Airport Road Dental Associates - 3465 Airport Road, Portage, Indiana 46368 - (219) 763-2727




Wisdom teeth are often a sore subject with dental patients. These teeth can cause problems with tooth alignment and can easily decay. They can also erupt through the gums in a difficult manner that requires special surgical treatment. However, wisdom teeth are not always so problematic that they need to be removed.

If you are on the fence regarding having your wisdom teeth removed, the following information may be helpful.

Where Are Your Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are molars located in the back of the mouth. You can find the teeth on both the upper and lower jaw. These teeth typically erupt in adolescence or in adulthood. You do not necessarily have to remove the wisdom teeth unless they are causing problems with your surrounding teeth or are painful.

Why Are Wisdom Teeth Often Problematic?

Some adults and adolescents do not have a mouth large enough to properly accommodate wisdom teeth. There is simply no room for the teeth to grow in. A smaller mouth can cause the teeth to move your other permanent teeth into incorrect positions.

Wisdom teeth can also erupt in different directions. For example, your x-ray may show that your wisdom teeth are angled toward the side of your gums rather than upward. This means the teeth must be surgically removed, as there is no way for the teeth to come through.

For some, the wisdom teeth never erupt through the gums. Instead, the wisdom teeth remain impacted. Impacted teeth can cause pain and even infection. When infected, an impacted wisdom tooth can form a cyst on the gumline. The cyst and infection can also cause damage to the jawbone and your gums.

In some cases, wisdom teeth only erupt partially. When this happens, you are not able to properly clean the wisdom teeth, which results in decay.

What Are the Risks of Wisdom Teeth Removal?

Wisdom teeth removal is beneficial, but not always necessary. There are some risks to consider before you go through with the procedure. You will have some swelling and possible pain after the procedure. There is also a risk of a dry socket where the tooth was. Gums can sometimes take extra time to heal, particularly if you have gum disease. You may also have some excessive bleeding.

When Is Wisdom Tooth Removal Necessary?

Wisdom teeth typically begin to erupt in the later teenage years. When you get older, the bones are not as strong. If you have complications with your wisdom teeth or if they interfere with the health of your other teeth, it is best to have them removed as a teenager or young adult if possible.

If you have your wisdom teeth and they begin to develop decay, you should have them removed. The decay will eventually cause a tooth to break and make future removal more difficult. The decay can also impact the nerves in the root of the tooth, which will cause pain.

When Can You Keep Your Wisdom Teeth?

If you are not looking forward to having your wisdom teeth removed, you may be able to keep them in some special circumstances. If the teeth have already erupted through the gum line, you may be able to maintain them with really good cleaning to keep decay away.

You also do not necessarily need to have wisdom teeth removed if they do not cause damage to other parts of your mouth or cause your other teeth to shift. As long as the wisdom teeth do not shift or change your bite, you may be able to keep them without any problems.

If you have any wisdom tooth questions, please contact us at Airport Road Dental Associates, PC.


One of the more prominent beverage changes in recent years has been the reduction of plastic straw use. Many states and cities have banned plastic straw use, forcing people to change the way they drink to protect the environment. While helping the environment comes with benefits, you should also consider your oral health and the impact such a lifestyle change has.

Learn exactly how straws impact your oral health and what alternatives you have if you want to help the environment and avoid the use of plastic straws.

Drink Exposure to Teeth

Many dentists recommend the use of straws for your teeth because a straw redirects the acids and sugars found in drinks like soda and coffee. As you suck up liquids from the straw, the liquids go behind the teeth and down your throat. If you eliminate straw use, the drinks will immediately hit your teeth and stay on the surface until they are brushed away.

Extended exposure to sugary or acidic drinks can break down enamel, cause cavities, and may lead to gum disease like gingivitis. When you eliminate straws from your drinks, try to alternate between your favorite drinks and a standard cup of water. The water will help remove sugars from your mouth and wash away bacteria. You may want to consider the elimination of sugar-based drinks altogether. Liquid-based sugar exposure is one of the most common enemies of the mouth.

