Lansing's Dental Discussion

Posts for: July, 2017

By Holly Scott-Hetchler DDS
July 24, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

Even the brightest smile can become duller over time due to food and beverage stains. Teeth whitening removes the stains that make you teeth whiteningreluctant to smile and offers long-term results. Our Lansing, MI, dentist, Dr. Holly Scott-Hetchler, explains how whitening can revitalize your smile.

What type of stains does teeth whitening treat?

Teeth whitening is very effective for removing stains that develop in your enamel, the outer layer of your teeth. Stains in tooth enamel can occur due to:

  • Smoking: Years of exposure to cigarette smoke can turn a white wall yellow. The same thing happens to your teeth if you smoke.
  • Eating: Foods that contain dark pigments, including berries, cherries, soy sauce and tomato sauce, stain teeth.
  • Drinking: Your morning cup of coffee may be the reason that your teeth have become discolored. Coffee, tea, cola, red wine and sports drinks are common staining culprits.
  • Aging: Tooth enamel tends to get thinner as we age. Unfortunately, when enamel thins, it exposes dentin, a darker layer of your teeth.

How does the teeth whitening process work?

Hydrogen gel, the agent used to remove stains, can lighten your teeth by three to eight shades. Before your teeth are whitened in our Lansing office, we'll clean and examine them. An examination is particularly important because it may reveal a dental problem that could cause discoloration. If we do find a problem, it must be treated before your teeth are whitened.

Your comfort is a priority in our office. A protective gel will be applied to your roots to prevent sensitivity. Your cheeks and lips will be pulled away from your teeth with retractors to ensure that the hydrogen peroxide doesn't come in contact with the sensitive tissues. Once the hydrogen peroxide gel is applied, it will remain on your teeth for about an hour.

You can also choose at-home whitening. We'll provide you with trays custom-made to fit your upper and lower teeth. You'll apply whitening gel to the trays several times a week for a few weeks. At-home whitening trays also offer a convenient way to occasionally touch up your results.

Regardless of the whitening method you choose, your teeth can stay whiter for several years or more, as long as you avoid or limit foods or beverages that can stain teeth.

Ready to schedule your teeth whitening appointment? Call our Lansing, MI, dentist, Dr. Scott-Hetchler, at (517) 487-6333 to arrange your visit.


By Holly Scott-Hetchler DDS
July 22, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
DontBreakItLikeBeckham

During his former career as a professional footballer (that's a soccer star to U.S. sports fans) David Beckham was known for his skill at “bending” a soccer ball. His ability to make the ball curve in mid-flight — to avoid a defender or score a goal — led scores of kids to try to “bend it like Beckham.” But just recently, while enjoying a vacation in Canada with his family, “Becks” tried snowboarding for the first time — and in the process, broke one of his front teeth.

Some fans worried that the missing tooth could be a “red card” for Beckham's current modeling career… but fortunately, he headed straight to the dental office as soon as he arrived back in England. Exactly what kind of treatment is needed for a broken tooth? It all depends where the break is and how badly the tooth is damaged.

For a minor crack or chip, cosmetic bonding may offer a quick and effective solution. In this procedure, a composite resin, in a color custom-made to match the tooth, is applied in liquid form and cured (hardened) with a special light. Several layers of bonding material can be applied to re-construct a larger area of missing tooth, and chips that have been saved can sometimes be reattached as well.

When more tooth structure is missing, dental veneers may be the preferred restorative option. Veneers are wafer-thin shells that are bonded to the front surface of the teeth. They can not only correct small chips or cracks, but can also improve the color, spacing, and shape of your teeth.

But if the damage exposes the soft inner pulp of the tooth, root canal treatment will be needed to save the tooth. In this procedure, the inflamed or infected pulp tissue is removed and the tooth sealed against re-infection; if a root canal is not done when needed, the tooth will have an increased risk for extraction in the future. Following a root canal, a tooth is often restored with a crown (cap), which can look good and function well for many years.

Sometimes, a tooth may be knocked completely out of its socket; or, a severely damaged tooth may need to be extracted (removed). In either situation, the best option for restoration is a dental implant. Here, a tiny screw-like device made of titanium metal is inserted into the jaw bone in a minor surgical procedure. Over time, it fuses with the living bone to form a solid anchorage. A lifelike crown is attached, which provides aesthetic appeal and full function for the replacement tooth.

So how's Beckham holding up? According to sources, “David is a trooper and didn't make a fuss. He took it all in his stride." Maybe next time he hits the slopes, he'll heed the advice of dental experts and wear a custom-made mouthguard…

If you have questions about restoring damaged teeth, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Trauma and Nerve Damage to Teeth” and “Children's Dental Concerns and Injuries.”


By Holly Scott-Hetchler DDS
July 18, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral cancer   nutrition  
AddaHealthyDiettoYourOralCancerPreventionStrategy

Although oral cancer isn't the most prevalent among metabolic diseases, it is one of the most deadly with only a 50% survival rate after five years. That's because it can be difficult to detect in its early stages when treatment is most effective.

That's why prevention to reduce your chances of oral cancer is so important. Many people know quitting tobacco products, including smokeless varieties, and moderating alcohol consumption are key to any prevention strategy. But there's one other factor you should also consider: your diet.

We've learned quite a bit in the last few decades about how certain foods we eat contribute to the cancer disease process. Cancer seems to originate when elements in the body or environment (known as carcinogens) damage DNA, our unique genetic code, on the cellular level. For example, a class of chemicals called nitrosamines is a known carcinogen: we often encounter it in the form of nitrites used to preserve meat (like bacon or ham) or as byproducts in beer, seafood or cheese.

Another form of carcinogen is the unstable molecules produced during normal cellular function called free radicals. But our bodies have a natural neutralizer for free radicals called antioxidants. We obtain these substances in our food in the form of vitamins and minerals. While you can also ingest these in the form of supplements, the best way to obtain them is through a diet rich in plant-based food, particularly fruits and vegetables.

So in addition to lifestyle changes like quitting tobacco or moderating alcohol consumption, make sure your diet is a healthy and nutritious one. Limit your intake of processed foods (especially meats) and increase your portions of fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

And don't neglect practicing effective brushing and flossing each day, along with regular dental cleanings and checkups. All of these healthy practices will greatly decrease your chances for life-threatening oral cancer.

If you would like more information on preventing oral cancer, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Diet and Prevention of Oral Cancer.”




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