outside their offices.  Here, at Spring Lake Dental Group, we have the technology and experience to both place and restore your implant restorations!

According to Dr. Carl Misch, a leading expert in the field of dental implants and the author of one of the authoritative texts in dental implantology, the advantages of single tooth implants are:

  1. High success rates (above 97% for ten years)
  2. Decreased rate of caries (cavities) of adjacent teeth
  3. Decreased risk of endodontic (root canal) problems on adjacent teeth
  4. Improved ability to clean the proximal surfaces of the adjacent teeth
  5. Improved maintenance of bone in the edentulous site
  6. Decreased cold or contact sensitivity of adjacent teeth
  7. Psychological advantage (the patient feels and functions as is they were their natural teeth)
  8. Decreased abutment tooth loss

Most patients will look at their options of replacing a missing tooth and elect to place a three unit bridge (a dental restoration that gets cemented into the mouth after cutting down the two teeth on either side of the missing tooth.)  Bridges are very acceptable restorations in the right scenario (it is all about treatment planning and having great communication with your doctor), but a lot of patients choose a bridge because they perceive it as being a more affordable solution.  Dr. Misch disagrees and states in his textbook, ”Economical considerations may play in disfavor of the implant reatoration only during the first 7 years.  The single-tooth implant becomes more advantageous economically, not only for health considerations, after the break-even point of seven years, at which time the patient will not need a replacement restoration.  The savings will offset the initial higher cost.”.

We, at Spring Lake Dental Group, are very mindful of your pocketbook and other financial issues.  Each time you come in, we want you to know: what we are going to do, why we are going to do it, and how much it is going to cost as well as other relevant insurance issues, if any. Implant therapy is expensive, as is almost all oral health care therapy.  Delivering that care in a meticulous, kind, caring and technically proficient manner has always been our goal.  The process always starts with having a great conversation with your care providers.  I hope that you will find that we are very adept at educating your about your options so that you are comfortable in our recommendations.

Interested in implant placement? Call us today or talk to your dentist at your next visit, 910-497-3200!

9 Fun Facts about Saliva

Author: Dr. Rima Solanki, DMD


  1. Saliva is as much as 99% water, with a complex mix of proteins, minerals, vitamins, hormones, and other substances, along with traces of food, toothpaste, and whatever else you put in your mouth. 
  2. Hundreds of salivary glands in the mouth produce, on average, about a quart of liquid a day, enough to fill two medium-size bathtubs a year. But saliva production varies considerably from person to person, by time of day, and under different circumstances. Notably, you produce less saliva when you are sleeping or dehydrated and, typically, as you age. 
  3. Mucins are protein molecules that might be compared to microscopic ball bearings and they are the key lubricating components in saliva. They help you chew, speak, and swallow. They stick to the teeth and help shield them, to some extent, from bacteria and acids and thus from cavities.
  4. Saliva protects teeth and gums, lubricates the mouth, and helps regulate the acid balance of the mouth. It provides the environment in which tooth minerals can be replaced. That’s why chronic dry mouth can cause cavities and gum disease.
  5. Saliva contains enzymes that start the digestive process by helping to break down starches and fats. It lubricates the food you are chewing and enables you to swallow it. 
  6. Food molecules must dissolve in saliva in order to be recognized by taste buds. 
  7. Saliva contains antibodies that fight germs, along with substances that promote skin cell growth and blood clotting. That’s an important reason why wounds in the mouth usually stop bleeding and heal faster than wounds elsewhere on the body. 
  8. When you are nervous or frightened, saliva production is reduced. Hot weather, inadequate fluid intake, strenuous exercise, many medications, and some medical conditions can result in decreased saliva production and potentially dry mouth. Smoking or breathing through your mouth dries up saliva.
  9. Saliva can be analyzed to monitor alcohol intake, smoking, and drug use. It may also be useful in diagnosing disease. For instance, there are FDA-approved saliva tests to detect antibodies to HIV and the hepatitis C virus. Someday diagnostic saliva tests may be as common as blood tests. 

For more information or questions regarding your saliva, talk with your doctor or hygienist today! Spring Lake Dental Group exclusively offers OraCare mouth rinse to target issues regarding dry mouth and bad breath! Call us today, 910-497-3200!

Dental Trauma

Author: Dr. Alison Vitelli, DMD

Nobody wants to go through an accident or experience that causes damage to the teeth.  But sadly, it does happen. Don’t worry, Spring Lake Dental Group is here to help you!

Of course, it all depends on the severity of the trauma.  For example, it is very common to see children bumping their mouth when they are starting to learn how to walk.  Most often, these are not severe but should not go unattended.  Other types of trauma might involve simple bumping of soft tissue or can be as severe as avulsing a tooth (when a tooth comes completely out of its place), or any kind of variance. Sometimes, depending on how severe the trauma is, you should go straight to the emergency room to rule out any neurological or internal damage. But the key to successful healing of any degree of trauma is early diagnosis and treatment!

