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

You have two chances a year to get your dental questions answered in person and by a professional. Even though talking and an exam don't go hand-in-hand, you'll still have plenty of time to discuss dental concerns. If you're not sure what to ask the dentist, take a look at some of the most common questions patients have.

How Many Appointments Do Patients Need Each Year?

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the number of office visits a patient needs depends on their specific dental health status/history. While a twice annual appointment schedule is standard for many patients, it's possible your needs require more care. Some dental conditions, such as periodontal disease, may increase the number of yearly visits you need.

Some insurance carriers may limit appointments, either by number per year or by calendar date. Before scheduling multiple appointments, contact your insurance company to verify coverage. If your insurance doesn't cover the number of appointments necessary, talk to your dentist about alternative care or payment options.

Is There a Way to Whiten Stained Teeth?

Whether your teeth have a mild yellowing or are thoroughly stained, your dentist can help to brighten your smile. Talk to the professional about in-office and at-home whitening options before making any decisions. Again, you have individual dental needs. It's possible one whitening process won't work for your teeth or may irritate your mouth.

Along with meeting your oral health needs, different types of whitening offer different levels of strength. An in-office procedure provides a fast, effective way to turn food or beverage-stained teeth into a Hollywood-bright smile.

Even though in-office whitening can have dramatic results for many patients, it's not always enough. Patients with internal staining (from medication use or an injury) may require a physical correction method. Composite bonding and veneers are two common options that cover stains, giving you brilliantly white teeth.

Is There a Way to Prevent Tooth Decay?

Preventing dental decay is possible. If you have cavities, or you have concerns about developing them, talk to the dentist about at-home and in-office prevention strategies. The first step is to maintain a daily dental care routine. At its most basic, this should include brushing twice a day for at least two minutes and flossing twice a day as well. Your dentist may recommend brushing after meals as well.

Avoiding sugary drinks and foods is another step towards preventing dental decay. Sticky sugar-induced plaque buildup on your teeth feeds oral bacteria, resulting in cavity formation. Discuss your diet with the dentist during your next check-up. Ask about ways to change what you eat for maximum dental health.

Do All Cavities Require Immediate Care?

Despite your best efforts, you still have a cavity. Now what? If you're anxious about a drilling or filling procedure, talk to the dentist about what can happen if you ignore decay.

Failure to remove the area can result in the spread of decay. As the decay grows, you run the risk of destroying more of your natural tooth and weakening the enamel. Along with damaging the exterior (visible) part of the tooth, the decay can grow deeper into the root. This can affect the nerve, creating serious pain. Eventually the gradual growth of decay can prove fatal for your tooth, causing it to fall out. These problems also greatly increase the cost of restoring your tooth or replacing it if it is lost to neglect of a decayed area.

Severe untreated dental decay can eventually lead to an abscess. A tooth abscess is an infection that causes serious pain (the pain can radiate from the tooth to the jawbone, neck, or ear), dental sensitivity, facial swelling, swollen lymph nodes, or difficulty swallowing. This type of infection requires an immediate dental visit and prompt professional care.

Do you need a routine dental cleaning or preventative check-up? Contact Airport Road Dental Associates for more information.

That first loose tooth is part of your child's natural process of growth and dental maturity. If you have a child or grandchild that experiences a first loose tooth or is on the cusp of this big event, read on to find ways to help your child better cope with and enjoy this rite of passage.

Validate Their Feelings

Whether your own childhood experience with loose teeth was positive or scary, remember your child is about to experience this event for the very first time and will definitely have emotions! Validate their feelings and let them know you understand how they feel.

A recent study revealed the majority of children felt positively regarding tooth loss. That first wiggle of change brought excitement and pride. Only about one child in five felt afraid or anxious. You can encourage your child to have a more positive experience when you are sympathetic and supportive rather than critical or worried.

Use This Moment to Teach

Whether children are anxious or excited about a loose tooth, you can use this life event to teach them about the process. Teaching them will communicate the importance of teeth and raise their interest in teeth and dental hygiene, prompting them to better tooth care.

You might show them baby teeth charts that illustrate approximate ages when teeth first appear and are lost. If possible, provide a small dental mirror so they can check out all their other teeth from different angles.

Show them a diagram of the different parts of the tooth and explain how they are important. Most children love to see photos of x-rays that display both temporary and permanent teeth.

Include the Tooth Fairy

Parents agree a visit from the Tooth Fairy is one of the best motivators for reluctant 6-year-olds to accept the loss of a tooth. Regardless of what personality your child has, the Tooth Fairy is an entertaining tradition.

Decide beforehand what kind of incentive you will choose to leave from the fairy and how much. The standard rate for a lost tooth is between $1.50 and $2.50. However, you can instruct the Tooth Fairy to leave gifts, toys, or other rewards instead of cash.

