My Blog

Posts for: March, 2011

By Drake Tollefson DDS
March 28, 2011
Category: Oral Health

Given the fact that baby-boomers are now reaching the age of retirement, understanding senior healthcare is becoming a top priority to many people. Discover your level of expertise in the area of oral health by taking the following true/false test.

True or False Self Assessment

  1. All people eventually lose their teeth as they age.
  2. Yellow teeth are a sign of gum disease.
  3. If you have dentures, you no longer need regular dental check-ups.
  4. Periodontal (gum) disease is a big problem that affects 3 out of 4 adults.
  5. Electric toothbrushes can be a great option for seniors with arthritis or other debilitating conditions.

Answers

  1. False: Your teeth are meant to last your lifetime.
  2. False: Yellow teeth typically denote stained teeth from diet, medication, smoking, or growing older. And while they may not appear attractive, older, yellow teeth can in fact be healthy and free of gum disease. However, if your yellow teeth bother you, ask us if teeth whitening could be right for freshening up your smile while making you appear younger.
  3. False: For those individuals who wear complete upper and lower dentures, you will always need routine dental exams, typically once a year so that you can be screened for cancer, as well as other oral conditions (i.e. candadiasis), to ensure the you obtain and maintain optimal oral health.
  4. True: 75% of all adults over the age of 35 will experience some form of periodontal disease, a condition in which the gums become inflamed and infected. If left untreated, gum disease causes the bone that supports the teeth to deteriorate until the teeth are loosened and/or eventually lost (either they fall out on their own or must be removed). On a positive note, you can prevent gum disease by having good oral hygiene that includes flossing daily and brushing at least twice a day with a proper technique and fluoride toothpaste.
  5. True: Under normal conditions, what matters most is not so much the type of toothbrush used (manual, electric or battery powered toothbrush), but rather how you use it. However, if you are unable to use a manual toothbrush effectively for proper brushing, then a power toothbrush may be able to facilitate proper cleaning more easily.

Want To Learn More?

If you feel you missed too many of the above questions, read the Dear Doctor article, “Oral Hygiene Behavior.” Or, contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule a consultation.


Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition that occurs when the upper airway (back of your throat) collapses or is blocked, causing significant airflow disruption. A person with OSA continues snoring at a regular rate but is interrupted by long silent periods during which there is no breathing for atleast 10 seconds or more. Believe it or not, this issue affects millions of people worldwide. It can leave you feeling tired, depressed, irritable, as well as cause memory loss and poor concentration. And if you have OSA that is left undiagnosed and untreated you could fall victim to heart attacks, strokes, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart disease and even impotence. For these reasons, we feel it is important that you understand the real-world consequences that can occur if you ignore your OSA.

Reality is that most people are unaware that their dentist can be an excellent resource in helping to diagnose and treat OSA. However the first and most important step is to receive a proper, thorough examination and diagnosis with an appropriately trained physician and dentist. If after completing this process you are diagnosed with OSA, we will discuss treatment options. Some of these may include:

  • Suggesting that you exercise and lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Sleeping with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine that provides pressurized air into your airways through a mask that covers both your nose and mouth while sleeping.
  • Sleeping with a professionally made oral appliance or mouthguard that can reposition your lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula (the dangling tissue in the top, back portion of your mouth) into a better position during sleep to relieve blockage.

If you are ready to discuss you questions and concerns about your snoring, or the snoring habits of another family member, contact us today to schedule a consultation. You can also learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment options when you read “Snoring & Sleep Apnea.”


By Drake Tollefson DDS
March 21, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: oral health   root canal  

Root canal, or endodontic (“endo” – inside; “dont” – tooth) treatment, is often wrongly perceived as a highly unpleasant experience and one that causes tremendous pain. However, the truth is that the procedure actually relieves the pain being caused by an infected and inflamed tooth pulp (inside of the tooth). Advances in dentistry have made treatment virtually pain free and it can be completed relatively quickly, usually in a single visit. Left untreated, infection can spread into the bone immediately around the tooth's root, so prompt attention is the best course of action.

If the term “root canal” still sends shivers down your spine, don't despair. Here is some information that should help put your mind at ease.