Along with changing your daily straw use habits, you can change your sugar habits as well. Consider using sugar alternatives in your drinks. One of the least harmful options is the plant-based stevia. The calorie-free sugar substitute is a sweet addition ideal for coffee, teas, and sugar-free drink mixes.

Some studies have even shown that stevia can prevent the formation of plaque in your mouth. When you pair stevia with a change in straw use, you can maintain a healthy smile and avoid cavities. You could also increase your brushing regimen or use a mouthwash more frequently. 

Straw Alternatives

Thankfully, plastic straws are not the only option for drinks. When on the go, you can use straw alternatives that do not present as many environmental issues. Paper straws are available upon request at many businesses. The paper is biodegradable and you have recycling options. Bamboo straws are another natural option to consider for disposable straws.

You could also purchase a reusable stainless steel straw to eliminate any waste. The straws typically come with cleaners so you can scrub the inside of the straw between uses. The straw alternatives will help keep liquids away from your teeth and have extra environmental perks.

When you use a harder material like a steel straw, you should be VERY aware of your teeth. Do not bite down on the straw or knock it into your teeth. If you bite hard, you could crack or chip your teeth. You may also want to keep a steel straw in a loose drink as opposed to a tight cover. If the straw has no movement, you could easily jam the steel into your teeth or gums.

Injured gums could lead to more advanced problems including infections. You do not want to accidentally peel away any of the gum and expose the root of a tooth. If you hit hard enough, you may notice the tooth is loose. After several uses of a steel straw, however, you will get used to the straw’s texture and strength.

To avoid the dangers found with using steel straws, then consider softer materials like silicone. Silicone straws are reusable, come in multiple colors, and are easy to transport when seeking drinks on the go. The softer materials are far safer and kinder to tooth and gum structures. Just try not to chew on the straws and cause any extra stress for your teeth.

Book an appointment with us at Airport Road Dental Associates. We can perform a full cleaning and answer any questions you have about your dental health.


If you are interested in replacing multiple teeth in your mouth or replacing compromised teeth with restorations, you may be looking at dental implants. A lot of patients like implants because they are a permanent solution and look like natural teeth.

The implant itself is made up of three parts, the fixture/post, the abutment, and the replacement crown. Some implant crowns are free-standing while others are splinted. Take a look at the difference between the two and which route would be best for your needs.

What's the Difference Between Splinted and Free-Standing Implants?

While both free-standing implants and splinted implants look like your natural teeth, the main difference between the two is that splinted implants don't have clear interproximal spaces. The material, like a porcelain, is fused between the crowns in splinted implants. With free-standing implants, each crown is its own individual unit, so you could slide a piece of floss between each unit.

Although patients may initially balk at splinted implants because they prefer individualized teeth, there are pros and cons of both options.

What's the Goal of Splinted Implants?

The main goal of splinted implants is to distribute chewing forces over a larger surface area — especially if you don't have a lot of jaw bone to begin with to take on this stress. In fact, one study found that splinted crowns were able to reduce the stress placed on an implant, abutment, and jaw bone.

Also, if you already have short tooth roots or loose teeth next to your implants, then these natural teeth need to be protected from excessive forces. Mobile teeth can be caused by bone loss, periodontal disease, or trauma. If you opt for free-standing implants, then they may not distribute forces well, which could damage loose teeth.

If you have to have short fixtures in your jaw bone, then splinted implants can be helpful since they minimize stress and maximize stability; you'll have a better chance of maintaining your bone density and improving your implant success rates.

When Are Free-Standing Implants a Better Idea?

While splinted implants do a good job distributing forces, they are ironically not great for people with bruxism. Instead of distributing chewing forces, the entire restoration can become rigid. With free-standing implants, your teeth will be better able to individually respond to bruxism forces. However, if you still want a splinted implant, then your doctor could set you up with a mouth-guard to counteract bruxism.

