Patient Education from Kevin S. Bone, D.D.S.

Our team of dental specialists and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing, and treating conditions associated with your teeth and gums. Please use our dental library to learn more about dental problems and treatments available. If you still have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact us at (989) 792-7461. We’re happy to answer all your concerns.

An abscessed tooth is an extremely painful condition. Typically, an abscess starts with an infection. The infection causes swelling, pus, and bacteria to spread throughout the core of the tooth causing pain in the tooth itself as well as nearby tissue and bones.

In some cases, we can administer antibiotics to kill the infection. We may perform a root canal to remove the dead pulp and restore the tooth to a healthy state.


An estimated 65% of Americans have bad breath and spend more than $1 billion a year on over-the-counter products to combat the problem. Mouthwash only temporarily masks the odor.

Bad breath comes from a variety of factors. Food remaining in your mouth can cause odor. Dieters sometimes develop unpleasant breath from fasting. Gum disease and some medications also cause bad breath. Respiratory tract infections, rheumatic fever, lung abscesses, sinusitis, bronchitis, diabetes, liver problems, kidney ailments, and more all can lead to bad breath.

So what does address the problem?

  • Daily brushing and flossing, and regular professional cleanings will address many causes of unpleasant breath. Brushing your tongue helps remove bacterial plaque and food debris from the rough surface of your tongue.
  • Controlling periodontal disease helps to reduce bad breath.
  • If you have constant bad breath, make a list of the foods you eat and any medications you take. Some medications may contribute to bad breath.
  • Properly clean dentures. If you wear removable dentures, take them out at night and clean them thoroughly before replacing them.
  • Talk to Dr. Kevin S. Bone. If we determine that your mouth is healthy and that the odor is not oral, we may suggest you visit your family physician or refer you to a specialist.
  • Talk to us before trying mouthwashes. Some products are more effective than others. We also may recommend a prescription mouthwash.

Brushing and flossing are the most effective method for removing harmful plaque from your teeth and gums. Removing debris from your teeth and gums prevents bacteria from turning into harmful, cavity-causing acids.

Most dentists agree that brushing three times a day is the minimum. You should floss between teeth at least once a day. Many dentists agree that daily flossing done correctly is the single most important step you can take to protect your oral health.

Since everyone’s teeth are different, talk Dr. Kevin S. Bone or one of our hygienists about your brushing and flossing techniques. We’re happy to help you upgrade your skills and improve your health.

Here is one proven brushing technique:

  • Use a circular motion to brush only two or three teeth at a time, gradually covering the entire mouth.
  • Place your toothbrush next to your teeth at a 45-degree angle and gently brush in a circular motion, not up and down.
  • Brush all surfaces of your teeth – front, back, top, and between other teeth – rocking the brush back and forth gently to remove any plaque growing under the gum.
  • Brush your gums, the roof and floor of your mouth, and your tongue.
  • Replace your brush when the bristles begin to spread.
  • Effective brushing usually takes about 3 minutes.

Two effective methods – Spool and Loop – exist for flossing:

  • The spool method is the most popular for those who do not have problems with stiff joints or fingers. Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around your middle finger. Wind the rest of the floss similarly around the middle finger of your other hand. This finger takes up the floss as it becomes soiled or frayed. Move the floss between your teeth with your index fingers and thumbs. Maneuver the floss up and down several times forming a “C” shape around the tooth. While doing this, make sure you go below the gum line, where bacteria are known to collect heavily.

People sometimes confuse canker sores and cold sores, but they are completely unrelated. Both can be painful, but knowing the differences can help you keep them in check.

A canker sore typically occurs on the delicate tissues inside your mouth. It is usually light-colored at its base and can have a red exterior border.

A cold sore or fever blister, on the other hand, usually occurs on the outside of the mouth, usually on or near the nose or lips. A cold sore is contagious because it is caused by the herpes simplex virus. It is usually painful and filled with fluid.

In most cases, patience is the best medicine for canker sores. A healthy diet and good oral hygiene are usually the best remedies, but some special rinses and anesthetics can help.

Cold sores can be treated effectively with over-the-counter topical creams. Your family doctor also may prescribe an antiviral medication.