When any dental trauma happens, try to keep calm so everything may flow as fast and efficient as possible.  First, clean the area with sterile saline or fresh water to evaluate the extent of the damage.  If there is bleeding, try to look if it is originating from around the teeth or from the lips.  Bleeding from the gums surrounding the affected teeth is an indicator of some degree of tooth displacement.  Depending on the kind of movement that happened determines the probability of success of  the appropriate treatment. If the tooth is avulsed and you can find it, store it in milk or saline right away.  Sometimes, splinting the teeth is required to obtain proper positioning and function of the teeth.  The use of anti-inflammatories is advised. 

Due to the wide range of trauma scenarios that may present, an examination by your Dentist as soon as possible is the best way for the patient to have a better outcome and proper healing! If you or anyone in your family experiences any type of dental trauma, call Spring Lake Dental Group right away ,910-497-3200!

The Link Between Oral Health and Systemic Disease

The oral cavity is the intersection of medicine and dentistry and the window into the general health of the patient. Hundreds of diseases and medications impact the oral cavity, and pathological conditions in the mouth have a greater systemic impact than many providers appreciate.  It is unclear whether there is direct causality or just an association between periodontal disease and certain other systemic conditions, including atherosclerotic vascular disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes, pregnancy-related complications, osteoporosis, and kidney disease.  Diabetes has a true bidirectional relationship with periodontal disease, and there is strong evidence that treating one disease positively impacts the other.  Primary prevention- treating the patient prior to the onset of symptoms, myocardial infarction, stroke, diabetic complications or significant periodontal disease—is the challenge.  Complications associated with these conditions cause significant morbidity and mortality and are incredibly costly to the health care system.  Unfortunately, a lack of access to primary medical or dental care prevents some patients from engaging the system until a negative event has occurred.  Despite the absence of clear evidence of causality and the direct impact of treatments, the consequences of these chronic conditions for the population are well understood.

Did you know that patients with periodontal disease are…

-24-35 percent more likely to develop plaque in coronary arteries

-4.5 times more likely to suffer from an ischemic stroke

-2.6 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease

-93 percent more likely to be at high risk for diabetes

-at a 62% increased risk for pancreatic cancer

-at an increased risk for lung infections

-At a 30-50 percent higher risk of giving birth preterm or to a baby with low birth weight

Your dentist doesn’t just treat cavities and gum disease.  These systemic conditions made more pronounced by the presence of untreated periodontal disease are a threat to your general health.  Taking care of your mouth helps you to also take care of your whole body.  One is linked to the other.

Take great care of yourself by keeping your regular dental visits regular.  We, at Spring Lake Dental Group, are excited about keeping the whole body healthy.

Why is My Dentist Concerned with My Diabetes?

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

Diabetes Mellitus is an absolute or relative insulin insufficiency caused either by a low output of insulin from the pancreas (type 1) or resistance of peripheral tissue to insulin (type 2). Well-controlled diabetics can live a long and uncomplicated life with proper management of lifestyle, diet and medications for both types. Type 2 diabetics are usually managed by diet regulation, weight reduction, oral agent therapy starting with Metformin (Glucophage) and sometimes injectable insulin as well. Diabetics are concerned with sugar metabolism in their bodies and allowing this energy supplying component to pass into their cells for appropriate use. Because this is the foundation for all other metabolism (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins), the diabetic patient is at risk for any number of systemic (whole body) diseases that can manifest with poor sugar metabolism control. As it pertains to the dental office, uncontrolled diabetes puts patients at risk for periodontal disease, which is the result of a loss of attachment of the tooth to the surrounding jaw structures. Continued loss of attachment can lead to tooth mobility and eventual loss.

The insidious nature of periodontal disease as attachment loss progresses is the deepening of pockets around the tooth that hide bacteria and bacterial by-products which cause bone destruction. That is why your hygienist is charting your attachment levels with a periodontal probe! Periodic radiographs aid in this diagnosis as well as the detection of any soft tissue changes such as redness or bleeding. Routine blood tests at your physicians office can also aid in diagnosis as well as advising of the proper management for the condition. Hemoglobin A1C is a test where your physician will advise you on your level of control on your diabetes.

At Spring Lake Dental Group take your diabetes control so seriously in both its detection and management, we have numerous goals in our treatment of our patient population.

  1. Avoid diabetic ketoacidosis, where your body turns to using alternative pathways so it can provide energy to your system
  2. Avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  3. Optimize hemoglobin A1C (HgA1C) to levels below 6.5%
  4. Aggressive blood pressure control
  5. Avoiding diabetic complications

We do this routinely by screening all of our patients for hypertension and updating their medical histories at every appointment. Taking blood sugar levels from our diabetic patients when we are performing invasive procedures is required as well. When treating our highest risk patients, they are put on monitors, prophylactic supplemental oxygen and a record is kept of their blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, heart rate and blood oxygen levels. We have low blood sugar level monitoring kits and supplemental sugar tabs available for any patient suffering from low blood sugar.

Keeping your diabetes under strict control requires having a conversation with your dentist and hygienist on a regular basis. We, at Spring Lake Dental Group, always welcome and encourage those conversations!