Common Questions

Why see a dentist regularly?

As the saying goes… an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Your general dentist is the first line of defense against many serious but common oral ailments including tooth decay, periodontitis, gingivitis, and oral cancer. Regular visits to the dentist for exams, X-rays, and dental cleanings will ensure that you have a beautiful, healthy smile for a lifetime.

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the most common form of gum disease. It is an infection of the gums caused by bacteria that form plaque. In small amounts (when it is newly formed) plaque is invisible. When left to accumulate, plaque increases in volume and the proportion of harmful bacteria grows. These bacteria release toxins that result in inflammation of the gum tissue. If not properly treated, gingivitis may progress to periodontitis, a chronic periodontal disease that causes tooth and bone loss.

What is periodontitis?

Periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease that affects the supporting structures in the mouth (gums and bone). Periodontal disease can go on for years without pain and without detection unless a dentist performs specific procedures. Visual oral examination by itself (even by a dentist) will not reliably detect periodontal disease until it has reached an advanced stage. Early detection and adequate diagnosis require measurement of pockets (the crevice between the tooth and gum) with a periodontal probe. While treatment for periodontal disease is available, the damage caused as the disease progresses is irreversible. Early detection and treatment are critical to prevent tooth loss and disfigurement. Some signs of periodontal disease are bleeding gums, redness of gum tissue, swelling of gums around the teeth, breath odor, receding gums, and loose teeth.

What causes bad breath?

While bad breath or "halitosis" might be a symptom of some other disorder, it most often stems from dental decay, gingivitis, or periodontitis. Periodontitis is a disease affecting the gums and bone that support the teeth. The irritated gums pull away from the teeth forming pockets in which bacteria and pus form and emit a foul odor. Many people suffer from bad breath – there’s no reason to be embarrassed to seek professional help. Your dentist can often eliminate the source of the problem and restore your oral health.

When should my child start seeing the dentist?

Your child should visit a dentist for the first time between the ages of 18 and 24 months or sooner if you have concerns. Dental problems can begin at any age, so early exams and preventive care will ensure the health of your child’s smile, as well as instill good oral care habits.

What do I do in the case of accidental tooth loss?

Proper first aid can save your smile! If the tooth is loose but still attached to the gums in any way - leave it in place and call Grand Rapids Dental Care immediately. Do not remove it. If the tooth is out of its socket completely but remains in the mouth, it is best to have the person hold it there, if possible, until re-implantation can be attempted. If the tooth is out of the mouth, do not let it dry out. Handle it as little as possible and make no attempt to clean or disinfect the tooth or to remove any tissue attached to it. If it is recovered from the ground or other soiled area, rinse it off in lukewarm water. Preserve it in milk until it can be examined by a dentist. If milk is not available, lukewarm water will suffice. Time out of the socket is critical in the long-term success of re-implantation. After 30 minutes, the potential for a successful outcome begins to decline. However, re-implantation is sometimes possible even after several hours, so you should still visit our office even if the tooth has been out of the socket for a long period of time. Call Grand Rapids Dental Care at 218-326-3438 immediately in the event of an accidental tooth loss.

Can my teeth be whitened?

There are many causes of tooth discoloration, including substances like coffee, cola, and tobacco. Some medications and aging can also cause your teeth to stain over time. The professionals at Grand Rapids Dental Care can determine the source of your discoloration, then recommend the best whitening system for you. In most cases, the results are striking! Options for whiter teeth include an in-office whitening procedure (Zoom!), as well as an at-home technique to lighten teeth 8 to 10 shades.

Can my silver fillings be replaced with something more attractive?

In the past, cavities were often repaired with silver fillings called amalgams. Unfortunately, the amalgam eventually corrodes, causing the silver (and sometimes the tooth) to blacken. The result is an obvious, unsightly, and embarrassing darkened tooth. Now, we have an alternative to traditional amalgams – composite fillings. Made of a porcelain-like material, composites bond firmly with the tooth, resist stains, and are extremely durable and long-lasting. Best of all, Grand Rapids Dental care can match the filling color to the natural tooth, so the restoration will be virtually invisible.

How can Grand Rapids Dental Care repair my broken tooth?