People living with diabetes are vulnerable to a host of systemic problems throughout their body. Many diabetics don’t discover oral problems until conditions become advanced. If you have a history of diabetes in your family, please let us know at your appointment.

Infections and other problems, such as receding gums and gum disease, or periodontal disease, are common among diabetics. Diabetics often are plagued by diminished saliva production, which can hamper the proper cleansing of cavity-causing debris and bacteria from the mouth. In addition, blood sugar levels that are out of balance could lead to problems that promote cavities and gum disease.

As with any condition, good oral hygiene and proper diet go a long way in preventing problems.


Saliva is one of your body’s natural defenses against plaque because it acts to rinse your mouth of cavity-causing bacteria and other harmful materials. Dry mouth (also called Xerostomia) is a fairly common condition. Dry mouth often plagues people with medical conditions such as diabetes or eating disorders. Eating foods such as garlic, using tobacco, and even some kinds of medications can diminish the body’s production of saliva. Other causes are related to aging. including rheumatoid arthritis, and compromised immune systems.

Dry mouth leads to a host of problems. Some are as simple as bad breath. If you notice your tongue is overly sensitive, you are chronically thirsty, or you have difficulty speaking, you may have dry mouth. Dry mouth can also lead to more serious problems including burning tongue syndrome, a painful condition caused by lack of moisture on the tongue.

In some cases, sipping water, chewing sugarless gum and avoiding smoking will alleviate symptoms. Regular checkups and good oral hygiene will help you avoid the more serious conditions related to dry mouth.


Many behaviors associated with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa – including binge eating, self-induced vomiting, and use of diuretics or laxatives – cause changes in the mouth.

For example, repeated episodes of vomiting release harmful stomach acids into the mouth where the acid can erode tooth enamel, causing cavities, discoloration, and tooth loss. Poorly-fitting fillings and braces also are a byproduct of eating disorders. Brushing after episodic vomiting is actually harmful. Instead, rinse your mouth thoroughly with a neutral solution such as baking soda and water.

Treating an eating disorder generally involves a combination of psychological and nutritional counseling, along with medical and psychiatric monitoring.


Advances in modern dental materials and techniques increasingly offer new ways to create more pleasing, natural-looking smiles. Researchers continue developing esthetic materials, such as ceramic and plastic compounds that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. As a result, dentists and patients today have choices when it comes to selecting materials used to repair missing, worn, damaged or decayed teeth.

These new materials have not eliminated the usefulness of more traditional dental restoratives, which include gold, base metal alloys, and dental amalgam. The strength and durability of traditional dental materials continue to make them useful for situations where restored teeth must withstand extreme forces that result from chewing, such as in the back of the mouth. The most current research shows that these traditional materials are safe for most people.


If you are vulnerable to latex or have allergies related to it, please notify our office and, by all means, seek medical attention from your family physician. People with high-risk factors for latex allergy include those who have undergone multiple surgical operations, have spina bifida, or are persistently exposed to latex products.

Latex allergies could cause the following symptoms:

  • Dry skin
  • Hives
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Respiratory problems
  • Tingling sensations

Some medications can adversely affect your teeth. The best precaution is to ask your family physician if any medications he or she has prescribed can have a detrimental effect on your teeth or other oral structures.

In some cases, patients with compromised immune systems, or who have another reason to fear an infection from a dental procedure, may take antibiotics before visiting Dr. Kevin S. Bone. It is possible for bacteria from your mouth to enter your bloodstream during some dental procedures. A healthy immune system will normally fight such bacteria before they result in an infection.

However, patients with certain cardiovascular conditions could be at risk for an infection or heart muscle inflammation (bacterial endocarditis) resulting from a dental procedure. Patients with heart conditions) are strongly advised to inform our office before undergoing any dental procedure. The proper antibiotic will prevent any unnecessary complications.


The Food and Drug Administration classifies mouth rinses into two categories – therapeutic and cosmetic.

In general, therapeutic rinses with fluoride have been shown to be somewhat effective at fighting cavities, plaque, and gingivitis. People who have difficulty brushing because of physical conditions such as arthritis can benefit from a good therapeutic mouth rinse.

Do not rely solely on a fluoride rinse. Even the best therapeutic rinses are only moderately effective. In fact, regular rinsing with water and use of good quality fluoride toothpaste is often just as effective.