Some parents leave notes to their child from the fairy with words of praise, instruction, or encouragement. Not only do children love this type of communication, but it can help them continue good dental habits.

Stay Vigilant

That shaky tooth still needs dental care just like the rest of the mouth. Make sure your child still brushes regularly. Remind him or her that the Tooth Fairy loves healthy teeth and might even increase the tooth compensation.

Be prepared for and advise your child regarding changes like a bleeding tooth, pain, or the early appearance of a permanent tooth. Visit your dentist if:

  • Your child has extreme pain or swollen gums
  • You see crowding or crooked teeth
  • Your child won't eat to avoid using the tooth and won't let the tooth naturally fall out

Keep in mind that a loose tooth can take weeks or even months to fall out on its own. Encourage your child to wiggle it with their tongue or a clean finger to help it along. Accidentally swallowing a tooth is not cause for alarm as it will naturally pass on its own. However, make sure the Tooth Fairy still makes a special delivery.

If you are concerned about your child's loose tooth or the condition of his or her other teeth, visit us at Airport Road Dental Associates. Our caring dentists will make sure your little one and all of their teeth are taken care of.

Although professional tooth cleaning is vitally important to avoid cavities, home cleaning is the daily maintenance that you must have if you want to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Your dentist may show you the correct way to brush and floss, but you might it all too easy to revert to previous habits or to allow technique to become sloppy.

Checking your technique and your overall hygiene on a regular basis may help avoid relapses or laziness from creeping in. This can also help you keep an eye on things in your mouth so you're more likely to notice a problem early. Here are three ways to see how effective, successful, and thorough your oral hygiene habits are.

1. Use Plaque-Disclosing Dye

Whether you use tablets, toothpaste, or even floss with added plaque-disclosing dye, this brightly colored substance helps you to literally see where the plaque is. The dye sticks to the plaque so that you can see where it likes to hide on your teeth.

You have a couple of ways to utilize this dye. You could use it daily as you brush so that you can instantly see any spots you missed and go back for them. You can also use it once a week to monitor how effective your tooth-cleaning routine is. You could even use the dye between brushing and flossing to see for yourself how much plaque flossing can remove that brushing can't.

2. Use a Mouth Map

When you go to the dentist, they clean your teeth and look for any concerning spots of damage that may need filling. However, the dentist alone should not look at the inside of your mouth. You can also open up wide to inspect your own teeth. This way, you can monitor health and appearance of teeth and gums on a weekly or monthly basis.

You can use a worksheet such as a mouth map to help you monitor various criteria such as bleeding gums, tooth sensitivity, or visible plaque and tartar. You can even keep an eye out for white spots that look like eroded enamel, which might indicate that you should go to the dentist early and ask if you need a filling.

3. Take Photographs

Photographing your teeth may not be the easiest task but can provide a brilliant way to compare the state of your teeth with how they looked a month or two ago. If you're worried that your teeth have started to look a little more transparent than they used to, for example, you could start taking pictures once every month or two and then compare them. 

Although no substitute for x-rays, photographing your teeth can help you record exactly what your teeth look like for next month. This way, you don't have to rely on your memory to decide whether something's changed that may require professional dental care. You may even be able to get a smartphone app to help you compare your teeth with how they looked before.

The trick here is making sure the environment and conditions are the same, or the photos may give inaccurate results. Make sure you take all the pictures at the same time of day with the same lighting and from the same angle and distance (and brush your teeth beforehand) so they truly compare how the teeth look rather than comparing, say, the quality of the photos.

These three strategies can help you get a feel for how your teeth are supposed to look and give you a baseline to compare and contrast how they normally do with how they look today. They can also help you visualize the effectiveness of your daily routine so you add more effective techniques (such as an electric toothbrush) if needed.

Call Airport Road Dental Associates today to schedule an appointment if you're due for a checkup or if you're experiencing worrying symptoms.

Children often have a hard time understanding that their teeth are not invincible. For example, some parents may find that their children tear open plastic items — such as bags of chips or even toy packages — with their teeth instead of using their hands or a pair of scissors. 

Unfortunately, this type of action can severely damage a child's teeth and cause a multitude of minor to serious dental problems. Fully understanding why children engage in this behavior — and what type of damage it causes — can help a parent take steps to prevent it from recurring. 

Why Kids Tear Items With Their Teeth 

Some kids — and even adults — tear open plastic items with their teeth simply out of impatience. Rather than look for a pair of scissors or a knife to open up a package, the child uses the nearest tearing or cutting object that comes to mind. Some children, however, may tear open objects because they feel uncomfortable handling knives or scissors. 

Unfortunately, tearing open packages in this way can trigger a multitude of dental problems. For example, the stress that tearing puts on the teeth may cause damage to the enamel that could lead to cavities. Even worse, a child could shake a tooth loose in its root and cause development issues or even tooth loss. As a result, parents must take steps to prevent this problem. 