Do you have trouble flossing and brushing? If so, then splinted implants aren't a good idea. Because splinted implants have fused crowns, you'll have to use specialized tools to keep interproximal spaces clean. Your dentist can certainly teach you how to use these tools, but if you don't feel like you will be compliant, then it may be better to get free-standing implants so that you can stick to good hygiene habits you’re more familiar with.

What Other Considerations Are There When Making a Choice?

There are different brands of dental implants, and some brands work better with splints while others work better with single-unit implants. So if your dentist has a preference for a certain brand, then he or she may encourage you one way or the other. For instance, if an implant has an external hexagonal connection, then your dentist may prefer a splinted implant to reduce excessive forces on the implant's screw.

Another consideration is the long-term prognosis of any structurally compromised teeth you may have. Instead of needing a splinted implant, your dentist may want to use a single-unit implant and then use a bonded splint on any natural teeth that are mobile.

There's many different scenarios to consider, so reach out to us at Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, for more information on dental implants.

Will the Easter bunny bring your child a basket filled with sweet treats and chocolate-covered goodies? Before the bunny (and basket) arrives, take a look at what you need to know about this spring-time holiday and your child's dental health.

What Easter Candy Should Your Child Avoid?

While you'd happily fill the Easter basket with apples and oranges, your child wouldn't agree. If you plan to add sweet treats to your child's Easter bunny bounty, you can reduce the cavity-causing effects of sugary snacks with a few smart choices.

The first step to a healthy (or healthier) mouth basket is understanding which foods to avoid. Even though all sugar-containing treats can raise the risk of dental decay, these candies top the list of the most notable offenders:

  • Gummy candies. The cute bunny- and chick-shaped gummies can stick on your child's teeth. This adhesive action gives decay-causing bacteria more time to feed and grow. As the bacteria digest the sugar, they release dental enamel-eroding acids.
  • Hard candy. Individually wrapped hard candy bathe your child's teeth in sugar as the sweet treat slowly dissolves. This feeds oral bacteria, increases dental enamel erosion, and raises the cavity risk. These candies can also chip or crack your child's tooth.
  • Lollipops. Like hard candies, hard lollipops also bathe the teeth in a steady stream of bacteria-feeding sugar. Also, like hard candies, lollipops can also cause dental damage such as chips or cracks.
  • Marshmallow treats. Easter Peeps are staples of the bunny's basket. Even though these sugar-coated marshmallow treats are holiday favorites, these sticky treats can increase the risk of dental decay.

If you shouldn't fill your child's Easter basket with gummies, hard candies, lollipops, and peeps, what can you use? Ideally, you'd choose non-food items. But if you want to give your child a holiday treat, you can select from somewhat safer options.

What Easter Candy Is Better to Include?

There is no candy that's good for your child's teeth. Any sugar-containing food or beverage can feed oral bacteria and eventually lead to dental decay. Even though limiting sugar intake can limit cavity formation, a once-in-a-while holiday-time treat isn't likely to ruin your child's smile. If you want to choose better candy options, consider:

  • Chocolate. Chocolate bunnies may have sugar, but they also melt away quickly. This means the sugar won't stay on your child's teeth as long as it would if they ate a gummy treat. Avoid chocolate bunnies, eggs, or other goodies that have sticky, caramel, or marshmallow filling.
  • Sugar-free chewing gum. If your child is old enough to chew gum (without swallowing it), a sugar-free option is the way to go. The chewing action can increase saliva production and wash away decay-causing bacteria.
  • Other sugar-free candy. Gum isn't the only treat that contains sugar alternatives. If you don't want your child to eat real sugar treats, you have options. Even though sugar-free candies don't raise the risk of decay, in excess they can upset your child's stomach.

Even though these holiday picks don't come with the same decay risks gummies, lollipops, and other similar candies do, they are still options to use sparingly. Add a few low or no-sugar treats and balance the basket with a variety of non-candy items.