Cosmetic rinses, on the other hand, merely treat breath odor, reduce bacteria, or remove food particles in the mouth. They do nothing to treat or prevent gingivitis.


Good nutrition and a well-balanced diet are two of the best ways to defend your oral health. Providing your body with the right amounts of vitamins and minerals helps your teeth and gums – as well as your immune system – stay strong and ward off infection, decay, and disease.

Harmful acids and bacteria are left behind when you eat foods high in sugar and carbohydrates. These include carbonated beverages, some fruit juices, and many kinds of starchy foods like pasta, bread, and cereal.

Good eating habits beginning in early childhood can go a long way to ensuring a lifetime of good oral health.

Children should eat foods rich in calcium and other kinds of minerals, as well as a healthy balance of the essential food groups including vegetables, fruits, dairy products, poultry, and meat. Fluoride supplements may be helpful if you live in a community without fluoridated water, but consult with our office first. (Be aware that sugars are even found in some kinds of condiments as well as fruits and even milk.)

Allowing your children to eat excessive amounts of junk food – including potato chips, cookies, crackers, soda, artificial fruit rollups, and granola bars – places them at risk for serious health problems including obesity, osteoporosis, and diabetes.


Women have special needs when it comes to their oral health. Menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and menopause cause many changes in the body. Some of those changes can harm teeth and gums.

Lesions and ulcers, as well as swollen gums, can sometimes occur during surges in a woman’s hormone levels. These periods would be a prime time to visit the dentist. Birth control pills have been shown to increase the risk of gingivitis, and hormone replacement therapy has been shown to cause bleeding and swollen gums. Gum disease can also present a higher risk for premature births.

Some research has shown that women also may be more likely to develop dry mouth, eating disorders, jaw problems such as Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD and TMJ), and facial pain.

Proper oral health care goes a long way to helping women face physical changes in their bodies over the years.


Oral piercings (usually in the tongue or around the lips) have become trendy. If you’re considering an oral piercing, please talk to us about the risks so you can make an informed decision.

It’s important to realize that sometimes even precautions taken during the installation of the piercing jewelry are not enough to stave off harmful, long-term consequences such as cracked or chipped teeth, swelling, problems with swallowing and taste, and scars. Tongue piercings have been known to cause blocked airways (from a swollen tongue). In some cases, a tongue piercing can cause uncontrolled bleeding. There is also a possibility of choking on a piece of dislodged jewelry.

One of the most serious long-term health problems that may occur from oral piercings come in the form of damage to the soft tissues of the cheeks, gums, and palate, as well as opportunistic infections. When performed in an un-sterile environment, any kind of body piercing may also put you at risk of contracting deadly infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.


If you wince after sipping a cup of hot coffee or chewing a piece of ice, chances are you suffer from dentin hypersensitivity, more commonly called sensitive teeth. At least 45 million adults in the United States suffer at some time from sensitive teeth.

Temperature changes cause your teeth to expand and contract. Over time, your teeth can develop microscopic cracks that allow these sensations to seep through to the nerves. Exposed areas of the tooth can cause pain and even affect your eating, drinking and breathing habits.

In some cases, sensitive teeth result from gum disease, years of unconsciously clenching or grinding your teeth, or improper or too vigorous brushing (if the bristles of your toothbrush are pointing in multiple directions, you’re brushing too hard).

Abrasive toothpaste sometimes is the culprit. Ingredients found in some whitening or tartar-control toothpaste also may increase tooth sensitivity.

Some people find relief from desensitizing toothpaste, sealants, desensitizing ionization and filling materials including fluoride, and decreasing the intake of acid-containing foods.

Contact Dr. Kevin S. Bone if you notice any change in your teeth’s sensitivity to temperature.


Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is often viewed as a harmless, though annoying, habit. Some people develop bruxism as a way of coping with stress or anxiety. However, grinding your teeth is far from harmless. It can transform your bite or severely damage your teeth and jaw. It can cause your teeth to premature age and loosen, It can trigger chronic jaw, facial pain, and headaches.

If you suspect you are grinding your teeth, mention it to Dr. Kevin S. Bone. It is somewhat treatable. A common therapy involves wearing a special appliance while sleeping.