How You Can Prevent This Problem 

Parents concerned about this type of behavior need to take steps to correct their child. This process requires a persistent attitude and a caring and thoughtful temperament. Harsh indignation or mean words could only encourage the child to continue their destructive actions. So make sure to follow the process below to help a child get over tearing with their teeth:

  • Watch your child whenever they have a plastic bag or a new toy.
  • Take the item away from them if they try to use their teeth to open it.
  • Discuss how much damage they can do to their teeth when tearing. 
  • Give them a pair of scissors to open up the plastic item or model the behavior by doing it for them.
  • Regularly visit the dentist to keep your child’s teeth healthy for times when you can't catch them. 

The last step is particularly crucial for this situation. Many situations exist in which, unfortunately, the parent can't stop their child from tearing with their teeth. For example, a kid may tear open a bag of chips with their teeth when at a friend's house. Even worse, the child may tear into new toy packaging after sneaking it off to their room away from their parents.

Keep persisting in the above process, when possible, to impress the importance of this behavior in the child's mind. And model good behavior — such as never opening anything with your teeth — in front of a child. Kids do model their behavior after their parents’ and will follow their example if they see their mother or father opening items with their teeth. 

Who Can Help When Dental Emergencies Occur

By now, parents should have a pretty good idea of why tearing with the teeth is such a harmful activity. However, some may have tried to take corrective steps in the past with their children only to find that their son or daughter persisted. In the worst-case scenario, this child suffered from a dental emergency, such as a broken tooth. 

If your child ever suffers from this kind of emergency, please don't hesitate to call us at Airport Road Dental Associates right away to get the help that you need. Our professionals will work hard to identify the severity of the damage so that we can fix the problem effectively and efficiently. 

During your first visit to the dentist, you answer questions about your medical history. Your answers to these questions help your provider determine the best ways to treat your mouth. Although your oral health and your systemic well-being may not seem to be connected, some systemic diseases may make your teeth more susceptible to decay.
Here are a few conditions that can affect your dental health.

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes


More than 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. The disease impairs your body's ability to digest sugars properly.
In order to utilize the sugars from the foods that you eat, your body must release enough insulin to help the sugar enter your cells for energy. However, people with diabetes either don't produce enough of this vital hormone or have become insulin-resistant. 
The high levels of blood sugar and the medications that are used to treat diabetes can affect your oral health by:
  • Causing dry mouth. Dry mouth, which is formally called xerostomia, occurs when the salivary glands produce too little saliva. Since saliva helps to neutralize bacterial acids and rinse away leftover particles of food, dry mouth can increase the incidence of decay.
  • Inciting gum inflammation. As blood sugar levels increase, blood vessels may change, making it more difficult for required nutrients to reach the gingival tissues. Additionally, the number of oral bacteria may increase in response to a ready supply of sugars in the mouth. As a result, many people with diabetes develop periodontal disease.
Additionally, smoking can further exacerbate gum problems in people with diabetes. Diabetic patients who smoke and are at least 45 years old have 20 times the risk of developing severe gum disease.

Eating Disorders


Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, can also negatively affect the teeth and gums. The conditions restrict the supply of nutrients needed to support the teeth and gingival tissues. 
Additionally, people with bulimia tend to binge and purge. As they binge, they may consume large amounts of unhealthy food that promote tooth decay. 
The bacteria in the mouth feed on simple carbohydrates and release acidic waste that demineralizes the teeth. Thus, sugary and starchy foods incite the most dental decay. 
Also, people who suffer from bulimia subject the teeth to corrosive acids as they vomit to purge the food they have consumed. Like bacterial acids, the stomach acids dissolve the tooth enamel.
Studies indicate that up to 93 percent of patients who have been diagnosed with bulimia display signs of tooth enamel damage. People who vomit most frequently may have the highest risk of enamel dissolution. However, the amount of dental harm is individualized.
People with bulimia may have teeth that display a number of issues, including:
  • Discoloration
  • Chipping
  • Sensitivity to cold and heat
  • Erosion
Bulimic patients may also suffer from enlarged salivary glands and dry mouth. In some cases, their teeth may even die. Nevertheless, a dentist can offer restorative dental services to help repair the mouth.

Sjogren's Sydrome

Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune condition. The symptoms of the disease include dry mouth. Sjogren's syndrome also changes the chemical composition of your saliva. Consequently, many people who suffer from this syndrome have an increased incidence of dental caries. In addition, they may lose a large number of teeth. 
To help minimize the effects of Sjogren's syndrome on their oral health, people with the condition should visit their dentist more often than once every six months. Frequent dental visits can help the dentist monitor and treat the condition of the teeth more effectively.
If you suffer from a systemic condition and are concerned about your oral health, contact Airport Road Dental Associates to schedule an appointment.

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