  • Root canal treatment is necessary when deep decay or trauma has caused the inside (pulp) of the tooth to become inflamed or infected. Symptoms of infection can include sharp pain when biting down, lingering pain after consuming very hot or cold foods, a dull ache and feeling of pressure near the infected tooth, and tender gum tissue surrounding the infected tooth.
  • After a local anesthetic is administered to numb the infected tooth and its surrounding area, we will make a small opening on the chewing surface of the tooth. This will allow us to remove dead and dying tissue from the pulp and to then clean and disinfect the root canals. Using small instruments, we will shape the canals and seal them with biocompatible filling materials.
  • You may feel slight tenderness at the treated site for a few days, but this is quite manageable and can be relieved with over-the-counter (OTC) non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen. You should refrain from chewing on the treated tooth until your follow-up appointment. A crown or other restoration may be needed to protect the tooth and restore it to full function.

If you think you might be a candidate for a root canal treatment, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. If you would like to learn more about the process of root canal treatment, please read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment.”


By Drake Tollefson DDS
March 14, 2011
Category: Oral Health

If you have ever had halitosis (bad breath), you know it can cause you to feel self-conscious and embarrassed. And while the odor is typically a primary concern, determining what is causing it is a task we can assist you with resolving. This is especially true when you experience bad breath outside of those times when you've just consumed pungent foods and drinks such as coffee, garlic or raw onions. For example, it is quite a different scenario to have family members, friends, co-workers or even total strangers consistently complaining or using body language to denote your bad breath. If the later best describes your situation — and be honest with yourself — then you need a thorough dental exam to discover the ultimate cause (or causes) of your halitosis. This is especially important because so many people are unaware that there can be numerous oral and/or general health concerns triggering their bad breath.

Most unpleasant mouth odors arise from the more than 600 types of bacteria found in the average mouth, with several dozens of these bacteria being the primary culprits for producing foul odors. And while food particles left between teeth can be key contributors to bad breath, the tongue or more specifically, the back of the tongue, is the most common location. Dry mouth is another cause for bad breath, as evident by the dreaded morning breath we all experience from mouth breathing as we sleep. Bad breath is also caused by certain medical conditions such as liver disease, lung infections, diabetes, kidney infections or failure and cancer.

The good news is that we can work with you to develop an effective treatment for your bad breath. And if necessary, we can work with your physician on a total treatment plan should your condition be due to health conditions outside your mouth. However, if your bad breath originates in your mouth, we may recommend any or all of the following to return your mouth to optimal oral health:

  • Oral hygiene instruction to learn the proper ways to brush, floss, scrape your tongue and use mouthwashes
  • Denture hygiene instruction for proper cleaning and maintenance of both full and partial dentures and bridgework
  • Periodontal (gum) therapy that includes professionally cleaning your teeth (scaling), smoothing your teeth's root surfaces (root planning) and possible antibiotic therapy
  • Removal of tooth decay where large, open cavities (caries) are present
  • Repair of broken fillings
  • Removal of wisdom teeth (third molars) with gum flaps
  • Treatment of yeast infections (candidasis)

To learn more about the causes and treatments for halitosis, read the Dear Doctor article, “Bad Breath — More Than Just Embarrassing.”

Ready To Take The Next Step?

If you want to address your own concerns with bad breath, contact us today to schedule a consultation for an examination and treatment plan. You will find yourself smiling and laughing more once you are confident you have a clean, healthy mouth.


In a recent online poll conducted by Dear Doctor, the premier oral healthcare resource for consumers, 77% of those polled planned on visiting their dentist prior to their wedding. For some, this includes a thorough cleaning to remove stains and freshen both their smile and breath. However, a growing number of brides, grooms, and parents of the couple are seeking cosmetic dentistry or more specifically, a smile makeover, to transform their smile for their special day as well as their future.

If this describes your situation, take the first step towards the smile you have always wanted. To create your ideal smile, we will first meet with you to get to know you better and hear your concerns, goals, expectations and wedding day timeline. Bringing in photos or magazine images of smiles that you consider beautiful will help to ensure that we understand what you find attractive, as beauty can vary greatly from individual to individual. During this initial consultation, you will also learn about your smile makeover treatment options and what you could expect immediately prior, during and following each option.

Some subtle improvements we may consider are teeth whitening and bonding. Both of these options can take place in just a few office visits and produce very attractive results. Porcelain veneers and crowns can provide you with longer-term results that can last from 10 to 20 years. However, because they typically require 1 to 4 months advance notice, it is important to see us as soon as possible to ensure you have enough time before your special day. Another procedure that can play a dramatic role in your smile makeover is periodontal plastic surgery to improve and alter your gum tissues and their relationship to your teeth. For example, the appearance of “short” teeth can be corrected by lengthening them during a surgical procedure that has minor discomfort yet results in a life-long change.

Want to learn more?

Contact us today to discuss your smile makeover questions or to schedule an appointment. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor article, “Planning Your Wedding Day Smile.”