2016 Dental Health Guide

    Illustration by Macrovector/Fotolia

    We asked local dental professionals to weigh in on everything from advances in technology to health care tips.

    Dr. Drew Spencer, Edina 5-0 Dental, Edina5-0dental.com, 952-922-811

    How do you cater to nervous patients? 
    First and foremost, we develop TRUST with our patients. We listen to their concerns, offer the best treatment options, talk through procedures (unless they do not want to know details), and offer advanced methods and materials to make the treatment comfortable and easy. Our younger patients normally have little or no fear—we take “baby steps,” making each visit special and rewarding.

    What, in your opinion, is the most effective whitening option? 
    Our in-office ZOOM! Whitening System provides the best results. The complete procedure takes about 1.5 to two hours. It works in that the light-activated whitening gel’s active ingredient is hydrogen peroxide. As the hydrogen peroxide gel is broken down, oxygen enters the enamel and dentin, bleaching colored substances without changing the structure of the tooth. The ZOOM! light aids in activating the hydrogen peroxide, helping to penetrate the surface of the tooth. A study has shown that use of the ZOOM! lamp increases the effectiveness of the ZOOM! gel by 33 percent or more, resulting in an average improvement of up to eight shades whiter. 

    Apart from brushing and flossing correctly, what, in your opinion, is the most valuable thing a person can do to support his or her dental health? 
    Visit your dentist regularly! Don’t wait until a small problem becomes a big issue.

    Dr. George Rizkalla, Comfort Dental, New Hope, comfortdentalmn.com, 763-746-9033

    What are some exciting advances now in the field of dentistry?
    Cone Beam technology has been a tremendous advancement in dentistry. Patients simply sit in a chair and we run a quick scan (like an x-ray) of the patient’s head and neck. The result is a scan full of data about bone density, nerve location, and detailed anatomy of the jaw and cranium. This information is critical in accessing dental implant placement and success—as well as patient comfort. 

    Who can benefit from dental implants?
    Generally speaking, anyone looking for a permanent solution to missing teeth, anyone with dentures that don’t fit properly or are not comfortable, and anyone who just wants to explore their options can benefit from learning more about dental implants. Implants also work well for anyone who has a bridge that is failing or trapping debris. 

    What are the benefits of same-day crowns?
    Because the dentist and the dental assistant design the crown themselves and then mill it in the office while you wait, you are getting the best fit possible for the crown—which means that the margins around the gumline are comfortable and protect the tooth and gums from decay and infection. By not sending the case out to a lab, we are ensuring the best materials and clinical outcomes for our crown patients.


    Dr. Stacy Roszkowski, Lifelong Dental Care, West St. Paul, lifelongdds.com, 651-457-4888

    How do you cater to nervous patients (children and adults)?
    Some patients are nervous when they go for their dental visit. I feel it’s important to ask what, exactly, makes them nervous about the experience. If it’s the sound, we suggest noise-cancelling headphones and music. If it’s the light, they can wear sunglasses. When someone has had a negative dental experience in the past, it often takes several good visits to gain trust and ease fears. We still use nitrous oxide or “laughing gas” to help nervous patients relax. (This works especially well with anxious children.) Most children are afraid of the unknown, so we try to explain to them what we are going to do in kid-friendly terms and help them feel more in control. Surprisingly, many kids look forward to their visits because they have not had previous negative experiences.     

    What, in your opinion, is the most effective whitening option? 
    Whitening products that are dispensed by a dentist are the safest and most effective way to whiten teeth—these products will also give you the biggest bang for your buck with the least side effects. Products that you purchase online or at the store often have a lower concentration, so the bleaching solution contacts teeth and tissues longer and the chemical composition themselves may also be damaging. We offer a variety of tooth whitening options from custom take-home trays—which the patient does at home, at his/her own convenience—to in-office treatments that have patients in-and-out in under an hour.  

    If you could only share one tip regarding dental health, what one thing would you want people to know/understand?  
    People are busy, kids are busy, we understand. I so often hear: “I don’t have time to brush before work or school” or “I don’t have time to floss.” Make good oral hygiene a priority, and what used to feel like a chore will soon become a habit. As with anything in life, hard work pays off. 