We offer several solutions to repair broken teeth, depending on your timeframe and budget. Bonding is a one-visit technique that’s affordable and highly aesthetic. Dr. Hagley will tint a putty-like material to match the natural tooth and sculpts it into an attractive shape. Application of a high-intensity light causes the material to harden, so Dr. Hagley can polish the restoration and create the final shape. With bonding, we can close gaps, alter crooked teeth, and lighten stains without removal of any tooth structure or the need for anesthetic.

Porcelain veneers are another option used to repair broken teeth. They are considerably more durable than bonding, and they resist stains. A veneer is a thin, porcelain covering approximately the size of a fingernail. The veneer is bonded to the outside layer of the tooth and blends very well with the remaining tooth structure, making it invisible to the naked eye. Once in place, the veneer looks, feels, and functions like a regular tooth.

A third option is a custom porcelain crown. At our office, we use CEREC technology to create all-ceramic crowns at our office in a single visit. A crown will surround your entire tooth and protect it from further damage. Made with semi-translucent porcelain, crowns will blend seamlessly with your natural smile.

Grand Rapids Dental Care can use bonding, porcelain veneers, and crowns to change the shape and color of a single tooth or to recreate your entire smile. Our professionals will be happy to discuss the best option for your unique needs.

How can I fix a missing tooth?

Missing teeth can diminish your self-confidence and create an abundance of oral health problems. The gap caused by a missing tooth allows nearby teeth to drift out of their normal position. When teeth shift into an empty space, they are more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease. They become less functional, as well. Tooth loss can also result in severe bite problems and, as a result, jaw pain and headaches. In fact, the primary cause of TMJ disorder is loss of support due to missing back teeth. Grand Rapids Dental Care can correct bite problems and restore your smile with a fixed bridge or a dental implant. Both of these treatments provide functional and attractive results.

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant replaces the root of a missing tooth with a small titanium post surgically inserted into the jaw bone. The jaw bone fuses to the implant, creating a stable foundation to anchor crowns, bridges, or dentures. Because dental implants mimic nature’s design, they are the most natural, functional, and long-lasting replacement option available.

Is it safe to pierce my tongue?

Like other forms of body piercing, tongue piercing is risky business. Serious risks are inherent in the procedure and include local or systemic infection, allergic reactions, bleeding problems, choking hazards, and damage to surrounding teeth.

Because the mouth is hard to sterilize, and many piercing establishments do not maintain good sterilization procedures, local infection (infection at the piercing site) is a common occurrence. Serious systemic infection is also a possibility, including the contraction of hepatitis and/or AIDS. Allergic reactions to the metals used are not uncommon if the materials are not of the highest quality. Unlike other forms of piercing, the tongue caries an increased risk of bleeding problems, since the tongue has many blood vessels. The jewelry itself can pose a choking hazard if it becomes loosened for any reason. Finally, tongue piercing carries the risk of damage to the surrounding teeth. The hard jewelry can chip and break enamel or fillings as one talks and eats. This damage can result in the death of the tooth's inner pulp if the trauma to the tooth is chronic. The tooth may become so damaged that it requires crowns or even a root canal to restore a smile. Stripping of gum tissue and bone with eventual tooth loss is also a possibility.

It is important to remember that piercing establishments are not regulated by law, nor are the operators licensed. The operator's experience and competence can vary and are not guaranteed. These are important matters to consider before undergoing tongue piercing. If there is a problem after tongue piercing, it is important not only to contact the piercing establishment, but your physician or dentist as needed.

Can you help with snoring and sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous disorder in which breathing is interrupted intermittently while you sleep. Breathing cessation, or apnea, can last from seconds to nearly a minute. While the symptoms may seem benign (loud, explosive snoring, morning headaches, daytime sleepiness), the cumulative effect can be devastating. Sleep apnea is the result of an obstruction of the upper air passages in the mouth and throat. Successful treatment may include use of an acrylic dental appliance during sleep to keep air passages open. It's comfortable and easy to use. If you suffer from loud snoring and/or other apnea symptoms call Grand Rapids Dental Care to schedule an examination today. A good night's sleep can be your reward!

Your Search for a Grand Rapids Dentist is Over!

Call today and reserve your appointment with Dr. Mike Hagley, Dr. Spencer Buchert and Dr. Rachel Buchert. From our Grand Rapids dental office, we practice comprehensive dentistry for families in the Hibbing, Nashwauk, Deer River, and greater Itasca County areas. We look forward to helping you achieve a lifetime of happy, healthy smiles.