Here are a few clues that you may suffer from bruxism:

  • Your jaw is often sore, or you hear popping sounds when you open and close your mouth.
  • Your teeth look abnormally short or worn down.
  • You notice small dents in your tongue.

Both natural teeth and teeth with restorations survive best when you eat a healthy, nutritious diet and maintain your oral health with regular brushing, flossing, and dental visits.

Fluoride is an important component in maintaining your oral health. For decades, the dental community has held fluoride in high regard as an important mineral that strengthens tooth enamel. In nearly every U.S. community, public drinking supplies are supplemented with sodium fluoride because the practice is acknowledged as safe and effective in fighting cavities.

Maintain your best oral health with these practices:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day in a circular motion with a soft bristled toothbrush aimed at the gum.
  • Floss every night in an up-and-down motion while keeping the floss in a U-shape and against the tooth surface.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid sticky, sugary foods.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Use antiseptic and fluoride rinses as directed.

The American Dental Association has long been a leader in the battle against tobacco-related disease, working to educate the public about the dangers inherent in tobacco use and encouraging dentists to help their patients break the cycle of addiction. The Association has continually strengthened and updated its tobacco policies as new scientific information has become available.

Recent studies have shown that there is a direct link between oral tissue and bones loss and smoking. Tooth loss is more common in smokers than in non-smokers. In addition, people who smoke are more likely to develop severe periodontal disease. Smokers who turn to dental implants after tooth loss have a greater risk of the implants failing. In general, smoking cessation usually leads to improved periodontal health and a patient’s chance for successful implant acceptance.


Tooth decay is caused by long-term destructive forces acting on tooth structures such as enamel and the tooth’s inner dentin material. Plaque is the main cause of tooth decay. This colorless, sticky film blankets your teeth and causes a host of problems. It can erode the enamel on your teeth and can cause your gums to become irritated, inflamed, and bleed. Over time, the plaque underneath your gums may cause periodontal disease, which can lead to bone loss and eventual tooth loss. Plaque also can attack fillings and other restorations in your mouth, which can lead to more costly treatment down the road.

Some of the biggest causes of plaque are foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates including pop, some juices, candy, and many kinds of pasta, bread, and cereals.

The best defense against cavities is good oral hygiene, including brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and rinsing. Your body’s own saliva is also an excellent cavity fighter because it contains special chemicals that rinse away many harmful materials. Chewing a good sugarless gum will stimulate saliva production between brushing.

Fluoride and varnishes can also be applied to stave off cavities from forming.

If you have any of the following symptoms, you may have a cavity:

  • Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold water or foods.
  • Localized pain in your tooth or near the gum line.
  • Teeth that change color.

Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that erupt in the back corners of the upper and lower normal adult mouth. Unfortunately, most people experience problems from wisdom teeth. In most cases, this is because the teeth erupt too close to existing permanent teeth, causing crowding, improper bites, and other problems.

If wisdom teeth are causing a problem, this could mean that they are impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth can be extremely painful, as well as harmful to your oral health. Symptoms are easy to spot: pain, inflammation, and some kinds of infections.

Many people need to have their wisdom teeth extracted to avoid future serious problems. In general, the lack of the four wisdom teeth does not hamper one’s ability to properly bite down, speak or eat.


When X-rays pass through your mouth during a dental exam, more X-rays are absorbed by the denser parts (such as teeth and bone) than by soft tissues (such as cheeks and gums) before striking the film. This creates an image on the radiograph. Teeth appear lighter because fewer X-rays penetrate to reach the film. Cavities and gum disease appear darker because of more X-ray penetration. The interpretation of these X-rays allows Dr. Kevin S. Bone to safely and accurately detect hidden abnormalities.

How often dental X-rays (radiographs) should be taken depends on your individual needs. It is important to recognize that just as each patient is different, so should the scheduling of X-ray exams be individualized for each patient. Your medical and dental history will be reviewed and your mouth examined before a decision is made to take X-rays of your teeth.

The schedule for needing radiographs at recall visits varies according to your age, risk for disease and signs and symptoms. Recent films may be needed to detect new cavities, or to determine the status of gum disease or for evaluation of growth and development. Children may need X-rays more often than adults.


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