What Healthy Mouth Items Can You Include?

Candy isn't the only Easter basket filler to add. Limit the sugary selections and create a balanced basket from the bunny with:

  • A toothbrush. Choose a playful toothbrush that features your child's favorite movie, TV, or cartoon character.
  • Flavored toothpaste. Compliment the character brush with a cartoon-covered flavored children's toothpaste product.
  • Milk. If your child will open their basket immediately, add a few individually sized bottles of milk. Avoid flavored or sugar-added products.

Along with these items, fill your child's basket with books, small toys, and other trinkets. Non-food goodies eliminate the sugar issue and won't contribute to dental decay.

Does your child need a routine cleaning or dental office visit? Contact Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, for more information.

The Top Ways to Fix Dental Damage and Decay

Does your tooth have visible damage, decay, or enamel erosion? When one tooth makes it uncomfortable to smile, take a look at the healthy mouth options your dentist has to offer.

Porcelain Veneers

Dental veneers are small slip-covers for teeth. Unlike the slip-cover on your couch, these are made from a white porcelain tooth-like material. The strong, long-lasting material is shaped to fit around your tooth and isn't removable (by the patient). This option is ideal to correct:

  • Chipped teeth. Did you fall and chip your tooth or bite into something hard? A veneer will cover the jagged shard of a tooth that's leftover and give you an even, full smile.
  • Worn teeth. Do you grind your teeth? If you suffer from excessive wear, veneers can make the surface and structure of your tooth smooth again.
  • Crooked teeth. If braces aren't an option or you only have a few crooked teeth, veneers can reshape your smile without orthodontics. Even though a veneer can change the appearance of your tooth, it won't correct misalignment or serious orthodontic issues.
  • Erosion damage. The pearly white protective coating on your teeth, enamel, can wear away from age, drinking acidic beverages, and excessive care.

To place a veneer the dentist must remove some of the enamel. This makes it important to replace old, worn, or damaged veneers. Due to the enamel loss, it's typically not possible to remove a veneer permanently.

Dental Bonding

Veneers aren't always necessary to fix minor chips, damage, or cracks. If you don't need a full veneer or can't invest in this option, dental bonding is another option to:

  • Repair damage. The dentist will apply a tooth-colored composite material to the tooth and sculpt it. After the material hardens, the dentist will polish it to match the shape of the tooth.
  • Change the size. A tooth that is slightly smaller than its neighbors or causes a gap can benefit from bonding.
  • Change the shape. Damage or wear can alter the overall shape of the tooth. Dental bonding can create a smooth surface or add length to the tooth.

While dental bonding is typically less expensive than veneers, and may require less time in the dentist's chair, it's not as durable and won't resist stains as easily. Your dentist can help you to decide which option is best for your individual dental needs.

Dental Fillings

Dental decay can destroy your tooth and lead to an invasive oral infection. If decay progresses further, additional procedures may be necessary such as a root canal or even tooth loss. All things that can add to the expense of your visits! If you visit the dentist regularly for exams and checkups, decay can be caught early when it is easiest to repair. 

To treat a cavity the dentist must remove the decayed part of your tooth. After cleaning the area completely, the dentist will repair the tooth with a filling. The most common types of fillings include:

  • Ceramic. Porcelain fillings look and feel like real teeth. While these are sometimes more expensive than other types of fillings, they are durable and fairly stain-resistant.
  • Silver Colored. Silver colored amalgam fillings include a mix of metals. Even though these fillings are durable and inexpensive, the silver color is noticeable.
  • Composite. These fillings are made from plastic and resin material. Like ceramic fillings, these are tooth-colored and look natural.
  • Gold. This sturdy type of filling is extremely noticeable and expensive.

If you're not sure which type of filling is right for your dental decay or damage, talk to the dentist. The professional can help you to choose the product with the best color match, durability, and price for your needs.

Do you have dental damage or decay? Contact Airport Road Dental Associates for more information.

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