    Sheila Strock, Vice President of Dental Services, Delta Dental of Minnesota, deltadentalmn.org

    How does diabetes affect your teeth, gums, and general oral health?
    People with diabetes are more susceptible to oral disease because of their high blood glucose levels. This contributes to high glucose in the saliva, which allows bacteria in the mouth to grow, causing plaque formation and the potential for subsequent oral disease. 

    Managing blood glucose levels reduces the likelihood of problems in the mouth. In turn, maintaining a healthy mouth helps control blood glucose levels. Prevention is key! Control your blood glucose levels, maintain good oral health, and visit your dentist regularly.

    If you could only share one tip regarding dental health, what one thing would you want people to know/understand? 
    Oral health is an important contributor to your overall health; in fact, more than 120 medical conditions can be detected by signs and symptoms in your mouth. The key to better oral health is preventive care. That’s why Delta Dental of Minnesota, along with your dentist, encourage regular dental visits to check for early signs of dental issues and to reinforce preventive care practices at home, like brushing and flossing. Most dental insurance plans usually cover cleanings and exams at 100 percent so you can get important preventive care at no additional cost.


    Dr. Melissa Zettler, Cherrywood Dental Care, Savage, cherrywooddental.com, 651-447-6728

    What is periodontal disease?
    Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that erodes the bone that supports your teeth. It also gives you bad breath, and bloody gums. It can be linked to poor heart health in some individuals also, and should be treated and not left to cause systemic health problems, or dental problems.

    What do you like the most about your job? 
    What I like most about my job is talking to my patients, and meeting new people. I am a very social person, so the human interaction I get daily from folks is very fun for me. And my team is great, and makes coming to the office a pleasure. I love dentistry, I love people, I love learning, and I honestly can’t think of a better job for me. (Unless I owned a jewelry store, or maybe got to train dolphins.)

    Aside from brushing and flossing, what’s the most important thing a person can do to support their dental health?
    Apart from brushing and flossing, a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to maintain good dental health. Watching sugar, and acidic food intake is very important.

    Easy Ways to Protect Your Teeth

    When it comes to the health of your teeth and gums, incorporating simple changes into your everyday routine can pay off huge in the long run. A few easy changes can make all the difference—and help you avoid serious treatment down the road. 

    • Floss your teeth every evening to prevent costly repairs. It only takes a minute to floss! Do it!
    • Visit your dentist at least twice a year and keep your appointments (don’t wait until an emergency situation warrants an appointment). Be an informed consumer and pay attention to what’s going on.
    • According to the American Dental Association, you should change your toothbrush about every three months, or after having the flu, a cold, or other viral infection.
    • A study by the Academy of General dentistry revealed that the average person only brushes for 45 to 70 seconds a day—the recommended amount of time is two to three minutes. The best time to brush is 30 minutes after meals. And don’t forget to brush your tongue and the upper palate of your mouth.
    • Sports injuries account for approximately 5 million missing teeth per year, so make sure you or your little ones always wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports.
    • A tooth that has been knocked out starts to die within 15 minutes, but if you put it in milk or hold it in your mouth it will survive longer.
    • If you want to keep your teeth as bright, white, and strong as possible, make sure to rinse or brush right after drinking coffee, tea, dark soda, fruit juice, or red wine, or eating soy sauce or curry. Think of it this way: Anything that can stain a white cotton T-shirt can stain your teeth. One of the biggest offenders is nicotine. Enjoy sugary or acidic foods in moderation, eat those types of food with other foods to neutralize the acid, and drink water afterwards to wash away the bacteria. 
    • Don’t use your teeth to crack nuts, remove bottle tops, or rip open packaging.
    • Strawberries, pineapple, and bite-sized apples, pears, celery, and raw carrots help to naturally whiten your teeth. Strawberries contain malic acid, an astringent that removes discoloration on the surface, apples and celery stimulate saliva, helping wash away debris, and carrots can eliminate sticky plaque.
    • Dairy products like low-fat milk and plain yogurt are good for your teeth because they are low in decay-inducing sugar, and consist of probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, crowding out the bad bacteria that cause cavities, while hard cheese helps neutralize the acids found in foods that threaten tooth enamel, increases saliva in the mouth, and contains calcium and protein, nutrients that strengthen tooth enamel. 

    Courtesy of the Minnesota Dental Association, American Dental Association, and Academy of General Dentistry